26 December 2013

It's been a busy holiday....

But better late than never (should I say "Happy Boxing Day!" just to be thorough?)

16 November 2013

Crafty Schmafty- Tooth Monster Pillows (and a giveaway!)

Remember last week when my first-born lost his first tooth?
Luckily it happened on a school holiday AND in the morning. I can do crafty, but rarely does it turn out to be a "short" project no matter how hard I try.

All those pinterest tutorials, "20 minute pillow cover!" and the like.
Sure there flap jack. I got 4 reasons, and they all start with the letter "i," that say otherwise to your 20 minute time frame.

Small child interruptions, laundry, and meal times excluded...these pillows took me about 45 minutes to make for each one. I started Isaac's around 11am and finished around 8pm. That's real time! HA! With juuuuust time enough for Isaac to slide that little Chiclet into the monster's mouth as he hit the hay.
He was so excited. The next morning he told us approximately 140 times before he left for school that he, "...got a paper mummy AND TWOOOO more mummys! Look at my coins!"

I was pleased at the outcome.  So then, because I like arbitrary goals. I decided I had to go ahead and make 3 more for the other kiddos right away. They emerged adorable from felt, scraps, 2 old shirts, and an old bathing suit of Anthony's.
Does it matter that the youngest doesn't have any teeth yet? No. Because tomorrow she'll be losing her first tooth and I won't have had anymore time to make a Tooth Monster Pillow for her than I did this week.

Speaking of. Would one of you 4 or 5 who read this blog like a Tooth Monster Pillow?* They really are easy to make and I've had fun doing so.  I totally ganked the style from Pinterest. I didn't follow a particular pattern, but they look like a lot of what I perused.

Since y'all come here and take time out of your day to look at pics of my adorable kids (who currently have sidewalk chalk war paint on their faces because I had to leave them "unattended" as I wrote this blogpost...the boys colored Immanuelle's face for her. Amazing, really, how well sidewalk chalk writes on faces.) and love on our family from afar, I thought someone else might want one?  For your kids? (we all shared a tooth pillow growing up) To give as a gift to the grands? Carry with you in your purse to hold your coin mummys? 

So. A Giveaway. Never done one before. Are there rules? Maybe. Lets try it this way.

To get your name thrown in the hat, there's 2 ways. Max 2 entries per person.
1. Leave a comment - Got a funny tooth story? Tell me! Include your email address so I can contact you if you win (I have to approve all comments, so I will make note, edit, and will NOT post your email address)
2. "Share" this post on facebook.

If you win I'll let you pick if you want a "girl" or "boy" monster if you have a preference...but that's all for choice, mkay? I'll choose the fabric and the buttons and what not and it'll be a fun surprise to open the package and see what turned out! Plus...a package alllll the way from **Malaysia?!? Sweet deal!

*I'm nervous because what if no one cares?

Y'all care, right?!

**Malaysia is far from America. There's no way to guarantee delivery date. If you win and you're from America and/or you live in a country that has less reliable postal systems, I apologize in advance for a) it taking forever for your package to get to you...usually around 3 weeks to America or b) never making it at all.  So far that's never happened. Fingers crossed! 

14 November 2013


Remember these that my husband picked up for me in the Cameron Highlands?

Well, the other day at Tesco they had 3 miniature ones for $1US/piece (RM3 for my Malaysians) and in the clearance of their home decor section they had a bright red, square-shaped, shallow bowl.

It was gold flecked on the outside, and the red bowl told me it would be perfect on my counter top through normal days AND holidays.

I agreed.
So we all went home together.
I assembled them all, added a few smooth rocks from our "atrium" and I am quite pleased with how it all turned out.

I have to move this thing a lot because the best place I could find for it was in the kitchen.

It sits on my oven's lid. Yes, American friends, my oven/stove-top has a lid. And seeing as how I use my stovetop for things like cooking and Anthony uses it for coffee, it gets moved off it's perch several times a day.

But so far it's behaved and I think it might be growing. The boys have done remarkably well not pulling the leaves off the "jellybean" one.  At least, I think that light green one is called a Jellybean. Not 100% though as I'm new to succulents.

BUT, I've only watered it once like a good girl and am genuinely looking forward to December 1st to get to water it again.

And there's a little piece of my East-Side-of-the-Mississippi humid heart that has now made peace with the Southwest United States and all its dryness and desert-ness. I've never been fond of cacti, or the 90's "Southwest" color schemes and prints, but this little container garden is working its magic.

Did you know, apparently all cacti are succulents, but not every succulent is a cactus?
Me either. Do with that what you will.

