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Tamale Pie turns 15

15 Nov

Tamale Pie turned 15 years old this month. The year of her birth is tied to several landmarks of my life.

The year I was pregnant with Tamale Pie, I joined Mary Kay. We started building the house we are now living in. I ended my eight year career in the Missouri National Guard. (If I had not been pregnant, I would have been deployed with others my National guard unit to Afghanistan.

Soon after she was born, we had the worst ice storm of my adult life. Our house was out of power for 10 days. I learned a lot about emergency preparedness from that time.

Tamale Pie’s

Favorite color is deep Navy Blue

Favorite food: surf -n-turf burritos

Wants to be a baker and a mom when she grows up.

Has been taking violin lessons for 2 years. She practices diligently without me hounding her and paid for her own lessons by baking and selling bread for several months last year when I couldn’t pay for them. I’m so proud of her dedication and consistent work. Her goal music is “The Erle King” by Schubert

Loves all things Studio Ghibli. Howl’s Moving Castle is her favorite of Haywood Miyazaki’s films.

Tamale Pie bakes all the bread for our family, keeps the bathrooms clean, helps keep the Scooter Pies busy, and asks me several times each day if she can do anything to help me, in addition to 6-7 hours of homeschool lessons, which she works through largely independently while I am teaching math and reading to the four youngest.

She is amazing

Sunday Evening Treats

11 Oct
If you had an amazing fourteen-year-old at your house, you too could enjoy Brioche and Abuelita Hot Chocolate on Sunday evening.

October Begins

5 Oct
My “Dollar Tree Decoration” attempt is satisfactory!

This week, October began and the cool weather came in earnest. It was “break week” for us for home school. We are trying out a schedule of 6 weeks on, 1 week off this year. So far, our schoolwork has been very productive; the new Alveary curriculum I am using makes it so easy to get our work done consistently each day. However, it’s a very full curriculum, and takes me from 8am-2pm each day to finish teaching all the lessons. Tamale Pie’s (9th grade or Form 4) school day is 8-3; however, she works mostly independently. Her day includes 50 minutes of violin/piano practice, 20 minutes of playground games/Pilates, and 30 minutes Nature walk which most high schoolers wouldn’t probably get to enjoy during school hours.

Because it was break week, I was able to help my sister Mary a little as she finished up projects at the home they are selling.  Tuesday, I prepped walls for painting, and Wednesday, I babysat her pre-schoolers and baby.  

Wednesday, I also got a fun haircut. I’ve wanted to get a faux hawk pixie cut for years, and finally decided that it was silly to worry about what people would think and whether I would like it, and that I needed to just live my own life.  I am loving my hair cut. 

Wednesday night I explained to The Scooter Pies that they are big enough to go to sleep in their own bed (and don’t need to be snuggled all the way to sleep in my bed any more) and old enough to stay in their room until the sunlight comes in their window. I have reaped some precious nights of uninterrupted sleep since, and though I don’t want to rejoice too early and jinx myself, feel cautiously optimistic about this wonderful new arrangement continuing.

Blueberry Pie rescued an abandoned puppy near our home on Thursday. The kids have names him Aztec, and he is pretty cute. We are all trying to learn more about how to take care of a puppy. I’ve already explained to the kids that he has to be an outside dog because we have family who are allergic. So we have a crate to put him in at night, and the kids play with him outside when he is awake. I am eager for his vet appointment on Tuesday to clear up some obvious parasite conditions.

Key Lime Pie’s twelfth birthday was Sunday, and we let our girls get their ears pierced when they turn twelve, so Friday, I took her to get the deed done. It seems a bit barbaric to let my girls get holes punched in their ears, but they all look forward to it eagerly. Julia chose tiny birthstone studs, and my wild child looks sweet and girly. I found her watching “West Side Story” all alone, recently, and thought to myself, “She really is becoming a teenager.”

