Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Afternoon in the Backyard.

Happy Sunday Everyone!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Playing chess is part of their everyday activities.  Not that they choose to do it but because Tim and I are mean parents. :)  We require them to play a game of chess first before they can play computer/PS3 games or browse the internet other than for homework purposes.   Now that they are out of school, they can afford to devote more time to electronic games on a regular basis.

Before they would just play as fast as they can possibly manage - five moves and someone is already checkmated.  That was not a good sign.  So Tim and I being the mean parents that we are devised another solution to have them use their brains a little more.  We offered to give extra five minutes to the winner.  That made the games go a lot longer.  They all want the extra time that now they have to work hard to win.  There is a new PS3 game in the Lewis library this week - 'Modnation'.  I expect that there will be a lot of chess playing as they try gain time to learn it. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010


If you truly love something then you always find ways to have your way to enjoy that something.  That was the case with Brahms this week when he had to make his first crepe. Until now he always depended on his father who is the sole crepe-maker of the family to provide him the crepes.  Now he advances one step by learning to prepare it.   I believe that after this experience that he will soon be offering to make crepes for the family.

We filled the crepes with strawberries, Nutella and whipped cream and served with sausages on the side.  Would anybody be interested to have the recipe he used?  :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eating From the Garden

Straight from the garden!

Today we harvested and ate our first radishes and baby bok choy.   I washed the radishes and we ate them immediately.  The French Breakfast radishes were very good - not bitter at all.  I simply stir-fried the bok choy (pechay) whole along with two cloves of garlic and some salt.  That served as the accompaniment for the rice and spicy chicken that we had for dinner.  There's really nothing like fresh veggies from the garden! 

All clean and ready to eat!

Who would not like to eat these now?  :) 

All Done!

Under God's Sea in 3D.  Miriam was one of the major characters in the play 'Under God's Sea in 3D" under the direction of Kerry Hossack and Allie Gove of Cornerstone Christian Church.  She played the character 'TJ the Fret Meister'.   In the photograph above, she is exceedingly happy that the play is over.  It is like the end of a long arduous journey.  She felt that she, along with everyone on the play, finally arrived!  Sunday evening practices are over, the dress rehearsal is done and most of all the play has been performed, twice!   She had fun all along and yet she's happy that she's now free to face the promise of new opportunities.

AWANA.   As AWANA volunteers, every Sunday during the last nine months our family would spend about two hours doing our different responsibilities.  Miriam the only clubber in the family got her second book award.  Now that the year is over - we all get a break.  We are also being slowly released from our regular commitments as the kids are winding up with school and adjusting to our summer schedule. Last Sunday I cooked (appreciation luncheon) for the AWANA volunteers.  I grilled tri-tip steaks, chicken, made the famous 'Lewis Family Potato Salad' and bought Costco dinner rolls.  Angela made a healthier green salad while Nancy and Michaela made cookies and peanut butter brownies.  Yummy! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Still Bragging

Just like any normal parent, I brag about my kids when they achieve something through their own efforts and diligence.  When Shannon (Brahms and Miriam alike) was little I felt as if she was the cutest and smartest baby ever!  Of course that's how every parent feels about their own children.  I bragged about her when she did not talk in baby-talk, when she started reading at age four, when she could type faster than me at age nine.  It seems like I've been bragging for a long time.  Yesterday alone I found myself posting her SAT score on Facebook.  Then I came to my senses and I felt ashamed!  I just can't hide the fact that I am proud of her.  I'm just a normal, mom I guess.

Shannon and I were the only people in the house when she found about her SAT score.  I congratulated her and she congratulated herself although she was surprised of what she saw knowing that she did not study prior to the test.  She was very pleased - she scored 2260 with a 12 in essay in a scale of 2-12.   What was most interesting to me is that she looks to her parents as her standard.  I am not sure if she is aware of this. :)   In this case, it was her father (I didn't have SAT in the Philippines) - after getting the sum of all her points, her immediate response was to calculate Tim's equivalent score.  She has matched her father's score!  She promises to take it again and this time she will review for it to give her a better chance to top her daddy's.

