Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Good Boys

Every Wednesday night, I get an hour and a half to clean up the dishes, work, and just be by myself.  It's an hour of uninterrupted work time that I have really begun to value.  This is when Andy goes to Scouts with Jordan since he's a Scout Leader for 10 year old boys.

Andy came back from last night's activities and told me Jordan thinks he's a Scout.

I got such a kick out of these photos looking at how much he wants to be like the big boys.  But then it got me thinking about examples and how importan it's going to be for my boys to have good men to look up to.  At his age, if he sees an older boy doing anything - good or bad, he will want to mimic them.  

The same thing happens at Gymnastics, where he's the youngest in every class we've been to.  Besides the few minutes he wants to run around like a maniac, he looks towards the older kids to see what they are doing before following (most of the time).  
Then I got to thinking about my own life and how I often look to women more experienced than me for advice and examples.  Sometimes it because materialistic hopes of wanting to look as good as them, other times, it is more meaningful and has to do with what good people they are and my desire to be just as kind.  

As much as Jordan can look to the Scouts or the other kids at gymnastics, first and foremost, he will be looking to Andy and me.  Feels like a lot of pressure but I've always been a supporter of good habits everywhere so that being on "your best behavior" isn't applicable since that is your only behavior.  It's how I feel about almost everything except farting, which I tend to do around people I know well.  It's something I really need to work on as a household of boys will easily lead to yelling "safety!" and other potty type things.  

But a few good boys older than Jordan is what I do hope for as he's growing up, for him to look up to, for him to want to be like, for him to learn from.  And I do hope Jordan is that boy for Ethan.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

As Of Lately

Jordan's so much fun lately.  I think I'm really enjoying this 21 month (tomorrow) stage a lot more than all the baby, crawling, and walking but not talking a whole lot maybe signing stage.  He cracks me up and I am obsessed with him lately.  He's our little growing, learning, copycat, over energetic, golf enthusiast of a son.

Lately, he has been pushing the limits, seeing how far he can go before he gets a timeout, throwing tantrums here and there, copying words he hears us say at random times, and developing opinions all on his own.

For FHE on Monday, I taught a lesson about our bodies being a temple.  I said "Jordan, did you know your body is a temple?" and his response was "body."  Melt my heart.

Today, as we were walking out the door to the gym, I asked him if he knew where we were going.  He didn't respond, so I responded for him, saying "I know!" and then he repeated back, "I know!'  It was extra special because our niece, Violet, used to say that all the time and I absolutely loved hearing her little baby voice say it.  Now we have our own baby voice in the form of Jordan saying "I know!" too.  Precious beyond words.

Lately, I'm his favorite, not because I'm special by any sort of way, but because I'm home all day with him.  By pure logic of most hours spent with him, he loves "mom" but when I show excitement for "Daddy" coming home, he does too.  He mimics me, so I have to remember to give Andy a hug and a kiss when he gets back, even if my hands are full and dinner is on its way to the table.  It's a good reminder that Jordan gives us, especially since he won't move towards Andy until he sees me do it first.  He's also extremely proud of himself and fascinated by the fact that he actually gets who Mom and Dad are now.  He loves sitting there, pointing at me, saying "Mom!" and then pointing to Andy, saying "Dad!" or "Daddy!"  Epiphany!  He just gets such a kick out of it and it's great because for the longest time, though he could say both "Mom" and "Dad," he pretty much called both of us "Mom."  He also is picking up signs a lot quicker than before, and will do a sign before he decides to use the word.

Since OGO (Andy's dad) made up his own sign, my mom (his wai-puo) made up her own sign.  May stuck to Grandma, so we taught him the sign for Grandma, and I recently taught him the sign for Grandpa but told him this is wai-gong (my dad).  So now he signs these four and occasionally decides to say the word as well.  He's got oh-go!!! down, mutters grandma, and hasn't yet tried puo puo.  He sometimes says Jordan but it is piece meal and sounds more like "ore-den" and he can say "baby" point to my stomach and then go after my belly button.  He knows to be gentle with my stomach, to rub it instead of hit it, but he really likes skin to skin, he will lift up my shirt anytime we tell him to go say hi to the baby, and then go after the belly button after he's done caressing my abdomen and saying "baby."

In preparation for big brotherhood soon, we've been reading some books about being a big brother, and since he is becoming the big book dork that I expected him to become, I am enjoying the time we spend reading together everyday (finally!).

Our house continues to be a child zone, toys everywhere, even when they are tucked away in their rightful spot - you just can't hide all the brightly colored child toys.  I actually thought we didn't have many, and then a friend visited me (and she is sans children), and she commented that Jordan sure has a lot of toys.  Oh how quickly we forget what it actually means not to have any toys in our living room.  But now we have to add to the work files I try to put away, all the home files as we finalize our loan and home purchase.  Eek!

