Monday, October 31, 2011

Nothing Scarier...

There's nothing financially more scary than an e-mail from your bank informing you of your "insufficient funds." How terribly appropriate for them to do it on Halloween of all days.

The last time I got an insufficient funds notice was in college when I knew very little about how a checking account worked and spent a little too much on clothes textbooks. It was a good learning opportunity and helped me grow into the fiscally conscious person I am today. Until today that is.

Shocked and offended by the obvious error on the bank's part, I quickly logged into my account and noticed... we have $200 in our checkings account. Oops. Big oops. I guess I forgot that the money had stopped coming in while the expenses were still being incurred. We are still racking up about $2,500 worth of consumer debt through our Costco American Express card each month, $1,500 in monthly rent and utilities, about $300 for every one of Andy's many flights for interviews and did I mention we are still paying for hospital bills around $1-2,000 and benefits incurred during my unpaid leave for the last two and a half months? I have never been more excited to receive a paycheck as I will starting November.

And I've learned not to overlook the small things and that I should have signed up for overdraft protection earlier - because at Wells Fargo, there is no fee to sign-up, just an automatic $12.50 you will be hit with (instead of $25) and an automatic transfer from your savings which we had enough money in, just did not think to transfer ahead of time. At this point, it's embarassing that we erred as such, but hopefully my mistake is a lesson to you to monitor your account (in detail, not just in aggregate) closely each month. Lesson learned (as always), but also - one should never give up and take any fee (even if it's your fault) without a fight. I called and got half of the fee reversed as if I had overdraft protection this entire time.

*sigh. I should have known. I didn't. I was too busy making homemade Halloween costumes and playing with my adorable son. Oopsie Daisy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Moshi Moshi Dude

For nine months, I was advised not to eat any sushi for fear of poisoning my firstborn who was still incubating. Following that, it was suggested that I try to limit the amount of sushi I feasted on while breastfeeding for fear of it making its way into the milk I produced. Having only indulged in sushi once in the last year, it only made sense to do this for Halloween.

Have you ever heard of that song by the Vapors.. I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really THINK so!

our little sushi....
Before you compliment me on a great job or how creative that was, let me caveat it with... *chuckle.... shrug of embarrassed shoulders and a bit of a turtle popping chin and head movement towards you .... I am NOT that creative. My sister-in-law, Tammy, pinned a cute Etsy costume as follows:

I fell instantaneously in love and just HAD to have my son be a sushi. Creative? Not so much. Steal your idea and improve it for cheaper? Heck yeah! That is exactly what I did (minus the ginger because I couldn't find the right color felt in the 34 cent 8x10 size at my local craft store).

All in, the material for Jordan's costume cost $4.88 with much leftover fabric as I grossly overestimated the amount needed and also previously imagined we would be accompanying him as larger life sized sushis (the cost-benefit analysis made me decide otherwise). I have a bunch of black and orange felt leftover that will be used for other projects (methinks some crinkly toys). Meanwhile, the material for Andy's apron (which is not pictured, but he is a tempan yaki chef, imagine Bennihana or Tokyo Wakko, vaguely inspired by a recent episode of How I Met Your Mother) and bandana cost $5.42 (I know it's too big... he was home teaching when I made it and I didn't think to put it on my own forehead to measure) and my costume was free courtesy of our friend Allison who had been a geisha a few years back (she even had the bright red lipstick, I used black liner for my brows and eyes and white eye-shadow for my eyes.. didn't feel like putting white powder all over my face).

The labor consumed making both costumes was roughly an hour for Jordan's costume and 30 minutes for Andy's. I am a novice sewer who still watches the instructional video on how to thread and bobbin everytime I change thread color, so trust me when I say this was a very easy DIY project, even for a dummy like me!

I folded the orange felt in half, sketched half of a fish, and cut it out (as you can see, my initial fish was HUGE ... even larger than Jordan.. but I just kept cutting away until it was the perfect size).

For the white, I folded a 8x10 34 cent white felt sheet in half and cut out triangle Chevron stripes. I sewed the white stripes onto the orange fabric and then sewed the orange pieces together (I learned from my sister-in-law that felt does not fray, so I just sewed it from the outside instead of flipping it inside out) and stuffed it.

The green seaweed was another 8x10 34 cent green felt sheet folded in half, zig-zag cut on the non-fold side and then cut slits close to, but not quite at the fold for the frayed grass effect. I sewed the seaweed onto his black band which was just a long black rectangle with velcro sewed on the ends to hold it all together. Last, but not least.. the wasabi was a 8x10 34 cent lime green felt sheet crumpled together with a glue gun and safety pinned onto the fish (this way the fish is still a stuffed animal he can play with separate from the wasabi after costume wear).
Ta-da! Sushi costume - homemade and under $5! I decided against a onesie because it's kind of cold lately and instead went with this cute Calvin Klein top and bottom courtesy of our friend Becky.

