Wednesday, December 31, 2008
So on Christmas Eve, we got to the Denver International Airport early (for once!) for our flight to Michigan to visit Dan's family. This was a quite a feat because we live two-hours away from the airport and we had to get two little kids ready and out the door by 6:45 AM.
Looking at the departure flight information on the monitors, we noticed that our flight was delayed for a few hours. Another person on our flight was also scratching his head and we agreed it seemed strange that the flight should be delayed because the weather was fine. So we head to our gate to find a long line of people waiting to talk with the agents. It turns out that the plane had mechanical problems and the part had to be flown in from a different airport. After many hours of waiting around, they finally canceled the flight so we had to get on a flight for the next day.
What made it bearable was the people we met while waiting and waiting and waiting... We met two other families who were on the same flight. One family had brought a portable DVD player and invited Charlie to watch the movies with them. They had a little girl about 4 1/2 years old named Maggie and a little boy about two-years-old named PJ. They were watching "101 Dalmatians" and Charlie was a little scared of the scenes on screen at the time. The little girl tried to reassure Charlie and told him she would keep him safe. After a while, Charlie decided to sit and watch the movie. The little girl sat down next to him and put her arm around him - she was "keeping him safe". Isn't that just the sweetest thing? There was another family there with two girls, one close to Maggie's age and the other close to Charlie's age. They and Maggie hit it off right away.
So while the adults tried to get the latest status of the flight and figure out what to do - whether to try and get a different flight, or even if another flight was available at all - (this WAS Christmas Eve and all flights were full) - the kids were having fun watching movies and playing with each other. It was actually very nice because we were worried enough as it was without having to try and entertain our kids or keep them from melting down.
When it was apparent that our flight would be canceled, it was too late to get on another flight. The first family invited us to stay the night at their house but we didn't take them up on their offer because we hadn't figured out what we were going to do yet. Dan had wanted to drive home but I didn't want to have to drive two hours home and then have to drive all the way back to the airport the next day. Later, the other family also extended the invitation for us to stay at their house and said we were welcome but that they wouldn't be offended if we chose not to stay with them. They left the airport before us because we needed our luggage and it took the luggage people a while to get them for us. We did decide to stay with the family because it had gotten late, almost dinner time.
The man is a firefighter and his wife is a nurse. He had written out detailed directions and gave us their cell phone number. They lived in Aurora, which is only 30-minutes from the airport. Their house was very nice with a finished basement which had the guest room and an extra child's room.
They had gotten on a flight early the next morning so they had to leave much earlier than we did but they said to just lock up when we left. We were amazed at how nice they were. They even watched Ellie for us while we took Charlie to get some dinner. The next day, around noon, they called us to make sure we'd gotten on our flight.
We were so grateful for this sweet family and their kindness to us. These people opened their home to us, mere strangers whom they'd only met at the airport. They trusted us to lock up their house for them when we left. The world is a better place because of people like them. I will always remember their great example of kindness.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Our little family has weathered a year of ups and downs and just feel grateful to be mostly on the upside of things. We began the year by settling into a newly purchased home. Right away we began two home improvement projects: one, moving the laundry area from the kitchen to the utility room complete with a new set of larger and more efficient washer and dryer and two, replacing linoleum flooring in the kitchen with tile. The tiling was not yet complete when our little girl arrived at the beginning of February.
The birth of baby Ellie ushered in many changes in scheduling and lifestyle, which are normal. Ellie is a darling girl and we enjoy her sweet little personality. She has learned to crawl and loves to explore all the places she can get into. Recently, she has been working on pulling herself up and standing. She also shows signs of getting a couple of teeth.
Charlie accepted the new way of life in stride and continues to be a happy, healthy little boy. He loves to build railroad tracks, play on the computer, watch TV, sing, dance, and count. He's learned to count in English and Chinese. He plays well with his baby sister and likes to help with the diaper changes and other chores. The thing he doesn't like as much about having a baby sister is having to share his toys. It's a hard thing to learn for a three-year-old.
