Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas and stuff

Hmm... it's been a while since I've posted anything. My youngest daughter is talking more and has started deliberately taunting her older brother. Today we tried making window clings using a kit from Roseart. They came out OK (well, at least until my husband set something on top of them). The stuff came in little bottles that looked like glue. It also had an anoying smell, although it wasn't too strong. We'll see if the clings will cling to the window tomorrow.

We spent Christmas with my husband's family. It was a lot of fun. The kids enjoyed being around their grandparents and aunts and uncles for several days. They had fun opening lots of gifts.

We had a very white Christmas with a bunch of snow. It mostly hit my in-law's area, when we got back home, there was barely anything on the ground.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scripture / Book of Mormon annotation program?

Recently, I bought a new laptop. I'm on it a lot, and I thought, why not study my scriptures on it? I envisioned myself able to easily see cross references, highlight text, and make comments on verses. My problem: it's easy to read my scriptures on a computer, but not so easy to study. I just can't seem to find the software I want.

I had a PDA, but text entry on that was annoying, and it frequently lost my highlighting.

Features (in order of most to least importance):
  1. Display the standard works (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price) on my computer (that is, I don't have to be online to read the information)
  2. free
  3. Highlighting verses
  4. Annotating text- allow me to write comments about verses
  5. let me see my annotations in a useful way/hide my annotations if I don't like them
  6. exporting - let me get my annotations out of the program and into a text file. This way, if I decide to go back to regular paper scriptures, I don't loose all my insights, I can just print them out and put them in a binder.
  7. book marks - let me mark where I am in reading
  8. Allow highlighting in multiple colors
  9. Hyperlinking - basically, if there is a footnote referencing a scripture, let me click on it and show me the scripture
  10. tagging - allow me to tag things I've highlighted. I could see myself tagging scriptures with "faith", then later, pull up a list with those scriptures
  11. fast verse look up (for use in a class, although really, I can't see myself taking my laptop to church)
Programs that sort of do this:
  • scrapbook firefox plug-in - not sure about exporting (but this is the best I've seen so far)
  • other plug-ins for the web (diigi et al)- seem to need to be online
  • adobe reader - might have size issues with a large file
  • microsoft word - might have size issues. also, I don't want to accidentally modify the text
  • mobireader - costs money for the books I want
  • scripture app - tags, saves annotations, but seems to be broken under firefox and ie. also, doesn't display highlights and the comments you make on scriptures are public. It's possible these problems are settings issues, but since it's broken under my browsers, I can't tell.
  • copyright on footnotes
I'll keep looking and see what I can find (or talk my sweet husband into coding).

Updated I'm current2/11/09: I'm currently using mobipocket. see here

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Review: Asus eee 900 ha

With M$ 's live cashback at Ebay at 30% and my birthday coming up, I couldn't resist the lure of an Asus Eee Pc 900ha.

I currently have a Nokia n800, which is perfect for quick take along, but text entry on it is a beast and I couldn't watch netflix on it. I wanted a cute little laptop that I could use to type messages, check the internet, and watch online content. The Asus eee 900ha fit the bill, and with its $250 price tag (after rebate), it fit in my budget.

I opted for the hard drive model because of the extra space. With 160 gigs, I wouldn't have to play games like others do on the ssd models to get Windows to fit gracefully. Personally, I think the idea of SSD is more impressive, but the lure of no space worries (and my husband's recommendation) led me to settle on the hard drive. (My other concern with the harddrive was that if dropped it would be more likely to scatch and an ssd would be more likely to come out intact. But, my husband pointed out laptop hard drives were pretty sturdy.)


Size: 8.9" screen
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Processor: intel atom
Ram: 2 gigs
Harddrive: 160 gigs
Os: Windows XP
Other cool stuff: webcam, sd slots, usb slots, 802.11 (wifi)

Here's some pictures to show how small it is.
Look how huge a regular sized mouse looks next to it.

My Eee next to 2 paperback books. It's about the same size as the larger paper back book.

