Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving, birthdays, and even a little Festivus

First, the airing of grievances.  I turned on the Christmas music radio station tonight, and the second song that came on was that wretched, horrible, utterly hateable abomination known as The Christmas Shoes.  Then Delilah's show started about ten minutes later, and what do you think she played first?  That's right.  The Christmas Shoes.  This is why I stick to my iPod.
I have much to be thankful for this year, starting with this awesome turkey platter I found at Goodwill.  Kidding!  Starting with, of course, a sweet baby that joined our family.  Followed by a good husband, those other two kids of ours, and lots of taken-for-granted things like running water, clean clothes and a warm bed.  I've been thinking a lot more about those daily comforts since the Halloween floods in Austin and Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines.
My two big boys are both in school this year, which means I get twice the kid holiday art projects.  I truly love kid holiday art projects.
This year we started a new tradition: The First Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Star Wars Monopoly Game.  It played out over the course of three days and ended tonight, just shy of a total nuclear meltdown by Darth Vader.  It's all fun and games until you land on Imperial Palace with a Starport (in other words, Boardwalk with a hotel), and you owe your brother $2000 in rent.
Our family has a birthday season that coincides with the holiday season.  This year's birthday cake took the form of creeper brownie mosaics.  Better than pumpkin pie, if you ask me.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Retro Friday: Cabbage Patch Kids sticker book

Who wants to look at my old sticker book?  More like, who doesn't, am I right?!?

Yesterday I was deciding on the next solid food to introduce to my six month old baby, and I had a flashback to this sticker book, so I dug it out of the closet.  As you can see, I cared more about the stickers than documenting my fake baby's stats.
 I'm sad to say that my baby didn't have a best friend.

A sleepover of six unsupervised toddlers, roasting marshmallows on an open flame in the bedroom?  Where do I sign up?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Three easy projects

Inspired by this tutorial, I made a container from a heavy weight plastic bag and a roll of patterned duct tape that I already had.  Did I need another "miscellaneous" container?  Not really.  What I need is to get rid of a bunch of junk in my house.  But it's much more fun to make something to put the junk in.

I made a set of three of these ornaments, but I'm not in love with the result.  The tutorial is here, found via this blog.  The ones on the Purl Bee tutorial look better than mine, most likely because they were made with that high quality felt that they sell, rather than the cheap stuff I bought at a craft store.  Mine are kind of limp and sad.
And I've had two of these acrylic trays sitting on top of my refrigerator for years.  Literally years.  I registered for them when I was getting married, so they are quite old and out of style.  Still, they feel exceptionally juvenile to me.  Apparently, I thought that upon entering a married state, I would spend lots of time poolside, serving trays of drinks to Rainbow Brite and the gang.
It sure is a good thing that I've grown out of cartoony florals.
Oh, wait.
[Looks up at the first project, made with duct tape purchased in 2013.]

Anyway, I decided to cover the old pattern with a slightly more stylish one.  This is a sheet of gift wrap made by iota.  They put beautiful, colorful prints on things like journals and paper plates.
Mod Podge is so addictive.  This was only like my second or third time using it, and now as I walk through my house, I'm mentally decoupaging everything in sight.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Philippines Q&A with Adrienne

A few weeks ago my friend Adrienne returned from an 18 month church mission in the Philippines.  I wondered what life was like for an American living there, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her experience.
Since you’ve been home, what do you miss the most? What are some of your favorite things in the Philippines?

I definitely miss the filipino people the most. I miss how loving they are and they make everyone feel so special. Some of my favorite things in the Philippines are the jeepneys, the food, and the kids. The jeepneys are great because they are the most popular form of transportation and very cheap which means every single time you ride one you are packed into it with ALL different types and sizes of people. You never know what you’re going to get BUT you do know that everyone will move over for you when you get on and everyone will help you with your things as you are getting off. Though everyone is a complete stranger, they all are so helpful and always give you a big smile. Can you imagine Americans having to do that and not complaining or not being glued to their cellphones in order to avoid awkward conversation/invasion of personal space? Haha. 
The food is amazing because it’s so simple but so delicious! Every dish has rice with a side of ulam. The ulam can be anything from adobo (fried chicken in soy sauce, garlic, and vinegar) to sinigang bangus (it’s a kind of sour fish stew with peppers and tamarind). But absolutely everything is delicious and mouth watering.
The kids are great because they are all so cute. I honestly looked hard to find a kid that wasn’t cute and I just couldn’t. They are all adorable and so optimistic about life. They entertain themselves for hours on end with pots, pans, sticks, and flip flops and are incredibly respectful and obedient to their parents. I love that about their culture-everyone is just expected to help everyone out and not complain. It is such a beautiful way of life.

I read that the Philippines gets lots of tropical storms every year. Did you live in an area where that was a concern? Did you ever have to prepare for a storm or evacuate?

I didn’t live in an area where I ever had to prepare for a storm or evacuate which I am very grateful for. I did experience some flooding but it only got to the point where it was to our knees and we weren’t allowed to work for two days. But that is nothing for the Filipinos. Life goes on unless the flooding starts to get to chest level and then people start getting worried. We did help a few times in the clean-up effort and rebuilding effort two times that I can remember after a big storm where there was mild flooding and people’s things had been lost in the flood. It was so overwhelming and that wasn’t even that bad. I can’t imagine how they must be feeling right now with typhoon Haiyan. 
Adrienne says that when it rained, that ditch would quickly fill up, and kids would go swimming in it.

Have you been in touch with missionaries or other friends in the Philippines since the typhoon? If so, what can you tell us about conditions there?

