Monday, May 11, 2015

Storage of Priceless Memories

Priceless Memories

When it comes to storing items in your home, I am from the less is more camp. I thrive in uncluttered spaces! This process of purging that has occurred over the last couple of years tends to drive my dear husband crazy at times. But, through all of this purging there has always been one area I have had a difficult time with – our son’s things. Warning- this article is a bit personal.

When it comes to purging kids’ clothing and other items, you know for your family that it will save money later on if these items are just stored for the next child. But, for me, the decision not to purge was an emotional one. It began with the coming home outfit and then just escalated until we had four giant Rubbermaid bins stacked in our guest room and a closet full of other items (our son is now two years old). This was after I did pass along a few items to friends. I knew I needed to get a handle on these clothes if I was going to have a guest room for family. I would begin to purge and sort and decide what to do with everything and then emotion would set in and I would pack everything back into the bins breaking my back to stack them where they were previously. I just couldn't let go of anything remembering ever outfit and what he was doing when he wore it.

You may be wondering why I just couldn't keep these items for our next child like most moms do or consign them. The answer is a simple one –our son came after years and years of us longing to be parents. Some people are pretty certain when they are married that they will have a certain size family or they hope to have a certain sized family. In our case, God had other plans.

We tried for a few years to add to our family the traditional way. When we were financially able, we called on doctors to help us and we believed we would be successful. We were wrong. This was an extremely emotional time for us (as those of you who have gone through fertility treatments can attest too). We then felt the call to adopt. Because we followed this call, we had a baby boy in our arms nine months later (we had then been married 8 years)!! It was love at first site and that love for him has grown exponentially over the two years we have had him in our family. He is by far the best thing that has ever happened to us. That being said, you can see why it was and has been so difficult to purge anything related to his being in our home.

We recently joined a group at our church – the Orphan ministry – that offers support to families who choose to expand their family in different ways. These include adoption, fostering, or fostering to adopt. After joining this group, I realized that these items that I was holding on to needed to be used by others instead of sitting in our home. We were so blessed to bring Declan into our lives and our home. I wanted to bless others by giving these clothes to others who could use them now. I have since purged everything baby related down into two bins. This has been an emotionally cleansing time for me. But, there were still those items that have very special meaning to us that we really will want to keep including his coming home outfit and handmade hats and booties from grandparents.
I knew that these items could not just be packed into a Rubbermaid bin. They needed to be stored somewhere where they could be pulled out again years from now for another child or for our grandchildren still looking like they do today.

In my research, these are the guidelines I found to store these items successfully:
·        Clean the item completely or dry clean if able. Do not use any added stiffeners or starches on the item. Carefully inspect the item to ensure it is completely clean.
·        Use containers that are made of polypropylene (#5 recycling code or the letters PP). These would include Rubbermaid and Sterilite containers. These containers do not need to be airtight. You could also store items in a cedar chest, but they still need to be wrapped in the tissue paper mentioned below. You could also order Archival boxes from a reputable dealer. If ordering boxes, they need to be acid free and lignin free, not just labeled as “archival”.
·        Handle the item with clean, washed hands (the oils from our skin can cause stains over time)
·        Remove any metal or wooden buttons or other embellishments that could stain the item over time (store these in a polyethylene zip lock bag or wrap in muslin or tissue paper)
·        Use lignin and acid free tissue paper to wrap the item (lightly add tissue paper to sleeves, hats or other three dimensional items before wrapping), 100% washed muslin or 100% washed cotton sheeting can also be used
·        Add tissue paper to the inside of the storage container
·        Carefully fold the items if needed placing tissue paper between the folds and place the item in the container (the best storage will not require the item to be folded)
·        Add a container of dried French Lavender to the container to repel pests (do not use moth balls as they are a carcinogen)
·        Store the container in a room near an interior wall (not the attic or basement), ideally an interior closet or under a bed. It should be away from drafts or any plumbing pipes which may be inside the walls.
·        Inspect the item once every six months to a year to ensure it is still in good condition refolding it differently to minimize stress on the fabric
·        Finally, make sure these items are covered with your insurance company (take photos). This would go for antique items such as tapestries that are worth a lot of money.