There is a very fine line between mere rejoicing over a blessing/achievement and feeling superior to those who did not get the same.  I did not cross that line - I was just happy for my daughter.  I'm just a normal mom, I guess. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010


Last night I watched the movie Invictus for the first time.  Thanks to the power of digital video, I was able to enjoy it at home even if I missed seeing it in the big screen.  Normally, I fall asleep halfway through movies but this one kept me awake and smiling till the end.

What does invictus mean?  The word appeared in the movie only as a written word on a piece of paper.  Here's what I found:
Invictus 1. A Latin word which means undefeated or unconquered.  
Invictus 2.  A poem written by a British poet W.E. Henley first published in 1875.  

By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

In the movie, Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) was inspired by the poem while he was in Robben Island prison where he served for almost twenty years.  The isolation and the punishing living conditions in that place would make one think that hope is gone.   For him, however, he believed that his soul remained to be invictus regardless of his circumstance.  "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul."  As President of South Africa, he then inspires Fran├žois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon), the captain of Springboks rugby team, to steer the team towards winning...and so on...and so forth.

Anyway, Invictus, the movie, is entertaining and inspiring.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Time For Frisbee

The past weekend has been extremely packed.  It started on Friday night when Miriam had to go to her dress rehearsal while the rest of us went to help and see the Enchanted Isle concert. 
Saturday we went to eat at the Youth Pancake Cook off to support Our Brother's Burden ministry in India.  While we ate Brahms played with the youth band.   It was encouraging to see the willingness of students do something for a good cause.   Tim and I went on a local garden tour.  It was fun and tiring at the same time.   After that we barely had enough time to eat dinner and then it was time for Miriam's first performance for the play: Under God's Sea in 3D.   The sad thing was that we had to bring Tim to the train station after a long day - the first leg of his trip to Taipei.  Sunday was a regular early service schedule with the added excitement of the play again and AWANA Awards Night.   It was a long day.  

 My kids were tired so we decided to go throw out some Frisbees along with the stresses of the weekend away. 

Plumbing Problem

Since we moved to this house there have been a lot of times when the wall below the window was wet.  Leaky window was the first thought that came to mind.  However there were times when the wetness occurred during the months when there was no rain.  Then we though that the faucet was leaky but there were no signs of water damage under the tub.  Many contractors came to see it.  No one told us what was causing the problem.  They would readily describe the damage that they see but not why.  Before we did anything we asked Dave Rambo, a Handyman we know, to look at it.  He did not say anything new and he was willing to fix the damage around the tub.  He also recommended that we'd ask a plumber to fix the leak first.   So we did.  It was then when we understood the problem. 

There was a pipe that was cut too short to meet a rubber gasket.  I cannot say what it is called but it was under the spout.  This was a construction problem that came with the house.  Every time we used the tub water would leak into the wood pieces right under the tiles.  The water was being wicked into the dry wall just below the window.  Unlike the shower, we did not use the tub daily hence it did not remain wet all the time for us to be able to recognize the problem sooner.
Weird occurrences always have underlying reasons.  The sooner they are dealt with the better.  :)

Yesterday Dave Rambo opened and removed all the damaged wood pieces.  Today Rob the plumber came to install the new hardware to replace the old one.  Then, Dave R. will come back next week to put back the walls and the tiles in place.  

It seems to me that most of the major repairs done in our home are scheduled when Tim is not here. :)  We don't plan it that way but it happens.  The last time he travelled I had one side of the fence replaced.  On another time I had to decide to buy a new sump pump because the old one broke.  Now the bathroom. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Machine Drilling

Brahms is currently enrolled in Manufacturing Engineering.  One of the skills he's learning is to program tool paths to cut out designs in pieces of wood using a drill machine.   Every now and then he would bring home some of these pieces to show us what he'd learn.  He seems very proud of what he can do with the drill machine.  Seeing his lessons translated into a tangible object gives him a greater sense of accomplishment compared to just passing a test.  I've suggested that he could make presents for me using his new skills. :)

As if it was only yesterday when he was struggling (twisting his lips and jaws) to use the scissors to cut out pieces of paper.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Completing her AP Exams

AP exams are often presented as a dreadful thing.  They make someone feel that they have not had sufficient preparation - which I think is ridiculous since they had a whole semester to learn prior to the test.  Yet in the end when all is done and favorable scores are received, everything change.  The test will seem like the simplest thing they've ever done.   Indeed conquered fear results in confidence. 

