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Oh, So Glamorous

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Have I ever mentioned how much Lo Gung (and I) enjoy shopping? It’s what we did on our first date, and it’s what we’ve done every weekend since. I’m not even kidding. (That man is the best sale sniffer I’ve EVER met. It’s uncanny the things he can find, and the DEALS.)

Anyhow, with the holidays approaching, I thought it might be useful to share some of the things that come across my path that I really like. Yes?

 

Today’s offering is a cute movie called Arthur Christmas (available from Amazon, Costco…and probably other places I haven’t noticed). My mother bought it, and thought it was adorable, so she lent it to my sister (Myrnie). Myrnie thought it was adorable, so she lent it to me. I think it’s adorable…so I’m telling you all about it.

 

The basic premise is that Santa Claus is a title…a job description, if you will, passed down through the Christmas family. In present day, there are four Christmases living at the North Pole – Grandpa, Santa, and his two sons. One son is militant and precise, and destined to be the next Santa. The other is timid, shy, and completely misunderstood by his family. However, when (at the end of the Christmas run), it is discovered that one single child has been MISSED, it is up to the youngest son (Arthur) to save the day. This movie came out in theaters last year, but I don’t remember ever hearing about it. I don’t know how else to describe it except…adorable. It has a great message (service for the sake and magic of service, instead of for the glory of it), and is something I would definitely watch every year!

Birthday Prezzies!

Have you ever heard of Molly Moon’s? If you’re from Seattle, you’d better be raising your hands.

I’m not a huge fan of ice cream. Ok, wait – let me rephrase that. I WASN’T a huge fan of ice cream, until I found a parlor or two that made housemade ice cream in small batches. (I’m not talking about the places that mix up ice cream from a mix, slap it down on a slab and mix in anything your heart desires. Those places are nice…but the ice cream doesn’t do it for me.) I’m talking about places like Mallard’s, in Bellingham. Small batches, funky flavors. (Black pepper, anyone? Basil and strawberry? YES, PLEASE.)

Molly Moon’s is a simlar establishment, a bit more local (to me). So when I saw that they had a new cookbook out this year…well, it definitely earned its spot on the Official LoLo Birthday Wish List! And yesterday? It arrived.

I’m a little more than excited.

 

The flavors are divided up by seasons. Fruit sorbets in the summer, creamy pumpkin in the fall…you get the idea. Has anyone used this book?

More importantly, if you could make one flavor of ice cream…what would it be? (We found a Salt Licorice recipe in the book that looks SO good.)

Oh, people. First off, if you’ve never been pregnant…I’ll explain it to you. Imagine wearing a backpack backwards, so it’s on your chest instead of your back. How, put a cat inside, and zip it up. Then add about 15 pounds of books, and cinch the bag on good and tight. Occasionally the cat will wake up and stretch and move around in the bag. That’s normal. She might even poke you and feel like she’s trying to break out. Also, normal. (Oh, and hiccups? It feels like someone stuck a bass amp in your gut, and is playing a steady beat.)

Got all that? Good. Now, imagine that all of your muscles have developed the attention span of a two year old. They can’t sit still, no matter how much you order them to. They must dance! Move! Sway! I think this is nature’s way of getting us ready for a demanding newborn, but I could be wrong.

 

Now, finally, go to sleep.

 

Ha! Gotcha, didn’t I? Sleep, just like sitting still, is really REALLY hard to come by. It’s work! There are a lot of nights I fall into bed, only to realize 45 minutes later that sleep just isn’t happening. Last night was a perfect example.

I went to the gym yesterday, so by bedtime I was BEAT. I collapsed into bed just after 10. At 11:45, I was still rolling over and over, trying to get comfortable. My legs were ITCHY, and Baby was kicking around…it was a party, y’all. I’ve been lucky – Lo Gung has been falling asleep super fast, so I don’t feel too guilty if I’m restless. (One of us has to get up in the morning and make money…and it’s not me! Therefore, sleep is a bit more imperative for one of us than the other.) However, last night I must have pushed my luck too far. I heard Lo Gung pull his hands out of the warm blankets and…slap himself in the face. I kid you not. I have no idea WHY he did it (and neither does he!) but when your husband slaps himself in the face because you are keeping him from resting peacefully…it’s time to look for alternate situations.