Dan is always busy both at work and at home. About once a week, he has to go into work in the middle of the night to do maintenance on the network. Because there's a chance of taking down the satellite connection, the maintenance has to be done during the time when there are few viewers. He's also on-call every six weeks. During one on-call week, he was called every night! When he is home, he's busy helping with the kids, dishes, and laundry. Charlie and Ellie are always glad when daddy gets home from work. They love to give him hugs.
I stay busy caring for the kids and our home. After Ellie was born, I did get tendonitis again but am now able to do most things. We were grateful to be able to get help from church members. My mom came and helped out for almost two-months, which was really a lifesaver.
We remember the Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We're grateful for the many blessings we enjoy because He was born. We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. May the new year bring many happy things to come!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Well, I just found out about a great idea through my cousin's blog. She's a singer songwriter in Atlanta, Georgia. Her most recent blogpost includes a video in which she explains the Not for Sale Campaign to fight against human trafficking. Did you know that this is a problem here in the US as well as all over the world? The Not for Sale Campaign's website describes the purpose of this non-profit organization:
...Not For Sale is a campaign of students, entrepreneurs, artists, people of faith, athletes, law enforcement officers, politicians, social workers, skilled professionals, and all justice seekers, united to fight the global slave trade.
Not For Sale aims to educate and mobilize an international abolitionist movement through the innovation and implementation of open-source activism. Inside the United States, the campaign identifies trafficking rings and collaborates with local law enforcement and community groups to shut them down and provide support for the victims. Internationally, the campaign partners with poorly resourced abolitionist groups to enhance their capacity.
Every single person has a skill that they can give to free an individual living in bondage.It is unbelievable to me that such terrible things are happening to people today. I know that while I can't personally stop such atrocities, my actions and contributions added to those of millions of other people can make a difference.
Maybe this is not the kind of cause everyone would like to support. There are many other good causes you can support. United Way is an agency that supports local organizations that help the needy in communities throughout the US. If you are looking to help locally, that would be a great place to start. I encourage everyone to seek out ways to help others. I know many of you are already doing this and it's great to know such caring people.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here are a couple other things Charlie likes to do on his own: Put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. This is usually dangerous because he squeezes really hard and too much comes out. Oh well, he tries.
Brush his teeth. I usually help him brush after he's done to make sure all the teeth got brushed. I'm a stickler for clean teeth.
I'm really glad that Charlie enjoys trying out new things. He really likes to be independent. I remember when he started eating solid food, he would try to grab the spoon so he could feed himself. Back then, he couldn't tell me what he wanted but now he often tells me, "I want to do all by myself!" or "I did it!"
My baby's not such a baby anymore!
Monday, December 8, 2008
When you're a mother, sleeping-in is not an option. In my case, my wake up call comes in the form of a 3-year-old boy who comes to my side of the bed every morning asking for chocolate milk. But don't think I'm complaining, I'll take that over what he used to do which was to wake up 2 - 3 times a night wanting milk and needing a diaper change.
The day gets better. My visiting teachers arrive with goodies: fresh, warm-out-of-the-oven banana bread and a plateful of homemade fudge and cookies. We enjoy visiting and chatting; Charlie gets to play with a couple of kids they brought.
After lunch, the kids go down for a nap around the same time and sleep for about two-hours! That almost never happens. I am left with time on my hands which I quickly fill trying to whittle down my to-do list.
How do I order another day like this? Ironically, if everyday was like this, I probably wouldn't appreciate it as much.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Ever since Charlie was a baby, he's had a stuffed frog. The first one he had was a small lovey some friends gave us. Unfortunately, "Froggy Friend" was lost during a walk. Even at a few months, Charlie had learned to love and showed signs of sadness at losing his friend. We bought several stuffed animals in an attempt to replace this lovey but none took hold of his affections until Dan found another stuffed frog, which was similar in color.
