Archive | January, 2010

Confessions of a Hybrid Wannabe

14 Jan

First confession: I actually have just one. One confession, and it’s simply this: I am a hybrid wannabe. HAHAHAHA! πŸ˜†

It helps to think this way every time my kids have some school project that requires “parental involvement” (which basically means you roll up your sleeves and go splashing in the mud with the kiddo).

Friday afternoon when I picked up J from school, I walked into what looked like a cloud (of thinly-veiled stress) hovering over my co-mothers. The reason: we just got a letter which basically said our kids would be having a mask-or-hat parade first thing on Monday morning, and the kids had to make their own masks “with help from their parents.” It would be graded as Homework. This meant only two things: (1) “make masks” = don’t even think of making a trip to the shops to buy a pre-made mask; and (2) “with help from parents” = goodbye, relaxing weekend.

The mask had to be a storybook character, and the kids had to be able to act in their character. Hmm. Wonder what the easiest mask to make would be? Mickey Mouse, right? (I mean, really, how hard can it be to trace one big circle and two smaller circles, stick them together, and paint them black and red? πŸ˜€ ).

But my son wanted to be Optimus Prime. I tried to convince him to explore other characters but he really wanted to be the Transformers chief. So I thought to myself, oh why the heck not? Let’s just go with what he wants; after all, it’s he who has to wear the mask and act in character. πŸ˜‰

So Sunday afternoon my son J and I set to work with leftover pizza carton boxes (good thing Son No. 2 had some school friends over on Friday evening, and lemme tell ya, those boys can eat a whole truck of pizza if you dared them). We gathered toilet paper and old newspapers and PVA glue (paper machie ingredients), foil, poster paint, colored popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and whatever else we thought we’d be needing to make the mask. And just so you know? We ended up using about 10% of the loot that we collected. πŸ™„

Just in case your kid happens to come home one of these days with the same homework, I decided to share the mask-making process with you (heehee).

First order of the day: Trim the box to a more manageable size. (Also, resist the urge to order another box of pizza to eat while working πŸ˜† )

Then, roll box around the head of your kid and mark where the eyes, nose and mouth areas should be. This is to ensure that your kid doesn’t go bump in the night while he walks around with the mask, and that he doesn’t get dizzy from the leftover-pizza-smell on the box.

Cut out eye area from the carton and fit. (Be prepared to fit a lot during the process. Better to stop and fit rather than go from beginning to end without interruption, only to get into a fit when you realize the eye area is just the right fit for the… nostrils!)

Cut out the portion that will go over the nose and mouth area.

Don’t omit this most important part: Stay awake with coffee (or Diet Mountain Dew or Pepsi, if you rock that way πŸ˜‰ ). Because, my dear friend, at this point we’re not even halfway there πŸ˜›

Fueled by cafe, cut out the breathing area…

… and (behind the scenes) stick all the rest of the materials you have: more cut-up pizza carton, crumpled and squished newspaper, bottle caps from Florida Naturals juice, a couple of pipe cleaners to hold the mask in place over the head, and tape: lots and lots and lots of tape to hold it all together.

Oh, and I did say don’t forget to fit, right? πŸ˜‰

Next, check the time and decide NOT to do paper machie because your mask will never dry in the next 6 hours. So decide to take the mask outside under the stars (yes, the moon had risen by the time I got the entire thing modeled to go) and spray-paint it entirely with silver paint in a can. (It totally helps if your paint says “dries in 10-15 minutes”). Try not to sweat the small details (like when you realize that there’s a slight difference in the texture of the paint on carton versus paint on tape, just let it go… πŸ˜† ).

Then paint in details with acrylic paint. (I tried poster paint at first and almost freaked out when I realized the poster paint wouldn’t stick to the silver paint! It was doing its own kind of “crayon-resist” performance. Thank heavens for craft rooms filled with paper scrapping stuff that has been hoarded–and hardly used–over the years, mwahaha. Those things come in handy at exact times like this.)

Do a final fit to make sure everything’s fine (and make sure the tape at the back of the mask is patted down without any areas peeling off because you definitely don’t want parts of your kid’s eyebrows to come off together with the mask πŸ˜† ).

