Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What is the difference?

Fasten your observational discernment on, and tell me the difference between the two strands.

I'll give you a clue, it's not the beads.

And it's not the lighting.

Don't trust me on the lighting bit? Here, I'll reverse the strands just to show you that that's not the difference here.


What do you think? What's your verdict?


Can you tell me any more than one's lighter and one's darker?

Our good friend, Bai Xiong (White Bear)

Our days at the Denver Zoo are numbered, since our membership expires the last day of the month. Since Isabella's unwavering preference between the zoo and the Children's Museum doesn't favor the former and since the zoo is undergoing a huge $50 million construction project to accommodate 2 male Asian elephants; we're letting the membership go for now. In our craziness to enjoy the membership while we have it, we went to the zoo Sunday. Before church. For about an hour.

These giraffes seem to constantly be multiplying. There's only one male giraffe. I think as the babies become adults, they get adopted by other zoos, because the numbers simply don't add up.

2010-8-22

We were moving fast, like a storm, but Bai Xiong, the real one not Victoria's lovey, was taking a swim. We made a B-line for the underwater viewing area. Apparently, so did another family with five or six members. First several shots I captured looked something like this.


Hey people, stop jumping from window to window with bear so I can attempt a decent photograph. I know I pride myself on taking decent - non-Photoshop-manipulated - photographs, but come on. Guess they were putting my quick moving skills to the test.

Then I captured this one:


Pretty great. Breath-taking, perhaps?

Of course we must climb and allow curiosity to flourish.


And what we, adults, take for granted, is rarely unnoticed by children. Easy, easy entertainment. See that neon "open" sign? It lights up one letter at at time, then flashes the whole word, and has little tiny circular lights running circles around the word.

My children were mesmerized.


We were going to have a look at the gorillas, but two adolescent flamingos were taking a "walk," and we were permitted to walk with them. Upon their return, they were rewarded with treats.

Up close and personal.

Victoria, not so interested, I guess. More interested in her snacks.

Speaking of snacks, did you know that the flamingos' food is what gives them their pink color? Otherwise they'd be white.

That's all I've got. What about you?

Music to my ears

2010-8-21

Awhile ago, my husband got me an iPod shuffle. This was well over a year ago, long before we moved. It's no iPhone or iPod touch. Speaking of which, did I mention that two siblings, around Isabella's age, were spotted in a double stroller, each with their own personal iPod touch?! They were watching their own videos. It got the wheels in my head turning, and I became certain 8 GB certainly wouldn't be enough to house loads of videos and music. How I lust after iPod touches every now and again.

How did I get so off topic?

Wonderful attributes of the Shuffle? It's super light, doesn't take much space, easy to use, clips to something. A-gong, along with lots of minivan maintenance, got a hook up for an iPod for the vehicle. So, last week, on a importing rampage, I uploaded loads and loads of C.D.s, including but not limited to: The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Kiss of a Spider Woman, Evita, Aspects of Love, Passion . . . U2's Joshua Tree. My goal was to have music I could use to work on my vocals and learn musicals more thoroughly. Preparing for some kind of vocal or Broadway debut.

Did I mention that only about 15-25% of the stuff I painstakingly took time to import could be loaded on to the shuffle? Not enough space. Not enough space. Not enough space. Thank you, I got the memo.

Then, this past Saturday, at the start of our family date, I hooked it up. The girls wanted me to be a DJ. Isabella wanted to hear "Close Every Door" from Joseph and the Amazing Color Dream Coat, over and over again. Victoria wanted to hear "A Whole New World" from Aladdin. These two songs were on very different places on the shuffle. Then this, then that. This isn't quite working the way I imagined. Still, I've got music of the choosing of someone or other in the minivan, and for that, I am excited.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Love, love changes everything

I shall offer an apology ahead of time for any randomness and wandering thoughts in this blog post. My mind's dragging, whilst being all over the place. . . Prepare for possibly being frustrated.

