Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So You Think You Can Dance?

I started dancing at the age of five (ballet and tap) but the teacher quickly recommended my mom transition me to jazz since my feet were bad and I wasn't very flexible (aka I had no future in dance).  I began jazz in second grade and I absolutely LOVED it.  I went to the San Marino Dance Academy where all the other very well off girls from San Marino were enrolled in numerous classes.  When our annual recital rolled around, I remember one of the pretty blonde girls asking me how many numbers I was in.  I told her, "just this one."  "Oh, you're so lucky, I'm in like five," she said.  "Me too," another girl chimed in.  They rolled their eyes in unison as if to show me how awful it was to be so privileged.  I was a bit jealous and from then on, I started noticing them more.  They were really pretty.  They had crimped hair like Evie on Out of This World.  They wore push-down socks.  They had neon shoelaces in their hair.  But it baffled me that they didn't even want to be there.  They giggled to each other as the teacher was talking as my goody two shoes self focused on the teacher's instructions.  And when the recital was over that year, I remembered being sad but these girls?, they were quite relieved.  As if the huge burden of being in so many dance numbers had finally been lifted.

I left the San Marino Dance Academy in fourth grade for a local Arcadia one.  I continued dancing throughout middle school on the Dana drill team and red (that means we competed) dance team.  It was so much fun.  I made so many new friends, memories, and learned what foam curlers were (yeah, you remember that Genny?)  We won our first competition at Rancho Cucamonga High School, and even beat our rival middle school at Magic Mountain (but we missed the trophy ceremony cuz we were a bunch of airheads having too much fun).  In high school, I joined the Orchesis Dance Company my junior year of high school.  We danced from 7-8 AM every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and we had first period class as dance.  In addition, beginning in February, we had after school and weekend (Saturday AND Sunday) practices.  We were a dance company that was completely professional and even received special school credit for it.  Our teacher was a former Clippers girl and UC Irvine dance major, so we were in good hands.  She pushed us extremely hard and taught me a lot, but at the end of the year, I decided to pursue other extracurriculars instead.  Secretly, I was relieved that my insane dance days were over (so I could focus on SATs, AP classes and college applications clothes and boys).  I initially looked back at my Orchesis experience in disgust and regret... wondering why I ever dedicated so much time to it.  In many ways, I was not far from those Academy girls from my childhood.  And lastly, I had a short lived membership in a dance club I helped form where we performed hip-hop in baggy raver pants and taught a bunch of drill team students their annual spring dance routine.

I thought dance was behind me when I graduated high school over ten years ago.  But then I got to college and saw ballroom.  I was enthralled.  I tried out immediately and learned everything from the waltz to the tango to the cha-cha to the rumba to the foxtrot.  I lived and breathed ballroom.  I went to ballroom dance competitions on the weekends, ballroom dance camp in the summers, I took as many lessons as I could fit into my schedule, and in my free time, I hung out with the ballroom team kids (and we are weird.. trust me) with our fake eyelashes, sparkly everything, and did I mention I blinged everything including my wallet and phone?  Eventually, I started to stress out about ballroom and academically I wasn't doing so well (I got a C in Statistics... boo Stats).  I knew my future post college would not be entirely ballroom, so I made the difficult decision to quit the team and take my college education seriously (no, I was not able to do both... accounting classes are always in the morning which conflict with ballroom team practices).  And so dance was behind me once more.

And that was probably the last time I danced seriously.  Because clubs and around home.. those don't seem to count for much.

So guess what?

I'm dancing again.  I volunteered to teach some classes to girls at Church.  I have no idea if anyone will come back for more, but I have been so excited preparing for it!  We'll see how it goes.... Here's what inspired me...Genny's post here.

I made a flier...

When's It My Turn?

When I first started working part time from home, I thought I had it made.  I thought, this is the life - I could never imagine being a mom full-time.  I have got the best of both worlds.. my cake and eating it too!  Being a full time mom would be so dull, routine, and mindless.  What would I do with all the extra time?  But the truth is, once Jordan stopped sleeping on his back for more hours than he was awake, I started wondering when can I just be a mom?  I started to realize how long it actually takes to send an e-mail or call in payroll or download invoices.  Or how time consuming feeding, playing, singing songs, and running errands with child really was.  The minutes started to matter and I longed for the time that was being taken away by the job for which I could be spending with Jordan.   I resented the time at night I was chained to my laptop and even with what little deadlines I was held to, it started to feel restricting.  And then I began to work during the day, focusing on work during his naptime.. and it got better.  I know there will always be other distractions from motherhood that can feel overwhelming and demanding, even if I didn't have a part time job.  But I can't help but feel like the job is currently taking up all the other free time I do have.

