The Random Writings of Rachel: April 2016

5-Minute Face Painting

Yesterday was one of those kind-of-crazy days. My parents were away, and I was helping out at my family's home. We were in the midst of a giant decluttering project, trying to clean out part of the apartment since we have a sister arriving on a visit from America in a couple days. In the midst of this project, my sisters kept stumbling upon craft supplies and games they'd forgotten they even had. At one point, Mom and Dad called in a quick assignment for me, I had to email them a document ASAP. I finished that task quickly and was about to tackle the next item on the list when a little tiger-faced boy wandered into the computer room.


It felt like I'd been out of the action only 5 minutes. But maybe it was 10, because by the time I had finished sending the document, I found that the 5 kids I'd left had been transformed into 3 tigers and 2 butterflies. MaryGrace had found an old face painting kit and had decided that 'now' was better that the promise of future fun later, and colored faces at such great speed that by the time I knew what was happening--it was done. (Beware, babysitters, this is what can happen in 5 minutes. Good thing MaryGrace herself is already a pretty responsible babysitter...)


They were so cute. Of course I had to run from my camera, and we had to take a break from work. We spent most of the break making funny faces in the mirror--there was something about having her face painting like a tiger which meant that Sarah couldn't resist from growling at all times. Our butterflies had some pretty fierce growls, too, which I'm not entirely sure is in character for butterflies.





In the end, the face paint had to come off eventually, and our happy little Josh sobbed when MaryGrace washed his face because he loved his stripes a little too much. Poor baby tiger. They're already asking, when can we do it again?

I was meeting a student shortly after this, so I didn't want to get my face all colorful, but maybe next time I'll join in, though I don't think tiger or butterfly is quite my style...my favorite animal is a jellyfish, which is not really conducive to face painting. I think I'd probably go for more of a masquerade mask-style design or more abstract fairy-esque patterns....

If you decided to let go of normal, busy, working life for an hour and paint your face, what would you paint it?

Lessons Learned from my First Year of Homeschooling

"First Year" depends on how you look on it. It could also be considered my 20th year of homeschooling, as homeschool has been a part of my life--either as student, sister-teacher, curriculum consultant, grading adviser, or something of that sort, my whole life. But this year was the very first one where I was the home educator - planning the days, making choices about what activities we would do and what we wouldn't, and actually doing all the work myself.



We're 'officially' starting our year of kindergarten, with new curriculum, next week (welcome to our homeschool, where school holidays don't exist and summer break doesn't matter).

Here's what I've learned:

1. It's a scary feeling to know that a little one's education rests on you. It's incredible how much the depth and breadth of learning matters for little kids. The environment in which they learn also matters: do they feel that it's safe, can they make mistakes? Will they follow instructions and guidelines but not at the expense of their natural creativity? Are they learning how to live well and get along with others? There's so much to learn when you're 4 years old, and it's a huge responsibility when you realize just how much you have to teach.

2. Patience is a virtue. There were times, early on in our preschool year, when I felt like they were never going to read, never going to be able to put the numbers 1-10 in order independently, never be able to distinguish a 6 from a 9. Guess what? That was just my brain being dramatically impatient. Some kids take no time at all to learn to read, others need their time, but they get there. To be able to stand back and see the progress these little ones have made in a school year is so, so cool to me. They just finished their 4th early reader book, they can put all the numbers from 1-20 in order independently, understand simple addition, find and name all the continents of the world on a map, and recognize their 3D shapes. They find sight words like "to" and "the" and "of" in the storybooks that I read to them...it's just so much fun to see how much they've grown since August.

3. Life skills and relational skills are just as important as the book learning. Every day, these little ones face relational situations involving sharing, forgiving, being kind, being helpful, etc. They argue with each other, but it makes me so happy when I see them encouraging each other for a job well done--when one of them does their handwriting practice very well and the letters fit the proper lines, she'll show it to the other one, and the other one will say, "Very good job!" and will draw a smiley face on the worksheet, indicating their approval. They help each other figure out their puzzles and tasks, and explain instructions to each other.

