Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Disney Trip

Hi again!

You know, it hit me just today that I haven't even shared anything about Ella's week-long vacation away from us following New Year's Day.
As I mentioned briefly, she went to Disney World with my mom (her "Aba"), Kathy-neechan, and Martin-niisan. It's sort of hard to get any real "stories" out of her concerning the trip, but now that I have some actual photo evidence, here goes:

Kathy-neechan and "Elsa"

So they were there the first week of January, which you may recall was when the Polar Vortex was hitting the States. Although the news didn't say it would go so down south as Florida, I feel it did affect the weather there as Kathy-neechan reported at least a day or two of 45 degree weather! Ouch for Florida!

But maybe it was the kind of cold weather that also resulted in not-so-long lines as usually is the case for Disney World. So they had that going for them, I guess :)

Holding up her prize rose!

They caught a live production of Beauty & The Beast, and apparently there was some kind of audience participation where Ella Rose got chosen to go up on stage for a moment(?) The details are still fuzzy, but she did receive a fuzzy (see what I did there??) velvet rose to commemorate her experience. Kathy-neechan says she went pose-crazy on the fountain outside, so I guess this is what she meant :D

Gotta love Kathy-neechan's improvised garbage bag-poncho

Did I mention the poor weather? At least it looks like they made the most of it. :D
If memory serves me right, they got to hit up every park at least once (this included Disney Downtown and the Animal Kingdom), and even took a breather on the coldest day just to relax at home and have good ol' family time. Very different from family trips growing up where we felt compelled to cram as many activities and experiences into a trip as possible. It sounds like Aba's really turned a leaf on that and was able to enjoy a completely mellow and at the same time fun-filled vacation. Always a tricky balance to strike, eh? ;)

This is why I love my mom:
When I had called her some weeks before the trip, apparently I caught her while she was on her treadmill. And she told me, "I'm trying to get in shape so that I can keep up with Ella Rose! We are going to be a couple of 4-year-olds, me and her. :D"
I thought that was so very sweet~
And indeed she was ever doting, and a fun pal to be with, and ever patient with Ella.
Thanks to that, Ella Rose even fully transitioned into her own bed! For keeps!!

Trips away from home can be awesome like that, right?
Like, they just hammer the last nail into whatever transition one may have been working on.
For Ella Rose, it was independent sleeping.
For William, it was pottying (and his little friend Gracie was just the same over the summer!)

So yeah, good times all around...

A little more rain for you~
Back to the vacation!!
Aside from going to Disney parks, they also watched "Frozen" all together and played a game or two at a bowling alley. Apparently, Ella Rose isn't such a bad bowler. ;)

Characters were, of course, met but I don't really have access to those shots, but I assure you they included a grinning Ella in every one.

Well, that is all for now.
Have you ever been to Disney World?
What do you think about bringing your kiddos there?

I hope you are all having a great week, and until next time: take care and Happy Disney Trip!

Monday, January 20, 2014


Hi again, everybody!

Man oh man, not doing so well with my 2014 Resolution of blogging every day, am I?
It's been ten days since my last post!!
"What was I doing all that time?", you ask?
Well, I just so happened to have the best company I could ever ask for: my sister, Kathy-neechan!!

Two beautiful ladies~

That's right, she (and Ella!) arrived last Sunday, and it was a week full of taking walks, organizing, laughing, working, reading, visiting, cooking, drinking, and generally just reveling in the good time that is inevitable when my sis is in town.

She really is the best guest ever.
- Ever generous -- covering grocery bills and treating us to sushi??!!
- Ever attentive to the children -- Ella officially prefers Kathy-neechan over Mama. Surprise, surprise.
- A constructive companion -- she helped further my home decluttering-organizing efforts thanks to her fresh set of eyes.
- FUN -- so many conversations included at least one mega belly laugh, and she loves to propose karaoke sessions.
- A great listener -- so good to have a soundboard like Kathy-neechan to bounce ideas off of, and dissipate anxieties.
- Proactive -- she urged Dash and I to have a good ol' date night while she single-handedly cared for the children for like 6 hours, including the ever-tricky nighttime...and without a single complaint!