Can you tell I'm absolutely ecstatic over my sudden wave of resourceful creativity? Aryigato!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mint Has Not Just Been A Herb For A While Now...

So you know how a lot of girls blog about their really cute crafts or delicious recipes? I've been pondering what I can give back to the blogosphere lately and it's not my lack of crafting abilities or cooking expertise... nor would my attempts to sew or cook healthy entertain anyone. But I do know a bit about managing the family's finances and so I decided... why not blog a bit about that? This way.. I have it for my kids in the future and along the way, if someone actually heeds some of my financial advice... hip hip hooray.

So today.. I want to promote If you haven’t already heard of, you are in for an herbal treatment! This fast growing website is the premiere place to consolidate all of your finances and provide you with a real time analysis on your actual cash flow (assets minus liabilities... or what you have in cash minus what you owe in credit card bills, loans, etc.). But wait, it doesn’t stop there (do I sound like an as seen on television infomercial?... well, it’s that great my friends), it also categorizes your transactions, makes suggestions for further savings based on your spending trends and allows you to set and monitor monthly budgets. And for the super anal retentive and slightly obsessive compulsive like myself, you can export all of your transactions into an excel worksheet and further sort, analyze and budget for the future (just categorize it all in Mint before exporting).

The website is simple and secure and requires a no fee registration in order to get started. (Found this blog post with pictures and step by step Mint preview if you're curious) The only thing that will hold you back is all your accounts be it loans, a checking account or savings, must already have an online account registered with a username and password that you can recall (otherwise, say hello to the click on forgot my password and wait for that automatic e-mail to come through, or spend some time registering, trust me, it’s worth the time investment).

On a side note, one tip I learned when I began setting up all my accounts was to keep my password simple yet complex – simple being something I could easily remember, made complicated with some caps locks, numbers and a different prefix or suffix for every single password you own (I have found that men tend to use the same password EVERYWHERE... remember when I mentioned it here?), thereby allowing yourself security in case one password does get hacked.

Know your trends people. Do you know how much you spend a month on gas, groceries and dining out? What are your largest monthly expenses? For us, it's rent... followed by groceries and then gas and I can also tell you our groceries come in around $350-400 and gas is roughly $250 (before the van... yes, I am a mini-van mom now.. but I have not figured out that trend as it's only been a month so far). I know if we're out of town visiting family, that we will save and have more room to spend on dining out or entertainment. I also know the impact of residency interviews (estimated at around $10K) will dip into our savings a bit but that if we cut back on some of the more variable expenses (like dining out, shopping and fun baby stuff that's want, not need...), our fixed costs won't hurt as much.

It's our family goal to make it to 10-20-70 and always pay off our consumer debt (think credit card bills) in full (because those finance charges will get you!) With that said, we will always tithe 10%, try to save 20% and hopefully only spend 70%. We might not be able to make it there this year or for a few more years... but we're trying and along the way, Mint is helping us.

I'm glad Mint isn't just an herb, but insight into our financial well-being. Makes fiscal sense to me!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saying Good-Bye and Hello

I still love you... I'm just not IN LOVE with you anymore.

We had some great memories but it's time to move on.

We just started growing apart.

We're not who we were seven years ago.

People change.

It's time for something new.

It's not you, it's me...

I've been sitting here for the last fifteen minutes with writer's block, unable to put any of my emotions on paper. I never thought this moment would be so difficult, or that I might be choked up with the inability to convey my farewells to people I've known and worked with over the past seven years. Alas, it has happened. I am without words. (Shocking.. right?!)

The initial "I'm not coming back" discussion went smoothly, the receipt of "separation procedures" was a quick read, the phone transferring was simple (I'll need to make another trip to the Verizon store later today to finalize it), even the discussion with the benefits representative with detailed instructions for a lay woman like myself to rollover my 401k was not too bad. Apparently, the good-bye e-mail is terribly difficult.

