When We Were First Married vs. Now

We just passed the 7th anniversary of the first time we met (not particularly romantic, guys, we didn't start going out till a year and a half later). We're quickly approaching 5 years of marriage. Lately I've started thinking about how our lives and expectations have changed over the past half decade.

Our first day of marriage.

Now. Well, a month ago at a friend's wedding. We don't take selfies often, apparently.

Let's look at a few comparisons...

When we were first married...Angel was a nurse in a Burn Unit and I was a Junior in college.
Now? He's an ESL teacher with a nursing license and I'm an ESL teacher with a cosmetology license.

When we were first married...Angel worked 7pm-7am night shifts, three nights a week.
Now? He works 6 mornings a week, and maybe 1 or 2 afternoons.

When we were first married...Our favorite date restaurants were El Arriero (Mexican) or Arnie's (American breakfast food)
Now? Chili's (Tex-Mex) or Sri Ananda Bahwan (Indian)

When we were first married...We lived in a rural farmhouse with several acres of lawn.
Now? In an apartment complex--no lawn, no garden, just a solitary mint plant.

When we were first married...Angel had no intention of ever learning a word of Mandarin Chinese, in spite of the fact that I was majoring in the language.
Now? His survival Mandarin is pretty decent (he loved living in China and wants to go back to visit) and he's learning a few words of Bahasa Malaysia to help him out in case of need.

When we were first married...I cooked supper nearly every day--fried potatoes and eggs, chili, baked chicken, baked salmon,etc.
Now? I still cook supper nearly every day--fried rice, chicken fajitas, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, veggies and rice, etc.

When we were first married...I exercised in my P.E. class at college, which was a 'games' class that semester--we played tag and dodgeball and stuff like that. Best 1 credit ever. Angel was too tired from the night shift schedule, he didn't exercise at the time.
Now? I exercise to Youtube videos in our little computer room and Angel goes running early in the mornings and plays basketball or soccer with friends.

When we were first married...we didn't watch tv, because we didn't have an antenna, and Netflix wasn't a thing for us yet. If we wanted to watch something, we rented a DVD from Blockbuster.
Now? We don't have a television set, but we watch shows on our laptops together. We source most of our DVDs from my parents' collection.

When we were first married...we owned two older cars.
Now? We have one brand-new car.

When we were first married...we were still deciding where to go on our honeymoon. We ended up choosing Mammoth Cave National Park.
Now? I have yet to plan our 5th anniversary trip, but Angel gets a week off work in December, so we definitely ought to go somewhere! Cameron Highlands? Kuala Lumpur? Singapore?

When we were first married...we talked about someday moving to Kentucky.
Now? We dream of living in Malaysia forever.

When we were first married...kids seemed part of a far-off, post-college future.
Now? We're surprised we don't have them already. Seriously. Kids, where are you?

When we were first married...we were the only married couple among our total of 8 combined siblings--and all of them were between the ages of 20 and 3, so that wasn't surprising.
Now? Angel's brother is married with a kid, and 3 of my siblings are older than I was at our wedding--plenty old enough to start getting teased about potential spouses, although they don't seem to appreciate that very much.

When we were first married...we moved in to a mostly-empty house and spent months gradually accumulating, through either purchase or hand-me-downs, furniture and appliances.
Now? Funny enough, we're in the exact same spot once more, with plenty of room and not a lot of stuff to fill it with! The apartment is furnished with hand-me-downs from parents, along with whatever else we've bought or been given so far. :) I like all the space.

When we were first married...I had no idea that it was my husband's life dream to own a mascot-style bear costume.
Now? I know that, and so many more, and weirder, facts about him.

When we were first married...I wasn't a blogger. Gasp. I know, right? That whole lovey-dovey time was entirely skipped.
Now? I've been blogging so long I can't quite imagine not blogging at all. Writing with a pen on paper, what's that?

Graphic Tees: Do or Don't?

