Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Celebrations Continued

I said it last year, and I'll say it again this year. It's great having both sides of the family nearby because it means we get two Christmas celebrations. The second Christmas party was hosted by my sister-in-law, who actually likes having a bunch of people over. Thank goodness for people like her.
She's more fascinated with the wrap than in the gift
You know she's a total ham when she smiles this big for a package of underwear.

The day after Christmas we went shopping looking for the so-called after Christmas deals. Instead we found a crowd worse than Black Friday. Luckily they had a few attractions for the kids.

Wishing he could have one of these balloons. Except it costs $6, as opposed to the ones at Trader Joe's and Ralph's which are free.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Celebrations Galore

We celebrated Christmas Eve with my family. The kids loved it because they got to see their cousin and open a gaggle of presents before Christmas.
We sent out a Christmas photo with my son making a face (like we had a choice). Ever since then, that face has been multiplied by 4 and shows up in almost every photo.
My dog-obsessed daughter receiving her 247th dog related toy
And the baby about to break open yet more balls.

Here's the difference between girls and boys. Upon tearing open the gift wrap and seeing the square box above, my son said,"Aww, more clothes" and tossed it aside (but not before we forced him to smile and say thank you). Whereas when my daughter opened her gift up and saw her new jeans, she immediately ran inside the bedroom to put them on.
Yet another wonderful shot of my son. I am putting up every single one of these at his wedding slide show, plus the ones of him butt naked.

Monday, December 29, 2008

On the Go

Having the husband home the last few days has been like having the Roadrunner leading our household. We are constantly moving and going somewhere. In fact we are on our way to the zoo for my son's upcoming birthday. When we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said, "go to the LA Zoo, Santa Ana Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and Chuck E. Cheese."

The husband groaned and asked,"Are you sure you want Chuck E. Cheese? How about we have a big giant party with a bouncy house?"

"Nope, I want Chuck E. Cheese."

One down, only three more to go.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wrapping it up

The last few days before Christmas was a flurry of activities. Here we are stuck in traffic going to the boat light parade in Newport Beach. Never again.
Last minute wrapping of gifts.Thankfully I have 4 little elves to help
Although they're all still in training

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mi Hija, Mi Corazon

Last night, I went out on a date with my 4 year old. We went to watch Beverly Hills Chihuahua at the dollar theater. Surprisingly it was okay. The chihuahuas were not totally annoying and did not look like giant rats. However, they did have that Taco Bell accent. The only reason I subjected myself to a movie about chihuahuas of all things is because my daughter loves all dogs and is in fact obsessed with them. I'm not so sure I want the rest of the family to watch it, though, because I'm pretty sure they're going to start begging for chihuahuas or another German Shepherd who was the real beauty in the movie. Or even worse, a rat and iguana, which were also in the movie.

My girl enjoyed the movie, especially the part where she snacked on candy. Why, oh why, do they stick these lame romances in a kiddie movie? All that mi corazon part of the plot was just dumb. Dogs don't fall in love. Dogs eat poop. Ever since we got stuck with a psycho German Shepherd, I've despised all stories which idealize dogs. There's so many out there (Shiloh, Winn-Dixie, Lassie, Yeller). I don't check those books out for the kids, and I don't usually check out the movies. It annoys me to no end the way they've portrayed dogs. Because really dogs are stupid and a major pain. Plus they eat their own poop (and whatever poop is sitting in diapers). I know the truth firsthand. But I digress.

Afterward, we went to McDonald's where she ate one chicken nugget and licked the caramel dip. But we had to go there so she could get her Happy Meal pony. I'm glad the husband insisted I go out with our girl after coming home to a tired Scrooge. It's really rare that I have just her by herself. Being the third-born doesn't naturally give us much alone time. I noticed how big and beautiful her eyes are and stared at them for quite a while. I brushed her bangs out of her eyes a few times, stroked her face, and held her little hand the entire time. And I'm determined to do these things more from now on, even when we're not on a date.

Only 2 more days til Christmas. The kids woke up today screaming that. Let's hope that's all the screaming that happens today. And that I finally finish my gift buying.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bah Humbug

I was doing fine Christmas spirit wise up until today. We had fun putting up the decorations, sending out the cards, shopping, and wrapping the gifts. The kids especially liked helping with the cards because of the stickers (aka. stamps & return address labels) and the gift wrapping because of the tape and scissors. Christmas is like one giant arts and crafts project. In fact, I marked it down as such on our home-schooling paperwork. But that's another blog for another day.

