Monday, August 31, 2009


High maintenance, demanding, fussy, busy, active, temper tantrums, needy... These words describe our son, Jeremy! I don't know if it's just because Grace's early years were so much easier, but Jeremy sure keeps us busy. Add to that the fact that he doesn't know a lot of language yet, so he gets easily frustrated when we don't understand what he wants. To be honest, I was really wondering what it'd be like to be alone with him this year. I imagined him constantly in time-outs and me constantly exhausted. To my surprise and delight, I have absolutely loved being with Jeremy while Grace is in school. He is a completely different kid when she is not around, and it's unfortunate that I'm only now discovering this. Jeremy has been incredibly endearing, cute, silly, sweet, fun, happy, lovable... In fact, in these last 2 weeks, I have only had to put him in time-out once during our time alone together. Contrast that with his usual three or four time-outs when he and Grace are at home together. Once she gets home, his "other" side emerges, and I'm back to being a referee. Jason has only gotten glimpses of this "good" side of Jeremy. Unfortunately, when Jason gets home, it's usually in the middle of Jeremy and Grace fighting over something, and the end result often involves tears and time-outs. Hopefully, I will be able to influence him and that'll impact how he relates to his sister.
I love knowing that I'll get to spend quality time with Jeremy this year- I'm so looking forward to making great memories and forming a strong bond with my wonderful son.
(These pictures are from a trip to the zoo last week)

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Well now that the school year has started up again, I don't have a lot to update on this blog! Many have asked how my transition has been from teaching full-time to staying at home full-time. Well, to be honest, I've been feeling a little guilty for having so much more time! I feel like I should be doing something so much more than playing on the floor, coloring, and reading books. I know, making memories like these with the kiddos is of utmost importance, but for years, I've been used to a really crazy and hectic lifestyle. I used to feel like there wasn't enough hours in the day... Now, I feel like I have nothing but time. I'm not complaining- just sharing! It's a very strange thing to get used to.

This year, my focus is entirely on my family.

For Jason, I am committed to being a little bit more domesticated. Since school started, I really have had dinner ready for him when he comes home! I've been experimenting with different recipes that I wouldn't have tried last year due to lack of time. For example, tonight we had Crispy Fried Tofu with Vegetable Stir-Fry on Rice. It was really time-consuming to bread each tofu cube, but so worth it in the end. Since I have time to clean during the week, Jason hasn't had to really pitch in as much on the weekend (as was the case in previous years). I've also been able to do some baking, and I know he loves that!

For the kids, aside from the time that we get to spend together on a daily basis, I am working through a journal called, "A Mother's Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words." It is so neat! The journal asks questions that I am able to reflect on and write about. My hope is to give my kids this journal when they are older so they can learn more about who their mama is. Obviously, I hope to be able to personally share things with my kids as they get older, but I think the written word can be a real treasure.

I am also focusing on myself this year. I look at this year off of teaching almost as a sabbatical, a year to get rejuvenated and renewed. I would really like to "grow" this year, which means I need to work on treating myself better. One of the ways I've decided to do that is by joining a gym. I was thinking that this was more like a decision to torture myself rather than treat myself, but I'm going to trust that it's not. I just want to commit to living an active lifestyle. Hopefully, I will be able to follow through...

Thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts and encouragement these last few weeks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grace's First Day in Kindergarten!

Grace started her first day of school today! She is a kindergartner at Kratt Elementary School in Mrs. Butler's class. I actually taught with Mrs. Butler's daughter last year at Harvest and we had talked about the possibility that Grace would have her mom for her teacher. I have heard wonderful things about Mrs. Butler, and am looking forward to Grace having a great experience this year. We went in last Thursday to meet her, and Grace immediately greeted her with a hug. I take that to be a good sign, for Grace to already feel so comfortable with her. This morning, Jason dropped Jeremy off at Christa's house so that I could drop Grace off without interruption. There were parents and cars everywhere! Grace immediately picked out of the crowd her childhood friend, Shannon, who is actually in another kindergarten class. They were so happy to see each other!
Mrs. Butler welcomed everyone, did a short orientation, and then the parents left. I was expecting to cry, but held it all in! I quickly said goodbye to Grace, who was sitting with her class on the circle time rug. I noticed that she did wipe her eyes several times. Later, she told me that her eyes were wet when I left, but that she knew she'd be ok because she had her teacher. I have felt emotional all day, but no outpouring of tears!
So what did I do today? Jeremy and I hung out with Christa and her kids, and then we left to go grocery shopping. How weird it was to only have Jeremy all morning! It was exciting to hear about Grace's day when we went to pick her up. Mrs. Butler had a gift for them which she quickly opened when we got home (hmmm... notice the scissors... Grace and scissors... j/k! By the way, did you notice that her bangs are long enough for us to put back?!).
Funny story... I asked Grace whether she wanted a PB&J or a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. She said, "Well, I guess a girl cheese sandwich... But how come we never have boy cheese sandwiches?"
Today was wonderful- what a great start to our year, and to Grace's school experience!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth

Jason and I decided a long time ago that to celebrate our kids entering school, we'd take them to Disneyland. We think it's a big deal- going to kindergarten is an important milestone! Well, Grace is starting school this year! We asked Jason's mom to come with us to help with Jeremy, since we wanted all the focus to be on Grace (and as you know, Jeremy often hogs our attention). We left on Saturday after lunch and returned on Tuesday night. We expected to make it to Anaheim by dinner time, but L.A. traffic certainly welcomed us, and we ended up not getting to our condo until 7pm. It was a long travel day! The kids went to bed later than usual, which wasn't good, considering we wanted to catch our shuttle at 7:30am the next morning. Well, waking up the kids turned out to be easier than we thought- they were just so excited, it didn't take long to get ready and out the door. We arrived at Disneyland at 8:10am. There were no lines! First thing we did was make our way to City Hall to get the kids their "1st Visit" badges. Rather than give a detailed narrative, here are some highlights...

Jeremy's Most Memorable Moments (chosen by Jason & Jane)(in Toon Town)
-It's a Small World (he went twice)
-Playhouse Disney, Live on Stage (he was squealing and clapping the entire time)
-Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (he went twice)
-the cars in Toon Town
-Disney's Electrical Parade
-Enchanted Tiki Room (no one else seemed to enjoy this but him)

Grace's Most Memorable Moments (chosen by Grace)
(meeting Belle at the Princess Faire)
-Astro Orbitor
-Dumbo the Flying Elephant (first Disneyland ride!)
-Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
-Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (why, I don't know... it seemed so babyish for her)
-Disney Princess Fantasy Faire

Jason's Most Memorable Moments

(on Donald's Boat in Toon Town)

-Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
-watching the kids' excitement
-going on the Matterhorn Bobsleds with Grace

Jane's Most Memorable Moments

-Jeremy did sooooo well! (we only broke out the Elmo leash once and that was because we waited over an hour in line at the Finding Nemo ride)
-did I mention that Jeremy did really well? His disposition made it easier to enjoy the whole trip, and to focus on making Grace feel special. I really enjoyed spending time with her and seeing her get excited about the small things.
-I really enjoyed the "productions:" Disney's Aladdin was excellent, the Electrical Parade and Pixar's Play Parade were fun, Playhouse Disney's Live on Stage was really cute (I loved watching Jeremy- he was hooked!), Fantasmic was amazing, and the fireworks were great!
-Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters (we had so much fun... I would've gotten back in line to do that one again if we had more time)

Things we'd like to forget:

-how frustrating it was waiting for shuttle buses... we'd miss each one by a few minutes, then have to wait a half hour until the next one
-how much we paid for our meal at Ariel's Grotto (that was a splurge in honor of Grace)
-the Storybook Land Canal Boats
-Casey Jr. Circus Train
-Enchanted Tiki Room
-L.A.'s traffic on Hwy 5 (getting to Anaheim)

Overall, it was a great trip! We thought that Sunday would be much more crowded than Monday, but we were very wrong. We experienced so many things on Sunday because there were minimal waits for rides. Monday was packed with people! We waited over an hour for Grace to meet and greet with princesses at the Princess Faire. Luckily, the one princess she was anxious to meet (Jasmine) was there. In fact, we met her twice that day! On Monday, we left the parks after lunch for the kids to nap. Good thing, because we ended up staying at Disneyland until midnight! Jeremy fell asleep, and so Jason, his mom, and Grace were able to do a few more rides.