The Firm is the only reality of work and the real world that I have known since graduation. It's where I made my first grown-up friends. It's where I had my first big office all-hands meeting. It's where I got my first pay check. It's where I messed up and had to take ownership for my own mistakes. It's where I learned what the real world was all about. It's where I had my first real relationship break-up. It's where I had my first 401k. It's where I first ate lunch and dinner with my co-workers. It's where I first worked 15+ hour days. It's where I was first truly challenged. It's where I really first grew out of my comfort zone. It's where I first learned how to have a real conversation with grown-ups about mature topics (their kids, sports, politics, religion, and Hollywood gossip). It's where I first learned how to master the freeway and long drives in Southern California. It's where I had my first business trip. It's why I traveled for the first time to Dallas, New Jersey, Chicago, and Arizona. It's where I got my first business card. It's where I first taught a training class. It's where I first had an annual review. It's where I first cried at work. It's where I first got promoted. It's where I first learned about the Gospel. It's why I became intrigued by the Gospel. It's where I first had an excuse to live on my own in Corporate Housing for a special project. It's where I had my first name change. It's where I had my first maternity leave. And it's where I have been for most of my 20's.

The Firm has been my friend. The Firm has been my enemy. It has destroyed me.. it has celebrated with me.. it has praised me.. it has ripped me down. But slowly, over the course of seven meaningful years, it has defined me into who I am today. The experiences I have had there are not ones I would ever trade, not even for more kids at a younger age (though I do think it would have been nice). The knowledge that they have sent me off with will forever make me smarter, stronger, faster, and more capable and confident of what the world may throw at me.

I am grateful for the Firm. For what it taught me. For how it pushed me to be better. For the friends I have made there. For the memories I will hold onto forever. For the complimentary five star dining experiences. For the limos that shuttled me around at training. For the taking-up-space-in-my-closet-and-desk-too-much-overkill-but-I-love-it-anyway-branded-paraphernalia. For the line on my resume it will always reside on. For being part of my life for seven years. Thank you Firm.

I have chosen to leave the Firm so I can be at home with my son and future kids. I am also a temporary executive secretary for my husband while he is interviewing for residency by scheduling his interviews and organizing a workbook of key calendar dates and contacts. I maintain our budget, clean the house, cook the food, do the laundry and play with Jordan.

Along the way, a tender mercy from Heavenly Father came in the form of a job opportunity to work from home for 16 hours a week as an operations and finance director for a small executive search company. The relationship which led to this opportunity came while I was in client service, something I dreaded and hated last August and am now understanding the bigger picture is something we don't always comprehend until later. I met a fellow CMC alum who told me more about the Company and then introduced me to the President who is on the Ronald McDonald Charity Board. Turns out my college background and time as a camp counselor for the Ronald McDonald Camp for Good Times came in handy as I connected with both future co-workers about these shared interests. Isn't it funny how your prior choices can lead you to future opportunities?

It's true what they say.. when one door closes, another opens.

I'm closing the door to the Firm and saying good-bye.

But I'm also opening the door and saying hello.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

True Love Or ...?

At Church on Sunday, I was offered a choice of a bite size chocolate and I chose a Twix. I then politely asked if I could take another piece for my husband. Thoughtful right? I chose a Snickers for him though I knew Twix or Snickers would be winners.

I forgot about the piece of chocolate until Sunday night. Once I remembered, I excitedly told him about the surprise I got him at Church. I literally jumped up to get it. He wasn't as excited as me. He said he didn't feel like a candy bar and would take it with him to work the next day.

So imagine my disappointment and dejection when I saw the Snickers candy bar sitting on the table Monday afternoon. When I mentioned it to Andy, he said it was because he was saving it for his out of town trip (interview season has begun). That brought a smile to my face... temporarily... because after Jordan and I returned Tuesday afternoon from taking Daddy to LAX, guess what I saw on the table...? Not having moved since Sunday, the pang of rejection sitting in the form of a mini Snickers bar.

I grabbed my phone, in a daze of sadness, texted my husband, "I thought you loved me but you forgot the Snickers...sad face," to which he responded, "I left you the last Snickers!" ..... you see, long ago, I informed him that all the black romantic comedies I watched growing up had taught me the proper way to demonstrate love and that leaving the last piece of food for a girl (something most men DO NOT do) means they LOVE you! So simple! Thus far, my husband has never once shown me he loves me like the black romantic comedies imply.... that is, until now. True love defined by a candy bar. Of course.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Our Bodies Are Not the Same

Yesterday I went to a dance class at my fancy gym and pretended I was 18. I raised the roof. I shimmied left to right. I stomped my feet. I whipped my hair. I moved my hips. I arched my back. And then... I got hurt. Funny thing is, I didn't even know I was hurt until later that night. In fact, I left the class feeling great and learning the Thriller moves, just in time for Halloween! It wouldn't be until later that night when I'd start to feel the soreness of my triceps and neck creep up on me. That joke the instructor made about how she wasn't advising us how hard to whip our heads for some of the moves which might result in a chiropractor visit started to be less funny.

