May 13, 2012

The Mother Load

Even though my "for real for real" Mother's Day gift won't be arriving for another 2 weeks (when my Beefa CARA will be here! WOOT!) my hubs and fate worked overtime in making this weekend Mom-umentally terrific.

That's right.
It's so good, I make up mom-puns. And I like it.

First. New neighbors. While their drilling and reno-shenanigans are killing naptime, them cleaning out the old neighbor's stuff worked out pretty well for me.

Exhibit A: Old Rusty Shelf
This is my boys' version of, "Now boys, do not touch this. Mama is about to paint it."
Which I spray painted a Robin's Egg Blue (aka- the only choice of the 3 colors to choose from at the hardware/paint store that seemed okay.)
4 year olds are sometimes hit-or-miss with "after" photos.
Exhibit B: Styrofoam
We saw our old neighbors approximately 1.5 times and think maybe the bank foreclosed on their house. Either that or they forgot they left a bunch of stuff in the house when they sold it. Who knows? This is Asia. There may not actually be an answer. New neighbor had no use for everything inside.

You must know that party supplies do not come cheap here and there are 0.00 sales here. Ever. AND this all fit in my corner cabinet. Bonus.

Exhibit C: Plant
I don't know if this thing is gonna survive. It was literally in the garbage bag when New Neighbor offered it to me along with the pot. I had potting soil leftover, so I grabbed it and went. You can't really think when this kinda stuff comes a'knockin. Ya know? Later on when I replanted it, I began hoping that it's the type of plant that climbs as it grows. Anybody have a clue? We'll keep watering and see how it goes.

Who doesn't love thrift?  Guaranteeeeed, if I lived in the United States of America I am quite sure I'd be decorating my house with fun finds from Salvation Army and 7am Saturday Morning Yard Sales. Dimes and nickels for awesomeness.

However, Asia hasn't caught on to how incredible it is to buy old furniture and clothes and fabric and random items from strangers for pennies. ****(they spend their time doing other things) ****Good thing there's no HGTV here or I would really be Jonesin' those decorators as they find the perfect old wooden doors to make headboards and kitchen cabinets from...{sigh}...

Nearby our subdivision, there are recycling centers lined up one after the other. They mostly look like this.
 And they're run by Chinese men who are the types, well, to drive forklifts and run junk yards. All crass and what not. And there are dogs that looks like strays, but eye you like they own the place. There's no signage that says anything remotely close to "C'mon in folks and rummage through this stuff for buried treasure." But there aren't any "KEEP OUT" signs either.

I loaded up myself, my kids, and asked my hubby to be a "man-presence" as I went to see what all was at these places.  Was any of it was salvageable in the American "someone's else junk" sort-of-way, and could I manage to get some of it somehow? I didn't know y'all, but in honor of mother's day, and the call of the Thrift, Anthony didn't object.

We drove past several places, but none seemed to be more than 3 storey high piles of old rebar and endless plastic containers. We kept going, me wondering if the next junk yard would throw down and I would start the slow change to Thrifting in Asia, single handed.

Then we came to "Nu Recycle Center" (pic above) and I saw them. I KNEW.
My sister just made herself the nifty-est thrifty-est outdoor table from pallets. No reason why I can't too. And we are NOT competitive. Not even a smidgen. So we'll just say her table inspired me. (but everyone secretly hopes their next child will have red hair like their niece's, right?)

Chinese-man on the forklift couldn't speak English, but we worked things out in our 2nd language. And pretty quick too.
Without him seeming to even notice that I was a random white woman in his junk yard asking to buy pallets.
We didn't shake on it (forklift and all, safety first) but we made a verbal agreement.
1 Pallet = 5 Ringgit (roughly $1.70)

Did y'all feel that? It must be what it feels like to start a change in culture.
Reminder: We drive on the left side of the road and the right side of the car. I am not holding plywood on my head, taking a picture and driving. Just the plywood and picture part.
Took the kids to the neighbors and returned.
I realized I hadn't even pinned one single made-from-pallet item on Pinterest, but it didn't matter.
Thrift folks. THRIFT.
4 pallets, RM20 later.
Goodness it felt good.
We also stopped by our 2 hardware-paint stores to get supplies (and the Robin's Egg Blue spray paint) to make the curtains in our loft. The nice man at the 2nd store sawed the board we bought in half, right there on the side walk, so we could fit it in our minivan (at our request). The whole board was like $9.
Y'all and if free stuff, cheap stuff, and good deals from nice people weren't enough...

That little itty bitty piece of green was a tiny affirmation that the whole homeschool preschool thing might just work afterall. I jumped up and down.