I'm not generally a graphic tee fan. I tend to think that I'd have to really believe in something in order to wear it on a t-shirt, and most graphic tees don't do a good job of inspiring my belief.

There are two traditional exceptions to my general dislike of graphic tees:

1) Any Superman logo tee. I love the Superman logo. I felt a special connection to it because my maiden name started with an S and Superman himself is just all around cool. I don't currently own a Superman tee, but I have owned several in the past, and I loved them.

2) The Pac-Man t-shirt I won three years ago at an arcade in Minnesota. This has much less to do with Pac-Man and much more to do with the t-shirt's origin story. I'm not a video-gamer nor am I a fan of any computer games. I don't actually have any fond feelings toward Pac-Man. However, I'd wanted to visit Mall of America for years, ever since I first heard that it existed. We went on a road trip to Minneapolis, and then, in Mall of America, we stopped at an arcade, and I just happened to hit the jackpot while playing Wheel of Fortune, winning 1,400 tickets in a single go, and becoming the star of the arcade as everyone gathered around to watch the tickets come out of the machine. 1,400 tickets ended up being plenty enough to buy a t-shirt at the arcade's store, so I chose this tee, and it's gone on many adventures with me ever since, though I've never hit a jackpot quite that big at any other arcade.

There are a few other graphic tees I've always wanted. A fellow Mandarin major in college had a t-shirt that read: 白人看不懂
Translation: "White people can't read this." I thought it was hilarious.

And Chad from High School Musical wore a shirt that said "I come with my own background music," an expression that I've always thought was very fitting for my personality and usual state of mind. I'd also strongly consider a Gilligan's Island, Pirates of the Caribbean, or Once Upon a Time tee.

So, maybe I'm not as anti-graphic tees as I always thought I was. I just need to meet the right one before I fall in love. ;)

How do you feel about graphic tees in general? What's your favorite one, whether it exists or doesn't exist (I have a feeling that Gilligan's Island fan t-shirts only exist in my mind)?

Selamat Hari Merdeka!!

Preschool at Home: Week 3

Thoughts on homeschooling this week:

I thought I'd discuss my homeschool personality a little bit. Every homeschooler has their own style. For me, for now, I'm growing into my own and discovering what works best with my little girls. Some things I'll do more for them, (i.e. Frozen-themed worksheets), but other things I do or don't do because I personally really like or don't like them. 

In my homeschool, I generally avoid activities I perceive as wasteful. I try not to print unnecessarily or use WAY too much paper--but, granted, these are little ones who need a lot of coloring and writing practice, so I'm not too stingy with papers, either. For their daily name writing practice and general letter and number writing practice, we use lined paper stuck inside a plastic page cover with dry-erase markers so that the page can be used over and over again. I don't like activities that use food for crafts that won't end up being eaten (i.e. rice or beans or noodle crafts). We lived in a non-sealed home in the tropics. Rice is notorious for attracting bugs, that's why I keep my rice in a tightly sealed container that I can only hope won't be infiltrated by weevils. I do not want food scattered on the floor attracting bugs into my home and I don't want to have to sweep or mop more than strictly necessary (I generally mop the house 3 times a week anyways due to dust).

I do like to put in a lot of variety into each day and keep things moving quickly so that neither students nor teacher gets bored. We alternate through physical activities and listening and writing and reading and counting and songs and computer games very quickly, never sticking to one kind of activity for very long--I find that sticking to one subject until boredom ensues does not enhance either learning nor proper school behavior.

Week 3:
Major Themes: The Letter M and Local Animals

-Check the weather and mark the weather on the graph (sunny, cloudy, or rainy) each day
-Write in the number of the day on the calendar each day.
-Point out which day of the week it is.