I am 22 weeks pregnant and feel very much so!  I'm already unable to fit into most of my normal jeans and have begun sporting work out pants (sorry Jeff) in public, leggings, and pregnant jeans.  I'm committed to not buying any new pregnant clothes this time around, but only time will tell if I make it. Meanwhile, my work schedule has become more compacted since instead of working here and there throughout the week, I now have designated times when I sit down and work uninterrupted.  This means an hour in the AM, two during Jordan's naps, and another when everyone goes to sleep at night.  It's got its ups and downs but we manage and this way, Jordan only has to become a TV zombie baby for an hour a day (and a little more when I have calls scheduled).

Andy is working a lot more than what we've experienced so far, from about 6:30 AM to 6 PM every night, not something to really complain about but we do miss having him home before 2 PM.  Those were the days.....  I guess this is a small insight into what next year will be like.  Boo!  At least we'll have family nearby.  It's weird that he's an actual doctor now, even though he's still at the bottom of the totem pole, he is above those dang medical students.  Ha!

Life's good.  We can't complain (even if I do from time to time).
Jordan trying to do a handstand like Daddy. He loves exploring new moves now that he's got gymnastics once a week
 Growing up too fast! 
 zoned into Golf Digest
 eating shredded cheese and crackers
 stuffing a banana into his mouth, then realizing it's too much and spitting half of it out.  story of our banana eating life. 
 Me: "Can you say cheese Jordan?"  and then this eye roll look. 
 22 weeks pregnant!
 paper airplanes to warm the heart before daddy comes home...
Spokane Chiefs hockey game (it's not NHL, not sure what it is, but it was fun and buck night so Andy had 4 hot dogs and Jordan and I had two popcorns together)
 riding the ice cream truck with his best buddy (not sure how he'll handle being apart from Finn next year)
 new Sunday thing to do: watch a family movie together!  CJ7 - highly recommended!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oh Taxes...

I was sort of really looking forward to a big hefty tax refund.  Okay, I lie.. I was completely and insanely stoked for it!

Unfortunately, we did a crappy job this year.  Not only do we owe a tax payment but the saddest reality is that our actual taxes due were lower than prior year, but our credits were also lower (applied towards the tax owed) resulting in a tax payment we will be writing a check for instead of a receiving a fat refund.  Now normally, this should be a good thing because the goal is to have zero owed or returned - meaning you used your money wisely and did not loan the government any of it.  And I'd say we are lot closer to that zero place than we were last year.  In the end, we loaned them less... but we also didn't invest what we had because I noticed our interest earnings were 100% less than prior year.

I have failed as an accountant.  Don't even mention that I'm a certified public accountant.  Oh well, I'm out of practice and I never did taxes anyway.

Still a sad night.  Oh taxes....

Good night now.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting the Right Set Up

As many of the recent posts have demonstrated, Jordan has developed quite the love of golf. Not only does he love hitting golf balls in the house, but he also loves reading golf digest, watching golf on television, watching daddy play golf, as well as watching instructional golf DVDs. I can't help but think I am watching my early retirement plan unfolding before my eyes!

When Jordan sets up properly to the ball, he makes some pretty impressive contact. However, that doesn't happen every time. He will often swing at a moving ball, or just keep his feet in the same place and swing no matter where the ball is in relation to his stance. Not the best of habits. Given that he sometimes gets frustrated missing the ball because of his set up, I decided that I would try to help him get the concept. Let's just say he's only 20 months, and I really had no chance. But I will most definitely keep trying.

After putting him to bed I grabbed a conference talk to study, and made my way to the kitchen table, instead of the couch. It's a new habit I'm trying to develop, as I realized that getting the proper set up for scriptures study is just as important as getting the right set up for golf. When I am on the couch, often my time goes underutilized; at the table, I am much more involved, and have definitely felt the flash of inspiration much more often. Here's hoping J Denny and I can both solidify our set ups!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Things To Do Before We Get To The Home

In college, looking for a job the fall before graduation (including recruiting schmoozing events, updating the resume, applying online, and attending all the pre-interview dinners, interviews, and making sure you have the right conservative accountant outfit of suit, closed toe shoes, and the right neutral make-up) was like having another class.  In medical school, applying for residency (including scheduling interviews, flights, hotels, and rental cars, paying for all the travel costs, saying good-bye to Andy for odd days here and there and single mommy'in it with Jordan) was like having another job.  In real life, trying to buy a home is like ... the worst.  It's a weird concoction of super fun obsessive hobby, really sad realization of how much real life costs, miscellaneous and overwhelming administrative assistant type of file accumulation and correspondence with your real estate agent, the mortgage professional, home inspectors, contractors, and title company, and intense excitement at the anticipation of having a place to call home for four years with a growing family.

