Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Up-cycling furniture - preschool project

The preschool project

as part of a school fundraising auction, the auction committee is offering "class crafts" in which we take older, donated, furniture and "personalize it" often with finger prints

This is what I have been given to work with:

I *love* this rocker and I sorely want to keep it myself

this is actually a well made stool, but that red paint...
somebody started sanding the top but the legs are a bit messy

and then this little rocker which isn't quite as nice as the first but it'll do
and a table that my husband has hidden from me. really, I can't find it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pink Birthdays

My "MLyons" turned 7 at the beginning of the month

I bought flowers to decorate for her birthday and told my boys, "when you are at an age where it matters you need to remember: girls should always have flowers on their birthday. That shouldn't be their present, but you should always try to have flowers, even if you have to pick dandelions on the roadside." which is true.

MLyons took them up to her room after her birthday dinner and kept them by her bed.  I rescued the Italian Rooster pitcher I use as a vase as soon as I'd taken that photo.  My brother bought it for me years ago.

sparkly pink birthday shoes

I posted about my 40th birthday a few weeks ago, and I said one of the presents from my mother was a collection (8) of plates

and here they are:

and on the back they say this:

okay, that is upside down... it says: W (little M) Guerin & Co Limoges, France for Dulin & Martin

they are lovely and I've tried to google them to get an idea of age but I cannot find them.
Perhaps some of you vintage, antique loving gals can help me out?

Linking to Pink Saturday

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wiped out!

Wow! And it has all started off with a *bang*

I fell last week Monday, I was running at 5:30 AM (very dark out) with my dog and was blinded by a lone car's headlights and stepped off the path and hit my right ankle and my leg buckled and down I went.  My palms and opposite knee are still recovering from the fall but I twisted or sprained my ankle or something and it is sore and weak and gets all swollen- BAH!

Friday I was limping around doing laundry and trying to pack everybody up- and we didn't get it all done in time- so Saturday we were up very early to drive to the mountains for ski practice.

And Friday as I was limping around wondering why on earth I was doing this I happened upon Kat's door:

old ski magazine images
that is Megan McJames top right

goal setting
And so I am reminded - this is my dream child who loves to ski.  And off we go.  Limp or no limp.  And then I see via Kiley on twitter that Chelsea has hurt herself in the Downhill and I know she'd give anything right now to just have a bum ankle.  Here is hoping her rehab goes quickly.

later: I forgot to mention that meeting Megan McJames looks like it might be a pivotal moment in my daughter's life.  It kind of clicked in Kat's head "people do this" people grow up and instead of being teachers or accountants or doctors or engineers, they ski.  Kat has been researching ski academies the last few weeks, and really thinking about what it would mean to leave her hometown and go away for high school.  I'm not sure I can afford it, but it is really interesting watching her brain grab hold of the concept.

I am stressing a bit about time.  We are at a new preschool this year for Bitsy and they are doing an auction, I told the girl in charge I'd do the class crafts as I did them in the past for our old preschool.  I have 5 to do before the end of February.  Which means I need to get cracking!  So hopefully my next posts will all be about upcycling old pieces of children's furniture for the auction.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shopping - Itaewon Market, Seoul


JJ's Custom Tailor & Shirts

Itaewon Market - it is a very touristy sort of place, but it is quite fun.
There are many kinds of shops and restaurants, but Tim's favorites are the tailors.  Tim decided to try out three different tailors and pick his favorite (why I'm not sure.  I don't expect to be traveling back to Korea for 5 or 6 years...)
He decided that he like Dayton's suit the best, but JJ's shirts the best.  JJ cut his suit in a very European, close fitting, style.  Of course now that Tim has been vegan for 6 months and is super trim, that isn't so bad.  I bought a leather Jacket at Dayton's, it is quite spiffy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fashion - Seoul April 2011

I love the clothes.  They are more than just city clothes - I mean, they are city clothes and so they are dressier than maybe other places but every city has its own vibe and the clothes here are fabulous.