Let mask dry overnight, and reassure your kid that you both did a great job together, and it doesn’t really matter whether you win the mask contest or not because you had a lot of fun creating it together anyway, and that is what matters. πŸ˜‰

Then go do some work on the Spraground (if you live there like I do, lol!) and then force yourself to sleep at 3am because you’ve got a big day tomorrow watching your kid in his mask parade.

D-Day:

Optimus Prime meets Captain Hook meets Bugs Bunny meets two Cats in the Hat and…

A hop, a skip, and a jump…

And we’re done! πŸ˜€

PS. The kids in the primary grades voted for the winner. Guess who won?

Whoopee-doo! Whodathunk, huh? πŸ˜†

Swooning…

11 Jan

… over this, for the past 36 hours (thank you to my dear friend from the land of quilts, my classmate of many years and my soul-sister–you know what that means, right, M?–for telling me all about it!)

Here ya go, my friends… hope you have as much fun swooning along with me!

And discovered this one too:

Jon Schmidt totatlly rocks. Absolutely loveΒ  his U2 meets Pachelbel too!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Back with a new post soon! πŸ˜‰

It’s a New Decade! {Ten Plans for 2010}

6 Jan

Well, hello there! And happy new year!

If it seems I’ve disappeared into thin air these past few months, I am so sorry. 😦 I got abducted by some germ monsters who stole my alien DNA and left human genes in their wake (read: I suddenly needed more than 3 hours of sleep and I actually GOT SICK! ~ bleah ~ The thing is, for people who hardly ever get sick, once they do it’s like having one foot in the grave. I still have a major cough that makes me sound like a great barking watchdog but at least I now have the strength to sit up and work on my compy! So YAY! :D)

Then there was that great tsunami-like wave of activity brought by the holiday season πŸ˜‰ , which in this part of the world can get seriously crazy. Christmas is the best time of the year for me–a sentiment shared by everybody in this Pacific archipelago, methinks–so traffic on the roads increases a hundredfold, parties and social obligations leave you crossing out every single square on your December calendar all the way till January 1st of the following year, and then there are all those gifts to buy, lists to check, and let’s not forget the most important part of it: preparing yourself internally for the reason for the season (which I will admit is such a struggle to do during this most hectic of months of the year! Luckily it’s the struggle that really counts! πŸ˜‰ )

Oh and yeah, it didn’t help much that, according to my dear friend Tori, I suffer from this illness affecting my extremities: the kind that makes my right hand shoot up involuntarily whenever I hear the question, “Who wants to volunteer…?” and the same one that makes my left hand slink down under my chair whenever I hear the question, “Are there any objections?” hahaha. Pretty dangerous disease to have around Christmastime when there’s just more stuff to do than there are hours in a day.

This condition gets especially challenging when you’ve got your high school celebrating its 25th anniversary a week into January and you’re completely aware that your right hand feverishly shot up when the question about who could make the slideshow presentation was asked. (Okay, so here’s the confession: I volunteered because I didn’t want to have to sing or dance. HAHAHAHA!)

Seriously though, I have been missing in action (shamefully hanging head down here). And I have so missed sitting with you on my blog porch, my dear friends. And I have missed my Spraground family… and I promise to never stay away this long again!

Speaking of promises…

Have you made any resolutions yet? I do mine on a daily basis (and if you’ve been coming to my blog porch for some iced tea and some nice talkies, you’d know my rationale for this)… but it’s nice to do the whole traditional new-year’s-resolutions thing… *and* blog about it so that there’s pressure to live up to it. πŸ˜†

I checked my 2009 Resolutions and realized that I failed at 3 out of 5 but passed 2! Not a great grade to get on a pop quiz, haha. But I believe in walking on the bright side of life, so I’ll be happy with the fact that one of the two I actually got to accomplish was the top one on my list! (Lose 25 pounds I did! YAY! )

Who was it who said “If you don’t succeed, try, try again” ? (It happens to be attributed to several sources… plus did you know that it was originally a maxim used to encourage American children to do their homework? Got that from a google search. Love me some google).

So here we go, my resolutions for 2010 (in which I have absorbed a couple of the unresolved ones of the past year):

1. Discover something new every day. – Learning is a good thing. A very good thing. I love learning something new every day because the excitement of that eureka moment always brings a rush of excitement (and reminds me I’m alive!).

