Monday, November 18, 2013

Broken Arm

Maybe it was inevitable with all the climbing Selena does, but it finally resulted in a broken bone.  Her and Allie were climbing on top of the dresser and jumping onto the bed.  Selena slipped and fell and hurt her arm. It was almost bed time and she was in pain, but there was no visible signs of injury so we went to bed.  

The next day I kept her home from school and was trying to decide if it was broken or not and I made her a homemade sling to keep it propped. I called the nurse line towards the end of the day and she said it was probably okay to monitor it for another day.  The problem is, we only have catastrophic health insurance so every doctor visit we pay out of pocket.  While we do get the insurance adjusted rates, they are still unreasonably high.  We really didn't want to pay $500 to be told it was a sprain and to ice and elevate.  

The next day she said it felt better so I sent her off to school in her homemade sling.  Oops, talk about bad parenting. :S  When she got home it was noticeably swollen so we took her to an urgent care clinic in which they x-rayed and confirmed that it was indeed broken.  They said it was a buckle fracture.  

She got a purple cast that she wore for 4 weeks, and she just got it off and so she seems to be good as new. Though she didn't really stop monkeying around.  I'd still catch her climbing on top of stuff and swinging from her one good arm. 

When my mom asked if she learned anything from the experience, she couldn't think of one thing.  When the nurse asked her how she broke it and Selena said she fell off her dresser.  
The nurse said, "Dresser?".
Allie piped up and said, "It is really fun to climb on top of the dresser and jump on to the bed."
The nurse said, "So you probably won't be doing that any more?"
They both looked at her like she was crazy, and did she not hear the part about it being really fun.  

So hopefully we won't have to deal with any more broken bones, now that we got this one out of the way.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Puyallup Fair

Every year we go to the Puyallup Fair in September.  It isn't as convenient to go, as it was when we lived in Puyallup, but it is bigger and more fun than the Evergreen State Fair and thus we make the trek.

The one highlight of the trip is the Mutton Bustin.  Floyd and I watched it, slightly horrified, every year before we had kids, so when we had kids of our own it seemed like they should be a part of it, even if it is absolutely insane.  Selena wanted to do it when she was three, but they said she didn't weigh enough and only let her be on the sheep in the corral, and then pulled her off when they opened the gate.  When she was four, she fell off immediately, last year she made it about half way but got stepped on and there were some tears and bruises.  This year she was ready and had been planning the perfect technique.

Allie on the other hand seemed unenthused.  They upped the age limit and it wasn't an option when she was three.  This year when asked if she was going to do it, she wouldn't answer, but when it came time to sign up she said she was ready.

Both of them did absolutely awesome.  Selena made it all the way to the end and then some.  She ended up getting second place because one other girls also made it to the end, and apparently she had a more difficult sheep.  Allie made it half way across and popped right up when she fell off.  It was fun watching.

Face painting, the Cutest Show on Earth, and of course the rides are the other main highlights.  Usually food is also a positive, but as I get older fair food just seems gross to me, and Allie is gluten free so that also limits.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Plants Vs Zombies Halloween Costumes

I find it so crazy that every year I make the girls costumes that surprise me in how cool they are.  I impress myself.  I find it so bizarre that I am that mom who makes cool Halloween costumes because over-the-top costumes doesn't really match my personality.  But the girls get so excited planning what they want, and they have such faith in my abilities that I don't really have a choice. :)

This year the girls decided to go as Plants Vs Zombies characters.  My brother has been playing the game for years, but I hadn't gotten around to trying it.  My sister was playing it with the girls and Allie started asking if we could get it, and Selena, Allie and I all became addicted for a short while later.  Thankfully the obsession only lasted a few weeks.

Selena wanted to be Chomper, and Allie wanted to be a Marigold, the little flower that gives you coins.

For both costumes I used this post from the Memory Nest as a guide.  The main differences were for the Chomper costume:
- I used tacky glue versus a hot glue gun.
- I used fleece instead of felt.
- For the leaves I used really thick interfacing sandwiched between the fabric and sewn around. I probably should have made them bigger than I did.
- I also used the interfacing for the teeth.

For the Marigold costume I also used the interface and sandwiched it between some white fleece and sewed it onto some elastic.

Once again I used the Heidi and Finn Urban Unisex Hoodie.  Using two layers of fleece make it really warm and thus the kids do not need a jacket when trick-or-treating.  Fortunately the lovely creator of the pattern had graded the pattern up to 6 - 12 years and I was able to buy that and get a good size for Selena. She probably could have fit in a 5T, but since she had broken her arm and had a cast I needed something a bit bigger to fit over it.

And of course my other go-to pattern, the Willow Wayfarer Hipster for Slimster, was what I used for the pants.  I am sad that Selena is just about getting too big for the biggest size for that one.  I'm not sure what I am going to do next year.  I used fleece for this which also is warm and cozy.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Screen Time - The Battle of Ideologies

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Technology
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their families' policies on screen time.

Kids and technology is a topic that I frequently debate internally.  On one hand I prioritize physical activity as being vitally important for my children, and Richard Louve’s book Last Child in the Woods is my favorite parenting book.  On the other hand, technology is ubiquitous in our world. I can see my children learning and enjoying it, and... I make mobile apps for kids. That’s the stickler.  Am I making and profiting from something that is actually a detriment to children?
Me as a young girl playing Tetris

As for research I can find just as many studies for screen time as I can against. There are so many variables involved that most of the research I have seen, isn't very compelling one way or the other, and I am left with my own observations and my own experience.  In general, I have a difficult time restricting computer use, because I have a difficult time leading by example.  Whereas I don't watch much TV, and thus have an easier time restricting its use.