Anyway, so I've been fairly festive. I say fairly because that's really as festive as a mom who has to clean up garbage and poo all day gets. But then today I turned into Scrooge's mom, who of course was probably way worse than Scrooge and was to blame for his scrooginess. I can kind of pinpoint when it happened, too: right when the kids all woke up and started rummaging under the tree, asking me what was in each package, why certain packages were stuck together, why couldn't they wear shorts & t-shirts, why they had to wait until Christmas to open their gifts, why was it raining, and why, once again, couldn't they take off their sweatshirts.

Once they figured out from my answers that I was not the go-to person for these questions (brussel sprouts, I can see only brussel sprouts in the packages with my x-ray vision), they engaged in an epic war. Like all wars, this one was broken down into a gazillion smaller battles. The war is at a truce now, and the only casualty besides my ever dying brain cells was my Christmas spirit. Which is why I'm going to go out in the freezing rain and check the mailbox. It's the only time of the year that I actually do check the mailbox. The rest of the year, my mother-in-law brings it in after she notices 3 days' worth sticking out of the box.

P.S. Yay, we got 3 cards in the mail. The kids are now fighting over who gets to open them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advice from Pam

I accidentally wandered over to some Question and Answer site the other day, and out of the goodness of my heart (I can't think of a single thing to blog about), will attempt to help with some of the questions.

1. How can you tell if a girl or guy likes you?
He teases you mercilessly or she stares at you behind your back.

2. How can you tell if a girl really likes you?
She sics her friends on you.

3. How do you tactfully tell someone you can no longer have them as a bridesmaid after you've already asked them to be one?

Pick a fight with her to make her back out.

4. Is loving your best friend a wrong thing?
Only if he's married or a relative or not a real person.

5. What do 13 year old girls consider good-looking?
It depends on which 13 year old girl. If you're going for broad appeal, I recommend the surfer look with a brooding attitude.

6. How can I lie to a friend to get out of something?
See #3

7. What do guys talk about with each other?
Trust me on this one, I've eavesdropped: computers.

8. If a guys says he is kinda interested in you, what does he mean?
If you have to ask, then you're too young for the answer. Go back to your homework, dearie.

9. What does dreaming a lot about someone mean?
It means you have too much time on your hands. Go get another job.

10. How do you avoid being frigid in front of your boyfriend?
Get married to him.

Note to self: next time try a post-pubescent site.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Salt and Light

Last week I stayed late at school to answer questions about the final exam. Like every single study session I've ever been to, this one evolved into a big chatfest. I didn't mind, though, because I hardly ever get a chance to know my students well. It's interesting finding out about all their different backgrounds.

All three of the last remaining students married young. Melissa and Dana married their husbands at age 20, while Andrew married his prom date because she got pregnant. Years later (10 for Andrew), they're all going strong. Take that, divorce statisticians!

I don't know how the subject came up, but - oh wait, I remember now. Melissa was talking about how her religiously conservative parents gave her grief when she eloped with her non-Christian husband. They wrote horrible letters to her, made her cry, practically disowned her. Thanks to them, she now equates all religion with her parents, which is to say she utterly loathes it. Andrew is also scornful of religion, possibly due to his wife's Catholicism. He thinks it's only good to help his kids have a moral foundation. But he thinks pretty much all Christians are hypocrites. He can't understand why they've come down so hard on gays and oppose welfare increases. They summarized their opinions of Christians as "judgmental bigots."

Now that hurts. I didn't tell them I was one of those so-called bigots because I didn't want them to feel bad and then try to kiss up to me afterward. But it's distressing to see what an impact our failures have on people we never even knew. We have distorted Jesus and God so much that they see us in place of Him. Jesus was all about love and forgiveness; we're all about criticism and strong-arming. Jesus protected, helped, and changed a prostitute instead of putting her in jail or kicking her out of town.

Now, thanks to us, people who need Him most don't even want to take a fair glance at Him. Usually it doesn't register with us because we don't know them. But when they're sitting in front of you expressing their hurts, you realize just how much more we need to do through Him and for Him. And there are many more out there just like them. Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Otay Wabby Pea

It's never too early to become addicted to the computer.

Even if all you do is "color" by moving the mouse around.

His favorite phrase of the week: Weeda Wabby (Reader Rabbit).

He's been saying otay a lot, like I tell him to turn off the light (his favorite chore), and he says,"Otay, Mommy." But then the other day, he copied his sister and said okay. I immediately corrected him, and when it didn't take, I made the whole family say otay over and over again until he finally copied them and went back to otay. Whew, disaster averted.

