i am so happy! i am so happy! [insert jig here]

rupert has spoiled me once again. we finally got adobe photoshop elements to replace our ("borrowed") copy of regular ol' photoshop that we had to stop using when our old computer died. sure, photoshop cs2 woulda been nice, but honestly, i could never learn how to use all of the features and it costs a whopping $650! don't need it that bad.

so why am i so excited about photoshop? because. okay, that's not a good reason. the first reason is because i'm getting a dslr camera for my 30th birthday and i want to have good photo editing software. we've been using picasa for a little while now, which isn't bad, but it's not great. and with my invitation designs (my side "business") i like to have software that can do a bit more than ms word.

elements seems to be a bit more user-friendly since it's geared more towards the home market as opposed to professionals. but it also has features similar to what cs2 can do, so i'm sure i can manipulate photos for my scrapbooking.

and, hey, did you notice i made a new banner? yup, i used elements for that! (the graphics are from two peas in a bucket -- free download -- by rhonna farrer.)


project geography nerd

ian's current obsession is u.s. geography. he reads/looks at his atlas everyday and likes to look for cities with the same name in different states. he pretty much learned all of the states and their capitals by doing a puzzle of the united states at my mom's house over and over again. i had no idea he knew most of them (except for the smaller east coast states because the pieces in the puzzle for them were so small) until he started quizzing me and i didn't know the answers!

over spring break he finished learning all of the capitals, and i learned the states and capitals because i actually never learned either when i was in school. and i can't stand not knowing what ian knows -- gotta stay at least on the same level as my five year old!

the other night at my in-laws' house ian was showing off his geography skills. someone asked him what states bordered canada and he prattled them off: washington, idaho, montana, north dakota, minnesota, michigan, new york, vermont, new hampshire, maine, and alaska. my father-in-law asked, "what about the state uncle A lives in?" (i.e., wisconsin), but it turns out that part of michigan lies between wisconsin and canada, so ian was right. (i, of course, thought wisconsin touched canada, so i was wrong and i'm obviously not on the same level as my five year old.)

we have a huge world map hanging in our hallway, and ian likes to stop at least once a day to find something interesting on the map. sometimes it's about how close south america is to antarctica, or how much desert there is in africa, or the tundra in the north. he likes to look at the list of the biggest countries in the world, and find out about population density.

seriously, geography is beginning to be a true obsession.

so, this summer we'll be working on world geography. we're getting our reference collection together: three world atlases (kid's version, pocket version, and one in japanese), the map in the hallway, a globe at my parent's house, and the fabulous pocket world in figures from the economist magazine, which i snagged from a friend's house.

if all goes according to plan, project geography nerd will be a success and ian will be prepared for the geography bee ... when he's in fourth grade!


week 29.

maya @ 29 weeks :: may 26, 2006
  • she actually shared ... well, at least, it seemed like she was sharing. she was chewing on her doll and when i opened my mouth to see what she would do, she actually put the doll in my mouth.
  • she imitates me ... well, at least, it seemed like she was imitating. (notice a pattern here?) i was banging on some toys with a little wood mallet, and after i handed it to her she did the same exact thing but a little less coordinated-ly.
  • i managed to get a full night of (almost) continuous sleep on monday. i went to bed at 8:30, ignored maya waking up twice, and woke up to feed her around 5. too bad we haven't repeated that.
  • boy howdy, does she like to eat. she easily finishes off a jar of food, munches on japanese baby rice crackers, and continues to gulp down breastmilk. she's getting really good at feeding herself the crackers, and if you don't restrain her she grabs for the spoon to shove it into her mouth (pretty accurately). this week her new foods were bananas and applesauce. the food is also making her poops more solid ... and stinky!
  • i think she is particularly pleased that her brother is finally starting to pay more attention to her.


so i guess this doesn't mean i'm crazy?

today i'm talking to the moms out there ... ever have one of those days when you seriously wonder, "why did i think having a child was such a good idea?!" and then totally feel guilty for thinking that way? i have lots of those days. and it causes me to truly believe i'm a horrible parent for actually feeling unhappy when i'm around my kids. i look at other moms and i just don't get why i can't appear to be genuinely happy and pleased to be a mom.

