Sunday, December 30, 2012

Les Miserables

After four long days since the movie came out, we finally got to see Les Miserables.  I personally give it two thumbs up! And yet I still managed to have cried - really cried that I had to wipe my eyes with my sleeves.  We all cried although we cried at different parts of the movie.

The movie is very poignant. It almost seems like a tragedy just because the major characters die except for Cosset and Marius.  The characters seem to have lived a lifetime of misery.  Their circumstances were all different but all of them lived painful unfortunate circumstances which were either inflicted on them by others or inflicted by a personal conviction as in the case of Javert.  Fontaine in spite of the unfortunate life she lived dies content knowing that Cosset will be in good hands.  Jean Valjean although not free (from the law) found freedom from God through his encounter with the priest and found joy in having Cosset to care for.  He dies happy knowing that Cosset forgives him of his secret past and that she's happy with Marius.  Javert kills himself because he is trapped in an unsolved dilemma within himself.  There came a point in his career when his convictions as a righteous man clashed with his conscience as a person who has been shown mercy.  No longer did he know what to do.  He ends his own life instead of arresting Valjean.

It is a story of slavery and freedom.  Valjean, although under the law, was free to love.  Javert, an enforcer of justice, was a slave to the law.  And most of all, it is a story of mercy and of love.

I was amazed at how well Anne Hathaway (Fontaine) sings.  Russell Crowe's deep opera-voice suits the character (Javert) he played especially in the epic scene of him singing on the rooftops.  When Hugh Jackman sang his parts -especially when he is talking to God - the emotion was so powerful, I had to cry.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On the Second Day of Christmas...

My true love bought me a pair of pearl earrings from Costco today.  This is not like the usual surprise gift -  he asked me to choose and I did.  Today we stopped by the store to get them.  What a great ending to our lunch date at Rubio's where we both had Blackened Mahi-mahi Burritos.  I'm not so sure whether mahi-mahi is a fresh-water fish but I see that we had an aquatic theme for the day. 

Pearls are beautiful...and my true love is such a thoughtful man.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Christmas Parties

Women's Group of Cornerstone Christian Church
Ellie Retallack hosted a beautiful Christmas party/ bible study at her house on Normanton Place.  Her house was fully decked, beautiful and cozy and the smell of spiced apple cider filled the air.  There were probably fifteen of us who attended with me being the youngest in the group.  In other words, this was a group of "enlightened women" and although I haven't had the years to earn such honor, it was a pleasure to be physically among them.  Ellie served a delicious lunch but the best part of it was dessert; I enjoyed a generous piece of pecan pie.  I  watched Kris Morphew agonized to eat only a fifth of her piece, probably because of the excessive amount of calories that are packed in it.  (But it's Christmas time - we need the energy for doing all the stressful activities like shopping, eating, worrying, eating, cleaning, eating, shopping, cooking and eating again.) The elephant gift exchange was also exciting.  We were all "stealing" everyone's presents.  The scarves were the hottest items. In the end, because I had the number one, I got to do the final "steal".  I traded the four pairs of crazy green and purple socks for a Thomas Kinkade 2013 Calendar.
It was good to be with the people from Cornerstone again.

Green Acres Christmas Party
This was more like a grown-up cocktail party - finger foods, open bar, and a comedian entertainer. The comedian was not so nice in that he used a lot of dirty jokes.  I was glad that we did not sit near the stage because I would not have liked being the subject of his jokes.   But since there were no kids around- it was alright.

Seeing my co-workers outside the work place revealed something about each of them beyond what I would normally see at work.  I'm sure they also found out something about me - like the fact that my husband and I do not drink alcohol. :)  On one hand, Tim got to meet most of my co-workers.  It's always nice to have a face on the names that your spouse talks about.  

Anyway, two Christmas parties in one day are indeed doable! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Uneventful Death

Life is like a computer.  One day everything is alright and on other days things go slowly.  Sometimes when things are not going as they should, you can do something to fix the problem and sometimes you can't.  Still on other days there are no noticeable problems and then all of a sudden the computer screen turns blue and you hear this unusual beep- which is like a straight line on a heart-beat monitor.  That is exactly what happened to my old computer. It died.