  • small, it fits in my purse. I can stick it somewhere out of my kid's reach pretty easily. My husband can balance it on one leg and I don't fear for its safety.
  • cute. It is so tiny.
  • fairly quiet
  • Windows XP (yes, I like linux, but to get certain websites to run, I need Internet Explorer and I didn't have a spare xp license laying around)
  • Netflix playback is good
  • Mythtv playback is good on non-hd channels (note: this problem is a limitation of the software and my wireless hub, not the eee itself)
  • plenty of room on the harddrive
  • screen is crisp and clear
  • decent battery life. I seem to be getting about 3.5 - 4 hrs with wifi on and webcam off
  • runs skype with video conferencing
  • different power profiles
  • comes with a pouch to put it in
  • touch pad is touchy. I keep hitting it accidentally while typing. I can't tell if the Eee is particularly bad or not, I've never gotten along well with touchpads.
  • Keyboard layout takes getting used to. The up arrow is where my fingers think the left shift key should be. Page down requires the use of the function key. I accidentally hit capslock a lot. I'm getting better though, I just have to retrain my fingers.
  • can get pretty toasty if running it on Super performance mode. I just put it on a book, then put that on my lap. (It's small enough I can do that :) )
  • shiny exterior looks cool, but is a finger print magnet. It does come with a cloth for cleaning them off.
  • If the screen is open too wide, the laptop will tip over backwards. This only happens on a soft / not flat surface like a bed or lap.
Other notes
  • The Eee has no optical drive. This has occasionally been annoying. But most of my favorite dvds are ripped anyway or recorded from tv, so it isn't hard to get them on via the network or a thumbdrive.
Why pick the Eee 900ha (compared to other netbooks/Eee)
  • lots of space on the harddrive
  • 1 gig of memory - plenty to let multiple programs run smoothly
  • higher resolution screen than earlier Eees
  • the 2.5 lb weight is just right. Any heavier/larger and I wouldn't be able to take it with me easily.
  • good battery life
  • Intel's new power saving processor the Atom
  • great price
  • Windows XP license
Really handy uses
  • Watching on-line content where ever I want
  • Video conference with my husband while he was at PDC. Built in webcam came in handy.
  • Entertaining children. The Eee worked great at the airport while I was waiting for my sister; my kids watched a Blues Clues movie on it instead of asking "how much longer?"
All in all, I'm happy with my purchase. It is very convenient and just what I wanted.

(updated: 12/08) So far I'm still loving my eee.
(updated: 1/10) Unfortunately my beloved eee has become almost unsuable. After being dropped 3 times and having a glass of water dumped on it by my toddler, about half the keyboard and the mouse buttons have stopped working. I expect with an external keyboard and mouse it would be just fine, but that defeats the purpose of small and portable :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pickle Sandwich

A poem my children and I made up:

I had a pickle sandwich.
It was white and green.
It had a dozen pickles
And some mustard in between.

I picked my sandwich up
And went to take a bite.
All the pickles screamed, "Aieee"
and ran away in fright.

I had a pickle sandwich
it was white and green.
But now I have a mustard sandwich,
with nothing in between.

I made a pickle sandwich,
This one on a bun.
This time I made sure,
the pickles wouldn't run.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Alas, Chili's fajitas

Today my family and I went to Chili's to get a build-your-own fajitas. I love the one with steak, bacon, and the chimichuri sauce. But alas, they are no longer offering build your own fajitas. I was so disappointed. I don't usually like Chili's that much, this was the one thing I liked there.

We made do with the mushroom jack fajitas with steak substituted for chicken and chimichuri sauce. It wasn't quite the same though, the bacon was in little pieces instead of nice, thick strips. It was good, just not what I wanted. Oh well, won't be going back to Chilis for awhile.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Health care, philosphoically

Universal health care seems to be coming up a lot this election year. Several candidates support it, and I can't decide if that support is a deal breaker for me. I don't know what I think about a universal health care system. I have always been blessed enough to have insurance and also blessed to be free from any major medical problems. I've never felt the terror of having a sick child and not being able to afford to go to a doctor. I know in scripture we are commanded to care for the sick, but I'm not sure if a socialized health care is the way to do that. (Don't take anything that follows personally, I'm working through this issue.)

Insurance sucks. I know the "joys" of calling the insurance, the doctor's billing office, the insurance, the doctor's office trying to get things worked out. I wonder if the government system would be any better.