When's it my turn?  Wouldn't I love, love to explore the world of motherhood? How doth that be... *sigh...wish I could be ... part of that world.

For now, I am making do and finding joy in the part time job.  I am appreciating the free i-Pad my boss gave me for Christmas.  I am appreciating the wonderful macbook and iPhone I use for work.  I am appreciating the paycheck every two weeks.  I am appreciating the flexibility.  Having a good attitude really can change an outlook tremendously.

At night, when I'm washing the dishes... I sometimes hear a voice that asks me why did you go to college so you could do the dishes?  And in that moment, I can respond to my own insecurities and silly thoughts with so I could learn to be philosophical while I clean or so I can learn to manage my own load instead of I DON'T KNOW! or Why me?!

At the Power of Moms retreat back in December, one of my favorite sessions was from Saren Loosli about thought replacement.  Similar to hormone replacement, it's to dispose those unhelpful and taunting thoughts that we all get from time to time.  We replace it with other uplifting ones that can push us to be better and help us to be positive.  Over time, we have discarded those nasty unhelpful thoughts for beautiful useful ones.  When I look in the mirror and see a woman who's begun to let herself go, I think... bad lighting, better put on some make-up and get some more sleep!  I much prefer that to ... dang girl, you look tired.  

It may not be my turn yet... but changing my perspective for when it is my turn.. that is what I have decided to do.

This is much funnier than a photo of Ariel.  Seen in Sacramento...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Worrying: A Part of Motherhood

As as mom, you worry about everything.  How many times have I gotten up in the middle of the night to see if he was breathing?  Countless.  How many times have I seen a weird grimace and wondered if he was choking?  Infinity.  Jordan poops 3-5 times a day.  But on the off day that he poops just once, which is still quite normal, I still he pooping enough?

These days, our worries are occupied by the fact that he's only 15% for weight.  He's weened off of the boob and is almost entirely on formula (mind you, it took fancy expensive organic Earth's Best already prepared formula to get him there which by the way is $12 cheaper at Babies 'R' Us than Whole Foods ... what a mark-up!) and eats quite well, but is just on the slimmer side.  He's also quite active, but so are many other heftier babies.  This morning, his doctor said he hadn't fallen off the curve (whew right?), and didn't give me any other suggestions, giving me the impression that he was on the slim side, but not to worry anymore.  Things were going to be just fine.  And then she nonchalantly remarked, "Considering you and your husband, he'll probably be skinny his whole life," which is a compliment... I think?

My mom called as I was leaving the doctor's, asking how Jordan was doing.  Was his nose still runny?  Was I bundling him up so he wouldn't get a cold?  Was he still teething?  Was he still walking around bopping his head up and down, calling out, "da da da daaaa?"  Was he eating all the mini fish, carrots and rice she made for him?  Was he taking the bottle yet?  After answering all her questions, I told her about his weight.  How it hadn't gone up despite how much more he was eating, how much heavier he felt when you held him, and how much plumper his face and legs were looking lately.  My mom then told me.. it never ends.  When your kid is too small, you worry they're too small.  When they're too big, you worry they're too big.  Ahh, so Goldilocks was really a fable about motherhood, except try as I might, I don't remember how the story turned out.  So I googled it... and she just ran out of the bears' home.  Go figure.

Instead of worrying, I'm going to try, and enjoy my son's cuteness at this time.  He will only be small and easily amused for so much longer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tax Time!

I love tax season.. the time of year when everyone calls me with questions I am unable to answer.  Yes, I am a certified public accountant.  No, that means nothing.  You'd probably be better off googling your question than asking me.  But here's what I can tell you... get ready to do your taxes!  Here's what I've got organized so I can do them soon...

1) W-2s - this is that form you get for any wages you've received during the tax year
2) Charitable Contributions - save all the evidence of how much you've donated.  I tithe to the Church and get a nice print out, but I also save any money I donate to friends doing runs or growing mustaches in November.
3) Interest Forms - For any bank where you save money, get the INT-1099 forms, you can normally get it online if you have a registered account, it makes it way easier.  The same goes for any school or auto loans you are paying back as well!
4) Education Stuff - I was so excited when I married Andy and he gave me some education credits.  I don't know enough to tell you what they are, but Turbo Tax will help me out!
5) Medical Stuff - I doubt I will have any medical deductions but I saved all my bills from Jordan's birth (he cost over $2k, how much was your kid?)  Oh, and I think we used some of our HSA so there's a form for that tucked away somewhere...

