Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Xin Nian Kwai Le!

Xin Nian Kwai Le! Happy Chinese New Year! This is a couple days late since Chinese New Year was on Monday. This is the year of the Ox, which is known to be hardworking and prosperous. While the official holiday was on January 26th this year, the celebration lasts about a week. Millions of Chinese people travel home to be with family because it is considered the most important holiday of the year. The traditional belief is that the new year brings good fortune. A major part of the celebration is eating a fancy meal of foods that symbolize good fortune, prosperity, and long life.

Our family celebrated by eating dumplings, rice, and stir-fried bok choy with garlic and shiitake mushrooms. The dumplings represent gold nuggets and the rice is for good fortune. The day before the holiday, people usually clean their homes from top to bottom, symbolizing sweeping away bad luck or ill will from the past year. You're not supposed to clean on the holiday itself as you wouldn't want to sweep away any good fortune that might have arrived. Not being superstitious, and since the day before was the Sabbath, I did do some cleaning on the first day of the new year.

Our little celebration was quite modest compared to how you're really supposed to do it. Here's a link to some beautiful pictures of people celebrating Chinese New Year around the world.

By the way, I have another blog devoted to something I enjoy very much: food! It's called Cheyenne Foods and the url is I will be sharing recipes and food thoughts there.

Friday, January 23, 2009


After spending hundreds of dollars and changing countless diapers, I've decided enough is enough! Dan and I have made it our goal to make sure Charlie is potty-trained this year!! The sooner the better.

Unfortunately, it's been a struggle. I regret that we didn't start doing it sooner. We should've started a couple years ago but Dan got a new job and we moved almost 2000 miles. Six months later we bought a house and a few months after that we had our baby. So, now he's much older and even more stubborn. It truly seems like a battle of the wills. For a couple of days, he was really into peeing in the potty so he could get a piece of candy. We tried to get him to do number two but that wasn't going to happen. I got mad at him one day because I knew he was trying to do a bm but he told me he didn't want to sit on the potty. Five minutes later, he told me his diaper was pooy. So, I yelled at him (which I know was a no-no). Then, he decided he didn't want anything to do with the potty. A couple weeks passed and the other day he peed in the potty once. I feel like we're back to square one.

If anyone has any tips, we'd love to hear them! For now, we've told him that we're not buying any more diapers. My only consolation is knowing that he will be trained eventually.

Okay, so I wrote this yesterday and since then I've had a chance to talk with some other moms and read up a bit more on potty-training. So, I feel a little bit better now. I have a potty chart with squares that I would mark off with a star every time he uses the potty. I told Charlie that when he earns six stars I would give him a prize (which will probably be a small Thomas the Train toy because he loves Thomas). He seems to like the idea and earned his first star today!

I'd still love to hear what you've done so I can have an arsenal of tricks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Proud to be American

I couldn't help feeling touched when watching the Inaugural Ceremony on TV yesterday. Having grown up right outside of DC, the Capitol and other great buildings and monuments on the National Mall are familiar landmarks. It was as if I was actually there to witness this amazing moment in history.

President Obama's speech was a somber reminder of the dire problems we do face but it was also a call to every citizen to do his part to solve them. Being a mother, I was especially struck by his mention of nurturing a child. I thought to myself that that's what I do every single day. I'm glad he included such an important work in the list of things we can do to help our country move forward.

Much has been said about the historic significance of an African-American becoming the president of the United States. I think it does merit recognition as does the fact that we were able to have a peaceful transfer of power. I am so grateful to be an American and to be blessed to live in this wonderful place. While we do have challenges, we also have so much. It reminds me of the scripture that says, "where much is given, much is required."

Friday, January 16, 2009


Yeah!! I found the camera! It was actually in a place I didn't think to look before and I happened upon it while putting away some stuff.

Finding the camera was one less hurdle to taking a picture of Ellie & her first tooth. I didn't realize how hard it can be to get such a picture! Every time I caught her smiling or laughing, she'd see the camera and reach for it or she'd stick her tongue out. Out of all the pictures I took trying to get one with her tooth in it, this was the only one that turned out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Money, money, money ...

There's no way to ignore what's going on out there. We hear about it in the news every single day. The credit crisis, the Wall Street Bailout, the Big Three Bailout, the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme gone wrong, layoffs, bankruptcies, etc., etc... Okay, I don't want to be negative because there's still a lot of good things happening but these are sure rough times for so many people.

I've been keeping up on this stuff because I keep track of our family finances and get a weird sense of satisfaction from learning more about investing and personal finance. Last year, Dan and I worked on getting our affairs in order, mainly so the kids are taken care of in case anything happens to us. It's morbid, I know, but it's also preparing for the unknown. So, I used Suze Orman's Will & Trust Kit to set up a trust and other documents. I've read several of her books and have found her advice to be very helpful.

Now Suze Orman has a new book out called Suze Orman's 2009 Action Planner, which can be downloaded for free from It's only free until January 15th. I love Suze's advice because it's always practical and easy to understand.

So, even though it's kind of crazy and scary out there, I feel like we do have some control because we're trying to do the right things like tithing, savings, living within our means, and... well, I'd like to say budgeting but that's one we're still working on. It just makes me feel grateful to know that even though money is important and necessary, it's not the most important thing in our lives.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Ahhh!! Tonight, I discovered that our digital camera is LOST!! I have been looking for it the past few days but just thought it was hiding somewhere in the house. Well, tonight Dan hunted around all the places I could think of it possibly being and no luck. Then I realized maybe I'd accidentally left it at the restaurant we went to a week ago with the kids. (I'd brought it thinking that I'd be so prepared to snap any cute pictures.)

I've been dying to take this adorable picture of Ellie with her first tooth. I'll be calling the restaurant first thing in the morning to see if they have it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


We attend church in a building used by two wards (congregations) so our meeting schedules are staggered to accommodate all the people. Last year, the other ward's meetings went from 9 AM to noon and ours went from 11AM to 2 PM. Every year, the schedules switch so now we meet at 9 AM and vice versa. While it was nice to be able to sleep in and take our time getting ready for church, last year's schedule was not conducive to maintaining a good nap schedule for the kids. Both Dan and I were excited for the new schedule that started today. The only downside was not being able to sleep-in but it was a trade-off we were willing to make so the kids could get their naps in at the normal time and we could have our Sunday afternoons to relax and spend time with each other.

One change that was not welcomed by Charlie was starting Sunbeams (Sunday class for 3-year olds). He kept insisting on going to Nursery and was hysterical when we brought him to the Sunbeams' meeting area. I don't know - maybe we didn't talk with him enough about going to Sunbeams during the week. Dan stayed with him until he calmed down, which took a while. I think he'll be okay after a couple weeks, once he realizes that his friends are still there and that things are not too different.

A new year brings new changes, some welcome and others unwanted. I'm excited for new beginnings: new experiences from which to learn and grow. This year, I hope I can accept both the joys and the challenges with gratitude and grace. I hope I can be a little better, a little kinder, a little more patient, a little more loving, and a little more compassionate.