Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Whole Lotta Drawing Goin' On

Hey all!

Just wanted to share with you a little development in our house by way of creativity.
The kids now both have a designated drawing area!

Ella's been rocking the chair + desk hallway set-up for a while now. The shelf is something I found on the side of the road:

You can see her double-whorl very well from this angle!

And then just yesterday I picked up this little children's tray off the side of the road as well! The sticker was still on it and everything.
Now William can draw alongside Ella without bothering her too much.
It's especially handy when he wants to potty but not leave "all the action" (aka whatever Ella's doing):

The "pockets" on the sides can hold paper, I guess

And to top it all off, another shot of some garden harvest:

Sophie taught me how picking unripe tomatoes is okay too!

Hope you are all having a nice week and enjoying this end-of-summer weather~ :)

Til next time, take care and Happy Drawing!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fun & Fairies

Hey, everybody!

Wow, I really was absent for a while there.
I guess it's because I was focusing so much on the balance/work I talked about last time that I didn't find myself online just kicking back enough or blogging. Well, except for waaaay late at night, after working when I'd get lost on imgur. Oy ve~

It was a good week. The weather was comfortably warm and overcast, but a little muggy I guess. We hung with some friends -- including a trip to the library in Albany and good friends over for Clothing Swap discussion (more on that later) -- but also enjoyed a lot of time at home. It was good :)

Yesterday, we spent the entire day (and night!!) at Sophie's again for Gracie's 2nd birthday party celebration. There were good eats, good drinks, and lots of laughs. Man, when those guys throw a party they go ALL OUT! It was so fun to be able to stay up late playing Rock Band while the kids slept on the couch...and later in the camper. That was how Gracie's 1st birthday party went pretty much, only this time Dash got to join us! So that was a mega plus. :) All in all, an epic way to end the week.

And then today we had a pleasant surprise from Kathy-neechan!
See, while she was visiting us the other week, Ella Rose introduced her to the Disney Fairies. Kathy-neechan was completely impressed with the world of the fairies in Pixie Hollow and whatnot, so she and Ella Rose will be sharing that link while she is far away in her home back in San Jose.
The other day out of the blue, Kathy-neechan asked what Ella's favorite berry, flower, and fruit were...and went and created this little fairy persona of Ella Rose:

Long time no draw, Kathy!! :)

She has a blackberry hat, sunflower seed buttons, and an apple blossom skirt.
Ella Rose was absolutely tickled pink by it!!! Especially because Kathy-neechan then asked her to color it in and pick a "talent" to have. Here's what she came up with:

The pink person at the bottom is "The Poppy Queen" -- an alias she's been taking a lot these days

I gotta say, I'm impressed with how she used the different colors to create even more clothes than the original line drawing suggested (like the shoulder throw and gloves~), and can you make out what she's saying? That little dialogue bubble is supposed to be declaring her "talent" which is...of all things..."farts". Or as Ella Rose wrote it "AFRT".
Ha! :DD

So yeah, I look forward to their little fairy connection growing and encouraging even more creativity from both sides. Crazy to think we'll be seeing her in less than a week now! Yaaay!!!

Until then, take care every one and Happy Fun & Fairies!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Balance and Muesli

Hey again!

Whenever I have family over to visit, I always feel renewed in my life to strike a better balance, be a better person, and accomplish more!

So after Kathy left, I felt a renewed sense to strike a balance in my life. Mainly, between work and leisure. But also between kids and husband. And so Dash and I are working together to make that happen. Firstly, we are going back to our four-hour workday scheme, where he gets a good solid four hours of work while I watch the kids...and then I get four hours of work too! This is important because I normally (feel like I) take care of the kids the majority of the time to give Dash ample time to work...only to feel bitter later and also stressed when I end up squeezing in a project into a mere day or two.

Especially since we have just taken on a mega project that we will both be working on (me doing the translation and him doing the layout), this balance in mutual work hours is key!

Also, when watching the kids, I am going to not try to stuff the day silly with activities, but rather make my four hours with them more about them. That's another thing about when I watch the kids the majority of the day -- I then try to do more things that I want/need to do (around the house, etc) rather than engage with them. So hopefully that will improve~

Lastly, I am going to try to commit to weekly dates with Dash. Be it out of the house, or even just kicking back while the kids are at someone else's home, it will be good to have more one-on-one time with Dash out of context of work or kids. So I'll keep you posted on that. :)

In the meanwhile, I want to share with you something that Ella Rose and I made today:

It all started when we were out shopping, and she said she wanted to get a cereal she'd never had. She saw this box of muesli:

And I remembered how Martin & Sylvia (from Sparkle Stories!) eat muesli for breakfast all the time. The ingredients seemed simple enough and were things we actually had at home already, so we whipped some up for breakfast!

