Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Blogspace

Ok everybody. We're making a greater leap into our new home at changtheworld. Start updating your links, and see you there!

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the winner is...

Lovely "Martha Stewart" bluegreen colored paper. Actually, these papers come from a bottle of gum sold in Japan. hehehe The gum makers include a pad of papers in each bottle for when you want to dispose of your gum. Omoshiroi. Interesting. Mark never uses the paper to throw out his gum, so we've got these little tiny pads of paper floating around the house.

Poor Evan looks wasted. He actually wasn't feeling well when I asked him to pick a name from the bowl. He's a trooper.

Congratulations, Kaneyuki's! Its your lucky day! I'm sending a package of Japanese candies and snacks your way.

Thank you to all of you out there for keeping up with my little personal challenge and commenting or just lurking. Its been fun reading every one's comments!

I think the most interesting part of my daily bloggings has been finding out who's reading my ramblings. I guess in my mind I still think that its just some friends and family reading, but it really is bigger than that. I'm in touch with lots of old and new friends and friends I've never met in real life.

Its a nice reminder that the Internet isn't just a virtual space of zeros and ones, but that there's real people on the other side who, like me, appreciate being heard. So thanks for reading. Thanks for making me feel like I matter. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Post a Day for a Month, Check!

I did it! I really did it. I've always wondered if I could really blog everyday. Questioning my own stick-to-it-tive-ness. And I'm glad I made the commitment and completed it. I don't know if I'll continue this habit. I am so tired by the time I find time to type that I'm worried my posts will get more and more uninteresting and nonsensical. :) 

I spent a couple hours getting the latest order of clips finished and ready for delivery. While I work I usually listen to my stations on Pandora. And today I was listening to Christmas music sung in the stylings of artists like Michael Buble, Tony Bennet, Josh Groban, and old big band/jazz/Americana type Christmas songs. I love listening to these types of songs, because it reminds me of Seattle. The Christmas versions remind me of Christmas in Seattle. And Christmas in Seattle has a very special place in my heart. 

Mark and I met in a Cantonese class at BYU, and somehow we found out that our families only lived 20 mins away from each other in Seattle. So we decided to book the same flights going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, because traveling is much nicer when you have someone to talk too. The three years following that, we dated on and off and on and off and on, but every Christmas we were always together. It just worked out that way. So we have lots of wonderful memories of Christmases and New Years, exploring together places in Seattle area we haven't been to in years and showing each other our old haunts. Going home for Christmas, where we were free from homework and in between semesters at BYU, that we felt like we were going away on vacation together. But at the end of the day we'd go back to our parents houses! :) 
So Christmas time always reminds me of when Mark and I were dating. 

Fast forward to our third Christmas together. We just survived a summer of separation, when Mark went to Japan for study abroad, and we both came away from that experience learning that we didn't want to be with anyone else. 

On Christmas morning, my family opened presents except me. All my gifts, that were there the night before, were gone. I knew Mark was up to something, but how did he manage to take all my gifts, and what stunt was he trying to pull? I was getting agitated that he called and acted like nothing was up when I knew he was behind it, and he wouldn't tell me when he would be coming over later. So, decided to go take a shower, and just expected not to see him till later that evening cause he was being so wishy washy about the exact time. I got out of the shower and I could hear him talking in the living room. Just great! He came over without giving me time to really get ready! I wasn't happy about that. I had to put my pajamas back on because I couldn't run to my room from the bathroom without him seeing me in just a towel. But as soon as I opened the door, my sister had a camcorder in my face, and I could see Mark and his sister in the living room dressed like Santa and an elf. Then Santa Mark calls me over to come sit on his lap and proceeds to ask me if I've been a good girl this year. Oh my gosh... Then he pulls out a sack with all my presents, and I open them up one by one. They were all the gifts from my family to me. Then Santa says he's got a gift from Mark to deliver. Its a white box with a red bow, and I open it to find a shiny lump coal. Coal in it's diamond stage that is! 
Yep, Santa proposed to me. Sorry Mrs. Clause, move over. 