No matter what items you have in your home that you need to store safely, be sure to follow these guidelines. You can also find more information on storing items of sentimental value by doing a quick google search with the words “textile preservation”.
We don’t know now what the future may hold for our family, but we know we are blessed beyond measure to have Declan in our lives. He has been the best thing that has ever happened to us. We hope to add to our family a sibling for him soon.




Monday, April 13, 2015

How to choose your design style {Part 1: Farmhouse Chic}

I have always loved HGTV and would pay for cable even if that were the only channel we received!! As a homeowner and designer, I find a ton of inspiration and ideas by watching the shows on this channel. One of my new favorites - and probably some of yours as well - is Fixer Upper with the Gaines Family in Waco, Texas.

This show appeals to me for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is that Joanna and Chip work together and compliment each other very well - the strength of their marriage and family is portrayed in the show. And, the second is her design style - very clean and refined while still adding unique and classic touches from times past.

I have constantly put effort into our home to make it more clean and refined as well as organized. The light colors, the open spaces and the lack of clutter in the spaces she designs really, really appeal to my senses. Everything has a purpose. Her own farmhouse is also inspirational in that she has inspirational sayings hanging on the walls in every room.

So, what style would I say Joanna Gaines inspires? She calls her style Farmhouse-Chic. A little industrial. A little country. A little modern with its streamlined pieces. But, altogether timeless.

What do I love about this style? Mainly, the open and airy feeling and the unique pieces that make a statement as well as the fact that the chosen pieces serve for form and function.


How do you add touches of this style to your home? 

ONLINE RESOURCES

  • Magnolia Homes: Many of the pieces Joanna uses on the show or in her farmhouse are also available for purchase. She also offers Gift Cards. WINK, WINK GARY CHEUNG. A few that I love include Metal Olive Buckets ($18 each), Tall Wavy Basket (from $58), White Canister Set ($38), Adjustable Stool ($145) and Bedtime Prayer Sign ($155) {Declan actually has a bear he received from his grandma that says this saying}     

  • Farmhouse Wares: This site also offers unique soaps and pantry items such as herbs and other food items  (also offers gift cards) 




LOCAL RESOURCES
  •  The Boutique by No Longer Bound where all purchases go to an awesome cause - to see men free of addiction and building a better life. Items available include custom built barn doors and custom built farmhouse tables. We have purchased a couple of signs from them and well as the Scrabble Letters to spell out Declan's name. In the future, we would love to change our Dining Room back into a Dining Room {Now a playroom} or a Sitting Room for Guest. If we opt for a dining room, we will definitely be saving for a Farmhouse table  from here.  

All monies go back into this program 

We have these to spell "DECLAN"






  • Home Goods {Local}All of the items below were on sale at our local Home Goods at the time of this post. They had a large shipment from Broyhill. All of the items except for the furniture pieces were between $6.99 and $24.99!! What a steal!!! 






BLOGGERS TO FOLLOW 

Perfectly Imperfect  {She also has an awesome shop}
StoneGable {Lots of DIY Tutorials}
Live Creatively Inspired {Article}
The Farmhouse Porch {Has an Etsy shop}


How have we begun to add Farmhouse Chic to our home?
  • Floating DIY shelves in Master Bath {Hubby DIY}
  • Lighter colors in our Master and Master Bath {Master Bedroom}
  • Board and Batten in our Master Bedroom {Hubby DIY/Photo to Come}
  • Lighter colored bedding in Master - Purchased on Sale from {Pottery Barn Outlet}
  • Stained Dining Room Table/Covered Chairs {In the works}
  • Repurposed Dresser in Entryway {Dresser DIY}
  • Pallet Wall in Entryway {Pallet Wall DIY}
  • Handmade signs throughout our home {Myself and Boutique by No Longer Bound}
  • DIY Coffee Filter Wreath in Half Bath {DIY}
  • Storage in the form of baskets, wooden bowls (Heirlooms), Cedar Chest (Heirloom) 
Still in the works for our home are a redo of our dining room table and chairs {Summer 2015} and perhaps some more paint changes {Sorry honey!} 

I am the most excited about moving our playroom upstairs this summer. This new room will be full of industrial, rustic, farmhouse charm. The perfect place for a rough and tumble little boy to play - on rainy days that is. The rest of the summer, we will be making memories and taking adventures outdoors. 
