I still taught piano all week. I have 33 students this year, who I teach in 7 group classes and 11 individual lessons. I teach piano from 3-6pm each day Monday-Thursday. Group lessons are best for the students, they learn rhythm and note reading much more quickly by playing ensemble, and they have more fun in groups; but due to some families schedules, some students being at odd places in the curriculum, and some students wanting individual lessons due to COVID, I have more 1-on-1 lessons than I would have ideally scheduled. The Alveary recommended finding a teacher who uses the “Curwen Method” of teaching. So I read a teaching manual written in the 1890’s by Mary Curwen. The method books I already use are quite similar, but she adds in ear training, which is exactly the thing I have been wanting to add to my teaching. In each lesson, she has the students take “dictation.” They listen to a short sequence and have to write the music down- rhythm and pitch. I believe my students will reap multiple benefits from this practice, and I’m very excited about it.

My conference buddy, Mandy

Saturday after leading a masked ACT study group with Pumpkin Pie and 6 of her friends from school, we loaded up the van and headed up to my Brother Peter and his wife Amy’s house to watch General Conference and play with cousins. The resident Captain had Guard Drill weekend and was gone Friday-Sunday, so it was a good day to run away and play.

One of Blueberry Pie’s swim coaches was getting married up north, near Booneville, Missouri, so he drove up to that. At 6:30, he called to tell me that his car had broken down on I-70, so I began the 3-hour drive to go pick him up. He called the Highway Patrol, and they took him to the nearest truck stop so he didn’t have to wait on the side of the road. It was a good evening for him to get stuck somewhere, really. I didn’t have anything planned except watch conference with Amy, and I listened to it while I drove, plus listened to a big chunck of my fascinating audio book. (It is Rain of Gold by Victor Villaseñor, and I highly recommend it, though it deals with tough realities and some situations are probably PG-16ish.)

Roz the Wild Robot cake

Blueberry Pie and I got back to Peter’s house at about 12:45 and crashed on his couches with the rest of my kiddos. Yay for an unexpected sleepover! We stayed and played with cousins until the morning Sunday session of General Conference was over. Amy fed us some delicious chili, and then we drove home to shower and relax and get ready for Dad to be home from soldiering.

Sunday afternoon, my sister-in-law, Kaitlin (Johnny’s Kaitlin) messaged me that I might be able to salvage my scripture journal by putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Back story: I bought a Journal Edition Book of Mormon and have been making study notes all year with friXion pens. These ink pens erase with friction (heat).

A week or 2 ago, I discovered that the book had gotten hot somehow, and many of my notes through first Nephi had erased on their own. Following Kaitlin’s tip, I stuck my BOM in the freezer, and it worked! My notes came back enough that I could tell what I had written, and I went back over them with my flair pens. Lesson learned: don’t journal with erasable pen!

Ben came home from Ft. Leonardwood, happy with the news that he will get to transfer to an instructor position with the RTI. This means he will be teaching new officer candidates. It’s a position he has been actively seeking for a long time. It’s still a one-weekend-a-month gig like normal National Guard stuff, but he will have some 2-week trainings this fall to prepare.
It was quite the “break week.” I’m excited to get back to school Monday morning.

January 2020

22 May
The Scooter Pies play many games of Forbidden Island and Sushi Go! with mom
Watercolor narrations from “As You Like It” clockwise from top left: by Tamale Pie, Key Lime Pie, and Cherry Pie
Key Lime Pie’s Bear Family
Banana Cream Pie’s Baby Seal
Apple Pie’s Brown Bear
Pumpkin Pie goes to Homecoming Dance

Happy 14th Birthday, Tamale Pie

8 Nov


This amazing girl is 14.  Not only is she beautiful, but she is also talented.  She is learning to play piano and violin.  She wanted violin lessons for years.  Finally, Christmas 2018, I found out about a teacher in our town, and  I was able to get her a violin.  Tamale Pie practices diligently each day, getting up at 6 am to practice without any reminding or nagging from me.  This fall when our family budget took a big hit, we had to cancel everything extra.  Rather than cancel her lessons, I came up with an idea to have her make bread and sell it to earn the money.  (We sold homemade bread before as a home school project, so I knew she could do it.)

