Monday, December 31, 2012

The Power of Prayer

I know it's silly to assume every prayer will get answered and that all will be dandy with prayer, but I have never thought not to pray when losing something, even if just for comfort if the lost item is not relocated!  In the past, I've prayed for my lost Seven jeans, my lost Fendi sunglasses (materialistic much?) and most recently this morning, Jordan and I prayed for the expensive camera we forgot on the plane (who does those things?!) yesterday afternoon.  I knew there was a huge chance we'd never recover it, that the EDD money from maternity leave would go towards that instead of an expensive fridge, but I also knew praying about it would help me whether the outcome was good or bad.  And I sure hoped it was good because that was an expensive camera, it was a Christmas gift from Andy's parents to him a few years ago for the sole purpose of capturing higher quality photos of Jordan (which we have no doubt neglected and resorted to our lame iPhones most of the time), and lastly, it had a bunch of our photos on it (some creeper would have our photos!)  There was much repenting on my part fot the abuse and neglect of this nice camera that we are so fortunate to have.

All of a sudden, regret waved over me.  We should have labeled our case with a name.  We could have put a contact number or a business card with it.  We should have noted the serial number (for reporting it online through Southwest).  Shoulda.  Woulda.  Coulda.  

They say marriage is two becoming one.  Well, for Andy and me, this worked much to our advantage in the case of the expensive camera we left behind.  I remembered this morning as I went to charge the battery (we forgot to bring our charger assuming Andy's dad's would work, it didn't. ... and the camera was useless for the entire duration of our trip), but I only figured out how to report a lost item online after talking with the Southwest representative on the phone and being advised that was the only way.  Andy, on the other hand, began googling stuff, called Southwest for the number of the airport's baggage service counter, and spoke with someone who confirmed an item matching our item's description was in their possession.  Hallelujah!  Tender mercy, power of prayer, karma, kind and honest airport workers, whatever you want to call it... we were so extremely grateful and relieved.

And now, I am on my way to repenting and using this camera for all its worth, but not before thanking Heavenly Father for this tender mercy.  If we had lost it, we were ready to learn from this big mistake and never ever lose another expensive item on the plane again, and more importantly, we'd have this sense of comfort that it was just a material item and at least we had not lost our kid (that thought may be funny to you, but it seriously crossed my mind).  For the record, I have lost used Rainbow flip flops on a plane that never got returned.  Wish I thought to pray then because then I might not still be festering over it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

So Many Exciting Things!

This break in Salt Lake has been filled with so much fun and excitement and though I have photos and things to blog about, right now I just want to list two thoughts in my mind.

1. We may soon join the homeowner club.  We made an offer on a house in Salt Lake in anticipation of residency there for the next four years, and even though Andy and I both technically have bought apartments before (both with our families), this is the first time it'd be all us, with all our money for the down payment, with all our credit on the line, with all of the info hitting our tax returns.  Ahhhh!  Exciting!!!  Now we just wait and see what the seller says.

2.  I am seriously stoked, genuinely excited and absolutely relieved to have absolutely no New Year's plans this year but be asleep when the clock strikes 12.  As I scour facebook and see all the posts about New Year's parties, general admission for over $100 and premium open bars, I am twice relieved that I am Mormon and that is no longer my scene.  I remember the days of ridicule I'd get when I would suggest we all just stay home and chill.  After much consideration, my idea would be laughed at and off to some ridiculous party we'd go.

Those are the exciting thoughts in my mind right now.  And Andy, Dennis (Andy's dad) and me all got Nike Fuel bands for Christmas.. so we're also constantly comparing our fuel points and calories.  It's awesome!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning!

Despite last year being Jordan's first Christmas, this year was so much more fun since he could participate!  We've been reading the Christmas Story together, talking about Christ with him, and opening gifts.  Still a little unsure how much he understands of Christmas, but he's got gift opening down!  The best part was every gift was amazing to him.  He'd open one, and then sit there obsessed with it until we made him open the next (which he begrudgingly did for some as we were distracting him from his latest interest).