Gosh, I could go on forever, but I think you get the idea.
I love, love, love my sister.
And I gotta say, she's a real trooper for having gone 3 weeks straight of caring for/being around/dealing with/catering to children from both sides of the family...when she herself is the most staunch childfree advocate there is! I love that she can live by her philosophy of not having children of her own, but still be the best pal a kid could ask for. I swear, they just flock to her, because she has still retained so much of her childlike curiosity, goofiness, and imagination. Yaaay, Kathy!!

Let me see if I can recount everything that we did with our week. Hmm...
A bit of it was touched upon in my list above, but let me expound on some and list some other ones.

Firstly, walking.
Man oh man, my sister and I love to walk. Pushing strollers, holding hands, Mobying William, running errands, strolling aimlessly, it's all good. We could literally walk for hours and hours and not get tired or bored or sore or anything. It's just the best way we spend time together. It's fun to talk about things we see, weave it into recent experiences, reminisce about old times, ponder our futures, and examine where we are in our lives in various aspects, etc etc. It was nice to get all this walking in this week, especially since I just downloaded a pedometer app for my phone! My goal is 10,000 steps a day which has so far been working out awesome. :)
If you are interested in a good pedometer app for your phone, check out Noom Walk. I don't carry my phone around with me in the house, nor every single time I go out, but it's still effective, me thinks :)

Let's see...what else...
Well, Kathy-neechan really had a hand in a lot of my work this week.
We translated together, and then she even joined me for my out-of-house work!!
I think it was good for her to get away from the madness that can be the Dashiell household and just read quietly in the back of the room for at least a couple nights. She even joined me full-on for my teacher assisting gig on Wednesday! Unforgettable!! Times like this make being a twin all the cooler :D

As far as organizing, she helped me tackle some nagging projects in the kitchen and mudroom...and, oh!! She helped me make my first hula hoop rug!!

 That's right!
It's a rainbow(esque) rug made from old t-shirts!!
I first saw the tutorial for it on Pinterest some time last year (or the year before that??) and had intended to make it for the playroom (to protect the carpet...pfft!), but it turned out a lot smaller and thicker than I'd planned, so now it is in the mudroom. Yaaaaay! :)))
If I do make another t-shirt rug, I think I'll braid it rather than weave.
We'll see~~~

For our date, Dash drove me to some more outside-the-house work, then we went to Salem (!) to catch "Frozen" in the Cinebarre -- a cinema where you can eat while you watch a movie! Totally cool!! It was nice to have one-on-one time and watch such a beautiful film~

We also had a surprise visit from S.G. one evening that resulted in a fun and simple-yet-scrumptious meal, and chatting "late into the night" (11pm?) :D Kathy-neechan and S.G. really have a special friendship that spans the whole year even while she's away because they keep it alive through good old-fashioned letters. Very cool ♡

I think that is just about all the major stuff I wanted to cover on our trip.
The last day was pretty neat too, in that her Sunday evening flight got canceled so I had to go pick her back up to spend the night with us...along with another stranded girl at the airport!
So we took in this random stranger and let her crash on the couch and have breakfast, and then bring her to the airport the next morning for their flight.
It was nice to do something good for a complete stranger, and prove that not all strangers are out to kill/rape/rob you, like TV likes to make us think.
Goooo, renewed faith in humanity!!

Thank you for spending a week with us, Kathy-neechan!! We miss you already!!!!

So that brings me to today.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day!!
In the spirit of the holiday, the family did some community service in the way of cleaning up trash from the bike path we take to and from Ella's preschool.

