Green Eggs & Ham? Yes, please!

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Long and long ago, I stumbled upon a doodling technique that I kind of became obsessed with. I would absentmindedly fill random pages with these doodles. One particular day, I filled in the doodles with red and white:

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“Hmmmm,”I said to myself, “I like that. It’s very Dr. Seussy.” (And, in case you didn’t know, I love me some Dr. Seuss.) And then Crazy Me piped up and said, “Hey, what if I painted a whole wall like this?! That would be amazeballs!” Plus, I always wanted to turn our playroom into a Dr. Seuss room. So when I brought this earth shattering idea to my husband, he wisely agreed to let me do what I want. (He is a wise man.) But he also wisely suggested I do it on the shorter wall in the playroom, rather than the biggest one (which was my original plan). I promptly poo-pooed that idea. Because BIGGER IS BETTER!

But really, it was a wise suggestion, which I eventually adopted after enough time had elapsed to pretend it was my idea. And it’s a good freakin’ thing I did because these kinds of projects always turn out harder and more time consuming than you think they will, right? Of course right.

So painting one wall turned into painting all of the walls and the shelves and purging the toys and replacing the honkin’ big falling apart wardrobes where games and toys lived and replacing the light fixture and…well…you know how it is…

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So blah, blah, blah and yadda, yadda, yadda, here are the pics you came for. I will try to keep the commentary to a minimum and in the captions. Enjoy.

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The view from the doorway

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Facing the Nothing-Exciting-Here wall, where we will eventually hang a flat screen television, but it just gets to be boring for now.

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Storage bins for seating and toy storage. Let’s take a closer look at that Mom’s-Gone-Crazy wall, shall we?

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Whoop! There it is! Don’t ask me how long it took. It was basically eons. And I eventually recruited help from an amazing friend who doesn’t hate me for being psycho.

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And above the Mom’s-Gone-Crazy wall, we have the movies…

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…And some books. (So I forgot to go hunt down all of the Harry Potter books before getting this picture. Obviously, they’re being read. As they should be.) And also…

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Because Dr. Seuss.

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Facing the back wall.

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Another one of my crazy ideas. I actually made this shelf long before deciding to mega-doodle on the wall. FYI – Michael’s crates are super flimsy and probably not the best choice for creating precariously balanced bookshelves. You’re welcome.

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Facing the corner.

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Can we just take a moment to ogle this light fixture? It was my birthday present. How can you not love a light like that?!

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You can only play with us if you have a star on your belly. Just kidding. You can’t play with us.

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Facing the gallery wall. Let’s look a little closer at a few things…

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Green Eggs and Ham? Yes please!

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Personalized family string art. Go ahead and look up ribald. We won’t judge.

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And last but not least, our growth chart rulers. Let’s not discuss the photo of our youngest child, mmmkay?

So there it is. For the record, this is the first time (and probably the last) that the playroom has ever been this clean, which lasted just long enough for me to take pictures (because I banished the children) and then it was trashed again. I actually took a picture of what it usually looks like. But it was so bad, my camera ate it rather than let it become public.

Have any questions about what you see? Feel free to ask! I’d tell you that tutorials for several things will be coming…but let’s be honest. I have no plans to tutorialize anything here. I mean, it took me 6 months just to add the last few touches and get these pics up. I would love to answer some individual questions if you have em, though!

Wanderlust Wednesday:Philippine Adventure

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Hello again! My husband and I recently had the amazing opportunity to visit the Philippines, where I learned to love fish and to sleep with the constant sound of car horns blaring. It was a wonderful adventure almost a year in the planning (for me) and I’d love to share a few of the things I learned about this beautiful country while I was there (accompanied by random pictures).