I woke up around 7:30 AM but Andy and Jordan were both still sleeping.  I tried going back to sleep but just couldn't.  Two Christmases ago, I felt Jordan kick for the first time that morning and secretly, though this baby is about one month behind Jordan's timeline, I hoped for the same gift.  No such luck! When Andy and Jordan both finally woke up around 8:30 AM, we went upstairs for Christmas morning!!

We went through our stockings and Jordan quickly grew attached to the head lamps in Andy's stocking.  None of the stuff in his stocking impressed him as much as those head lamps.

Around 9 AM, we got onto facetime with the McKissicks!  We missed Andy's sister and family as they are in Angola and went to Cape Town for Christmas instead of back to us (shorter trip but we'll see some of them when we move to Salt Lake for Fourth of July 2013!), but the power of technology enabled us to open the gifts they got us with them watching.  It's amazing how long distances seem so much shorter with the power of technology.
Jordan LOVED the gifts he got from his cousins.  He immediately began playing with his toys and even "oohed" when he opened his wooden tool set.

I have to go call in payroll and process the company's 401k (one con of a flexible work arrangement is really no vacation ever...) so instead of blogging more, here are photos.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

Christmas is such a wonderful holiday filled with so much love, family, and remembrance of our Savior.  No matter how much Christmas has been PC-friendly-nized, it is still Christ-mas.  So until they change the name of the holiday (like how the White House now calls Christmas trees holiday trees which is so lame btw), it's still a religious holiday!

In the midst of the religious holiday, I've said it before, and I'll say it again.. it has never been as big of a deal in my life now as it has ever pre-religious me.  Yet despite how much bigger of a deal it is now, it is so much more special now and that I can't deny.  The story of Jesus, the love for Jesus, the love for such a sacrifice - it all is so beautiful and precious and makes this day of giving (even when it is a lot of giving) so much more special!

I'm always hesitant when it comes to spending a lot of money on material items or traditions that might seem like recurring actions that are just for show, but I've come to appreciate the beauty of finding gifts that people really do value and appreciate and traditions that bring us closer or help enhance the spirit of Christmas.  It has been a wonderful journey and though it's still easy for me (no pressure, nothing to compare to.. never had a mom or dad who did anything big for Christmas so no traditions to place the bar high) in my humble opinion having no prior expectations, I can easily see how over the years, with more children and a larger family.. it will become harder.

I really wanted to do a few things this Christmas like a Christmas card and chex mix for our friends.  None of that happened because of timing, other to do items that had higher priority, and what not.  But that doesn't mean we can't have a New Year card or chex mix later!  So here's my gift to all of you - the best dang chex mix recipe in the world from my dear friend Sara (it's a Hawaii original hehe).

The Best Party Mix Ever

½ bag     pretzel sticks
1 box      Corn or Rice Chex
½ box     Crispix
½ box     Honey Comb

½ c.          margarine or butter
½ c.          Karo light syrup
3 T.          sugar
1-2           drops of vanilla
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In microwave oven, heat syrup ingredients for about 1-1.5 minutes.  Remove from microwave and mix well.

Put cereals and pretzel sticks in a 10x14 roasting pan.  Mix gently.

Spread one-third to a half of the heated mixture over cereal mix.  Mix cereal with rubber spatula to spread sauce evenly.  Repeat until all the sauce is used.

Bake for 1 hour, mixing cereal every 15 minutes.

Cool, but continue to mix so cereal does not stick to pan.

When completely cool, store in plastic bags.

*I'll post photos later. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Know Your Warranties People

We just recently realized the Apple Care that came with our iPad (holiday gift from work last year) covers up to TWO accidental damages for a service fee of $49 for up to two years from the date or purchase.  Woah!

That means our scratch (a result of a hit from Jordan with his plastic water gun) may be fixed!  It made me realize everyone should understand the warranties with all products they own, including the limited warranty, manufacturer's warranty, and warranties available for purchase.  Whew.  It's kind of pricey considering the service charge each time, but it's better than a broken iPad.  I recommend it for every person with an iPad and a child (or children).