Look! A shadow!! That means...suuuuun!!
I was so proud of both Ella and William for being such troopers in picking up the trash or at least pointing it out to me. Granted, we didn't get that far (from Buchanan to the overpass), but what ground we did cover we really combed over, so it looks more beautiful already :)
Thankfully the sun was out and it was warm! Maybe even in the 50's!!

The sun started to make them sleepy and restful...
Two big garbage bags we filled!! Thanks for hauling, trailer!! ♡

So yeah, it felt good to do that today.
Hopefully, we can make it a regular thing with the Dashiells.
Maybe, once a month, especially in the warmer weather months?
I do hope so!!
In the meanwhile, I think this visit from Kathy-neechan, coupled with the organizing bug (I got a dozen books on it from the library) and other factors are pointing to 2014 being a great year.
And this one great week is just a precursor to it all ;)

Before I go, here's a photo of William like I promised you!!

On the beach in L.A. on New Year's Eve
Until next time, take care and Happy Best Week Ever!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Life With William These Days

Howdy howdy,

I must say, without Ella around, I have had a lot of time to be with William in a one-on-one fashion that rarely ever happened before.

That, and his continually growing vocabulary, has made for some pretty enjoyable and funny days this past week.

Here is what a typical day with William is like, in terms of how he communicates with me:

- Wake up next to William with him saying "Hi! Hi!" in my face, and then "Pee pee" to mean he has to go to the bathroom.

- On the john, it's "Buh! Buh!" (book) and "Ju-ju!" (choo-choo), meaning he wants me to read him a book about trains.

- When I bring him into the kitchen, he'll say "Pah pah" (puff puff) which refers to the Kix cereal we've been carrying. For some reason he thinks he has to remind me about the "Mih!" (milk) and "Boo" (spoon) that I get him.

- When Daddy gets up, he'll join him for "Wuh!" (wood) and "Boom boom! Ham!" (hammer) and then bring them inside and watch as the fire gets "Hot!" and "Bih!" (big)

- While playing upstairs, he loves to play with his "Bah!" (balls) and have us play "Tah!" (guitar) to him. He has gotten into putting on a "Tutu" to dance to it. :)

- On our stroller walk, before he finally dozes off, he'll point out every "Cah!" (car) he sees and "Chruh!" (truck) he hears. If we pass any "Dah!" (dog), he'll say "Wih-wih, peh!" (William pet) which sometimes happens and sometimes not. When we pass the creek, he'll tell me "Duh! Ee!" (Ducks eat) which refers to the evenings when we go by to feed the ducks.

- When evening rolls around, and he's "Duh" (done) with dinner, he'll happily go brush his "Tee!" (teeth), put on his night time "Diapaah" (diaper) and then go "Nai-nai" (sleep) with "Mama". He'll sometimes pester me for "Mih!" (milk) but usually "Wah-wah" (water) will placate him, and then he's finally asleep.


I guess I wanted to record all this to remind my future self what it actually sounded like when he was "talking" to us. As his mama, I speak William-ese, but other people listening in usually have no idea what these monosyllabic sounds are supposed to mean.

Just the other week, while walking with my sister, William was saying "Buh! Buh!" which of course I knew meant that he wanted me to adjust the boots on his feet, which tend to slip off when I carry him. Kathy-neechan remarked that she thought he was saying "book" and was surprised I understand the entirety of the message he was trying to convey with just "Buh!".

And it just goes to show how what can sound so obvious and clear to me is almost always a mystery to other people. Such is your own child's speech patterns, eh?

It's also interesting how at this time of his life, William will not just be satisfied saying his words. He wants me to respond in some way, even if it's just a simple, "Yes, William, that is a dog". Like, he wants that reassurance that I got him.

Most of the time, a "conversation" between us is either, him exclaiming his little monosyllabic sound and me responding with a question like "You want to eat" or "You like that book?". I love when he nods in approval or agreement, even he doesn't take any further action. I think it's one of the few ways he can feel "empowered" in this stage of life. Like, "Yiss! I got my message across!"