-Sing the Sing, Spell, Read, & Write letter sounds song.
-Sing the short vowel sounds song.
-Practice writing names. Counted letters in their names. Because Anna already knows her name, I am having her do all activities with her surname, as well. I have them circle the capital letter at the beginnings of their names.
-Practice writing upper and lowercase letters with workbooks
-This week we focused on the letter M and had several associated activities:
  -Found things in the house that started with the 'M' sound.
  -Listened to this Letter M song.
  -Asked, "Does your name have the letter M in it?"
  -Looked at the M page in our picture dictionary
  -We made minions with popsicle sticks. Found in this blog post. Mom already had yellow popsicle sticks in her never-ending stash of craft supplies and Anna loves minions, so this was perfect.
  -Made moons. I thought this craft was pretty cool, since it involved a lot of basic art skills. I had the girls trace around a small plate in order to create a circle outline on white paper, then had them cut out the circle they drew, then glue it to a black sheet of paper. Then, we took the white crayon, the one they always tell me is "broken" because it won't draw on white paper, and used it to draw stars all over the black night sky.
  -Made mermaids, using a printable from this blog post. These girls LOVE mermaids. This simple craft was the big hit of the week. I usually always have them do their own cutting for crafts, since they need the practice far more than I do, but this one I did cut out for them because they would have cut off their poor mermaid's arms with their current level of scissor skills. Teamwork, right?
  -Ate homemade muffins. Made by MaryGrace.
  -Made monkey masks (I got the printable from here).
  -Made the letter M with play-dough
  -Practiced writing the word Mom.

-Number flashcards up to 20
-Practiced writing numbers on whiteboard
-1-10 Dot-to-dots (pictured above)
-Played with our giant dominoes.

Anna: I Can Read it! and practicing sight words with flashcards. Books 1 and 2 from Sonlight's Fun Tales
Shiloh: this week I had her read letter blends with short vowels: ma, me, mi, mo, mu
We practiced adding an end sound, too: ma-t, mu-d, me-t, mi-tt.
Both:  Teach Your Monster to Read for 5-10 minutes a day.

Bible and Storytime: Week 3 from Sonlight Core P4/5 Instructor's Guide.

Days of the Week and Months of the Year: I use this days of the week song and this months of the year song.

Science: Local animals.
-We talked about all the animals that we see around our home. We talked about dangerous animals and what we should do when we meet animals outside (a necessary animal lecture, as our island is home to lots of stray dogs, wild monkeys, monitor lizards, jellyfish, and maybe even a few poisonous snakes.)

Storybook: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
-We continued the story. "If you give a mouse a....he's going to ask for a....to go with it." This was highly amusing for me. Shiloh was pretty sure that "milk" was nearly always the answer--once I asked, "If you give a mouse some spicy chicken, he's going to ask for what to go with it?" And Shiloh answered "Milk!" while Anna gave her a confused glance and answered with the more logical "Rice." Shiloh does have a point, though, milk can pretty much go with just about anything. Maybe that's why she's always asking for milk breaks during school...
When I asked "If you give a mouse a hot dog, what will he want to go with it?" both girls shouted in unison "A hamburger!" which, for inexplicable reasons, cracked me up.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
-Remember the moon craft? That totally counts as connected.
-We counted objects in the room and I had them point out and tell me what the different items in the room were called.
-With Anna only we listened to a recording this book being read in Mandarin. I haven't mentioned it as part of preschool, but Anna has an additional Mandarin lesson with me after lunch.

This week's unit was an intro to animals! In case you think my choices of animal vocabulary were somewhat random, they were actually very purposeful. I chose the animals that we see the most in daily life here, so yes, monkey fits right in with the rest! And we probably see more rats than actual mice, but tikus is used interchangeable for rats and mice, so I went with mouse since it matched the storybook and letter theme better:

Mouse = Tikus
Monkey = Monyet
Cat = Kucing
Chicken = Ayam
Dog = Anjing
Bird = Burung

-Looked for pictures of different animals in the books that we read and called them by their Bahasa names.
-Taught them a simple sentence structure with a different verb from the last two weeks:
 Saya suka ... {I like...} and Saya tidak suka... {I don't like...}
-We also listened to the Didi and Friends song BINGO every day, which actually kind of made sense since the main character was a cat aka kucing

Life skills: 
-They helped me put laundry in the washing machine and fold and put it away.
-They put chopped zucchini into the slow cooker for me.

