Saturday, January 30, 2010

Five little piggies

My husband had to attend the inauguration of the new president where he works this morning. Lynette and I planned to take the girls to the Children's Museum (where Troy's side of the family gave us a year's membership; yay!). He left the girls' car seats by the kitchen.

Isabella's been playing make-believe and interacting with others for awhile, now. But, to see her playing with her sister (and not just Henry), the way my husband or I play with either of them just tickles me pink. In this video, Isabella's doing "This little piggy" with Victoria's right hand, and she had already done that twice before I shot the video, once with each of Victoria's feet.


The Children's Museum is a three-story place, and we didn't get past the first floor this time. Thanks again Momma, Poppa, Aaron, Jenny, and Becky for a YEAR'S MEMBERSHIP to The Children's Museum. The girls had so much fun in the shoes-off area of the first floor. The rest of the videos are taken from part of that area.

Before talking about those videos in more detail, I'd like to say that my blog postings aren't ever meant to be these shiny perfect little resumes of what my children do. In fact, I've been careful to point out what I shall refer to as struggles. I don't want parents to stress out about what their children are allegedly failing to do or to let achievements alone define a person. Observing certain strangers react to their children, at the Museum, is a stark reminder to be super careful about not being unrealistic with my children, to expect age appropriate behaviors, and to exude patience whenever possible. One instance that comes to mind was in the midst of the kiddos participating in a craft activity. There was this little boy, not more than Isabella's age, probably somewhere between my two daughters' ages, who was trying to figure out how to use a pair of scissors. His mother kept trying get him to hold the scissors correctly, and we could see the frustration and impatience in the mother's words and physical gestures. She got mad at the boy for putting too many figures in one place. Then she got mad for him cutting with the scissors using two hands. His face looked so broken and sad, and he gave up trying all together. The mom forgot or simply neglected to realize that boys take longer to master fine motor coordination. Besides, so what if the little boy uses two hands to cut paper?

I'll get off my soap box now. Changing my tune a bit towards the positive, it's fun to see my younger one emulating me. Towards the beginning of the video, she announces that she's cooking.


Food or cooking isn't the girls' only fascination. The footage of them sitting and playing with food related items was simply easier to capture, because elsewhere they were constantly moving and climbing. Below is a video where my older daughter was fixing a meal, and she made and set aside three dishes for me (how did she know I was hungry?!).


The last video, below, involves Isabella and Victoria playing in the same space and playing some with each other. It almost ended badly, with Isabella wanting to take the rolling pin from her sister so she could make cookies.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Sick, sick, sick

I don't know what the deal is with sickness in this house, but I had been sick for nearly 3 weeks in a row. Victoria was sick, I think, and she passed it to me and then Isabella. Troy was sick right before he started teaching his 2-week class. Troy got well pretty quickly. The girls didn't take that long to get well, either. Mine lingered and hung around for quite awhile, or I got two colds back to back. I started feeling more like myself yesterday, and yesterday morning, Troy was feeling rotten and barely had a voice. By late afternoon, he thought he felt better again. By this morning, he looked horrible. Stayed in bed until about an hour ago, and my husband's not one to stay in bed when he has a lot of work on his mind.

Knowing that he was likely going to be in bed for awhile and the car would therefore be home and available, I took the girls along for a weekly grocery store run. Three stores later and everything put away, I was surprised that I wasn't drop dead tired and in a horrendous mood.


And caffeine is not responsible for the energy that kept me going; I'm not sure what is. Fed the girls their lunch, read with them, and put them down for nap time (Isabella ended up not sleeping, by the way). Speaking of nap time, part of their more recent routine, whether day or night time sleeping, they've been enjoying rocking with me for about five minutes, until the last day or two. Now they want to rock on their own, without. How come they're growing up so fast?


Whilst they napped, I cooked curry, so we'd have food to eat. In addition to the fried rice I made yesterday.


