Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baby Sign Language

For the last few months I have been (fairly casually) trying to teach Jed a few signs to he can communicate with us. He's recognized "Num-nums" (milk) for a while now, but only this week did he figure out that he can do it back to us and we will understand. The first time, he got so excited and started giggling and opening and closing his hand like a mad man! Look, Mom! I can communicate! Not that he understands--now it's become the all-purpose "me want this!" sign... he even does it in his sleep.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Birthday

I just wanted to let every one know that it is Vanessa's Birthday today. Vanessa didn't want me to tell anyone, so would you please keep a secret? Thanks, M.

Another House

Everyone seems to be enjoying our house hunting updates, so here's a new one for you... this little house is tiny upstairs (1200 sq ft) but it has a full unfinished basement and costs a full 10 grand less than the other... and we could get it for even less than that! It doesn't have any appliances, and kitchen counter space is limited. But now that I have a free dishwasher...! ha ha ha. It has a big yard that would need a fence. The neighborhood is tidy and nice. I love the big barnd-new windows throughout the house (the living room window is probably 5'x5', I love all the natural light.)

Here is a tour, though the photos aren't as nice as one would hope. When I get my camera back I'll post the vid we took on Saturday.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

RV Racing

Michael and I decided not to invest in cable once we moved to Indiana. Too many nights spent slack jawed, drool dripping from our frozen faces as we watched YET ANOTHER Mythbusters at 2 AM. And we payed how much for that?

So out here we decided to splurge for nicer internet and save the cable cash for other more exciting things. Like a $5/month netflix account (Yes, we HAVE watched "Tron" for our latest bad 80s movie fix, why do you ask?)

We didn't even have a TV our first few months here. Then Michael's parents offered to give us their 22 year old monstrosity, which still manages to have a better image than our $100 special. There it sits, enclosed in its own wood laminate cabinet, like a behemoth tribute to days gone by, benevolently looking over our living room and attesting to the fact that the credits do, in fact, have legible words (never before realized on our old TV.)

Here's the funny thing, though. Last week we had ST:TNG Season 7 (what a great year that was) and we started watching it on my laptop and then Michael started whining about how crappy my speakers are. We squabbled a bit and finally settled on HIS laptop even though its Macintosh speakers are, in my opinion, hardly impressive. Could hardly hear the dialogue. I think we finally got out the jack splitter and headphones. Yes, even with the huge TV hooked up to the big speakers, staring us in the face, we sat on our little loveseat and watched it on our laptops.

Two days later we realized that we are morons.

Our favorite evening pastime, however, and the point of this post before my virus-addled brain got way off track, is watching YouTube episodes of Top Gear, the BBC car show. It's hilarious! And I am one of the few women in Indiana who can name a pretty good selection of European car makes.

But I digress. Yet again. THIS IS THE POINT. The clip below is our current all time favorite. We have watched it four times this week and every time we laugh til we nearly puke. Maybe because I've lived in an RV twice. Maybe just because British men in lumbering caravans bashing it out on a track is just, in the essence of it, riotously funny. Maybe we are just complete morons who haven't had media stimulation in months. You be the judge.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Day

I got a dishwasher for free!!!!


Sad Day

We've had a sad day. We put an offer in on that cute little house we loved... It was a little more expensive than we had hoped for but we'd crunched the numbers and we could make it work as long as we never went out to dinner for the next 30 years. So we put in a bid.

But it was refused, because she decided she needed more money out of the house. So, we have til Monday, but it looks like no little house for us. Darn it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Michael's in Florida

Michael's in Florida for a conference. He's hating the 80 degree weather. Meanwhile it's 55 degrees in our apartment here in Indiana. Sure feel sorry for him having to be away from home.

He sent me these photos to make me feel better.

Looks like even with all this desk-sitting he hasn't gotten rusty at all! What a man! Which one is your favorite?

Monday, January 21, 2008

House Shopping

So, Michael and I have been doing some serious house shopping for the last two weeks after months of poring over the MLS and doing mortgage calculations. Here is a little house we are seriously considering. Small, but lots of living space and in a nice, tidy, dead end road neighborhood about 5 minutes from church and 6.5 miles from Michael's work (he has a half hour commute right now.) What do you think?

Click here to see a virtual tour.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Michael and I have decided that we need to keep a budget. Not that we're crazy spenders or anything, but we really want to own a house, and to do that, we need, uh, more money. Hence the budget.

