Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Day Without Me

Today was pivotal.  Life-changing.  Empowering.  Transformational.  And absolutely wonderful.

I went to the Southern California Power of Moms retreat and was gone from Andy and Jordan for more than 8 hours...!  That might not sound like a big deal, but for a mom who has never been separated from her son for more than 4 hours, for a mom who still worries about if her son will eat enough solids to (since he still won't take a bottle), for a mom who is just a bit obsessive, overbearing and controlling.... to say I was intimidated is an understatement.  I was terrified.

As for the retreat, it was AWESOME!!!  I came home, opened up the copious notes I had taken, and started updating Andy on everything I had learned.  I'll have to save a summary for another post (because it might be long, I'm tired from a late night date with laundry, and Andy just came home from watching the BYU game).  More importantly, when I got home... I sadly realized I'm not that needed.

Apparently, Jordan did great without me!  He ate, he slept, he went to the park, went to the store, went to Costco, to visit some friends, he even took some pumped milk from a straw (but caramel helped coax him to sip it faster).  I'll be honest... I was a bit devastated.  My heart hurt a bit.  I guess maybe I secretly did hope he'd miss me a little, even though I also wanted him to be on his best behavior for Andy.  I know I can't have both.  As it turns out, my husband might need me more than my son. That's something.. right?!

"I'm so hungry, what's for dinner?" my husband asked when I stepped into the home - before even telling him how much fun I had!...

"Did you eat lunch?" I asked... "Well..." he stammered... "there's just no food at home," and I rebutted his statement with a ferocious stare and responded with, "WHAT?!" and he quickly finished his thought, "... that's easy to make."

Oh Andy.

Oh Andy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How I Learned to Network

I wrote an article on networking for work, but totally missed the mark and the article wasn't professional enough to be included for our newsletter purposes... it also didn't address the right audience and was basically rejected.  But the nice thing about having your own personal blog is you get to publish whatever you want.  And I did want to still publish it because seriously... if someone had told me this before I started interviewing for jobs in college, I might not have felt so ill prepared.    

I’ve always viewed networking as hard work, difficult, daunting and at times awkward.  I still have nightmares about the mortifying experience of showing up to a “Meet the Firms” in college, where I reached out to shake the hand of a partner for the second time when he extended his hand to shake someone else’s hand and then tried to pass it off as an effort to snag one of the branded highlighters they were using to entice us college kids.  I also have found myself spitting up spoonerisms or unintentional tongue twisters and come to the epiphany that I cannot attend networking functions in a suit jacket due to my profuse sweating.  Luckily, with time, some maturity and some very effective coaching, I have learned the tricks and tools of successful networking and have not had any reenactments of my prior networking nightmares.  Here’s some insight into what I learned about networking, simplified by being a PRICK (easy to remember!)

 P - Prepare – Some people are interesting and know lost of random trivia facts, the news, the sports, and the most up to date celebrity gossip.  I, unfortunately, am not one of these people.  So before going anywhere where I might be networking, or trying to make a good impression (think a job’s meet and greet or a networking night), I try to brush up on the day’s headlines.  This helps me open conversation up and gives me a lead in to talk about something I do have knowledge of, and more often than not, it just helps me participate in a conversation without being completely MIA.  This means when conversation turns to something I can participate in, I am easily able to jump in and contribute whether it be about family, interests, weekend activities, etc. 
R - Relax - The establishment of strong relationships with your networks is most likely linked to the fact that you are yourself and thereby, relaxed.  It’s important to still be on your best behavior with decision makers, but try not to be so stiff and unnatural or you may come across as unapproachable and be tagged as socially awkward. You can draw upon your prepared (see above) topics to as an ice breaker, but once the conversation gets going, steering it towards something you can naturally participate will lead to the most success.  The most successful networking conversations I have ever had were when I relaxed and just talked about something interesting (rather than stiffly trying to sound intelligent by talking about something I have little knowledge of, like sports). 
I – Invest – You must make the investment to build relationships.  Connections can be made almost anywhere - in elevators, hallways, doctor’s offices, the grocery store, gyms, weddings, church, or even sporting events.  Because those connections are made at places where you are naturally inclined to be, the development of the relationship will not feel like work, but will be an enjoyable process.  Likewise, don’t hate the social networking websites that can help you keep in touch and continue growing your network.  When I first joined LinkedIn, it was simply an outlet for me to keep in touch with co-workers away from Facebook, which was my personal networking site.  In actuality, both networking sites are valuable investments that have expanded my network. And lastly, don’t forget about building on existing relationships with your current co-workers.  They may not seem like a valuable network since they work in the same industry, know the same people, and if and when they seek for a career change, it will probably be quite similar to whatever you are looking for.  But your current co-workers actually know you best and know the skillset and experiences you have had, can easily relate, and are your best advocates.  Further, if they should leave and become a past co-worker, they may have insight into new openings not posted and vice versa.   
C - Connect - Consider for a moment the last time you were truly excited to help someone.  Contrast that experience to the last time someone blatantly tried to capitalize on a “networking” relationship.  What led to the difference in attitude?  I find that I get excited to help people with whom I have a real connection; otherwise, it feels like a chore, as if I am trying to store up credit in case I need their help in the future.  So connect with whomever you are talking to as it will not only help you have an enjoyable networking experience, but will help others remember you.  In connecting, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep in touch.  I send e-mails every now and then to people I’ve met who helped counsel or answer any questions I’ve had.  It makes reaching out for future questions or interactions a lot smoother and more natural.   
K – Keep at it – Networking is not a one time deal.  Don’t get discouraged by one awful encounter (like my college networking nightmares), and don’t get down on yourself when someone doesn’t respond to your outreach.  The more you network, the more it becomes a part of who you are.  In time, your network will be unbelievably large, strong, and insanely awesome.  
me hard at work