I’m 7 1/2 months pregnant, and generally uncomfortable. Also, my legs were super itchy. So I did the only thing that made sense – I pulled a rob on, grabbed my little pot of “halawa*” and…went into the kitchen to wax my legs. At 11:45pm. Because it made perfect sense.

(*Halawa is a candy/sticky goop made of sugar, lemon, water and salt. You can use it to remove body hair, just like wax. It’s called “sugaring.”) 

45 minutes later, my legs didn’t itch anymore, but I still couldn’t sit still. So I moved on to Plan B: Play Solitaire on the couch until you just can’t keep your eyes open anymore. (That magical threshold happened around 1:30pm.)

The Moral of this Story: There isn’t one. But aren’t you glad you aren’t 7 months pregnant…or married to a woman who is, and slapping yourself in your sleep to see if it will get her to calm down and fall asleep?

You’re welcome. Now, I’m going to bed. If you need me, I’ll be on facebook in about an hour and a half, waiting to fall asleep!

Silver Linings

November is traditionally the month of gratitude. Friends pop up daily in my facebook feed, sharing the little (and not so little) things they are grateful for each day. I didn’t participate this year, but it has made me think. My birthday is coming up next week and as I look back at the past year…it’s been a doozy. There have been great blessings, but there have been some really freaky, weird things, too. As I reflect, I’ve realized there are silver linings to all of the weird, freaky things that have happened.

 

(Mid-Autumn Festival, 2012)

To start off the year, my husband got a brand new job. During the worst snowstorm of the year. So, even though he was accepted and on payroll, the poor dude spent his first week of work in his den, doing his best to complete his New Hire Training via e-mail with his colleagues.

Silver lining: Daddy was home, and safe from all the storms. Also? His awesome new insurance would come in REALLY handy this year, though we didn’t know it yet.

Later that same month, I found out I was pregnant. Three days later, I miscarried. It was tough, and made tougher by my guilt over never having come to terms with BEING pregnant, before it was suddenly taken away from me. As I made my way through the day of blood work and ultrasounds and well-meaning (but callous sounding) doctors, I received some interesting news. The ultrasound tech checked around to make sure it was a clean sweep, and suddenly announced, “Whoa! Did you know that was there?” She had found a 10 cm. cyst.

Silver lining: The cyst was harmless, and assumed to be of the common garden variety. However, it didn’t hurt. At all. And a cyst that size should have felt approximately equivalent to labor. It never would have been found had it not been for that ultrasound.

More appointments were made, specialists were met, and finally surgery was scheduled. My “dragon egg” came out in April.

Silver lining: My mother in law was able to fly in from Salt Lake and take care of EVERYTHING while I slept for a week. There were no complications, and the cyst (though the weirdest one, medically, my doctor had ever seen) was completely harmless. Remember that through all of this, I haven’t paid a penny yet. Daddy’s new insurance was a huge blessing this year!

 

(Post-Op. This is what I look like, allllll doped up.)

 

As I recovered from surgery and moved on with life, I visited the dentist. He found that one of my teeth was hollowing itself out…from the inside out. Which is weird. (He’d only seen three cases, in all his years of practicing.) A consultation was set up with a specialist, who recommended a root canal and a crown. A second opinion said the root canal would fail, leaving not enough tooth behind to attach a crown to. During this time, I found out I was pregnant again, which put all talk of root canals off the table for a few months while I got through my first trimester. I ended up getting the root canal, which went well. 90 minutes later, as the endodontist is removing all his paraphernalia from my teeth, I hear a *snap* and “Oh, shoot!” My tooth had cracked. (Turns out the second opinion was right. Oh well – at least I never had to wonder if a root canal MIGHT have worked!) Back to the dentist, and the offending tooth was simply removed.

Silver lining: The tooth was the very last molar, way in the back, so I am OK to leave it without a falsie. Also, recovery went amazingly well. I never even needed pain meds. 

Finally, this month, I was working late one night to finish some photobooks before a sale ended. As I finally peeled myself off the couch, I noticed that my side was really itchy. I checked in the mirror and found a weird band of blisters on my side. I watched it for a few days, and finally went and saw the doctor. It was shingles! It almost made me laugh – it was too much, on top of everything else. I have felt relatively fit during this pregnancy, compared to my others, but nobody wants shingles when they are 7 months pregnant. I started the medication last week, and am now nearly pain (and blister!) free.

