Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lost and Found

Yesterday, we celebrated Jeremy's grandma's 92nd birthday at Oriental Century Palace at Sheppard and Brimley in Scarborough.  At about 8:15pm, Jeremy discovered that he lost his brand new Samsung Galaxy S2 phone that he had just bought a few weeks ago.  He had it in the restaurant earlier and the only place he went to was the men's washroom with our son.  We looked everywhere, under the tables and chairs, he retraced his footsteps to the washroom, we asked the staff if anyone had seen it, we kept on calling it.  Nothing.

Throughout the evening, Jeremy was able to track the phone with the GPS and the phone's hotspot which indicated that the phone was still in the restaurant.  He waited until all the customers had left and the signal was still the strongest close to the kitchen and washroom areas.  There were 2 kitchen staff washing dishes and when Jeremy asked them if they saw a phone, they didn't fess up.  But by 11:30pm, the signal got weak which meant that the phone had left the building.  He was still able to track the GPS signal and saw that the phone moved to Sheppard and Markham Road area.  He came home sans phone and we both thought that the chances were slim that we would get the phone back.

I wasn't able to sleep very well and woke up with a massive headache at 5am.  After breakfast, we went (with both kids in tow) back to the restaurant.  I told the manager that we are suspecting one of his staff took the phone because of how the signal got weak after all the customers had left and the phone moved locations.  He took offense to me accusing his staff without any hard evidence and told me to report it to the police.  He said his staff are honest people, even returning thousands of dollars in cash to a customer once.  He told me that there's closed circuit cameras and I was welcome to view it but I had to wait until the owner came in and he didn't know when she would be in.  I asked him to call her and the owner said she would be back in 45 minutes.  So we waited.  In the mean time, the same manager gave us tea and a plate of cookies for Keith which I thought was really nice, considering the circumstances.

When the owner came in, she was at first reluctant but she became more cooperative.  She asked her daughter to set up the footage for us to watch.  We watched for about 15 minutes and saw the footage of Jeremy and Keith walking past the backdoor to the bathroom.  To our surprise, the next piece of footage was minutes later when the kitchen dishwasher walked past holding a phone that looked like Jeremy's with a white case!

Here's a screen shot of the phone clearly in view
A close-up of the same shot






We couldn't believe it.  It's a miracle that the video caught her in the act.  The manager took a look at the video and went inside to talk to the woman.  A few minutes later, he came out with the good news that she is going to get us our phone.

When she came in with our phone, 'she' is a middle aged woman from China, one of the kitchen workers that Jeremy talked to last night.  If I give her the benefit of the doubt, she may not have understood Jeremy's English, broken Chinese and 'phone' hand gestures.  When I asked why she didn't answer the calls, she said she doesn't know how to use the phone which I also believe but it doesn't explain why she didn't tell anyone that she found it in the first place.  The manager then told her that when she finds something, she has to tell someone - this appeared to be a novel concept to her.

In any case, I'm glad we were able to find the phone.  Now I'm ready to ring in the New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life changing moments

Today, I found out two things, both of which are life changing events.  1) A friend of mine gave birth to her 2nd son 5 weeks early yesterday.  2) Another friend of mine is having twins.

When I think about my life pre-kids, I realize how selfish I was.  But then again, what else was i supposed to do?  I didn't have any one else to think about other than myself so selfishness was the only thing to do.  Now that I have kids, I am definitely not totally unselfish but I have learned how to be a little bit less selfish. The responsibility of taking care of my two kids has really given me a new perspective.  Every time I see my kids do something new or even just watching them sleep, I am in awe that these are two intelligent beings, crafted by God, and entrusted to my husband and I.  That's when I feel so unworthy and humbled to be their mother.  I want to raise them up to have a relationship with God and be contributing members of society.  I want to give them my all.  Having kids has changed my life in a way that my selfish pre-kid self could have never imagine.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Weirdest but best Christmas present yet

I asked Jeremy to install cabinet dampers as my Christmas present this year. I bought one set from Ikea and he installed them successfully yesterday. So I went to Ikea to get 9 more sets so he can install them on to all the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Can't wait!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Audrey doll from Pottery Barn Kids

I've been looking for a doll for my daughter. This morning, I received an email from Pottery Barn Canada telling me that there's a 20% off sale on all dolls in-store. So I convinced my husband to drive me to Yorkdale during my lunch hour because I knew it was going to be impossible to find a parking spot. As he circled in the parking lot with the kids in the car, I braved the crowds and went into Yorkdale in hopes to get the Audrey doll from Pottery Barn. I was so disappointed to find out that not only was the Audrey doll not in-stock, it doesn't look like any other store has one and the sales associate told me that it looks like it's being discontinued because she wasn't able to see when they would have another shipment. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can get the Audrey doll, please let me know!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hair cut

My son has come a long way when it comes to getting his hair cut.  When we took him for his first few hair cuts, he would cry like we were torturing him.  He is now 4 years old and today, I took him for a hair cut and I was so proud of him.  He told the hair dresser he wanted "#2 on the top and #1 around the edges".  He even made small talk with the hair dresser.  Here's how the conversation went:

Keith: You know, when I was a baby, I used to cry when I got my hair cut
Hairdresser: Oh, how long ago was that?  2 years?
Keith: Ummm, no.  I think it was 21 years ago.