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

I didn't have any shark fin soup this year for Chinese New Year's.  Last year, I couldn't have any because I was pregnant.... this year I didn't have any because we spent New Year's with my mom's side of the family instead (and my dad's sister is the one who knows how to cook it.. it's a pretty hard recipe from what I hear).  My mom, dad and brother were sadly absent from the festivities here in the U.S.... probably having a more authentic and elaborate celebration in Taiwan.  With the Chinese New Year being such a big deal in our family... it was kind of strange not having them around this year, so it was nice (and a sigh of relief that I didn't have to try my hand at some Chinese dishes) when my uncle invited the three of us over to his house to celebrate.

Besides the extensive menu of fish (it's important to eat, supposed to be good for the upcoming year), pork, chicken, and other stuff I'm incapable of translating, we watched football and drank a lot of apple cider (which my cousins got for us as they drank Taiwan Beer, yet at the end of the night, everyone was drinking apple cider because let's face it... it tastes way better than beer).  We did come up with the realization that once our parents are gone... none of us know how to cook Chinese food the way they do.  That's going to be a sad day but probably remedied by a lot of take-out from fobby Chinese restaurants.

Now the tradition of lucky red envelope or hong baos is you stop receiving once you're married and have to give a red envelope once you are married to the single children.  So we gave my thirteen year old cousin a small red envelope for the new year and scored with Jordan who left with five red envelopes!  He didn't care for the green inside, but he sure loved those red envelopes this morning!  He's meticulously inspecting each one before tasting them, and he decided that wealth tastes bittersweet.

Gong Xi Fa Tsai!  Good fortune and propserity and hopes for a dragon Phillips baby, though a snake would be okay my uncle reminded my recently married cousin and her husband they had three more months to make a dragon baby!

The lucky platter of fruit and Chinese candies and nuts

Our Chinese New Year meal!  

My racist cousins. Note Cindy told her husband to put up a peace sign, then advised him to squint his eyes.  Yes, that's my family folks.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marriage = A Lifetime of Cooking

My mom told me not to bother learning to cook until after I was married.  She said I'd be doing it for the rest of my life, so like it or not, I'd learn to love it.

It was probably one of her best pieces of advice. .. .. ... . ever!

Before I was married... I knew how to make a killer smoothie, a notoriously delicious salad, and an incredible sandwich.  Oh, and I knew how to cut some fruit.  That's all a single lady really needs to know.  That, and where the frozen food section in your local Trader Joe's is.  I also knew the best places for breakfast, dessert, dinner and happy hour all over LA.

Now that I've been married for a little over a year and acquired $100K in student debt, eating out is not an option.  So I have dived headfirst into the world of cooking.  I have slowly learned English names of vegetables (even though I'm American Born Chinese, it's surprising how little I know in a grocery store besides the basic vegetables), acquired a few new cooking tools along the way, and I am slowly making my way into hoity toity cooking (last night, I made a butternut squash with carmelized onions, gorgonzala, cheddar, and spinach pizza!... I made the dough myself, and this morning, I made us omelettes, an egg white one for me, with bacon, cheddar, red bell peppers, onions and squeezed some fresh OJ!.. welcome to Dining with Daisy!).

