Archive for January, 2013

Maddie!

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Today, I had the delight of seeing little Maddie on Facetime! I had made plans to chat with Deb this morning. We got into an hour before Maddie woke up from her nap. Instead of hanging up to attend to her mommy duties, Deb indulged my baby fever. I think we spent another good 30-40 minutes on the phone while Maddie patiently stared at the screen, looking rather curious. I just can’t get enough of her! I look forward to seeing her again in person. The first time I met and held her was about two months ago when she was only two months old. Both SX and I were taken with her then, and when I showed him this iPhone photo, we just stared at her picture for a good while. How can anyone resist this little face? Talk about baby fever!

20130131-122010.jpg

Worship Ballet

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I was asked by a good friend who’s undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer if I could take her daughter to worship ballet class today. She was on her last round of chemo and was feeling really sick, but she did not want her daughter to miss a class. I was delighted to help, not only because I’d been waiting for an opportunity to serve her, but also because I really like her little girl. But I did have one question: what is worship ballet??

20130130-153017.jpg

As it turns out, the worship ballet class is offered at a neighboring church. Curious, I offered to sit in and watch. The ballet teacher uses the melody and rhythm of Christian songs to train these ballet dancers. They were going to have a recital in June of this year and they were preparing for it. I watched in fascination as they did splits, twirls, stretches, and high jumps. I’ve seen it on TV before but as I watch these girls bend and stretch their bodies in ways that I never imagined I could do, I could only stare in awe.

20130130-153033.jpg

After about half an hour, I decided to explore a little bit of the neighborhood church. They are a sending church that focuses on missions. In fact, I saw about 15 flags hanging inside the church representing the countries where they have sent missionaries. On this particular day, they were having a marriage seminar so the seats were arranged in pairs. I really enjoy learning how brothers and sisters in other areas worship and do ministry.

20130130-153049.jpg

Time to Organize

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Lets-Get-Organized

After putting it off for so long, I finally decided to dig in my heels and get to work. I’ve done a lot to put the house in order — from the garage to the spare bedrooms to the backyard to the living room. I did not realize how much work it was until I was really in the middle of it. Every now and then, I would have bursts of energy and I would get a lot done in one day. Then, there are days when just thinking about the work would paralyze me. On this day, I went from one corner of the house to the next getting things organized. The hardest part, really, is getting started. Once I got over the psychological hump of its magnitude, I was well on my way to house organizing, even doing a little extra house cleaning. Busy housewife, happy housewife. Not always true, but I’m sure my husband wishes it were! :-)

Meeting New Friends

Monday, January 28th, 2013

We had been planning this meeting time for months and we finally met up. Sharon asked me to her place so we could catch up and do some Bible study. Though I’d been to her place many times, she still showed such warm hospitality offering me tea and peanuts and cake. She insisted that I stay for lunch because she made lamb soup. Moreover, she invited two other friends over that she wanted me to meet. One of them is Jane, a nurse at a hospice. I was grateful for the privilege of meeting her and hearing about the noble work she does with terminally ill patients. I told her she reminded me of Mother Teresa. Jane told us a story that one of her patients asked her how many other patients she’s seeing. She said, “No one. Just you.” The patient also asked how long she would stay with her in the hospice. She answered, “Until you die.” I thought it was a rather blunt response, but she assured us that it was the most comforting thing she could say to patients who know that they are living their last days. Jane told us that most patients do not even have family or relatives to visit them regularly. To have someone care and walk with them in the last stretch of the journey was a God-send. It was indeed a God-send to have met Jane. I’m so inspired by her courage and strength. Here she is, taking a break from work to have lunch with us.

20130128-171721.jpg

While I was there, I learned the lamb soup recipe from Sharon and admired her high-tech stove. I just had to take a picture of this digital oven. Though I did not hear it speak, I would not be surprised if it did a lot more than just cook food!

20130128-171728.jpg

Meeting Old Friends

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Today was a very busy day for meeting friends. We were not expecting them, but after church, we saw this couple who introduced us. Every time I see them, I am filled with gratitude and affection. Since Flora had just arrived, she was still going through jetlag, but we really wanted to take them out for a meal and spend time with them. What started out as a “quick lunch” turned out to be an extended time of chatting and catching up over dumplings and beef rolls. I think we were all energized by the fellowship. I hope to see them again before they go back to China!

20130127-142159.jpg

Later in the evening, we picked up some friends and drove for more than one hour to the Americana in Glendale to meet up with Jamie Taylor (of Hudson Taylor fame) for dinner. Since he had just come back from Asia, he specifically requested “no Chinese food.” Happily, I suggested Cheesecake Factory and met no dispute from my husband. We waited for a good hour before we got seated but it was way worth it. Jamie spoke Chinese most of the time and I found him to be down-to-earth and genuine. He was going only going to be in Southern Cal for a few days for a conference, and we were privileged to be asked to spend some time with him on this sojourn.