Tim, who is a fix-it guy, immediately makes an official announcement that the computer is dead.  Then he proposes to buy a new one.  I could have rejoiced with the idea of a new one but it's just so cruel to replace a friend immediately upon dying.  Of all the computers in the house this one was slow and at times very slow.  But it was mine and I can always wait for it to cool down before I can continue using it.  It has taught me patience - a virtue that is rapidly disappearing in this society. 

I miss my computer.  In the meantime, however, Miriam's computer is my computer when she is not using it.  This arrangement is working so far. The only problem is that someone (not me) will have to install some of the software  useful to me like Photoshop Elements.

Miriam's Mind on Math

Miriam is finally at a stage where she dislikes math (who doesn't, anyway?).  Don't get me wrong - she's good at math.  In fact this trimester she got a better grade in Algebra than in Language Arts.  The problem comes when she does not understand her teacher; she decides that it is about the subject matter.  It takes a lot of prodding from me before she gives in to asking for help.  Sometimes Brahms explains things to her and Tim works with her a lot - not me because I have long forgotten all about Algebra even if it was once a favorite subject of mine.

This Sunday morning she set out to work on her math problems (I give her credit for good planning instead of procrastinating till the last hour of the day).  Tim on her side, she began to say, "I should just eat fruit".  This comes from her earlier thought that there is life outside of math; that Adam and Eve did not have to suffer with math - they simply ate fruits.  Her statement was both humorous and witty; it ignited a long and lively discussion in the house.  After some time of working together she gave a statement of relief and grief, "It is a sad thing that daddy is better at math than Mrs. McGee." 

Later on you'd heard some whistling and every once in a while phrases like: "Why do they teach little kids about negative numbers?  That's just cruel!"  or "Ha ha!  I figured it out! Yay!" or more whistles in various tunes. 

Oh well, it's still Sunday morning.  I got some reading done on N. T. Wright's "After You Believe...".  Tim is working on some banners for the FCC (our Filipino church).  Brahms is at Cornerstone Christian Church (our American church) playing bass with the worship team.  Miriam is progressing with her work.  The sun is sunny and cold outside; we had to bring our pet dove, Lala,  to get some needed sunlight. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Family Room Furniture

A new couch set was delivered here today.  It's been painful to part from the two old ones after sixteen years - they've been like family members.  But the new ones have come and we like them.  It took us many trips to different furniture stores  -spread over many months- to find the right one with the right price.  Fortunately, we found just the right one at Scandinavian Design.  It was very easy to find something we liked from the store.  It appears that we have a natural attraction to the sleek, unpretentious, and organic quality of the furniture that they offer.  We chose Paulo Leather Sofa and Chair.  It's very nice.  Unlike most leather chairs or couches, the Paulo is not "slippery". 

Way back in 2000, we also purchased Tim's desk and the kitchen bar stools from the same store.  The teak dining set that we ended up buying from Copenhagen was something we saw first at Scandinavian.  It just happened that they did not have the size that we preferred. 

So what did we do with the two old couches?  The larger one went to Brahms' room while the other one went to Miriam's.  Both kids were happy to have them but they had to rearrange their rooms.  I on the other hand will have a lot of updating to do in the family room. 

Note: I was supposed to post a picture here but I could not get my phone (Samsung Galaxy IIIS) and computer to sync.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

                                                       Playing video game (Portal 2) while waiting for our guests.

Thanksgiving this year is beautiful.  Shannon is home, the siblings are all happy together.  The never-ending stories that they tell each other seem to be continually amusing to them all.  Tim and I are happy to be watching them.  Our family is whole once again and we know that God is here with us always.  God is good.  God is good.  I praise Him!  

