Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's A Bit of a Shocker!

I was instructed by a 7 month pregnant co-worker to get some special lotion to help minimize and/or prevent any stretch marks resulting from the baby bump. Knowing that I am genetically likely to inherit stretch marks, I finally made my way to a Rite-Aid the other day to pick up some tummy lotions. To my disbelief, I was unable to find the one she prescribed and instead, wandered towards the ice cream service and bought myself a pineapple coconut single scoop on a cake cone. It was delicious, and to avoid eating it in the car, I scoured the baby aisles looking at the different diapers, bottles, and accessories. It didn't look so bad at all. One aisle after all.

Contrast that to my trip to Babies 'R' Us yesterday, the correct place I was to visit for the uber expensive stretch mark reducing cream, Rite-Aid's baby aisle was a piece of cake. Once inside Babies 'R' Us, I was immediately cast into a world of baby stuff. An entire aisle dedicated to strollers, another for playpens, more for furniture, a massive row of blankets, and so on and so forth. Immediately, thoughts strewn into my head such as ... when do I get this stuff? how do I know what to get? which is better and most affordable bang for my buck?

Quite overwhelmed, I quickly found the minuscule section with mommy aids, prego pops (would have been useful a month ago), lotions, and mommy bars (what an advertising genius!), snatched my cream (without looking at the price) and checked out (dropped my jaw when she rang up the total) of there quicker than you can say "baby." Looking back, I am surprised how much baby stuff there was. I mean, inherently it is a store that titles itself with babies is what they are, but it was still a bit of a shocker to me! I guess I haven't been immersed in the baby world quite that long yet. Though I know people with babies and have some friends with babies, I haven't been around for most of it and among my closest friends, I am the first with baby in belly! So we are all learning bit by bit, every week (I send them updates of how big baby is and how I'm feeling and it's very fun and amusing for everyone first time around).

Back at home, I realized I have to start planning. Though I've been subscribing to different newsletters who e-mail me everyday with a tip or word of caution, I haven't been researching any products, comparing and contrasting, or asking those more seasoned moms of expertise. I realized I have to begin now, before the bump gets so big and I am uncomfortable in my own body again.

On another note, the one not so overwhelming but very reassuring and exciting moment as of late was when Andy and I went to the doctor's yesterday to see a 3D/4D image of our baby. The doctor said, "and there's the rocket!" and we saw our baby boy. He has skinny arms and legs but apparently all the fat grows in the seventh month. Until then, he'll just be skinny. We didn't get to see his face much, he kept covering it, but he crossed his legs (it was so cute!) and apparently likes to hang out low in my stomach.

It's amazing that a little man is in my belly. What a blessing and what a joy it is to prepare and how grateful I am to start prepping now! Here we go!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Whole New Me

Food hasn't had the same appeal as it used to. In fact, often, I am quite satisfied having a ritz cracker with cheddar cheese and a dob of ketchup on repeat for dinner. Other times, pickles and iced oatmeal cookies sound terrific. Cole slaw makes an appearance quite often, as do pickles and Hawaiian potato salad. Off my list of foods regularly eaten are ice cream - any kind..... the creamier, the worse. I have eaten ice cream a total of three times over the past 3 months and bite sized serving sizes. Instead, sorbet sounds great and any type of fruit is welcome, even more so than before. Soup is also great... soup for dinner, soup for lunch, soup for breakfast... but just a cup, no bowls because that is just too much.

So I guess my new food groups consist of weird, different, and sour.

Past times also have not had the same appeal they used to. Fatigue seems to overwhelm any desire to work out and my consistent obsessions with work out routines, often trendy, expensive and different, has been put on hold. Instead, sleep is exceptionally appealing as are naps, something I never ever desired before. Blog stalking is not as fun, in fact it gives me a headache, facebook makes me nauseous and crafts have taken a backseat. Instead, I am a huge fan of watching trailers on youtube, playing the piano (weird!), and cleaning. It's odd that a whole new me seems to have emerged.

One morning, on a flight to San Jose, I not only wore really ugly flat but comfortable shoes the entire week, but as I awaited for my flight to board and watched the abc7 recap of "Dancing with the Stars" results show the night before, I started feeling emotional. Tears started streaming down my eyes as I thought of how sad it was that someone was going to be eliminated. A few weeks later, as I watched an episode of Friends, the one where Monica and Chandler decide to move to the suburbs, I again felt so sad. Tears once more.

On top of that, for the past three months, most of my days meant too many aromas, a lot of almost about to gag and puke, and a lot of aversions to normal foods. I also am a lot more whiny (husband can attest), a lot more unreasonable, and a lot more unfun.

Turns out, there's not just a whole new me, but a whole new life of its own on its way as well!

So sidenote you ever think how amazing you are? Because out of ALL the ones fighting to get into the egg, YOU won! You beat everyone else out! You not only shouted for joy when you heard Heavenly Father's plan but you made it out here asap!

Well, our little one made it too... and in 6 months.... we will have our own May baby. Baby Phillips is on its way! And how thankful we are for this blessing and how frightfully unready I feel everyday.... oh well, at least the awful first trimester is over.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Been A Rough Week

Work has officially sucked the life out of me this week. Drained it. Yanked it. Completely wiped me clean.

I have been working from home for the past three days, but it is a seemingly tricky and deceptive thing - working from home. Instead of feeling flexible to do the laundry, wash the dishes, and clean the house while working from home, you do all of the above plus work 10+ hours. In my defense, we had a huge deadline of which I only missed by one hour (give or take) and knowing it would mean a relaxing Thanksgiving pushed me to the max.

To make matters worse, I have lost my ability to persevere through client work the way I used to. I'm older, more feeble, more weak, less capable and more whiney. I did a site visit on Tuesday to an old client and was reminded of my old days in client service when we worked 7 days straight for 2 weeks with the average day being 15 hours. Wow... how did I even survive? Then, begrudgingly, I thought how long my site visit day was that started at 9, ended at 7, and was a 1 hour commute each way.... really? Compared to what I used to do... that's nothing! Yet it's something.. something awful and painful and ugh... I'm just ready for the week to be over!

It's been a rough week. It's been an exceptionally hard week to get through my scripture study. Isn't it interesting how the adversary will get you when you're already down? And so you just have to persevere and try harder.. because at the end of every frustrating moment, is a surprisingly spiritually uplifting moment that confirms everything you know in your heart and mind. Don't let the adversary get you when you're down. You're more susceptible, but you must stay strong!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Insecure Big Booty

When I moved all my stuff from my parents' home into Andy's then apartment (now OUR apartment), I strategically left out the comfortable soft $10 bucks purchased, pink but almost white and kinda see through, velour Ross purchased sweats that I loved SOOO much because they were old. And dirty. And see through (a bit). And kind of high water. And kind of gross. Well, actually... none of that mattered as much as they made my butt look big and how could I let my fiance, soon to be husband, see the true size of my butt in those sweats?!

I also had an old pair of Juicy Couture pink bottoms (not velour, surprisingly) with a little heart on the right side which after a few washes, was too big, so I put into the dryer for too long and was then too short and too big.... so naturally, I left those at my parents' home as well.

Before I met Andy, when I had left for San Jose on my adventure of 3 months living on my own in Corporate Housing with the mini-rotation with Learning & Education, I had done the same thing with my favorite bright green Macy*s velour pocket sweat pants, with a promise to buy some cuter "lounge around" pants. I had purchased this beauty for only $6 but my brother constantly reminded me how he absolutely hated them and whenever I slothfully adorned them to every late night movie we watched out on the town together, it only added to his pleas for me to stop wearing them. "They're so BRIGHT and UGLY!!" he would complain. They were the vivid color of bright green grass like said photo below. "But they're so comfortable!" I said. "And cheap!" I reminded him. "Then go get another pair that's not so ugly or don't wear them out of the house!" he would say. I didn't listen to him until it was time for my adventure alone.... and I thought the only incentive for me to go buy cute lounge pants was to be void of any lounge pants at all.

How naive I was. Three lounge pants unavailable later.... the cold hits LA, I am freezing because I have no comfortable velour Ross pants and only a pair of Andy's pj pants that are too big for me and don't keep me very warm at all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

White Friend Make Vietnamese Food!

I am leaving work early to go make Vietnamese spring rolls!!! I LOVE Fridays!

I made Vietnamese spring rolls once but my roommate at the time did not enjoy it as much as I did. Since the rice paper used to make it is so cheap and healthy, I have it in our cupboards just to be safe.... but of course, it takes the incentive of our non-Asian and yes, white friends to decide on pho for dinner to get me to crack out the spring rolls! I'm so excited... but a lil ashamed that it took me this long to get around to makin 'em and that it came at the suggestion of the Bairds. Hehehe.

White Friend Make Vietnamese Food ... so I guess I will too!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Proactive Outreach for Me, You, EVERYONE!