I have been watching the news and keeping in touch with some people in the Philippines, but no one who is actually in the areas that have been affected. Thousands have died and thousands are still missing. I do know that all of the missionaries have been accounted for, but there was one missionary whose mom, dad, and aunt were all killed in the storm. Him and his brother who is also serving a mission were saved. There is a lot of relief work being done in the Philippines and here in the states. I have seen some pictures of the wards that I served in putting together relief goods to send to the people in tacloban and leyte. I also know of one girl who I served with who has no contact with her family and we are definitely still praying for her. I’m sure it has been devastating and scary for everyone but I know the church is doing everything it can, the members are pitching in, and it’s a miracle that all of the missionaries are safe.

What is something that people might be surprised to learn about daily life in the Philippines?

People might be surprised to learn that toilet paper is not used in the daily life of a filipino. They also have major dental problems because of lack of hygiene. Some of the poorer people wait until it rains to take a shower because of lack of clean water. Many live with no electricity. At least once a day I experienced walking by or seeing huge piles of trash on the side of the road, rotting and covered in flies. It is a very big problem and I’m sure causes a lot of sickness. I can’t count the number of times I searched for a trash can at the beginning of my mission only to realize there were none and that is why everyone litters. It is sad and could be easily solved. But people just are not aware and have grown so accustomed.

I’m sure that your mission was a life-changing experience in more ways than one. Is there anything specific to having lived in the Philippines that you will take with you as you move forward in your life, a new tradition or practice or way of thinking?

Something that I will take with me as I move forward in my life that I learned in the Philippines is the emphasis they put on their relationships. They are loyal to their friends, respect their parents, and love so much. Their kids are their everything. I know that it is like that in the church, but I feel like with technology and our busy lives, our nation as a whole is slowly losing focus of what is really important. The majority of Filipinos don’t care if they have to work all the time to barely get by as long as they have their family. They are so happy and always give credit to God for the things they do have, no matter how little. Their humility is something I definitely want to incorporate more into my own life.
Thanks, Adrienne!

If you would like to read more, Adrienne has a blog where she posted the regular updates that she sent home during her 18 months away.

This interview is part of my ploy to get you to donate to typhoon relief.  I'll be picking a jewelry winner at 5pm today, so there's still time to donate and get your name entered.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Do it!

I can't stop thinking about the situation in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

Death toll estimated at 10,000.

The man whose ailing father was pulled from him as they clung to a tree during the storm surge.

Bodies that need to be buried soon to prevent disease outbreak.

Survivors wandering the streets, trying to find food, water, and medicines.

Every time there is a disaster on this scale, it feels a bit obscene to be going on with my regular life.  I felt the same way when hearing reports of the Japan tsunami in 2011 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the Indonesia tsunami of 2004 (which, good heavens, I just looked it up and learned that the final count there was around 227,000 people dead).  How do you learn about ten thousand deaths on a Saturday and then bake a cake or play Uno or something on a Sunday?

But of course, you just do, because you have to keep living.  And then in the middle of changing my six-month-old's diaper, I think, "How many mothers right now don't have a single diaper for their babies?"  And while slicing an apple for my kids to snack on, I think, "How many mothers right now are literally watching their kids starve?"

When the Haiti earthquake struck, I kept thinking, "Oh, yes, I need to donate to the relief effort..."  and then I got distracted and I never did it.  So I'm donating today, and I hope you will too.  If you do so in the next two days, I'll enter you in a giveaway for a necklace.  It's beautiful and sparkly and you can keep it or give it to your mom for Christmas.
All you have to do is donate to the relief effort, and leave me a comment that says "done", and I'll pick a winner on Friday.  This is not an effort to promote a business or get blog traffic or anything like that; I just want to motivate you to donate right now.

Here is the Red Cross donation page.  I don't care what amount you give or what organization you give it to, as long as it goes to the Philippines relief effort.

Friday, November 8, 2013


This is Bandit.  He was our family dog starting around 1995.  I love this picture so much, because it's got little Bando, plus my baby brother and that fantastic purple Geo Metro.
Here he is reaching for a treat from my Grandma.  He's pretty much a fur-covered skeleton, right?  But he was a sweet dog, the perfect addition to a couch nap, curled up in the crook of your knees.
I'm thinking of him this morning because of this conversation I just had with my boys.

A: Hey Mom, is there a dog that's really big and all grey?

Sarah: Are you thinking of a greyhound?

A: What's that?

Sarah: It's a big dog that can run really fast.  Remember Grandma & Grandpa's dog, Bandit?  He was a miniature one.  So there's regular sized greyhounds, and then he was a mini.

M: He was a Snickers fun size.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween awards

Friend who saved the day by lending us costumes: Andrea
(Andrea, do you read this blog?  I hope you do, so you see me publicly declaring your awesomeness.)

Most annoying moment: When an adult couple came "trick-or-treating" with their probably still toothless baby and took five candy bars out of the bowl I was holding. 

Sweetest kid quote: "This is the best day ever!" (said by my Dracula as he ran to the next house, cape swooshing dramatically behind him)

Nicest neighbor / Person who will receive our next set of dental bills: Heidi, who dropped off two full size candy bars for each of the boys.  They almost died of pure joy.

"Better to give than receive" moment: When my kids were sitting in the driveway, trying to flag down passing cars so that they could hand out candy
And here it is, the reason I put together this silly list, just so I could set up a suspenseful reveal for...
Best Costume of the Night:
When he knocked on the door, the boys looked out the window and said, "Hey, it's a missionary!"
Sarah: Great costume!  Are you actually Mormon?
Guy: No.
Sarah: Oh.  Well, we are.
Guy: Oh, uhhh...sorry.
(I'm pretty sure he meant "sorry if you find this offensive" rather than "sorry that you're Mormon" but who knows?)
Sarah: Hey, no problem.  I love it.
Guy: It's from the Book of Mormon musical.
Sarah: Yep, got it.
I gave him some candy and told him that he should read the book.