Lucky for us, we don't have any investments besides a couple of mutual funds and an IRA that I haven't contributed to lately.  That makes all the gain and loss rules a lot simpler! Can you tell I'm a wee bit excited to Turbo Tax our return this year?!  Much of it also has to do with the fact that I'm hoping for a huge return based on having a child in 2011 (2010 was a great huge return year after getting married to a student).  I remember my tax classes in college and Professor Taylor telling us we should get married on December 31st and also have a child on December 31st.  More bang for your buck!  HAHAHA.  Unlike rent or bills that might be pro-rated, you get the benefit for the ENTIRE year regardless of when you became one or added to your growing family.

Here's to the accounting nerd in me.  Stoked for tax season.  Especially since this is year number two I am NOT working busy season for audit.  To my friends still in busy season, the grass is definitely greener over here right now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spontaneous Dance Parties In My Living Room

Despite thinking I had my routine down back here, it's taken a gruesome regression, a lot of crying, a ton of rude awakenings in the morning, and a very exhausted, eyes hurting, body aching me to finally convince me that a more stringent routine was necessary for my own sanity.

Basically, I had to come to terms with the fact that I am not entirely a stay at home mom.  I sometimes forget that I do work part time... albeit it from home, for sixteen hours a week.  That said, I do NOT (always) have the option to go out with other moms on play dates or lunch dates nor do I have the luxury of random shopping trips.  I have had to come to terms with defining my wants versus my needs and after a bit of maturing, I finally buckled down and started to work during every one of Jordan's morning and afternoon naps and simultaneously stopped going out on the spur.  Putting my own needs wants on hold for that of my child is hard.  I feel absolutely awful, like worst mother of the year for admitting that, but it truly is.  Finally acknowledging that my free time (his nap time) is actually my work time (and not cleaning... not cooking... not crafting... not surfing the web... not blogging... not Pinterest... not television... not reading... not any of the fun stuff I thought I'd be doing as a stay at home mom!) has been very humbling.

The absolutely worst part of it all was that I didn't come to this epiphany on my own.  I actually made many very stupid errors and was asked to more critically self review my work.  That was a very nice way for my superior to tell me I was being careless and stupid.  I like succeeding.  I think most people do.  I dislike failure.  I think most people do.  But I really appreciate how our reactions when we fail define us, build character, and strengthen us.. or so I'm hoping.  Admitting your own shortcomings, finding a way to overcome them, and committing to change is no easy task.  Now that I've come to accept my day consists of Jordan and work, and a few trips for errands and groceries, I've become more at ease.  Less stressed.  More motivated.  And happily, we've eaten less frozen meals.

With a little planning and a little sacrificing, my days have become much more enjoyable.  I've managed to get in a good 3-4 hours of work before 4 PM on most days (once at his 10 AM nap, once more at his 2 PM nap) and then we're off for errands and playtime!  Knowing that work begins at 10 AM has enabled me to play with Jordan after breakfast, not scouring my brain through to-do lists and not checking e-mails in between singing songs or playing games.  Having a huge chunk of work done before the afternoon puts me at ease, and enables me to only deal with work emergencies (if they arise).  And my baby, fed and well rested, is also a lot more happy when awake.  

Today, I was especially proud of myself for having sent in the agenda and details for my weekly 8 AM - 10:30 AM operations and team calls, having fed Jordan and put him to sleep and having sent my husband off to play basketball ... all by 8 PM!  I am now happily relaxed and writing whilst jamming to my Pandora Sweet Disposition radio station.  As I went to grab a cup of water with a slice of lemon (yes I also now have slices of lemon in a ziploc for my water), I found myself spontaneously dancing my way back to the computer.  Spontaneous dance parties are the best!  And you know what... despite not getting to go out as much with mom buds and not having the hot mom wardrobe or tight abs I had hoped for, I am happily skipping a bit... moving my hips... banging my head up and down... letting my hair go out of control.... and loving it.  I am young (yes I am!), I am free, and I am in control.  Yes!! Spirit fingers... I am a winner tonight!

Jordan's already asleep.. but if he were awake and dancing with me.. this is the face he'd make...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Places to Eat in LA

I haven't had a lot of time to blog lately... so instead of a blog post, here's a list of places I love to dine in LA.

1) Ding Tai Fong - expensive Chinese dumplings
2) Sin Ba La - cheap Taiwanese food
3) Savoy Kitchen - cheap Hainan chicken
4) Golden Deli - cheap Vietnamese pho and more
5) Phoenix Inn - Chinese food and dessert
1) The Counter (a growing chain with custom order toppings and sauces)
2) 25 Degrees (at the Roosevelt)
3) Umami Burger (only been once but the meat was quite tasty)
4) Father's Office (though the last time I went with Andy, we were disappointed, but I've been pleased more times than not and that was the Culver City location... Santa Monica is OG)
and we're going to try the Oinkster soon!