4. Field trips are powerful. And our apartment building is great for field trips. The park, playroom, library, and swimming pool are all within walking distance and are our most frequent field trips. When Angel's around and we have a car, we'll sometimes take more ambitious field trips, like outings to a further away park or the beach. The girls talk about those outings for weeks afterwards. We're making memories and real-life connections when we go on field trips, and they're definitely worth the time spent away from schoolwork.

5. Homeschool doesn't mean sitting right next to the kids at all times. I use games they can play independently to give me time to prepare food for lunch or tackle other housework. I need time to get other work done, and they need time to play in their own way. I'll give them a puzzle or a bunch of blocks and go hang up a load of laundry. They're old enough to not need supervision every single second, and that's very helpful. But other parts of school go much better with direct supervision. If I sit next to them while they do their handwriting, the handwriting always turns out ever so much neater than when they do it all by themselves--funny how that works...

6. Painting is always exciting. And as long as they're painting their papers on the tile floor...there's no mess worth worrying about, either. Watercolor is the best. I always see tempera paint used with little kids. I like watercolors better for them, though the colors aren't as vibrant, practical matters of drying and less mess matter more to me.

7. The alphabet gets boring after a while. We did the entire preschool year based on unit studies around all 26 letters, and now I'm tired of the alphabet. Kindergarten will incorporate an around-the-world theme with unit studies of different countries and that ought to be far more exciting! Angel's a flag collector and has already taught them to recognize all of the flags that he owns, but they'll be learning a lot more than just the flags of the world in the weeks to come.

8. I'm a bit lazy as a teacher--or as I like to call it--"efficient." I'm not really into high-prep activities that result in low amounts of learning and time spent between kids and activity. If I want them to make a mosaic/paper collage type activity, I'm not going to cut or rip up the paper for them ahead of time, I'll just let them rip it up themselves as the first step in the activity. I always seek out activities where they can do as much of the work as possible. I already know my preschool skills...they are the ones who need the practice!

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When I taught English to high schoolers in China, I thought that was the best job that could possibly exist for me. As far as actual jobs go, that one still is. However, this homeschooling gig comes pretty close to that one in the 'how much do I love it?' category.

Outfit Repeater





I think everyone's fashion choices tend to be a bit repetitive, and there's nothing in the least wrong with that...as long as we're repeating the looks we love again and again. With me, there's a lot of 'trends' you can expect to see me wearing year after year, mixed up a bit, perhaps, but those most beloved elements are still there in different incarnations.

Styles I love and am not likely to stop loving anytime soon:

- Tied-up button-ups
- Quirky earrings
- Wearing lots of rings at once
- Leggings
- Big bows tied around my waist
- Any shoelaces other than the original ones that came with the shoes. (I majorly <3 the mis-matching ones for this outfit.)
- Floral hairclips
- Sneakers
- Dresses. Particularly dresses with sleeves, and particularly anything with a fitted waist and a loose skirt...but really, dresses in general.
- Pattern mixing. Not in a strategic, planned way, just in a 'everything I'm wearing has patterns on it' kind of way.

My style is predictable, and I'm totally cool with that.

What styles do you keep going back to again and again?

Things I Think When Leaving the House

Every once in a while, you just have to laugh at yourself. Because that's true, today I am confessing one of my biggest streaks of insanity: I have a hard time leaving the house when I'm by myself.
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My grandpa has this saying, "Never Go Back."

It usually applies to things like getting lost while driving--he never turns around and goes back, he just keeps going. It's not necessarily the most helpful saying in life, but at least it creates a consistent pattern of behavior.

I've learned that I have to use it when I leave the house by myself. Because, for no apparent reason, when I'm faced with the task of leaving the house all by myself, my usually perfectly sensible brain falls off the table of sensibility and starts to question everything, even life itself.