I wasn't alone.

Andy had played football earlier that morning and apparently, pushed himself too hard and came home with a back strain.

Needless to say, we were in slow mode as we got ready for bed last night, struggling to maneuver ourselves, both complaining about the pain leftover from earlier that morning.

I guess our bodies just aren't the same as they used to be. I guess that's what age does to you. Meanwhile, our son is showing us how strong his lil growing body is as he held himself up on the pull-up bar for about three seconds at the park today and then almost five seconds via Skype for the family. What a show-off!

He has also been rolling from his stomach to his back and over again, trying to crawl (using his head more than his arms), and sitting up for almost 30 seconds before toppling over.

I know it's cliche but sometimes I can't help think... wow, that lil munchkin came out of my body. It is absolutely amazing to think about life and wonder how it all works. Moreover, to think... just a year ago, Jordan was just a murmur in my stomach, a headache turned migraine and a growing bump and these days, he's a changing person with more personality and movement than ever before, trying to laugh and squeal and grab everything around him. It's comforting to know ... though our bodies aren't the same, neither is Jordan's.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

He Thinks He's A Big Boy

One of the most peculiar things about being a parent is the joy in watching your child grow and develop. A little over five months old, Jordan wants to be part of our world by doing what we do. I think if he could walk now, he would.. how much he loves standing up and seeing the world from anew perspective, and how much he loves sitting and grabbing whatever we surround him with (until he plummets over in about 20-30 seconds).

He has learned the clever art of crying at an exceptionally loud volume for just a spurt with his eyes strongly shut tight for emphasis when something is taken away from him that he wants a part of (think sippy cup of a toy he cannot quite reach). Little does he know we laugh secretly and silently as we observe his short spurts quickly calmed by a new distraction to something else (because we refuse to appease him by giving him what he wants everytime - read closely, that means we do give in sometimes).

Lately, he has become increasingly mesmerized by the bottle and the sippy cup. He wants to hold the sippy cup like a big boy around the two handles and tries to put the mouthpiece into his own mouth with limited success. With the bottle of water, he tries so hard with his tiny little hands, to grasp around the bottle and somehow coordinate the movement into his mouth. Most often, his tiny hands are not enough to hold onto the rotund shape of the bottle, and his hands somehow fall off and then are quickly moving around to try again. Other times, he is able to hoover the bottle towards his face and I have become enthralled with just watching him miss and hit himself in the forehead or his cheeks with the bottle nipple and then unceasingly try again (he's definitely not a quitter). Sometimes, the bottle changes angle and he instead thwarts part of the bottom of his Tommy Tippy (think wide stout little bottles) into his mouth (homeboy's got a big mouth... for a baby that is). And most amusingly, he is learning from himself and from us and starting to understand the whole cause and effect thing. I pressed down on the bottle nipple to squirt some water into his mouth and he realized this concept of pushing the bottle nipple did something he wanted. So when the bottle was returned to him, his hands went directly towards pushing down on the bottle's nipple, which could be a coincidence if it's too soon for him to recognize such relationships, but at the time, I thought, oh my, he's trying to imitate me to get the desired effect of water into his mouth!

And how he loves to eat solid food. And how he will start to stuff his bib into his mouth if you are not quick enough with the spoon (note: Andy and I both eat VERY fast, we'd like to think it's efficient but really we're probably just impatient like Jordan) or even start to cry - another thing we are trying to minimize, though being ready with the spoon full of food does help to reduce the amount of clean-up we have as he starts shifting and getting food all over himself or whatever he is sitting on. He loves his peas, bananas, and avocado and he is just enamored with water and the art of trying to get it into his mouth. Once he does, he can be seen enjoying the sensation of this new liquid without flavor but somehow satiating his thirst. I love watching him as he takes in the water, excited and eager for more.

Boy, what an adventure eating solids has been. As much fun as it is to watch him, record him and talk about it, man is it time consuming! They weren't kidding when they said be prepared. For someone who thought nursing was time consuming in the beginning, I am the first to admit, at least there were times when I could be on the phone whether it was playing with Words with Friends, browsing pinterest or e-mail while he sleeps and eats. Not with solids. He has to be awake with solids. Hence, there is not Words with Friends in between mouthfuls, no Pinterest while he munches on his solids, and no catching up on e-mails. I am fully involved, fully committed and to my opponents on Words with Friends, yes - that is why I have been lacking in playtime lately.

Guess it doesn't really matter - it's worth it and I can't wait until he learns how to eat for himself. Such is the case with life and raising kids... as I imagine as the days become filled with more active responsibility outside of diaper changes and feedings, they also become more responsive, hence more entertaining and fun. It's great making him laugh.

