Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December Madness- Big Girl Room Initial Makeover

We have bought our little girl a big girl Princess Canopy Bed from Hom Furniture a couple months ago and moved furniture around in her bedroom. While the tiling was going on in our kitchen a couple weeks ago, I sewed a purple fabric that goes on top of the canopy. I also bought a pretty purple comforter set at Wallmart for her bed. Before I could sew the canopy top, I went to Joann Fabric Store to buy a non-sew cornice project for her window. It was very easy to make and time-efficient. I am so satisfied with how Isabelle's bedroom looks now. Thanks to Marcia, my SIL, who let me borrow her great sewing machine! I can't wait to repaint the walls once the recarpeting is done. I want to make the walls to look more exciting with multi-color paints. Right now it is lavender.

The cornice!

Her canopy bed!

Her reading station.
Her education station.

This Blog has a page rank of 2!

A blogger friend of mine wrote about page ranks this morning and I got curious and checked what this blog's rank. It used to be 1 for many months. When I checked it at Rank Widget a while ago, it went up to 2!!! I don't really know what advantage I would get from having given that rank because I haven't been grabbing opportunities to earn money from blogging yet. But I am glad I got that rank. I don't know what that page ranks mean and what the requirements to get higher ranks are, but somehow I feel happy.

December Madness- Marble Tiles

Tiling our hard floors was really the reason we had December madness. The "tile" man, who Isabelle calls Mr. Roger, owed my husband 8 days of work and he had the time to pay that amount of work to us by tiling our hard floors the last three weeks. It was madness! Christmas was coming and here our house was in complete chaos. It all started when they moved all the furniture and appliances from the kitchen to the living room. When they started tearing out the vinyl and the flat wooden board from the floor, thick dust was all over everything, including my pretty "Christmassy" window treatments. But I decided to just be okay with the temporary state of our house thinking that the tiling won't last long. What was planned to be a 2-day project in the kitchen turned out to last for a week! I admit I was a little disappointed because we were expecting company over Christmas time. But when they came, they were very considerate and were even happy to help me clean up. My hubby was very busy with painting jobs and came home doing what Mr. Roger left unfinished. But when the tiling was finally over, our floors look fantastic! These marble tiles were imported from the Philippines. We wanted to support the Philippine economy in this little way. The tiling is actually an initial make-over for our house. We are planning to change all the wood work in the house and enamel it. Part of the make-over project would be the recarpeting of our floor on the second level. P believes that it is healthy to put on new carpets after 5 years. So, there we go... can't wait to pick a lighter color and get rid of the old purple! Well, I am not talking about the Vikings, Okay? We are so happy for the Minnesota Vikings Team! They are in the play-offs! P and I will be watching their first play-offs game at the dome on Sunday! Go, Vikings! It's funny how Vikings got in here... I was just talking about our marble tiles! LOL!

Paul, grouting the spaces between tiles! He works soooooo fast and excellently!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Contemporary Portrait Contest

I almost forgot that I want to join the Contemporary Portrait Contest hosted by Aisha. Well, I hope this one will win. It was taken the night before Christmas eve when two of my Mongolian girl friends came to visit us. Our little girl entertained them with her goofiness! It was fun to take pictures of them that night. They all were in the mood for posing for the camera. For the series of photos taken that night, check them out here... In the mood for picture taking!

And to view other entries, visit this site...

In the mood for picture taking!

December Madness- Snow time

It is been snowing a lot this month. It would have been fun if it is not painfully cold because it's very nice to play in the snow. But the weather has been frigid that it's been impossible to enjoy outdoors at all. We were blessed to have warm temps for a couple days last week. Izzy got to play outside. When we were in Winona, it was warm enough to take a walk and make a snowman in front of Paul's mom and dad's house. We even got to take Izzy and her cousin in a sleigh ride. Paul had fun working his muscles out while pulling the sleigh. The girls kept demanding him to run faster for a faster sleigh ride. I was also running, trying to catch up with them. That was quite a work out for Paul and me.

Izzy, enjoying the snow!

Paul, snow blowing our driveway.

Izzy and Payton on their sleigh ride! Oh, they had great fun!

Paul, having a chance to work his muscles out!

