Thursday, January 27, 2011

When smiles do


My younger daughter, Victoria, insisted on me taking her photographs in her "really pretty dress." So, here we go.

I am beyond tired and have been for most of the day. I leave you with a smile, full of life and vitality and energy.

Having fun and learning to catch with A-ma and A-gong

A-gong and A-ma (my parents) came for a visit and stayed for nearly a week. And I miss them very much so. When I told my girls that I'm sad they're gone, Isabella has assured me that things will be okay and that they will come back multiple times to see us. But, it is now Grandma and Grandpa's turn to come.

I had neglected to put my camera into action until the last day they were here. Shame on me. Better late than never?


Can you tell that everyone was having a good time?

Though Troy and I were both there as well, both of us are missing from any photographs. We're not as cute or fun, I suppose.

Have a merry day, all.

Thank you, by the way, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Aaron, Aunt Jenny, & Aunt Becky for renewing our The Children's Museum membership. A-ma and A-gong, thank you for everything.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A belated Christmas gift, Pandora, from one of my best friends

My dear mother-in-law started a Pandora charm bracelet for me, for Christmas a couple of years ago. A luxury I would have never allowed myself; I'm touched. She started me with the bracelet itself, two little girls charms that are towards the middle of the bracelet, and the heart spacer between the girls. Since then, she's contributed other lovely Pandora stuff, like the stone flake charm and the blue stone spacer. My husband also got me a rose charm and the flower spacer to the right of the rose charm.

Well a friend, with whom I became best friends in the 4th grade, Abirami, surprised me with a clip (basically a charm that stays in place and doesn't slide around), a turquoise enamel charm, and a roses spacer. Thank you!

A fine piece of ceramics


My friend Ashley and I got together after Christmas, and part of the gifts she gave me included this exquisite piece of ceramics, sold by Starbucks. Do you know that I took a potter's wheel class in college? Some of my hand thrown, hand glazed pieces have shown up in my recipe blog, such as the bowl in the first photograph and last photograph of this blog post. In addition to the well crafted aspect, this piece was made in France. We had a lovely time catching up and I drank plenty of caffeine-free tea that day.

I feel warm just thinking upon our conversation and warm tea. Thanks, Ash.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An artisan's gifts

Last semester, fall semester 2010, I participated on my last of three mentored spiritual formation classes required for my counseling licensure degree. "Participated" is a gross understatement. I took the bull by the horns. Through mentored spiritual formation, each one of us were supposed to create a character formation contract that was tailor written for our character and challenged us to spiritually grow and mature in character. In short, I wanted to be able to be me - in my twirling, giddy little girl who also thinks about deep matters and loves people - without being consumed by what people think of me and how they are judging me. I included readings that would challenge me in that direction and activities that really pushed me towards that goal, ending the semester with a voice recital.

Working on that spiritual formation contract and doing other sorts of difficult, life-changing looks at who I am, what makes me tick, how I approach life have changed me and continue to mold who I am. Due to some of these factors and others, I was very much in a giving spirit around Christmas time. But, given various constraints, I had to be creative in my gift giving endeavors. I gave mostly home made or hand crafted gifts. I gave cinnamon and sugar almonds, and jewelry made by yours truly. Here's a sample of what I made . . .
  • for Tonya

  • and Abby

  • and Karen E.

  • and Haiying

  • and Christine

  • and Katia

  • and Kar-Shan

  • and Ashley

Making those for people who have made a difference in my life did wonders for me. But, I was disappointed that I wasn't able to make something for everyone that means so much to me. I don't want to go out of this life or have others pass from this life without knowing how valued they are and how significant they are.

Giving tasty treats to neighbors

Growing up, my parents would say that I quite the sweet tooth, especially with candy: eating it, saving it, trading it, and dreaming about it. Not exactly good news for a gal who has genes for bad teeth. Anyways, presently, I'm not inclined towards sweets, whether cookies, cakes, or the like.

The week of Christmas, I made three different treats, and some of these treats were made on more than one occasion: cinnamon and sugar almonds, cupcakes, and gingerbread cookies. Each time I made these goodies, I shared them with close by neighbors that I have met in passing in the past. Plus, my girls love treats and, well, the holidays seem a good time for that.

