Sunday, November 30, 2008

Evan's Music Concert

If you told me Evan could tambourine to the beat of a song, before I saw his concert, I would have laughed at you and said, "Evan? The boy that I can't even get to sing a song for me without intentionally messing up the words?" But I guess that's just a front, and really he can do a lot more than I know! The funniest part of this video is when Evan looks like he's spacing it and about to just do his own thing with the tambourine. He's a tambourine machine!

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

Shopping at the Bazaar

Evan, repeat after me, "Shopping makes mommy happy", "when mommy is happy, Evan is happy."
The base has a Bazaar a few times a year. I missed the last one and I HAD to go to the one today to see for myself what it was all about. I expected that it was gonna be antiques and fragile things everywhere, so I sat Evan down right before and lectured him about staying close to me, not touching ANYTHING without asking me first, and to not be a "crazy boy". And I had him repeat the mantra of the day, above, to me so I knew he understood my expectations when we went to the Bazaar.

They had the antique looking Asian furniture and fragile things like I expected, but there was more. Evan and Careese had a great time at one vendor that was selling fabric quiet books, fabric toys, and cute cute children's quilts. There was one quiet book I was eyeing, until I asked how much it was... $37 USD. Seriously? It says made in China. I know it didn't cost you even half of that to have it made. I had another one of those moments where my inner monologue said, "I can make that!"

However, now that I'm blogging about it, maybe my time and effort and the materials is worth more than $37 and I should just buy it because by the time I actually finish it, my kids will be in college. hmmm.

Anyway, I was very surprised to find at the Bazaar that there was a HUGE section dedicated to just fabrics! And at very good prices too. It was geared more towards quilting, because most of it was sold in 2 yard packages. But 2 yards could make for a skirt for me, or a dress for Careese.
I scoured the tables for cute fabric, and found these!
I would have never thought I'd find these cute prints at a Bazaar on base in Japan! These are prints from designers that I've seen online, and always wanted to get my hands on some. The best part is how much I paid for them. They were all $7 USD for 2 yards! If you haven't bought fabric before, that's a good price. Click here. Moda Funky Monkey. Apples and Pears. Zinnia Path Flowers.
I just wish I had gone earlier in the day, and that Evan and Careese had a little more patience, so I could have looked a little more. Oh well, I'm good for now. I'm thinking of making a summer dress and top for Careese in the fruit, a skirt for me in the flowers, a shirt for Evan in the monkey, and ties for Mark of each left over fabric! ;)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Home Alone

Mark's off globetrotting again. At least this time its just for a weekend. He's headed for the land down under. Its quite a long way to go just for a weekend conference, but such is his job. He was supposed to make stops in Thailand, Vietnam, and India, but all the unrest going on in those parts of the world these last few days has made him change his plans. Good thing.

I'm so jealous that he's going to enjoy beautiful summer weather in Sydney. He's promised me a case of Tim Tams when he returns. hehehe If he were to go to Thailand as planned, he was going to get me a case of Golden Mountain seasoning sauce. hahaha I can't find it around here. I did find it in Yokohama's Chinatown, but it was $6 USD! I still bought it, even though I used to get it for $2. I should have bought a caseload and shipped in out with our cargo. Anyway, its good stuff and all the other sauces at the commissary doesn't compare to the flavor. My Japanese friend that took me to Yokohama's Chinatown probably thought I was weird for searching high and low through all the stores to find just this exact bottle of sauce. :)