***

"Love, love changes everything,
hands and faces,
earth and sky. . ."

Lyrics from the musical, Aspects of Love, by Don Black, Charles Hart, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. At one point, the character, Alex, sings this song. Alex, a 17 yr old young man, has fallen in love 25 yr old struggling actress, Rose. Eventually, Rose becomes Alex's uncle's mistress. But, the love stories are much more complicated than that in the plot.

The plot in my story isn't that complicated, and it doesn't involve romantic love. Sisterly love. But, even that can be complicated.

I do not plan on capturing via photographs or video conflicts between my children. There is, however, plenty. And the conflict isn't one directional, such as the older sibling always picking on the younger sibling. The trouble is passed both ways. Just tonight, as the older one was using the portable potty as a stepping stool to sit on the toilet, the younger one fiercely pulled her off, making her fall. The younger one has also pulled her older sister's hair, scratched her, screamed bloody murder. The older one is also the cause of much anguish - pushing her younger sister, yelling and screaming at her, yanking toys and other wanted objects from her sister's grasp.

That is not to say the girls do not watch out for each other or do not love one another. A few months ago, when passing strangers, Isabella was always eager to introduce the strangers to her sister: this is Victoria. Victoria thinks the world of her sister and wants much of what her sister is enjoying, whether it's food she's eating, utensils she's using, or what not. The younger one will often times share toys and food with her sister.

Today, for the most part was a good day. I got plenty of caffeine in the morning, and the girls got their ice water in their own cups; after I started some laundry.

2010-8-17

Then we went on our grocery run. To three grocery stores. This was all while my husband was at work.

2010-8-17

I'm so thankful at store #1, the girls were relatively well behaved. Seemingly most of the time, after I've taken the girls grocery shopping by myself, unloaded the groceries, put them away, and given them their lunch - I am ready to DIE.

This? I could handle.

Did you notice that Victoria's wearing a dress? That she is rarely ever in a dress is not due to any of my doings or my husband's. She has a lot to say about everything, including what she wears. Oftentimes the clothes she wants to wear are quite worn and old, or they are weather inappropriate (like her long sleeve monkey shirt she has demanded me help her wear in 100 degree weather). I guess that's better than her other clothing preference, which I shall not discuss here.

Since both girls were in dresses, I took as much opportunity availed to me (Isabella is now in the protest phase of my taking photographs of her. Isn't she too young for such protests?!).

Ready for some sweetness?

2010-8-17

I'm talking about enough sweetness to give you a tooth ache.

Such uninhibited joy and love.

More kisses for you darlings. And hugs.

Such tender affection.

Thank you, thank you, O'Lord for such blessings.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Puzzled

This weekend left me somewhat puzzled, dazed, and confused. Whilst my husband was out of town, I was a single parent for three days. Still recuperating, Monday evening, from the weekend. Let's just say that I'm quite horrible being a single parent of two; my sanity was waxing and waning by day #3, and I was making very little sense.

Friday, after taking my husband to the airport, we went to a playground on Seminary grounds. Some friends of ours were preparing to move and had to shed much of what they had accumulated in just under two years. By their door were some puzzles that needed a new home. The older daughter was more than beside herself with excitement about bringing them home and trying them out.

By proxy, the younger one was excited as well.

2010-8-13


On day two, Saturday, which is normally family day, I chickened out of taking the children to any of the usual places - The Children's Museum or the Denver Zoo. The park with the water spouting from the ground would have been a delight for them but also a terror for me. You see, my children run in opposite directions doing very different things; something to do with their varying ages and differing milestones.

Thankfully, my older one didn't put up a fuss about the usual suspects. Instead, she talked about wanting to go back to the Seminary playground; she wanted to retrieve some more of the remaining puzzles. Fine by me; fine by me. I can watch them without any problems - er, most of the time - at that playground. We arrived earlier than usual, not long past 9:30 am.

Saw all sorts of friends.