December Madness- Parties

Our Christmas party this year was with friends who live just a few miles from us. We were not supposed to come to their party because we got already invited by our Somali friends to a birthday party. It was snowing hard that day and P didn't really feel like driving all the way to Edina to attend the birthday party, so we canceled it and went to our friends' Christmas party instead. It was a really nice party. We got to meet the husband's side of the family who flew all the way from South Africa to visit them. We have met the wife's side of the family last summer, so it was nice to get to meet the other side. The food they served was all American I guess... I guess I was hoping I would get to try some South African food but maybe that's for next time. We had the game-version of exchanging gift and it was fun. Izzy and I got a giant pencil from that game. After the game, we were led a to their spacious project/music/education room and the husband started handing music sheets and play the piano. We all sang Christmas songs. They're were more or less 40 people and each one was a great singer, so that the house was so full of wonderful music that night. It was wonderful!

Everybody was singing at the party, except for Izzy and Zoe, the party hosts' baby girl!

Our second Christmas party was at our house right after our candlelight service at church. The third one was in Winona, at Paul's parents' house with everyone in his side of the family. R, P's oldest brother and I had a little carolling the night before the party. I sang while he played the piano. We also had a huge concert from Isabelle and two of cutest cousins as they all played one piano together at the same time and were singing their own different songs... yes, at the same time! They sang to the top of their voice too... that made it really funner and funnier! The following morning, we opened our gifts. We all got really nice gifts, except for Paul who decided to ask the "gift givers" to buy The Way of the Master books for him to give to the pastors in the Philippines. I love him! That is so him... he can easily spot a great need and want to be one who provides for the need. Made me more and more proud of him.

Izzy got a big Veggie Tales book from her grandma and grandpa among other gifts.

Our fourth Christmas party this year was with my Filipino-American group of friends. Well, if you hear the words Filipino and party, then think of f-o-o-d!!! It was definitely a feast! We had it at the house of one of our friends, who is the favorite "ate" of all. Last year, we had it at our house and it sure was jammed packed by happy laughing "pinays". Anyway, the party this year was also a lot of fun. We had a few good games and gift giving. In our culture, we don't give wish list out and we don't necessarily draw names for gift giving. So it was fun to give and get gifts that were not expected. We love the surprise factor in gift giving and we truly treasure whatever we receive. Well, it was another wonderful party that brought Filipino friends much closer to each other! Thank you, Lord!

If you think that's a lot of food, think more because that table was just one of the few places were food was set! See the lechon? That night, Izzy ate lechon like that of someone who has never eaten anything for a week!

P's eating lots of lechon too!

"Re-bonding" with friend, Lorelei and her 2-month old baby girl, named, Audry.

That shows barely half of the people who crowded Ate Debra's house.

Monday, December 29, 2008

December Madness- Gifts

I had said that I did more Christmas shopping this year than I ever did before. I don't know why!!! I had fun wrapping gifts and writing cards this year! I also noticed that I got a little more emotional recalling our Christmas celebrations growing up. It made me a little sad to think that it's been many years now that I've been celebrating Christmas away from my Filipino family. Many years! But I guess it happens to people, like me. My joy on Christmas time is giving! I'm blessed that I have a generous husband. There is an unspeakable joy in giving, especially, to those who can't have the certain things that make them a little happier if you don't give.

Anyway, this year Paul gave me a very special gift. It's a gift certificate to a very nice spa salon. I can't wait to be pampered for a day there soon. It's funny because I wasn't thinking that he would give me an expensive gift this year because we already spent so much on gifts for family and friends. But he did! That's so sweet of him. My gift for him was a $7 pj set and a $20 dress shirt. He was happy though. Izzy was also happy to get Dora and Princess pj sets from us. She is the one with a lot of gifts this year from family and friends. We just wished people just gave her money for her savings because she doesn't really need more stuff. But we are thankful anyway because what is important is that people are showing love to her in their own ways.

If I didn't give this shirt to him, he would never have it because he won't be buying it on his own. He is so content with a few clothes. But he loves the shirt. It's his very first striped dress shirt.

Gift certificate to Ambiance!!!

NOw her mommy doesn't have to wash her pj's more often.

One candy cane per Christmas is definitely enough!

December Madness- Christmas Eve

On Christmas eve, we went to church for our candlelight service before we had our dinner at home. We went home with some of our close friends after the service for a somewhat special dinner. We didn't actually plan on having more people in our house that night but we changed our minds and thought that the more people we would have the merrier Christmas dinner would be. So we had my best friend of one year, Tricia, and her family come over. My adopted mother here, Tricia's mom actually, also came who made the whole time so fun with her "diva-ness", breath of fresh air energy and spiritual beauty. Oh, we love her! The dinner was so complete with conversations that were so full of sense and joy!