For 3 months, she made and sold 4 loaves of bread every week to pay for her violin lessons.  Now I am able to cover her lessons again, but she still makes 4-8 loaves of bread for the family, just to help me out.

She also cleans the bathrooms in our house every day and helps out with dishes often.  While I am teaching piano lessons, she keeps the Scooter Pies happy, and she constantly asks if there is anything else she can do to help. I gave her the day off of doing chores for her birthday, but she did some anyway. I love her and she makes it easy. #seriouslysheisthebest


Tamale Pie loves all things Studio Ghibli.  For her birthday, she got a Totoro sweater and earrings.  Aunt Amanda took her (and sisters) to see a movie and Blueberry Pie brought home sushi for her.  She chose butamon and a pumpkin roll for her birthday dinner. Delicious.

Tamale Pie is Ten

11 Jan

This girl is crazy sauce.

She has some rad creative skills, which I am loving watch unfold and develop.

 She loves to be helpful and will come back multiple times to ask what else she can do to help me out.


She has a really nice singing voice, and she is brave enough to use it!

She is amazing and I love her.

She likes to ask questions that she already knows the answer to, which I need to be more patient about.  I can’t figure out if she just likes to make certain sure of things, if it’s her way of making sure I’m paying attention, or if she just likes the feeling of hearing the answer she expected.

She always tells me that she loves me before she goes to bed.  I used to suspect that this was a stalling technique, but now I’m convinced that she is totally sincere.

I’m really lucky to be mom to this super cute, kinda loud and tacky girl.

She is a lot like me that way.


Snow Day, Sew Day

2 Mar

Every year my mom buys a whole bunch of flannel. 

By a whole bunch, I mean that she buys several bolts of flannel, as in, she could start a store with the bolts of flannel she has in Rubbermaid tubs upstairs.  It is awesome.

For Christmas, my sisters and sister-in-laws and I are invited over for pajama day.  We cut out pajamas and sometimes get them sewn up as well. Mom does crafts and reads stories with the grandkids while we have a great time chopping up those yards and yards of flannel.

This year, I got all the girls’ Christmas pajamas cut out, but not sewn.  Those almost pajamas languished in a pile for more than 2 months. 

Then last Friday afternoon the snow began falling.  It continued to fall all night and all the next morning.  Saturday morning I fixed breakfast (funnel cakes) and cleaned up the kitchen.  Then it was time to fix lunch (hash browns scrambled eggs, and country gravy–I was in a breakfast mood still).  After lunch I took a nap (pregnant ladies get to do that sometimes. ) When I woke up the snow was still falling.  

So I got out my sewing machine.  I popped my 6 hour A&E Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) in the DVD player.  I pulled out that stack of Christmas pajamas and got busy.  By the time Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett were married and kissing the bride, I had finished four flannel pants, one fleece pants and matching fleece hoodie, and one nightgown.  

I still had one nightgown left, so I put I my Focus Films version of Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightly and Matthew McFaydden). That was a mistake.  While I can sometime watch this version and get enjoyment from it (sometimes I need a P&P fix and I don’t have 6 hours), Kiera just can’t hold up in a back to back comparison.  The timing of every line is off and the whole thing is over acted.  

I just put my head down and finished that last nightgown.  

Finishing that big project was so satisfying, that I got sewing fever.  Church was canceled on Sunday because of bad road conditions and I had to fight the siren song of my sewing machine all day long.  But I triumphed over that temptation and my machine had its day of rest.  

Then today, I whipped the cover back off and sewed again.  Tamale Pie and Pumpkin Pie each have an 18″ doll that they got for Christmas three years ago.  (They aren’t American Girl Dolls, they are a Target knock-off version.)

Well the dream of these two girls hearts has been to have matching pajamas with their dolls.  I saved the scraps from cutting out their nightgowns and Voila!  Today their wildest dreams came true!!

I was a little worried when I got out the pattern pieces.  These doll clothes always take more fabric than I think they should.