Is my hair straightener still on? Better go back and check.

(Never mind that the last time I straightened my hair was last week.)

I wonder if I accidentally left the stove on....wouldn't want to burn the apartment complex down...it'll only take a second to take a look at the stove....

(And the last time I cooked was 5 hours ago and surely I would have noticed the flames by now if I really left the stove on for five hours....)

Did I actually lock the door, or am I just imagining things? Better go and pull on the padlock to make sure it actually engaged.

Did I leave a load of laundry in the washing machine? Oh man, I'm going to have to wash it all over again if it doesn't get hung up right away...

Do I even have my wallet and house keys with me? Did I lock myself out?

(I can't lock myself out...the locks require keys to lock them...)

Where am I going again?

Did I turn the lights and fans off? I don't want to waste electricity...maybe if I just peek under the door I'll be able to see if the lights are on or not....

Am I absolutely sure I have everything I'm going to need? What if I want a book to read while I'm out? It wouldn't take any time to grab one...

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I've learned to, instead of heeding all of these insane thoughts, grit my teeth and get on the elevator and not give into the temptation to rattle the lock just one more time to make sure the house is really, really, really locked. "Never Go Back."

Does this happen to anyone else, or am I all alone on this one? Whenever Angel and I leave the house together, I don't experience this at all. I guess I just figure that at least then I'm not totally alone in my responsibility to protect all of our earthly possessions, since it's a joint operation.

Is there any time when you second-guess yourself, nearly to the point of insanity? What do you do about it? Do you adopt the same "Never Go Back" motto that I employ?

Oddball Movie Picks

Some movies are pretty much universally known. Not everybody actually likes these movies, but the very names of the movies are so familiar that, chances are, you've heard of them. I'm talking big names, like Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, Cinderella, Titanic, Frozen. With these big sorts of movies, you don't really need personal reviews--whether you're interested or not, you're sure to hear at least something about the film.

Many more films, however, have made a much quieter splash - and chances are much larger that unless someone tells you about the film, you'll never come across it organically.

Today, I'm going to give you my top 10 movie recommendations for films that you're less likely to have heard of. (And if you've actually watched all 10, then I will give you a prize, because you are just as much of an oddball film fan as I am!)

1. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Angel and I were introduced to this film by the friend of a friend back during my freshman year of college. We've since bought the DVD and have showed it to many people, hoping that they'll appreciate the incredible quote-able-ness of the movie. It'll always be a very special film to me.

2. The Lost Skeleton Returns Again

You guessed it--there's a sequel! Just as quotable, though I don't find the Cantaloupe People to be an endearing as the original characters.

Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Cantaloupe People. Now you know you have to watch it.

3. Secondhand Lions

This film actually has some better-known actors in it, so you might have heard of it. A young boy who visits two eccentric elderly relatives who tell all sorts of stories and have all sorts of adventures, including buying a secondhand lion so that they can go lion hunting in their cornfield. I think those two old guys are some of the best family one could ever ask for.

4. They Call Me Trinity and Trinity is Still My Name

Early 1970s spaghetti westerns about a good-for-nothin' guy named Trinity who has very distinctive blue eyes. My favorite scene has always been the infamous card-shuffling/poker-playing scene in the sequel.

5. Bride and Prejudice

A Bollywood meets Hollywood meets Jane Austen mash-up. This came out around the same time we first moved to Southeast Asia and in some weird ways the odd cultural clashes were so reminiscent of our own experiences (except the whole falling in love thing) that we really appreciated how it represented East-meets-West in such a crazy and colorful way.

6. Arsenic and Old Lace

A hilarious and dark comedy about murder and evil brothers and insanity that runs in family (runs? it practically gallops!).

7. Paper Moon

A story about a con man who sells Bibles and the little girl who may or may not be his daughter, but is along for the ride.

