Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time to Rest

Even trees rest so that they will be renewed for the next crop.

If it was a normal Sunday, I would be at church now singing, listening to Pastor speak, greeting people and then be in a Sunday school.  My coffee would have been left only halfway consumed and cold.

My coffee cup is empty and the cup still feels warm. I am looking at the Christmas tree and listening to Kenny G's Christmas album.  I am home and sick.  I was all ready to go but Tim told me to stay home.  He understands me well enough to know what is best for me.  He gave me a specific instruction to take it easy and rest. 

For a wholesome living, the bible recommends a day of rest every seven days.  Most of us consider Sunday as that day of rest.  However, because Sunday is free we feel alright to commit a little bit of that time...then one more...and just another one more until we end up exhausted at the end of the day.  Then we realize that the purpose of Sunday has been totally defeated.
"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.  Be careful to do everything I have said to you." ~ Exodus 23:12-13a
I'm here resting now...and yet, I did not choose to rest.   I am being reminded to take rest more seriously.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reasons To be Thankful

Miriam helped me set the Thanksgiving table and she also came up with an activity that we could at the table.  She put a folded sheet of printer paper under each plate.  In between servings of mashed potatoes and stuffing, she asked everyone to write one thing that we are thankful for.  Then we had to pass the paper one person to the left.  Then we had to think and write something we're thankful for which is related to the first one on the list.  Then pass the paper again one to the left and did the same thing until the paper got to first person who wrote on it.  Here's the result...

  • Pie
  • Spending time with my kids
  • Eating ribs and pumkin pie
  • Having people over for a meal
  • Custard or whipped cream
  • Travelling
  • Suitcases
  • Blankets in planes
  • Visiting new places
  • Shopping in other countries
  • TMTV
  • Checkhov (turtle)
  • Shared mivie jokes/quotes
  • Pride and Prejudice and other British movies we like
  • Time in between watching Jane Austen, classic, and other related movies
  • Nights with my family
  • breakfast together and donuts
  • Tables
  • Custard donuts
  • Dreaming about the amazing race
  • For the person who led me to Christ - Peter
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Baked Lays
  • Friends who remain friends over a whole life
  • Daddy's job
  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Computer games
  • Pineapple Upside-down cake
  • Working at home
  • Going out to lunch on Mondays
  • Getting all my music lessons over with on Mondays
  • Tickle fights
  • Going to the library on Mondays
  • Kuya's Marble Shooting Robot
  • Creativity
  • Legos
  • Gardening and homemade planters
  • Inspiration/Light-bulb-turning on ideas
  • Long good books
  • Fireplaces
  • House with three fireplaces (even if only two work)
  • Heaters
  • Borders
  • Time in between getting haircuts
  • Razors
  • Getting haircuts
  • Kids laughing together
  • Beautiful smiling kids
We also had a different list on the fridge which got updated everyday for a week by anybody (in the Lewis family) before Thanksgiving:
  • The Bible
  • House
  • Our family
  • Pie
  • Smart kids
  • Sunny mornings
  • Foggy mornings
  • Rainy days
  • Sleep
  • Milk
  • Awesome parents
  • Music
  • Van Gogh
  • Cushy pillows
  • heaters on the bus
  • Costco
  • Chicken bakes
  • Good health
  • Dad has good job
  • Enough to help other people
  • Books
  • True friends
  • Librarian
  • Loving brother & sister
  • Good schools
  • Memories
  • Relatives
  • Knowing God
  • Family's faith
  • Cameras
  • Kids get along
  • Down comforters
  • My turtles
  • Good schools
  • Saturdays
  • Birthdays
  • The movie "Titanic"
  • Applesauce
  • Pomegranites
  • Persimmons
  • Warm bread
  • Rolls
  • Devils Food Cake
  • Steady job
  • Chances to travel
  • The Actis family
  • My wife
  • Popovers
  • Canned stewed tomatoes
  • Sausages
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Cookies
  • Potstickers
  • Hammocks
  • Pilgrims
  • Laptops
  • Relatives
  • Dollhouses
  • Cookies
  • Apple crisp
  • Danish cookies
  • Turkey
  • Potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy

God gives us everything we have and enables us to do everything we do.  He allows us to enjoy and experience life to the fullest.  To Him be all glory and honor.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Night Before Thanksgiving

No guest is scheduled to come spend Thanksgiving with us. God must have been behind this design because none of us anticipated that Tim would be working like crazy all this week. He had a deadline to meet today. That is enough stress for the family right now. He is done for now and we are just sitting here watching Myth Busters and eating Death by Chocolate ice cream. Just doing as little as possible.