My Husband the Pig

Last night, after I said something to the husband, my older daughter said,"Mommy, why do you call Daddy Babe? He's not a pig."

"All men are pigs, dear."

Good to know I haven't lost my touch.

Monday, December 15, 2008

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

The big news here in Orange County is that it's finally raining. Not just a few drops but a nice drenching rain. It's been a glorious weekend. Friday we went to Chuck E. Cheese with our best friends. By the time the kids are grown, I will be a Skeeball Master. Saturday we went to our friends' house for dinner and The Dark Knight while the kids watched Tinkerbell. Is it just me or are movies getting more violent? Even if the actual scene is not shown, just the thought of something like a knife cutting through a face is so grotesque, I had to hide my eyes. I don't know if it's because the Joker was so overhyped or what, but I didn't really find his performance that amazing, just extremely murderous. Disturbing characters are a regular feature of popular fiction books (who wants to read about the average Joe?), which is one reason I stopped reading them (the other being no time), but I'm not used to them on the big screen. Really, I'm not used to anything on the big screen except Disney characters and Pixar animation.

To top off our weekend, we went Christmas caroling last night with our neighbors. We all gathered at someone's house with a bunch of cookies, fortified ourselves with cookies and cocoa, then went around the neighborhood knocking on people's doors. The kids had a lot of fun singing and running around with their neighborhood friends. The baby, who really did not know the lyrics, basically went for an evening stroll, jumping on fallen leaves and lagging behind whenever possible. Caroling around the neighborhood made me feel like we stepped into an Andy Griffith show or something. I can now honestly say, ah the good ole days.

Afterward, we went back to the same house and played some Guitar Hero. Then we collected our share of cookies and hiked on home.
This week promises to be even better: helping out with school parties, hitting Toys R Us, sending out a bunch of cards to people we'll probably never see again, giving final exams and grades, and finally starting on gift shopping. Oh Joy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Take This Job

Recently I experienced an unexpected burst of ambition for work. I've never been very driven regarding my career (what career) so it took me by surprise. I am surrounded by full-time faculty who teach the same classes every semester and only need to put minimal time in for prep. That means for their full-time salary, whatever that is, they only have to work 20-30 hours a week. On top of that, they have very flexible schedules. I know this one guy who only has classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Granted he has to teach from 9 am to 10 pm with only short breaks, but he's got 3 whole days off, and it's not like the work is very strenuous. Nice gig if you can get it, right?

Even worse, I interact mostly with the other part-timers who are mostly young and hungry. They've just graduated, are unmarried or childless, and are looking to work their way up to a full time position. They actually want to do time-consuming things like build their own website, grade extra credit reports, and search online to see if the reports were plagarized. Being around these people got to me. I started thinking, maybe I should do more, maybe I should sit in on the Anatomy class so that I can teach it (never mind that I've never taught it and Anatomy is notoriously hard). And how hard could it be to be a full-timer?

It's odd that I would dread all the work I already have to do and then want more of it.

Right in the midst of this obsession, I had an interesting conversation with a friend. She taught elementary school in an excellent school district for 10 years before quitting to stay at home with her kids. She told me that her most well-adjusted kids were almost always the ones who had a parent at home. The other kids were not bad necessarily; these kids were just a little more secure, and it showed in the way they handled themselves at school. After a few years, she could predict fairly accurately which kids had working moms and which ones did not.

These days I'm still very ambitious about my work. In fact, I'm willing to put in everything and anything for my work. Lucky for me my work subjects are so cute, fun, and huggable.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you? I can't wait until Cristmas. I hope I can see you on Cristmas Eve Night. I have a book about you. It tells me a lot about you. I wonder how the reindeer, the elves, and Mrs. Claus are doing. I would like to be a elve. I bet it is fun but also hard work. The book told me that. There is going to be a few more letters under this one. One for each reindeer, one for Mrs. Claus, and one for every single elve. Please take all the letters home. Please read the elves letter and the reindeers letters to them.

Your friend,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cool Critter of the Week

It's not a worm nor a snake. It's not even one of the kids' toys. It's an amphibian called a caecilian. They're found on and in the ground in tropical regions. It's sad that hardly anyone knows of them, which is why I'm sticking this picture up.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I read somewhere recently that people are leaving Southern California in droves because of the economy. They're moving to Idaho or Oklahoma where a 2000+ sq ft house with 5 bedrooms and 3 baths could be gotten for $100,000, as opposed to the rundown 400 sq ft room they could get here. And I have to admit, the snow and leaf fall in those areas look pretty good (although I hear it gets old really fast). And don't get me started about the politics in this state. What kind of people vote to legalize marijuana and eliminate affirmative action in the same election? Politically, we're second only to Florida, land of the chads.

