Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some book reviews :)

There are some things that we've tried and really liked lately, so I thought I'd share my thoughts here. :)

THE SNEAKY CHEF by Missy Chase Lapine
I'm sure a lot of you have heard lots about this book. Its premise is to sneak healthy ingredients into comfort foods to up the nutritional value. So, you'll find spinach in brownies, beans in cookies and avocadoes in milkshakes, for example. Even though our kids love vegetables for the most part [I feel so blessed!], I still would like to increase their fiber, protein and vitamin/mineral intake. [That's the dietitian in me speaking. Hehe.] Anyhow, I was a bit skeptical but decided to try it out since our library had a copy. Wow, was I in for a big surprise! So far, we've tried 3 recipes and LOVED them all! We made a scumptious breakfast cookie, a decadent chocolate chip cookie and a super fluffy pancake. The best thing was that the kids could have these treats and I felt good giving it to them. No one (not even dear hubby) could tell there was all this added goodness in there. So, I highly recommend you check this out!

Lately, Ms. Lapine was criticized for trying to hide these nutritious ingredients instead of making them more apparent. Her critics were concerned that this was not teaching kids to each a more balanced diet. However, if you continue to encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables (and more fiber) ON TOP of serving them nutritious treats, you can't lose. :) Just my 2 cents.

We go the library at least once a week and since Aidan and Jana love books, we usually end up carrying a bagful home each time. Here are some books Aidan has been pouring over recently:
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman - A wordless book that has an interesting twist to it. :)
What Do You Do With Tail Like This by Robert Page, Steve Jenkins - A wonderfully educational book that introduces fun animal parts to little ones. Awesome cut-out illustrations!
Flotsam by David Weisner - Another wordless book about being at the beach with an interesting twist.
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman - [I guess we're on a roll with these wordless books, eh? I guess we've been picking them because I've been trying to speak more Chinese to the kids and it's easier not to translate, if you know what I mean. Also, Jana just likes looking at the pictures sometimes, so it helps her to stay interested. :) I also have Aidan tell me the story sometimes and without the words, he feels like he can tell it back to me more readily. :)] I love the surprise ending to this book! And Aidan likes to help the boy finish the maze. :)
The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller - Polo has such an adventure in this book and it keeps you guessing - a real page turner for Aidan.
Fish Faces by Norbert Wu - Aidan liked it so much we bought it for him! But great pictures of various kids of fish with a guide in the back. Kev actually wrote in all the names right next to the picture of the fish so we didn't have to keep flipping back and forth. One of the first books Aidan memorized. ;)
My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki - This book helped Aidan relive his aquarium trips. Sometimes when he asks to go the the awuarium and we're unable to, I try to whip out this book so he can go there in his mind, at least. :) Great illustrations!
Follow the Line Through the House by Laura Ljunkvist - A really fun book that has you literally following the lines through the house to explore all the rooms. There are also activities on each page to keep it educational. :) Jana just liked looking at all the stylistic pictures and bright colors.

Jana has been picking:
Where's Spot by Eric Hill - What can I say, a true classic! But I think what really drew Jana to this book was the fact that she got to say her favorite word of the moment at each page - "NO!". :)
Spot's First Walk by Eric Hill - I think she's loving the flip-the-flap books. :)
The Nose Book by Al Perkins - Aidan had really liked this one, too. But Jana loves this book and likes to point at all the noses she can find when we're reading it [though her finger sometimes ends up in your nose sometimes...haha!].
The Eye Book by Theodore Lesieg - She's also fascinated with eyes - maybe she's revelling in the fact that she knows her body parts and can point to them when asked?
Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin, Jr, John Archambault, Lois Ehlert - A fun book similar to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Bright, fun colors, too! :)

Alrighty, more later! G'night!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

...all that grey matter

You know what I'm talking about - the stuff that is not black and white. :) J/K! I've been thinking a lot about how difficult it is to be a Christian sometimes. There are those things that the Bible explicitly tells us to do: spread the Word, love others, get to know Christ as the number one thing, etc. There are also the things that the Bible explicitly tells us NOT to do: kill, lie, covet, be jealous, etc.. Then there is everything in between: what I call, the grey stuff. And, sheesh, there is a whole lot of it. When I became a parent, there is even more of it I have to deal with because, I guess, there are more parties involved. Sometimes, talking about that stuff makes me a bit tense, and I have to go back to what God has taught me about them.

[For those that care to know what some of those 'grey matter' can be in my life:
-Homeschool vs Public School
-Whether or not to use Birth Control
-How to discipline kids (ie spanking or not)
-How to raise kids (ie attachment parenting, etc)
-Staying at home or work
and blah, blah, blah....they carry so much emotion for me as I think or talk about them, so I know that making decisions about these things mean a lot to me. ]

So, what have I learned? Honestly, for me, there is no one correct answer for everyone. Yes, I've read articles and had discussions on the biblical basis for homeschooling or attachment parenting. But the thing is, it's a lot how you interpret scripture and how far you want to extrapolate the meaning. I really feel that the Bible remains 'grey' about these issues because there is no universal answer that applies to everyone. So, where does that leave me? It leaves me with the fact that God has given me certain personalities and traits that make me who I am and how I'm prone to handle things. So, that might skew me towards one way or the other or a mix of the 2 extremes. I do believe that God gave me those traits for a reason and that it's ok to go my own path, if I choose. I'm also left with the fact that God will tell me if he wants us to choose a certain path for our family, which reminds me that the prerequisite for hearing his voice is to stay close to Him. Still working on that. :) But at least I do tell Him that I value His opinion and want to please Him with what I do. :D And when He stays silent, I feel the ok to go with what I want. [At least that's what I got out of a certain Graham Cooke tape and man, that revelation was soo freeing for me!!]

The hard part for me is that I'm a people person [read: people pleaser] for the most part. I find myself oftentimes being very emphathetic towards others and then see how both sides could work for me. And that leaves me right back where I usually start, in the middle. ;) In the past, I also try to please others first, esp my parents, but now I realized I can (and should) please God and still honor others. The flip side is that I feel badly when I feel strongly about an issue because I feel like I can't see the opposing view at all and fear I will end up judging them. That is something I'm still working on. Life is to short to judge other or be mean, that's what I figure. Anyhow, I wanted to leave this post with something totally irrevelant but light-hearted and happy....

We had ordered something from Gap online a while ago and I had kinda forgotten about it. [Yeah, it's true, it wasn't something we NEEDED. ::sheepish::] Anyhow, I remembered to check on the shipment status today and saw that it was delivered on the 27th. But, wait, it's the 28th and I didn't get a pkg!? So, I investigate and found out that it was delivered to our old place in NEW JERSEY!!! Doh! What to do? I decided to call my old real estate agent to see if she can figure out a way for us to contact the new owner. After a very nice conversation, she assures me that she will go by the house [she lives very close to it] to leave a note for the owner to call her and will also call the owner's agent in the morning. A few hours later, I get a call from the agent and she said that she had the owner on the phone b/c he happened to be home when she knocked on his door. He kindly asked for our Florida address and told me that he would ship it there tomorrow, no problem, since he works for UPS anyways. And, get this, he wanted to pay for shipping!?!?!! That was such a blessing for me! He even went on to ask about the kids [he had come over a few times while checking out the house and had met the kiddies - Jana, esp., took a liking to him.]. Anyhow, it was just a reminder to me that there are still lots of nice people out there. I'm sure you knew that already but sometimes I forget. :) And re: shipping stuff, I had ordered a pair of shoes from around 10:30pm on Friday night and got a package Saturday morning at 9am?!?! I know they offer free overnight shipping but, man, do they not sleep? Haha! Anyways, I'm super impressed! Alrighty, storytime is over - I'm going to bed. G'night!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

...the stuff of life...

