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I am way too excited about this: We spent last night and most of today at John's parents and had so much fun. We played games. I love games!!!!!!!! We played Wise and Otherwise, and I won for the first time, Cranium Pop5, Apples to Apples, CatchPhrase etc. Hopefully I got my fill for a bit. We also played Rockband (the video game). It was fun, but I think I'd get tired of the same 20 songs. I didn't get a chance to try the Wii, but I'm sure Jamie and I will have a fun time playing some day while the boys are at school. I thought I'd have a hard time staying up, but I didn't and we had a fun time. Maggie seems to finally be getting used to people - or growing a little out of her mommy clingyness.

[Comments] (3) Bookworm: I read about 9000 pages (finished books) in 2007 including the entire Harry Potter series, a few Wodehouse, a few Nora Roberts, Wicked and Son of a Witch and The Spiderwick Chronicles. About 500 more pages than 2006, a year during which, believe it or not, I read no Harry Potter.

[Comments] (1) : Yesterday I took Maggie to John's parents to hang out. Jodi came by after work too. Maggie was so good, let people hold her and play with her. Makes me happy. It's nice to take a bathroom break and not hear her scream the whole time.

[Comments] (2) Monkey Trap: A while ago, while sitting in the cart at Target, Maggie dropped her pacifier on a box in the cart. She reached back to get it, then found she couldn't get her hand back through. Maggie, being smarter than a monkey (and also being in a grocery cart and not a box) reached her other hand around to get it out. Such a smart girl! We spent the whole day at Jamie's and she was really good.

[Comments] (2) How the Giraffe Got His Spots: Since John's office is moving he has been working from home the past two days. Since it wasn't too cold, we zipped off yesterday to get our family membership to the Hogle Zoo. Some of the animals weren't out in the cold (the elephants and rhinos), but all the kitties were out and playful in the snow, and the monkeys (which were inside) were happy to see some company. We also went in the giraffe barn and saw the new baby. One of the giraffes came over to check us out. John could have reached up and patted its nose, he was so close.

Maggie is now required to go 8 hours at night without being fed. She does this very well, but that isn't to say she doesn't wake up crying at night for other reasons. However, other than a few peeps at 10:30, she slept for 9:45 hours last night. Good Girl.

I was invited to a Recipe Swap with some girls in the ward. It was a lot of fun and I got a few cool new recipes. It was nice to feel included.

[Comments] (1) : Had my first scrapbooking crop last night! Jamie, Mom and Jodi came over. Jamie and I made cards for the card swap we signed up at CC. Mom worked on her cabin book and Jodi played with Tyler. John and Dad watched a movie. It was fun and I got my cards all done. Hopefully it will be a monthly thing for us girls to get together.

Collection of Fun Stuff: Two nights ago John got out of bed in the middle of the night while I was feeding Maggie and rewarmed my rice bag. Isn't that so sweet? I'm spoiled.

We spoke in church on Sunday, about Spiritual Gifts. Susan came to our Sacrament Meeting. Maggie crawled right over to her Grandma and sat on her lap.

Maggie has a tendency to crawl away rapidly whenever she is bare-bottomed. She gets her excited face on, her mouth in a big "O" and she can really move. Maybe it's a desire to mark her territory. Last night we were getting her PJs on and she crawled right out the door, then right back in like she'd lost her mind. John said, "Maggie you have BabyD" and I couldn't stop laughing. (Say it out loud.) Heehee.

Fear Not, Leonard: I still have your Lederhosen.

Saddened as we all are by the Post Office's eating of Leonard's inheiritance, I found a bright spot today. I decided to go through my trunk of "stuff I insist on keeping" and make an inventory, so that when Maggie is old enough to play with my pink crystal doll tea set, we'll remember we have it. When packing this sort of stuff, Rachel and I insisted on keeping some of Leonard's things he refused to admit he will want. I have a yellow outfit, an embroidered baby sheet, a sweater from Germany (ugly), a sweater from England (really cute, if you are a nerdy little boy like Leonard was), and of course, a Lederhosen Mom made for him.

I also found my christening gown which I KNOW I looked for after we found out we were having a girl. It was at the very bottom, smushed under another baby dress, so I must not have seen it. Oh well, the dress Jamie bought for Maggie is cuter.

I also insisted on keeping: green glass grape salt and pepper shakers that hang on a brass stand (Grandma Rosie's), one of Sprite's horseshoes, my xylophone mallets and a teeny dress from my first Christmas. And I found a beautiful teacup and saucer from Grandma Lorna which I don't remember putting in there, or ever seeing before. Sharon recently brought us three little Christmas dresses my Mom made which I added to the trunk. Since Maggie was born about the same time (of year) as Rachel, she should fit into one of them next year.

Play Time: Maggie and I had our first playdate with Tasha and Colette. Poor Colette had a cold both before and after the holidays, so we've been holding out. It was fun. The girls enjoyed crawling all over each other and chewing on each other's toys. Colette got some fun toys for Christmas, but I am actually jealous of how few toys she has. I'd get rid of some of our toys, but they are so cool, and Maggie plays with them all! We've got another playdate planned for next week, if nobody gets sick.

I also took Maggie to the doctor to get weighed. She gained seven ounces this month. We also went to the PO to buy postage for various packages (!) and to the "Cuddle Time" at the library. People at this story time were much more friendly than at the one in Newport Beach. Maggie really enjoyed it too, and made some friends. There was a woman there with kids aged 2 1/2, 14 months, and baby. Y-i-k-e-s.

This was our first day out and about this week, as we are still on a spending freeze. We had fun, and she is worn out.

: Maggie, who is now an expert at cruising, has started walking a bit holding on to my hands. She'll only do it a few times a day, but it gets her excited.

[Comments] (1) Magtime: Little Maggie stood alone yesterday while we were at Jamie's house helping unpack. One of her favorite pastimes lately is pulling things off of shelves - books, diapers, stuffed animals etc. Today at church she pointed to a picture of her Daddy and said, "dada!"

John gave her two clangy balls he bought on his mission and said, "these are from China!" Then Maggie (through her daddy) said, "Big deal! All my toys are from China."

Snow Day: We got over a foot of snow today. John worked from home, much to Maggie's delight. We tried to dig ourselves out during her nap. Luckily a neighbor came by and helped with his snowblower. There is seriously a ton of snow. Shoveling is quite a workout.

[Comments] (1) : Yesterday, Maggie and I went to a viewing for a tiny baby boy that was born several months early to Kristen (my 23/7 Romania buddy). He made it a few weeks. Very sad.

[Comments] (5) Yummy in my Tummy: I've been trying out a lot of new crockpot recipes in an attempt to make feeding my family easier, faster, and yummier. Yesterday I put two chicken breasts and half a jar of spaghetti sauce (Ragu was only $1 at Smith's and I had a coupon - I haven't bought spaghetti sauce in years!) and let it cook on both settings for who-knows-how-long. I served it with whole wheat pasta and parmesan cheese and it was yummy. Probably the easiest meal I've ever made!

I also made an eclair cake at John's request. I made chocolate sauce from scratch because I only use it for eclair cake and I am out of money in my grocery budget this month. It was easy and super yummy. I couldn't find mom's recipe, so I 1/3-ed one I found online:

1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
Boil for 2-5 minutes.

PS: I uploaded some cute pictures of the bug to our picture blog - click on "Pictures" to the right. And read all my latest articles while you're at it!

Music Teacher: Last week I started giving Ember piano lessons. Today was her second lesson. She is really into it and is a good practicer, so it is going very well. I picked out the Bastien lesson books for her, which are the same ones I learned from. I am really enjoying teaching her.

Since we will be watching Jazmine while Brook's family goes to Florida next week (or I will, at least, since John will be out of town as well), Erin has been bringing her to the lessons. Maggie just loves Jazmine (she also chased Jodi's cat Princess around), but she slept right through the lesson today, and kept on sleeping for 2 1/2 hours. I think poor Erin was a bit bored, but I did get some books from the library on decluttering and simplifying that she looked through.

Not So Lonely This Time: Brook and Erin (and Erin's entire family) left this morning to spend a week at Disneyworld. I guess I shouldn't say "the entire family" because they left a very important someone behind - a black furry someone curled next to me. I'm dog-sitting Jazmine while they're gone. It worked out really well because John is also gone. John left early this morning too for OC - he has a busy work week ahead of him. Jazzy used to be a very high-strung and easily-freaked-out dog, but appears to have mellowed in her old age. She is a very well-behaved dog, and a good snuggler. Maggie adores her, although I'm not sure the feeling is quite mutual.

Anywho, the really awful storm that was supposed to make the morning commute (and everyone's trip to the airport, and flights) miserable hasn't shown up yet, so I may get to see Grandma June today. If you recall, we got 14 inches of snow last Monday and didn't get to go visit.

[Comments] (3) Crazy Animals: We took Justin to the zoo with us on Saturday. It was very nice day - we even got to see the elephants out. Justin took pictures of everything, all the animals until the battery on the camera died. He also entertained Maggie enormously, and they both fell asleep in the car. Justin can be a bit crazy sometimes but his energy really doesn't bother me. I let him get away with a bit at Grandma June's 90th birthday party and said to Erin, "I'm a middle child too." We let him run all over the zoo, and act like a sloth, and since he didn't crack his head open, maybe he's the better for it.

Help is on the Way: John is on his way home! I'm so excited. I am worn out from caring for these two babies. Jazmine is so clingy, it is starting to drive me nuts. When she and Maggie both climb into my lap I have to say, "give me space!" Jodi is on her way to get her right now. I think Maggie will be happy to see her Aunt Jodi!

Maggie stood on her own for a while today, and also I saw her stepping from furniture to furniture. She's getting so big! This morning the kids let me scrapbook for a bit. I posted two completed layouts in my scrapbook gallery (link to the right) if you want to see.

I also had a bunch of articles published today, so read up!

[Comments] (2) Snowed In: Church is canceled. If it wasn't for the four phone calls and the Bishop walking (hiking) up the street in a snowsuit to let us know, I wouldn't believe it. I think we got about 7 inches (it's hard to tell because the wind blew a 3 foot snowdrift onto our driveway), but there's no chance of them having plowed for everyone to get to church down and back up the steep hills by 9 am. I went out in the blizzard and shoveled my half and now it's John's turn to get drenched. Then we will get all warm and cozy and enjoy the day. Perhaps everything will clear up in time to get to Jamie's for the Super Bowl party we planned.

[Comments] (6) : We are trying something new with grocery purchasing in our household this year. I'm on a budget! This month I have $250 to spend on groceries, baby food and Target stuff (toiletries, diapers, wipes etc.) We are also participating in a money saving project going on at the Mommysavers message board. In January we went on a three-week spending freeze - necessities only. Now we are on a modified spending freeze. We can buy some "wants" but they have to be on our approved spending list for 24 hours before we can buy them. This is supposed to limit impulse purchases, which aren't a huge problem for us. However, I haven't put any treats on the approved list, so I've been baking a lot. In fact, I just made some gingerbread. If it's any good, I'll post the recipe later.

So, with the spending freeze, I was able to keep $25 under the budget last month. Making a menu plan for the week really helps me save money and stick to my budget. Plus, it's nice to already know what I'm making for dinner.

John and I are also trying to stock up on some food storage and other items, according to a little schedule we got in our ward. I cleaned out the cupboard in our laundry room to store some extra stuff in, and I found a card telling me that my washer costs $8 a year to operate - based on 8 loads a week and we only do about 3. It will certainly pay for itself soon.

I V*TED: Did you? I have a pet peeve about people who complain about the government and then don't vote. I'm not a fan of the new stickers they handed out. It's a big red circle with a fingerprint for the "O".

Cookie Cookie Cookie!: I was going to go to the library after Maggie's nap, but she didn't take a nap, and also it is snowing and really blowy. So, instead I made Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Cookies! If you have been blessed with one of mom's family recipe boxes, this is in there.

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
2 T unsweetened cocoa
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
16-ounce package chocolate chips
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Beat together sugars and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until well-blended. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand on sheets 3 minutes. Remove cookies to racks to cool.

Susie the Chef says: 16 ounces of chocolate chips is a ridiculous waste of money and chocolate chips. I put 1/4-1/3 that much. I also didn't put nuts. Even though the batter was pretty dry, I felt like the cookies had a lot of butter in them so I might use a few tablespoons less next time. Next time: yes, they were very yummy!

[Comments] (2) : Justin is spending the weekend with us since Jamie is at CHA. He brought the Wii! and John and I had fun participating in the Olympics. Some lucky moves got us to open some extra games. As far as video games go, I like races and such (instead of fighting) so I had fun. John and I also got to watch LOST online.

Today was a nice, warm day with no snow. The sun didn't come out so our snow didn't melt as much as we'd have liked but we went for a nice walk around the neighborhood. John did a little bit of work and I worked on some articles. That's about all we've done today.

Oh, and I made brownies (from a mix) and some homemade mint frosting. I just made buttercream frosting (2 T. melted butter, dash of milk and as much powdered sugar as it would hold) with a few drops of peppermint extract and some green food coloring. It was really yummy!

[Comments] (8) Safety Last.: Grr. So far this morning I have called 11 varieties of Police/Fire/Dispatch/Safety/Health places trying to find help installing our new car seat. Babies R Us told me I could go to any fire station which is not the case. Now I'm waiting for someone from the South Jordan police department to call me when she gets in. They ought to make more people get certified. No wonder 97% of carseats are installed incorrectly. It's still not the parents faults - now I blame the manufactures AND public safety.

Also, I think Maggie has croup, but luckily not very bad.

Stupid Surprise: I made John a delicious and fancy dinner last night. I made Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden), asparagus and hollandaise, sourdough bread (well I didn't make that), and sugar cookies with pink frosting and I even used almond extract in the frosting because I borrowed it from Jamie. And then John had to work and drive home in a scary storm and didn't get home until 8:30. And had already eaten. Boo. That's what I get for trying to plan a surprise.

This morning I was packing him a lunch of leftover Tamale Pie and sugar cookies and he said, "Best cookies in the world!" and gave me a big smile. That made my day. Happy Valentine's Day, Sweet Baboo!

In other news, Maggie continues to be a human snot machine. I took her to story time at the library yesterday but I wouldn't let her go near any of the other kids, toys, or books. She still had fun, and we got invited to a play date.

I am such a nerd: I went to the library yesterday, and I checked out 4 cookbooks. I've already read two of them! Here is a quote: "I simply feel more like a good cook when I wear an apron, and everything seems to taste better" from Cooking Secrets My Mother Never Taught Me.

