Sunday, November 30, 2008
Evan Youchen Music Concert from beverly on Vimeo.
There was also a couple songs that his class sang. I say "his class" because he really just stood there the whole time with a blank stare. Poor kid, I don't think he realized that there'd be SO many people in the audience. It's ok. I don't think he knows all the words to the songs they sang anyway. I wish I had some better pictures and video, but the place was packed, and I bearly squeezed in there to get a video of the last tambourine number while wrestling Careese with my other arm.
Don't you just LOVE their uniforms? jk. It doesn't usually include that big sissy bow. That's just for performance time. But really, I don't mind the uniform on girls cause its cute on them, just not for boys. As they get taller the shorts seem to get shorter and shorter. The coat length seems to do that too. And I don't get why have to wear shorts year round, even in the dead of winter? They explain, that kids body temperature is higher than adults, and that to avoid illness, its best to not dress them too warmly to get their bodies used to the cold. I don't agree. You can get sick in the summer time just as easily as the winter. And getting accustomed to cold is not related to building immunity.
After finding out this is the school's thoughts on kids health, it explains why they sent Evan home for having a fever, when he really didn't have one. He was exactly at 98 degrees, normal. He was just warm from wearing the sweater-vest I put on him. They must expect kids to be at 90 degrees or something.
Anyway, today we went to our friend's home, on base, who invited us for a belated Thanksgiving dinner. They wanted to invite a couple over for dinner that only have Sundays off. That's fine by me, cause that's my third Thanksgiving dinner in a week! ahahaha. I'm a turkey, stuffed. They asked me if I wanted to take some leftovers home, since Mark is out of town. Yeah right! I've cooked two other turkeys this week, and have had turkey left overs in almost every meal since last Sunday! Thanks, but no thanks. The funny thing was two out of the three families there were at my house for Thanksgiving dinners this past week! Not at the same time, so they have no idea that we've all had turkey dinner at least twice this week. hehehe.
The kids had great time playing, but somewhere in the fun, Careese started crying in pain. I found her standing in middle of the room where the kids were playing. Her poor little #4 baby tooth that had just started poking out was bleeding. Not a lot of blood. It stopped quickly, but Careese would cry in pain hours later when I tried to wash her face before going to bed. My friend said that when he found her, she was standing and holding a toy in her hand. I'm guessing she had that toy in her mouth and someone bumped into her and it cut her gum right behind that new tooth. Poor baby. She was frustrated trying to suck on a bottle after that. I hope she's ok, and it doesn't get infected, or something extreme like her tooth falls out and she'll have a missing tooth till she's 6!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I don't mind a mess in my home, as long as it's a crafty mess.
Well, its Christmas card season again, and honestly I've been thinking about it since I sent out my last card for 2007! I loved how well last years turned out, but now that I had set the bar pretty high, what would I do this year to match it?!
On my last trip to Seattle, I pretty much went on a shopping binge at Michael's. Evan's been playing with fun foam stickers since the wee age of 1 and a half. hehehe So, when I found these cute penguin stickers, these craft wheels could not be stopped from spinning.
Child labor put to work for the sake of Christmas cards. Tip: You gotta start early if you intend on your kid being involved in making at least 50 of these to be mailed out in time for Christmas. Child labor isn't the most efficient.
And here's a sneak peek at our fun foam Christmas cards. This is one of my favs that Evan and I made together. The blank stare in the right penguin makes me smile.
Now, I'm a bit stuck because finding A6 sized (5 3/4 x 4 3/8 inch) envelopes in Japan isn't easy. And the military exchange has little selection when it comes to office supplies. Japan has a whole different standard for paper and envelope sizes. I might have to get creative here.
Here's something I learned about letter writing in Japan. You won't find any envelopes with gum to seal them shut. Nope, its offensive to lick an envelope! I never thought of it that way, but I guess I wouldn't want someones spit all over my birthday card. So, all those peppermint flavored gummed envelopes from Hallmark, are just plane rude.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Here they are, get'em while they're hot!
It was a good trip, despite the below freezing weather. The one thing I learned is that, I don't quite relate with the mainland Chinese, more specifically Beijing Chinese. Or their way of thinking. But I think by the end of our trip, I understood where they were coming from, even if I didn't agree.
