Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Warning: Nerdy Post Ahead
I would just like to say I really love timers. Especially programmable timers. I love the automation. I love setting it and leaving it. I love being able to deal with something, walking away, and when it is time for it work, it just DOES.

The Oven Timer
Before we bought a house, we grew up with whatever stove was in the rental. In my parents' apartment, their stove is probably over 30 years old. I seriously think it pre-dates me. I THINK it has some kind of timer, but it is an analog clock and my parents have never ever used it. I don't know if it even works. Besides, not much Chinese cooking happens inside an oven anyhow.

This house that we bought, we inherited a stove that may be over 10 years old, but there is an oven timer that will turn your oven on when you want it to and turn off also. Which, for all of you house dwellers, is probably OLD news. But this was awesome for us when we had a busy weekend last weekend with the Christmas presentation and could come home to a hot Shepherd's Pie all ready for us. It's like we had a maid who prepared the food and had it all ready for us when we needed it!

The Programmable Electrical Timer
With the little splurge for Christmas decorations, a little bit of an annoying thing is that we had no timer for having the Christmas lights go on and off. Every day someone would go out and plug the lights in, and then when it was freezing cold outside, just when we were turning in to bed, we'd have to go BACK outside and unplug them. I told my parents WE HAVE TO BUY A TIMER, but then being all frugal and all, they're like, no big deal! But as the temperature has been dropping, they have been very happy that I went out and bought the thing.

I love looking outside and seeing, yes, the sweet little thing is working.

Microsoft Outlook
Since I have been on a Mac at work, this is the feature that I miss the most: "Send Later". I loved being able to write emails to the staff, reminding them of this and that, and setting it to send later. Like, later while I am on vacation. Or later, when I know that if it's sitting on top of their pile of email, they'll respond better. Or later, as a follow up email to one that I wrote JUST NOW. Stupid Microsoft put a "Send Later" button in Entourage, but it literally only sends minutes later. What is the point in that?!

Do you have some set it leave it tips? Leave 'em here!

Sofia is 2 years old

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last night we celebrated with 17 members of our family Sofia's second birthday. I cannot believe that two years have gone by already. It really is true when they say that life goes by even faster with children.

We had a really nice time together last night. I made a ton of food - with good help from Christine and Gabbie. Gabbie helped me with some of the side dish prep and Christine made TWO desserts: the birthday cake as well as a pie. The birthday cake was particularly exceptional! She made a layered chocolate sponge cake with buttercream frosting. Baking really is becoming her thing.

Because I am asian and want to remember what I ate during this celebration, here is what we served:

• Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
• Miso-Glazed Grilled Cod
• Tomato salad
• Potato salad
• Green Bean salad
• Parsley and lemon orzo
• Biscuits (by the hubby)

The key to my stressless dinner was the fact that all of that was easy to make. I went for volume, not difficulty and I went to bed happy - not frazzled. I mean, I WAS serving 17 people. AND I am five and a half months pregnant. Don't want to knock myself over.

I used to write about what Sofia is up to now, but that stopped at around 14 months. Life got exceptionally busy and so I couldn't keep up with it, but I'll do my best now.

Sofia, perhaps over the last month, just started spilling out all these words. Up until then she would only say words that we had worked at teaching her, but now she comes with up words that she has heard and just decides to use them. I figure she probably uses over 150 to 200 words now. She is even starting to express possession (pointing to herself, saying "Sofia's" about different things she would like), and putting two-word sentences together. She knows the names for a ridiculous amount of animals - even knowing the difference between an eagle, an owl and duck. Unfortunately, she does point to an ostrich and calls it a "duck". Anyway, all of this reminds us to quit swearing like sailors at home.

Dancing and Music
She is crazy about both. Every day she asks for music. Every day she shows us some weird dance moves - accompanied with facial expressions. We try not to let her watch too many music videos (since most of them are not appropriate for a two year old), but each time she does, we know she is studying the dance moves and tries them after. Freaky baby.

She likes to play on the piano. She has a toy electric guitar. Her abuelos bought her a toy microphone with stand that has a colourful disco light thing at the base.

She is starting to really love action songs and picks them up pretty quickly. When she learns them at church I have to try to guess what they taught her.

Physical Ability
She loves to climb things and jump off of them. She climbs the piano bench and jumps off. She climbs the couch and jumps off. We recently cleared off a tv stand, and I knew she was eyeing it to jump off of it. We quickly found some plants and other decorative junk to make sure she doesn't try to jump off of that.

She nearly runs everywhere.

I guess this would be the biggest development. I was getting stuck thinking of what other skills has she developed and couldn't think of any... 'cause this would definitely overshadow all of that. Well, she loves to help and is thoughtful. We started having her help set the table and bring plates of rice over. She is concerned if she has her plate and you are sitting with nothing, or if you need a glass.

She uses humour to try to get out of being disciplined. Gonzo falls for it every time. I just glare at him.