Side note: as his personality develops, I am noticing his personality more and more. If he's not hungry or tired, he is completely happy playing on his own in the crib or on the matt or in the bumbo with whatever toy is in sight, or watching Baby Einstein if you put him into a comfortable position before doing so. But he also loves being social if you so choose to interact with him, he just doesn't have a preference much in terms of happiness as both make him extremely happy. The other day, we went to the mall for a Picture People session I regretfully purchased on Living Socials (think very low quality but immediate results high school hoochie momma photos but for babies) and he was so happy, smiling and interacting with our photographer. She pulled out a big styrofoam pumpkin and he was in heaven trying to put it in his mouth. When he became too distracted, she removed it and he was not happy. But instead of crying or reacting with a tantrum, he just remained still, emotionless, and stoically stared at her. No more smiles, no more cooing, just a stare as if to silently declare, "You took my pumpkin, I'm not playing with you anymore, and no, I will not smile for you." It was really quite entertaining to watch him stare her down but almost a bit intimidating to think my baby has developed a personality already!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pinterest Much?

You could say I'm a creepy facebook stalker. You could say I waste too much time on facebook. You could say all these things and you'd probably be most definitely correct. But you'd only be describing yourself ... maybe?.... maybe not. *sigh

Fortunate for me, recent happenings have me purging myself of my old disgusting-facebook-time-wasting-noisy-and-way-to-into-other people's-business-and-photos-indulgent habits. Instead, any free internet browsing time I have is spent blogging and browsing through my pinterest feed. It may sound surprising but trust me when I say, this new thing known as "Pinterest" is actually useful, inspirational, and resourceful. Really? Tell me more! Okay!!

Pinterest is an online sharing board which enables you to bookmark websites (blog posts, articles, Etsy for sale stuff, etc.) by image and organize by "boards" that you name and arrange on your page. You have friends who can see your pins and vice versa and you can like, comment and repin. Through the powers of sharing (which is caring), I bypass spending any time on the worldwide web to find interesting things to pin and instead, focus my time browsing that which has already been pinned. I repin things I find noteworthy and await my friends' finds. Through Pinterest, I have found recipes, cleaning and organizing tips, cute, creative, thrifty and brilliant DIY tips, decorating ideas, daydreams of a future home, photography concepts, hair tutorials, trendy outfits, witty sayings and funny posters, and wonderful gift ideas!

When Pinterest first became a daily part of my life, I thought - how awesome would it be to also have work out tips on here as well? It seemed only yesterday when my wishes of where Pinterest could take me have now evolved into reality. Most recently, I have seen a bunch of work out tips on Pinterest.

So I haven't technically tried any of the recipes I pinned under my "Miam!" (yum in French) board, I haven't even given much thought to the DIY mischief that could be part of my life, instead I have pinned and sat back, enjoying the repins which confirm to me that these are pinworthy. But today, I broke that streak by trying my first Pinterest.... dun dun dunnnnn.. work out!

I revised it a bit.... here is what I did twice (as Andy observed and told me I would not be able to asleep as it is 10:30 PM on a Monday night).

50 jumping jacks
5 normal push-ups, 5 girly push-ups (because my normals are just a plank bending a bit...)
20 bicycles
20 climb-ups (I had not clue what these were, you just go into a plan position and bring your knee to your chest one at a time)
plank for 30 seconds
7 burpees (also had not a clue what these were, you start in standing position, you jump with your hands to your feet, then jump back into a plank position, do a push-up, jump your feet back to meet your hands and then jump into the air and whoop for joy!)

I don't care! I'm ecstatic with the accomplishment I have made of finally following through with something I learned from Pinterest.

Let me know if you want an invite - or you can request one and wait a few days. And maybe by then, I will have mustered the courage to try a recipe... or a craft... or a hair tutorial.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Clarification On Eye Lids

A lot of people have been asking me questions about what my prior eye-lid post meant. Apparently the photos I included were not close enough to demonstrate the true nature of the lids. So I took another one of his folds.
Notice the subtle line above his eyes? That is the fold that now exists above his eyes. If you compare that to the photo from the prior post - you will see there were no prior lines above his eyes.

Hopefully that helps.

Note: Most non-Asians have a fold a lot thicker than Asians.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Lesson On Lids

It's never good to caveat a blog post with, I'm not being racist... but I'm not being racist.

It is a known fact to any Asian person that most Asians have single eyelids and most Caucasians (any pretty much anything not Asian) have double eyelids.

So what exactly are double eyelids? Look for a fold over the eyelid, it may be thin, thick or in between. If there is nothing besides an eyelid, you have a single eyelid. But you are also most likely Asian and already knew that.

