30 January 2009

Finally! A Haircut.

I was looking at some recent photos of a zoo trip when I could no longer stand the long hair!

Though when they suddenly break out in a song-and-dance routine, I'm distracted for a bit.
bamboo singing and dancing

The reason A1 only goes to the barber twice a year is because it terrifies him so.
apprehensive haircut

Well, at least we're done for another 6 months!

29 January 2009

Thankful Thursday, Week 4

As previously mentioned, this will be my last public Thankful Thursday. Thank you for starting this journey of gratitude with me. It's my intention to continue the Thankful Thursday tradition in private until it becomes second nature to appreciate all wonders around me all the time.

1. I'm no lactivist (If you ask me to stop nursing in your restaurant, I will comply. I won't ever dine there again, but I won't rally an angry army of La Leche League compatriots either.), but I'm certainly grateful to have been able to nurse my children for as long as I have without any problems whatsoever.

2. Carseats keep my babies safe. A2 tried to slink away from me when I started to grab him:
slinky carseat

3. How did we ever consider ourselves part of civilized society without Target? I was not always a fan, but now I am a true believer.

4. Two mornings/week of preschool for A1 means I finally get some one-on-one time with A2. It's been so fun and interesting to interact with him without his brother at his side.

5. We grow and eat so much of our own food. Grapefruit harvest, coming right up!
truck for gratefruits

6. My laptop is my lifeline to the outside world. I'm on virtually all day (and all night!) long and I'm so grateful to be able to afford such a luxury.

7. James says the people in my family usually look perpetually young until one day when they're suddenly as old as the hills. My grandmother is one of those people. As her eldest grandchild, I have adored her my whole life and now my children are fortunate enough to receive her abundant wisdom, humor, and caring. Here is A2 about to plow into her at full force. And she couldn't be happier about it.

8. I don't cook dinner! My parents live a block away and I grab the kids to eat with their grandparents every evening. I am insanely fortunately to be able to get a daily break like that.

9. I am lucky enough to have a room designated primarily for sewing. Unfortunately, I can barely walk in it because it's in such disarray at this point (there is paperwork from my maternity leave almost 4 years ago in that pile!).
sewing mess

10. My happy days far outnumber my sad days...by choice and by chance.

28 January 2009

Wednesday Whine

- My number one pet peeve is when people take credit where it is undue. You know, that manager who presents your breakthrough idea as if it were his own, the co-chair who attends a committee meeting without you and attaches his name to your work, or the classmate who never showed up to half of the study sessions but hands in the group project as if he spearheaded the whole thing. It may sound like I'm not a team player, but in fact, I am very much a team player. I try very hard to give credit where credit is due*, which is why I am astounded, disappointed, and sometimes fuming when others don't play by the same rules.

- There are a few grammatical errors at which I literally flinch.

First, there's the it's/its confusion. It doesn't make any sense to me why that apostrophe is so liberally used when people intend to state it in the possessive. I mean, people don't throw a random apostrophe in there when using the possessive his. To me, hi's looks as ridiculous as it's when it's not a contraction of it is.

Another one that drives me batty is close proximity. As opposed to what? Far proximity? Proximity already means closeness...it really needn't be characterized by itself.

And let's move on to alot. You don't spell a little all scrunched up as alittle, please extend the same courtesy to a lot.

Finally, there's peruse, which means to read carefully. I realize that if enough people get it consistently wrong, it will go the way of decimate, but until then, peruse still means to read carefully!

I'm sorry. I sound like a snob, but it's only because I was continually placed in ESL classes until my senior year in high school! Because of a sweeping district policy to place all students who did not use English as their primary language in the home, I had to test out of the ESL track each and every single year. I know. Bogus, right? I could have easily lied and claimed that I did speak English at home, but I was am stubborn like that. So now, I'm strangely specific about my grammar and my ears perk when I hear errors.

* Isn't it strange and lovely when you've known someone for the briefest slice of time but you feel connected as if you've been buddies for years? I met the wonderfully talented, witty, sweet Hyacynth this summer, and through the miracle of Blogland have been able to keep up with her antics even though she's moved back to her native Midwest home. This Wednesday Whine post was shamelessly pilfered from her blog.