Lately, work has been mundane but apparently I'm not alone - needless to say, I'm part of a club called "EVERYBODY." Luckily, I get to participate in interesting human relations type meetings and one was discussing why minority females tend to not succeed in the Firm and at some point, the questions were directed at me since I myself did not stay until manager and am indeed a diverse female (I'm Asian in case the black hair and brown eyes did not give it away and upon quitting, I was given another role and along with it came the title of "manager.")

Cornered, I wasn't sure how to respond - truthfully or politically? Not that the two aren't the same ...but....

I hiccuped a bit as I tried to explain at some point in the career, a determination of lifestyle is necessary... and that in my case, wanting a family and understanding this job could not coincide with that decision became reason enough to quit. Soon the conversation shifted from me and became a general discussion about how necessary proactive outreach to a female was who would one day reach the top at the Firm. You see, apparently females do not see many role models at the top and most often, do not even ponder the thought of reaching the top. It's not sexist, it's just a lifestyle choice that becomes very realistic after 5, 10, 15 years. And a lot of people do not value the time and effort it takes to reach the top where the money and prestige is. Many of the successful females at the top today, may not have seen themselves at the top and needed that proactive outreach at some point in their career to come to the realization that they indeed could make it, if they so desired.

It got me thinking about converts in the Church and how they too, need proactive outreach. I remember joining the Church and not really feeling like I belonged. Sure I had a testimony, sure I felt the Spirit.. but man was I behind on both Church doctrine and culture. Having not grown up as a member of the Church, comments in Sunday School or Relief Society about how "this is old stuff," or "we all know this popular story," are not well received by converts like myself. Familiar Bible stories are instead completely foreign to me. Besides Noah's Ark, Cain and Abel, and Adam and Eve, I know near nothing.

President Hinckley once said every new member needs three things:
1) a friend,
2) a calling, and
3) nourishment by the good word of God

Might I be so bold as to add to his description of a friend, they also need that friend or even better, numerous friends, to proactively outreach to them and reassure them that despite not envisioning themselves as a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ before, they now indeed are and they should remember that if they so desire, they can be more assimilated.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Sure Miss Glendale 7th

Yesterday, Andy and I got to go back to Glendale 7th after 2 hours of Church at our family ward to listen to Lucy give her first talk ever. Even though we didn't recognize the majority of the people in the chapel, there were still a good 3-4 rows of familiar faces.

I've often complained that the hardest thing about transitioning to married life is the family ward but for me it goes beyond that. Glendale 7th, though not the first ward I ever went to, was where my testimony really grew, where I made Church friends for the first time and where I would meet my eternal companion. It was a ward so vibrant and alive with missionary work that barely did a new convert last as the "newly baptized member" for more than a few weeks. It was a place where I felt accepted and though I didn't feel like I knew many people then... I feel even more lost now in the huge family ward.

Listening to Lucy's talk and watching her sniffle on the stand was amazing - not only because of the Spirit but because of the journey I have witnessed her go through. The person I knew before she was a member and the person I have seen her become. I remember how hesitant she was to meet the missionaries and yet the desire within her to learn more and can still recall how happy she was after getting baptized. She has been such a source of strength for me, especially when I would wonder if I was truly insane for feeling the way I did. She is so strong in her faith and always seeking to improve herself and is able to recognize the Lord's hand in her life and accept and move forward in faith.

I also miss Bishop and his funny chastity talks to the group. The last hour was a combined Relief Society and Elders' Quorum meeting and he had prepared a very TO THE POINT message to the young single adults in the crowd and unfortunately, Andy and I missed it but heard about it later. Our friends from Glendale 7th came over for a potluck fried chicken wannabe KFC themed dinner and it was a blast and though it oddly resembled a Relief Society outing with 2 men (some guys canceled last minute), it was just comfortable, relaxing and fun. I sure do miss those girls and sure am grateful Andy and I are able to still spend time with our single friends and still make friends with couple friends from the new ward.

But deep down... I sure do miss Glendale 7th.

At least we get excuses to visit anytime a friend is speaking.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Airplane Story

Our Stake Conference was last weekend.

Our FIRST Stake Conference in a family ward.

Our FIRST Stake Conference as a married couple.

My FIRST Stake Conference where I was part of sustaining and ordaining a NEW Stake Presidency.

My FIRST Stake Conference without pie (old La Crescenta Stake tradition).

My FIRST Stake Conference where I realized... hey, we don't partake of the Sacrament (it only took me 3 Stake Conferences to notice this...)

My favorite part of Stake Conference, besides feeling the Spirit confirm that these men speaking were all called of God, being reminded of all the family things we must do to strengthen our homes, and going back to the beautiful white building where we had our reception, was the airplane story!

One of the general authorities (his name I forget at the moment)told us about a flight where the plane was seized by terrorists who demanded the pilot fly to Australia. The plane did not have enough gas and the pilot knowing this, did his best to fly along the cost of South Africa until the terrorists realized this and demanded they fly over the water to Australia. After a few hours, as the pilot had mentioned earlier, the plane was out of gas. An emergency landing was to happen and all the passengers were advised to put on their life jackets but not to inflate it. Some passengers, thinking they knew better than the pilot, inflated their life jackets so they would be ready for a quick escape. One man, frustrated that nobody was listening to the pilot, shouted at everyone to listen and not to inflate their life jackets! Some listened. Some did not.

The plane landed on water. The plane became full of water. Those who had inflated their life jackets had no way of swimming towards an exit and up to safety and sadly.. many died. Those who listened, who had not inflated their life jackets, were able to swim to safety and then inflate their life jackets as they lay in the water waiting for further help.

Sometimes we don't understand what our church leaders tell us to do. Sometimes we don't understand what the Prophet or his Apostles tell us to do. Sometimes we think we know better. But if they are directed by God, then I'll bet they do know better. We just have to trust and have faith... or else, we may end up drowning within our self destruction.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm a B+ Wife...

Maybe I compare too much.. but it seems like a Mormon thing (only saying that from all the blogs I see....) to go all out and throw your husband an amazing birthday, complete with numerous gifts, activities, surprises, etc. Birthdays weren't a HUGE thing growing up for me... in fact I had bad luck on birthdays so besides cake with the family, I never really wanted that much more. The older I got, the more insignificant they became and though I think everyone deserves a cake or a cupcake with a candle for their birthday... I couldn't think of anything to give to Andy this year and besides wanting an I-Pad (which I disagreed with), there didn't seem to be much I could give him.

Last year, I had the perfect opportunity to give him a cute powerpoint with 25 reasons why we (collectively a bunch of friends) loved him... but not wanting to be redundant... I couldn't come up with anything sweet or creative this year. Last year, I also got a bunch of people to chip in and help pay the way for him to go to Conference with me in Salt Lake... which was awesome!! ... but there wasn't anything big like that this year.

So this year, I made some Cafe Rio salad for a group of our friends to come and celebrate with us, bought some blue crepe paper that I never got to using, a "Happy Birthday" sign from Target and cut out "ANDY" to put underneath the birthday sign. I also got him something I haven't gotten around to completing yet... so it doesn't really count, maybe it can be a Thanksgiving I'm so thankful for you gift. The one thing we did get to do that was a bit special was use our "give a day, get a day" Disneyland passes and this is what makes me better than just the average C+ wife and what elevates me to B+ status. Yours truly.... beat Andy in the Buzz Lightyear game!!!!!

I love you Andy!

p.s. I'm home sick today and that is why I'm posting at 2 PM.. I'm not THAT big of a slacker.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Know I've Been Spoiled...

If there's one chore I hate more than anything ... it's cleaning the toilet. I know it's something I shouldn't be afraid of since I use it myself and am half the problem of making it disgusting in our home... but I just feel vulnerable every time I try to clean it. I even googled "how to clean a toilet" to make sure I was doing it right before doing it.

I'll be the first to admit, I was quite spoiled growing up and never had to clean the toilet. Then, in college, we had bathrooms that were shared with 12-20 girls and cleaning ladies who would come everyday on the weekdays (which meant 2 days of maybe disgusting bathrooms). The first time I cleaned a bathroom was living with a roommate on my own in Santa Monica. Since my roommate at the time was a super neat freak, I always felt pressured to make sure I cleaned my bathroom periodically. And I suppose it was never that bad of a chore.....

Andy's not as much of a "neat freak" as this old roommate, so I'm afraid I've left the toilet alone far too long and now, cleaning it is plain ol' nasty! Despite how much I arm myself with gloves.... scrubs.... a toilet bowl brush... and the courage to go forth and clean the ugly thing...I still feel like everything is too close to me and that the poop and pee stains will get on me and taint me! Try as I might, I hate cleaning the toilet!

I guess the lesson I've learned is not to let things sit and get to the point of plain ol' nasty before you pay attention to it. I never thought cleaning the bathroom as a chore in my Santa Monica days but I also always had a clean bathroom that only needed a bit of clean-up. The more I leave my toilets alone now.. the dingier they get, the harder clean-up becomes, and the more effort I have to put into it.