8. Rescue from Gilligan's Island

This is one hard movie to find! I kept an eye out for it for years until I stumbled across a DVD copy of it at a thrift store. It was so good to see all of my favorite Gilligan's Island buddies again (minus Ginger, since they got a totally different actress to portray her). The film is very much the same style as the original TV show...which is a good thing for a super-fan of Gilligan's Island.

9. I Not Stupid and I Not Stupid Too

Singaporean satirical comedies, mostly focusing around education and family life. Both funny and heartwrenching--and really provide a good glimpse of the culture that they were filmed in.

10. Bridge to Terabithia

Probably one of the better-known movies on this list. A very sad story--I read the book years before the movie came out, so the sad ending wasn't a surprise, but that doesn't make it any less sad. I love it because of the beautiful story it tells of love and imagination...and because the midwest farm country setting--complete with greenhouses and kids who run wild in the woods...reminds me very much of my own childhood.

11. Shaolin Soccer

A college professor devoted an entire class period to showing us this film--the class was about the history of sports in Asia and he decided we needed a break from the serious stuff. This is your typical underdog sports movie with martial arts mixed in and it's weird in so many unexpected ways--one of the things Angel and I love about watching Chinese films is that you really don't know what will happen next. Really. Something about movies made in a different culture--they tend to be way more surprising than movies from your own culture!

What's your favorite little-known movie?

Why Does This Cheer People Up?

{Gratuitous gorgeous photo of me, to fit with the theme of social media highlights in this post. Plus, I'm awesome. Ask yourself, would you feel happier if this photo were captioned with some sort of confession of sad things that contradict the smiling face? Something along the lines of "Got yelled at by a client today," "Only smiling on the outside," or "The Face of Insecurity." If you answered yes, you might be an evil super villain. Read on.}

...

It's a refrain heard again and again, particularly online:

"Don't worry when your friends and family portray beautiful and awesome lives online. You're only seeing an edited version of their lives, a curated collection of moments that they want to share. They definitely have lots of hard times and struggles and bad hair days and temper tantrums--so feel better! Their life isn't nearly as perfect or awesome as you might think it is, so you ought to be grateful for your life because their lives have a lot of problems too."

Seriously. I read "encouragements" like that...and I'm horrified. I cannot comprehend a mindset that actually feels BETTER when reminded that our dear friends and family and social media acquaintances are struggling silently with a plethora of the maladies that affect mankind.

Insert Here: 
{Pinteresty Images reading: "Attention: No One Has a Perfect Life" and "Instagram is Not Real Life" and the tired Behind the Scenes/Highlight Reel Quote. I'm not actually using those images because...I don't want to use images I don't own. Also, I don't wan readers to skim and misunderstand this post...because that happens to me a lot.}

Does anyone see that it's plain weird to be happier because of the revelation that other people are suffering?

This is a selfish, selfish point of view. I understand that it comes from an idea of solidarity, of encouragement in the fact that nobody is alone in the battles they face...but something about it all just still seems a little bit wrong. Why should we feel glad to know that others have terrible things happen to them, too? It's good to remember that other people have tough times, and to stand with them and build them up when they open up to you about those tough times...but it's not exactly okay to use other people's hardships as a reason to 'take heart.'

This is not an article about others being authentic or inauthentic online. This is check to our own heart conditions--have we really allowed ourselves to become so small-minded that we feel better when we know that life is hard for other people too? Something about that just doesn't seem right.

Maybe it's the big sister in me. I don't want any of my little siblings to face the harder things I've had to face...even though I know I can't protect them from everything. I don't want them to cry. I want the very best for them. I want them to have happy marriages and healthy children, and I don't want them to be overpowered by debt. I don't want them to struggle with mental illness or insecurities or just the hard times of life. I know bad stuff happens regardless of my wants--but I will refuse to, in the name of solidarity or whatever, be encouraged by the knowledge that other people cry too.

Why can't we just be happy when we see happy selfies? Why can we only be happy if we secretly think that behind each happy selfie is probably a ton of makeup and a great filter and a fight with the husband and an undisclosed health scare and a messy house? What about that would make us happy? Why can we only be content when we remember that everyone experiences the ugly side of life?