If you look closely, you can see that I quilted the yoke on this nightgown. I used the AG pattern for Kristen’s nightgown, which you can download here.  I just left the cuffs off the sleeves and turned the neck piece under so the nightgown would be the same as Tamale Pie’s. 

Pumpkin Pie is happy too.  Hooray for being twiners with your doll!

One good thing about these dolls is that they make thinking up Christmas presents easy.  What shall I get for the girls for Christmas?  Doll clothes & accessories!!

Last Christmas, I made this beautiful red wool coat from an old wool blazer and a little girl’s plaid wool shirt.  Isn’t it gorgoeus?!! I had so much fun sewing it.  

I enbroidered the button holes by hand because they were so small that I was afraid my machine would just bung them up.  The covered buttons came right from the shirt.  

Sewing doll clothes is so much more fun now than it was when I was a girl, because the clothes look good and fit the doll when I am done!!  This apron dress was made from scraps left over from a dress I made Tamale Pie.  It isn’t as close a match in style as the nightgown, but it’s not too bad.  That tiny ric rac around the apron was murderous to sew.

I didn’t have another thrifted  wool piece to make PumpkinPie’s doll coat, so hers is made from fleece.  It worked well enough and is pretty, but it isn’t luminous the way the wool is.  Yes, I made the tam-o-shanter and muff, too.

This dress does not correspond to any of PumpkinPie’s wardrobe.  It is just purple, which was her favorite color for a long time.  Also, the flowers were a good scale for a doll dress. The coats and this purple dress came from Addy’s Pretty Clothes patterns.  The tam and muff are Samantha’s.  In my opinion, Addy and Josephine have the prettiest dresses.

So much fun!! I want to make more!!

Tamale Pie is Nine

13 Nov

What is your favorite color?  Aquamarine 

What is your favorite food?  Shrimp kabobs

What is your favorite song?  Holding Hands Around the World

What is your favorite candy?  Russell Stover chocolates

What is your favorite game? Grey Wolf

Who is your friend?  Riley and Olivia 

What is your favorite thing to do? Have tea parties and sew things

Happy Birthday, Tamale Pie

16 Nov

Yum! tamalie pie might just be my favorite food. It is savory and warm. It has corn meal, which is comfort food and olives, which are delicious. I’ll post you all a recipe later. The big news is

Tamale Pie turned 6 last week!

She asked for bean salad & tortilla chips for dinner and carrot cake for desert. What a good girl to ask for such easy food for me to make.

She wanted one of those big Barbie heads that you can style the hair. She has wanted it for a whole year, so she got it. I’m pretty sure she loves it, but the picture of her with it, her eyes are half closed, so she looks possessed and I’m not posting it.

I also managed to finish her slippers! This pair took me the longest time because I forgot about my sewing machine and hand sewed all those hearts on. Duh, GlowWorm, way to create more work for yourself.

A few days later, I finished Pumpkin Pie’s slippers. Yay! 3 down, 2 to go.

Tamale Pie is my most dramatic child–usually in a happy way. Pumpkin Pie takes the Oscar for nuclear meltdowns of woe.

Tamale Pie laughs the most, dances the most, sings the most, hugs the most (and I’m talking about running from the other side of the room and jumping on you in a koala bear/monkey kind of hug) and she TALKS the most.

She went to Kindergarten this fall, and the house is so quiet during the day now. No longer do I have her constant monologue/questions/bossy paragraphs about what I should be doing. It is nice to have quiet. But I miss her little voice, too. I’ll be cleaning or driving somewhere and realize something is missing. There is no little voice asking me where we are going or what I am doing.

The other day I found a movie that she had made of herself on the computer.
#1 I don’t even know how to use our computer to do that. I don’t know how to post it so you can enjoy it also. I can’t even find it again to watch it. And I’m not that computer illiterate either.

#2 Many times the constant talking didn’t quite make sense to me, but I figured it was because I wasn’t always really listening. After watching her video, I realized that she often does not complete a sentence or a relate causality clearly. In other words, sometime she just doesn’t make sense.