Anyway, enough ramblings about William.
You'd think I'd have more photos of him from this week, right? But alas I don't have any that I feel are post-worthy.
Hopefully I will remedy that today.
Watch out for a post on that soon.

Until then, take care and Happy Life With William!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Howdy again,

So ever since we got back, the combo of Dash being laid up in bed and the house having one less child in it has made for the perfect blend to get some good ol' organizing done!

I have been (re)inspired to tack a tally of our possessions, mainly in terms of what we need and don't need.

It started with just some small steps.
For example, here are two typically disasterous drawers in our kitchen:
(sorry I don't have Before Photos... that would've been so rich!)

There was so much superfluous junk in here -- duplicates of things, items we never use, etc

Everything has a home now!

There are a lot of reasons why I like organizing/paring down.
Here are some of them:

1) Makes finding things more efficient because you know exactly where things will be, you don't have to sift through distracting things for it, etc etc

2) Makes cleaning up faster. When there is less of everything, and you know where its home is, you don't have to spend as much time cleaning it up

3) Makes moving easier. I have this idea that we'll be moving to Japan or some other such place at some point, so paring down our possessions now, makes it all the more likely and less intimidating if/when it comes around ;)

4) You can give things to others! "One man's trash is another's treasure" is our home's motto. And when going through these two drawers, I found all sorts of items that have no purpose in our home, but will probably find one in someone else's. That will save them the money/effort of tracking it down, and will also save the item from ending up in the landfill if I were lazy and just dealt with it that way.

Some other spots in the house that I hope to hit up (preferably before Ella's arrival are):

1) the back of the TV
You guys know how psychotic it can get back there, mainly in terms of cables, especially when you own as many gadgets as we do (thanks, Dash~)

2) Ella's drawing desk
It feels like this thing is always a work in progress. Like, I just haven't nailed the perfect set-up for her. It's tricky, because she's such a prolific drawer, there are always the vast amounts of drawings to figure out what to do with... Truth be told, a lot go into the recycler in no time, but it's still hard to keep the place manageable and thereby more attractive for her to spend time at in a relaxed and efficient way

3) the cable chest
So Dash has this chest that he found on the curb in L.A. which really has nothing it now but his extensive collection of cables. The exterior is lovely, but the inside is really a huge mess, so I am going to go through it and figure out if a) we need all those cables, b) if things might find a better home elsewhere, c) how to make it more accessible when we do need cables in the future.
Wish me luck.

That is all for now in terms of Dashiell Household Organizing/Paring down.

What really prompted me to do all this, was a chance I had, in Tucson over holiday, to do some fun organizing for my family! One was the cabinet under a guest bathroom, and the other was my nephew's toys. Both resulted in less clutter, tidier order, and therefore more accessibility to use the spaces and the contents within them.
I truly enjoy the order and tranquility that comes from organizing-purging, and how it invariably benefits the homeowner too. I like to consider it my little "christmas gift" to them :)
My relatives were very pleased with my work, and even told me that I could probably make something of a career from it! Wouldn't that be something? :)
I am really going to put more thought toward making that a possibility, because it is something that I enjoy, it helps others, and it makes money. Perfect!!

Anyway, more on that at a different time.

Have any of you guys been bitten by the organize-purge bug? I think the influx of possessions coming into the home a la Christmas gifts is always a good incentive to then move old/unused stuff out.
Like your house taking a nice deep breath. In...and out... I like to keep that cycle alive and well with us :)

If any of you guys have an area of your house that you'd like tackled in terms of organizing-purging, please talk to me! You can be my guinea pigs for the start of my "professional organizer portfolio", eh?

Well, until next time, take care and Happy Organizing!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Years Resolutions 2014

Howdy howdy!

Okay, so we're already some days into 2014, but I thought I should let you know how my 2013 New Years Resolutions went...and what is in store for 2014.