With a title like that, you know that this post will be random, don't you? :)

Kev will be finishing up his Spine Fellowship at the end of June 2008, so he's currently on a hunt for a new job. And, most likely, we'll be moving again. Yes, we are a member of the 'Frequent Movers Club'. :) But honestly, now that I look back on our almost 5 short years of marriage and having moved 4 times already, I wouldn't have it any other way. More on that later. The kiddies are doing well - Aidan is very much the helpful 3 y.o. lately, wanting to do almost everything himself. And, hey, I'm not stopping him! :D I am definitely there to supervise, however, making sure that his shirt is on the right way, that his underwear is all the way up before he attempts the pants and that only the garbage goes into the trash, not the bowl that was holding the goods. It's been more fun lately and I feel like he's so grown up. Gotta take hold of the years where they want to hang out with you, I'm saying to myself already! Jana is getting more verbal and active. She's very much the people person and loves to engage others, whether they want to engage with her or not! Ha! [She'll basically stare someone down until they look back at her....hehe. No, she did not get that from me. ;)] She's full of cute sayings (lots of Chinglish) and fun antics. She's also well-known for climbing up things we don't think she can climb and all the while being super quiet about it, so she can accomplish her task uninterrupted. Ahem. But thank goodness for the "Little Enforcer" in our house (AKA Big Bro Aidan), she's always discovered. The 2 kiddies are also starting to play better together - hallelujah! For me, I'm still meeting new moms all over the place and getting to know more people from church, which is so nice. God's also teaching me new things about my relationship with Him but more on at a later date. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we have nothing planned at all. How did that happen? Our grand plan was to invite some international students over for a traditional American Thanksgiving meal but by the time I had located the correct coordinators for the local Friends of Internationals, it was too late and all the students had been matched up. A good problem, I suppose. :) Then we thought about running/jogging/walking the Turkey Trot with the kids but it was too late to register online and if you wanted to register the day of, you had to get there at an ungodly hour. Welp, both Kev and I wanted to sleep in, if possible, on his only day off, so we're just going to play it by ear tomorrow. Maybe a nice hike somewhere - it IS going to be in the low 80s tomorrow. [Mwwwaahaha to you Northerners!] So, we'll see what we end up doing.

This darn's so fun yet sucks so much of my time away. But recently, a whole slew of old highschool friends popped up on there and all of a sudden, I'm having a virtual HS reunion on facebook! And it's been so fun seeing what everyone's been up to, where they're located now and what they look like. :) I'll hafta admit that I keep expecting everyone to look the same as they did in HS b/c I definitely still do (NOT!). Haha! Anyhow, if only I could write programs, I would write a little program called "The Last 10 Years" so ppl can read about it on my profile (since that's all I've been writing about for the past week). :)

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
[Can this post get more random?] I've been on the hunt for cool kids' music lately b/c Wiggles and the like can get old really fast. I wanted something that I don't mind listening to and that can hopefully teach them something, too. Last night at the library, I found this CD that took Mr. Rogers' songs and remade them. Honestly, some of them were kinda cheesy (to me, at least) but there was a DVD about the people who were on this project and their thoughts on Mr. Rogers. Can I tell you, I was balling through most of this DVD. I've never watched his show consistently and when I would happen upon it sometimes, I would think it was kinda boring. But when I actually took the time to listen to the lyrics of his songs, they really touched me. The messages are the ones that we all needed to hear as kids - that you are liked b/c of you and not because of what you do (unconditional love), that it's ok to be mad or have negative feelings, etc. Plus, he is so genuine and so REAL - kids can always tell if you're trying to fake something. It's kinda uncanny but true. Anyhow, Kev tells me he watched half an hour of Mr. Rogers everyday when he grew up and he really like it. He said it made him feel loved, important and he got Mr. Rogers' full attention everyday for 30 minutes. Anyhow, thank you so much, Mr. Rogers - thanks for being so humble, loving and caring. I appreciate you. :)

Not By Accident
I'm a firm believer that nothing happens by accident. There is always a purpose behind it that we might just never find out about. Sometimes, it the midst of something bad happening, I catch myself saying, "This is really awful, why is this happening?" but then afterwards realize the greater purpose. [I think back on the countless stories of ppl missing their morning train into the city due to some traffic on 9/11 and being mad about it, only to find out this caused them to miss being in the WTC when the planes hit.] Though sometimes I never find out. And I guess at those moments I just choose to be positive because living on the other side, which I have before, really stinks. Being negative really sucks the energy out of you and it's just no fun to live that way. Anyhow, since we've moved a lot, I've always felt a twinge of sadness that we'd had to leave friends and/or family behind. But you know, if we didn't leave, we would never have met all these other wonderful friends that we now have in IL, NY, DE or FL. And we would never have the oppportunities that we did have. Therefore, we're so thankful for the friends that we have over the long haul and those we have for a season. :)

Anyhow, I always have so much stuff in my head to blog about but this post has been random enough. So, have a great Thanksgiving 2007!

Monday, October 15, 2007

...thoughts on mothering

Having been a mom for over 3 years now, I've come to a realization about a few things that I would like to get down on "paper". So, here goes. :)

Motherhood is all about change, and it never stops. From the moment you're preggers, your life is not the same. [Not that life, non-preggers, ever stands still or anything - but being pregnant is a HUGE change!] We're talking fluctuating emotions, fluctuating hormones , the ever-expanding waistline [the one time I didn't love shopping b/c I had to do it so often!], and sometimes the swollen feet and on it goes. And from the moment that baby is born, life is REALLY never the same - not to mention the changes that goes on with your body just to get the baby out - but I'm not going to go there with this post. ;) Then after you get over those initial sleepless nights and feel like you've gotten some sort of routine down, the baby goes through a growth spurt or something else and it all changes up again. Then there are the discipline issues and then the worrying about school/homeschool and the blah, blah, blah. But in the midst of this, there is God who grants us so much grace. I've become so reliant on it these days, asking for enough grace to get through the day with the kids, to enjoy them and to enjoy the people around me, even if they don't seem to enjoy me. :) And through this change, we grow and mature and sometimes when I take a moment to look at where I was when Aidan was first born, I am definitely not who I was and that's a good thing. :)

Now that the kiddies are older, the issue of discipline crops up mulitple times everyday. ;P After reading lots about it and asking older moms about it, I've come to realize this one thing: tt's all about the heart attitude. I can say the same thing and possibly in the same tone, but if I'm truly angry inside, the kids can tell. And now that Aidan is articulate enough, he sometimes asks me "Are you annoyed?" Doh! How could he tell? All I said was "Please take your fork from between your toes and put it into your bowl." I even tried to say it without much emotion! Anyhow, so that's another area that I've been praying into - my heart attitude. And after praying more, I realize that there is still a lot of healing that needs to take place. We had gone to a marriage conference way back [more here] that spoke of how our past (from when we might be even too little to have much cognitive memory about it) can still affect you today, causing you to have strong negative emotions about situations that shouldn't cause you to react that strongly. So, praise God for being able to fix us up, even when we don't always know what's wrong!

I had spoken to other moms about this before and we all agree that motherhood is a refining process. Through the sleepness nights, transitions, discipline issues and such, we find out who we are. I thought I was a pretty patient person. I thought I was good at giving grace. I thought I was good at giving without expecting in return. I thought I loved cooking. ;) Well, you get the idea. But I would say that I discovered some positive things about myself, too. I mean, after you give birth, or even just carried your baby for 9 months, you feel like Super Woman. [And you ARE for doing so!] So, praise God for allowing us these experiences to help us become the person that He wants us to be: free, loving, compassionate, wise, strong and fully reliant on Him. :)

I am so humbled that God chose me to be my kiddies' mom - I do feel so inadequate sometimes but I remember that God calls us to do impossible things b/c He wants us to rely on Him and have peace through it all. Sometimes, it's hard not to compare to those SuperMoms out there who seem to do everything so well. But God reminded me not to compare but to bless them and do my best, giving the hard areas to Him and have PEACE. More peace, Jesus! :)

There's more that I've learned but I haven't digested it all yet. But if anyone has anything else to share, please do!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

...yikes, all these toy recalls!!

I'm sure a lot of you have been reading or at least heard about all these toy recalls in recent months due to excessive levels of lead in the paint for toys. Not that toy recalls are uncommon but there has just been so many of them lately, it's disheartening. And after reading about the stories behind it [and who knows who has the REAL story], it's kinda confusing. The basic schpiel [from what I've gathered] is that some European company had tested some of the toys that they had made in China and found unacceptable levels of lead in them, which caused American companies to test their products, as well. Unfortunately, the more they tested, the more lead-laced toys they found, which started the massive recalls. Some companies even started recalling toys that were "suspected" to have lead in them, causing more panic in already alarmed parents. So, that frustrated me - not knowing which toys were safe for the kiddies since J still chews on them sometimes. Then it was reading all the articles in newspapers and blogs simply blaming the Chinese for this entire fiasco which also really frustrated me. In my opinion, in life, nothing is that cut and dry, black and white. There are so many sides to this story and I'm finding out even more as I read. So, in short, I'm not defending the Chinese goverment or trying to shift the blame onto someone else. And, along with the authors of the aforementioned articles, I do not agree with the Chinese government for their lack of Human Rights policies nor do I think that their government does not need better policies in terms of lead paint, etc.. OK, just wanted to cover that. :) But what I want to point out is that blaming any one party does not get us anywhere. And if you want to talk blame, this woman says it well:

"While China and the underfunded CPSC are partly to blame, so are American importers, retailers, investors and consumers, who variously demand lower prices, higher sales and increased growth - all at the expense of quality, said Mary Teagarden, a Thunderbird School of Global Management expert in offshoring. Downward price pressure exerted by big-box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. squeezes suppliers all the way down the supply chain, Teagarden said." (article)

It makes me think: What about the American companies who are supposed to be checking up on these factories? [A side note to applaud Mattel for taking responsibility (article) for their part in this and to applaud the Melissa & Doug company for showing that it's possible to make quality, lead-free toys in China (blog entry).] Is my demand for cheaper toys contributing to this whole mess? Should I start making my own toys from organic materials grown in my backyard in organic soil? J/K! Anyhow, I'm getting off the soapbox now. I just wanted to share another perspective on this situation. Phew! :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

...toothpaste and stuff....