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But first, for the curious, a little background. WHY the Philippines, do you ask? Well, about 17 years ago, Mr. LPMD served a mission for our church there. He mostly served in Manila and some of the nearby areas. He loved the country and the people, but thought he would never get to go back. And then a bit less than a year ago I got this crazy hair-brained idea that I could surprise him with a trip back. Unbeknownst to him, I spent the next several months secretly saving my dollahs and feverishly typing up his journal from the time he was there (whenever he wasn’t home). A couple of months ago I let him in on the surprise and he got as excited as he gets. Which pretty much equates to a smile and a little bit of shock. And that was that.

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On our trip, we spent 5 days in the general Manila area and then flew over to Puerto Princesa on Palawan and spent 5 days staying in a lovely little place in Buenovista. Can we just enjoy a bit of the beauty of that place for a minute?

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Facing the house and cabins

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Facing the ocean

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Not a terrible place for some morning yoga, eh?

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Teeny tiny shells and coral covered the beach

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All of our accommodations were found through AirBnB.com and they all turned out to be great places to stay.

So…what did I learn from our trip to the land of over 7,000 islands (though we barely even scratched the surface)? Well…

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1 – Driving rules are rather like the Pirate Code.
cc9e1cf6aebe92588ca7586f89959de7The honking made me crazy at first, but eventually, I just found it rather amusing. If you’re driving in the Philippines, especially in the cities, you might honk if: you’re about to pass someone, you’re letting someone know you’re there, you’re in a bigger vehicle than someone else, you’re a bus, jeepney, or trike that can or can’t pick someone up on the side of the road, you’re coming around a corner, you exist, you want to see if your horn works, it strikes your fancy. There’s a plethora of reasons, really. The place we stayed in Manila (Mandaluyong, actually), was right next to a light rail station, so a whole lot of transportationess was going on outside our window. I realized one morning while I was lying awake from jet lag, that the muted sound of horns in the distance had become rather like listening to quiet classical music as I fell asleep. It was almost peaceful.

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Early morning, before the traffic set in.

Aside from the constant honking, I’m not sure why there are lines painted on the roads. Because it’s not like people stay in any kind of lanes. Three lanes could actually be 4. Or 5. Depends on if you can squeeze in there or not. Standard mode of driving is, if there is a space in front of you, you speed up and continue speeding up until there isn’t space in front of you anymore, then you stop, with probably 2 inches between you and any vehicles in front of or next to you. Motorcycle? Well, as long as you fit between or on the side of the other cars, you’re good to go. But watch out for the busses, because they’re bigger than you, and frankly, bigger has the right of way.

2 – Fish can be delicious.
I went into this trip a little hesitant about possibly starving because, frankly, I don’t like seafood. Hey, I have an idea – let’s go spend 2 weeks in an island country where the most common meat is fish! What a great idea! {Can you feel that sarcasm? Because it’s dripping.} My husband assured me that I wouldn’t starve because there would always be rice (which, there definitely was) and I promised him that I would at least try some fish. And miracle of miracles, I can honestly say that I tried all the fish I was served and ENJOYED it! Something about fresh sea fish is sooooo much better than the stuff we get here in our little landlocked state, that’s for sure. I also tried some fried calamari (didn’t like it) and clams. Well…one clam. Ew.

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3 – “House spiders” are no joke.
I can’t. I just can’t.

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Here’s The Man trying to catch one because there’s no way no how I’m peeing in a teeny tiny bathroom with that thing on the wall a foot away from me. (That’s an extra big prescription bottle he’s using, and it was too small to get the stupid thing.)

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And, as Mr. LPMD lamented, I unfortunately “didn’t even get to see any of the big spiders.” Oy!

4 – In a public restroom, look for the toilet paper dispenser before you go into a stall.
Because it’s probably outside of the stall. But there might not be any. But if there is, don’t flush it. And maybe be prepared to squat.

5 – Taal Volcano: you won’t get lost.

