Archive | March, 2011

I am not my body…

31 Mar

Last week was one of those weeks where I lived in frustration again with my own body.

Complaining to myself that I have nothing to wear, following my “unexplained” weight gain….obsessing over minor aches and pains I had….feeling nauseous from medicines I took …. and the list goes on.

Just in general not a happy camper…very frustrated with my body and how not-perfect it was….

That off course made my whole life seem miserable and nothing was good enough anymore.

That was until I met Stephanie Nielsen.

I did not meet her in person…but I was reading a book review on someone’s blog and noted a small icon on the right sidebar…I clicked and it landed me on her blog,  NieNie Dialogues.

I watched the video on her blog …and then I cried.

I cried for her burns. I cried for her courage. I cried for her children.

And then I spent the rest of the evening reading through her blog and archives to even before her accident.

I felt ashamed about my complaints – having a perfectly healthy body and pretending like I have it so bad…

But, more importantly I felt so inspired by her. She has no choice now but to live in her new body, but she started blogging 3 years before her accident…and then she did have a choice to make – to be happy or unhappy. And everything I read points to the fact that she lived life in full and in gratitude before this happened. Her zest for life and her love for her husband was just simply incredible.

I watched the clip and what struck me most was ” I am not my body”. I want to never forget that again.

My mind has been with Stephanie so much this past week…and I want you to meet her too. So, I share her story here today and hope that you too can learn from her. You can watch more videos on her blog, especially the one with her four children and their Blue Lily photo shoot. It is just divine.

 

Take care

Ilze

Reflections on Raising “Adults”

29 Mar

We all try our best raising our kids…right??

We try different means and methods… and hope for the best!!

Who knows what will or will not achieve the results we were hoping for….only time tells…

Last  week my kids went off on their own for the first time, flying without mom and dad to another country ! For a playdate/ fun birthday surprise !

Yes – they were bursting with excitement to get to spend a week with friends without their parents.

They were indeed not without “parents”…as our friends took them in under their wings for the week…oh boy…did they know what they signed up for?

Well – it was their idea and they arranged everything. How lucky were these kids??

While they were gone, I had time to sort out a few things and was digging deep into some archives to search for something when I found these papers from a couple of years ago…

It made me smile.

It was not kids’art. It was their interpretation of my “parental input” by lack of a better word.

They date back about 4 years, when me and the two of them sat together and talked about relationships amongst other things – in one of my attempts to not raise KIDS, but to raise ADULTS…as me and my husband keep on reminding ourselves through the years.

This chat most certainly was on good relationships on the playground at school, making friends etc. as I recall one of them having issues with this at the time.

There are “pointers” ..sort of suggestions for them…but then there are the “rules” – the non negotiable things ….

Yes – I do this to my kids…you can laugh or applaud now….

And then I ask  them to feed back to me in their own way how they understood/ interpreted what I was trying to say.

 

This is probably the reason why I kept these papers all these years !!! To reflect back one day on how they applied their minds to this…

Or wait, maybe it was to have proof that I did in fact tried, if it turns out that my efforts were to no avail…

I don’t write it out anymore and they draw it out either… this was when they were 6 and 8 – just to remind you !!!

I even tried to help the teacher, by listing the things he could do in class to be a good student – when I got a little note from her one day….

And then there was the “how to put this in ACTION…”

Yes – obviously I threw in a few “these things  you gotta do at home if you wanna keep Mommy sane” ????!!!

…and yes, why would I NOT sneak in a …”keep the house neat and tidy?????”…. I am a bit of a neat freak??? (can I say that that one did not make quite the impression I was hoping for??). I constantly find towels on the floor, messes everywhere and even a little report back from my friend that my son left his clothes on the floor at their house. Oops. And..Sorry, friend ! I did get many other positive reports from her to make up for that one !

Well, we are a religious family, so bringing up kids in such an environment also included a few pointers on how to make a special time for God  and where He fits into all of this in our daily lives or where we fall short on our own…or as parents.

Those just a few notes from one of my efforts to help these kids gain perspective on life in the way me and my husband see it..so that they can one day apply what we taught them…. decide for themselves and hopefully keep the good and throw out the bad and go beyond the mistakes we made….

This week I could not help but wonder – how many of these things that we have gone through over the years have made enough impact to fully equip them for the world out there? Surely they interact a lot with others on a daily basis and on playdates..and I don’t keep that close an eye on my kids to control their actions and responses. But they are starting to go off on their own in little bits and pieces and it is more and more up to them what choices they make on a daily basis.

This is where we as parents have to trust, that they will be reminded of what they were taught – from our best intention and efforts. And there will be parts that needs some shaping up still in the years to come…. And their will be some parts of their personality and behaviour that will develop beyond what I taught them…in a good OR a bad way.