That is a Motherload of awesome, is it not? And all in one weekend! (see, told ya I wasn't playin' about the pun thing) 

My "Pallet" board has now been created on Pinterest and "Circular Saw" has officially been bumped up a few notches on the "Father's Day" list of gift ideas.
Happy Mothers Day!
****Same day I wrote this post and put that linky-loo to my friend's blog about her son's stuffed apple animal thing, THIS happened to it. Guys, I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious, and I'm now convinced Mother's Day Miracles are real.***

May 11, 2012

I promise this isn't a sewing blog...

This week I finished 2 "small projects" (see post below this one).
Granted, neither of things I made were on my list, but necessity is the mother of invention and so went my week.

First little project: Filing Cabinet Liner

I tried to put our video camera case up and it just kept falling through the openings in the drawer (as the drawers are designed for file folders...crazy filing cabinet.) So, in order to not be frustrated and also to practice a bit for one of the things that IS on my small projects list, I made this liner.

Buttons folks. I. Used. Buttons. I made the button hole and everything. (Tutorial here...will blow your mind how easy!)

"Just pin and sew right over it" they say! "You don't have to pull the pins out!" they say.  Kaylee you know this photo is for you. From the bottom of my heart.

Second little project: Case for Phil&Ted's Traveller mattress.

New neighbors are moving in next door. Today from 15 minutes after Immanuelle went down for her morning nap until just after she finished her afternoon nap, there was CONSTANT drilling. Concrete walls. Drilling. You gettin' the picture? And it was coming from the shared wall between i3's room and the neighbors. The house was shaking, baby was crying. So I got out our handy dandy Phil & Ted's Traveller and set it up in my room hoping Ellie Bird could get some sleep a bit farther from the epicenter of the noise (nice try Mom...she was so exhausted by the afternoon, she did sleep, even through the drilling)

We use our Traveller a lot. If you are expecting your first child and are in the market and/or want to give a super awesome, better-than-a-pack-n-play-anyday infant travel bed to someone, THIS is your bed. So light (hi there expensive baggage on airlines), so sleek looking (no hoakie teddy bears here folks), so small folded up, and even comes with a mosquito net in case the baby in question will be spending time in Africa and/or the great outdoors. FANTASTIC baby product. So are their strollers. We have one of those too. Go check out the site.
Rabbit Trail!  The Traveller's air mattress slides under the bed (so that baby can't lift it up or get caught under it), but we rarely use it that way and just throw it in the bottom instead of sliding it into it's zippable pouch underneath. It never fails though, at every single hotel on the planet it is nigh impossible to get a sheet or blanket to lay on the bottom of the bed. Blankets are too scratchy, or the sheets are too "light" and so as soon as baby moves, they're laying on a big wrinkled mess and cry waking up the other 4 members of their family. True story.

So promotional ad for Phil&Ted's done and long story, short- I made an air-mattress "case" to slide the mattress in. No more calling hotel staff requesting extra bed linens, babies crying from sheets moving too much, or scratchy nasty blankets. The mattress case can just be left on the mattress too and rolled up and put in the bag, taking up untraceable extra room.

I just disassembled 2 pillow cases, and reassembled them to create the case. Sure they are bright, but they were free!

So those were my sewing projects for the week!
Did necessity drive you to do anything this week?

May 05, 2012

Small Projects

I follow this blog about once per week...
It's more of a reminder to me, "Ehem. Sharon? Remember that quilt you want to sew for your daughter to have and to hold for all time? You've done zilcho to it." A creative kick in the shins each week to get the tractor 'a rollin'.

or rather

I'm linking up and making a small projects list because I actually DO need something to push me over the edge into bog of eternal stench where, as everyone knows, just one foot in and you stink forever.
But who doesn't like a good list?

In no particular.
* A pillow cover- possibly of the scrappy quilted variety
* A "sprucing up" of the plain gray pillow covers on my couch.
* Headbands for my baby girl (and maybe for me too)
* more "barefoot" sandals for my baby girl (already made some of these and am considering going into debt to purchase every color jersey fabric on the planet to make more because they are SO. DERN. CUTE!)
* baby spit rags for some friends' babies
* "liners" for the toy buckets

My Pinterest "Sewtastic" board has all of the cutesy pics for these links on it. And a few of the projects on there I've already finished! like, this one, this one, this one and this one! They all turned out great!

May 02, 2012

How does your garden grow?

Why is it that every time this happens to my onions I feel gifted at gardening?

It literally brings happiness to my heart when I neglect something sitting on a shelf and it produces life.

Same with potatoes.