Shannon took her AP exams in US History and Language and Composition.  She is relieved and pleased about her performance.  She came home sporting her AP-number.  It appears to me that examinees are treated like prisoners in the sense that they are identified by numbers and bar code instead of their names.  Remember Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables"?  He identified himself as 24601.  Okay, okay...that's not the case with the high school students.  I believe that it is just meant help avoid biases or discrimination on the part of the teacher or whoever will be checking the exams.
We're getting to the end of the school year! 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Golden Flute

As official volunteer-ushers for the Folsom Lake Symphony Orchestra, we (my family) are usually at the theatre before the show and we get to see the performers rehearse a little.  Dr. Alice Lenaghan, flute soloist, was the guest performer in the Enchanted Isles concert.   She was gracious to let me take her picture before she changed into her concert outfit.  She is amazing!

Dr. Alice Lenaghan plays a 14K gold Muramatsu flute.  According to her, the sound of a gold flute is warm and rich whereas a silver flute produces a brilliant and exciting sound.  She also explained that the amount of gold present in the instrument has little to do with the cost of the flute as the manner it is made as well as the maker.   Her flute was very sparkly and because it is gold "there is no need to polish it."   Gold flutes must last a long time because she said that she's been using hers for twenty years already.  Knowing that she's a professional musician, that is a very long time of usage.  

Friday, May 14, 2010

"The UEFI book is pretty neat"

Mike Rothman commented that the UEFI book is pretty neat.     With that I was reminded to move forward with an old plan.  I've contacted the Computer Science Departments of UC Davis, Sacramento State University, and Folsom Lake Community College to let them know that I am giving them a copy the book.  I am doing this to do my small part in letting the concerned world know about the book. :)

If I was a professor teaching computer science I would definitely read this book to broaden my perspective.  I would like to find out what is happening in the big ocean with the theories that I teach in my aquarium tank.  "Harnessing the UEFI Shell" is an applied computer engineering book.  The universities with a strong focus on research would find this a perfect resource because while DOS is passing away, many in the engineering community still rely on its low-overhead approach to debug and test hardware. The UEFI Shell brings that same flexibility into the 21st century and is designed to reside in the firmware, much like a built-in monitor or debugger. The book eases you into what you need to know!

Understanding what lies beyond your current perimeter is a key to success.  In fact, the farther you can see the better you'll fare.   This is true in research, in engineering, and in life as a whole! 

As I write this post, the book has been delivered to Folsom Lake College.   Professor Prasant Mohapatra, (Computer Science Department Chair, UC Davis) just acknowledged my offer and said that it will be useful both for education and research. 

If you are a programmer and do not own the might still be lacking. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

My Day.  Our agenda was to go see a Geranium Show in Sacramento but Tim and I seemed to have missed it.  Fortunately, we were close to the McKinley Park Rose Garden.  There we strolled, looked, and smelled the roses.  I was surprised to see how many people were there taking pictures on that misty day.  There were benches there where we sat for a little while just to admire the flowers.  Surprisingly, we noticed a couple of people who were stealing flowers and branches of plants from the park.  Knowing that it was mother's day, I assumed that the flowers were for some special mother.  How nice to have a park that can serve as a source of blessings to people! :)