On Tuesday, we decided to take a side trip before heading home. We went to Santa Monica to visit the beach. Can you believe that this was Jeremy's first time?! I know, he's been deprived! He didn't enjoy the water too much because it was cold, but we had a wonderful, relaxing time playing in the sand.
We want to thank Aaron and Christa for lending us their Sit & Stand stroller. We're grateful to Jason's mom for joining us on this trip. She was an incredible help, and we wouldn't have had as good a time if she hadn't been with us. Thanks, Mom!
That wraps up our busy summer of travels! I can't believe it... our Grace is starting kindergarten on Monday! (lots of pics in the slideshow on the right)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bob the Builder

I supposedly have more time on my hands, and yet I have somehow fallen behind with my blogging... Before I can post about Disneyland, I have to post about meeting Bob the Builder! I took the kids to the Fresno Metropolitan Museum last Thursday with some of our friends to see one of its current exhibits: Bob the Builder. It is a really kid-friendly and interactive exhibit. Grace and Jeremy had such a fun time exploring. I could barely keep my eyes on both of them since they were so excited to try everything out, one running off in one direction, and the other in the opposite direction. We were there when Bob actually came out to greet the kids and take pictures with them. I asked Jeremy whether he wanted to keep playing or to say hi to Bob. He chose the latter, so we got in line. When it was finally our turn, I got to about four feet from Bob and Jeremy suddenly shrieked and cried. It was kind of funny to see him react that way to Bob. Anyway, I still recommend it as something for the family to go and do- overall, my kids loved it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our 10 Best Memories from Edmonton

10. Tim Hortons Timbits

The kids woke up our first morning in Edmonton to a box of Timbits, courtesy of Ba (grandma)... Yum! We got many more boxes in our 3 weeks there. The kids were limited to a few and then Jason and I would finish off the rest of the box.

9. Bubble tea

Yes, Fresno does have bubble tea places, but it's just not the same! I usually get a Strawberry Slushie Bubble Tea with Pearls (aka boba or bubbles).

8. Cooler temperatures

Even though the hottest it got was 85 degrees, it felt a lot warmer because my parents' house doesn't have A/C. There were many nights I couldn't sleep! Still, the weather was nothing like the streak of triple digits felt here in the Central Valley. Edmonton's unpredictable weather always makes for interesting summers. Two major storms passed through while we were there (winds broke trees like this one in my parents' yard). On a different note, we got to see Northern Lights this year (usually only seen in late August/Sept.).

7. Jason went golfing 4 times

Jason really enjoys golfing, but with such busy daily lives, he doesn't ever get to go in Fresno. He even joined our friend Peter at a company tournament and got 18 holes of golf, free meals, a windbreaker jacket, and beach towel.

6. Jason's All-Comers Meets

It wasn't a good "spectator" experience running after Jeremy for the first meet, but the second meet was great because we left him at home. That, and the fact that Jason was awesome!

5. Festivals, in particular, our favorite: the Heritage Festival My last blog post was about this amazing festival. Scroll down for further details!

4. Parks, playgrounds, spray parks, wading pools

We LOVE that there is so much available to do with little kids! Since Edmonton is covered with snow much of the year, when it's summer, people seem to try to spend as much time outside as possible (and it helps that the sun doesn't set until 10:30pm most nights)!

3. Getting our yearly food fixes

I didn't take any pictures of food this year, but of course we totally pig out while we're in Edmonton. Some of these are ordinary meals, but when I can only have them once a year, I crave them! My Vietnamese cravings include: Bun Bo Hue and Pho. Fast food cravings: donairs with fries (tried some new places this year... still looking for the BEST that Edmonton has to offer), Mozza Burgers from A&W (no, A&Ws in California don't have the same menu), Oodle Noodle (why doesn't Fresno have anything like this?!), Edo Japan. Dinner cravings: Brits Fish & Chips, Swiss Chalet, Boston Pizza. Other cravings: Dim Sum!

2. Time with friends

We love spending time hanging out with our friends! I feel blessed that I've been able to maintain close friendships despite only seeing them once a year. I'm not going to post specific pictures because I don't want to exclude people (I didn't take a picture of every single person we hung out with)!

1. Time with family... enough said!
Until next year, Edmonton!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Heritage Festival

