Monday Mentionables: DIY Tutorials, Franklin the Turtle & Kiddie Art

Summer school is over, which means a lot more sibling negotiating and mama refereeing is about to happen at our house! In hopes of keeping the munchkins occupied, I have enlisted their help in cleaning up our home. I’m talking about emptying out all the cabinets and closets and donating EVERYTHING we haven’t used in the past year. Maybe we’ll even paint a wall or two. Let’s see if I can keep the kids entertained (and not squabbling) until school starts. 

Say hello to the last week of July and today’s mentionables:

1. DIY TutorialsThe other day my son asked if I was born around the time when horses pulled “cars”. Haha, no, I definitely wasn’t! But I do remember the days before we had cell phones, email or social media. Life was a lot quieter and relaxed than it is now, but definitely not as creative. These days when I get the urge to do something crafty, I just google “DIY ________” (fill in the blank with food, jewelry, clothes, etc) and I’ve got a million ideas at my fingertips. I especially like Brit + Co.’s site that is full of out-of-the-box projects, such as 20 ways to repurpose a yoga mat or how to make velcro studded bracelets. It will keep you busy and entertained for a long time!

2. Franklin the Turtle. Franklin is the sweet and lovable star of the Franklin books by Brenda Clark and Paulette Bourgeois. I like this series because it teaches kids good lessons about friendships, family and growing up. The characters are also brought to life in a TV series, which you can watch online here. Also, for some reason, only Franklin has an actual name; all his friends are called by their animal name, such as Bear, Fox and Snail. Maybe the author ran out of ideas? 

Image courtesy of Google images

3. Kiddie Art. C loves to draw. She recently brought this piece home from preschool. It’s our family in chick form. 🙂 I’m thinking I should save some of her artwork just in case she makes it big one day. I’m sure Picasso’s and Monet’s moms thought the same thing. 😉

Happy Monday to you!

The Other Shoe

Shoes…oh, how I love shoes! There are so many kinds to choose from – pumps, heels, flats, wedges, sandals and good ‘ole flip flops.

Image courtesy of olovedog/freedigitalphotos.net

My affinity towards this type of accessory probably explains why I also like the expression, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop”. While this saying has nothing to do with footwear, it does evoke the image of a big, heavy work boot (the kind with steel toes) dangling by one frayed shoelace… just waiting to make its descent onto your head.

Ouch!

Now, that is not a good image to live by, but I’m afraid it is so often the case for us square people. I am constantly waiting for “the other shoe” (aka. trouble, hurt, disappointment, frustration, end of the world stuff) to make its appearance. Yes, due to my need to have things go exactly the way I want, I have the tendency to worry that things will not go exactly the way I want. It’s definitely not fun being a worrywart! (And warts on your feet are not comfy for shoes either – I may or may not be speaking from experience, haha.)

So I’ve learned a few things from all my years of worrying that I would like to share with my fellow square folks.

1. Don’t worry! Haha. I’m so kidding. It’s not something that can just be turned off. Instead, worrying needs to be replaced with other things, which brings us to the next point.

2. Remember. It helps me to be mindful of all the blessings I have. When I am grateful, there are a lot fewer reasons for me to be worried. Also, I think of what the Bible says about worrying. As I grow older, I find that Scripture really holds a lot of wisdom. 🙂

Matthew chapter 6:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Doesn’t verse 34 make you want to laugh?! It’s so true.

3. Have fun! I really have to make a conscious effort to have fun, especially when I find my shoulders subconsciously hunched up and my jaw sore from grinding my teeth. 🙁 Whether it’s listening to upbeat songs, writing or trying out a DIY craft, just spending a few minutes each day doing something enjoyable makes a huge difference to changing my perspective on life.

4. Get out! There is something about the outdoors that is good for your soul. Maybe it’s the vitamin D from the sun or the (somewhat) fresh air, but just being outside and active can bring a smile to my face.

Now check out Donnie McClurkin and Kirk Franklin’s cover of “Ooh Child” to bring a smile to your face. 🙂

What do you do to tame your worrying?

Monday Mentionables: “Ice cream”, DIY Necklace & The Mercy House

We had a whirlwind weekend celebrating my son’s birthday, so today actually seems less manic than usual. 🙂 How was your weekend? Ready to start a new week?