Monday, March 30, 2015

Photos of Food We Ate (All of this deliciousness deserved its own space!)

Dim Sum with Gary's Family
(Sook Sook-Gary's Brother, MaMa -grandma, YeYe -grandpa, and PoPo - Gary's grandmother)


Since being back in the states, we have craved Chinese food - authentic, only available for the most part overseas, Chinese food. So, last night we had a wonderful meal cooked by hubby of curry, rice and egg {Kare Raisu}which we ate at the food court in his parents' building. The Kare Raisu we ate had an egg cooked- sort of like an omelette - in a pan with the ball of rice on top and then it was flipped over onto the plate with the curry. So, so yummy!!

This weekend (older post - we enjoyed our Dim Sum and our trip to IKEA this day) - weather permitting - we have planned a morning of Dim Sum at a restaurant a little further from our house and tea time at a local Asian buns and coffee house called Sweet Hut. Can't Wait!!! We have made a plan from now on to eat Dim Sum at least once a month and invite different friends along.

The day in Hong Kong begins like the day in most other places around the world with people getting out of the house to go to work. But, breakfast in Hong Kong looks very different there than in the States. You can get eggs and oatmeal and toast, but those aren't the most common items found. Our breakfast here wouldn't last long with all of the walking and moving one does in Hong Kong.

Breakfast of Noodles, Beef and Bok Choy with Egg

The most common breakfast at home or out will include Dim Sum, noodles, buns or Breakfast sets at restaurants. If I wanted eggs, I requested them at home or ordered them alongside noodles. You can find cereal and oatmeal in the grocery, but the "Americanized" food tends to be more pricey.

Dim Sum Common Dishes:
Dim Sum is the Chinese equivalent to our southern restaurants that serve food in dishes family style. The dishes are ordered and brought to the table where they are placed on a giant lazy Susan in the center of the table. This is a great way to eat if you are a Chinese food newbie since you will get to try a lot of different things. I love Dim Sum. It is a laid back way to eat, drink tea and visit with friends.

Dim Sum Table 

Congee
Chicken Feet
Pork Blood


I have actually tried most everything there is to try from Dim Sum, including the Pork Blood and Chicken Feet. I do not care for chicken feet as it really is all about the chewing and not really any meat. The Pork Blood actually tastes a lot like beef liver and has the consistency of Tofu. I like both tofu and beef liver so this wasn't a biggie for me.

Congee is a winter staple at our home and it is our equivalent to Chicken Soup when we are sick - Declan loves it! It is so easy and simple to make - only one cup of rice goes a long way. We often add chicken, mushrooms, ginger and scallions to our congee along with the water.


 Other Breakfast:
Buns are served as a Dim Sum dish as well as found as a take and go snack. This article tells a lot about the different types. {Buns}

We also often visited a Chinese Bakery for tea time or for a quick snack for Declan. This website has a lot of mouth watering photos of the bakery items we eat most. {Chinese Pastries}

My favorites are the Red Bean Pastries while Gary loves the Egg Custard Tarts. Declan often went for the Hot Dog or Sponge cake pastries. The Sweet Hut tea and pastry shop is where we find these in the Atlanta area.

Baked Goods (Chinese Buns)

Snacks:

Octopus Balls (Takoyaki)

Gai Daan Tsai (Waffles) 
Chinese Tea Eggs 

Hot Pot for Dinner:
Hot Pot refers to a way of cooking a lot of food in one pot with a boiling soup base. The water is kept boiling hot and items such as meat, fish balls, vegetables and other items are dropped into the pot where it cooks. You then take out what you want and eat it.

7 Layer Pot for Chinese New Year (Already cooked) Included Chicken, Veggies, Abalone)

We enjoyed Hot Pot for our Chinese New Year Meal with all of Gary's family. I will add more photos of family meals when I find them on the computer :)





Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Upstairs Playroom/Schoolroom (OlioBoard)

We recently transitioned our son to his very own big boy bed!! I know - it is a happy moment knowing he is still our little boy, but he is getting so big so fast!!

Anyway, while shopping at IKEA for his bed (full post on that coming soon), I had somewhat of an epiphany. We were strolling - well not really strolling - but squeezing our way through IKEA on Family Day when we stopped in the section where the hide a beds were. Now, when we first purchased our home and saw the staircase and how hard it was to move furniture upstairs we vowed to NEVER EVER own a hide a bed or a sofa bed as they are called sometimes.