Lucy, our dog, misses Mark when he's out of town. Mark is usually her main source of heat, and if Mark is ever sitting or lying down, she's right there to sit on him. Lucy knows to keep her distance from the kids, because they don't know their strength against a 3 lb dog. But lately, when the kids are asleep on the couch, Lucy has decided to get brave enough and sleep with the kids! Its cute. Lucy will even growl at you if you try to disturb the sleeper she's sitting on!
She doesn't try to sit in my lap or sleep with me like this as much, and I think this is because I'm the "alpha dog" in the house. I've heard that when dogs sit in laps or on you its a sign of dominance. true or not I don't know. But Lucy knows if I walk into my bedroom and she's on my bed, she hops off immediately and goes to her kennel. Good dog.
Sorry this is kind of a random post today. Not much went on today. Just sent Evan to school, take Mark to bus, clean house, get the brakes changed on the Odyssey, shopped the Exchange's version of Black Friday, took a quick nap in the van when the kids fell asleep on the way home (I know I'm not the only mom out there that does this!), reinterpreted Thanksgiving dinner for dinner tonight, and put the kids to bed. There, that's a look into my daily life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giant leaf pile

Imagine a pile about 25 feet by 15 feet by 4 feet.

Mark spent the morning and afternoon, against my advisement, in the cold and rain to finish up moving the leaves from our lawn to the road to get picked up. Its probably close to 100 yards, each trip, of hauling the leaves in a tarp to make this giant pile. Even our neighbors around us were amazed at how much we had. Well, I guess this is the result of us not raking for a couple weeks. Thanks for all your hard work, Mark! The yard looks great! for now.
We had our Thanksgiving dinner party, and it turned out great. But I'm beat from cooking all day. Its not that I cooked a huge meal. No, its because in between I had to take care of a sick and cranky Careese, and pick up Evan from school cause they said he had a fever. But I took his temperature and he was at 98.0! What the heck? Did his fever suddenly break while we were driving home? I think that he was just warm because I dressed him in a sweater because it was cold this morning. Oh well.
On this evenings menu: Smoked turkey, two kinds of mashed potatoes (cause I ran out of fresh potatoes and had to resort to the boxed kind to make the difference), stuffing, fresh baked bread, green beans, tofu quiche (not my making, interesting, but good), salad, sweet potato souffle, and pumpkin pie and ice cream.
Then the adults played a game of Two Truths, and a Lie while 4 out of the 5 the kids all disappeared into Evan's room and actually played nicely together. Wow, this never happens, when the kids are quiet that usually means they're getting into trouble! The game turned out great because even with limited language abilities, in either Japanese or English, you can still tell a lie! All in all, a fun evening.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leave, Leaves! Leave!

I've racked leaves in the fall, but not like this. This was an all out barrage of leaves on us. It took almost 2 hours and 2 tanks of gas with the leaf blower to just make piles of leaves all around the house. I bagged 8 super large garbage bags worth and gave up, cause it hardly made a dent in the leaf piles. Its ridiculous! I thought this would be a quick job, but its gonna carry over to tomorrow. The picture here just shows one side of our yard. There's still 3 other sides!!! The worst part is that when you look up, there's still more leaves in the trees just mocking you saying, "go ahead, rack! rack till your hands bleed, cause we got more for ya!"

Its unfortunate that these trees are just oak trees, and they don't have beautiful fall colors. At least Evan was having the time of his life. When will he ever get to play in giant leaf piles up to his knees? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Crafty Mess

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.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beijing Pictures

Beijing 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

Happy Japan Labor Thanksgiving Day!

Some of the holidays in Japan give me a chuckle. Like today's holiday. There isn't any celebration of it, you just have it as a day off. There's a bit of history to it, but all the Japanese I've asked have no idea about where it came from. Oh well, its a day off of school for Evan. And a day off for me to get up early to get him ready for school. :)
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

Home and pumkin pie

Well, we're home again, and its funny to see how excited the kids are to be home. Evan went straight to his toys. "My toys! I missed my toys!" and Careese was walking all around the house in and out of rooms. Its like she missed walking and getting in to things.
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

Beijing Day 6 - Last Day

It was our last day here in China, and I wore myself out trying to go shopping at the Silk and Pearl Market with Careese, sans stroller. I thought I was gonna die. She is SO wiggly and did not want to be held at all. I was carrying her and a huge backpack, I over packed for this day trip, and bags from shopping. I need a vacation for my back.