but it turns out i'm not the only one. while listening to an interview with professor daniel gilbert (of harvard), i learned that most people aren't particularly happy when they're with their kids. according to his new book stumbling on happiness, children don't raise our happiness levels on a day-to-day basis. he cited these examples:

  • a couple's happiness level drops from their newlywed happiness levels after having children, especially during the first few years of a child's life and during the child's adolescent years. the happiness level doesn't return to newlywed levels until after the children leave the home.
  • while following moms around all day and measuring their happiness levels, researchers found that when the kids are around happiness levels are pretty low.
  • people's happiness levels are high when they're socializing with friends or having sex; watching tv causes happiness levels to dip a little; and doing chores and housework is pretty low on the happiness level. and guess where happiness levels are when you're spending time with the kids? they're at or below the levels of when you're doing housework.
  • apparently, in the long run your children may bring you happiness, but for the most part you get minimal happiness from your kids on a daily basis. i was living these facts but thought i was wrong for being that way. but i guess it's not so crazy. i know people will argue that their children are the biggest source of happiness in their lives. but when you stop and think about each minute of your day, how happy are you really? at the end of the day you may get a few minutes to yourself to reflect on how blessed and happy your life is, but while you're running around, chasing your kids, working, trying to run a household, and trying to maintain your sanity, are you truly happy? think about it.

    [disclaimer: i haven't actually read gilbert's book and didn't even finish listening to the entire interview, so if anything i've written is wrong that's entirely my fault.]


    wanted :: stuffed pasta recipe by natalie portman lookalike

    as i've mentioned in several postings, i love to eat. and, on occassion, i like to cook. the two together means that i watch a lot of food network.

    a little while ago, on everyday italian, giada was making stuffed pastas. for some reason they appealed to me and i made a mental note that i should try them. on sunday i made the stuffed manicotti. i have to say they came out pretty yummy and they weren't difficult to make.

    instead of beef, though, i used ground pork because i tend to think that ground pork has more flavor. and i took the advice of one of the reviewers and put the filling in a ziploc bag, cut off a corner, and piped the filling into the manicotti. a little messy, but super easy. i had extra filling so i just added it on top of the manicotti; with the extra sauce and cheese it wasn't dry at all.

    rupert liked it (ian not so much -- surprise, surprise) and said it was a good alternative to lasagna. and it makes a lot of food, which is great for a casual dinner party or for leftovers. (the picture above is not particularly appetizing but it's what i had for lunch the next day.)



    cardstock: paper accents
    patterned paper, tag, epoxy letter stickers: marcella by k
    word stamps: magnetic poetry
    letter stamps: psx
    number stamps: cavallini
    stamping ink: color box
    rubon: making memories ("&")
    other: date stamp

    tide pools

    cardstock: bazzill basics, paper accents
    patterned paper: ki memories
    letter stickers: sticko ("pool"), creative imaginations ("i" and "e")
    letter rubon: making memories ("d")
    chipboard letter: joann scrap essentials ("t")
    acrylic paint: delta ceramcoat
    other: dymo label maker, date stamp


    week 28.

    maya @ 28 weeks :: may 19, 2006
    • more teeth! she now has four top teeth and two bottom teeth.
    • we're on our way to stopping nighttime feedings -- hurrah! depending on the night she's down to zero or one feeding; on zero feeding nights she'll still wake up once but we can get her back to sleep without taking her out of the crib.
    • eating more baby food (peas, peaches, sweet potatoes) and lovin' it.
    • she'll pivot on her tummy to change directions, and then try to squirm around like a caterpillar.
    • is finally starting to enjoy the swings at the park.
    • blowing in her face makes her smile ... and it also gets her long bangs out of her eyes!
    • makes funny talking noises -- sometimes they're high-pitched squeals, other times she sounds like a cat in heat (i know, it's weird).
    • she's totally getting that if she drops something mommy will pick it up ... over and over and over again.
    • starting to get suspicious of strangers or people she doesn't see very often.
    • she's more ticklish. besides her tummy and feet, her back is ticklish: if you run your finger (or, in rupert's case, his nose) along her spine she almost flips over backwards .
    • nothing new, but she likes to: sit up on her own, play with her brother, try to grab the tv remote out of your hands, play bouncy when you stand her up, pull and chew on the strings from rupert's sweatshirt, try to eat your fingers if they come anywhere near her mouth