Just some random things to chat about...

We recently switch to an "all natural" toothpaste because we've been trying to decrease the unnecessary exposure to different chemicals. We have the Tom's of Maine anticavity in a Spearmint flavor currently and it's very yummy! We even had a bunch of our visitors give it a test drive and they all liked it. "D What Tom's of Maine lack is all the artificial ingredients, like saccharin and dyes, that is so common in big name brands. At first taste, it was so weird because it's not sweet at all and the spearmint oils definitely pack a punch! But after a while, it felt so refreshing and there's none of that funny aftertaste - your breath truly feels fresh and your teeth feel so clean. We also started using Tom's mouthwash [no alcohol, dyes or sweetners] and when we got over the sour taste from the witch hazel, we found it a good companion to the toothpaste. :) So, there you have it - our review of our new toothpaste. :D

After many years in hiatus because we lived close to Kiley, I was summoned to cut Kevin's hair. I was really hesitant because: a)it's been 3 years since my last stint as his 'barber', b)he's actually working now [don't want his patients to think he's unprofessional because his hair looks like Aidan cut it], and c)I want him to look good, too. But it turned out a-ok. I wish I had pics to prove it but I don't - so you'll just have to believe me. :) He did help me with the front sections and the sections close to the ears, I'll admit. :P Anyhow, I'm sure it turned out well because I had prayed beforehand.

Through that wonderful website: Facebook, I've gotten in touch with so many of my friends from High School, College and pretty much all over the place. [More on that another day.] One really neat thing that I found out was that my friend, Michael Maltese, started up this non-profit organization - Global Medical Knowledge, Inc. - to "bridge the medical knowledge gap between developed and developing nations. GMK uses technology to improve access to current, actionable medical information in developing countries and to build collaborative partnerships among medical educators around the world". [Taken from his website] In short, he's trying to help get the medical knowledge that developing countries have over to the underdeveloped countries, where it's very needed. Maybe Iris Ministries can utilize this organization?! Definitely check out his website and read all about it! Check out Iris Ministries, too, if you don't know who they are - it's all about God doing His thing: caring for the poor and changing lives! Simply awesome!

Ever since I had kids, I've struggled with this. This guilt about all sorts of things, from small to big. For instance, I had felt guilty when I was spending time with Jana because I wasn't there to focus on Aidan. And the same when I was helping Aidan out and couldn't get to Jana, though she was wanting my attention. I felt better when J grew older but now it's guilt about other things. Am I being too strict about things? Too relaxed about others? Not teaching them enough Bible? Not modelling the lifestyle I want them to emulate? Not making the days fun enough for them? Not teaching them what they need to know? Not being patient, loving, and kind enough? Yikes! As I was praying about things that I felt guilty for, the list just grew longer and longer. :( I knew I had to spend more time at His feet to get recharged and get into the Word for the truth more often. I knew that this guilt was not really from Him but I took some things to heart because I really needed to change what I was doing. I needed to plan more and be a bit more organized, esp with my free time. I probably need to spend less time on the internet [though it is so fun and one of my ways of keeping in touch]. Anyhow, I feel that as long as I can separate conviction [good] from guilt [bad] and make the changes I needed to, I was ok. Plus, I need just so much more grace and revelation in parenting, too. Thank God He has an abudant supply. :)

Getting this membership has been great! Not only have we taken our visitors there for free, most of the time, we've gone to several other venues for free during certain months. For example, this month, we've gone to the Lowry Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry both for free! There are other places that have discounted admission tickets and free admission months all for FL Aquarium members. How fun is that? For all you parents: Maybe check out our local aquarium/zoo to see if a membership there can give you a discount? If not, maybe ask for a membership somewhere for Christmas?! :)

I have lots more to say but it's getting late - my bed and a free massage is calling. G'night!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

...what's new with the Hsu's :) (I almost rhymed!)

Anyhow, it's been a while since I've last written and here's some stuff that's happened during the interim:

We're currently in the midst of a 28 day fast called by our Pastor Lloyd. This is to seek God's fact about the vision that God has given the church. Even though we've only been there for less than 2 months, we really feel, in the Spirit, that the vision he got is so right on track! PL shared that God has given him a vision for the Youth because that is where our future holds and our generation is called to minister to the future so that they can fulfill their purposes to usher in God's presence here on Earth. With the astouding statistics about how few of the new generation (forgot what generation they're called) know Him and anything about Him, it's really quite alarming. Instead of God, they are constantly filled with junk from the Media, Internet, and Video Games. :( So sad. So, PL felt called to build a new building and then let the Youth take over the entire old building (which is already huge) and some parts of the new one - to create a Youth Center. They are also devoting more time, money and energy to the Children's Program (they already have a great one!) to make it even better. I just felt so blessed by this vision. Kev and I talked a lot about this the night we heard the vision shared and we realized what a great role the Youth Group (and having friends in it) played when we were young. I feel a big part of why I even sought the Lord in college was due to having such a tremendous support when I was trying to figure out who I was and who I want to be. [Though having Christian parents also played a key role - didn't want to downplay that - but I really didn't care about their opinion as much as I did my friends' when I hit a certain know what I mean! :P] So, we are now praying into it and sowing into it financially. I'm so excited for the fruit that will be reaped!!

On a side note: If you happen to read this, please pray for me. I'm teaching a Junior High/Senior High Sunday School after our service ends on Sundays for another church. I need wisdom and revelation about what to teach on Sundays. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to teach the Youth but I need all the help I can get! Thanks bunches!

So, there's a whole lot of water everywhere in Florida, be it beaches or pools. They are truly everywhere! That's a good and bad thing - let me explain why. It's good because Aidan (and now Jana) love ocean creatures and playing with sand, so there are lots of opportunities to do that here. And since we go a lot after dinner so it's cooler, we get to see a lot of spectacular sunsets. It's really amazing! However, since the kids can't swim and I can't tread water well [I know, I need to work on it....doh!], there's an increased chance for there to be an accident. So, we're looking into swimming lessons for them and happened upon this. ISR is mainly a drown prevention program and it states that it helps even infants as young as 6 months to learn how to float and not panic in the water on the off-chance that they fall in. They learn to respect and be comfortable in water. It sounds great and I heard so many good things about it...BUT, it's a huge chunk of change. [Not sure if that's everywhere or just in FL.] Anyhow, I'm looking to see if they have any scholarship programs and will let you all know if the kids do end up taking it and how it goes.[And in case you're wondering, yes, I can float. ;)]

Yay for visitors! We love them, we really do! At the beginning of Aug, we had Joe Lee come thru for for fellowship interviews. The kids had such a great time with him that they still talk about him sometime! :) Plus, he was the first to test out our pillowtop queen-sized Aerobed and he gives it 2 thumbs up. Haha! Then we had Will Zhou and Ken Chan over for Labor Day weekend. Kiley Hsu and Ray Hwang showed up that same Friday and stayed for a week. And, man, those guys know how to make the most of a weekend. WZ and KC went scuba diving, deep sea fishing, biking parts of the Pinellas Trail and visited the Floida Aquarium all within the span of 3 days! There were lots of good eats in between. :) Will even caught us a barracuda that we promptly had for lunch at Crabby Bill's that day - thanks again! The other guys caught Mackerels and Bonitas. Fun stuff! We even got to fish at the Chang's [those distant relatives of ours that live in the area that are SUPER, SUPER nice!] and I learned how to cast and reel. Fun stuff! Anyhow, more visitors to come and we're excited! Hope to see more of you before we leave this sunny state - AND, it's gonna get super nice soon!! (Hint!Hint!)