Eve

And there's Victoria,


animated in expressions, as usual.


Hope

and Dove (Hope and Dove are siblings, and soon, another sibling shall join them)


We stayed three hours at the playground, Saturday. A record for our family. The children were content playing with others, toys, and the actual playground itself; the weather was unseasonably cooler; and well, we were all having a grand time.


Hey, how did that sneak in there? My church serves refreshments and lemonade or water in between services. They get their pastries from Panera. And this cookie as been catching my attention for some time now. It's so good. Rich enough, such that I cannot eat more than half in a sitting; but tasty.

After the girls had their naps, thanks to an e-mail tip from one of my friends, Peggy, we ventured to The Boston Market for free fruit smoothies;the deal was good only on Saturday (the 14th). We got mango flavored ones.

I had the girls split one. No sense in having already energetic girls hyped up like crazy on loads of sugar.

On the last day, yesterday, Sunday, we went to church a bit early. I had promised to stand by the ISI (International Student, Inc.) table and answer any questions people had about signing up to be a friendship partner with an international student. In between services, a friend commented on how tired I looked. That comment had me nearly in tears, not sure why.

Another friend, after service, made impromptu plans to come over for lunch. She made us lunch. Made a lovely mi-fen (rice noodle) stir fry, and brought her dog - Oscar - over. It was such a friendly and welcomed impromptu visit. The girls, amazingly, still took a nap amidst the excitement of a fun dog and gracious friend.

My husband arrived home earlier than expected, and that was most welcomed and appreciated. And even more surprising, he unloaded the minivan which was FULL of my crap (that's right, I was not fully moved out of my parents' house; we won't talk about that) AND he rearranged the garage so that the minivan he brought home (my parents are incredibly awesome) could be pulled into the garage. Since he came home and most of today, I've been sorting through, putting away, throwing away, setting aside (to give away) the stuff that's filled my living room and dining room floors and table. All the boxes have been opened and the contents removed, but there's still so much worked to be done.

If my husband's original plan of placing everything in the bedroom downstairs had been executed, I would have pretended that all that was brought here doesn't exist. See nothing, do nothing. Instead, I told him not to take the stuff downstairs, and I worked fast and furiously. I don't want to have to clear out that bedroom right before friends or family come to visit. After all, boxes were still left unopen in May, when my mother-in-law came to help take care of Troy following his hospitalization with strep pneumonia. It took until my sister and her family came, where we'd have four children three and under running amok under one roof, for me to finish clearing the clutter from that room. Better to leave that room decluttered.

Speaking of which, if I can keep that momentum going, perhaps I can continue to carry on with a much belated and overdue spring cleaning and decluttering. The closets and shelves especially, need tending.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Too much to handle

Perhaps you may be a bit exhausted by my constant inquiries and postings about my 2 year old's choice of loveys; after all, I've blogged about it here, here, and here. Or, maybe you're as perplexed as I am. Alright, perhaps not to the latter.

I must confess, chasing after these little tiny objects she chooses to like for a portion of the day and as her sleeping companions can be quite a challenge. This little red basket, for example, does not even span the length of any grown thumb. For several days or so, this thing was amiss.


Then Victoria attached herself to this lamp. It doesn't play music, it doesn't turn on or off, and it's not red (not entirely red anyhow). What is her fascination with that? Then she somehow misplaced that for a few days.


Then there is this toy basket of red apples. This is a doozy to find when she's placed it someplace else in the house. It is barely the size of a grown knuckle on someone's hand.

One day, several days ago, all three of the above mentioned objects went missing. Gone. I looked in all the different toy compartments and bins. Couldn't spot any of these. Aaron or Bai Xiong (pictured below) didn't suffice whence bedtime arrived. And my two year old doesn't stand to reason when she has in her mind she wants something. Nothing will stand in its place; no distractions will deter her.


Finally, yesterday afternoon, for nap time, I had to help Isabella find Henry. Turned the upstairs upside down and inside out. My heart was thumping quickly and perhaps skipping a beat every now and again. HENRYYYYYYYYYYY! Where are you?