She's starting to pretend a little bit. Today I found her feeding her stuffed animals with plastic food saying, "Try...try..." I guess I say that to her...?

Loves books. But that is only because we had to really teach her that she can't sit and watch television for hours and hours and hours. When we were moving, that was the big mistake that we made: we would just pop a movie in and just let her watch it to keep her out of the way. Now, we don't let her watch any TV until we are preparing dinner. If we let her watch anything earlier in the day, that is all she asks for all day. I think that TV in large quantities makes people dumb and bored. When we were "weaning" her from television, she cried all day the first day. That was But since we got her into books, she can memorize where certain pictures are in the books (when she is letting us know that she is acting something out from a certain page), and re-tell something that I taught her the day before. It's cool to see how the memory develops.

Although today is her actual birthday, most of us are shafting her today for a dress rehearsal we have at church. Good thing she has no idea that indeed today is the day she joined us.

Half way there

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Okay, okay, so I went to the first rehearsal and it wasn't that bad. I actually played better than I thought I would. Now, I'm no where near able to play all the music perfectly, but at least I am not -

1) Lost, or worse,
2) Irritating

Christmas Decorating

Friday, December 04, 2009

This year, back in August, my husband and I bought a house together with my parents. We just felt it was time to think about purchasing, and my father had - very casually - suggested the idea of buying a house together. This way we could stay in the neighbourhood that we have lived in our whole lives, and frankly, it's just too expensive to try and do anything else. And, after one night of house-hunting, we found our house and closed in less than a month. It's great that it's over now, 'cause I'm unsure I'd ever want to do that again.

Now, it's Christmas. We have never owned a home before - in fact, I've never LIVED in a house before. There are things about being in a house that I have always looked forward to. And one of those things is decorating the house for Christmas. ESPECIALLY the outside. HOWEVER... this year, was one EXPENSIVE year.

• I was in a wedding. Being the maid of honour has its costs.
• We bought a house. As mentioned.
• We had new utility accounts. Geez, why do they need security deposits. Just check our credit rating like EVERYONE ELSE!
• We bought a new car last month.
• Traveling to the hubby's home country at the end of December. And, that happens to be on another continent, in another hemisphere.

So, I had to conclude that we wouldn't be able to buy a Christmas tree this year, let alone buy any lights for outside. But, as each day goes buy, another house in the neighbourhood puts up their lights. And every day, I do get a bit more envious - and this says a lot 'cause I don't covet many things. Last night, my mother and I were out with Sofia, and we were in a neighbourhood that had a ton of lights up, and I started moaning and whining about how we don't have any decorations and we look like people who don't celebrate Christmas - which is weird considering that we are practicing Christians - but even weirder 'cause lights have nothing to do with Christianity. Anyway, my mother and I decided to split buying some decorations and went out and got some tonight.

Let me tell you - 100 dollars worth of lights DO NOT GET YOU MUCH. It decorates four measly bushes. In case you haven't guessed, that picture above IS NOT our house. Which, then, makes me think - HOLY COW PEOPLE SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON LIGHTS. Nevertheless, my desire to decorate SOMETHING is satiated and my mother and father and I are very excited about building our decoration collection. My hubby isn't so into it 'cause well, he just hates the cold which just turns him off to anything that has to do with outside. He can just go back to playing FIFA on Wii.

Why did I say yes?

Every night since Monday, after Sofia's bedtime (which seems to be 10:30 these days), I pull this thing out to...what my father calls... "slaughter some pigs." When Matt roped me into playing in the Christmas presentation at church, and I reluctantly said yes, I really, really, really knew that it was going to be a painful experience. Practicing, that is.

Violin ain't nothing like playing piano. It's one thing to not play well on the piano - you probably just can't play as fast, and maybe your touch is a bit off - but not to play well on the violin, well, you have to deal with the crappy intonation, the crappy, uncomfortable bow hold, the sore neck, and certainly not playing fast enough...and, did I mention, all of this is happening INCHES away from your left ear? Yeah...this is a slow death.

However, since I've been averaging about an hour and 45 minutes every night, I maybe improve at 2 or so grades a night. It's kinda fantastical. However, I figure I can only be as good as when I had lessons last. :-( When I was 13 I made it to grade 9. I think that is where it ends. Ugh. That was 17 years ago. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO.

That makes me want to swear.

Anyway, I played in orchestra throughout high school. Played some weird stuff - Shostakovich is definitely a ... memory. I felt like EVERYONE was better than me. I guess that's not such a bad thing. Being the near best at something in a group is a nice feeling, but in the end you're not going to learn much.

The last time that I really touched the violin was... I can't even really remember. I must have played at some kinda church something. But I definitely haven't played since I got married. It has got to be more than five years. So, you can only imagine how terrible I must sound.

Now, it's one thing to sound terrible to myself. In my own livingroom. With only my family putting up with me and telling me, "Yes, yes, you sound better than yesterday." But in two days, I have to attend rehearsal and at least two people who will be there are professionals. Professional STRING PLAYERS.

Just shoot me.