Friday, February 27, 2015

Sure to make your day



This video of a beautiful elderly couple's amazing impromptu piano recital is the best thing I've seen all week.

Enjoy!





Thursday, February 26, 2015

Look at how we have grown


Just an update on how fast the boys have been growing...


Collin is now 6 and is caring, gentle, funny; loves Lego, swimming, and soccer, and just loves to dance. Since starting kindergarten in September last year, Collin is now able to read I-Can-Read books on his own and loves math problems (which is a surprise because I'm completely math-impaired) and is also pretty good about getting his homework done before doing anything else after school, and doesn't seem to mind doing all the clean up even without his younger bro helping.

Aaron will be 4 come May and is totally, absolutely full of energy and is called the "Aaron Man" (as in "Iron Man") here in the house. He loves to jump around and loves to dance just like his older bro (again, thank God for Go Noodle), and would rather jump around and dance when asked to clean up the books and toys... He is an overall easy-going little guy who secretly still loves Baby Genius videos on Netflix.

Both of them somehow love to shower me with hugs and kisses though (I hope and pray this never ends!) and tell me that I'm the best cook and eats most things, and are uber good about saying prayers before meals and bedtime...

Sung and I could not be more grateful because we used to tell each other that as long as our kids are healthy, anything more than that would be a bonus. :-)

Our prayer is that they grow up to be happy, loving, compassionate young men who are kind and generous with their gifts and talents.

What are your wishes for your child/children?




Monday, February 23, 2015

Ladies, leave your hair down


(Photo from Mother Magazine, the coolest full-service, style-leaning parenting website)

I have always loved wearing my hair up in a ponytail, especially since Collin came along in 2008 (followed by Aaron in 2011). It simply has been the easiest, fastest way to do my hair, and required the least maintenance throughout the day.

But I just read on Mother Magazine that "wearing your hair up, tied in a tight bun or ponytail can actually cause breakage and promote hair loss." Uh oh. It added: "Try wearing hair down more often or keep your tresses in a loose braid if you need to keep your hair pulled back."

No wonder I've been feeling like my hair now has half the volume it used to have up until my late 20's! (Turning 38 is no joke for sure! Eeek.)

So today, I'm putting my hair down (yes, I've cut my hair short)... Let's see how long this would last:


In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about aging gracefully, as I'd like to put it, do hop on over to check out these "10 Anti-Aging Habits To Start Now."





Saturday, February 21, 2015

How much to tip for food delivery in bad, bad weather


We really have been getting too much belated snow this winter. The boys are having a ton of fun, of course, but shoveling is so hard and we feel so bad for everyone who has to labor away day and night to clear the roads... God bless those snow plow trucks!

Just the other day, I found this insightful article by Grub Street on how to tip the food delivery person when the weather is really, really horrible.

In the article, Adam Eric Greenberg, a UC San Diego Ph. D. candidate and co-author of probably the most thorough study yet on bad-weather tips (according to Grub Street) is cited as saying that:

"You should tip at least $2 to $3 no matter what you order — even if it takes the delivery person an extra ten minutes to get to you. Delays are almost never the delivery guy's fault, so be especially forgiving when the weather is terrible.

...For orders above $15, percentage-based tipping should kick in: The standard 18 to 20 percent gratuity you would leave a restaurant server. When the weather is bad, be a bit more generous by tipping 20 to 22 percent. If it's raining outside, tip 22 to 25 percent.

...If there's any snow accumulation, add a dollar or two on top of what you'd tip if it were raining. Having to work as a delivery guy during a blizzard is similar to getting stuck with a party of 20 as a restaurant server, so if you hear weather forecasters promising a "polar vortex, " a 30 percent tip is not outrageous."

And of course, tipping well is no replacement for common courtesy. The article added: "'The rudest thing you can do is just take your food, say nothing, and close the door'... Another delivery man agreed that some quick conversation goes a long way: "Just ask, 'Jeez, how is it out there?' or say, 'Man, this came fast.'""

Isn't that so true?!

By the way... Here's us any time there's "any snow accumulation" (as noted in the article ;o):


We even go sledding at a friend's backyard (on Long Island):


Friday, February 13, 2015

The most spectacular first tweet of all time


Everyone around the web today (including CNN!) is frantically reporting on what has got to be one of the most epic first tweets by a famous figure.

Big Bird, the yellow-feathered star of "Sesame Street," sent out his first-ever message via his Twitter account earlier today and boy, is it spectacular!




Apparently, he has had his Twitter account since October of 2012 but has remained silent all this time... Until today, when he sent out the best tweet the world has seen.

(Photo of Big Bird's Twitter page)




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Candy-free Valentine's Day ideas


One of my most favorite design bloggers is Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, she is a total creative genius who has the most brilliant and amazingly whimsical party, DIY, and home decor ideas (and is also a mom of two beautiful boys :o)!