I could tell Mark was nervous, but he pulled the whole thing off so well, I had no way of knowing how he was going to do it. I knew he was going to propose sometime around Christmas, because I had worked with the jeweler to design the ring a month back. I just had no idea the extent of Mark's plans and costuming. :)

And that is why Christmas has a very special place in my heart.

Oh yeah, and I said yes. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

IKEA Addict?

We went to Ikea this evening to replace a lighting fixture that was on the fritz. It would turn off and on at random times on it's own. Mark thought maybe it was overheating. We bought it back in August, but they still took it back and gave us store credit to buy a replacement! Another reason why I love Ikea. Although, we did find out that return policies can vary between store to store. 

I'm glad it was a quick and easy fix to the lighting problem in the dinning room, because I was getting tired of eating in dark to the light of a lamp. We looked at other options for our replacement, but in the end I still loved the one we had the most. 

Am I an Ikea addict? A couple weeks ago, out of the blue, I just had an itch to go to Ikea. No reason to buy anything, I just NEEDED to go. Odd as this sounds, I like how at home I feel there. Not like, I like to pretend I live in one of the rooms in the showroom. No, I like the Marketplace. I like seeing everyday objects that we use, constructed differently, in vivid colors, or just improved upon. I think that's the industrial design part of me coming out. And I love finding those great deals!
Although, I have to say, there aren't any really great deals here in the Kohoku Ikea. Not like we used to find in the Woodbridge, VA or College Park, MD Ikeas. We found this shelf for $25 USD at a box sale in Woodbridge. Nothing was wrong with it, just the box was damaged, and the shelf wasn't harmed. I'm not sure why it had such a steep discount, but we're happy with our shelf! 

Here's some tips to successful shopping at Ikea. And so you don't get sucked in that place for HOURS because you're wandering around. 
1) Start from the end: don't go through the showroom if you know what you're looking for. You will just spend hours looking at the wonderful ideas they have on display. We always start from the cashier's and walk against traffic. 
2) While you're starting from the end, go to the As Is section first and look for deals on stuff because you never know if the item you're looking for is there at a nice discount. I've found great bed linens there, great box sales on furniture, and cheap lighting. 
3) Keep and eye out for yellow signs. They are dispersed all throughout the store and they have the best deals. I found a duvet cover with pillow sham for a single bed for $5 USD once. 
4) shop only on weekdays, tues, wed and Thurs are the best time  because there's less people there, and because those are the days that we have found good deals. Seems like there is always some promotion going on only on weekdays. wacky Wednesdays etc...

So today I finally got my Ikea fix, and I'm good for awhile. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pickle, pickle, who's got the pickle?

Just thought I'd share one of our newer Christmas traditions that I found out more about online today. This was introduced to us by our friends Julie and Dave back when we were both young newlywed couples and would spend a lot of time playing, eating, FHEing together. They were like family.
I noticed that they had a pickle ornament in their Christmas tree. I had seen it in Target too, and wondered why on earth would you love pickles enough to put it in your tree. Julie explained that it was an old tradition in Germany, where it was the last ornament hung, hidden in the branches. On Christmas morning, the first child that finds it gets an extra gift and blessings for the new year.
I thought it was a cute idea to add more fun to Christmas morning, so I bought one at a Target after Christmas sale. And maybe this year we can introduce the game to Evan, even though Careese isn't going to be much competition. :)
Today, I did a little google search to find out more about this said German tradition. As it turns out it isn't German at all. Germans don't have any idea what this pickle ornament is about. hmm interesting. Its completely American. And Wikipedia says that it's a popular American tradition. It is?! How did this tradition slip past me all those years?
Well, anyway, what traditions do you have in your family during this holiday season?
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Mark and Careese in Taiwan

Mark and Careese got back from Taipei this evening. He said it was a good flight and bus ride back with Careese. She slept well and ate well and behaved as well as a newly minted 1 yr old can behave. Sounds like Mark had a good time with Careese, visiting his relatives, especially Careese's great-grandmother. And the family friend's wedding looked like a great time... I really should have him blog about it himself . I'm just the messenger. Here's some pictures he took, and the link to the web album. He actually typed the captions for the pictures, so I guess that's as close as we're gonna get to a blog post from Mark. ;)

I love this dress I picked up for Careese at the Silk Market in Beijing. SO CUTE!!! She looks like a doll! I'm glad I didn't let that vendor trick me out of this one for another not so cute dress during the haggling fest. I got matching shoes out of the deal too, but those don't quiet fit Careese yet.