Izzy and I at the entry way of our church on Christmas eve service. Man, I looked pretty much like my mom in this photo! :)

Dina time... I mean to say dinner time! Paul, Chuka, Brian (Jeff's brother), Diva Momma Katie, Empty chair was my space :), Angel, Tricia and Jeff.

The kidos' table (Ben, Izzy and Andrew)

Tricia's mom helped me set the table.

My plate... Freshly baked bread stick, baked potato, ham, buttered corn and Pistachio salad. I'm glad I made the ham just right. I was worried that it would dry out after baking it longer than needed. Good I bought our favorite Hillshire original ham... it cooked well, juicy, tender and not salty. They all loved my ham!!!

December Madness- The Nutcracker

Isabelle and I went to the famous play around here on Christmas time, the Nutcracker. One of Izzy's uncles plays the percussions in the orchestra in the said play. It was my second time to watch it but it was Izzy's first time. The little girl sure had a great time watching the remarkable ballet dance presentations! She stayed up with eyes open wide the whole two-hour time with a 10-minute break in the middle of the show. She even forgot that she didn't have a good lunch before the show! She was so entertained and tried to mimic the dancers arm movements from time to time. We also brought her best friends, Hope and Hannah and my friend, Chuka to the show. They all loved it! Coming home, it was fun to see Isabelle tiptoe, spin around and talk about her Nutcracker experience.

December Madness- Special friend

One of my former students in Mongolia, who now go to college in Massachusetts, visited us and spent Christmas with us. She got to MN on a heavy snowy day. Surprisingly, her flight wasn't delayed. We took her to the Mall of America and other places for window and actual shopping... it was actually to bring her somewhere because our house was a mess. We explained the situation at our house before we brought her home. She didn't mind... and our guest room downstairs that she occupied over for several days was fine. She is just like a little sister to me, so she wasn't really bothered by the inconvenience. In fact, she helped me clean up a little bit. She also helped me prepare for the Christmas dinner.

I met Chuka back when she was only 15 years old. It's about 6 years ago. She was in my TOEFL review class at the language center where I was teaching at for a few years. She joined my Bible study group in my apartment and got born again. She considers her being in the states now as one of God's many great blessings in her life. She is going to be a junior soon and has continued to grow in her faith in Jesus. I am proud of what she has become now!

We spent hours and hours of talking. We are kind of the same as to loving chit-chats. We both like to sit down, do nothing but talk! In our talks we covered so many topics including our memories back in Mongolia, of course. We decided that people like us really bond together by sit-and-talk time as oppose to other who bond by doing things together.

Her visit is difinitely one of the best gifts I received this year. She has made me feel important that she would travel far and spend money to come see me and she is one who works hard to earn that money. Thanks minii duu!

Izzy and I and Chuka at MOA

Chuka and me at our friends' church in Minneapolis downtown.

They clicked almost immediately!

At our church on Christmas eve.

December Madness- Christmas Decors

Like what I had said before we didn't plan to buy a live Christmas tree this year to make it a little different from the past Christmas. And it also turned out to be a good decision because our house was totally out of shape because we had to move our furniture and appliances from the kitchen and dining area to our living room because of the tiling project. The said project went longer than planned so we had a messy and dusty house a week before Christmas eve. I got a little bummed because we were expecting guests over for Christmas. Good, they didn't mind arriving to a dusty house. In fact, one of them stayed longer and helped me make the house look a little festive. I'm just happy that on Christmas eve, the house was almost back to normal for our friends who joined us on our Christmas dinner.

For my mother, who was and is so fond of decorating our house on Christmas, I took these photos of my Christmas decors...
Izzy and I decorated our giant wreath in our pj's.
Almost done!
Finally done!
Done done! Waiting for daddy to help us hang it.
On it's perfect place between our living room and kitchen.

The wreath on our main entrance.
something red for our guest room downstairs

Christmas treats for our curio.
On our dining table

At the corner of entry way...
Izzy's favorite Christmas decor in the living room... it lights up and plays Christmas music.

Christmas treatment for our music box...

Poinsettias... a gift from a friend.