There's two ways to look at this debate 1) from me as someone who has insurance already and 2) from someone who has no insurance now. I suspect from the view of #2, anything is better than nothing, except that their taxes go up, but I don't know that for sure. For me, I have a few issues:
  • How would a national health care program work? (Note to self: look into Canada's health care system.) Would doctors essentially become government employees? Would the government act as a giant insurance company? (Now from the people who brought you taxes and IRS, health care and um... HURT (healthcare for the uninsured, residents, and taxpayers, Ok, it's a stretch). Would you get credits to buy your own insurance?
  • From my greedy point of view, am I going to keep paying the same for my insurance while my taxes go up to provide health care for those without. Why don't I get any benefit? Or maybe I do in the form of warm fuzzies and a reduction in total pain and suffering. One of my husband's co-workers said that we were already paying for the uninsured because hospitals have to pay their costs, so they charge others more to make up for the fact that some can't pay. So this would mean if everyone could pay, insurance premiums would go down (yeah right, sorry I'm cynical of insurance companies).
  • Would this produce a two tier system where basic care was free, but any meaningful care cost extra. Sort of like the shipping at Amazon, you can get free shipping, but you'll have to wait two weeks, want it tomorrow and you'll have to pay more. If you want an appointment you can get it for free, but if you want an appointment sooner than next month that will cost you $20.
  • How far would the national program go? Would there be a cap on per person spending like there is in regular insurance or would we as a nation be bound to provide extreme levels of care?
  • Would the insurance lobby stand for any kind of real beneficial change to how health care works in America?
(Edited 10/9/08)

I've looked through Obama's plan. Basically he wants to offer a basic government health plan. Insurance companies can offer other plans, but they must be the same as or better than the government plan. Also, insurance companies can't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Not sure what I think of it. Sounds nice, but it seems to me everyone will have to switch to government plan since I can't see any reason for insurance companies to offer better plans if they can't discriminate.

My friend's getting married

I'm so excited, my friend from the good old days in the CS computer labs at BYU is getting married. I'm so excited for her. She is so wonderful, I'm glad a wonderful man finally noticed. Now I just have to pick out a wedding present.

It's funny actually, because I was really bummed I couldn't find anywhere cool to go over UEA weekend. Now I'm glad, because that's when her wedding is.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Review: Max and Cheese

Name: Max and Cheese
Location: approximately 1200 W and State St. in Orem, UT
Cost: Adult $7, child $4
What we ate: I had a BLT, my son had corn dogs, and my daughter had a hot dog
Rating: 3 stars (don't hate it or love it)
Review: I'd wanted to try this place for a while, since they advertise as being kid-friendly. I had a coupon, so my son, daughter, and I went. The decor was school/cafe. The meals came with a choice of fruit cup or apple sauce or chips. We chose chips (choice of Sun Chips or some weird/deluxe brand of chips). I added apple juice to my son's order for a quarter. My BLT was incredible, probably one of the best BLTs I've had. But after the BLT, and bag of chips, six grapes and 3 cheese cubes that came with it, I was still hungry. My son liked his corn dogs. My daughter's hot dog was cut like an octopus and came with gold fish crackers. Neither of them finished their meals. I thought the meals were pricey for what you got, but then the kids didn't finish their food, so I guess there was plenty of food for them.

The play area has puzzles, legos, a train table, and various other wooden toys. There are no play structures. My kids liked playing, but were willing to leave after 15 - 20 minutes. I wouldn't take a child older than six, I think they would find it boring very quickly.

All in all, I had fun, but I probably wouldn't go again unless I had a great coupon or my son begged to go.

Review of Razor Pro kick scooter vs. Razor A Kick Scooter

Recently I bought scooters for my children (review here). But I had fun riding their scooters and so did my husband (although he is technically too heavy for them). We decided that for our anniversary, we'd buy Razor Pro Kick Scooters.

The Razor Pro is more expensive, but it has a higher handle bar and a higher weight limit. It also fits an adult better. I like it. I can use it when I take my kids to ride bikes or scooters because it is easy for me to fold up if I need to help them.

  • Higher handle bar
  • Higher weight limit
  • Better lever to make scooter fold
  • Rides better / faster
  • Minor assembly required
  • Higher cost than Razor A
  • Heavier (might be harder for a young child (<6)>
  • Can't fit two feet on the base

Friday, September 12, 2008


This is Hop the parakeet. I got him yesterday.

My daughter has a parakeet named Skip that we've had for a few months. Skip is very shy and still is uninterested in people. My daughter wanted to teach Skip to talk. From what I've read though, a parakeet will only learn to talk if it is interested in people, and Skip isn't. Parakeets need companionship and since we couldn't provide that, a parakeet friend was probably best. I thought if we got him a friend, at least he wouldn't be lonely. Also, I thought a friendly parakeet friend might convince Skip to not fear humans as much. (In my daughter's defence, we don't think Skip was the parakeet she picked out at the pet store, just the one the keeper caught.) Skip does have a very pretty voice though and is fun to watch from a distance.