This is what life has been for us for the last couple of weeks as it relates to the new home purchase.  

We made an offer with earnest money ($$) to show we meant it.  They came back with a counter.  We countered again. They said no and stuck to their original counter with a tiny more help with closing costs.  We accepted.  Then, we got their due diligence and ordered a home inspection ($$!) After that, we got contractors to quote us how much the work would be to get the house ready for us (add a laundry room upstairs and increase a rail that's too low).  We went back to the seller and asked for help ($$) with fixing some of the things the home inspection report came back with.  They came back and said, we'll help you with some of it.  We said... okay, sure... let's go on!  We then sent all our home loan requested documents to the mortgage professional.  This consisted of two years worth of W-2s, tax returns, last two months of our bank statements and pay stubs, and statements for our other mutual funds, 401ks, school loan documents, and school transcripts.  We then looked through four different home warranties to pick one, called the title company to confirm they had our information, and continually e-mailed the mortgage professional and our realtor, as well as bugging Andy's parents almost everyday about what to do about this or that.  They've made a few trips to take photos for us, and we continually consult with them on where exactly we should put our laundry room and other home things.  We feel very out of water and if there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that at least the next time we do this.. it might go a bit smoother and we might not be so lost.  We feel like the newbies who were struggling to open the stroller the first time we took newborn Jordan to Costco, unsure, a bit mortified, and laughing at our own ignorance along the way.  

Buying a home is not only expensive but also a lot of work, even before you get to the home!  We're excited though, and it's all going to be worth it (we hope!).  When the home stuff was a little too much, I complained to Andy about how it might be smarter to just rent.  He pointed out the advantages that I was overlooking... how it's a much better investment than rent (also cuz we're bad at investing our money and it literally just sits there), and how we'd have the luxury to do what we wanted on the walls and decorations and have it for four years.  So true.  So true.  My husband's so darn smart sometimes!  

And now, I should go to sleep... but of course I'm watching HGTV again.  Eek.  I really should stop now, but I feel like I am learning so much!  And since we have been going through the list of renovation we need to do immediately, would like to do eventually, and dream about doing someday, I know our priorities and know we cannot expect an HGTV home for our first home.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our Son's Obsessed

with golf.

He began at 12 months.. it hasn't stopped.

I Need To Stop Watching HGTV

In anticipation of being a home owner soon, I've been watching a little too much HGTV.  And by a little too much, I mean WAY TOO MUCH.  As a result, I am a little too familiar with the following new terms, all of which we will not have in our first home.  Backsplash and open-concept.  Oh but how much I'd love to have some cute backsplash in my kitchen and an open-concept with the kitchen and living room.

How I wish so badly, we could have gotten together with the Property Brothers with our budget and my wants.  I would even be just as skeptical, if not more, than all the wives who always are incredulous about the worn down homes shown to them.  I would even be more dramatic and more angry when the costs went up (slightly) on the things we wanted and had to change last minute.  And I would be so grateful and overly excited after seeing the renovation that my face would be priceless, my gratitude endless, and my love for the new house would be infinite.  I'd be the perfect token Asian character on their show.  Sadly, our soon to be new house is on its way to closing and we won't be getting any makeover by Jonathan and Drew.  

I need to stop watching HGTV.

On another note, do you think in say ten or twenty years, everyone will be wanting a separate and closed off kitchen from the living room (opposite of the awesome current open-concept), brass lights, wood paneling, and vintage yellow colored appliances?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm Back....

When "Phil Good" first started, there was only one author, me. Then I got married, and there was still only one author, Daisy. Somehow with the new year, I ended up resolving to start blogging with my wife again. Hopefully I won't turn away too many of the faithful readers that Daisy has been able to draw these past two years.

Just the other day, we decided to go to the YMCA for a little swim together as a family. When Jordan saw us get his trunks out, his face immediately lit up, and started undressing as much as he could. We got ready, jumped in the van and took off. When we got there we couldn't find a parking spot, so I had to drop off J Denny and Daisy at the front and circle around the lot a few times, stalking the people who were leaving the gym. After a few laps, I finally got my timing right and found a spot.

When I complained to Daisy about my difficulties in finding a spot, she reminded me about the fact it was January, and that gyms tend to be super busy in January with everyone still being excited about their resolutions; things should calm down in a few weeks. A pretty sad statement, but probably pretty true.

Somehow regardless of how motivated we are when we embark on self improvement, the motivation slowly slips away. We can try to motivate ourselves with monetary rewards (my Dad offers a monetary reward, but many in our family still fall short), by calling your shots, leaving yourself to public humiliation if you fail (we'll see how this goes!), or by some sort of loss of privilege if you don't follow through (that doesn't sound fun).