Finally found a Pediatrician for the kids, though I'm not sure we're a good fit yet.

Jana got 3 shots today, that poor girl.

Jana speaks a lot of Chinese now - it's pretty fun.

Check out these videos of the kids in action. They're a riot!

We've been doing some 'homeschooling' for Aidan and he likes it quite a bit. Good ol' Aidan and praise God for this site. Still need some inspiration, though. Feel free to chime in, moms. :)

And, that's all, folks. :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

...yay for updates!

Welp, where to begin? about with fire ants? ;)

ANTS: These unwanted house guests are no longer around - yippee!! Our rule is, if we didn't invite you and you aren't paying rent, you're outta here, esp. if you might terrorize our kids! Anyhow, despite all our efforts with setting out baits and spraying with Bac-out, we had to call the "ant people" (that's what Aidan affectionately calls them!) to come and spray. The spray that they use has definitely come a long way - they are micro-encapsulated and are pretty safe for kids when dry. What a relief! [Aidan did enjoy having the 2 ant guys around for the 10 minutes they were in our house to check out how bad the situation was and to ascertain the kind of ant we were blessed with. He was so excited that he couldn't stop jumping up and down the WHOLE TIME and made them laugh. They kept asking me if I was sure I didn't just give him any sugar - haha! If only they knew: Aidan doesn't need any of that to have an abundance of energy!!] Anyhow, we found out we had fire ants in the house, which is a rare thing, because most of the time, they prefer to be outdoors. Also, it was strange that they showed up in my upstairs closet first. And what is even more strange but when I told my immediate family, I found out we all had some sort of an ant problem this month. Do ants symbolize something spiritually? Seriously. If anyone knows anything about this, please email me.

VBS: Aidan went to VBS for the first time last week and did a good job. He was placed in the Pre-K3 class, though we had just turned 3 the Friday before the VBS began. He was pretty ambivalent about whether he liked it - maybe it was the more rigid structure that he wasn't used to. We have a more flexible schedule at home everyday but it's nothing like "school". We wanted him to go beucase we thought it would be a good opportunity for him to hang out with other kids and get a bit of Jesus stories from someone other than us. It was interesting having just 1 child all those mornings after I had dropped Aidan off. I had some quality one-on-one time with Jana and I remember thinking to myself, "Man, after having 2 kids all the time, having just one is super easy!" Then I thought, "We do want more kids, so I better get to thinking that having 2 is really easy." Though it's so hard to have that perspective beforehand. Maybe I hafta borrow someone's kid for practice! Haha!

POTTYTRAINING: It's going remarkably well for Aidan. For a few weeks now, he's been wearing underwear all day and a diaper at night. There have been a few accidents here and there but mostly from him forgetting when he's so excited to be out and about. He also still has a bit of trouble timing #2 but, oh well. Cloth diapering has prepared me to be upclose and personal with poop. ;) He hasn't kept a diaper dry overnight yet, so I'm not going to worry about training him overnight yet. But I now understand what ppl mean when they say it'll be so much easier to train when they're ready. I'm just glad that he's ready now vs 18 y.o. - hehe! He has also gotten so much better in telling me when he has to go, which is such a big step!!! Alrighty, enough potty-talk....

JANA-JANA: Jana has been talking a lot (mostly in Chinese - yay!) and walking around with some alacrity. After Aidan learned to walk, sometimes he would still crawl since he was such an efficient crawler but not our little Jana. Once she walked, that's almost all she did. Plus, she always looked so satisfied with herself and has even attempted speed-walking to catch up with Aidan sometimes. Her attempts come with some hilarious results. :) I should really take a video of it one of these days. Jana doesn't sign half as much as Aidan did but she is picking up speaking so quickly. It's really so fun and rewarding to see them learn stuff!!

CHURCH: I think we have finally settled on a church! :) For a while, we were debating between 2 but when the Pastor preached again on something we had both read in the Word during the week, we felt like this was a confirmation. Plus, it also came down to one factor: how easy it was to know what's going on and get involved. In the beginning, we did our search online since we didn't really know anyone to ask about Spirit-filled churches with small groups. So, having a clear, informative website was really key - we were able to check out what they believed in and what ministries they emphasized before even stepping into their building. Plus it helped us narrow down our list - there are so many churches around here!! Finally, we picked a few in our area to visit. When we went to visit a few churches, it became clear what really drew us to a church. We appreciated a good, organized nursery that our kids would like (at least eventually) and maybe learn something from. We also appreciated people who welcomed us, showed us where things were and gave us information about the church and how to get involved. We didn't have to try too hard to find out about small groups or get someone to contact us about it. It was nice. Plus, at one church, some random guy was nice enough to say hi and then introduce us to his enture family and hung out with us for a good half an hour after church! It was hard going into a church where everyone seemed to already have a group and already engaged in conversation, so that was very refreshing!! Anyhow, after trying a few churches to get a feel for things [we wanted to settle in fairly quickly since we might only be here for 1 year], we decided on Countryside Christian Center. We're also getting involved in a small group there but have only been there 2x, so more on that at a later date.

SOBERING THOUGHTS: We just found out that a family that we have known for some time just lost their little son this last week in a pool accident. It was so sad to hear about it because we can't imagine what we would do if that had happened to us. It just reminded us what a gift our children are and to not take for granted our times together, even when they're acting up and to really enjoy this time we have with them, esp. when they want to hang out with us at this young age. We were also reminded to let the little things (that they do that annoy us or make us mad) remain the little things - and not let them crowd out the big things, the important things in life. Some days, Kev and I find ourselves getting mad so frequently over those little things that it was hard to enjoy our kids. But we are now more aware of this and trying to find things to enjoy about them, even when they're trying our patience. :)

Anyhow, we hope all of you are doing well. I'm sure all of us are learning lots from God each week. Feel free to shoot us an email about it, we'd love to hear from you!! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

new pics...

Some of you have asked about pictures of our adventures here, so far. So, here are some; just click on the different albums - enjoy! :)

Cheerio! ;)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

...things we love currently

I thought to mix things up a bit, we'll talk about how things are going by talking about things we currently love:

1)Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out: It's this natural enzyme spray cleaner that is good for so many things. It takes (organic) stains out of clothing, cloth diapers, carpets and such with no problem. What's even more amazing, ants hate them so we've been able to use this friendly-around-kids spray to quarantine the ants we've had in the house. People tell me it's a Florida thing but it was no fun to find ants in the house, esp. since we've working so hard to keeping it so clean to prevent roach problems. :( The ants were coming in thru the cracks in the base boards looking for water [at least that's what people have been telling me they do and yes, it's been fairly dry here.]. But with the baits we've put out and the Bac-out to quarantine them, they're pretty much gone. How annoying, though. I'm just glad they're not spiders. But a large mass of anything buggy gives me the heebee jeebees (or however you spell it). Blech!

2)Talc-free baby powder: We've never actually used it on the kiddies' bottoms but we've been using it incessantly to take sand off their bodies after our many beach trips to try and keep the car clean. Seriously, this stuff works like magic! You just sprinkle some on and then brush it off - voila! No more sand! This really helps with the post-beach trip diaper changes. :) Plus, someone gave us the Jasmine-scented one, so we're all a nice-smelling, slightly white bunch after a trip to the beach. :)

3) DEET-free bug spray: Because it's so warm all the time, I think Florida is home to a lot of bugs! Mosquitoes, no see-ums, you name it! So everytime we've gone out, we've had to remember to spray ourselves down from head to head. However, those no see-ums still seem to get Kev and I - I'm thinking even though we can't see them, they can still see where we've not sprayed! Doh! [The kids have not been bitten as much as us, praise the Lord!] Anyhow, we heard it gets better when it's not so hot - we're looking forward to it. But anyhow, the spray has been one of our best friends lately. :)

4) The extensive Pinellas County Library system: I think there are about 5 librares that are pretty close to us - we've been to 4 of them already. Not only are there programs galore (puppet shows, dog shows, storytime, etc), there's a ton of kiddie and non-kiddie DVDs to rent out and lots of fish books. [Trust us, we know; we've taken about 30 of them home already!!] One of the library even has an entire floor devoted to kids - we're impressed. Plus, we can borrow books from any of these libraries and return them all to the closest one. Needless to say, we go there a lot and the kids don't complain! :)

5) Forums: The main way I've been meeting moms is through these 2 forums - Mamasource and Mothering. It's definitely a different age these days, I guess. I've tried going to play areas and library to chat with people but it seems as if they're already in a group or don't have too much time to chat b/c they're running around chasing after their kids, too. But thru these forums, I've gotten to know these moms a bit and have even met up for playgroups and such. It feels a bit funny sometimes to meet up with perfect strangers but it's been working out great. :) I do miss all of you mommies I used to hang out with, though! Much love to ya!!