My cousin Faye pointed out to me that people are still influenced by their communist history. For instance, there is little importance placed on aesthetics or flourishes in design/architecture because during the Cultural Revolution they pulled up grasses and trees because it was an unnecessary aesthetic. Things like that, that I didn't think about that make the Chinese the way they are.
I don't speak Mandarin. Very very little, that a foreigner with a phase book probably has an advantage over me. hehehe But I can understand it a little better. Oh, but the different Chinese accents was tough to get used to.
So for me to speak a language is so integral in understanding the culture. And not being able to speak Chinese, even though I looked the part, was hard. I just felt like people were wondering what was wrong with me when they spoke to me? I guess it helped that I had two kids and was dressed differently that people could tell I was a foreigner. A lot of people thought I was from Singapore. Which isn't too far off from the truth. My father is from Singapore, and I lived there for a while as a kid.
So, it was a good trip for me because I was there observing real Chinese culture, cause I don't consider myself really Chinese, I got to understand a little more about myself. I hope we'll be able to make it an annual trip to China, now that we're just a stones throw away, and we can stay at the same Westin hotel too!
P.S. Just a reminder that I'm taking on the challenge of blogging once a day for a month, and honestly its not an easy thing for me to do. So to thank my faithful readers keeping up with me on my 'quest' of a blog a day, I'm keeping tabs on who comments and how many times too, so at the end of the month (Dec 11) I will have a drawing to give away a package of Japanese treats and goodies to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on any post between Nov 11 - Dec 11. That's it! Good luck!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
In light of the American Thanksgiving coming up, we celebrated a little earlier with some of our Japanese friends from church. They were really just wanting to schedule a home teaching visit, but we turned it into a Thanksgiving feast. hehehe
I forget how different Americans live compared to the Japanese, because when my friend came in to help out in the kitchen, as I was putting in a tray of croissants to be baked, she was astonished at how huge my oven was. Then she noticed how big the stove was in general. She turned around and the fridge, in its American huge-ness, had her at "SUGOII!" Then, as we were cleaning up after dinner, she noticed the dishwasher, and asked if she could look inside. I'm glad Mark did the dishes! She was blown away that there was not just one row of racks but two, and you had to stoop down to see the dishes all the way in the back. She called her husband in to look see and they admired how much cabinets and counter space there was. Honestly, I was amazed myself, when we first moved in, at the amount of cabinet and counter space we had!
While this whole event made me smile, apart of me feels guilty for living so well in Japan. And we pay almost nothing to live here too. While the rest of the country is making due with the small living space they have, we have the gall to complain about all the leaves we have to rake up on the 75 ft of lawn that we're in charge of around our house. I don't blame the Japanese for complaining about the American bases taking up their land. Thats why I feel like I need to play host to our Japanese friends often that they get to share in our abundance. Granted our home is still small compared to American standards, it's by far less cramped than most Japanese homes.
As for dinner, it was worth the hours of prep time. It was delicious. I don't think Thanksgiving is truely Thanksgiving without company to share it with. And to share it with company that rarely eats a traditional thanksgiving meal, made it even better. We got a smoked turkey this year, and it was SO good! Is like eating kaula pig, but turkey. And it only takes 1.5 hours to warm up, so it freed up my oven for other baked goodies like sweet potato souffle and fresh baked croissants. I'm thinking of heading out to the commissary tomorrow to pick up another yummy smoked turkey to just keep in my freezer for another day. hehehe
The pumkin pie I made turned out good. Although, can someone tell me why the pie cracks down the middle? Is it because it cools too quickly?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
As soon as we got home there was little time to relax, we had invited some friends from our Japanese Ward over for dinner the next day. So we had to go shopping for food before the commissary closed. We decided that since it was Japan's Labor Thanksgiving day tomorrow, and American Thanksgiving this Thrusday, we should have Thanksgiving dinner. Although, I don't know if there are special foods for Japanese Thanksgiving. After the kids went to bed, I made pumkin pie. Those are one of those foods that just remind you of home. The warm aroma of pumkin spices and homemade crust filling our house, reminds me of Thanksgivings and Christmases with extended family where we'd consume 6-8 pies. I can't wait to dig into that pie!