Careese's way of saying "Cheese!"

Careese and Da Da

Careese and great-grandma

Daddy Daughter Weekend in Taipei

What did I do today? While Mark and Careese were flying back and Evan was at school, I was actually at a loss of what to do with myself. I didn't know what to do with SO much freedom. Too many options! If I knew about this sooner, I could have signed up for a massage session at the gym on base! Its ok, I did something just as therapeutic... shopping! Not just any shopping. Fabric shopping. I'm picking up some fabric for a friend that loves cute Japanese prints on fabric. I do too, so it was a treat for me to shop for her. Here's one I picked up for her, that I think I may have to go back and get some for myself!

I also did some online Christmas shopping, wrapped a few more presents, tidy the house, did some laundry and some dishes, took a nice loooong shower (alone!), and baked bread. Yeah, I'm amazed myself at my list of stuff I got done, including shopping (walked to the store too), all before 2pm. woo hoo!


In retrospect a day later: I just read over this post again, and looked at my list of things I accomplished before 2pm yesterday... and in retrospect, it's not that great of a list! ahahaha Its what mom's do on a daily basis with little thought on receiving thanks or making complaints. its the non glamorous side of mommyhood. I'm asked my mom, how she managed to cook pretty much everyday for the last 20+ years?! I was just a newlywed a the time and couldn't fathom doing that chore for 20+ years! She said you just do it because you have to, your family needs to eat, and you learn to love it. I'm coming up on 6yrs of marriage, and I really understand it now. It applies to all matters of work in general. No matter what work you do, you learn to love and appreciate it. I want to teach my children that, to like to work. To understand work is an integral part of attaining happiness on earth. Whether its doing the dishes or yard work or homework or your 9-5 job.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Last Chance!

I'm blogging a little earlier in the day because I'm planning on doing a lot of present wrapping and card making the rest of the day. I'm hearing on the base radio that the last day to mail out stuff in time for Christmas is the 10th. That's this WEDNESDAY!!! I'm in deep do do. 
Anyway, since my one month mark for NaBloPoMo is on the 11th, I would be missing the deadline. I thought about just having the drawing sooner, but then I'd be cutting out any last minute readers' comments. So, I'm still going to take names of commentors until the 11th. I figure who wouldn't want Christmas to last just a little longer by receiving a package of Japanese candies and snacks and doodads in the mail after Christmas? 
Here's what I'm planning... On the morning of the 12th, my time, I will have Evan draw a name from the Bucket-O-Fun and I will post the winner here. You get one slip with your name on it for every time you comment. I will contact the winner as well, just in case you don't get to read the blog that day. Sound good? Sorry, family, you will not be part of the drawing, as we've got Christmas presents for you anyway. hehehe

A quick report on church today. It didn't feel all that different without Careese around, because Mark usually takes her to his meetings. It wasn't different until we were getting in the car and driving off when I felt like I was forgetting something. Like I placed a cup on the roof of the car and forgot it was there and drove off. But its not a cup, it's Careese. 
Weird how these little moments are the ones that remind you of your children. 