Hop seems to be just the opposite of Skip, very curious and interested in things. He climbs all over his cage. At the store, I bobbed my head at him and he bobbed back, so he is interested in people. I had one concern with him: he is an older bird, with his head stripes mostly gone. I decided to pick friendly over younger.

I put Hop in Skip's old cage. (I bought a big new cage for the two of them to share once they are used to each other and once Hop is finger tame.) Once Skip saw Hop, he seemed to take a new interest in life, climbing all over his cage just like Hop. I wonder if Hop was someone's pet before and was returned to Petco. But then maybe most other parakeets are this friendly and I just didn't know since Skip is very timid.

Today my son was feeding Hop millet through the bars. Hop decided he wanted to come out the cage door. I decided to let him out (maybe not the best choice since he isn't finger trained and probably doesn't see his cage as his home.) He explored the house and had a grand time. His favorite perch is the bottom rail of the kitchen chairs. Skip saw that Hop was out and really wanted out, so I opened his door and he flew right out and went to find places to hide. Since after an hour and a half they both showed no sign of desiring to return to their cages , I eventually had to catch them by throwing a towel over them. Hop didn't seem to mind too much. Skip hated it, but seemed relieved to be back home.

Hints on choosing a friendlier parakeet:
- pick one that is active and looks healthy
- bob your head at the parakeet and see if he bobs back. This is how parakeets say hello.
- put your hand on the cage near the parakeet, does he fly away, or just move away then look curious (your life will be easier if it isn't terrified of humans)
- try and make sure you can identify the exact parakeet you want, or inversely, make sure there are no parakeets that look similar to the one you like that you DON'T want
-more head stripes mean a younger bird. Younger means easier to tame.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Razor A Kick Scooter / Barbie Scooter review

I bought my four-year-old son a Razor A Kick Scooter and my six-year-old daughter a Barbie Scooter from Target. I bought the scooters in hopes of having something more portable than a bike and also in hopes of improving my daughter's balance since she wants to learn to ride a bike without training wheels.

My children both picked up how to ride them in a few days and were fairly proficient in a week (although they cannot use the brake). There were a few spills along the way. Nothing serious though. They always ride with helmets and I've ordered them knee and elbow pads.

I think for 4 - 6 year olds, I would suggest the Barbie scooter or the Hot Wheels scooter. The brake is easier to work and it seems easier for them to balance at first. The Barbie scooter is heavier than the Razor.

  • Low learning curve
  • Compact
  • If my son gets tired and refuses to ride his scooter home, I can put him (and the scooter) in the wagon. (Try that with a bike.)
  • Fun. I tried out the scooter and had a blast. (I'm not the biggest bike fan.) My husband and I have ordered Razor Pro scooters for ourselves.
  • Razor A - it was defective out of the box, the mechanism to fold and unfold the scooter would bind. I eventually called Razor who told me to take it back to the store. The new one works great.
  • If you hit a high crack in the sidewalk, you might go flying. So far, hasn't been much of an issue for my kids, they don't go fast enough to really biff it.
  • Razor A - isn't comfortable for a larger adult. I can ride it (5'8") ok, but it is a little short. I could make do, but my husband who is taller and heavier can't ride it. (Hence the purchase of the Razor Pro which has taller handle bars and a higher weight limit.)
I'm happy with my purchase so far. My children seem to have learned balance and my daughter is doing much better on her bike.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New cell number

Just to let my friends know, I have a new cell phone number. For obvious reasons, I'm not posting it here :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wooden take-along train box finished

The wooden carry-along train box I've been making for my son is finally finished:

It measures 10.25" wide, 11.25" long, and 3" tall. The back of the box folds down completely, so there is plenty of room to drive trains. The outer track circle has a diameter of 9.25" and the inner circle has a diameter of 7.7". The tracks are 3/8" wide. It also has a train shed and 2 "tunnels". This box fits the medium sized take-a-long Thomas the Train die cast trains.

I still need to fill in a few nail holes and spray shellac over the whole thing, but it is done. I gave it to my son since his birthday was yesterday. I figure I'll get it back from him in a few days and finish it up.