My little boy is becoming a big boy.  It's incredible.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Toy kitchen or doll house?

It's funny how your perspective changes once you become a parent.  I detest clutter so I used to be very anti-toys.  I think I'm still anti-toys but recently, I've been thinking about buying either a dollhouse or a kitchen for my daughter.  I feel bad for her because she doesn't really have girly toys to play with.  She is constantly playing with my son's Hot Wheels cars.  Not that there's anything wrong with girls playing with cars but I don't want to deprive her of playing with dolls and house either.  It's such a difficult decision because buying a toy kitchen or doll house means that I'm committing to another piece of furniture in the house which will take up space in my living room.  Maybe I'll start small and just buy a tea set or a doll for now so I don't have to make such a big commitment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm done

I think I'm finally done breastfeeding.  Since going back to work, I have still been nursing my daughter before she goes to bed.  Tonight, I decided to give her some milk in a sippy cup.  She drank about half of it and then went to bed.  I'm a bit sad but mostly satisfied and relieved that it's finally over.  I thought I was done with breastfeeding about 2 months ago.  It has taken this long to wean and finally give it up altogether. I'm now ready to move on.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Going back to work

It's inevitable.  I'm going back to work next Monday.  I've had 13 months off so I guess it's about time.  Lately, I have been having dreams about work.  They are not nightmares but the mere fact that I am having dreams is probably not good.  On the bright side, I do look forward to getting a paycheque again and I also look forward to having a bit of a routine again too.  I even have all these ambitious goals like eating better and exercising more when I go back to work.  I want to start running again and maybe even walk/run or bike to work as long as there is no snow.  I need to buy a new pair of runners and sign up for a race next year.  We'll see how long I can keep this up.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Trick or Treating!"

I took my son trick or treating for the first time last night.  In previous years, we have always been busy with organizing the Halloween alternative program at church so we never have been able to go.  Last night, my husband handed out packages of candy + gospel tracts to trick-or-treaters while I took my son (dressed up as a pirate) and daughter (as a fairy) around our block.  The tracts are my way of justifying our participation in this pagan festival, but I digress.

At the first few doors, instead of ringing the doorbell and saying "trick or treat!", my son rang the door bell and said "trick or treating!".  I had to correct him a few times before he got it right.  That was kind of funny.  It reminded me of how much I have to teach him as he encounters new situations as he grows up.

Even though only about half of the houses on our street gave out candy, we came home with a bag full of loot.  Now I don't know what to do with all the candy because I don't want my son to eat it and I don't want to eat it either.  I wonder if we can save it for next year's Halloween?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I love to vacation

We've been going on vacation after vacation this year since both my husband and I are not working.  I feel like we are finally catching up on all the years of not being able to go on vacation.  Our year of vacation started in March when we went to Florida for 1 week with another family with young kids.  Then we went to San Diego, LA, and Las Vegas in June for 3 weeks.  We rented a cottage in Muskoka for the Canada Day long weekend and it was the first time we vacationed with my inlaws.  In August, my sister came to visit us from Hong Kong with her family and another family.  We did a road trip to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Niagara Falls.  After the road trip, we went to the Muskoka cottage again with our small group over Labour Day long weekend.  So far, the highlight of all our trips was Hong Kong in Sept where, during the 1 month that we were there, we celebrated both my kid's birthdays and our wedding anniversary.  We even took a side trip to Macau for a weekend.

You would think that I'm all vacationed out but we still have a few more vacation plans.  We will be going to Guelph to visit friends and we've also booked a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge for November.  Finally, we are looking to book an all-inclusive vacation for the winter.  I can't wait!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chinese School

As a child, I attended Chinese school begrudgingly until I was in highschool.  I swore I would never put my children through the same torture.  But now, as a parent, I am choosing to do just that.  This past week, my son started Mandarin class in an after school program at his school.  My rationale for wanting him to learn Mandarin:
- I believe that learning a second language, any second language, helps a person to be more creative and intelligent because they learn that there is more than one way to solve problems and express themselves.
- I want my children to learn Chinese because that's their heritage.
- I want my children to learn Mandarin even though I speak Cantonese because everyone says Mandarin may become a dominant language globally in the future.

When I first dropped him off into the Mandarin class, I felt a bit nervous because it was a huge class of about 20 JK/SK kids.  I think my nervousness rubbed off and my son was also hesitant as he walked into the class and I could see that he was on the verge of tears.  But he was a very brave boy and sat down on the carpet to join the other kids.  I felt better when there were other kids there who were from his JK/SK class at school who were calling out his name which gave him encouragement to join them.  After class, I went to pick him up and he was in good spirits.  I was relieved that my son seemed to have a good time.  I was so proud of him when he learned how to say "yi" and "er" (one and two).  He even brought home a workbook where he learned to write "yi" and "er".  I was so impressed!  If he keeps his up, he will learn over 50 charaters by the end of this school year.  I'm happy with that.