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View of Taal Lake from the balcony of our apartment in Tagaytay

Luckily for us, I read some reviews of the hike up the side of this volcano before our trip and knew we’d get hounded by a “guide” to lead us up the trail. So when a very nice guy began to walk us from the registration desk, I mentioned to my husband that he needed to shake the guy off or he’d act as our “guide” and then demand money at the end. Holy Hannahballs, was he hard to get rid of! He kept saying that we needed him or we’d get lost. We finally convinced him we’d be fine and off we went. Hint: Follow the horses. Extra hint: You CAN’T get lost. For real. It’s like a straight shot on a very well worn path up the side of the hill.

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The trail on which you’re sure to get lost without a guide. ;)

But if you’re around Tagaytay, or have a chance to take a trip down from Manila for the day, it’s a very nice (though a bit overly tourist-ified) hike. I loved the (somewhat expensive) boat ride across the lake and the view from the top was awesome.

 

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Crossing Taal Lake

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My favorite flower

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View of the volcano lake from the top

Granted, you’ll be met at the top by the standard vendors for tourists, but still totally worth it.

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The other view from the top

6 – Rural driving is quite like the city driving, but without the traffic.
A thought I had while riding one of the local busses on Palawan from Sabang to Buena Vista: This reminds me of an amusement park “jungle tour” kind of ride, only it’s real. Lush green scenery, steep hills, sharp curves, never know when you’re going to stop to pick someone up or so some bus passenger can exchange money or goods with someone waiting for them on the side of the road. Lanes don’t really matter, especially on curves. It’s all just a bit of a thrill ride. And you know what? I loved it all.

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Loved these bright masks

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Drinking buko

7 – The Underground River: go early or be prepared to wait…
…for hours. And by early, I mean, be there at 8am when the office opens.

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Beach by the Underground River waiting area

We did not arrive early (probably around 9:30-10?), but it was the only thing we had planned for the day, so it wasn’t a big deal. It is a cool experience to see, but patience is key. There’s a lot of paperwork to fill out. And also, keep your own ticket! We were not with a tour group, so rather than pay for a boat all to ourselves, we decided to share a boat with a group that had a couple of extra spots. The tour guide had Mr. LPMD give him our registration paper thing, and then they went off to do some mangrove tour during the anticipated 90 minute wait for a boat. We opted not to go with them, so we set up a meeting spot. We spent the next bit wandering among the little shops where we bought some $3 “Prada” sunglasses and had delicious fruit smoothies, and when the time came to meet up, the group never showed. Our boat number was called and no one was there. Luckily, another tour guide had us join her group to ride over and told us we could meet the first guide on the other side to get our papers. (Little did we realize that there is another long wait once you get across the ocean to the entrance to the cave as well.)

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Our boat

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Super Goobers!

So we waited and waited and it was time for our second group to go into the cave and STILL no signs of the first guy. The awesome second tour guide got us through, though, so it was all good in the end, but hold onto your paperwork, even if you’re sharing a boat!

We truly enjoyed the adventure to and through the underground river. The recorded tour audio is a little hokey (at least in english), but it was still quite enjoyable.

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8 – You can say a lot with your eyebrows.
Yes, for instance. Or hello. Add a little “mm” if you feel the need to verbalize.

9 – Andok’s.
Skip Jollibee (that might be sacrilege to say in the Philippines) and go to Andok’s. Oh my delicious chicken. They make what is quite possibly the BEST chicken I have ever had. It’s cooked on a rotisserie and when you buy it, they wrap it up in a banana leaf and holy moly it’s delicious. Mr. LPMD laughed at me while I devoured half a chicken in no time flat. But I was hungry and it was so good!

And also, get some Spanish bread from a little street bakery. Mmmmm. Great way to spend a few pesos.