On a side note, Beijing is very non-stroller-friendly. The subway is the worst. There are stairs everywher, with elevators that aren't turned on or out of service. We actually found ONE that worked and got us right to where we wanted. Of course it was at Olympic Park! And taxis are kind of dinky so our stroller at times had trouble fitting in the trunk. But it is just a little longer than the average stroller. There are few parks with playgrounds
or even areas to sit comfortably. There are ZERO changing stations in bathrooms. You're lucky if you find one with a big enough counter. And there are very few ramps in public spaces, for example, the Forbidden City or getting in and out of resturants. I don't know what people who are in wheelchairs do; probably never leave their apartments. So, if you're planning a trip with little kids to Beijing, make sure your hotel has amenities for kids, that you have a compact stroller that you can carry easily up and down stairs, plan on taking the cab a lot, get in shape to carry your little ones in slings/backpacks/carriers, and prepare for locals to tell you what they think (good or bad).

I took Evan to my cousin Faye's Montessori class, and he had a good time there while I went shopping. Glad I did cause it was tough enough with Careese. It was a little bit of help with Careese with me barganing, because I could use her as an excuse for walking away to get the vendors to lower their prices. I just put her on the ground and she takes of running and I just chase after her, and the vendors get frazzeled that you're not taking their offer seriously. Funny thing is even after the sale is completed they throw in their two cents about your kid. Twice I was told that I needed to feed Careese, she looked hungry cause she was playing with her fingers in her mouth. If they only knew that I just fed her and that she's teething. Anyway, I actually enjoy haggling a bit. Its kind of fun to watch the vendors squirm. Although, I don't think I'm that great at getting a deal, I can at least get it at a good price. I'd like to see a pro haggler in action, so I can learn. hehehe

After an exhausting morning, I went to Faye's class to hang out and let Careese run around and just rest. We met up with Mark after he was done with his conference and we went to dinner at a "hole in the wall" restaurant. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the inside is very cool. It looked like a updated old tea house you see in Chinese movies. The food was great! The sweet and spicy fried shrimp was to die for. It was one of those Chinese dishes were you eat the shell with the meat, It was good.

funny thing Evan said to me today when I gave him his crakers for a snack, "Oh, thank you, Mommy, you give me crack!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beijing Day 5

I'm so super wasted tonight. I almost fell asleep on the bed trying to get my kids to bed and forgetting I needed to blog. We did a lot of walking today. I'm gonna keep this one short and show you more pictures from what we did today in China.

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

Beijing Day 4

I'm blogging from my phone today. It has a keypad but typing with your thumbs isn't very fluid. I find myself trying to keep a grip on my phone from slipping out from my hands. And I'm fighting the urge to type like I'm typing a txtmg.
We took Evan to the Montessori Kindergarten that my cousin Faye teaches at, for just a couple hours. He's been giving us his usual i need something else I can do speech when we're out. So we thought it be good for him to go run around with Faye and some kids his age. He had fun despite the usual pushing incidences between him and the other kids.
While Evan was with Faye, Mark and I took Careese with us to go eat hotpot for lunch. It was perfect to have on a cold day like today! We ordered the double pot, where you can have two different soups in the same pot, cooking at the same time. Glad we did that cause Mark's side, mahla, was way too spicy for my tastes buds. I guess I'm not Chinese enough to take it. hehehe

I was going to go to a market, near the hotel, that sells clothes and bags and stuff like that, and try haggling, but the kiddies were so cranky that I figured it was probably better for my sanity that they got a nap in. Especially, since we were going to church that evening to see Elder Oaks speak to the branch members here. Great timing for our trip!

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!