It's really just like daily prayer and scripture study... which if done everyday can become a routine blessing whereas avoiding it until you're desperately in need of it.. makes it a nasty chore you just want to ignore but cannot because it's screaming at you.... "clean me!" It's a good habit to clean the bathroom (and toilet) regularly.... just as it's a good routine to pray and read your scriptures regularly in order to avoid the day of reckoning when no matter how hard you roll up your sleeves, pinch your nose and tell yourself the yellow and brown are just the result of bad lighting.... you know it's an awful chore you just have to do!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Quest For The Hardest Career Ever...

I used to wonder what my objective in life was. It seemed to be a moving target hidden behind the backdrop of wanting a family. I was never embarrassed to admit that was my heart's one desire but it was often amusing to hear the reaction of others...

I recall a time when I had just made senior at the Firm and was conversing with a male coworker who asked where I wanted to be in five years. I knew exactly what I wanted - a husband, some kids and whatever else came with it. He was shocked. He figured career was first because in his eyes he saw me as successful and not the "be a stay at home mom kind of girl." He figured I'd want to be independent, travel, see the world and maybe even consider a rotation internationally with the Firm. I had considered the probability of meeting my future husband internationally, but didn't think a foreigner would understand my culture or ways. And quite frankly, traveling was something I always envisioned doing with my future family.

Career was important, it paid the bills, it kept me challenged and working throughout the week, but ultimately, it would take second place to a family. He couldn't believe I ultimately wanted to be a mom. His disbelief, though never explicitly commenting that motherhood was second rate to our current career path, implicitly did.

It infuriates me that so many people think being a "mom" is an alternative no successful woman would make. It's so common to just hire someone to nanny your kids that it seems more and more females are opting out of raising their own kids. And we wonder why society is turning out the way it is.... (I was bullied too as a kid ...but my mother helped and I'm still here today! more in another post on that)....

I'm not a mom yet, but I know, just from my mom alone, that it is the hardest but most rewarding job ever. And now, when I see all the other moms with young babies, toddlers, teens, college kiddos and even grown-ups, I am quite positive that it is a hard job that yes, anyone can do, but not everyone chooses to do and succeed at! The same skills of organizing, prioritizing, people managing, budgeting, and conflict resolution I have learned in the Firm will help me succeed as a mom (despite the likelihood of still failing at times) and though I may continue to make money or earn fancy titles in my current job, I lose out on amassing the skills to sew, cook, and interact with kids. It's all a trade off but the opportunity cost of working and putting off a family just don't bode in my favor.

Friday, October 8, 2010

We Shall Run and Not Be Weary... Walk and Not Faint

As of lately, we have not run or walked beyond the steps necessary to get to the elevator or to work and the hospital. In truth, we have been absolutely lard-riffic and plain slothful. The simple pleasures of P90x and Bar Method videos, trips to the gym and a few times at our community pool have become less as we have only a few mere hours before our 9:30 PM self imposed curfew. Somehow, the four hours (on a good day for both of us) we have together goes especially quick considering dinner, clean-up, scripture study and getting ready for bed. Despite wanting to desperately make working out a part of my morning routine, my bed seems so much fluffier and appealing and in the mornings, I'm always more hopeful that the night will somehow have more potential.

Nevertheless, if we cannot get the proper exercise we must do something else. Alas, I have determined that offsetting our lack of exercise with healthier eating is the answer for now. I am now imposing my wheat pizza dough, fiber cereal and constant fruit eating (that's our dessert) on my other half and he has happily accepted. In exchange, we try to have a bottle of Diet 7-Up in the house that we can mix with orange juice, smoothies and other more fruity drinks to derive the pleasant sugary drink effect. I prefer not to drink wasted calories but sometimes juice just tastes better than water. Furthermore, I have discovered the "less calories" lemonade and apple juice and determined that the former far exceeds the latter in taste value.

And with our newfound bits of healthier habits, we will still be able to hopefully run and not be weary, walk and not be faint .... and eventually get back into our work out routine (once Surgery rotation ends... we can sleep at 10 PM... hooray!).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sharing the Gospel on an Airplane

Have you ever done it? Have you ever been prompted to but failed to act on it? Have you ever just read your Book of Mormon while others observed? I've done it - but I always leave the plane thinking I should have been more proactive about sharing, maybe started a conversation I wasn't planning on. I always think there's more we can do. Thoughts? Especially since as I was reading When Thou Art Converted by Elder Ballard, I read two consecutive stories about brave missionaries who shared the gospel and tears trickled down my face as I thought how cowardly of me not to say something to these people! Ugh. Maybe on the plane ride back?

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Love Me a Mickey D's Breakfast

So much so that before I even order it, I can picture it in my head and through all my senses. The aroma of the toasty english muffin, perfectly cooked and fluffy egg, and sizzling sausage.... the mini cannister of whipped margarine with the imprint of the famous "M" (for McDonald's)... the hotcake syrup, and even the foamy container it sits in that has not changed... to this day.

I've always loved McDonald's, ever since I was a kid and the happy meal toys and box brightened my day. Nothing could ever convince me that McDonald's was bad, not even a documentary which in my opinion just is poor choice (even I do not eat McDonald's everyday). The perfect combination of the yellow and red, the oh so familiar golden arches are in fact a staple in my life of fast food options. My fondest memories derived from childhood photos are of me atop the different McDonald playground rides and since I quickly became too big for many of the pool of colored ball playgrounds (height does that for you), I often miss it and feel like many memories yet to be made were swiped from me.

I guess you could say Mickey D's was a tradition I became accustomed to growing up. It was always a weekend "special" if we were allowed to eat there and between my chicken nugget sauces to the fish filet to the big mac, the choices to a child were endless.

One tradition I didn't witness much growing up is that of a typical non-LDS wedding complete with a wedding march, the fancy ceremony set up, the bride walking down the aisle with her father and the vows. Try as I might, I can't remember ever witnessing such an event until I was in high school when all I could think of is when it was ending and all I could look at was my teal pager (yeah, I was pretty cool, and I could read pager number text too....53121017574).

So when my college friend, also a recent convert, began sharing with me her frustrations of the picturesque wedding she imagined since she was a child, the fairytale of her father giving her away after walking her down the aisle, I tried to emphathize but found it hard. It was probably hard for my parents not to witness the temple sealing, but they know it is sacred and different from a non-LDS wedding ceremony. Yet given our limited experience with ceremony weddings, they did not seem to mind as long as I wore a red qi-pao (traditional Chinese dress) and they were able to have their friends all come and see me dressed up with my groom. I remember thinking hard before offering advice, unsure of what to say to my friend. I was hopeful Heavenly Father and the Spirit would help me, and the only thing I could offer was, "well, you're marrying one awesome Priesthood holder and your fairytale will be beyond just a day." I didn't mean to imply that non-LDS marriages don't last, I only meant to emphasize how important the role of a woman and man are based on the truths that we have and understand to be true and eternal. I didn't mean to imply that a non-LDS marriage would result in cacaphony while a LDS marriage would be harmonious, only that the common beliefs we hold as Mormons helps us instill values and standards in our home, our family and our posterity and that foundation is so strong that many of us don't date for long before we're engaged. It seemed to strike a cord with her and try as she would to abandon the memories of the traditional wedding she always envisioned for herself, it would be hard. Only I know she has a secret weapon, the power of prayer and the comfort that our Saviour can give her to rise above the expectations and image of what she once thought would be her wedding. Plus, it is only one day... although if I had to give up my Mickey D's breakfasts forever... I would also be quite sad because it is a tradition I grew up with, love and don't see the harm of it. Likewise, she probably does not think there is any harm in having a ring ceremony with her father walking her down the aisle, but that will be a decision she will make with her fiance and I will be right there supporting her (she asked me to be a bridesmaid hehe)

When it comes down to it, traditions are hard to break as tradition becomes culture becomes habit becomes life as we know it. So many people look at our Mormon traditions and criticize it for being too strict, too binding and too conservative. But our world is slowly falling in standard - just take a look at the stuff on television now... the bad words of yesterday which were censored, now roam freely on normal (not Cable) tv.

Another example would be all the casual and premarital sex that seems to be superfluous in the media, and a new symbol of independence and maturity. Chastity is old school, uncool and not hip. Funny thing about hip things.... they tend to not last through time. I know there is a common belief held by non-members that Mormons just get married young because they want to have sex. That is the most immature, unbelievable, and unfounded rebuttal to the fact that we can figure out so much more about our relationships absent the mind boggling confusion, frustration, and feelings of unworthiness of intimacy that results from premarital sex. Yet it seems useless to attempt to explain that our standards are different without coming across as self righteous or judgmental despite the fact that their very initial comment was exactly that.

At the end of the day, no tradition, culture, value, standard, or belief should make or break what you do - unless it comes from truth. And nobody can tell you what's true or not except for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and it is through the Spirit that they will testify of these things. Don't try to convince yourself that you know better or that the World knows better ... only Heavenly Father knows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Thing Called Visiting Teaching

When I first became a member, I didn't take "visiting teaching" very seriously because it sounded so frou frou. (Visiting teaching is basically a program our Church determined through inspired revelation in which all the females get a buddy which we called "companion," and we go together once a month, to visit our assigned teachees, also females from our Ward. A "ward" is just a fancy schmancy way of designating between the different groups that meet in a church building. For example, three "wards" meet in our church building so to differentiate, we are three distinct wards.)