Evan was eatting at the table today, and while he was eating was telling us about being in my cousin Faye's class. He said that there was a boy in his class that looked like this, and Evan pulled the outside corners of his eyes up! I don't know if he's imitating how the other kid looks of if they were making funny faces at each other, but it was funny to see Evan explain how someone looks like that. He also was telling ing me about how he "do lots of things in Faye's class" and "Faye do other things" and "a kid pushed me, Faye help me be happy. Its not nice to push" Then we asked Evan if Faye was his hero, and he said "um, maybe. maybe not"
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
After moving hotels, we went to Summer Palace Park. It was nice and just a little windy, but much less bitterly cold. Too bad we didn't have too much time there.
Beijing Olympic Park. Hard to imagine that the Summer Olympics were just 3 months ago because it's so cold now! The place in huge. I need a foot rub. The kids were troopers for hanging in there for us to go see it.
I will post more about today later. now, sleepy time.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Elder Oaks is a great speaker, and his talk touched on how we can know for ourselves, with commitment to God in our prayers, if the gospel was true. And it was also nice that he touched on how we should handle the current predicaments that the downturn of the economy has placed the global family in. Even though, it was tough listening to him speak while making sure the kids were happy and not making people around us unhappy, it was refreshing to hear. Makes me want to go back and read conference talks again. I was so excited to shake the hand of an Apostle for the first time!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
We went to Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City today. It was just as big and grand as I imagined it would be. I guess I've seen too many movies about the Forbidden City that it didn't really surprise me. Although, the living quarters of the city were a little less grand as I imagined it would be. Most likely because of how movies played it up.
However, it was so amazing to be there and realize that this is where history was made. In Tienanmen Square, I just kept thinking about how as an 8 yr old watching the news about the protests, and seeing it's effects on the people in Hong Kong, where I as living at the time, was so profound to me that I am standing right where it all happened. In the Forbidden City, it was so amazing to think about how China has changed so much in the last few hundred years, and this huge structure has been here for it all.
It is freezing here in Beijing. It gets below freezing at night. So, being in Tienanmen and Forbidden City with two kids, was tough. We just kept going from semi-heated room to semi-heated room to keep the kids warm. We were ok because we were doing all the walking. Poor kids. Glad I over dressed them.
Surprisingly the subway and the Forbidden City is very non-stroller friendly. I thought after the Olympics especially that there would be enough ramps to get around with, but nope. There are lots of stairs in the subway and a lot of levels in the Forbidden City.
We got a lot of attention with our kids and stroller. Some good, some bad. We think it must be an odd sight in a country that has pushed the one child policy to see two kids. People would keep asking us if they were twins. "Ummm yes, Evan was just born 2 years earlier". And also we have a sit and stand type stroller and that's not common to see. And its orange so you don't miss it. SO, to say the least, we felt like a freak show walking around. They'd stare and talk and I'd stare right back and talk about them too.
While I enjoyed our trip to the Forbidden City, I could do without the heckling. Fortunately, we did meet some very helpful people at the Forbidden City that helped us get around with our stroller, and returned Evan's dropped hat to us, and that restored my faith in Chinese people.
I think, though, after all that, We're going to skip on going to the Great Wall. Its going be cold and windy and its out of our way and its not going to be much fun for the kids. We'll probably be back here again, so we'll save that for the next trip. So now I gotta find some indoor type stuff to do. hmmm and all I can come up with is shopping...
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
So, here's some pics from the afternoon.
|Nov 08 Yokohama Chinatown|
I was surprised at how pushy the Chinese will get to get the Japanese to buy stuff. Weird to see that contrast in cultures here. I thought it was funny that my friend Megumi said the Japanese know how different Chinese restaurant service and salesmen are, almost rude in the Japanese eyes. After being in Japan for a few months now, I can totally see it!
I'm heading off to Beijing today, and I'm preparing myself for a total culture 360.
Friday, November 14, 2008
And if I don't do it... hmmm, you all have to send me a package! ahahah jk. I don't know what I'll do if I don't. Comments anyone?
I was putting together Mark's visa picture for his business trip to Vietnam, and somehow when Photoshop did a save as, it came out like a Warhol!
I think Vietnam would reconsider giving Mark that visa. No purple people eaters allowed!
Is there a new feature in Photoshop I didn't know about?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Buy a REAL Christmas tree from Ikea and when the holidays are over, take it back and they will BUY it back from you! You receive store credit for the exact amount you paid for it. Wowzer.
Looks like the trees aren't that tall. About 3-4 feet tall. So they would make for a cute table top tree to showcase your nicer ornaments you don't want your "elves" getting into.