What do I see?
The men dress up!  Prints- they'll wear a striped suit, with a shirt that has a light checkerboard pattern, with a vest that has maybe stripes that pick up colors from both, and then maybe a tie- and the suits aren't cut boxy.  They are cut slim,   So the jacket shows off the shoulders, sits on a slim waist and the entire effect is fabulous.
The women.  Oh my goodness - heels, heels, heels.  How on earth do they walk in those heels all day?  And short skirts, or short shorts, with tights or leggings underneath, and then a jacket - like a dress jacket over it all.  Often the skirt is so short that the jacket covers it, so that sometimes they look like all they are wearing is the jacket.  And scarves!  And glitter!  And LABELS - I have never seen so many Chanel jackets, and Louis Vuitton bags, and Christian Louboutin shoes on actual people (as opposed to a store rack or something) and of course there are also the knock-offs but there are plenty of originals too.  Wowee!
And CUTE- everybody is cute.  The girls are cute, the men are cute, nobody is afraid to be cute.  Very interesting-

lots of the girls have pink, pink phones with charms and lipgloss hanging off of them

I was trying to nonchalantly take a picture of a little girl in line and she ducked out of my line of vision just as I photographed!  Instead you get a not very good photo of a woman in a wonderful black outfit.

Still not a fabulous photo, but here she is.  In her high socks, and cute grey skirt and smashing red blazer.  She looked darling.

she was touring the palace.  I love that she is all in black with that fabulous coat and even better, check out the hat!  And she is touring the palace in those heels!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Palace


Which one?  There are three...
I am not going to promise that I've got my facts straight, but I think we visited Gyeongbok Palace today.  If I have the name correct, it was the primary residence of the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty.
When we first arrived, there was a changing of the guard ceremony.
It is hard now, to write about it because I've been walking around the city of Seoul for 10 hours or more- but at the time I was so excited to see the ceremony-
The Guards are in the most wonderful, colorful, traditional clothing- red, bright blue, peacock feathers on one of the hats, pheasant feathers on other hats, swords, bows & arrows, fabulously decorated drums, cymbals, and flags.  So visually rich.  I loved it!!!
The grounds of the palace are extensive.  So many different pavilions.   And again, so visually rich.  They painted the structures green, red, blue, there are peonies and dragons and pheonixes that look like the Russian Fire Bird version.  In the back is a spring that flows into a small pond that surrounds a lovely pavilion, there are blooming trees... it is overwhelming and I need more than one day to take it all in!
And then there is the museum to the side, with clothing, and furniture and artifacts and timelines and wow.
I hope to see it all again someday.

If ever you are in Seoul, you should go and visit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


photo image by Cailin Yates, April 2010

From The Korean War Memorial, I believe it is called "Brothers" and as you can imagine might happen in a war within a country, it depicts two brothers fighting on opposite sides and finding each other on the battle field.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Korean War Memorial

We spent two mornings at the Korean War Memorial.  I have about a 3 hour tolerance for museums - the boys have about an hour.
Anyway - we spent one afternoon just walking around the outside of the Korean War Memorial - all kinds of tanks, airplanes, anti air guns- a replica of the ship that was sunk last year- and some beautiful monuments.

Another day we went inside- and the boys were sort of checking things out and a docent came up to talk to me.  So we had a lovely discussion, she had been in Washington DC area with her family for a year.  Her husband worked for NIST which I have to look up.  What is NIST?  She, like everybody, was shocked to hear that we had 5 kids.  She thought the way I was interacting with my sons that I was a school teacher.  Haha.  So she wanted to know what brought us to Korea and I pointed out Dragon, "he was born here."  As a general rule, people are thrilled that he is back in his "mother country" learning about Korea.

Tim wanted to take the hour long tour at 10AM and I mentioned that to the docent and she offered to give us our own private tour.  Very sweet!
(Almost all the museums seem to have tours at some point in English.  It is embarrassing how many people speak English and how easy it is to get around without speaking Korean.)

My Tiger in front of the War Drum of Korea - the Korean Tiger represents the strength and bravery of the Korean Army.

If you are ever in Korea and have a little time I highly recommend a visit to the Korean War Memorial Museum.  You will be amazed at what you will learn.  Tim and I kept saying "wow, I never learned that!  I didn't know that!  Did you know that?"

Even better Dragon absorbed it like a sponge.  I have pictures of him laying on the benches pretending to be asleep and in general he acted a bit rude and bored, but when we returned home his 3rd grade teacher got him a map and a pointer and let him teach the class what he'd learned.  He had it all down, she was highly impressed and assured me that he learned a lot of Korean history while he was traveling.