I've been thinking more deeply about Thanksgiving lately - in an attempt to search for a deeper meaning to the occasion, if there is such a thing.  Having been raised in the Philippines, I consider Thanksgiving as an acquired tradition.  Beyond the feast that primarily consist of roast turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, and cranberries - all of which were discovered (as in gold) in the wild New World by the pioneer settlers - it meant nothing to me.  To the settlers, however, their discovery and introduction to the food of this land was tantamount to seeing a glimmer of hope.  There was an alternative to starvation!  Life could be sustained.

 As I have noticed during the last two decades celebrating Thanksgiving, we people are passionately thankful for the blessings we've received. Indeed there are many things that we can all be grateful for.  However, if they are the basis of our gratitude than the spirit of thankfulness is short-lived and flitting.   Maybe a better way is to be thankful to the One who gave and will continue to give everything we need.  

This year we shared Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, the Lippuners.

Eating together is a good thing to do. 

The young ones - Miriam, Shannon, Brahms, Alex, Marcus, Erich, and Anna 

The old people - wonder who they are... 

After every heavy meal, a card game is always in order...Perpetual Commotion

Thanksgiving Menu 2012
21.5 lb Roast Turkey (Grilled by Tim)
Giblet Gravy  (by Helen)
Cranberry Sauce (by Helen)
Stuffing (Mix from Costco prepared by Helen)
Sweetened Sweet Potato and Apple (by Sue)
Mashed Potatoes (by Brahms) 
Pumpkin Cheesecake (by Sue)
Apple Pie (by Helen)

To God be the glory!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

News from Shannon

The house was quiet when I got home from work.  I assumed that Tim was on his way from bringing the kids to Youth Group.  Lazily, I walked my way into the living room - dropping my lunch bag and jacket on to their usual place- when Tim came out.  He met me with his usual greeting then he told me the news:  "Shannon fell and she's is being brought to an Urgent Care."

Shannon was running to Pippin - the dining hall closest to the Shire - with a bunch of friends when Zack Soohoo stopped suddenly causing a collision.  Shannon fell onto the ground hitting her head against the concrete pavement. 

To make the story short she had a mild concussion and the problem was that I can not do anything.  I can't help her from El Dorado Hills.  So Ia asked my cousin Ronnie Lim, who lives hear Irvine to go check on her.  Fortunately, Shannon was fine.  Times like this bring me to a total dependence on God.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crater Lake

Snow on the way to Crater Lake

April 4, 2012 - We took the train to go to Klamath Falls, Oregon.  We left Sacramento around midnight and when we woke up in the morning we were in a cold snowy place - which was a very pleasant surprise.  This trip was the first time we traveled without Shannon.  There were only four of us.  It was really different without her.

Crater Lake

Before the fight.

 First thing we did was to check in to our hotel then we headed towards Crater Lake.  It was a scary experience - the road being full of snow and lacking traces of tire marks in some parts.  The thought of being stranded there in the middle of nowhere seemed so possible knowing that Tim, a Bay-Area-grown man, has nothing to brag about driving in the snow.  There was no lack of praying in that car, I tell you.

Snow Fight


And so the Lewises did what the Lewises do when they are ever near snow - snow fight!  Well, I was the spectator or should I say referee who blew her whistle whenever the players went out of bounds.  My role was to make sure that no one went rolling down the lake.  The sight was quiet amusing.  Who would have known that snow-fighting is such a competitive game?  So the fight went on until they all got tired. 

Dr. Who?

Beautiful time and place...

Just to prove that I was there...

Crater Lake is an amazing God's creation.  I cannot even fathom the time it took for this mountain to turn into a gigantic bowl of clear water.  Truly God has always been there... 

I hope to see Crater Lake in the spring, someday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spring Break 2012

Since I started working, I have not had a lot of free time to blog...or perhaps I had the time but I was too tired to do anything beyond the basics.  However, I really want to document some of the things we do as a family and some thoughts that come to my mind.  So slowly I will try to catch up with my schedule. 

UC Irvine - February 4, 2012

On February 3, 2012 we all went to visit Shannon.  This was the first time we went back to see her since e dropped her off last fall.  She got to show us her place - the Shire.  We even met some of her dorm mates who were eating Taco Bell at the time. 

