Thursday, May 27, 2010

What a steal, what a deal. Can this be any more real?

As a general rule, I don't share where I buy my jewelry making components. Trade secret. But, help!

On the side, in the spare time I seem to never have, I've been weaving back in my creative juices. Some of that has come in the form of jewelry making. I had flashed the bracelet before you not that long ago, in fact I gave away one, look here and here.

Well, the day before yesterday, when I had some time to decompress all by my lonesome, I went to Jo Ann Fabric and Craft and saw that one of my beading components is on clearance. See the Czech glass metallic beads, the ones that aren't seed beads (the seed beads are the ones that have several red beads in a row or several green beads together)? Those ones. None of the clearance beads in the store I happened to visit were left. I scouted the rows and columns of beads in disbelief. My careful search ended with finding one, just one, misplaced tube of those beads. What in the world am I going to do? A discontinued fav of mine? Where am I supposed to go to get THOSE beads?

This is what they look like at the store. Czech glass metallic land beads. I was desperate. Before running home to help put the girls to bed, I went to the only other close Jo Ann store. Their selection of beads paled in comparison to the store I had just visited. No luck.


Before departing the second store, I asked the clerk desperately, if there were any other close Jo Ann stores. One. Just one. At the cross of Yosemite and County Line. Who knows where that is? After the girls went to bed, I searched for the location. It's about 20 minutes away.

***

An employee at the first store cautioned me not to call stores to look for this item. She said that once any item goes on clearance, it's no longer in the (computer) system; so the employee would have to physically look for the item. That could make the person very unhappy. Say no more; I worked retail for five long years.

***

I had a pre-arranged get together with a girlfriend the next day, yesterday, and that morning, I asked her if she'd mind adding an errand run to our list of 'to do's.' Thankfully she obliged. This could have been another fruitless pursuit for all I know, but I needed to know I tried. But the search and the trip wasn't lost. . . Unlike the other stores, this one still had a generous amount of everything, sale and non-sale alike. Purchase them, I did.

But, herein still lies a problem. Perhaps this is pie in the sky. But, should people ever decide me to pay me to make these accessories, I have a very limited supply. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for what I have.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two meals and a funeral

Ice cream therapy before I start? Anyone? It's Breyer's. Smooth, creamy, and will not disappoint.


Yesterday seemed like a busy day.

I'm doing my best to take my husband's advice to not take on too much at a time. I have a super long laundry list of stuff to do that seemed ("seemed" is the operative word here) essential to do: clean a dirty, filthy (well, it seems that way to me; do I have some sort of cleanliness or OCD issues? probably) house; wash the dirty laundry that seems to be multiplying exponentially behind my back, pay bills, clean a humidifier that seems to be getting dirtier even though it's not being used (needs to be cleaned & put away), clear clutter, buy groceries, etc. Even thinking about doing the stuff quickly, as soon as possible, is turning me into a maniacal mess.

So, besides the standard fare of washing dishes, tending the children, and such, I had few plans I just had to execute. It started with one meal but became two that had to be created. You can read about one of them here. Does this whet your appetite?


After making that meal, my husband came home and we readied ourselves, the entire family, for attending a funeral at our church. A family member of a couple we run into, in passing, at church went on to be with the Lord, at the age of ninety. The couple tugs at my heart strings, because the wife has brought food she has prepared to us on two occasions: about a month or so ago when I was sick and then recently when Troy was hospitalized (you can read about that here, if you missed that story). It was the wife's father-in-law that passed away.

Only stayed for half of the funeral, since it went into the girls' nap times, and there's nothing like a couple of grouchy, cranky little ones to rowdy up a sobering somber funeral. The Shanghai man, a pastor and extremely faithful servant of the Lord, accepted Christ (became a Christian) in his early twenties, when he was experiencing trying marital difficulties. He prayed consistently and faithfully that his wife would also accept Christ, and approximately eight years later, she did. He served for 40 years in an official pastoral capacity, but even after officially "retiring," he continued to be a faithful witness for the Lord. People came from afar for his funeral, from Canada all the way to China. Stories were told about how kind and patient he was with all people, even those whom had been rude or mean to him or betrayed him in some way. The testimonies that were shared about his love and passion for the Lord; the urgency with which he shared the gospel; his love, patience, kindness, humility in his relationships with others; the number of lives he touched and the ways in which he impacted others' lives - wow, I couldn't keep back a sea of tears.

***

I had much to sort through after attending that funeral. But I couldn't stay lost in thought. There was one more meal to prepare. One that the girls would drool over. Would you like my recipe? You can find it here. Can I entice you with a single photograph first?

Have I caught your attention, yet?

***

I haven't even got to today's events. Alas, I am too exhausted to write further. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Racial discrimination . . . are we still stuck in the dark ages?