If anyone has any other suggestions, I would love to hear about them. As for now, I am just going to try to follow Jordan's example, as he seems to have it figured out given that he accomplishes some new milestone nearly weekly. Seems like all it takes is a big goofy grin, and a lot of energy. I can do that, right?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Son Won't Eat!

Okay, I'm over exaggerating a bit, I mean he eats, just not as much as I'd like him to, and not as well as he could if there's something better to do.

Like play.  Or run.  Or golf.  Or throw balls.  Or play with his airplane.  Or watch TV.  Or read books.

If you don't catch him at the right moment, he just won't eat.  He's done.

So we got a routine going on and realized he eats the most in the morning and after his nap.  But he only likes certain things at certain points in time.  And for some reason, no matter how hard I try, his taste keeps morphing and he's selectively picky.

For a while, he was over bananas.  And then he liked them again one day.

And then it was mac'n'cheese.  And then that's all he wants now!

Cheese sticks?  These are swords, not food mum!  And then, he was into it again.

Apples?  Maybe if I'm at someone else's home, but not in our home.

Those organic bunny crackers you got at Costco?  Yuck!  Oh wait, I like them again.  But now, I hate veggie chips, which I absolutely LOVED before.

I just don't get it.  It's impossible to tell what he will want when he will want it, and yet sometimes he's an angel, into all the foods I love - like kale chips, seaweed, and edamame.

Nevertheless, most of the time, we stick to the staple things that he will eat and we rotate it here and there.

Waffles.  Oatmeal.  Toast.  Eggs.  Noodles.  Rice.  Milkshakes.  Ground beef.  Peas.  Craisins.  Oranges.  Pineapples.

He's pretty open to food he's had, but most of the time, it's just getting him to try something new.  I've discovered you try three-five times in one sitting, and your best luck is if he is ravished, but I'll never give up.

You will like peanut butter one day.
You will like strawberries again.
You will like mashed potatoes one day.
You will like ice cream again.
You will like cookies one day.

And because food is such a fickle thing for him, I find myself picking up crumbs often.

He also does this thing where if he's thirsty, he won't communicate it, but if he's halfway in a bite and he suddenly notice the water, he'll spit out whatever is in his mouth so he can drink it.

Oh Jordan.   Food is good.  When will you discover that to be the case?

NOTE: Although he doesn't eat "well," we try never say so in front of him, or that he's eating well when he is after reading this really awesome article on Pinterest (can't find it now...) about how to enforce good eating habits.  I learned never to tell my son "he wasn't eating" or "your friend eats better" or that he "better eat his veggies" or to reward him with certain foods (ice cream, cookies, etc.).  Instead, I continually ask him to try new foods and tell him it tastes just like the other thing _insert here_ that he really loves.  So basically I try not to make it as big of a deal as it may be based on this blog post.  Just don't let Jordan see this.  Ever.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Not So Glamorous Part of Motherhood: Leftovers for Lunch

I know a lot of people might argue that motherhood is not that glamorous given the housekeeping, the spit-up, the poop, the messes our kids can make, the permanent marker stains you catch one second too late, and the PJs we're probably still in around noon or all day for that matter (or maybe that's just me...), but I've always thought it was quite glamorous given the fact that we get to be with our little one all day, that we don't have to wear slacks or dress shirts or stuffy sweaters or nylons or close toed shoes.  That we don't have to get our hair did, put on make-up to look presentable (again, maybe just me), try to stop biting our nails or think "doh!" when we forgot to rub off the bright red or hot black nailpolish so the client doesn't think we're weird when we hand them a report and our nails are... different.  That we get to put time and effort into making a house a home, hang out there all day if we so desire, and spend all the time we want with our little ones.  We also get to watch them grow, watch them learn, decide what our family eats, spends money on, and we can even venture off to the mall, the park, the playground, the zoo, the museum, the ice cream parlor, or a theme park without much thought.  That sort of flexibility in any job is pretty dang impressive and the benefits, the reward and fulfillment is beyond any that an office job could give me.  Sure the comp is a little questionable and my pay day never seems to come, but I do have access to all the money that comes into our family, so...

Maybe I'm still on a motherhood high lately, but I seem to only see the glass half full and all the greatness that comes with motherhood lately.. even when my son spits up, even when he poops all over his clothes, even when he disobeys me, even when he throws a tantrum, and even when he drags the rugs with dried dirt from the snow all over the house forcing me to up my cleaning aspirations for the day.  I think it's because I'm witnessing the miracle of a little baby growing inside of me, kicking me, even though the human eye can't see it yet from the outside, reminding me that he's alive, and then simultaneously I'm watching Jordan learn more every day, respond to my requests for him to get me the remote control or the water from my purse (love this new skill), watch him pick up his golf clubs everyday to practice his swing and become enthralled with professional golf on TV and yell "woah" when someone hits the ball far with their driver, and communicating with him through the few words he knows and the other ones he is using more and more each day.  It's just fascinating to me and the excitement is never ending.  On top of that, given the comparison with work life that I still do part time, I'm realizing that if the work didn't pay me so well, I'd probably not love it as much as I do (and my job is pretty good as it is, I like what I do and I love the spreadsheets and organizing I do for everything that goes on in the company and all the perks), but it's not worth giving up if I had to choose between this motherhood gig and that.  Call me crazy but it's the truth!