What great news before we take off for Christmas in Salt Lake!

UPDATE: We didn't get the accidental damage covered cuz we had AppleCare, not AppleCare + which costs $20 bucks more but cannot be purchased now until we verify we do not have existing damage.  Ugh.

We left LA and headed back to Spokane yesterday.  As we were landing, Jordan waved to the snow outside and say "bye-bye" repeatedly.  Sorry buddy, we're home.. not leaving but we will be in another day as we head to Salt Lake for Christmas.

It was a great time in LA but we'll be back in March for Disneyland.  Woo hoo!  Jordan had a great time with wai-puo (my mom), wai-gong (my dad) and jiou jiou (Uncle Ray - my brother) and we were sad to leave, especially at 5 AM.  Booo!!!

Jordan sees Uncle Ray's kindergarten picture.  
He thinks about it...
 He decides to kiss it because he loves jiou jiou
 Then he goes for a bike ride
 He stops when he sees a photo of himself!
 He wants it!
 He gets it!
 Wow, what a handsome fella!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Work Work Work!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I've been working a lot since Andy left Monday morning (sad face, but work calls) since work flew me out here.. but boy oh boy have I been working!  Like a madwoman!  With free childcare from my parents, it's sort of sad when I come back after a long day of work and LA errands (like facial, cutting my hair.. all my typical LA "me" stuff), Jordan is so happy to see me, he won't let me stop holding him.  It makes me feel so loved and awesome but I also see how excited he gets when my dad or mom come home, so I know with time.. I'd lose that coveted spot of favorite just from sheer amount of time spent with him.  Kind of sad.  I don't know how working full time moms do it, I'd miss my baby so much!  I really hate hearing everything he did, knowing I missed out on it all.

On Monday, I went to a much needed facial (she cleaned my blackheaded nose good!) and then had lunch and training with a new girl we're bringing on with me in Finance and Operations.  By the time I got home, it was after 3 and Jordan was still napping.  He eventually woke up and we made our way to Sinbala for some taro boba, Chinese fried chicken, and Chinese kimchi, and then headed to the Camerons'.  Jordan didn't recognize Alex (guess I wouldn't expect him to since they were both still under 1 when they saw each other last and hadn't really begun playing with other kids yet), and it took both of them a long time to warm up to each other.  They both have such similar demeanors, shy yet active, cautious yet friendly, it was so cute.  They watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I chatted with Whitney after she broke the taro boba cup from trying to put the straw in it (it was hilarious but so awful at the same time, but man I wish I got it on video - sorry Whit, but it really was funny).  She said she was so tired from baby #2 (who was oh so cute! I can't believe how small they are!) but she looked great!  I hope to be half that up and about by the time our baby #2 comes by.  When we left, Jordan had begun warming up to Alex and we asked them to give hugs to each other and they both obliged willingly twice!  It was so adorable.  Absolutely precious.

And then Tuesday came and it was more work work work!  I had to finish our YE presentation and get it off to the printers (FedEx Office haha) before I made my way downtown to meet up with old co-workers.  What a trip.  I miss the old firm but I do really love my new job and new team and have no regret about the decision I made and what I have now instead - Jordan and part-time work.  I got a nice free meal, caught up with old co-workers and made my way home just in time to catch Jordan in a nap again.  Capitalizing on it, I left to get a hair cut.  

Ummm.... .... I love my long hair but every five years or so, I just have a yearning to chop it all off.  Go for a big change.  I told myself after the last time, that I was done.  The last time was 2006.  Before that... 1998.  I guess I didn't learn my lesson.  Medium or long hair, no more short hair.. but alas, once I was in the chair telling my favorite lady (whom I've been going to for the last 14 years! even when I left and tried others, I always came back to her!) I wanted to donate the hair to my mom (who has been using hair pieces with her hair and losing a lot of hair lately) for a potential wig, she just put it into a ponytail, told me it had to be very short to make a wig, and started cutting.  I didn't even have time to reconsider and at the end of the day, my hair grows really fast and it's just hair.. but man, am I a bit dejected.  I look like a mom and a fob, all at once.  It's literally above my neck.  The back of my neck is buzzed.  I am really nervous about washing it the first time and I know Andy is a bit disappointed (though it's kind of like when he buzzed his hair, I still obviously loved him and thought he was so handsome, I just thought he was more handsome with hair... likewise for me I suppose).  Oh well!  Life moves on!  

