Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everyone Loves Daisy

I've mentioned before about how amazed and humbled I am when people get excited for us and Daisy. A good example of this is Zane's work relationships.

His job involves working in several elementary schools for about two weeks each. He had a great experience this month in a nearby school where everyone was excited about the fitness and character fundraising program that he runs. They love Boosterthon so much that they when found out the theme for this year's program, they incorporated it into every other event at the school: science fairs, etc.

They also love Zane, and therefore, they love me and Daisy.

A couple weeks ago, one of the teachers asked him, "Are you excited about Wednesday?" Zane paused for a second and said, "The fun run is on Friday, actually, but yeah!" The teacher replied, "No, you find out the sex of the baby on Wednesday!"

Strangers remember this stuff! (Okay, she's not a stranger to Zane, but she is to me, so I was surprised.)

This week, Zane returned to the school for follow up stuff, and two of the teachers gave him gifts for Daisy. I was just blown away. I've been blown away by receiving gifts from our friends and family, so I was double blown away by these strangers (to me).

We got these sweet, home-made headbands with flowers. Hopefully Daisy won't be opposed to headbands:

We also got Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? with a plush brown bear! 

I can't wait to take Daisy by the school wearing her little flower headband to say thanks to these sweet people who loved on us so generously. That goes for all of you. Thank you so much for your love and generosity.

Daisy has no idea the amount of love waiting for her in this world!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Birthday Musings

February 22 is coming to a close, which means another 365 days (or 366 this year) until my next birthday.

I kept forgetting my birthday was coming up. Life has been busy this month. Monday night, I had a fun birthday dinner with my family, and my sister asked what I was doing on Wednesday. I thought, "What's happening Wednesday?" Duh. My birthday.

Last year, I felt a kind of desperation to have a good birthday. I was deep in discouragement, dealing with infertility, insecurity in acting, sister moving across the globe, and Zane traveling on Valentine's day and my birthday.

This year, it's the opposite. I've never felt more celebrated in my life. I feel so much contentment and joy. Daisy has much to do with that. My birthday is just icing on the cake of life right now. Birthday presents and pampering are the sprinkles.

Whew! And life has sped up! It seems like the sands in the hour glass are dripping double-fast counting down to when Daisy arrives and changes the world.

I've been working more hours and trying to get more house projects done before June. I did most my birthday celebrating earlier this week, which was good, because I crashed when I got home today. Mario Galaxy was all I could handle tonight.

(I received this Mario Galaxy jigsaw puzzle for my birthday, but haven't done it yet. Seeing it on my kitchen table inspired me to play the actual video game tonight.) 

I'm thankful for my life right now. I have a beautifully growing baby inside me, a husband who loves and takes care of me, family and friends who love me, a great home, a great job, a sweet dog. I have creative dreams and hope for a happy future. I know that God loves me unconditionally, and that whatever happens in life, it'll be for the glory of God.

It's been a crazy year of trials, healing and rejoicing. I predict the next year will be one of change and adjustment. I'm praying for peace and joy through it all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Plate and A Baby

We had a busy weekend, but I'll share two happenings with you for brevity's sake:

1. Friday night Zane and I woke up at 3:00am to a loud crash noise. Zane jumped out of bed and ran down the hallway turning on lights, saying things like, "I'm going to kill someone." He checked everything, but couldn't find the source of the noise. Finally he noticed that only two of the three decorative plates on our wall were hanging there.

One of them fell and broke. I pieced it together and checked the manufacturer, but I forgot to take a picture of it before I threw it away today. It looked something like this, without the ornate border:

It actually didn't look like that very much, but it was a decorative plate by the same manufacturer.

It was a Majolica Schaumburg plate from the early 1900's that belonged to my great-grandmother. I was pretty upset that it broke, because it was my fault. I hadn't changed the string before I hung it two-ish years ago. The string was old and snapped.

We still have two more plates hanging, but I'm sad I broke my great-grandma's plate.