As for me, I'm gonna go do something crafty that has nothing to do with watering or maintaining the succulents as they are touted to be ultra-low-maintenence.

Fingers crossed!

05 November 2013

...and just like that...

Our big boy is even bigger...
It started about a week ago, but he left it alone...or at least didn't talk about it much.
This morning, before playing checkers with him, I was reminded (repeatedly) that it was snacktime.
In an act of health, I reached for the apples.
Then in an act of lazy to help them develop good life skills, I handed the apples to them whole, instead of slicing them.
Two bites in and there was some pain, some blood, some crying, and a very very loose tooth.
I was all, "Cool buddy! Ya gotta go see it in the mirror! It's just hanging there!"
and Isaac was all, "But it HURTS! I don't want it to hurt!"

I knew the mirror would work.  Its fascinating to see all that "gore." A tooth laying horizontal in your mouth, slightly bloody?? That's the stuff childhood is made of, y'all.

I called him back to the game of checkers, but before he could even get down the stairs, he reached in, pulled, and out it came.

"The Re-enactment"
"YAY!!"s and high-5's were passed out and Isaac immediately started talking about how his friends at school were gonna think it was soooo cool.

Anthony and I had a real quick discussion on what we were gonna do about the tooth fairy.
"Just like Santa?"  "We'll tell him its us, but say it's the tooth fairy." 
They play along anyway...especially when presents and/or money under your pillow is involved.

So now, all of the sudden I have a big boy AND a sewing project today. A cute "tooth holder" pillow thing is what I'm imagining.  I'm sure the newborn, the toddler, the preschooler, and the big boy are gonna give me LOADS of time for that today.
...and though none of you know this, I may or may not have been complaining about yet another 2 days of school holidays.  And now, I take it all back. I would have been such a sad spider had my first born lost his first tooth at school!

Hope your Tuesday is just as exciting!

03 November 2013

Ivy- 1 month

Our sweet Ivy has been growing for a whole month now. She has the chubbiest, kiss-y-est cheeks...which is sorta the same as being kissable, but different in that they're kissy.
She's hit or miss on whether she sleeps "great" at night. But she rocks those daytime naps, so I've caught a few Zzz's when I can then.  Overall she is a wonderful little newborn and we have nothing to complain about our first month together.
Here she is with her little lamb...seeing as how her middle name, Rachel, means "lamb" we thought it appropriate for her monthly photos.  Though according to Isaiah, it looks like a sheep. "A lamb??? Mama, it wooks like a seep."  Indeed it does, son.
She went to church today for the first time and was an absolute angel through the whole service...that'll happen every time, right?
I'd write more, but seeing as how she IS a newborn and I'm still getting some pretty interrupted nights of sleep, I'll go and leave you to comment.
**If you have any suggestions on how to get a breast-fed baby to take a bottle, I'd love to hear!**

29 October 2013

Fall Break: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

It's hot here.

Oh. I've mentioned that before?

The boys had off from school for fall break so we headed up with some friends to where the air is sweet and fall-like.

We wore long sleeves, ate strawberries and drank hot chocolate, hot tea, and hot coffee. (except for me, coffee = no go Joe. Too bitter. Sue me.) When you're there, it's nearly impossible not to completely buy into the feeling that it IS, in fact, October. I've even been in April before and totally thought it was October.

The Cameron Highlands.

Hats off to you British Army. Before air conditioners existed to make the equator somewhat bearable, those Brits carved out a road through the rainforest mountains to create this little reprieve from the heat.


It's about 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur. 1.5 hours TO the mountains, then an hour plus UP the mountains.

{tap tap tap...is this thing on?} Special announcement. Bring the Dramamine. More on that later.

Yes. That is a long sleeve pajama shirt under the Spidey-T. 

It's happened every time we've come up here. That night-before while packing and it dons on me, AGAIN, that my children only have shorts, tshirts, and flip-flops.

"Just how high is too high?"  I think to myself holding up the 3T pants I inevitably have to pack for my 5 year old.  I may not be posting photos of the highwaters, but I sure enough made them wear them. Ankles out, yo!
Among the delightfully tacky strawberry-themed roadside "attractions" in the highlands, there are tons of produce and flower stands. We embrace it all. It's a little bit of heaven I tell ya.

Especially when the hubs surprised me with these gems.
It's a good man who knows when to go for roses and when to go bigger.

My knowledge of these and my interest in them is totally and completely 100% Pinterest-induced. 
True story.

Seeing as how the Highlands is in the middle of a rainforest, it'd be silly not to at least make a stop by the mossy forest on Gunung Brinchang (Brinchang Mountain).