Friday, September 30, 2011

More milestones

My daughter is almost one year old.  This week, she continues to amaze us with more 'firsts':
- learned to sign "all done" (it's so cute watching her tiny hands pivot on her little wrists)
- started to wave hello (and goodbye)
- learned to feed herself little bits of finger food (like bits of bread)
- started to get her two upper front teeth (she only has 2 lower front teeth so far)
- learned to play "peekaboo" using a napkin

Friends with "benefits" - not that kind of benefit

We are truly thankful for many friends in our lives.  Aside from the pure friendship and support our friends offer, we often rely on our friends for many practical favours.  Just for this HK trip alone, many friends have helped us in various ways.  For example, we got an amazing place to stay, we borrowed an appropriate stroller, we got discount tickets for both Disneyland and Ocean Park, and we have gone to fancy, members-only, places to eat and play.   We can only hope that, someday, we can return the favour.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

8 year wedding anniversary

Today we celebrated our 8-year wedding anniversary by circumnavigating Hong Kong Island on a yacht.  We visited the largely uninhabited Tung Lung Island and hiked to many beautiful scenic points.  What a special day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Milestones

It seems like my daughter just had a growth spurt.  Over the past 2 weeks, she's been more interactive than ever.  She learned how to clap while we were at the cottage in early Sept and can now clap on command.  She can also sign 'milk' which my son was never able to do.  She smiles when we smile at her and she plays with us by tilting her head or sticking her tongue out.  Her crawling has improved; she is fast and is no longer gimpy with her right leg.  This past week, she has been pulling herself up and standing.  She even took a few steps with assistance.  I wonder if she'll start to walk while we are in Hong Kong, just like my son did when he was 11.5 months.

15 hours

We decided last minute to take a vacation to Hong Kong to visit my family.  I was dreading the 15 hour flight but it wasn't too bad.  My daughter slept for 1 hour in the beginning, was awake for 6 hours, then slept another 1 hour, was awake for 4 hours, then slept the rest of the 3 hours.  My son slept about 6 hours on the floor.  I was able to watch some movies: Something Borrowed (okay), Kung Fu Panda 2 (okay but only watched 20 minutes), Midnight in Paris (bad), Fast Five (good), X-Men (good).

The food on Air Canada was gross but we were able to manage the space situation by ordering special meals for me and my son so our meals came before the regular meal service.  That meant when my food came, my husband was able to carry our daughter and vice versa.  It worked out much better than last time when we traveled with my 11-month old son and both our meals came at the same time but one of us was not able to eat because there was not enough space for 2 trays of food and holding the baby.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

5 kids 3 parents 2 weeks

My sister, her 2 daughters, and her friend's daughter is staying with
us for 2 weeks. The kids are generally good but they each have very
different personalities. 'A' is 9 years old and is constantly testing
boundaries. She often wants to be first, be the best, and wants her
way for everything. 'P' is also 9 years old. She is legalistic and
will follow rules to a T but will also call others out when they break
rules. She will not initiate but will follow others. 'B' is 7 years
old and is the quiet one. She is observant and very pensive. She
uses her words sparingly and is slow to react.

With this combination, my sister and I have had to be hardcore
disciplinarian to A and P. Usually, it's when A pushes the boundaries
or when P displays bad attitude or when they are fighting over
something 'unfair'.

After days of constantly asking them to share, to not fight over
things, etc, I saw a few glimpses of hope:

1. When P wanted to sit in the front of the rollercoaster, A didn't
complain even though she really wanted to. Right before they got on, P
asked if A wanted to sit in the front, A said yes and P let her sit in
front.

2. When they were all given a choice of 5 flavors of hand sanitizers,
A let P choose first.

Even though they will inevitably revert back to their personalities, I
am glad to see that they have demonstrated the ability and
willingness to improve their behaviour.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The last man standing

Last week, I got food poisoning and was in the ER for 7 hours and in bed for 2 days.  Then my daughter got a fever over the weekend.  She got better yesterday but today, she woke up with rashes all over her face which spread to her entire little body by early afternoon - poor thing.  The doctor took one look at her and said it is just roseola.  Thank God.  My husband is also sick with a cough and flu-like symptoms.  My son is the last man (or boy) standing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recycling

I just sold the following on kijiji to subsidize my new camera purchase:
- Graco Stroller frame $30
- Ikea Coat rack $20
- Combi stroller $34

yay!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Easy homemade baby food

Here are some of the baby foods that I have been feeding my daughter:

No cook:
- Avocado - Peel and mash with fork or puree in food processor.
- Banana - Peel and mash with fork.
- Mango - Peel, cut into chunks, and puree in food processor.
- Canned beans - Drain and puree in food processor.
- Canned chickpeas - Drain and puree in food processor.
- Hard cheese - grate or cut into small pieces.

Microwave: Add enough water to cover.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Puree in food processor.  Add baby cereal to thicken if desired.
- Frozen peas
- Grated zucchini
- Blueberries

Roasted: Roast in the oven at 350C until soft.  Mash with fork or puree in food processor.
- Sweet Potato - 60 minutes
- Potato - 60 minutes

Steamed: Peel and cut into pieces.  Steam for 30 minutes.  Puree in food processor with some of the cooking liquid if needed.  Add baby cereal to thicken if desired.
- Apples
- Pears
- Green beans
- Sugar snap peas
- Carrots

Boiled: Boil for 15 minutes.  Mash with fork or puree in food processor with some of the cooking liquid.  Add baby cereal to thicken if desired.
- Egg yolk from hard boiled egg
- Chicken
- Fish
- Beef
- Pork
- Lentils
- Rice
- Oatmeal

Church-hopping

Here are a few criteria I am looking for in our new church.