Here goes:

2013 Resolutions
[x] read the newspaper(s) daily
[x] be car-free at least 4 days a week
[ ] get Ella to sleep in her own bed
[x] try out a different church every Sunday
[x] keep on top of things better (housekeeping, etc)
[x] blog every day
[x] make a garden
[ ] floss every night
[x] get William out of diapers

So, yeah!
Not too shabby.
Lemme explain the un-x'ed ones:

"Get Ella to sleep in her own bed"
Well, Ella can fall asleep on her own (more or less) now, but as for her own bed... It's a constant struggle with us. Maybe I shouldn't call it a "struggle" because weeks can go by where I do not care a lick that she is in our bed with us. And then there are those nights when I have just had it!
But thankfully, back in early December, Dash and I really worked together to get her used to the idea of sleeping in her own bed -- which I must say was scooted right up against our bed, for crying out loud! It was pretty successful! But then the trip came and we had to share a bed with her every night, so...we'll see what it's like when she is back home from Florida. Ha! Oh well, I have a whole new year to work on getting this one completed!

"Floss every night"
For some reason I just cannot make a habit of this.
Maybe if I'd been raised from a very early age with this being an expected task. But it feels like it just sorta popped in my later years as "something to be done regularly" rather than just "when you know food is stuck between your teeth". At least my dental health is as good as ever, so no repercussions there, though I know I should definitely get on it if I want healthy teeth in the long haul!

In general, I think I stuck to my goals pretty well!
Something that helps (as always) is posting it right on my inspiration board at my desk so that I can look them over daily.

Also, I know that I checkmarked some goals that I didn't exactly accomplish in full (like blogging daily) but it was nearly as good as achieved, so I checked it.
Like William's diaper usage.
Right before our trip, things were looking dismal in that department, as he had regressed to like 3-4 diapers a day.
But on our trip -- voila! He is back to communicating his needs, and we do not have to make a point of pottying him when the clock deems it a good time. He takes the initiative himself!
While in AZ, he didn't wet his nighttime diaper once, but that might have been because of the dry climate, because he is back to having a wet diaper upon waking again. Oh, well. I'll take one diaper a day, no problem! :)

I also wonder how "on top of things" I have been in terms of the house.
I think I've been better at addressing email correspondence and other mail than usual, and the house is kept tidy. But I know I have to be better about the "deep clean" needs like in the bathroom and the kitchen.
That will be one of my goals this year.
Which brings me to my new list!

2014 Resolutions
[ ] jog every other day, do strength exercises
[ ] master the cable knit
[ ] knit some socks!!
[ ] be a savvy shopper (compare prices from different stores, etc)
[ ] keep the house cleaner
[ ] get Ella Rose to really sleep in her own bed (willingly!)

So yeah, these are pretty self-explanatory.
I swear, goals having to do with Ella Rose and her sleeping habits have been on the list every year for the past 3 years, it feels like! Ha!!

And yes, some knitting goals are back. Buya!
Overall, because of the ages that the kids are at, I feel able to craft more again.
Christmas was just a sampling of it, and I foresee much more free time as they learn to play independently, and (better yet) play with each other as playmates.

Yep. 2014 is going to be a good year.
May we have as healthy/safe/happy/productive/fun year as we did in 2013. And then some ;)

Hope you are all looking as forward to the new year as I am.
Let's make it a good one!

Until next time, take care and Happy New Years Resolutions!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back from the holidays!

Hello, everyone!

Pardon the long absence, but we are finally back from the adventure-and-a-half that was Christmas 2013. :)
Last I wrote, we are still in Corvallis, busily crafting for all our friends and families. Well, just short of a week later, we were hightailing it down to AZ in the Dolphin!

Did I ever tell you how back in September, Dash left for a week to follow Furthur on one of their tours...and accidentally damaged the camper! ;_; Below are the initial before and after shots:

He miscalculated the distance from a tree's branches...