Now? I'm tired.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My first attempt at cooking scallops

There's still a part of me that thinks going to culinary school would be so cool. I find cooking fascinating, and I believe it's an art. My mom, from time to time, has said that I should open a restaurant. However flattering that is, I never saw that as exciting, spending large chunks of time in the kitchen. But, the point is, she thinks I have potential as a cook. I cook with my sense of taste and smell. Combine that with the artist within me, and well, the combination can bring about rather interesting results.

I have been watching Hell's Kitchen, and before that, Kitchen Nightmares, with intense interest. Hell's Kitchen would have scallops on its menu from time to time. It's been awhile since I've had scallops, and I've never tried my hand at cooking them. Well, Sunflower Farmer's Market, one of my weekly shopping joints, put them on sale; I saw that as one of my opportune chances to try. I was really afraid of overcooking them or cooking them in such a way that they weren't all that tasty; neither happened. Look at the picture below, how juicy they still were after cooking!


For details on how I prepared this creation of mine, go here.

P.S. I decided to try something different, with the pasta. I wanted to avoid the carb coma I sometimes get after consuming wheat-based pasta. Although more expensive, on a whim (not in accordance with my strict budget), decided to try rice pasta. Not just any rice pasta, brown rice pasta. Healthy, healthy (well, all except for the 1 tbsp butter).

The girls singing "Part of Your World"

Isabella and Victoria both sing what they refer to as Ariel's song, a.k.a. "Part of Your World," from The Little Mermaid. Isabella can certainly sing the song in its entirety, but usually her attention wanes towards the end, to something else. Victoria, who's 20 months old, also 20 months younger than her sister, can sing most of the song as well, but she gets a bit gun shy in front of the video camera. Here she is, singing part of the song . . .


And here's both of them, singing the song in collaboration. Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but this tickles me pink and I believe it's pure sweetness.


New furniture, new beginnings

Since Troy and I got married, the only new furniture we've had is our bed (which my parents gave as a wedding gift) and dressers (I didn't have any dressers before we were married, and stuffing stocks and underwear on shelves was getting old). Well, that's not altogether true, when Isabella joined us, she got a decked out crib and dresser. But, we haven't gotten any non-pint-sized furniture. Well, this past July, we got our first house, and we wanted to use some of Uncle Obama's bucks towards getting new living room furniture. Don't get me wrong, we have no qualms about used furniture. We got a lovely dining room table and chairs used, after all. Just wanted to enjoy something new.

WELL, the love seat and chair, that we ordered in November, arrived today. Today. I am so excited. I like the way it looks in our living room. Don't you?!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Isabella asking Victoria about eating blueberries during snack time

It's really neat seeing Isabella carry on conversations, not only with her beloved Henry


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya I made today

I made some Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya today, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

All eyes on Jesus


Yesterday, the girls and I were playing with the nativity set that Grandma and Grandpa (Nunley) gave the girls for Christmas. We spent time having the kids (in the nativity scenes) dialogue with the animals and Sesame Street characters (which did not come with the nativity scenes). We then lined up all of them, facing baby Jesus, and Isabella decided that Snow White (her next favorite companion these days, next to Henry, of course) and Henry needed to face Jesus as well. Today, Isabella asked me to line up the animals and little children to face baby Jesus.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An enthusiastic prayer from Victoria

Been missing Troy a lot this weekend, while he's been gone to take part in Jeff Wittung's funeral, especially today. Saturday's usually designated family date time. And given our crazy schedules, that's super important to us. Troy and I have been passing ships in the night since we've been married, because we juggle too many things at once. I've been telling the girls that after work yesterday, Daddy had to hop on a plane to go say 'goodbye' to a friend. Today, I tried to take the girls out as much as possible, not only to wear them out (dude, I was totally worn out when all was said and done), but also to give them a chance to stretch their legs and play outside our home and interact elsewhere. A total of two outings for the day, we were finally in for the day.

