Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Order, This Time

OK, I pulled some strings at Scholastic... here is CHAPTER ONE of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Finally, all those Scholastic book orders are paying off.

You can then listen to Suzanne Collins read CHAPTER TWO again in that one blog post from a few days ago.

And then you go frost your HG cake for that cake decorating contest in the post below. You have all of Monday and all of Tuesday to decorate your cake, and then email the pictures to me. Pictures are already coming in, so get on it. You can do this! Think of that sweet apron. May the odds be ever in my your favor!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hunger Games / Catching Fire Contest

To celebrate the long awaited release of Suzanne Collins's book, Catching Fire, I am holding a cake decorating contest. A Hunger Games cake decorating contest.

To enter, simply bake (or buy) a cake and decorate it in some way that represents The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It doesn't have to taste good, it just has to look good.

Be clever. Be funny. Be Peeta Mellark.

After you decorate your cake, take pictures. Lots of pictures from all different angles. And then email those pictures to me (ajesplin @ gmail dot com).

Deadline: midnight, September 01, 2009 (to clarify, you have all day Tuesday to finish your cake. As if you will be frosting a cake instead of reading all day Tuesday--charight--but there it is.)

I know that's not much time, but check out these motivational prizes.

First place, this apron:

HGbird, Hungry? apron

Second place, this mouse pad:

Third place, these refrigerator magnets

And whoever makes the biggest cake wreck wins this jar of poisonous Nightlock Berry Jam:

(WARNING: do not eat this. Feed it only to your worst fox-faced frienemy)

On Wednesday September 02, I will post all of the entry pictures on my blog, and open it up to a public vote. (All cake makers will remain anonymous until after the vote) So start decorating. Don't put it off to the last minute! Anyone can enter, including practical strangers. Srsly, the more the merrier.

May the best cake win, and may the odds be ever in my your favor.

*Many will enter (3 or 4, possibly 5), few will win. May the odds be ever in your my favor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Link-on, Nebraska

Here's a few Links for you, starting with this iddle bitty kins...

Awww. Don't you love his lackadaisical expression? Much different than his world-weary pose in this shot.

K, down to business. Did you hear there's a sequel to The Wizard of Oz in the works? Dakota Fanning is set to play the new Dorothy, but she won't be the timid, singing farm-girl type like the original Dorothy. She's gonna be all tough and urban, which is Dakota Fanning through and through.

I'm confused about the story time-line, tho. Will this movie take off where the 1985 sequel, Return to Oz, left off? Cuz I would really like to forget that movie ever happened to me. This scene from Return to Oz is one of the creepiest things I ever saw as a kid, topped only by this scene.

BTW, what do you think of Dakota Fanning taking that bit part as Jane in the New Moon movie? I know. I was thinking the same thing. She should have been cast as Bella.

^Bella snuggling with baby Renesme. Am I right?

Next, I know most people hate chocolate, but if you go HERE, every Friday through September, you can get free chocolate. Shrug.

Last but certainly not least, I'm sure you are all having heart palpitations, thinking about the up-coming release of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (sequel to her literary masterpiece The Hunger Games, and September's book choice for the Smart Remarks Book Club). Well, get ready for a special treat... Here is your sneak peek of Catching Fire, chapter 2 read by Suzanne Collins.

"Eeeeeeeeeeek" is right!

Now, I must warn you in case you haven't heard Ms. Collins read The Hunger Games, that she puts on this yucky accent when she reads the part of Katnis, but pay no attention. Just savor the masterful words.

Can you stand the wait?!? I'm super patient etc, but no way. Not this time.

If you're a nerd, you can go HERE to print off your HG/CF bookmarks, but they're pretty ridiculous. I mean, what kind of nerd would put this book down? I printed off the poster instead.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not Hogwarts

Cord went to middle school yesterday. Ugh.

Anyway, way back when, in some ancient blog post, I mentioned that Cord's middle school was voting on whether or not to implement school uniforms. Well, I have good news and bad news. The good new is that the vote passed, and the kids have to wear uniforms. The bad news is that the uniforms look nothing like the Hogwarts uniforms. No sweater vest and tie. No formal dress robes for test day. No Quidditch-type clothes for PE. Just polo shirts in a few select colors, paired with jeans or khakis.

