Category Archives: Family

My Favorite Moments

I spent two weeks with my family over the holidays.  This was probably the longest visit I’ve had since I moved to Seattle.  It was kind of nice because I think I spent good quality time with all my nieces, nephews, siblings and parents.
My favorite moments with…
Jasmine – I introduced Jazzy to Bella Sara Adventures and (the games/site I work on).  She loves taking care of her horse – feeding it, tucking it in for a nap, etc.  Randomly I decided to "play horsey" with Jazzy as the horse and me walking along beside her holding the panda i bought her for xmas on her back.  Jazzy crawled on all fours back and fourth across the dining and living room panting as she reached one end, pausing a second to turn around and race back across the room.  Her favorite gag was when I dropped panda just like how Prince Phillip gets dropped off his horse in Sleeping Beauty.  But my favorite moment was when on her own, unprompted, Jazzy goes full-on horsey and scratches with her front "paws" (aka arms) and rears on her back legs.  It was adorable!!
Vincent – The second night I got into town, my brother went outside the shovel the driveway and brush all the snow off his wife’s car.  While he was out there, he started to build a HUGE snowman.  The thing was probably as tall as I was. I bundled Vincent up and took him outside to play with his dad and he had a blast!  He got a huge kick throwing snowballs all over the place.  When his dad finished the snowman, he went up and gave it a big hug.  It was SOO cute, I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and made him do it again.  =)
My second favorite moment, was when I tucked Vinny in one night.  To lure him to bed, I tucked in his favorite toy – Puss the Cat (from Shrek) and a new stuffed cat I bought him for xmas.  He walked into the room, pulled the new cat out of bed, walked outside his room and threw it down!  Apparently, Puss the Cat is a very territorial cat and there’s room for only 1 cat in Vinny’s life.  New cat now belongs to baby brother.
Kaitlyn – Katie is a riot.  She’s pretty quiet and can entertain herself — very independent.  One night she was playing with her dollhouse.  The second story flooring was broken on one side and wouldn’t properly attach on one end.  After blowing off many of my attempts to help fix it (Katie was insistent on fixing it herself), she let me install a temporary fix – basically a big book to prop up the second floor.  I return to playing cards w/ my family, when we all hear a exasperated, "Oh, man!".  You could hear the disappointment in her voice.  We all looked over, and Katie took out the book holding up the second floor and it fell.  Sad to witness, but hilarious how adult sounding her "Oh, man!" expression was.  She’s like her daddy.
Brandon – My favorite moments with Brandon by far are when he runs up to me and gives me a big hug.  He’s got this huge smile on his face and big doughy eyes full of excitement.  It’s sweet getting hugs from any of nieces and nephews, but Brandon is so enthusiastic every time.  He’s fiesty and a bit of a bully to his older brother, but he’s just so cute!