...even if your kids wear flip flops to do so. (Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye...I swear we packed sports shoes for the boys, they just refused to wear them)

Our friends' son. I include this because 1. it's a great photo of an adorable kid and B. it's proof that we're not the only ones who send our kids hiking in non-hiking clothes. Prep School or North Face Ad... I can't decide what this photo wants to be. (except a pic of a cute kid. See point #1)
This place never fails to look like a movie set.  If New Zealand is all booked-up for the next Tolkien movie, I know where they can find a really moody forest. Its practically a character itself.

Then there's the crown jewel of the Highlands.

 Which speaking of Tea and British things and Pinterest....

Ahhh, history jokes. The fact that we bought our first kettle only after moving to a country in the former British Commonwealth, makes it even funnier.

Ok, ok. Real pics only from here.

Where were we?
Ah, yes. Americans in tea plantations. The BOH Tea Plantation  is a great little place to spend the morning. Not only do you walk through the tea to get to it, they ACTUALLY process the tea right there and you can walk through the center and see it in action. Then grab a cake and, you guessed it, a hot cup of tea, and have a fantastic tea time on the covered area overlooking the plantation (above Birdie's shoulder in the pic below).

One of the things we love about our life overseas is the people who become "family" when ours is so far away. We are blessed indeed to have friends like these out here.

Also, I love it when kids get outside. You know things are going well when kids start picking up sticks. Sure, it'll probably result in injury at some point, but that's ok too.
I'm fairly sure our friendship is strong enough to endure me posting these basketball pics...goodness I hope so. We relax hard AND play hard in the Highlands.

 I mentioned Dramamine earlier.

About that.

Y'all, Zayah has an easy gag reflex.
Did we remember the motion sickness meds the last time we went to the Highlands? No.
Did we remember them on that boat ride in Bali last summer? No. 

Consequently we have a pretty honed skill of avoiding getting puke on ourselves and cleaning it up off various surfaces without attracting too much attention.

Don't count me out y'all. This time, I thought I was Mrs. Motherhood.  I remembered going up AND going down...even remembered to make him take it over an hour before hitting the mountain road.

Back story:
About a third of the way up the mountain road there is a huge waterfall. Parts of it are concreted over and there are roadside stalls selling handmade items to tourists. But its huge and we take a family photo there every trip. On the way up we didn't stop. So we did on the way down. Just as we park the car, Birdie pukes.

Oh stank. I know. So sad.
Lemme top that sadness with a parenting fail: we didn't give her dramamine because the dosage said not to give to children under 2 years of age. Have you seen this post?
The one where we celebrated our HomeBird's SECOND birthday?
It's one of those memories you laugh about later and tell to your parent-friends as an hilarious anecdote.... in years to come that story will finish with "....but she WAS 2! We BOTH totally forgot!"

Just after cleaning up Immanuelle's breakfast off the carseat and changing her clothes, a group of women surrounded the kids and wanted pictures. It happens a lot actually. And the younger and blonder the foreign child, the more likely they'll be asked to take a picture. Birdie was NOT in the mood. But Isaiah was! HA!

Photo-op with locals done, we took the traditional photo, and then some, by the waterfall.

I'd like to title this family memory, "THE SUN HURTS MY EYEEEEESSSS!"

Isaac couldn't not get in the water.  Right on, son! The part right after where he sat down and got his pants all wet we could have done without, but the enthusiasm to get in and live it up is applaud-able regardless!

And that was our fall break.
If you made it to the end of this post tell us what you are loving about Autumn this year? Ya know, whether you actually have an Autumn or just do something to pretend you do, like us.  Leave us a comment!

18 October 2013

Naming a baby...

"D/O" = "Daughter of." No one ever asks the name of the baby in the hospital. Interesting, huh?
It's always interesting to me to hear how parents come up with their children's names. You'll very rarely hear that it was super easy to choose or if it was, the reason and meaning behind the name chosen. The why's and how's of getting to just the right one are different for everyone and important to every parent.
We had our "requirements."
1. Had to be an "i" name - the boys were a coincidence. Isaac and Isaiah were our top two boy name choices. But then once we found an I-name for Immanuelle, we couldn't NOT give one to #4. Who wants to be left out??  There are actually LOTS of I-names out there...we just had to find the right one!

2. Couldn't be an adjective or noun because our last name is a noun- "Peace Rivers" (I hear all y'all from my hometown chuckling from here!), Indiana, Rocky, Icy, Blue, Glory, India, Italy, Jordan, etc etc.

