Monday, March 10, 2014

March Already?!?

WOAH. Have I really not posted since December? Granted, it's been a heck of a few months, but I've been very, very neglectful. =(

So...

  • My Uncle #2 is now with the Lord. He was diagnosed with a type of sarcoma cancer in mid-November, stage 4, and over the past 2 months, his health simply declined until he went in peace early February. What an amazing life he led - there were stories from my other uncles about memories they built together, from some of the brothers swimming across the Han River into the harbor when they were younger, to leading several younger siblings on foot, 30 miles a day, escaping from the Japanese that invaded China during the early 40's, and how Communism took over China and changed their lives. There were stories of how he started as a seaman, working into a merchant marine, and eventually became a Captain and General Manager in the maritime industry in Hong Kong, and how he treated his coworkers with the love of Christ. Even at 59 years old, after coming to America, he studied and graduated with honors as a Pharmacy Technician, and after retiring, he continued to serve at church, well-liked by many for his generosity, love, and humor.  My second cousin, Joanna, made a video with pictures from his life for the memorial. You can watch the video here if you like: http://vimeo.com/86808484
  • It's always amazing to me how the generation above me had lived and survived in events we've only read about history books here in our posh American world, as we eat cheap fast food and indulge in things like fancy smartphones, brand names and wonder about what house, car, job, or even status that we may obtain in the eyes of our peers. I'm being a bit cynical, but we often forget how good we have it, and that there are still others out there in other countries, suffering more than we could imagine or have only read about. Yeah. #firstworldproblems, right? I saw this video the other day, and thought it was worthy in reminding us that we are quite lucky. I'm sure there are bad thing happening in the USA - like I said, #firstworldproblems - besides being sarcastic, there are real problems that come up with being a first world country, I admit that. But, because we have a little bit more, maybe we focus more on things that aren't as basic and as important to others that are experiencing war, or poverty on a nationwide scale, or other things. There's always going to be problems no matter what one has, but when we have more things, we often seem to lose sight of just how important our basic needs are. Anyways. Rambling and going off on a tangent...
  • Late January, my mom experienced a possible TIA mini-stroke, or a seizure. At the ER, after doing a few scans, they found a giant tumor in her brain the size of an egg! After all the cancer things going on lately, it was enough to freak us all out. Luckily, it was not cancerous, but they had to remove it, as a mass that big could cause major seizures, as well as other possible complications. So after many nights in the ER, evenings at the hospitals, 12-hour days at the hospital for my dad, cooking and picking up food, and after a successful brain surgery, recovering at rehab, many visits from friends and family (in a time where it was difficult, when it was near the end for my Uncle#2), and after almost a month, my mom was able to come home. She's recovering well now, still going to rehab at Loma Linda, but only a few times a week instead of daily now, and Noah's in daycare, as she can't watch him as much anymore. 
  • My father-in-law finished his first set of radiation for the cancer he has in his pancreas. We're still waiting for the report. He felt horrible at first but he's been feeling a little better lately. In about 2 weeks, they'll be moving in with us. 
  • Which brings us to the fact that we will be moving soon! We need a house that has a downstairs bedroom and bathroom for the in-laws. As much as I love our little home, making them go up and down stairs just isn't right, and having a bit more space would be nice when there are more people living together, so we listed our house early February, and in one week, had a bunch of bids. It was listed low on purpose and that helped with creating some sort of bidding frenzy. We have an offer for more than we thought we would get, and officially started escrow last week. Everything seems to be going smoothly, quickly, and well, and we've been packing whenever we get the chance around here. We'll still be in the same city, but a different part, and still close enough to my parents as well. 
  • Penelope and Aiva were sick constantly in January with everything, and even got me sick with the stomach flu during one of those times. They're both better now at last. =) 
  • Penny's now speaking more, singing whole songs, dancing, and adooooores babies. Real ones and dolls. She has one that she simply takes everywhere (that we let her), kisses, rocks, swaddles, sings to, etc. She's a feisty one, and beautiful at that - my dad says that one look at her beautiful eyes, and boys will fall to her feet, hee hee. But Shelton and I know that her future husband will have to put up with all her demands, hee hee. Penny also wants to hoard everything. She will carry her milk, blanket, doll, other toys, all at once...put them in her toy shopping cart if it's around, and push everything around like a wild bag lady on the run! 
  • Aiva continues to love her ballet class, still loves her Bear-Bear, which is pretty ratty by now despite our attempts at washing it, is getting really good at Legos (she can follow the instructions and build things on her own mostly), continues to love singing whole songs that she memorizes by heart (current favorites are those songs from Frozen), and is a beautiful, sweet girl. She does things for her little sister, has a gentle, sweet nature, and is eager to help, please, and give hugs and kisses. =)
  •  I'm getting a new little niece or nephew soon! ^_~
  • Mei-Chi and Greg are expecting a girl, Thomas and June are expecting a girl, Ashley and Josh are having another boy, and who else? I'm sure I missed more, as there are babies galore coming up from all around again. It's tempting. To have a third, I mean. BABIES ARE SO ADORABLE. But then I remember how much craziness it is, and...do I want to do that again? I don't know. For now, we're done. Two princesses are enough for us to handle. ^_~
  • Professionally, at work, I think I've done quite a bit for my students this year! HBA has been doing all sorts of things, and recently, we got into groups, with each group teaching Rochelle's LA class about infectious diseases, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (since February was Black History Month, and they were studying how prejudice and actions were linked, etc...). The kids did a great job! And it was great to collaborate with someone I love working with. Rochelle also was just chosen as Teacher of the Year at our school this year! Hooray to Rochelle! She really does deserve it. =D
  • I also applied for one of the trips from the Ocean Institute at Dana Point and found out last week that someone has decided to sponsor and adopt our class for the program! So sometime this year, I'll be taking our HBA kids on a 3 day, 2 night tall ship schooner to Catalina Island. We'll be living on the boat, learning team-building skills and how to sail the ship, as well as lessons in science (bio luminescence, dissection, water chemistry, etc...!), kayak, snorkel, hike, and learn some history as well. Pretty amazing. Especially since it's all free for us (it costs $2400 a day!). 
  •  Earlier this year, the REEF grant I submitted got accepted (with a little help from Shelton, who came up with a creative name for the water bottle rocket project we do, hee hee...Newton's Aqueous Shuttle Adventurers, NASA!), and we'll have 5 shiny, new rocket launchers for each 8th grade science teacher this year. 
  • 9 of my students got selected for Kaiser's Hippocrates Circle Program. We had short notice on the application and the deadline was literally in a day, so about 15 applied, and 9 got in (they only select 20 in the entire district!). In this program, they'll have a chance to shadow a few doctors around at Kaiser, and at UCR, meet some pre-med and medical students who will share their backgrounds, and teach these students about what they could be doing one day in the future. The students already went to the first session, and they were really inspired and amazed to find out that these medical students weren't all rich kids, but people who came from background similar to theirs, and how they had to work hard to get to where they are now. I'm excited for them! And I'm extra proud, because no other teacher told their students about it - only me! - and I even had to help quite a few of them type of their applications and statements that they wrote on paper since they didn't have internet at home (since it was such a short notice, they had to go home, write it up and turn it in to me the next day so that I could type their online application for them and submit them on time). 
It's late now. And it's the Monday after Daylight Savings, so I'm sure you can imagine how it went today. Time to kick back, and catch up on TV! (Which, by the way, have you watched BBC's Sherlock? Love it. And Once Upon A Time is back. And I'm waiting for Sleepy Hollow to start back up. All amazing. ^_^ And oh, the past 2, 3 months, I've also watched and caught up on all of Fringe. Amazing, intelligent show. ^_^)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Break equals...