Earlier today we did some preparations for the big meal tomorrow. I made sure that Tim has a good supply of eggnog. Shannon helped me make Overnight-Pumpkin Dessert. Apple pie is going to be made tomorrow- we like to eat warm apple pies. Miriam helped make the Fennel-Orange Cranberry Sauce. This is the same sauce we used last year. Since we do not have guest coming, I also went ahead and experimented on another recipe - Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Sauce. It turned out really good. We'll see how it will go with the rest of the food tomorrow (see recipe below). The dining table that is hardly used as dining table is ready for the feast. It is now set with newly ironed linens, beautiful Denby plates, fancy crystal goblets and a tray of fresh fruits for centerpiece. I'm still wondering whether we will actually use our silver ware considering that we don not have guests...why not? After all, Thanksgiving is one of the two occasions when we use them during a given year.

I realize that it is difficult to impress people and be grateful at the same time. Impressing, aka keeping up appearances, requires that we do and crave "above and beyond". It requires so much energy.  Impressing is all about other's opinion. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude. Thanksgiving is agreeing with the One who gives us everything. We acknowledge that He is good to us. With gratitude we accept all He gave us with contentment. Forget about what we don't have, and be happy with what we have. Since I am not busy trying to keep my house looking great for guests (there will always be something wrong anyway) this year, I actually have time to think about all that I am thankful for. I've been thinking about the people who God brought to my life. These are the people whom God used to change the course of my life.  For them I am thankful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tactless Yet She Feels

Miriam has not been the most encouraging person during those last days of Bob.  It was not because she did not care nor sympathized with Brahms.  Rather it was her lack of experience and poor choice of words.

Her first word of encouragement to Brahms was "We can always buy you a new turtle!"  She was trying to console her brother.  In doing so, she's failed to remember Bob's value into consideration.  Then the next day while she was observing Bob she blurted, "Wow, Bob is now totally disabled!"  She was accurate in her observation and even to extrapolate the possible outcome of this incident on Bob.  That statement, however, is not the most sensitive especially to those who are hopeful that he might still get back to normal turtle life.  We kept Bob warm and provided him with enough sunlight as much as we could.  When the sun is up, we'd put him near a window or door that let in the sun.  During the course of the day he'd be in different places in the house depending on the direction of the sun.  One time Miriam noticed that Bob was trying to move with the little ability that he has left.  I'm sure she felt bad with his condition.  She said, "Bob must have a very difficult life right now."  Tim looked at me and said something to Miriam to the effect that she's not the most encouraging little girl.  She is out of school and she's the one who saw everything that went on while her two siblings are in school.  It's not like Shannon and Brahms had nothing to say.  They are gone most of the day which was probably good for Brahms.  Being the one at home, she gets to help a lot.  One time I asked her to go check on Chekhov to make sure that he has food.  Her response was, "That's good because I have not seen a turtle with legs in three days!" "Miriam!"  I knew she was internalizing everything.  She was hurting inside.   But with her careless expressions she could have been aggravating an already painful situation.

Today, she and I were at the breakfast table.  She sat across from me and I was seated facing out the door.  I saw my little Christmas cactus that's wilting right outside.  I called her attention to it and explained that I over-fertilized it.  I noticed that she stared at the direction of the plant for a long time.  Maybe she was learning not to do the same mistake.   She turned around to face her food again.  Her face is now changed.  She looked very sad.  Could it be that she's sorry for my plant?  I asked her why.  She said, "Every time I look at that place, I remember Bob." That is the sunniest spot in the kitchen where we kept Bob to get a lot of the sunlight.