Speaking of learning, I just learned how to use imovie and idvd in a couple of hours the other night! Gotta love that! Did I mention that I volunteered to create the slideshow presentation for the … uh… 25th anniversary of my high school batch (totally dating myself here πŸ˜† )? The only presentations I had ever made in the past were powerpoint presentations (I know, shameful, huh?) but I knew that powerpoint certainly wouldn’t do for this big event (which is coming up in a few days, by the way).

So MacGyver (aka my mac) got a workout and I learned how to use two programs that I never even touched before. And now I have a new saying to add to my collection ofΒ  LivE Philosophies: Desperation is the mother of education. (Yes, I was beating a deadline which is what led to me learning the two programs in one evening, hahaha!).

One thing that thrills me even further about this first of my 10 plans for 2010 is that the day’s discovery doesn’t even have to be a big thing! It could be a flower that I never noticed growing in the little pot that was barren for months. It could be a new word. It could be something new that I happen to read about in A.J. Jacob’s “The Know-It-All” (I’m on page 324 in the Ts) that makes me smile.Β  It could be… geesh, it really could be anything!

Now doesn’t that just make the new year seem even more exciting? πŸ™‚

2. Create weekly. – I love creating. I just take forever to do it. In my wildest fantasies I am like the Energizer Bunny (just keeps going and going and going). But in reality I get so absorbed in the process of creation that I enter a time warp and come out of it with a few new strands of white hair. πŸ˜† So this year, I promise (as I did last year) to be more productive in less time. Promise!

3. Blog at least 3 times a week. – Ooh! This is yet another carryover from last year. I failed miserably this year, I know (picture me shuffling my feet in shame). But hey, the great thing about being alive is being able to begin again! In Latin, we say Nunc coepi: Begin now! Love that philosophy… It’s like your angel whispering in your ear: So you didn’t do so well today? No matter,Β  you can always begin again. Why yes! I can!

(Ps. I actually considered just saying “Blog weekly.” But hey, dream big and fly high, right? πŸ˜‰ )

4. Make a layout every week. – I hardly scrapped during the 2nd half of the past year and I have to admit (banging fists on table, tears gushing down my cheeks, dramatic music doing a crescendo in the background): I miss it! I can’t even remember the last layout I made. I think it must have been during our Type+Writer 2 course. (Not counting the 3ft x 9ft poster layout I created for my 7-year-old J’s classroom… a Christmas wall decor that had me photographing and extracting 32 kids and a teacher for 3 straight nights. Phew!)

But creating layouts is one of my deepest passions. It’s how I celebrate moments in life and those I love! So I. Must. Make. A. Layout… every week (crossing fingers here).

5. Do an act of kindness every day. – Why not? Making people happy is one of the few things in life that give a greater ROI than what you put in. You make someone happy and it makes you happy too. Can’t think of too many win-win situations like this one. πŸ˜‰ Serving others (the ultimate act of kindness) is easy… but to consciously make an effort to do something concrete every single day… now that is the adventure!

6. Take a photo every day. – Okay so I may regret ever writing this down. I attempted to do this last year (though I didn’t turn it into a resolution) and I failed miserably.Β  The funny thing is I take photos all the time! And lots of them. Just not on a daily basis. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed on this one– let’s see how it goes.

7. Be grateful for something every day. – It’s easy to think that we all have a general attitude of thankfulness, that resolutions don’t have to be made about this. But to consciously notice and pinpoint in concrete terms what it is that makes our heart sing for that day, every single day, is something that can be easily overlooked. So I promise not just to have a thankful heart throughout the year… but to visualize and verbalize and then celebrate that gratitude. That is the essence of Plan No. 7.

8. Write family once a month. – I grew up in a very close-knit family: seven kids who counted each other as our first and foremost best friends. Today we are kind of scattered across the globe. My sister in Paris and I chat every single day, something that makes me love technology that much more. But the time difference between me and my brother (who is two years older than me) is not so ideal, so that makes it harder to stay in touch. But I miss him a lot. And he is as much a genius at keeping in touch with monthly updates as I am his polar opposite (let’s see now: that makes me effectively a doofus at keeping in touch. Nice.) So I resolve to shed off my doofus costume and get my fingers working at keeping the family ties tied tight! (Say those three last words six times, quickly!)

