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[Comments] (1) Annual Bookworm Post: I read about 19000 pages (in completed books) this year, more than double 2007. I read the Twilight series twice, three Eragon books, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, lots of novels and a few organizing and parenting tip books.

Some other numbers from 2008:
Articles published: 67. My goal was one a week, which I didn’t do, but I guess this is good enough.
Coupon Savings (since June): $153.83

For me?: Today we had a birthday party for John's brother Nathan. We drew their name for Christmas and Maggie has been carrying their wrapped gift (a card game called Fluxx) around the house for weeks. At the party, she tried to open it. Then she started pulling tissue paper out of all the gifts in bags. Luckily, the next party will be for her. Not that she will feel much guilt in opening Hannah's presents as well.

[Comments] (3) : Maggie has started "reading" words by spelling them out. She sounds like she's in a spelling bee. Seriously.

[Comments] (1) Busy Bees: John is in California for training and Maggie and I have had a busy week. We've been to the grocery store, the music store, the library (twice), Grandma June's, a baby shower, a playdate, and to Logan, and had 5 piano lessons. We also cleaned the house so John can be happy to come home, and shoveled snow so he can get home.

We discovered at the baby shower that sign language is also useful for babies to communicate across a crowded, noisy room. Maggie enjoyed her cousins' jumper (even though she was too tall to bounce and looked more like a child wearing a floaty tube) and signed "all done" to me across the room when she wanted out.

Also, I have read 4 books while John is away.

[Comments] (2) There's No Place Like Home: "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela

Without a home you have no place to compare yourself to. I have my own home, but that's new and forward-looking. There isn't any "home" to go back to.

[Comments] (6) Greener Pastures: (to borrow my title from John.)

Very early this morning I lay awake on Maggie's floor for half an hour thinking of everything I didn't like about living in California. Cockroaches. Cost of living. No Zuppa's. No Cafe Rio. No family. Spiders. 1/4 the living space for the same price. No yard. No cousins for Maggie. Apartment living. No playdates. Crappy library and no storytime. And umm... cockroaches. Am I trying too hard?

How Embarassing: I just screened out of a survey, not because I couldn't see the image, but because I don't know the difference between a diamond and a triangle.

[Comments] (1) Maggie Braggy: My post last night has disappeared into cyber-space so here you go again:

John is out of town. Maggie and I went to see Grandma June. Me: We're going to McDonald's. Maggie: E-I-E-I-O! Even Grandma thought it was funny.

Maggie is "reading" words all over the place, words you don't notice are there until she starts saying letters out loud. Like "A-D-T" (security sticker on our windows) or "g-e-r-b-e-r" on her sippy cups. On the way into Wal-Mart today she spelled "Food Center." She's also learned several sight words; her favorite is "my".

She now has eight teeth, three of which are molars.

Bears and Books: Maggie got a Fox in Socks from the hospital so we brought up the book for her to to read with it. And yes, that toy is as ugly as it sounds. She, of course, knows that her 100 Acre Wood friends go with her Pooh books. Now she's started wanting to snuggle Patrick the Bear while reading The Berenstain Bears books.

[Comments] (1) Teaching Piano: I had so much fun teaching piano lessons today. I paid a girl on our street to babysit Maggie so I didn't have to worry about her. Best investment ever. My new students are so bright and because they are younger, I've been looking for some fun games to incorporate into our lessons. I found so much stuff, I can't wait to use some new ideas next week for all my students.

ETA: I had a really hard time searching for game ideas online. I finally managed to stumble onto two websites that were helpful: Music Matters Blog and this blog.

I use the Bastien books. I looked at several other programs and decided to use what I was familiar with. Recently, I looked closely at some other series' to see if I could find something better for my pre-reading student, and I decided I'm very happy with the Bastien. It has some major flaws - focus on "hand positions" rather than note-reading for one - but I still think it's the best.