And yet in spite of how wonderfully glamorous motherhood is to me... the one not so glamorous part is the leftover for lunch aspect that I seem to encounter everyday lately.  I think at first, having always sorta of informally been forced to eat with my teammates (though I liked it mostly), I kind of longed for a lunch break to go run errands, eat leftovers, or be by myself.  Well, wish granted now because lunch is pretty much by myself, in front of the comp, and it's usually leftovers.  And yet, at some point, I sort of envisioned my lunches would be much like my single days of lunch bringing (only a short time while in San Jose for a rotation), glorious sandwiches or salads and in the worst case scenario, a pb and j sandwich, just anything BUT leftovers!  For a short stint, I was luckily devouring veggie sandwiches that were wannabe Panera Mediterranean Veggies.. but that was only because we had it for dinner one night and I was technically still eating "leftovers."  Alas, when I am once again having my leftovers, I think... this is so sad, but hey, at least it's not busy season (hahaha sorry auditor buds) where lunch with the team was only the first part of a three part series together (we often had an afternoon coffee break and then dinner together too).

I wish I had taken more photos with all my busy season teams.  It's just not something people do.  But now, all those memories of late nights, team bonding, and friendships that came from hours of auditing, they are just that.. memories in my head without a video or a photo for me to relive it.  Oh well... maybe one day I'll write a book about busy season.  Ha!

Happy busy season auditors.  I really did forget it started this year.  That's how long it's been since I was there.  And to the wives of auditors... I'm sorry.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Excuse My Lack of Blogging

Lately, all my free time has been devoted to consolidating all our loan documents, creating a list of home renovations, talking with contractors, inspectors, our agent, the title representative, and thinking of cheap DIY decorating ideas, designing the layout of our den, the restroom, and the boys' room, and ranking in order of priority the many things I'd like to update in the home (both short and long term).  So excuse my lack of blogging which has fallen in priority ranking.  Here's what we've been doing per my iPhone, though I have also been lacking in that department.
 It was Grandma's birthday, so Jordan made her a card with sparkly letters.  
 Daddy built Jordan and Finn a fort!  It was amazing and that night, Jordan learned the word "up" as Finn kept asking if Andy could put it up again when they tore it down.  
 After three rebuilds, Andy got tired, but not these two boys! "Up! Up! Up!" they kept chanting. 
Jordan has this obsession with glasses.  He loves his lenseless frames, these above, aviators, white shades, you name it, he will put it on and thinks he is just so cool.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Holy Cow, Owning a Home Is Expensive!

I'm suddenly having a waive of regret for my lavish spending in my single days (I'm being slightly sarcastic as I don't think I was that lavish).  But then again, there are things I could have been more frugal about.  There was one roommate I had who was so good with her money, within a year of working, she had enough to pay all cash for a car!  I always laughed at how careful she was being, but now I'm jealous.  All those dollars wasted on clothing not even in style anymore, purses that don't get used, and shoes that just sit in the closet.  All those toiletries, facial products, and make-up that was thrown away when I decluttered before our last move or still sit in my drawers somewhere for the hopes of one day using them.  The little things that really do add up.  *sigh.  I seriously can't believe how much owning a home is going to be!  I thought we had done quite well with our savings, but now not only is the down payment going to take a huge chunk, but all the work we must do before we can move in (and it's not much compared to some of the homes we were looking at) is going to cost us an arm and a leg!

First, we have the down payment.
Then, there is the home inspection.
Next, there is home insurance.
Oh, and don't forget we have to do some contract work to add a washer and dryer line which is currently estimated at around $12K!
And of course, there is the cost of the appliances (fridge, washer, and dryer)
Last, we will need some curtains or blinds, something to cover our windows that are all without cover.


This is before any deco on our part, any DIY furniture additions, frames, cute welcome to our home but please take off your shoes signs, any wreaths, any closet lining, etc. And we had hoped to upgrade to a King bed but that may have to wait a few years.  

It's going to be a very interesting budgeting year.  I am playing around with our budget to see where we can scrimp and save, but it's not looking good.  Maybe we need to stop dining out once a week or budget our weekly outings at $15 or less for all three of us.  Every last bit seems to count now.  We are saving a bit from a week of vacation to LA that has been cancelled since I will be too far along with baby #2.  Anyone have tips on how to save money?