6)Our little Weber grill, meat thermometer & Cooks Illustrated: We've been grilling lots since it's been so hot and it's been great! :) Kev, the master griller, has been reading up on how to make the juiciest, tenderest meats (thanks to Cooks Illustrated!) and we've been reaping the benefits. No more tough chicken, dry steak or charred hotdogs. Yay!

7) Joovy Caboose Ultralight Double Stroller: So, we finally jumped on the bandwagon and got ourselves a double stroller. It was a tough, agonizing decision because I wanted something light, yet sturdy. Something that fits in the Camry's trunk when folded. Something that's fits through doorways and not hard to steer. Something that can accomodate an infant car seat when we have another. So, after lots of research, we decided to try this double first. The next one on our list was the Baby Planet Unity Double - a side by side double. Anyhow, praise the Lord b/c this stroller ended up working out great. Aidan doesn't mind sitting on the bench facing me, though he does do contortionist moves to see the front sometimes. There is a lap belt for the little guy, so at least he can't pop off at whim. It only weighs 21 lbs, so not too hard to manage and fits in our trunk! It steers great and fits thru aisles just fine (we took it outlet shopping without a problem). I like the big sunshade and the parent organizer but don't like how hard the basket is to get at, though. When Aidan prefers to walk, I don't feel like I'm pushing a train (it's not that long) and it's much better than pushing those shopping carts with a car in the front! Anyways, the long and short of it is, we do like it and anticipate using it a lot. :)

8) Cloth trainers & Thomas/Sesame Street underwear - Yuppers, Aidan is now formally pottytraining! It took a long while to find the right time to do it, from selling the house to moving, but we're finally settled somewhere. Plus, we wanted to make sure Aidan was pretty ready so it wouldn't take a bazillion years and lots of accidents. ;) Welp, we started about 3 weeks ago and for 2 weeks he's been in underwear during the day and a diapers at night. Yay! Thanks to all the moms that gave me great advice about training and for praying for us. :) Having Thomas & friends and various Sesame Street characters on your butt seems to be a big thing for a 2 y.o. boy. :) I also invested in cloth trainers for long outings where bathrooms might be hard to find (though we stashed a new little potty from freecycle that's in our trunk right now for places with no potties), which has been a God-send. Thanks Auntie Jen for lending us some from cousins' stash. [Sshhh! We won't tell them they shared!] We're also getting to know where the bathrooms are at the places we frequent and who has the nicest, cleanest ones. :)

9) And the last one is just for the ladies - Nordstrom's free bra fitting: After you have a baby (or two or three) and esp. after breastfeeding, your body is just not quite the same, esp. in the chest area (at least that's how it is for me). Since I have finally weaned Jana, I decided to go for a bra fitting. They do a great job and really know what they're doing. Actually, a lot of times, you end up being surprised at what size you actually are. And have a great fitting undergarment is an awesome feeling b/c your clothes will fit better, too. Plus, they are currently having their famous Anniversary sale, so it's very likely that your bra will be on sale!

Anyways, long post, eh? Before signing off, we just wanted to welcome Baby Lucas Foung and Baby Boy Naran into the world! We love you guys!! Alrighty, over and out.

Monday, July 9, 2007

...what's new!

We're getting more into a groove here, now that we've been unpacked for 2 weeks or so. We're still doing lots of exploring around our area, even venturing into Tampa a few times. This humidity isn't too kind, though. We've been trying to brainstorm places to take the kids during the heat of the day, so we all don't wilt. :) So far, I've been taking them to these indoor play areas [that they have at almost every local mall around here], libraries [though storytime ended when school ended - boo!], our old standy Barnes & Noble with the Thomas train table and various stores to run errands. I've also hoped to meet some SAHMs to hang out with since it's been a bit boring now that we have all the stuff for the house. I've met a few moms on different forums that I'm on and will be meeting with a few of them this week and next. So, please pray that I will meet some kindred spirits and that our kids will play well together. :)

I can't wait til it cools down because there are so many quaint towns to visit here - downtown Dunedin, Safety Harbor and places like Hyde Park in Tampa. We've tried walking around some places already but by 10am, it's already blazing hot. It's no wonder they have so many water activities here - even the Florida Aquarium has a water play area. Next time, we're be more prepared and have the kids in swimsuits like we saw everyone else wearing. :)

On the church front, we've visited 2 churches so far and it's been ok. One church didn't really have small groups but we went to visit because we knew a family there. This week, we went to visit Countryside Christian Center, this huge church with lots of small groups and a well-established nursery. I couldn't get a real flavor for this church because Jana didn't stop crying until they got me, 10 minutes after I dropped her off. I do realize not every baby can be an Aidan. With Aidan, we literally pushed me aside and rushed into the nursery so he can meet the kids and play with the toys - and this is at every nursery we've been to so far. Kids are so different, aren't they? Anyhow, we plan on visiting a small group this week and have 2 more churches on our to-try list. Please pray that we would find a church soon - we might only be here for a year and I don't want to spend too much of it church hopping. We are mainly looking for a church that is grounded and open to the Spirit. Also, is one that has small groups with good childcare.

Oh, for the Fourth of July, we went to Honeymoon Island - they call it the "Real Florida". It was nice with lots of white sand, though some parts were still a bit rocky. We had a blast but got a bit burnt because we were so busy putting sunblock on the kids we forgot to put some on our own bodies aside from our appendages [though Kev's right chest did not get burned because he was holding Jana there - haha!]. We'll hafta post some pics soon. That night, we watched fireworks from the parking lot of Ruth Eckerd Hall. There was a spot where you can watch 4 different displays of fireworks! We thought to ourselves, yes, fireworks are legal here - haha! After all, they do sell them in Target! LOL!

We've also been finally introduced to Raffi and The Wiggles. I know, I know, what's taken us so long? I've been trying to resist the Wiggles every since I saw them on TV and I've just never been able to get a hold of any Raffi CDs. But anyhow, I think I really like them!! Raffi is pretty soothing for the most part (think Baby Beluga) and The Wiggles are very catchy, esp. songs like Hot Potato and Fruit Salad. I find myself humming it throughout the day without even noticing it, which is the annoying part. Anyways, just thought I'd let you know! Hah!

We still need to find a sitter for during the day and occasional nights. I so miss the Thursday mornings that I have free to run errands without the kiddies. ;) Running errands with them have been ok but I'm realizing that I need a double stroller now. We've got this one on the way and if that doesn't work out, will consider this one. It's just so much easier if Aidan is strapped in.....ahem. Anyhow, we continue to claim this year as a honeymoon period for our family. Praise the Lord He is always the same, no matter where you are and that we are always at home with Him. For our own enrichment, I've been reading this book lately - so much to chew through. Good stuff! Have also been listening to this lately. If anyone has any other good books and sites that've really boggled your mind, please let us know! Over and out. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

...first week in FL

Things have been going very smoothly and we're still getting used to Florida. The humidity is pretty bad and it feels like NJ in Aug but it's still June. Oy. At least our A/C works just fine. :)

Ever since we've unpacked our last boxes (and we've even freecycled our boxes!), we've been on vacation mode pretty much. We've explored different beaches and even stopped along causeways to play in the water. :) The first 2 things that hit us was that the water is so warm and so clear! We've been able to wade in and find live hermit crabs scurrying around (Jana likes to pick them up and eat them) and sometimes tiny school of fish! And where there is sand, it's been very fine and soft (Jana tries to eat this, too). So now we've learned to always keep a spare bathing suit/swim trunks and swim diapers and all that beach stuff in a bag in the trunk for when we spot good patches of beach. We're hoping to make a trip to Honeymoon Isalnd, Fort DeSoto Park and Caladesi Island soon. Rated top beaches in this region! :)

We really love the location of our condo. It's very convenient to a lot of things (esp. Target and Costco!) and it's right next to Ruth Eckerd Hall, a performing arts center! We can literally walk there! There are also a ton of churches in this area. We are still looking into them, trying to figure out which ones to visit. We're thinking an American church that has small groups and is open to the Spirit. :) If anyone has any suggestions, please let us know! We are also very close to Kev's work and to a nearby strip of beach. Yay!