There is tough stuff going on in my life that I don't talk about online. I do not say that to encourage you. I say that to depress you. Because I am awesome and my life is awesome and the bad stuff is just plain bad, and shouldn't encourage anyone. We should not feel glad to know that other people go through heartbreak. That sounds like the kind of thing an evil super villain would do. But even with the heartbreak...life is awesome. And the joy and spunk you see online are real. I have no intention of encouraging anyone through my own failings and sadness--because it is not encouraging to know that everyone, myself included, gets a taste of the ugly side of life.

Me, I'm going to take a stand. I'll be happy for the reason that everybody gets at least some chance to see the beautiful side of life. In this world those chances are terribly unequal and unfair in their distribution, but the beauty is there all the same. I'll celebrate every piece of joy and beauty that befall anyone in my circles. Yes, all lives are imperfect, and senseless tragedy abounds, but that doesn't make me happy. I'm looking forward to a life where perfect will be possible, but in the meantime I'm going to celebrate the glimpses of perfection rather than take heart because of the abundance of imperfection.

Wearing What You Love vs. What is Practical




I am not, by nature, a wearer of casual summer clothing. I like dresses, bows, tights, and sparkly shoes. I do like t-shirts, but more often paired with a fun skirt or layered under a colorful jumper or dress.

But the dry season has been brutal this year, with temperatures above 90 degrees every day for months. Add on the normal 90 percent humidity and tropical sunshine...and even Rachel has to give in to the necessity of casual summer clothing that is comfortable.

There are two ways to dress in Malaysia: dressing for visiting an air-conditioned place, like an office or church or the mall or movie theater (movie theaters are the coldest, and usually require a light jacket), or....dressing for being outdoors or inside our non-air-conditioned home.

I'm at home a lot, and if we're not in the house, I'm outdoors, playing with the kids, and I decided that if I'm going to be forced to wear clothing appropriate for the no-aircon life, at the very least, I have to actually like them. So I went out shopping for practical clothing for the first time in a very long time (normally, I wear what could be considered 'practical clothing' so rarely that, historically, for the infrequent times that I wear them, I've relied completely on free t-shirts and capris that pre-date my marriage). On my shopping trip, I found a few new things that will be comfortable for the hot, long days at home, and they're actually appealing enough that I don't mind dressing casually when necessary.

I'm seeking a way to wear clothes that are practical and comfortable in the intense heat with an active lifestyle, that at the same time show a little bit of the unexpected quirky style that I love. I'm never gonna be a shorts and t-shirt kind of girl...but if the shirt has Mickey and Minnie on it....and the belt holding up my shorts is studded with unnecessary amounts of metal...and my earrings are bumblebees...then I'll probably be okay with dressing casually. At least part of the time.

How do you find ways to work your personal style into the types of outfits that are made necessary by your lifestyle?

Craziest Things I've Done for Blogging


As bloggers, we might find ourselves doing odd things from time to time. Today, I've compiled a list of some of the oddest things I've done or blogged about doing over the past few years...although I find that it's a little bit hard to draw the line. Are these really crazy things that I've done for blogging? Or are they 'crazy things that I would have done anyways, but since I'm a blogger, I blogged about them'?

You decide.


Documented my Captain Jack Sparrow notebook collection.


Wrote a post explaining why I wear saris because of readers who were very concerned about cultural appropriation. I know there's plenty of people who think white girls shouldn't wear saris regardless of circumstances, and they are perfectly free to think that. 


My uncle gave me this window because he thought it should be made into some kind of cool craft. So I painted it, taped photos to it, and I definitely blogged about it.


Took a photo of my junk drawer. Why???


Shared this photo of the 'authentic mexican' section of the grocery store. Blame this one on Angel.


Took outfit photos inside the grocery store when it was too cold outside. We usually went grocery shopping after church, so this was a very convenient, if odd, system.