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mommy Son Movie Day

I slept in today, and it was great! I rarely do that anymore. Evan can entertain himself and even get things to eat on his own and he will stay in my room too. 
We had omelets for brunch. Evan helped me clean the house, do some laundry, and some of the dishes. Daily life is just a little less stressful with only two at home. But I'm surprised at how quickly Evan can make a mess in my living room all on his own. 
We did a little Christmas shopping today, and it was so much easier than trying to go shopping with two kids. Evan would still whine to me about wanting to go home or needing "something else I can do!" but its still easier than trying to wrestle with a squirrely Careese at the same time. 
I promised Evan that we'd go watch a movie after shopping, and he seemed excited at that. But he's never been to a theater before and he doesn't actually sit through a whole movie anymore. He used to watch Finding Nemo from beginning to end without budging from his seat. But now he can barely sit through watching 20mins of his fav Blues Clues. So I was curious to see how he would fair in the theater.
We went to watch Disney's "Bolt" in the theaters. Evan was still a little small for the chairs and kept getting angry at the seat for folding up on him while he was sitting in it. I had to keep my knee on part of his seat to solve that problem. There were scenes where there was a lot of action, like car chases, or explosions, or near misses, or evil dark looking bad guys, that Evan didn't like. He'd complain saying "I don't like this show". But there were also lots of cute funny scenes of the animals, and he'd laugh a the slapstick. Part way through, as I knew he would do, he complained about wanting something else he could do. He wanted to leave, and I told him that we paid to watch the movie and we couldn't just leave to do something else. He sat back down to watch and I gave him my cell phone to play games on it. 
The climax of the movie is a scene involving fire, and I think Evan has a fear of big fires burning houses because this was not the first time he got upset watching a fire on TV. He got really upset when Bolt jumped into the burning building and he tried to get the girl out of the fire with lots of near misses from falling burning debris. He was crying and saying "I don't like this show". I explained that it was just pretend and that they would be OK in the end, and showed him how to cover his ears because it was getting a little loud in there. 
After that he enjoyed the rest of the movie, and afterwards as we were walking back to the car, he said he had fun. And when we were walking from the car to the house, he was retelling me the funny parts of the movie and laughing.
So, overall, it was a good first experience at the theater for Evan. I think next time, I'll have to check to see what's really in the movie first so I can prepare him better. 

Friday, December 05, 2008

That's my sister!

Well, I sent Mark and Careese off to Taiwan today. They'll be gone till Monday. It was bad timing that Mark and Careese needed to catch the bus to the airport the same time Evan was coming home from school. So, Mark drove the van to the bus pickup place and I stayed behind to wait for Evan's bus. Lucky for us the bus was leaving a little later than usual, and as soon as Evan was dropped off, I threw him in the car and drove over to see if we could see the bus off. Yes! We still had time to see Mark and Careese before it drove off.
Careese was so cute! She immediately perked up and smiled and waved at us when she saw us through the window. I can't get enough of her smiles. She makes us melt. Evan laughed and made faces at her and she laughed. They are so funny together. I'm just in awe over how they have their own special bond to each other. I hope they grow up to be sweet to each other.
Evan understands that when people get on that bus they go to the airport and they are gone for a while. I think Evan didn't completely realize that Careese was leaving with daddy, even though we told him she was going.
As the bus was pulling away, Evan said, "that's my sister!" over and over. And he was actually a little teary eyed after the bus was out of view. Awww so cute! I talked to him on the way home that they would be home soon, and about the things we could do while they were gone, and he perked up.
I didn't think Evan would really miss Careese. At bedtime, he talked to me about the silly, funny things Careese does and he laughed. I've noticed more emotion from Evan lately. He actually gets his feelings hurt now. Like the other day, Mark and I were upset that he helped himself to chocolate dipped cookies without asking first, and we reminded him that it wasn't nice to take without asking first. Then I noticed that he was quiet, and had tears welling up in his eyes, and then a sniffle, and then quivering lip, and he was genuinely sad that he made a mistake. Usually things like this don't bother him, he'll say sorry and go on eating his cookie like nothing happened. So it's interesting to see this new side of him that's developing.
I talked to Mark, and he said Careese has been good. She's was overtired by the time the delayed flight allowed them to board, and she cried a bit on the plane. But Mark said a lot of the people on board were helpful. Thats good. I think it would have annoyed me after a while of people saying, "maybe she's hungry?" or "is she tired?" Mark's got more patience than me in that respect.
So, it sounds like Careese is doing well under Mark's complete supervision. I feel a little better that the flight went well. Its hard, as a mom, to let go of worrying about your kids. Not that I don't trust Mark, I'd still worry even if it were SuperNanny.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Love Careeses to Pieces