Jordan didn't recognize me at first... but then he did and he loved putting his hands through my hair and I loved that it didn't hurt - because it's so dang short!  His hands slide right in and out and nothing is damaged haha.  I do feel I have to wear long dangling earrings again and probably start putting a bit of lipgloss and eyeliner on to make the hair look less childish.  Man.... what have I gotten myself into?!  
It grows out.  It will grow out.  It will last a long time.  I keep telling myself, reassuring me... and hoping for the best.  But it really is short.  I'm about two snips away from a pixie cut (in my opinion).  

And this time.. it really is a mom bob.  Hello motherhood, I have arrived.  

 Excited to chop it off!
 the ponytail in all its glory
 this is how ugly it will always look and the way I felt after.. what have I done?!
I think this means I have to wear lipgloss from now on.  There's no distraction to my hair anymore, I kinda look like a wannabe 20's flapper girl.
 better when I'm not making such an awful face but still... stinking short! 
 My brother said it best.  "Dude, you totally look like a mom now."  
We watched Lincoln last night and we kept seeing men with haircuts that resembled me.  It's almost like I have the George Washington do.  HAHAHA.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunday Fun Day

Sunday was a blast!  We started off the morning by going to two churches!  First, we went to a church where our friend, Johnny, was playing the violin, and Andy was accompanying him (he asked Andy Saturday night but we gladly obliged!).  Right after the performance, we left for our old church building and got to see a bunch of old friends.  It was awesome.  It's insane how quickly kids grow - all these pregnant women (when we left) were now with babies a few months old.  I forget how quickly children change and how we seem to stay the same.  Jordan fell asleep on the car ride between churches and managed to stay asleep until partway through the second hour.  We ventured off to Nursery once he was awake, but he was apprehensive and unsure of the new faces.  He stayed in my lap and just observed quietly.  After a few minutes, he got up for the ball and eventually, didn't care if Mommy left, so I did just that.

We did miss some friends (where were you Paige and everyone's already gone for vacation?!) but I got a printout of our tithing for tax purposes (thanks Ryan!), saw lots of people we miss, and it was great fun.  For lunch, we actually went out to eat (*gasp), but since my family aren't members, being home with them really is like being on real vacation.  Cooking in my mom's kitchen is not really an option due to her sensitivity to us invading her kitchen space (and the discord that ensues from it), so we ventured out for a quick bite and then made our way home to get ready for hot pot with the extended family.
 Nursery fun.
 Cousins post hot-pot in the living room (really wished I got a photo of us all standing around the table eating cuz it was so funny).  

Besides getting some gas and food on the Sabbath, it really was a great Sabbath Day.  Lots of good church time and family time.  And of course, Jordan got more gifts from all the extended family.  He really is so spoiled (especially considering none of us exchange Christmas gifts anymore, but somehow there's an exception for little kids including my now 15 year old cousin who I still get a gift for haha).

Early Christmas in La-La-Land

We hadn't planned on going back to LA for Christmas this year, but a work trip got me a free ticket and my mom offered to pay for Andy to come (it'd only be for a short weekend), so we jumped at the opportunity and here we are in sunny southern California!
We came one day after it had just rained - always my favorite, no LA smog and just clear blue skies and soft rays of light sunshine.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Unfortunately, our luggage never arrived after we checked in late (forgot about all those Gonzaga students leaving added to the normal pick-up during the holidays) and since we had both decided to board the plane comfortably and pack only one pair of shoes, we both looked quite silly - Andy in sweats and Cole Haan dress shoes, me in baggy work out pants and my Sperry Topsiders.  Oops.  Jordan was the only decent one among us.