Since we're leaving La-La Land soon, I felt the need to compile some suggestion lists for others.  Find out more about what I think on yelp.  Peace out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Puke Trumps Spit-Up

Lately, Jordan has consistently been able to wear one outfit the entire day (you laugh, but this was immense progress from our four to five outfits per day era which was not that long ago).  Our laundry loads had decreased significantly.  The weight of the diaper bag had declined dramatically.  The amount of daily spit-up clean up had dropped as well.

We thought our days of spit-up had passed us. We thought we had moved on to bigger and better things.  We were right.

Unfortunately, puke trumps spit-up.  And after Jordan projectile vomited vehemently three times on Valentine's night, I encountered an entirely new threshold of disgusting things you overlook for the sake of your child.  As I sat there with a rare combination of fish, rice, strawberries, zucchini, pasta sauce and little noodle bits on my skin with the pool of vomit pressed against my back (it was warm though, having just left Jordan's stomach)...and all I could think of was oh my goodness, is he okay?  my poor baby!

Jordan loves us both equally and has shown us such - as he never spit-up on me as bad as on Andy this one momentous occasion when he was about two months old.  Alas, he wanted to demonstrate his unbiased love for me on this sweetheart night at almost ten months, and I have learned a few things with certainty.

1) puke trumps spit-up: Jordan must love me more!....
2) nothing is disgusting when it's your child: not poop, not throw-up, not snot, not anything!
3) we're in it together: I am so grateful for an eternal companion who is there when the throw up overthrows us
4) babies are tough: Andy gave Jordan a quick bath and next thing you know, he was up and ready to play, giggling, crawling, and full of energy.  I don't know about you, but after I puke, I'm emotionally and physically withdrawn and just need to rest...but no...not Jordan!
5) Valentine's 2012 will forever be embedded in my memory as the night Jordan threw up all over me

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Am Not Domestic


Operative word here.

I tried to make shredded pork roast in the crock pot.  It's almost near impossible to screw up crock pot food, but never fear, I accomplished that by using the wrong type of meat (lean pork roast becomes really dry, it's better to use fatty meat like pork shoulder or butt or so I've learned).  As sad of a realization as that is, I am actually quite proud of how far I've come.  A year ago, I didn't even know where to get pork roasts from (I asked the meat guy who walked me over to where pork butts were - ohhh, they're the same thing?  roast is inclusive of all types of areas on the pig but it's just this big chunk? ohhh ok...)

Last night, we had some friends over for dessert and games and I thought... I'll just make something easy with what we have.  So chocolate strawberries it was!  Do you know it is not easy to melt chocolate in the microwave (burned it into pieces) or the oven?!  And even worse, it is a pain in the rear to clean up afterwards.  Therefore, the $4 per chocolate dipped strawberry is VERY worth it in my book.  I wish I took a picture of my failed chocolate dipped strawberries, the chocolate consistency was anything but consistent, chunky and funky looking, but according to my nice friends and husband, it tasted just fine.  Sometimes white lies are good for the soul.

Tonight, I spent hours making homemade cream cheese with strawberries frosting for my cupcakes I made from cake in a box.  I don't make cake from scratch (except for carrot, I'm a pro at that!) because cake in a box tastes wonderful and nobody ever says, "Oh, this taste just like cake in a box, I can't believe you didn't make it from scratch!"  But I mashed some strawberries for my cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar concoction... and then it was too watery.  So I added some more powdered sugar.  And then it was too powder sugary.  And then I added more cream cheese.  And then I called my sister-in-law.  She told me to add more powdered sugar, so I did.  Again.  That's right.  And then I called my friend, Jen, who is a baking guru who actually gave me some wonderful advice and insight - apparently beating cream cheese on the side by itself makes it more creamy before adding it to my mixture (wish I spoke to her the first time I added more cream cheese) and if I have too much frosting (which I definitely did....) I could always split it into two and try to thicken half of my mixture (genius!).

I then used this new awesome technique I learned from Pinterest (unfortunately I could not find the link to share (you put some frosting onto saran wrap and then wrap it like candy with the sides twisted, cut one side of the twisted sides, put that open part into your piping bag and bam!  super neat and easy to dispose piping frosting bags!!!)!