So despite all the many articles and testimonies shared by others for how wonderful visiting teaching was, I was still struggling with fully embracing it. In the singles ward, I reached out to my assigned teachees, never could align our schedules, and failed at ever meeting her in person. One of my other teachees happened to be a recent convert and co-worker of mine, so meeting with her was easy.

It wasn't until I graduated from the singles ward, ventured into the world of family ward, that I have finally begun to see and experience the blessings of visiting teaching.

It's hard to make friends in my new ward because it's massively humongous and because most of the wives belong to a club called "I'm a Dental Student Wife." It's neat for them to know so many people with little effort but luckily for me, I've had the same luck in terms of meeting people - only through visiting and home teaching. (Home teaching is another program our Church has only with priesthood holders (men) who go in two's to teach a family. Men frequently take their wives as companions if they're unable to locate their companion, so I've been lucky enough to tag along with Andy on a few occasions.) I've also successfully met a lot of the more experienced ladies who are so sweet and generous. One had us over for dinner upon first meeting me and the others always offer such kind and warm advice.

I'm excited for the friendships that have formed through visiting teaching and although I don't feel completely comfortable just randomly texting those I have met yet, it will slowly get there. Hehe. It's funny how friendship works... it takes a couple of awkward invitations, hanging out moments, and shared inside moments or jokes before you can truly feel comfortable. I'm grateful that visiting teaching is helping me get there and also really thankful that I always have someone to sit next to in Relief Society (our third hour of Church with all females) - my visiting teacher. Thank goodness for visiting and home teaching.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Even Sweeter Later

I was initially bummed that after almost 3 months, we still hadn't gotten our photos yet! Because sometimes, we just don't want to wait. Instant gratification seems to be the trend of today's world and in fact, I'm reminded of a talk Elder Utchdorf gave recently about the kids who were part of an experiment to wait on eating their marshmallows, and if they waited, they would be rewarded with more. Some waited... some did not. Then, fast forward a couple decades later, the same kids who were able to wait for the reward of more marshmallows, were more successful in their families, communities, work environments, etc.

So when we finally got out photographs this weekend... let me tell you, it was well worth the wait (even though I didn't really make the decision since our photographer is way busy and so popular that we just had to wait). Jimmy is so talented! I absolutely love the work he did for us! He captured all our love, excitement, fun and energy and did it so beautifully. We lucked out with a few key spots - the LACMA museum's red poles that matched my Chinese dress perfectly and cool light posts, the gorgeous nature of Cal-Tech, the bling bling Bentley limo (one of only two in the world!) we ran across, and of course, the beauty of the Los Angeles LDS Temple where we were sealed for all eternity.

And so, though it took a is even sweeter later. If only we could all understand that and apply that in our lives. I guess I shall strive to do that even more now!

Check out our photos ...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be Thou Humble

Sometimes, I'm a big jerk.

Today, our "Relief Society" activity was listening to Chef Brad talk. He is quite popular during Education Week at BYU and he was coming to talk to us about healthy cooking. But being that yours truly used to subscribe to Shape magazine for years and more recently Women's Health (about all three copies before I discovered how bad it was), and years of reading girly magazines that always feature a "eat all this" or "only this" comparing a HUGE plate of high protein, high fiber meal to a sugary little bit of fat, I somehow felt I knew more than him.

As he talked on and on about over processed food and why it's bad, and told us to cook with more whole grains, I thought, I already know this though! We don't buy that much processed food! Ugh.... and then, all I could think of was, I still have to scripture study, I wanted to do Ab Ripper tonight, and doh, I have about an hour left of work to do and I really want to go to sleep at 10 (Andy has got me into the habit of early sleeping). But somehow, I ended up in the middle of a row quite far back and did not feel right just getting up and leaving. Something told me I should just stick it out despite my mind constantly wandering back to the fact that my computer was in my car, so maybe I could sneak off, do some work, and then come back in time to snag my tray (I made cookies with some special flour recipe of his that they gave me Sunday) and bring it home.

Ugh! That is how I felt. Frustrated, stressed, and stuck! I was fiddling with my phone (I know, not that polite but I was so far back and I had TONS of work e-mails to respond to), and quite ADD.

And then, Chef Brad started to talk about how food can bring people together. He told us about how he does Third Sunday dinners in which he invites a bunch of friends, investigators, recently baptized, and couples who he knows will fellowship. I started sitting up a little taller and if you looked at me, you could tell I was paying attention now. He told a bunch of stories about how it was just food, but it got a lot of people there in his home with other members, and once there, the Spirit did the rest.

This is exactly what I've been praying about. Andy and I recently got called as Ward missionaries and we have both been praying about how we can better fulfill our calling and to be perfectly honest, I have been absolutely lost. How do you share the gospel with more people? How do you find people seeking truth? How do you better help the missionaries? It's almost as if Chef Brad knew I was bored and knew I was waiting to hear his testimony. He went on, and all I could do was feel the Spirit prompting me to take action.

And then Chef Brad reminded us that Jesus first fed people physically, then spiritually.

I want to be like Jesus. I am unsure if I have the funds to do something as big as Chef Brad (his last dinner had about 70 people), but I think we can manage something. We've got awesome neighbors that I REALLY want to share the gospel with but am unsure how to begin the conversation. But regardless of that, I just want to share food with people and have a good wholesome Sunday, so that will be the first and foremost objective of a Sunday dinner. Plus, I don't have many friends in the Ward yet. Hehe.


Oh yes, and be thou humble. I definitely thought.. .why am I here, I wish I was there, blah blah, etc. etc. and yet, I was the one who needed to be there because I needed to hear what Chef Brad had to say - maybe not about how to cook healthy, but about how cooking for others can lead to great friendships and even more.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lifestyles of the Fatigued Yet Restless

I'm signed in as Andy .. but this is Daisy..

Normal wake up time for us is around 5 AM but lately, 4 AM seems more normal. I don't do much besides groggily getting up, making my way to the kitchen, and packing a lunch for Andy but he reads his morning news (mostly sports, some WSJ, some Deseret News) and takes a shower.

Well, today I decided to get up and make him my green machine wannabe drink (see for recipe) and then after making his lunch, and going downstairs to move our tandem parked cars, I came back thinking....

My body is awake but my eyes are asleep....
My mind is awake but my I might need more sleep...

What do I do now? Do I go to sleep? Start scripture studying? Go work out? Cut the watermelon? Make myself lunch? Put in a load of laundry? Fold the laundry from two days ago? Send some work related e-mails? Call a friend on the east coast? Write a letter? Browse the internet? And then it hit me... I would blog about how utterly tired I am yet seemingly restless, I don't do anything productive except blog about how unproductive I am.

Why is it we always have so much to do yet we're unable to just go about and do it? Lately, I feel like the list is never ending but yet I am only slowly making my way down the list, at a snail's pace, trying to prioritize. I don't like the word "stress," but I think that is what it is. I justify that I am the rabbit, not the hare... and again, it's because I'm in a transition mode (just started working on a client again with a 45 minute commute and typical 7 pm end of work day) but I really admire moms and dads who have so much to do, and are able to do it all! Times like this.. I think, what am I going to do when we have kids and the sleep is even less? *gulp

But then.... I remember that.. "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (Nephi 3:7) As long as I remember that... nothing is impossible. The Lord loves us and wants us to succeed. He doesn't throw challenges at our way to make it harder for no reason, to stress us out for no reason. We grow from challenges, and we are better prepared. I suppose the early mornings help to prepare us for less sleep in the future and we can slowly transition into it. Nothing is impossible...nothing that is in accordance with the Lord's will.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pushing Me to Be Better... One Step at a Time

One of my favorite qualities about Andy is that he always pushes me to be better. Sometimes, I fall asleep when I'm studying my scriptures and it's most often because I'm doing it on the couch and not sitting upright. I have found that the easy solution is to study in the study hehe... but it's still tempting to go towards the couch instead. Andy will see my head nod off and say very abruptly, "Are you falling asleep?" and for some reason, my reaction is always "no" even if I am. Once I wake up, I'm able to tell him, "oh, I think I was falling asleep," and on occasion, I have gotten up and made my way to the study.

Punctuality is also another obstacle for me. Every culture has it and calls it INSERT CULTURE time. In my family, we called it "Chinese time," my Persian friends called it "Persian time," and most recently, my new Mormon friends call it "Mormon time." It's really just an excuse for being irresponsible and not adhering to the "start time" of anything and everything! I used to tell Andy, I'm selectively punctual. "What does that even me?" he'd ask me. It means I know when I HAVE to be on time. I'm never late to Sacrament, never late to work when I have a big meeting, and never late for anything that matters! "So you're saying everything you're late to, means you don't care?" he rebutted, to which I, again, reaction is instantaneous, say, "yeah, duh!"