But, on this day - we thought why not? And, here is our reasoning.

Having a little two year old involves having a lot of extra stuff - a lot needed, some probably not. But, as he grows, he takes up more space and so do the amount of items he needs.

He currently has 3 rooms in our home all to himself - his bedroom, his bathroom and our downstairs "dining room" which is his current playroom. Now, when he was a little tike - he was very easily entertained within the confines of the dining room space via baby gates. Now that he is a full head strong two year old, those baby gates are not doing their job. The result - toys EVERYWHERE downstairs. At the end of the day, most of the cars and trucks and trains have found their way into every room of the house.

Our extra bedroom is supposed to be our guest room, but we honestly have a bed in there and the rest is storage - clothes, baby bed and mattress, pictures we have no where to hang.  We have been purging and selling a ton and we still  have a ways to go, but we need to gain more control over our space.

We decided that we really don't need a fully devoted room just for guests (sorry family). We do occasionally have guests during the holidays, but that is pretty much the extent of it. So, getting back to that hide a bed. We decided we will sell the double bed and mattress and some other things we have in our guest room.

We will purchase an L-Shaped low profile sofa with a fold out double bed (whether from IKEA or somewhere else) and place it in the room. This will clear up sooooo much space. I will then move the trestle table and cubbies (hubby made these) from downstairs along with the cubby shelving (also built by hubby) into the room along with all of little D's art supplies, books, puzzles and toys.

If he wants to play downstairs, we will use the bucket system and he will be allowed to fill that bucket with toys to play with downstairs. At the end of the day, it will be filled back up and the toys will be taken back upstairs. This new toy room/activity room will also allow us to have a little quiet preschool area where we can work on learning activities and art activities. We may eventually hang a TV in there on the wall, but as for now TV is a limited commodity at our house.

Room Plans and Mood Board (via OlioBoard):


The above is my first attempt at using OlioBoard to create a Mood Board. I like it, but think using other tools can be somewhat faster unless you use all of the items from the downloaded brands they already have available. Some of the items shown here include:


  1. A cute little chalk board/art area for the corner as seen on TheProjectGirl.com and her roundup of spaces from the Utah Parade of Homes 2013 {Definitely DIY}
  2.  (2nd Option) Easel that can easily be for chalk or drawing 
  3. Industrial shelving as seen on Beneath My Heart {DIY LOVE LOVE LOVE this look}
  4. Floor Poufs - these have been popular for a while now, but I just haven't had the time to complete them - Summer project for sure using IKEA Signe Flatwoven rugs in various colors (I chose a red/sage stripe and a black/red stripe). These rugs were $2.99 each!! Of course, the stuffing will be pricey. I will save up my JoAnn's coupons for that. 
  5. Pottery Barn Stripe Rug - Pricey at $299 for a 5'x8', but this will be in the playroom so I want something cheap. I have been wanting to paint a canvas rug for a while. Add to my list of Things to Do. 
  6. Art Center- Love these rolling carts from IKEA at $30.00, but I already have a thrifted one from my favorite little spot. May repaint it a better color. 
  7. Love Love Love the Smart Store system from The Container Store. I will be purchasing a few of these and the Sterilite containers from Target to store his ever growing art supply pile
  8. To keep this room a little rustic and boyish, I am going to go for stripes, plaids and woodsey prints. I might even break down and take on the trend of paper mache animal heads on the wall. Maybe....
  9. Art will be kept to a minimum because I want this room to be mainly functional. There will be a chalkboard/art roll as well as a magnetic center for letters, numbers, etc. Other art will include family photos, pallet board art (DIY), and maybe some vintage airplane or car paintings. A few of my favorite sayings I have seen recently on DIY signs include, "You are our greatest adventure", "Why fit in when you were born to stand out", "Every good and perfect gift comes from above", "A Little boy is the only thing God can use to make a man", "It was always you." 

So, I am sure my readers are tired of seeing the ever changing "Playroom" Posts, but this home is ever changing. Ever since beginning Dave Ramsey and vowing to pay off all of our debt within the next few years (our house will take a little longer), we have decided to stay in this home for a while and just make it work for us where we are. We don't need more space, we just need less unnecessary items and a little more organization. 

