Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kelsey Needs a Friend

This is a little movie my two-year-old, Kelsey, and I put together the other day, just for fun.  It's about a princess who needs a friend and her wish is granted by a magical goat.  We had fun with it and it turned out pretty cute.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I can't help it, I defile my child's coloring book.

This post is for the Hess' who baby sat my toddler and found the first coloring book I defiled.  Some people get confused cause the pen drawings look like the coloring book drawings.  Don't be confused. If something looks out of place, it's cause I put it there.

Click on the pictures.  It's better if you can read the page's coloring instructions.
"You won't believe what I found, Ariel."

Poor Pumba

Why would those girls come to Bell's wedding anyway?
They came for Gaston.
The real reason she needed to be home by twelve.

Unidentified floating lights.

You know it's all about the bling.

Jasmine and her frog prince.  Oh wait, wrong fairy tale.

The Original Bonnie and Clyde

It may as well have been a mace.
How many hits to the head with a frying pan can one man really survive?

To all vegetarians an haters of fast food.

Introducing the secret side of Aurora.
What's that behind your back, Auroa?
Oh, nothing you need to worry about Flora.

Home from a good day's hard work.

Prince Philip knows how to win her heart.
Even creepy people have happy endings.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reusable Fabric Gift Bag

As a hobby, I make reusable gift bags for Christmas, birthdays, whatever.  I usually keep them in the family, but people are more than happy to be gifted them.  They're fabulous.  No wrapping paper waste, and Christmas Eve wrapping is a cinch!  Drop gift in, pull strings!  Even husbands can do it!  After my husband kept grabbing christmas bags to wrap my birthday presents, I decided it was time to make birthday bags as well.

This is how I make reusable gift bags.

You need:

a piece of fabric that is 2-3 times longer than it is wide

rope or ribbon for the drawstring that is 4 times the width of your fabric.

sewing machine, thread, measuring tool, marking tool, pins, tape, large safety pin, and pinking shears (optional).

To Make Bag:

1. Finish the top edges (and possibly side) of your bag using either an edge finishing stitch, peeking sheers, or a narrow hem.   If the top edges are selvedges, I usually leave them and call it good. If I'm using a highly fraying fabric, I will finish the side edges also with an edge finishing stitch.  For cottons, I finish the side edges with pinking shears later on.

2. Fold fabric in half hamburger style, right sides together, and pin.

3. You will need to mark where you want the rope to come out of the bag and leave a break in your stitching there.  On both sides of the fabric, mark at about 3 3/4 in and 3 in from the top of your fabric, creating a 3/4 in hole.  For larger bags, you may want to mark further down and possibly have a 1 in or larger hole.

4. Sew up the sides, breaking the stitch between the markings.

5. Trim with pinking shears. Iron seam open.

6. We want to sew the seam down on either side of the rope hole (or you'll regret it later as it will pull through with the drawstring).

7. Fold down top edge with wrong sides together, overlapping rope holes by at least 1/4 in. Measure to make sure it's even.

8. Mark location of rope holes by poking pins from the inside out, and marking with fabric marking tool.

9. Sew stitches across mouth of bag on either side of rope holes.

10. Turn bag right side out.

To Thread Drawstrings:

This requires two drawstrings, each double the width of your bag.

1. To cut your rope,  first tightly wrap a small piece of tape around where you are cutting.  Cut in the middle.  This way, you avoid instant annoying fraying.

2. Attach a large safety pin to the end of one of your ropes, behind the tape.

3. Thread it though the rope hole, all the way around until it meets back at the other end of the rope.

4. Tie rope ends together.

5. Attach safety pin to the other rope in the same manner.  Thread it through the hole where your other rope ends are not coming out.

HINT: To make life easier, you can now pull the loop end of your first rope through and attach the safety pin near the tied end of the first rope and use it to pull your second rope through.

6. Second rope threads all the way through and is tied at the opposite hole from your first rope.

All done!

I gave away this little bag as a wedding present to dress up the otherwise boring card and money.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Last week in El Salvador

During my last few days in El Salvador:

We went to a large park that used to be a coffee plantation.  Because people used to work this land, there's a village smack in the middle of this park.

As you can see from the pictures above and to the right, mango season is beginning.  I hope that means more delicious mangos in our Logan Bountiful Baskets.

They have a saying here.  "Si hay pobres pero no hay hambres."  Translation, "There are poor people but there are no hungry people."  Very appropriate for a place where food literally falls from the sky. My dad's been hit by a falling mango during mango season. Apparently it hurt.

At the coffee plantation park we found our first non-ghetto play ground.  Those are awesome banana trees next to it.

My mother and Kelsey looking cute.

  This is how bananas grow on trees.  The awkward looking dangling participle is the flower.  

The ladies posing in front of banana trees.

The park had a super cool bamboo forest.  It just makes you want to snap a bunch of sticks off and take them home.  Yeah, good luck with that.  Hope you brought your machete.  Bamboo is notorious for its non-snap-off-ability, which I was reminded of as I tried feebly to yank some pieces off.

