Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Naughty Blogger

So November was a really crazy busy month, and Santa knows I have been a naughty blogger. But my problem lies in the ongoing dilemma of lack of time, not so much lack of things to talk about. Between my mom's heart attack, my long-awaited promotion at work, Mike's hospital visits and a transforming toddler... my Christmas wish this year is for some kind of technology that would translate my dreams into blogs so I can do it my sleep!

Until then, I do want to share our Christmas photos this year. I didn't have time to set up the backdrop in the dining room this time around, and of course, trying to take our own family photo just wasn't in the equation... so I had to break down and let someone else take them.

I'll post more soon, I promise!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ten Things I Learned After Slamming My Thumb in the Elantra Door

If you ever slam your finger in the door and your nail is turning purple and it feels like your finger is going to explode from the throbbing pain (also medically known as subungual hematoma):

1) Don't let anyone see you cry or frown, because they'll just call you a pansy [or tell you to suck it up] for bitching about a finger... even though you've survived boot camp, given birth, and jump out of airplanes for a hobby.

2) Be careful with accepting screws from strangers to use to drill into your nail to relieve the pressure, even though after hours of excruciating pain, drilling and squeezing out blood is about the only thing that makes sense. Don't let your spouse drill it either, I found they tend to be a little more forthcoming with ignoring your pain signals.

3) Just smile and try your hardest not to growl when everyone hovers around your black nail and say things like "your nail's gonna fall off" or "everyone's done it" because they're probably just trying to be polite by seeming concerned.

4) The top segments of your finger–the miscreants that got in the way of that car door–won't stop throbbing for at least 2 hours. And then it'll start to tingle in a horribly painful way for another couple of hours after that, more if you managed to break/fracture it. And then any time you bump them or brush against anything, a new shot of pain goes through you and you go about your day looking constipated and mad at the world.

5) You could go to the emergency room, wait 4 hours to get an xray and then have a resident-in-training tell you to take an aspirin and sleep it off. OR you could do what I did and walked to the nearest pharmacy for a splint, tape and a bottle of extra strength tylenol.

6) When you're in that much pain and are willing to try alternate treatments, be prepared for any unknown allergic reactions. After a long day of uncomfort, I took a nurse's advice to soak my hand in Epsom Salt (appears to be a natural remedy here in West Virginia), which I only found (the hard way) that I'm allergic to sulphur. So I spent the whole night itching and discovering hives on my face and neck. It's a good thing I didn't opt to take a bath in it or I might've just made that trip to the emergency room anyway.

7) You will learn quickly how much you take your thumb for granted when you can't even do simple tasks like squeezing the shampoo bottle, turning the ignition on, writing a check for daycare, or buttoning/unbuttoning your pants: which can make things really awkward in the bathroom (be extra careful not to stumble in a porter potty like I did).

8) You become thankful that you don't play the guitar for a living. But you also wish your job didn't entail so much time on the keyboard and mouse. The rest of the fingers just have to work double-time.

9) 2-year-olds don't quite get the concept of mommy having a "boo-boo", but they do give the BEST healing kisses.

10) Don't ask anyone to play thumb war, even if you are just kidding.

PS. One of the hidden perks of working with the Dept of Health is that it's easy to "run into" people who will give you free medical advice. I showed my finger to an RN and she said it doesn't "look" broken since it's not crooked, but the swelling might suggest that I fractured the tip of the bone (which I'm very familiar with), in which case they can't do anything for you but immobilize it anyway. Prescription: Ice it every 20 minutes and take motrin. Ha. Saved a 4-hour trip to the ER.

Splinting doesn't sound like a bad idea at all either, especially since my right hand keeps forgetting NOT to use my thumb for the space bar.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Farewell Bob

Bob the Fish passed away peacefully and went to heaven on Wednesday, October 3, 2007. He died of natural causes.

He was 2 1/2 years old, and a Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta Splenden).

Although very little is known about Bob's early months, there have been rumours of his involvement in international espionage as an aquatic courier, and an illegal smuggler in the borders of Mexico. He lived in Southern California where he was adopted as the "centerpiece master" for a gorgeous wedding reception. He later on moved to West Virginia to be with his family.