For a few days now, Jordan has been graciously sharing a ton of fantastic ideas on Valentine's Day gifts and she of course nailed each and every one of them:






How adorable are these? Hop on over to her sweet blog for a dozen more great ideas! Happy Valentine's!

(Photos by Paul Ferney -- Jordan's hubby! -- for Oh Happy Day)




Monday, February 9, 2015

How to fight with your spouse without ruining your marriage




Just the other day, I came across this Washington Post review on a new book “How to Be a Husband” by Guardian columnist Tim Dowling, who describes the numerous arguments he has with his wife and then shares his strategies for making it through/surviving marital spats.

Here are 9 of them excerpted from the book review:

1. Go to bed angry if you want to. It is often said that a couple should never let the sun set on an argument, but this isn’t practical. Some arguments are, by their nature, two-day events: Too much is at stake to set an arbitrary bedtime deadline. Faced with a stark choice between closure and a night’s sleep, you’re better off with the latter in almost every case.

2. When your wife carries on the next morning as if yesterday’s argument never happened, you should interpret her behavior as a willingness to forgive and forget, and not as a sign that she has actually forgotten.

3. Own your stupidity. Self-awareness is a reliably endearing trait, and over time your spouse will come to admire your willingness to recognize precisely when you have been/are being an idiot.

4. Naturally, there is a lot of disagreement in any partnership, but make certain you’re on the same side when battling outside forces: unfeeling authority, intractable bureaucracy, strangers who have parked stupidly. Mindless solidarity is vital under these circumstances.

5. The time-honored debate about leaving the [toilet] seat up or down is not a genuine source of friction in marriage... The real rule, simple and inarguable, is this: Don’t piss on the seat.

6. Arguments often lead you down little strategic alleyways in search of short-term advantage, and it’s easy to lose your way, especially if feelings are running high. But it’s perfectly feasible to close your rant with the words, “and I’ve now forgotten why I even started this sentence!” If you allow your partner to reassemble the broken pieces of your argument for you, you will almost always end up with a more charitable interpretation of your logic than you deserve.

7. In the context of marriage, a moral victory is something you’ll invariably end up celebrating on your own. If you’re going to get on in married life — if you’re going to have sex ever — you’ve got to learn how to lose an argument. And to do that, you’ve got to learn how to be wrong.

8. It’s never too late to apologize. By which I mean, when it’s obviously far too late for saying sorry to do any good at all, you still should.

9. Never underestimate the tremendous healing power of sitting down together from time to time to speak frankly and openly about the marital difficulties facing other couples you know.

(Photo from The Washington Post)




Saturday, February 7, 2015

What we like to snack on




Over the years, I've found that store-baked goods at Whole Foods Market are not only healthier (less sugary and without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives) but also very comparable to conventional supermarkets'.

A tub of freshly-baked mini chocolate croissants or mini cakes (pictured above) cost $5.99 and $6.99, respectively, and each tub comes with 10 to 12 pieces. Not bad at all, right?

We also like to snack on Trader Joe's Fig & Olive Crisps (pictured next to sliced cheese above), which are surprisingly good for how reasonably priced they are ($3.99 for a whole box)! (It is way overpriced on Amazon but if anyone wants to try it, it is worth every penny!) The boys don't like their string cheese snacks so much but they would devour any piece of cheese if served alongside these goodies. Yum!

And of course, we love love love Terra Vegetable Chips! (The S&S option on Amazon is good but the Whole Foods sometimes has these on sale for 2 for $6. What a great deal!)




Saturday, January 31, 2015

Father and son 1




Interesting(?) fact: These men are exactly 30 years apart.

They've certainly come a long way since the first time they met way back in December 2008!






Monday, December 1, 2014

We hope your 2014 was a good year!



Thank you for all your love and we wish you all the goodness and joy in the New Year!




Thursday, November 27, 2014

Best Chocolate Crinkles!




Having grown up in Manila, I have come to believe that there are not many chocolatey cookies out there that are as perfectly wonderful as the soft, chewy (fudgy?) chocolate crinkles, which in my book are the best holiday treats from the Philippines.

I have searched high and low for good chocolate crinkle cookies but none were nearly as good as the ones from the Philippines...Until I stumbled upon this gold nugget of a cookie recipe online and tried baking them myself one day. The outcome was quite spectacular. It was a total surprise! :o)

Here is the original recipe from allrecipes.com, my go-to recipe source:

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (use coconut oil if you like!)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. Coat each ball in confectioners' sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.


3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.


Try this uber easy recipe out! It will change your life!