Afterward, it seemed like everyone converged on Dairy Queen downstairs, including Mark. Then we went out to a late night Korean BBQ place. OOOOoooooooh Its been such a long time since I've had Korean BBQ. I need to find one in Japan! Surprisingly, even though we were at the restaurant till way late, Evan was being SO well behaved! It probably has something to do with my cousin Faye sitting next to him. One thing I've learned about traveling with young kids, be flexible and plan for downtime between things and always carry wipes. hehehe

Its our last night in this hotel. And I'm actually typing to you on my phone from the bathroom, Its huge in here! I seriously love this bathroom. I love the colors, I love the clean lines. I love the lighting, And I love the amazing views! The housekeeping lady must think I'm weird for dragging the chair and ottoman in here. hehehe but it's nice to hide out in here while the kids are napping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beijing Day 3

After yesterday's day out in the cold, we were more than happy to stay indoors today while Mark was at his conference. Evan actually asked to stay in the hotel. The hallway out side our room is in a circle, with the elevators in the middle, and it makes for a great "track" for Evan to go crazy on and for Careese to practice walking/running.

Careese is such a light sleeper, Evan and I had to hide out in the bathroom to keep from waking Careese up. Its nice that we have a nice big bathroom, with a TV in it! While we were waiting for Careese to finish her nap, Evan fell asleep while playing the games on my phone. He actually stayed there for the next 2 hours too.

We went out with my cousin Faye and her roommate for Peking duck today. Its like when we had sushi in Japan. It's so cool! We love how cheap food is here. We could feed four and Evan for just under $50. And we had ordered two ducks along with all other food we ordered. We love China for cheap food and taxi rides. Tomorrow we'll try going to a market to try our hand at haggling. Should be fun.

Part of our hotel package includes the daily Bathology. I've never soaked in a tub like this! And that it's a nightly ritual, is fabulous! Mark has made sure everyday to call and schedule this for me and picks the different aroma themes for me too. Such a wonderful husband! I feel bad for all the flowers that were sacrificed for it. But I can't deny that my skin hasn't felt softer. hehehe Everyone, except Careese, has had some time in the nightly event. I have no idea if Careese could even be in the tub with all those oils and bath salts, but I'm gonna guess its not a good idea. Anyway, we actually have to move hotels for the last two days here, and I'm gonna really miss my evening bath and chocolates.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beijing Day 2

I woke up to the most wonderful sound this morning. Careese and Evan laughing and playing peek-a-boo together. I wish I could have video of it. Careese has started doing it herself and Evan was right there to make funny noises at her. Its so much better than waking up to screaming and crying.

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.
It was fine, until people started giving their opinions about our kids. That's where it crosses a line with me. I understand that its just the Chinese thing to do. Actually, its the Asian thing to do. But they obviously don't know the situation, and to have them tell me how to raise my kids, is condescending. Its not a matter of respecting my elders, because I do. But its because a lot of them making the judgements to me were probably my age, not even married, or with kids. Things like pointing out that part of Careese's leg was exposed while I was trying to wrestle her to stay wrapped up in her blanket is just annoying. Another lady, kept showing up and telling us that kids shouldn't be out in this weather at all. Why doesn't she go bother the other parents of kids who are there too? It really got to me and by the end of the trip, I took my frustrations out on Mark. I shouldn't have and I'm sorry. I'm grateful I have a forgiving husband that puts up with me in my bad moods.