Not quite sure what we will fill the empty dining room space with once we move little man upstairs, but it will either take on its previous dining room roll or will become a keeping/sitting room where we can read or I can paint. 

Thanks for reading. Hope to have some updates and photos soon. Blogging is always the easy part. Finding time to tackle these projects is what gets put on hold. I would much rather be at the part with little D. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Where do I Begin? (Decorating 101)

Where Do I Begin?

Following design trends is like trying to follow fashion trends – they change constantly! Should you follow trends? Yes, If they suit your overall style. But, what are the basic design rules to follow that don’t necessarily rely only on trends? How can you have a home that looks like a million bucks without spending a fortune and without changing your d├ęcor every season?

      Take your time:
Decorating is an expensive business. Having an overall vision for the space (and, more importantly – a budget) before beginning is a good way to save money in the long run. There are a variety of means available to pre-plan for a space. One popular way to do this is by creating a Design Board using Pinterest or by using other Internet resources such as Olioboard to create a Mood Board. Magazines and photographs can also help create a Mood Board or collage if you are a more hands on kind of planner. Cut clippings from magazines when you see something that inspires you and create a photo collage. All of these will help you to see your vision. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, hire a designer to help. There is nothing worse than choosing items for your home only to hate them when you see them in the space. Some items can’t be returned and who wants the hassle anyway?

Other ways to take your time include shopping for signature pieces that make a statement. Frequent vintage and resale shops until you find the pieces that speak to you and your overall design vision. By shopping vintage and resale, you can save money a lot of times and the pieces will have character. If you do find the perfect piece, don’t snag it just because it is the perfect price. Also think about what you might need to do to it once you bring it home – repaint, reupholster, fix drawers. If you need to refinish, count the cost of paint and supplies. If the piece needs to be reupholstered, add $300-$400 to the sale price. Also remember that wherever you decide to shop, price doesn’t always negate quality. Hiring someone to refinish or reupholster a piece for you will sometimes produce better results than purchasing an expensive piece from the mass produced market.

 Measure and measure again:
Unless you are able to knock walls down in order to expand you space, measuring is a necessity when it comes to designing a space. If it won’t fit, it won’t fit. Remember to keep scale and proportion of objects, of furnishings and of furniture in mind as well as overall square footage of the space. You want to choose pieces that fit well proportionally in the space as well as look proportional to each other. A small chair will look out of place in a large room while it will look just right in a smaller room.

Focus on function:
Some rooms are a no brainer when it comes to function. A bathroom has a very specific function as well as a kitchen. But, what function do other rooms in your home have? Some rooms can function in several ways especially when you have children or when you work from home. That spare bedroom which would normally be just for guest can double as an office or playroom. How often you need a guest room may also lead to different furniture purchases and more functions for the space. If you choose to add a bed, the space is limited for other functions. But, what if you did a sofa with a fold out bed? Your space just increased as did the room’s overall functions.

The one rule to avoid though is to have your office inside your bedroom. Mixing work and sleep could have repercussions on how well you sleep. If you do have to have a workspace in your sleeping space, try to make it as inconspicuous as possible with room dividers, great organization and minimal office furniture.

Acknowledge ALL of the surfaces in a room:
Many of us tend to choose a paint color, flooring, draperies and furnishings but neglect the sixth side of a room – the ceiling. Make a statement with the ceiling by using wallpaper, beams, wooden planks, or paint it a contrasting color to make a huge statement. If you aren’t into making a huge statement, purchase a gallon of white paint and have it tinted with the wall color you are using in the space.

Keep it clean and organized:
No matter what your design style or which trends you decide to follow, keep your space clean, organized and clutter free. Purge or store anything you don’t need on a regular basis and don’t go overboard with items that will clutter the space. Baskets and bins are a great investment to hide unwanted clutter especially in the office area or if your children’s toys share the living space.

Remember that having a home where YOU feel comfortable is your main goal. Trends do have their place in moderation, but remember that you are not decorating for your neighbors or friends. You want your home to feel welcoming when you entertain visitors, but the overall design style should be reflection of your tastes. You want to love coming home!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What We Packed: Toddler Carryon and Backpack

Marrying someone from another country means it is inevitable that you will travel at some point with kids. This is my first post of many documenting our trip to Hong Kong ~ our first with little man {he was 2 years 4 months at the time}. This was my third trip.

