Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

Hey hey!

Can I tell you all something that happened to me yesterday?

So, I was out shopping with the kids, and we were traveling by "bike trailer train". For those of you who live locally, you may recall how lovely and sunny it was, yeah? A good day to be out :)

Anyway, while I was buckling the kids in and unlocking the bike, this elderly old man was walking by, but then he stopped and commented on how nice it is to see a family out biking like that, how he admires bicyclists, etc etc.
He was so very nice and we talked a little about his own past of commuting to work via bicycle and whatnot, though now he is far too old to ride himself (he must've been in his late 70's~?). He seemed to have a real nostalgia thing going on, seeing the little ones and our funny wheeled set-up.

After a while, we bid each other goodbye and take care and went our own ways, and then I finally unlocked the bike and maneuvered the tricky train out to join traffic. But suddenly there was the old man again! I guess he'd hung around, or maybe turned around to come back. Either way, he says to me, "Excuse me, but there's just something I wanted you to have." And he pulls out his wallet, so I'm thinking "...Maybe some kind of bicycle-related coupon?" But then he opens his billfold, and pulls out three $20s and says to me, "Here. I want you to have this, because I just really admire what you are doing." @_@

Maybe I looked really destitute? Maybe he assumed that someone who hauls her family around on a bike must be hard-pressed for cash? Maybe that was his way of showing appreciation for something he feels strongly about.
Either I tried to turn him down over and over and asked if I'd heard him right, but he was just so adamant, that I eventually caved in an accepted this extremely random and generous gift. @_@
Though I don't know what I am going to put that $60 toward, I know that it is going to go to good use, and that I am going to be keeping up my bicycling and then some.

After a lot of thanking him and shaking his hand and blinking away the embarrassed/grateful tears, I swore to him that I'd pay it forward, and that is what I intend to do.

Man, random acts of kindness like this renew my faith in humanity so much! The important word here being "act" because a lot of us may think about kind things we could do or muse about things we could do for others, but actually taking the initiative to do the "act" is what makes all the difference.

So, like this fellow, I want to aim to let people know when I think what they are doing is great and to "keep up the good work"! Who knows what a few encouraging words can do for people, right?
Do you ever have a crummy day, but then someone tells you a nice compliment and it just turns your whole day around? Bravo to that someone who took the extra step to speak their kind thoughts aloud!

Compliments and kind words from friends and family are great, of course, but there's something about a complete stranger feeling inspired to tell you something nice they think about you that just feels so darn awesome.

I should start writing down these random encounters with compliment-giving strangers that I have, because they will be nice to refer to on gloomier days. So hereon out, you will be seeing writings of these encounters in the blog.

Have you had any remarkable random acts of kindness happen to you?
Have you taken the time to perform an act of kindness on another?
It could be as simple as picking up someone's newspaper off the sidewalk and placing it right by their door when you are out walking the dog in the early morning. Or paying a compliment to a stranger about how lovely their hair is or how you appreciate their happy gait.

Let's go forth and try to be kinder to our fellow man, shall we? :)
I'm labeling this post as "DIY" because to make the world a better place, you gotta Do It Yourself~!
I know I am going to try, for sure.

Until then, take care everybody and Happy Random Acts of Kindness!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Living in Art

Hey hey!

So this morning I was sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast, happily gazing at the walls.
What could I be looking at, you ask?
Why, the beautiful art nouveau prints we have hanging up!!
Specifically, all the Alphonse Mucha art.
This is what the view is like:

Some random product art he did and then The Seasons (alternative version) on the right

Alphonse Mucha 2014 calendar for the win! And our blackboard door :)
 I like to think of our kitchen as something of a "Mucha Shrine". Heh!
Truth be told, the other rooms don't really have that much (any) art hanging on the walls. But the fridge and any corkboard in the house is pretty covered with art from the kids...well, more like from Ella Rose. Hopefully, William will follow suit soon too :)

