Monday Mentionables: Famous Books, Homelessness & College Devotional

Hi everyone! Now that spring break is over, it looks like summer’s ready to show up. The forecast for later this week shows highs in the 90’s. I know this is California, but we might be breaking a few records for this kind of heat in April! 😛 Say, how’s the weather in your hometown?

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s mentionables are here:

1. Famous Books. I came across this list online of the most famous books set in every state of America. This is quite an eclectic list, featuring titles such as To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Walk to Remember (one of my favorites!), and the Twilight trilogy. Check it out here to see which book made your state famous.

2. Homelessness. This video addresses the question of whether the homeless have become invisible. I know for myself that it’s easy to walk past someone sitting on the street and not “see” them. But what if that person was someone you actually knew, such as a family member? I have personally known someone who lived on the street for a while and that experience has taught me that homelessness is a complicated matter. Each person who is caught in such a situation has a story and is somebody’s family member, whether it be an uncle, daughter, brother or parent. That’s the scenario set up in this video, which really may make you think twice about the next homeless person you encounter.

3. College Devotional. Calling all college students and parents or friends of college students! If you are interested in purchasing a devotional that addresses topics relevant to the undergraduate years, you may want to check out Rise. This is a daily devotional which I had the opportunity to write for and share the story of my struggle being the last single girl standing among my college roommates. It would make a good high school graduation gift – hint hint. 🙂

Alrighty, have a good week! 🙂

TGIE! (Thank God It’s Easter!)

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/freedigitalphotos.net

Happy Easter weekend everyone!

Just wanted to drop a quick post here as spring break has started for the kiddos and I’ll be signing off from “blogdom” for a week.

I’m so thankful (which is a mild word to use) for the significance that yesterday and tomorrow mark – the death and resurrection of Jesus! I still remember the evening I prayed the prayer of faith to become a follower of Jesus; I was 12, old enough to understand the Good News, but young enough to still not fully grasp all of it. As I prayed with my pastor’s wife, a sweet, soft spoken woman, I knew I was stepping into a big decision. Little did I know how interesting and amazing this ride would be… and continues to be. Thanks be to God for His grace and love!

Have a joy filled Easter! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Underwater Photos, Pie Crusts & Rice Crispy Treats

Happy Monday-before-tax-day! Argh, sigh, grr. 😉 Let’s just say that I am thrilled to be done with taxes – finally! 🙂 I feel like this calls for a celebration, don’t you? So, lift up your glass/mug/sippy cup (whatever you have on hand) and let’s toast to the next 365 days we have before the next tax day arrives. Clink!

I’m also celebrating the fact that E finished a major project for school – five days early! We spent Saturday afternoon working on a life-size replica of his rainforest animal of choice, the tarsier. Thank God for the hairy fabric and big, brown eyes we found at Joann’s, which made for a much more realistic creation.

Too bad we couldn't find bigger eyes. :)

Too bad we couldn’t find bigger eyes. 🙂

Moving on now to today’s mentionables:

1. Underwater Photos. I was very inspired by this story I read online about a photographer who overcame her aquaphobia by taking pictures of children – underwater. What a courageous and creative way of overcoming a fear! 🙂 The photos are very cute as well.

2. Pie Crusts. I LOVE pie crusts. I may or may not have baked one before to eat by itself (no filling necessary!). 😉 If you like pie crusts or pies in general, check out these 14 designs that will make your mouth water and your creative juices flow. I think #13 (made with cookie cutters) is pretty cute.

3. Rice Crispy Treats. If you want a dessert that is faster to make than pies, you may want to try rice crispy treats. Here are three ideas for adding even more snap, crackle and pop to these yummy bars. They may be the prettiest and easiest treats you’ll ever make.

Alrighty, have a beautiful week! 🙂

Enjoying the In-Betweens

The other night E tasked hubby and me with the grand job of helping him put a Lego set together. Now it was already close to bedtime and we still had about 150 (out of 300 or so) pieces left to deal with. I sat hunched over on the floor with the 20+ pages of directions to my right, a collection of Legos in front of me and C to my left cheering me on. Let me mention that I didn’t have any experience playing with Legos as a child, and while I think they are one of the best toys around, I’ve come to realize they were designed for people with small, yet strong fingers and metal fingernails (for prying stubborn pieces apart).