Making the box was a lot of work for me, but I think someone who knew what they were doing could do it a lot faster :)

If anyone else wants to try this:
  • Keep weight in mind. I was trying to make this light so my 4-year-old son could carry it. He can, but probably not on long journeys.
  • I used 3/8" pine to make it lighter. My life would have been much easier if I had used 1/2" pine.
  • Make sure your hinges will fold up to 90 degrees. The ones I bought wouldn't, so I had to install them backwards.
  • The outer circle has a diameter of 9.25" and the inner circle has a diameter of 7.7". The tracks are 3/8" wide. This will fit Thomas / Percy, but not Arthur.
  • Test your circle jig before you cut with it. My tracks ended up almost too deep because I forgot to test my jig.
  • Having the box slightly wider would have been nice and left more room for error. However, I wasn't going to join another piece of wood just to get an extra 1".
  • This idea could also be used for hot wheels cars, but be careful about track depth. They won't work on the one I built because I had to make the tracks too deep.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

how to convert a mythtv recording to an mp3

I wanted to rip the audio of several tv programs I had recorded with mythtv. Here's what I did
  1. Find out the file name of the recording I wanted. Mythtv names its files based on date and time.
  2. run mplayer to convert the file to wav: mplayer -ao pcm:file=thomas_weather.wav -vo null 1111_20080222143000.mpg This takes the file 1111_20080222143000.mpg and uses it to create a wav file named thomas_colors.wav
  3. run lame to comvert the file to an mp3: lame -h thomas_weather.wav thomas_weather.mp3 . This uses lame to take the .wav file and create an mp3 file
other searches: mythtv rip audio, mythtv extract audio

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stepping stool

Here's a step stool I made from plans I found on the internet. I made it out of poplar and stained it. It was a fun project. It looks good too. I accidentally marred the top of the stool when I was making it, so I bought a cheap random orbital sander from Harbor Freight and it worked like a charm.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wooden toys

I've been experimenting a little with woodworking lately. Here's a toy dog I made for my daughter and a toy train for my son. The dog has a string you tie around its neck and you can take it for a walk. (You can get the plan for the toy dog here.) The train is to go on his tracks, but the train is a little too long for that, so it will have to be a carpet train.
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Friday, June 20, 2008

jig saw blades

This post is probably completely useless to anyone but me, but these are the bosch jigsaw blades I own and what they do:

T101AO - Wood blade, specifically for curved cuts, splinter free. 5/64" - 3/4" material. (6.05/5)
T101BR - Wood blade, downward cutting (splinter free on top surface.) 3/16" - 1 1/4" material. (8.49/5)
T101DP - Wood blade, specifically for angled cuts. 1/4" - 2 3/8" material. (8.36/5)
T118A - Metal blade, basic straight cuts. (7.00/5)
T118G - Metal blade, straight cuts in thin material. 1/16" - 3/64" material. (6.97/5)
T123X - Metal blade, fast and long life, Progressor toothing for use in thick and thin material. 3/64" - 3/4" material. (9.78/5)
T144D - Wood blade, straight and fast cuts. 1/4" - 2 3/8" material. (7.87/5)
T234X - Wood blade, straight fine cuts. Progressor toothing for thick and thin material. (9.02/5)
T345XF - Wood with nails or metal blade. Progressor toothing for thick and thin material. 3/16" - 3 5/8" material. (13.89/5)

thanks to the cat guy on amazon for compiling this.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

FoodThinger - free food storage planning / tracking software

FoodThinger a free (GPL) software program to keep track of food storage or an emergency supply of food. It will generate a food storage plan based on your family size. Then you can track your progress as you add more food to your supply, where the food is, and when it expires. It also generates reports to allow you to see your progress and what you still need to buy.

You can download FoodThinger and find its full documentation here. This program is released, but should be considered beta (in English: this program will work most of the time, but might have a few glitches. Let me know if you have problems.

(No Linux version as of yet, but all it would really need to get it to work is a linux sqlite dll.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eek, where's my money

I had my first experience with identity theft this past month. My PayPal account was compromised and someone was helping themselves to my money. What was annoying and a little frightening was that that account was tied to our debit card and so was actually taking our money out of checking. I found out when I checked my checking account to see if my economic stimulus package had bee deposited yet.

The thing that was very frightening was that I received no notice from PayPal that this was happening (not PayPal's fault by the way). Either on purpose, or by unhappy coincidence, had been added to my blocked senders list in my hotmail account. This meant that any message from PayPal was automatically deleted. I still don't know if my hotmail account was compromised as well. Of course, I have since changed both passwords.