Warning: you may not want to read this post, as it contains many furious rantings from my end.

This morning, I was at a playground with the girls; and this is what propelled and stirred my deep irritation from slumber. I couldn't possibly be American since my skin color doesn't match that of a Caucasian and I'm hoping my children stay bilingual.

***

I grew up with endless, merciless discrimination, living in a city where the racial minority was less than 1%. Certainly, I understand that kids in grade school pick on anyone who looks different, and race easily stands out. Try telling a child enduring that that.

Over time, I learned that it wasn't just kids but adults who picked on people of different races or ethnic backgrounds. Sure, some of was due to ignorance, but I felt like much of it had to do with resisting any sort of melting pot (versus tossed salad - the analogies often used in describing the blending of various cultures in the US) forming. Over time, I grew angrier and angrier when people I didn't know asked, straight away, where I'm from and rejected my answer. Born and raised in Tennessee.

***

This morning, when the gal asked where I'm from, I didn't give any snide answers. Rather, I asked her if she really wanted to know my ethnic background. P.S. People really should learn to be a bit more precise about the what sort of answers they are seeking. Now, not only does the color of my skin make me stand out, but, when I am with my children, the language I am speaking raises brows. I speak Chinese exclusively, whenever possible, to them. My husband speaks English to them exclusively. Wouldn't it be cool if they grow up being bilingual?

Of course that is not the interpretation many people around me take. I must not be an American. A foreigner. Someone who doesn't belong. . .

***

I got incredibly defensive as I thought about this more and more. In other developed countries, such as Western Europe, people are fluent in multiple languages. Why the hell are people so smug and comfortable speaking only one language in the US, and why do people have to be threatened by others who speak more than one language?

Wake up and smell the coffee people. Americans are fast becoming the poorest educated people, compared with the rest of the world, and we're not doing any better in the 21st century. After my encounter this morning, I had thought about saying stuff like . . . I probably speak better English than you do. I have a PhD, more education than you'll ever have. You try getting one in PHILOSOPHY. And so on.

No worries, I won't actually say that sort of stuff to anyone. Just take away from that that I was pissed, angry, and hurt. Why should I let something like that bother me, you might be thinking. Remember, a lot of people may be ignorant or merely curious. To the former, since when is ignorance really bliss in the real world? Would anyone say in a job interview, I really just didn't know anything about your company and didn't take the time to find out before my interview with you. Sure, I live in city x, but it's not my job to find out about the laws and whether I am in violation of any of them. Blah, blah, blah.

***

We freaking live in the 21st century where people are connecting to other parts of the world via internet, facebook, twitter, etc. You needn't have traveled extensively to understand that a person doesn't need to be a certain color to belong in a certain place.

Why am I so sensitive to this issue? It's not just that I've been singled out and racially discriminated against most of my life, which is the case, but my frustrations include more than that. I certainly don't want to deny or down play my Taiwanese cultural heritage. That is ever important to me; that is why I am teaching the girls a different language, that is why we celebrate other holidays, etc. But, I am an American, not just by birthright. I know of no other home than the United States. My whole life is here; everything that is familiar in day to day living is here. To claim that I'm not an American would be to, without any examination whatsoever and rather flippantly, deny that.

***

So, I would run around letting anger rule my responses to "where am I REALLY from" questions, but I need to come clean on how those sort of questions sometimes makes me feel. How did you survive my rantings?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hats off to new adventures

We're losing a beloved guest early in the morning, because she has places to go, things to do, and people to see; so Troy drummed up whatever energy he could muster to go with Karen to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Grandma - mother to Troy, mother-in-law to me, and grandmother to the girls - came to help out whilst Troy recovered from the weariness of having strep pneumonia. Let me clarify; he doesn't have strep pneumonia now, but he had it so bad the illness kept him in the ICU for four nights.

What's so distinctive about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is that we're allowed not only close enough to make direct eye contact with the giraffes but we can feed them rye crackers.

And feed them we did. See Isabella, in her stylish glasses and hat? Thanks Grandma, for helping her look so very fashionable.

2010-5-21

Grandma Karen makes friends really quickly, eh? Treats always help.


Uh, this is as close as you're going to get for a Changley family shot most of the time. We're fortunate to have any photograph of the four of us together.

2010-5-21

How about a couple of friendly giraffes? We saw other animals, such as bullfrog toads, that were showing more affection than this pair. I shall leave you to imagine what those friendly animals might have been doing.


In other news, here are the women in Troy's life.


These girls. Don't let their expressions fool you. Each daughter has her own view point about how she wants the world to function, above and beyond the confines of language.


Bearded dragon. This creature is also very opinionated. Don't scare him or double cross him, okay?