(Cookies ready to be sent along to Collin's kindergarten teacher Mrs. A because: 1) She's awesome!; 2) She got married last year and her husband happens to be a Filipino-American; 3) And they are expecting a baby in May 2015! -- Anyone pregnant can use some of these yummy sweet treats, I think...? :o)





Monday, November 24, 2014

100 ways to be kind to your child!


In her mind-blowingly insightful post on real parenting entitled, "100 Ways To Be Kind to Your Child," blogger Alissa Marquess (of Creative With Kids) introduced this sweet list:

Tell your child:
1. I love you.
2. I love you no matter what.
3. I love you even when you are angry at me.
4. I love you even when I am angry with you.
5. I love you when you are far way. My love for you can reach you wherever you are.
6. If I could pick any 4 year old (5 year old, 6 year old…) in the whole wide world, I’d pick you.
7. I love you to the moon and then around the stars and back again.
8. Thank you.
9. I enjoyed playing with you today.
10. My favorite part of the day was when I was with you and we _______.

Share:
11. The story of their birth or adoption.
12. About how you cuddled them when they were a baby.
13. The story of their name.
14. A story about yourself when you were their age.
15. The story of how their grandparents met.
16. What your favorite color is.
17. That sometimes you struggle too.
18. That when you’re holding hands and you give three squeezes, it’s a secret code that means, “I love you”.
19. What the plan is.
20. What you’re doing right now.

Play:
21. Charades
22. Hop Scotch
23. Board Games
24. Hide & Seek
25. Simon Says
26. Twenty Questions
27. I Spy on long car rides
28. Catch

Pretend:
29. To catch their kiss and put it on your cheek.
30. That their tickle tank is empty and you have to fill it.
31. That their high five is so powerful it nearly knocks you over.
32. That you are super ticklish.
33. That you are explorers in the amazing world of your own backyard.
34. That it’s party day!

Try:
35. To get enough sleep.
36. To drink enough water.
37. To eat decent food.
38. Dressing in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
39. Calling a friend the next time you feel like you are about to lose it with the kids.
40. Giving a gentle touch to show approval.
41. Dancing in the kitchen.
42. To get your kids to bop to the music with you in the car.
43. Showing your kids that you can do a somersault or handstand or a cartwheel.
44. Keeping the sigh to yourself.
45. Using a kind voice, even if you have to fake it.

Read:
46. A book of silly poems.
47. A story and then act out the plot.
48. Your favorite childhood book to them.
49. When the afternoon is starting to go astray.
50. Outside under a tree.
51. In the library kids corner.
52. The comic book they love that you’re not so hot on.
53. About age appropriate behavior so you can keep your expectations realistic.

Listen:
54. To your child in the car.
55. To silly songs together.
56. For that question that means your child really needs your input.
57. One second longer than you think you have patience for.
58. For the feelings behind your child’s words.

Ask:
59. Why do you think that happens?
60. What do you think would happen if______?
61. How shall we find out?
62. What are you thinking about?
63. What was your favorite part of the day?
64. What do you think this tastes like?

Show:
65. Your child how to do something instead of banning them from it.
66. How to whistle with a blade of grass.
67. How to shuffle cards- make a bridge if you can!
68. How to cut food.
69. How to fold laundry.
70. How to look up information when you don’t know the answer.
71. Affection to your spouse.
72. That taking care of yourself is important.

Take Time:
73. To watch construction sites.
74. To look at the birds.
75. To let your child pour ingredients into the bowl.
76. To walk places together.
77. To dig in the dirt together.
78. To do a task at your child’s pace.
79. To just sit with your child while they play.

Trust:
80. That your child is capable.
81. That you are the right parent for your child.
82. That you are enough.
83. That you can do what is right for your family.

Delight:
84. Clean your child’s room as a surprise.
85. Put chocolate chips in the pancakes.
86. Put a love note in their lunch.
87. Make their snack into a smiley face shape.
88. Make sound effects while you help them do something.
89. Sit on the floor with them to play.

Let Go:
90. Of the guilt.
91. Of how you thought it was going to be.
92. Of your need to be right.

Give:
93. A kind look.
94. A smile when your child walks into the room.
95. A kind touch back when your child touches you.
96. The chance to connect before you correct so that your child can actually hear your words.
97. Your child a chance to work out their frustrations before helping them.
98. A bath when the day feels long.
99. A hug.
100. You get to choose the next one! What is your favorite way to be kind to your child?

Isn't this list just great???

Here are pictures of Collin and Aaron for (#10) "My favorite part of the day was when I was with you guys and you guys put on an impromptu puppet show for mommy!":



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lover of soccer (+non-lover of soccer younger bro)





This year is Collin's first year in little league soccer and it is going well so far.

I have to say though, that these little boys' sports activities are no joke. They require quite a lot of commitment and dedication from the parents as well, and making it to every practice and game on time has not been easy!