Onward we go!

Update: I took a hard look through our budget and actuals from prior year, and like any real finance person evaluating a budget and where to cut costs... we've made some decisions on where to cut down on the luxuries of our lives.

We are getting rid of our gym membership (and the free childcare and pool access that comes with it) because frankly, we never got out there as much as we wanted and I have become reacquainted with P90x and Bar Method DVDs, we are cutting our eating out budget to $45 a month which is about once a month or twice if we eat on the cheap and with coupons, our grocery budget to $300 (that one is going to be hard for me!), and our hobbies are down to $40 a month.  Those are the costs we can control the most, as for baby and household which is budgeted at $50 and $40 per month, that might be a bit hard to control or space out when there are good Costco diaper sales or we're out of toilet paper, but we'll have to make do and hope the other cuts we made are good enough.  It's tough living on a budget, but I hope it's worth it.

I've mentioned in the past that we try to live by the 10-20-70 rule, tithe 10%, save 20% and spend 70% and we actually have been pretty spot on, but the challenge will be keeping that up with the house purchase.  *big gulp... Hopefully our tax return will be good to us again.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Becoming a Mom

Everyday, I feel more and more like a mom.  I can't help but feel the overwhelming love and desire to want to kiss and hug my little boy all day long.  I look at him longingly, miss him when he takes a nap (albeit it I am also elated for the time to do much also), and scroll through all my photos and videos of him from the day before I go to sleep.  I think about everything I need to do, the meals I am going to make, I plan, I organize, I budget, and I love it all lately!  Maybe it's the beginning of the year.  Maybe it's us coming off of a family sickness.  Maybe it's the fact that it's not snowing anymore!  Maybe it's the fact that we're heading to the mall for a playdate soon.  Whatever ... it is awesome.

I can't seem to get enough of Jordan lately and I have never been more grateful to be home with him everyday as I am now.  I have never been more grateful to have a part-time job from home that allows me to grab him breakfast, change his diaper, and all while being on a conference call.  I also think it's because I'm finally becoming a mom. In the real happy sense.  Before, I feel like I was just going through the motions, doing what I needed to do, loving it sometimes, but also dreading it often, wondering how I'd get it all done, having a negative attitude that I had to push myself out of and looking for support everywhere I could get and really, more empathy from others also in my state of mind.  These days, I feel quite confident, like I know what I'm doing, like I've got the hang of things, like I'm no longer a newbie, and like I'm doing something right.  And yet, right when things are expected, doable, and almost easy (on some days), Baby Ethan will change all of that... but in a way, I'm excited.  It's like a new project!  A new opportunity!  A new work assignment!  A new responsibility!

Call it pregnancy hormones, call it insane motherly love, but I have been feeling that gushing feeling of pure love that so many moms talk about and I often feel so far from.  I have been staring at my son during my weekly morning call with so much happiness, watching him feed himself pancakes (I cut for him), watching his excitement over the balls and puppets on Sesame Street, and reveling in the joy of the rest of our planned day together.  A lot of nothing but hanging out and having fun interspersed with some household chores.

I've also come to realize I am much happier mommy and person when things are in place, even if that means a few more minutes or work on my part at the end of the night.  I don't care if it gets messy during the day, it's important that it looks well kept and orderly when I awake in the morning.  I've come to realize I am a much happier mommy and person when I cook with some music on.  It doesn't matter if I can barely hear the music or only jam to it for a little, it just has a way of making it better.  I've come to realize I am a much happier mommy and person if I have a great breakfast.  And by great, I mean something I want that might take some time to put together - an omelette, a smoothie, a parfait, or a breakfast sandwich with fruit.  That morning kickoff sets the tone at the top (that's me!) and really creates high morale in our household for the day.  And I've come to realize, nothing will remind you of how great motherhood is until your little one gets sick and you realize, you had it pretty easy before sickness.  Coming off of a viral something that got to our entire family, I am exceptionally happy that we are all good now.  Nothing like a bunch of foopies (fart poops), diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargic and sad baby to remind you healthy is good.

Here's to motherhood.  And loving it!  And becoming a mom.  Day by day... here I go!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

It feels like every year, I'm hoping I can grow out my nails and do the splits and every year... I fail.  This year, I finally have new goals in mind (though I'd still like to grow my nails and do the splits) that will benefit more than myself.  With the new house and all the money that will go into it, it means a lot more for me to budget appropriately and ensure we save as much as we possibly can.  

In analyzing our 2011 budget vs. actual, it has come to my sad attention that I spend way too much on groceries.  My monthly budgeted amount is $400, but in reality, I spend a lot more on average per month than that... so much, that I'm mortified to admit how much.  True, my budgeted grocery total does include toiletries and baby stuff that I'm not always eager enough to split out from my receipt totals that flow through, but after discussing it with Jess, our dear friends in a similar situation as us (first year residency with one child), I realized I am way too extravagant in my grocery expenditures.