Ultimately, it was a plate. Just a plate. It was antique and had a value of $50-$250, but it wasn't a life. Just a plate. In a few weeks I won't even think about it anymore. Right? I mean, this kind of stuff happens all the time.

2. I saw Daisy move on Sunday. With my eyes!

We were organizing and purging stuff from closets and dressers in preparation for Daisy's arrival, and I laid down to take a break. After a few minutes, I felt her moving. I stared at my tummy and watched my dress slightly bounce with each kick.

I yelled for Zane to come in. We waited a little while for her to do it again, but she started kicking and bouncing my dress up. Zane put his hand right where she was kicking, so he finally got to feel her.

Since then, her kicks have been much more defined. I can foresee them getting to a point where they're not as enjoyable. But they'll still be miraculous.

Friday, February 17, 2012

365 Decision Time Trailer

It's out! The trailer for 365 Decision Time! Follow the link to view the trailer.

I have a couple seconds of face-time in the end of the trailer, but I have more than that in the actual film. I hope this gets you guys excited about the movie!

Next up, the premiere! Not sure when that will be, but I'll keep you updated.

If you haven't already, catch up on my experiences during the production of 365 Decision Time here!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's Gonna Be a Baby!

You know the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy finds out she's pregnant, and she and Ethel have the following conversation:

Ethel: I wonder what it's going to be.
Lucy: It's gonna be a baby!!
Ethel: I know! I mean I wonder if I'm going to be a godmother or a godfather.

Wondering which you are going to be? Yesterday our baby pool was exactly 50/50 in percentage votes for boy versus girl. The populous couldn't decide, and neither could we. Luckily, we had the ultrasound.

Zane brought a pink polo and a blue polo to the appointment. I made these cute little rosettes and took them both to the doctor's office. Which ones did we end up wearing?
The pink ones!

You're all gonna be godmothers, because it's a GIRL!!

Last night we went out to dinner with my parents and sister and bro-in-law to celebrate, and my mom gave me a gift in pink wrapping paper (she also had a boy gift ready in her purse!):
So cute!! Thank heaven for little girls. Amen, amen! I can't wait to put it on our little baby girl!

We went to Carrabbas, and I got what I normally love there. I think pregnancy has changed my tastes, because I only liked it okay. Zane will get the leftovers. We also got a free dessert because we were celebrating!

The ultrasound looked great. She weighed 1lb1oz and was moving a LOT! I can feel her almost all the time. They couldn't get a good look at her heart because of her position, so we'll get another ultrasound in three weeks.
20 weeks!

Her name is Daisy. We don't know the middle name yet, but for now you can just call her Daisy.

Half of you who voted in our baby pool were right! I'm going to keep the pool open for the other stats, so you can still enter if you haven't already. The final calculation will not include the sex, since we announced it so soon. I'm also still working on a prize. We'll think of something, and it'll be good.

Yay for Daisy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! 

I had a pretty busy weekend, so I didn't get to make Zane anything until this afternoon. I got off work and ran to the grocery store to pick up stuff for taco night. Then I threw together a project that I planned in my head while at work. 

I've seen variations of this concept online. I made five different heart strings and hung them from fans around our house. Here's two in the foreground and one in the background in the living room. 

I basically just cut out hearts, tied scraps of ribbon together and stick-glued them on the string. Easy peasy. It took like 40 minutes. I thought about taking pictures of the process, but I was on a time crunch.

After I cleaned up the house and constructed and hung my heart strings, I made a valentine for Zane, and set it on the table. 

Zane gave me my gift on Saturday. While I was at a women's retreat this weekend, he put together a mix cd for me, complete with a pretty album cover.

I really appreciated the gift, because he spent a lot of time on Saturday thinking of me and doing something just for me. I did laugh and say, "It says 'form her love,' not 'from her love.'" He looked at it and said, "Oh man, spell check didn't catch that!" Haha, he's funny. I asked him if I could post it on my blog, and he said he didn't care. I love a confident man. I love my cd. We decided that the album title is "Form Her Love." 