Gooooo duct tape! :)

As you can see, it was (thankfully) just a topical injury, but still pretty important if we want to keep the Dolphin from dry in the wet, wet weather of Oregon.

Anyway, that was what ate up most of his time before our departure in mid-December, and I want to take the final "after" photo...but Dash insists that he wants to wait until he has painted on the stripes that the Dolphin so dutifully earned on this massive trip. So watch out for upcoming photos of that ;)

Anyway, back to our trip:

The trip down took a "leisurely" three days, during which we read/crafted a lot in the back of the camper, visited my sis, caught up with friends at a Mexican restaurant in L.A. and then joined for delicious buttermilk pancakes in the morning. Yum! We arrived in Tucson in the wee hours of Saturday, and thankfully got to spend the rest of the trip in a relatively constant state of rest and relaxaction. Buya!!

I still had some last minute gifts to complete, which I enjoyed doing late in the evening, as well as a little throughout the day. I was so happy not to find myself "having to run to the store for last-minute gifts" or such nonsense.
So below are some of the gifts I made and gave:

New mittens for William, complete with double-stitching :)

New dresses for Ella's dolls -- a combo of sewing, knitting, and sock-upcycling. Ha!

This was the main gift to most of the family. Homemade soap and knitted washcloths as a set

My proudest creation yet. Ella's hands embroidered on a handy tote for - you guessed it - Nana! :)

I unfortunately don't have any shots of this cat bed I made for my sis-in-law's cat, but all I can say is that it was upcycled from an unused sweater of Dash's. Simple instructions can be found here.

Oh! I also made a hat for my little niece which was the first hat I've ever knitted!!
But as you can see in the photo, it has a nifty little twist to it ;)

I couldn't get a shot of my niece in it, so here's William :D

That's right, her parents are Star Wars fans, so they appreciated the little tribute. :D
My friend B.S. was the one who inspired me and even supplied the pattern + yarn. What a sweetie!! :)

You remember me talking about a $100 Christmas challenge?
Well, I'm happy to say that we stuck to it through all this DIY fun, and with shipping costs included, the grand total for 2013 came out to $91.70! Phew!!
I gotta say that the generosity of my community held a lot with this. The gifted yarn, stuffing for the cat bed, and that rigorous day of soapmaking with M.M. to say the least.

I definitely think that homemade soap will become something of a staple gift from hereon out, seeing as how I am next aiming to make our own lye from our wood ashes, further saving money on the process. Buya.

Anyway, it was a great visit, like I said, with much bonding between children and extended family, great food, beautiful warm weather, and even time for me to go out jogging every other day or so. That felt great.

Now to finish up this pair of mittens for Ella that has duplicate stitching of the Triforce. Hee. :)

On the way back, we stopped by Kathy's again, and by now William was showing signs of having...oh, dear... Hand-Foot-Mouth-Disease! Courtesy of my little niece. But besides having unsightly blisters and scabs on him, he's just like he usually is -- only less social on account of quarantining ourselves for others' behalf.

We "celebrated" New Years with Kathy and Martin, which really just consisted of eating Indian food and drinking cheap champagne (my favorite!) because I hit the hay pretty soon after that. Then, came a very exciting event, as we drove Kathy, Martin, and Ella to the airport so that they could enjoy the second half of their holiday vacation - in Disney World!!

That's right, as I speak, Ella is down there with her Aba, too, just living it up in D-World. My mom is a doll and keeps sending updates of photos via phone, so I can "enjoy" the experience right alongside her. Heh.

Well, I am glad we had a safe and awesome trip -- and just as happy to be back home too.
As I've said before, I love the holidays but I also love when they are over.
Even the act of stripping down all the holiday decorations feels great.
Like I am just so ready for a new year to happen!

As is customary, I'll be writing again soon with my New Years Resolutions report, and hopefully will be better about updating regularly as I did (more or less) in 2013.

Well, until then, take care and I hope you all had a wonderful end of 2013, but are Happy To Be Back From Holidays!!