We immediately went to get our rental car and some In-N-Out, but my dad accidentally ate my cheeseburger and somehow, I managed to eat an entire double-double animal style and fries, and didn't feel the aftermath of a bad decision until a few hours later.  It was glorious nevertheless.  We then took some Benjamins my mom had given us for Jordan's Christmas gifts, made our way to Toys'R'Us, and proceeded to spend it on Jordan.  We also went to Target, a store we don't frequent often in Washington since the closest one is more than 30 minutes away!  We got Jordan his first ever air mattress bed and some wrapping paper and made our way back to my parent's house to wrap all the gifts we had just bought.
And then, we turned right back around, and headed to the local mall to go on the carousel and check out the new and huge Forever 21!  Woah!!!  It's come quite far from the days of us venturing off to West Covina in the 90's for a piece of it...
For dinner that night, my mom got Ding Tai Fong take-out, partly because she was mortified at the risk of us running into anyone we knew in our ghetto airport gear (okay maybe superficially that was my reason) and partly because eating at home is so much more comfortable and less work for everyone.  The added bonus is no tip and boy did we enjoy ourselves.  

Following dinner, we watched Jordan open part of all his gifts (there really were so many that we had to split it up over the two days). Since Christmas isn't really a big deal in my family since I've been in college, the whole gift giving and Christmas tree tradition sort of disappeared back in 2000.  It's kind of sad, but I think we'll bring it back slowly.  We got carefully thought out gifts for my mom, dad, and brother, and it was really fun to see that we had succeeded in getting them perfect gifts, but we probably should have waited and had Jordan watch others open some gifts too.  Oh well, there's always next year.  My mom did ask how she was going to afford that many gifts times however many kids we plan to have, but I reassured her she would take her current spending habits and just divide them by 4 or 5 or 6 or 17, however many we have.  My dad seemed to like that idea but I don't think my mom heard and is still oblivious to the simple solution offered.
His favorite gift was his balance bike, which he has been riding around every single moment alive.  He fell a few times in the beginning, but has since then gotten the hang of it and doesn't seem to be scared by the times he does fall.  He really does get right back on, no hesitation or fear noted at all!

That night, we left Jordan with the grandparents and headed off for our luggage (if you late check in, they will NOT deliver it to you, you have to pick it up when it arrives... incentive for being on time EVERYTIME for the future!) and to spend some quality time with good friends from South Pasadena, the Oldroyds and the Mizukawas, and though I had to work a little to get some e-mails off, it was so much fun to enjoy the company of good friends that we have missed dearly!  We stayed up way past our bedtime but knowing wai-puo would be there to entertain Jordan in the morning, we did it anyway and didn't get home until sometime after midnight.  The conversation and company (and homemade waffle cones and ice cream) were really that good.  We also spent a good amount of time watching the Colbert Report - man, is that guy funny.

We did a lot our first day, but that was our plan - and I'm glad we stuck to it.  With such a short trip, we had to pack it all in!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Credit Card Judgment

Whenever we go grocery shopping or errand running, I always let Jordan slide the credit card on the machine.  He loves my wallet, going through all the receipts, taking out all the cards, and of course, he loves playing with the credit card machine.  Buttons, pens, and a sliding option for his cards - what kid wouldn't love that?!

But lately, I've been getting this a lot:

"Oh, teaching him how to use a credit card this early?"
"Bad news, teaching him how to use that early!"
"Uh-oh, someone's learning early how to use a credit card early!"

Very rarely do I get:

"Oh, what a good helper you are!"
"Are you helping Mommy?"

I'm not a person to hold back what I think and yesterday, I had about enough.

We were at JoAnn's when the register woman (who I believe has said different versions of this to me) commented knowingly about what a dangerous habit he was learning early on.