Why I think screen time is good:
  • Stories are essential to humans.  We love them, and we learn from them, and some even say we develop empathy from them.  Television and mobile devices are particularly good at letting young children get involved with and interact with complex narratives at a younger age then they could otherwise. More isn't always better, but I find it pretty cool that at five years old, my daughter understood time travel paradoxes due to My Little Pony,, and Harry Potter. (Harry Potter was both reading the novel, and watching the movie.)  
  • I would say that play is the most essential element to human learning.  Generally play advocates are not referring to video games, but computer and video games are play, and they are fun.  Many non-educational ones have strategy, logic and reasoning that are overall good skills to have.  I would say that there are very few lessons in school that prepare you for the logic and reasoning required to be a computer programmer, and the lessons that do exist are in math, which many people seem to have a real aversion to.  But the problem solving, and logic required to beat difficult video games are good stepping stones to the skills you need to be a software developer.
  • Alternative to play many people advocate drilling and practicing for learning, ie. flash cards, math worksheets etc.  Computer games are an ideal way to satisfy those ends without the tediousness, and boredom associated with the traditional method.  You can do more problems, in a shorter amount of time, and with more enjoyment, then with a pencil and paper.
  • There is so much information, in such easy formats.  The internet is amazing!  
Why I think screen time is not good:
  • It can be addicting.  It draws you in and can absorb you for long periods of time, making you sedentary and grumpy.  Long bouts of screen time make my kids really cranky and they fight more.  Alternatively they get so involved with what they are doing that when you make them stop because they need to eat, or we have somewhere to go, they get angry and throw a tantrum.  I have noticed the same problems with myself.
  • Lots of content is inane and probably makes you dumber.
  • The blue light from screens on at night can disrupt sleep patterns.
What we do at our house:
  • I make sure the kids get ample time for exercise and outdoor play each day.  In the summer I restrict screen time a lot more than I do in the fall/winter/spring when it rains and rains and rains.
  • I make sure the content is high quality.  On the computer I have a page setup, so they can access good quality free educational kids games. is by far the best as it doesn't have any advertisements, and the games are high quality.  For mobile devices I visit sites like (and, and App Friday where I know many of the developers and reviewers.  
  • I try to limit the length of a session.  I admit that I am not always as diligent as I should be.  My oldest tends to be fairly good at self-regulating, but my youngest would play all day if allowed.  I admit that I sometimes use a screen as a babysitter.  If I have something I need to do I may let them play for longer than is good for them, and I usually feel guilty, and regret it later due to their grumpiness.
  • I play with them, and/or encourage them to play together on the computer or mobile devices. Computer's aren't usually considered social, but when used socially they can have some amazing outcomes.  I talked a bit about this before on my other blog.   
  • I prefer for them to play computer games versus watching TV.  TV seems more passive, and I personally do not care for TV as much. 
  • Tie in what they see and learn on TV, etc with real life and/or books.  For instance when Selena really liked Bob the Builder, we got lots of library books about trucks and building, and did some building of our own.  
  • We use technology to enjoy nature.  We love to go geocaching (treasure hunting with a GPS device), and mobile devices make great cameras for recording scientific observations about bugs and plants outside, as well as animals at the zoo.
  • Overall I acknowledge screen time as a form of play, and one of many outlets for creation and creativity while also trying to prevent it from over-consuming our time and attention.
Other kind of related stuff:

Great articles about how old people always think new stuff is bad:

The fork in this road is ever more pronounced because there’s now so much more to choose from. A citizen can spend his spare time getting smarter, more motivated, and more involved, or he can tune out, drop out, and entertain himself into a stupor. The same devices deliver either or both from the online ether—and the choice that people make is one that’s going to develop early, based on the expectations of our teachers and the standards of our peers.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be updated throughout the day on October 8):
  • Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood - active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children.
  • Fostering a Healthy Relationship with Technology — Jenn at Adventures Down Under describes her children's love of screen time and how her family implements their philosophy and policies on technology.
  • Kids Chores for Tech PrivilegesCrunchy Con Mommy shares how tying chore completion to iPad privileges worked in her house to limit screen time and inspire voluntary room cleaning!
  • Screens — Without the benefit of her own experience, sustainablemum explains her family's use of technology in their home.
  • Screen Time - The Battle of Ideologies — Laura from Laura's Blog explains why she is a mom who prioritizes outdoor natural play for her kids but also lets them have ample screen time.
  • The Day My iPhone Died — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution questions the role technology plays in her life when she is devastated after losing her phone's picture collection from her daughter's first year.
  • Finding our Technological Balance — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she finds balance between wanting her daughter to enjoy all the amazing technology available to her, without it overwhelming the natural parenting she's striving for.
  • Raising kids who love TV — Lauren at Hobo Mama sometimes fears what children who love screentime will grow up to be … until she realizes they'll be just like her.
  • No Limits on Screen Time? Is that Natural? — Susan at Together Walking shares misconceptions and benefits of having no limits on technology and screen time in their home.
  • Screen Time — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares what is currently working (and what hasn't) regarding screen time in her household.
  • Positive Use of Technology with Kids — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her family's experiences with early technology, shares helpful resources from around the blogosphere, and speculates on what she'd do as a parent with young children today.
  • why i will never quit you, TV — How Emma of Your Fonder Heart came to terms with the fact that screen time is happening, and what balance looks like between real and virtual life for both her toddler AND herself.
  • Technology Speaks — Janet at Our Little Acorn finds many uses for technology - including giving her child a voice.
  • 5 Ways to Extend Children's Screen Time into Creative Learning Opportunities — Looking for a way to balance screen time with other fun learning experiences? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares 5 fun ways to take your child's love of favorite shows or video games and turn them into creative educational activities.
  • What parents can learn about technology from teachers — Douglas Blane at Friendly Encounters discusses how technology in schools enhances children's learning, and where to find out more.
  • 5 Tips for a Peaceful Home — Megan of the Boho Mama and author at Natural Parents Network shares her favorite 5 tips for creating a peaceful home environment.
  • Technology and Natural Learning — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes about the importance of technology as a tool for natural, self-directed learning.
  • Babies and TechnologyJana Falls shares how her family has coped, changed their use of, relied on, and stopped using various forms of technology since their little man arrived on the scene
  • Kids and Technology — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about the benefits of using technology with her preschooler, and includes a few of their favorite resources.
  • Using Technology to Your Advantage: Helping Children Find Balance — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how technology can be used or abused and gives a few tips to help children learn balance.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exercise Makes You Smarter and Happier - Infographic

I have been wanting to put this information into an infographic for a long time and have finally scraped together enough time and motivation to do so.  I find it frustrating when people only look at exercise as a way to lose weight, and if it fails to satisfy that end, they dismiss it.  I find it frustrating that schools have cut and eliminated recess and physical education when doing so is counter-productive to everything a school should be trying to accomplish, and I hate it when people look at me like I am crazy when I say so. :)

Babyak, Michael. "Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months." Psychosomatic Medicine. 62. (2000): 633-638. Web. 13 Sep. 2013.

"Brain-derived neurotrophic factor." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <>.

"Dopamine." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 13 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <>.

Gage, Fred, perf. "New Brain Cells Anyone?." The Naked Scientist. N.p., 28 Jan 2013. web. 13 Sep 2013. <>.

"gamma-Aminobutyric acid." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 14 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <>.

Grieco, LA. "Physically active academic lessons and time on task: the moderating effect of body mass index.."Med Sci Sports Exerc.. 41.10 (2009): n. page. Print. <>.

Horn, Kimberly. "Effects of Physical Activity on Teen Smoking Cessation." Pediatrics. (2009): n. page. Web. 14 Sep. 2013. <>.

Erwin, Heather. "Student Academic Performance Outcomes of a Classroom Physical Activity Intervention: A Pilot Study." International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education. (July): 2012

Mahar, MT. "Effects of a classroom-based program on physical activity and on-task behavior.." Med Sci Sports Exerc.. 38.12 (2006): n. page. Print. <>.

Martínez-Gómez, David. "Active Commuting to School and Cognitive Performance in Adolescents." JAMA Pediatrics. JAMA Pediatrics, 4 Apr 2011. Web. 13 Sep 2013. 

"Norepinephrine." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 14 9 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. 

Ratey, John J. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Print.  <>

Ussher, M. "Acute effect of a brief bout of exercise on alcohol urges.." Addiction. 99.12 (2004): 1542-7. Print. <>.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Camping at Dungeness Recreation Area

The summer was getting close to being over and we hadn't taken a camping trip.  The girls had been talking about camping all summer, so if we didn't go I am sure they would have been disappointed.  Finding a campsite last minute in August can be a challenge.  Going on a Tuesday and Wednesday night makes it easier.

The Dungeness Recreation Area is near Sequim, WA and is right next to the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge. The campground only allows reservations for half the spots in the campground, and you have to mail it in three weeks in advance.  They do have offer the ability to check how many spots have already been reserved online.  I could see that there were plenty of reservable spots still available, plus all the first-come-first-serve spots so I figured we would be good and we were.  Most of the sites are large, flat, and have a decent amount of privacy.

In the past, when we have gone camping with the kids, we have done what I have heard is now referred to as glamping.  We rent a small cabin, or platform tent where there are no bathrooms, sinks, or kitchens, but you get a bed, a roof, and sometimes a small space heater. I find it more rustic than RV camping, but not as rustic as tent camping.

I could not find a glamping site available last minute, so I figured we might as well try real camping. The bonus being it is a lot cheaper. :)  We only own a small two person tent, but I knew my parents had a large six person tent, the only problem was it was about 25 years old.  Fortunately for us, the tent was still in good condition and we were good to go.

I was a bit worried that tent camping would be stressful and more trouble than it was worth, but I think this was the most relaxing camping trip yet.  The kids are old enough that I don't have to worry about keeping track of them every single second.  There was a playground right next to our campsite, and they would go off, make friends, and we could sit at the campsite and read or play cards.  The most stressful part was the dog, who decided on the first night, to escape the tent and do a nocturnal exploration of the campground.