We call him Bill. Charlie and Bill are inseparable. "Bill" was one of Charlie's first words! We take him everywhere we go, although we've lost Bill enough times that now he stays in the car when we go somewhere. Charlie won't go to bed without his buddy Bill. Dan made up song about Bill to sing to Charlie when he tucks him in at night. Now, it's funny to hear Charlie sing the song himself. Even I don't know the words as well as he does.
Charlie is now 3 1/2. I'm surprised that Bill's lasted this long. We've lost him a few times and have always been lucky to get him back. Bill's also been thrown up on, dragged through dirt and dust, and washed countless times. Besides his family, Charlie loves no one better than Bill.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Up until today, she's only been able to get her torso up on the step. She has also been trying to get up our basement stairs (see below).
I just now discovered her actually above the first step! Obviously, I'm so proud of her for having figured it out on her own but I am also not too eager for her to be able to get around too well. With Charlie, I was more excited about him getting mobile but knowing what that mobility brings, I look on Ellie's accomplishment with a mixture of pride and reservation.
Sometimes I tell him something and he'll repeat it but it comes out with a twist. It makes me laugh and I just love that he's trying so hard to be grown up. I often forget to record what he says and I end up totally regretting it a week later when I'm trying to recall it. I wish I have an instant recorder for those wonderful moments I never want to forget.
Sunday evening, we were having the missionaries over (once again) for dinner. We like feeding the missionaries. However, we always need to pick up a little around the house so at least it's presentable. So I asked Charlie to put his shoes in the coat closet because I didn't want the elders to see shoes laying around. He did what I asked and then he said, "We have to put the shoes away because we don't want the elders to lay on the shoes."
Monday, December 1, 2008
Looking over my posts, I realized that most of them are about Charlie! They say the first child usually gets the most attention and that may seem to be the case here. Charlie's personality certainly demands more attention. He can be very needy and loud; I know that's his way of getting the attention he wants. Ellie on the other hand is more calm and quiet, although she can scream pretty loudly herself especially in the middle of the night. My mom said that Charlie is more like me, dramatic, and Ellie's more like Dan, quiet. We'll see about that.
It's amazing to watch children grow and develop. Charlie and Ellie certainly have different temperaments. I just love each of them and their unique qualities! It's a thrill to see them reach milestones. Ellie has just learned to crawl even faster and now enjoys standing up as much as possible. She can't stand up on her own yet but does a pretty job of staying up with a bit of help. She's also very good a communicating with us in her own way. One of my favorite new things she does is waving when she sees us; she stretches out her arm and hand as if to say hi. She loves to explore now that she mobile and throws a fit when we take away something she's not supposed play with.
I love it when she laughs or smiles. One way she laughs is by wrinkling up her nose with a big smile and breathing in and out really quickly through her nostrils. I did that with her a long time ago and she copied me. It's funny how she picked that up even when she was so little. She's just a joy to have around. Looking at my kids, sometimes I can't believe they're mine! My heart fills up just thinking about it.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Things were going fairly well around 12:30 PM. We had the cranberry dressing made, the turkey was ready to be stuffed, and the dough for the rolls was rising. All of a sudden, I heard the oven beep and Dan yelling, "Oh, no! No, no, no!!" I knew what had happened and my fears were confirmed when I walked into the kitchen and saw a half-melted mixing bowl with the dough we had put in the oven to rise.I thought the dough was ruined but Dan thought it seemed okay. He decided to make the rolls with it anyway to see how they'd turn out. Fortunately, the rolls turned out, but they were not as fluffy as normal. We ended up spending several minutes peeling the dried up pieces of plastic off the oven racks and bottom surface. I almost laughed out loud at the unbelievable situation but knew that Dan was still a little upset so I kept it to myself. We've learned to be extra careful when letting dough rise in the oven. Set a timer to turn it off after a few minutes of warming!