Crafts + Play:
-Went to the playroom.

Previous Weeks: 
Week 1
Week 2

Homemade Clothing That I Really Wear

Please excuse how tired I look in these photos. They were taken at 6:45 p.m. as we were about to head out to the mall to do some errands...on a homeschooling day. It's logical that I might be just a touch less energetic than normal, particularly given the fact that I'm a morning person!

Today's topic is a throwback to the good old days when I had a sewing machine. My, those were good days. :) I still hold out hope for having a sewing machine again sometime.

This dress has appeared on the blog a few times, here is its debut post. When it comes to handmade/homemade clothing, I think it's important to take note of what actually gets worn in the long run and what survives the rough life of being regularly worn and laundered with the rest of your wardrobe. When you're a novice sewer like me, you don't necessarily know how to design clothing that will last or how to choose fabrics that will be comfortable and practical. Not all of my clothing creations have been strategically designed, though I've certainly enjoyed all of them.

This dress, though, has proven to be the mostfrequently worn of anything I've created myself. I didn't wear it all that often at first, but especially in China, where I wore cotton dresses to work nearly every day (that's what you'd wear too if you were teaching in an un-airconditioned room full of 50 teenagers). This dress has gotten a LOT of use, in part because it fits great and is comfortable in hot weather, but also because the pattern is just so perfectly 'me' that I smile every time I look at it. This dress has stood the test of time and I'm happy about it.

A few other things I've made did actually make the cut and were packed along on our adventure, both to Malaysia and to China--this skirt and this tunic among them. Hopefully those will pop up soon in future outfit posts, but neither one has proven quite as practical for frequent wear as this dress!

If you make your own clothes, do you find yourself wearing your handmade creations often, or mostly 'saving' them for special occasions?

Preschool at Home: Week 2

And we've completed week two of this school year! If you missed Week 1 or are interested in why I am suddenly homeschooling, make sure you check out that post.

Please note that this is a weekly lesson plan. I'm finding that this is working pretty well for me and my preschoolers. I decide what I want them to study in advance, and make sure I have all materials and books prepped ahead of time. Every morning I get ready by setting all books and supplies out all over the dining room table, opened to the right pages, and then I just get whatever we need for the next subject off of the table. It makes for a really smooth transition from one activity to the next. Much of what we do is repeated daily (songs, memory verses, vocab. practice, reading, counting), but I scatter the more active or crafty activities throughout the week--more exciting projects like making our own book or playing with bubbles usually come only once. For now, planning for a week at a time instead of making really specific daily plans works well because both teacher and students appreciate the flexibility. I have italicized all the daily routines below.

Week 2:
Major Themes: The Letter B and the Human Body

-Check the weather and mark the weather on the graph (sunny, cloudy, or rainy) each day
-Color in the number of the day on the calendar.
-Point out which day of the week it is.

Used q-tips to make a skeleton hand

-Sing the letter sounds song.
-Sing the short vowel sounds song.
-Practiced writing names. Counted letters in their names. Because Anna already knows her name, I am having her do all activities with her surname, as well. When we're practicing on the whiteboard, I have them circle the capital letter at the beginnings of their names.
-Practiced writing upper- and lowercase letters with workbooks.
-This week we focused on the letter B and had several associated activities:
  -Found things in the house that started with the 'B' sound.
  -Asked, "Does your name have the letter B in it?"
  -Listened to this Letter B Song.
  -Looked at the B page in our picture dictionary
  -Made books with black covers. We discussed the different parts of a book (i.e. pages, cover, binding). Sarah (3rd grade) joined in this activity. She actually wrote a story (involving electric eels) in her book, but the little girls just drew pictures and random letters.
  -Butterfly craft
  -Used q-tips to make a paper model of what our hands would look like without skin, showing the blood and bones.
  -Blew bubbles. This was probably their favorite activity. They had to tell me what letter or sound bubbles started with before each bubble they blew. We did this two separate days because they loved it so much (obviously...it's bubbles. Who wouldn't love it?).
  -They love to eat bread, so we had bread for a snack one day and talked about the letter sound.