Another order for clips today, and now I'm making more sales of my clips in the real world vs. online. Which I guess is good because I don't have to pay the listing or paypal fees. So, maybe I should be putting some attention on sales other than online.
Speaking of clips, Careese has decided she will not wear them anymore. She will take them out as soon as I'm not looking. Isn't that ironic?! I made a little business of selling clips because of her, and now she won't wear them. Yep. The other day she was wearing her Christmas clips, and next thing I knew they were gone. I had no idea where they went, but I'm not worried because I know they will show up somewhere in the house. Later that evening, Mark told me he found her clips. Where were they? He was changing her diaper and found them in the diaper!! Ouch! Don't worry it wasn't a poopy diaper, but I still made sure to wash them off.
Speaking of Careese, she's surprisingly been really good around the christmas tree! I put only the plastic ornaments on the bottom of the tree just in case, but Careese has actually stayed away from them. Mark said she took one down when he was watching her, and she shook her head and said "ooooooooo" and tried to put it back. hahaha She's learning so much so fast. She's already able to follow very simple commands like, "come here for a diaper change" and she will lay down the mat. I can ask her to hand me things I point to, and she'll do it. And she's learned more sign language. She came up with her own way to sign "tired/sleepy" by taking her right hand and rubbing her cheek and eye. She can sign the command to make Lucy bark. Lucy doesn't follow the command, but its cute to see Careese try.
I forget how much little 1 yr olds can understand and know how to do. I'm so happy to have little Careese in our home to remind me.
Why am I writing so much about Careese today? Well, because Mark made the last minute decision to go to Taiwan this weekend to attend a family friend's wedding. In a passing comment we said, why don't you take one of the kids with you. The more we thought about it, the more it sounded like a good idea for Careese to go with Mark to Taiwan. Mark's grandma hasn't met Careese yet, it would give me a break for the weekend, and it would give Mark time with Careese and me with Evan.
I'm looking forward to time with Evan, but I'm really going to miss Careese. I'm the one that puts her to bed everynight. I'm going to miss that. I don't think I've ever been without her for more than a few hours. But I think it will be good for Mark to spend time with her. I hope it goes well!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Long day...

It's been a long day. I'm so tired, I'm gonna have to keep this short or else I will fall asleep on the keyboard. :) Careese was very nice to sleep in today. This never happens with her. She's such a light sleeper until this past week, where she'll sleep 11-12 hours a night now. Nice. With her sleeping in I had time to make and post more clips on my etsy site. Here's two more that I made that you're getting a sneak preview of. I haven't figured out which clips to pair them each up with so its sold in a set instead of individually.

We had a parent teacher conference with Evan's teacher today too. We found out that Evan's sensei had no idea that Evan was picking up any Japanese, because it turns out that he doesn't say much in school. If she speaks English to him, he'll go off speaking English back to her. But she doesn't understand much English, let alone a 3 yr old Evan's version of English. Seems like he gets into disagreements with the other kids, because he doesn't understand what they're saying. They actually try to help him putting on his coat or backpack, but he doesn't understand and gets upset at them. So, I'm going to have to help him understand what's going on in school until he learns more Japanese. But I'm glad to hear that he's got lots of friends in school that like to play with him and help him out!

I got our Christmas tree up finally. I usually get it up the day after Thanksgiving. I think I wasn't as motivated because we could only ship part of all the Christmas stuff we had to Japan. Long story short, we had to cut our shipment limit from half our stuff, to half of that. We had to make last minute decisions on what we absolutely had to bring with us to Japan. And our Christmas stuff took a hit. So we have a tree at least and some decorations for the tree and our stockings and a couple wreaths. And that's pretty much it. Since it was such a rush decision I didn't remember what we did and didn't bring with us and I'm finding out now, and it makes me a little sad that some of our fav and special ornaments got stored. Well, its the spirit behind Christmas that counts, right?
I'm beat. Putting the tree up myself and trying to keep the kids from tearing it down at the same time wore me out.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Teaching English