Must haves: sound doctrine
Nice to haves: parking, children's program, anonymity, later service time

So far, the three churches we have visited have all only met 4 out of the 5 criteria.
- The Peoples Church has no parking
- The Meeting House has no anonymity
- Faith Church doesn't have a children's program

The church-hopping continues...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Amazing cottage weekend

We just came back from a 4-day long weekend in Muskoka.  This was the first time that we vacationed with my in-laws and it turned out to be a fantastic weekend.

Two weeks ago, my father-in-law said he wanted to go somewhere for Canada Day long weekend but hadn't booked anything so my husband asked me to book something.  I was doubtful that I would be able to find something for the 7 of us but I ended up stumbling upon a 3-bedroom chalet that ended up to be perfect.  The place was called Lakeshore Marina & Chalet.  There was something for all of us to do.  My father-in-law went fishing (we even ate a few fish that he caught!), my mother-in-law enjoyed sitting by the lake and didn't have to cook, my sister-in-law got to paddle boat and kayak and play with the kids, my husband and I got to swim together (we got pulled over by OPP when we were kayaking because I didn't have a life jacket and we saw a huge sea turtle like the ones we saw at Seaworld), my son got to play in the sandy bottom lake, and my daughter... well, she just needs to eat and sleep.

The best part was that we went as a family.  We didn't have to ask for permission.  We didn't have to find coverage.  We just went.  Amazing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our first Sabbath

This morning, I got up and leisurely had breakfast with my kids.  After breakfast, my husband and I walked with our kids to Peoples' Church for the 11:30am service.  We dropped off the kids at their respective children's programs and attended the entire service from start to finish without interruption.  We even had Holy Communion together.  After the service, we walked to Bayview Village and enjoyed brunch at Oliver & Bonacini as a family.  After brunch, we did a bit of grocery shopping at Loblaws.  Then, we went home and I took a nap with my daughter while my husband took my son to the driving range.  When they came back, we had dinner enjoyed the rest of the evening at home together as a family.

Wow, I can get used to this.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Buffet at Bellagio

It was my first time at The Buffet and it was a feast! I had smoked salmon, steak tartar, ahi tuna tartar, Sushi, quail, snow crab legs, king crab legs, Chilean seabass, Salmon, swordfish, leg of lamb, Kobe beef, prime rib, and some vegetables.

For dessert, we shared chocolate covered strawberries, tiramisu, creme brûlée, key lime tart, cheesecake, chocolate cake, white nutella cones, almond creme macaroons, lemon meringue tart, and another creme brûlée.

Keith enjoyed the smoked salmon, quail, pizza, and bread. He had a few squares of chocolate that was part of our desserts.

Even Ainsley ate. She had her first table food ever. She ate mashed potato, mashed sweet potato and sword fish. Only the best for my little princess!

We'll all go on a diet when we get home.

Monday, June 13, 2011

San Diego

Although it is not as hot as I thought it would be, the weather is really nice in San Diego.  It gets hot during the day but then it gets really cool at night like someone turned on the air conditioning.

So far, we've been to Legoland and SeaWorld.  We bought a "5-day for the price of 1" pass for Legoland (online only) and a "7-day for the price of 1" pass for SeaWorld (with CAA discount).  We were at Legoland for 4 days and SeaWorld for 2 days. I realize that, with young kids, it's really hard to rush them through a big theme park.  Because we had multi-day passes, we were able to do the parks at an easy pace.  If we only had 1-day admissions, we would not have been able to do everything in the park.

We also went to the USS Midway which is rated the #1 attraction in San Diego on Tripadvisor.  We spent 4 hours there and it was worth it.  There were lots of planes and helicopters on display, a free audio tour that explained over 60 stops on the tour, and simulation rides for additional cost (my husband did every one of them).

We are off to see the world famous San Diego Zoo today.  We'll see if it lives up to its reputation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Me at Legoland

Keith gets a driver's license

My 3.5 year old son had so much fun at Legoland. So much to do there.  It's definitely a park designed for younger children. We also went to SeaLife and saw fish, sharks, stingrays, octopus, and a really funny puppet show. We are going back again for the waterpark. It looked like a lot Of fun. Hope the weather is nice.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My daughter is mobile...sort of

My daughter started rolling from back to front earlier this week.  She has been trying to do it for some time now.  Every time she looked like she was close to doing it, I would get my video camera ready to try to capture the first time.  However, whenever I had my camera ready, she would stop trying.  So the first time she really did it, I wasn't even there to witness it because she was in her crib.  I just went into her room one morning and there she was, in her crib, doing the "cobra pose".

Yesterday, we were at a friend's house for a playdate.  I put her down at one end of the playmat and went to get something to eat.  By the time I went back, she had "traveled" to the middle of the playmat by rolling back to front and front to back.