This afternoon, I was enjoying going over some of Ella's recent drawings as I updated her binder. We keep a binder in the office of her drawings, that we add to at the end of every week when it's time to tidy up her desk, trash the so-so drawings, and archive the better ones that show progress in one way or another. For example, since we've been reading Sailor Moon manga together, she's been duplicating the BESM (big eyes small mouth) style, which is funny to see. (Sorry I don't have any photo evidence but I will showcase some soon)

Speaking of which, this coming weekend is the Howland Community Open Exhibition's call for art at the Art Center, where they will be showcasing any art brought in by local residents! Ella and I are already planning to contribute, maybe as a collaboration, maybe not. I will keep you updated. ;)

Speaking of which, I feel so blessed to be a part of the art community here in Corvallis.
From the very first day that we moved here, I made an effort to get in contact with the local scene because I just so very much love being a part of it, and being of aid to the many talented artists.

More recently, I've even been featured in a art show in the next town over!
The River Gallery in Independence, OR has been holding a "Wild Women" art exhibit this whole month of February that features a work of me! :)
It's only going to be up until Friday (or maybe the Friday following?) so stop by and check it out if you haven't already~!

The piece if titled "The Long Pose" by Doyle...Leek is the last name, I believe
I also try to take the children to art exhibits as often as I can.
Like I did with the Last Supper Exhibit and more recently at Mark Allison's exhibit in January with just me 'n' William :)

This is a piece I fell in love with called "Sweet September" might be living with us for a while too soon! :)
Other artistic events we enjoy include the Clothesline Art Sale and the Oregon Country Fair which is just chock-full of artistic expression. ♡♡♡

How do you make art a part of your and your children's lives?
Who is your favorite artist? :)

One last thing, before I let you go: a look at what breakfast I was eating while doing all this Mucha musing.

T>B: orange jice concentrate, chia seeds, frozen blue berries, bananas, whey
I've been getting mad into the smoothies these days!! :D

Anyway, until next time, take care and Happy Living in Art!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ice Skating!

Hey again!

So it dawned on me that in yesterday's post I didn't even mention another major thing that happened in February: the Sochi Winter Olympics!!

Not that we did anything more than watch some events on TV in the evening, but it's still nice to mark every 4 years with The Games. For the last Winter Olympics, we were still in the house on Grant Circle, and I got really into the Kim/Asada figure skating rivalry. As with last time, my favorite event was figure skating, though I did find myself forced to watch a lot of men's downhill skiing. Heh!

Once Dash got back from his trip away, it became our little ritual to plant ourselves on the sofas in the living room, turn on The Games, and watch from 9pm - 11pm (@_@), chatting, and playing a little handheld game tagteam style during the commercials. We'd also bust out some kind of sweet or salty snack accompanied with beer, too. Aaaw, yeaaaah~ :D

Though not that classy or anything, regular alone time like this does wonders for our relationship.
So now that the Olympics are officially over, I hope we can keep up some kind of activity that nourishes our relationship, no matter how white-trashy it may seem. Ha!

Anyway, another thing that the Olympics brought about was a fascination in Ella Rose with figure skating. Not that she stayed up that late to watch the performances with us (we tried to rouse her once because she'd asked us to, but she was quite resistant), but after watching a few clips off Youtube, she started saying things like "I want to take skating lessons."

Lessons? Well, I can't promise that but I thought it'd be nice to take her and William to a rink to dip her toes in! Which is precisely what we did this past Sunday.

Pardon the terrible angle. Ella assembled her outfit in the spirit of Elsa, the Snow Queen
The last time Ella was on the ice was just about two years ago, when she was 2.5 and we went to New Hartford to spend Christmas with my family before William was born. She was so unafraid and took to the ice smashingly, that I guess I assumed the same of her brother (even though he's a good year younger than she'd been, oops!)

So yeah, the nearest rink is in Eugene (gack!) and Public Session is only from 12:15 to 1:45 on Saturdays and Sundays. So I didn't have that much time to acclimate William who ended up in my arms the whole time.

Ella, on the other hand, was quite happy and trusting even when we left the wall.