[Comments] (2) Girl's Day: Maggie and I had an awesome day yesterday. Jodi and I went to the temple in the morning while Maggie played with her Grandma and Grandpa. Mom made potato-cheese soup for lunch. I brought Maggie home for a nap, while I packed for CHA. Then we went to the mall with Jodi. It was a very unexciting mall trip. We didn't buy anything, or even really look at anything, but we got our rings cleaned, which was the purpose.

We went to Jon and Sharon's later, because Uncle Leonard is in town. We went to dinner, along with Cory and Alyssa, and Kristan and Sarah. We hit Maggie's bedtime about the time we ordered our food, but she was well-behaved for the most part. It helped that she adores Sarah and Sarah is very good at entertaining toddlers. We went back to Jon and Sharon's after, and since Maggie was still awake I took her inside to eat some pie and put her PJs on. Soon enough Sarah got out a train set and I had to drag her away to go home. Maggie went to bed around 10.

I called John and realized how much I missed him. It's easy to forget when you are so busy. He gets home this afternoon and we get about 4 hours together before I am leaving for CHA.

[Comments] (2) CHA Day 1:
1. Got ran over by C-3PO.
2. Shared a bed with someone I met on the internet.
3. Saw Paris Hilton.
4. Planned 8 kits.
5. Got tons of free stuff.
6. Had chocolate thrown at me.

[Comments] (5) CHA Recap: Awesome stuff:

1. Staying at the Hilton.
2. Being in Southern California.
3. Flying JetBlue
4. Eating at Cheesecake Factory - twice.
5. Eating authentic Mexican food (even if we had to walk a mile into "un-Disneyfied" Anaheim to get it.
6. Staying up until midnight giggling every night.
7. Yanking old Bazzill color swatches out of the swatch books.
8. Meeting Lisa and Jen from the Coordinates Collections Design Team.
9. Getting lots of free stuff - and not keeping most of it. I'm very proud of myself for fitting everything I brought back into a Making Memories paper holder.
10. Being inspired.
11. Snuggling with Maggie, who seems to have grown and gotten smarter in the four days I was gone.
12. Taking a 2 hour nap.
13. Coming home.

Not so awesome: the 40 degree weather swing on the way home. And I am still exhausted.

I am now ready to start putting my life together, hopefully before the hundreds of products we ordered start rolling in to be put in the store.

[Comments] (1) Happy Friday: Today is a stay-at-home day. We're saving money and the earth by not driving anywhere. I try to do this at least once a week. Not running errands leaves plenty of time for snuggling and doing laundry. I also made myself a new-and-improved bedside organizer. Maggie is napping and I probably should be, too. I slept terribly last night after M woke up screaming around 3. John was nice enough to get up with her at 6:15 so I could get some more rest. "Up!"

[Comments] (1) Stuff: Save the Earth: Recently I was asked what movie I thought would make the world a better place if watched by everyone. In that spirit, I ask you to watch The Story of Stuff. It is a 20 minute film about the (non-cyclical) life cycle of "stuff" - from pollution-creating production and distribution, to careless disposal.

I disagree with the film in the way it lays most of the blame on the government and corporations. Although they are certainly at fault (70x the amount of your waste was discarded in making it in the first place), consumers make decisions that ultimately lead to the problems the earth is having. Buyers may be influenced by advertising etc, but that is still their fault: wake up and smell the pollution. Own your choices.

I cringe when I see all the JUNK for sale out there: fluffy teddy bears in every color for Valentine's Day, disposable products that are barely used then trashed, "gift" items that nobody wants (much less needs), and just about everything sold for a dollar. That is all complete junk, created with toxic byproducts, a waste of money, and filling up landfills.

The film states that 99% of stuff makes its way to the landfill within 6 months of purchase. How much of what you buy is still in use 6 months later? The next time you go to buy something, ask yourself, "Isn't there a better alternative?" I guarantee there is.

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