Then there's the earthquakes, the mudslides, the fires. And of course the smog and traffic. I can't even begin to think about Hollywood and the celebrities because then I'll really go nuts. And can anyone wear any shoes besides those flip flops?

I'll take all of that for one reason and one reason alone: diversity.

Where else can you go from desert to mountain to sandy beach to rocky surf to forest just within a couple of hours? You can grow up here and be a surfer, skiier, and rock climber, all in one.

More importantly, where else can an ethnic person go and not have everyone assume that they're foreign born? Here, people don't blink if you're wearing a turban or sari, not even the Caucasians. We know that Silva is Portuguese, Patel and Singh are Indian, Reza is a Persian man's first name, that Kim and Park indicate Korean heritage. Here we all know what kim bob, naan, tapas, and dim sum are. We don't do double-takes when we see a black man holding an Asian woman's hand (at least not very much) or when their children trail behind them. We don't even do it with a black man holding an Asian man's hand with their children.

We haven't found this kind of diversity in very many other places. I certainly didn't find it in Texas growing up, when our friends would come over and ask us what the chopsticks were for. Nor when we were stopped by U.S. border patrol in Canada while everyone else was allowed to drive through. The guy stared at us and asked,"where did you two meet?" as if it was impossible that our different ethnicities would ever come together. I was sorely tempted to say,"in a brothel in Swaziland" but prudently held my tongue.

I remember flying to California in my youth and taking the taxi to my grandmother's house. I stared the whole way there, noticing all the Asian drivers that I never saw at home. I stared at the Asians everywhere I went because I had never seen that many of them before.

I'm not saying that people everywhere else are racist, that they're intolerant somehow. Just that people here are more used to walking alongside all these other cultures and ethnicities; we don't get noticed. Of course if you're a big ham and don't look Caucasian, then by all means, move to Texas or wherever. But we're staying here with our hapa kids.

On second hand, this is the land of the Rodney King riots, so what the heck do I know? One thing is for sure: I hate moving, so we're staying put.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Random Kid Stuff

I don't know where they got it from, but my kids have sophisticated tastes in music. The oldest likes Fergie and Dido, the third one loves Leona Lewis (if I have to listen to that song one more time, I'm gonna cause some bleeding myself) and Timbaland, and the baby insists on watching a Coldplay video while I give him a manicure. Meanwhile, if you were to ask their daddy who any of these singers are, he would have no clue.


My son has a new playground game at school. It's called "Girls are Evil." Basically he and his buddies run away from all the girls. That in itself doesn't sound like fun, but when you add in the screaming, running, the pack mentality, and the fact that certain girls will actually chase them, you can see why a 5 year old would be into it.


The baby has reached his "I do" stage, where he wants to do everything himself. Not just for himself but for everyone else as well. Like throw away garbage or turn on/off the lights or open the microwave or fetch things. If he sees us doing these things ourselves, he gets very insulted. We have to turn on the light again just so he can turn it off. He'll actually go back outside the house in order to open the door for himself to come in. And heaven forbid we dare to close the front door ourselves. It's worth it, though, just to hear him say,"I di i!"

Meanwhile it takes us even longer than before to get anywhere on time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Morning After

Our Thanksgiving gathering went exactly how we feared it would. The uncle was drunk before the turkey was ready, and to the mortified embarrassment of his 18-year old daughter, went around talking about sex and how everyone does it. Naturally he had to pick a fight with the aunt and set off a big time bomb. She started hollering, insulting, cussing so badly that we had to herd the kids upstairs into a closed room. She accused her sister and brother of killing their father (he died of heart disease over 40 years ago), their mother (she died of surgery complications about 10 years ago), and their sister (alcoholism, 2 years ago). She would have laid JFK's death on them, too, except she ran out of time.

Nevertheless, it was great seeing the cousins and friends. As is typical during any family gathering, we regressed a few years and sat in the "children's section." Then we played checkers, board games, and watched TV.

A couple of days later, we went to my mom's house for another Thanksgiving gathering. It was boring - no fighting or hollering. Except by the kids, of course.

Now, it's Monday morning. Not just any Monday morning but December 1st Monday morning, where my brain has to switch from idling to hyperdrive mode. I'm still working on it.