Showed off my superb photo editing skills.


Took photos in the cat food aisle of the grocery store. While holding flowers. At least the flowers were for my grandma, so they weren't totally random.


Showed the world what a helicopter perm looks like. 


Shared my first diary entry with the world.


Photobombed my sister while she was looking cool on a truck.


Took outfit photos of Angel while he posed like a fashion blogger...inside Papa John's.


Took outfit photos inside Sam's Club.

Are you noticing a trend? It's hard to be a fashion blogger in Michigan, y'all!


Took a picture of three different shoes I loved but didn't buy.
I should have bought these shoes. I still think they're all keepers.


Took this "bear hunting" photo. Don't get me wrong, Angel would definitely still have bought a bear costume if it wasn't for blogging. However, only our families and real life friends would know about it.


Took photos of the really....inadvisable....hairstyles for men in my beauty school's hairstyle books.



Admitted that sometimes our cat (this one is Narcan, Morphine was the other one) was purple because sometimes Angel was left home alone with the cats and my purple hair color for too long.


Proved just how interior designer-unfriendly I am by painting a mural on my wall to distract from the uneven patch job. (protip: if you patch ancient, uneven plaster with a piece of drywall, the results wil be uneven)


Wore kitty ears. Bought for me by Angel, who was inspired by Carolynn's Kitty Ears blog.


Took a picture of a baby in a precarious position. (Placed there by Angel to freak out my little sisters)


Took this photo. This one was definitely for blogging purposes only, it was for a themed link-up.


Made my own version of a meme. Also due to blogging, because otherwise I wouldn't know what a meme is. Also, Angel really did build the picnic table, so this meme is true.


Shared my husband's weird instagram account with the world.


Trust me, it's weird. You don't want to go there, but if you do, it's @angelofrachel


Posted misleading photos.


Froze to death actually attempting to take outfit photos outside.


Dumped the contents of my tiny purse out on the floor for a "what's in my purse" post. If you need change, or even a pressed penny, I'm your gal, apparently. 


Took photos of comment cards that were taped to the wall of a public restroom. Don't skip this picture. Read it. You'll be glad you did. It's crazy to take photos in a public restroom but I couldn't let the rest of the world not know that these exist.


Took photos of the husband changing a flat on an open highway in Oklahoma.

 And I didn't even mention things like trying to trick everyone into believing I got a tattoo on April Fool's Day....or putting all sorts of stuff in Mason jars in an attempt to become pinterest-famous...or attending a blogging conference...

What's the craziest thing you've done for blogging? If you're a long-time blog follower, how many of these shenanigans do you remember?

What I Discovered in Dropbox (Our 2010 Wedding Video)

I'm a creature of habit. If I put something away in the same place everyday, I will never ever lose it. I always know exactly where it is because it's exactly where it ought to be. I'm also a neat and tidy person, so, odds are, everything in my house is exactly where it goes. I own one wide-toothed comb, and it's in the same place where I need it to be every day. My glasses, when they aren't on my face, are in their case. Each kitchen utensil goes back in its spot after I use it.

Ninety-nine percent of this time, this system works flawlessly. On other occasions, I happen to put something in the wrong place for once...and I have no way of finding it because since it's not in its spot, I have absolutely no idea where it is. One time my grandma and I spent more than an hour looking for a textbook that wasn't in its spot. We ended up finding it under the bed. Who would have thought?

Problems also occur when the item isn't something habitually used, just put away once and not used frequently at all. Remembering where exactly those extra passport/visa photos we had taken last year got stored...yeah...probably not going to happen...


