Meeting MBA Buddies & Decking our Tree!

Dim sum with MBA buddies

This morning we woke up even later than before, at 9:30am! I walked downstairs and our house smells like a forest (not forest fire, but forest)! "Dougee" smelled so good and the fragrance from his pine needles permeated our family room!

I felt like I was in Big Bear! We will eat with our MBA friends, whom we haven't seen for years, and later we will decorate our Dougee tree! I'm excited because it's been 26 years since my last tree.....I can't wait! See you later!

[10:30pm ]
We had a wonderful day today! We met several UCI MBA buddies whom we haven't seen since graduation...9 years ago! The guys had a blast playing basketball and chatting together, while the kids played in the playground nearby!

I was so happy that I could meet our old buddy Tony's new wife, Jennifer! She recently married Tony and moved here to the U.S. after living in Taiwan for 30 years....so it is a big adjustment for her. We had a great time chatting!

We had yummy dim sum in Irvine, and the guys updated one another on what happened in the past 9 years!

That night, hubby and I invited Tony and Jennifer over for steak dinner! We surprised Jen with a birthday candle (they brought the cake for dessert) and birthday song! She is such a young one!

The kids decorated our new Christmas tree, "Dougee", and they were very excited ~ as this is their first live tree in their lives! I realized I had forgotten to put the christmas lights on the tree first! %$#^#$@ Oh great, we get to do it all over again tomorrow (or next month?)!

What a big blessing this Thanksgiving to get together with all the good ol' pals God gave us!


Black Friday Feeding Frenzy & Our Family's New Addition ~ Dougee!

We had a delicious Thanksgiving meal at hubby's brother Joseph & sister-in-law Jenny's house last night! It was chinese-american food ~ chinese dishes + turkey! It was topped with my favorite fresh-baked no-sugar-added apple pie & Sparkling apple cider from Pavillions (brought by me, haha).

Yesterday hubby was rummaging through the Black Friday ads and meticulously charted his course from Walmart to Office Depot to Costco. He was planning to go from 5am, determined to brave the crowds to get a laptop computer for his sweetheart (That's me!). Brother Joseph suggested that he bring a tent, as he can skip sleep altogether!

As it turned out, when we woke up this morning, it was already 9am! I guess it didn't turn out as he planned! When I went downstairs at 9:45am, hubby was already in a trance......eyes fixated on the computer screen and mumbling something about a sale on Toshiba's website for a $399 laptop that ends at 10am (15 minutes left)!

I knew he was doing serious business so I left him alone, and prodded Abbie to eat her breakfast quickly (oh, and I quickly wished Caleb 'Happy Birthday'! But by now he'd celebrated his bday 3 times with 3 cakes and was already numb about his "Big 8").

"Abbie-girl ~ You and I will have a mission today!" I told her. This will be OUR FIRST time going to a Black Friday sale! I was so excited! We will go to Toys R Us and buy big brother a bike for his birthday! It is a 20" Apex Street bike for boys, almost 50% off!

So we went, and made our way through the dense crowd, and Voila! We bought big brother a bike, and will pick it up in 2 days (since we had decided hubby will get pampered this year and let the Toys R Experts assemble the bike). The line was not bad, the store people were very experienced, and we enjoyed witnessing the 'feeding frenzy', as I called it, though they weren't sharks but shoppers.

Then we went to Home Depot to get 4 boxes of $0.99 multi-color mini lights! We figured the boys are home in cyberspace, so we girls will take it upon ourselves and deck our halls! As we walked around, I was ecstatic to see that their Christmas trees had already arrived in a tent outside! I've been yearning for a Christmas tree since my first, and only, tree since FOURTH GRADE!

We had to select the best tree and they kindly opened one of the trees for us to see. It was love at first sight as they opened up a beautiful young 6 feet Douglas Fir Christmas tree we named 'Dougee'. We snatched him up for $19.95, the best price we've seen in a few years!

A couple of nice young men tied up our new family member to my Odyssey and we brought him home to surprise our boys! Let's see daddy's reaction when he opens the front door! Will he be mad or happy?

Hubby also cyber-shopped with Abbie, and the two have secretly bought a gift for Abbie without letting mommy know what it is. It's their father-daughter bonding time, so I decided not to pry and just wait until 'it' arrives to fill you in on it (hope it's not alive!). I seriously believe hubby's sucked into the buying frenzy too, though just yesterday he was on his soapbox critiqinging that people don't really need these discretionary items, but are hooked on the adrenaline rush to get the best deal!