As I worked on assembling the bricks together, I grew more excited to see the product almost resemble the image on the box. I had nearly finished the task when I discovered something wasn’t fitting right… which meant I had to retrace my steps and make sure I hadn’t made a mistake earlier… which meant taking some pieces apart… thus prolonging the whole process… and delaying bedtime by who knew how many more minutes!

Meanwhile, hubby noticed my frustration (as evidenced by my moaning and groaning and frantic page flipping of the instruction manual) and remarked in a calm tone, “Enjoy the process.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Grr!!!

This wasn’t the first time he’s said those three magical words to me. Every time I complain to him that the story I’m writing is taking way too long to complete or another project I’m working on is taking forever to come to fruition, he tells me to enjoy the process. Sigh. Isn’t it enough that I’m persevering through a task, but I have to enjoy it as well? It’s great advice, but honestly, I don’t see anything enjoyable about the in-between stage. I would much rather rush through the process so I can reach the finish line/end zone/voila moment, and receive the glory, recognition and pay off from having completed something.

When it comes to the area of writing, I admit I can easily become obsessed with the numbers. It’s not uncommon for me to go back to a piece I wrote, check the stats, and give myself a high-five for every positive feedback I earn. Sure, it can be helpful to evaluate how many Facebook “likes” or “shares” I got for a post or an article I wrote, but it can also suck the passion and creativity out of something I initially did for the pure joy of it.

As I’m learning over and over again, life is about being and not doing, and persevering, and most of all, existing in the in-betweens. It’s choosing to be fully present in every moment. Being thankful for opportunities to learn and try new things. Engaging in times of inspiration and invention. And yes, enjoying the minutes spent building a Lego ninja vehicle.

Thanks to hubby, I’m remembering to slow down and enjoy the process, even if it drives me crazy. 🙂

Take a listen to OneRepublic’s song “Counting Stars”. The lyrics are pretty thought-provoking. I hope to one day be able to say I’d rather count stars (my dreams) than numbers.

In what areas have you focused more on the journey than the destination?

Monday Mentionables: DIY Dim Sum, Cleaning Myths & Easter Eggs

Hi everyone! Is it me or does it feel like the first few months of the year always fly by with busyness? This is the second year in a row where we have yet to take down our Christmas tree by spring. 😛 I think it’s a combo of several family birthdays + holidays (Chinese New Year being one of them) + life = a tree that’s tucked away in a corner of the living room and has blended so well with the decor that we’ve forgotten about it. But I am determined to put it away THIS MONTH! Or else we won’t have anything to put up come this December. 😉

Image courtesy of Suat Iman/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Iman/freedigitalphotos.net

Now onto today’s mentionables…

1. DIY Dim Sum. If you’ve never had the chance to eat dim sum – you must try it! It’s basically a Chinese brunch type of meal that you order from little carts that the servers push around from table to table. Some of the dishes could be called “exotic“, but most of them are yummy and tasty. I came across this link where you can learn how to make your own dim sum! It’s worth taking a look at even if you’re not handy in the kitchen (as I am) cause the pictures are drool-inducing. 😉 #15 is one of my favorites. What’s yours?

2. Cleaning Myths. True or false – you can use a squeegee to remove pet fur from carpets? Click on this link to find out the answer to this question (#7) and also learn the truth behind some other cleaning myths (ie. cleaning windows with newspapers).

3. Easter Eggs. It’s almost Easter! I know Resurrection Sunday is about so much more than egg hunts (and Christmas is about so much more than trees!), but I think traditions are important to kids and they can be a good way to share the real meaning behind the holidays. So if you’re in the mood to decorate, check out this link for 5 new ways to add some color and bling (literally) to your Easter eggs.

Have a great week!

Raising Kids in the Real World

E and C came home from an afternoon at the grandparents’ while hubby and I watched a movie and ate dinner (without interruptions!) and said to me, “Gong Gong (Grandpa) told us the story about when you walked home.”

Ah, that story again. Even though I am the main character in the tale, I only recall bits and pieces of it from what my parents have told me. From what I know, it goes something like this: When I was 5 or 6 years old, my family lived in an apartment in San Francisco across the street from my elementary school. One day when the last bell rang and all the students had been dismissed, I was left standing at school by myself. My dad (who usually picked me up) had taken my grandmother to a doctor’s appointment and was running late. I waited and waited for him to arrive, but saw no sign of him. That’s when I decided to walk home.