#3 Her video was hilarious. She was clearly copying a you tube video I had watched on how to style your hair with a flat iron. She mimicked the girl’s gestures and vocal inflections (rather valley girl style) almost perfectly, even though we only watched it once.

“Okay, what we are going to do today is a hair style and we have this pony tail holder…yadda yadda and you take it like this and braid it, and you have to do this because when we all go to the store we get cereal….and don’t forget to go to”

That’s right. Apparently my six year old has her own website.

Tamale pie loves to help me and often asks what job she can do for me. She loves to dance ballet. One of these days I might be able to find her a real dance teacher. (our town lists 3 in the phone book, but the numbers are either wrong or no one answers/returns calls.) Until then, we are making do with ballet class DVDs from Amazon.

When Cherry Pie was baptized, Tamale Pie and Grandma Rosi were walking through the hall at the church. Tamalie Pie stopped at the picture of President Monson and said, “That’s my prophet.”

Very impressed, Grandma Rosie asked, “Do you have a picture of him in your house?”

“No, ” says Tamale Pie, thoughtfully, “but we do have Mary Kay!”

(In my defense, we don’t have a picture of Mary Kay hanging on the wall. What was hanging on the wall in my office was a goal poster of the things I wanted to achieve in Mary Kay–pay off our mortgage, buy new clothes, take the kids to Disney World.)

Tamale Pie likes all the normal food kids love, plus broccoli. Her favorite color is pink and right now, her favorite song is “Away in a Manger.” She wants to go to Disney World and has saved up $3 and some change to help pay for our trip.

She always notices things that are inconsistent in what adults (ahem) do and asks me about it.

One morning I came downstairs to make breakfast. There on the counter was the delicious half of a chocolate cake my mother-in-law had given me, missing all the frosting from the top. Tamale Pie was sitting on a stool near the cake.
I asked, “Did you lick the frosting off of my cake?”
She replied, “No, Mama.”
I said, raising my eyebrows, “It’s rude to lick the frosting off of my cake.”
She said, “But I just used my finger.”

There you go. Logic that cannot be argued.

New Dress, Random stuff

6 Oct

I love love love to watch Project Runway. Since we don’t get cable TV (or any TV) I either show up at a friend’s house to watch it, or my sisters get a hold of a whole season at once and we marathon it. Now my daughters occasionally design fashion outfits and have runway shows. Tamale Pie designed this new dress for me. I thought it was a giraffe at first, but she explained that the “spots” were actually apples and that it was a dress. Then it was all so clear-including the spacious allowance for my growing baby bump. One thing I can say about my girl, she knows how to design for real women. Something those kids on Project Runway don’t always know how to do.

Also, I bet you have all been wondering what we do at our house on a rainy Saturday Morning besides design high fashion. Here’s the scoop.

Bubba likes to make armor and weapons. Cutie Pie likes chase him, screaming, “kill, Kill!” in true warrior princess form.

The rest of the Pies like to make things with play dough. My super cute nephew, CandyBar, was visiting us while his mother was in the hospital bringing forth a new little brother for him. When he wasn’t on the table, CandyBar was playing with the toy horses we have in the animal box. Those horses kept him busy all day.

Monday was a no school day (teacher meetings or something) The girls have wanted to have a “Tangled” day–a day where they get to do all the things that Rapunzel does during her song. So Monday we invited a few friends over and had our Tangled day. We made pottery with bake-able clay, painted, read books, baked apple pies, had lunch, ballet, and painted faces with makeup.

Surprisingly, the girls all voted to skip mopping, sweeping, polishing, clean-up and laundry. I got to do all those ones, myself. And they wondered why we ran out of time and didn’t get to do chess, ventriloquy, candle making, more painting, and sew a dress…

Now they all are begging to have home school. I think they think home school would be like Tangled Day. I’m afraid it would be too….

And if you are looking for cute Halloween ideas or cute things to make for boys, check out my new favorite blog to read: The Train To Crazy Don’t you just want to go get a crochet hook right this second?!!