In order to think about what I could cut back, I tried to think about the more expensive purchases.  These usually include fruit as I like not only bananas, apples, and oranges, but raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, melons, and pineapples.  In fact, I like fruit so much, I can eat up to five types each day as snacks, dessert, and just something to munch on before dinner.  Besides fruit, I can't really figure out why my purchases are so much.  And then I realized ... maybe it's because a lot of stuff I could use just sits there.

So this week, I am avoiding the grocery store (except for milk and some sugar).  With all the stuff in our freezer and canned goods cabinet, I knew I could make it work (I just didn't necessarily want to).  Here's my meal menu for the week, all using things we already have on hand  Unfortunately, we are having chicken a lot, but there are worse things in life (like being broke!).  Alas, only time will tell if I can make it work and save us some money!

Mon- crock pot chicken with onion soup mix, cream of chicken, chopped onions, and sour cream over pasta and a green salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced almonds, craisins drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
Tues- chicken quesadillas with acorn squash and kale
Wed- tortellini with brussel sprouts
Thurs- chicken curry with carrots, onions, and potatoes over rice
Fri- taco salad pizza
Sat- leftovers and OUT!
Sun- green beans with marinated steak over cous cous

Surprisingly, despite my love for shopping, we spend very little on shopping.  In fact, our average monthly expense is less than $10.  Ha!  We basically get all our clothes from our parents.

I'm also resolving to spend more quality time with this cutie pie who is turning into such a big boy.  He's become a lot more attached to us than before, and sleeping has become an issue for him.  Instead of going down nicely for the night, he cries and pats his bed for us to go sleep by him.  Christmas vacation really ruined him since he grew so accustomed to us sleeping with him.  He also has been waking up at 6 AM or earlier for the last two days, which is NO FUN AT ALL.  The 7 AM or 8 AM wake-up time he normally has is much preferred, though I'm hoping it has to do with the fact that he hasn't been eating much cuz of this virus he has but is getting better and waking up cuz he's hungry.  Hey, one can be hopeful.

My friend Wendy, like all Asians, got him these crocs last Christmas, but got 'em big so he could grow into 'em. They finally seem to fit but we won't be wearing them out in the snow for now haha. Just around the house dude! 

 or to ride our bike in the house with.
 We went to the mall to hang out and I didn't bring the stroller.  Big mistake!  He wanted to be held like a baby while he sipped his nalgene all throughout the mall.  I finally took a break right here and let him just play with his Nalgene full of Gatorade. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reconnecting With My Asian Roots

There's something fascinating about growing up the child of two Chinese immigrant parents in the United States.  And as I become more in tune with American culture and tradition, even at the age of 30, the more I recognize that much of my childhood was embedded in very traditional Chinese ways.  Yet the exception to the rule were the little ways my parents pushed us to be more American.  A walking paradox, confused state of mind, one could say.

To stay out of the kitchen and do my homework (except for the dishes, then I was welcome), to immerse myself in extracurricular school activities and socialize with my classmates to guarantee easier admission into college but to be forbidden to stay overnight at any friend's sleepover party.  To do well in school and attend Chinese school on the weekends, to attend SAT prep classes but still speak Chinese at home (Chinglish more like it).  To respect my parents, show filial piety, and address all adults with Mr. or Mrs. Surname, even when I am in college and my friends' parents insist I call them by their first name.

Here I am at 30, still Asian and still trying to learn more about my own culture that I thought was very much a part of me until now.  Now, I'm realizing I don't know how to cook any of the dishes I love.  And I can't rely on my mom to mail me food or tell me how to make it in a frenzy over the phone my entire life.  I have to start collecting.  Making note of the recipes.  Gathering the recipes.  Practicing the recipes.  Doing my due diligence to nurture my Asian side.  I can't remember most of the Chinese fables that go along with each season or holiday and find myself googling it to see if I can jog my own failing memory.  Learning about my own culture as if I didn't live it growing up.  As if I never heard those stories a thousand times at Chinese school.

I tried to make Sunday our Sushi Sunday yesterday.  I had great plans.  I was so excited.  I couldn't wait!  Growing up, I always helped my mom make rolls and it was always so easy.  Of course, I never knew the exact ingredients, but I was a good roller and our sushi looked great.  Me on my own?  Not so much...
Nothing a ton of soy sauce and sriracha couldn't fix. 

Today, we're trapped inside from the snow outside.  We only have one car that can make it in the snow, so Andy took that car (not without first trying with our other car and failing).  So today, I will also take a stab at making some red bean soup, though I don't have any of the glutinous rice flour to make my glutinous rice balls (tang yuans) in pink and white. 