It is also a known fact that many Asians regard eyelid surgery (to alter single eyelids to double eyelids) as a common matter of fact cosmetic must do.

My own aunt was about to give me free eyelid surgery when I turned 18 so I could go to college without people knowing of my single eyelids.

I began cutting little slips of scotch tape when I was 15 to tape my eyelids and thereby create a double eyelid.

I got a real natural double eyelid (though small) at 16.

I discovered double eyelid tape at 17 (they are mass produced and sold everywhere in Taiwan).

I discovered eyelash glue works even better at 19 (they are packaged with a thin application brush in Japan, Korea and Taiwan).

I never got the eyelid surgery.

My other double eyelid (also small) came in at 27. I am convinced it was the constant use of the eye glue. My best friend also got a double eyelid at 27. She has been using eye glue as long as me.

Dreams do come true.

My son was born with single eyelids. Everyone in my family said it was from me, even though I have two double eyelids (yes, I know, they're small!) which were materially forced into existence with tape and glue. Everyone in my family wondered why Jordan didn't get his dadddy's big double eyelid eyes.

The other day, my best friend wondered outloud.... "Do you think Jordan will put tape or eye glue on his eye to get his double eyelid?" We laughed at how ridiculous we sounded. Both of our round eye big double eyelid husbands do not understand our eyelid obsession.

On September 22, 2011, Jordan's right eye gained a lid.

Eight days later, on September 30, 2011 - Jordan awoke and had two double eyelids.

Dreams really do come true!*

Single Eyelids
One Double Eyelid
Two Double Eyelids (with Uncle Ray, who also just recently got his lids but he never used tape or eye glue... maybe if we waited, they would have come in naturally?....)

*disclaimer - I will still love my future kids if they have single eyelids and I will still think they are the world's most adorable baby ever!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Birthday Traditions

Even though Andy and I do not have any birthday traditions of our own, yesterday (Andy's birthday) got us thinking about what sort of traditions we'd like to have for our children to look forward to each year.

I had a few birthday parties growing up, always had a cake, always had presents and always felt it was a special day. As I grew older though, birthdays quickly lost their appeal as did gifts and the only thing I really looked forward to was that birthday wish after blowing out some candles.

I had grand plans about Andy's 27th birthday - from making a homemade ice cream cake for Jeff (brother-in-law who has the SAME birthday!) and Andy when Jeff and Tammy visited this weekend to thoughtful gifts and a sweet written card from Jordan and me. None of the above was accomplished and though the weekend was filled with a visit to BJs for some birthday pizookies and pizza, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, ice cream cake, soda pop and lots of fun summer blockbuster viewings, I failed to put together anything even close to creative.

I thought about a birthday banner. I thought about a birthday slideshow. I thought about a birthday card. I thought about a birthday frame. Thoughts can't get you that far.

I got as far as printing photos from Costco and using existing frames we had, buying an already made red velvet cake from Costco and creating some Andy specific Cranium questions for some friends who joined us for Family Home Evening last night.

It was not what I had envisioned, not even close to the creative awesomeness that I had hoped for, but it was what it was. And over dinner at Rubio's last night, we brainstormed what sort of birthday traditions we would create for our family. Needless to say, beyond establishing that we wanted traditions, we didn't get too far as we inhaled our food and rushed home in time for FHE. I think it'd be fun to always have a photo of the birthday individual with a cake and candles and to see the changes over the years. Andy didn't let me put a candle into the cake last night or take any photos (I was immobile as I fed Jordan in the corner) so for that, I'm a bit bummed. Oh well, there's always next year. He's stuck with me for every birthday here on out, and that my friends, is so exciting.

Happy Birthday Andy and Jeff!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Boppy....

Dear Wanna-Be Boppy,

I know a boppy is a popular nursing pillow and that I call you my wanna-be boppy or even boppy for short. I want you to know it is bceause when Jill, my cousin's wife gave you to me - all I knew was that you looked like the American boppy even though you were from a Taiwan store called Mammy Village. When I went to the site to check you out, I was apalled by the actual boobs and breast pumps in the product image gallery, as well as the postpartum bodyshaping and weird keep your belly small type underwear shapewear products. Then, when I went to a breastfeeding class at the hospital and the lactation Nazis told me a brest friend was far better than a boppy, I was a bit sad since you were my wanna-be boppy, not wanna-be brest friend but you did not seem to mind since you had a button similar to the brest friend's velcro, so really - you were better than a boppy or a brest friend!