With us there, she got a chance to go to McDonalds - she swears that their fries are the best in the world.  Then she brought us to have dinner at her new favorite place, Koba Tofu Grill.  I immediately understood why she loves this place.  I enjoyed the food so much that I over ate fried fish.  In the end I missed going to the Cha for Tea (another place she wanted us to try) because I was so sick.  So I stayed in the hotel alone. 

After all the times we spent with her we had to leave her again.  It was sad.  But we had to go to see UCLA for Brahms. Yes, he is now checking colleges!  I hate to think about it because it means that he will also soon leave us.  Sometimes denial works.  :)  

UCLA - February 4, 2012


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Job Leaves No Time to Blog*

I used to spend my after-dinner-resting hours blogging.  It was my time to be alone.  Since I started with my new job about three months ago, I have not had the time to isolate myself from the family.  When I come home from work, the only thing I want to do is to spend time with them - eating, talking, playing games (mostly CIV V), watching TV or driving to the Towne Center and eat ice cream at the parking lot.  So if you are reading my blog and finds out that updating of the website happens rarely these days - it is just because I do not have the time. I might, in the future

My current job is, so far, the most time-demanding job I ever had since I got married.  Now I am kind of shocked to find out that I cannot do all the things that I used to do.  Of course, eight hours everyday has just been eliminated from my disposable time with family.  I am adjusting  - trying to figure out how to maximize the use of my time without jeopardizing the important aspects of life.

* (I just found this draft from my old files and thought I'd post it for the record. Today is 7/19/2015 and I'm still working and feeling the same sentiment - however, I have already lowered my expectations to some extent.)  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Then and Now

All credit goes to God who is the designer and source of everything!  We continually thank the Lord for all He has been doing in our lives.  God is good, all the time!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Landed At Last

Twenty one days after he left his former company, Tim travels to Taipei for the first time as an employee of Insyde.  It appears that the order of the day is meeting people and learning about the  this company he now works for.

We thank God for the grace and peace He has provided. The Lord is good to us and we will praise Him always.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Anniversary Trip 2012

Last year was Portland. This year we went to Asilomar for our annual fun trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  The place is located in Pacific Grove, California which is adjacent to Monterey.  Since our anniversary happens in the dead of winter, it is quiet a challenge to find a place to go outside of California. 

We spent most of the day on two different beaches in the area.  We hiked.  When we stopped, Miriam observed the tide pools; she and Brahms played chase with the waves.  This morning our destination was Monterey Bay Aquarium.  This is probably the fourth time that I have visited the place.  Miriam was a toddler when the last time we came but she could not remember anything about it. 

This is the first time we celebrated our anniversary without my Shannon.  I missed her so we kept connected electronically. Brahms and Miriam did a great job making up for missing silliness that would have been provided by Shannon.

The second night that we were there, we went to see a mivie at an old fashined theater - there is no surround sound nor high definition.

Tim maintained his tradition of unnecessarily having us all walk to a destination that eventually does not make sense.  After we toured the aquarium, we were all tired and hungry.  In search of a nice place to eat, Tim refers to his dependable GPS through his cell phone.  So we walked.  Our steps turned into yards, yards turned into blocks, and blocks turned into miles until finally we got to the place.  There was much celebration until we found out, thirty seconds later, that the restaurant is no longer in business.  And so we had to walk back and ate in a small restaurant where the food would have been more exciting had we been in a better mood prior to eating.  So we had ribs and hamburgers.  Sigh.

If I count the years, twenty one is a long time.  But if I list all the fun times and blessings of being married, as if we only had begun.  I thank God for giving me Tim! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crossing the County Line

Wilson Boulevard ends here.

When coffee ceased to be a goal for our morning walks, Tim and I began to take other hiking routes around our area.  Today was the second time we took the route that involves crossing the county line.  We started from the end of the Wilson Blvd. and onto a footpath that eventually joins Iron Point at Empire Ranch in Folsom.  This is a very good walk except for the fact that we have to climb really steep hills twice!  We tried to reverse our path by starting on the other end - Treviso Way but it was the same - we still had to climb up the same hills.  These walks definitely make me want to take long hot showers afterwards. 