Maggie Grows: Little Maggie started really standing up on her own today and has been taking steps between furniture. Erin said she was clapping her hands too, while she was watching her during Ember's piano lesson. Ember is getting really good on the piano. She is a fast learner and I'm so proud of her.

John came home with chocolate-covered caramels and mint-covered Oreos for me for Valentine's Day. How spoiled am I?

[Comments] (5) : Maggie has started only taking one nap each day. It happened pretty suddenly and I didn't think it would be for several months (since I read that Gunnar is just starting to do that). I am in denial and put her in her crib some times that she never falls asleep. She is usually content to play in her crib for 1/2 hour rather than sleep. Luckily she is pretty independent throughout the day and let's me get stuff done.

Maggie also is taking a few steps like such a big girl.

Today I had someone come adjust our furnace and water heater, and Maggie and I went to Wal-Mart for groceries and an oil change. We were all done and home by noon. Still to come: cleaning the floor and an experimental dinner recipe.

[Comments] (3) Flu Bug: I took Maggie to the doctor today. The first thing she said was, "Hi Gorgeous! You must really like carrots. Or sweet potatoes." Apparently the fake tan look wasn't inheirited from me and John.

Maggie does not have an ear infection. In fact, the doctor described her ears as "stunning" and "sparkling." She has the flu. Not exactly shocking news, but there you have it. Her fever is down and she is feeling much better today.

Still Sick: I'm trapped. Little Maggie spent all day sleeping yesterday and this morning. Conveniently enough, she would only go to sleep on me (or her grandma, who snuggled her while I went to the doctor this morning). I am starving, but I'd better take advantage of her sleepy time, because she spends most of her wakey time whining and whimpering. Luckily, it is a beautiful day, so we will go for a nice walk later.

Poor little Beet. I hope she feels better soon, and not just because I can only move one hand.

Shredded Wheat = Triscuits: It's such a nice day. Maggie and I went on a long walk and now my poor sick self is exhausted.

[Comments] (2) : Today is Hannah's 7th birthday. We took Maggie to her Build-A-Bear party. Maggie didn't find it as exciting as I thought she would, maybe because she is still sick. She made a bear named Patrick, with a green shirt that says, "Beary Lucky" and I let her have a few bites of chocolate cake. Then we left because John is getting sick now too. I found him some Tylenol, made him a smoothie and tucked him into bed. Enough of the flu!

: Maggie and I are home sick from church. Mostly we didn't want Maggie's incessant coughing bugging everyone. Also, we are having a birthday party for her and Hannah later today and want her to be well-rested. John headed off to teach our Sunday School class though.

[Comments] (2) My Vacuum, My Friend: Today is Monday. Maggie loves Mondays. Besides the free lunch at IHOP with great-grandma, Monday is vacuuming day! Maggie thinks the vacuum is a weekly play date, or possibly a pet or sibling. She follows it around, pokes its buttons, pulls herself up on it, giggles at it, and gives it toys. The last time I vacuumed the playroom she was setting toys on top of the vacuum for it to play with. She also sneaks into the closet to play with it.

[Comments] (5) New Hit Musical by Susie Chadwick: I'm Tired of Being Mommy Today.
Featuring original songs, "Whine Whine Whine," "Shaken Baby Syndrome," "I Need Chocolate," and "Daddy Will Be Home Soon."

African Curry: I got this recipe from my friend Tasha and tried it last night. It was a hit! Very easy to make, too.

1 lb stew meat cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 can tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 small onion
1-2 T curry powder
1/2 t salt
Simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. Serve over hot rice and garnish with flaked coconut.

Snazzy: John somehow managed to get two of his firm's $120 tickets to the Jazz/Minnesota game last night, so I went with him and enjoyed my first NBA game. I left Maggie at her grandparents' and took TRAX downtown. We had a lot of fun and it was really nice to get out. Maggie had fun being babysat also. I kept wanting to cheer for the other team. They did a good job making baskets, too! Well, actually... but still! During halftime they had an assortment of small to medium sized girls doing dance routines. John says that's the kind of dance our girls should go into - the kind that DOES stuff (like perform at NBA games).

[Comments] (3) You're Only One Once: Today is my baby's first birthday! We had Tyler, Tasha and Colette over for dinner and I made Indian Butter chicken and Pear Walnut Muffins for dessert. John and I got Maggie some Wiggles DVDs and a Pooh board book. Colette gave her a box of yummy banana cookies. Last week, Maggie got some onesies, a cute outfit, a book, crayons, snacks and baby food. Brook and Erin brought her a stuffed Pooh from Disneyworld; Ember remembered that Maggie didn't have a Pooh. Grandma June gave her a card with $5.

Maggie decided today was a good day to take some real steps on her own. So Big!

[Comments] (1) Tiny Big Girl: We just got home from Maggie's one-year checkup and the grocery store. Maggie had to have three shots, and she started bawling when she saw the nurse in the grocery store after! Poor thing. She's taking a nap now.

In accordance with her new tradition of hardly gaining any weight, Maggie now weighs 17.5 pounds and is 27.25 inches long. She remains in the 10th percentile there, but moved up to the 90th in her head circumference.

Busy Me: At our open house Jon and Sharon gave us a book called "That's Not My Mermaid" that Maggie and I both love so much I wrote a (yet to be published) article about the series. Keep your eyes peeled, it should be published soon. I've been slowing down in the article department, but trying to still write my goal of one per week.

While you're browsing my links, check out the new pictures I posted of our trip to the zoo on Saturday and Maggie's birthday party on Sunday. I also just got some pictures developed and have been scrapbooking a little, so look in my gallery too. There's a cute little cover I made for Maggie's photo book, her latest favorite toy. A bunch of the pictures I developed were for that, and it also occurred to me to put in her photo book pictures from Christmas cards that I kept, but am never going to scrapbook.

[Comments] (3) Good Read: I read a fantastic book today, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Anyone with similar taste in books to me HAS to read this. (Rachel! Jamie!) Apparently, a fourth (and final) book is coming out in August. And the author went to BYU. This is seriously one of the best books I've ever read. It was enthralling. Tasha lent it to me yesterday and is coming by tomorrow to bring me the next two.

ETA: Two things I really like about her writing are her descriptions of facial expressions and the chapter names.

Ooops: I Completely Forgot that I was meeting Jodi and Jamie at the temple this morning. I dropped Maggie off with Susan and picked up Jodi, but we missed Jamie. Still, it was nice to go, and nice to have someone to go with. Better luck meeting up next time. It sounds like Maggie had lots of fun playing peek-a-boo and patty cake while I was gone. Such a spoiled girl.

[Comments] (2) Sitting Pretty: We took Miss Maggie to get 1 year portraits taken at Target this morning. She was a bit fussy, so we got some great shots of her eating her puffs. The difference in quality between the portrait studio pictures and every other picture we have of her is amazing. Between the lighting and the expensive camera, even the not-so-great shots look terrific. I guess we have no excuse for not doing it more often, since there are always great coupons for portrait studios. We ordered one of her eating a puff, one of her clapping at her kitty and one of me and John kissing her to put on her bedroom wall.

We also bought Maggie lots of clothes to last her through the summer (if she ever grows into them). She spent the morning watching and dancing to her new Wiggles DVDs. She loves them.

[Comments] (3) : We're having a nice productive day. I cleaned the bathrooms, the kitchen counters, ran the dishwasher, swept the floor, put together some packs for Jamie, and also did stuff online for her. We also went to cuddletime at the library and ran some errands in the vicinity. Since it is a very nice day outside and the girls have a fever and a runny nose between them, Tasha and I went for a long walk.

I'm getting some bingo words ready for April - I'm going to do an Earth Day theme. Check out Earthday.net for a depressing ecological footprint quiz among other things.

Hot Pockets:
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons molasses (or honey)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Mix dough and rise until double. Divide dough into 11. Roll until about the size of a pita it will be VERY thin. Brush dough with melted butter and put aprox 1/2 c. of filling in the middle. now bring up both the sides and pinch together. Gently turn it over into your hand and place on greased baking sheet pinched side down. Tuck the ends under. Let rise for 10-15 minutes.

Filling ideas: I used ham, broccoli and cheese. Could also do hashbrowns, eggs and crumbled bacon, pepperoni and cheese with a little tomato sauce. These were very easy to make and so cheap compared to the real thing. They tasted just like actual Hot Pockets. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter and I sprinkled mine with fresh cracked pepper and cracked sea salt. Move to cooling wrack so that they don't get soggy. When cooled wrap in paper towel and put in a freezer bag. To heat, microwave on high 2-3 minutes.

[Comments] (3) Happy Easter!: We had a fun time with the Chadwicks and our annual egg hunt. There were very few eggs hidden this year, but lots of other fun stuff. Maggie got some fruit snacks, some peeps, a stuffed platypus, some bubbles and a little bit of candy. It was a lot of fun to watch the kids look for their stuff; with the huge age differences we ended up labeling almost everything with names. Maggie was well-behaved enough to sit with her aunts and uncles and her grandma and also said "bye grandpa", which was darling. Check my picture link for fun pictures of the event.

[Comments] (2) So Fast: 87 words

Sweet Green Bean Bundles: Made this yumminess for dinner tonight. Here's the actual recipe:
3 cans whole green beans, drained
1 pound bacon, cut in half
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 t. garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Wrap 7 green beans with bacon and place in prepared dish. Repeat, using all the green beans and bacon. Combine butter with brown sugar. Pour over green bean bundles and sprinkle with garlic salt. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Sweet Green Bean Blobs: Here's is how I will make it next time (a cross between how I made it this time and improvements I think it still needs):
1 can green beans
2 slices bacon, cut in half
1/3 c. brown sugar
Dump green beans in a 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over them. Lay bacon over the top and bake until bacon is crisp.

Szechwan Beef Stirfry: Here's a quick recipe I made for dinner last night. John and Maggie and I loved it.

Thin strips of beef sirloin steak
1 T. cooking oil
1 can corn
1 c. thinly sliced carrots
1 red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. water
1 t. cornstarch
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
crushed red pepper
1/2 t. black pepper
Heat oil in skillet. Stir fry carrots for 2 minutes. Add corn and pepper. Stir fry 1-2 minutes more. Remove vegetables, add meat. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until meat is slightly pink in center. Stir together sauce ingredients. Add to center of skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return vegetables to wok. Stir all ingredients together to coat. Cook and stire 1-2 minutes more. Serve with hot rice.

Brag: Maggie and I were reading some stories (she loves books) and I said, "where's the doggie?" and pointed to it, and she reached over and pointed to a dog on the opposite page. Now, that's not so impressive seeing as she loves dogs, sees them all the time in the neighborhood, dogsat Jazmine etc. But on the next page I said, "where's the piggy?" and she pointed to the pig. The pig was sitting at a table with all the villagers, btw, this wasn't a simple little picture book.

I was telling Jamie about some of the recipes I've tried recently and she pointed out, "you never follow the recipe!" That's why there's always the real version and the Susie version. The Susie version is faster, cheaper and healthier (see Sweet Green Bean Bundles).

The Fun Times, Weekly Edition: I've done a lot of fun stuff this week. I guess I was so busy doing it I forgot to write about it. On Wednesday, for our weekly playdate, Tasha and I took the girls to Wheeler Farm. It was so much fun. The girls could see everything from their strollers, unlike the zoo. There were a lot of animals, and some baby ones too. I wrote a forthcoming article about the attraction.

Last night was Girls' Night Out with the girls in John's extended family, which was tons of fun. I love getting to know some of his cousins better, especially since the same ones (and me and my sisters-in-law (and Susan and Grandma June)) are the only ones that ever go.

Today was Tyler's second piano lesson. He did great, especially considering it had been three weeks since his first one. Maggie's just about got the piano lesson thing down and was pretty happy to play with Jamie. Shortly after that, Jodi came over. We went to IKEA and looked around (ended up putting all our would-be purchases back). Then we came home and played with Maggie until she finally took at nap at almost 4:00. I think I'm liking Jodi having Fridays off work.

: You can lead a herring to water, but you have to walk really fast or you'll die.

Edited: Apparently, it's really "You can lead a herring to water, but you have to walk really fast or he'll die." My version was much funnier.

[Comments] (2) Priorities: Our combined lesson on Sunday was on emergency preparedness. One of the teachers made a very good point regarding what preparations should be a priority. "You can go 4-5 weeks without food, and 3 days without water, but hypothermia will kill you in 30 minutes."

We are working on building our 3 month supply of foods from our regular diet. During March I've kept track of all the canned/packaged stuff I used. Now I can multiply by three and see about how much I need. Of course, I'll need extra canned meats, fruits and veggies since we eat so much fresh. We need to buy a 55-gallon water barrel and some sleeping bags.

My Hero: John saved the day today by showing up home at 3:30. I had just given up on Maggie snuggling on the bed with tired, sniffly me. I promptly dumped a cake in the crockpot (so that having corndogs for dinner wouldn't be so bad) and fell asleep for 2 hours. John watched Maggie all afternoon and evening and now has lots of work to do. Thanks, honey!

I'm Such a Nerd: An actual quote from my journal Senior Year: "It just seems weird to be actually doing actual social activities."

Two Nice Things About Living in Utah:
1. General Conference on local TV channels.
2. You can leave boxes of crackers and cereals open for months and they don't get nasty.

[Comments] (3) Defining Moments: Once Upon a Time, Mom was discussing us kids being "grounded" in our lives. She says I became grounded when I was in Romania. As I've mentioned earlier, I feel a lot of this process had already happened.

About a year before I left, a couple months before I applied for the program, I stopped taking my medication, broke up with my boyfriend and decided I needed to do something with my life. I was volunteering at the State Hospital and learned about Recreational Therapy - consequently changed my major. I signed up for Run For Your Life. I showed up at Alyson's house in the middle of the night (sorry about that!). I became less needy and dependent (high school girls can't go to the bathroom on their own syndrome) and, related or not, got abandoned at a strange apartment complex by my roommates. I applied to devote four months of my life to service halfway across the world. I moved into a house with 9 people I didn't know.

I decided I was going to get on with my life and live it. So I did.

[Comments] (3) "She's Teething": We've been jokingly blaming every whimper of Maggie's on "teething" since it became evident everything we thought was "teething" wasn't. Apparently, when she cried all night on Sunday, we were wrong. Now Maggie has a little tooth showing! She takes after the Chadwick side with the late teething, that's for sure.