I got invitations to bring back goodies to share any time. Any time.

Birthday cupcakes for Jesus

I've been missing on the radar, first, due to my laptop screen going completely blank permanently and second, due to my desktop computer's refusal to recognize my camera and any photographs on it. Speaking of my camera, I must apologize for my sometimes blurry photographs. Having a defunct flash and being at the mercy of natural sunlight can be a challenge, at times, especially when the daylight hours are shorter and sunlight within the house is limited.

It doesn't seem that long ago that we celebrated Christmas, but not only was that December 25th, we're nearly a whole month into the new year. This past Christmas was our first staying put with no out of town guests visiting. We took this opportunity not only to enjoy not having children thrown off their sleep schedules but also creating or maintaining some of our own family traditions.

One tradition is making cupcakes for Jesus's birthday. If we make cupcakes or cakes or purchase those to celebrate other people's birthdays, why not for Jesus's birthday?


Also, my children are four years old and two and a half years old; they could use tangible ways and easy explanations to talk about Christmas. Speaking of simplicity and explanations, I hadn't given much thought to the fact that we celebrate Jesus's birthday with the baby version of him, whereas we celebrate others' birthdays at whatever age(s) the person(s) are.

So, when my older daughter asked why we're celebrating baby Jesus's birthday and whether he is still a baby, I tried to keep the explanation simple. Jesus was once a baby, he's really big now, and we celebrate his birthday as a baby because he's really special.

I have also told the girls that Jesus came to earth to save us and that if we really believe in him; we will not only see him again at some point, but we will be with him forever and he will always take care of us. Simple enough for a 4 yr old and 2 1/2 yr old?

We, humans here on earth (myself included), too easily get caught up in our lives here. But, we cannot buy into the non-truth that life here on earth is all there is. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of you know that I am a philosopher by training (studied the discipline in undergraduate as well as loads of graduate school) and I am hesitant to claim any knowledge with certainty. One thing I know for certain is that Jesus is the real deal; he is the one and only Savior, Lord, that can and will (should we make the choice to believe and trust in him) save us from an eternity apart from him.

Since Christmas, my 4 year old has been explicitly assuring people that she really does believe in Jesus. A friend and fellow church attendee believes that a person as young as Isabella has the capacity to make a well informed decision as such. I'm not certain but hopeful. Within the last week or so, my 2 1/2 year old has been saying that she really believes in Jesus. Really? Or, is she copying her sister? Not sure; perhaps time will tell.

Learning and the approaching kindergarten


For Christmas, amongst numerous other things, the girls got their own computer. A toy computer. It's pretty sophisticated for a toy, including numerous learning games. Up until recently, first thing in the morning and several times a day, Isabella would venture to this computer and play. Though she's still young, she figured out how to play a few of them, such as "what comes before and what comes after a certain letter in the alphabet.

By the way, Isabella's sporting a top from one of my aunts in Taiwan. Lovely, isn't it?

Lately, we have been looking at kindergartens for Isabella. Can you believe it's already that time? My baby, my very first baby, is getting ready to go to kindergarten. This fall. I have mixed emotions on this: yes, it's great she's growing up and she's actually ready for this step; but, what happened to my little babies? We are zoned for a decent public school, but that hasn't stopped me from looking at three charter schools for her, for which the lotteries are fast reaching their deadlines or have already done so. Will blog some more about kindergarten searches perhaps at some other point.

A rebel in artistic acrylic painting


Towards the end of December, I had gone to a place called Canvas and Cocktails with my mentor, some other people she was mentoring, as well as a few friends of mine.

Probably well over 50 people were crammed into this little studio space. We each had our own make-shift pallet, four or five brushes (my mind is hazy), and cup of water. Then, our instructor gave us slow, methodical, patient instructions. A little at a time.

Good thing she gave us permission to deviate from her instructions and her painting. Some in our group of ten people painted altogether a different picture. And, I well, certainly didn't do what she said to a 't.' Our group, we're rebels, we are. We had loads of fun spreading color for 2.5 hrs on a 16 x 20 canvas.