I precooked most of the food so all it needed was to be wrapped in foil and warmed up on the fire.  (We did have a problem in that the first site we picked didn't have a grate over the firepit, so we ended up taking our whole site down and moving to the one next to us.)  We had teriyaki beef kabobs the first night (flank steak marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger), and spaghetti the next night (boil water on the fire, cook noodles, drain, mix in a jar of sauce and warm a little longer). The kids had cereal for breakfast and Floyd and I had premade breakfast scramble that we warmed up on the fire.  Easy peasy.

The campground is a short walk to the entrance of the wildlife refuge.  You have to pay a few bucks to go on the wildlife refuge and then it is about half a mile walk on a paved trail til you get to the beach.  The spit is nice.  There isn't a whole lot of sand.  During high tide it is all drift wood, during low tide you get about 30 yards from the driftwood to the water.  The spit itself is five miles long.  There is a lighthouse at the end, but we didn't visit it.  It is all very nice, EXCEPT they have a ridiculous rule that you are not allowed to run farther than half a mile along the spit.  Some little old lady stopped me while I was running and told me that I would disturb the nesting birds.  I am a nature lover, and tree hugger, but this rule does not make sense.
1) I was on the sand that would be underwater in a few hours.  If there was a nesting bird where I was running they had a way bigger problem then me.

2)  I do not think a human travelling at 6 - 7 miles per hour is really all that more startling than one traveling 3 - 4.  And I could not find any evidence saying it was when I went and read some of the studies that the US Fish and Wildlife Department used to come to the conclusion that running is an inappropriate activity on refuge's around the country.  None of the studies specifically looked at running even though they were cited as such.  They just concluded that the more activity in an area, the more effect it had on the migrating bird populations.  There was no evidence that a walker was different than a jogger.

3) They allow four wheels and trucks to be used to take the caretakers out to the lighthouse and back (I saw three vehicles pass while I was on the beach for an hour).  Gas powered vehicles travelling 10 - 15 miles an hour are definitely more intrusive than a jogger.

4) One of my favorite authors, Richard Louve, talks about how when we make nature off limits, for its own good, then people don't get to experience it, and it becomes an abstract idea that people will not be prone to really protect.  Restricting the use, especially such an innocuous use, means that less people will visit the area, and thus will have no personal stake in its overall care.

5) Clamming and crabbing are allowed.  Eating the animals living at the refuge is a lot more disruptive than running by them.

Apparently this is a newly instituted rule, and really annoyed and frustrated me (if you can't tell).

On the last day we headed to the Sequim Game Farm where you drive around and feed the animals bread from your car.  I was torn on whether to go or not, because places like this are known for not having the most ethical breeding programs, and reviewers on the internet pointed out the same thing.  But we did end up going, and it was a lot of fun. Surprisingly Dyna (our dog) didn't completely freak out when llamas and zebras stuck their head in the car though she did seem to get a bit nervous about the bears, and the wolf who was tracking her from inside its enclosure.

Taking the ferry

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Allie's Birthday Party

A way long time ago, back in May, Allie turned four.  She had her birthday party at the Skate Deck.  I was hesitant about having her birthday there, as the few times before we had been skating she went around a couple times holding my hands and then whined and wanted to be held.  When I held her, she would swing her legs and her heavy skates would hit me in the shins, which would hurt and end in bruises.  But she insisted.

The Skate Deck is a large venue so I figured we would invite everyone in her preschool class plus a few other friends.  Her class wasn't too big (11 kids), and it was unlikely everyone would show up.  But who knew late afternoon on a Friday is a great time for a birthday party? Because almost everyone invited showed up.  Add some siblings on top of that and there were 20+ kids.  Fortunately the rink wasn't too crowded and we were the only birthday party going on, otherwise there would not have been space for everyone to have pizza and cake.

The great thing about the Skate Deck is they have these wheeled walker-like contraptions that allow the kids to hold on to for balance.  Allie hadn't tried one of these before, and it was the lure of this that made her so adamant about going.  Well the contraptions are great because her and all her little friends skated around so happily.

Allie can sometimes be reticent and slow to warm up to people thus I was surprised at how social she was with her schoolmates.  Apparently she is quite the talker at school.  All the kids hung out, skated together, while chatting, and it was pretty much the cutest thing I had ever seen.

Overall the party was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really good time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Trip to Chelan

I've lived in Washington all my life and had yet to visit Chelan.  It has been on my bucket list of places to visit in the Pacific Northwest and now I can check it off.

Wonderfully my mother-in-law rented a condo and invited us and my sister-in-law's family for the week. We stayed in a condo at Wapato Point and it was very nice.  They had lots of activities, like daily art projects for the kids, and a mini-golf course, as well as boat rentals.  We spent lot of time at the pool, but played some putt putt golf (Allie loved it) and a day at the water park as well.

When we left we went to Blueberry Hills for breakfast (the blueberry muffins were delicious) and afterward picked some blueberries which were amazingly sweet.

Selena kayaking
Us following her in a pedal boat

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer Berry Picking

We've done a lot of berry picking this summer.  In our yard (strawberries and blueberries), the wild berries near by (blackberries, thimble berries, salmon berries and huckleberries), and at nearby you-pick farms(strawberries, raspberries and blueberries).   I'd love to say we have a ton of berries stored in the freezer for use year round, but we just eat them too fast and only have a couple pounds of blueberries. Everything else has been eaten.