Today Maggie decided maybe walking could be a viable means of transportation, and not just a way of getting her parents to cheer for her. She wandered around the scrapbook room, dragging and tripping over her blankie.

Ember's 12th piano lesson was this afternoon and we finished her first set of books. She's really gotten quite good.

[Comments] (5) : I've been trying to teach Maggie a few signs over the past two weeks. I think she understands them, but won't do them herself yet. I noticed that when I sign or say "sleep", she puts her finger to her mouth and blows on it. We figured out this is from a Wiggles song. "Now your bear's asleep, Shh, Shh, Shh."

Rachel: she is growing so fat

The daffodils are popping up everywhere, so pretty and yellow, making me miss Mom and wish I had planted some bulbs last fall. I definitely plan on doing so this year.

[Comments] (1) Sunshine in My Soul: We've had beautiful weather this weekend, as promised. John and I went out in the yard on Saturday and got out two of the three bushes we're removing. John also put up the canvas to our patio cover. We put Maggie outside on a blanket with her car and her Fisher Price farm. She was quite skeptical about touching the grass but, apparently, crawling to Daddy is worth it. Yesterday we had Jamie and the boys over for dinner and the guys played football in the backyard. It was really nice to be outside. Maggie already has a nice tan.

We also went to Home Depot on Saturday and bought a push reel mower, a cordless electric weedwhacker and a garden hose. The salesman tried to talk us out of the push mower, but we think he thought we were just trying to get the cheapest one.

[Comments] (1) : It is so fun to see Maggie toddling around the house. I've been scrapbooking and writing up a storm so please read my articles and look at all the pretty things I've made!

I made a friend: Do you ever find yourself purposely trying to be a good listener? I called up a girl in the neighborhood today and we took our babies for a walk. I've been wanting a friend in the neighborhood to go walking with - take advantage of the wonderful trails near here. Like most people, I like to talk about myself (and my baby), but sometimes I wonder if I do it too much. So I asked her thoughtful questions and listened to her answers. Like I said, I need a friend!

This reminds me of some tapes someone gave me and John for our wedding. We listened to them on the way to Utah from California one time. They gave advice on communication skills and showing your love etc. I still find myself using trite phrases from the tapes, such as "I can understand why you feel like that." It may sound silly coming out of your mouth, but just using the phrases shows that you are listening and paying attention. We learned a lot from those cheesy tapes.

Zoo Pals: Tasha and I took the girls to the Hogle Zoo on Wednesday. It was raining a bit when we got there but the day kept getting nicer. Each time we visit the zoo Maggie is more into it. This time she was excitedly pointing out animals as she spotted them. We saw the penguins swimming, a giraffe trotting, a giant tortoise trying to escape (Maggie just about poked it in the eye, but I yanked her arm away) and the lemurs came right up to the glass to stare back. There were also baby tamarin monkeys and baby meerkats. Maggie really loves to read animal books, I think that's why it's so exciting when she sees an animal in real life now. She was freaking out about the sheep we saw on our walk the other day. She loves animals.

[Comments] (2) : We had a girl's day yesterday. Mom watched Maggie so Jamie, Jodi and I could go to the temple. It was wonderful. Afterwards, we picked up Subway and went back to my house to scrapbook. Coordinates Collections is having a cyber crop this weekend, so I worked on two of the challenges and did another page as well. Jodi stayed for dinner and we had a good time.

Today began with Ember's soccer game at the park right near us. She did great and Maggie especially had fun because Jazmine came. Afterwards Brook and John worked on our sprinkler system. Maggie wouldn't nap today (spent quite a while playing quietly in her crib though) so we went to the mall and bought new shoes for Maggie and myself. We also went to Target and bought various things, including new clippers for cutting John's hair. Our other ones lasted five years but are getting worn down.

We have a week of more business ahead of us.

Set: I've been thinking about what it's like from Maggie's point of view when I point out something to her. When I point to a dog, in real life, a toy, or in a book, I think she understands that dogs all have the same general shape, are fuzzy, whatever. What I'm really wondering about is how she learns shapes, colors, letters, numbers, and how many of things there are.

Maggie has a set of foam letters and numbers to play with in the bathtub. If I point to a yellow letter P and say "yellow", she can't have a clue if I'm telling her the color, the shape, or what order it's in on the tub wall. What if she has three letters lined up and I say, "1, 2, 3" while pointing to a red B, a green C and a blue X?

My meaning will come across more clearly with fewer variables. For example, if all the letters were the same color, or if I am counting 3 of the same item, or sorting blocks by color. Thinking about this reminded me of a game Leonard and Sumana gave us for Christmas once called Set. In this game each player tries to find a set of three cards from those laid out that either have all properties common among them, or different. The elements on the cards need to be of the same number, color, shape and pattern OR the elements can each have one or more different properties from each other.

Double Time: John took Friday off work so we had two Saturdays this week.

Saturday I: Our shower handle broke Thursday night, so Friday morning we went to Home Depot to get a replacement, as well as some bark, some replacement sprinkler heads and a few plants. After Tyler's piano lesson we worked in the yard, planted our new plants etc. In the afternoon we went with Susan and Brook up to the cabin. There was no snow on the road and it was actually very pleasant up there. One of the neighboring cabins had a Little Tikes log cabin which Maggie had so much fun playing in.

Saturday II: Today we got up early and worked in the yard some more. Then we went to Ember's soccer game. Afterwards, Jodi and Franco came over and looked at pictures from our Alaskan cruise and my trips to Victoria. Then we went back out in the yard with Brook's fertilizer spreader. After noon we went down to take Grandma June to the cemetery and to IHOP. At the cemetery we discovered a flat tire, so we spent an hour there lying in the sun, letting Maggie have her nap (she slept 1 1/2 hours in the car seat). Once we got home we went back out in the yard. I mowed the lawn and John dug grass out of our beds. When we came inside we put The Wiggles on for Maggie and cleaned the floor. We are both exhausted from the heat and work of the day.

[Comments] (2) A Kick in the Pants: Maggie and I went and picked up Grandma June this morning and brought her to see our house. She said she loved it and it was so nice and kept asking where I got all our furniture, pictures etc. Then she asked for a piece of chocolate cake and the raving really began. I made mom's fudge sheet cake recipe yesterday. Grandma wanted a piece to take home too, and said, "John must really look forward to coming home for supper."

We are headed to California on Saturday to take advantage of our Disneyland Annual Passes before they expire. It is going to be so much fun with our little Maggie toddling around the place and getting excited at every little thing.

[Comments] (2) What the Mermaid?: My latest online hobby has been browsing Amazon for things to add to my wishlist. The other day I was looking through Amazon's recommendations for me, and some weird games started showing up. It said, "recommended because you purchased Nautical Chessmen." Seriously?

La Cursa Lunga: We made it to California safe and sound. The trip didn't seem as long as it has in the past. Maggie was pretty well-behaved, better than can be expected at least. We stopped at the outlets in Primm and bought some pants for me and a shirt for John but nothing for Maggie. We checked into our hotel (also better than can be expected for the price we are paying) and had dinner at Downtown Disney.

As we were walking in from the parking lot John said, "We're back to where Maggie gets lots of attention." Sure enough I overheard at least three people say how cute she was.

Maggie + Mickey = Friends: Why is it that Maggie can zonk out on my lap with pirates yelling all around, but have a hard time falling asleep in her crib with her soft blankie, stuffed monkey and two pacifiers? Sheesh.

Maggie met Mickey today. She grinned and poked his nose. We went on lots of rides, ate lots of food and had a good time. We had to wake Maggie up for the parade in the evening. Jiminy Cricket tried desperately to get her to smile, but she just stared. He even made faces (wiggled his hands on his head; he's wearing a mask, people). She finally caught on, though. It's fun to watch her face light up when she realizes why something is exciting, or what we've been standing around for.

We're in for another fun day tomorrow. We haven't even set foot in California Adventure yet, so that's on the menu.

Best Compliment: "She's even cuter than the baby ducks!" Waddle, waddle.

Disney 1-2-3:
Miles driven: 1500
Pictures taken: 107
Videos taken: 1
Times Maggie rode a merry-go-round: 5 (3 horses, 1 sea otter and 1 magical underwater oyster bench)
Times Maggie threw up: 2
Days we were waiting on Main Street when Disneyland opened: 4
Wiggle shows watched: 7
Dollars under budget: $184
Kisses from Mickey: 3
Pink shirts bought for Maggie: 2
Pluto encounters: 3
Train rides: 6
Times John and I went on adult rides alone: 15 (yay for baby switch and single rider)
Hours of rain: 6
SPF Maggie managed to tan through: 50
Current price of a one-day park hopper ticket: $91
Total amount we paid for the Disney annual passes we used this trip: $125
Stuffed animals snuggled by Maggie: 27
New hidden mickeys discovered: 2
People who thought Maggie was So Darn Cute: 32
Times Maggie slept in bed with us: 4
High score on Astro Blasters: 385,000 (Susie)
Things Maggie did for the first time: Walked across a swinging bridge; rode Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, gave Pluto a kiss, went down a slide alone, climbed up stairs upright, and told us what ride she wanted to go on.

1-2-3 Game: A little game Maggie loves to play: Count to three and then do something exciting like "drop" her, throw her in the air, tickle her, give her a tummy bubble etc. She giggles the whole time, even if you trick her and just count to three without doing anything after.

4 Day Weekend: John had a four-day weekend for Memorial Day so we got to do lots of fun stuff. On Friday morning, Kristen, Aaron, Lily and Gunnar came over for breakfast and to play with all of Maggie's toys. It was great to see them and Maggie had fun with cousins more her own age. In the afternoon we went to Provo, visited the cemetery and walked around BYU.

Saturday we went to see Prince Caspain, which I thought was really good. In fact I reread the book this weekend, and it was better than the book, I liked the changes. We took Justin with us and afterwards went to the Chadwicks' and hung out with Chad and Jodi.

Sunday afternoon we packed the car and drove up to the cabin to spend the night. It was a really nice day and we enjoyed a nice walk with Maggie.

Monday we were all working at the cabin as Mom's Mother's Day present. Unfortunately it rained and everyone was running late, which we didn't know. I helped Nathan put together the new BBQ so hopefully I can put ours together now. We were out of the rain in the unfinished basement, so it was a pretty good job as far as that goes. We all got nice and muddy and had a big lunch with cake for Chad's birthday. We got home around 4:30 and Maggie took a very long nap while John unpacked and cleaned and I did nothing.

Only three days left until our next weekend adventure; John is taking Friday off again.

[Comments] (1) Regrets: One thing I really regret not taking from mom's house before the estate sale is her box of vintage ties. She had over 70 awesome ties in an old All laundry detergent container, once upon a time used to transport hand-me-downs to our Whitney cousins. She intended to make a skirt out of them one day. I meant to keep them, but they were out in the garage and got forgotten.

I also wish I had a lot of her gardening stuff, but that just wasn't practical at the time. I am thinking of getting a flamingo lawn ornament for her grave.

[Comments] (1) New Toy: Every time I open the refrigerator door Maggie shrieks and points to her bottle of amoxicillin. Now she is carrying it around with her. Hmm, and her pants are falling off.

[Comments] (2) Awesome Things John Did Today: Got up early to go running. Bought prescription sunglasses. (Happy Father's Day!) Went to Wal-Mart with me so we could spent $100 on emergency preparedness supplies and picture frames for our soon-to-be family picture wall. Beautifully laid out said family picture wall. Took Maggie to the park and on a painstakingly slow walk down and up the block. Made a helpful suggestion for breakfast and raved about the result (raspberry muffins). Took me to dinner and let me order anything I wanted. Watched Maggie so I could go to the temple. Did LAUNDRY while I was gone. (Good thing I showed him how to use our new washer last week! He washed, dried, folded, put away and even remade our duvet & cover. (Maggie spit up on it last night.)) Pulled weeds. Filled water jugs, lugged them downstairs and arranged them. Cleaned up the kitchen, including washing muffin cups by hand. Swept the floor. Was generally adorable and sweet.

Calyso Beans 'n' Rice: I got this recipe from a frugal cook book. I'm making it for the third time tonight, for our friends this time. Maggie likes it too.

1 can black beans, rinsed
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 cup brown rice
2 cans chicken broth
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Combine the first three ingredients in medium bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While the beans are marinating, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft. Add rice and stir. Add broth, water, curry powder and cayenne pepper and blend well. Bring everything to a boil stirring well. Reduct heat to medium and simmer until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes (REAL LIFE: this took almost an hour). Salt and pepper to taste and serve in bowls.

[Comments] (3) Old School is New Again: Today I got out some of my old toys for Maggie to play with. Aside from three Piglets, a rolling piggybank (from Toy Story), a troll and a dino troll, I saved 5 My Little Ponies. (Maggie just came in carrying all three of the Piglets.) Per their bum tattoos, I've got Baby Mobilie, Christmas Stockingie (sent away for this with cereal box UPCs), Birthday Cakie (unicorn), Wormie (unicorn), and Braidie (her head twists, pulling in her tail, which you can then yank out again). Braidie is the only "adult" I saved.

Rachel and I had quite the collection of My Little Ponies back in the day. She had a male with a cowboy hat, and I got a My Little Pony birthday party set from Santa one year - I specifically remember plastic cake pieces with candles. We also had some "teenage" ponies with clear plastic wings that you could make flutter. Leonard was not ashamed to play My Little Ponies with us either, although I specifically recall him being Evil Pony.

Ponies these days have much more exciting toys. Ember got a Carnival for Christmas last year with a carousel, etc. The Ponies themselves are not any more exciting. Will they ever run out of bum tattoo ideas? I mean, 20 years ago I got one with worms on it, that is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel.

I was reading last night in a parenting book that "learning" toys do all the work for kids and they like creative play. This is why young children are often more interested in the box a toy came in. A lot of kids lose some of this creative interest and ability as they get older, from having toys do all the creative work for them I guess. Yay for My Little Ponies and creative play.

[Comments] (1) No TV Allowed: John and I noticed this week how little TV we've been watching. The weather is nice so we've been taking walks and working in the yard, and we've also both been reading a lot. I've read over 9000 pages so far this year, just passing the total amount I read in 2007.

Maggie still watches The Wiggles every chance she gets, but since I've moved the computer upstairs, that isn't too often. She is becoming a little bookworm herself and has developed a cute habit of "backing up" from her book basket to a lap, where she can sit and read comfortably.