Also, I have joined a hiking group of women from church.  During the last two months we hiked on Salmon Falls Trails.  I'm amazed to see bikers there considering that the road is rough, narrow, and steep.  Our group has to stand in line at the side of the pathway for them to pass.  And then there are runners who can manage to breathe and talk to us while running to pass us.  We are the slow hikers but we talk fast while we walk.  We go once a month and so far it has been fun. (It might be different in the summer when the weather is really hot.)  These hikes makes me want to sit down and watch TV after my long hot showers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A New Season is About to Begin

Under heaven, everything will change.  Change is sometimes dreaded because it is inflicted upon us by external forces.  On the other hand, it can come upon us as a result of slow internal processes guided by our thoughts, priorities, and aspirations. Either way, when one change happens, hundreds or even thousand other changes will come along.   And the required adjustment can be overwhelming or invigorating.  I've written some of my thoughts about this in my other blog (When Climate Changes).

Our family is undergoing changes - positive changes.  These are exciting days but our faith is being put to the test. Right now, we are constantly reminded of the Giver of all that we have and hope for.  It is tempting to use the things we see and hear as parameters for determining things that ought to be good or not.  And yet the ways of the Almighty God are beyond our comprehension.  I would prefer that our thoughts and actions be guided by the Spirit because in God alone do I trust.

Tim is getting a new job.  He has been working for Phoenix Technologies (a leading BIOS company) as Chief BIOS Architect for sixteen years and enjoyed it.  At one point I called his job as a hobby-job because he loves programming - he writes codes for fun. He considered himself as an idea hamster - producing patentable ideas.  He has at least eight US Patents in his name.  As a family, we enjoyed and appreciated the financial rewards and stability that it offered.  At the time when some employees were being laid off for one reason or another, he was being offered retention bonuses in order to remain.  His services are valued - no doubt about that.  When we moved to El Dorado Hills he worked at the Intel facility in Folsom on a Phoenix/Intel collaborative project.  When the project was done, he was allowed to work from home which is priceless for our then growing family.  Tim is a very loyal sort of guy but his personal aspirations drive him to take a big stride now to welcome change. 

 So far, Tim has accepted a new job offer, resigned from his current job and has two weeks to transition away.  This is a bitter-sweet moment in his career.  But just like the birth of a baby, the labor pains to bring forth an unknown and unseen child pales in comparison to the hope of launching a new life that will soon grow for us to enjoy.

God is good to us! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

2Q Schedule

Someone is taking a lot of Computer Science classes this quarter.  If she manages her time well then she might still be able to squeeze some time to play League of Legends (LoL) with her friends.

 Already, when Shannon came home for Christmas, I could no longer understand most of the programming terms that she and her father were talking about.  Somehow, bits of those programming-genes got embedded in my daughter's brain cells.  One day we might still have another programmer in the family, which is not bad at all. 

I'm posting this schedule for my reference.   It is wise to know exactly when to disturb my daughter. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Super-duper Espresso Maker

So the super-duper espresso maker is in my kitchen!  It's Tim's  new thing!  The irony is that he left to go to Taiwan right after he got it.  As a result I got to experiment with it for a whole week.  I used to miss my morning coffee whenever he's gone on a business trip - but not this time.

This machine is very convenient to use.  It grinds the coffee beans; dumps used coffee grounds, which have been pelletized into something that resembles a Reese's candy, into a receptacle.  The only thing I need to do is to fill the coffee bean container every three days depending on how often I make coffee; fill up the water container and empty the coffee grounds once every day.  Everything else is a push-button process.  I can even choose the intensity of the coffee and the amount of espresso per operation.  How cool is that?   The other day I was telling my son, jokingly, that I miss the scattered coffee ground all over the counter where the grinder is located.   I miss cleaning the sink from all the used coffee grounds.  The carafe and the filter, I sure miss cleaning them! (Not really!)