Needless to say, it was a busy day. I was just grateful that my wrists were feeling pretty good and I could keep up with prepping food and washing the various dishes and utensils we were using throughout the day. We made enough food for an army. We'd invited the missionaries over and one of the elders had a cold and didn't eat a single bite. So, here we were with a huge turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, green beans, cranberry dressing, and three different kinds of pie - and we three adults and a small child made up the group. It was quite a memorable day to say the least. However, at the end of the day, we were grateful that things turned out well despite it all. The nice thing was that we had so much food left over, we didn't have to cook for three days!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Last Saturday, Charlie and I went down to the Union Pacific Depot to ride a mini-train. The Depot is no longer a real passenger train depot but was once the original Union Pacific hub when passenger trains used to pass through here. However, Cheyenne is still a major center for freight rail trains.
For anyone who does not know, Charlie loves trains. It can be called an obsession. He used to line the food on his plate like a train. He's watched Thomas & Friends so many times, he knows the words to the theme song. We read the story book, I Love Trains, before each nap time and bedtime. You know what's funny? He learned his colors from a book called Freight Train.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Last night, Charlie and I made a gingerbread house. It was from a kit you buy. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to make my own gingerbread from scratch. I can imagine the wonderful smells of gingerbread permeating our home as we wait for it to bake. Mmmm!!
We were actually at the church with a dozen other people who did the same thing. There were some very unique designs. The Glantz father & son team brought graham crackers with them. They made this souped up truck with oreos for wheels and hitched their modular gingerbread house behind it, complete with a "wide load" sign. The Elders and a young couple worked together to come up with a unique design - several designs that didn't quite work out. An hour later, on our way out, they were trying to keep their tower together. The Nuttalls, who are actually rebuilding their real house from scratch, by themselves, had a beautiful snow-blanketed roof with perfect icicles hanging from the edges. And there I was, hurrying to get ours done because it was way, way past Charlie's bedtime. I kept it simple and didn't let the imperfections bother me.
Charlie had fun helping me decide what color of candy to put on the roof and eating candy and icing. I look forward to doing this in future years and letting the kids do more of the designing.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Because I'm Chinese, I want my kids to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese. I remember talking with a Taiwanese friend in the second grade one time about someone who was Chinese but didn't speak the language because this person was born in the U.S. She kind of made it clear that it was shameful that this person couldn't speak Chinese. While I don't hold it against Chinese people who are U.S. born and don't speak the language, I do feel a certain pride in being able to communicate in my native language. Mind you, I don't speak Chinese that well. My vocabulary is limited - many times, I struggle to find the right word. Nonetheless, I think it's important that my children learn some Chinese for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it IS their heritage. One way to get to know one's heritage and background is to get to know the language. The Chinese language is very structured, elegant, and complex. It has evolved with the history of the people who speak it. There's also great Chinese literature out there. I know there are translations available but reading literature in the language it is written brings out understanding and meaning that one wouldn't get from a translation. For example, a lot of idioms make more sense.
Second of all, it is spoken by more people than any other language mainly because there are more Chinese people than any other people. But, it's also important because we are a global society and many people do business in China.
That said, I haven't been too forceful about teaching Charlie to speak Chinese. I have taught him a few simple words and he picks it up pretty quick. It'd be easier if I had someone to speak Chinese with on a daily basis. Dan tried to learn Chinese when we were first married but he's given up on it. It is pretty hard to learn a language that is so different from English. Also, I have to admit I was partly to blame for his discouragement: He tried to say a few words in front of me and it sounded funny so I couldn't help laughing. Maybe someday he'll try again.
I don't know of a good way to teach kids Chinese. Fun and interactive TV programs like Ni Hao, Kailan! are a good way to teach language. I remember going to Chinese school on Saturday mornings. It wasn't very fun to go to school on a Saturday. I don't know if I want to make my kids do that. Who knows, maybe when my kids are old enough to go to school, Chinese will be one of the classes they can take. I think some high schools teach Chinese classes now. I could just suck it up and teach it to them myself. I'd just need to do a little work. Jia you!