My daughter is growing up too fast!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Worst product ever

BlueAnt S4 Voice Controlled Car Speakerphone (Black)
My husband bought the Blue Ant S4 hands-free car speaker phone a few months ago. I have hated it since the beginning because this product simply DOESN'T work! Here are the reasons why: 
1. I have an older iPhone (the 3G) and I am not able to make outbound calls with this device. I guess that's more my problem and not theirs but it's annoying nonetheless. 
2. You have to manually turn it off and back on every time you get into the car or else it won't detect your phone. If you don't do that, then you won't be able to receive incoming calls via bluetooth and you are stuck with the archaic, very unsafe, and now illegal-in-Ontario method of manually answering your cellphone while you are driving. 
3. If you forget to turn it off before you leave your car, it will drain the battery very quickly. Seems like whenever I remember to turn the thing on again, the annoying Blueant voice will tell me that its batteries are very low. 
4. The car charger cord that it comes with is so short that it basically doesn't work. We have to take the unit out of the car and into the house to charge it. The result is that most of the time, it just runs out of battery.
For something that costs over a hundred bucks, you think it would work like it's supposed to.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mare-night

The other night, my daughter suddenly started crying in her sleep.  My son said, "She must be having a mare-night."  He means nightmare.  :)

Canada's Wonderland... here we come!

I had always wanted to get either a Toronto Zoo membership or the Canada's Wonderland seasons pass but we have never purchased passes to anything.  The main reason is because my husband always had to work 7 days a week for most of the summer so it wouldn't have been worth it.  This summer will be different.  We'll be spending a lot of time together as a family so we decided on Canada's Wonderland passes.  Buying the passes was very surreal and it almost made me giddy.  I can't believe we're actually going to be able to do stuff that we could never do before.  I don't even like rides but it doesn't matter. I'm going to have a great time with my family, doing whatever it is that normal families do during the summer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Potty training failures and successes

At 3 years and 7 months old, my son is finally making some progress in the potty training department.  He's been pretty good about peeing in the potty as long as we remind him to go.  Even his overnight diapers have been dry.  He had an accident today after swimming because he didn't want to pee at the pool change room and I forgot to take him to pee when we got home.  So he had an accident in the kitchen.  argh.

Yesterday he had a poo accident because he didn't wait long enough for the poo to come out but today, we told him that he would get a popsicle treat if he waited for the poo to come out and he did it!  I'm so proud of him.

I can finally stop buying diapers for him.  What will I do with all the money that I'll save?

Cheap date

Wow... tomorrow, couples in Toronto can go for a really cheap night out with these offers:


  • Milestones: Free Date Night, Order Any Meal and Your Date’s Meal is Free (April 27 Only)

  • Baskin Robbins: $0.31 Scoop Night on April 27th From 5PM to 10PM



  • Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Asian Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

    This Asian Pasta Salad is good for large parties because you can make it a day ahead and it's served cold. This recipe uses a whole bag of pasta (900g) and it makes enough to serve 20+ people.

    Ingredients:
    Spaghetti - 1 bag (900g)
    Red bell peppers, sliced into strips - 2
    Sugar snap peas, trimmed - 3 cups
    Chicken breasts - 4
    Vegetable oil - 4 tbsp
    Sugar - 4 tbsp
    Soy sauce - 2 tbsp
    Fish sauce - 2 tbsp
    Oyster sauce - 2 tbsp
    Hoisin sauce - 2 tbsp
    Rice vinegar - 2 tbsp
    Sesame oil - 2 tbsp

    1. Grill the chicken breasts and let cool for 10 minutes, then slice.
    2. Blanch the sugar snap peas for 1 minute in boiling water and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
    3. Boil the pasta for 10 min (or until al dente) and drain.
    4. Mix the remaining ingredients together and toss into the pasta. Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning as needed.
    5. Chill in the fridge overnight or at least for 4 hours.
    6. Do another taste test and adjust the seasoning as needed before serving.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Great customer service from Best Limo and TeamBuy.ca!

    I recently bought a Best Limo voucher to go to the airport through TeamBuy.ca.  The day before I needed to use the voucher, I called them at 3pm on Sunday afternoon for a 3am Monday morning pick-up.  However, they said they couldn't do it because they need 24-hour advance notice via their website.  In my over 10 years of taking airport limos on both business and personal trips, I have never had to order a limo 24-hours in advance.  Furthermore, the Teambuy voucher didn't specify this in the fine print.  It just had the phone number and address for Best Limo.  So I flipped out at the Best Limo guy on the phone and I immediately emailed TeamBuy.ca to get a refund for the 2 vouchers that I bought.

    I then called another limo company to order a car for 3am the next morning with no problems.  Then, I get a call from Best Limo and the guy said they could arrange for a stretch limo to come pick us up.  At that point, I was unsure if I should trust him as I was travelling with another family who also had a voucher and would also need a pick-up.  That's when he said he could arrange for a stretch limo (which fits 10) to come pick us both up for 2 vouchers.  I called my friend and decided to take a risk.  Best Limo said they would even arrange to send a stretch limo SUV to pick us both up for no extra charge.  So I cancelled my other limo booking and we decided on a back-up plan just in case the Best Limo didn't show up the next morning.

    To make it even more complicated, I get an email from Jess at Teambuy.ca confirming that they would refund the vouchers, no questions asked.  I was very impressed that someone was even working on a Sunday afternoon but I had to email them back to cancel the refund.  After a few back and forth emails and phone calls, Jess was able to cancel the refund.  phew!