Bob was an adventurous finned fellow who enjoyed taking cross-country trips and swimming in figure-8's. His favorite pastime was staring at himself in the reflection of his 2-gallon tank and wiggling to the tune of the spinning dishwasher.

He is survived by his loving family, Anne, Mike, and Ethan.

Bob, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but you are one and unique. You will be missed!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Our Angel on the Ground

Here's our angel waiting on the ground while mommy and daddy fly...

Ethan's getting his own lessons for the perfect "freefalling arch"...

When Finlays Fly

This blog is exactly a month late, mostly because we've been waiting for our jump photos to come in (and partly because I haven't had much time to). But our photos/videos finally came in today... and I just had to share!

Rewind to September 1: We did out first jump (yes, I said first) to celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary. There's nothing more romantic than checking insurance benefits and custody sections on our wills before renouncing our love to a camera strapped on someone's helmet. Mike decided to surprise me, so I didn't actually know we were skydiving until we got to the drop zone (maybe he thought I was going to chicken out?)

I watched the video, got a couple of lessons from my jumpmaster Phil and got strapped into a harness. I thought about calling my mom, but decided to hold off until after I landed so I could at least say "Don't worry, I'm alive".

I started to get a little anxious watching my altimeter on the long way up--

4,000 feet....

6,000 feet...

9,000 feet... civilization only kept getting smaller.

Then at 11,000 feet, my videographer Jay swung that door open and for a split second, a tiny hint of "oh shit" hit me like a bag of rocks and stepping out off that perfectly good plane seemed crazier than it did from ground level. I took a nice, cold breath of air, staggered to the door attached to Phil, and took the plunge... freefalling for 60 seconds at 120 miles per hour. The wind noise was deafening and I was on complete sensory overload, but I remember making sure I don't forget give the camera a thumbs up. Hell yeah, I was flying and there's no other feeling like it. It’s exciting, exhilarating, daring, nervy, demanding – better than any other kind of rush I've ever had.

Freefalling from 11,000 feet above the ground...

This ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just after our chute deployed....

LOVE the shot of the plane in the back...

Mike's freefall...

Spectacular views...

At around 6,000 feet, Phil led my hand to the knob and I pulled the chute (saving both our lives). The deceleration slammed us on our straps and we soard for another 5 minutes or so before landing. Phil tried to let me stir, but with over 300 lbs and a canopy big enough to carry a duo, I pretty much just sat back, enjoyed the ride and lifted my feet when it was time to touch down.

We're blaming the adrenaline rush for the cheesy thumbs ups...

Fast forward to this past Saturday: Mike and I made our first static line jumps --where as soon as we jumped off the plane, our chutes automatically opened. We spent the first half of the day being force fed information about skydiving: how to open my chute, how to tell if I have a good canopy, how to identify a bad one, what to do if one of the 13 different things that can go wrong goes wrong, how to fly it, how to find the landing spot, how to land it, and how to anticipate and prepare for a bad landing. After a couple hours of ground class, not really sure if I got it all or not, we were on a plane again.... but this time, going solo.

Jump #2 wasn't as friendly to me as the first though. While I managed to stir the canopy back to the airport and landed without broken bones, I did hit a small snag spinning out of the plane and came home with a nasty ropeburn (from the strap of the chute) as a souveneir. They did say there were risks, right? ;)

My little boo boo...

But as you'd probably guessed, it wouldn't be my last. We're hoping to be licensed skydivers by the time we move back to California. How's that for a couple's activity? :)

My mom thinks we should've taken up ballroom dancing instead...... on one of our last conversations, she said "You're the craziest mom I know", which I'll gladly take as a huge compliment.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wild Child

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My Life in Bullet Points

If you are reading this and thinking "It's about time!", THANK YOU for sticking with me. It's been a crazy past couple of weeks, and I have tons to update you on, so here are my life updates in bullet points:
  • Within the next two weeks, I should find out whether or not I'll be quitting my job. You could say I'm a little stressed about that. I interviewed for a position that I've been filling (and busting my balls) for the past 6 months -- which should be a "gimme", really -- but if for some reason they decide to hire someone else, I have no choice but to quit for principle. And that would royally suck.