Monday, November 17, 2008
A group of knitters who live at Cedar Crest, a continuing care retirement facility in New Jersey, get together one hour a week to knit hand puppets, blankets, hats for newborns, and other toys. These items are donated to hospitals and children's medical centers. The hand puppets are used by doctors to talk with children; it helps to diffuse the fear a child may have in a hospital setting.
Last month, 100 hand puppets were donated to Circle of Life, a Newark, NJ based program that provides services to children with terminal illnesses. These gifts from the heart make a big difference in the lives of the children and care givers. It also helps the knitters. One of them, eighty-six-year-old Evelyn DeLeeuw said, "You can't sit and grow old. You have to keep active."
I love how these women found something they could do to help others. It helps me think of things I can personally do to help make someone's life better. Even if it's just as simple as showing more patience and love to those around me. We don't have to save the world, just focus on meeting a need in our own little corner of the world.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Drink chocolate milk. Ask for candy and juice on a regular basis. Get extremely upset when being refused.
Tell Mommy "no!" when she says to do anything - eat breakfast, brush teeth, change clothes, stop hitting Ellie, eat lunch, take a nap, etc.
Play: Build a house out of the couch cushions. Build train tracks and make the trains crash. Play pretend.
Take away any toys that Ellie looks at with even the mildest interest. Tell her to stop crying in the same tone of voice Mommy uses when she's mad.
Get into mischief when Mommy's not looking. Or, if she is looking, go up to Mommy to give her a big hug because you know you're in trouble. Make it something that usually covers a surface area like marker, powder, crumbs, or liquid.
Be the cutest and sweetest little boy.
Say funny things.
Nurse and eat.
Look adorable. Smile and laugh.
Talk and smile when Mommy tries to interpret what you're saying, even if she's wrong.
Giggle and bounce and wave your arms when you know Mommy or Daddy will pick you up.
Army crawl around the sunroom to find interesting things to eat and play with. Get stuck in small corners.
Scream at the top of your lungs when being laid down to sleep. Decide to wake up at odd intervals at night.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In Cheyenne, the Air Force has a major presence. I have many friends whose husbands are in the military. One of them just had a baby in May and her husband has been deployed to Afghanistan. She is handling it well, although she credits some of her strength to friends at church. Her situation is an example of the kind of sacrifice military families make.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
"Come what may and love it." A quote from a talk by Elder Wirthlin in the October General Conference. My visiting teachers shared this message with me last week. I remembered the talk and I'm grateful to them for sharing it with me. It helps and strengthens me at this time when I often feel discouraged. It reminds me to focus on what I do have instead of what I wish could be. I think of my wonderful children and how grateful I am that they are part of our family and my life. Then, there are the many friends from my ward who have helped me in different ways. Of course, I can't forget my dear husband who works and then comes home to make meals, take care of the children, etc. all while still trying to maintain his own health (he suffers from back and neck issues).
Last but not least, my family has been a great support even though they are not in the local area. I am truly grateful that my mom's been willing to put her own life on hold for almost two months to help me try to get back on track. It's been wonderful having her here and I know the kids have really loved having Wai-Po (Chinese for maternal grandmother) here.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
So, I know Halloween was last week but I have to put up these adorable pictures of Charlie and Ellie in their costumes. We had a fun week with several fun Halloween activities. The Saturday before Halloween, our stake puts up a Candy Corn Carnival at the Stake Center. This year attendance was higher and it seems like you could hardly walk around without bumping into someone. They serve hot dogs, chips, and root beer along with other treats. In the gym, there's a bounce house which is so fun for little kids. In many of the rooms there are games and activities set up. A popular activity was getting a long balloon twisted into the shape of your choice. Charlie picked a caterpillar at my suggestion. It's amazing that the person was able to do the shape because it was rather complicated. He even made several little feet; near the end, I had to stop him for fear that the balloon would pop. Charlie ate so much candy, but hey, that's what Halloween's all about. He had a lot of fun with all the different games.