But when I really thought about what I had just said, I realized... that is quite disrespectful! For everyone I meet with where I show up late, I am saying my time is more important than yours. For every "sorry, running late," I text (which happens quite a bit), I'm indirectly implying that I was just not able to put my ducks in a row to make sure I met the obligation of the meeting time we agreed on.

So my one step at a time for these obvious development points are as follows:
1) Study my scriptures in the study or at the dining room table
2) Deceive myself into new "meeting times" so I'm always on time

The latter has actually been how Andy and I get to Church on time and funny enough, when Andy is at the hospital, it's how I get to Church super on time. We show up about 10 minutes to spare and when I show up alone, I've normally got about 15 minutes to spare. That convinces me that Andy must be the variable that affects my punctuality most! hehehe.... maybe not?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:8)

The New Kid at Church

There are some moments you never forget, no matter how old you get. For me, one of those moments was when I was the "new kid" in the middle of first grade. I would only have to do this once as we didn't move much growing up and I would be in the same school system all throughout adolescence and teenage years until I graduated from high school. Yet I still remember vividly the first day of first grade in the new school.

Mrs. Mollenkoff's classroom had a growing chain of ice cream hanging on the wall (fake of course) which represented the different books each student read and reported. If our ice cream chain grew big enough, we would have an ice cream party to celebrate our class success. That was way cool and not something we had in the old school. In the corner, away from the desks we sat on, were different wood shapes which we would take turns figuring out how to put into the cut out of the same shapes. And then in another corner, there was a carpet where we would sit as Mrs. Mollenkoff read books aloud to us.

Things were slower in this new public school but still fun. The private school I had just left was already teaching us cursive and multiplication but here, we were just practicing our names in normal print, working on addition, and figuring out shapes so I was excited to be ahead of the pack without really being better, just luckier that I had already learned this stuff. My reading was a bit stronger than some of the other kids but my grammar was still plain awful. I liked to say, "that's funner" and didn't really get English tenses of past and present as our home spoke primarily Chinese and the only English I got were from the bit of cartoons I was allowed to watch only beginning Friday night through Sunday night. I could get use to this place... if only I were able to make some friends.

Once I was introduced as the "new kid," the whole class knew me by name and a bit of my background yet I still knew nothing about any of them. If people talked to me, I would open up a bit, but ultimately, I was and am still an initially shy girl. Once you actually get me to open up, I am super outgoing but I just am uncomfortable with the initial opening conversation which has stemmed from that time I was the "new kid" in first grade. I did manage to make some friends, but they were not the nicest and looking back, they traumatized me a bit and it wasn't until third grade that I made real friends. I attribute most of that to the process of adapting that took a while.

Most recently, I have again, had to be the "new kid," only this time it was at our new Family ward (we graduated from the Singles ward after getting married). In our Church, we have different "wards" or groups divided demographically by where we live and sometimes by a common language (for example there is a Chinese ward a couple blocks from my parents house) and the only time you do not belong to a Family ward is from the ages of 18-31 when you are single. At this time, you are encouraged by priesthood leaders, to attend the Singles ward, where you are more able to make friends your age and hopefully, an eternal companion. I was lucky and a success story of the Singles ward since that is precisely where I met my husband!

Lucky for me, our Church also has established what's known as "visiting" and "home" teaching which means, each sister is paired up with a companion and visit other sisters. So I get visited and I go visiting. Home teaching is when the priesthood men go to teach a family and we likewise, have home teachers who visit us. It's a great way for us to meet more people within the new ward, outside of our Church meetings, and a chance for all of us to help support the Bishopric by helping to watch over each other.

With our August visits, I have come to realize, I was initially very uncomfortable about going to the new ward. As I share with each sister or family (I went with Andy on a couple visits since his companion was hard to locate), I have felt the need to share how hard it was to adjust when first coming to the new ward. I was sad to have left the old ward where I made many great friends and memories and had become accustomed to the teaching styles of the Sunday school and other meetings. But I do not go to Church simply because of the people and I know my testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ means that I know we have a living prophet who continues to organize our Church. This means, wherever I go, the Bishop, is called of by God. That translates to meaning, it won't matter where I go. It might be hard to make friends at first, the teaching manuals are the same, the lessons are the same (taught by different instructors), the Sacrament is passed the same, the prayers are all in the name of Jesus Christ and the Spirit is still there.

I'm so grateful that I belong to a Church where I don't have to "go shopping" for a new Church if I move. I know a lot of my other denominational Christian friends do this everytime they move and a factor in not moving is actually the Church they belong to. I know that's not the case for us because wherever we go, there is a Stake (a group of wards) nearby and most likely, a Church building. And, if you're unsure of where, you can go to, click on Find a meetinghouse, type in your zip code or address and locate all the wards nearby. I'm so thankful for this and it makes being the new kid at Church, just that much easier.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who Wants to Move to Florida?!

Apparently, a ton of high-rise, low budget luxury condos are now selling in Florida for less than $50k! All these places are right by the beach and would be a huge investment and for those who have the money as they're not exactly a huge risk. Hmmmm... who wants to move to Florida?! Minus the danger of hurricanes and alligators, it should be alright... right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

News Sometimes Bothers Me

Lately, a couple of news items have been bugging me.

1) The arguments to build a mosque nearby Ground Zero in New York.
2) Disney employee who refused to wear the head cover costume designed to accommodate her request to wear a hijab to work
3) A bigger woman asked to pay $5 extra for being overweight at a nail salon claiming discrimination

What bothers me even more is when the media is obviously biased in presenting the stories, without really discussing both sides. For example, the mosque discussion only paints the portrait of religious freedom and the legal "rights" of the building, regardless of location. But is it morally okay? Would America build an American cultural center in Hiroshima, would we construct a Japanese cultural center in Pearl Harbor and would it be okay to have a Nazi flag by the Museum of Tolerance?! With the Disney employee, she claims her costume makes her look silly but it is not far from the attention she would get wearing a hijab - and don't forget, she probably had to sign a detailed contract about appropriate dress code and "costumes" even if she is just a hostess, after all, she is in client service, and I likewise, cannot just dye my hair purple, claim I have a right, and not face ramifications of the expectations, and that is without a contract about dress which I am quite confident Disney made her sign! And lastly, I've always wondered why extra long or large clothes aren't more expensive and the Vietnamese ladies have a point. They claimed the wear and tear on their chairs were greater from larger patrons and the overweight lady claimed it was discrimination. So should we just pretend everyone is the same size when we're in the airplane and the overweight person who paid the same price as you, seeps over to your seat?! I just don't get it sometimes. Since when did obesity become protected?

Since Andy has call every three days, it gives me much more time to watch the ten o'clock news, and to ponder it. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Am I becoming more critical, more pessimistic, or am I finally realizing the media is just a bit liberally biased?

I know liberal and conservative Mormons and regardless of such opinions, we all share in our belief that the gospel is true. That the Church is true. That Jesus is our Savior. That is such a comfort to me, especially as I shake my head at such news that just ... plain bothers me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time Flies When You're Married!

I finally changed my name! It wasn't THAT complicated... just had to get the license which we didn't notarize on the day of our marriage... and to avoid going in, we got it notarized, sent it into the Recorder's Office, got it back because I didn't fill out a part, sent it back in, got it back, got my passport, and got my social security card updated! WHEW! *sigh of relief!

Marriage is everything everybody said it would be - lots of hard work but oh-so worth it! I LOVEEEEEEEEEEE being married. My favorite part is coming home to my best friend everyday who is now my family, my next favorite part is knowing I have someone to share with my good and bad news, and man, I have so many favorite parts.. this blog could go on forever. Well, my least favorite part is cleaning up the hair that falls into the shower and sinks (thanks Mom!).

A month ago, we ate some of our red velvet raspberry cake from our wedding day. Note to those gearing up for a wedding, don't get fruit in your cake. Our raspberry part was just a sauce so it stayed well but the other two layers were angel cake with mangos and I don't think that lasted so well sitting out for that long. Hehe. So a month later, droopy and dented, the wedding cake was further cut into for our one month celebration. Maybe I'll ask Andy if we can eat another piece tonight. A month ago, it wasn't that great - I can't even imagine what it would be at in a year! Kinda gross if you ask me...

We're Mere Specks By Name

I went to Camp Fox as a camp attendee on Catalina Island in 1994. Most recently, I was a camp counselor at the Ronald McDonald Camp for Good Times in 2007. But I've actually never been camping. Not officially at least.

So on Andy's first weekend off since he started school, we ventured up the Interstate 5 to Los Padres National Forest for a mini camping trip (he wanted to do something low-key being it was my first time ever in the woods!). We opted for a pack in, pack out car type camping which was explained to me as camping near our cars. I was a bit confused about why we needed to do that. Couldn't we just pitch a tent across our apartment in the hilly fields where the coyotes roam? He told me that wasn't camping. But we're going Friday night and leaving Saturday noonish? Camping was already sounding a bit fishy. Andy was so excited, like a little boy who is getting ready to see a real live train.