When we first decided to travel home for Chinese New Year, my teacher brain began to plan. I am the OCD, rule following, must have a plan part of this marriage!

This post will show what we packed and how we packed (Part 1 for Declan)


Little Man's BackPack 

Books:
The books chosen were ones on topics he loves right now (transportation vehicles). A huge plus to these books is that they are interactive and he can spend a while on one page lifting the flaps and naming items. The airplane book was read to him before our trip to help get him ready. 


  1. Slide and Find - Trucks by Roger Priddy 
  2. Busy, Busy Thomas (Thomas & Friends) Nifty Lift-and-Look Board Book by Rev. W. Awdry 
  3. The Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs and David Gordon 
Activities: 
I picked up several zippered pencil cases from Wal-Mart one day. My goal was to fill them with items that would keep our little man entertained during our very long flight. Movies usually cause him to get a little rowdy because he is sitting still so long. 

Pouch 1: Coloring 
  • Disney Planes Play Pack Grab & Go {Included two sticker sheets, one coloring pad and 4 crayons} 
  • Crayola Coloring Pad Disney Pixar Cars (picked up for $1.00)
  • 1 My First Crayola Triangular Crayons 8 ct
***I removed the crayons from the Grab and Go and just put in the triangular ones since they don't roll. Huge plus with a tray table and confined space. 

Pouch 2: Valentines Craft  ***Since we were traveling on February 12, this was the perfect craft. 
  • White cardstock hearts cut using a template 
  • Red construction paper strips {for the accordion legs and arms}
  • Valentines Stickers Chosen by Declan himself (Target)
  • Googly Eyes {Self-adhesive is best}
  • Glue stick 
Pouch 3: 
  • Popsicle Sticks with Velcro attached to the ends 
  • Matching Wooden Circles {Transportation Memory Game} I got the idea from here and used the wooden circles (Michael's), but I printed photos of vehicles using my computer's clip art. On one side, there are emergency vehicles (firetruck, ambulance, police car) and the other side has construction vehicle such as dump truck and excavator. 
Pouch 4: 
Felt Button Snake  {Button Snake}
Lace and Learn Shapes ~ Farm Theme {Birthday Gift}


Toys:
Car Roll Mat with 3 cars and 3 trains {Car Mat Tutorial} I liked this one best. I followed it mainly, but added an extra piece of fabric behind the road to create an extra wide pocket. In this pocket, I inserted a Train Track sewn onto felt and a felt Dumptruck page with buttons. {Dump Truck With Button Up Tires"

Snacks:
Sippy Cup {One that doesn't leak!!}
Snacks {Box of raisins, 1 package Dehydrated fruit (Costco), Annie's Cheddar Snack Mix, 1 Peter Rabbit Organic Fruit Pouch}


Extras ~ You know, Just in Case

I wanted to have something to surprise him with when he got anxious or fussy. These were based on his likes at the time. 

Disney Planes Racing Dusty Crophopper Die Cast Plane
18 Wheel Truck with a car that goes inside a trailer {He loved the one our neighbor had}


CarryOn:

  • 1 Pack size 5 Super dry diapers
  • 1 Huggies Designer Tub {Full - Came Free in a box of diapers from Costco}



    • 1 Huggies Natural Care Clutch 'n' Clean Refillable wipes holder with arm strap - great for airport and walking around Hong Kong {Free in box of Costco diapers, but can be found at Wal-mart}


    • Small soft blanket (From a dear friend's mom for Declan's baby shower)
    • Summer Infant ChangeAway Changing Pad (with two diapers inside for ease of getting to the airplane bathroom)
    • A zippered pouch for night time items ~ comfy 2 piece PJs, Disney Cars Softee Fuzzy Socks, Lavender Stick, My First Blankie, The First Years GumDrop Teething Pacifier, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown{We decided that since the flight was 16 hours and we would be getting up so early to get to the airport that we would follow the same bedtime routine on the plane} 
    • One extra set of comfy clothes like drawstring pants and a loose T-Shirt {Our poor little man is prone to car sickness}
    • Headphones and Leap Frog {Loaned to us by generous friends}
    • Memory Foam Pillow 
    Reflections on the airplane ride:

    The best thing we did for this trip was keep little man on his schedule the day before and he had a great night of sleep. 

