Monday, December 26, 2005

Pet Peeves

This week's question is: what are your pet peeves?

Loud, blaring TV; our dog barking; salespeople who come to the door setting off our dog barking; people who get a bunch of tattoos or dress freakishly, then complaining that everyone stares at them; women who dress skimpily then complaining that men only look at their boobs; people who remind me for a month or more beforehand that their birthday is coming up; pessimists; devil's advocates; cheap rich people.

Here are some of my pet loves: getting good stuff at cheap prices; eating my mom's food; getting good pictures of the kids; getting letters in the mail; getting calls from long lost people; reading a book while eating ice cream.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Birthday Jesus

I don't have a picture of today's birthday person like I normally do. It doesn't matter anyway. You all know what He kind of looks like. Appearance-wise, He probably didn't stand out very much. It was what He said and did that caught one's attention.

I have known Jesus since I was a senior in high school. I was reluctant at first because I knew this was not a person you could flake on or forget about. I knew this relationship would be hard work and a lifetime of commitment. It was difficult for me back then to even imagine a marriage commitment, much less an eternal one. I knew this relationship would lead to a drastic change, and I didn't think I needed a change. I wasn't on drugs. I was a good student and daughter, a decent person in general.

Jesus was patient and kind with me. He could have allowed me to be bombarded with sorrows and tragedies that would have left me with no choice but to turn to Him. Instead, He surrounded me with loving Christian people that gently nudged me in the right direction. The more I learn about Him, the more I am amazed by how loving He is.

It is so hard to put into words what Jesus means to me. I think it's better that way; He shouldn't be easily categorized by a few words. One thing He has meant to me is freedom. Freedom from sin, for one thing. Lots of people think that Christianity is all about the rules, and that freedom is the ability to sleep around, get drunk, party, and do whatever they want. These and other sins are not freedom; they're traps. Left unfettered, sin always leads to more sin, as natural and sure as a ball falling if you drop it on earth. Gambling usually leads to more gambling, getting drunk leads to alcoholism, sometimes even death. Sleeping around leads to spreading of disease. It's all a deathtrap. The "milder" sins are no exception. The only way to break free of this natural cause and effect is through Jesus, because Jesus has occupied the deathtrap for us already. All sins demand a consequence. Some people take the consequence upon themselves, and some pass it to Jesus. God wants us to do the second; otherwise He wouldn't have orchestrated the whole thing. He's merciful and forgiving that way.

Actually, I'm as free as the next person to do whatever I want. Just like when Raina grows up, she'll be free to eat all the candy, cookies, and ice cream she wants. But I know better, and I hope she will know better too. A relationship with Jesus is one of the hardest things to establish and maintain, but it is so worth it. In fact, there is nothing more worthwhile, not even motherhood.

There is so much more about Him to tell, too much for one day's blog. Maybe another day...

In a way, today is not just Jesus' birthday but mine, Kevin's, the kids', and yours as well. Let's all make it a good one.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Movie night

Last night we left the kids with the grandparents and went to see the Narnia movie. We only see a few movies a year, depending on what movies come out, how busy we are, and our finances during those two weeks. So for us, seeing a movie in a theater is an Occasion. It was fun. We both enjoyed the movie and had a good time afterwards discussing it. Maybe it's the mother in me, but the part I liked best was watching the four children. They did such a good job casting the kids, especially Lucy. She was just the cutest sweetest little thing. Whenever Susan came onto the screen, I wondered why teenagers today can't look that wholesome, why they mostly look like near-hookers. And Edmund reminded me a little of my boy, his rebelliousness and the nice round shape of his head. I've heard people say they cried when Aslan sacrificed his life. Not me. The part that made me teary was watching the love and bonding between the siblings. Like I said, it must be the mother in me.

It was a beautiful movie and definitely the best we've seen this year. Of course, the only other ones we've seen this year are Madagascar (with the kids) and Revenge of the Sith so I'm not exactly the most reliable movie critic.