We got all our gear ready - a tent, an air mattress, a cooler filled with ice, water, salsa, foil wrapped veggies, potatoes, chicken, scallops, cream of mushroom and salt and pepper (thanks Dennis!), Cactus Cooler and Hawaiian bread, lime tostitos, Vanilla wafers, leftover Panera chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows, a lantern, pillows, blankets, a suitcase, chairs and a mallow - and into the car it all went. It must have taken us three trips but at least we learned an important lesson for future camping trips- some additional time on the packing side might help for the loading and unloading side.

We arrived around 6:30 PM after a 1.5 hour drive and upon entering the parking lot, we saw at least a dozen telescopes, all ranging in size, some as big as 15 feet! We knew there would be a lot of people there with telescopes because Andy had spoken with the Park Ranger beforehand and knew the spot would be popular due to the new moon and the camping spot coined as one of the best star gazing spots in all of California!

We went off in search of a camp spot but noticed most spots were taken and a bunch of grown up men and women, dressed in medieval attire were hanging out. We asked one of the guys walking with caution tape whether there were more camping spots further along the path and got to talking with him. Turns out, there were three teams of people all here for a medieval reenactment battle Saturday morning! They used weapons that were lined with cushioning, but it was such a sight. I didn't get any photos of them but it wasn't anything abnormal, we all do it but we call it Halloween or themed parties. Hehe.

I won't get into the minute details of how fun setting up the tent was, enjoying the beautiful scenery, watching Toy Story 2 in our tent, or the hike loop that we were unsure of but kept going along... but I will say I married a manly man because he cut our wood from a tree branch near by (see photo insert below). And... that the nighttime star gazing was amazing! The sky was adorned with tiny specks, each blinking, each different in brightness, each so high up in the sky. You could see the sky bending in the corners as if we were in a planetarium and it was absolutely breathtaking. We went to hang out with the amateur telescope guys and were able to look back into time at stars that had exploded and the masses that were still there. It just testified to me of how massive the universe is and how little we may be in the grand scheme of things but that Heavenly Father knows all of us by name. That is how amazing He is. And though we're just mere specks, we're specks by name.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Me Loves Some Scrapbooking

Paper cutters, ribbon curlers, stickers, glitter and more!
How I love to scrapbook, how much I do adore!
So much so that about a year ago,
I volunteered my time and service, and so...

I'd cut up some paper, I'd stick on some photos
Making scrapbook pages, how great! until a small woe...

Engaged I did get to a handsome young lad
Wedding planning evolved and man, was it mad!
Time seemed not enough, and little did it disappear
Finish I could not, deadline would I not meet - oh, the fear!

Marry we did, for all eternity
Scrapbook pages still could it be?!

Finish I did... but quite a time late
Here they all are, tell me they're great!

Though my service project for a CHLA doctor did eventually get completed, there were still some pages that were kinda silly looking and in my scrapbooking opinion, were just literally glued together with some simple stickers atop. I was reminded of something a partner once said to us at a team meeting that I think should be applied to life.

"Under promise and over deliver."

Makes sense right? This way, you're never disappointing yourself (which comes often from mismanaged or unrealistic expectations) but also not falling prey to lazy ways and under achieving. Andy always reminds me that situations don't create people, decisions do. How lucky I am to be reminded of that daily from a loving husband that I get to be with for all eternity! Make the decision today to under promise and over deliver (but don't under promise so much that you automatically over deliver.. cuz that would just be lame).

I'm Always Learning - cached version

When it comes to cooking, I'm a beginner. A novice. A complete mess at times.

I don't really know how to cut vegetables... but somehow I just keep at it until they're small enough to cook with. I don't really know all my spices... but I'm learning how they smell when I use them. I don't really know how to locate all the ingredients for a recipe... part of that is because I grew up with the Chinese names of everything (turnip is literally translated as white carrot in Chinese) and part of that is because my mom once said to me...

"Don't worry about cooking. You got the whole rest of your life to figure that out once you're married."

True story.

And so I'm learning. I learned that chicken stock and chicken broth are the same thing. I learned what a pork roast looks like (the butcher showed me). I learned that cream of tartar and tartar powder are two very different ingredients. And last but not least, I learned that baked beans are not the same as the Mexican black beans you get at Chipotle, Baja Fresh or La Salsa.

We're Technically All On Call - cached version

Today is Andy's second on-call day, which means he left this morning in scrubs, a pager, a white short jacket, a back pack, a packed lunch (of leftover Cafe Rio salad made into sliders), and a smile on his face at 5:45 AM and will return with a big grin at 10:30 PM.

I think on-call days are awesome. Granted they are a long day for Andy and a lonely day for me, I choose to look at it as an opportunity for both of us. For Andy, he gets to learn for 14+ hours whether it's learning how to be bored, interact with a resident, patient, talking to random hospital people, learning the quick routes of the hospital, or walking around in scrubs. For me, it means a lot of time to further decorate the house, organize our folders and binders of bills, bank accounts, receipts, recipes, warranties, etc., do some bar method, eat a Trader Joe's mushroom and garlic pizza with diet Sprite, watch a chick-flick and do my nails with a face mask on. Plus, it's really not as bad as busy season for an auditor. I guess, the light at the end of the tunnel seems a lot closer since he does get periodic days off and because I know his ultimate residency match will determine what real hours we deal with while having a family life. So for now, I'm pretty psyched for his on-call days although he is still a bit hesitant everytime he thinks of 'em.

If you think about it, we're all on call with our faith and with keeping the commandments and doing those little things that matter. Though we may want to skip a day or two reading our scriptures or think we don't have time, it's important to always study even when we really don't feel like it and can't make the time. Decisions make us.. not situations. I know it's important that we always make time for the Temple, even when things get hectic (and I can't even imagine what it'll be like with more than two schedules to manage with kids!) and even when it just seems so darn far (45 minutes in traffic is not so bad with good conversation). I know I never want to ask my husband for a priesthood blessing and find out "he's not on call" or not able to... I'd rather he be prepared.. or "on call"... but doesn't everybody? (Well...not the adversary.. .beware!). I guess we're technically all on call...

Monday, August 9, 2010


I accidentally deleted a load of prior posts. Oops! I think they're gone ... forever? Anyone have suggestions for how to get 'em back?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Photobooths Are Awesome

In With the New, Out With the Old?

I'm now a writer on OUR family blog ... but I haven't decided what that means for my own blog... keep.... have two? .... combine? consolidate? .....

Until then - read my latest post on his.. correction, OUR blog.

Separation Anxiety

A few weeks ago, I, Daisy Chou, married my best friend, Andy Phillips, for all time and eternity. And then, he told me I could be a writer on his old blog that will now be our family blog and so it is, I am here!!! Ta-da!!!

Back to a few weeks ago… it was a long and beautiful day, full of family, friends, and happiness. I couldn't figure out if the smile plastered from ear to ear on my face like a mannequin was because 1) all the planning for the wedding (I'm a little OCD and had too much time to organize my ideas into excel and powerpoint which were then executed with the help, support, guidance and love of awesome family and friends) was over and the planning for life (the important stuff) was just beginning; 2) our life as ONE that was starting; or 3) the joy of my handsome husband (that is Andy) with a ring on his left hand. I think all of the above suffices in this case.

For two weeks, I was with Andy EVERYDAY, and we were inseparable! Together, we ran through an aisle of sparklers three times, sat in our decorated wedding car all the way to LAX, flew to Kona Hawaii for a week where we biked, hiked, kayaked, snorkelled, and visited the Temple, drove to Salt Lake City where we bowled, BBQed, had another beautiful reception, visited Temple Square with my family and kicked butt at Wizards and Blockus and road tripped back to California where we unloaded gifts and integrated them into the house, made our first Costco trip as one, organized and decorated (or attempted to) our apartment and planned for our life post honeymoon. It was so much fun that I still smile just thinking about it!

And so, when the day came for us to go back to school and work, it was quite a dreadful day and nature felt the same because it was a rainy and dreary day in LA despite being July. July 6th was one of the longest days of my life. Work seemed so slow and all I could think about was, where did my best friend go or what is he doing right now? He used to be within 6 feet at all times, and all of a sudden he was gone! It felt unusually atypical to not hear his voice. Weirdly uncomfortable to not see his face. Oddly unsettling to not have him nearby. Luckily, the end of the work day easily remedied the symptoms of separation anxiety that I was feeling and we both quickly adapted to our time away during the day as we tended to our personal responsibilities and it wasn't so bad. Not so bad at all…

And then, I was told I had to go to Chicago for a two day training, which meant three days and two nights away from Andy (because of the time change) and immediately I thought, OH NO!!!! I'm not ready for such time away! I barely just adjusted to 9 hours away everyday! It's times like these that I'm grateful for the examples of other couples who have been through thick and thin and have weathered through many storms and would view my separation anxiety as a light drizzle, if that. It makes me chuckle to think how my mom would react if I told her how hard it is to be away for just a few days (especially considering my first day in our LA apartment, I was holding on for dear life to my blankie because I was homesick).