When I was pregnant, I liked walking around with you around my waist, giving me support in the rear to balance with my growing baby bump. I enjoyed your existence as a "hey, I'm pregnant friends" accessory, back support, and even attempted to sleep next to you a couple of times (I found my body pillow from college was more comfortable and less awkwardly shaped but I still loved you so much). You were my best inanimate friend.

When Jordan was born, you rested beneath him, giving him a nice contour to rest inside. His tiny body fit so perfect into your arms and he loved the company you kept. We also invited you to our nursing sessions as a cushion for Jordan to rest atop, but my doctor advised me against feeding atop of nursing pillows (to help reduce spit-up and improve digestion), so our time was cut short. You remained a permanent fixture during Jordan's day time naps and continued to bring joy into our lives.

Now that I'm no longer pregnant and Jordan is no longer a newborn with limited movement and restrained neck muscles, we have fallen apart. Sometimes I forget you are there, waiting for us, just letting the dust fall onto you. Though we did not abandon you, you are far from present in our lives these days. The few times I even tried to put Jordan on top of you, nuzzled in like he was in his newborn days, he screamed and arched his back and stretched his arms and legs out in an attempt to roll over and out of you. I know you were sad, but I want you to know - he does not know what he does, he is too young to know the pain he may have caused you.

Well, I am excited to tell you - we have found another purpose for you. You have graduated today. From now on, you will serve as a cushion for my laptop and an intermediary between the heat from the computer and my sensitive lap. You will also serve a dual-purpose as a cushion for my husband's neck. You are similar to a neck pillow sold in airline gift shops but much bigger and more comfortable.

Though we have grown and changed... you are still able to serve a purpose in our lives and hence, remain a part of our family.

It's funny how our relationship makes me think about how as life changes... as my worries change from how to put bread on the table to how to make bread on the table to how to feed my children the bread on the table to how to teach my children how to have bread on a table for themselves... there is a constant source of love and support from God and Jesus and that I am guided along the way through the Prophet Thomas S. Monson and his Apostles as well as our Church leaders.

It reminds me of how much I love the living waters of our faith. Though Church is every week and can feel routine and repetitive besides General Conference which is once every six months and Stake Conferences which are for a group of Churches in our area every so often as well (because I'm unsure how often they really are... I think also 6 months...?), every message spoken is to be heard with the heart AND mind, enabling us to know for ourselves there is truth in action. I know sometimes I may hear the same advice, the same prophetic counsel, or even the same "miracle" testimonies of others, but each time I do - the emotional epiphanies and uplifting tranquility I feel remind me that the Spirit I am feeling is testifying of the truth there. It is quite tremendous and I am lucky to have these constant reminders of why the commandments are important, why prayer matters, why scripture study will strengthen me, why a good attitude is imperative, and the list goes on... but why all these things matter and help us to enjoy the full blessings God bestows upon us.

Pretty neat. Thanks for giving me that insight wanna-be boppy. You've done so much. You're great - don't you ever forget.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh... You're Right

My mom recently gave me two pounds of beef jerky - one for my sister-in-law, Tammy who came to visit this weekend. I just had five pieces for a mid-afternoon snack. Andy put the bag of jerky away for me, commenting that tonight was going to be interesting being in the same bed as me.

I was busy so I didn't pay much attention. He continued in his silly you can hear the grin and he probably looks way awkward turtle sort of thing. I turned around and asked why.

"You don't know that beef jerky gives you gas?" he asked....

"No it doesn't!" I exclaimed.

I've obviously never had that much beef jerky in one sitting. A few minutes later, as I saw on the couch browsing the internet with cooing from Jordan on his playmat nearby.... it started.

And after a few occurrences of such... I told Andy... "Oh... you're right!"

I am now going to a yoga class at my fancy gym. I really hope this class has music but being that it's yoga... highly unlikely. *gulp.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

We Got Ourselves A Routine Folks!

It only took five months for me to finally establish and fall into a comfortable, effective and efficient (yes former auditor am I), yet flexible routine at home with Jordan. After many an exasperated sighs and regretfully defeated glances into a mirror, I grew tired of the miserable looking still in my pajamas at 11 AM without brushing my teeth and oh yeah, don't forget that nasty kink in my hair, when was the last time I washed it curiosity reflection that was none other than me, a new mom struggling to make it work.

Yet for the longest time, a routine felt inevitably prolonged especially with us taking off for vacation in Orlando for a week with Andy's family, another two weeks in Utah for one of Andy's routine, and then camping last weekend (which means a lot of sleeping in the pack n play for Jordan).