Our muesli included:
corn flakes
rolled oats
sliced almonds
sunflower seeds

No real measurements were done, but the main ingredient was cornflakes...

The end product was crispy and sweet and delicious!
Though Ella requested no sunflower seeds in hers next time...

We had it with milk this morning, but tomorrow I'll try it with yogurt and fresh blueberries. Yum!!

Yummy yummy yummy, I have muesli in my tummy~

Well, that's all for now.
Until next time, take care and Happy Balance and Muesli!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Garden Harvest

Hi, all!

Wow, I've been away awhile.
I'll tell you why -- I thought I could publish posts away from home using the app on my phone...but not so! >_<
It seems the posts are stuck endlessly in the "publishing" status. And they end up never going up.
So I have to do it the good old fashioned way on my comp -- but I can't access them on my phone, to at least see what I wrote to then, and therefore have to do it from scratch all over again.

Oh, well. No biggie~

Today I'd like to share with you something I am very proud of: more garden harvest!!
I've shared with you a little of what I can get from my garden, and finally this week I am harvesting beans:

Just enough for a tiny side dish at dinner time :)

That was back on the 13th...and today, the 18th, I harvested yet again and this time got beans, and tomatoes!! The tiny variety, that is ;)

Those purple beans are so long!!!

So yeah, I will have to take you on a photo tour of the garden soon. I really should have done a "Before" shot because the space I have turned into our garden was really a desolate alley of weeds before I transformed it (with tons of help from Sophie) into the garden that has proven to be :)

Well, I will have to sign off for now. And promise to fill you in on all the fun we've been up to with my sister Kathy visiting!!!

Until then, take care and Happy Garden Harvest!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No More Diapers...Take 2!!

Hi, all!

Guess whose these are...

This feels familiar~ ;)

That's right, it's that time again.
At 15 months, William is out of diapers and wearing little boy briefs. Hurrah!

Do you guys remember the post I did of Ella's graduation from diapers back in '10?
You can read the post here. It details my personal process of potty training my kids, if you are interested.

As you can imagine, it was a great stage to greet and one that I have been looking forward to with William since he was literally still in utero.
Knowing that people always say that boys take longer to get the hang of the potty, I was afraid I'd be dealing with a diaper-clad baby longer than I had had to deal with Ella.
But lo! Not so!!
Would you believe that on our entire Lake Waldo trip William never wore a diaper?
As I've mentioned in this post and this one, his communication skills are pretty advanced compared to Ella -- maybe it's him or maybe it's me being a "seasoned" parent who can clue in on what babies are trying to say.
Either way, Sunday I officially bagged away all his diapers and related periphenelia for good.

A familiar sight in our household.

As with Ella's graduation out of diapers, he still has his misses here and there. I'd say one to two any given day. Which ain't bad! It's reassuring to know, that that will decrease significantly over time.

Truth be told, unlike with Ella, he is not as reliably dry at night. As in, he will wake up wet about once every week or two. It's still not that much, but juuuust enough that I opt to put him in some kind of protective gear at nighttime, just to avoid having a puddle in my bed.
Then again...maybe he is only so prone to wetting at night because he has a diaper on. Hmmm...I will have to try him in just briefs and see how he does.

Well, until next time.
Take care everybody and Happy No More Diapers...Take 2!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back From Camping!

Hey, all!

Sorry for the long absence again -- this time I was away having a good time, as opposed to being sick.

We went away on another camping trip, this time to Lake Waldo!

A most beautiful campsite!

For those of you who don't know, Lake Waldo is one of the purest/clearest lakes in the world and it's only about 2 hours away! We stocked up the camper and left late Wednesday (bad idea...more on that later) and stayed until Friday. So it was a pretty short trip.

Regarding the late departure -- we really must remember never to leave the house after 1pm on any day that we intend to go camping, because it really does not work out very well. No time to enjoy much of anything at the destination, plus stressful trying to settle in and make dinner while the light is waning. Ack! >.<

Also, it was drizzling when we got there, which was not what I was expecting. Another thing we must always remember: check the weather forecast of our destination! I was definitely assuming it'd be wicked hot like Lake Detroit was.

William piling on the layers~

Anyhoozers, the next day (Thurs) was better and I took the kids down to the lake while Dash drove into the "nearest" town (1 hour away) to do some work.
That is another rule we must learn to adhere to -- do not try to go camping if either one of us has a deadline that falls during our time away. Just don't!! Rarely is Wifi going to be reliable, and besides it takes away from the whole "family outing" that we are intending to have.
So yeah, Dash was gone for what felt like most of the day with that, and it was still so chilly that the best we could do was wade it the water and shiver with every breeze. Brrrr!