No, I never took home-ec in school though I wish I did.  Instead, my marriage is homemaking 101.

In just a year and a half of marriage, I have learned:
1) what pork roast looks like
2) where everything is in a grocery store
3) what simmer means
4) how to pronounce colander INcorrectly (some things won't change)
5) how to cook butternut squash
6) how to cut a pineapple
7) how to chop an onion
8) how to sugar my nuts
9) how to make bread from scratch

And most importantly...

10) that my guinea pig husband loves me as he eats everything I make with a smile and tells me it's good (he doesn't lie, but I notice when his mom or sister cooks, he says how good it is with real zest, the same zest I have only been lucky to hear from my own creations on a few occasions).

But I won't lie.. cooking almost everyday can become tiring... so I'm grateful my husband is so encouraging.  Thanks soy sauce!  You're the best and I'm glad I get to cook for you almost every night!

Oh... and... that bacon makes anything delicious.  Even whipped cream from a can.  Yes... try it, then knock it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cuddly Baby

My baby's been super cuddly lately.  He wants nobody but me, not even his Daddy will do.  If I leave him on the floor, he'll crawl over to me, pull himself up, and bounce up and down in his standing position, content just to be near me.  If he's tired and not in his usual chipper mood, that's not enough and he wants to be cuddled, but only by me!  Sometimes he'll crawl and mumble, "mum mum mum" in between small tears, unaware what it means, only a mutter used to get my attention.  I've never felt so loved!  Nothing can compare to the bit of pride sprinkled with a bit of guilt and pity for Andy since Jordan obviously prefers me now (I'm sure that won't last when mom's telling him to pick up his toys and dad is full of fun games and sports talk).

The last time Jordan really cuddled with us was around three months old, this new phase of his is quite refreshing.  Some things haven't changed in the eight months of Jordan's life... like how much he still loves the Bjorn, being held upside down, having his legs pulled straight (Asian wives' tale to get longer straighter legs), taking a bath, and smiling.  Other things... like the difficulty of changing his diaper, putting him to sleep, and putting his clothes on, continue to baffle me.

He loves balls, ropes, electronic devices (remote controllers, beepers, and phones) credit cards, putting all of these into his mouth, crawling, standing, Baby Einstein, and yours truly.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with his obsession of me, but then I remember... this won't last forever and he will grow up and not want to hug mom anymore.  So for now, I am indulging in the moment, taking it all in, and loving it.  Okay, so maybe not all the time, but I'm trying... and I remind myself of the honor and the greatness of being all that he wants sometimes.

Funny enough, for how much he loves me, I hardly have any photos of just him and me.  Better start asking strangers to take photos for me, or learn how to take better reverse shots of us (it's hard because all I focus on is how I look - egotistical me, and Jordan is always not paying attention when I look good hahahahaha).

Us at the BYU vs UCI volleyball game where the Cougars beat the Anteaters.  I know, Anteaters... really?

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Kissed His Poop

So many titles could have graced the headline of this blog post.

The Dirty Truth

Full of Crap

Covered in Poop

Stink of Motherhood

But nothing really resonated as much as I kissed poop... which is exactly what I thought with a huge face palm doh moment in my mind as I kissed it.  Of course it was not intentional.  Poop got on my son's arms and I washed it off... then, wanting to make sure it was scrubbed enough, I leaned in close to take a whiff... missed and ended up kissing some of the poop...  which was really more like diarrhea but poop sounds better than I kissed number 3.  Yes, by the color and texture, I should have known and not even have gotten close with my nose, but one does not think logically when caught in a stressful situation like this.  At least I did not.

This morning, Jordan and I went to our local "My-Gym" for free gym play time with Jessie and her mom!  My mom wanted Jordan and I to go to some Mommy and Me classes (with my work at home schedule and her close by, I don't make the effort to get with other moms for playdates as often as I should) so she paid for us to go for a few months.  So far, Jordan's loving it and the open crawl space and new toys always excite him.  However, this morning.. he looked gloomy.  Like something was on his mind.  Like he was distracted.  He was probably not feeling well.. as moments after we left, he yelled in his carseat while stretching out as if to break loose from the carseat.  We were on our way to Target when a huge fart-o-riffic- came out and I immediately flipped a U and turned us around to go home.