Silver lining: The shingles happened early enough in my pregnancy that there is almost zero risk of my baby having any complications. The outbreak was also very, very small, compared to some other cases. Also, during this pregnancy I have been much more careful about what I’m eating, and have continued to attend Zumba 2 hours a week. I am the healthiest pregnant lady I’ve ever been! 

So. As we go into Thanksgiving, I am feeling…grateful. Like I said – it’s been a really weird, freaky year. But that doesn’t mean it’s been bad. I have two healthy kids, and a VERY active little girl on the way (just 10 weeks!) My husband has a great job, with much more family friendly hours than his previous one. We have a lovely house to live in, and loads of family in the area to help watch the kids when I need a break. It is a very blessed year…but still, one I am happy to close out.

Bring on 31! 30 has been done.

(Easter 2012)

October Memories

Just a few memories from October. My family celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the largest Chinese festivals of the year. Like all proper holidays, this one centers around FOOD. (I think of it as the Chinese equivalent of Thanksgiving. You enjoy the bounty of the harvest, surrounded by friends and family.) Two popular treats this time of year are persimmons and mooncakes. Traditional moon cakes are small pastries. An oily dough encases lotus seed paste, with a salted, cooked egg yolk at the very center. These are generally served cut into 4-8 pieces, and enjoyed with friends with a mug of steaming tea. Another kind of mooncake that has been gaining popularity is the “ice skin mooncake.” I decided to try my hand at making them this year. I used a recipe from here, and we loved them. 

 

Traditional molds are wooden, and heavy, and hard to find in the states. The “skin” and filling are pressed into the floured mold, and then the mold is knocked against the counter to (hopefully) loosen up the mooncake. The mold is given one final whack, upside down, and the mooncakes should fall out. I decided to take a less traditional, but more fool-proof method. Wilton silicone cupcake molds! I bought these at Michael’s, and figured a pumpkin and a leaf were fairly mid-autumn-y. Ish. Whatever. It’s all about fall, right? I didn’t get the crisp edges I would have with a wooden mold, but they came out like a dream.

 

Halloween also came, and went. I love October, because I get to pull out all of my fall decor, plus my ghouls and goblins for Halloween. I focused on two tables in my entry-way this year. This one got my skeletons and ghosts, all decked out in their finest.

 

The second table got my collection of pumpkins. 

 

Late in the month, I was craving mooncakes again, so I conned my sister into coming over and helping me make up a huge batch to use up the rest of the taro filling from the first  batch.

 

And that, as they say, was that!

It’s Election Day!

No, this is NOT a political post. (Other than the fact that I will take this moment, RIGHT NOW, to urge you to get out and vote today if you haven’t. If you don’t vote, you can’t whine about the outcome.)

Now. A little story – are you ready? Yesterday morning, I received an e-mail from my mother, offering to babysit my kids on either Tuesday or Wednesday so Lo Gung and I could head out for some Us Time. Lo Gung agreed that Tuesday night would work best, and off we went about our days. Date set. Plans made. Looking forward to it.

Until last night, around 10pm. As Lo Gung was brushing his teeth, he turned to me. “Uhhhh….hungy? I pfink I mah nee a can’l ah day.”

………

I indicated to him he should finish brushing his teeth, and repeat the statement. (It made a lot more sense the second time.) “Uh, honey? I think I might need to cancel our date. It’s Election day! I’ll miss the results!”

I assured Mr. Windows Phone that there MUST be an app for that. After he fell asleep, Restless Leg Syndrome, Hiccuping Baby, and I sat down to find just such an app. Recommendations abound, but here is what I settled on. (Both apps are free, by the way.) (These apps are for the iPhone. If you have a Windows phone, or Android, and would like to recommend some apps, please do!!)

1. CNN The CNN app combines international news coverage with a special section just for election results, to be updated live all day.

2. Washington State Election Results This app, obviously, is specific to the Washington State results today. We have a few measures that have gotten people really fired up (charter schools…gay marriage…and legalizing marijuana, for example), so it’s nice to have one easy place to track those results. Within the app, you can star any measure, amendment or position that you particularly want to follow, and those results will show up on a “favorites” page. Kind of cool.

(You can find some more free apps reviews here.)

So. If you haven’t voted today, GO DO IT. If you have, sit back…and watch the results trickle in!

If you have a favorite way to catch the results, chime up in the comments!

(PS – Windows phone users, you can find links to BOTH apps mentioned here.)