Fortunately, no other information was changed and I was able to regain control of my account quickly. PayPal determined in about 5 days that the charges were fraudulent and refunded my money.

morals: do not use a debit card on line, do not have the same password to your email account as to PayPal.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

utah car seat / booster seat law - finding the data

From my previous post, it is obvious that I don't like Utah's new safety seat law, but I'm willing to be wrong. Maybe the car seats offer an amazing improvement over lap and shoulder belts. Let me be clear, I plan on keeping my children in car seats until they are 8. The question is, what risk am I taking having them only restrained by seatbelts (for example, an emergency). What I want to see is the hard data. I want to see if the numbers being quoted in the news media and by proponents are fair.

What I'm looking for:
  • How many restrained children between the ages of 4-8 were injured in car accidents (both seat belts and car seats)
  • How many restrained children between the ages of 4-8 were injured in car accidents in ways directly attributed to seat belts.
  • How many restrained children between the ages of 4-8 were in car accidents and not injured (restrained by seatbelts and also car seats)
  • Injury rates at different car speeds
  • As a control, the injury rates of adults sitting in the back seats of cars that were properly restrained.
Well it looks like the state farm survey answered my questions. It is very technical so this link might be more readable. Most interesting fact: while booster seats help, the single best thing you can do is have your child in the back seat. That is, children in the back seat in seat belts or booster seats did better than children in the front seat.

If you believe the surveys done by CHOP, state laws are how most parents decide how to restrain their children. That is, many parents believe that it is safe and preferred to use just a seat belt on a child over the age of 4 if the state does not mandate otherwise. I guess in that case the law is a good idea, I just wish they made more provisions for emergencies.

Other sources:
KSL - - mentions State Farm and Philadelphia Children's Hospital safety study
fact sheet put out by partners to child passenger safety with sources:
The big state farm/ children's hospital study :
bunch of pdf charts of various things like injury rates, booster seat compliance, etc.:
a bunch of statistics for 2007 of injury rates for children based on where they were, how far from home, etc:
booster seat ratings:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Watermellon cake

Here's the watermellon cake I made for my baby's first birthday. I think it turned out reasonably cute.
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Utah Car Seats - May 5, 2008

I'm slightly peeved at the Utah State Legislature for passing HB 140. Starting on May 5, children under the age of eight will need to be in a car seat. (This is a change from the age of 5. If your child is over 57 inches, before age 8 they don't need a booster.) What bothers me about this bill is I heard nothing about this bill until it was passed. Usually bill sponsors are out there trying to get people to write to their legislators to support their bill. In this case, nothing, maybe because they knew they'd get a lot of annoyed parents. And yes, I know I should keep track of what the legislature is doing, but I didn't this time.

Now, I intended to keep my child in a car seat until she was tall enough for a regular seat belt, but it bothers me that now I have to. It makes emergency pickups of children very difficult. For example, I have a friend who cannot drive, so I occasionally pick up her son. Now I have to have an extra car seat all the time or juggle the car seat back and forth between us?

The other thing that bothers me is the statistics cited. Now that I've waited this long to complain, I can't find them again, but there was no source cited for the statistics. It was something like 2,000 kids a year die or were injured that wouldn't have if they were booster seats. I'd really like to see where those statistics come from. Is a seat belt really that much more dangerous than a booster? If anyone can point me to the orgin of these statistics I'd appreciate it.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll get over my current annoyance after a while.
Here's the only news article I could find.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fools

For April Fools dinner, I made a faux berry pie (really a shepard's pie) and shamburgers for dessert (really cookies). My kids weren't too thrilled by the pie, but they really wolfed down the hamburgers.

(edited 4/5/08 to add recipe links)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Roomba 510 review: Initial thoughts was running a deal I couldn't pass up, the Roomba 510 for around $140 (after a google checkout rebate). I guess the 510 has been discontinued, so it is available at a good price. I've been wanting a Roomba. Actually, that isn't true. Recently I've really been hating vacuuming and sweeping my floors. I read on-line reviews and decided I had to have one.

The Roomba 510 is an entry level Roomba. It wanders randomly over the floor and vacuums. It doesn't dock, schedule, or use the lighthouses. It will use the virtual wall. I do wish it could charge itself, but I wasn't willing to pay $100 to get a model that would do that. I figure for $100, I'll pick it up and plug it in.

The Roomba was bigger than I expected. In my head, I pictured something the size of a dinner plate. This is larger than that. It is about 3" tall. It feels sturdy (read heavy) when you pick it up. It isn't as loud as I had feared.