10 – You are beautiful.
Here in the US of A, we are bombarded with the message that dark, tan skin is beautiful and tanning products abound. So I was a bit surprised in the stores to see so many products boasting “skin lightening” powers. My husband explained to me that in the Philippines, light skin is considered beautiful (whereas I am so use to hearing the opposite). And then it hit me pretty strongly that the beauty industry the whole world over isn’t trying to sell beauty – they’re selling self doubt. They tell us, “You’re not good enough, but if you use our product, you will be.” But you know what, they’re wrong. You are good enough. And you’re beautiful too. Your beauty and my beauty and that kid down the street’s beauty isn’t about the color of your skin or your hair or what kind of makeup you wear or how tall or short you are. It’s about who you are as a person. It’s how you treat the people around you. It’s about the love and joy you spread, the light you exude. You don’t need to lighten your skin and you don’t need to darken your skin. You just need to be you. And in that vain…

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11 – The Filipino people are beautiful.
I loved all of the people I was able to meet on our trip. Everyone was kind, genuine, and helpful to us. The people there are humble and happy. For many, life is simple and sweet. One man told us that “Filipinos, we are always smiling. There is trouble – we smile; we have a problem – we smile; something does not go right for us – we smile; and because we smile, we can be happy, even when things are hard.” I loved this, and, for my brief visit, I found it to be true. I hope I can follow his example and be better at smiling, even when things are hard.

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So there you have it, 11 random things I learned in the Philippines. It was a wonderful trip and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to return again some day and see even more of what this country has to offer.

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So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good bye, & hanggang makikita tayo muli

Have you ever been to the Philippines? What did you learn and what did you love? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

Halloween 2015: Big Hero 6!

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This year for our family Halloween costumes, everyone voted to be Big Hero 6. Actually, everyone but me. I was NOT looking forward to figuring out just how we were going to make this a reality. Mr. LPMD was totally the one with the drive to get this done. And also Grandma. Without Grandma, we’d have no Fredzilla. So basically, other people worked on these costumes while I dragged my feet and whined and complained about the impossibility of it all.

But…as we were walking down the street watching our kids trick or treat last night, I turned to Mr. LPMD and said, “You, know, they actually look pretty dang good.”

“Yep,” he replied, “we did the impossible.”

Now I’m not claiming that we all looked amazing or Comicon ready (or even that the costumes are reusable!), but in the end, they turned out okay and all of the kids were happy.

So, without further ado, I give you….picture overload!

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Can I just take a moment to point out how fierce the kids all are in that second pic up there? Because FIERCE!

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Wasabi’s blades were made from glow sticks, double sided tape, and plastic wrap, and when it got dark, they actually glowed, which was pretty stinkin awesome. The glow sticks were totally my idea, so I’ll go ahead and take credit for that little stroke of genius. ;)

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The original plan was to paint this kid’s face to look like Fredzilla’s top eye. But come the day of, he didn’t want his face painted. And some things just aren’t worth arguing with a 4 year old about, ya know?

And a few bonus shots:

All 4 kidlets.

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My boys.

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Hiro and Baymax.

I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween! Did you do a group costume? What did  you or your kids dress up as?

I am Not an Artist

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Apparently I can’t stay away, so I suppose I’ll just keep on keepin’ on being an occasional blogger. Today I have to talk about doodling. But first a little disclaimer…I am not an artist. If you asked me to draw something that actually looked like what it represented, you’d be sorely disappointed. I haveth not such talents.

But I’ve always been a doodler. Not like a “meaningful” doodler by any means, but a doodler none the less.

And lately I have a bit of a new obsession. (I tend to be like that – find something and do it intensely for a while until I move onto the next thing, like scrapbooking, or jewelry making, or crocheting, or repainting rooms while my husband’s gone…). So it all started when I decided to print out a page to color while I listened to LDS General Conference a couple of weeks ago. I just wanted something to do with my hands while my brain focused on the messages being given. I wanted something doodle-esque and that’s what I printed out. It eventually led to “I wish I could doodle like this” and then “I might as well try.” Which birthed this (on the back of another page I printed but didn’t color, so feel free to ignore the background image showing through):

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Next thing I know, I’m looking up doodling ideas online and filling up a new Pinterest board with “tangles” as they’re often called (with the first one up there neglected and never finished being colored). It’s calming and interesting and strangely satisfying to just sit and doodle. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been exploring some of the different styles/doodles/tangles/techniques that people have come up with and it’s been fun to try my hand at them and add my own twist.