Tim and I drove back home and stopped by the Town Center to get something sweet - Cold Stone ice cream.  Only when we got there that I was reminded that there was this big event going on there.  We were in a long line but they were fast.  So we walked through the different tents/kiosks as we ate and then we sat at the parking lot to enjoy our treats to the fullest.  When we got home I was in the mood for gardening. 
What is mother's day anyway?  Mothers do give up a lot in order to love to their children.  From conception to the very end, mothers make sacrifices to love.  Love is the motivation for the things that they do for their children.  So mother's day should be a celebration of that commitment to love.  It is not a time to give her a break (vacation) from her usual routine.  It is not the time when children should pay her back (salary) by making her breakfast.  Back in the village where I grew up, old and wise people say that "even if you cut yourself into pieces and use the palm of your hand as a plate to feed your your mother, you still won't be able to pay her back for all the sacrifices she did for you."    This is very graphic but the idea is clear - it is impossible to pay her back physically.  They say this to children who act arrogantly towards their parents.  Children are supposed to bear the "utang na loob" which literally means "debt that is inside".   This is not a material, monetary or service debt.  It is an imbedded switch in the deepest core of your heart that says, "I will delight my mother".   The bible says, "Honor your father and your mother."    Honor your mother (and father) with love.  Mother's Day should be a day to exaggerate that which should already be a way of life. 

I had a mother who loved me...and I had a mother whom I loved. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday with Friends

Last weekend we had a fun evening with the Cranmers and the Bohlkes.   My children entertained the Dan and Bernadette D. showing and telling them about their pets.  This was like an act of "vengeance" because the Cranmers showed my kids how their pet snake swallowed a mouse in a few seconds.  This time it was their turn to hear how our turtle snaps a fish in half.  Marina on the other hand didn't realize that I was picking her brain regarding orchid growing.  She is a pro and I am a newbie on growing cymbidium orchids. 

Tim grilled some ribs and chicken while I did the easy part - baked potatoes.  Bernadette brought a curried rice salad with shrimp and palm shoots and it was very good.   I prepared the makings of Bruschetta in advance which my kids assembled and served to our guests.  We ended our meal with Marina's strawberry cobbler and Shannon's Chocolate-chip/cranberry cookies.  It was great getting to know each other some more and spending time together.


The following pieces of art work were created by my little girl friends who live up the hill.   I showed them how to start a garden and they have been very excited about it.   Gardening has become the basis of our friendship.  Not bad I think.  It is interesting to see their different expressions of "gardening" in art form.  They all seem to have an accurate interpretation of a garden - insects and birds are part of a healthy garden.  

by Caroline

by Claire

by Courtney

by Calista

Calista will soon find out from her own garden that the green part of the strawberry fruits attaches to the plant. :) That is what gardening is all about - learning by doing. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Outdoor Office

Tim working in the 'jungle'.

The weather has been beautiful this week.  High temperatures were in the low 70s with night temperatures in the high 40s.  It is that time of the year when Tim can work outside in the backyard.   I guess he prefers the sound of birds and wind chimes over the sounds of the refrigerator and the washer when he is working inside the house.  The flowers and the greenery might also be a better sight to stare at while he's thinking. 

Thanks to Wi-Fi.  He can move anywhere he wants in the yard and still is connected to the internet and his co-workers around the world.   As long as he is not working on a 'motherboard' (a hardware he uses to build a code, I guess), he can work anywhere.   The only things he needs are his laptop, phone, headset, and a cup of coffee or green tea.  When I remember, I bring him some chocolate covered raisins to increase his blood sugar a little bit.
Tim being disturbed by paparazzi.

It is great to have my husband programming in the yard when I am out there gardening.  The problem is that sometimes when I am watering, I get carried away and forget that he is there. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Good Experience

I survived!  Planning the Ladies Tea and preparing for my speech took a lot of my free time during the last two weeks.  It was good to speak in a crowd again, I enjoyed it a lot.  After all I used to be a good speaker in my own right.  :)  However I am not sure if I will organize and speak at the same event again.  I just didn't have time to gather my thoughts in an organized way until the night of before. 

"Growing Together by Design" was a fun topic to develop. I was reminded that I do better without a script. 

I thank God for all the people who worked with me and the way it all came out.  It was humbling to see everyone's servant attitude.   The sight of ladies enjoying themselves was most rewarding.

To God be the glory!