this trip’s revelation

It seems every time I come home from VA there’s some revelation that suddenly dawns on me.  This time… nothing as life-altering as possibly not wanting children but a there were a couple of nuggets…
1) I really like airports.  I like watching people interact with each other… the farewell hugs and kisses, the reunion hugs and kisses.  I could totally see why hanging out an airport all day long could be fun.  You really do see quite a range of human emotion.  It’s interesting the conversations you overhear once you’re at the gate or on the plane — people working tediously up til the flight takes off, people anxious to get where they’re going, people expounding more farewells.  I especially love when there someone who was on the same long flight filled w/ crying babies, turbelence and long layovers– particularly the single parent of a young whiny child — waiting at baggage claim for what seems like a century before the damn thing even starts to move but upon seeing their better half, sometimes the kids they had to leave behind, every evidence of the grueling trip is erased from their faces.  It’s actually pretty sweet.  The whole experience is a great people-watcher experience.  I love it!
2)  It’s amazing to witness my niece and nephew learn and grow.  How extraordinary it must be as a parent to know you imparted that knowledge and primed that mind to receive new information and take shape.  My nephew who could barely furniture surf 6 mos ago was now running laps around the house.  My niece, just turned two, is talking and gabbing in TWO languages (three if you include her make believe chitter chatter).  I almost did a double-take when I heard her say to her baby sister in vietnamese something roughly translating to "hey sis, whatcha eating there?"  How does a two year old possess the vocabularly to be so breezy and casual in her speech?  It was the cutest thing!  It clearly wasn’t something she learned by rote (like her parents teaching her to respond with "2" when asked how old she was–they worked on it apparently for a couple weeks before the big day and it paid off esp. since she responded in the respective language you asked her — she’s a smart little chicky!). 
The younger ones are less the handfuls their older siblings were… I wonder if that’s because it just seems easier now that you’ve gone through it once already or if it’s just an innate adjustment to their environment that these young ones have learned knowing they’ll never successfully compete with their older siblings’ constant needy attention from their parents.  It’s the youngest ones who end up being more independent, you know.  😉
3)  These days everyone is so independent and typical gender roles are all blurry.  Men cook and change diapers.  Women work and fix cars.  We no longer have all those boxes that bind us to a certain set of things we can and can’t do by artificial rules society imprints on us from the second the doctor slips on that pink or blue hat over our heads after our grand entrance into the world.  Does that mean our reason for being together is more pure because we no longer have to rely on needing each other for the things that were once reserved for the opposite sex but instead choosing to be with someone we want in our lives not just someone we need?  Women no longer need to marry just so they can have money, a house and a secure future.  If that was the case, wouldn’t more marriages be successful and there be a lower divorce rate?  So why the high divorce rate?  Why is it that people are waiting longer to marry?  Why can’t the Spears sisters find everlasting love? 
Maybe all this independence, all these blurred gender roles, all this ability to fulfill our own needs means we finally have to figure out what we want and that’s always been much harder than knowing what we need.  Maybe that’s not it at all.  Maybe this new society we live in has created other needs we’re not aware of and as a result can’t find the right person to fill that need. 
Anywho… I finished reading Kiln People… great book!  Highly recommend it.  Not sure what’s next on the book list… maybe I’ll grab randomly from a bag.

A glimpse of motherhood

I spent the last week helping my bro & sis out with their new baby (Brandon).  Vincent is only 16 mos and they don’t live super close to a lot of relatives like Jasmine & Kaitlyn’s parents, so I figured they could use the help.
I witnessed first-hand how hard it is to be a parent.  I became addicted to taking an extra few minutes in the shower — the only time you’re really alone and you aren’t expected to react to a baby’s cry.  I felt the pride of teaching a young, impressionable, formative mind something new.  I gained the strength of unannoyed patience having to calm a tantruming baby, catching food being spit out, feeding babies that won’t eat, playing peek-a-boo over and over and over again, and rocking stubborn babies to slumber.  I experienced the heart-warming, room-brightening joy of bringing a smile to a baby’s face.
The brief glimpse I was privy to doesn’t begin to represent the wide spectrum of emotions and experiences it really means to be a parent.  It was enough though for me to know one thing:  I’m tired!

Mom would be proud…

For years I’ve been trying to get my mom & dad to collaborate on a Vietnamese cookbook — mom makes the food, dad takes beautiful pictures of the process and the finished product.  This was not an idea that appealed to either of them… too much work I guess (now you understand where I get my laziness from).  Even the threat that my mom’s cooking skills and delicious recipes would not be passed on to the next generation did nothing to inspire my mom to write down a recipe or two. 
So the last time I went home, I videotaped my mom making her famous egg rolls in an attempt to preserve the legacy of her cooking.  Last night, I decided to try my hand at it.  To appreciate this challenge, you have to understand that my mom does not cook with a recipe or any measuring utensil that equates to anything Food Network chefs use.  She also cooks for an army of people times two because it’s a cardinal sin to not have leftovers after a meal… everyone must be over-satiated and still know that if they wanted there would still be more for them to eat. 
Armed with the ingredients and video footage of my mom as reference, I set out to make some egg rolls!  My mom happened to be preparing what turned out to be 150 egg rolls in the video, so step 1 was figuring out what proportion of ingredients I had in comparison and scale the seasonings accordingly.  My goal was to make about 25 but when all the ingredients came together and I started rolling, it tunred out to be more like 50.   The thought of having to roll 50 eggrolls was tiring and the thought of having to eat 50 eggrolls was also daunting.
As much work as it was (and it was a LOT of work), after about only an hour, I was munching on some yummy eggrolls!!  I ate 5.  The rest (rolled but not cooked) are stashed in my freezer for a rainy day.  It’s kind of nice knowing I can have eggrolls whenever I want now.  =) 
Was it just like mom’s?  It was pretty close actually.  A bit on the salty side, so I’ll have to make some adjustments next time I make them.
Is there now a recipe?  Umm… sort of.  I measured some seasonings but not all.  Plus I need to go back and tweak.  Plus, I didn’t measure how much of each ingredient I put in.  I just eye-balled it… just like mom.  =)