Here's Cord and his BFF (and his little sister) on their first day of school:

This would have been way cuter:

However, when I picked up Cord from school, I saw the dress code in full force and was very pleased with the uniformity of all those kids. Not because I don't believe in individual expression blah blah blah, but because middle schoolers have no idea how to dress in a manner that is pleasing to the eye. Leave it to them, and they'd squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans, and pair it with some giant puffy sneakers and a clingy T that emphasizes their muffin top. Skinny jeans are specifically banned at this middle school. The fashion-forward school administrators know that 90% of those kids can't pull off the skinny jeans, so they threw that in there. Brilliant, eh?

Gus started third grade. This is his first year going to school without Cord, which made me nervous for him, but he seemed comfortable on his own. Homer starts pre-school next week. He's so annoyed that his brothers get to go now and he has to wait, and he's hanging on my arm right now as I type this, begging to go to school, and I'm so annoyed too.

I took about five pictures of Gus and Homer before school that look like this:

Before I finally got one with their eyes open:

Homer is saying, "I wanna go to skoo mom!" Hear hear, Homer. Hear hear.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gus, the 8 year old

We're back from our last trip of the summer. Phew. No more packing. No more monotonous drives through no-man's land . Don't get me wrong, it's been fun, but it's good to be back home again. Sometimes, this old farm feels like a long lost friend.

Anyway, August 20th was this kid's birthday:

He turned 8, and we all know what that means. It's time for him to get his own place. He's not a baby anymore...

So we are gently shoving him "out of the nest," so to speak. He's 8, for goodness sakes. OMG, look at this picture of Cheeks McGee combing his hair...

It kills me every time. He found that busted up comb in the gutter and knew exactly what to do with it. And this picture of him with his cousin Ella...

I just love their olden-time expressions. Here's what they look like now...

Amy took that picture. Good, huh? She also took this picture below of Ella, and I'm going to post it because I'm sure she won't get around to it, what with all those huckleberries to can...

Here's the Esplin family before leaving for Gus's baptism...

(Yeah, he got baptized. With his cousin, Ella. It was huge success. Thanks SO MUCH to all the people to came to witness the event. It made Gus's day.)

Here's Gus's birthday cake...

K, I know this post was all disjointed and awkward, but I got first-day-of-school stuff to finish up tonight, so I'll post something more thoughtful tomorrow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Q-tips & Q pons...

I bought 11 boxes of Q-tips at Albertson's the other day.

It was a huge leap of faith. See, I read on the Internet that if you buy 10 boxes of Q-tips at Albertson's, it would cost about $27.00. BUT, if you buy 11 boxes of Q-tips, it would only cost $3.00.

I decided to try it. It was embarrassing (cuz, ya know, 11 boxes of Q-tips)... but it worked.

I am literally tripping over Q-tips boxes now. Literally. So, guess what? I'm going to UT (and then ID) tomorrow, and I am bringing a box of Q-tips for everyone. (limit one per household) So if you live in those areas and were planning to buy Q-tips today, don't. I'm coming, and so are my Q-tips.

BTW, have you ever seen that warning on the Q-tip box that says not to insert the swab into your ear canal? Chaaaaaaaaa-right. What else is a person gonna do with 4,000+ Q-tips?

After I bought my Q-tips, I went back and bought all this stuff...

...not because I needed it or anything, just because I could buy it all for $31. (That's $127 worth of groceries before coupons.)

Now, about those Ticonderoga pencils I mentioned previously...

They are the world's BEST PENCIL, indeed. They make me so happy. My heart skips a beat when I see them. I love how they smell. I love sharpening them all and lining them up in my desk drawer. Best of all, I love writing with them. Smooth as baby's bee-hind.

They cost quite a bit more than your average pencil, but trust me, once you go Ticonderoga, you never go back. You'll even drive all the way out to Henderson, NV to buy them on sale, because NOT going and passing up that deal would make you feel sick to your stomach.

This is how I justified the trip to Henderson:

I got all the above for $2.06.
(2 reams of printer paper, 6 spiral notebooks, 3 dry erase markers, and a Casio label maker)

I didn't need any of that stuff. All I really needed was 6 boxes of Ticonderoga pencils, but I had to buy all that to justify the gas money, etc. Sigh.

I am finding that label maker to be of some use, tho.

I made this for our front door:

And Lily A. gave me this idea for my bedroom door:

So far, it hasn't worked.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Country folk

I'm sitting in the waiting room at discount tire, doing my favorite
thing: sinking more money into my '02 pearl-toned Suzuki XL7. Man, I
love that car. It's my pleasure to buy new tires for her, rather than
get something nice for myself.