Some fun things about FL: You make an appointment to go to the DMV. We had to get FL licenses to start the process of getting insurance and all that, so we call the DMV and find out we can make an appointment. What a novel idea! Yesterday, we show up at the appointed time and then leave with 2 license in hand within 45 minutes! That's with 2 kiddies in tow. I do have to say that the DMV by the Quakerbridge Mall has gotten really efficient, too! Anyways, there's also a supermarket chain called Publix down here. At the checkout line, they ask you if you've found everything, they bag your stuff (even the manager has bagged my stuff) and they can help you load your stuff into the car, if you'd like! I think I'll take them up on this service when Kev is working. How fun!

Since it's been so warm out, we've been grilled a lot. By, we, I mean Kev. :) We've been getting lots of juicy Kev-burgers and succulent chicken. He's going to try his hand at pork chops and sausages next. He swears by the Cooks Illustrated method and our trusty meat thermometer for good eats. My taste buds are happy. :)

Anyways, we also go thte kids at wooden play kitchen for their summer birthdays. We got a special deal on it and it looks something like this. We'll hafta take pics of the kids playing with it soon. It's been so cute to watch them play with this - Jana just likes to open and close the doors and put stuff into the cabinets and take them out. Aidan really gets into it and we get all sorts of 'gourmet meals' out of it. Haha! Maybe he can make dinner for the family when he gets old enough to see over the stove? :) Anyways, might have to look into some play food for them, though we had just pared down their toy stash for the move and also they don't play with it all. We don't want them to take things for granted from having too many toys, you know? When we saw our they were still jsut as happy play with a few things when we had to put a majority of their toys away from showing the house, we realized that more toys doesn't really make them happier. I mean, we knew that but didn't really believe it. Haha! Anyways, off my soapbox and into bed. It's getting late. One more thing, we hope to have the house ready for pics soon - so you all will get to see what it looks like. Plus, we're having guests over Friday - a major motivation for us to get things organized. Alrighty, g'night!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

...our first few pictures of FL

More details and pics to come...but just wanted to show you all some pics of our trip down (didn't take much b/c we were really intent on just getting there) & where we ended up staying before our stuff arrived (an awesome house right next to the Gulf).

Without further ado: please click here. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

...what it will be like to move all the way down Rt. 95...

So, we're finally here In FL and have even rested up a whole day. Now, we can started sharing a bit about our move. :)

Moving day: It went really well. The movers from Wade Odell Wade showed up right on time and had no trouble parking their humongorous van in our parking lot. Angel, our driver, and his crew did a great job! They were careful and courteous - we're very pleased at this point. It took them a while to load the truck b/c they had to rearrange a bit to fit everyone's stuff in (we were sharing this truck with several different families) but when they were done, they had room to spare. Since the moving crew will be the same one in FL - we plan on tipping them here. [We did feed them a scrumptious lunch of Stop-n-shop subs, though. We recommend these sub sandwiches - very tasty and easy on the wallet. :)] If the crew does a good job here, we'll definitely leave them glowing feedback here.

Packing: Looking back, we're so glad we colored coded the boxes with the different rooms and numbered them. We wrote the contents on the box on a separate sheet of paper, so we can find things we need without opening box after box. It has already helped us once when we realized we packed something we wanted to give away & found it immediately - yay! Let's hope that it will work just as well when we need to unpack. Will be back to report. We also loved the self-sticking bubble wrap that we got from my sister (she had leftovers when she moved) - this stuff is perforated every 12 inches and sticks to itself and/or your goods to make packing super easy. Plus, it was very entertainment for the kids when we wrapped up their stuff just so they can unwrap it - haha! Thanks to all those wonderful friends of ours - those that helped us entertain the kids so we can get some serious packing done (Jenn, Kathryn, Sandy, Scott, Fanny, Julie), those that lent us packing tape (Dave, Christina), and those that brought us yummy food (Scott, Sandy, Fanny, Tineesha). Without you guys, we might not have been ready on Thursday... :D

Driving down: Goodness, I think it was the longest drive that we've done in a while (even between the 2 of us) by ourselves [we had to drive separately since we had to bring down our 2 cars]. We did get to stop about halfway at my parents in Cary, NC but having the 2 kiddies along was pretty hard. But after about 4 traffic jams (GPS did save the day a few times), several stops, and 1 torrential downpour, we made it to our Auntie's house on Sunday around 11pm.

We did learn a few things, though. 1)Always have lots of snacks on hand that are easy to pass to the back without you having to look. (e.g. Pretzels, Pretz sticks, etc) 2)Have multiple sippy cups available in case the kid throws them somewhere that you cannot access w/o having to stop the car. 3)Borrow or buy some new-to-them DVDs for the toddler that likes videos - it can buy you hours of time! (Thanks, Jonathan, Jeremy and Zach for lending us your DVDs!!) We loved our portable DVD players for this trip. 4) Try to stop every 3 hours or so but make sure you can get food/gas/bathroom all in this trip or you'll hafta make even more stops. 5) Learn how to pump your own gas. (This is for you, New Jerseyans!) 6) Make sure you pack enough diapers and wipes for your entire trip. 7) Definitely get realiable headsets for your cell phone. If you have Verizon like we did, we got to chat, safe and hands free, for about 6 hours total without paying a cent. I wonder what the Verizon Wireless biller will think when he gets our bill of 360 in-network minutes. Haha! :) Alrighty, enough of the unsolicited advice.

So, we picked up the keys on Monday and got to take our first look at the townhouse. It's a great place, guys! We're so thankful and pleased. And when the realtor told us about how we got the place, we knew it was God. Basically, I was just surfing the web in the moring for houses to rent, like I regularly did 3 weeks before we were about to move, when I happened upon the ad for this house. It fit the bill in every way, so we gave a call to Auntie Celina living close by. So she went to see it right away and called us right after she saw it to tell us to take it. What we didn't know was that the realtor has just listed it when I called. Also, after Auntie Celina had called to see it, 15 other people had called about it shortly after. So, if we had hesitated in calling our Auntie or if she had no time to see it that morning, we would not have gotten this steal of a house. Plus, the realtor told us he had initially told her to rent the place out for $2000/mo. But since this woman wanted to rent it out right away, he suggested $1500/mo but somehow she decided on $1200/mo., which was exactly what we could afford. Amazing, eh? Gotta love it!

Anyhow, we're just waiting for our stuff to get here. It's scheduled to arrive tomorrow moring between 9 and 10am. So, I can't wait to get set up. We have some food and cleaning supplies, but that's about it. Oh, one more fun thing. I called to see when our stuff would arrive and my move coordinator also told us that our stuff weighed in less than what was estimated and so it's cheaper than what we had expected. Praise the Lord. He really watches over his sheep, even all the way in sunny Florida! :) Pictures to come...

Saturday, June 9, 2007 things will pan out

So, moving day is getting closer and closer and we're packing faster and faster these days. :) The moving van is coming on Thursday and we're driving down on Saturday. We're excited to get down there and be settled already, you know? Anyways, God has taken care of us in so many ways lately, that we are constantly reminded not to worry.

Our condo: We had put it up for sale the end of February and got the offer that we had wanted within a month and a half. However, that was after working with several people on low-ball offers. But we had this impression not to sell it yet and then, lo and behold, we get our bottom line price (we also got this number after we prayed). With the way the real estate market has been going these days, even our realtor was so surprised we got what we wanted. Praise the Lord! We had also wanted someone nice to move in and join the community and we did meet the buyer and he's a really nice guy. :) Getting the place ready for showing and actually showing it was pretty tough. I felt like I was constantly cleaning the house, instead of playing with the kids. :( Then, praise the Lord we got an acceptable offer so quickly, so I didn't have to do it for long. But we did get into a routine about things so it was less effort to clean. FYI - I love Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser. Not only did it clean the microwave and walls - it also works wonders on soap scum!! I had been scrubbing and using different cleaners but this sponge took it right off without too much elbow grease. I LOVE IT!!!! (No, I'm not working for Mr. Clean. :D)

Our housing in FL: We had been looking since Feb for a place that would be close to Kev's work, not too old (didn't want to be fixing stuff or calling the landlord all the time) and in a great neighborhood for kids. After searching online almost daily and contacting realtors, we finally found something 3 weeks ago. This was exactly what we wanted, at the price that we wanted and the landlady is very nice. We were getting a bit worried about this b/c we didn't even get to sign the rental contract til last week. But apparently, people in FL are so laidback that the realtor said we could sign the day we move in. We must be true Northeasterners, then. :) The whole process was interesting b/c we didn't have the funds to go down to FL again but my MIL remembered her cousin lives 'somewhere' in FL. And a quick call revealed that she lives 20 minutes away from Clearwater - how convenient is that? Plus, she was soooo nice - she even drove around and looked at houses that we were interested in for us and gave us a report afterwards. That's actually how we knew it was OK to get this townhome.