I sent this picture to my brothers commenting that it looks like Vinny’s wondering, "Can I trust her?"
Vinny’s dad’s response:  "Sometimes, it’s more like did anyone notice that I pooped. :-)"
Vinny… he’s a little stinker!


I always have a hard time w/ the word "home".  Is "home" where you grew up?  Is it where you live now?  Is it where your family is?  Is it where you’ve spent the majority of your life?  Is it where you happen to be right now?  I notice nowadays I say, "I’m going to Virginia" when I used to say, "I’m going home."  When did that happen?  When did Virginia stop being home to me?  I grew up here.  It’s where my entire (immediate) family lives.  It’s where I spent the majority of my life.  And it happens to be where I’m at right now.  How is it possible then that I could consider any other place "home".  And yet… if I had to choose, I’d say Seattle was my home.  I feel a twinge of guilt just thinking that!  It’s strangely unsettling and part of me doesn’t really believe it, but deep down I know it’s true… at least for now. 

To me home is where you see yourself ending up — where you want to be when you’re done being where you’re at right now. 


Babies babies babies

I’ve been in Virginia for a good 2 weeks now… most of the time I’ve been babysitting Vincent.  He’s a colicky 2 month old, so it’s tough for his mom.  She hardly gets any sleep.  My way of helping is by sleeping through the night-time crying and then waking up refreshed.  =D  I try to take care of the baby in the morning so my sister can get a couple hours of sleep and a decent shower.  Vincent isn’t bad in the mornings… just needs a little consoling when he’s gassy (yes, babies have gas… especially colicky ones.  and it’s painful for them to pass their gas… so sad for them).  Otherwise, he’s a cutie — playful when he’s up (whichis only for 10 mins at a time if that) and sleeping most the rest of the time. 
I unfortunately didn’t get as much time w/ Jasmine this time around.  Hopefully I’ll squeeze in a couple babysitting days before I leave to get some quality time in with her.  She was wailing one day when her parents dropped her off and I was the only one who could calm her.  The second I passed her off she’d start wailing again.  She loves me. =D  I miss her.
Christmas and New Years were fun this year with the babies.  Jasmine participated by helping everyone open gifts.  Vincent slept through the whole thing.  It’s fun seeing the two babie interact.  When one cries, it sets the other one off.  I read somewhere that babies can sense the distress of other crying babies and they cry empathetically along.  The only time this doesn’t happen is when Jazzy causes Vinny to cry (like whacking him or pinching him)… she’s a big bully. 


Just got back from nova where I visited with my newborn nephew — Vincent and my 4 month niece — Jasmine.  They could not be any cuter!  However, there was something about me that seemed to bore them b/c on my last day with them, neither seemed able to keep their eyes open.  I’m already the boring aunt… how can that be?  =)  There’s nothing like your niece falling asleep on your shoulder or your nephew sleeping through you jostling him around just to get in some final pictures before you leave town.
Xmas this year will be fun.  I’m home for 2.5 weeks and I get to play w/ the little munchkins the entire time!  Little Jasmine will get to play with her baby cousin.  I was able to escape diaper changing duties this time around, but something tells me I won’t be able to in December unless Vincent’s mom is willing to change both babies diapers.  =)