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. One ingredient “ice cream”. I put “ice cream” in quotes because, to be honest, this is not the real deal. It is a much healthier version that kind of reminds you of the real thing with its consistency, but as my son remarked while eating it, “It’s not that sweet.” Haha. No, it’s not and that’s why we can eat more of it and still eat the real thing later.

Get the recipe here

C requested mango mixed in with hers!

2. DIY necklace. I have recently jumped headfirst into the world of accessories. I say headfirst because I am all about the necklaces – long beaded ones, statement ones, ones with pendants – there are so many styles to choose from! I prefer more subtle decor for myself, but it’s fun to try on different kinds and suggest them to your girlfriends (haha, you know who you ladies are). 🙂 

In light of the fact that jewelry can cost an arm and a leg (in which case you would have two less limbs to wear bracelets and anklets on), I decided to make my own. Here is a necklace that literally took me 3 minutes to make. 

I bought these earrings from Old Navy for $0.99, but never wore them cause they are just so big.
Turns out they are the perfect size for a necklace!

 

Pair it with a black cord and you’re good to go!

 

My $0.50 necklace!

 

3. The Mercy House. It always amazes and inspires me to hear stories of ordinary people making a difference in the world. I recently heard about this group home in Kenya which was founded by the mommy blogger of http://wearethatfamily.com. The Mercy House aids young girls who are pregnant as a result of rape or forced prostitution. The girls here receive shelter, pre/post-natal care, education and counseling in a safe and loving environment. They also learn how to make jewelry and other goods to sell with the proceeds going to support the maternity house and the girls themselves. For those of you who love to browse online, check out their store here and go shopping for a great cause! 

Have a wonderful Monday and rest of the week!

Marriage According to Ben

‘Tis the season of shorts and sandals, beach trips, ice cream and “I Do’s”. If you took a look at my Facebook lately, you’d see picture after picture and post after post about engagements and weddings. Many of the young kiddies that I saw growing up in church are now adults(!) and doing what adults do – walking down the aisle. I remember the years ago in my twenties when we would attend a wedding almost every single month. Believe me, that was a lot of food to eat because Chinese people usually have ten course banquets! They were the ultimate celebrations of food, folks and fun (and a precursor to all the baby showers we would be attending in our thirties).

Looking at all the photos on Facebook, I can’t help but smile at the lovely couples I see dancing and gazing starry-eyed at each other. There’s such a newness about it all, something magical about finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and making that declaration to everyone. Weddings are so full of sweetness and innocence and hope.

Image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalpictures.net

It is definitely the calm before the storm.

I’m not saying all marriages end up going through hard times, but there is a reason why people talk about there being a honeymoon period and that it eventually ends. Reality sets in when the dirty dishes pile up in the sink, when there are bills to pay, when kids get sick or a spouse loses a job. But it’s those times when storms blow through your life that you realize why you made vows on your wedding day.

After a dozen years of marriage, I’ve realized it’s easy to love someone or to be lovable when life is going well (especially when you’re on vacation). But for the rest of the time, marriage is exactly what Ben Affleck called it during his Oscar acceptance speech – it’s work.

It takes work to:

~ Consider someone else’s needs above your own
~ Share (your food, time, space, TV remote, etc.)
~ Forgive and accept each other
~ Cooperate without grumbling
~ Give when you’d rather receive
~ Listen without judgment
~ Be supportive and encouraging
~ Not take your spouse for granted

But, also as Ben said, “It’s the best kind of work and there’s no one else (he’d) rather do it with (than his wife).”

The same goes for me and my hubby. Even the other night as we were walking the aisles at Fry’s during our date night (his pick of course, haha), we were working on our marriage. We were making the time to spend together and have adult conversation and share in each other’s interests. 🙂 These little moments of work all add up to make our relationship better. And when both people in a marriage are happy, it’s a whole lotta fun.

Here’s a song by Matchbox Twenty, “Overjoyed” that is a beautiful description of marriage.

What do you and your spouse do to work on your marriage?

Monday Mentionables: Berry scones, Hairstyles & Lego House

Can you believe we are already in mid-July?! It’s crazy, I know, but summer days seem to pass by all too quickly.