[Comments] (1) Kicking the Habit: It's been two weeks since we took away Maggie's pacifier during the day. That means one kit-packing extravaganza at Jamie's house, going to church twice, two trips to the grocery store, and countless rides in the car. Success! It wasn't as difficult as I was afraid it might be. In fact, other than having to give her a cheesestick at the grocery store, I didn't have much trouble at all. She fell asleep in the car without it three or four times.

I guess I am mostly afraid of making her go to sleep in her crib without it. We can put that off for a while yet.

Tuesday Morning: Tuesday is our new shopping day since Monday's got too busy with Grandma and often helping Jamie. I drive out to Wal-Mart, where I save enough on groceries to make up for the gas going out there. This Wal-Mart is nice and clean and when I shop on Tuesday mornings it is not crowded at all. Maggie enjoys going to the store and chatters happily, seat-belted in, and helps put things in the back of the cart.

This afternoon we had our playdate with Tasha and Colette because Maggie has a doctor's appointment during our usual time tomorrow. We were planning to walk to Thanksgiving Point and look at the farm animals (you can see nearly all of them for free from the parking lot), but it is insanely windy, so we just played inside instead. Tasha says John and I are "fine diners" because I make such fancy meals, but I saw the recipe for what she's making tonight and it's definitely fancier than the beef stir-fry recipe I'm trying out.

Tuesdays also mean piano lessons for Ember, and cleaning the floor (check and check).

Fifteen Month Maggie:
Weight: 19 lb 8 oz., Height: 29 inches (both around 5th%)
Words she can say: Dada, bye-bye, mama, woof, *elephant trumpet*, doggie, moo
Words she has said: gramma, kitty, duck
Signs she can do: more, all done, drink, eat, sleepy
Favorite Book: ABC book I made her
Favorite Show: The Wiggles
Favorite Foods: cheese, pizza
Favorite Flower: dandelions, or anything in the next yard down
Favorite Stuffed Animal: Piglet
Favorite Toy: farm and animals

Maggie can: walk (two speeds: plodding and “escape!”), climb onto a small chair, feed herself using her fingers or a fork, drink from a cup, climb up and down stairs, point to her head, hair, teeth, nose, ears, tummy and toes, go down the slide by herself, scribble, help clean up, open cupboards and drawers, ride her car.
Good girl: throws things in the trash, hangs up her towel, puts dirty laundry in the basket, puts books and bath toys away.
Naughty girl: Climbs out of high chair, throws food on the floor, slaps, doesn’t respond to “come here”
Sensitive girl: Cries when told “no.”
Cute girl: Talks on the “phone” (or calculator) to Grandma and Daddy; “reads” books; points to airplanes, the moon and hand gliders; loves to see flowers, dogs, and cars on walks; gives kisses; snuggles her stuffed animals; likes baths.

: Maggie got up with the roosters this morning. John took her in the backyard so I could get some more sleep (since now I have to deal with a grumpy baby all day). We've been breaking our backs removing thatch from our lawn, so John spent his morning doing that! Maggie managed to make it through two grocery stores before falling asleep in the car at an early hour. Now I can go attack the lawn.

Also, I scrapbooked.

Everything's Goin' My Way: I woke up this morning resigned to going about my day as Maggie would have me do. Little did I know she was willing to make it work for me. She slept in, so I got up and hurried and got ready to go work at Jamie's. She behaved while we worked, watching The Wiggles and playing with her cousins. Then we went to the $1 movie (Jamie bought the summer pass where you can see a movie for 50 cents each week). Maggie fell asleep and slept through the entire movie! It made my arm a bit sore, but it was definitely worth it. I actually didn't have to worry about her naptime. We stopped by Auto Zone on the way back to Jamie's. Did you know they will tell you why your Check Engine light is on for free?

Jamie and I were able to finish up the kits, then I took Maggie to the library for a nice leisurely read (or, in Maggie's case, a chance to pull as many books off the shelf as possible). I was resigned to just dropping off our checked out items on the way home for her nap, so this worked out nicely. She took another very long nap this evening, so I got to read and take a little nap myself.

We did have to cancel our playdate with Tasha and Colette, so we're going to meet at her in-laws' tomorrow to play in the kiddie pool. And tonight is Girl's Night Out. Only Jodi is coming from our family, but it should be fun!

[Comments] (2) I think she's trying to tell me something: I realized this week that Maggie has been signing "drink" to me for some time now; she just kind of made up her own sign for it. She's probably thinking, "Mom, what's your problem? I am saying 'drink'."

Also, on Monday I was scrapbooking and I heard her dirtying her diaper. Having already changed three diapers that day, I decided to wait a bit and make sure she was done. Next thing I know, Maggie is standing next to me with two diapers and a tube of A&D. So cute and helpful! Later that day she was playing on the porch while I worked in the yard, and wanted in the front door. I let her in, then spent a minute cleaning up before I headed inside. Maggie was there to greet me with a handful of diapers. (Yes, 5 dirty diapers, and I don't think that was the end of it either.) Even though there are plenty of times Maggie is screaming or pointing and I have no idea why, it's wonderful to see her new communication skills and independence bloom.

We had the best time today at Colette's grandma's house. They had set up a Little Tikes slide into the wading pool, so Maggie was perfectly happy to get in the pool - she loves slides. She spent a couple hours playing outside with Colette's cousins. Colette was a little more timid of the water, but eventually got in. In addition to the other kids, and slide and pool, they had a baby swing, a Cozy Coupe and Popsicles, so Maggie was in heaven. I wish I'd taken my camera.

I was a little sad to think that Colette's oldest cousin is the same age as Maggie's youngest. Maggie sure enjoyed playing with a bunch of kids more her age. I guess nursery will be good for her.

Also, Rachel made me happy today by showing my scrapbook gallery to a friend who loves to scrapbook.

[Comments] (2) Summer School Musical: This evening I started teaching 2 new piano students, my adorable next door neighbors. They are very excited (well, one of them is) and already know a bit about music. Their parents are enthusiastic about them learning to play the piano, so they are off to a good start.

Ember had a piano lesson also today. I was lucky enough to have Erin drop me off to pick up the Pathfinder on her way home (if a ride to spend $950 can be considered lucky).

I did grocery shopping, went to the library, did a little weeding and laid around the house reading today. Oh, and I also made a fantastic recipe called Layered Caribbean Chicken Salad for dinner. John loved it, as he should since it was chock full of his favorite ingredients. John is home for his "vacation", but with his strained ankle, he isn't having much fun. We were going to stay the night at the cabin, but he can sit on the couch just as easily here, and we think maybe walking on the uneven gravel up there last weekend is what aggravated his ankle.

Handy Maggie: Maggie has become obsessed with light fixtures. Everywhere we go she looks up and notices them and points. She just noticed the one in the stairwell. "Look, Mom! A light!" Wow.

Chocolate Pudding: This recipe is from the Mennonite cookbook, More-With-Less. It was runny when I made it (maybe because I used skim-milk?) but even still was the BEST pudding I've ever tasted! I also calculated that is is 10-15 cents less than a store brand box.

1/3 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. cocoa
2 c. milk

Cook on low until thickened, stirring constantly. Add 1 t. vanilla.

[Comments] (2) Black Tie, Blue Dress: Last night John and I attended the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Banquet for the Utah region. John signed us up as volunteers, handing out name tags so we could enjoy a fancy event and a fancy dinner together. We had a blast.

Jodi was nice enough to come watch Maggie the entire evening (and half the afternoon). Franco even came over and painted one of the walls in our stairwell red while we were gone. It looks great, and he did a terrific job, putting the rest of the paint job in the room to shame. But back to our evening.

John wore his blue suit and I wore the navy lace dress that mom made me to take to BYU to wear to formals. I had to dig my beaded white flip flops out of the DI bag to wear with it. We showed up very early to set up name tags and then sit there. We just had to help people find their name tags as they arrived.

The whole event was like a fancy, fancy slightly less interesting Academy Awards. We got to check out everyone's fancy dresses, red carpet, spotlights, cameras, fancy pre-made video footage of all the finalists, celebrity host (ok, it was a news anchor I'd never heard of. He left at 9:30 for the 10:00 news (which I don't watch) but Jay Leno does the national awards). Seriously Fancy event. The food was pretty good, fancy but I was starving.

Anyway, it was lots of fun and John says he gets brownie points for volunteering, so I said, "sign us up next year!" Thanks again to Jodi for babysitting.

Some quotes: "That's 'penultimate' for all you English majors... but I don't suppose there are many of those here tonight." "To be successful, always be worth more than your employer pays you."

Pepperoni Pasta Salad: I never make pasta salad (other than Thai Pasta Salad), but this seemed kid-friendly and easy with on-hand ingredients. It was pretty good, even better the next day for leftovers.

2 c. uncooked pasta - cook and cool
1 c. cubed cheese
1 c. bell pepper
2 green onions
1 small tomato
28 slices pepperoni
1/2 c. italian dressing

I used shell pasta (I think the recipe said tricolor spirals) and colby jack cheese (John recommends mozzarella). Next time I am going to add some olives.

Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches:
2 c. plain yogurt
1 c. sugar
1 c. buttermilk
2 T. lemon juice
1 lemon zest
16 graham crackers broken in half
Shredded coconut (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and freeze for 1 – 1 ½ hours until the mixture starts to thicken.
Scoop out and press about ¼ c. of the semifrozen yogurt mixture between two graham cracker squares. Wrap each in waxed paper and freeze 30 minutes or until firm.
If using coconut, put some on a plate and dip all four edges of the sandwich to coat.

So, these were incredibly delicious and easy to make. I got tired of making sandwiches halfway through and we ate the rest of the frozen yogurt from the bowl. Also, I used lime instead of lemon because I had some leftover from the Caribbean Chicken Salad. So it tasted like key lime pie. This recipe is from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook, but there is nothing weird hidden in it.

John: What is this green stuff? Broccoli?
Susie: Yeah, it's from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook. (It was actually lime zest.)

[Comments] (3) Food and Money: My Two Loves: I've come to realize that I love grocery shopping. Maybe it's because I shop at Wal-Mart now. Maybe because Maggie is so well-behaved and kind of fun to take. I think it has more to do with my 3-month food storage supply organizing, and my bargain hunting/budget staying-within. I try to make my list up ahead of time, with things we want to eat during the week, ingredients for new recipes I want to try (I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately) and things I need to bring to any events coming up (this is the hard part). It takes me about an hour to do all the shopping.

I love coming home with groceries to unload, and putting them away in my neat, organized (and full!) pantry. Maggie usually plays on her car in the garage while I'm bringing them in; she also likes to take things off the bottom shelf of the pantry and put them back on. Today we went to the store much later than usual because we went to the PO and the library first, so she fell asleep in the car on the way home.

After everything is put away, I got to Mommysavers to record how much I spent vs. my budget. I was under budget $5 last month. Not so impressive considering my budget keeps going up!

As I have been making more and more things from scratch, some rather experimentally, I created a spreadsheet to help me calculate the cost of making an item at home. (I'll admit I got the idea from the Tightwad Gazette, just about the only thing I got from the book.) I put the cost-per-ounce and weight of ingredients, and formulas to show me cost-per-cup, per tablespoon etc. It is about 40 cents for me to make chocolate pudding from scratch (plus milk). Even the house brand pudding is more than that, and my pudding is much more delicious.

Also, it cost about 1/6 as much to mail Leonard's birthday present as it did Rachel's.

[Comments] (2) The Fourth: I try to remember to call "the Fourth of July" "Independence Day", but whatever. We were lucky enough to attend another exciting gathering at the Lehi Pool with all of John's extended family (Grandma June's posterity). It was a lot of fun. Maggie scoped the scene from her floatie, I jumped off the high dive, and John and I both participated in the relay races. I got put on the "misc" team - the other teams were made up of people from the same family - with people who probably didn't really know who I was, and we didn't win, but I had fun trying and am sore.

After the pool we went up to the cabin for a giant BBQ. Maggie got dragged around (literally) by John's cousin's 3 year old. They were pretty cute playing together and I think it was good for Maggie who will soon be subjected to such things in nursery. We need to get her around more kids in that age group. We spent the night at the cabin and took a few nice walks with Jodi. Saturday morning Maggie came with us and got to pet a horse! She was just tickled.

John and I are lamenting the attitude of the kids (including, most likely, ours in the future) at being at the cabin. Whatever happened to going for an exploration hike, or playing hide and seek? When did kids start moping about and begging to go home because there's nothing to do? Of course there's nothing to do! There's supposed to be nothing to do! In the past John has made exciting treasure hunts for the little ones, but James and Hannah are gone.

Speaking of James and Hannah, Nathan dropped off SIX BAGS of hand-me-downs on their way to Las Vegas. Of course, it'll be years before Maggie grows into some of it, and now we have 8 years worth of boy clothes to store, but I'm still excited. Maggie has claimed the Care Bear Halloween costume as her new snuggly.

If you are worried I have died: No fear: that great honor belongs to my computer. Boo.

Overheard: "Maggie, I want you to know that Daddy loves Mommy." I think John knew I could hear him, but that doesn't make it any less sweet.

: Maggie learned how to do "Ring Around the Rosies" by herself today. We did it in Cuddle Time last week, and after doing it once with me today she caught on. So cute.

I am getting ready to go to Chicago for CHA with Jamie later this week. A new state to visit, if we don't have major air travel trouble. I'm so excited; I love CHA.

Yay Me: I turned on Mom's laptop to type up some recipes during Maggie's nap, and behold! I got the internet to work. I tried this last week, but I don't know what I was doing wrong. This computer is a whole lot better than nothing, that's for sure.

[Comments] (1) : I took Maggie to story time today. Aside from her usual story time friend, I invited two girls from the ward with little ones. The premise was a playdate for Maggie with a girl who will be in nursery with her. We had a lot of fun.

I also dropped Maggie off for Erin, Ember and Jazzy to babysit while I went to the temple.

Leaving for Chicago very early tomorrow. I'm very excited for trip, but I will miss John and my little baby.

[Comments] (3) Chicago Travelogue: I made it home about 10:30 last night. It was a long trip, but I had so much fun! I am already excited for CHA winter in Anaheim in January. So here's the scoop on our trip.

First of all, I would like to say that I love my Rainbow sandals. Yes, I wore flipflops to the show. Don't worry, I checked with Jamie first and she insisted she wouldn't be embarassed. I wore flipflops for two treks halfway across the country, walking all over downtown Chicago, and two days of the trade show, and my feet loved it. Way to go, Rainbow.