I asked my 3 year old where Henry was, and she couldn't remember.

Henryyyyyyy!

Finally, after searching for what appeared to be TEN long minutes, I found him. While searching, I also found Victoria's red basket, basket of apples, and light. Whew. I wiped a load of sweat from my brow.

Some time yesterday, my two year old added yet another object to her seemingly long list of sleeping companions. This giraffe: tsang jing lu (which means "giraffe" in Chinese). Tsang jing lu came with bai xiong and a bunch of other animals, from Grandma Karen and Grandpa John for Christmas.


Last night, Victoria tried super hard to hold all five of these objects in her two teeny tiny little hands, as she laid in her bed to go to sleep. Any time any one of these objects fell from her grasp, she screamed bloody murder, like great injury had befell her.

Honey, that's too much for you to handle would have failed to convince her otherwise.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Motorcycle comes, motorcycle goes

2010-8-7

We haven't the time or the doe to maintain this hog, which Troy got before we got married while we were dating. I had ridden this aqua colored Honda Shadow 1100 cc motorcycle with him before children were in the picture. In fact, my mother-in-law got me a lovely pair of black leather chaps for riding.

Honestly, especially since children came into the picture, I've been nervous about Troy riding. Have you seen people drive? I've seen people text, put on make up, stick their feet out the window, all while driving. Think people are going to see smaller vehicles, such as motorcycles, while driving? No way.

Today was the day Troy decided to put his motorcycle up for sale. On Craig's List. Went rather quickly. I felt kind of bad, the first two people to arrive were a father-son duo. The father examined the motorcycle carefully and wanted it immediately, even though they couldn't run or start it (needs a new battery). But, Troy said the first caller was close by and if he wanted it, it was his; first call first serve was what he promised. The first person to call about the motorcycle wanted it. It was obvious the father really wanted to fix up the bike for his son, and I felt so bad we couldn't give it to him.

Somehow I thought the sale of the motorcycle would offer some sense of relief. Not really. I'm sad, because having the motorcycle meant A LOT to Troy. But, I'm very glad we're no longer paying insurance on a vehicle we're not actively using.

Oh, the curiosity

Our church was holding Art in the Park for children, ages 2 -12. Not really taking place in a park. But, sounded like loads of fun for the girls especially Isabella. But, the girls also love going to the Children's Museum. What to do, what to do. In the end, we decided to do both. Why, oh why, does the mere thought of going two places with the two little ones tire me?

Isabella is slowly growing up or adjusting to some of her extra sensitivities. Once upon a time, face painting or stamping the hand with a butterfly would have FREAKED her out into a seeming inconsolable tantrum. But today? She picked one of her favorite colors and was ready to be transformed into a cat. Thank you, Julie!

2010-8-7

Also at "Art in the Park," I helped a few little ones, including my little girls, make bracelets.

Isabella absolutely loves hers and has worn it quite a bit. Victoria, by proxy, also sort of, kind of likes hers.


In other news, I thought I was going to die at The Children's Museum. One of my children was cranky tired, screaming shrilly at the drop of a pin. The air conditioning in that building wasn't working properly; and after riding in a car without air conditioning, feeling like the sun was going to burn holes in my legs, not ideal.

2010-8-7

But, we stuck it out as long as we could until lunchtime, when we headed home.

Sweet date

Yesterday evening, one of my dear friends Lynette took care of the girls whilst Troy and I went on a hot date. I was so excited; it's been about half a year since we've gone anywhere just the two of us. I showered, wore a real bra (sorry about the TMI, but really, when I've been wearing a nursing bra since December 2005), sprayed some perfume, put on some jewelry, wore heels.

I'm sad this photograph isn't in focus; it's one where I don't absolutely hate the way I look. The black top had, up to this point, only been tried on. Was in my closet before Victoria's time. Wasn't sure I could still wear it. It's a small, and I certainly don't feel small much of the time. . .