Our last attempt at a budget involved Quicken, and proved disastrous because the program was so confusing and kept doing the wrong thing and we were always behind and, well, the budget never got started because we spent all our budget time trying to get the stupid program reconciled.

This time, quite by accident, we discovered this really fantastic little program online called Pearbudget. It's so easy to use that only a dummy would get confused. It's free. And it works. Check it out.

Michael and I are particularly excited because we scheduled ourselves each an allowance. Yes, a real allowance! Neither of us has ever had an allowance before. The thought of actually having money I can spend on like, uh, clothes? or something is kind of crazy for me, the tightwad of the universe. Geeze. How will I ever decide? I guess that means I can retire my old freshman in college clothes. ha ha. And Michael's excited to save up his allowance to buy cool camera gadgets.

We're gonna be RICH! Slowly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


You are an 11 month old boy. You have the world's poopiest diaper that your mom is changing. What do you do?

a) I look around and notice I am on a small pad, but surrounded by a large expanse of mom's clean carpet. I begin to squeal and squirm and kick about until I have poop all over my legs and heels. I attempt to crawl away.

b) I reach down with my hands and flail like crazy to get a sample of that tasty looking brown stuff thickly smeared on my unmentionable parts.

c) I wait until Mom actually has the diaper off and my bum cleaned. Then I hop up onto my hands and knees, and crawl like a mad man directly for the aforementioned poopy diaper. I crawl onto it, bare bum gleaming in the sunshine, and get poop all over my hands. Then I smile.

d) All of the above.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yum Yum Yum!!!

We have a new favorite family food. I discovered this recipe last week and we've already had it twice. I fantasize about these while driving down the road or while doing laundry or while laying in bed at 3 AM. They ARE incredibly addicting. Be wary.

I know, I know, the mustard and soy sauce sounds weird, but trust me. Yumilicious.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups cooked black beans
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cups cooked and mashed yams
12 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add beans and water (to desired consistency) and head until warm. Take off burner and add spices, mustard, cayenne, and soy sauce.

Assemble burrito: On warmed tortilla put a thin layer of yams, a dollop of beans, a coating of cheese. Wrap and garnish with salsa and sour cream/plain yogurt.

Supposedly this feeds 12 but, *ahem* in our family it is probably more like, um, one dinner and one lunch for 2.3 people. Jed loves em.

My recipe is adapted from this one at (I LOVE that site!)

I've been on a bean kick. Cooked beans from scratch for the very first time last week! Exciting! For another fantastic recipe, check out this recipe for black bean soup.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Baby Jed's First Christmas

Baby Jed was so excited on his first Christmas. And look at him on his knees! He only learned to really crawl on his knees a couple days before Christmas and boy does he love it. He's about ten times faster and can really get into trouble now. At this point, though, he was still pretty unstable and would kind of shuffle back and forth before he fell on his nose. So cute. Notice the adorable stripey pajama pants - Vanessa made matching for the whole family and boy were we stylish in our PJs on Christmas morning! Too bad we didn't get a photo. Oh well!

Jed's favorite gift was a big Tonka truck from his Aunt Lisa.  Oh, man, he loved this thing the second he saw it.  He was pawing at it through the wrapping before we even got it out and couldn't drag himself away for the next three days!  It picks up little toys and stores them in the middle container.  The steering wheel also has dials and buttons that vibrate and make noises.  Sometime I'll have to find a video of Jed with the vibrate on.  For some reason from the first time he heard the engine vibrate and start making a rhythmic sound, he would shake his head back and forth and wiggle his hips like he was dancing.  We spent about 75% of the rest of Christmas trying to get him to do that and then all dissolving into hilarity.  What a funny kid!
Helping Dad put it together.

I love my first big truck!  I'm a real man-child, all right.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Book List

(I've been wanting for some time to do some book reviews. So to remind myself I started this list of books I've read this year. I'll fill it out, this is just an initial run by. If there is any you are particularly interested in hearing about, I'd be happy to elaborate. Otherwise, ignore this post for now and move onto the next.)