I didn't read a thing about Chicago or what we could do there ahead of time because for some reason I thought we weren't arriving until 6 pm, either because that's how long the flight took, or because Jamie had me convinced we'd be delayed. So when we arrived at our hotel at noon, we were a bit bewildered. After a chat with a friendly concierge, we set out (quite unprepared I might add) for a sight-seeing adventure. We paid $5 each for a transit pass and rode the train 1 hour into the city. Hmm. Should have asked how long the trip would take. I think the subway was a cultural experience for Jamie.

We were intended to take a free shuttle to Navy Pier and have lunch, but we were starving, and finally ate at a Corner Bakery. The free shuttle had a huge line and was no where in sight, so when a bus that said "Navy Pier" drove up, we thought "hey! transit pass... let's take the bus," and did. We walked around the Pier, hot and sticky (me wearing jeans and flipflops and *gasp* no sunscreen). We used a BOGO coupon on a speedboat ride out on Lake Michigan for a quick tour and view of the city. It was great and refreshing (Jamie got splashed). Then we made the 2 hour trek back to the hotel.

Thursday night we went with Jamie's friend Ashley to some sneak peek events - one was SEI, the other some company we weren't interested in, but they had better free food. Ashley won a small prize, and we all got a pack of an older line, a mini book and an album.

Friday morning we got up bright and early to march around the show collecting catalogues. We did the catalogue thing, aisle by aisle, I made an adorable Halloween book by Little Yellow Bicycle, and we shuffled back to the hotel. I should mention that the convention center has zero eateries anywhere nearby (although O'hare has the best airport food selection I've ever seen). Yuck. We ate in the bar for dinner and didn't eat lunch at all.

Evenings are spent with catalogues covering every inch of flat space, planning out kits. Overall we got about 4 1/2 months of kits planned, which is awesome and record-breaking. I got to do exciting jobs like picking out Bazzill (this is not nearly as exciting as it sounds and is also very difficult) and copying down what we ordered. I also kept a running list of places to go, people to see, stuff to buy, mistakes to fix, orders to make, papers to match etc.

Saturday was more of the same only a little more refined. We'd visited all the booths and looked at all the new products. This day we ran around making sure things matched, picking things out, coming up with embellishment and add on ideas, and doing the occasional make n take. I made a notebook using Basic Grey's new Eva line, a recipe book by Teresa Collins and a wooden mini book at Kaiser Craft. Kaiser is awesome because the art director stands there and throws out stuff while you're waiting in line (and I had to wait a while). I got 8 packages of their rhinestones and pearls, which I know love. Don't worry, Jamie ordered ALL of their new sparklies which I now get to enter into the store. Saturday night, more sprawling, more order making, more Bazzill swatching.

By Sunday we were killer organized. We handed in orders, made a few changes, did a make n take and ended up sitting in the lobby going through our free stuff because we had nothing else to do. CHA=free stuff to me. Seriously. I won a huge prize, plus a lot of companies give you gifts/samples when you order. Basic Grey and Scenic Route handed out a sheet of each one of their new papers. So that's all in addition to the make n takes. I took pictures on Jamie's camera, although that was before we'd turned in most of our orders and gotten more. I am only keeping about 1/3 of the stuff, so CC prize winners will be seeing some of it soon!

We ended up going to the airport 4 hours early because we were tired of eating hot tamales for lunch. (Thanks, Bazzill!) We ate a Macaroni Grill, then sat around reading for hours. I'm so glad to be home. Maggie was kind enough to sleep three hours so I could sleep a bit in addition to getting laundry and unpacking done. I missed my baby and it's good to be home.

[Comments] (1) Now I Know How My Mother-in-Law Feels: When I'm making dinner Maggie likes to take things from my pantry and cupboards for her own little kitchen. Sneaky, sneaky. She used to be satisfied with Matzo mix and Pasta Roni, but lately has been branching out (reaching up) to beef and chicken broth and olives.

[Comments] (1) My Cissy Lies Over the Ocean: One nice thing about having my sister so far away is that it's easier for her to keep a secret. Just over two years ago (I hadn't been to the doctor yet) I said to her, "So would you rather have a niece or a nephew for your birthday?" then sent her off to Serbia for two months.

The other nice thing is that she sends nice presents to Maggie. I miss having my sister aound so I'm looking on the bright side.

Poor Maggie is quite sick. John was up with her most of the night and had to go teach Sunday School this morning. I hope Maggie will take some semblance of a nap because we are having a Chadwick July birthday party this afternoon.

[Comments] (2) 5 Years: In honor of our anniversary yesterday, Maggie woke up at 6:00 and whined all day. Whee. She seems to be doing much better today and has even decided to start eating again.

I'm typing on the beautiful new computer we got for our anniversary. I've never used such a large screen before, it's very nice on my poor tired eyes. I'm so excited to have a working computer again, and a nice one at that. Hooray! Thanks, Sweet Baboo!

The Time Has Come: Maggie ran around Relief Society like a wild one today. I'm taking her to nursery next week.

[Comments] (1) Monday Monday: This morning Maggie and I woke up at 7:40 when the phone rang. It was Grandma June calling to say that she is getting a new roof on her house today, so we probably didn't want to visit her. Grandma loves to try to talk people out of visiting her. It doesn't work on me. Nice try.

Maggie and I went to Wal-mart to get some groceries. I am trying hard to stay in my budget this month. One forthcoming difficulty in this is the Pampered Chef party I'm having on the 13th (Come if you're around, and if you're not and want to order something, you can do that online). I am determined to stay under budget though.

After the store, we dropped by Jamie's to get some stuff from mom (there helping Jamie move), dropped by our house to unload the groceries, and headed to Lehi to visit Grandma. We had a perfectly lovely visit which included watching Cameron and Hillary move out of the house next door and Maggie playing with Taylee on the swingset. We also went to McDonald's. Maggie got a late start on her nap for the third day in a row, but seems to be taking it better today.

I've been feeling down today. I sure am glad to stay home with my little Maggie, though.

I've Emerged: From my Breaking Dawn cocoon (aka The Twilight Zone. It was nice to have an end to the saga, although I didn't find the book as engrossing and wonderful as the previous three. Of the two shocking revelations, I'd guessed one of them, which was annoying. Good writing though, and once again I loved the chapter names. I'll get back to being a parent now.

[Comments] (1) Cryogenics: I just caught Maggie checking on her Autopia Car drivers in the freezer of her toy kitchen. How ironic.

Maggie's new favorite song is "The Wheels on the Bus". I also sing her "The Fish in the Sea" which makes it longer and less boring (for me).

We went for a walk this afternoon to get the mail and deliver some visiting teaching assignments. We saw about 15 kids outside playing and looked at flowers of every color. Maggie loves to point at something and say (or shout) "da!" until I tell her what color it is.

Happy thoughts: I love having a mouse with a scroll button, a 10-key, and a visiting teaching companion who actually wants to do something.

[Comments] (2) Fun Times: John had a lot of work to do today, so I did some work for Coordinates Collections and sewed. I've been dreaming up a bunch of projects in my head lately. A trip to JoAnn might be coming up this week. I dragged John to two grocery stores to get some really great deals that were going on today. Maggie's decided (after I put her down late every day this week) she is no longer napping at noon and slept 2-5 today.

This evening there was a block party for our neighborhood. There was hot dogs and potluck food (I brought Spicy Oven Fried Potatoes, which were a hit), games for the kids and a magic show by the Bishop. The kids all got cool magic wands. I can't say that I met anyone new, but it was fun.

[Comments] (1) Playmates: I took Maggie to nursery for the first time today. She enjoyed play time and I tried to sit back out of the way and let her do her thing, which she was ok with. After that the younger kids had a snack and did some coloring. Maggie ate and colored a little bit, but cried and clung to me. The last bit was singing time, which I thought she would love. Boy was I wrong! She screamed every time a new song started. I finally took her out and gave her some milk and cereal. At least I know in a few weeks I can leave her alone and she'll eventually calm down after I leave.

Some people in the neighborhood invited us over for dinner. They have two little girls and a new baby boy. We all had a good time (John opted out of Boggle by holding the baby). Maggie enjoyed the company and the new toys, including a talking ride-on horse. They also offered to lend us their hiking backpack, so we'll definitely be giving that a try soon.

[Comments] (1) TP $2 Tuesdays #2: Tasha and I went to Thanksgiving Point again today. This time we went to the Gardens, including the Children's Discovery Garden. No pictures yet because we used Tasha's (much nicer) camera. (ETA: Pictures up now here.) It was beautiful and the girls enjoyed seeing the waterfalls, playing with the flowers, and splashing in the water play area. Next week we're hoping to brave the huge line and go to the museum. Maybe it won't be so bad since school down there starts next week.

[Comments] (3) : Yesterday was a very busy and fun day. I took Maggie on a bunch of errands in the morning. I took her to the aquarium where she touched a starfish and I a stingray. She really likes the brightly colored tropical fish and the sea jellies. We also went to Target, the library, the post office, Kohl's (I had a $10 free coupon which I used to get some Mr. Potato Head toys for Christmas (spent $2.)), and Joann to get some fabric for sewing projects I'm working on. I've been an ambitious crafter lately.

I hosted a Pampered Chef party in the evening. It was a lot of fun. We made a yummy dessert and I made hummus. 10 people came, plus 5 babies (not including Maggie and Ember who played downstairs the whole time). I love Pampered Chef and I'm excited to get some free stuff.

This afternoon we are going to Park City for a work activity with EY. I haven't had time to get excited about it, but it should be a lot of fun!

[Comments] (1) Park City Fun: Yesterday afternoon we drove our cranky baby to Park City to have some fun on Uncle Ernie (as John calls work when he buys us things). We had these passes good for unlimited-everything at Park City resort. Unfortunately, between our sick baby and our small baby we didn't get to do everything, but it was a ton of fun. We took Maggie up the ski lift to go on the Alpine Slide. Then we had some dinner and Maggie took a little nap. She woke up in a much better mood and we went on the lift and slide two more times, which Maggie was thrilled about. We also each took a turn on the Alpine Coaster. I love roller coasters, so this "personal coaster" was way fun. We also went over and looked at the horses.

Overall, a fun activity-filled afternoon that I never would have paid for myself. Thanks, Uncle Ernie.

[Comments] (1) I am so awesome: I made myself a new purse. All by myself. With no help from my mommy. (Other than the free cream-of-the-crop sewing machine and a little bit of genetic crafting skill). I had to use about 6 different online tutorials instead, including Bernina's how to use a zipper foot (which I still haven't figured out). I am hoping some talented, bored, old lady will emerge from obscurity at the Relief Society Talent Auction next week and offer to teach me how to sew. I mean really sew. I told you I was getting ambitous.

Also, I found the rack of bobbins I kept from mom's house. Somehow I've been using two bobbins for four colors over the last month. I'm so glad to have 20 more!!

: We went to dinner at the Tyler and Tasha's tonight. Tyler blew bubbles outside for the girls. Maggie sat like a princess on the porch steps and did cute poses in her Sunday dress. She had a better day in nursery today. Maybe we'll be able to sneak out at 18 months.

Off to go pick out my free Pampered Chef stuff.

Fortunate: There is a fortune cookie slip on our whiteboard that says, "You will inherit a large sum of money."

On the back of it I wrote, "5/31/06 haha."

[Comments] (6) Talented: Today was a busy day. We went early to meet Tasha and go to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point. We had to wait in line and it was very crowded - $2 for the museum is the best deal of all. Maggie wasn't very into it, other than the tunnel you can climb through and the live things (a few fish). She didn't quite get the skeleton thing. I could practically hear her thinking, "Elephant? C'mon, Mom, it doesn't even have a trunk." Oh, she also liked the dinosaurs with wings, she kept pointing to them.

As soon as we got home Maggie went down for a nap and Erin dropped Ember off. I did Ember's piano lesson, then she watched Peanuts while I did some CC work. After naptime, Ember watched Maggie while I did more piano lessons. Then we took Ember home and said hi to Logan and Jazmine.

I made Tortilla Cigars for dinner, which Maggie loved, then we went to Enrichment which was a Talent Auction. Maggie had to come because poor John didn't get home from work until 9:00 (and is back at it again in the kitchen).

The talent auction was awesome. Everyone got or lost points based on things like having read your scriptures, or what colors you were wearing, or if you'd eaten any chocolate. Everyone also brought a talent to donate. I donated a dress like this one. There were things like desserts, baby quilts, wreaths, haircuts, jam, a pumpkin from someone's garden, etc. I scored big time with a set of fabric pumpkins (now I don't have to make my own not-as-cute ones!), a baby wipes/diaper holder (now I don't have to make my own not-as-cute one!) and a set of cards (now I don't have to make my own not-as-cute ones!). I got a lot, and I am really excited about the pumpkins. When we decorate for Halloween I'll post a picture. I was planning to make some, but these are way cuter than what I would have done. I was pleased to see people wanted the dress I made - makes a girl feel good! I'll feel even better when I see the baby wearing it to church in a year (she's teensy).

[Comments] (1) Lagoon/Cabin Fun Days: Two more long, exhausting and exciting days this week. My friend Theresa and I took our babies to Lagoon. She had 1/2 price tickets and no one to go with and insisted on paying for me, so we went. Did you know that you have to pay to take babies to Lagoon? What a joke. They can go to Lagoon A Beach and on three of the rides for free. So that's what we did.

We got there before it opened and staked out a prime spot on the "beach". I decided to go on a waterslide before there was a line. Well, I climbed all the way up there without a tube and was left with Scary Slide #1 or Scary Slide #2 - you know, the plunge to your death slides? What was I thinking? The Lagoon website says "plunge nearly 70 feet straight down". Yikes. I hyperventilated the whole way down, but managed to survive. Barely.

We basically floated around the lazy river all day, and I mean all day. Maggie and Devan both fell asleep! I got a bit sunburned in places I missed, either because I couldn't reach or Maggie was distracting my sunscreen-putting-on. We rode the fastest merry-go-round I've ever been on, and waited in line for the train to take us around Utah's Second Largest Zoo. Then we came home.

Today we went to Grandma June's and Susan picked the three of us up and took us to the cabin. A day at the cabin with my in-laws and Maggie's great-grandma? Fun, I promise! We sat around doing nothing and chatting while Maggie played with cars. I took Maggie for a little walk to pet some horses, which she loved. I haven't been for a walk up there without someone to talk to maybe ever. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet. Maggie was exhausted but propping her eyelids open and was perfectly content with my occasional commentary of butterflies and flowers.