Ahh, my older daughter wanted to make this her new home. The entrance was her size and well, the abode was a perfect fit, too. They're observing creatures swimming in the water.


Thank you, little one, for giving Mommy a little tiny reprieve, free from loud vocal announcements. Thank you, precious little one for keeping Grandma company.


Needed a Grandma and me shot. I'm so big-headed, I blocked most of Karen's face. Not nice, not nice at all. Not so bad for a shot I took, right?


Isabella's very first pony ride; thank you, Grandma. She took four rounds on Roxette, a 15 year old pony. Afterward, she said she wanted to ride a different pony. She's my sensitive daughter, often times not warming up to things new. This, however, was different.


Carousel ride, Isabella?


Um, not after I told her it was going to start going around in circles. She immediately got off, like a hot potato. Her facial expression, her body language, and her verbiage communicated intense fear and discomfort with the situation. But, she didn't want to stand outside the fence, for safety; took awhile to convince her to stand in the safety zone.

The rest of our zoo visit, she wanted to make sure I knew she didn't want to go back on the carousel, by reminding me of this. When we got home? She told me she's interested in riding it. Translation: she needs time to warm up to new things, especially machinery that moves. That's okay my darling precious daughter.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beauty, blessings, friends

I don't know where to start with this post or how to keep this coherent, so I'm not even going to worry about it this time around, okay?

2010-5-2

A friend I met this past fall, who is from China and who has come as a undergraduate student, became a Christian recently. Early April, I believe. I had the pleasure of witnessing her baptism May 2nd, and she blessed me with the bouquet of tulips she was given following the baptism. She alleges she didn't have any vases in which to put the bouquet and insisted I take the flowers.

***

This semester, I've been working on a character formation contract having to do with friendships.I'm not going to go into detail about it here, but if you wish to discuss it in any detail, feel free to call.

Since Troy was hospitalized (read about it here), people have been coming out of the wood work to reach out to us, rendering me speechless. Speechless. My dear friend, Manda, had to give me a harsh talk about receiving; I'm more comfortable with giving rather than receiving. Would have been much worse for wear, had I not taken that wise advice or generous help.

***

Sunday, May 9th, as you all know was Mother's Day. Hubby was still in the hospital, and loads of people were looking out for us. My parents, especially my mom, insisted that I get some nice stuff for myself and perhaps a lovely meal, from "the girls." Life was still a bit surreal with Troy in the hospital; it was day five (and four nights) in the ICU. In the afternoon, the girls and I paid a visit to Target, where we picked out three articles of clothing, two of which are showcased below: As an aside, I love the way Isabella addresses the person to whom she is speaking these days. "Ma ma. . ." She'd preface what she would say to me with "ma ma." Mama, what to try this on? Mama, you don't like this?

Fun clearance pieces the girls got me.

I'm trying to branch out of solid color pieces. Looking for a bit more in personality for clothing. What do you think?


We are fortunate to be blessed wit a lilac bush on our property. Exquisite and lovely scented.


My darling husband remembered his promise to get me a belated Mother's Day present after he got out of the hospital. Monday evening, Troy got me a charm and spacer to add to the Pandora bracelet Troy's mom got me for Christmas.

24 months birthday bliss

Sunday was my younger daughter's birthday. I've been seeing loads of pregnant women and newborns running around town, enough to make me glow with admiration and wonder with God's creation and realize that my baby is not at all a baby. To celebrate one of the wonderfully exquisite blessings the Lord gave us, we got princess sweetness. I'm not kidding. Atop each cupcake is a princess ring: Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, or Snow White.

2010-5-16


Wait a minute, how did this little one get here? Her journey is another story, another time. For now, I suffice to say that insofar as excited and intrigued preschoolers are concerned, the older sister was waiting ever patiently for her sis to wake from deep, deep slumber.

Who's going to wake a birthday girl from her beauty sleep? Not I, said the fly. Instead, I give you, I bring you sugary sweetness, brought to you by the number TWO.

2010-5-16

Ooh, there's the birthday girl. Happy birthday, little one. You are two years old today.

I cannot believe 730 days have come and gone since I gave birth to her. I remember that day almost like it was yesterday, and I'm sure that's a day my husband, mom, and mother-in-law will not quick forget. If it is your pleasure, you can read about that day here.


For a little girls who's been raving about having cake all day that day and the day before, I was shocked that she wasn't destroying the cake. Her sister, on the other hand, took her cupcake by storm and wanted more. Couldn't have enough.

Here's the older sibling, Isabella, productively channeling her sugar rush, pummeling four large balloons simultaneously. Watching her in action was quite a sight. Whahoo!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A roller coaster ride and coming home

Friday, April 30th, my husband seemed to hack and cough like others do when experiencing a cold. He didn't seem to get worse. But then Monday, he lost his voice for awhile but got it back later in the day.