Tim likes coffee-making gadgets.  So far this is my favorite of them all. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Something New

Yesterday I was at the soon-to-open Green Acres in Folsom for my second interview. Yes, I applied for a job there for the following reasons: The place is very close to home - three miles away from my house. Green Acres - Folsom is a glorified nursery and supply store. It is going to be the biggest one in the area and I want to be part of this phenomenon. The magnitude of the nursery is like a playground for a plant-geek like me. Working there would definitely be fun and rewarding. Lastly, but not least, I would have to get paid doing something I enjoy. What a deal!  I'm curious to see what happens. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Guy Who Rides His Bike

 Brahms is awesome.   He likes penguins, hamburgers, and cheese - that's what he tells me.  But as far as I know he is a hard-working guy who consistently gets up very early. He is consistently one of the most interesting teenage boys that I know, and always excited to share some of what he has found. Last year, I remember that he had a new interesting fact or crazy story to tell the bus driver every day. The question is: What will he do next? Now, it seems, buses are boring and bikes are cool. So, each morning he rides to school. Soon he will be doing the car thing (with me in the passenger seat).

Brahms is fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beginning Flute

Miriam started her first flute lesson yesterday.  After taking lessons in percussion for many years she is ready to learn a new one.  Flute was the chosen because we already have the instrument - makes it cheaper.  He instructor Mr. Liam Irish was very kind to let me sit and observe.  He is a very lively instructor.  Miriam said that he is a better role model than his previous music teacher (whose name will not be mentioned for the sake of privacy) who always checked his iPhone every five minutes while, supposedly, teaching her.

Miriam was very nervous yesterday.  It really helped that I was there, at least for the first time.  However, Liam was very impressed of her great start.  She didn't make any mistakes in her notes, which is often a problem with beginners.  This is all because of her experience in playing percussion instruments. Today, she brought her instrument to school so that she can practice at the Band room during lunch break. 

She still plays percussion in band but who knows, if she learns fast, she might get to play flute at the last Rolling Hills Middle School concert of the year. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sunday: Observance of Rest

This is the second Sunday, in the last six months, that we get more hours of rest than activities on a so-called rest day.   So far I like the current arrangement but I still feel as though it is unreal.  Just like breaking any other tradition,  the mind voluntarily complements the change with a moral guilt.  I'm still trying to depart from this ghost-like remorse that comes out of nowhere but immediately disappears when I flood my mind with reason.  This brings me back to the early days of my marriage.  For months after Tim and I got married, I used to wake up in the night and realize that I am sleeping next to a man.  "This is wrong!  I should not be sleeping next to a guy!"  Tim would then remind me that we're married - everything would be fine again - then I'd go back to sleep. It is ridiculous but that's how I feel sometimes about not attending the morning worship service at Cornerstone.  We attend the evening service at Folsom Community Church now as part of the service we want to do this year.

Rest is intentional loosening-up.  It is not inactivity.  Our family schedule is often bombarded with the daily, immediate, and superficial demands of life.  Rest should provide a temporary relief away from our attempts to fix the world so that we could have the time and attitude to appreciate what God has been doing all along.

This may sound counterintuitive but some of my most restful moments have often been shared with my husband while taking our morning walks and sharing our spiritual reflections with each other.

"Be still and know that I AM God" ~ Psalm 46:10

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grandparents and Surprises

Relatives and friends visited us around Christmas not in one big gathering but one group after the other.  For the kids, presents came in a staggered fashion.  For our guests, they all had a fair share of our undivided attention when they came. 

Mom (Marilyn) and Johnnye came on the 26th.  Of course when they visit us during Christmas time they always arrive in a car loaded with presents for everybody because they also deliver presents from all other relatives in Eureka (Humboldt Country) for us.  Once the presents are unloaded they make a dramatic pile around the Christmas tree.  My son once told me that the only time he came close to thinking that Santa Claus was real was a time when his Grandpa Johnnye said that Santa was stranded in the snow, and so they helped him deliver the presents. 