Tomorrow we are going to Logan for Jamie and Dave's "reception" so another fun and long day for us.

: We've let Maggie get good and used to facing forward in the car with all the driving we've done lately. Yesterday we drove up to Logan to meet Dave's family and have a little party for Jamie and him. Today after church we drove up to the cabin to relax a little bit. We went for a nice walk. Maggie has been taking naps later in the afternoon and slept in her stroller today.

I taught Sunday School today. 5 of our boys came. I read them The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. The lesson was on peer pressure, and I found a Recreational Therapy protocol using this book to teach about cliques and figured it would be close enough. It was. I've never had a class of such respectful teenage boys as when I was reading them The Sneetches out loud! Afterwards we talked for a bit and then played Pass the Pigs with each of them answering questions from the lesson before their turn (name an example of pressure (good or bad) from the scriptures or church history, etc.).

That Girl Sure Knows Her Colors: I had a temple recommend interview with the Stake President last night. He said to Maggie, "you have such big, beautiful brown eyes!" Maggie looked at him for a split second, then pointed to her brown pants.

[Comments] (1) Key word "Wish": Here's my birthday wishlist. I can dream.

iTunes $ (i'm willing to admit I want (need) to spend it on Wiggles songs for the car)
money that I can spend on sewing stuff
sewing lessons
IKEA: $7 lazy susan, $4 mesh strainer, $15 table lamp, $1.50 trash can, hippo fabric
book recommendations
gift certificates for restaurants
a trip to visit my siblings (or for them to visit me!)

You can view my Amazon Wishlist and buy me stuff from there too!

ETA: I could also use some substitute parenting/grandparenting. Aunt Anne is coming to visit me! Maybe Aunt Pat will decide Anne won't do a good enough job and bring Rachel up in October? Like I said, I can dream!

[Comments] (4) Richardson Musical Oddity Poll:

1. Do you know the song, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport"?
2. What words do you sing to "Pop Goes the Weasel"?
3. How much of The Music Man can you repeat off the top of your head? And how fast?

Think about it before you respond.

: Another weekend full of long days. Jamie and Dave's wedding was yesterday, so I got Maggie up early to drive up there for that. It was a nice wedding and Maggie survived an hour with 5 of her cousins and Uncle Franco. She enjoyed the flowers, the fountain, and being pushed around in her stroller. We took some pictures and headed home.

Today we went up to the cabin after church. We got to see everyone (except Jamie and Dave who are in Mexico), and Erin's parents were there too. We laughed about the teenage boys who came running out the door to see Maggie, and played with toy cars under the pool table even after she had lost interest. It got very cloudy and rained hard on the way home.

Hopefully, Maggie will go to nursery by herself next week. She did even better today, so long as no one else was playing with the toys she wanted to play with.

Ariel II: With the release of a third Little Mermaid video, Rachel realized she missed the second one.

Rachel: her daughter wants to be a mermaid not human?
i guess the seaweed is always green
er

[Comments] (1) Stalking: The Ultimate Form of Flattery: (Breaking Dawn Spoiler Alert)

Thanks a LOT, Rachel, for getting me hooked on Twilight Parodies. Make it stop. Seriously.

and it was the best series starting with a teenage girl in love with a mysterious boy in her class that ended up with a teenage girl defending her growth-accelerated mutant hybrid baby from an ancient clan of evil vampires with her magical psychic shield that I ever read, THE END.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

ETA: I can't help myself. This is re: Midnight Sun.

Also, he still has her Snapple cap in his pocket, because Edward Cullen is a thirteen-year-old girl.

Today I: Today is the third day this week Maggie and I have stayed home. Maybe to make up for all our "long days" recently, or to prep for next week which is looking hectic. Here's what I did today.

Mowed the back yard. Worked on making a counting board book for Maggie. Cut a sign out of chipboard to decorate for Thanksgiving. Picked up some leaves. Pulled some weeds. Put 3 sets of paper packs together for Jamie. Did the dishes. Cleaned the table. Unloaded the dishwasher. Cleaned the countertops. Watered the plants. Cleaned both upstairs bathrooms. Painted Maggie's toenails. Removed nail polish from Maggie's toenails. Took an adorable video of Maggie. Got the mail. Took Maggie to the park. Mowed the front lawn. Cleaned up after the neighbors dog. Picked some free peaches. Went through the mail, including all my new coupons. Call Leonard about a suspicious package which arrived for me. Changed two dirty diapers. Changed the batteries in two of Maggie's whiny electronic toys. Chatted with Rachel. Cleaned up toys.

[Comments] (3) : John was home today but had to work nearly the entire day. Maggie and I made do going through her 18-24m and 2T clothes. Such a big girl! I also made some peach jam, finished a few crochet projects, and started a sewing project. And did some CC work. And wrote an article.

Oh yeah, Maggie and I also walked to the grocery store, about a mile away. It was a little too long in the stroller for Maggie, and of course, it was uphill the whole way home. The weather was nice so it was a good day for it, but I don't think I'll be doing it too often. Mostly because that store is so much more expensive than Wal-Mart. I just needed lids for my canning jars (Wal-Mart didn't have the right size) and my prescription, so it wasn't like I needed groceries.

Once John was done working I tried a new recipe and we walked to the park to play on the slides with Maggie. She had fun giving kisses through the railings.

[Comments] (1) Too Close: If I were Mom and Maggie were me, I'd be coming home with a new baby today. No thanks! I'm liking the one perfectly well-behaved munchkin I've already got.

[Comments] (1) Family History: Grandma June: Part 3: Maggie and I went on our usual Grandma June visit today. For some reason I had more fun than I normally do (not that it's ever boring). First of all, Maggie has learned right where the "toy drawer" is (just like me). We also brought her ride-on car today and sat in the backyard with the sun warming our backs and the kitty lying on the grass at our feet.

Also, Grandma gave me her garden rake (which I "borrowed" several months ago and haven't returned) and some crochet hooks I found (she never crocheted: one was still in the package). This worked out great since I lost my size F between finishing my frosting and sewing it on to the donut. She also tried to give me her knitting needles and the entire contents of her curio cabinet. And I won't deny that Maggie took Catwoman's car home with her.

So, for those not in the loop, Grandma is 90 years old and anxiously awaiting death. She also wishes she has more kids because (in retrospect) it was so easy. Ahem. Actual honest-to-goodness words coming out of her mouth:

Grandma June: Before I go out of this world, I want to hear you say you're expecting.
Susie: You're going to have to stick around a while then.
Grandma June: Well. I'm waiting.

I thought I would also record for posterity Grandma's description of a "game" people were playing over at John's cousin Sheryl's house. The room was dark. Everyone had an instrument. There was a screen with a show on it on a platform. There wasn't any furniture in the room. Um. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out it was Rockband - and another 5 minutes to explain it to her.

And finally - Grandma thinks Maggie and I are so cute because I am a stay at home mom and we spend all day together and are all attached. She figures she was like that also when she just had one litee toddler Susan. But anyway, we're cute. But Maggie still needs a friend (ie. sibling).

I brought home birthday cards for myself, Brook, and Ember. But I bet mine is the only one without any money in it. Cause I'm an "in-law". (Hmm. I can't seem to find if I posted about the time I asked Grandma to come live with us. She said "that's the nicest thing anyone's ever offered. And you're not even related to me!")

[Comments] (1) Uninformed Opinions: Well, I looked into politics today. I'm pretty sure that John told me that Joe Biden was running with Obama, but when Sarah Palin's site said she was having a debate with him I thought, "why?" and went to find out. At first I was incredibly turned off by the cheesy shot of him (I can't find it now, but apparently he always looks like that so take a look and you'll see what I'm talking about). But I see that he has foreign policy experience. I am very unimpressed by Palin from a political standpoint.

Since the issues I care about aren't really issues in this election, I am voting for spending money in our own country, rather than Iraq. Not that it matters, because I live in Utah.

[Comments] (1) Sweet 18: Our little precious turned 18 months this week. We celebrated (along with my birthday and, vicariously, Sumana's) by lunching with Aunt Anne and Aunt Sharon at Gardner Village. It was wonderful to see both of them.

We went to the pediatrician today. The office ladies loved my purse and Maggie's candy corn pants. Maggie loved the turtles and fish, but that's about it. She was 20 lb 10 oz (5%) and got two shots - hopefully now she is flu-proof because last year was awful.

After the doctor we went to JoAnn and the nearby grocery store (to pick up some loss leaders and Eclair Cake ingredients). I bought 1/4 yard of 8 different colors of felt and JoAnn. I don't know if I will bother making fake food for her, she is enjoying playing with the felt as is. She also loves the embroidery thread I bought. They were out of white t-shirt knit, so my experimental Maggie-long-sleeved-shirt-making will have to wait. Jodi is coming over to scrapbook tonight, so I had to put my sewing machine away anyway.

[Comments] (6) New-Clothes-a-Phobic: Maggie has developed a phobia of new clothes. At first I thought it was just new shoes (and who can blame her after comfy Robeez?). Then I thought maybe it was clothes Rachel sent her, or clothes that I made her. Then we broke out the next wave of hand-me-downs and she hates nearly everything.

The good news is she gets over it, one item at a time. I counted eight times that she wore her pink Croc knock-offs ($5 at Wal-Mart) before she didn't cry when I put them on. She didn't complain the third time she wore the candy corn pants, and for the most part she's stopped randomly complaining about what she's wearing hours after I put it on her.

I mentioned it to the doctor (who had never heard of such a thing) and he agrees that I should keep doing what I'm doing - distraction and "you're wearing it anyway." I should mention that I'm pretty sure it's not a texture thing. Same comfy pants in a different color = scary.

[Comments] (1) Early Birthday: We had our family birthday party today. I got everything I wanted! I got $$ to spend on new clothes (seriously. need. new. clothes. Without holes.), iTunes gift cards, restaurant gift card and Amazon gift card. Woo hoo! I will be doing some online shopping tomorrow, and definitely be making a trip to Old Navy and/or Target soon to fix my holey clothes problem.

I made an eclair cake, which was entirely gobbled up. "If God woke up early and made a cake today, this would be it." Yum. Also, Ember played two songs on the piano, which was very sweet and a good experience for her.

John had to leave early to go to work (against his will and better judgement). The guy making him come in showed up over an hour late! grrrrrrr. Also, Maggie's been quite clingy/fussy around other people lately. I'm wondering if it's because poor John has had to work so much. She wailed in nursery today and kept pointing towards the door - while I was in there with her. She just wanted her daddy.

[Comments] (2) Note to Self: Endure to the end… Be faithful… And, Stop acting that way!

Also: "I figure if things can't cook reliably with only a little guidance from me, they get what they deserve."

[Comments] (3) Clothes-A-Phobic Update: I forgot to mention that Maggie also has a problem when I wear new clothes. I have a grey sweater I wear 250 days a year (but not the past 100) and Maggie freaked out when I put it on a few days ago.

John thinks maybe Maggie is just a hand-me-down snob. I bought her some pink elephant pajamas and a kitty Halloween shirt at Target yesterday, and she was perfectly happy to wear the new shirt with some new black pants today.

[Comments] (6) Happy Birthday, Blog!: It’s been nine years since the gummy shark and I made our presence known on the World Wide Web. Not many people can say they’ve been blogging for nine years (I only know one). I didn’t really start writing until 6 months later, and judging from my short, reassuring entries, this was at Mom’s insistence. You know, since she never called. In the past nine years, I’ve gone from 2 readers to 7; pretty impressive considering one of the original two has since died.

Nine years is a long time. My blog has seen me through 13 moves, 3 boyfriends, 56 roommates, 5 countries, 15 states, 2 internships and 9 jobs (plus temp stuff, writing, and being a mom). It was there for me during the deaths of Danny, Grandma Jessie, Uncle Larry, Grandpa Dalton, Grandma Rosie, Mom and Jellybean. It saw my brother and two sisters-in-law get married (figuratively speaking, in Leonard’s case (especially since apparently I didn’t blog about it)) and my siblings both move thousands of miles away. I’ve had one wedding, one marriage, one pregnancy, one baby and one awesome husband.

I now have three blogs, so I've hopefully become better at blogging in the past nine years. Thanks for the 18th birthday present, Leonard.

No More Two-Teeth: Maggie officially cut her third tooth yesterday. Yes, it's true. My 18 month old has three teeth.

She also learned two words (besides "dada" and "bye-bye" (which sounds suspiciously like "dada")): "bubbles" and "no". She just says "no" because it's fun to say not because she doesn't want to do anything. So far.

Other fun Maggie facts: She is obsessed with stop signs and points them out everywhere she goes. Sometimes when she is crying and I can't figure out why, it's because her shoe is coming off.

Typical Monday: I really didn't do anything spectacular today, but I feel like blogging. So here you go.

Worked in the morning. Maggie and I went to visit Grandma June. It was raining, so it wasn't a terribly exciting trip. I brought a piano book so I could play her some non-hymns. When we got home, Maggie ate a terrific lunch of peas, cheese cubes, yummy balls, texas sheet cake, pear walnut muffin and puffs. Then she took a three hour nap.

During Maggie's nap I did some more CC work and painted in the garage a little. About the time she woke up I started on some Christmas presents for Rachel. Then I vacuumed and made potstickers for dinner. John got home pretty late so we took Maggie on a ride on her car to get the mail, then bedtime. Now I am relaxing. Sigh.

[Comments] (2) Be the Best Susie:

We each do the best we can. My best may not be as good as your best, but it's my best. The fact is thatwe know when we are doing our best and when we are not. If we are not doing our best, it leaves us with a gnawing hunger and frustration. But when we do our level best, we experience a peace. - Marjorie Hinckley

[Comments] (2) Fall Activities: We had a busy day today. Maggie was up all night again. She's decided to let her fourth tooth - a molar - come out. Crazy girl. John finished getting the primer on the garage walls, then we went on a hike to Donut Falls. It was supposed to be a ward hike, but we beat everyone there. We had to carry Maggie, but it was a lot of fun.

Maggie slept in the car, then we went to Cornbelly's corn maze at Thanksgiving Point. Tasha had called and said they had coupons to get in for $1 today! This was the best corn maze I've ever been to. There were so many fun activities for Maggie and Colette to enjoy. We took lots of pictures, and John took lots with me in them too!