27 January 2009

Mac and cheese

There's an exorbitant amount of cauliflower hidden in this casserole. I tried to sneak it under 3 different kinds of cheeses and olive loaf bread crumbs.

This one probably would have eaten even more had he known. He has an unnatural love of vegetables (and a strong need for a haircut!).
hair flip

This one totally knew something was up and informed me that I was crazy if I thought I'd be able to pull a fast one.
slight furrow

26 January 2009

Happy Lunar New Year!

We started New Year's Eve at the park as if it were any other day.

Here is A2 wondering why I didn't tame that cowlick of his.

And here is A1 looking very determined.

After the park, we went to my parents' community center where A1 got to ring the bell and A2 got to watch him (that's the story of A2's life!).

On New Year's Day, we started at a playdate. Here are a few of our friends from this morning. This first pic is of Cole. You know how some babies just look like babies but others seem to possess the wisdom of the ages? Cole seems like one of those old souls in new bodies.
This is Conrad. I love how focused he is on the task at hand.
And here's Jason. Man, I can't wait to see how he turns out as an adult...what a sweet fella!

After the playdate, we went back to my parents' community center. I tried to get photos of the boys together, but just couldn't pull it off.

This one would have been nice if A1 hadn't been scratching himself!
Tet 1

This one would have been nice too, if both kids didn't look so pained by the photo session.
Tet 2

And here they are...all smiles finally! It's because I've told them that I've given up taking pictures and they can go play. Sheesh.
Tet 3

That's okay, I like the candid shots anyhow.
Tet 4
Tet 5
Tet 6

Well, except for maybe this one. This is the "No, thanks for the raspberry, but I already showered at home" shot.
Tet 7

By the way, I don't take offense when people refer to it as Chinese New Year, but it sounds a little odd to my ear...sort of like Happy Lithuanian Easter or Merry Guatemalan Christmas. What I mean to say is that those who are not Chinese recognize and celebrate the Lunar New Year all the same.

25 January 2009

365 Photography Project, Week 1

I'm a fairly conventional, inside-the-box kind of thinker. I mean, if it works, why question it? Why reinvent the wheel, right? So I'm jumping (a little late) on this 365 bandwagon and presenting a photo every single day for a full year. I've read that the process is a great way to document and remember any given year and it has the added benefit of improving one's photography because of all the practice and because there is no choice but to get creative with the camera if daily output is expected.

1/365: This was my first shot last Sunday. It's the trunk of one of our king palms. There's something simultaneously hopeful and tragic about how the trunk grows, forcing older fronds to separate and come crashing down to the ground.
1 of 365

2/365: These are volunteers--I never planted these vigorous flowers but they keep returning every year. I believe they are Vinca. And their tenacity both pleases and annoys me!
2 of 365

3/365: Daylilies last...well...a day. So, if I didn't enjoy the faded flowers as much as I enjoy the big blooming ones, I'd be pretty sad most of the time.
3 of 365

4/365: I had all sorts of plans as to what I would capture today but none of those photos did anything for me. I ended up choosing this image, which I took haphazardly while out in the backyard taking photos of the boys. I like it because there's something jarring about the plane's distinct shape against the organic cloud puffs.
4 of 365

5/365: I planted statice all along the hill to the side of the house. I like the how it looks like white-gloved hands are reaching up to the sky.
5 of 365

6/365: The leaves from the pomegranate trees just fell last week but I noticed new leaflets emerging this week. Man, So Cal weather is nutty.
6 of 365

7/365: I made lemonade...lots and lots of lemonade.
7 of 365

24 January 2009

Chocolate sandwich

chocolate waffle sandwich

After a cycle in the waffle iron, I got this:
chocolate waffle sandwich 2

I had it with ice cream...stealthily. There's virtually no nutritive value whatsoever so I wasn't about to let my children see me eat it. <--that's when you know you have a problem
chocolate waffle sandwich 3

23 January 2009

On bilingualism

When I came to the United States at age 6, I could not speak a single word of English. But because of the ease and speed with which I acquired English proficiency, I was undaunted by the notion of raising bilingual children. I knew, through empirical research and personal experience, that balanced bilingualism would not hinder development in either language, but would, in fact, confer benefits in both languages. As such, we are primarily a one parent/one language household, wherein James speaks English and I speak Vietnamese. Unfortunately, this practice was upheld more strictly with A1 than it has been with A2 and the effects are noticeable.