    I'm happy to report that the SUV stretch limo showed up the next morning at 2:45am and both families were able to get to the airport right on schedule.


    Nice ride!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    My husband the mind reader?

    The other day, we were at a Japanese AYCE restaurant and, without me telling him, he ordered all the stuff that I like to eat: seaweed salad, vegetable tempura, BBQ beef ribs, and unagi hand roll.  I was impressed that he ordered all this stuff for me but thought this was just because we've been frequenting AYCE restaurants way too much.

    Yesterday, he asked me to bake a cake for some of the staff at work so I did and he brought it to work today.  In my mind, I was thinking, "It would be nice to get a piece of the cake so I can see what it tastes like" but I didn't verbalize it.  When he came home today, he said, "I brought the cake to work and I asked them to save you a piece."

    Wow....either I have a husband that reads minds or I have the best husband in the world!

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Keeping tabs

    I am such a sucker for deals.  Here are all the online deals that I've purchased over the past year.

    Groupon: Laser Hair Removal (4 sessions) - $89
    Wagjag: Family of 4 pass to Fantasy Fair ($55 value) - $20
    Maddeal: Kids Active Zone weekday pass ($7 value) - free
    Groupon: Crepe Delicious ($30 value) - $14
    Teambuy: Limo to the airport ($85 value) - $29
    Kijiji daily deals: Mani Pedi ($65 value) - $25

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Tooth meets Scooter

    Yesterday, my son had an accident in the playground.  The preschool said he was riding around the playground on a scooter and fell because he was going too fast.  His mouth hit the scooter on the way down so his gum was bleeding and one of his front tooth chipped.  

    I called a good friend of ours who is a dentist and she saw him right away.  She filled the chip and took an x-ray of both front teeth.  It turns out that it is the other front tooth that is more concerning because there was some trauma to the tissue surrounding that tooth.  (Must be some kind of spiritual lesson here).  He needs to be on a soft/liquid diet for 10 days to allow the tissue around that tooth to heal.


    I think he was in shock more than anything because he didn't cry much but he was very tired after the whole incident.  He fell asleep in the car going home so we just put him to bed and he didn't eat dinner.  

    This is the first real accident that my son has had.  We are thankful that it was not anything more serious and that the tooth was able to be fixed right away.  He was such a brave boy.  It totally helped that the dentist is our good friend so he was not scared while she was working on his tooth.  We are so blessed to have good friends!

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Long Story Short

    My son is a very slow eater.  He can sometimes spend over an hour eating breakfast.  So I decided to start doing devos with my son during our breakfast time together.  We have been going through this devo book called Long Story Short for the past 2 months.  I really like it because it goes through different aspects of each Bible story over the course of 5 days, connecting each story to Jesus and something from the Psalms/Proverbs/Prophets.  So far, we've gone through Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah and the Ark, Tower of Babel, and Abram/Abraham.  Through these stories, he has learned the names of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6 "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace."  He learned that we will worship God with one voice in Heaven.  He learned that to 'delight' in God's Word means we to 'read it, enjoy it, and can't wait to read it again.'  It's amazing how much he can retain.  Now I don't mind that he eats slowly during breakfast because that just gives us more time to delight in God's Word together.

    My Photo Book Mar 10 2011

    Click here to view this photo book larger

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Potstickers

    These dumplings are called potstickers in English, wor tip in Cantonese, jaiozi in Mandarin, or gyoza in Japanese.  What's in a name?  That which we call a potsticker by any other name would taste as yummy.  

    Ingredients:
    - 1/2 lb ground pork.  Don't use lean ground pork because the filling is not as moist if the meat is too lean
    - 1 lb shrimp, deveined, shelled, and roughly chopped up
    - 1/2 lb chives, about 2 cups finely chopped up
    - 1 onion, finely chopped up
    - 3 tbsp soy sauce
    - 1 tbsp rice wine
    - 1 tbsp sesame oil
    - 1 tsp pepper
    - 1 egg
    - 1 package of wrappers (about 70 wrappers)


    Mix all the ingredients together
    Make the potstickers.  Watch this potsticker how-to video that my husband made.
    Bring a big pot of water to a rigorous boil.  Add in 1 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp of oil.  Carefully put the potstickers in one at a time.  Don't crowd the pot.  Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes.  Potstickers will float to the top when done.      
    Using a strainer, transfer the potstickers to a lightly oiled non-stick pan on medium heat. 
    Pan fry potstickers on all sides until golden brown.
    Serve immediately with soy sauce, Chinese vinegar, hot sauce or all of the above!

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Florida, here we come!

    Booked our vacation to Florida yesterday.  So looking forward to getting away.  Hopefully it'll be warm.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Saved some money today

    My electricity bill was over $400 last month so I called my supplier, JustEnergy, and asked what rate I'm paying.  Turns out we're in a 5-year contract at 8.99 cents/KWH which doesn't expire until July 2012.  Considering the Time-Of-Use rates offered by Toronto Hydro are currently 5.1 - 9.9 cents/KWH, my contract doesn't look too good.  But the JustEnergy rep was really nice and proactively offered to lower my contract rate to 7.5 cent/KWH without extending my contract.  Pretty good for just making a phone call but, when my contract ends, I probably won't renew again.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    One word answers already?