The guys at discount tire like country music, and they have a loud
sound system in here. Have you ever noticed how funny country music
is? I'm having a hard time keeping it together here, bursts of
laughter keep escaping me. I'm trying to think about my fancy new
tires, and ignore these funny country folks, but I might be forced to
exit the building soon if they don't quit it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Meat Eater

Our neighbors invited us over for dinner last weekend.

That's a first for us. Yes, the Esplin's have never been dinner guests before. (we're quite unpopular). I was nervousing a little, because I wasn't sure if they would have Lean Cuisines, or if I would be required to eat something "fresh" or "home cooked."

Anyway, the dinner turned out superb. We ate on real plates and everything. They'd prepared a smorgasbord of side-dishes... enough to make my mouth water. But for the main course, we had our choice of grilled steak, chicken, or salmon. I don't eat those things, as you may know, so while Tony and the boys salivated over the selection of non-microwaved meat, I was nervousing about how to gracefully decline the main course without sounding like a jerk. Just as our hostess was about to throw all that meat on the grill, I panicked and blurted out, "I don't eat meat." (which is a broad statement, because I do eat certain types of meat if it is prepared in such a way, but I wasn't going to get into all the details of burnt bacon etc) To which the hostess replied, "That's all right, we have chicken and salmon also."

Whoa. Are chicken and salmon not considered meat?

At that point, I couldn't add, "I don't eat any subcategories of meat either" without feeling like a complete B, so I played it cool and opted to try the grilled salmon, which was the lesser of two meats in my mind.

I consumed grilled salmon. Multiple bites. I can add that to my bucket list, beneath "stand in quicksand," and then cross it off immediately.

It was fun, the food was delish, and we humble Esplins ended the night quite gruntled. Best neighbors. So lucky to have good neighbors.

Have you ever driven 70 miles to buy pencils on sale?
I did that yesterday.
Trust me, it makes sense.
I'm talking Dixon Ticonderogas.
I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


We're back from our trip to AZ. We actually got back last week, but I've barely been able to function over the last few days, as I came down with a srs case of the "baby blues", without even birthing a baby. I hit rock bottom on Friday night, when I laid on the couch in my office and watched back-to-back episodes of The Golden Girls because I couldn't find the remote. But I'm good now.

In AZ, we stayed at that resort from the movie Dirty Dancing. Not technically the same resort, but very similar. The Arizona Biltmore. It was built in the 1920s, so it has a cool old-school vibe, but with modern conveniences and brand new sheets and stuff.

They have an itinerary of all-inclusive activities for guests to do each day, including salsa (aka dirty) dancing in the evenings with a Patrick Swayze-type dance instructor. How exciting to know that somewhere at our resort, other guests were salsa dancing with a Patrick Swayze-type, while I was in my room watching "Dating in the Dark".

Our favorite activity was S'mores Night. They made a big bonfire, gave us each our own roasting stick, and had all the fixin's (marshmallows, graham crackers, fancy chocolates on ice) set out on these snazzy silver serving trays. And to wash it all down, they had a never-ending supply of iced chocolate milk, apple cider, or a refreshing glass of ice water, you gize! It lasted all night, and we kept going back for more, even when our stomachs ached, cuz it was free and I have a soft spot for free stuff.

They have pools all over the resort, but the main pool is neato. It has a 1920's Hollywood-glam feel to it, with private cabanas lining the sides. It also has this super massive water slide, that the boys never got tired of. At night, you can sit in an inner tube at the pool and watch a "Dive-In" movie. The free-ness of it all made my heart melt.

I am in love with the place. It's a tradition, two years running, that we stay there every August. And that we stay in the same room with the same view...

Oh yeah, we also saw the Grand Canyon...

It was muy grande, indeed!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wanda's House

I found that little cramped hole/cave where Wanda spent the second
half of The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Got lots of pictures.

Uncle Jeb

We're taking the historic drive that Stephenie Meyer took when she was
inspired to write The Host. Road Runner cacti everywhere. If you want
a more detailed discription than that, read the first half of The Host.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life is tough, ya know?

For other people.
We're at the Arizona Biltmore--my favorite hotel, I'll tell you more
about it when I get back. Tony took the boys to the hotel putting
green, and then to play lawn chess. This is the view from our balcony,
where I plan to sit with my Diet Coke while I join in on the Smart
Remarks Book Club disscussion that's gonna start in about 10 mins.
Glad the boys brought their laptop. Nice night. Nice view. Don't
see many bugs out here. Anywho...