Oh, yeah, I found out that I get carsick looking at Christmas lights. I don't know why. It hasn't happened in previous years. Maybe it's because we were driving around before dinner and my empty stomach made it worse? Or maybe it's just another effect of aging and having children. Probably all of the above and Kevin's crazy driving, too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What a Deal

I have to gloat about the outrageous deal I scored today. I went shopping at JC Penney with a $10 off coupon (the one mailed to me, not the one in the ad). I was supposed to do more Christmas shopping but wound up with a pair of jeans for myself instead. It was originally on sale for $40 but was on clearance for $10.77. With the coupon, the grand total was 83 cents. That's right, eighty-three cents!

A couple of years ago, I paid $5 for a pair of beige cargo pants from Old Navy. It was on sale because it was men's pants, and only the small sizes were left. A couple of years before that, I paid $4 for Gap khakis that were men’s but really small. Each time I got a good deal, I was happy. I would make everybody guess how much I'd paid for them. My sisters thought I was nuts and told me this was not the kind of thing one brags about. Eh, what do they know.

But still! 83 cents? That's the best deal I've ever gotten on clothing, not counting free and thrift store stuff. The jeans are pretty nice, too. A little too hip for me, maybe, but hey, good enough for 83 cents! And I really needed these jeans because (dare I say it?) I have not returned to my pre-pregnancy size YET.

So, yup, I'm feeling quite smug. Especially since I had another one of these coupons and this time did use it on someone's Christmas present. But I can't say who because I doubt he/she will be as happy as me to learn his/her present was only $5 (actually less but I can't say how much less).

Happy Shopping, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Party Saturday

This weekend was busy but in a great way. We had two parties on Saturday. The first one was lunch at Dave & Buster's to celebrate the birth and health of my friend's new baby. Her baby is very cute and chubby, but no, I was not tempted to have another one (only to squeeze and hold him). My friend is wonderfully hilarious, and although she was busy most of the time, the few pieces of conversation we exchanged demonstrated she hasn't changed a bit.

The second party was for Joshua, who turned three. Josh's mom, Jenny, was my college roommate for 4 years. It was great to see Jenny, of course, but it was also great to see her parents, brothers, and friends, all of whom I used to see frequently but haven't in a long time. At one point, I was sitting there watching everybody running around with their kids and thought, "holy cow, we are all parents now, with one, two, three, even four children." Everybody looks the same as they did 15 years ago, and yet we're completely changed. Back then, we were focused on getting A's, a nice guy/girl, and maybe a good career. No one was thinking about children. It was all very surreal.

At the end of the day, we were exhausted. But these are the kind of days we moved back to LA for, to be a part of our family and friends' milestones. And we don't want them to miss our milestones, either. So despite the horrible traffic, smog, cost of living, and so many other things wrong with LA, we're here to stay.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

The Madness Begins

The Christmas rush, that is. I have so many things to do this week that I have a to do list that I look at hourly. Normally I only have a weekly to do list that I follow sporadically. There's the Christmas card that we're still trying to crank out, all the presents that I have to buy, some presents that I have bought and need to return, the price adjustments I have to get because today is a sales day at a lot of places, the presents I have to wrap, the Christmas decorations that we have to finish. Oh yeah, did I mention we're also planning my son’s birthday get-together which is right after Christmas? I have to make a bunch of phone calls to potential party places, decide on the one, and then send out the invitations. Needless to say, it will not be homemade (the invitation and the food). Of course there's the normal mountain of laundry, dishes, and tidying I normally do. All this, and diaper checks every hour.

I'm usually not an anxious person, but I could get to be with this list. I have to remind myself to take it easy and let things be. During times like these, I love to listen to this song by Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, and Christine Dente.