    Dinner conversation with my 3 yo son today:

    Me: How was your day today?
    Him: Good.
    Me: What did you do at preschool?
    Him: Nothing.

    When did my son become a teenager?

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Winterfest at Markham Museum

    Today is Family Day and we enjoyed it as a family.  We went for dimsum with a bunch of good friends in the morning and then headed to Markham Museum for their Winter Carnival.  It was freeeeeezing cold and we didn't bring snow pants for my son but we had a great time.  My son was so wiped out he fell asleep in the car on our way home around 3:30pm and didn't even wake up for dinner.  It's now 11pm so I hope he will just sleep through the night.

    Making maple sugar candy

    Building a snow fort

    A reindeer

    On a wagon ride

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Big brother, little sister

    It's amazing how different kids can be.  My son didn't sleep through the night until 7 months but my daughter has been sleeping through the night (10-14 hours) since 3 months.  My son was a good laugher by 4 months but my daughter rarely smiles.  Thankfully, both are good kids so far.  My son really loves his sister and wants to help whenever he can.  The other night, I put her in her crib for the night but she started crying.  I was going to let her cry-it-out but, after a few minutes, he went into her room and sang her a song to soothe her.  She stopped crying almost immediately and fell asleep.  He's such a sweet brother.

     
    Finally caught a smiling one after taking 70 pictures - thank goodness for digital cameras!
    Posted by Picasa

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Turtles Cookies Recipe

    I have been resisting a half a box of Turtles chocolates for about a month now.  They have been sitting in my living room calling out my name.  Today, I decided to make them into cookies and share them with friends.

    Ingredients:
    2/3 cup melted butter
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tbsp hot water
    2-2/3 cup flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    12 Turtles Chocolates (or Pecan Caramel Clusters)


    Preheat oven to 350F.  Take 12 Turtles out of the box.

    Chop them up into chocolate chip sized pieces

    In two separate bowls, mix the wet ingredients (melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, hot water) and sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).

    Combine the wet and dry ingredients together quickly and fold in the Turtle pieces until they are just combined.  Don't overmix.

    Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a small or medium sized Spring Release Ice Cream Scoop, scoop out the dough and flatten each mound with the bottom of a lightly oiled glass.  This will make a nice uniform shaped cookie.  If you don't have one of those ice cream scoops, just form the cookie dough into a mound with 2 spoons.

    Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned but still soft inside.  Let cool for 5 minutes before eating!


    Posted by Picasa

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Happy Valentine's Day

    I've never been a fan of celebrating Valentine's Day. I cringe at the thought of spending way-too-much on a meal and buying over-priced long-stem roses that will inevitably die next week.

    Here's how we celebrated this year: my husband and I went shopping together, had lunch at the mall's food court, went to a carwash, and best of all, we spent the majority of the day playing a game that I have become addicted to called "Words with Friends" on our iPhone.

    I had a good day with my Valentine.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    How did it get this way?

    Being a mom really changes things. I've just recently noticed that I have turned into one of those moms who barely care about myself because I'm always taking care of my family. I go out of the house wearing mismatched clothing, my hair is frizzy, and I no longer have any make-up worth putting on. Wow, how'd that happen?

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Jeremiah 29:11

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    This verse has been on my mind for a while now.  It's very comforting to know that God knows the plans He has for us, even when (or especially when) we don't know.  When God closes some doors, He opens others.  We just have to walk through.  I'm looking forward to walking through some new doors.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Sweet potato fries

    I've recently become addicted to sweet potato fries, especially since they are so good for you. :)

    Ingredients:
    1 sweet potato
    salt
    pepper
    olive oil

    Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and cut sweet potato into planks of similar size. Toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange sweet potatos on the cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, turn them, then bake for another 20 minutes or until done but not burnt.
    Posted by Picasa

    Pizza

    It was a snow day today so I made some pizza dough with my bread machine while my son played with home made play dough.

    Ingredients:
    Pizza dough from the bread machine (large)
    Olive oil with minced garlic
    Oregano
    Pizza sauce
    Cheese
    Ham
    Mushrooms

    Make the pizza dough according to bread machine instructions (it takes 1 hour 40 minutes). When the dough is done, preheat oven to 450F. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and roll dough out to fit the cookie tray. Brush a thin layer of olive oil with minced garlic all over dough. Brush a thin layer of pizza sauce all over dough. Sprinkle oregano and half of the cheese all over dough. Place your toppings and sprinkle another thin layer of cheese on top. Bake for 20 min and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into pieces.
    Posted by Picasa

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    Tiger Mother

    The new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has created a lot of controversy.  I haven't read the book but I've read a few of the reviews against it.  I came across a Christian perspective today and it resonated with me.  Here's the link.

    God has entrusted our kids to us and they are not our own.  I have to let go of defining success as excelling at multiple extra-curricular activities including music, sports, and a second/third language; getting good grades at school and ultimately completing university; getting a good job; getting married and having children.  I need to constantly remind myself that I just need to be a good role model and teach and encourage my kids to follow God's will for their lives.  Success is when God says, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    We eat from the chair!

    I was teaching my 3yo son about Adam and Eve and how they sinned because they ate the apple from the tree.  Then I told him that everybody sins except for Jesus.  Then he said, "No, we didn't eat from the tree.  We eat from the chair!"