I retorted with, "Yeah, well we also learn how to budget at home."  That shut her up.  I told Jordan he was such a great helper and asked if I could have my card back and he gave it to me without a fight (thanks Jordan, he's learning early how to save Mommy face!).  I know our children learn from us, but it's not like I'm going around spending money we don't have on unnecessary items for leisure.  And along with how to use a credit card, Jordan also has learned many other things from us.  I know she probably didn't mean it in a threatening way, but I had enough of the credit card judgment.  I have always paid all my credit card bills in full, I have only had insufficient funds twice in my life (once in college because I really was broke, and once because I didn't transfer enough of my funds from another account), and I budget like a mad woman.  I know how much we spend on groceries, entertainment, rent, utilities, internet, credit cards, and have done a detailed analysis (with Andy's help) on the best rewards system (we literally sat there and translated airline points to dollars and analyzed the % back on different types of purchases for each card, the max, took into consideration the membership fees, etc.), but obviously I'm not going to spew all of that to every cash register person who tells me I'm being a bad mother for letting my son use the credit card.  *sigh.  One day though, I just might!

I know I should have more charity during this time, but sometimes people just tick me off.  And I wasn't rude, just very matter of fact.  I'll try to be better next time she or someone else says that same thing to me.  You'd think she remember, we are the only Asians here that frequent JoAnn that often (I'm assuming, but...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jordan, a Character Of His Own

It was a moment of weakness.  I just wanted him to try it.  How do you know you don't like it unless you try some first?!   I held his arms down.  He cried.  His head turned left and right, shaking to avoid the projectile of my hand inserting something so small and almost unforeseen into his mouth.  No, I wouldn't give in.  This stuff was REALLY good.  If he didn't eat it then, there would be no chance of it lasting cuz I would eat it!  I persevered.  I ignored the volume that kept rising of his anxious and fearful screams.  You are going to like this!  I thought.   Finally... after what seemed like an eternity of evil mom force feeding him some awful poison, I gave up.

A few minutes later, he came looking for me.  He signed "more."  Apparently, some crumbs got into his mouth.  He had a taste.  He was back for more.

Please keep in mind, the thing I force fed him was a scrumptious shortbread cookie with jam on the middle, sort of like the Knott's Berry Farm cookies but these were Harry & David, and they were unbelievably good.  I know he's a little hesitant to try new foods unless he's really hungry, but I thought I could negotiate, the ball for a bite of this cookie.  No such luck.

Yesterday, he threw the same cookie I gave him on the floor, but I'm no quitter so I tried again.  Good thing I did eh?
Five minutes later, a mouthful of cookie and jam, dirty hands reached out to me to clean (he isn't a huge fan of dirty hands though if you ignore him, he'll wipe 'em off himself) and success was mine.  Now he knows how good those cookies are.

This morning, we also had Jordan open his first official Christmas gift.  It is too big to take to Utah with us and then back again, so he got to open it as part of his tree advent calendar.  It had been hiding in our closet where it was normally covered by a towel, but that towel had managed to disappear and he noticed it a few times, fixated and murmuring "ball?"  "ball?" with the intonation of his voice raising into a rhetorical question.  It was so cute.  We knew he'd love it because he is obsessed with balls, and because at the gymnastics gym we frequent often, he cried real tears of pure upset anger when I pried him away from the basketball hoop that did not have the base filled.  He was so devastated and wanted nothing to do with the rest of the gym, only to play ball with this little mini-hoop.

He's already gotten the tearing paper to get to the present down, I am excited about Christmas day and all the ripping he will do (for me as well).  We set up the hoop and he has been having a blast, although he does need to use the couch as we opted for the adjustable hoop which is 4 feet tall at its lowest, still a smidge too tall for Jordan to make without the boost of the couch.

What a fun little dude he is.  As I began counting "one, two, three," he mimicked me, and seems to have one in Mandarin down and two and three in English.  I also said "jia you! jia you," a chant in Mandarin that literally means add oil, but is a chant for keep it up! keep it up!, and the moment I stopped, he tried to mouth those same words unsuccessfully.  He also cannot stop jumping up and down, throwing his hands into the air, and expressing his ultimate love for life and balls.