But, I trust in my heart that they were good company…remembering many  of the things they have learned…and most of all – I am happy that they did something right in the first instance on shaping their friendship and relationships up to this point – something well enough to get invited to someone’s house for a week !

I am thankful for friends who took them in..and I am thankful for my kids and the years we have had together up till now to talk about all these things and I am looking forward to another couple of years, in helping them become their own in this world to engage in meaningful, pleasant and lasting friendships !!

I feel blessed to have been able to be a parent and try my hand at this. What a priviledge.

Do you feel the same way about raising kids?

Or if you don’t have kids yet and plan to have some –  are you looking forward to raising them? Or is this a huge mountain ahead for you?

Well – a little advice from me then…

I believe that there are only 2 things you need to give your kids – ROOTS and WINGS !

I have tried to give them some roots..to keep them well grounded by explaining the mechanics, the rules, our set of principles.

I am working on their wings…. but is with great anticipation that I see them flapping them already, starting to  take off on short flights …and eventually  have the sky as their limit.

I love them dearly. It is an exciting and extreme privilege to raise kids… I mean…raise adults for this world we live in.

Do you have any wisdom to share with me? Please do.

If you have complaints about my kids – sorry, my inbox is full.

If you have lovely things to say about them..you can leave a million comments on this blog !

Ilze

P.S – No copyright on my book above on “parenting”… feel free to use on your kids ! It comes no charge and no copyright.Not often you get something for free, right? :-))

Chanel Spring Summer 2011 Ready to Wear Collection

28 Mar

I am back from my blog break and I have to admit – I missed writing… just to write and share my life and my feelings and my thoughts.

Even if no one listens, even if no one cares. I enjoy writing.

So, I think I will start by catching up with all the things I wanted to say last week, which I didn’t get to share.

First up – was the Chanel Spring/ Summer 2010 Ready-to-wear- Collection that I got to see at a fashion show. A friend of mine invited me to go with her. She gets you in everywhere – as a VVIP guest. Love that ! 🙂

So, it was up at the Rooftop of the Shinsegae – where there is lovely art work to admire while the models get ready..

That is ….. only untill the models come. Because then you have pay close attention !

Oooh….some of those price tags are hefty, so it is always nice to go home not so empty-handed….

Thanks to goody bags…Thank you Coco !

The book we got as a hand-out shows the scenes behind the Photo Shoot for the new collection…and here is a taste of what is inside…

All the details are on the back page, so you can go have a peek too ! This post is just a teaser to get you in shopping mood for the Spring/ Summer ahead !

I have to admit – I only own items from Chanel bags and accessories, but I do not own an item from the Chanel clothing line….
Having said that ….those SHOES I saw at the show…still comes back to haunt me – one week later…. I LOVED it !!!!

I think it is going to be a HOT, HOT item this spring/ summer.

I don’t want to spoil you over and share a photo here, so – yes, you will need to  go see it at the Chanel site – they go through a lot of trouble to set up the shoots, so just fair you go visit them !! And check out those SHOES !!!!!

Oohhh… I wonder if I will own a pair later this year…..????

I wish…

More about the rest of my week tomorrow !

Ilze

Blog break

21 Mar

I am taking a little blog break this week.

My kids are off on holidays…most people are still in a rather somber mood for Japan and I want to respect that …and I am taking this time to tackle one of my projects that are long overdue…

Sorting my photos and transferring them off my computer.

I started with 120 000 images in i-photo…

I still have some way to go……

I will be back next week !

Hope to meet you back here then…

Take care

Ilze

Monday mood-lift by Amy Butler designs

14 Mar

Today is Monday and it is pretty cloudy and foggy where I live.

The spring colours of my previous post is about the only thing around me that is bright and colourful right now.

I guess winter is just not quite ready to let go of its’ grip.

This weather makes me want to crawl back in bed. And how lovely if you have a set of 100% Organic Linen by the very talented Amy Butler.

I love everything that  Amy Butler offers and she is the official sponsor of the Selvedge Spring Fair which takes place on April, 2nd in London. She is also a contributor in Holly Becker’s upcoming book Decorate which deserves a post of its own sometime soon for all the hype it is creating right now in the decor world !! You can read all about the Fair details (as well as pre-order Holly’s book) on Holly’s famous blog decor8. , which is where I was reminded once again of the many talents of Amy.

I have a number of stationery products of Amy. Go check it out ! You will get lost in all the wonderful colours and design….

Now….to decide….crawl back in bed….????…..mmmmm…. Happy Monday everybody !

Party Style – Spring is here….

13 Mar

Today I want to start another series on my blog! Simply called Party Style.