So we did our final excursion to hubby's favorite store ~ Costco ~ and bought some 'necessities', too! It is indeed a fun weekend, and it's only half over! So we'll see what surprises await us tomorrow and Sunday!


Caleb's 8th Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Dear Caleb boy!

Today we celebrated Caleb's big 8 (technically, it's this Friday!) with 3 of his classmates! We went to Saddleback Lanes and they had a blast playing bowling, eating delicious pepperoni/sausage pizza, and enjoyed a big 1/4 sheet cake!

The boys had a great time bowling! The ball was very heavy but good thing they 'bumpered' the gutter!

Abbie tried bowling....it was very difficult but she finally attempted after I promised to throw the ball with her!

The pizza in Saddleback Lanes are soooo yummy! This is the 3rd time I've attended a birthday party here and I still think their pizza is the best! Caleb ate 5 slices!

Happy Birthday my dear boy! And Happy Thanksgiving! In 8 years you'll be getting ready for college! I'll enjoy (and kiss) you while I can!


Happy Thanksgiving 2009 to my Beloved!

I can't believe how fast this year's coming to an end! It seems like yesterday that we were writing Valentine cards, and now we're celebrating Thanksgiving! This year was a bit odd, as the stores piled on Christmas gift items and played Christmas carols the day after Halloween! It's like we bypassed Thanksgiving altogether!

I suppose with this year's gloomy economy, the stores have to fast-forward their holiday marketing efforts (note all the catalogs in our mailboxes!) to get us all in a festive frenzy hence we can contribute to our country via mass-spending (um...economy stimualting). I realized I need to put on my brakes and sit still for a few moments to reflect on this wonderful year that's about to come to an end! I looked back at the fleeting months and realized that I've been blessed immensely this year!

The kids grew like weeds (unlike my veggies, which were smothered by my TLC...or is it TMW ~ too much water?), the hubby became chubbier (thanks to tea-boiled eggs), and our family had our first snow & city experience! We also enjoyed a precious week with little ones at VBS (vacation Bible school) and there's a joy beyond words when we see their hearts open up & accept their Heavenly Father. Ultimately, we will all be worshipping the Lord together in eternity. That is the best news in this unpredictable life!

I got to thinking...would I be as grateful and joyful if my life wasn't so smooth? What if my health, or finances, or kids....weren't doing so well? Would I still worship, and love, and give.... despite my circumstances?

I've experienced and know that in this life, there's no smooth sailing, and in a fallen world, many trials abound. That made me all the more vigilent about holding on to God's words and to trust Him when circumstances change.

God doesn't put us here to live comfortably ever after, but rather, to take up our cross and follow Him daily. There's a price to pay when we decide to obey unconditinally, but God promises to us that His plans for us are the best, even when we don't understand why at times. He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, and His grace is sufficient for us.

This Thanksgiving, I am expecially thankful to the Lord for the loved ones around me. We may have big challenges in our life, but God gives us His Holy Spirit, as well as people around us to support us and pray for us when we are struggling. Our loved ones may be here today and gone tomorrow (at least temporarily, until heavenly reunion), for life is ever-changing. So let us cherish and spend time (quality and quantity alike) with our loved ones.

I would like to take the opportunity to let you all know how much I love and appreciate you. I thank the Lord for putting you in my life, and each of you are irreplaceable and have a special purpose in this world. You are uniquely created by our Father, and He will reveal His will for you when you give your life to Him. You do matter.....to God, to others and to me!

Happy Thanksgiving my dears, and know that our Father and Creator loves you, and showed his love by giving his Son's life ~ in exchange for yours. Would you like to spend eternity with our Father? Then receive the free gift given to us from our Creator.

(What gift? Click below!!)


Unforgettable Moments at Flushing ~ Food and Fun!

On Halloween morning, I saw a handsome policeman walk into our hotel lobby, fully equipped with uniform and weaponery....and I couldn't help myself but asked, "Um...this isn't a costume, is it?" He smiled and said, "Oh? No.....!" Then the kids got to take a picture with Mr. Handsome Cop and his NYPD Blue police vehicle!