    6.333 months

    we went in for maya's 6-month well-baby visit and i guess she's growing ...

    weight: 14 pounds 7 ounces (25th %ile); + 10oz since 4.3.06
    height: 25.5 inches (50th %ile); + 1" since 4.3.06
    head circumference: 41.5 centimeters (25-50th %ile); +0.5cm since

    the doctor said she was on track with her developmental milestones and she totally okayed the ferber-my-way thing i'm doing to get maya to sleep through the night.

    no more appointments for 3 months, and no immunization shots until her first birthday. yea!

    mama's day

    my fifth mother's day: i love the special treatment ... it never gets old! i slept in a bit, rupert made me an awesome breakfast (omelets, fruit, and bacon), i bathed the kids, we went to my baa-chan's grave, and we had dinner with rupert's family. my in-law's got me a gift certificate to barnes&noble, which i can't wait to spend, and i got this cool vegetable peeler from rupert's grandparents (along with a japanese cucumber plant for our garden). i ended the day with a bowl of coffee ice cream and a dose of alton. bliss!


    i did go to japan, i swear

    i've been meaning to post about our trip to japan, but i have been jet-lagged pretty much all week and i haven't had the energy to write anything. there are some pictures from the trip over at my flickr account, but they're mostly of the people we saw. we didn't spend much time being touristy, so i don't have a lot of landscape photos, but i'll post what i have when i get a chance.

    i've also been meaning to work on my travel scrapbook, inspired by ali edwards's scrapbook-on-the-road from the march issue of creating keepsakes magazine. then i got this fabulous book in japan called "skurappu chou no tsukuri kata" (how to make a scrap notebook), which had a section on travel scrapbooks that tied in really well with ali's idea. and if that weren't enough to inspire me to make this darn scrapbook, tania had this link on her blog. i have all the materials to put the album together ... now i just gotta hunker down and do it.


    almost twins?

    that's peko-chan on the left and maya-chan on the right. my mom and i think they look similar ...

    peko-chan is the character for fujiya, a food company in japan.

    milky are sweet milk-flavored candies made by fujiya. peko-chan has been its mascot since right after wwII.

    there's a boy version called poko-chan, and wouldn't ya know, ian looked just like him when he was a baby. (we even bought a poko-chan doll off ebay.)

    week 27.

    maya @ 27 weeks :: may 12, 2006
    • blowing raspberries; i think she's late doing this, but i'm glad she is because it's so darn funny and cute.
    • had baby food carrots for the first time on may 7. she had a funny look on her face for the first few bites but she kept eating -- that's my girl!
    • her top left tooth is in, and another one is breaking through her gums (skip over the top right tooth and it's the one next to it).
    • i have been extremely exhausted all week and my sleep schedule is totally off due to jet lag and just being tired for six months. i finally decided that i am going to slowly and gradually start "ferberizing" her in my own way. (i haven't read the book so i'm not totally knowledgeable about the method.) instead of feeding her at night i've been holding her and comforting her back to sleep. in the last two nights we've gone from three feedings down to one. granted, she cried for quite awhile when i denied her her 4am feeding this morning, but she eventually went back to sleep.


    week 26.

    maya @ 26 weeks :: may 5, 2006
    • grandmother-daughter-granddaughter week in kobe, japan.
    • seems to like middle-aged men. it's very weird but she's all smiles when she sees my uncle, and is very interested in seeing older men. (ian, on the other hand, went through a phase of disliking men.)
    • met her biological maternal grandfather who lives in osaka.
    • discovering more body parts: beginning to stick her tongue out more, especially if you do it first she'll copy you; besides grabbing her feet and pulling off her socks, she occasionally takes a taste of her toes.
    • bouncy bouncy time -- when she sits straddling your thigh she will bounce up and down with her feet. we call her 'the little cowgirl.'
    • her top left tooth is coming in. it also looks like three more top teeth might come in soon (her gums are swollen and there are white teeth-like areas). she also grinds her teeth a little, which makes rupert cringe.
    • tried different foods while we were in japan: vegetable broth, corn potage, rice porridge, baby rice crackers, japanese barley tea
    • got over her jet lag pretty quickly (2 nights). i guess it helps that she doesn't sleep much to begin with.
    • reached her half birthday (may 4).