My big passion lies in setting a scene for an event and I decided to pursue it more.

In this series I will feature some “teasers” for table settings which will hopefully inspire you when you host a little get together of your own. When you put a little passion into preparing for the next party, it will surely shows.  It is always nice when friends know that you took a little extra care preparing for the time you share.

Today we kick off the series inspired by SPRING.

Spring is here…..Winter is gone (well, supposedly !).

Why not celebrate by inviting a few friends over for a casual chat and dust off the winter blues with a bright, cheerful setting that will certainly invite the sun out !

I used the fresh flowers that I got from the market to inspire the rest of my color scheme.

Candles always add in creating atmosphere –  be it day or night when you entertain. Light a candle – especially if it has a lovely fragrance complimenting the fragrance of the flowers.

Color coördination is key to make visual impact. Make sure everything matches perfectly. It pleases the eye. Detail will make the difference ! When you have a table-cloth that has a design, try to stick to plain color napkins, plates and glasses. It gets too busy if you put cups and plates with a design on a table-cloth that has a print already. The same goes vice versa – you can use printed plates or glasses or pretty napkins when you use your table-cloth as an undertone of color.

Napkins always provide great opportunity to add a little something extra if you have time for a little effort and attention to detail. Make your own “napkin rings” with any small, inexpensive ornament and a ribbon.

If you are in my area, and you need help or a consultation on planning and preparing the space for your next elite event..be it a special birthday, a baby shower, a dinner, a business reception or any elite occasion that needs a bit more brainstorming than you feel capable of, contact me via e-mail for help at ioblog@me.com.

Hope the weather will allow us all to have a happy Spring-inspired celebration with the beautiful colors that are awaiting us all this Spring despite all the devastation brought upon us in the world over the last couple of days! Our thoughts are with all those who suffered tremendous losses and chaos and our hopes are for speedy relief !

Ilze

Kids’ School Snacks

11 Mar

Who hates packing school snacks in the morning..trying to decide what to pack when you are still half asleep? Well, I do.

And I am too lazy to do it the night before. One day at a time !

Today, just a tip from my side for those days when you don’t have time to prepare something fresh like a sandwich or fruit.

I buy bulk for items that don’t have expiry dates.

I take a selection of items and re-package them in snack size suitable for my kids.

Putting a personal note takes hardly any extra time…but goes a long way putting a smile in their hearts when they open it at school !

Then I take a few of each kind and  put them together in one box in a drawer. For those mornings we are in a rush…or can’t think straight because it is too early.

Simply pull open the drawer and grab a packet to go. Even when mom not around, kids have easy access to take care of themselves for school snack. Done.

Have a nice day everybody !

Women’s Day

8 Mar

Happy Women’s day to all of you out there celebrating this day !!!

So many great things out there that woman are achieving today !

Another reason to celebrate this day….

Today my blog has hit the 4 000 visitors’ mark on the statistics’ counter. So happy with the way this is going…

Can’t wait to share my new blog with you. And to start marketing it, since I have not done  any marketing with this blog !!

It is still a work-in-progress since I have not had time to work on the technical stuff as much as I would have liked to.

But, I will keep you posted as soon as we are ready to move !! Just keep coming ! And thanks for visiting my blog.

Have a great day !

Ilze

Fairy Birthday Party

5 Mar

Today’s post is following a comment from a reader about using marshmallows in stead of frosting for the Barbie cake (see Barbie birthday post). So, I promised to show a little more from another occassion.  I love using marshmallows for a party where you need fluff and flair and dreamy feelings !

At my youngest daughter’s Fairy birthday party, I used marshmallows for the decoration of the cupcakes.

But it worked its’ charm just as perfect on the grownups’ pavlova !

Note – I did not use the twirly kind for the cupcakes

All you really need to get the fairy flair in the party, is fairy napkins, fairy cups and plates, fairy goody bags and of course – a pair of fairy wings for every little person that come join the fun !

…oh….and I almost forgot !  Lots and lots of fairy colours – which most girls would say is PINK !!!!

I just bought these goody bags at a local grocery store…but another idea is to take a piece of netting and cut up squares and fold and tie them for a goody bag. This is what I did for my other daughter’s fairy birthday when she was the same age.

At that birthday, 6 years ago, we rented a “BIG FAIRY” – co-worker who rented her services out as pretending to be the Fairy Godmother who visited all the fairy parties ! The kids were mesmerized and it was a great entertainment idea for a fairy birthday, but unfortunately we did not have it this time !

Back to this fairy party in 2010:

I used all the spare fabric I had to fluff up the table in pink….napkins, window bead-strings and fairy wands to get them completey carried away in the pinkness of fairyland !