When we've been praying before meals, Victoria's contribution is usually a very enthusiastic "amen," without any other words. It appears she's been listening carefully to what Isabella and I have been saying. Until tonight. Before dinner tonight, she kept saying the before-meal prayers over and over again, without any prompting. It's something to the effect of "Jesus, thank you for giving us our food. Thank you for our home/family. In Jesus's name, we lift up our prayers. Amen." Her prayer is hardly intelligible to anyone, even those who can understand Chinese, except for me. Only Isabella and I, alone, know what Victoria's saying. And our Lord as well. But, it's still so cute and sweet. Isabella's great at praying before meals, too.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Isabella and I making curry soup together

Had a lot to do this morning, in part, preparing for Troy's departure for the weekend. I wanted him to be able to have something freshly made, to eat, before heading to the Denver airport. Also planned on making him a couple of sandwiches to have in transit. Curry soup was on the chopping block.

I somehow knew that Isabella was interested in helping me cook, so I elicited her help. Mommy instinct, perhaps. Of course I couldn't get her help in cutting the various vegetables - the onions, the green peppers, or the potatoes. Instead, she grabbed the portable potty, which she now only uses as a stepping stool, and placed it in front of the stove to help pour various vegetables in different cooking vessels.

First, the red potatoes were boiled separately . . .


Then, we put the sweet onion in the frying pan, along with some olive oil . . .


Once the onions were done cooking, I added the potatoes and had Isabella help put in the green peppers.


For a more complete recipe, go here. The finished product, curry soup served over a bed of rice. Viola.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Saying goodbye to a dear friend of Troy's

A week ago today, Wed., January 6, 2010, a very close friend of Troy's from college (at Mount Vernon Nazarene College) and seminary (Nazarene Theological Seminary) was in a very serious car accident that left, what we now know as fatal, damage to his heart and brain. The cause of the accident was icy roads, and the other driver, who was driving in the opposite direction of Jeff, lost control of the vehicle and slammed into Jeff's car. The impact was so hard that Jeff's car tore the other driver's car in half.

CT scans showed that Jeff suffered a stroke (due to massive blood loss on the crash site as well as the immediate surgery he underwent, and due to the damage done to his heart) and a brain herniation. Troy and I were made aware of the accident three days after it had happened, on Saturday. His condition deteriorated rather rapidly and Jeff left to be with the Lord on Sun., January 10, 2010, at 6:20 EST.

Jeff was only 35 when he passed away, and he left behind his wife of 10 years (Marne) and two very small children (Ana - 5 yrs old and Kate - 1 yr old). Tragic, sad, difficult, painful.

However, his death, for me, is a vivid reminder NOT to take for granted the loved ones around me or each day the Lord is giving me here on this earth. How would I live differently if each day might be my last one? An important question of eternal significance.

Here's a link to a news article of the accident: Man dies nearly a week after crash: Jeffrey Wittung died Sunday.

The following was written by Jeff's employer, Baker Publishing Group, where he worked as an academic editor:

Grand Rapids, MI, January 11, 2010 -- Baker Publishing Group mourns the loss of a colleague and friend, Jeffery A. Wittung. Jeff, one of Baker's academic editors, was injured in a car accident on his way to work January 6, 2010. He passed away the evening of January 10. He leaves behind a wife, Marne, and two daughters: Ana (5) and Kate (1).

Jeff joined the Baker staff in April of 2006. He quickly established himself as a colleague of exceptional intellect, wise judgment, gracious spirit, and keen wit. Academic authors who worked with Jeff frequently commended the quality of his editorial interactions. In the workplace, Jeff combined an old-fashioned work ethic with cutting-edge theological insight, wrapping them in a polite, cordial, and good-humored demeanor.

Jeff's scholarly acumen was also on display outside the workplace. He held an advanced degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary (MDiv) and had just finished work for his MPhil from Drew University, completing his comprehensive exams at Drew with distinction. Jeff's interest in the theology of the early church was evident while at Drew, where he was involved in the production of volumes in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series and was coeditor of a well-received volume of academic essays, Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions.

His academic and professional skills and accomplishments, however, were not the primary focus of his life. Jeff was a devoted family man who loved his wife and daughters deeply. He also expressed his knowledge and spiritual gifts in teaching and preaching at his local church, Encounter Community Church of Belding, Michigan.