Both Andy and I have parents who will be celebrating their thirty year anniversaries this upcoming year and it's such a joy and gives us a lot of reason to smile for the next thirty years for them and us. Until then, let's hope I can get through one day away because I know, without a doubt, there will be much more difficult obstacles than separation anxiety but I'm so grateful it's with my best friend. What better person to have separation anxiety for?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We Are Commanded.. Thou Shall Not Steal...

but I stole these from friends... correction- borrowed.

So Much To Catch Up On

but until I find the time to blog about it all... here are some honeymoon photos...

Monday, June 14, 2010

We Graduated from the Singles Ward!

Today was Andy and my last time at Glendale 7th YSA (young-single adults) ward and coincidentally, my one year anniversary since being baptized.

Being baptized was the best decision of my life. Marrying Andy will be the next best decision. But how often do we make bad decisions and then mope about 'em for way too long?

I have been moping about my marshmallow smore seat placecards. It was a bad decision, but I think I need to build a bridge and get over it because I am 5 days away, about 150 smore seat placecards to go and attitude makes a big difference. So going forward, I am going to excitedly glue 150 marshmallows to two pieces of tan foam board with an extra piece of brown foam cut into the shape of a heart - and don't forget two googly eyes!

Though I have a lot to do before the wedding, I'm feeling good about everything outstanding... and really excited for the big day. A bit scared that I won't have any clothes to pack for Hawaii since most of my stuff has already been moved into our future apartment, but overall grinning ear to ear at the prospect of all time and eternity with my best friend. It's not going to be easy, but we'll have great attitudes about it!

2 days until I'm done working
4 days until I go through the Temple
5 days until I'm married
6 days until Hawaii

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh So Grateful

I'm grateful for....

salty crispy chicken at the local Boba places.

good seamstresses who can fix ugly dresses.

whipped Yoplait key lime yogurt.

a brother who came back early and has been running wedding errands for me during the day.

a big soft purple covered bed at night.

girlfriends who swing by to pick up stuff when I am too tired to go drop it off even if I said I would.

cut fruit from my mom to bring with me to work everyday.

a famima downstairs of my office.

a future mother-in-law who is sewing one of a kind, original and adorable flower girl dresses

pretty high heels

co-worker/friends who offer to make my bridesmaids' 3-piece crystal jewelry for the wedding for free!

hand sanitizer outside of the elevators when I get to work.

a future sister-in-law who has connections to a DJ and a slideshow maker!

a day of wedding coordinator who has already begun to call my vendors for reminders.

the post office sending us packages through the mail.

bridesmaids who are making thank you gifts for every guest.

HD television so I can see the Lakers win and the Celtics lose as if I was there.

public transportation, even in LA!

a future father-in-law who is eager to help construct a backdrop for us.

buddies who have helped me make over 100 Martha Stewart poms

water to drink so I'm not thirsty.

Bar Method on video so I can stay toned without money for the live classes that are $20 each.

a fiance who now goes downstairs to the Temple with me to do baptisms every Friday.


a father who brought along a rolling tape measure and got me the measurements within 5 minutes.

a job that gives me the flexibility to get fitted for both dresses on a Friday morning.

music that makes me smile.

deals and steals at Marshall's, Ross and TJ Maxx

a cell phone.

gchat during work hours.


Martha Stewart weddings website.

smelly lotion.

stuffed animals.

ice cream.

people offering to help.

e-mail on my cell phone.

wonderful counseling from the prophets reminding me of the many tender mercies in my life.

angels from above.

the opportunity to constantly improve.

patience. the lack thereof which reminds me of why I need it.





8 more days until forever with Andy begins.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Glimpse Into My Oh So Mormon Life

Due to Stake Conference next weekend, we had our fast and testimonial Sunday today and our Break the Fast theme was "That's So Mormon."

I didn't grow up in the Church so naturally, half the typical food items and cultural aspects of being Mormon are still quite foreign to me. I can pick up on most - but with food, it's definitely a learning experience which made me ponder.. am I really that Mormon... culturally that is? For example, I learned tapioca in marshmallow and mixed fruit is "frog eyes" and both that and jello are not desserts, but side dishes.

I recently also learned what a Hawaiian Haystack is from a lovely reception of our friends who got married last week. I was stuffed to the brim from all the Hawaiian (coincidence?) food served at my bridal shower earlier that day so I had to take the word of those I love and know well who consumed it and exclaimed, it's awesome! For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's a combination of rice, gravy, fruits, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream and wa-la - Hawaiian Haystack.

As part of the wedding planning process, I have also been able to learn much more of LDS culture. For example, including a photo with an invite - completely Mormon. Another Mormon thing? Bridals! Yes yes... I know there are many non-LDS brides who also take 'em but in general, they are definitely the minority and when I talked with a lot of my non-member friends about it, it was definitely a new concept to them. As is the timing of sending out invites - non-members traditionally send invites out 3 months prior but LDS culture is closer to a month within the wedding.

It seems there is always definitely more to learn about cultural LDS stuff and with each passing day, I am finding that out.

I suppose it's the same with the Gospel. There's always something to learn and even when you think you've got it all down, there's more. Some of the learning can be instructed (someone can tell me what a funeral potato looks like, the ingredients and directions to make it, or I can try to learn by example, watching someone else cook 'em, ask questions, etc. ) It always surprises me that we go to Church each week, talk about the same scripture stories and the same principles and doctrines, yet feel differently about it every time. The Spirit knows how to teach you something new with each relearned concept and the application to our own lives is varying as we grow and learn. Challenges are thrown are way that cause us to apply each principle again and again, yet it feels different and in the end, we look back and realize - look how much we've grown.

I've been reading the scriptures for more than a year now and I still have not gone through all of the Old and New Testament, but despite having gone through the rest of the scriptures, I still would not be able to summarize all the stories within the Book of Mormon. I feel inadequate most of the time compared to those armed with so much more depth of each biblical story, but I hope with time, I will just continue reading and learning, and never lose sight of the learning that will happen with each passing day. I must be patient and diligent and put my shoulder to the wheel when it comes to studying everyday and ensuring my studying is progressing.

In the Church, there is so much emphasis on spiritual growth and spiritual stagnation is the same as falling backwards. I think of my own growth in learning about the scriptures and the culture and I know I want to continue forward, not backward which means not standing still. And then, when I take a glimpse into my oh so Mormon life, I will smile and know I have made an effort and seen the fruits of my efforts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We Made His Blog!

Our photographer's name is Jimmy Bishop but his company is called Gideon Photo. How neat is that!!! Gideon is this dude in the Book of Mormon that comes out of nowhere, and helped lead the Nephites to freedom from their bondage to the Lamanites (the bad guys), who died defending the Church against a wicked man named Nehor and eventually had a valley and a city and even a photography company (if you google, you find two at first....) after him! If you want to know more, let me know and I"ll send you a Book of Mormon with pages highlighted.

See our photos on Gideon's blog!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gratefully So

Today, I semi-alphabetized approximately 300 invitations. By semi, I mean I put all the invites into their appropriate last name category, but did not alphabetize them within there.

Next, I went to get my dress fixed. This consisted of a phone call to the manufacturer, an e-mail to the manufacturer, about six phone calls to the dress shop, and ultimately a stop by the store to pick up the dress, and yet another stop at the new seamstress the Bishop's wife recommended I go to. There, the new seamstress (and my favorite new seamstress) took a pair of scissors and cut up my dress. Literally. She said, "this might hurt" to which I responded, "doubtful," and then snip-snap, and the dress was cut! Once done, I sat outside in my car, called some partners who had left me messages and did a bit of catching up for the day of work I skipped to fulfill wedding errands. Yes, did I mention, I took the day off in hopes of putting out some wedding fires.

Then, I hurried on over to Trader Joe's to grab a quick salad and apple for dinner and forgot I had to also stop by Walgreen's to get envelopes for our FHE activity, "Remember Snail Mail?!"

I arrived at the Church with about 45 minutes to spare, which was perfect since my cousin, also engaged, had just returned from China and was giving me some advice about how to mail invites to our family overseas (her advice consisted of send them a pdf in e-mail).

Though we were right on time and closed at 8:30, by the time I got out, it was 9 PM. 20 minutes later, I was home with more goals on my list.

1) Finish scrapbooking 15 pages for volunteer activity for Children's Hospital of LA
2) Do a session of the bar method work out for one hour

I was only able to finish 5 pages and 20 push-ups.

Which brings me to wonder... how do people with 9-6 jobs plan a wedding?! I had the whole day off and I still feel like I accomplished nothing. And so, in the midst of all the wedding things I still have left to do (placecards, welcome table frames, placecard table frames, marriage license, pack, pick-up Andy's ring, figure out my hairstyle, organize and prioritize), I came to the realize... I am so grateful for all the help I have had from friends and family, for the job that I have which allows me to be flexible with time off, for the fiance who though studying hard everyday, still lets me bore him with mundane wedding details, and the energy and anal affinity for making lists, crossing items of my list and alphabetizing that makes this whole process a bit annoying, but definitely doable and in the end, very enjoyable. I'm grateful for being of good cheer and I hope I can always be of good cheer... even when things aren't looking that great.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I've probably gone through about five different cans of pepper spray, attached to my keychain.