With colour or themed parties – when you want to make big impact….draw the attention ALL to one table or one spot, and make sure in that specific area you see NOTHING but that which is intentionally there for the party ! It is already difficult to transform a room into a party room with all your regular things competing with your party decor. So, best to contain your efforts to one area!

And when you go for pink, then we really mean pink – no orange drinks would be allowed at THIS party ! You can go for guava, strawberry or any pink drink…but for our little fairies we chose a pink milk to go down with the cupcake!

To avoid the mad rush when you bring the cupcake tray..put their cupcakes already in their places where they will stand around the table… Call it “crowd control”, if you will…but at least it helps kids to very quickly spread out if there is already a cupcake as a place-marker ! I used candle-trays for little plates.

Cupcakes are a really nice alternative nowadays in stead of  cutting up a big cake, since you can determine the number of portions a lot more accurate than with a traditional cake.

But, even when serving cupcakes I always try to have a small cake – just for the purpose of the candle-blowing. And for sentimental value – we used the same “cake decoration” that big sister had  6 years before on her birthday cake ! They were not edible…no, they were ceramic dolls and are now part of her room decor – and that’s why we could re-use them after 6 years !!

Another tip I think is handy to have, is that you can use your cups, napkins, utensils, and party favors  ( in this case fairy wings & fairy wands), as part of your decorations. By doing this, the table looks fabulous when you start..but by the end of the party, it is all being “used” which means you have practically cleared the table. And why spend extra on decorations if you can use things that you will already have handy for the party.  Back to my point of so many times before – combine form with function !!

The time of year when this party was hosted, is warm enough for outdoor play, but it was not long after winter, which means the garden was not in great shape….but, hey  – don’t let that ever stop you – if you can’t get a fairy garden…you just have to create you own….

Again – lots of pink, hanging fairies and fake flowers to cheer things up !

Tip  – we don’t normally have a pink house in the backyard…and did not buy one specially for the birthday…but in Korea, you can rent toys for 1-3 month period. It costs a lot less than party entertainment or buying the big items….but it provided way more fun  – not only during the party but also for the 2 months after – it just became part of the overall gift, since it was delivered the day before the party and it was a big hit with the party girl !!

you can rent toys like the crocodile and the playhouse, from the following places – www.etoyworld.netwww.toyuncle.co.kr or www.babychild.co.kr.

But at the end of the day – if you are the head fairy for the day – you get to have your cake AND eat it !

Oscar night

3 Mar

Did you watch the Oscars? I have to admit – I did not. I just got the scoop from one of the lovely blogs that I follow. If you want to see a quick re-cap on it all,  go see the blog of  Slim Paley. She did a great job as always !

I have one particular recollection of an Oscar night where I stayed up to watch….but was pregnant with my second child and my husband was overseas at the time…and ALL I can recall of that whole evening…was that for the entire duration of the show I was on the floor in the bathroom….with my 18 month old son…bringing me a toss pillow, patting me on the back and saying everything will be okay !!! (yes – I had ALL day sickness during the first four months of my pregnancy). To be honest, that was one of the moments I felt so cared for…to be comforted by a tiny, little guy so grown-up and so caring taking over his dad’s role at the time!

But, I did once in my life receive my own “Oscar”. Working as a Chartered Accountant I took on a huge project after a 3 yrs leave of absence from work. And I mean HUGE. It was a first of its kind for our country and we had to come up with many “plans” of how to tackle the whole lot and in the end achieved great success. So I received the “CAN DO” award from the top guy in our firm ! No red carpets though….but yes, more than enough spotlight was on me on the exact same evening I told the hairdresser to go wild and give me a crazy hair-do for the evening… I just want to look “funky”…thinking I was just going to have a great party at the firm’s year-end function with no idea it was my one and only time I was going to get a personal photo with our CEO??!!

In honor of Oscar night, I opened the cupboard yesterday to look at my Oscar….

OOPS !!…

Too many moves as an expat took its toll. When you quit your job and become a trailing spouse.. you don’t have a fancy office anymore to showcase all these things !

And I could not help but wonder… is that what had become of my “CAN DO” attitude??! I very often now feel the ” I can’t do” this and instead a “MUST DO ” kind of burden…as a stay home mom !

Anyone out there feeling the same?!

Okay – maybe I am the only one out there feeling that I don’t have my “can-do” as much as I was known back then for it !

But hey – at least I will always have my  other “Oscars” – 3 beautiful children for whom I WANT to do many things !

Share with me some of your rewards that you have in life  – or what your “Oscar” looks like?!

Have a great day everyone !

ps – need to see more on the Oscars?! Especially the “behind the scenes and the after-parties?”…then buckle up and go here. Popsugar covers it all!

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