31 December 2018

10 Things I Did in 2018 that I've Never Done Before

Let's start with the most obvious, shall we?

1. Gave birth.
I wrote about that day. With 5 hours and 14 minutes from the first contraction to the moment he was born, that was a bit of a whirlwind experience. I'm very thankful we both came out of it safe and healthy--or at least I regained my health after a couple of really tough weeks. Recovery was more difficult than labor, that's for sure. I remember feeling distinctly that taking care of the baby wasn't so hard, it was just trying to take care of myself and feel human again that was nearly impossible. I'm so thankful for the family that cuddled Cyrus when I was too weak to hardly hold him. Also, thankful for modern medicine and doctors that figured out what was wrong and helped me get better again.

2. Opened a Language Education Center. We officially opened in August and we're starting small, but we have dreams of hiring and training employees in the future. I love the classroom space that we've got set up now and that the center is a place where kids can go who can benefit from language education outside of school hours.

3. Found a live, wild tarantula in my my baby's bedroom, no less.

Let's file this under "things I've never done before AND things I never want to do again"

4. Become the wife of a high school Spanish teacher.

Granted, this is more something Angel did new this year, but it's also a pretty momentous change in my life, adjusting to the new time schedules and his new commitments. I married a hospital nurse, who has worked the past few years for a company that teaches English to business people, so this has been quite a life change, but one that's impacted our lifestyle for the better. In his new job, Angel does spend some time in the clinic each day as the second school nurse, and next semester he'll be coaching track as well, so he gets to make the most of his athletic talents. In his first semester I've helped behind the scenes with classroom decor, lesson planning, exam grading, and making carnitas for the Mexican food party Angel hosted for his class.

5. Helped run a booth at a craft show.

So terribly fun to help my little sister run her table, talk to customers and package items and make change. A wonderful new experience!

6. Get my first professional family photos WITH A BABY taken, and then promptly break a life-long tradition of sending out handmade Christmas cards in favor of sending out a photo Christmas card.

They say parenthood changes you...

7. Visited a couple of islands in Hong Kong that I've never been to before. I have a fondness for nearly deserted islands and Yim Tin Tsai in Hong Kong was a dream come true! This was part of a larger trip to Hong Kong, a place I explored frequently when we lived across the border in ShenZhen, but it was especially fun to see parts of Hong Kong I had never seen before.

8. I won a kitchen appliance, an air fryer, to be specific, which happened to be an appliance I had never used before. So, this year, we learned the benefits of an air fryer. So far, my favorite application is using it to make "baked" potatoes--because it's fast and the potatoes turn out really, really delicious. We also use it to cook marinated chicken strips on a fairly regular basis. I've written before that one of my extremely random life goals is to win a stay at a fancy hotel...still haven't done that, and I realize what a ridiculous "goal" that is...but hey, I won a kitchen appliance!

9. I definitely got less sleep this year than ever before in my life. Maybe that seems like a typical new-parent cop out...but wow. Seriously. You don't know till you have a baby how little sleep you can get by on.

10. There are a bazillion "firsts" associated with parenting that happened this year. First time taking a human that I am fully responsible for to the doctor. First time wandering the back hallway behind the sanctuary carrying a baby so that he won't make noises and interrupt the church sermon. First time (rather, first two thousand times) telling my child "no." First time experiencing the strange blend of freedom and stress which is leaving my baby with his grandma for a few hours of babysitting. First time realizing how after baby arrives, they really change everything, because even during the hours I'm not with him (which are few, because he generally goes everywhere I go), I think about him, wonder if he's behaving himself or causing trouble, and miss him.

Oh, what fun he has been!

Happy 2019 to you all!
18 December 2018

Lifelong Dreams and All That

I've always loved going to craft shows. I love wandering the booths, eyeing the pretty things talented people make. I don't tend to buy a lot of stuff, as I'm not a very knick-knacky type, but I have bought a few notable things at craft shows.

1) I bought a Christmas sign with two snowmen on it because they have my parents' names written underneath them. The sign was just an example of personalization...but it just so happened to have my parents' names on it, with the exactly correct spelling and all, so I asked the seller if I could buy her example, and she let me. That was about 10 years ago when I was a freshman in college, and it still comes out at their house every year at Christmas.

2) Hairclips. Those with a sharp eye might have noticed that I often wear either a pink flower clip or a blue flower with feathers or a teal flower with feathers. I've had these three hair clips for years...probably since about 2011, 2012. They stay so nicely in my hair, and the "flower clip in the hair" is just a signature Rachel move at this point. I bought two of them one year, and went back to the same seller at the same craft show the next year and bought another because I loved them so much. 

3) A bracelet made of forks. And earrings made from the handles of spoons. Angel bought these gifts for me, but I helped pick them out. They're pretty much perfect.

Always, secretly, as I wandered the aisles at craft shows in the USA, I thought about how fun it would be to have my own booth. To sell my handmade wares. But I'm not a business person, and through I'm crafty in my own way, nothing I might make is the sort of thing people would buy. I'm not really cut out for the job, anyways. I just always thought it would be really fun. Ever have really impractical dreams of that sort?

And then, this month, I got to live out a little piece of that lifelong dream as I got to help my little sister prepare for and run her booth at not one, but two craft shows. The first was at Angel's school. He'd asked if she could join the craft fair they were having, but we didn't want to tell her about it till we knew what the answer would be. We got a "yes" answer Wednesday night. The show was on Friday.

She flew into a frenzy of painting on Thursday as I dutifully cut paper, laminated bookmarks, washed jars, punched holes in gift tags, wrote out price lists, and did my little part to support her creative genius. Sarah watched the babies. It was truly a team effort to complete everything in time for the show!

I went with her to set up the table and help with adding and subtracting and nearly burst at the seams with excitement as I watching my baby sister selling her art.

On Sunday, we got word that the following week, on Saturday, there would be another craft show that she could join, at a different venue.

Six days notice to prepare for a show seemed like a luxury of time after the previous week, but again, it was a week full of paper cutting and laminating and painting and lettering and creative chaos until we left early on the morning of the show. This time, I even colored her hair vivid red the night before the show because...everyone's more confident when their haircolor is great! It takes a team! Angel watched Cyrus while I spent the morning of the craft show with MaryGrace, and then we traded places in the afternoon. 

It was fun to sit back and watch her chat with strangers, make new friends, and become a little more confident in her artwork. We sometimes fumbled with the wrapping paper for the glass jars. The bags we brought were too small for some of the artwork. We learned a bit about what sold and what didn't. At the first sale she received multiple requests for Dr. Who-themed bookmarks, but didn't have any. She made some for the second sale, and sold several of them. Her velociraptor and jellyfish illustrations were popular, and the handpainted gift tags sold like hotcakes. Even the watercolor galaxy ornaments--my idea that MaryGrace was not really convinced was actually a good idea--nearly sold out, much to her surprise.

So, it wasn't my booth, but it was my dream, and I think that helping with the practical background stuff while watching my little sister's talent blossom is just about the best fulfillment of said dream that I could imagine. Sometimes dreams don't always turn out to be all about you, after all.