Taking My Time

The world is turning
Telling me to hurry on
You gotta run to get ahead
Try to take the things that you want
But when the sun begins to set
So many things I haven't done yet

(Chorus) Oh but I won't worry 'cause there's no hurry
The world's not passing me by
"Cause the Lord, He knows just where each day goes
I know He won't leave me behind
And I'm won't be bringing a single thing that my heart can't carry inside
'Cause I'm going home and I'm only taking my time

The weight of worry
is never worth the price
of a world of treasures
that can never satisfy
But I know heaven's up ahead
where the best is yet to come

I'll be singing this song a lot this month.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Women's fashions

I went shopping with Lynn last week. No, not on Black Friday. Last year, Kevin got up early to get a laptop at Best Buy. They were sold out even before the store opened! They passed out vouchers to the people waiting in line and ran out way before they got to Kevin. So we are never hitting Black Friday in the morning again. I did, however, go to Fry's right before they closed on Friday, only to get a price adjustment. For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of the cheap, most stores give the price difference if you bought something earlier at the regular price and then it goes on sale. Instead of returning the item and buying another one, you just bring in the receipt on the sale day, and they give you the difference. For a little bit of trouble (not too bad because there was no line at the return desk), I saved $12 on a scanner.

No, no, I went clothes shopping with Lynn last week because being single and bored, she has nothing better to do or to spend her money on. However, she was nice enough to let the least fashionable person in the world and three kids come along. Actually, my parents took the two younger ones to see the Santa house and decorations, while me and my oldest tagged along with Lynn. There is nothing like shopping with a sister. She would hold up a blouse and I would say,"that's beyond hideous" or I would hold up a blouse and she would say,"dude, where do you get your taste from?" In the end, she bought one blouse which we both liked.

So here's my rant. What is UP with women's clothing these days? I guess the latest style is to wear some sort of fancy tank top with a teeny tiny sweater over it knotted together between the breasts. After about an hour of wandering around did the look finally strike me as being not that ugly. My daughter had a good time grabbing sweaters off the rack and trying them on. Of course, they fitted her perfectly. She was particularly in favor of this pink sequined one (who buys these things!?). I may not be that fashionable but one thing I do know: you should not wear anything that your 4-year-old looks better in. I better stop here before I work myself into a tizzy about the other crazy women's fashions like the ubiquitous tank top and low cut tight jeans. I am just waiting for baggy jeans and sweats to be in again. Hey, if bell-bottoms (aka boot cut) and platform shoes can come back, anything can.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


It's nice to finally read a couple of comments. For awhile there, only my sisters commented on the blog, which was not a good thing.

Me: So what did you think about my blog?
Lynn: It's lame.
Tina (later, after I relayed this conversation): Lyne thinks everything is lame.
Me: That's true. So what did you think?
Tina: You have way too much time on your hands.

Thanks, doody heads, thanks a lot. Just for that, you two get to be fodder for this thing!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Still sick

It is official: we are all sick. My parents came over yesterday to bring some soup and food for us. They are normally homebodies but as soon as they heard I was sick, my mom got cooking at the stove. It is weird to think that one day I will mean as much to the kids as my mom does to me. I must learn to make her soup.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Zoo trip

I'm sick again. I got this cold right after we visited the zoo on Friday. My sister Tina was off because of Veteran's Day and wanted to do something fun with the kids. So off to the LA Zoo we went. We all sacrificed our part to go: my dad because he woke up early instead of sleeping till noon like he normally does, my mom because she hates being in the sun these days and the stink of animals, us because Kevin had to request a day off and then had to drive all that way, Eric my 12 year old cousin because he ended up pushing a stroller all day long, and Tina because I don't know why.

It took us awhile to get started because as soon as we got there, my dad had to eat. Although he has diabetes, he didn't eat breakfast. His reasoning was that he never eats breakfast. Yeah, that's because he usually sleeps till noon! And my mom has been trained by him to be extra paranoid about food. So she thinks we're all starving and insists we eat the sandwiches which is actually our lunch. After half an hour, we finally left the front gate area and looked for some animals. Fortunately, they were pretty active, not like the usual sleeping animals. Let's see, we saw two cute bears eating, the male lion humping the female lion, two tiger cubs romping around, an orangutan mother playing with her baby, and a big chimp fight where two males ran around screaming and banging on the glass. It was really something. They scared my daughter who ran away. My son, who was sitting on Kevin's shoulder at the time, said, "hey, you two, knock it off." Guess where he's heard that before, like all the time?