Dragon meets his foster mother

On Monday April 18th, we returned to the Eastern Social Welfare Society.  We had a second meeting with our new son to be and then we met Dragon's foster mother.

Requesting a meeting with a foster mother is a formal thing.  You send in paperwork while you are in the United States and they encourage you to give them plenty of advanced notice.  A meeting may or may not be arrange and a translator from the agency is on hand.  For our meeting, the translator had been present for many foster mother reunions.  He was very kind to Dragon and helped the conversation along a lot.

As soon as Dragon walked into the room his foster mother stood to hug him.  She had him sit down next to her and she held his hand and looked him over.  Dragon was shy and didn't know what to say, so I gave him the photo album we had made for her and he showed her the photos and told her about them.  She remembered that Dragon had been sick as an infant, and she told the interpreter that she was glad to see he was so healthy.  She said she had worried about him. She exclaimed several times over Dragon's height.  Dragon is tall for an American 9 year old!  He is very tall to be Korean.  I guess many of the visits last only 30 minutes, ours lasted about an hour.  She said if Dragon was ever in the country again and wanted to visit to please let the agency know to contact her.  It was very, very sweet.

Dragon is wearing the sweatshirt she bought for him

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seoul Tower

photos taken April 2011 In Seoul, ROK

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seoul Korea: 4/14/2011

Post from travel:  We traveled to Seoul in April, 2011.  We = myself, my husband and my two sons, ages 10 and 9 at the time.

Yikes.  Crazy kids got up again at 4 AM.  WHAT!  Luckily we have the iPads to keep them busy a little while but it is ridiculous in my opinion.  I honestly think Dragon does it on purpose so he'll get extra time with the electronics.
Anyway - we were in the lounge at 7 to eat and then off to the National Museum of Korea.
The building itself it impressive, really beautiful.  At first we thought about taking an audio tour but then decided to take a tour with a guide at 10:30 AM.  So we had maybe 45 minutes on our own.
It must have been national school field trip day today.  The place was overrun with school kids.  Which was kind of fun.  They all stared of course but every now and then one would get brave.  Often that just meant saying "hello" but one boy asked me "where are you from?"  And a three girls decided to corner Tiger and make him talk to them which was cute and funny.  Tiger of course didn't know what to do with it but the girls were a hoot.
So the museum-
Beginning with prehistoric era- chipped rock hand axes and the like, the exhibit moves through time on the Korean Peninsula.  Like most other places I've seen so far in Seoul, much of the museum is labeled in English as well as in Korean.  Pretty easy to follow.
I was particularly interested in trying to put the timeline together in my own head.  I have heard of the Silla kingdom quite a bit so it was helpful for me to put that into some sort of context and to see some of the many artifacts from the period both of Silla as one of the three kingdoms as well as when the Kingdom of Silla was strong and covered much of the Korean Peninsula.
I was also interested in the painting exhibits and the celadon collection.  Both so gorgeous.  I was excited to see the gift shop offered the museum catalog in English, which I purchased for 50,000 won.
We had lunch there at the museum and then headed back to the hotel for a nap.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Coming Clean

May 1 2010

I will be posting this way later than the date due to unusual circumstances-

I'm a bit of a stress case lately, something I usually try to hide from my bloggy friends as I don't usually find it fun to read the rants. I mean, unless it is a particularly funny occasion and in that case - fire away. I love a good laugh. But anyway. In March, March 16th 2010, to be exact, we received a phone call from Colleen at Children's Home Society and Family Services. Due to unusual circumstances, a baby had been "flagged" if you will with our name. Because of the circumstances, we got first call. Now, just to be clear, we weren't looking for another baby. My sons always talk about that hypothetical little brother they've always wanted and he is just that, hypothetical. Bitsy just worked out all the big kid stuff on the toilet and I'm delighted to be done with the diaper bag, and the high chair, and to have flexibility over food and drink choices and so on...
I stood on the phone trying to talk to this woman but unable to- I couldn't breathe. Oh My! We have a BABY!!!
So. We've been in application process. We are almost done. It is killing me to have them call me, offer me this child, and then tell me I still have to be approved. AUGH!
And due to circumstances that have absolutely nothing to do with this baby, I can't even blog about it. So there you have it, my big secret.