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?