We are so grateful that Mom and Johnnye were able to come to see us all again.  It surprised us that they were interested in the house-for-sale next door.  We have encouraged them, more than once in the past, to move closer to any of their kids but this is the first time they have shown any interest at all in moving to near (very near) us.  They seem to have always desired to live in places away from the modern busyness of communities.  But that possibility, of them moving next-door to us was short-lived since the house was technically sold at that time.   Of course, there are still so many houses for sale in our neighborhood - if they are willing to live a little bit further away from us.  :)

With Grandma Marilyn and Grandpa Johnnye - December 2011

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Jen throws the ball!

While waiting for Mom and Johnnye to arrive, we were all outside enjoying the great California weather. 

Enjoying ribs together. 

Maya: Where do ribs come from?
Miriam:  From pigs.
Maya:  Did the pig die?
Miriam:  Yes.
Maya:  Hmmm.  It's yummy!

Maya and Jason: Cute kids!

To explain the expressions on their faces, Jason just fell off Maya's back when I took this picture.  

Jason and Mark also like Brahms' present.

Brahms got a T-shirt from Paul and Pam.  Written on the shirt was this phrase: "Keep Calm. Have Some Pie".  Even Jason though it was cool. 

Miriam reads to her cousin Maya.

Jason and his gingerbread house.

Mark barely catches the ball! 

Happy Memories of Christmas 2011

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bread Pudding: Only in the Absence of Pies

Torta-Bread Pudding

Costco sells Torta bread which is so good for making sandwiches.  The only problem with this soft yummy bread is its short shelf-life.  During the holidays, we had a lot of left-overs from entertaining and I was determined not to allow them to get sucked into garbology.  This recipe -modified from an old recipe- is ideal for any of the sweeter breads such as torta or Hawaiian bread.  This bread pudding is custardy inside and crispy on top! 

  • 7 pieces  day-old torta bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup craisins
  • 7 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Tear bread into small pieces into an 8 x 11inch baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. Sprinkle with craisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.               
  5. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  Enjoy!  

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Watching Rose Parade

    Everyone is cozy with blankets and hot cocoa.

    New Year's Day 2012 is on a Sunday.  As a result  the Rose Parade was held on the following day - Monday.  We were all looking for Shannon's dorm mate who was banner-bearer.  Unfortunately, he was right behind the float with the surfing dogs.  The commentators spent a long time talking about the float and how it (being the longest float) would make a turn around the corner. We were all disappointed not to have seen him there. 

    We also watched the HGTV Dream Home 2012.  We always dream of winning a dream home.  Who knows, maybe this year we will be the lucky ones to win it.  :)

    Note that Shannon's face is its full swollen-size. 

    New Year 2012

    A Toast for 2012!!! 

    Shannon just had all four of her wisdom teeth removed the day before but she's such a trooper - she stayed up with all of us to wait for the year to change. I imagine that she was all groggy from Vicodin but she tried to smile for this traditional New Year's Family picture. 

    We stayed up all night - eating munchies that represent our multi-cultural family.  This year we tried to alter our traditional foods a little bit to make them less caloric.  Instead of making lumpia I made Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Shrimp.  Tim still made his Herbed Sausage Croissant but he skipped the Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts.  Some things remained such as the Filipino-Style Macaroni Chicken Salad, Sparkling Apple Cider, and some various cookies on the side.   The guys played Skyrim while Miriam played the Lego-Pirates of the Caribbean.  I believe Shannon played online League of Legends with her Shire-mates Steven, Zack, and Tiffany. 

    The day was not like any other New Year's Eve we ever had because other than the fact that Shannon was not feeling well from her dental surgery, we were just not in the mood for taking down the fake Christmas tree.  Normally, before midnight we would all be done putting away all the Christmas ornaments.  I'm guessing that this is one of the (negative) effects of electronic games and media.  They were free to have fun since they were all on vacation. 

    The next day we attended worship service at CCC in the morning and attended FCC in the evening.  What better way to start the year!   

    God has always been good to us.
    2011 was a great year. 
    We praise God for all His blessings and kindness.
    Happy New Year to All! 

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Safe and Secure

    Miriam seems very confident in her position.