We did have one traumatic hornet experience at a blueberry farm in Bellevue (Mercer Slough).  Allie got stung and started crying.  She didn't know why she was hurt and couldn't explain it.  While I was trying to get to Allie my nephew got stung and ran to me crying, grabbing my legs so I couldn't get to Allie.  I finally figured out what was going on but didn't realize that the hornets were on the attack.  Floyd and my brother then stormed in grabbed the kids and ran out screaming, "Go, go, go."  Allie and my nephew each got stung two times a piece, and Floyd got stung five times.  Selena and I were lucky to get away unscathed. Fortunately no one had any serious reactions.

The frustrating part was when we reported the nest to the people running the farm they said there wasn't anything they could do.  If they had set up signs and warned people to not go near the nest then the people we saw a half hour later could have avoided getting stung.  Apparently my mom also talked to some people who had got stung their a week prior.  

Blueberries at Mountain View Blueberry Farm

Wild Blackberries

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer Golfing

Floyd's not-so-secret plot is to get the girls into golfing so he can golf more.  It is possible to take them both to the driving range with just one parent, but it is easier if we all go as a family.  The fear of them walking into someone's back swing or swinging while their sibling is nearby is still a worry.

They both received golf clubs as birthday presents.  Selena got hers for her 5th birthday, Allie got her's for her 4th.  Selena was pressuring Allie to ask for one because Selena was tired of sharing.  Both were used sets found at Play It Again Sports.  Allie's bag happened to come with a golf glove, so of course Selena needed one as well and she had some leftover birthday gift money from Nana that she used to go and get one.

After having gone to the driving range a handful of times throughout the last couple years, we all went as a family out to Battle Creek Golf Course and played their par three course.  I was a bit worried if Allie would be able to make it through the whole course without getting tired but she loved it.  She pretty much ran the course: swing, hit, run.  By the last hole both her and Selena were hitting the ball a decent distance and Selena was starting to get the hang of pace on the putts.  Selena was getting 12's on some holes, but she said it was kind of hard to keep track.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Christian Based Counselor In Tacoma

My friend Josh Lennox recently opened up a counseling (marriage and individual) office in Tacoma, Washington.  He wrote this interesting post about the purpose of marriage from a Christian perspective.  So for anyone who might be looking for a therapist you should check him out.  :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My girls have been drawing

I have found a site that has great drawing videos.  You can read about it more on my other blog.

by Allie

by Selena

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Reading Rules

I came across this post  about what your reading rules reveal about your personality and thought it would be fun to share my reading rules.

- If a book doesn't catch me after 50-100 pages it is okay to stop.  There are too many good books to read to waste time on one that isn't.

- I remove dust jackets and toss them.  They are superfluous and just get in the way.

- I like books to look well read.  I don't mind if they get bent, dropped in water, etc.  But I don't write in books, it just never has occurred to me to do so.

- My favorite book form is oversize paperbacks.  For big, heavy, long books I prefer ebooks (which I read on a Nook Color or my phone a Samsung Note 2).  Otherwise I can't decide if I prefer electronic or hard copy.  Maybe if I had an eink reader I would prefer ebooks in all cases?

- I do not like to fold the corner of a page to mark it, mostly because when you get a whole bunch of folded pages they might get unfolded or refolded and then you might get a mistaken mark and that is just annoying. But if I can't find a scrap of paper to slip into the book, and I don't have anywhere to set it down open, then I will fold the page, but mostly I just lay the book down with the book open to the page I am at.  I hardly ever use a real bookmark.  My husband thinks it is hilarious to pull my bookmarks, and my kids often pick up my books and the bookmarks fall out.  I do spend a frequent amount of time searching through the book to find my place.

- I like to pick my books based on my currently feeling.  Usually alternating between fantasy, historical fiction and non-fiction, with some classics and general fiction thrown in.  Overall I tend not to read the same genre for more than two books in a row, unless I am reading a series.

- When I am picking out a book I tend to rely on word of mouth, or searching for books on a certain topic (especially biographies and historical fiction).  I rely pretty heavily on's "Will you like it" feature to help me decide.  It is pretty spot on.  Only once have I noticed where it was really wrong when it said that I would not like a book that I really did.  (Where'd  You Go Bernadette).

- I have to record my book on Librarything and Goodreads when I start reading it and then rate it when I am finished.  I rarely write a real review, though it seems like Facebook is trying to make me, since my entries are automatically posted to Facebook and people end up asking me what I thought.  I am trying to be okay with just jotting down a few thoughts, but I feel like if I am going to write a review, it should be a real thoughtful one that takes me more time then I have.

- I don't like to read many reviews ahead of time because I think they will sway my thoughts too much.  Especially bad reviews. If someone points out something annoying about the plot or writing style it will drive me nuts when I read it.   But I do read the reviews after I finish.  I like to see if other people had the same thoughts as me--kind of a virtual book discussion.

- I love to reread books.  Sometimes I want to read a book that I know will be fantastic.  I don't have the best memory when it comes to stories so I can reread my favorite books a couple years later and it is almost like reading it for the first time.  I have read Jurassic Park five times, Gone With the Wind three, and almost all of Dave Duncan's books at least twice.  I have read the Hunter's Haunt and the Man of Word Series three or four times.

- Full bookshelves are the most satisfying form of home decor.  I have a very hard time giving books away.