Anyways, all this is to say, I recently got a reminder that I hadn't logged into an old Dropbox account for over a year upon logging in, I was curious to see what was actually stored there, and found a lot of wedding-related files, from planning and budget files to wedding photos, and, indeed, the classic 'photos of us growing up and meeting and deciding to get married' video. I didn't even know this video still existed anywhere, so it was a very happy surprise to find it in that long-forgotten Dropbox account. It was a very educational visit to Dropbox, because for a long time I haven't been able to remember what song I walked down the aisle to, and I was also informed by a file containing our wedding program that it was "God is With Us" by Casting Crowns. Amazing the things you can learn on the computer.

Also, I have never had much access to any photos of Angel growing up to show you on the blog, so please enjoy some of these never-before-seen photos of us as wee things and in college together. I love how you can already tell he was a total mischief maker from his earliest photos.



p.s. I also totally forgot about the "So, when can we get married? Next Wednesday?" which is what Angel asked when we got engaged in July and started planning our wedding. The wedding, however, was unfortunately pushed out to December due to logistics. Silly logistics.

p.p.s. Do you forget about the existence and location of things the way I do? Also, I haven't been to many weddings in recent years...is the whole 'through the years' slideshow hopelessly out of date at this point?

How I Make Time for Hobbies

I tend to live by the philosophy that there's enough time in life for just about anything you truly want to do. Granted, adult life and its accompanying responsibilities sure tend to take up a good chunk of time, so one learns to be efficient in its use. These days, my favorite "just for fun" activities are reading, writing/blogging, crafting, and spending time with Angel and my family.

A photo posted by Rachel G (@randomlyrachels) on


Reading

I read a lot of books, quickly. I rarely spend a long time reading, although an afternoon reading session with a good snack is the ultimate in relaxation for me. Most of the time, I read while I eat breakfast, while I brush my teeth, while I'm in bed waiting for Angel to get out of the shower, while I'm a passenger in the car, or when I take the kids to the park. For me, the usual consumption method is short periods of time that would otherwise be spent without much mental energy being used.

Writing/Blogging

Usually done in the early morning before anyone else wakes up. I don't like to be on my computer when Angel's home, unless he's working on lesson plans and I'm supposed to be avoiding being a distraction. I typically do a lot of writing either early in the mornings or on Sunday afternoons while he's at work.

Crafting

I do comparatively little crafting, but when I do, I do it while watching a tv show with Angel. Combining quality time with something I can make with my hands is just about perfection, for me. These days, crafts of choice are coloring and cross-stitch, since both require low investment and few materials.

Learning

Granted, I haven't been placing much emphasis on my own continuing education lately, but with our upcoming trip to Japan and the fact that I no longer use Mandarin daily, I have been regularly working on my Japanese and Chinese language skills. Sometimes, cooking dinner means a solid half hour of prep work, so I'll bring my laptop into the kitchen and play language podcasts or videos while I wash and chop veggies and get that work done. It helps the kitchen work time go by faster and it's a good way to squeeze in a little language work into a busy day.

How do you make time for your hobbies?

Sleeping Position: Does it Really Matter?

Sometimes I think this blog should be titled something more like Weird Things Angel Does because his odd habits are my muse far too often. But I need somebody to talk to about this and my mom considers Angel one of her favorite people in the whole world so she doesn't make a great confidant because her response is always, "You better be so nice to my Angel!" It's like she's still not convinced I'm a nice person, or something.

So, here's the question: What sleeping positions are normal and acceptable? Also, do you find that sleeping position actually affects your quality of sleep?



I can pretty much sleep anywhere. I have no 'side of the bed'. In general, I sleep on the side closest to the door...because I believe in always having an easy escape route. Why? I don't know. I just think it's safe to know how to jump out of bed and run to the door. Sometimes Angel wants to switch sides for a night or two, and I don't mind, even if it will take me an extra 3 seconds to get to the door.

He does weirder things than switch sides, however--he frequently sleeps 'upside down' in bed, with his head at the foot of the bed. This happens probably about once a week. In our first home when I was a young and gullible newlywed he swore up and down that it was something scientific about aligning your body differently between the north and south poles which would result in better sleep.