There were some interesting sights we saw while visiting New York. We stayed at Marriott in Flushing, and when we walked to the subway station, we'd always pass lots of chinese restaurants! We've heard that there are many yummy chinese restaurants there, so to verify the rumor, we decided we have to go and eat it to believe it!

We tried a beef noodle place before our Friday excursion and it was soooo yummy! Abbie wanted to go on the horse-carriage ride in Central Park, while Caleb wanted to go on the boat (ferry) to see Lady Liberty. For those of you with 2 (or more) kids, you'll have 2+ opinions, and will totally identify with the chaos!

The roast duck, chicken, and BBQ pork place was delicious too! We cleaned the plates on that one too (except the rice....too much!) Hubby declared that it is possible for him to move to Flushing, NY because of all the yummy chinese food here!

We went on the subway every day that we were in New York, and it was a long ride on the 7th train from the beginning to the end (40-50 minutes from Main Street, Flushing to Time Square, Manhattan). Each day, you'll hear the same words from Caleb, "Are we there yet? I'm bored, what do I do?"

After about 20 times of the same rhetoric (on day 4), I finally couldn't stand it and told Caleb, "Just memorize the stations from Main street to Time square!" I figured that would keep distract him for awhile. Unbeknownst to me, after 20 minutes, he DID memorize all 21 stations from east to west!

He had somehow ingrained the station stops in his mind as we stopped each day at every station to pick up/drop off commuters! This skill would come in handy one day, if he keeps his photographic memory, on an Anatomies Finals in college (11 years from now)! He recited all the stations on the 7th train for the hotel manager and she was very impressed....and asked Caleb for an autograph on the Flushing subway map!

When we visited a beautiful park near Caleb's great-aunt's house, we also saw tons of squirrels! They were bold, 'jumpy', and very cute! One particular squirrel was like "Spiderman-Squirrel", and he could hang upside-down with his toes and eat an acorn with both hands! He is extremely talented and anti-gravitational, and would do so well in a circus!


HELLOween in the MUSEUM!

Having watched "The Night in the Museum" a zillion times so far, the kids were extremely excited to be visiting New York's Natural History Museum for the very first time!!

That day was Halloween, and the museum only opened from 2-5pm. An estimated 17,000 people arrived, many dressed in superhero, princess, and cute animal outfits! We tried to push and shove our way through the stampede, which was no easy task! And by then (day 3.5 of our stay), we were starting to acclimate to mass transportation (either subway or on foot), and started to walk fast too.... like a New Yorker!

The kids trick-or-treated at various candy stations on each floor of the museum, stopping briefly to skim the exhibits. I think I felt lightheaded from the competition for oxygen with the bizillion people in the museum that day. It was fun, and we walked around looking for the main characters in "Night in the Museum". We were disappointed we didn't see Theodore Roosevelt or Sagajaweea, but we were thrilled to find "DUM DUM"!

The kids also had a lot of fun taking pictures with characters that came out of their PBS TV Shows! Clifford, Curious George, and many characters whom I have no idea who they are.....were there! Abbie insisted on taking pictures with EVERY character she saw on EVERY floor, thus it took a VERY long time to get to the last floor!

Auntie Julie was working in the museum as the crafts-table girl the whole time, and lost her voice by the time we found her. Luckily we also found her sweetheart, Uncle George (who will turn into Superman that night! Stay tuned!), who had visited from Buffalo, NY to join the festivites! I am so excited for them and I know that they will enjoy their new adventure together next year!

That night, Julie took us all to a special restaurant which delighted the kids! Before we could be seated, we had to embark on a "Star Tour-like" adventure and sit in a 3-D ride that made me....again...dizzy. But the kids loved it and had a blast! It was auntie Julie's first time on the ride, and I was sure she will enjoy making this cyber-restaurant her kid's 1st birthday party place!

Aliens greeted us and led us to our tables! It was dark and we basically ate in a cave with aliens serving food and dancing around us. After dinner, our hosts had turned into Superman, Sexy Nurse, and "Good" Wizard! The kids were taken aback and weren't sure who the wizard was, and we reassured them that it was still, indeed, Uncle Wayne (JuJu's brother).

Superman was quite muscular, and very proud of his new look. Sexy nurse was beautiful, and sadly (we heard the next morning)....she got sick and had a fever after the party. Apparently the outfit was....too sexy. The New Yorkers were really into Halloween festivities, and on the subway station we saw some really interesting outfits!