As soon as we got home I hurried and changed for the General Relief Society broadcast. Everyone I know had tickets and we don't have a stake center, so I was actually quite surprised to see someone I knew there, a new girl in the ward. I had fun talking to her and I got a lot out of the meeting. I really enjoyed President Uchtdorf's comments on the inherent, divine desires to create and show compassion. I wish the congregation got to sing more at Conference though.

[Comments] (1) Bleh: I woke up feeling terrible this morning and spent the morning throwing up and crawling around to take minimal care of Maggie. Lucky Maggie was much better behaved today. She watched a lot of Wiggles and Baby Einstein and took a good nap so I could nap too. I feel a little better now and I was able to accomplish a couple of the things I needed to do today, although John had to get the lawn mowed. He left work at 4 to come take care of me. My legs are sooo achy.

Happy Conference: John took yesterday off (or tried to) so we spent the day working on lots of projects. We (mostly John) did a lot of painting in the garage. I sewed Maggie a candy corn tutu and started making a dress for Rachel. More of the same was planned for today, but it's raining so I don't know if we'll paint.

Fall Crop: Coordinates Collections is having a Fall Crop this weekend. The challenges will be up tonight and you have until Sunday to enter your projects. There are lots of awesome prizes up for grabs, so be sure to check it out. I actually planned ahead of time and got pictures printed, so I will definitely be scrapping this weekend.

In unrelated news, Rachel will be visiting next week and I can't wait!!

Projects, Pantries and Ponies: I've been on a Christmas-present making roll. I've got tons of sewing and crochet projects going on. I won't tell you what they are because I don't want to spoil anyone's suprises. But I'm really excited about a lot of them! I've also been working on Maggie's Halloween costume (for example). I also made and sent out a surprise for someone today.

This week we got a fancy new shelf for our laundry room. We got it to help organize our food and water storage. I am such a nerd and I love to look at my pretty, organized pantry and shelves all day long. And not just mine - I admired Tasha's for a good ten minutes the other week. She was pleased that she's not the only nerd.

Yesterday for our playdate we took the girls to the farm at Thanksgiving Point. We had a 50% coupon. Since it wasn't nearly so crowded as last time, and Maggie was begging, we took the girls on the pony ride. They were such big girls, bobbing along on the ponies. So cute.

[Comments] (1) Stocking Stuffer Solutions: Our family loves to do stocking stuffers - maybe a little too much. However, now that we are not all together on Christmas necessarily, I've discovered a snag. It's not quite as fun if we're not there to explain something. I came up with a solution to this and I'm putting marking tags with a description on some of the stocking stuffers I'm giving. I am restraining myself from writing apologies on the things I've made, although I'd undoubtably give them in person.

Also, I am being more organized this year and I wrote everyone's name on a brown lunch sack and lined them up on the shelf in the laundry room. Now I can add stocking stuffers as I collect them without rummaging through a pile of unmarked grocery sacks. Also, maybe the lunch sack size will keep me from overbuying. We'll see.

[Comments] (1) Woot Wandered Here: Rachel is here visiting and being the most helpful sister ever. She's done the dishes, utilized the seam ripper and chalk marker, and fully intends to clean the floors today. I don't know how much of this is because I am sewing her a dress to wear to a wedding next week, and how much is because she loves us. Hmm.

We went to Jon and Sharon's last night. Maggie had so much fun playing with the dogs, the kitties and Sarah. We had yummy stirfry and Rachel made lemon bars. Also, Maggie loves flamin' hot cheetos; Uncle Jon says babies don't develop spicy taste buds until 3 or 4, so that may explain it. Or she developed a taste for them in the womb.

We are having Girl's Night Out at my house tonight, and I have piano lessons, but other than that I will be sewing.

Family Soup: Last night we had John's extended female relatives over for Girl's Night Out (In). It was lots of fun. I picked up food from Zupa's, so that was delicious. We fit 9 of us around our table, Rachel and Camilla hung out downstairs, and John was kind enough to entertain Maggie and her 2nd cousin Julia at the Little Tikes table. Afterwards, Rachel and Camilla and I chatted for another hour.

Today we are going to the zoo and s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g.

Rachel is better than her friends: Rachel: I don't care. I'm more generous and giving.

[Comments] (1) Strongly Worded: This is for the six people who forwarded me that Prop 8 video about the man who was arrested in Massachusetts.

Will it really injure our children to learn in school that some men love men, some women love women, we still love those people, and in some places it is legal for them to marry? Let your children learn what's legal at school and teach them what's right at home - just like you do with everything else.

Religious Freedom is Intact! (near the end of the page). Amazing. Don't use lies to prove your point. It reminds me of the lies and fearmongering going around about Obama. "He's Muslim!" "His middle name is Hussein!" "He's black!" Who. Cares.

I am not concered that allowing gay people to marry is affecting my marriage or my "definition" of marriage and I'm tired of people forcing their views of others (by passing them into law, or just by being annoying). Gay people aren't trying to ban you. They just want rights for themselves.

And who says gay parents can't raise children well? Or that they'll turn out gay themselves? Chances are their parents weren't gay.

Also it bugs me that non-Californians (ie. Utahns) are so involved in this. The [California] Church's involvement is one thing: they have every right to defend, define and try to legalize their beliefs (although I think they may be overdoing it and shooting themselves in the foot). Are Utahns jealous they didn't get such a big fight putting up the law here? Maybe it is annoying in other states as well but I don't have to live there.

I guess I am a bit of a hypocrite because though I may be a California Girl, I am not a registered California voter. But everyone must think I have some influence or that it's my business what California does or they'd quit pressuring me to vote "Yes" on Prop 8.

Hey, a Barack Obama ad on the Deseret News website! (/soapbox)

Post-Busy Season Fun Week, Part 1: John is taking vacation this week so we've had lots of fun things planned. Saturday we went to see Wall-e at the Dollar Theater, where we had to pay for Maggie to do something for the first time. I liked the movie, other than the gaping plot holes. "I don't want to survive; I want to live!" Yay Earth. Eve teaches Wall-e how to say her name, and right in the middle of the movie Maggie cried out "eee-vuh!" So cute. We took a picnic dinner to the park that night.

Sunday after church we went up to the cabin. We were lucky enough to have water the whole time we were there. Also, we borrowed a back carrier for Maggie and went on two actual hikes! It was so much fun and it was nice to see all the pretty fall colors. Maggie enjoyed the carrier and even fell asleep in it this morning. We made her walk mostly up the road back to the cabin after our hike last night and she was cleaning up, picking up leaves off the road and putting them on the shoulder.

Last night we stayed up late playing Dominoes with John's parents, so of course Maggie woke up at 5 am. Bleh. So I'm off to bed. We're home doing church stuff/errands/piano lessons for the next few days, then off for more fun, this time in Park City!

Post-Busy Season Fun Week, Part 2: Another four-day, fun-times recap.

Tuesday: Erin was kind enough to watch Maggie all morning so that John and I could attend the temple together. Maggie had a great time borrowing some of Ember's toys and playing with Jazmine. What does Jazzy say? "woof!" of course.

Wednesday we went grocery shopping and took Maggie to storytime. Then we made some lunch and went to spend time with Grandma June. She wasn't doing very well and wouldn't let us leave until her son arrived so Maggie missed her nap for not the first or last time this week.

Thursday morning we got ready and drove to Park City. We went on a shopping spree at the outlets. I kept saying to John, "you're not spending enough" and "remember, we're saving money by being here." Sadly, the Geoffrey Beene outlet is closing. Happily, we bought piles of work clothes for John and shirt for me at 70% off there. We bought a stocking stuffer for each of us and another shirt for me and absolutely nothing for Maggie.

We stayed at Uncle Justin's condo for the low price of $5 in household products. Maggie enjoyed Meet the Numbers and John and I enjoyed our library books. We also took a long walk around the neighborhood. We went to dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, A Taste of Saigon, in downtown Park City, and walked to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory where we spent $6 on dessert and let Maggie play in the bookstore. Then Maggie went to bed (she refused to nap) and John and I watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Today we lay around, went for another long walk and watched some TV. (Cable! Playhouse Disney!) Then we walked around downtown again, bought a Christmas ornament, ate lunch at Pizza Hut, cleaned up the condo and came home. This was all cleverly planned to allow Maggie to nap on the way home.

It's been nice to have John home for this week and we'll miss him when he goes back to work on Monday. I am excited for Maggie to start napping again though. She's exhausting!

Post-Busy Season Fun Week, Part 3: Once again... Saturday we dressed Maggie up as a Candy Corn Princess and took her to Boo at the Zoo. Lame! Waiting in line for candy? Tons of people and No Parking? Lame, I tell you! Not doing it again. Maggie did get to pet a snake and an opossum.

In the afternoon, since we hadn't returned the hiking carrier, we drove up to Suncrest and went hiking in Corner Canyon. This adventure was much more enjoyable. We try to take advantage of things like this nearby because you never know how long you'll be nearby. We need to get one of those hiking carriers. We went for a walk around the neighborhood to return it when we got home and Maggie talked us into taking her to the park. Sweet talker.

Last night I made a delicious pumpkin roll for dessert. It is so good that John wants me to bring it to the Trunk-or-Treat on Thursday, and also make it for Thanksgiving. I've been afraid of pumpkin rolls my whole life, but it was really easy and fast. Yum.

Today Maggie was unceremoniously left in the nursery (John waited until there were plenty of adults in there before taking her). When we peeked in after our Sunday School class she was happily playing and the report is that she sang, did some actions to the songs, and she also brought home a picture she had colored. Nursery Success! A happy day.

Bad Night: Between the practically impossible-to-remove, impossible-to-open smoke dectector with the practically impossible-to-change battery, two dirty diapers and John's phone battery dying, it was a very long night.

: I made $12.35 from people reading my articles in October. $12.35 may not sound like a lot of money, but it's money I got for doing absolutely nothing - just from people reading articles I wrote over the past year and have already been paid upfront for. Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I have some really popular Christmas articles out there so I'm hoping to make a lot the next few months. It looks like I made over $350 writing articles in the past year, and that sounds good to me.

[Comments] (1) Halloweeness: Today was Maggie's second Halloween. Last year was, let's face it, LAME, so this being her first real Halloween we did tons of fun activities.

Last night was the ward Trunk-or-Treat. We had lots of fun, but not nearly enough candy. It was standing room only for dinner, I think most of the neighborhood was there. I think we would have given out more candy last night than tonight if we'd hadn't run out. Maggie was darling in her Candy Corn Princess costume, but grumpy by the time candy-getting came around.

Today Mom and I drove to SLC and went to a party at John's work. We had delicious sugar cookies, Maggie charmed everyone, and got to decorate a pumpkin with stickers. Afterwards Mom and Jodi picked up Zupa's and came to our house for dinner and trick-or-treating.

Unfortunately, the beautiful weather we've had all week turned into rain the moment we stepped outside to take Maggie trick-or-treating. She enjoyed it though, knocking on the doors and saying "treek-or!". She was willing to carry her wand, and said thank you.

I love being in a real neighborhood with kids who came trick-or-treating! I would have liked to do more trick-or-treating, not because we need more candy but I enjoyed meeting some new neighbors. It wasn't cold, but we didn't have umbrellas on the first trip, and the second one was nearing Maggie's bedtime - and she didn't get a nap. Maybe next year when Maggie is a year older it will be even more enjoyable.

Word Girl: Maggie's starting to pick up words all over the place. Last night while trick -or-treating she pointed at the umbrella and I told her what it was and she started saying "lella!"

We borrowed Meet the Numbers from the library to take to Park City and Maggie's picked up the numbers really fast. I got out her foam numbers to play with in her bath yesterday and today she grabbed the eight out of the bucket and said, "eight!" Seriously! I love these DVDs - Maggie also learned her colors from them. I requested Meet the Shapes from the library, although she kind of already knows them.

Speaking of speaking, Maggie apparently made up a sign for "sorry" - she puts her hand on the back of her neck. Not sure where it came from, but she does it whenever we ask her to say she's sorry. Also, "Aunt Jodi"="sss" ???, "shh"="binky" (because she only allowed it when she sleeps) and Thursday she said "Tuh" twice when I mentioned Colette. ETA: I don't know if I've previously mentioned that fish say "glub glub" or "wubwubwub" and kitties say "mmmm!"

I Voted!: And I wasn't the only one.

[Comments] (2) America Has Spoken: and We Want Change.

In the 2004 Presidential Election, Utah was Bush's strongest state with 72% of the popular vote (Kerry 26%). While it comes as no surprise that Utah went for McCain in this election, I'm happy to say that he only had 63% and Obama 34%. Congrats to Leonard for correctly estimating a 10% drop in Republican supporters in Utah this election.

I'm even prouder to say that Salt Lake County was 49% McCain, 48% Obama (2004 Salt Lake County results were Bush 60%/Kerry 38%). The Obama votes were higher earlier last night. It seems as though highly Democratic precincts are faster in getting their data turned around. Interesting...

The next two years (at least) are going to be rough, but I'm glad we won't just be having more of the past eight.

Food, Family and Fun: As John mentioned, much more wittily than I could, we went to dinner last night with Brook, Erin, Logan and Ember. Nathan and Ashley gave Brook and I gift cards to the same restaurant. It was fun and yummy - I had sweet potato fries with my ribs - and Maggie enjoyed playing with her cousins.

Next summer we are planning a Grand Chadwick Yellowstone Adventure with John's parents and Brook's and Jamie's families. That's at least 16 people - more if Jodi's and Nathan's families are able to come. John's parents put down a deposit on a brand-new, fancy, 8 bedroom, 5 bathroom "cabin" for us to stay in. It's 7 months away, but I'm getting excited for it already.

[Comments] (2) The Blue Four: The Uno deck at Mom's house carried a hallmark card - the Blue Four with teethmarks from yours truly. You could always tell when someone held the Blue Four in their hand but we played with it anyway and laughed about how I chewed up the card.

Maggie's been playing with the numbers from her foam bath letters set and I remembered that the Four has teethmarks on it! There are three little bites. I'm pretty sure it was Colette who bit it because Maggie only had teeth on the bottom at the time. Also this Four is Orange. Nevertheless a little ironic.

[Comments] (2) Self-Soother: John is out of town this week so we (I) chose it as the magic week to take away Maggie's pacifier. She's only been using it for naps and bedtime for a few months. We threw most of them in the trash on Sunday. I gave her one with the tip cut off a little, but she wasn't interested.

Sunday night she cried for 1/2 hour, woke up for 1/2 hour at 1 AM and then woke up at 6:30. Monday night and last night she went right to sleep and I hardly heard a peep from her all night.