The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency (and sequels) (Alexander McCall Smith)

A Gathering of Blue (Louise Lowry)

Silas Marner (George Elliot)

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See)

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman - An Assembly Such As This (Pamela Aidan)

Oliver Twist (Charles Dickenss)

John Adams (David McCullough) (Unfinished)

And Then There Was Light (unfinished)(Jaques Lusseyran)

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Toni Weschler)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)

My Antonia (Willa Cather)

The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis)

The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald)
The Princess and Curdie

A Grief Observed (C.S. Lewis)

Siddartha (Hermann Hesse)

At Home in Mitford (and some sequels)

Fear and Trembling (Soren Kierkegaard)

Crime and Punishment (unfinished) (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

The Diary of a Country Priest (Georges Bernanos)

Freakonomics (Stephen Levitt)

Twilight (and sequels)(Stephanie Meyer)

A Slippery Talent

One of Jed's most spectacular new talents is his newfound ability to fall out of the bathtub. He gets all wet and soapy, stands up, then leans waaaaaay over the edge and "pop!" he's sliding across the floor on his slick little belly, just like the penguins in the movies. The penguins seem to enjoy it far more than he does. Especially since the brilliant designer of our apartment decided to put a heat register right in the middle of the 3'x3' square bathroom floor, so Jed has pretty little heat-register lines in red across his belly. Poor kid. Apparently it's going to be a long learning curve. I totally know how he feels. I'm still figuring out stairs.

Anyway, I shall drag myself away from the child focus for one moment. For I have good news! GREAT news, in fact! For Christmas Michael gave me the desire of my heart.... A NEW LAPTOP! Actually, even better, he let me buy my own with the refund check from his camera (that just arrived... one year later.) I surfed here and anguished there and compared here and pondered there and finally settled upon a rather ugly but utilitarian little PC laptop. An Acer Extensa. Specs:

AMD Turion 64 x2 Mobile processor
15.4 in screen
160 Gig hard drive
2 gigs RAM
DVD multi layer reader and writer
Built in web cam

It's a pretty sweet little machiner, if I do say so myself, and all for the unbelievably low price of $500!!!!! I am absurdly proud of my shopping skilz.

One observation. Yes, it may be able to process like a mad dog, but it doesn't have volume buttons. Who designs these things???!?! Do these engineers just never USE computers like normal human beings? Or do they just sit around taking them apart and putting them back together? No offense to you computer hardward engineers, but you guys are a lot of dummies.

So the reason why this is good news for YOU, dear reader, is that now I can return to my regularly scheduled posting frenzy. No more sharing after Michael gets home and baby is in bed. YES!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Developing His Talents

Sorry about the long absence, my friends. The holidays hit like a hurricane of family and friends and food. At last, however, the festivating has come to an end and the hordes have dispersed, leaving us to our usual quiet little life (ha ha ha. We like to pretend that quiet is normal. The fact is that quiet is just the lull between the "normal" storm.)

We have lots and lots of photos to dig through and post here. But I am going to TORTURE you all and only put them up a small batch at a time (bwah ha ha ha ha!!!) (That was my evil laugh directed at my beloved mother who has felt slighted by the dearth of blog posts over the last couple of weeks.)

Baby Jed has developed all sorts of nifty talents in the last few weeks. Here are a few examples.

1) Baby Jed has learned to read. Well, all right, he doesn't READ, but he LOVES books. I mean loves. He's started pulling them out of his toybox and bringing them over to me on the couch so I will read to him. He loves looking at the pictures and pointing at random colorful objects. I think his favorite is the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar because he can stick his fingers in the holes where the different fruits are. He seems to have some glimmer of intelligence when I count. Probably motherly over-analyzation, but nonetheless it seems to me like he's starting to recognize at least a pattern. Here he is reading a book with Grandma Jan over the holiday. Note the intense stare. This is unusual in him these days, as his attention pan has shortened to a mere 0.07 seconds for most activities. The exceptions being food and reading. He really does take after his mom.

2) Baby Jed has learned to eat. A lot. Quiz: Who does this photo remind you of?

If you said "Vanessa" or even harbored that thought in your most secret of hearts, you FAIL and are formally banned from this blog for eternity.
His current method of eating involves shoving every available food-type object into his mouth at once until his mouth becomes a distended, wet, oozing orifice. Then he gags and spits it all out. Then he tries to shove it all back in again. Gross!

3)Baby Jed has learned to play the piano. Well, all right, maybe not PLAY the piano, but certainly play ON the piano. You can put him up there on your lap and he'll bang and holler til no end of it. He's developing his musical talents, we say. Whenever the Stanfills all get together to sing, Baby always joins in squeaking and screeching after a few minutes and then we all dissolve in laughter. Gee, if all the grown ups are yelling I guess I should join in!

4)Baby Jed has learned to wrestle. Yes, he is winning.

5) Baby Jed has learned... well, the photo speaks for itself. More on this later.