It poured as we walked from the subway station to the gas station (2 blocks) to await our shuttle. We were drenched! As soon as we entered the gas station, the rain stopped! It was as if a cloud parked above our heads and pulled a big "trick" on us on this halloween night! But it was memorable for sure! Julie and friends partied in the "adult ball", and we were glad her fever eventually subsided the day after.

We had dim sum at a very yummy (and packed!) chinese restaurant on Sunday morning! We were sad to see Mr.G go, but he needed to fly back to Buffalo that afternoon.

Julie treated us to all our entertainment and eateries....I think I'll be her indentured servant until I'm 80 years old! We were touched by her love and generosity! That afternoon we went to see "Gazillion Bubble Show" (while Ju took Mr.G to the airport). The bubble artist has several Guiness Book of World Record titles already! It was amazing and we loved the show!

On Monday Julie took us to the airport and we said our good-byes.... It was so hard to leave and I am so thankful we got this chance to visit a place where my good buddy had resided for 12 years! She studied, worked, struggled, and achieved so much here, and it was great to witness her transformation here! Thank you again, dear, for a memorable trip!

OLD friends ~ NEW york !!!

What a Wonderful Trip! We had such a blast in New York City that I've taken 4 days to recuperate from all the excitement in the Big Apple!

My dear buddy Julie, whom I have known half of my lifetime (since Freshman year at UCSD), has been prodding me to visit her in NY since 1998....and as a good and faithful friend, it took me 12 years to finally keep my word! After adding a hubby (aka *king*), a prince, and a princess to my life since her departure to NY, I finally embarked on the formidable trip across the country to meet my dear Ju Ju! She will be tying the knot with my high school friend (Mr. G) next June in Disneyland, so I figured we better go to NY before she (perhaps) moves back to CA with her new hubby!

The kids enjoyed the snacks and cartoons on the plane, luckily nothing eventful took place. We stayed at our cozy (ok, tiny) hotel room and enjoyed visiting hubby's aunt who lived in Flushing. On Thursday nite, Julie showed us her elegant, huge, private executive office at Citibank where she works as V.P.! (Click here to take a peek!)

She also took us to a special restaurant where the waiters not only serve you delicious food, but also sing to you, stand on tables, and dance incredibly well!

On Friday, we planned on beholding the beauty of Lady Liberty from the waterfront via a 75-minute free Ferry ride, but our plans were curtailed by a meltdown ~ courtesy of Abbie-girl. At the entrance of the port, she managed to irk 500+ people as she wailed and thrashed herself about on the floor, thus we had to grab her and run before port security removed her from our custody. After 35 minutes and much prodding, she admitted she was crying because she was scared of falling off the ferry......

We then managed to find Central Park and walked carefreely around the beautiful patch of green.

Caleb found a new friend who adorned him with crown, flag shawl, and a cool torch! I guess we got to see Lady (well, Mr.?) Libery after all!

I then looked around for daddy and Abbie, who are already boarding a handsome stallion and gestering for me and boy to get on the stagecoach!

That night, Ju Ju got off work and took us to a delicious Korean restaurant! We had to remind ourselves to take pictures BEFORE we ate, so we could show you all the food and the joy on our faces! There was a special "Korean Ice" (similar to Italian ice, I reckon?) and it was delicious!

We also went to a famous pastry shop named "Juniors", and had our fill of various cheesecakes and banana splits! We even visited the Gigantic M&M store and the famous King Kong building ~ Empire State Building!

Caleb was so thrilled that he disappeared before we could board the elevator! Abbie pointed to the closed elevator door and said, "Guh Guh inside, went up!" And we had no choice but to take another elevator 80 stories up, hoping that he'd be there when we arrived. As it turned out, he wasn't there, and hence Caleb's "Lost in Empire State Bldg." Saga continues....this is like "Home Alone" with a twist.

We went around the building several times and found him joking and chatting with a security guard, who motioned to us that "a calm child is here". He didn't even miss us! I guess with all the security stations here, he was safe after all!

The beautiful view from the top of the ES Building was breathtaking! The 360 view of the city, the lights, and the night skies were so impressive! Julie said this is now the tallest building in NYC, ever since World Trade Center was destroyed in 9/11. So it's great that we could visit this building and we pray it stays right where it is!