Sunset

January 13th, 2021

This was the view I had as I exited Costco tonight. It was like a painting in the sky. In fact, I couldn’t help but to turn to the receipt checker and ask, “Did you see the colors behind you?” This was on a night when I felt like things are finally falling into place. The pantry is stocked, and all I had to do tonight was to return a humidifier that we hardly used and will probably never use the rest of the year. So, as I was browsing up and down the aisle, I remembered our neighbor who never leaves the house to go shopping. I called to ask if she wants me to pick up some things for her, and she gratefully gave me her list. I was happy to do something for someone else because I felt like I am finally full and overflowing. As I picked up each item, I can finally move into another state. It was one of wistfulness, planning ahead, and giving. I’m not sure how else to explain it. At what point did I get here? It was a slow process of pushing and pulling, of moving three steps forward and two steps back. I am no longer anxious about getting things done, meeting some deadline, and trying to fulfill a demand. On this day, I am content. I am reminded of what the Psalmist has said, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6).

This is a special verse for me because I have felt this many times at different seasons of my life. Right before this verse, it says, “Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure” (Psalm 16:5). I am finally giving myself space to engage spiritually and commune with the Lord. The view of the sunset is like a call to communion.

Settling Down

January 12th, 2021

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had almost two years of homeschool experience, but there is a sense that things are settling down a bit. We started the semester with a sense of purpose and intentionality. I was no longer trying to get as much done as possible. Neither was I trying to figure things out. I didn’t feel like I was flailing as much either. Rather, even though I did not have an agenda down pat, I had an idea of what needed to be done, and it translated well into the time we spent. It’s kind of like lesson-planing in general: when I try to control it too much, it comes off half-baked somehow. On the other hand, when I combine planning and passion, it usually turns out more natural and organic. And this is what is happening now, not only in homeschool but homemaking in general.

I have been able to make phone calls in-between homeschooling. I was able to follow-up on a transaction dispute, cancel an auto-delivery order, register the kids in school, and order a new Kcup holder. It was all rather seamless, too. On top of that, I was laser-focused on what the kids were doing during homeschool. In the evening, I even remembered to cut their nails and clean their ears.

This is already the second day of ear-cleaning. It looks a lot cleaner and clearer. Yesterday, it was full of gunk which I’d rather not post. Certainly, the hydrogen peroxide solution worked its magic. Ian declared that he could finally hear clearly! I didn’t even know his ears were somewhat plugged. Because he did it, of course J had to do it, too. Here are her cleaner ears after yesterday’s ear drops.

First Day of Semester

January 11th, 2021
Monday Morning

This time around, I wasn’t as stressed. Nor was I worried about getting as many things done as I could. Today, I made sure that everything we did was intentional and deliberate. Purposeful. In fact, we did not get up until past 9 a.m. We finished breakfast a quarter before 11. I think it was a good two hours of homeschool before we had lunch. In-between all that, I was also doing some phone calls to Keurig and AT&T. I was able to do online registration for the Chinese immersion school. It was a very productive day. Then again, it’s a Monday and a new beginning at that. Engines are running and adrenalin is high. But I hope that I can sustain this for the rest of the year. Why not?

CoHao Sisters

January 10th, 2021

Today, we had our first-ever CoHao sisters zoom meeting. It lasted about 2 hours and it was worth every minute. It’s not everyday that I get to fellowship with this side of the family. It was a time of sharing and encouraging. In fact, I was surprised at the level of depth that people were willing to share. This pandemic has done a number on us. There are some good things that happened, but for the most part, it has been a struggle. As wives and mothers, we were able to relate to each other in unique ways. It’s always amusing to me when I think that they are a few years ahead of me and I will one day cross their bridge. For now, I can only encourage them the way I know how.

Sisters Fellowship

Riverside Visit

January 9th, 2021

I have been excited to share the joy with Wens regarding the Planner that I got a few weeks ago. I am planning to use it for this year, and possibly the next. There was a two-for-one deal and I knew she would appreciate it. Sure enough, she is thrilled. On top of that, I also shared my new-found appreciation of sourdough starter-sitting. I gave her the other half of my starter, hoping it would encourage her.

Since we were already there, my parents were able to give the red envelopes in person. This is a traditional Chinese New Year’s custom that the older generation gives money to the younger, particularly the grandparents to the grandchildren. My kids get to experience it.

Ian is still a bit shy but J is not afraid to talk to elders. She says her “thank you”‘s quite loudly. This time around, we had our masks on. Maybe it’s because we’ve accepted this universal precaution after all these months, but we finally caved and put them on.

I think the last time we had this family photo with my parents was at Disneyland or Las Vegas of last year. Thank God that we can still have these kinds of get-togethers, albeit in these circumstances (outdoors with masks on). My mom kept touching J and my dad was very affectionate with Ian. I’m glad my kids are loved by their grandparents.

They don’t have their masks here because right before we were about to take this picture, J’s mask got blown by the wind. Earlier, Ian was chewing his gum and had to spit it out, and it got stuck on his mask. That’s the reason I gave to people who asked.