  • Mike and I officially marked our 2-year anniversary on September 10th. We celebrated last weekend "Ethan-free" with jumping out of airplanes (I'll blog about that separately when I get the photos), kayaking, rock concerts and lots of........... eating out! My, my, what dirty minds you have. Oh ya, and Mike scored additional brownie points by sending me a dozen red roses at work!

  • Ethan had his ear appointment 2 weeks ago. He still failed a few frequencies, but the ENT specialist felt that the risks of sedated testing far outweighs the chances that he has any hearing loss from all the ear infections he had from last winter/spring. So we're watching him closely for the next couple of weeks and deciding if we are going ahead with the sedated testing.

  • My Calculus grade hasn't been posted yet, so I don't even know if I passed the darn class. I've never prayed harder for a C in my entire life. Regardless, I'm planning on taking another class starting next month, which, by God's grace, would only make me one class closer to finally graduating.

  • Wedding season is almost over, and I couldn't be any more relieved. As much as I love the whole wedding saga, what started out as a hobby has ultimately become a second full-time job (third, if you count motherhood as the first) and it does take its toll on you after a while. I'll be hanging up my lenses (commercially anyway -- I don't think I can stop taking photos entirely!) after my last wedding in October, so I can concentrate on planning for our much anticipated move in the Spring.

  • Mike's seizures have decreased some but are far from being considered "controlled". We are consulting with an epilepsy specialist at John Hopkins Hospital in Maryland at the end of the month, but it's a little nerve-wrecking to carry any pre-dispositions or hopeful notions especially what happened after our last trip to the hospital. Please keep us in your prayers.

  • We just had the Family Picnic (for Mike's unit) this past weekend, which I had been planning the past couple of months. There's a basketball fundraising that I'll be engulfed in until it's over (it's scheduled for next month), and I can't believe I need to start planning for the Christmas Party already!

  • I have accepted a virtual volunteer position as a Media Designer for an organization called Youth Technology and Education Center. YTEC is a center in Missouri that provides children after-school activities, programs, and mentoring, among others. My job is to design all their media and promotional materials... and everything is done online. My first deadline is in 2 weeks, and I'm super excited to be able to get back to volunteerism!

So that's it for now! I'll leave you with some photos I snapped yesterday from the front yard. I promise I'll try to do better! :)

More exciting news:

* My mom and my sister are taking belly dancing lessons..... Watch out Shakira!

* There must be something in the water, because two of my bridesmaids and my sis-in-law are all PREGGERS!!! Congrats!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mission: Potty Training

I always said Mike would have to take the lead in potty training Ethan. I may have grown up in a third world country, and my years in the Army may have trained me to deal with not-so-favorable "potty" conditions... but I know squat about the first thing in teaching someone how to "point and shoot" -- although I understand the cheerio-target-practice might come much later.

We introduced his potty chair about 2 weeks ago. We put it right next to the toilet in the upstairs bathroom, and he knows what it is because he goes and sits on it everytime we say the word "potty". Every time he poops, he points at his butt. He just turned 19 months, but we figured it's probably never too early to introduce him to the concept.

We encourage him to sit on it before his baths and sometimes in the mornings before changing for daycare... he even pretends to flush after he gets up from it. Do we think he's ready? Hardly. I've heard of miraculous "trainers" getting the job done in a week -- someone at work had even suggested me taking a week off to potty train him. Frankly, I think he'll do it when he's ready. Right now, we just take it day by day... even if that song on his potty is super annoying.

At least my boy knows how to wipe! :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rooms that go Vroom Vroom

I'm happy to report that since we evicted Ethan (and his big boy racecar bed) from our room, he's done immaculately well in his newly transformed room! The crib is officially dismantled and tuck safely away and so help me, there is not a SINGLE trace of Winnie the Pooh in the room!!! YES!!!