- I do not like reading more then one book at a time, though sometimes I will have a non-fiction and a fiction book I read at the same time.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Podcasts - My New Thing

It is very ironic, but up until a few months ago I did not own a smart phone.   Well, that is not completely true.  I did have a few smart phones, but they were all for testing my mobile apps and weren't actually linked to a phone plan, and thus could not make calls.  Mostly my lack of a phone was due to me being frugal, aka cheap.  I did have a prepaid cell phone, but I rarely knew where it was, or had it charged so in all practicality I did not have a cell phone and there were aspects about it that were nice.  Particularly not having to feel guilty when I was tapping at my phone instead of paying attention to the people around me.  (I went out to dinner tonight with my family and my sister and father were guilty of this, but I forgave them because they were playing my new Open Face Chinese Poker game which is really fun, and pretty addicting.)

So now I have a phone.  I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which is gigantic, it is practically a tablet, and is often called a phablet.  I chose it because it has a huge battery removable/replacable battery that easily lasts all day and sometimes two, it has a micro sd card slot, and a decent camera. The stylus is kind of cool too.  I like it for the most part, but I cannot use it one-handed at all, and I think the camera on my husbands iPhone 5 is better even though on paper they should be the same.

The most exciting new thing I discovered and have used since getting my phone is podcasts.  I didn't really understand what podcasts were all about or when would be a good time to listen to them, but now I find them great to listen to while folding laundry, cleaning the house, or when driving in the car.

Whenever I talked to my sister, she would say, "I heard a story on NPR..." It made me want to listen to NPR, but since I rarely drive very far I was rarely able to catch more than parts of shows.  But NPR has podcasts of all their shows. I particularly like the Planet Money podcasts, and the TED Radio hour.  I have also listened to the Startup Success Podcast and Freakonomics Radio and I can use the podcast app (BeyondPod) to easily download the girls stories.  It is all pretty cool.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Best Primal Breakfast Scramble Ever!

I've been perusing Mark's Daily Apple for quite a while now, and while I haven't adopted the Primal lifestyle, I think of doing so often, and I always eat as such for breakfast.

I used to eat eggs and a smoothie for breakfast, but I think I came to a tipping point in my ability to eat fried or scrambled eggs, and I just can't stomach them for breakfast anymore.  Eating grains for breakfast pretty much ruins my entire day, so I had to come up with something new, and this scramble was the result.  I think it is extremely tasty, and I haven't come across anything terribly similar in a restaurant, so I am going to take credit for it.

This batch usually makes enough for about 4 or 5 servings, and thus one batch can give me almost a week of breakfasts.  It refrigerates and reheats well.

- 1 TBSP of butter
- 4 or 5 eggs
- 1lb of bulk mild Italian sausage - Try to find some that doesn't add weird, unpronounceable stuff to their spice list, or when I have accidentally thawed the wrong package I have been known to take regular ground pork and make my own italian sausage seasoning.
- 1 white sweet potato: You can use orange yams, or even potatoes, but in my experience they are too wet and make the scramble taste horrible.  You could potentially squeeze the moisture out, or use a potato ricer, but I have found that the white/light colored sweet potatoes do not have a lot of moisture in them and don't require any extra steps.
- 1 cup of diced fruit.  This is the secret ingredient!  Through the fall and winter I typically use one large apple.  In the summer I will use pears, peaches, or apricots.  I have even used blueberries, though it leaves the scramble an overall purple color.


  • Grate the sweet potato.  
  • Dice your fruit
  • Add your butter to the frying pan and scramble your eggs.  I find the less I stir them the fluffier they are.  When they are done scrape them out of the pan and set aside.
  • Add your Italian sausage to the pan and brown
  • Add the grated sweet potato and stir for a few minutes till potatoes look limp
  • Add the fruit and mix till fruit is warm.
  • Add eggs and mix
  • Remove from heat.
  • Enjoy

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Free MP3 Stories for Kids

Cross posting with a review I wrote on

There is something quite satisfyingly old fashioned about listening to a story told by a talented storyteller.  It gives me imagined nostalgia for the oral tradition and a time when bards traveled the country, sharing their stories, or a time when families gathered around their radios.  Which is where the site Storynory comes into the picture.  While it is more tech in its delivery than a bard or a radio, its essence is still the oral tradition...

Read the entire article

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Open Face Chinese Poker for Android and iOS

Open Face Chinese Poker for Android and Apple
I'm taking a little tangent from developing kids apps and am developing an app for adults.  The game is Open Face Chinese Poker and right now there is no Android version, so I am trying to target that part of the market as soon as I can. 

I put up a new site,, for the app and hopefully it will be worth all the hours I am spending on it. :)  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Numeracy and Language

I posted this the other day over on my Corvid Apps blog and figured I should cross post it here.

Does the English Language Hinder Our Numeracy
What if the language you speak either helps or hinders your number sense?  This thought occurred to me the other day after a series of events:

The first was my brother and I were watching our kids play.  His son, who is 2.5 was counting: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16.  He skipped 13.  Young children are often stumbling and skipping over numbers through the teens.  I commented that our numbers really don't make sense anyway.  When counting in Japanese it is very simple.  You say the words for one, two, three through ten, and then after that you say ten-one(11), ten-two(12), ten-three(13), ten-four(14), ten-five(15), ten-six(16), ten-seven(17), ten-eight(18), ten-nine(19), two-ten(20), two-ten-one(21), two-ten-two(22), etc.  Even when they write out numbers as words the characters follow the same pattern.  My point is, do Japanese speaking children stumble over the teens as much as English speaking children?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Super Allie!