 Miriam might have been careless with her statements but one thing is sure: she cared.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bob Is Gone Now

Bob didn't make it.  He struggled to live.  He died shortly after his owner came home from school.  We did all we can to keep him going.  Tim and I took turns in making sure that he was kept warm all the time.  We cleaned all his wounds.  The problem was he did not eat anything since that frightful night.  His body was too weak from trauma, pain, and maybe even the separation from Chekov. 

In the corner of our yard, Bob was buried close to Casey, the rabbit.  It was very emotional...there were crying, praying, and flowers.  Brahms remembered that Bob did not like the color red.

Bob was a good turtle...we will always remember him.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lewis House Tragedy

Two nights ago, Bob was enjoying the lingering warmth of the water from the autumn sun.  As part of a daily routine for the colder months, he was preparing to be brought into the house for the night.  All of a sudden, he was attacked by a vicious, ferocious, feral, despicable animal.  Bob hid tightly into his shelter but the animal pulled every part of Bob that it can get hold of.   All of this was happening as the rest of us were being entertained by the "Prisoner". 

When Brahms went out to get Bob, he saw the despicable furry animal run away.  He knew something was wrong.  He looked around and found out that Chekhov was alone.  Bob was no where to be found.  Brahms called us for help.  With our huge flashlight, we search all around the secret garden.  Then finally, there along the fence Bob laid helplessly on his back.   I picked him up.  Brahms knew right away that something terrible happened to Bob.  Terrible. Terrible indeed.   Brahms was so terrified, sad and angry.  We were all shocked.

Bob is alive but we don't know if he will make it.  Pain runs through my nerves every time I look at him.  I'd like to imagine that he cannot feel.  I prayed today that God will miraculously mend him. 

Bob is short for Beethoven.  Beethoven is a turtle.  He and Chekhov are Brahms' dear pets.  The animal was a racoon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rizza is Born Today

Thank God!!!  Today my new niece is born in Ballesteros.  She and her mother are doing fine.  I wished I was there to see them.  My sister tells me on the phone that Rizza has double chin - which indicates that she's healthy.  Thank you Lord.

This is the day the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.  ~ Psalm 118:24

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who Likes Peas?

Early in our marriage, I found out that Tim dislikes peas.  There are a lot of stories that tell how successfully he avoided eating peas.  Being a very accommodating wife, I deliberately deleted anything in my menus that included peas as ingredient.  Where I grew up, peas - canned peas, are prized foods.  They are usually added to meat dishes of Spanish origin.  Compared to other vegetables they are relatively expensive.  They are used mostly when cooking for special occasions unless you are rich.  

From time to time, I'd sneak a bag of frozen peas into my freezer and cook it for myself alone.  I usually eat them when Tim is traveling or when he is eating something else.   For my children, there must have been only a couple of times when I asked them to eat peas.  They act as if they dislike it. 

Last night I found out that they like peas.  Tim and I were going to bible study that came with dinner.  I'd feed my children before we leave.  Last night, since I was not in the mood for cooking anything that required a lot of effort I asked what they thought of "Top Notch Ramen" for dinner.  This is Top Ramen with a lot of added ingredients.  They seemed amenable and started to name the things that they wanted in it.  "Sweet onions, peas, ham, and parsley!"  I was very surprised to hear "peas" but I just kept quiet and started to work on it.  I put a lot of peas in it.  I watched them eat their peas with no problem.  They were enjoying every tiny green dot in their food. 

From now on, peas will be prominently displayed in my freezer as most of the people in this house like peas.  Tim is now a minority and so I will cook and serve peas anytime now without any fear of inducing disgust to the rest of my family.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shannon Turns Sixteen

This month is special because my daughter Shannon turned sixteen.  I told Tim that we've been with kids for sixteen years now.

Not so long ago, these are some of the words that came out out her mouth on a regular basis:

Paci - Pacifier 
Shannon used pacifiers till she was four years old.  People said that she will have difficulty speaking.  I found out later on that they were wrong.  Shannon spoke clearly when she was a baby, she'd pull out her paci and say, "Hi" or "Thank you" before she could walk.
Later on when we wanted her to stop using her paci, I did several tricks.  One of then is to hide it but then she'd say, "Find it."  I put a tiny bit of cayenne pepper on it and she said, "Wash it."  I can't remember now how we actually ended the paci business.