Choosing the transportation theme was a breeze since I had already purchased the racecar bed. Although a sports fanatic by default (Ethan, not me), it didn't make sense for me to try to decorate balls around a car. But since we can't paint the walls, figuring out a way to "brighten" up the room (without giving Mike a heart attack) was a little trickier than I thought. Turns out that the only wall-friendly stick-ons they have are all Disney or Thomas and Friends or some other character that Ethan will probably get sick of in a month or so. I really wanted to keep it neutral -- I'm thinking... basic pallettes with cars, planes and trains that don't have eyes and ears. And this is what I came up with...

On one wall, I hung up three square canvas paintings. I had bought it a long, long time ago before I bought anything else, so it kind of became my starting point and my inspiration for the light blue border. I shied away from the checkered flag and instead went for a basic dusty blue removable border that I striped across the middle of the room to break up the boring eggshell white color. Then I used wall appliques of different types of cars and trucks that I found at Target to add some *pop* to the border. I bought the STOP and GO signs from a local teacher store (they have FABULOUS stuff for room decorations if anyone's in the market for it).

To try to alleviate our storage problem, we bought a cubical storage system and put canvas storage bins for half of it which actually worked out well. Small toys go in the bins, and I put the larger ones, including books (at least ones that he can't tear) in the open cubes. I put it right next to his toybox, so he knows that that's the side where we put away everything after we're done playing. Of course, there's the infamous city rug, although I haven't seen Ethan play pretend with his cars on it.

Above that are two shelves that we originally put for the nursery. I haven't gotten around to painting the actual shelves white to match the ones below. But I did put the caricature we had done of Ethan when we took a trip to the San Diego Zoo on there.

But his two most favorite spots in the room are his rocking chair and his foldout "couch". Just look at him lounge!

The room's not entirely done... there's a bare wall that I'm planning on hanging some photo collages on, and I'm still in search of some nice planes I could hang from the ceiling.

If skies were the limit, I would've painted a mural on the wall with roads and cars and planes flying overhead... but that might be another project down the road. For now, Ethan loves waking up in his racecar bed and sitting up to watch the cars and trucks along the wall (although when he says it, it sounds more like "cocks"). The best part of re-decorating the room is? I did it for under $200!!! hehe... my hubby is so proud....

Saturday, August 04, 2007

To Cut or Not to Cut?

Army regulations on hair grooming says:

"The hair on top of the head will be neatly groomed. The length and bulk of the hair will not be excessive or present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. Hair will present a tapered appearance and, when combed, will not fall over the ears or eyebrows or touch the collar, except for the closely cut hair at the back of the neck. The block cut fullness in the back is permitted in moderate degree as long as the tapered look is maintained."

That means Ethan is out of regulation... that is, according to his dad.

I personally want to grow his hair out, I think it would be really cute. I mean, I'm not talking shaggy-looking... but I don't want him to have a crew cut for the rest of his life either.


There's a debate in the house whether we should or should not take him to get his usual trim. Thoughts anyone?

Friday, August 03, 2007


After the recent debacle at the Mexican restaurant, I was convinced that we wouldn't be taking our "fun-spirited" toddler -- a name they had dubbed him at daycare -- anywhere public anytime soon. Of course, we completely forgot about that when we decided to take Ethan out for a family fun excursion last weekend.

First stop, the Charleston Ribfest.

My expectations weren't high, but I was curious so we checked it out. They had the usual rusted carnival rides and over-priced games, but my favorite part was when a midget-attendant (he really was a "small person", about an inch taller than Ethan) tried to pursuade my son to fish for a toy shark in a blow up pool. I had better ideas to spend $3 than that, but the attendant insisted and almost forcefully tried to put the fishing pole on Ethan's hands. Well, my little socialite wasn't about to be forced to do anything... so he threw the fishing pole as hard as he could and screamed like there was no tomorrow. I wish I had taken a photo of the attendant's face after that....

I have to say after paying a ridiculous entrance fee and a ridiculous price for a rib platter, I wasn't very impressed. My mood might've been skewed a little when we got in the mud-infested "paid area" (definitely not stroller-friendly). It became a chore just finding a place to sit without sinking. I thought the consolation would be the great food (especially for what they charge you for), but it really wasn't all that moving either.