...nonstop time with these two smiling faces. :) Today, we dropped gma off at work while Shelton took his dad to the hospital for his PET scan, followed by a little bit of shopping, dim sum (because all the ramen shops were packed - ramen is all the rage lately and it doesn't help us ramen loving folks with small, hungry little ones!), and rest at home. I even got to throw in a 5k run in the afternoon during nap time, since the weather is wonderfully cool! :) Shelton's dad wasn't feeling up to going out, so we skipped the church Christmas program for a home cooked dinner at home. :)

Family time. All good. :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting Ready For Christmas

 
The Christmas season is always, undeniably, my favorite time of the year. Why? Oh, there's so many reasons...as a student, and now as a teacher, getting a few weeks off work/school has always been wonderful! And the whole wrapping presents in pretty paper, with ribbons and colorful fluffy tissue papers, Christmas lights and trees lighting up the indoors and outdoors, the chilly, cooler weather that prompts us to bundle up in warm winter attire and drink hot chocolate. The whole nature of giving something meaningful to others - whether it's something that you thought another would really, truly like, your time in talking and catching up or feeding them with homemade goodies, hours spent perfecting that homemade card design and cutting and coloring and creating it all. Remembering the that the greatest Gift of all time, given to mankind despite our sinful nature, is the Hope given to us as an act of Love through God. The time spent with VIPs in your life to celebrate our moments shared together...and all that good stuff...that's what I love about it. 