Here's the song list. I had been saying how I wanted to listen to Phil Wickham. Zane added a bunch of Andrew Peterson songs too. "A Page is Turned" by Bebo Norman was sung at our wedding. That set me off in tears on the drive home from work. Then I kept crying through the rest of the marriage and family songs. You have to hear "Hold Up My Arms." I was crying like a pregnant woman in love. 

When Zane got home, we prepared our taco fiesta, complete with fresh guacamole! A Valentine's Day feast! Plus, I have leftovers to take to work tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow - we find out the sex of the baby! Better get your votes in our baby pool, if you're interested! I don't know if the news will hit the internet tomorrow, but stay tuned. We will be announcing it eventually. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homestar Runner Pillow Sham

I had so much fun making my Valentine's sham, that I did another one for an old Homestar Runner t-shirt. I love Homestar and I wanted to immortalize him on a pillow for the nursery.

I did this pillow exactly the same way as the Valentine's sham. Check there for more detailed instructions. I used another of Zane's shirts that he gave me to craft. These shirts both have arm pit stains, so I was sure to NOT use that nasty part of the shirt. 

I had this sweet Homestar Runner shirt from high school. I must have worn it some, because it has stains on it, but it always fit me funny. I know I won't be wearing it ever again, so I cut it up with no regrets. 

So I cut him out and got my iron-on adhesive strips. I ironed him on the middle of the back piece of the shirt. 

Then I top-stitched him on with blue thread.

I added the website to the back of my pillow, since it was on the back of my Homestar Runner shirt. 

Using the iron-on strip. 

I sewed the two pillow pieces together, flipped it right side out, ironed it again, and stuffed in the pillow. 

So fun! Makes me want to watch some Homestar Runner cartoons. They haven't made anything new since December 2010, but that's okay, because there's plenty of gold on the site as it is. 

Here's a few of my favorites if you're interested: 
Shorts - The Interview
Strong Bad Emails - TrogdorTechno SongFingers

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine's Pillow Sham

I feel like the internet is full of fun Valentine's projects right now. I've been thinking for a while what kind of project to make, whether clothes or decor, and settled on this fun pillow!

We have several pillows in our living room that are pretty old and ratty. Zane and I have particularly hated this one with birds and vines since we moved into our new house... two years ago. It was clearly the one I chose to cover. 

Sorry the picture is sideways. I tried to fix it, but blogger's not helpful in that way. 

1. I measured the pillow and decided I needed a 17.5'' square, including the inseam. 
2. I laid out Zane's ironed shirt (which he gave to me for crafting a long time ago), and cut out a 17.5'' square right in the middle of the chest. I kept the buttons buttoned. 
3. The square from the back of the shirt had that little dart thing that button up shirts have, so I ironed it down and re-cut it to be the right size.

4. I embellished the front of the pillow, which was the back piece of the shirt. I cut out three hearts from an old red t-shirt scrap, leftover from a botched Rufio clothing project. 
5. I used iron-on adhesive strips to attach the three hearts in the way I liked them. 

6. I top-stitched them into place. I was only going to do one stitch, but the edges of the hearts were still flapping after the inner stitch, so I went around again closer to the edges. I ironed them again. 
7. I trimmed the edges of the hearts to be more rounded. 

8. I lined up my two square pieces, right sides inward, and pinned around the edges. 
9. I sewed around the entire square. 

10. I opened the buttons and flipped the pillowcase around. 
11. I ironed it again. 
12. I stuffed my ugly pillow into it and buttoned it up!


I might just make one for every seasonal holiday. They're easy and fun! I did this whole project in about an hour. Go and do likewise!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chinese Host Gifts

It's the custom in many countries, including China, to give a gift when you stay in someone's home. Therefore, after hosting eight Chinese kids over the course of 11 days, we're pretty much banking in Chinese host gifts. 