Naptime has been a different story. Monday on the way home from Logan she cried until I put on the Wiggles CD then went right to sleep, but she woke up as soon as we got off the freeway and was grumpy the rest of the day. Yesterday she cried for 1/2 hour, slept for 1/2 hour, then I got her up and let her take the rest of her nap snuggled with me.

I guess a grumpy naptime can take it's time to be worked out, so long as she sleeps at night when John gets home and needs to get up early for work.

UPDATE: Maggie went right to sleep with no fuss at naptime today and appears to be doing the same for the third bedtime in a row. If I'd known this would be so easy I'd have done it a while ago.

[Comments] (6) Wishlist Time: As always, if you think I'm buying something for you, please do me the honor of giving me ideas. I am a practical person and I'd rather not give (or receive) something that won't be useful.

Me: I've been good about updating my Amazon wishlist, although a lot of the things on there are for John and Maggie. I have need of some kitcheny things and some extra-cushy slippers.

Maggie: See my wishlist above as well.
Big girl bed
Big girl bed sheets
Toddler slide
Coloring book
Church shoes
Healthy treats like yogurt-covered raisins, graham snacks, fruit
Baby doll (nothing fancy)
Wooden alphabet puzzle with pegs

John:
Amazon wishlist
child hiking carrier
Thumbdrive
Digital picture frame

Non-Wishlist - please don't give us any:
Lotion
Books not specifically requested. Except Maggie. Buy her all the books you want. I have a really hard time getting rid of books and we prefer borrowing them from the library.

[Comments] (1) Crafty Friday: I was on a crafty roll all day yesterday. I made a rice bag, a drawstring bag, a something something, finished my last chocolate chip cookie and four cucumbers/pickles and most of an Oreo. I also made some homemade notepads for my piano students (article forthcoming) and scrapbooked 8 recipe cards for an exchange. Is that it? It seemed like a lot more work yesterday.

So Smart?: I was telling a friend the other day about how Maggie learned her numbers (and knows her shapes and colors) and four letters (M, S, Y and O). This was one of the many times I have highly recommended the Preschool Prep DVDs. This friend insisted that Maggie was just exceptional. Well, that may be the case. But when John and I discussed it later he pointed out that maybe it's just because we taught her those things. Maybe other parents don't teach their toddlers colors, shapes, numbers and letters.

But why not? Probably because they think children can't learn them so young. We introduced the Meet the Letters DVD this week and Maggie's knowledge of the alphabet is rapidly expanding. At the beginning of the DVD the creator says "most learning tools miss this window [of opportune time for learning such things] by a year or two." Most parents too, apparently.

I should also mention that Maggie loves to learn. From the moment she was born she's been alert and attentive to the world around her, soaking it all in.

: Maggie learned a new word today: Earth. I won't tell you about the awesome present I was making when she learned it (unless you are Rachel, in which case I have sent you an email with a picture of said awesome present so you can revel in its awesomeness with me) but it is quite awesome if I do say so myself.

"Urf!"

[Comments] (2) Change Me!: Two and a half years ago I got a new friend. We'll call her "Bernina". She's 20 years old, but top of the line. Anyway, for two and a half years I've been sewing with the same needle. Big no no. But I didn't know how to change it. I actually fully intended to make Rachel's dress with a new needle, but I couldn't figure out how to change it and I couldn't figure out the 12 different needle types Mom has.

So last night (I actually typed "Sew last night"...) I was making a little make-up bag and I broke the needle on the zipper foot. Oops. I ended up sewing the zipper in by hand.

My point is, today, 2 quilts, 15 pairs of boxers, 30 baby announcements, 2 sets of felt food, 7 rice warmers, 3 dresses, a skirt, 2 tutus, a pair of pants, 2 purses, a wallet, a makeup bag, and some other stuff later, I finally changed the needle.

So Cute: Maggie pointing to the ABC page in chicka Chicka Boom Boom, saying "Mama", and signing "sing".

[Comments] (2) Thanks That Happened: I haven't been a good blogger lately. That happens when the people I blog for come into town. We've spent the past few days hanging out with Leonard. Maggie especially enjoyed having an uncle whose express goal was to play with her as much as possible. We also greatly enjoyed Leonard's cooking and computer-fixing. He got our pictures off Broken Laptop A and got it working again. He also installed free anti-virus software on my computer and the webcam Rachel gave me for my birthday. Free Google Video Chat overseas - how awesome is that??

Wednesday we went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, then spent most of the day cooking. Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner at the cabin. On Friday Leonard watched Maggie (who was asleep) so John and I could score a Black Friday deal on an elliptical machine. Check it out! John put it together himself. We've also been going to lots of walks in the cold (but non-snowy) weather.

This afternoon we are going to see Twilight with Brook, Erin, Chad and Logan. Nathan is being kind enough to watch Maggie and Ember (in addition to his own kids). I love going out without Maggie once in a while.

[Comments] (1) : Maggie and I made our usual visit to Grandma June this morning. She was very glad to see us. Our ward is doing Relief Society for the Care Center this month and I am playing a Christmas piano solo. I meant to bring my music and practice for Grandma but I forgot so I played all the Christmas songs in the hymn book instead. Her favorite is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." And her favorite color is red.

I also helped her with her December birthday cards ($10 for grandkids, $5 for great-grand-kids, $0 for Susies-in-law). She wishes she could give more (at least to some people!) but wants to be fair. So remember that when you receive $10 for your 38th birthday - or $5 for your 15th. I offered to help her do cards for all of 2009 but she thought that was ridiculous.

[Comments] (1) Losing My Identity: I keep accidentally trying to use Jamie's password for things.

I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small.

[Comments] (1) Heh: PAF won't let me add Jeff as a male.

[Comments] (5) Home and Healing: Busy day today. Maggie spent most of the day with her grandparents and Aunt Jodi. I spent most of the day at the hospital. John spent most of the day on drugs.

John's surgery went very well. In 7 days he'll be back to normal. Maggie counts as heavy lifting, unfortunately. He slept it off while I went to Chadwick GNO at Erin's house. I was 15 minutes late, having dropped John into bed with his jell-o (smart girl: I made it this morning) and I was the first person there. When Jodi arrived with Maggie, she didn't even care to see me. "Jazzy! oh, hi mom. Here, doggie!"

We made peanut brittle, exchanged cookies (I made Grandma Lorna's Swedish Pepparkokar), and planned fun things to do next year.

Excited for Christmas: I'm making a really awesome present right now that is turning out really awesome-y. I'm excited for Christmas because I have lots of pictures of things I've made not-to-be-shared until the gifts have been opened.

Our tree looks a bit naked underneath, with only a few presents and I don't feel up to making a tree skirt this year. I suppose we'll be using our boring old stockings from a few years ago too. Maybe next year I won't be doing as much gift making and I can do more decoration making.

[Comments] (2) Enjoy the View: Now that the trees have lost all their leaves, the view from our backyard has become even more beautiful. At night we can see all the lights from the southwest part of the valley, plus Christmas lights from the street behind us.

Tonight is John's work Christmas party and I'm so excited! It's nice to get out on a date once in a while, and last year they gave away tons of prizes, so maybe we'll come home with something free.

Maggie's fancy new word I'm making her tell everyone (including Aunt Rachel on video chat!) is "walrus".

Also, apparently one of my library books is overdue. Ack! My first fine.

[Comments] (1) : Last night Maggie went to play at Grandma and Grandpa's and John and I went to the EY party at the U. They gave us two movie passes again and John won a $35 Gap gift card. Somehow I ended up sitting next to the managing partner, but since he had to give out dozens and dozens of prizes, I didn't have to make too much small talk. And dinner was delicious.

Also, we got a package from Aunt Pat and Uncle Alan with presents!. Maggie's pile under the tree is growing. She has 5 presents now, plus one she already opened: a 12 Dogs of Christmas touchy-feely book from Erin and Ember. She loves it.

A snow storm has begun in earnest here so we will be sitting tight at home for the weekend.

: I had to pay my first library fine today. I could have returned the book earlier, but I figured it was worth it to wait until today when I could take Maggie and enjoy the trip. We bought a pair of mittens for Maggie to hang on the mitten tree at the library. The Festival of Trees donated a Mickey Mouse tree and everyone that donates a pair of mittens has a chance to win one of the Mickeys. Maggie also found a little bell on the toddler bookshelf and turned it in for a sucker. No storytime for a few weeks, so we're taking the fun where we can get it.

We also went to visit Grandma June (who turns 91 tomorrow) and had lunch at IHOP. Maggie was excited to see a bottle of ketchup on the table and proceeded to "dip!" her eggs and pancakes and was a great eater and very well-behaved.

: We had a fun time in the snow today. I went outside this morning to shovel the driveway before John went to work. It seemed like half of our neighbors were outside, heading off to work or who knows what. It was very cheery. Our next door neighbor even rolled down her window to call "Merry Christmas!" to me and I could hear Christmas music blasting from her car.

After we went to the store, Maggie and I played in the snow a little bit. We drew pictures and letters and shapes in the snow that was on the driveway. We also went for a walk today to deliver treats to my visiting teachees. Don't worry, the sun was out by then.

[Comments] (2) : We went to a gathering tonight with four other couples from our ward in Costa Mesa (3 others now living in Utah and one visiting from Washington). Between us there were 9.5 kids. I was relieved when the last couple arrived and they still only had one kid.

It was a lot of fun and we kept Maggie up well past her bedtime. She enjoyed running around with all the other kids, rolling cars back and forth. The adults played a "Celestial Newlywed" game, which John and I lost miserably at, but it was fun.

Maggie and I also had a playdate where she and Colette exchanged presents. Also, it's been a few days and I am still hating my haircut. I guess I won't be waiting my usual 6 months in between. As soon as it grows out a little I'll go in and have them cut the layers off.

Pre-Christmas Spirit: Today John and I executed the most perfect Christmas gift purchase in the history of Saturday-before-Christmas-mall-shopping. As soon as we finally got into the parking lot, I hopped out of the car, ran across the parking lot and into the mall. I found what we were looking for, bought it, and hurried out a different door about 45 seconds before John made it to the door to pick me up. Seriously, it was awesome.

We also got a box of gifts from Leonard today. And we had a pre-Christmas get together with John's family so that those who won't be here on Christmas could open their gifts. Jodi also bought a little something for each of the cousins. Most of the little somethings were "Flurp" a gelatinous noise maker (can you guess which noise) that we spent the next 2 hours playing with. Maggie got a teeny plastic Piglet figure which she has not released her grip on yet. (Really - she still had it in her hand when I got her up from her nap.) Way to pick 'em.

For dinner we went to Jamba Juice, and then drove around a few streets to look at lights. We're looking forward to a low-key (and probably boring) Christmas morning - only 5 shapes on the tree away!.

[Comments] (2) Small Susie: I just finished reading a book called The Way of the Small: Why Less is Truly More. It's about diminishing yourself to become happy. I was greatly inspired by this Zen story which was included:

Two monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were journeying in the mountains on their way to a neighboring monastery. At a certain point they arrived at a stream and were greeted by a beautiful young woman who was attempting to cross to the other side. She asked if they could help her, for she did not wish to get her kimono wet. Tanzan picked her up and carried her across. The mountain paths diverged and the monks silently went on their way. Some hours later they came to a resting place.

Ponderously, Ekido spoke: "Our order strictly forbids bodily contact with women. How is it you disobeyed the rule and picked up that woman?"

Tanzan replied, "I left her back at the stream. Are you still carrying her?"

Believe it or not the moral of the story, at least as it is used in this book, is to let go and follow the fluidity of life. It made me laugh out loud.

: We went to Grandma June's house for a visit this afternoon. We took turns snuggling a sick Maggie and playing Christmas carols on the piano for her. Utah Valley got over a foot of snow last night, and Maggie was adorable snuggling on Grandma's lap; I wished I'd brought my camera.

I had two piano lessons today so Christmas Eve will be free. A 7-year-old student said, "Hmm, Maggie has the most presents. Well, don't be glum! Remember: Santa!"

[Comments] (1) Merry Christmas, Everyone: We will be spending Christmas (and probably the day after) at Primary Children's hospital. Maggie has RSV and is a poor thing all hooked up to "toobs" (as her Granny would have said). Hopefully she'll be good as new and can enjoy opening her gifties a few days late.

[Comments] (6) Christmas: Three Days Slow: We just got home from the hospital (pictures here) and apparently Santa came while we were gone (pictures here). He laid out our stockings and stuffed them with goodies, did the dishes and the laundry (John). He took out our trash and recycling bins (friend from the ward). He cleaned our driveway and steps of a foot of snow and left dinner in our fridge (Brook, Erin, Logan and Ember). Thanks everyone!

Maggie got a Snoopy toothbrush and some baby puffs in her stocking. She was thrilled. My stocking and John's were overflowing with sugary goodness and other fun stuff. He gave me running shoes, Breaking Dawn, two family DVDs and a Sudoku book. I gave him some new clothes for work (and an elliptical of course). Leonard and Sumana sent us $ for Maggie's college fund, a child carrier for hiking (woo hoo!) and a Meet the Letters DVD. Jodi and Franco got us a gift card for dinner and a movie (and free babysitting of course). Can't wait to use that! Maggie also got bath books, felt food, two accessory sets for Mr. Potato Head and a book and a darling outfit from Pat and Alan. Grandma and Grandpa got her a baby doll (Our first attempt to supplement the boy hand-me-down toys) and $10. Chad (ok, Jamie) gave Maggie jeans that light up and little patent leather church shoes. No more sneakers to church.

Maggie is downstairs playing with Mr. Potato Head and watching Meet the Letters. It's hard to say which of those is her new favorite (the doll went home from the hospital with Grandma and Grandpa). Put I think I'll put my money on mini-Piglet who hardly left her fist during the hospital stay.

[Comments] (1) Year End Fun: We took Maggie and Ember to the zoo yesterday. The zoo is great in the winter because it's practically empty. Maggie made friends with an orangutan and we spent 15 minutes watching the giraffes gnaw on Christmas trees. The only bad thing is that the elephants and rhinos hide inside when it's cold.

Logan and Ember spent the night last night, so we had a giggly evening. John and I got up at 5 to go to the temple. Maggie was perfectly happy to wake up and find her cousins there to play with her, and we were home before they were done eating breakfast.

We stopped by Pirate-O's on the way taking the kids home. We bought treats for the kids for babysitting, and dessert for tonight. Hopefully, it'll be a fun party with lots of games! I usually get a good game fix on New Year's Eve.

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