Then, on the Tuesday before Halloween, Charlie went to a Halloween party at a friend's. I didn't get any pictures because I was only there to drop-off and pick-up. On Halloween, we had a trunk-or-treat activity in the church parking lot. He actually didn't mind wearing his costume the whole time. At the carnival, he took off his costumer after an hour. We had fun walking around to the different vehicles and getting candy. Charlie has enough candy to last him til Easter!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Because I'm a Mormon (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), I am a minority in registering as a Democrat. I actually don't like to label myself as Democratic or Republican. Labels are so misleading. Not all Democrats are alike. The problem with being a member of the LDS Church is that most people expect you to fit a certain mold, i.e. be a Republican. We have ideals that we try to live up to and when one does not meet that ideal, it is seen negatively. I love my faith and I do not want to paint the people of the faith in a negative light. For the most part, the members are wonderful people. I merely want to point out that there is a tendency toward assuming that if you're a good member you must ....(fill in the blank). For example, if you're a good member, you must have lots of kids. This kind of thinking is an obstacle to a unified body of Christ.
There's a wonderful article on LDSLiving.com about an interview with Elder Marlin K. Jensen on the need for diversity in political views. I was really glad to read Elder Jensen's call for members to avoid the "division of along Mormon/non-Mormon, Republican/Democratic lines".
Thursday, October 2, 2008
My condition was diagnosed as de Quervain's tenosynovitis, which is commonly known as "new mom's syndrome" because a lot of new moms get it. The symptoms include pain and swelling in the area where the thumb meets the wrist. One way to know if you have it is to do the Finklestein test: form a fist by wrapping your fingers around the thumb and bend your wrist away from your thumb, sort of like you're holding a tennis racket down. If you feel a sharp pain at the base of your thumb, you may have de Quervain's tenosynovitis. You should consider treatment by a professional.
When I first got this problem, I wanted to find out more about it and how to treat it because it was really painful. I searched the web looking for information and also for people who have the same problem. It seemed like I was the only person with the problem - I didn't know anyone with the problem personally. I felt like maybe there was something wrong with me that I got the problem. I mean, I knew lots of mothers who had many kids and they didn't get this problem. I also wanted to know that this problem wasn't permanent. My pain was constant and it affected my everyday life. Many times, I felt depressed and frustrated, and also scared that maybe it wouldn't get better. It did eventually get better after months of physical therapy, getting shots, and rest from activity (which was very difficult with a baby). So, I hope that this can help others who may have this type of tendonitis, or any type of tendonitis brought on by excessive activity. Know that it does get better after appropriate professional treatment. I felt fortunate to have help from family members and access to good health care.
My sister recently sent me links to a couple of relevant articles that you can check out. The first one gives good background information about de Quervain's and the second one is about a new way of doing cortisone injections that sounds more effective than the traditional method that I've gotten. http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977187215
If you have this problem, I assure you it can get better because I've been there. My best wishes to your speedy recovery and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just need moral support.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Yesterday, I realized up until then I still hadn't written in my journal this month. I'm usually pretty good about writing in it every week or at least every other week. I have several reasons for the relapse - one, I have a toddler who needs my attention constantly; two, I'm pregnant and due in 2 weeks; and three, we've been having some work done on our house. All of those things in addition to the daily routines of being human pretty much takes up my time and energies these days.
People usually make a list of new year resolutions around this time. I have thought a lot about resolutions and what I could put on my list. One year, I didn't make any resolutions because I got tired of the same old rut of making a long list and then barely accomplishing anything. This year, I don't think I will make a list right away. I'm going to think more about what I'd really like to accomplish and make goals along the way. I've already got ideas about organizing our family finances, improving my health, and strengthening relationships with those closest to me.