No, swimming does not require a helmet~!
Dash's return along with some evening sunshine helped cheer us up again and we had a great end to the day.

Beautiful sunset~~

The Dashiells Four!
Again, Ella has her fingers in her mouth. Guuuuh!
On Friday, the weather truly warmed up and Dash and Ella even took a dip in the lake in the morning! William was still not having the cooler-than-comfortable water temperature, and all of you who know me know that I do not like cold water. >_< I know that as soon as I get my head under the water, I feel fine...but it's getting that far that's the hardest part~! Oh well, maybe next time...

At least William was prepared!

Anyway, we left by noon and stopped in town again so that I could send off one of my own books that I had due (double deadline whammy!) and then stopped by McCredie Hot Springs!!
This was definitely the highlight of the trip.
Firstly, it was downpouring along with thunder and lightning -- such a beautiful treat!!!!!


And when the rain let up, we walked a mere 100 meters or so on a trail next to a highway stop...and came upon the hot springs. You could see them coming up, because there was all this steam rising into the air off the sides of the rushing river. Indeed, there were little pools of natural hot spring water that you could enjoy for free and clothing-optional even! There were only a few other people, and it felt so great to soak in the warm water -- such a great contrast to the rainy air.
Some of the pools were so hot, in fact, that I thought I'd scald my feet! And I'm the type who cranks the shower all the way to the hottest setting. So that tells you this stuff was wicked hot.

Sorry I don't have any photos from that part of the excursion, but trust me it was like paradise! Brought me back to Japan~

We are going to go camping while Kathy-neechan comes to visit too! She is the perfect camper company because she is so easygoing and helpful and adaptable. I can't wait to see what she thinks about our camper in action too! :)

I hope you're having a great wrap-up to your weekend, and until next time: Happy Back from Camping!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quilt Complete!

Hiya, hiya!

So I'm happy to inform you that the quilt I started almost a month ago is finally complete!
I present to you...Ella's doll blanket!

I gotta say...she looks a lot like me here! @.@

That is what Ella Rose finally decided she wanted to do with the quilt.
Indeed, it's far too small for any real person to use...and yet too large for a potholder either.
Oh, well!
It was a great foot in the door of the wide world of quilting.
Indeed, I am hooked!

I finished the quilt first thing in the morning, and after that had a big ol' awesome day!
Lemme share it with you here:

Firstly, our house was bare so Dash took the kids to go shopping and we ended up breaking our fast around 10:30 -- oy ve!
After that, I rode with the kids to the library, stopped by a friend's house on the way, and got to borrow a life jacket for William. Score!!

I then wanted to get Ella Rose a life jacket, so we biked to Play It Again and picked out a nice pink one (it's gotta be pink for this girl!). William fell asleep, so back at home we had a li'l lunch and then a friend dropped by to catch up and chat.

Not but 10 minutes after she left, another friend dropped by and we talked and whipped up deviled eggs and had a lovely visit.

Then I brought the kids and deviled eggs to a Newcomers potluck in the park to enjoy the free concert put on by the Corvallis Community Band.
We stayed there until 9pm and had a great time seeing other Newcomers, and playing on the playground.

Phew! What a day!!

And just to throw in a little more EC progress -- no joke, William was dry and pottying perfectly all day, and only had two little accidents while at the park (it was already 8:30pm by then).
So, yeah! Most of the day we were really grooving and then I think the park distracted him (us?) both so much, we just missed it. Though he did alert me immediately following the accident, as though to say "Mama, look. Pee!" Heh heh heh.

Aaaanyway, I am bushed and I hope you all had a great day and are looking forward to a great week too.
Until next time, take care and Happy Completed Quilts!!

Say "cheeeeese!"

Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY Fire Starters

Howdy, all!

Today I'd like to share with you a simple but effective way to upcycle some commonly trashed household items into something really useful!!

I present to you: fire starters

We've been saving our lint for a little over a year now~?

They involve two items that I'm going to assume all of us accumulate rather quickly.
And those are:
1) empty toilet paper rolls
2) dryer lint

By simply stuffing an empty roll with wads of lint, you have yourself an incredibly combustible little log that will get any fire going and going hot! We are thinking of camping later this week, so you can bet these little guys will be coming with us. I'll try to remember to take photos of them in action then!