-Number flashcards up to 20. Anna is pretty solid at these by now, Shiloh is still learning most of the teens.
-Counted parts of the body: fingers, toes, elbows, knees, etc.
-Practiced writing numbers on whiteboard.
-Dot-to-dot pages
-Built shape puzzles. See picture above. Mom has a set of these shapes and cards--the goal is to figure out how to put the shapes together the right way to make a little picture of some sort. They are able to handle the simplest, 2-4 piece puzzles at this point.
-Counting blocks--I have a bag full of little blue blocks--I'll usually dump them all out on the other end of the room and give the girls orders to bring me specific numbers of blocks until all the blocks have been picked up. If they bring me the wrong number of blocks, I send them back to try again, reminding them to count carefully.

Anna: I Can Read it! and practicing sight words with flashcards, along with B + short vowel blends.
Shiloh: This week I had her read letter blends with short vowels: ba, be, bi, bo, bu
We practiced adding an end letter, too: ba-t, bu-n, be-d, bi-t.
Both:  Teach Your Monster to Read for 5-10 minutes a day.

Bible and Storytime: Week 2 from Sonlight Core P4/5 Instructor's Guide. This includes their Bible stories, memory verse, song, along with nursery rhymes and short story books.

Days of the Week: Still listening to this song on youtube
We added a Months of the Year song midway through the week, since they're feeling more comfortable singing the names of the days.

Science: The Human Body. I kept things really simple, since I largely only chose this theme due to the letter B and the fact that I wanted to continue with more body parts vocab in Bahasa.
-We had long (and hilarious) conversations about all the things that are inside our body (i.e. blood and bones...and food and water.).
-The blood and bones activity above (in the Alphabet section) obviously has a big application to our science theme!
-Watched video about human body parts.

Storybooks: Baby Says by Crockett Johnson
- Noted that the word baby begins with the 'B' sound. Also helped girls to point out the boys and the blocks and brothers in the book. Shiloh has a baby brother, so we talked about what kind of toys it's okay for Joshua to play with and what kind of toys it's not okay for Joshua and other babies to play with.
From Head to Toe By Eric Carle
This one is less about the letter B and more about our Human Body theme. This blog post has great ideas for activities relating to the book. I used their idea of having them count the legs on different animals and count how many different animals there were in this book. We also used the pictures in the book for Bahasa practice, pointing out that animals have lengan and kepala and kaki too! The girls got to mimic all the body movements in the book.

This week's unit was words for parts of your face and head:

Body = Badan
Hand = Tangan
Head = Kepala
Face = Muka
Arm = Lengan
Leg = Kaki

We did a lot of physical response activities, i.e., "Where is your kepala?"
Played Simon Says, reviewing last week's vocabulary as well.
Continued having them repeat the simple sentence structure Saya ada ... {I have...}
We identified body parts in Bahasa using our body craft
We also listened to the Didi and Friends song Kalau Rasa Gembira every day. It's a Bahasa version of "When You're Happy and You Know it," so it was perfect for this week since tangan and kaki and mata make appearances in the song.

Life skills: 
-They helped me put laundry in the washing machine, watched the machine tub start spinning, and helped put laundry on hangers.
-Helped me take everything off the bathroom counter (hair gel, toothbrushes, makeup, etc.) so that I could clean it, and then put everything back on the counter after it was dry.
-Helped me wash green beans for lunch and watched me cut up green beans from a safe distance while I explained the importance of keeping fingers away from knives.

Crafts + Play:
-Went to the park.
-Went swimming.
-Went to the playroom.