Since he has now periodically felt the need to sleep upside down in beds all over the globe, that has proven, as I always suspected, that his previous answer was based on nonsensical pseudoscience. His latest reason has to do with the headboard--he sleeps better and without claustrophobia when the headboard is far away from his face and not imposing any potential danger of crushing his head. We have a tiny headboard now, not the massive solid cherry wood headboard of our bed in America, so I find it odd that this is his new reason.

I think it's unlikely that you would feel claustrophobic while sleeping...particularly if you don't even experience the condition while awake.

Give him another few years and he'll come up with another scientific-sounding reason for his actions. In the meantime, I end up switching, too, and sleeping upside in bed about 30% of the times that he does. More often, I'm just too asleep to bother switching.

See, I'm such a rule-follower I could go to sleep every night for a lifetime and never come up with the idea of sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed. I don't know how he does it--this consistent challenging of norms in every single area of life--or why he does it, but it's a sure guarantee that life will never get boring.

{Example 2236b: This is Angel dressed as a bear playing mancala.}

Do you or your spouse sleep upside down in bed and swear it encourages better sleep? What's your reason?

Angelisms, Part 12


Scene: Taking the little girls out to Disney on Ice, and we're in the car, telling them the rules.

Angel: "...And...the most important rule of all....NO falling in True Love."
*cue crazy laughter from the littles in the backseat.*
Angel: "No True Love's Kiss" either."
*more crazy laughter*

{This has become a new everyday rule, after Angel started it, they are constantly reminding each other "No True Love!"}

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Scene: We're at Mom and Dad's house. Angel's in the kitchen, making a smoothie, Mom and I are talking in the living room, and we're expecting a friend to drop by any moment.

Suddenly, we hear Angel shouting cheerily from the kitchen: "Oh, Hi, {Friend's Name}! Good to see you! How's it going?"

We look at each other in confusion--we did not hear either the doorbell or the squeaky front door open. My Angel-senses tell me he's playing a joke. Mom's Angel-senses don't have quite as much experience as mine do, so she heads over to the kitchen to see if our friend has, in fact, arrived.

All she finds is Angel, in the kitchen, all by himself, with a really big grin on his face.

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Scene: Mom calls our house to chat with me. Angel answers the phone, and says I'm not home, I'm at Mom's home with the rest of my sisters. He then walks into the office, sees me, and hands me the phone.

Angel: "I just told mom you were downstairs, so she's probably going to call back in a few minutes."
*A few minutes later, the phone rings, I answer, and it's mom.*
Mom: "WHY did he do that????"

Editor's note: Angel says it was an accident, he really thought I was at my parent's house. I have no idea why he would have thought that. Mom still thinks he did it on purpose. What do you think?

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Scene: Angel returns home after swimming with the kids.

Angel: "For some reason, they were acting like they were all scared of me."
Rachel: "Were you pretending to be a shark?"
Angel: "Hey, I was just being normal!"

("Normal" on Angel-mode is pretending to be a shark and scaring the kids.)

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Scene:  Blog post brainstorming.

Rachel: "I need an idea for a blog post that just plain fun--happy, silly. I don't want to write serious stuff all the time."
Angel: "How about: What it's like being married to a fat husband."
Rachel: "....Well...uh...what?"
Angel: "No one blogs about their husband being fat. Maybe not fat, but I am overweight. Okay, you can title it: What it's like being married to an overweight husband."


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Scene: Chatting before bed

Angel: "Is it okay if I go to the Chinese herbal medicine store and ask if they have any medicine that can make me more handsome?"
Rachel: "Well, why do you want to be more handsome, for me, or for your students?"
Angel: "For my students. Because if I was more handsome, then even more people would want to take my classes!"

{Angel teaches adults, mostly expatriate businesspeople or their spouses. Apparently, they talk openly about how they prefer different teachers due to their attractive looks or great voice, so his theory is, the better-looking the teacher, the more students will take their class.}


Have you ever chosen a class based on the attractiveness of the teacher?