N0tice Troy's not wearing his glasses, his broken glasses? His eyes were finally clear enough of allergies for the eye doctor to check his vision. So, he's back to wearing contacts. More updated glasses are on the way for him.

2010-8-6

We went to Wild Ginger for dinner. True to the reviews, the food was good and the service was fast and reliable. It was important that we got our food quickly, because from the time we arrived at the restaurant, we had about an hour before we needed to be at the theater. And, because the way the stage of this particular theater is situated, late comers cannot be seated until intermission; we did not want to be late. The service was quick enough where we didn't need to gulp down the food. Instead, I enjoyed every morsel of the dishes we shared.

After dinner, we went to a play. Most of you know that I have a deep seated passion for stage theater. I enjoy watching as an audience member and I dream of being on stage as an actress myself. We saw a comedy, called "The Love List," written by a Canadian playwright. Two guy best friends, one of whom just turned 50 and is single, draw up a list of ten ideal characteristics for a woman. Before having a chance to turn this list in, a woman with these characteristics shows up at the bachelor's door. I won't give away anymore of the plot. Enjoyed the three person show.

2010-8-8

Lovely way to celebrate eight years as husband and wife.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wonder and joy, celebrating 8 years as husband and wife

The last time we took a vacation as a family, just us? Um, um, um. . . Our honeymoon, I believe. Not that visiting family doesn't count as vacation, but if we're just talking about us, it's been some time. Our honeymoon was eight years ago.

For different reasons, getting away this summer isn't happening. Fall classes are starting in the near future. Yesterday was our wedding anniversary, and my husband decided to take off Monday and Tuesday (yesterday) to give us a four day weekend together as a family. I'd love to have a little get away, just my husband and me, but this was the next best thing. We kept busy every one of those four days with stuff the girls would enjoy immensely.

Day #1: Saturday, July 31, 2010

We left earlier than usual, to arrive at the Children's Museum before it opened, so the girls could play at the playground outside the museum while temps were still reasonably cool.


2010-7-31

Inside the Children's Museum, Victoria said she was making cookies.

2010-7-31

Day #2: Sun., August 1, 2010

This was a bit crazy. Sunday mornings, we attend church, unless somebody's really sick. No one was sick this particular morning. The Denver Zoo is approximately 30 minutes, perhaps a bit more, from our house. With doors opening at 9 am, we thought we would hit the zoo before going to church. We haven't been to see the animals since December or earlier.

Victoria, there's a real, live Bai Xiong ("white bear") for you dear. But, you don't want to take him to sleep with you like you do the little tiny one.

The zoo is in the midst of building a tremendously huge Asian area. Once completed, the zoo plans on bringing in two male elephants (a rarity in American zoos) and start a breeding facility. Exciting stuff.

I found the flamingos interesting, but we had not even a moment to glance at them. We had barely an hour to see everything, before we had to whisk our sweaty selves to church.

2010-8-1

The girls were showing off by standing on rocks, like they were display stands. Or, maybe they were pretending to rock climb. Not sure.



Day #3: Mon., August 2, 2010

Early on, before the morning sun became merciless, we ventured out to a park, with water in which the children could enjoy running, dancing, jumping, and playing. We got out the door before 9 am.

This water spraying out of the ground wasn't always coming out continuously. The water would stop for a period. The sometimes more daring of the two children was standing on one of these little circular things that, from time to time, shoot water out from the ground. Before then, Victoria was nto shy about exploring the water. After that, she was quite gun shy about getting near the water. With water shooting up her nose and other unpleasantries, who can blame her?

2010-8-2

After that incident, she only wanted to be held. A short stay, perhaps?

My husband suggested taking her to calmer waters, where water wasn't surprising bystanders by suddenly shooting out of the ground. That seemed to work. After she finally trusted her surroundings enough to get down from my arms, she paced this area, like a dog scoping territory.