We at Baker Publishing Group will miss Jeff greatly, and we invite you to pray for the family Jeff leaves behind: his wife and daughters; his mother, father, and sister; his in-laws; and the extended family. They find comfort in Jeff's faith and in their own, but their loss is severe.
Here is Jeff Wittung's obituary:

Jeffery A. Wittung


Jeffery Alan Wittung, age 35, of Belding, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday evening, January 10, 2010. He was born on March 9, 1974, in Van Wert, Ohio, the son of Frederick C. and Sylvia I. (McClure) Wittung. He graduated from Van Wert City School and completed his undergraduate studies at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where he met the love of his life, Marne Janelle Dixon. The couple exchanged vows on July 24, 1999, after a five-year courtship. Jeff continued his academic pursuits at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, where he earned his Master of Divinity degree. He was attending Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where he had recently completed his Master of Philosophy degree in theology and was pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy degree in theology. Jeff worked as an academic editor for Baker Publishing Group and cherished the written word, studying, reading, and writing whenever he could. His other accomplishments included co-editing a book entitled Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions, which explores the subject of theosis, and serving as an editor for the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. He also served on the Alvah N. Belding Library board in Belding and was an active member of Encounter Community Church in Belding.

Left to cherish Jeff’s memory are his family, including his dear wife Marne of Belding; children Anastasia Maria and Kate Elise, both at home; his parents Frederick C. and Sylvia I. Wittung; a sister, Cindy J. (Jeff) Dickman of Thousand Oaks, California; a father- and mother-in-law, William D. and Marcia R. Dixon of Mercer, Pennsylvania; a grandmother-in-law, Helen R. Lehman of Northumberland, Pennsylvania; a sister-in-law, Maria N. (Terry) Hanna of Kernersville, North Carolina; a brother-in-law, William D. (Shelly) Dixon, Jr., of Pasadena, Maryland; several aunts, uncles, and cousins, and many dear friends and colleagues.

Visitation will take place at Verdun Family Funeral Home, 303 S. Bridge St., Belding, on Thursday, January 14, 2010, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A Life Celebration service will take place on Friday at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 409 S. Bridge Street, Belding 48809, with Pastors Chad Current and Jim Bowen officiating. A reception will follow in a gathering space attached to the church. Services will also be held in Van Wert Ohio with a gathering time at 12 noon and service at 2:00 p.m. at Calvary Evangelical Church. Interment will take place at Woodlawn Cemetery in Ohio City, Ohio. Those wishing to express sympathy are welcome to consider a memorial contribution in Jeff’s memory to the Jeff Wittung Benefit Fund, Firstbank West Michigan, 9344 W. Belding Road, Belding, Michigan 48809 or to Gideon’s International. For additional information, please contact Verdun Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, which is caring for the arrangements at (616) 794-1300 or

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Isabella singing Ariel's song

Isabella had a tough entrance into this world. She was a full term baby, past full term in fact, and she experienced an induction gone awry. After a DAY AND A HALF in labor, I had an emergency C-section and Isabella got to spend the first 8 days of her life in the NICU. With a room to herself, partially sedated, with rules not to touch her, and tubes all over her, I sang and sang and sang to the little one. Hymns. Other worship songs. Musical pieces. Disney songs. Patriotic songs. Everything that came to mind. I am told that I sang The Little Mermaid's "Part of Your World to Isabella a lot. Well, relatively recently, Isabella's been asking to hear that song over and over and over again. Here is her version of the song.


Monday, January 11, 2010

My 3 year old praying before a meal


I'm not really sure what a proper prayer before a meal, in Chinese, is supposed to sound like, but I've taught my children to pray before eating. Here is my 3 year old, Isabella, praying, with Victoria (almost 20 months old) finishing her version.

Our weekend, a mixture of goodness and sadness

This past weekend was a whirlwind of stuff, good and bad. Troy started teaching his 2-week class at Denver Seminary this morning, and he's been great at making sure family time doesn't get short changed. This 2-week class, Philosophy of Science, is pretty intensive. It's supposed cover a semester's worth of material in 9 days (meeting 4 hrs each time).