Edmonton is known as "Festival City" because there is a festival happening every week throughout summer. Our favorite festival is called the Heritage Festival. We usually don't stay in Edmonton until August because I am usually anxious to get back to Fresno to get ready to go back to school. Since I'm not going back to school this year, we decided to plan our trip so that we'd get to go to this festival this year. I love it because it pretty much sums up how I view Edmonton- incredibly diverse and multicultural. The festival takes place in one of Edmonton's largest parks, Hawrelak Park. It features 62 pavilions representing over eighty cultures from all over the world. As you go from pavilion to pavilion, you're able to buy food dishes that represent that country's cuisine, see their culture's creative dance/music performances, and even shop for cultural items. We were able to sample foods of cultures that we normally wouldn't have the chance to.For example, who knew that we'd enjoy food from Azerbaijan?! We had a Qutab-style meat pie (marinated beef on a thin crust baked and topped with sumakh, which is similar to a tzatziki sauce). We almost went back for another portion because our entire family devoured that dish! Here are some other foods we tried: Arab- Beef Shiskabobs served with hummus, and Arabian thin bread; Chile- cheese empanadas; France- Crepes with chocolate sauce; Guatemala- Pinchos (grilled cube meat on sticks with garlic, onion, cilantro, vinegar, chili); Israel- Ruggelach (pastry with raspberry/chocolate filling); Scandinavia- Rullupylsa (open faced sandwich with spiced lamb); and Sudan- Kofta (meat balls with Sudanese spices). Maybe it doesn't sound like a lot, but it was! We were at the festival for four hours, eating food and watching the cultural dances. We saw all kinds of performances such as those representing Nicaragua, Bangladesh, the Caribbean, Ecuador, Colombia, Indonesia, Arab, Israel, Nigeria, Philippines, and Venezuela.

Jason and I loved it, but as to be expected, Jeremy made it hard to fully enjoy the experience. He didn't want to be in the stroller, he didn't want to hold our hands, and he didn't want to be held. For short periods of time, he would be ok riding on Jason's shoulders, but he can't just stay there. If we let him just walk, he would end up taking off because he saw it as a game. I realize that we need to train him, but at a festival with thousands of people everywhere, it really wasn't the time or place. We finally succumbed and tried a "leash" (we bought it after our experience at Capital Ex but hadn't used it yet). Go ahead- I expect people to fully judge us for using one. Plenty of people stared at us when they saw Jeremy attached to a leash. He made it known that he didn't like it one bit, but once he saw that he had a little freedom, he calmed down and it was good. Our reason for using one is simply because with it, Jeremy gets to walk on his own, but we get to control how far he walks from us, and the direction we go. At least with all the walking he ended up doing, he got really tired out. He fell asleep in the car soon after we left the parkade.
This was our last day in Edmonton. We fly out first thing tomorrow morning. It's going to be a really long day of traveling, so pray for us if you think of it. Grace should be fine, but we know how Jeremy is!
Emotions of leaving Edmonton haven't quite hit me yet because my mind is mostly consumed with all the packing that still needs to be done. It'll probably hit me tomorrow... I guess I'll reflect and blog about that when I'm back in Fresno... Sigh...

Game Night

If you know Jason and me, you'd know that we looooove to play board games. The perfect way to end off our time here in Edmonton was Game Night with friends! The girls played Perpetual Commotion, and the guys played poker. Even better was that Jason won so we got a little bit of extra spending money!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alberta Legislature

Some geography for you: Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, which is the second province in from the West Coast. From the U.S., it would be directly north of Montana. Most U.S. maps cut off right where Edmonton would be. The equivalent to California's State Capitol in Sacramento is Alberta's Legislature in Edmonton. That's where we spent most of our day today, but not as tourists.

Outside of the Legislature's main entry is a huge reflecting pool that is open to the public as a wading pool. There is also a fountain and a smaller water area that people come to enjoy. It was so beautiful here today so it was a great day to take the kids. The water wasn't too deep, but it was plenty cold! It took a lot of coaxing before Jeremy would go in the water. My sister brought us lunch so after the kids had fun wading around, we ate before heading home for naps. Jason and I toured the Legislature together pre-kid, but we'll revisit it again when the kids are older.

What else do we do here?

So, what else do we do during all this time we're in Edmonton?
For the last few years, we have enrolled Grace in swimming lessons up here. Friday was her last day! This year, she was in the 4 & 5 year old Advanced class. She turned out to the be the most advanced in her class. We don't think she learned anything new, but the class certainly was a self-esteem booster. Hopefully, she'll retain all the things that she has learned this year in swimming.

We loved visiting the Sherwood Park Farmer's Market this past week. (Grace and Jeremy went to the Mill Woods Farmer's Market last week). We left with some fresh raspberries, gourmet cookies, a freshly squeezed lemonade, and rice krispy treats (Gracie's pick).

After swimming lessons on Thursday, we got the chance to meet up with the Sieberts, friends we met several years ago in Fresno who now live in Edmonton. We were originally going to go to a playground/wading pool, but it started sprinkling, so we went to their house for lunch instead. They just recently moved so we were happy to see their new home. The kids played while we chatted. It was nice to get to catch up with them.
After swimming lessons on Friday, we headed up to Ong Muc Su Thanh's house. He is the pastor of my childhood church and we still keep in touch with him. I still consider him an important person in my life and I respect him a lot. He made us a wonderful lunch and we got to talk and catch up.