A1 spoke an enormous array of single words by 18 months and 2-word phrases by 19 months, and he was spewing paragraph upon paragraph of oral narrative by 20 months--all of which was exclusively in Vietnamese. In fact, he barely spoke any English at all until he started preschool last fall. And now, 4 months later, his expressive English is almost as fluid as his expressive Vietnamese.

A2's language acquisition has been steady but hampered by his birth status (he hears a lot of conversation, but less of it is specifically directed toward him) and the fact that our one parent/one language rule became diluted when A1 started speaking so much English at home. At 19 months, A2's expressive vocabulary is not as large at his brother's at the same age, and is about 70% Vietnamese and 30% English. I can tell that his receptive English is better than his brother's at this age as well.

At this point, I know it is going to be an uphill battle to maintain use of Vietnamese at home, but I will certainly try.

22 January 2009

Thankful Thursday, Week 3

Wow, time flies! It feels like this Thankful Thursday came so quickly on the heels of the last one! It makes me wonder if I would forget to stop and appreciate the things around me if I didn't blog them.

Once again, in no particular order:

1. We live very close to a huge number of ethnic markets that offer extremely reasonable prices on an astoundingly huge variety of items. (Zion is a Korean grocery store, not a Jewish deli--weird, huh?)

2. Fringe and Lost are back on the air. I know...it's just wrong wrong wrong of me to be thankful for television (webisodes, actually--since we don't technically have a TV).

3. The boys get along, and have such fun together. I'm an only child so it means a whole lot to me that they have each other.
couch kick

4. I have a kid whose compassion is limitless, whose love for everyone, even stuffed froggies, inspires.
froggy love
real froggy love

5. Sunlit curls on my little boy's head--wow. Loves it. (Sorry for the slightly obscene photo!)
slightly obscene

6. The boys' naptimes coincide! Can I get an Amen?

7. We are thankful for friends who include us in birthday celebrations. What a warm and welcoming home...it always feels like a family get-together even though I'm not related to a single person there!
bday party

8. We have largely been unaffected by this economic recession. I am so grateful and relieved.

9. I have some friends in my life who are single mothers. They have it so hard and it makes me a little less perturbed when I see socks on the floor or crumbs on the counter because that just means I have a husband and father in the house.
just sitting

10. A1 enjoys his preschool so much. He's so reserved that I was afraid that by the time he opened up in preschool, we would be moving on to kindergarten! Both his father and I were (are) shy so we never pushed him to be more social beyond his comfort level but I'm so happy with his growing comfort in social situations.

21 January 2009

Lemon harvest

Honey, can you count how many lemons we picked today?

"1, 2, 3, 4...5...6...TOOOOOO many!"
toooooo many!

Hmm...note to self: Find recipe that uses lemons. A LOT of lemons.
need lemon recice

Man, these suckers are huge!
A2 lemon

20 January 2009

Our site is down...for the count

I don't want to spend so much time recording the boys' experiences that I end up not experiencing it with them. I mean, I take lots of photos but sometimes, I'm so far behind the camera that I have no idea what's going on in front of the camera.

What's going on here? It's like the Great Hand Broom/Kitchen Broom Standoff of '09.
broom off

Why in the world is A1 grimaced like this? It's like he's chanting, "Attica! Attica!"

I couldn't even begin to guess what the heck they were doing here.

To correct this situation, I'm letting a few things go, including our family website which took way too much time and effort to update (it may be reincarnated via our Mac at some later point). I loved the page format of a traditional site as opposed to the sequential nature of blogging, but Blogger has simplified the process so much that I cannot resist making this our main outlet. Besides, there was a great deal of redundancy between our site and this blog once I started showing the kids' photos here. Actually, the only thing glaringly absent on this blog as compared to the family website is my own image (more on that later).

I'm going to spend a few posts here and there reviewing some photos and retelling some stories to make up for the departure of our site. My apologies regarding the repeated content for those who had access to both.