Tuesday, June 17, 2014

May 2014

Warning: Pic heavy post, as I've not updated in forever. ^_~

Penny continues to grow, and eat, and eat and eat..funny enough, at her 2 year old check-up, the pediatrician says she's at 1% in terms of weight (which means she is heavier than 1 out of 100 babies that are her age and gender), and about 6-7% in terms of height. SHE IS SO LITTLE! Hee hee. But it's not cuz we don't feed her, nor that she doesn't eat, hee hee hee...She's a petite little one, and that might be why I carry her so much more than I did Aiva. She still fits 18 month clothing, and 2 year old pants will fall off of her, LOL.
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At the start of May, Aiva and I went to Ashley's Baby Sprinkle for Nolan - Ashley has such nice family and friends! And Aiva ate way too much chocolate and was a crazy dinosaur the whole time, who knocked out 2 minutes into the car ride home. LOL. All of us also went to Mindy and Neil's Baby Shower for Kyle at Saladang Song down in Old Town Pasadena (which I miss, by the way. Used to go there quite a bit in my younger, carefree days, but anyways!). The Thai restaurant was really fancy, but it was even better getting to see friends and hang out a bit with Melody (even if I didn't get to sit next to her because of Penny's demands!) and Connie and Perry and Mindy and Neil. =D

Aiva and Valerie, who both love Elsa from Frozen (what little girl doesn't? She has blown all the other Disney Princesses out of the water, it seems...goodbye Ariel and Jasmine and Belle...!) continue to be great friends at church, hee hee...it's neat seeing them grow together, how the kids of our friends are friends too, you know? =) With the way the world is nowadays - everyone moving here or there, it's rare that friends stay in the same area after college. 
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Kurt graduated from OTIS, though we couldn't make it to his graduation. I'm so proud of him! And to think that I met him so long ago as a little 13 year old boy, in our small group, and have seen him grow up to be such a wonderful young man, talented, God-fearing and loving to those around him. I can't be prouder! *puffs chest out like a proud peacock*

I got a little Mother's Day Date at Luna, one of our favorite little spots in town. =) One of the extra benefits of living with our in-laws is that after we get the girls to bed, they will be at home in case anything happens. We don't leave them with any work other than making sure things are okay at home, and yet we are free to go out a bit! So this past month and some, we've got to head out to either run errands, take a little date or two, and even watch some movies! (Maleficent, Captain America...you know, all those important movies that will change your life and all? ^_~)


One of the highlights of the month? AIVA CUT HER OWN HAIR. OMG. She had such long hair, thick and beautiful, and I had been giving her much-requested "Elsa Braid" at least twice a week, so I think I'm more heartbroken than she is, hahahaha...Grandma had told us on the phone one day that when we come home, there was a surprise for us, though she didn't say what. As it turns out, she was with Grandpa in his room, BUT HE FELL ASLEEP. And she grabbed these scissors and started cutting her hair...into a shaggy, super uneven mullet, LOL. Leaving hair all over their bedroom. Now, it's a super short pixie/boy cut. Sigh. As my friend Melody says, it's a rite of passage of growing up...


I love our new little place as well - they have community events, like community garage sales, "popsicles by the pool", Cinco de Mayo events for adults, and the annual faire where free watermelon is given out all day, and all the food is only 50cents (hot dogs and chips, cotton candy, drinks, etc).  Community vendors gave away freebies, and there were pony rides, a petting zoo, lots of inflatable bouncers and slides, and even a station for kids to decorate clay pots, choose a flower to put inside, and take home! Aiva got her first pony ride; Penny was too little, but she ran after the pony for a bit, crying for a turn too, hee hee. We've also been using the community pool (3 pools! A wading and play area for little ones, and 2 larger ones) alot, and are starting to get to know our neighbors. Though I miss my old neighbors - Cara and Jenn and Jeff's family? They are the best!


At work, things started getting a little less hectic, with CSTs over at the start of the month, followed by nonstop, awesome projects for the rest of the year. I got to immerse my HBA kids fully into Forensic Sciences, with fun labs where they had to figure out the culprit based on lipstick prints, fingerprints, and even analyzing their handwritings, as well as playing detective for a murder, and creating crime scenes out in little skits. My regular science classes had fun with our Annual Egg Drop Eggstravaganza, and built Newton Scooters, using all the knowledge they've learned this year in Physics. Super fun. I wish my own 8th grade experience was like that, but it wasn't, so I'm glad I could make them learn and have fun with it at the same time. ^_~

Ah. My loves. ^_^ And the Penelobeast, who only loves to eat the Lotus Leaf wrapped Sticky Rice at Dim Sum...

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And more random pictures from May:

Aiva on the Porch Swing :)





Penny starting at the big kids playing outside our house.

Aiva with Ms. Christine, her teacher since she started at FCCNS.
Vanessa and I at Lift Coffee Roasters. Which we wanted to try due to the hype. But it's just coffee, and neither of us are coffee drinkers...>_<



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Penelobeast



She turned 2 last week. How time flies! We had a little birthday party for her and two friends from church who also had birthdays in April: Valerie turned 5 and Jeffrey turned 3. So we rented a jumper, cooked up a storm and partied the day away, hee hee. :) I had more pictures but they were on my other phone. The one that died suddenly out of nowhere and wouldn't turn on at all. The store reps said it wasn't a common occurrence at all, so lucky me! 

Actually, yes, lucky me: I have a fancy white and gold iPhone5s now! So precious...(cue creepy LOTR Smeegal voice hahahahaha...!)

So. The past month. We moved. In-laws moved in from Vegas right away. Everyone adjusted pretty well. We love the new house and it's lovely up here in the Cleveland National Forest, where the air is cleaner and crisper, and where we have felt none of the recent earthquakes that have been hitting SoCal.

Yeh-Yeh has good days and bad days with his health, and Mah-Mah loves fattening our little Penelope. Mah-Mah celebrated her birthday here in early April also! Penny no longer goes to daycare, but Aiva continues her pre-K classes three times a week instead of the full week, now that grandparents are home to hang out with them. 

I haven't had much breaks at all - it's either work, work, work, or kids, kids, kids, or grandparents, so I've not baked or done any running lately, probably not getting enough sleep, and there's always too much to do, but it's okay. Because God has blessed us with jobs, and despite some tough days at work, I still love teaching and making science fun, real and meaningful to students, who are people too, with all sorts of things going on in their own lives. I'm blessed with my family, who takes up so much of my time and attention, but it's okay because we are given the gift of being together, which not every family gets. I'm blessed with a home to clean and take care of, because not everyone has a place to call home, a place where they can rest and feel safe. 

So yeah. It's been nonstop busy. But it's cuz God has given us much too many good things. :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Best $12 Ever!

This movie! I can't even. THE CAP IS MY HERO! :)


We've moved in the past month, and have assembled so much furniture that we are, as unbelievable as it might sound, IKEA'd out of our minds! We also have settled in mostly and everyone is adjusting well. I'll have to update a bit more when I get some rare quiet time on the computer hee hee, but for now, hello and adieu! :)

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.

Honda-Ya Izakaya

Yes. Go eat here. You won't regret it one bit. :)

P-Ditty