Allie is doing good and growing and learning in leaps and bounds.  Shockingly Allie can read.  I can't take much credit for it, as Selena and the computer did most of the teaching.  When using she started getting a paper and pencil and copying down all the words.  Selena started teaching her "popcorn words" (high frequency words like the, and, of, etc) and bringing home her early reader books from school and Allie has just caught right on.  The look of pride on her face when she read her first book was so cute, and will forever be etched in my mind.

She can also write pretty well. She discovered how to spell poop on her own.  She would write tons of letters and then asks me to read them.  She coincidentally put the letters P-O-O-P together and asked me to read it.  Thrilled that she had spelled a "bad" word, she stored it in her memory and writes it all the time.  Since then she has become pretty good at spelling phonetically.

The interesting thing about her literacy is that she can do it upside down as well.  I have read about this in early ed books, but to witness it is pretty amazing.  She will write entire sentences upside down, and her penmanship is just as good as when doing it right-side up.

She also counts very well.  Up to about 39, she can also count by 5's and 10's.  She pretty much has the kindergarten curriculum mastered.  Always has been a precocious one.
I really love to spell because is fun (1st part copied from Super Why
computer game, second part sounded out)

Allie also enjoys the drawing videos that Selena has been doing, though sometimes she gets frustrated because she can't make the shapes exactly correct.  But she did figure out how to draw stars, and is proud of that.

She frequently acts like a three-year old tyrant.  It is pretty frustrating.  Though there are many other times where she is very thoughtful and truly helpful.

We put her back on dairy and she seems okay.  We finally had an episode of puking that hadn't been preceded by ingesting any dairy.  A week later Floyd gave her pizza. She ate a ton of pieces and seemed no worse for wear.  Floyd figured she was fine, and she has been ingesting large amounts of cheese ever since.  My gut still tells me does better not on it, or maybe it is something else, but there isn't an immediate cause and effect so it hard to tell.  She has strange symptoms like runny noses that last for weeks, weird aches and pains, occasional reflux.  Floyd thinks I'm imagining it and am a hypochondriac mother (or whatever the proper term is), and maybe I am.  I don't know.

"You know something different about me?"  Allie asks.

"What is that?"  I reply.

"My tummy tells me what to do.  Not my brain."

Yes, Allie is ruled by her tummy.  It tells her what she wants to play with, and reminds her to remind me of fun things we were planning on doing.  She often asks me, "Isn't my tummy nice, to remind us to..."  fill in the blank.  Selena tries to explain that it is her brain that controls her thoughts, but she just doesn't buy it.  Her tummy is in charge.  It almost seems like it is her imaginary friend.  She once told me her tummy went to Grandma Judy's but Grandma Judy doesn't know it is there because it is invisible.

She is enjoying gymnastics, and asked to do soccer.  I think she just wants to do soccer so she can get a trophy or medal like Selena. We'll see how it goes.

She is a great storyteller.  At night the girls ask me to tell them bed time stories, but I find it hard to make up story after story night after night.  Allie makes it easy, she tells her own stories.  I ask her what she wants a story about, and she starts in on the plot.  Sometimes I try to carry it on, but I usually don't tell it right, so she finishes it for me.

She is also quite the seamstress.  She has discovered how to make no-sew baby jackets.  She raids my fabric stash and cuts holes in fabric for the arms.  It is really quite clever.  She also made Selena and I very fancy scarves by taking long bits of fabric, cutting large holes (big enough for a head) and draping them around us multiple times.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Skills!

Selena is already half way through kindergarten.  I love watching her learn and I love that she loves to learn.  From reading, to math, to drawing she enthusiastically embraces every subject.  Her new skills include:

- Reading!  I started writing this post a couple weeks ago, and just in two weeks she is reading so much more.  I am impatiently waiting, and hoping, for the day that my kids want to read, and we can all just sit around and read all day long. :)
- Counting to 100
- Counting by 10's
- Counting by 5's
- Telling time

For a while she has mentioned wanting to learn how to draw better.  I had got how-to-draw books from the library, but they were kind of frustrating for me because she needed me to show her every single line to draw.  She found it difficult to follow the instructions.  I found Mark Kistler's site and both her and Allie started doing some of the free videos and they were a hit.  The improvement in her drawing is really impressive.

She loves making books.  She is interested in self-publishing, but so far she hasn't had the discipline to create enough content for the 20 page minimum.   We checked out a book on how to make books, and most of the projects seem ambitious and a bit too difficult for a five or three year old to master by themselves, but we did discover the very clever X-book which both of them can make with little to no help.

She played some indoor soccer at the Y.  I liked it because it was games only, so it was easy on our schedule.  She is still doing gymnastics and is improving. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 in Review

I never got around to posting my goals for 2012 on my blog, but basically I had decided that I accomplished quite a bit in 2011 and if I reprioritized my time I should be able to start a mobile app business.

I was successful.  I released five apps and have some available on both Android and iOS.  Unfortunately I have $110 less then I did at the start of the year.  :(  Christmas sales have been significantly higher, so I will be in the black as soon as I get paid for December, but there are still some significant software and hardware purchases that I would like to have, to make the process a bit smoother.