3. We tried to find a Malay-word or name-  but the one I LOVED for a girl ended up making a rule of it's own. "Indah" means "Beautiful" in Malay. It's easy to pronounce and doesn't sound TOO foreign. But "Indah Rivers" (ie- "In The Rivers") would never get through childhood and her teenage years without hating us. In case you are in the market for a pretty little girl's name, I highly recommend it. Other contenders were Iskandar- the Arabic form of Alexander and Istana- the Malay word for "Palace/castle."

4. There had to be a family or heritage element- 
Isaac JOSEPH- named after Anthony Joseph and several men on both sides.
Isaiah KINGSTON- Isaiah's birth father's family is from Jamaica where the city of Kingston is the capital.
Immanuelle MARIE- gets her version of "Mary" from Anthony's Mom and Grandma.

 5. There had to be a biblical element- Our faith is an essential and everyday part of our lives.  I don't think a biblical name makes the name more important, but I do love that my kids have all heard a part of their name as we've taught them from the Bible.

6. It couldn't be too popular- Immanuelle and Isabelle. Don't those sound lovely together? Isabelle is popular for a reason...it's a gorgeous name. And "Isa" is Arabic for Jesus and "Belle/bella" is "beautiful" in French. "Beautiful Jesus." It was hard walking away from that one, but I just couldn't let her be Isabelle #12 in her class. Plus, she has a cousin with that name.

When all was said and done, here's why we chose our daughter's name...

* First, there were no (normal-sounding) little girl names starting with "i" left in the Bible. We checked.

* Second, before she was even conceived, we had joked if #4 was a girl we could call her Ivy because the Roman numeral for 4 is "IV." That's how we roll. History jokes. So in a way, it started as a nickname.

* Third. Going from the "IV" thing, I thought it would be nice to maybe name i4 after my sister Veronica (who passed away 10 years ago and was also an October baby) if she were a girl. The only problem was finding an I-name that worked with Veronica. VERONICA. It's got presence that's for sure. It's no wallflower of a name. But nothing sounded right with it.  Maybe because we speak English?  If we spoke Spanish or Italian the names we found would sound good together ...say these with your best Antonio Banderas voice-
"Idania Veronica"
"Illiana Veronica"
"Isla Veronica"... nice, no?
Now go back and read them again like Susan Serandon, Homer Simpson, or any of the cast from Duck Dynasty. Sounds more like a clucking hen, doesn't it?
So making her initials be I.V. was a no-go. Oh well.

* It should be noted that Ivy is actually a popular name right now in Australia.  Those Aussies. We like 'em and actually run into them a whole lot over here.  Also, because I take care of little people all day (sometimes not showering til mid-afternoon <-- real talk) and don't follow celebrity news, AFTER we had settled on Ivy, I found out Jay Z and Beyonce named their daughter Blue Ivy. {sigh} SO, though it's no Isabella, I have wondered if we have the first of many Ivy's to follow? Immanuelle is used in France regularly...so maybe my girls' names will both keep to their "foreign" country boundaries? Fingers crossed! (or "thumbs tucked!" if you're South African)
* The more we looked for alternatives to Ivy, or fillers for I.V., the more and more we liked the name Ivy itself. It's got spunk in an earthy sort of way.  Once we paired it with her middle name, it was the winner.

* My Great Grandmother was Rachel Louise (Louise has already been taken by another cousin). I actually have lots of memories of my Great Grandmother and am thankful to have known that generation of my family. She was a classy lady and a gifted musician...maybe our Ivy will inherit that gene!?

* My Grandmother is Rachel Ernestine. Neither of us were too keen on the Ernestine part...but love that the Rachel is repeated in her name. Grandmother has been a huge influence in my life.  If I ever write a novel, she will be a character in it.  I am so glad to get to honor her by naming one of her Great Granddaughters after her. It's a privilege indeed. Our first 3 phone calls from the delivery room to announce her arrival were Anthony's Mom, my sister, and Grandmother. "Oh, I'm so tickled y'all would name her that!" was every bit the response I wanted to hear.

* Rachel is also a biblical name and her story is told in the book of Genesis in the Bible.  It's quite the soap opera...but I love that aspect!  That the Lord works in our lives for His glory despite our shortcomings and circumstances.  She was the favorite wife of Jacob, Mother of Joseph. She was beautiful enough that Jacob considered her hand in marriage worthy of 14 years of labor working for Rachel's dad, the price named for her betrothal.  The name means "Lamb" which is a lovely nod forward to Jesus who is known as the "Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world.

So there you have it. Our Ivy Rachel.