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    Swimming lessons

    I started taking my 3yo son to swimming lessons again.  Today was his 4th class and he started to swim by himself while holding the pool noodle.  He can climb out of the pool by himself and he even started to jump into the pool without holding onto my hand.  His progress is amazing.  At the beginning of each class, the instructor, Paul, gets them to do an airplane (front float), star fish (back float), and rocket (front glide).  Today, while my son was doing 'star fish', he says to me with a frown, "Mommy, my ears are not working.  They are turning on and off."  Kids say the funniest things.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    My Fitness Coach

    I really like this Wii game called My Fitness Coach.  I'm trying to lose my baby weight (I gained 40lbs!) I've been using it since mid-Dec and I've lost about 10lbs so far despite my tendency to overeat during the holiday season.  I like My Fitness Coach because it really gives me a good workout and I can do it at home whenever I want.  I don't have to travel to the gym or arrange for someone to take care of my kids to workout.  I just turn the TV on and I can work out for however long I want (I'm usually doing 45 minutes now).  I can choose the focus area (I usually go with Maya's recommendation but it rotates among Upper body, Core body, Lower body, and Flexibility).  And I can choose my music, workout environment, and intensity.  The workout is different everyday so I am not bored and I'm constantly unlocking new workout moves.  It even tracks my progress so I can feel good about losing weight and inches.  My Fitness Coach is great - I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to lose weight or who wants to start working out.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Groupon and other similar sites

    Use these links to sign up for these sites and I'll get $10 off when you make your first purchase!

    Groupon

    Wagjag

    Deal of the day

    Slept through the night

    My daughter slept through the night last night from 6pm to 6am without a dream feed. She is only 3 months and 1 week old! My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 4 months old and he didn't consistenly sleep through the night until he was 7 months old.  Keep it up!

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    The Best Baked Honey Garlic Wings

    These are the best chicken wings I have ever made.
    2 lb chicken wings
    1 cup flour

    Sauce:
    2 tbsp minced garlic
    1/2 cup honey
    1/4 cup dark soy sauce
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    2 tbsp ketchup
    4 slices of ginger
    1/4 cup water
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash the chicken wings and drip dry. Lightly coat each wing with flour. Shake off excess flour. Bake for 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, mix all the ingredients for the sauce. As soon as the sauce boils, turn the heat down to simmer until wings have baked for 20 minutes. Take the wings out and dip each wing into the sauce to coat the entire wing. Return wings to oven for 5 minutes. Take the wings out and dip each wing into the sauce again to coat the entire wing. Return wings to oven for another 5 minutes. Baste wings with the remainder of the sauce and serve!
    Posted by Picasa

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Thumb sucker

    Yesterday, I found my daughter sucking her thumb for the first time.  My son never sucked his thumb but my daughter liked to suck since she was born.  It just took her 3 months to finally find her thumb.

    An update on the sleep situation... she went down at 7pm last night, did a dream feed at 11pm, woke up at 4am and 6am.  9 hours of sleep is not bad except that I didn't sleep at 7pm.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Sleep Training Tips

    I had to remove this post because I got a nasty comment.  I will no longer be recommending this person's sleep training workshop again.  

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    California/Las Vegas!

    I booked our flights to California/Las Vegas today.  Yay!  Now I just need to book hotels and plan our trip.  So excited!

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Frutti di Bosco Tart Recipe

    We usually buy this dessert, called Frutti di Bosco, from Longos. We really like it because the filling is very light because it's mainly berries, and it's not too sweet.  But over the years, Longos has increased the price of this dessert to ~$30 for a large tart so I decided to make it myself. I served it to our cell group at our New Year's Eve party - it was a hit!   Here's the recipe that I adapted from another site:

    Crust:
    9 tablespoons (4.5 oz) of butter
    1/2 cup icing sugar
    pinch of salt
    2 cups flour
    2 large egg yolks
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp lemon juice
    1 tablespoon of cold milk or water

    Cream together butter, sugar and salt. Then work in the flour, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice until it looks like course bread crumbs. Add the cold milk or water and gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

    Grease a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Remove dough from the fridge and roll it out to line your tart pan. Poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap again and put it back in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 350F and bake the pastry for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool crust.

    Filling:
    250 grams marscapone cheese
    1 tbsp white sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    splash of marsala or brandy
    1/4 cup of cream (or half and half)

    Cream together marscapone, sugar, vanilla, and marsala or brandy. Add cream and wisk until light and fluffy. Pour filling into cooled crust and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

    Berry topping:
    4 cups of fresh blackberrys, blueberries, and/or raspberries
    1 tbsp icing sugar

    Wash and dry berries completely. If the berries are not completely dry, the icing sugar will melt. Just before serving, gently pile fruit on top of the cream filling. Sift icing sugar all over the top of the tart. Enjoy!
    Posted by Picasa

    Things to do in 2011

    Here are some things that I have planned for 2011:

    • Lose all my baby weight!
    • Visit Jeremy's Aunt and Uncle in San Diego and go to Disneyland
    • My sister's family will visit us for a month in the summer
    • Keith will start Junior Kindergarten in Sept
    • Go back to work in Nov

    2011 is gonna be great.  Happy New Year!