Two of 'em were confiscated - one at the airport and one at a concert. Another fell and exploded (I wasn't nearby so I was safe) and I only realized after it had exploded on the floor where I later found it. I'm not sure what happened to the other two... but I think they either expired or were destroyed from daily transportation on my keychain.

I have been considering the purchase of a tazer, but am unsure what the legal ramifications of carrying such a thing around or in my home, would be. I also am reminded that I need another can of pepper spray for my keychain everytime I drive by Big 5 Sporting Goods.

So when I saw a story on THS E! Investigates about two men who were in a seemingly perfect relationship but subsequently plotted to kill their wives, I got scared! Not that my future husband would try to kill me, but of yellow gatorade, the poison that the first dude killed his wife with! Ever since the show taught me that gatorade's yellow color and flavor is similar to that of antifreeze, I have been repulsed by the bright yellow sports drink!

Considering all my episodes with paranoia from the past and present, it's a surprise to myself that I made it to the New York Temple all by myself, via the New York public transportation, aka really old subway system, but make it I did!

To be fair to my paranoia, I did meticulously organize all my belongings into a back-pack (harder to rob me versus a purse), review the itinerary five times, and hold onto my phone safely in case I needed to call for help. And I didn't tell anyone, not even my own fiance, about my plans, until moments before the big trek out. This was in case I got too scared and backed out, and would have to explain why I didn't make it.

I know God doesn't always answer our prayers immediately, but I also believe He is so aware of us and that there are tiny blessings everywhere if we only but look.

My itinerary included a transfer from the end of the L to 8th avenue and then 1 uptown to 66th st - Lincoln Center Station, and then walk to the Temple from there. It sounded pretty straightforward and simple, so I set about on my route. But I missed the memo that the L that ends at 8th avenue going to the 1 means a short walk outside to get to the other line. As I sat on the L to 8th, thinking it would transfer by itself or be a short walk within the station (like what I'm used to at Union Station in LA), everyone on the bus became impatient, yelling outloud about why the doors wouldn't open when we were already at our destination of 8th. It was then that I realized... oh wait, I think I am at the end and need to get out! Needless to say, the announcement would have been made sooner or later about this minor detail, but the epiphany I had in that moment of "this is where I get off!" comforted me. Yet the moment I was out, I saw no connecting trains to the 1 so I did what any sane person would do. I asked for directions.

The lady behind the glass window did not seem amused. "You gotta go to 7th," she told me. My initial reaction was, so I got off on the wrong exit?! But I felt a strong prompting to make sure I knew what she meant. "So I take the train back to 7th?" I asked. "No," she responded, "you go to 7th," - man, was she being difficult or was I just stupid? "So," I continued, "how do I get to 7th?" to which she responded, with her eyes rolling in back of her head and a very distinct glare through the looking glass separating us, "you have to walk a block to 7th," in a very matter of fact, duh, are you completely serious? type way.

I got it.

I was supposed to WALK to another subway station.



I thanked her quickly and made my way out of the train station and onto the streets of New York where I had no idea which way east or west, 7th or 9th were. I knew the avenues ran north and south and the streets ran east and west, but which way did the streets get larger? Was I walking towards 7th or 9th? Who cares? I would just ask someone again! So I asked the next person I saw on the streets, and they quickly pointed out which way 7th was, and off to the subway station #2 I went!

The eery feeling on the train of... am I going the right way is never fun. I must have asked two strangers, one on the outside waiting to get onto the train, and once more on the train, just to confirm and be safe. I knew where my exit was, and I had a map in front of me, but just in case some freakish one time exception were happening on the trains, I made it a clear point to find out from someone who looked New Yorkish.

As I exited 66th and walked out of the subway station, right in front of me, a short walk across the street, stood a normal looking building. But as I looked up, I saw the sun shining distinctively behind a familiar looking, gold statue of Angel Moroni. Woo-hoo! I made it!!!

There was a small triangle corner from where I had exited the subway, perfect for taking photos of the Temple, but not too far on the other side of the street. So I aimed my camera and began taking photos while people gathered around to wait for the cars driving by.

The sounds of a big city - think random ambulance noises, cars zooming by, honking from irritated drivers waiting for pedestrians and the pedestrian traffic - shoes, talking, cursing, etc. - were all silenced upon entering the Lord's house. It was dead silent inside, except for the whisperings from those of us inside. It was beautiful! The marble white floors, the same familiar paintings of Jesus Christ and beautiful stained glass windows greeted me, along with a smiling face who upon seeing me, asked, are you Sister Chou?

Yup! I am for another month or so....

Inside, I met another woman and her daughter from Colorado who were together on a graduation trip to NY to just hang out, shop and spend time together. The woman was a convert at 15 who had also been sealed inside the LA Temple when she got married (later, not at 15) and her family awaited her outside. We talked briefly inside about her experience, her family's reaction over time, and her life. Her son had returned from his mission, her daughter had just graduated dental school after completing her undergrad at BYU, and she was shining with happiness about the loving husband she was so blessed to have. She told me she has never regretted joining the Church and coming closer to God and Jesus and actually having a relationship with both. We shared our experiences and it was so awesome to hear about her non-member family and some difficulties she had in not coming across as righteous but still sticking to her beliefs. I know my own testimony strengthened from our conversation and her shared story uplifted me so much!

So despite my random paranoia and initial fear of actually going to the Temple by myself.... public transportation in a real big city, it was worth it.

I can't promise you the gatorade you drink won't be laced with anitfreeze or that you might not need that little can of pepper spray on your keychain, but I can tell you going to the Temple when you really don't feel like it... when you think it's too much trouble, when you're afraid of the traffic, the time commitment or the long wait, that is when you need it most and that is when it will be the most rewarding. That much, I can promise you.

I'm So Vain....

I think almost every girl wants to look good on her big day and I most certainly do.

...which is why today, after trying on my dress which was now built up with a higher neckline and sleeves, I was utterly disappointed with the pure hideousness of the dress destined to be a part of my big day. It seems they decided to not only build up the dress from its sister strapless version, but bead it along the way. It looked like I had a huge coat of arms in the form of bead on my chest. The sleeves bulked in their largeness and instead of being separate from the shoulders (as I think most sleeves are), they stayed connected to the bodice, not giving me much room to move my arms sideways and out. What's worse ...these aforementioned alterations cost $200.

After struggling all day with the looming bad feeling and overwhelming disappointment, I came up with a proposed solution and plan of attack. I'd first, call the manufacturing company Monday morning and give them a piece of my mind (in a logical matter of fact manner as to why they should consider additional customer service for their "temple ready" line which failed my expectations) and second, start to find a new seamstress to do alterations immediately. Either way, I shouldn't "mope," as my mom taught me, and should learn how to deal with it instead of being sad about it.

Yet, despite my plan of action, I still felt .... frustrated.

The really hard thing about getting sealed in a Temple is not that my family won't be there (it's not great.. but it's only a half hour they miss). In fact, today I have decided, the really hard part about getting sealed in a Temple are the minor details that my mom, aunt and other close family, are unable to help me with. None of us know where the dress should sit on the arms, the neck or the back. None of us have seen enough built-up dresses in real life to understand what shapes look better with what fabric and styles. None of us have a clue. ... which only makes me feel worse when my mom and aunt try to help me and I shut down because I have no idea how they can help me when I don't even know what it's supposed to be like!

So... I must be really vain, because...

I do want to look good on the big day. I do want to take my future husband's breath away. I do want my kids to say, "wow Mom, you looked great!" and I do want my daughters to bicker over who gets to wear mom's dress for their own wedding.

I do (not really a pun since I won't)

I think my mom saw the disappointment in my eyes because as she looked at the photos, didn't say much about how bad it looked (my mom is pretty blunt so I expected she would...) but only how we could easily fix it. She didn't dwell on the items, as if to communicate they weren't important. And she didn't treat it as a big deal.

It reminded me of my cousin's firstborn, who sometimes falls unexpectedly after running around. At these moments, everyone nearby yells "safe!" so she will know it's okay and not break down into tears.

I think that is the same as our parents (as my mom did) and Heavenly Father. He knows when things seem too much and we just want to hide and stick our head into a hole for a while. He knows when these moments happen and instead of egging our negativity or agreeing with our Debbie Downer type attitude, He does nothing. Nothing unless we act and act in faith. Nothing unless we are diligent in keeping and striving to keep the commandments. Nothing unless we prepare to receive inspired guidance from above. Nothing unless we do something. And that something can't just be anything.

Disappointments are gonna happen in life.. that's kinda just how life is. But it's how you deal with it that matters... how you respond with good cheer, and try to uplift yourself and others. That is incredibly hard sometimes but that's why we have our savior, Jesus Christ, and why our loving Father above gave us His beloved. That is why I know things will get better. Hey... the dress can't get any uglier at this point.. only prettier!