They had some really nice skates at the facility!

But one unhappy child can make for a difficult outing, so the already-short skating time was further reduced because I couldn't put William down but I also couldn't hold him that long with those jabbing skates. Thanks for being so patient with your brother, Ella Rose!

I don't know if I will be doing this again soon, at least not without another adult in the name of Dash. Of maybe I'll leave the boys home and hit the ice, just me 'n' Ella. :)

Either way, it was enlightening to get on the ice and try to merely stay upright, after having watched those great Olympian skaters positively fly across the ice. Indeed, what they make look so easy is not at all! Kudos to all their hard work and for mesmerizing us with their performances.

That is all for now.
Have you guys ever gone to the Eugene Ice Center?
Would you be interested in joining us so Ella can have a friend to hold hands with? :)

Hope you having a great start to your week and until next time, take care and Happy Ice Skating!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Month Away...

Hey, all!

Yeesh, I have been awful about updating the blog.
A whole month (to the day!) I have just not set aside the little bit of time it takes to journal about the day.
Why is that, you may ask?
Well, a couple reasons really...

Firstly, pretty much following that last post, I had a bout of sadness due to my sister's visit having to end. ;_;
I realize now that I am a lot more affected by my family's physical absence in my life than I would have ever admitted before. Just as with Christmas '12, when the whole Schilling clan was here, I was pretty depressed upon their departure...

So I tried to turn my mood around and do some cool crafting that I'd been meaning to do with the kids. Specifically in the form of making some paper at home!!

Honestly, it had a sort of "cheap restroom paper towel" look/feel to it. Ha!

It's a relatively easy process, so long as you have the tools which are (for us) the following:

- shallow plastic basin
- old newspapers
- blender
- plastic needlepoint sheet
- empty picture frames
- water
- sponge

You can find plenty of tutorials online for how to do it, but the way I "learned" was just from watching it being done as a demonstration at last year's Corvallis Kids Day for Conservation.

Anyway, the kids loved the process because it involved water, the blender, and then getting to write on our "masterpieces".

We wrote a whole letter on one sheet and sent it to Aba. When she got it, she said she was so impressed because it looked like "artisan paper". Ha! Well, I intend to get better at it and start incorporating sparkles, seeds, and other fun goodies.

But before we could make anymore headway on that, a huge hiccup happened in our household that also has to do with heads:

That's right!
That pesky intruder had infiltrated our home through preschool and it really threw things into a tizzy. See, for the most part they're harmless little bugs, but so darn tenacious that unless thorough and relentless action is taken, you can find yourself suffering by them for a good long while!
Not to say that any of us were infested or anything -- in fact, we'd have never known we'd been visited if not for the head-checker at school finding a little nit on Ella's head. Guh!

So I didn't post the entire time of that ordeal because:
a) I was much too consumed with all the laundering/vacuuming/washing/etc that came with our regiment for dealing with it, and...
b)I guess I caved in to the typical embarrassment that accompanies an issue like this. Trust me, by no means was I hush-hush about it to people in our lives; I insisted on full disclosure, and let people know what we were dealing with and what we were doing about it.
But I didn't post because I'm sure the posts would've all sounded something like this:
- "The laundry machine's been running all day, and this is the third time I've vacuumed the whole house in two days. See you tomorrow!"
- "Combed through Ella's head this morning and found no nits. Combed again at nit! Gaaah!!"

Etc, etc.
In the thick of it, it felt like it'd never end... But it's nice to look back on that now and breathe a sigh of relief that we dealt with the problem and are even more prepared should it ever pop up again...which seems pretty inevitable when you have a daughter.

It was so enlightening to hear from friends their own experiences with lice as children. I remember having it exactly once as a child, and my mom had neglected the problem for so long (blaming our itchy heads and "white flakes" as dandruff) that by the time we were diagnosed, we were quite infested >_< So I had a lot of negative "doom and gloom" connotations with lice. But other friends have reassured me that they'd gotten it a couple of times and with perseverance and hard work, always overcame.
Especially now that we are armed with some products in our cupboards and The Terminator comb, I know that next time around, it will not be as traumatic.