Fast forward a bit. Wednesday (May 5th), early, early morning, we're talking 1 or 2 am - he's shaking in bed and can't stop, he kept complaining of muscle aches all over his body, he was breathing loudly, and he did not stop moaning all night long from discomfort. Once morning came, I asked him whether he wanted to go to the doctor. I was in favor of taking him; he wanted to wait and "sleep" it off. He was in so much pain and discomfort, doing anything - laying still or turning - made him want to die. Yet he wasn't ready to see a doctor; what is it with men?

Meanwhile, I tried to get him to drink water, and when he did, it was a struggle for him. Pain, pain, pain. Later, I made him some chamomile and mint tea with honey. Told him he HAD to finish that. Besides that he had had very little to drink. By mid-afternoon, Troy had gone from bad to worse. I made a doctor's appointment for him, for the next morning, but I was beginning to think he wasn't going to make it that long. I worked frantically to see whether a doctor could see him at that afternoon; it was already close to the end of the work day. A doctor was willing; thank goodness.

I was thinking worst case scenario, he had a bad case of bronchitis. He neglected to tell me he believed he had that at the start of the weekend was trying to kick it on his own. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

***

We got to the doctor's office with a lot of heaves and difficulty on Troy's part. Poor dear, he was really struggling. At the time, I thought much of the difficulty was stemming from muscle aches from the entire body and only some of the problem was coming from breathing difficulties.

Whilst I was filling out the paperwork, I heard the doctor quickly say that he could not treat Troy since his oxygen level was too low. What does that mean, exactly, I asked? What's the normal level and what's his level? He said that people normally measure in the lower 90 percentile. His was about 52. Not good at all. The doc wanted Troy to go to the emergency room, in the next building straight away. A couple of nurses took him over in a wheel chair and had him hooked up to oxygen using a nasal cannula.

***
After being in the ER, running an X-ray, and doing some tests, the ER doc said Troy was a "critically ill" patient. His oxygen level was quite low, he had pneumonia, and the pneumonia had reached the blood stream and impacted his kidneys. Those words sank deep and hard. But, I felt like the bottom fell out when the staff announced that they had finally secured him a room at another hospital in the Intensive Care Unit, also known as the Critical Care Unit. Troy was in a bit of trouble. He wasn't going home that night; that was for sure.

***

Sometimes the hospital allows the patient to be transported in a private vehicle to another hospital, but in Troy's case, his oxygen level needed to be continually monitored; so, he got an ambulance ride to Swedish Medical Center. I was a bit of a nervous wreck; instead of taking the written directions I was given, I closely followed the ambulance.

***

Leave it to me to get lost at some point. This time I was lost whilst walking in the garage. Wasn't sure what the quickest way in to the hospital was. By the time I got to Troy, some docs and nurses were surrounding Troy, wearing gowns, masks, and gloves. What the heck? As if I wasn't already freaking out. They were checking for any possible secondary infections, potentially contagious, on top of the pneumonia they knew he already had. Like H1N1 or strep. That night was rough; I heard scary terms like sepsis thrown around, he was running a temperature of 103 (even with Tylenol in his system), docs talked about worst case scenarios, and Troy was not doing well. The docs wanted to find out what caused him to get pneumonia.

***

Troy ended up spending four nights and five days in the ICU. He was diagnosed with streptococcus pneumoniae. When he was first admitted, they used an oxygen mask on him, supporting him with 8 L of oxygen. Overnight, they decided that instead of using IVs to rehydrate him and give him antibiotics, they would install a port, so he could get his medication quickly and they could monitor him more closely. The first full day in the ICU was a battle for Troy. A CAT scan showed that the pneumonia had impacted both lungs, the right slightly more so. One of the docs said that if he had waited another day, he could have gone into kidney failure, due to dehydration.

***

I'm super tired and don't have the energy to write more, so I'll skip ahead.

***

He's supposed to come home some time tomorrow, but the road to recovery is still long. He's coming home with some oxygen assistance.

***

I don't have the time or energy to go into details or to write much more, but I believe the Lord has been deepening what I have been striving to learn in my spiritual formation character learning contract this semester. I have been amazed by the amount of support and number of people reaching out towards us - praying for us, calling us, visiting us, helping watch the girls, bringing food, writing to us by e-mail or facebook. The outpouring of love has been moving. I am used to being a giver, and I love to give; receiving has been hard. I feel like I have learned a lot in the last six or seven days about what it means to truly have a friend in the Lord (and a friend in Jesus) and to have people rallying around us and for us. Thank you all for being our friends and supporters.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day blessings

I'm sorry to have been MIA for awhile, but things have been a little crazy; more on that in the next post. For now, I want to say that I'm blessed to be the mother of two lovely, darling little girls.


2010-5-9