We got home five minutes later... and as I unbuckled Jordan from his carseat (he had fallen asleep at this point), I felt his back... soaked.  I took a blanket in the car (always have extra blankets in the car!), wrapped it around him from waist down, and noticing the carseat cushions were also plagued, took those with me as well.  Somewhere along the way, I think poop got on my jacket or my face... but I didn't notice... my only mission was to get to the apartment from the guest parking lot (it's actually a long walk.. I think a quarter of a mile) with Jordan propped in one arm, without his poop getting on more of me, and the obnoxiously overstuffed diaper bag on my other arm and my small purse, which I began using to store just my wallet and phone for times when I leave Jordan with Andy or want to run an errand and the diaper bag is close by in the car....

Off to the apartment we went.  It was a difficult journey.  It really did feel long.  My arms are really a lot more toned than they used to be because of Jordan.  We eventually made it.  Many breaths, spoken words of encouragement from myself, and steps later.  

Once inside, I assessed the damage.  Somehow, the diarrhea made its way to the outside of the diaper... into his pants...up his back... onto his onesie... and a little bit of the long sleeve shirt I put over his onesie.  So trying to take off his clothes... only made it worse as the poop got partially on his arms... and up higher on his back.  The blanket also had gashes of leftover remnants.  All I could think to do was wash off the poop.  So into the sink he went.... and then I noticed it on his arms... and without thinking, I washed and once done... bent over to smell his arms to make sure the stink was gone.... and that's when it happened.

I kissed his poop.

I know I should have just LOOKED at it.  But really.. my senses weren't functioning entirely.  I thought SMELLING it would somehow be superior to LOOKING at it.

That's not even the scariest part.  The scariest part is I was completely unfazed.  I knew what had to get done.. and I worked like a madwoman, washing.. scrubbing... cleaning... disinfecting...and laughing hysterically while wondering if my phone was within reach for some post poop photos... madwoman I tell you!

Notice the bright mustard color?

I have had a mustard obsession for a few years now.  All of a sudden, mustard clothing doesn't seem that desirable anymore.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I miss you.  I long for you.  I wish you would come back into my life.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of you.  Where are you?  Do you think of me too?  Do you miss me?  Do you think we'll ever meet again?  They say if you love something... to let it go and if it's yours... it will come back to you.  I'd like to be optimistic... but I'm quite the sure the future will not bring us together... but throw us farther apart.

Oh right.. and that baby who now pulls up and cries doesn't help either. That's why God made babies so cute and edible.  So when you're sleep deprived.... just one look has you melting with joy.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

His New Best Friend

Jordan's too young to date, but he's taken a liking to girls.  He seems easily distracted by pretty girls, he especially likes the big bows parents put on their short haired daughters, and ruffles.  And apparently, he likes the older ladies...  those dang 2 year olds, they sure are hot although they still scare him since they can walk and he can't, so instead... he's been pretty infatuated with Jessie lately.  

Jessie is exactly one week older than Jordan!  We have plans for date swaps with her parents and I am excited for Jordan because he seems to light up when Jessie is around (okay, maybe not "light" up, but at least he doesn't get scared... that's a huge step here).  With the two of them being so close in age, it's fun to observe their reactions to each other because they are both the first kids and their development and size are similar.. it's absolutely adorable!

I've noticed that Jordan is also very calm around Jessie... partly because she's so darn cute, but it also might be because older kids (even by a few months) might trample on him and are more aggressive and therefore, sometimes scare him.  He's a shy little boy.  Little babies, on the other hand, are just objects for him to grab at and I get nervous when he's playing with them.  I'm a paranoid mom.  But see, with Jessie... Jordan just grabs her shirt.. she grabs his... he grabs her hair bows, she grabs his face, it is very friendly and comfortable for both of them, nothing intimidating, nothing alarming... just nice.

This is from when Jordan and Jessie were about 5 months!  He's already very protective of her.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Diaper Days of Our Lives

It started out as a meaningless battle.  They all do.  Small insignificant scratches, some pinching even.  Grew into painful wounds.  Cries of discomfort.  Cries of pain.  Cries of anger.  Yelling.  So much yelling.  Screaming.  So much screaming.  Innocent bystanders, looking from the sidelines, unsure whether to laugh or cry.  Helpless victims.  Scars that may not fade away, not even with time.  The images in my mind... they don't stop.  The fear of it happening all over again.