When the wind blows all the bamboo trees sway and creak and click together.  It sounds really cool.  Therefore, I've posted a video of it, which doesn't do its awesomeness any justice.

My last day there we were able to meet up with our old housekeeper, Loli, who worked for us while we lived in El Sal as a family.  I was in first and second grade when I lived here.  Loli was very excited to see the grown up me and my mini-me.  It was a good visit.

It was interesting to hear about her life.  So different than our pampered American lives.  She was one of 7 children.  Three have died and one has not been heard from since he tried to immigrate to the US (illegally) with the help of a Coyote.  Presumably, he didn't survive the extremely treacherous trip. We were the only family Loli worked as a housekeeper for.  After that, she sold fresh produce door to door to her clients.  She no longer does this because she no longer needs the money to support her children, who have moved out, and her and her husband can live off his pension, which is about 1000 bucks a month.  But most importantly, working her vending business is simply too dangerous.  Anytime anyone runs any kind of a business in the villages they become prey to the gangs.  They will come to you and demand a certain amount of money.  If you can't pay up, they will kill your family.  Simple as that.  The gangs keep everybody down so businesses can't prosper, and people don't work unless they absolutely have to to survive.  And we wonder why people risk their lives to come to the United States illegally.  Loli's family has received a couple gang threats via phone calls.  They call up and say give us your bank account number or we'll kill your family.  Her husband, who answered the call, suspected that it was a false threat because the phone number appeared to be coming from Guatemala.  He cleverly said, oh, I'm not from this village, I'm from such and such village.  The man making the threat said, well, where's that?  It became obvious to Loli's husband that they were not going to be found.  If the man was a local, the threat would have been real.

P.S. I survived the plane rides home.  It was a ridiculously long day but all went well, I didn't kill Kelsey out of tired irritation, and I'm still pregnant.  I thoroughly missed El Salvador for the first couple of days back.  It's all brown and wintery here, and where are the parrots?  Sigh.  I guess geese, magpies and a very low homicide rate will have to suffice.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mayan Beliefs from the Mouths of Natives

On Saturday we went to a little town called Panchimalco. We were hoping to see something exciting, but there really wasn't much there except a mostly unimpressive church and an art studio/gallery/school.  We did, however stop in to a really unimpressive looking cultural shop which housed two guys who specialized in recovering Salvadoran ancestral history.  First the one guy began talking about cultural stuff and playing an instrument invented in El Salvador that does awesome native bird calls.  He did a lengthy bird call demonstration for us.  Then, I pointed at a souvenir with a vicious snake like creature on it and asked what it was.  As I suspected, it was Quetzalcoatl, depicted as a feathered, fire breathing serpent.  I asked him to tell me what he knew about Quetzalcoatl.  It all occurred in Spanish, but, between my imperfect understanding and what my dad can remember, we got a few interesting things out of it. His buddy was a spiritual mystic who was all over the place, mixing in Nostradomus and typical Native American spiritualism, and seemed to be proselytizing to us, so we took his comments, which were many, with a grain of salt.


The following is a summary of what was explained to me by the bird song man and his mystical buddy about their Native American/Mayan beliefs:

Quetzalcoatl was a God who was a white man with a beard who wore a white robe with a cross on his chest.  He came on some sort of an "embarkation" which usually means ship, but they don't understand what exactly.  (Which is actually contradictory to other accounts which say the Quetzalcoatl came down from the sky.)  He came to teach them new ways to improve their lives, both spiritual and temporal.  He taught them about the most nutritional way to prepare or grow corn or something (can't really remember). The corn we eat today is genetically inferior to the ancient corn and continues to lose its nutritional value.  The modern Mayan elders know this and have hidden up a cache of the ancient corn in accordance with Quetzalcoatl's instruction.

Many Native American peoples, in some form or another, believe in Quetzalcoatl, including Anazazi/Ancetral Hopi, the Hopi, the Aztecs, essentially most tribes from North America all the way to Northern South America, but they all have different names for him, most, however, being quite similar.  It it prophesied that Quetzalcoatl will return but no one knows when. Thus, the Mexican thought that Cortez was Quetzal and so they treated him like a god until they realized that he was nothing more than a man.  The people still anticipate the return of Quetzalcoatl.

According to tradition, with the arrival of the original Quetzalcoatl, most followed him but there was one tribal leader who was angry at the attention given to Quetzalcoatl, which resulted in his loss of power.  He rebelled against him, teaching his people not to believe in him.  He left the area and took other like-minded people with him.

The end of the Mayan calendar does not predict the date when Quetzalcoatl will return (since, as previously stated, no one knows when he'll come again), nor does it predict when the world will end.  It is simply a prediction of a time of great change, or a new epoch of time that will usher in a great positive energy that will have a negative effect on those who are not in synch with nature (or evil, i guess) and apparently make them go crazy (info from the Mystic guy).  So, on December 21, 2012 expect big changes, but not Quetzalcoatl yet.  And he said that we have 20 years after that date before the judgement.  He also said that people continue to harm the earth because they don't understand that it's a living entity.  Eventually, the earth will transform in to a paradisiacal state.