Saturday was family time. Though temps are climbing a bit higher, we weren't sure the Denver Zoo was a good idea yet. Instead, we did a bunch of stuff, mostly of which I knew Isabella would be keen on doing. I've been asking her for a few days by that point, whether she was interested in buying an Elmo seat that we could put on the regular toilet; and I got a very positive response. After Christmas, I purchased a couple of Christmas board books for the girls for a discounted price. One of the books had a picture of a mother baking cookies, peaking Isabella's interest in making cookies. Part of our family activities involved picking up ingredients to make cookies. I decided on gingerbread cookies this time. And, we also dropped by the pet store.

Then, yesterday, before church, Troy was such a trooper and helped in the cookie making process. He's such a great guy; that's not even to the extent to which he helped. We finally, many months after experiencing winter weather and storms, put a cover on our swamp cooler (a.k.a. evaporative cooler); that involved venturing onto the roof, not my cup of tea. And, Troy and I put away Christmas decorations together.

Sun., January 10, 2010

The finished product - yummy, crunchy gingerbread cookies. The girls actually love them, despite the strong spicy flavor to them.

The sad news for the weekend. . . Wednesday, one of Troy's closest friends from college and seminary (and they both worked for Sprint to help get through seminary), Jeff Wittung, was in a really bad car accident on the way to work in Michigan. Another car accidentally slid on ice into him on the interstate. The collision was so forceful that the other vehicle was torn in half. Jeff not only lost a lot of blood, but he sustained damage to his heart and brain. CT scans showed that he had a stroke (due to the heart trauma and massive loss of blood) and a brain herniation. We heard of the accident Friday, 3 days ago. He died yesterday, at 6:20 pm EST, leaving behind his wife (Marne) and two fairly young children (Ana and Kate). Very, very sad.

Friday, January 01, 2010

One of my very best friends


I confess, I have more than one best friend. How does that work when "best" is a superlative? Don't know. I do know that I'm not the only gal who uses that phrase, "best friend," that way. Perhaps those of us who do that simply aren't speaking accurately or carefully. Or, maybe it's just a shorter way of saying - super, duper close friend with whom I can easily and deeply relate.

Anyways, my sister and I got to connect close to Christmas time, this time in person. We communicate by other means, such as phone, e-mail, and occasionally facebook; but I haven't seen her since December of '08. We were due for a visit.

Growing up, I looked up to my sister in every way. She's 2 years and 11 days older than me, and she, well, was someone I thought to be really cool. Little did I know or allow myself to recognize how annoying she thought that to be at the time, to have a little sister trailing her every step. Around the time my sister went to college, we started to get a lot closer and we became more equals than little sister versus big sister. Even though the paths and interests we took diverged and we were geographically distant, we continued to deepen our relationship.

In 2002, I got married, the first of the two of us to get married. This was a first, do-it-first thing for me. My sister had always paved the road ahead for me. Well, that's not altogether true, I became a Christian long before my sister did. I accepted Christ when I was about ten years old; My sister accepted Christ sometime in graduate school, in California, of all places. I was the first to give it a go at figuring out how marriage works.

After Troy and I got married, both of us were interested in having children, but we wanted to wait until I was just about through school (I wasn't about to be on the verge of finishing school and be stuck with an ABD) and we had health insurance already in place (those "pre-existing conditions" exemptions can be killers). So, in December 2005, over 3 years into our marriage, towards the end of my dissertation writing and after our health insurance started, we started trying. Took us one try to get pregnant. Coincidentally, turns out Tenny got pregnant around the same time. We shared our stories of the pregnancy experience as each of our first pregnancies progressed. We both had a strong desire to deliver vaginally and we both planned on breastfeeding our respective children; we shared and relayed information we researched on those topics. Tenny found out that her baby was breech and she couldn't find anyone who was willing to vaginally deliver her baby breech (all those fantastic lawsuits for which the U.S. is infamous). Despite repeated efforts to get her baby to turn, she faced what she saw as a grim reality of a C-section. An induction that my ob-gyn insisted I do, a day and a half later, went wrong and turned into an emergency C-section. We both commiserated over what had happened (getting a C-section) that we did not want to happen.

I love my sister and friend. She's great.