Here is how I change Jordan's diaper now.  Both legs pin his arms down as his face turns beet red from the wails and resistance.  His legs are motionless in the photo, but in reality, they kick out and down, banging the floor and making the already difficult task of changing a diaper upside down, even more challenging.  Sometimes, I think he is in pain.  Are my thunder thighs suffocating him?  Is the upside down view of Mommy too much?  Is his bum more red than I can see from where I currently reside during changes?  Abandon those thoughts!  Any weakness will enable him to escape!  To roll over, diaperless, maybe staining the floor, or worse, your pants *gulp, man up!  Suck it up!  No prisoners!  

How do I know I'm not really hurting him?  That it's all a game to him?  That I must contain the situation and ensure victory on my part before he goes to war with me?!

Because within nanoseconds, he's smiling and cooing, and playing all around. 

Sneaky little cute adorable precious baby of mine.  Please stop rolling over during diaper changes.  Or at least poop when Daddy is home so I have an extra pair of hands to help me!

I waive my white flag of surrender.  The Huggies diapers (on sale at Costco now!) that have a longer side flap, superior to Kirkland brand's tiny flaps that Jordan can wiggle out of.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Power of Moms

So I am a sucker for baby websites, parenting magazines, self improvement books, etc. and yes, I have been reading up on being a mom.  I understand that there's not prerequisite for being a parent, one just has to get busy and be lucky enough to conceive and then nine gruesome months later... you're with child!  But being a parent is so important... I always want to know more and be better safe than sorry.  Yes, I know my parents didn't do it that way.... yes, I know I still survived mom, but I still want to know what's out there and better prepare myself for the next twenty some years of life as a mother.  And, sometimes... when it's really tough and I just want to moan and groan and complain instead of remembering the good and knowing it's a blessing, I need support from other moms who have been through it.  That's when talking with other moms, or asking how another mom did it... really comes in handy.

That said, do you know how excited I was to stumble across the Power of Moms website.?!  Imagine me with my mouth open, and two hands holding up three with my thumb and pinky bent on both sides to make a big "WOW."  I was stoked!  The website offers free webinars, resources, blog links, learning tools, and awesome essays from real moms.

To make things even better, I found out they are having a Power of Moms retreat in Southern California the last week of January in La Canada!  That's super close to me!  The price was a bit hefty so I quickly e-mailed them with our struggling student status, asking if I could offer to help out in exchange for a reduced rate and lucky for me, they said yes!  Woo-hoo!!!  I can't wait to go to the retreat, to hear the wisdom (or craziness, only time will tell) from the other moms, and leave a little stronger and more prepared at this whole complicated and sometimes very difficult, but always rewarding, yes even when he poops on me or bites my boob, job of motherhood).  It's like I'm still working and I'm going to a big conference, except it's for my new job... the one as a mom.  I can't wait! Side note, what does one wear to something like this?...

Anyway, I should be working but I just spent some time reading an article on the Power of Moms website and wanted to share it because it's so good!  It's entitled "It's Not Just You,"  check it out, very quick read and very true (at least for me).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Silver Lining

It's easy to complain.  I'm good at it.  In fact, I'll bet you're also good at it.  Everyone's good at it.  There's not a person I can think of who is bad at complaining.  It's one of those easy to dos, cross it off my list, give myself a pat on the back and call it a day because you have succeeded at the art of complaining.  In fact, I am a certified bona fide complainer.

But trying not to complain-- to take things as they are, to look to the silver lining and give gratitude for things we have instead of wishing for things we don't, now that is hard. Harder than hard.  Hardest.  Harder than hardest.  Near impossible.  Mission impossible.  No can do, no way jose.  Don't even think about it.

Our car got broken into while visiting Andy's sister last weekend.  Okay, let's be real - we left the door unlocked and now, we are without our GPS and a set of keys which had access to our home and two cars.  So now, wherever we go, whenever we leave or arrive, I turn to Andy and ask, "Did we lock our door?"  Normally, he might roll his eyes at my paranoia, but now, he focuses... ponders and if he's unsure, one of us goes off to make sure it's locked.  Better safe than sorry.  Wish we thought of that before....

Our car got a flat tire this past weekend, also while visiting Andy's sister (yes, we're still here two weeks later and it's been a blast!).  I hate flat tires.  My fear for driving longer than 30 minutes on unfamiliar freeways is due mainly to the likelihood of getting a flat tire, followed by gang bangers shining their brights and coming after me for gang initiation, and of course, the crazy psycho whois probably stalking me from afar and will open my doors and come into my car while I'm at a stoplight (hence my doors are always locked) and threaten me with a real gun.  Paranoid much?