Paintings by one of the most famous artists in El Salvador. Found at the gallery/studio/art school.  It had extensive, beautifully manicured gardens behind it, in which more artwork was displayed. 

Kelsey posing in front of a banana tree.

Kelsey and 4 yr old Jocelyn who was a neighbor to the gallery.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Potty Training Kelsey - Stage One

Because it's warm in El Salvador and children can run around naked comfortably, and the apartment has tile floors, we are determined to get Kelsey potty trained.  First we took her to the store and had her pick out her favorite potty chair.  We also bought her panties and let her try them on to see how nice they are.  We explained to her that we don't go pee pee or pooh pooh on the floor, and if she needs to go, sit on the potty chair and go.  We put the potty chair in an obvious central location and off came the diaper.

Day 1:  We tried it in the evening and it was a fail.  The kid went hours without peeing at all.  Finally, it was bedtime, so on went the diaper, at which point she probably happily emptied her bladder.  On the bright side, we know she can hold it.

Day 2:  A huge success!  We started in the morning after breakfast.  I gave her a couple sippys of diluted juice, which she guzzled, and waited for the magic to happen.  She leaked some pee on the floor and we rushed her to the potty chair, where she let a few more drops out.  We congratulated her and let her pick out a sticker.  My mom was bothered by her naked bum sitting on everything, as she didn't want her precious granddaughter's bum to become contaminated, so she put panties on her.  We explained that you don't pee or poop in panties.  A little while later, Kelsey stood in front of me and peed.  She wasn't happy when all the pee ran through her panties, down her legs, and on to the floor.  Put her on the potty, no more pee.  Some time later Kelsey started to complain that she was in pain.  Her pee pee hurt.  We took a look, looked fine, decided she had to pee, put her on the potty chair, out came like a cup of pee.  Big celebration, more stickers.  Couple hours later she leaked a couple of drops of pee on the floor and I told her to hurry and sit on the potty, she did, and out came another big pee.  More stickers.  Before nap time she was letting out stinky gas so I told her to go try to poop on the potty, and, miracle of miracles, she did!  Wow, it's amazing how exciting a little poop in the right places can be.  All in all, we had a very successful morning.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Three Weeks in El Salvador pt. 2

It took two nights for Kelsey and I to adjust to El Salvador time.  It's not the time difference that we needed to adjust to since there's only a 1hr difference (with no difference when Utah's not on daylight savings time).  It's the fact that the sun always rises at 6 am and sets at 6 pm.  When the sun comes up the noises start.  Birds, traffic, honking horns, construction, you name it.  The first two mornings we slept in till 9:30, after that we've consistently woken up between 6 and 7:30.  Normal for some people, way early for me.  The neat thing about waking up with the sun, is that you get to see the parrots.  They come out in flocks at sunrise and sunset.  There's a tree across the street from my parent's apartment where they perch.  They make a lot of noise when they're flying.  They sound crazy, kind of like... like, well, a flock of parrots.

We finally decided to go swimming in the apartment pool.  We were hesitant because the pool is so cold.  It's not quite hot enough here to want to jump in to a  shock of cold water.  We braved it though, and I decided that as long as you're moving, it's not too bad.  Once the pool's in the shade, though, it's time to get out.  Kelsey got to wear her body glove built in floaty swim suit for the first time.  It doesn't keep her upright if you just let her float so no lazy parenting allowed while toddler is in the pool.  She gets really nervous when I carry her out into the deep water, but she's happy as a mermaid when she can touch the bottom.

We went to the beach on Saturday.  My parents have some really nice friends who let us use their beach house, which means we get a private pool, private hammocks and private beach.  Every now and then you'll see another human being walk by.  It's pretty awesome.  The only problem with the beach is getting there.  It's a fairly scary hr 1/2 drive.  Pedestrians along the sides of the roads and randomly crossing, huge potholes, random speed bumps, crazy drivers, big trucks, etc.  It really keeps you on your toes.  By the time you get home, after a life-threatening drive home in the dark, you're kissing the ground and sending prayers of thanks heavenward.  Is it worth it? Of course!  If you never takes risks you're not really living.. right?

We've gone to a couple of playgrounds for Kelsey.  Nothing like the States.  Even the really nice ones are really ghetto, rusted, creaky and probably not child safe.  We had to inform my dad that he was lifting Kelsey too high in the swing and she was about to slip out the bottom, seeing as there was nothing holding her in between her legs.  The tropical gardens around the playgrounds are always really neat though.

Monday we had a brunch at our place for the "Gringo" women of our ward.  It's half mission wives and half wives who follow their husbands abroad.  FBI, embassy, company etc.  It's all a very familiar scene for me, but one I will probably never have to live as an adult... but you never know what the future holds.