All in all, the experience had some good things and bad things about it.
First the bad: I shrunk a couple of my favorite wool hats in the initial panic of wanting to wash everything on hot and dry on high.  Ffffuuuu...!! >_<
The good: it made me really deep-clean the house in a way that I've been aching to do for a long time. With no playdates scheduled and all social interaction kept to a minimum, it meant a lot of time at home to just focus on our space :)

That brings me to the next event in February that caused me to neglect updating my blog:

You may recall that there was quite some snowfall and ice in early December. Well, round two came the first week of February, and though it did not result in ice and didn't stick around for as long, it did make for an awesome winter wonderland.

Before I delve into that, I must point out that Dash was also away for this whole week to visit his ailing father in the hospital (who is doing better now, thankfully!) and we were still not totally out of the danger zone for lice. @_@ So yeah, quite a cumbersome week in some ways.

First came the sheer cold...

How our morning commute to school typically looks (William tends to join us). Look at those blanket burritos!

Then...the beautiful snow :)
Ella Rose actually took this shot through the upstairs window. It's our neighbor's house and yard.

The official snow measurement was 9" but it was more like over a foot in some neighborhoods!

The kids ventured in it a little, but would invariably last only about 20 minutes.
So, once again, lots of inside time (and little social contact because it was hard for anyone to get anywhere!).
What did we do with all that inside time?
Well, a few things...


And we also watched more "Daniel Tiger" than I'd like to admit...
But dang, they've got some snappy songs and all the episodes are so wholesome and teach great social can I resist? ;)

Plus, while the kids were enjoying all those episodes, I was up to some more cleaning...of the organizational kind! I did a huge overhaul on the office (where Dash mainly works and where he keeps his clothes too), and it was phenomenal!!!

Unfortunately, I don't have any photo evidence (wish I'd done Before & Afters!!), but trust me the space is so much more logical, uncluttered, and workable now. I can even do my translations there at my own desk that I uncovered! So Dash and I can work together after the kids go to sleep, in one room which saves on electricity and also gives us "alone time" in a way. ;)

That had to be one of the highlights of the week despite it being Dash-less and snowy to the point of isolating. While some friends spoke of cabin fever, I was pumped with getting my home to look more the way I want it to. The give-away pile in the attic grew and grew as I was able to more honestly look at what's in my home and face the truth that I haven't used some thing in months, years, or sometimes even ever!

That brings me to another major event (after Dash got back and we'd just been work-work-working): All that stuff I had weeded out of my house I was then able to finally hand off this past weekend, thanks to the "Corvallis Family Clothing Swap PLUS" that S.G. spearheaded. I somehow didn't take photos (what is my problem?) but it was a smash that gave families the opportunity to purge their homes, find treasures to take home, and ultimately, for local charities to receive an ample injection of donations. :) All in all, a success, I'd say.

Hmm...somehow it feels like I've reduced four whole weeks into just a few events (paper, lice, snow, and cleaning house -- hmm, the first part of that list sounds like fodder a real messed up poem).
Well, I guess that's one major event per week, if you space it out evenly. Ha!!

Nah, there were things in between too... Boring as it sounds, mostly an intense work schedule both inside the house and out. Even did some commuting all the way to Monmouth for some of it. Yuck and, at the same time, hurray for more opportunities~? :\

Well, before I end this epic post, let me just throw a couple photos of the kids up for your viewing pleasure ;)

Random act of affection I caught the kids engaging in. Sporadic hugs like this are priceless!!

What happens when William doesn't get a nap in...

Poor picture, but we like to eat by candlelight every once in a while. Just 'cuz. ;)

I hope February's been okay for you all so far. It's a tricky month, February is.  Not to bring the mood down, but there have been a couple deaths in the families of good friends, not to mention Dash Snr.'s initial failing health (albeit miraculous recovery~!)

Do stay well, everyone and Happy Month Away~!