In other gardening news, the boys and I planted watermelon seeds and some flower seeds on May 1st.  It's a sort of super launch into what I would have called "I've lost my ever-lovin mind" a year ago, but in the last month or so, I've come to call this new adventure of ours.... wait for it... waaaait for it....


Oh snap! Sharon's done gone off the deep-end! First she didn't go to the University of Florida when her tuition would have been covered 100%, then she went and moved to another country,  and now this.

There are many many reasons why this week, as of May 1st, I chose to start preschool homeschooling my kids. But who would want to hear them all?

So the first reason. Isaac's Preschool was just a test run. And we knew it from the beginning. Since him starting there in January there were several things like teachers quitting (or being fired?), suspicion of some bullying going on from some older students, and us paying a lot of money for not a ton of awesomeness, and us not wanting to pay double the money to send Isaiah for double the non-awesomeness. (in case you're wondering what we would consider awesome, THIS is awesome... and nothing even remotely close is coming from his school)

Now, I know what you all are thinking...and you are thinking that we could just talk to the lady in charge and get answers about the teachers quitting thing and about the bullying. That pulling him out might be one giant leap of over reacting.

But what you don't know is the one gazillion cultural things at play here. The general non-questioning of people in authority (like teachers), "indirect communication" which means you don't confront, lying as a go-to knee-jerk reaction to save face, and the language barrier where NO ONE would be speaking to the other in their first language. Then if we could overcome those obstacles to find the truth AND find some sort of satisfactory compromise that would make us feel good about the amount of money we were spending for a program that seems lack-luster on average, there's the "Your white kid gives this school status and we don't want word getting out that he's been taken out so I'll tell you whatever you want to hear so he'll stay." factor. 

Magellan couldn't have navigated through that.

Next reason is we found an at-home foreign language dvd set to help replace the "immersion" of Mandarin speaking teachers (which the bits of lessons I overheard were all in heavily-accented-poorly spoken English. And I haven't seen the Mandarin teacher for over a month) I give credit to the symbols he's learning in his workbooks, but to be honest the lady on the free iPad app is doing a fair job of keeping up with those at home!

On top of that, Isaiah is showing signs of a possible speech impediment. No details needed, but the environment that is Isaac's preschool would not be conducive to helping him grow in his speech abilities.

Not that we feel the need to justify any of this to anyone, but there ya have it. 

But those are just the reasons to not send my Mini-men to preschool.

On the positive side, the Lord has done what only he can do and has changed this ol' heart of mine. Instead of just yanking them out and watching Disney movies all day, every day (which has it's appeal, no two ways), the Lord has been laying down heavy the gravity of how big a deal it is to be the Mama to these Crazies...

Maybe preschooling my kids at home won't make them weird or be awkward in every sense of the word?
Maybe preschooling my kids at home can be a chance to not just learn ABC's and 123's but to also dig down deep and plant a God-sized faith in them from an early age?
Maybe planting that faith at an early age is EXACTLY what I should be doing?
Maybe I'll learn more about my kids and their personalities by teaching them school-type stuff?
Maybe I can use preschooling at home as an excuse to take my kids on really awesome "field trips?"
And maybe, just maybe, I won't start wearing socks with my sandals, broom skirts, and letting the eyebrows grow together in the middle? (anyone else associate homeschooling with the Amish?)

I have no pics of our first 2 days of preschooling at home. Besides the hypertension-inducing gardening we did on day 1, we went for our first swimming lesson (also taught by Yours Truly) today after making Alligator shaped "A's".  And I'm needing to figure out how to teach a kid who has to touch and eat everything he sees.

We've got a long way to go, but as I'm sure this will come up again on the ol' bloggeroo, I didn't want you all to be in the dark.

I'm preschool, homeschooling my boys.
I have not lost my mind.
I don't have it all together, but am actually excited about it.

And to prove it's really me writing this, we are having to figure out budget for 2013 which will include Isaac's kindergarten year... and we're researching schools around here to see what's out there.  Hopefully we'll find something that will work for him!
See? It IS me.

Here are some of the resources I'm using to get started... baby steps, folks. Baby. Steps.

Foreign Language- "Little Pim" which has an iPad app too, plus we live in Asia and can get easy exposure. We are doing Mandarin, but if it goes well, I might get the Spanish one too for when we're back in the states.
Bible Based Curriculum - 1+1+1=1 Christian Homeschool Mom who puts a lot of free stuff online- we are doing the "Rock Stars" curriculum.  I follow a lot of her links to get other ideas.
Basic Curriculum Units- I chose the "Garden Pack" on 1+1+1=1 as our first unit of fun learning. Just thought it was something I could manage. She does a good job of matching reading books with her packs...makes me miss living in the US with access to cheap Amazon shipping rates!