Today’s mentionables are:

1. Mixed Berry Scone Mix: I love Trader Joe’s. Whenever I have play date lunches at my house, my mom friends always know they will be eating food from TJ’s. I have even influenced a friend or two to start shopping there. I just love their family friendly atmosphere and small, but varied, selection of products, which really help to narrow your choices down and speed up the shopping process when you have two kiddos in tow. 

So the other day, I saw TJ’s scone mix and was immediately drawn to it because of three simple words – “just add water”.

Be sure not to bake them too long like I did!

 

Best marketing idea!

And it was as simple as that! The scones took about 18 minutes to whip up, 5 of them for the actual hands-on prep time. They are fairly good, not too sweet, but you can really taste the blueberry flavor. The only downside is that they are not as buttery as made from scratch ones, but if you want an easy “recipe”, this is the way to go. 🙂 

2. Hairstyles. Kate’s (of The Small Things) blog is a great place to find hair and makeup tutorials. She is a professional hairdresser and has so many creative hairstyle ideas – messy buns, different kinds of braids and ponytails, twists – whatever you’re looking for, she has it! I like to watch her youtube videos because they are simple, quick and easy to replicate.

3.  “Lego House“. Ed Sheeran’s song is catchy, yet poetic. Check it out, as well as, the singer’s red hair. He really reminds me of the redhead from Harry Potter. (Edit: Turns out that it is the Harry Potter actor in this video! I read that Ed Sheeran chose him to portray himself because of their resemblance. LOL) Have a great Monday!

WIWDD: Pregnancy

In light of my recent post about growing older and wiser, I was thinking of the lessons I’ve learned over the years and how I would have done things differently in the past if I had known then what I know now. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. But to clarify, this is not a post about regret because dwelling on the past only gets you on the road to nowhere! I’m just hoping that by sharing what I’ve learned, it may help and encourage others.

So, to start off, here’s “what I would’ve done differently” (hence the acronym WIWDD) prior to and during my first pregnancy (only the first because by the second time I did do things differently).

E loved C from the very beginning!

I would have been…

~ More health conscious. I would definitely have switched to natural and/or organic foods and natural beauty and household products even before conceiving. I didn’t totally grasp the idea that input = output, meaning what I was putting into my body was being used to form a human being. I’ve heard several times since then that firstborns usually have more skin problems because of all the toxins in the mom’s body. I don’t know if this is true, but E has had eczema practically since birth (vs. C who has great skin).

~ More active. I would have exercised more, especially with weights. I did run once a week until the second semester of pregnancy and then switched to swimming for the rest of the time, but I wish I had built up my upper body strength more. I never knew carrying around a 10 lb baby day and night could be so tiring!  I remember feeling so sore in my arms that I couldn’t sleep at night (yes, I was a weakling!). Since then I have developed strong “mommy arms” and can carry 50 lbs (the equivalent of 2 kids two years ago) without a problem.

~ More relaxed. I would have taken more time to relax and do fun stuff! Up until a week before birth, I was working two part time jobs and prior to that, I had just finished my master’s degree (which took 5 years). I wish I had known that after the baby came, there would no longer be any “me time” for a long while. It would have been nice to have taken some art classes (the pottery scene from the movie “Ghost” comes to mind, haha) or traveled more.

With all that said, something I would not have changed during my pregnancies was my commitment to keeping a journal. I wrote about everything, from my cravings, aches and pains, to how the baby liked to kick and roll and finally, the labor and delivery. These memories have been included in the kids’ scrapbooks and we all love looking through them.

Here’s Rachel Aldous’ sweet song, “A Mother’s Prayer“.

What would you have done differently during your pregnancy?

Monday Mentionables: Monsters, Literary Mama & Sara Bareilles

Happy Monday! 🙂  Hopefully you all had a good almost 4 day weekend.

Here are today’s mentionables:


1. I Need My Monster, written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam, is a very cute and creative bedtime or anytime story. We checked it out from the library (free stuff is always good!) and we’ve read it at least 6 times because Chloe likes it so much. The book is about a little boy named Ethan whose under-the-bed monster named Gabe has gone fishing for the week. Four substitute monsters show up, but he rejects each one because they are not scary enough to keep him sleeping in bed. The pictures are funny and really bring the monsters to life. Check out a read-aloud video of the book here (fast forward to 49 seconds to start listening to the story).