Keurig

January 8th, 2021

When we were in the Bay Area, we were introduced to a game-changer. It’s our new coffee maker! As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I welcome this introduction because it is certainly a whole new world. When Karen showed us how to make a cappuccino/latte coffee drink, I was hooked. It was so pretty. And it tasted good, too.

When I was in college, I told myself that I will be like everyone else and drink coffee. I remember going to Cafe Strada and ordered myself a cup of coffee. It was black, and when I drank it, I spit it out. It’s just now that I’m discovering that it usually goes with some kind of sweetener and milk. And shots. And foam. And syrups. And ice. And all kinds of other things. Game-changer. I am looking forward to trying new drinks!

I am just so enamored by this little girl’s face tonight. I just had to post it. She is an angel, and I am so in love with her. Thank God for little girls!

Little girls and little boys are different. Thank God for giving me both because I know how different they are. Someone asked me today which one I loved more. What kind of question is that? I think he meant which personality I liked more. I told him I’m glad I have each gender because I truly love them equally. He thinks I’m being diplomatic, but I’m just being honest. I love my kids so much!

Concession

January 7th, 2021

It has been a long and exhausting election year. I don’t know if it’s only been a year because it has felt longer. We have been following this very closely. The campaigns have really captivated us, from pundits to religious leaders to politicians to conventions to rallies to the president himself. They have all even become interwoven with our faith. We have included this election into our prayer and fasting. The big day was supposed to be November 3rd, Election Day. It became December 14th when the Electoral College voted. Then, the big day became January 6th, the day Congress got together to count the votes and certify the new president. Yesterday, there was rioting and storming of Capitol Hill where the lawmakers were conducting their business. I think that as a result of the mayhem, the president was forced to concede. There might have been a collective sigh of relief … or resolve. I know that about 50% of the population fall on either side of that group. Some are saying it’s not over yet. As for me and my house, we pray and wait and trust God for the final outcome.

Play Day

January 6th, 2021

For all intents and purposes, today was supposed to be a homeschooling day. However, because we had to take down the Christmas decorations, do laundry, unpack and organize, follow congressional certification of POTUS, (which turned chaotic), and reorient ourselves back home, not to mention decompress from our road trip. So, we didn’t do much work today, really. The kids had a lot of fun, though. I let them stay in their sleep clothes all day and they made the most of it, playing in their room.

I am not quite sure what these little critters were lining up for all the way to J’s room, but they certainly deserve a picture. I heard they’re supposed to line up to swing on something. This is what I found at the end of the line.

I suppose it is still productive when Ian gets busy writing down the names of all 23 of their furry friends. Here he is, listing down the names of each one.

At the end of the day, we were tired. We made progress on the house but there’s still a lot more to go. I’m hoping to go easy on homeschool activities the rest of the week and work some more on getting the house in order.

Road Trip Home

January 5th, 2021

Everyone agreed it was a very good vacation for all of us. Even though we were sad to leave, I think we all knew it was time to go. The 8 days we spent with Karen was both refreshing and productive. I’m so thankful that we took the risk to come out. It was our first vacation after the pandemic and it was so worth it. Here’s our farewell picture:

We made a few stops and changed hands on the wheel a few times. On one of the stops, we had some fun running around. I think the kids were ready to stretch their legs and then some. They were so happy just to get out of the car. We found some actual pay phones and decided to pose with them.

We didn’t encounter any rain or storm this time, but there was no shortage of nice scenery. On the way over, I captured some mountain scenes. On the way back, I couldn’t help admiring this shot of Pyramid Lake.

We thank God for bringing us back home safely. When we pulled in our driveway, our Christmas lights were still on, even though most, except for a couple of houses, in the neighborhood had already taken down their decorations. It was sad to see, but it also felt right. It was just before dinner when we arrived and had a good meal before retiring to bed. What a satisfying and enjoyable vacation that was!

When we came back, I was actually looking forward to my avocado seeds and how much it has grown. Here’s what they look like now:

Last Vacation Day

January 4th, 2021

For our last day in Walnut Creek, we mostly did packing and cleaning up. It was also a day to relax some more and enjoy Bay Area weather. It was supposed to rain all day, which is why we delayed our drive back. It turned out to be a nice day for a walk. The skies had just cleared after the rain so the air was clear and crisp. Three of us girls went out during Ian’s Chinese class online.

My little girl looks so cute as she walked with us. She wanted to play “red light, green light” during our walk. J is four years old and is just full of life, so innocent and affectionate. Here’s what she looks like close up, with her unicorn baby on her backpack.

On this last day, we also went on a Costco run for last-minute shopping. The area here is probably wider and bigger than the ones in So Cal. Just looking at the rotisserie section is enough evidence.

The night before we left, we finally broke open the hot chocolate bombs that we’ve been waiting to partake. We used the double-wall glass mugs that charmed us so much we ordered our own. The bombs were supposed to be dropped in hot milk, but I used hot water instead because we didn’t have enough. I wonder if I should’ve followed directions. t was a bit of a disappointment because we didn’t see it “blossom” until we had to poke it with a spoon. Even though only two of us finished the whole glass of hot chocolate (I’m one of them), we had a fun experience with it.