I charged the Roomba overnight like the directions said. Then I pressed the "clean" button twice and off it went. (Actually, my three-year-old son pushed the button. He'd been begging for the honor.) The first area it cleaned was the "L" shaped main level of my house consisting of my dining room (parquet floor), kitchen (vinyl), and front room (carpet). It did a great job. It was able to get under my dining room chairs and get the crumbs under the table. It was able to handle a few, small, welcome mats I have scattered around. It also went under my couch (brave robot). I was worried it would get stuck because it can only barely fit. It did get stuck once, half in and half out, but the rest of the times it manged to get out just fine.

It is much quieter than my vacuum or my my dust buster. It does have a high pitched motor noise that is a little obnoxious, but if I go up stairs, down stairs, or shut the door, I can hardly hear it.

While it was cleaning, I emptied its dust bin when I noticed Roomba seemed to be having trouble picking up dirt I could see on the floor. Boy was the bin full...three times. I comfort myself by thinking most of it must have been under the couch :) I don't anticipate having to keep an eye on its bin now that the first cleaning is done.

I quickly learned that, when emptying Roomba's bin, I needed to be holding Roomba over the trash. Dust goes flying. I also learned that everything I read in the forums is true: open the bin over the trash, clean the filter, and clean the hair off the edges of the brushes. I didn't think I'd have the "hair around the edges of the brushes" problem since I don't have pets, but I must shed more hair than I think I do, because Roomba found plenty.

I've run Roomba on every level of my house. It did a fine job. I am cautiously optimistic. I am happy with my purchase so far. I don't think it could fully replace a real vacuum, but it will keep my house cleaner. I think I will also keep my house less cluttered, since I don't want Roomba to bump into things. And now I don't have to pick up AND vacuum.

  • Stand up fan - I have a big stand up fan that has a sloping base. Roomba climbs up on that and gets stuck
  • Bathroom rugs - the rugs in my bathroom move around easily. Roomba got suck in my bathroom because he pushed up the rug and thought it was a wall. I think this problem only happens with rugs that move. If rugs stay put, he handles them just fine.
  • Used fabric softener sheets - I had a bunch of these on the floor of my room since I fold laundry on my bed. The sheets fall down and I don't always pick them all up right away. Roomba got these stuck in all sorts of weird places, including one jamming its wheel.
  • Couch - My couch has a curved W shaped bottom. Roomba can fit under one side, but just barely. He got stuck one time, but has made it out several times.
  • Couch - My couch has a curved W shaped bottom. Roomba can fit under one side, but just barely. He got stuck one time, but has made it out several times. Sitting on the couch while Roomba cleans underneath it is a weird experience.
  • Under my bed - I haven't cleaned under there since about 2005. It went under there and industriously cleaned.
  • Stairs - It is so fun watching it go right up the edge of my stairs and turn around.
  • Best find in Roomba's bin - small orange plastic frog about 1.5". It also found a pin from one of my husband's shirts. I'm grateful Roomba found it and not my foot.
  • Best find - Roomba pushed out from under my bed the case to my children's Uno cards. I've been looking for that for a month.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crock pot bean soup

This is a recipe I came up with. The red beans will make their own broth that "feels" meaty.

1 c small red beans
1/2 c pinto beans
1/2 c garbanzo beans (or chick peas)
1/4 of a bunch of cilantro, tied
1 small can diced green chillies
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chilli powder
1 sprinkle crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can beef broth

night before (optional): put beans in crock pot and cover with about 1" water.

next day: add all other ingredients and cook on high 2 hrs. or until beans soften, then cook on low until dinner time. Remove cillantro bundle and discard. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

You can also just start this the day of. If you start beans around 1:00 on high, they will be done by dinner time. pre-soaking just speeds up cook time. Watch this recipe because if the beans absorb all the water, there won't be any broth for the soup :)

Americanized version of Baba's Cabbage Soup

This is based on a recipe I got from my grandmother of a soup her mother (Baba) used to make. I simplified it and left out things I hate like sour kraut and lima beans :) It involves pork ribs, cabbage, beans, and potatoes and is a great comfort food. My kids eat it like crazy.

Baba's Cabbage Soup (Americanized)

1/2 bag Coleslaw mix
4 med potatoes, pealed and diced
1 can white beans (great northern, etc.), rinsed and drained
1 med onion, diced
1 can chicken broth
later: 1 pack pork ribs (bone in preferred)

mix ingredients in soup pot and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 min. - 1 hr.

mash potatoes, I just stick a fork in the pot and squish some of the potatoes.

Add in pork ribs and cook an additional 2 hrs. Add additional broth or water if needed.