Kids Pattern Recognition
I worked on average about 12 hours a week from March until December, and the last few months were pretty stressful.  I am trying to stay positive in that I have learned a lot, and I think the quality of my apps will be higher in 2012, but I have a lot of doubts too.  I am literally coding and caring for children at the exact same time, and it is far from optimal.  Low sales, high stress, and troll reviewers who hurt my feelings sometimes make it hard to keep plugging along.  But going into this, I knew that I have to do it for at least two years before I can tell if it is viable.  I'm hoping that 2013 will be a big success!

I ran around 625 miles this year.  I was horrible at recording my mileage, so that is a rough estimate.  The only race I ran this year was a 5k.  I tried not to "race" during it, but I have a hard time letting women pass me, especially towards the end.  But overall in 2012 I was laid back as far as running was concerned.  I ran a bit slower than normal and really observed the plant and animal life and the changing seasons.  I had planned to do trail races this year, but never really felt like it, so that didn't happen.  I'm trying to get Floyd to run a marathon next year and live vicariously through him. :)

For sewing I didn't make a whole lot.  I made the girls Halloween costumes, Christmas dresses, and sewed myself a couple pairs of leggings and partway through a pair of jeans that still need a waistband.

Crazy carrot that were 8 carrots in one.  Still tasted good!
My garden did well again.  It seriously amazes me that I can grow anything, let alone food.  It is so satisfying to be short on groceries and be able to go out in the yard and pick some food.

I planted potatoes and those turned out delicious.  I will be doing a whole lot more of them next year.

So far I haven't had much luck with a fall/winter garden.  The problem is I have to plant seeds when it is hot and dry which means I have to remember to water, and I don't.     

At the beginning of the year we had a big highlight in that Floyd got second in a pretty big poker tournament, and thus we got a new Mazda5!  He also entered the WSOP Main Event and made it to the third day.  While it was unfortunate he didn't cash, the suspense and daydreams of being a millionaire were exciting. We even saw him on TV!  He ended up having his most profitable year yet, and we are so grateful that he is such a great provider, and does so in such a fun way. :)

We did quite a bit of traveling this year. We took a month long roadtrip to California.  It was so fun, and getting away from the rainy Seattle winter was luxurious. I wish we could do it again this year, but the guilt of pulling Selena out of school is stopping us.

Floyd and I also headed to Tahoe for a weekend to celebrate one of my best friend's weddings.

Overall 2012 was a good year and 2013 is looking to be good too!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Favorite Reads in 2012

I read 44 books in 2012.  Last year I had a hard time picking out my favorites because I read so many great books.  This year was a bit easier.

Favorite Nutrition Book I Read in 2012

What's Eating Your Child - Through reading this book I figured out Selena had a zinc deficiency.  While supplementing with zinc hasn't completely cured her picky eating it has helped dramatically.  The last few years we have had prime rib on Christmas Eve.  In 2011 she complained the entire time about how bad the food smelled.  She ate specially prepared macaroni and cheese, and even left the room for  part of dinner due to not being able to handle the smell.  This year she ate mashed potatoes, rolls, a bit of prime rib, and didn't complain about the smell.

Favorite How-to Book I Read in 2012

Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing - Since I'm writing promotional material for Corvid Apps I figured I should work on improving my writing.  This book had awesome, easy tips, and was so well written (it should be shouldn't it?)! There were multiple times I was left wondering how I had never learned something.

Favorite Fantasy Books I Read in 2012

Warbreaker - Brandon Sanderson was a new-to-me writer I discovered last year.  I am extremely impressed at how tight his writing style is, and enjoy the unexpected plot twists.  I tend to not find synopsis' of fantasy books helpful because most stories are pretty bizarre.  I usually just want to know if it is good or not, and this one is.

Death of Nnanji - Dave Duncan is my all time favorite author.  He says that The Reluctant Swordsman is one of his most successful series.  While the series was published quite a long time ago, he decided to add a fourth book to it.  I own all the books in the original series, but when I reread them this year I did not remember the story at all.  I frequently forget the plot of books I read (which makes rereading stuff more enjoyable) I can usually remember at least one scene.

When I bought the series I was in a Dave Duncan frenzy and had bought about 15 of his books all at once.  I think that I must have got confused about which books I had read, and which ones I hadn't, and never actually read them.  Either way I really loved this series including the brand new sequel.

Craziest Book I Read in 2012

Bud and Me - The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys -  This book has such a great story, that it makes up for the somewhat lackluster writing style, and horrible formatting of the Kindle version.  It is the true story about two brothers who traveled on horseback across the United States, by themselves, multiple times, in the early 1900's.  Their first adventure occurred when they were just 5 and 9 years old!  It is crazy how different the perceptions of children's capabilities were then compared to now.

Honorable Mentions:


Against the Light (Dave Duncan) - Fantasy
Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Cheryl Strayed) Memoir,
City of Dragons (Robin Hobb) - Fantasy
The Woman Who Died A Lot (Jasper Fforde) - Fantasy?
Catherine the Great (Robert K. Massie) - Biography
The Mysterious Benedict Society (Trenton Lee Stewart) - Kids Literature

Past book lists:

Books in 2011 Part 1 and Part 2

Books in 2010

Books in 2008