    The second best advice found in my research was to follow bedtime routine on the airplane. This worked like a charm on the way over to Hong Kong. We took Declan to the airplane bathroom at his normal bedtime. We changed his diaper, brushed his teeth, and put on his PJs. We then went back to our seat and read his favorite bedtime story, rubbed his forehead with Lavender, gave him his lovey and blanket and after he got comfortable on the seat between daddy and I he fell fast asleep lulled by the sound of the airplane's engine. 

    The third best advice was to pack a couple of new toys for him to open during flight. This worked great for when he was getting restless and we had to keep our seatbelts on. We opened the new truck and he spent a long time just rolling it along the tray table. 

    Something I did that probably was overkill- all of the pouches of activities. We did use the crayons and stickers and he loved the Valentine's activity. The rest we never opened! 











    Thursday, February 19, 2015

    Tourist Attractions: Noah's Ark and Hong Kong Cable Car Ride

    Noah's Ark 

    Noah's Ark was our first tourist stop on our trip. It was quite cloudy this day so we weren't able to take in the Solar Tower and we spent most of our visit eating lunch at the buffet and viewing the amphibians inside. Declan loved the Chameleon.

    This tourist area offers a hotel and buffet as well as the venue itself and shopping. The walk from the transportation stop to the Ark is nice as well with a lot of little shops and food venues.












    Hong Kong Ngong Ping Cable Car Ride 

    This was an awesome ride. We rode public transportation to get to Ngong Ping and then waited in line (a long line so make sure you have something to keep any little ones happy). We ended up buying the round trip tickets along with the boat ride in the fishing village. We opted for the round trip tickets over the glass bottom cars (I was very happy about this since I am fearful of heights).

    The cable car ride up to the Buddha was a long one. But, Declan loved it. He stood on the seat the whole time and looked out of the window. It was very cloudy (granted this was February, but the humidity was high) the day we went so we didn't see a lot on the way up, but by the time we left the sun was out full force and we had an awesome view!

    From the cable car, we could see the Hong Kong Airport, the landscape, and the new bridge from Hong Kong Island to Macau.

    Trip Up


    Not Fearful Of Heights At all

    Clear Afternoon Skies Beautiful


    We Could See Everything From Up Here on the Way Back 




    After getting off of the cable car, we walked around the village shops and hiked to the top of the hill to see the brass Big Buddha and Lon Po Monestary. To the top of the Buddha is 268 steps. The hike is well worth it when you arrive at the top and look down to see the hills and ocean views. Incense was burning everywhere. There are also cows roaming free on the road and dogs everywhere off leash. They are safe, but petting or feeding them is not something you should do. We were also able to walk through the temple and see the kneeling spots of the monks. The monks weren't that happy that all of the tourist areas were added, but they do receive monies from people there.

    The Village

    Declan and Sook Sook (Chinese term for Uncle)

    Buddhist Tree 

    Dogs Were Everywhere (They had inner peace as well!)

    Buddha

    New Year's Incense 

    Lon Po Monastery

    View From the Top







    Gary's dad also wears Buddhist beads around his wrists which he was able to "recharge" while we were there. He wears them as a sort of protection. He paid his respects to the Buddha and believes he receives more protection from this process. Inside of the beads are 6 strands. One time, his dad says, that all 6 strings broke and he knew something bad was going to happen. Someone was robbing taxis. Gary's dad is a taxi driver.

    After seeing the Buddha and the Monastery, we traveled by taxi (you could take a bus) down the hill to the fishing village. We walked around the little village and then rode a speed boat out into the water where we were able to see the famous Pink Chinese Dolphins. You can also see the historic Tai O Heritage Hotel which resides in the restored Tai O Police Station.








    Barely Make Out the Pink Chinese Dolphins




    Our little man was kept busy while we climbed up to the Buddha by his YeYe and bubbles. Having someone at the base to watch any small children is a must. The boat ride was his favorite and he finally fell asleep at this point on his YeYe's lap to the bouncing of the waves.