And these two new cookie recipes I discovered recently, that I am IN LOVE with. =) I didn't get any pictures, as it's been a busy few weeks, but here are links to the recipes. They're wonderful. You'll love them! So I must share:



True, there's this whole commercialized, superficial aspect of it, where we as a society, might focus too much on the shopping. The sales. Finding the "perfect" gift. Traumatized that our gifts won't get delivered in time by the UPS or USPS to certain individuals. Or that we must give a gift back to someone who gave us something or we'll look bad, and that the gift must be equal or more in value than the gift received. And so on. And though it's really easy to get caught up in that, I'm thankful I don't really take a part in that. I mean, hey, I love a good sale! =) But those aren't the reasons why I am thankful for this time of the year. 

Having snow in this part of the nation would be an extra nice bonus, but I am thankful for our SoCal/Las Vegas Christmas that we get to take part in every year. =)

We started our break Saturday with shabu-shabu hot pot in Rowland Heights with our Family Fellowship group - a small group of us young parents with young kids. I'm sure you can imagine how crazy it is taking young, active children to a restaurant, but at least we had corner just for us. ^_~ The next day, we had dinner at my parents, where Aiva and Penelope and Noah had too much together, entertaining the rest of us tired adults. =) Anyways, we're in Vegas now, and we celebrated our arrival with 1900's "little dragon dumpling buns" (xiao long bao) and green onion pancakes, hee hee. =) After some rest, we buffeted at Orleans with our family here - Uncle John and Shelton's parents, spending time to catch up, enjoy each other's company and give kisses and hugs abound. =) Yes, Christmas is already starting out the way I like it - in the company of wonderful people. =)

Some updates on Shelton's dad, in case you are wondering. They know that the kidney also has some tumors, so the cancer in the pancreas has spread a bit to the kidneys. We just found that out last week. A few weeks ago, they said he had about 18 months to live, but that was only based on an estimate from the oncologist, and at that time, they didn't know that the kidneys had anything in there yet. And around then, they also found that the tumor in the pancreas was near a blood vessel, so that it's good that they found it now, lest it causes a stroke later on. They also cannot do surgery on him to remove the tumor as it's in a difficult spot to get to, so he will be starting radiation treatment daily, for several weeks, soon. Soon, because we are still waiting on things from the insurance so that he can start - it seems like a long time for them to actually begin anything, as we found out about his having cancer in the first week of November...so it's a little frustrating, as we wish that the hospital can take care of things faster. We were hoping things would either have been set with the insurance, or taken care of soon - they are in the midst of switching to MediCare - so that Shelton's mom can stop working, and they can move in with us. We were hoping to have this happen around now, when we are the most free we'd be in months (due to winter break - Shelton has 3 weeks!), but it doesn't seem like it's going to happen now at this time. But. All in God's timing. He has His own plans - after all, even the accident was a blessing in disguise, because if it wasn't for that, we would have never known. 

He is definitely feeling pain in his abdomen all the time now, has less of an appetite, and finally, even though he has been diabetic for years, has been cutting out his daily cup(s) of McDonald's coffee and watching a bit more of what he eats. So yes, please do continue to pray for him, and for the process to speed up a bit more, and well, for so many things - for anything that might come up to you about this whole thing. God is good, and we praise Him no matter what. UJ brought up a good point, about how we are raised to believe that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people, and that how it's not true - that bad things can happen to good people. And it's true. Bad things can and do happen to good people. But I think that what really matters in the end, is how good people handle the bad things that come their way.

And Shelton's dad is handling it stronger than I think I would be. He still seems to be doing things for the church. Trusts in God's plans, even if it's not what he or anyone else may want. Still loving those around him, despite what he must be feeling right now. And he knows that there is Hope. The end is not The End. There is still more beyond our time here, and that Hope drives us to stay strong. After all, without Hope at all, what is the point?

And the good thing is, that Hope is available to all of us. Free, without strings attached. It's not the mumbo-jumbo, Bible-thumping, gay-hating mobs that seem to get the most news in the public. That doesn't reflect God's love. His love is different - it's just that, actually. Love. In the purest form. In a form that many of us are suspicious of because the world we grow up in so corrupted that we have a hard time understanding how we can be loved like that, and be given a true, real, second chance. Love for us when we've sinned, so much. Love for us when we've betrayed and turned our back on what is right and good. Love, full-on, ready to embrace us, when we choose to turn around and choose Him - to believe what He has done for us, to want that and accept that Hope, and in time, build that relationship with Him because He loves us, just as we would build a relationship with those that we love here on Earth.

Yep. And though the world may not always love like that, if we who believe on that type of Love would share it with those around us - friends, family, and even strangers - how much better would the world really be? We all know it would be incredible. And  incredible, amazing world. I'm a realist, and hey, it might not get to be that way ever here on Earth, but everything has to start, little by little, and perhaps, at least we can affect the people we run into in our every day lives, and have some sort of positive impact. And maybe...just maybe, someone affected by it will pass it on to the next person. =)

Negative actions will pass on from one person to another - just ask any psychologist, counselor, teacher, or anyone who works with a lot of people. Especially children, which is very, very sad. But when people abuse someone, it's likely the victim would pass on what they've learned in one way or another to someone else. If negative actions can move quickly, like a virus, why can't we try to reverse that with good actions? 

