Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Thanksgiving Meltdown

This was our first Thanksgiving away from Midland as a couple. We had quite a busy day cooking and preparing for our big feast. Dan thought it was funny that he was taking the day off work to do more work at home! I had to remind him that we get to be together as a family, even if it was doing work.

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

Choo choo!

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

Gingerbread House

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

你好, Charlie!

Charlie's new favorite show is on Nick Kids. It's an animated cartoon called, "Ni Hao, Kailan!" The main character, Kailan, is the typical adorable character with a big head and big eyes. She and her friends teach kids Chinese along with other lessons like sharing, playing fair, being patient, and being helpful. It's very interactive and Charlie loves dancing along with the songs.

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

So Inspiring!

I've become a news junkie. I like to keep up on the current events by listening to the radio, watching news programs, and reading the newspaper. Unfortunately, it's the negative stuff that usually ends up in the news and these days there's plenty of bad news. So, when I read about this tender little story, I felt like I had to share it. It is a reminder that every little act of kindness helps and that every person can make a difference in someone else's life. Making the world a better place is something everyone can do.

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

A Day in the Life of ...


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

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day! My cousin, Eugene, is in Iraq. Fortunately, he is safe and well and should be returning to the states this month. He's been keeping our family updated on his situation for the year he's been deployed. We continue to pray for his safe return. I am so grateful that he and other brave men and women are willing to serve our country. I appreciate the sacrifices so many families have on behalf of our country.

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

Thanks, Mom!

In a couple days, my mom will be going home. She's been here many weeks to help us so my wrists can get the rest they need. I mentioned before that I have tendonitis. I have done everything I can think of to get them better: hired baby-sitters, gone to physical therapy and doctors, taken medication, gotten cortisone shots, etc. Having my mom here was a major push to try to return my wrists to near normal operation so I can take care of my family again. They are feeling a bit better but I can tell it's going to take more time for them to be fully functional. I worry that I will back to square one soon after I'm on my own again. But, we'll cross that bridge when the time comes. I just have to hold on to the hope of eventual healing, which unfortunately can be a long haul.

"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

Trick O'Treat!

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

Why I Voted for Obama

Living in Wyoming, a strong red state, I knew my vote was not going to change the outcome of the election. However, I believe one should vote his/her conscience and so I did. It wasn't that I didn't like McCain or his ideas; I didn't like the way he campaigned and some of his ideas. I didn't like that he chose Palin to be his running mate; it was obvious that he picked her for the conservative base and for attracting the Clinton supporting women. I chose Obama not because I agreed with all of his views and ideas, but because I thought he would do the best job as president. Though he has negative ads attacking McCain, they were about McCain's policies and not about McCain's character.

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 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".