20130127-222256.jpg

In Cheesecake Factory style, we had big servings but we could not pass up on the dessert. We should have only ordered one but opted for two instead. We had chocolate oreo cheesecake and ice cream. We were stuffed but happy!

20130127-222304.jpg

Silver Linings Playbook

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

silver-linings-playbook-poster

We were feeling bored after dinner tonight so we decided to watch a movie on a whim. We had just watched the Golden Globe Awards the weekend before, and we were impressed at how we had actually seen almost all the best movie contenders of 2012. The one movie that we hadn’t seen is Silver Linings Playbook. I thought that it was a chick-flick and I wanted to spare my husband. However, perhaps feeling encouraged that he could identify so many movies at the awards show, he suggested that we watch this one.

The movie theatre was packed when we got there. We did not read the reviews nor the summary so we really did not know what to expect. It turned out to be about a bipolar man and his relationship with family and friends. At first, it was painful to watch the character’s radical mood swings and social awkwardness. The theme became apparent right away as the title of the movie was woven through the dialogue between the main character and his psychologist. In the midst of his condition, he was advised to look for the silver lining of his situation. Since he was raised in a football fanatical home, he used the analogy of a playbook to guide his perspective in life. I thought it was a clever way to tell his story and how he struggled to release himself from the downward spiral of relational dysfunction, social ostracism, and personal despair. All in all, despite the profanity and some violence, I thought it was a redeeming movie on many levels.

Persian Chicken

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Our area has a significant Arab-American population. Since my husband has lived here for more than a decade, he’s acquired the taste for middle-eastern food. On this night, he was inspired to try a recipe that one of his co-workers recommended to him the other day. He had asked me earlier to shop for chicken and turmeric powder. When he got home, he came straight to the kitchen where I was already preparing another dish. Using only his memory of the recipe and his taste buds, he went to work. It was amusing to see our dishes cooking side by side:

20130124-220321.jpg

I told my husband that if he just worked on it, he can be a better cook than me. These last 10 months that I’ve been preparing our dishes, I’ve improved my culinary skills quite a bit, but I still rely heavily on following recipes. As for him, he has an instinct for what tastes good and improvises as he goes. He’s not afraid to add different ingredients on top of what was instructed. When he was done cooking, I asked him to name this dish since it’s basically an original. He simply said, “Persian Chicken.” It turned out really well, if I should say so myself. It was juicy and flavorful, really scrumptious. Good job, hubby!

20130124-220331.jpg

One Day More

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

On New Year’s Eve, we went to watch Les Miserables in the theatres. The last time I watched it was on another forgettable New Year’s Eve one decade ago in the Pantages Theatre. At that time, I had no idea about its plot, characters, song lyrics, nor themes, only that it was popular and everyone ought to go see it. I’ve watched a Hollywood version since then and understand the story more. This time around, though, with the songs embedded in the movie itself, I now see a wider scope of the story and gained a new appreciation for it.

For the past few weeks, the songs have been stuck in our heads and we would quote the lyrics to each other every now and then. We’d go to Youtube just to hear the songs again. We’ve had long discussions about its themes of grace, love, and redemption interwoven with law, duty, and order as they are played out in the lives of complex characters skillfully developed in the story. In short, we’re totally infatuated with the play. Here’s one of the grander songs that caught our imagination of late:

As a new fan of the Les Miserables musical, I was deeply moved by this international version of “Do You Hear the People Sing” sung by various Jean Valjean characters from 17 different countries. I don’t know how many times we’ve already replayed this, but it never gets old. I wish I were one of the people in the audience. I would be the first to give them a standing ovation!

Ikea Run

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

After planning it for a while now, Wens and I finally went on our Ikea run. I still have a long ways to go in fixing up the house, and I was hoping to get some ideas from Mrs. Mom herself. What was supposed to be a shopping day turned out to be a catch-up day, though. While she was able to pick up a few things, I just came up with ideas and spent most of the time chatting with her, mostly in the Ikea cafeteria.

20130124-105506.jpg

I didn’t realize how family-friendly Ikea was until I began seeing it from the eyes of my two little nephews. From the readily-available high chairs in the cafeteria to free diapers in the restrooms to the kid-level puzzles all around the store, this is definitely a place where both parents and kids could come back again and again.

20130124-105519.jpg

We had a nice view of the San Gabriel mountains during lunch. Though it was a cloudy and gloomy day, I really appreciated coming back to my old stomping ground. Great day to catch up with Wens and hang out with the kids!

20130124-105528.jpg

Windshield Sticker

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

I’ve heard of bumper stickers but windshield stickers?

This morning, on the way to the doctor’s office, I nudged my husband towards this SVU with a sign that declared loud and proud of the driver’s allegiance. We had a good, amused laugh about it. I jokingly told him I would get him one of those, to which he rolled his eyes. Flamboyant as it is, there is something profoundly touching about this very public declaration.

Maybe I will look into getting one of those for our car! :-)

20130122-160706.jpg