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

Beijing Day1

I made it. After a long day of travel, I made it with two kids to Beijing. I spent the whole morning tring to get so much done that I almost missed the bus to the airport. I was pullling the luggage to the bus, when it started to pull away. I dropped the bags, and chased after the bus. The bus driver looked peeved that I was holding him up. Until, he saw me run back to the car and pull out two kids and a stroller and carry on bags.
Two hours on the bus feels like an eternity with a 1 yr old. Careese doesn't sit well or sleep well. She finally slept for me for just 30 mins. Better than nothing.
We hung around in the kids play area of Narita for an hour, which really helped with tiring out the kids for the flight. Careese got SO much attention at the gate, She was waddling around the gate with her bottle in her mouth, and walking right up to strangers. She has no fears of strangers, and that worries me that she could get snatched easily.
The flight was almost 4 hours long. Evan was tired, but didn't sleep, so it made dinner time tough. He played more than ate. But overall he did ok and didn't cause too much of a disturbance till 20 mins before landing. There was another 3 yr old girl on the plane that would mimick his outbursts, that would just get Evan to say more and louder.
Careese slept for an hour, that gave me time to finish watching Mama Mia. hehehe.
As soon as I got off the plane a lady cleaning the bathrooms already gave me her optinons about something to do with the kids and my stroller. I couldn't quite understand her cause of her strong Beijing accent, but I understand unsolicited advice when I hear it. I just pretended to not understand and left. I understand that this is just how the Chinese are, and I've grown up with it. But come on! I haven't even left the airport yet! anyway, I knew that it was gonna be in for a culture shock going from Japan and China.
My cousin Faye met me at the airport, and a little later, Mark showed up too.. He just came in from Korea an hour before me and headed to the hotel first to drop off his stuff.
It was a good thing he did too, because with my two bags and stroller, we couldn't all fit in the cab. The cab people told us to take a van, but it was going to cost four times as much as taking a cab. Why not take two cabs then? But we decided to take the train. The airport express. It was a little tough getting around with a sit and stand type stroller and the elevators all over the place being out of order. My opinion, I think the Chinese just did enough to fix up the place for the Olympics, but not to last. While we were waiting for someone to come turn on the elevator for us, Mark decided to lean on the railing when it suddenly fell off the wall. It looked like the only thing holding it was a couple gobs of epoxy. hehehe. They never came to turn on the elevetor for us, and two of the people that work there helped us carry the luggage and stroller up and down in the tunnels of the subway. At lease they helped carry.
We finally made it to the hotel, and the room we got was well worth it. The bathroom is huge! It's what I want my dream bathroom to be like. Part of the hotel package is they will draw a bath for you every night, with bath oils, flower petals, and candles. Niiiice. And they included a foot massage machine in the room too. Niiiiice.
No internet access in the hotel room without paying WAY too much. There is free WIFI in the lobby. So it will be a little tough keeping my goal of posting once a day. But I will do it.
Sorry no pictures yet. I have to find where I packed the USB cord.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An afternoon in Yokohama's Chinatown

I wouldn't have gone to Yokohama if it wasn't for my friend Megumi from church. I'm so deathly afraid of getting lost by myself, in Japan. The roads are so confusing, and they aren't all named, or two roads share the same route number. Its gonna be a while before I venture outside my 10km radius on my own. hehehe. I used to make fun of people that never left the beltway outside DC. And here I am.
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


National Blog Posting Month. One post, every day, for 30 days. Can I do it? I've already done 3 days worth... I'll take that challange on! At the end of the month (Dec 11th) I will celebrate with a drawing, here on this blog, for a package of goodies from Japan! To win, you have to comment at least once between now and Dec 11th to be entered in the drawing.
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?
Posted by Picasa

New Umpaloompa Species

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?
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another thing to love about IKEA

I'm already an Ikea fanatic. I'd like to live there if I could. But this makes me LOVE Ikea even more!

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

Baby Crafts Tutorials

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

Flaky Eye Comma Glass Etching

There are two past blog entries that have got our blog quite a bit of traffic. Whether from google searches or from links from other sites, we notice that these two posts get lots of hits on our statcounter.

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 a new place.

Ok so we're only moving virtually. And yes, Shelese, we would be moving our site to Utah, you can visit us on Research Way in Orem, home of Bluehost. :P

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.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hairclip Making Machine

I'm finally nearing the end of a huge order from a lady from here on base for hairclips for her 8 granddaughters. She ordered 26 pairs! I'm so excited for her granddaughters! But I've already ran out of some supplies, so it was good timing that I had a trip to Seattle recently to make a run to Michaels to get more. I made sure to stock up this time.
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.