And then we'll probably make some homemade bread.  Go to the apartment gym and run around.  Watch some tv.  Nap a little.  Sing some songs.  Clean the house.  What else is there to do when you're snowed in?  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mormon History Museum Children Area

One of my favorite parts about visiting the Salt Lake Temple Square (besides the beautiful lights and peaceful nature of the place) is the free Mormon history museum with the fun interactive children's section!  The last time we went, it was closed and Jordan was too young, but this time - perfecto!

 I thought this was neat.. but the picture doesn't do it justice.  Just a bunch of light bulbs!  brains thinking hard!
 Loved the velvet color cushions.
 The star lanterns.. so beautiful.
 Funny mirror, but really I just like this mirror cuz my legs look so skinny in it despite my growing abdomen.
But here's an actual photo of Jordan who is the main character here.
Fishing with Daddy and some stranger kid. 

 got one!
 so this is the boat Lehi built Ogo?
 provident living: planting your own veggies and then harvesting 'em
riding with Grandma
Upset that Grandma left. hahaha. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

For Selfish Reasons...

I really wanted number two to be a girl.  I wanted another female presence in the house with me.  I wanted to play with dolls, stuffed animals, Hello Kitty, ruffles, pearls, and make-up.  I wanted a chandelier in the nursery, an overload of lace and purple, and to watch My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake on TV.  I wanted the easy bake oven I never got, the kitchen set I never had, and the dress up clothes I never owned.

But for some reason, as soon as the first trimester was over, I just knew it was a boy.  I just knew Jordan was going to have another brother and best buddy ever.

If I set aside my own selfish reasons for wanting a girl, I knew that a boy was the most practical and sensical next step.  Jordan would have a built in best friend and playmate, the toys wouldn't double in size and could be used for both boys, and the super cute clothes Jordan only got to wear once would come into play again.  And, knowing we would continue trying to grow our family, there would be ample future opportunities to have a girl.

But still... I hoped and wished and dreamed.

And then I had a conversation with Heavenly Father.  Somehow, I thought if I told him I wanted a boy, I'd get a girl.  Eventually, the conversation became help me to be happy no matter what.  Help me to see the silver lining, help me to be grateful for the many blessings I do have.  Like the healthy son, the happy son, the energetic and independent son.  The supportive husband, the loving husband, the awesome husband that was willing to wait until the baby was born to find out the gender (if I so desired).

And then this morning, we went to the ultrasound.

Now I'm no ultrasound technician, but even I could see our baby was flaunting his goods.  There was, without a doubt, a pee pee between his legs, and more than five times, he wanted to show us so.  I was a little disappointed, not because it was a boy, but because I felt guilty for wanting a girl so badly that I forgot how beautiful the entire process of this is.  I was disappointed in myself for letting the gender become that big of a deal.  Of course it's nice to have both, but it's also just nice to have kids period.  And I think I forgot that part during the whole is it a boy or girl thought process.  I also forget that in that growing abdomen of mine, there is actually a human being being nurtured who will make his debut in half a year and how dang amazing is that.  I had let all the desires of wanting a girl versus a boy take over the pure joy of having a baby itself, and I had forgotten the pure beauty of it all.

Jordan and Andy both also witnessed the pee-pee show, but then Jordan grew impatient so Andy and him left while the intern (no offense but never let an intern do your ultrasound, it took forever!) tried to find all the necessary parts.  Over the course of an hour and a half, I saw the baby try to suck on his fingers, missing a few times, and then trying again.  I saw the baby's big foot, many times as he stubbornly lay there, refusing to turn for the technician as she hoped.  I saw an up close snippet his nose and lips, resembling much of the rest of the family with very thick lips, and I saw what in my mind, was him waving at his mommy, saying "It's going to be okay Mom, even if you don't get a daughter right away, I'll try to marry a good girl who will love you like a daughter."

And I do get two dances with both sons when they get married.  So I'll just think of that and revel in the joy of having yet another boy!  It's a boy!  And I think it's going to be great....!  We already have a name and a nickname, but for now.. the nickname will be Bubba!

view from bottom of butt looking up

big foot!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Crafty Husband

Part of our Christmas gifts to Andy's family were specially customized t-shirts!  Since his family LOVES Indiana Jones, he came up with this idea all by himself and with the help of our way crafty and uber talented friend Jen, we got this image to silk screen onto t-shirts (Jen is also the talented photographer who took Jordan's three month photos which is where the Indiana Jones hat image is from).

Andy then researched how to silk screen, ordered a vinyl cut out of the image in reverse from Etsy, and then got all the materials to silk screen (on his own - we were in California at the time!) the t-shirts himself.  What a hunk of a crafty man.  

They loved 'em!