Pepper to taste.

This soup will be very think, more like a stew. Add more chicken broth if it is too thick.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mother's Day Vase with cute flowers

I made the cutest Mother's Day presents for my mom and mother-in-law. (If you are my mom or mother-in-law stop reading now, unless you really want to know what you are getting.) I made a flower arrangement of grandchildren. This was one of those projects that actually came out as cute as I had hoped. I got the idea from a Paper Crafts magazine. I also lucked out because Michael's had a big sale, so I got the vase and rocks at a great price. See the finished product here.

river rocks
rub-ons for the vase
bamboo skewers (like the ones you grill with)
scallop punch
2 circle punches that nest in the scallop (or a colluzzle) (1 3/4" and 1 1/4")
pattern paper and coordinating card stock (I used pretty in pink, real red, bashful blue, apricot appeal, and wild wasabi from stampin' up)
pictures of people small enough to fit inside the smallest size circle punch
small ladybug or butterfly stamp

1. Apply rub-on to vase. Put rocks in vase, you'll want it about 3/4 full unless you are putting Styrofoam at the bottom. Tie ribbon around jar neck.
2. To make the flowers, Punch scallops out of pattern paper. Punch larger circles out of coordinating cardstock. Punch out pictures using smallest circle punch.
3. Glue picture into circle, then the circle onto the scallop.
4. Cut the bamboo skewer to the desired height. (I used a pair of garden shears.)
5. Glue flowers to skewers. (I used glue and a glue dot.)
6. Make leaves by punching out circles with either size of circle punch then cutting in half. Glue the halves together at an angle so they make a wide "V". Attach leaves to skewer.
7. optional: Stamp ladybug or butterfly and cut it out. Glue it to one of the flowers.
7. Place flowers in vase as desired.

Friday, March 07, 2008

My Stampin' Up haul

My friend and I hosted a stampin' up party about a week ago and our goodies have arrived. I got a few stamp sets, watercolor crayons, and a mat pack (oh, and new blender pens). I really like the watercolor crayons so far. The main thing I don't like is that using them is like coloring with crayons, so it is harder for me to be precise, but I can handle that with a blender pen. The main thing I love is that everything I color looks so much better because all the colors in one family go together. I'm looking forward to playing with them some more.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Spinach Garlic dip

I made this for my stampin' up party yesterday. It was so good. It is based on this recipe:


1/2 large package frozen spinach , thawed and drained (about 200 grams)
1 (250 g)package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup onions , chopped
4 garlic cloves , minced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese , shredded


Blend all ingredients in food processor, except cheddar cheese, adding as much milk as necessary for a smooth and creamy consistency. (I used one clove of garlic and the rest garlic powder. I used a garlic press and crushed the clove over the cream cheese then added garlic powder until I liked the taste)
Spread in pie plate and top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake at 375F for 20 - 35 minutes or until heated through and cheddar cheese is melted.
Serve with pita crisps, crackers or tortilla chips.

I made this ahead of time and let it sit uncooked in the refrigerator until it was time cook.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cute Baby

My baby is now nine and a half months old. She is starting to babble. I was worried because she wasn't babbling for quite a while, but I think that was because she was perfecting her pincer grasp. Anyway, here's an exchange we had while I was changing her diaper:
Me: You're a wet baby.
Baby: wababa
Me: Yes, you're a wet baby.
Baby: wababa
Me: Now you're a dry baby.
Baby: dababa

Babies are so fun. She also grabs by hands to play pat-a-cake. She won't clap her hands, apparently mine are much better.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

My kindergartener said something interesting the other day. She mentioned how her teacher hadn't been born when King was alive. The same is true for me. This means the civil rights movement is now in the time of grandparents. I remember going to school and some of the older teachers had marched in the demonstrations, my parents remembered the times. Those events didn't seem that long ago to me. To my children though, it will seem forever ago, like World War II seemed to me when I was young. Equal Rights for African Americans, to my daughter, won't seem like something recent, but the way things have always been. And maybe that is the way it should be.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Utah Republican's Worst Nighmare

I've been watching the caucus results in various states (huckabee will wait McCain will win...wait Romney will win...) and I've come up with the worst possible combination for my voting: Hillary vs. Huckabee. I don't think I could vote for either of them. I've never liked Ms. Clinton and Huckabee lost my vote when he started underhandedly attacking Romney over religion. If those are my choices, I may have to vote for Dave Barry. I think he's running again this year as a write-in candidate.