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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.)

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