9. Surprise a friend every month. – I like surprises (nice ones only, please. No lizards, no black furry fat spiders, and certainly, absolutely no cockroaches). When I was a kid, my dad would give me a big box on my birthday, year after year, and there was no way to tell what was inside the box because it was a generic box with its standard shape and its basic dimensions. But when I tore off that wrapper, I knew the inside would be filled with little doodads, a collection of little items that taken altogether made up my birthday gift. I loved the thought of not knowing what was inside till I unwrapped the big ol’ thing.

Today my favorite gifts come one at a time instead of in little collections, and they’re mostly bigger than the little trinkets of the past (and also, usually sport plugs that attach to my computer or my camera, mmm!). But I still love surprises, my most recent one being the that came in the mail all the way from Sweden last Christmas (more on that later because that deserves a post of its own!).

So because I think surprises are wonderful and they bring out such childlike glee, this year I’d like to make a conscious effort to bring that whee-clap-your-hands kind of happiness to a friend once a month. 12 friends, 12 nice surprises, 12 little yelps of glee. Can’t wait to do this!

10. Make a book within the year. – The summer between Fifth and Sixth Grade, my best friend and I sat down for a week or two at the country club veranda and wrote a children’s book. I kept the transcript written in our childish penmanship all these years. Yep, I still have it. It has always been my dream to publish that book and surprise my friend with it. If I actually manage to accomplish this in the next 12 months, I’d have accomplished Resolution No. 9 for one of the 11 months in the horizon while making a childhood dream a reality. So hello, Blurb. I’m going to need to learn how to work with you. (Hey! That could totally help me accomplish Plan No. 1 too!).

NOTE: Resolution Corollary to the Ten Above: I promise not to beat myself on the head and stress out if I don’t manage to accomplish all that’s on my list.

Now let me tell you, it was not easy to think of 10 for this year (I was struggling at no. 5). But 10 was my plan and I can’t flake off on the first plan of the year, right?

Three Things: A Question, a Challenge, a Gift!

So I’d like to ask you: have you thought of your plans for this year? (If you haven’t, here, sit right beside me and have a glass of iced tea while you ponder the matter. If you have actually thought of your plans… oh man, you put me to shame! And if you’ve actually written them down, then make a bit of space for me while I grovel at your feet).

Anyway, here’s the challenge part: Come up with TEN plans for 2010 (that’s right, baby, TEN :D). What do you want to accomplish this year? Doesn’t matter if they’re big or small; they just have to be what YOU want them to be. But here’s the thing: They have to be concrete and measurable. That way, it makes it easier for us to check how we’re doing throughout the year. So instead of saying, “I’m going to be nicer,” try “I’m going to smile every morning at that old man down the street whose pet rooster wakes me up at 4AM every single bloody day”. See? Now that’s a nice and concrete and specific plan! πŸ˜†

Next, write them down, all ten of ’em. (Kind of like carving your resolutions in stone, hehe). But seriously, write down those 10 plans for 2010, and if you’re comfortable doing so, maybe you can link me up to your blog or send me an email? I’d love to know what yours are!

And here’s a little gift for you if you do decide to come up with your own list of 10 for 2010:

It’s a .png file in two versions — curled and flat, with and without shadows. You can print out the flat one and write on it with your favorite ink pen… or if you live on the Dark Side like I do, you can open any of the two files on your compy and type in your ten. (Here’s a little tip: if you use a standard font and set it at 14pt, your words will fall perfectly within the notepaper lines πŸ˜‰ ). Oh! and I’ve made this large enough for you to attach to a layout if you are so inclined. But you can certainly reduce the size if you want to print it out and put it in the little notebook you carry around in your bag. πŸ™‚

You can download the freebie by clicking on the image above. And thank you so much in advance for the love you leave right here on my blog (Go ahead, click on that red Comment button at the bottom of this post; it’ll make me so happy! You know I love reading each and every one of your comments! heehee!).

So that’s it, folks! That’s all I have for today! I’ll see you again real soon, and thank you so much for your patience with my being totally remiss at coming out on this porch swing and sitting a bit with you. HUGE, no, HUMONGOUS hugs to you!

And may your new year be filled with lovely new beginnings!

Last sunrise of 2009, taken on our post-Christmas trip to the mountains. πŸ™‚

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