Most of the goodies. I forgot to put some bracelets in the picture, but you can imagine them. 

I had no idea what a Chinese knot was, but apparently it's popular over there, because we received three different kinds of them. One big one with fish, and four little ones: 
After we received them, I saw a picture of my sister in China holding one. I didn't know what to do with them, so I asked her. She said, "Hang it, of course!" Of course!

Another popular gift item are masks from the Peking Opera. We got two identical pale-faced girl masks on a frame, plus a framed angry, red-faced man.

We also got two identical, foldable, miniature screens of Peking Opera masks. When I saw them I thought, "Barbie furniture!" That's just my youth speaking. I was always looking for unique Barbie furniture as a kid. 

Another Peking Opera mask gift was this sweet bottle opener. We actually got three of them in different styles. These remind me of 3 Ninjas! I think this was Tum Tum's mask: 

It's the year of the dragon!! We got this sweet dragon art piece that I'm totally planning on hanging in the nursery. He's not angry; he's smiling! The text at the top of the piece says something about him playing in the sea.

Just in time for the Olympics! We can cheer on our Chinese neighbors with these sweet little flags. I love them! The kids that gave them to us wrote their English names on them too. Extra special.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Chinese gifts! The other gifts that I didn't take close up photos of included Chinese food, green tea, wallets, a necklace, and other art pieces. I found them all to be pretty unique gifts. I'm thankful that we didn't get chopsticks, because we already own 13 pairs. 

We were really glad we got to participate as a host family in the program and would definitely do it again - and not just because of the loot! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hosting Chinese Kids: Round Three

This morning we finished hosting our last set of Chinese kids. They were really sweet boys, too. They were a little bit older than the other two sets, but also knew less English than the other ones. 

The first night, we were not interested in cooking, so we took them to Steak N Shake, which was a big hit. Apparently Steak N Shake gives a lot of goodies to kids. They got those paper cars, stickers, hats and the kids placemat menu with crayons. That kept them pretty entertained while we waited for our food.

The second night, my sister who lives in China skyped in for a little while. It was fun to watch them have a conversation in Mandarine Chinese. 

After the skype conversation, we played Blokus, which was really fun. I recommend this game to anyone, but especially if you're hanging out with people who don't speak English very well. No language necessary. 

These two kids spoke less English than our all our other kids. We've used the translator a little bit, but we got some funny translations with it: 

We asked them where they went one day and got this message on the translator: “Around the world, play in the future.” Have any idea what that means? Magic Kingdom! 

I told them that we'd play a game after they showered and this is what they said to us through the translator: “Later we’ll to do a diary ‘playing for a’ final bath ‘sleep.” I figured it out pretty quickly. They wanted to write in their diaries, then play a game, then shower and go to bed. 

One of the kids bought a Jedi robe at Disney and wore it the next day as a jacket. He had it on when we dropped him off and when we picked him up. So cool!

It's been really fun. We're super glad we got to participate as host families!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Beware of Car-Singing

This morning I was driving home after dropping the Chinese kids off at school. I called Zane, but he didn't answer, so I was just driving with my phone in my hand. I started singing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles.

I got really into it, doing all the guitar parts too. Then after I got bored singing, I started saying, "I want to hold your hand" in different accents.

First I did my Dracula accent.

Then I tried a New Jersey accent.

Then I did a Chinese accent, since I've been listening to a lot of Chinese-accented English lately.

I pulled up to a stop light, and some lady honked at me because she wanted to make a left turn and I was blocking her, although I wasn't breaking any laws. I stopped my accents, looked around at her and shrugged.

Then I heard my dad saying, "Deb! Deb!"

I looked down in my hand, and my phone read "DAD" on the screen. I lifted it to my ear, "Hello?"

Dad: "Was that intentional or did you pocket dial me?"
Me: "Uhhhhh...I pocket dialed you." My face turned beet red, and I got really hot and started laughing. "I'm so embarrassed!!!"
Dad: "Don't be! It made my morning!"