So after a disappointing lunch and a quick ride on the circling elephants, we left in search for something else better to do. (I have to say, the best part for Mike might've been when I wrongfully directed him to use the ATM in a stripclub across the parking lot -- ironically, I didn't pay attention that the building had a sign that said "Mike's Fun Place").

Next stop, the matinee.

Now, I don't know what the general rule of thumb is for bringing toddlers to the movies, but I've heard that most theatres allow the little-little ones in the matinees. And we were hoping that if Ethan would sit through anything (other than the Wiggles)... it would be the Simpsons. So we made sure we had the essentials in hand -- sippy cup, pacifier, bag of M&Ms, and a whole lot of guts -- and bought tickets to a 4:00 showing. Of course, we forgot that it was opening weekend and the theatre was packed. Ethan actually did really well for 2/3 of the movie.. he laughed when everyone laughed, blurted a couple of "uh-ohs" whenever Bart got hurt, clapped when everyone clapped. We were optimistic he would actually make it through, but slowly became less tolerant of sitting still and wanted to wander around and touch people's heads. Before I started to get sneers, I took him to the side and we watched the rest of the movie near the exit (missing a shoe).

Overall, we had a fun-filled afternoon.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Starting them young

According to an article from Sports Illustrated, this is how much a professional athlete makes on average:

Basketball (NBA) -- $5,000,000
Baseball (MLB) -- $2,800,000
Football (NFL) -- $1,750,000
Hockey (NHL) -- $1,500,000
Men's Golf -- $973,495
Women's Tennis -- $345,000
Men's Tennis -- $260,000
Women's Golf -- $162,043

My thoughts:

1. I wish I were 7 feet tall, semi-coordinated, and can dunk for $5 million a season.

2. These are supposedly just based on salaries, and not endorsements -- which makes me hate them even more.

3. Yes, the careers of professional athletes are short. But if you manage your money properly, even 2-3 years in the higher-end sports can set you up for life.

4. I believe some talents can be innate, but most have to be honed from a young age.

Exhibit A:

We're training him young. Kid's got a good eye. Between basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, soccer and football... I say his chances are as good as any.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Working Cowgirl

The boss decided that it would be a good idea to take us away from the office for a couple days, rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere West Virginia, make us wear cowgirl hats and expect us to be productive. There's nothing like mandatory extra work disguised as a fun activity.

Frankly, I think it was rather ingenious. No civilization + no phones + no internet access = no office distraction. Closest distraction we had were the goats and cows who were grazing in front of our lodge.

For what it's worth, I appreciated the "time away", as short as it was. Uninterupted sleep... adult female conversations... a cold glass of Jack and punch... and guilt-free half hour dip in the jacuzzi --- luxuries I don't get to have often. So it was nice. But now it's back to the cubicle and a whole year's worth of work crammed into 30 days.

Yeee haw.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Heart my Inlaws!

A lot of people don't get to say that proudly, so I know I've been really blessed. They've welcomed me to their family since day 1 -- in fact, my mother-in-law professes that she "picked me" for Mike the first day they met me which was the day we left for deployment in Bosnia. Today, they treat me as if I were the real daughter they never had, and I can't be any more thankful for that.

I don't know what we would do without them here. We don't exactly live next door to each other, but the long drives make it worthwhile. Most times, we drive up to Cleveland when Mike and I need a break and want to take time to ourselves. My inlaws never complain about being the default babysitter. On the contrary, I think they wish we would need them to babysit more. So last weekend, they came (yet again) to the rescue and babysat while I shot a wedding and Mike went to training. We could've gotten a sitter, but they insisted to come spend time with Ethan which was even better.

While they were here, they took us to the Putnam County Fair which actually turned out a lot funner than I thought. Of course, Ethan was only 6 months old when we took him last year, which far limited us from trully enjoying all aspects of a fair. This year, we made sure we made most of the entrance fee! :)

Ethan finally enjoyed a round of carousel...

He even got to play with the ducks...

He enjoyed freshly squeezed lemonade...

And got to play in the jumper after the rides...

Look Papi, Look Gramma... I can jump!!

Here's Ethan watching the tractor pull with Papi...

Mike and Mom on a ridiculously spinning ride I would never get on...


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