I think good actions take more work. It takes a more conscious, deliberate, thoughtful actions, and it's way easier to take the easier way out. But it's possible. Right? One step at a time? =)


Monday, November 25, 2013

Espresso Mousse


Martha Stewart, you never fail me. =)

Espresso Mousse

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin (from one 1/4-ounce packet)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Fine salt
  • 2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional) 
Directions:
  1. Step 1

    In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons water. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt until pale, about 1 minute.
  2. Step 2

    In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream and espresso powder over medium until warm, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into egg mixture until combined, then return to saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over medium until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in gelatin mixture. Press plastic wrap onto surface of espresso mixture and let cool completely (do not refrigerate), about 45 minutes.
  3. Step 3

    In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup cream until soft peaks form. With a spatula, gently fold cream into espresso mixture. Divide among six 4-ounce containers. Cover and refrigerate until set, 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Before serving, whisk 1/2 cup cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Top mousse with whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder, if desired.

P-Ditty

Bball Kids

Phil took this picture a while ago of most of the little ones who were at our churches basketball tournament last month. Paige and Aiva finally go to meet and play...the jump rope as a giant worm in which one held onto and ran around while the other chased after it seemed to be the cool thing with them to do, hee hee. :)

Curveballs

We've never really had a problem with cancer hitting our family. Sure, a few may have had them here and there, but they were often much, much older, and ready to go, already bedridden for a while, or have shown signs that it was almost time for them to go.


I've never thought my Uncle #2 was ever in that category. Sure, he's about 80, but he's a spry 80. One might think he was just in his 60's, with him always being so cheerful, active and enjoying his years of retirement by traveling, singing at church, and enjoying time with his family. So when I heard about a week ago that he went to the hospital because he couldn't walk and his legs were in pain, and that because there was a mass on his spine that was causing it, AND that they had found multiple masses throughout his body, I was more than unprepared for it.

He has a type of sarcoma cancer. Stage 4. And they're starting treatment right away. St. Jude's is working quick to do what they can (whereas Shelton's dad is still waiting for his biopsy! Long story. In short though, we are playing some sort of unwanted waiting game. However, I heard there was some progress and so now the ball is in the hospital's hand) to help my uncle, but it's a hard road. A difficult, exhausting journey for my uncle, aunt, my cousins, and my second cousins in particular, and it breaks my heart to see this happening.


He isn't the first person I know that has been struck with cancer - there have been and are many wonderful friends, some around my age, some older, and some much older. Some have survived, and some haven't, and there's always going to be a little empty void in my heart in the shape of the ones that haven't. Those that have His salvation, I have that hope and knowledge that I will see them again one day, and that brings comfort, but the cycle of life, and the mortality that we all physically face can still be daunting for us. I certainly am not ready nor do I want to see my actual family members nor friends that have become my family since 1978 go from this physical realm - but I suppose I am a bit selfish there..

Life's been throwing all sorts of unwanted curveballs lately. My dad isn't feeling well lately either. His heart's been on the slow end...and anyways, prayers would be nice. My cousin Andrew also just got sworn in and pinned Thursday as a deputy sheriff, which is actually good news and not a curveball in any way. Exciting times for him as he starts on his career, but definitely pray for his safety as he ventures into the career of his dreams. =)

Anyways. We're on a much-needed Thanksgiving week break right now in Vegas. It's nice not to set my alarm clock for the next day, nice not to HAVE to lesson plan - though I've done a bit of planning already for next week - and nice not to have to wake up girls early to go to daycare, because they are much less whiny and happier when they can wake up whenever they want to and hang out with mommy and daddy all day. ^_^

El Cangrejo "Nice"

Just a quick review of a fairly new Mexican seafood joint in town...and it's pretty awesome! Reminds us of the seafood we loved while we were on our honeymoon in Mexico!

the Shrimp a la Diablo was spicy and addicting. The beans weren't too bad either; I usually don't like beans, but when we were in Puerto Vallarta, I couldn't stop eating them! Maybe because they were cooked in lard, or something else, hee hee...but the taste was different. I appreciate beans here a bit more, but I can still taste that it's not what it was when we were in Mexico. The Ceviche Trio had a shrimp ceviche, a seafood ceviche (of various fish, octopus) were fantastic, and the crab one was good. The Salmon Tacos
 were to DIE for - spiced with chili, and sweet with pineapple chunks tossed in.

And if the majority of customers are Mexicans...you know it's gotta be good.^_~




We'll be back. :)

Fall School Photos

Penny's face. Lol. :) and Aiva, ever our princess. :)