2010-8-2

Back and forth she went.

And back

and forth.

And back and forth Victoria paced.


Get the picture?


At some point, she broke the pacing cycle.


The girls were fascinated by different aspects of the water play.

But, it was crystal clear no one wanted to leave.


Too much fun to play.


Apparently, this is no undisclosed location. As time wore on, people flooded the area.


Moments before I took this photograph, Isabella pushed her sister and got reprimanded by her daddy. We told her such pushing is dangerous (could have pushed Victoria over the edge, for a three foot fall) and not acceptable. Isabella needed to apologize to her sister.

And that she did. And then, she went back about her merry little business.


Before heading home, we dropped by a huge playground at the same park. Oh my, this is where people flock. As we stayed on a bit, I recognized people who had followed our lead and migrated from the water area to the playgrounds.


By our trip home and from the two previous days, the adults, we were utterly exhausted. Why weren't the children super tired?

Victoria wanted me to help her with her sunglasses. I couldn't reach her, with my seat belt on; and I wasn't about to remove my seat belt in a moving vehicle, since wearing a seatbelt saved my life in two otherwise potentially deady or harming situations. So, she put on the sunglasses herself.

2010-8-2


Day #4: Tues., August 3, 2010

This day's the big one. Eight years we've been married, this day.

We started the day early, picking up some ingredients - French bread dough, pineapples, mushrooms - for making pizza just after 8 am. Then we headed to Starbucks for a coffee date, where Troy and I got massive quantities of coffee. Mmmm, venti iced, white mocha americanos.

2010-8-3

After that, we headed to the public library. Long before arriving, Isabella announced the she wanted to hug the big bear. Sure enough, she did. In fact, she interrupted the working librarians to explain what she was doing.

She told the librarians how much she loves the bear and how she enjoys the company of the bear.


But, the girls didn't stay put in any spot or stay together for long. Sometimes they were at the library's little castle, running up and down the stairs. Sometimes with books, sometimes without.


Once in awhile, they sat down, whether on the floor, by a bear, on a bench, or at a table to look at books.


Sometimes they were trying to figure out how squares and circles moved in different mazes.

Other times, they were busy with different hand puppets. One of Victoria's favorites: the giraffe.


The zebra was chomping on my hand.


Before heading home for lunch, we went to the Littleton Historic Museum, outside of which are 2 farms, in the style of the late 1800's, with horses, turkeys, chickens, sheep, cows, and a few other animals. The girls found the horse intriguing. Wish I could say the same for the horse. The horse was more interested in reaching the grass, and, well, the girls were in the way.

Um, not the most flattering photograph of me. But, this photograph captures what I try to do with the girls some everyday. Get out. Getting them to cooperate by holding my hand in crossing the street can be so frustrating sometimes. As if they're too big for that. Girls, cars come out of nowhere at fast speeds; you have no idea.


Isabella found the sounds of the chicken ever humorous, and Victoria would laugh along with her sister whenever she laughed. Amusing to watch and listen.

Whilst the girls were in bed for their nap, I had my lunch and prepared our anniversary meal: two homemade pizzas. My husband and the girls couldn't wait to eat the pizzas. They were salivating at the mere thought of it. Read about the making here.

After the girls' naps and everyone enjoyed some pizza, we took a couple of pieces to my new friend Cecily at work. The girls happily wandered outside the offices.

2010-8-3

We headed home and attempted to watch one of two of our wedding videos, but they're on VHS and our only remaining player has apparently retired. Permanently. Instead, we practiced singing and bribed the girls with an Elmo movie if they behaved whilst we practiced. And, that was our day.

***

By the end of our four day weekend, I was utter exhausted by filled within. My husband and I have always kept super busy, before children and even before we were married. Being passing ships in the night is no fun. Hopefully that won't define our marriage continuously. But it was so refreshing, filling me with wonder and joy, spending time with the family. I am ever thankful my husband took a couple days off of work to hang out with us.