Image courtesy of stevanin/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stevanin/freedigitalphotos.net

(Side note: I’m not sure why the teachers let me leave campus without a parent, but it was the ’80’s and perhaps things were different then?)

Now imagine a small, nearly 4 ft. tall Asian girl (likely with two ponytails) crossing a busy street in the middle of the afternoon in a large city by herself. That was me. I made it to our apartment in one piece, knocked on the door and waited for someone to welcome me inside. When no one opened the door, I burst into tears. I then decided to walk back to school and wait there again. After a while, my dad and grandma finally showed up and took me home.

This story makes me think about my own kids and what they would do if they were ever in the same situation. I actually asked them once about it and hubby interrupted me with one of his ever-so-logical comments, “We live too far from their schools for them to walk home.”

Aiya, yes, but that’s beside the point.

What I really want to know is whether they will be able to figure out a solution should they come up against a problem? The bigger question is, will they be able to make it in the real world?

Being a parent has opened up my eyes to two things: one, how big and unpredictable the world is and two, how important it is for us to teach our kids how to not only survive, but thrive, out there on their own one day.

Sigh. This is scary stuff for any parent to think about, but especially for an overprotective, perfectionistic one. If it were up to me, I would stick both my kids into a bubble made of carbyn (or separate bubbles so they wouldn’t fight) and preserve them there for the rest of their lives. This way they wouldn’t ever get hurt.

But the truth is that being safe and protected only gets you so far in life (and especially not out the front door if you’re stuck in a bubble made out of the strongest stuff on earth). Sure, being a parent means nurturing your child to the best of your ability, which includes sheltering them from the bad stuff of the world as much as you can. But it also means equipping them with the smarts and the heart to know what to do in the real world. It means teaching them how to spend within their means, say no to temporary pleasures, do the laundry, lend a helping hand to others, write a resume, cook a simple meal, change the car oil (or where to take it to get it done), laugh at themselves and love another person. Most of all, raising kids in the real world means preparing them to try new things, showing them how to get back up when they fall (because they will) and letting them know it’s okay to try again.

Because it’s the struggles and adventures of life that allow us to see just how strong and tough and persevering we can be. For me, it was that solo journey I made as a little girl so many years ago that reveals to me how brave and adventurous I might really be.

I hope and pray hubby and I are doing a halfway decent job of preparing E and C for everything that lies ahead. But I know that even when we can’t always be there with them, the One who knit them together – each and every little cell in their bodies – is always with them.

Check out Paramore’s song, “Ain’t It Fun“, which talks about living in the real world. I hope though that E and C will always know they can come back to us whenever they need help!

How are you preparing your kid(s) to live in the real world?

Monday Mentionables: Oil Pulling, Faux Bob & Makeup Tips

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Hello there! ‘Tis an unusually cold and dreary day here in California, which may explain why I am moving at such a slow rate. Plus, the fact that I got drenched from running around earlier doing errands in the rain might have something to do with it. I probably should have believed the weather forecast and worn my boots instead of my flats. And brought an adult-sized umbrella instead of the kiddie Lightning McQueen one I tried sharing with C. 😉

Anyhow, here are today’s mentionables…

1. Oil Pulling. Have you heard of the recent trend of oil pulling? It involves taking a tablespoon of coconut oil, melting it in your mouth and swishing it around your teeth and gums for 20 minutes. You then spit the oil out in the trash and voila – you have whiter teeth and healthier gums! Sounds interesting and strange, doesn’t it? Well, I decided to try it out because one, I am genetically “blessed” with teeth that attract cavities like there’s no tomorrow and two, who doesn’t want whiter teeth? Let me assure you that oil pulling isn’t as gross as it sounds, but it can be a bit tedious. I only did it once, but I’m going to try to do it more regularly. You can read about someone else’s positive experience with it here.

2. Faux Bob. I saw this video on Yahoo and thought it looked like a simple and fun way to make over long hair without cutting it. If you’ve been wondering what you’d look like with a bob, you’ve got to try it out!

3. Makeup Tips. For those who are cosmetically challenged like I am, check out these makeup tips (with before and after photos!) from Real Simple. Whether you want to look more polished, natural or professional, there’s something for every gal in this article.

And if you need something heartwarming to brighten your rainy day (or make your sunny day even brighter), head on over to this site where you can see photos of 20 puppies cuddling with their stuffed animals. You won’t regret it! 😉

Have a good week everyone!