Moving company: We had been getting quotes from reputable companies after researching on this excellent website. Reading all the horror stories of ppl having to pay more money than they were quoted just to get their stuff off the moving vans really concerned me, esp. since we were doing an interstate move! So, I was on a mission to find a reputable moving company and really helped. We were also toying with the idea of Uhauling it but not having enough friends down there (and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of hiring locals that might not show or didn't have insurance) made us nix that idea. Plus, June is the busiest month of the year to move. So, with all that, we were a bit apprehensive. But when we found Wade Odell Wade and talked to them extensively and asked lots of questions, we felt so much better. Still, we haven't moved yet but will let you know how it goes. We learned so much about this moving process. If you ever want to know more, let us know! ;)

I have also been trying to get to know Clearwater area moms to get recommendations for different things: pediatrician, cable companies, playgroups, babysitters and the like. This website was really helpful for that. I've also been in touch with some MDC moms - so I might have people to get to know already. Yay!

Now that I won't have so much help, I'm thinking I might really need a double stroller. Does anyone have any recommendations? I want one that is pretty lightweight, compact (fits in my Camry folded up) and sturdy. I'm thinking about this one right now. Does anyone have any experience with this? Alrighty, should go pack some more....:)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 of our recent trip to CA...

...can be found:
[First 4 albums courtesy of Kiley, last one by us.]

...what you might get via email

The email that I copied below is pretty hilarious, esp. if you're already a parent. And for those that are not, don't worry, think of this as the worst-case scenario - it's usually not that bad! ;)



Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Place a fish stick
behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

Obtain a 55-gallon box of LEGOs (or you may substitute roofing
tacks). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a
blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream
because this would wake a child at night.

Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them
with you as you shop. Always keep them in sight and pay for
anything they eat or damage.

Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net
bag making sure that all the arms stay inside.

Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend
from the ceiling with a cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to
insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal into the mouth of the jug, while
pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on
the floor.

Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8-12
pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 3:00 p.m. begin
to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 p.m. Lay down your bag
and set your alarm for 10:00 p.m. Get up, pick up your bag, and
sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more
and sing these too until 4:00 a. m. Set alarm for 5:00 a.m. Get
up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and pot of paint,
turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet paper tube and turn
it into an attractive Christmas candle. Use only scotch tape and
a piece of foil. Last, take a milk carton, a Ping-Pong ball, and
an empty box of Cocoa Puffs. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel

Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. Buy a chocolate ice cream
cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a
dime. Stick it into the cassette player. Take a family size
package of chocolate chip cookies. Mash them into the back seat.
Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There, perfect.

Obtain a large bean bag chair and attach it to the front of your
clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10 of the beans.

Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Ask
the clerk to help himself. Now proceed to the nearest food store.
Go to the head office and arrange for your paycheck to be
directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home
and read it quietly for the last time.

Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how
they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet
training and child's table manners. Suggest many ways they can
improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their
children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last
time you will have all the answers.

Friday, May 4, 2007

...what can happen when you get a ticket

Flashback: It's early March 2007 on a typical Wednesday night (already dark out) and I was going to cell group with Jana, who is starting to cry in the backseat. She likes it when I sing, so I'm belting out all these kiddie songs that I know (and I know quite a lot now). All of a sudden, I come to a sign 'Road Closed (to Thru Traffic)'. I'm not going thru and I had no idea where the construction actually is, so I'm debating whether or not I should go through. Seeing that it's already dark and I saw no detour signs and did not no the side roads very well, I decide to go as far as I can until I have to turn around. Sounds like a good plan, eh? WRONG-O! As soon as I pull past the sign, I see the flashing lights. DOH! Now, Jana is truly wailing b/c the lights are right in her eyes and I can't really get out and console her. Anyways, you know the drill - license, registration, and the flashlight in your eyes. I was so flustered I didn't really say much. After what seemed like 15 minutes, I was handed a ticket and I head home to vent to Kev.

A few weeks later: I was praying about this incident b/c I was really mad. I felt like I was treated unfairly b/c I didn't feel like I broke the law. Plus, a previous incident where I was pulled over for nothing didn't help. But I was trying to give it up to God - all my frustrations, negative emotions, and false perceptions. Then one night, I had a dream that my ticket was dismissed when I got to court. I was trying to stay positive and immediately claimed this dream.

Yesterday: The big court date finally arrives. I'm a bit nervous, esp. since I hadn't been praying all that hard. Oops. But this morning, I'm holding on, with every fiber of my being to that dream I had and also to God's goodness and undeserved grace. I'm also asking for God's favor and praying under my breath almost the whole time. I finally get to see the Prosecutor and was trying to explain myself in a not-so-eloquent fashion. He was in the middle of offering me another offense with no points, when he gets a call and gets sidetracked. But when he hangs up, he leans in and tells me my ticket was dismissed, now go wait to see the Judge. Huh? I can hardly believe it. It had come true. Oh. My. Goodness. God. Loves. Me. :D :D :D

Anyways, I'm still pretty flabbergasted when I think about it. Another lesson learned re: grace and I realized more just how much I don't deserve it and how much I'm so glad I don't have to 'deserve it' to get it. Thank you, Jesus!

While waiting for my turn to face the Judge, I was given a tiny glimpse of the Final Judgment Day when all your unrepented sins will be reviewed in front of everyone. For those that have never gotten a ticket and needed to go to court - when you're called up to face the Judge, you get your original offense(s) and also the amended offense(s) [usually one with no points if you plea bargain with the Prosecutor] read aloud in front of everyone. Then He asks you if you want to plea guilty or not guilty. But some people had pretty embrassing or silly offense(s) that they probably didn't want everyone to know about. Reminded me to go home and re-examine my life and repent of anything I haven't yet and let Him work in me to get to that point. Anyways, I'm so glad it's all done and over with. Thank you, Jesus!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

...what can happen in a span of a weekend

This weekend was very packed with 'happenings' - it's hard to sum it up in a few sentences so here's a day-to-day recap.

Thursday: (Technically not a weekend, I know, but I thought I'd include it anyways. Haha!) Jana wakes up and throws up 4x throughout the day. But after each episode, she kinda smiles and acts normal. We're now thinking she has some GI bug - fun stuff. :P
Then that night we got a call from our realtor saying that we got a new offer on the house. We've been going back and forth with a couple for several days now and making slow progress. But she tells me we're being offered our bottomline and it's a take-it-or-leave it kind of offer. Of course we take it and a meeting is set up for the next morning to sign papers and start attorney review. Kev and I are happy but only reservedly so - we've heard that so many things can happen between now and the closing. Still, we are so thankful to God. [This whole house selling process has been a very interesting experience but that's for a later post.]

Friday: After meeting w/ the realtors to sign papers, we get ready to leave for a good friend's wedding in MD. We make good time and get there with plenty of time to spare. BTW, we are now fans of GPS and want to get one for FL - can anyone recommend one? The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner went swimmingly and the kids do great! I was a bit apprehensive about practically going solo to the wedding where I MIGHT know a few people that MIGHT be able to help. But so far, the portable DVD player has been a great help (along w/ a new Crayola Wonders coloring book for Aidan and new snacks for Jana) and we are in the clear. Off to our 1 bedroom suite to try and get some rest. We love 1 bedroom hotel suites and would highly recommend one if you can get it at a good price. :) Aidan also surprisingly stayed in his sleeping bag on the floor and didn't wander the hotel room. Praise the Lord!! And no more vomiting from Jana since Thursday - yay!

Saturday: The wedding is not til later in the morning so we get up and go have free hot breakfast, courtesy of the hotel. [This is another big criteria for us in the choosing hotels, if we can afford it!] Aidan is introduced to Corn Pops and Apple Jacks for the first time. He doesn't love it but ate some anyways - we're not surprised b/c he is more a fan of salty snacks. Funny, eh? The kiddies do well throughout the wedding - thank you, Jesus. The neat thing was I got to reconnect with a friend that I went on a [China/HK/Macau] missions trip with while I was in college. We saw each other and screamed. (Yes, we're both definitely girls. :D) I also got to see some old RCCC Youth Group friends. Then it was off to the groom's parents' house and on the way to there, the kids both fall asleep. I'm thinking we're in the clear again until Jana wakes up screaming, which wakes Aidan up prematurely from his only nap these past 2 days and now he's tantruming. So at one point, I had 2 of them screaming their heads off on my lap and not wanting anyone else but not really wanting me, either. Thank goodness that only lasted 30 minutes and they both finally calm down. The funny thing was there was a friend there who was contemplating have a 2nd kid and when she saw both of them screaming, she had this look on her face that said she might have made up her mind right then and there not to have the other. Haha! The reception was pretty good (esp since I had Kev's help again) and we start driving home around 11:30pm. Unfortunately, we had to make a detour back to the groom's parents' house because I forgot my cell phone there - doh! So, we made it through the pouring rain and got home by the grace of God around 2am. Phew!!