Practices and games are on rain or shine, day...


...and night!

Can you believe???

While Collin is at soccer, here is real trouper Aaron just doin' his thing waiting and waiting, sitting on the bleechers:


Drawing his first Olaf and all (at 3 1/2 years)...


We're tired at times but definitely enjoying the experience!








Monday, October 6, 2014

Transformers in grocery parking lot...


The last picture isn't them hugging lovingly.

They're wrestling standing up. As always.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Finally braces-free!


I had braces as a child in 6th grade...

Then I needed braces after having my second child (at 33!) because all my teeth started shifting back to what they looked like back in 6th grade... Which was not only unsightly but just a big big hassle because the gaps between my teeth had gotten so roomy (haha) that after I eat anything, I'd almost always need to run to a mirror to check or brush my teeth, which added up to be like, 5 to 6 times a day. I'm not kidding.

So after waiting(?) for over 2 years for the gaps to magically go away(???), I asked around a ton before finally getting adult braces (by Dr. Margaret Chu-Park of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who has got to be the best orthodontist in the tri-state area!) and I couldn't be happier that I went ahead and got them:






(Can you say HAPPIER??? :o)

For anyone out there pondering whether or not to get adult braces... Go for it!!! (I had no idea some dental insurances cover adult braces as well: Mine covered a whopping 50% of the total cost! Good to know, right?)












Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Genius icon designer


How amazingly simple yet stunning are these icons designed by Yoon Jae Kim, a Korean-born and educated icon designer and cartographer at Apple?


So clean and simple. There should be more designers like Yoon Jae in the world!

(Photos from Yoon Jae Kim's Behance page)




Friday, May 16, 2014

Uber affordable game-changer soap dispenser


IKEA has many, many, many wonders but I am truly sold on this cute little guy:


A clean, gorgeous LOSJÖN soap dispenser that is so easy to use (even by little kiddos with tiny, soft hands) and only $3.99!

Need I say more? ;o)

(Photo from the IKEA's US website; sadly, this item is not sold online)






Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What to do when kiddos are bored



According to The Wall Street Journal, "kids who complain of boredom aren't necessarily lazy or slacking off, but are actually in a tense, negative state."

And what you don't want to do is "mask the state of boredom with excessive stimulation," because "in the long term, it makes us more ripe for boredom." How true!

Would you know what to do when your children say they are bored?

According to the article, here are the "boredom busters":

- Take a breath. Resist the urge to get angry or punish the child for being 'lazy.'

- Don't jump right in: Make the child responsible for finding a solution.

- Limit screen time: including computer, video games, and TV.

- Avoid the toy box: Guide the child toward imaginative or active play instead.

- Fill a jar with paper slips with the child's ideas for things to do.

- Suggest chores that will make other options seem more appealing.






Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to pick the best seat at a dinner party


Here is a genius infographic on how to choose the right seat at any social gathering, by Alex Cornell:


     4 Person Circle: This is the ideal setup. You are safe sitting in any seat. Regardless how interesting everyone is, you pretty much can’t go wrong. Note: as the diameter of the table increases, so too does the importance that you sit adjacent to someone you like.

     4 Person Square: This configuration (as opposed to two chairs on each side) is less fraught with problems. Something to watch out for is diagonal conversations, i.e. breaking the into two parts and getting stuck with the more boring of the three tablemates.

     6 Person Circle: How loud the restaurant is determines how important it is that you claim a middle seat. A quiet space allows for cross-table diagnoal talking, and generally one conversation. A loud space however forces multiple conversations and less diagonal.

     8 Person Rectangle: To get one of the interior 4 seats, you need to time your approach expertly. You can’t be first, else you’ll be expected to file to the end. And you can’t be last, else you’ll be stuck with the least interesting seat at the table. Timing is everything.

     7 Person Rectangle: It’s very easy to get screwed in this scenario. While it may appear like you can sit anywhere except the ends, this is not so. You are at risk of sitting next to the lonely end-seat, which requires you to speak soley to that person for the duration of the meal.

     2 Tables of Any Size: You’re ******. Regardless of how you time your approach, you will inevitably choose too soon. Lament as the other table’s attendance crystallizes into what is clearly the superior group. Sometimes it’s best to visit the bathroom while seats are chosen, so any seating disasters are the result of chance, and not your own miscalculation.

Speaking of awesome infographics, here is a fun book that I recently got Sung as a part of his Christmas gift -- The Best American Infographics 2013.

(Photo from Alex Cornell's blog)





Thursday, January 16, 2014

Collin JS Kim, I love you


Thank you for being my baby. I love you so much.


You are all I would ever ask for for a firstborn.

Thank you for being the best brother that Aaron could ever have. xoxo







 
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