But the silver lining is... our car's most expensive item... our awesome Urbo stroller (market value $500, price to us: free courtesy of my mom's friends who manufacture Urbos in China) did not get stolen.  Jordan's bjorn, his new attachable seat for restaurants, his carseat, and my Camelback, also did not get stolen.  We did not get a flat tire while I drove back alone at 5 AM from SFO to Tammy's on the newly downloaded GPS app from the iPhone.

There is always a silver lining.  And, with everything that happens in this life... sometimes we're just not privy to the bigger picture until later.  Yeah, I am still confident the same perpetrator who broke into our car and took our valuables left a nail in my tire, but until I can prove it and catch the thief... I am so grateful that my baby stuff was safe, that I made it home safely, and that I was at Tammy's where we took her car instead of mine, hence we found the tire when it was super flat instead of driving on it.

Silver lining.


Monday, January 2, 2012

All I Want(ed) For Christmas

was some much needed sleep!  

For those who know me well, I don't care to sleep much.  I hate taking naps (I feel like my time has been stolen from me when I wake up two hours later because I can't do the twenty minute power naps, mine always end two hours later) but even I need a solid seven hours (which has been unheard of since having Jordan in our life).  

Lucky parents with kids who sleep through the night are something to be envied.  For a mere while, I counted myself lucky as my sweet son slept through the night.  That quickly changed with teething, crawling, and an overall desire to play instead of sleep.  It's always obvious when Jordan is tired, without fail he rubs his eyes and screams as he's falling asleep.  He will do whatever he can to stay awake, including hitting his toys so the noise will keep him up.

A wish came true this Christmas as Andy and I both got the chance to sleep in while Andy's parents and uncle played with Jordan every morning, enabling us to sleep in a bit.  You see, even if your child is an angel baby who sleeps through the night (unfortunately ours does not), babies are unaware of the adjustment in weekend sleep schedules so when you stay up until midnight or beyond, thinking you can salvage the lack of sleep with a later wake up the subsequent day, your child disregards this and is up and ready at the same time as normal, which for us is 7 AM.  Sleep was all I wanted for Christmas (okay, that and this amazing Anthropologie candle) and I got it!  And much much more...

My family has never been religious so Christmas being a big deal is sort of new to me.  We always had family dinner and presents when we were younger, but as we grew older, I can recall many times when it was just me and my brother eating together (the last time I remember was Christmas 2008 celebrated at Cheesecake Factory while our parents went out with their friends).  For those who treasure Christmas, that might seem odd or even sad, but really, it was great and we all enjoyed it.  Nobody complained, felt cheated, or thought it was un-Christmas.  Christmas was just another day that gave us a day off and an excuse to get together with family but as we grew older, it wasn't always convenient or necessary to get the entire extended family together, and the sentiment translated to our immediate family and didn't seem a big deal since we always ate together a lot anyway.  The presents stopped when I got to college, but if we ever see anything that we know the other person would enjoy, we never hesitate to get it for them.  So Christmas is really year round for my family in the material aspect.  As for the Christ centered part, it's non-existent.  Church for Christmas?  Not us.

So it's no surprise that this year, my first Christmas with a son was really tender.  It's not that last year wasn't, but this year turned my attention to all the thoughtful mothers who put so much time and effort into making Christmas special for their children, both by ensuring they understand it's a celebration of Christ's birth and that the greatest gift was given to all of us.  I cynically agree that Christmas shouldn't be the only time we have an excuse to give, that it should be part of our everyday tasks and thoughts, but I now see that it's not just Christmas that we give... we simply give even more during Christmas.

At first, I was overwhelmed with the presents we had to get everyone, the related costs, and how behind I felt (both in how unfestive our house was, how many nativities we lacked, and how little time we had to get everything), but my sweet husband showed me that it wasn't just about spending money (cuz if it was, I'm pretty good at that!), but being thoughtful in our gifts.  We carefully thought of things that each person would enjoy (we had some help with some wish lists) and put forth the time to make some gifts, and order others.

Christmas was amazing.  I had such a great time and in fact, I'm still on Christmas break, but my part-time from home job doesn't really allow for vacation, so I'm also still working and hence, the lack of blog posts.

 a snapshot from a book we made Andy's uncle called Found a Peanut.  Yes, Jordan, at age zero, has already published two books, the other is called If You Give Jordan a Sweet Potato.    We used a website called, not to be confused with Lululemon, another favorite (but one we cannot currently afford, though my friend Sara gave me a tip that the factory stores have amazing deals!).