Alas, I'm happy to report the good news, the exciting news, the amazing news, is the following
1) one look from Jordan melted my heart and made me forget all my worries about the dirty sink, the dust covered furniture, the nasty bathrooms, the undone laundry, the unfinished projects, the unwritten e-mails, the errands to be run and the lists to be finished
2) despite having less time during the day to myself now that Jordan is constantly awake, the nights are much better and my sleep patterns have normalized to include sleep
3) I've learned that I can't do it all in a day, I shouldn't be a facebook stalker-holic, and I prioritize what I want on my list.
4) having a supportive husband makes you feel less of a failure when you report on your day and all you did was play with the baby and change 4 poopy diapers
5) my routine is not always so routine

One day out of the week, Jordan and I go to the grocery store.
One day out of the week, Jordan and I go visit my mom.
One day out of the week, we don't leave the house and I lounge in my PJs all day
One day out of the week, we vacuum, dust or clean the bathroom (normally not all of the above).
One day out of the week, we visit with friends.
And that's five days. Seems like nothing right? Yeah, just wait until you have a baby.

Things we do regularly include praying, scripture study, the dishes, laundry (it's more like every 2-3 days but frankly, it feels like everyday), making the bed, brushing my teeth and putting on my contacts (we add it to the list or else it never gets done), sending a "Daily Dose of Jordan" photo to a few choice family members, making dinner, playing Words with Friends, and the rest is engulfed with baby time - playing, singing, storytelling, diaper changing, stroller walks, etc. As for working out, I aim for 5 days a week and probably end up around 3 but with five pounds left to go, my pre-pregnancy weight goals before child #2 may actually be attainable!

Sometimes the impossible just doesn't seem possible. Everyone said - you'll adapt... you'll adjust... you'll get it. They were right.. it just takes time! So for the moms who are just starting off, or for the pregnant moms who have no clue how they will get there once the baby comes out and is not so easy to take everywhere, rest assured - if I can do it - so can you!

You may even have time to make up baby stories/songs:

That's not my baby, his hands are too small
That's not my baby, his head is not bald

That's not my baby, he poops a lot more
That's not my baby, that's not what he wore

That's not my baby, his eyes have no lids
That's not my baby, he's wearing a bib!

Thats' not my baby, his lips are too thin
That's not my baby, a cleft on the chin?!

That's not my baby, I'd know if he laughed
That's not my baby, that's what I just said!

Jordan and I made that up while we were driving yesterday. Twas much fun.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Full Circle

When I was a baby. I imagine my parents were my world. Jordan's recently been attempting to kiss us by taking a big bite towards our face - he only knows to open his mouth when confronted with our face and the word "kiss." We are his world. We change him... feed him... bathe him... take him everywhere with us... entertain him... sing to him... cuddle with him... sleep with him... and really, I suppose he has no choice in the matter.

When I was a toddler, I'm told I squealed with joy at any expression of love and was always trying to talk. I ran to my parents with open arms, joined them in song and conversation (attempted) and could not stop loving them more. I wanted to be them. I wanted to do what they did.

When I was a little older.. an adolescent, I asked why. And then I followed up any answer with another why. I enjoyed irritating my older cousins and parents by repeating everything they said, refused to play the "let's be quiet game," and didn't let out that I could now spell (because parents always spell out what they don't want you to know). I was told to stop talking back but I had not a clue what I did wrong. I liked using the phrase "I told you so!" with my hands on my hips, elbows perked at matching 45 degree angles, as if to add how much I really told 'em so!

When I was a tween, I rolled my eyes and got in trouble. I talked back and I got in trouble. I didn't play with my brother and I got in trouble. I didn't help out around the house and I got in trouble. I got in trouble a lot. Or so it felt.

When I was a teen, I just wanted to hang out with my friends. I learned what it mean to be grounded. My parents kept telling me how important college was, kept sending my to SAT classes, Chinese school and made me play the piano. I muttered under my breath a lot and felt like I knew more than my parents. Duh.

When I was in my 20's, I missed my parents. I hoped they would keep paying for me but I enjoyed being able to treat them to a meal with my real job. I wanted to make them proud but I hated when they nagged me. I wanted to know their opinion but I didn't want to let on that I did.

When I was in my late 20's, my parents became my friends. I could sometimes talk to them like adults now. But... they were still my parents.

When I had a kid, I realized for the first time - how much my parents actually did for me. As I am worrying about every odd breath out of my son's mouth and nose, I'm appreciating the efforts, the rules, the boundaries, the worrying and the love they incessantly showered me with (despite my rebelliously difficult times).

Funny how it comes full circle. I don't think my children will ever love me as much as I love them because I can't imagine the love I feel for Jordan being reciprocated. That is how much I love him!