*postscript: Sorry, looks like its a promotion only in Japan. :(Probably because the population that actually celebrates Christmas here is small. And only a part of that group can even afford that much space in their tiny living rooms for a tree and even have a car to get it home.
*post postscript: Ikea in Japan is a great place to find deals in the AS-IS section for bedding in King and Queen sizes. This is because most people sleep on single occupancy type futons, not anything like the American image of futons, heavy and bulky. So, that means that there's not a huge need for Q/K sized duvet covers, sheets, and comforters. That's fine with me! I found a large bin filled with Q/K sized duvet and sham sets in this design in brown, originally priced at $75 USD, on sale for $9 USD!! "You can't even buy the fabric for that price!" (My fav excuse for these types of purchases.) I should have bought more just for the fabric... oh well, I guess I'll just have to go back and shop some more. ;)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I was doing a google images search for a particular leaf shaped Martha Stewart craft punch, and came across this site instead... This always happens to me when I'm online looking for something, I get distracted by pretty pictures. I still haven't found that picture I was looking for.
Anyway, a couple of people have asked me about how to make the hair clips I sell. And honestly, I didn't know how to explain it, so I didn't really answer them. I'm self taught when it comes to crafts, so to see instructions so beautifully laid out makes me wish I had that skill for presentation.
So Paperseed has rounded up a bunch of baby crafts tutorials, one of which is similar to how I make hair clips, that are super cute!
Makes me wish Careese wouldn't grow up so fast that I would have enough time to make these things for her!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Which ones, you ask?
This one and this one
I guess there's lots of people out there with similar problems that Mark had. Or need a quick Super Saturday craft idea for their church meetings.
While our blog entries won't give much to help to those suffering similar eye problems, I have made my Nativity pattern available online for my crafty readers.
The pattern and instructions are available on Etsy*! Along with your purchase, you get unlimited email access to me! For your questions about the glass etching process, silly. No question is a dumb question.
-Won't the X-Acto knife scratch up the glass? Nope, it doesn't harm it one bit. If you try to press down hard on the X-Acto knife you'll probably break the knife tip first.
-Won't there be a horrible scratching noise when you cut on the glass/mirror? Nope, in fact you'll find that if you're not using a steady hand you could actually slip the knife and cut where you don't want to cut on the vinyl. Its quite smooth.
If you're interested in making a large purchase for a group of holiday crafters, please email me at careesespieces(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'd be happy to give you a nice group discount.
I used to sell the kits for this project locally in VA, but now that we're in Japan, the materials aren't so easily found or at a good price (hense my sadness over being miles and miles away from the nearest Michael's craft store). So I'm selling just the pattern now.
*If you want to just buy directly from me, instead of through Etsy, send me an email at careesespieces(at)gmail(dot)com, letting me know how many patterns you would be interested in, and I will email you a Paypal invoice, where you can securely make your purchase online with Paypal. Once that has gone through, I will email you the pattern and instructions! Really, its that simple! I love ecommerce.
**IMPORTANT COPYRIGHT NOTICE: With your purchase, you receive the right to use this image for your own personal crafts. You may not sell the sheet or image, use them in mass production, put them on any website without permission, or forward them to anyone else.
***X-Acto and Avery are copyrighted brands, and are wonderful products, but I am not affiliated with these companies. Although, I wouldn't mind free stuff for pushing their products! wink. wink.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Just thought it'd be a good change of scenery -- not to mention a good way to brush up on our mad web programming skillz - it has been a while, indeed! And a lot has changed in five years. What's Web 2.0? Isn't AJAX a bleach? I thought JSON was my old roommate?!
It's still a work in progress, so we haven't completely migrated over, but we'll let you know when we do.
For those of you who did not see the obvious link attached to the period on the previous post, please do so now :)
For those who cannot see the obvious period link, please click here.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
I miss Michaels. There's a couple craft stores nearby, but the prices just don't compare. Plus, crafting here in Japan leans more towards beading, felting, knitting/crocheting, and sewing. I'm finding lots more cute fabrics and felt colors and yarn textures than in the US. So, maybe my crafting habit will have to take a new direction soon.
Here's two if stores I frequent that have websites: (viewed with google translate, so the english maybe butchered)
The funny thing about the larger craft stores here is that they sell lingerie there too. Not to make yourself, but to buy. I guess they figure their customers are usually women who need lingerie while they're looking for buttons.