Sunday: Everyone naps lots and recovers from the last 2 days.

Monday: Since the kids are napping a lot, I got to discover how fun YouTube was! I went on a trip down memory lane as I searched through some songs from the 80s. Can I tell you that the first album I ever got was Tiffany? And of course it was on tape. :) (Am I dating myself?) But, man, I loved that album to death. I played it over and over and made up a dance to 'I Think We're Alone Now' with my friends and danced it way too much. (We had no clue what the lyrics meant and didn't care...haha.) So, for those of you that loved it - I know you're out there, you have to watch this video clip:
The 80s was so over the top and crazy (Can we say mullets?!) but it was so entertaining, eh?
I also watched some videos of Carrie Underwood - one of my favorite American Idols.
Here's hoping she's still down to earth and can withstand the pressures of Hollywood. We'll be praying for her! Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

....what will make the list :)

On a side note: I used to have a list of things I would like to accomplish/learn before I hit 30 (ie drive stickshift, teach myself guitar, etc). I've been thinking about this a lot lately and here's my new list, which I will edit as needed:
-drive a stickshift (I still stall the car WAY too much!)
-go to cooking school
-join an orchestra/band (need to polish up my flute skills)
-have my own vegetable/fruit/herb garden.

What about you? Do you have anything on your list?

...when you'll start loving CLOTH

It all started when Aidan was about 6 months old and I got a personal conviction from God to care more for the environment. I was just recycling as much as I can and driving a fuel-efficient car at the time but felt the need to do more. That's when I discovered cloth diapers (and environmentally-friendly cleaning products - but that's for another post, another time). My sister was using cloth diapers on her 2nd baby and I was intrigued but a bit skeptical. It took a lot of convincing and researching but finally I decided to take the plunge. I told myself I would buy a few cloth diapers and try it out for a few months. If it wasn't for me, then I would stop - no guilt. It helped that these modern cloth diapers are much different than the pins, prefolds and plastic pants. These babies are made of a combination of velcro, snaps, microfleece, WindPro fleece!, polyurethane laminate, oragnic velour, wool...and are cute to boot! :) There are many different designs for the different types of babies. Plus, they have these fun names: bumGenius!, Haute Pockets, Fuzzi Bunz, Snap-EZ, Swaddlebees, Pocket Change diapers, Dreameze, to name a few. Anyhow, it is more work and you have to get up-close-and-personal with poo but it's been so fun for me. I figure, since I'll be changing diapers at least 5-6 times a day, why not make it more colorful & fun? ;)

But there's more...ever since I started down that road, I've discovered and used cloth pads (AKA mamapads) and family cloth (a polite way of saying cloth TP!). The cloth pads are so much more comfortable and come in these funky fabrics that make the cycle a bit easier to endure. And family cloth has cut down the amount of TP that I've used, esp when I was preggo. Anyways, to avoid divulging too much info (ahem), feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments.

Finally, to be more 'green', I hope to, in the near future: drive a hybrid and walk more, use cloth napkins, and have a fun vegetable/fruit/herb garden. :) Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

...when the need to simplify overtakes you

We've moved a lot these 4 short years that we've been married but everytime we move, it never ceases to amaze us that we have so much stuff. We always end up throwing things away, giving things away or freecycling ( like crazy. Then we ask ourselves why we bought all that stuff in the first place or why we kept it around all these years. Having kids doesn't help, either - they've now got stuff that they 'need' to play with, you know? :) We even have some boxes of books that we've moved from place to place and guess what? They are still sealed in boxes. ::blush:: This time since we're planning on paying a moving company to move our stuff, we've been more ruthless with decluttering. And it feels great! We highly recommend it!

I also found a blog written by a fellow lover of God who is living the simpler life but still enjoying the things that God has given her (she is super creative and I'm stealing some of her decorating ideas...hehe) - take a look!
Her other posts are very thought-provoking, as well.
May God continue help us to live simply and enjoy the things that matter! :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

...when someone will need a good laugh :)

Kev and I were laughing sooo hard!! We thought there must be someone else who could use a good laugh. Enjoy!

They're Back! Church Bulletins. Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."
Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
---------------------------- ------------------------
The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang, "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
---------------------- ------------------------------
The Rector will preach his farewell me ssage, after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be, "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
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Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment, and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may b e seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
----------------------------------- -----------------
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregati on would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

....where God will lead you

So someone pointed out that we never gave the details of WHERE and WHY we're moving in our 1st post, but just that we are moving again. To that, we say, 'Oopsies'...hehe. So without further ado - We've moving to the Clearwater, FL area mid-June of this year due to Kev's acceptance to a Rehab fellowship down there. Yuppers, there is more training to be done after residency for Kevin. :) This program lasts only one year, so we have no idea where God will take us after that. But one step at a time, right? We are also super-excited to go because someone who can hear God very clearly told us that God intended for this next season to be a honeymoon period with Jesus. :) What better place than Clearwater, eh? [So, if you are going to be in the area, please let us know - we would love to see ya!] Our God is always full of surprises and they are ALWAYS good ones. ;)
Aidan's laugh - i love it!

Sunday, March 11, 2007 handy a camera is

I just thought this was cute, Aidan and Jana have each come a long way. Aidan used to ignore her, but now he always asks us "where's Jana?"

...what you'll learn at a marriage conference

Kev and I went to a marriage conference this weekend and it was beyond great for us. :) We had gone on one before and learned about the typical 'I" statements, love languages, how to fight fair, etc.. All those things are good to know and will help to resolve the conflicts that will inevitably come up in a marriage. But this conference took it a step further and covered forgiveness, bitterness, judgments - the deeper root issues that NEED to be resolved if you want to stop fighting about the same kind of things over and over. But the main 'ingredient' to getting healed in these area is: JESUS. He is the one that will expose the areas we need to work on and completely heal us up. After being married for 4 years, we already know that we cannot do this ourselves. In short, these are some of the things we learned this weekend:

1. Negative emotions are not bad - they simply tell you that you feel something is not right and/or you have a deeper issue that needs healing. And it's ok to be angry, if you deal with it in the right way.
2. Many times, 'sinning' is misbehaving out of your past hurts or woundedness - not simply reacting to the current situation. And, man, do we do this way too often. ;)
3. Many times, negative experiences in our lives that were never dealt with causes those wounds that impact us down the line. Sometimes, we don't even have a clear memory of it but it still happened.
4. Because I believe that God is omnipresent and chose my family for me, when they hurt me, it might skew my view of God & cause me to believe lies about Him. (I never even thought about this!)
5. We need to forgive & bless, instead - impossible things to do on my own.
5. In short, we all need Jesus in a bad way!

There was so much packed into the 3 short sessions that we are still processing through. Feel free to ask us about it, though! :) This weekend just made me appreciate God's grace more and revel in the fact that he still loves me despite how messed up I am on the inside. I am so humbled by my 'messed-upness' and I love Him so much more! Thank you, Jesus for this weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

...who's wondering when you'll post some pictures

Posted by PicasaHere's a picture of our family (taken Christmas '06), for those that are wondering what we look like. And it's here, as opposed to in the profile, because we haven't quite figured out Blogger yet. ;) More to come...

Monday, March 5, 2007

...when someone is looking for a new home :)

So we thought that, just for fun, we'll post the website to our condo up for sale:

You can even view a virutal tour of our place by clicking on '360 tour' and 'Panoramas'. :)

Who knows, we might just make history by being the first family to sell their house through their blog - haha!

...when you'll finally give in to starting a blog :)

We had held off for the longest time, saying we'll never need a blog. But, here we are - writing our first post. :) Who would've thought. The whole reason we decided to start blogging was the fact that we're moving AGAIN - this will mark the FOURTH time that we will have moved in our 4 short years of marriage. :) So, this spot is where you'll find out where we are and what we're doing. We'll start with links to pictures (who doesn't love pictures!) since someone once said that pictures are worth a thousand words.

Kevin and Jacks