The only bad part was the flamingoes which smelled like they were standing in raw sewage. There were two exhibits of flamingoes, and both smelled bad. I would advise anyone to stay away from flamingoes. Also, my parents started throwing peanuts at the mother orangutan which caused everyone to stare. You all know now how I feel about people staring, so I had to insist that they quit throwing them. Even though the mother orangutan did come nearer with her baby and, as my mother pointed out, there was no actual sign saying do not feed the orangutan. By the way, my parents almost always travel with peanuts because my dad loves 'em. In fact, when his doctor first told him to cut back on fatty foods, my dad asked, "how about peanuts, I can eat peanuts?" And then when the doctor told him no, he should cut back, my dad said," how about I eat only 10 peanuts a day?"

All in all, it was an interesting and fun trip. After we left the zoo, my nose started running and hasn't stopped. So don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for the next few days because not only will I be nursing my cold but also probably the rest of the family's

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Dream

I had a dream last night.

In it, I was sitting in a large room with other people around me. Somebody in charge was passing out a small package to each person. When it was my turn, the leader turned around and grabbed this big bunch of flowers and some huge posterboards. As she walked towards me with this, the young man who sat next to me leaned over and whispered, "I'm sorry, they were all out of roses." I realized they were from him, and before I could reply, the leader was in front of me, handing them to me. The bouquet of flowers was actually a big bunch of pretty small, white flowers and the posterboard was a huge letter to me made out of magazine cuttings, foam letters, pictures, and all kinds of interesting materials. I realized that everyone was staring at me and this huge gift. I also saw the young man looking at me intently with his penetrating face. I couldn't stand everyone's stare and so I quickly said, "Er, thanks," and shoved the gifts under my chair. The young man looked away.

Later on, I ran into the young man while walking home. I struck up a conversation with him, asking him about his bicycle which I knew was his favorite possession. I felt bad for my behavior earlier and so I tried to make up for it by being extra nice but it was already too late. Our conversation was awkward, and he seemed wary of me. At this point, I woke up feeling a little regretful.

During breakfast, it hit me. I had been so inconsiderate to the young man, not really giving him a proper thanks. I cared more about what some strangers thought of me than about the important person sitting next to me. Instead of being ashamed for no reason, I should have showed a more enthusiastic thanks to him and showed his gift off like he obviously meant for me to do. How could I have been so thoughtless?

I suppose the reason this dream stands out to me is that unlike the crazy dreams I usually have, this one is completely in character with who I am. I've done this many times in the past with Kevin. While I was living in Arkansas, Kevin mailed this homemade chocolate cheesecake to me, and when my other housemates saw it, they immediately made fun of loverboy and his gesture. I quickly put it away and then told Kevin not to send me any more.

Even worse, I've done this many times with God. The One and Only God who gave me millions of beautiful flowers in my bouquet and then topped it off with millions of wonderful critters to go along with it. Then he wrote the love letter of all love letters, taking over thousands of years to write, using all kinds of creative styles like poetry, songs, prose, and stories. And instead of thanking Him properly and showing it off, I'm more worried about what other people think, that I might be brainwashed or a Jesus Freak. So I sadly spend all my energy trying to fit into this secular world just to please total strangers.

My only consolation is that unlike the young man in my dream, God (and Kevin, for that matter) have already forgiven me, and there is no awkwardness, no wariness, no trace that I ever wronged them.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Here is how we teach the kids Chinese. We show them Mulan over and over again in English until they know all the lines and then we change the audio language to Chinese. It is much better than those cheap dvd's we get from Taiwan and China. So far, they've learned one phrase from it, "tzu fa!" which Shang says right before he leaves Mulan in the mountains. It means "let's go" or "head out!"