I "teach" English to some ladies at church once a week, in exchange for helping me learn Japanese. I'm in no way qualified to teach English. I don't have any curriculum really. We really are just a group of ladies that get together and chat in broken English. But today I did manage to get an activity together that challenged their language abilities. And unusually I had a large group of 5 ladies so it was great that I had an activity planned! I got the idea from this site. I came up with a beginning of a sentence and they have to complete it. And depending on their skill level, they could expound on that sentence. And they had to do it all in their heads, no writing it out first. I found out these ladies read and write well, but have a harder time coming up with what to say on the spot. Perfect challenge. An example is "My car..." and they would complete it "broke down twice last week". Then after that I would help them find better words or grammar structure, etc.
I was so happy it turned out great and it challenged everyone at different skill levels.
The only problem is, I don't really learn much Japanese. I guess I have gotten better at my listening skills, but as far as speaking I'm not even close to how much English they know. I'm taking classes on base once a week and its helped refresh my memory of the 3 yrs of high school Japanese I took. But without daily classes, I've got little chance of learning Japanese any time soon.
Good thing Evan's in Japanese kindergarten and he will be able to translate for me!
BTW, I've tried using Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese, and I highly recommend it for learning any language. It teaches you to recognize the writing/pronunciation/speaking without making you associate it with the English meaning. It basically throws you into the language and lets you to learn from your mistakes. Its pricey though, but if you ever get the chance to use it, its worth it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December already?!

If time flys when you're having fun, then I'm having WAY too much fun doing housework!
A few people have asked me how I manage to squeeze in time to blog everyday. I've come up with my own strategy to keeping myself on task when I'm online. Cause trust me if I didn't have anything else to do, I'd be shopping online and reading blogs and watching my slingbox all day long! My laptop, when it is fully charged, only gives me about 2 hours of battery life. Pretty sad. Mark's mini EEE PC, gives him 8 hours, very nice but not useful in my strategy. When I want to be really productive online, I unplug my "lappy" and take it to another room far enough away from my charger that I'd be too lazy to go get it. :) This way I am forced to use the 2 hours to get everything I need to do before the battery runs out of juice!

Being that December is upon us, I've listed some new Holiday hairclips on my etsy site. Can't say Christmas hairclips, because that wouldn't be PC. hehehe jk. The double H just sounds better to me. Anyway, I've got a couple listed as U Pick type listings where you get to pick the styles you want in your set. Perfect for a gift that's customized just for that special little girl. And I will package all my clips ready for gift giving! All you have to do is specify which ones you would like in the notes section as you check out.
I love these clips cause they're simple enough for everyday wear, but they still can dress up an outfit too. I also have a new bow type clip that I made while I was experimenting with how to hide an alligator clip inside the bow so it would keep a low profile and not get too bulky and heavy by using less ribbon. I think I got it! It's made from beautiful satin ribbon from the Martha Stewart craft line. So I love how it looks and feels. Tre chic!

On the home front, Mark got home this evening from a looooong flight from Sydney. Yeay! That means its present time! Mark likes to buy food and candy when he's out of town, and I like that it doesn't add clutter to the house. Evan actually expects Mark to bring stuff home now, so on occasion he's said , "What's my surprise, Daddy?!" Today was different. He knew his daddy was coming home, so while I was organizing his room, he found some of his toys and things that looked like boxes. He then went through his toy chest to find little things that he liked, like his toy money, a plastic mardi gras necklace, his train, and a few other trinkets. Then he carefully packaged them in each of the four "boxes". He told me that they were presents for Daddy. How sweet! When Mark came home, he was so excited to give them to Mark and watch him open them too. After Mark opened them all, Evan and Careese proceeded to play with it and there was stuff all over the floor. After I while I asked Evan if he could clean it up and bring the stuff back to his room. Evan said, "No! Its not mine, its daddy's stuff!" Great, how am I going to get Mark to clean that mess up?!
Mark did come home with Tim Tams and other treats too. But he had another little surprise for me. I don't think I ever told him I wanted something opal, I know I wanted one because its Careese's birthstone, and Mark got me an opal pendent! I forgot Australia is known for opal. Mark said he's just that good at reading my mind. OK.