In the meanwhile, I also want to share with you some more EC news with li'l Willy.
For the past four or five days, William has been virtually free of diapers and is traipsing around the house in his adorable little boy briefs.

Downward dog

There have been no poopy diapers for over a week, and an average of about only one or two misses a day. What really led to this recent spike in EC reliability is his willingness to try the potty when we offer it, coupled with him taking the initiative of walking over to the potty and banging on the top of it to signal that he'd like to go.
We are so thrilled!!
He was even accident-free the entire 7 hours we were gone for our date on Saturday -- wow!!

So yeah, at this rate I am hoping that we can enjoy an upcoming family of diapers.
We'll see, because I gotta admit that in social settings, it can be hard to remember to keep his elimination needs in mind. I just get so caught up in the convo!!

Anyway, that is all for now.
Hope you are all having a good start to your week, and until next time take care and Happy DIY Fire Starters!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Recovered and Then Some!

Hi, all!!

Man, have I been absent.
As you may have seen in my last post, I was blogging from the hospital and here is why:
Exactly a week ago, I was laid in bed just feeling achey and chilly and no muy bueno. ;_;
I thought it was some kind of 24-hour bug, so on Monday morning I willed myself to believe I'd bounced back from this little ailment...but to no avail!

By Monday evening I was doubled over and unable to properly walk or do much of anything because I was in so much pain! @_@ This has never happened to me before and we were so concerned that it'd be something serious, that we promptly went to the Emergency Room. There, they ran blood and urine tests, and even put me through a CT Scan -- but everything turned up negative! On one hand, it was reassuring to know that there was nothing immediately life-threatening going on...but on the other hand, it meant that I was diagnosed with vague "abdominal pain" and sent home. Guh!! So yeah, no remedies to be had, and I pretty much spent the next three days going back and forth between feeling okay(ish) and writhing in pain in bed. Guuuuh... I ate very little and lost like 8 pounds through the whole ordeal! Yeesh!
I thank my lucky stars that we have such a wonderful support system among our friends who watched Ella and William so as to give both Dash and I a much needed break. Thank you, Miss Angelica and Sarah T. in particular!! ♡

So Friday was the first day I felt pretty much "normal" again. My appetite was making a slow comeback and I followed "Dr. Dash"'s recommendation of the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast only). All in all, I felt well enough to go to a friend's house!

In fact, I rode my bike (with two trailers attached, and William riding in one) all the way to Sophie's Philomath! That's right, the next town over.
And get this -- Ella Rose rode her bike for most of the way both there and back! It's about 6 miles one way, so I'd say Ella biked (total)...10 miles on Friday. Impressive!!

Technically 5.8 miles one way, according to Google Maps ;)

I had told myself I'd take it easy, but when I realized that construction trucks were blocking the driveway and that I wouldn't be able to get the car out until they moved out at 2pm, I decided that'd be too late and, there are alternatives to driving: Biking!! So I took my sweet time (especially with little Ella biking along at her 4-year-old pace) and two hours later was safe and sound at Sophie's house.

It was a lovely visit, getting to hear about her recent child-free trip, behold her awesome garden, and even get hooked up with a great babysitter: Her sis, J. Grow!!

I've always prided myself in not having to ever hire a babysitter to watch my kids thanks to childswap set-ups, and visiting family members watching them for free. But finally yesterday, I cracked and paid for childcare for the kiddos for the first time!!
I must say it was a good thing too! Firstly, it's hard to find any mama friends who are willing to spend their Saturday night with not one but two children, even if it's for a swap. Plus, J. is a college student who doesn't have any family obligations and therefore made it very clear that we could stay out however late we wanted, since it would not inconvenience her in the least!

What was supposed to just be catching a show in Albany expanded into dinner out, plus a live performance, plus a late night movie!! We came home after midnight (wow!) and had a wonderful date together.

But first I'll share with you other things that we did with our Saturday:

Farmer's Market following an outdoor art show!

A Peachie's (Nola's) birthday party!

J. Grow arrived at 6:15pm and then we were off to see... The Doubleclicks!
I first heard of them last week when a friend showed me a music video of one of their songs.
It is below and I highly recommend you watch it too :)

I can't believe I got to see them in person and so near home too!!

Aubry and Angelica

They are a very sweet musical duo and very funny too.
After that, we grabbed coffee to keep us awake for a 10pm showing of "Pacific Rim".
I gotta say, it was a very entertaining monster movie! Thanks to Kathy for recommending it so highly!!

Well, that is all for now.
What a great way to end a crazy week.
I am all healthy again, and there are many good things to look forward to on the horizon :)

Until next time, take care everyone and Happy Recoveries and then some!!