Mooneena - Formula
She called her bottle formula but it came out as "mooneena". 

Mother and Father - Mommy and Daddy
Tim and I were called father and mother, respectively.  We thought that the reason for this was that she watched "Little Bear" almost everyday when she was little.  When we'd picked her up from the nursery she'd run to us saying "Mother!" or "Father!" while some of the other kids can't even talk.  It was refreshing to hear that but then she grew up and found out that other kids called their parents differently.

Photosynthesizing - Sitting in the sun
This is a complicated word for a 22-month old but not for Shannon. One day when we lived in Hollister, as we were driving by the fields of corn, she asked me what they were.  I said, "Those are corn".  "What are they doing?"  At first I didn't know what  to tell her, but as a parent I should always have an answer.  "They are photosynthesizing", I said.  Then I asked her to repeat the word to see if she got it.  To my surprise, she did.  Four months have passed. We were in our new house in Fremont when Shannon was in the backyard.  I noticed that she was doing nothing.  Because it was hot outside, I asked her to come in.  She came back to me with a quick response saying, "I'm photosynthesizing!" I smiled with pride...promised to myself that I will tell her what the real meaning of the word as soon as she can understand.

A cloud cover appeared when she blew the candles on her Kalua-Chocolate Cake

Now, she's talking about her AP classes, colleges that she likes, driver's license, etc.  She must be really sixteen.  It is comforting to know that inside this sixteen year old smart teenager, is a picture of that little girl who used to photosynthesize.  I love you Shannon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Henry Kids

Elisha, Joel, Isaiah, Nathaneal, Micah, Simeon, Giovanna, Abeny
I can't remember which name goes to which face. 
They are well behaved.  It's fun to have them.

He struggles in being buckled in the car seat all the time. 
He can't wait to be part of the whole commotion around him.

Trying to be his own person. 
Right now all his older siblings play the violin. 

The Henry family is extraordinarily blessed with nine kids... and counting. :)  When they are at our house I have to really use my imagination as to where to sit them all when eating.  I remember one summer, we spread blankets on the grass for the little ones to sit on - as in picnics.  That did not work very well because they are used to eating on tables and it became a challenge to the kids as well as to Keisha (mom) who was trying to make sure that the kids ate their food.  Up to this point, I still have not come up with a solution that would allow us (two families) to sit sit together.   That would mean sixteen chairs!  I'd have to rearrange my furniture to have my two dining tables joined together.  Someday, maybe. 

Food At The Cucina

Ahi Tuna with Greens, Hot and Sour Soup; Wasabi Soy Sauce

Light and Spicy Meal

Most of the time it is better to eat at the Cucina  (that's the name I gave to my kitchen).  Here the price is better, you can choose the ingredients, you are aware of  how the food is handled, and it is more private than  restaurants.  Eating at the Cucina does not bring regrets to me.  I already know what I am going to get and there are no surprises except when experiments are being conducted.  There is one disadvantage of eating at the Cucina -- we get to wash the dishes afterwards.  On the other hand, we get to go out in the backyard to drink our coffee.

Last week Tim and I went to try the new vegetarian Indian restaurant in Folsom.  The food was full of flavor but for a carnivore like me, the "characters" seemed missing from the sauces.   To me, it was like listening to a symphony without a melody.  Tim liked it.

This week, we tried another Indian restaurant in Cameron Park.  I ordered lamb in creamy spinach sauce and Tim had chicken.  I liked the naan but the food was not exciting.  I have no reason to go back to that restaurant except to try their lunch buffet.  Maybe having a variety of food to choose from would give me a better experience.  There are four indian restaurants in the area that I've been to.  So far the best is the one on Bidwell near the DMV.  They serve chevron and mutton which I think are really good with the indian spices.  The one on Broadstone Market was good the first time it opened but I noticed that the food quality is deteriorating.  But in the end, who am I to judge whether and Indian restaurant is good or not.  If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then taste is determined by you and me.