Yes, this kid has a big head. 🙂

2. Literary Mama. In a nutshell, this is a website for moms who like to read and write. I really enjoy reading the creative nonfiction here; they are so good that they inspire and intimidate me at the same time! I decided to start off small and submit a blog post to them instead of an essay and amazingly enough, they are going to publish it in October! Yay! I was walking on air the day I found out. 🙂

3. Sara Bareilles. I absolutely love her songs. She can convey such heartfelt emotions and truths with her words. Some of her songs are funny and upbeat; others are just gut-wrenching. “Hold My Heart” is one of the latter and is one of my favorite songs.

If that one is too emo for you, here’s another one of her songs, “Gonna Get Over You” to cheer you up!
Have a wonderful week! 🙂

No Longer 22

I had a great girls’ night out with some dear old (not age-wise, but length of time!) friends recently. These are ladies I have known longer than my husband and one of whom I have known since we were in the single digits. Now that is a long time! We have had the privilege of going through all of life’s ups and downs together – adolescence, boy troubles, college, graduations, more boy troubles (haha), career changes, weddings, man troubles, births of kids, etc.

As we sat around eating ramen and sushi rolls, I was struck by how different our lives are now than from a decade and a half ago when we were in college. We used to be able to eat a whole order of combination crispy chow mein – by ourselves – at midnight! I am talking about grease, grease and more grease! And we didn’t get heartburn, food coma or muffin tops! We were also carefree, energetic and spontaneous, even at 2 in the morning.

Thank you Sun Hong Kong for staying open late to feed starving college kids!

Things have definitely changed… that evening, we could barely finish our meal and each of us took turns yawning by the time it was 8:30pm! Though I would love to go back in time for a day or two and just be young again, there’s a lot that I don’t miss about that other side of the hill:

~Not completely knowing who I was or where I was going
~Not being as comfortable in my own skin
~Thinking that disappointments (whether in relationships, school or work) were “end of the world as we know it” moments in life

I see now that…

Aging = Experience + Wrinkles + Gray hair + Sagging body parts(!) =

Wisdom + Confidence + Contentment

And being older and wiser is something that can’t be bought or taught, you just have to live life to get there.

This song by Taylor Swift, “22” is an ode to our younger selves and a reminder of how far we’ve come. 🙂

What do you like about being older and wiser? 

Monday Mentionables: Style Blog, Disney Movie & Hair

Aren’t Mondays the craziest? Mondays in my house are what you call “hit the floor running” kind of days. There are breakfasts to make, lunches to pack, dishes to unload, etc. and etc. – all before 8AM! Then it’s out the door I go to buy food and other supplies for the week. Physically, mentally and emotionally, the day after a weekend tends to come pouncing on me like Tigger does to Winnie the Pooh and I just have to get my feet moving to avoid being crushed. 

Poor Pooh never sees Tigger coming! lol

So, in an effort to get my Mondays started off right (and also to ensure I blog more consistently), I’m creating a weekly series called “Monday Mentionables”. I’ll be posting about things that help me get in the right mindset or keep me thankful or are just plain fun -cause a square girl needs as much fun as she can get!

Here are today’s mentionables:

1.  Style Blog.  This is a fun style blog that I recently stumbled onto that has given me new ideas for my wardrobe. After almost 7 years of mommy-wear (think baggy tops and bottoms), I am starting to get my groove back (either that, or I’m hitting my mid-life crisis and just trying to look younger)! Because of Audrey’s blog, I bought a few belts and colored sandals (mint green!) and am putting a little more effort into my outfits. 🙂

At Target for about $15!

2. Radio Rebel. This is a Disney movie I watched recently. I actually really like teeny bopper movies and TV shows because they are light hearted and a bit more innocent. 🙂 This one’s about a shy girl by day who masquerades as a popular DJ by night. There’s the usual mean girl and cute boy involved and a happy ending where she finally learns to bring both sides of herself together. I really like this song on the soundtrack – “Now I Can Be The Real Me” by the leading man/boy Adam DiMarco.

3. Hair. I’ve waited about four years to be able to do C’s hair. It took about 3 years for the half inch of fuzz on her head to grow out and another year to convince her to let me style it. But now that the weather is so hot (thank you west coast heat wave), I get to do her hair almost every day. This is definitely a fun part of having a daughter. 🙂

A french braid!

Come on back next week for more Monday Mentionables!