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I even went out and bought my own sketchpad, so I didn’t have to keep stealing pages from my daughter’s. That was nice of me, eh?

Anywho, my whole point in sharing all of this is that #1 – doodling can be a great stress reliever, calming technique, or time passer when you’re stuck sitting around; B – anyone can doodle something cool. I am not an artist – so far from one that’s it’s not even funny, so if I can doodle random coolness, anyone can; and Lastly – if you want to do something, just try. Who knows what will come of it?

Are you a doodler? Share something you’ve drawn/sketched/doodled in the comments!

How I’m Teaching My Kids Some Good Values…with a little help from Hogwarts

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Soooo…I know it’s only been 2 weeks since I said goodbye to blogging, but…I FINALLY implemented an idea I came up with back in December and I must share! So I guess that means I’m back again, even if only for today.

What is this idea that made me come back, you might ask? Well, to be as excited about it as I am, it probably would have to do with Harry Potter. And it does. Of course it does.

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I’m pretty sure it’s a law that you can’t be related to my mother and not love Harry Potter. (My husband is a law breaker, but we just pretend not to know.) Since my kids are right now quite into Harry Potter (Side note – just this morning my 8 year old asked how old you have to be to go to Hogwarts, and when I told him 11, he said “I hope I get to go!”)…anyway, as I was saying, since my kids are way into the books, I thought it would be fun to let them earn house points. I have 4 kids, so I could have easily assigned them each a house, but…I didn’t really want to make it a competition, and surely whomever ended up in Slytherin would cry about it. And then a lightbulb went on – we could earn points together, as a family team effort. For our points, each house has 2 POSITIVE traits that we can try to exhibit or practice or develop or whatever it is you want to call it. They are as follows:

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Gryffindor – Courage and Integrity

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Hufflepuff – Teamwork and Kindness

Slytherin

Slytherin – Achievement and Determination

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Ravenclaw – Knowledge and Creativity

With the whole points system, there are a few things I wanted to avoid – bragging, nagging, and having to stop what I’m doing to put points in an hourglass (because, unfortunately, I’m a muggle and they don’t just magically fall in when I say so).

So this is what we do. Two or three times a week, at dinner, we talk about house points that may have been earned in the past few days. The biggest rule is that you’re not allowed to talk about yourself. You can bring up things that you saw or know of other people in the family doing, but not yourself. Only Mom and Dad get to award points. (It’s strangely satisfying to get to yell out “Five points for Gryffindor!” at dinner.) I love that this also helps my kids (and us) to recognize and praise the good of others instead of just focusing on ourselves. Because I want to keep it positive, we cannot lose points.

The “hourglasses” sit on a shelf in the kitchen next to the giant chalkboard where we can always see them.

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When one gets filled up, we will go do a family activity that would appeal to the members of that house. So maybe we’ll go on a hike when Hufflepuff fills up or visit the children’s museum when Ravenclaw does. We’ll decide when the time comes what the activities will be. And then we’ll empty that jar out and start over again.

What I used to make the hourglasses:
Salsa jars (this is why it took me so long – had to eat 4 jars of salsa first)
Printed Hogwarts House crests, cut out, and glued on w/mod podge
Gold vinyl traits cut out with my Silhouette Portrait
Beads – I love the look of the seed beads, because they look more like jewels, but they’re small and it would have cost about $40 just to fill up each jar, so I only got a few of each of those to add some sparkle, and then pony beads

We keep the unused beads in individual sandwich bags inside of one big gallon size bag in an inconspicuous place in the kitchen.

And that’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezey and the kids love it! (As do I, but we’ve already established that.)