Then we chatted and hung up, but I couldn't stop laughing. It's one thing to be silly on purpose, but it's a totally different thing to be caught being silly when you thought you were completely alone!

Don't let this happen to you! Be careful when holding your phone after you finish a phone call, and the screen is set to favorite contacts, and your thumb can accidentally hit another phone number. I think that's what happened to me, because iPhones don't pocket-dial on their own.

Also, I need to work on my New Jersey accent. I think I was the most embarrassed that he heard me do it so poorly. I'm so vain.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Writing for Blog Readers

Keep it short, simple and to the point.

In the old days, writers wrote for readers who liked to read. I tried reading Henry James' Portrait of a Lady and couldn't get through the first two chapters. It was written for a different generation who read for the love of reading. Those readers died with the invention of modern communicative technology. 

Our generation reads for content. The most popular books are plot-driven or self-help. Blog posts replaced long news articles. Email replaced longhand letters. Twitter? Enough said.

Readers today want the bottom line. I'll abandon ship on books, blog posts, and even FB status updates if they're too wordy. Most of the internet populace is the same way! If I want people to read my work, I need to write for them.

Here are four tips that I use when writing blog posts:

  1. I try to say it quickly. If I can combine two similar sentences, I do. 
  2. I cut out redundancy as best I can. 
  3. I break up long paragraphs. Several short paragraphs that are all the same length is just as tedious to read as a chunky one. Variety in length is more interesting to a reader.  
  4. I think a good intro and conclusion is a sentence for each (see tip 1). A blog post isn't a research paper. I used to "fluff" long papers in college, but that's a bad habit to bring into the blogosphere. 

Obviously everyone doesn't have to write like me. I'm just saying that since, I'm more inclined to read shorter, meatier blog posts, than long drawn-out ones, I'm going to assume my readers are too.

Just food for thought! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hosting Chinese Kids - Round Two

I originally said we were taking on two groups of Chinese students...well, we decided to take on a third! We're crazy like that. This second round of kids was the round we were originally going to skip, but I'm so glad we decided to host, because these two boys were such a delight!

Monday night dinner at my parent's house.

We ate at my mom's on Monday night. They really liked the baked penne pasta that she made, so much that they took seconds (that's how I know they weren't just being polite). That night driving home, they said, "Monday is happy." I thought my heart would melt out of my chest. 

Unlike the other boys, these two liked cheese, at least swiss and colby jack. They also liked milk, yogurt and ice cream. The pasta bake on Monday had sour cream in it too. 

So far, none of the boys have liked oatmeal cream pies. I don't know what it means. 

Speaking into the translator on the phone.
As far as English goes, both boys were brave and willing to try speaking it with us, however neither of them knew a whole lot. We used charades, drawings, and google translator on the iPhone. 

These kids responded the first time I ask them to do something. They loved Rufio and played quietly with him while I prepared meals. They woke up early Tuesday morning to make us Chinese green tea. They were smiley and happy and considerate. We loved hosting them. 

Every morning, they sang Chinese songs in the back seat of the car. One afternoon car ride, we asked them to sing so Zane could hear them too. They brightened up and sang several Chinese songs. After a while, Zane and I said, "We will sing now," and sang Smashmouth's "All Star." One kid was cracking up, while the other was giggling and trying to get him to stop laughing, because he didn't want to offend us. But we were hamming it up, so laughter was appropriate. 

Smiley boys!
The last night they were with us, we went to Chick Fil A with friends who are also hosting students. Apparently it was kid's night, which should be called, "Crazy, over-stimulation night." The boys really liked it, and I think they liked being able to eat with their Chinese friends too. They probably just think American restaurants are loud and crazy, which I guess is true for most. 

It's been a completely different experience than the first group this past weekend. All around, it's been less stressful and more pleasant. I hope our own children are like these boys when they visit other people's homes someday. 

We were sad to say goodbye today, but we get two new boys tonight. The adventure continues!!