My cupcakes look sad.  Like something melted on top of them and then puked some speckles of pink.  Alas, it makes me happy because they do taste just like the pretty pink cupcakes I had growing up.  You see, in elementary school, I always looked forward to the cupcakes the white room mothers would bring.  I say "white" because that's how I thought of them as my own Chinese mother did not know how to make cupcakes (and none of my Asian friends' moms did either.. we were all the first generation born here) and therefore, I was in awe of these scrumptious wonders that I got at school on Christmas and Valentine's Day (I'm still unsure why these were the only two holidays we always had a party with treats from the room mothers).  I'm not trying to be racist here but Chinese people don't eat cupcakes.  American Born Chinese people do... but go to a Chinese bakery... and guess what, they do not sell cupcakes.  Lots of little cakes and pastries.. but no cupcakes, at least none that I've been to thus far in life.  I digress.

Often when I'm having these not so great domestic moments as a novice, Andy encourages me by telling me the fact that I'm trying is more important than being good at it already.  What a great guy.  I'm glad he's my Valentine tomorrow, cuz someone's gotta eat dem messed up cupcakes right?!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Love Is...

using your wife's computer and talking to her boss on instant messaging while she's gone.

matching your tie to your wife's outfit when dressing up in Sunday best.

changing your kid's diaper first thing in the morning so your wife can sleep for five more minutes.

leaving a note in the microwave with chocolate for your wife before going out of town for an interview, telling her how much you appreciate her cleaning it after she followed that Pinterest suggestion and microwaved water in a bowl for 5 minutes and then wiped it down, yes you were also listening.

supporting your wife as she pulls out her hair stressed about work deadlines and early morning meeting calls.

blogging about it as if it were you when it's really your wife who tried to blog but was too lazy to switch accounts.

Friday, February 3, 2012

For Valentine's This Year...

I expect turquoise boxes with overpriced and mediocre heart shaped jewelry inside.

I expect soft stuffed animals with red hearts, along with red roses, chocolate, and mylar heart balloons.

I expect lots of glitter, tissue paper, and poems from the heart.

I expect bubbly drinks, fancy dessert, and elaborately thoughtful expressions of love.

I expect all of this because that's what Facebook, Pinterest, and the television tell me.

Can you tell I'm still not a fan of Valentine's Day despite being happily married?  What used to be S.A.D. (single awareness day) is now just S. A. D. (such a dud).  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it reminds us the meaning of love, to be grateful for love, and to love love love... but ultimately, the historical objective of Valentine's Day was just to make more money, and because of what it's become... we just spend too much effort for a made up holiday.  Yes... I'm Ant-Valentine's, yet here I am blogging about it, precisely why I despise Valentine's Day!

The only thing I want from Valentine's Day this year is pink sugar.  Edible pink glitter, buttery pink frosting, frothy pink drinks, silky pink maple syrup, creamy pink whipped cream, savory pink pudding, and addictive caramel pink popcorn. And a pink crown to top it off.  Think pink!  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Everyone Should Journal

I come from a family of hoarders.  I don't like to admit it, but it's about time I purge myself of some old toiletries (perfumes, make-up, lotions, sprays, etc.) and clothes... and I am making it a goal to do so before we move for residency.  In my defense, I know glitter is going to come back, I know my purple eye shadow trio is going to be cool again, I might need a miniature sized tube of lipstick one day, I never know when I might need another tube of eye cream, and I just might want to use my Love Spell lotion or Gio perfume soon.  My dad keeps a lot of excess nails, computer cords and accessories and anything else he collects at garage sales (a hobby of ours almost every weekend growing up).  My brother has piles of comic books he's collected over the years, board games and figurines from his Dungeon and Dragon days.  And last but not least, my mom has shoes and random house items used for model homes she tries to sell.  We are a family of hoarders.

After watching an episode of Hoarders recently, I started to think ... maybe I should try to organize everything for my folks.  So with that goal in mind, I set to start conquering the mess in our garage today.  I found old college textbooks I instructed my dad to throw away, all in a box.  I found old clothes, I had told my dad were to be donated to Goodwill, also all in a box.  I looked through old photos from high school and college, letters from middle school, old Hello Kitty wallets I had blinged with AB crystals from my ballroom days, and a pile of old journals.

I opened up one and this is what I saw:

The funniest thing is... Wendy and Eric are married.  I sent this to Wendy, and some of our other close friends, and we all had a good laugh.  It's no wonder my memory is the best out of all my friends.  I have journaling to thank for that.  And that my friends, is why everyone should journal.
Eric and Wendy... 16 years and still going (okay, they did break up in between but that doesn't matter).  And if you don't know who Keroppi is, you're probably not Asian.