diapers, budgets & paint

stay-at-home mommy by day
program manager by night
children's painter somewhere in between

things i love #2 (ode to emmy)

some days you're sweet, my playful bunny
some days you're brave - oh crikey, honey!

sometimes you're sad to brush, brush, brush
sometimes you slow down mommy's rush

on other days, you're playful! silly!
in a tizzy, willy nilly!

and other times, you work real hard
on the farm and in the yard

you're growing fast, my little one
and mommy hates to miss the fun...

...like when she has to go to training for work
and sit through eight long hours of blah, blah, blah.
(i can't imagine going back full-time, that's for sure!)
see how inspired i get when my brain turns to mush?
hallmark, i'm sending you my resume asap.

thanks for staying home today, daddy!

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books, books and more books

... also known as "all the books that kim has never read" or "who the heck came up with this list?!"

i just got tagged from angela for the books meme that's making the rounds right now. after running through the list, i decided to bold the books that i have read (and can remember!) and boy, oh boy - kimmy sure looks to have missed the boat on this list! my formative years were spent reading everything by authors like stephen king, anne rice and clive barker and that only gets me 2 points? *sigh* i swear i went to a good college, really! oh, and i did NOT include all the ones that i've seen at the movies. maybe i should...

(i'll catch up a bit later this year, tho - i've been waiting for the last harry potter book to be released so that i can get the entire set for cheap at costco. i figure i'll pass it down to emmy in a few years, right?)

anyway, here goes nuthin...

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. Tigana (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

this is a long list so i tag anyone who's got some time to kill (whether you're stuck at work or your kids are napping). beloved, wanna give it a try next time you're stranded at the airport? :)

i promise to publish the mommy wars post soon - today's a work day so i needed some fluffy amusement to stay sane...

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we're baaaack

grrr... i had this great long post all ready to publish and blogger ate it. ugh, how i hate you tonight, blogger. i'd try to recreate it but i'm sleepy and annoyed so we'll see how i do tomorrow. for now, a few quick updates...

wow. i never thought it would be so hard to play email/blog catch-up but it sure felt like it this week. have you ever had one of those weeks where you just don't have the energy to do much of anything? or, more specifically, where you don't want to look at anything that requires an internet connection? (i know, that's sacrilege - how could i ever turn away from my beloved laptop?) perhaps it's because daddy's on spring break this week; we're trying to make the most of our real-life connections while we can. i'm sure i'll be hittin' the blogging bar hard next week. in fact, make it a double, bartender.

in the meantime, i'm slowly catching up. for my pals in blog-land, sorry for the lack of commentary... but i'm still reading! :)

we spent the past few days visting my folks in southern virgina. we were supposed to see my best friend's daughter get baptised too but emmy's horrible stomach bug kept us quarantined for the entire trip. on a um, positive note, we now know how to thoroughly scrub and clean a britax car seat to remove stinky 3-hour-old macaroni and cheese. mmm... yeah, it was just THAT fun. emmy got lots of good bonding time in with my folks while we were there; in fact, my mom started showing emmy the intricacies of playing hwa-tu. blair doesn't play so i look forward to challenging em... of course, that might take a few more years. right now, we're just excited to point out all of the "birds!" and "flowers!"

at least she's not chewing on 'em...

now that we're home and healthy, we're trying to make the most of daddy's time. today's stops: the reston zoo and playground time...

i can't believe my baby is all grown up - look at her drive!
i dunno about her choice in friends though...

these two baby porcupines were just born at the zoo this morning;
we were the first people to see them!

every good asian learns to use the abacus from a young age, right?

riding the whale does a body good

next up: today's mommy wars discussion, or the one that blogger ate

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you know you're a mom when...
- your daughter is on her fifth set of clothes for the day because her lunchtime chicken and rice is covering the first four
- you're on shirt, um, #3? and forget about those nice suede-ish pants you were wearing earlier

and the best...
- you're naked in the tub, trying to wash both a very slippery toddler and yourself, and the smoke detector starts beeping LOUDLY because it's located right outside the bathroom door and you forgot to turn on the fan / shut the door / beat the detector with a hammer and throw it out the window

this was going to be a longer post but em just woke up. wish us luck!


a spring swing

wherever you are, we hope you're enjoying some sunnier weather too

egads! a rare daddy sighting! alert the press!

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we like ducks

hey, you there!
don't you have work to do or something?
aw heck, since you're here already... want to scrub my back?


the story of cherry the pig

a few weeks ago, i posted about the rice daddies' blogaversary book review contest. i couldn't resist entering and lo and behold, i was one of the winners! the generous folks at kane/miller publishing sent each of us 12 participants one free book from their catalog of asian kids' literature. to say thanks to both the rice daddies and kane/miller, here's my review of... *drumroll please*... the story of cherry the pig.

btw, since i originally submitted a review of the book panda cake in the rice daddies' contest, it seems only fitting that i now graduate to the more accessible apple cake. mmm...

title: the story of cherry the pig
author: utako yamada
country: japan
ages: 4 - 6
themes: self esteem / identity, friendship

cherry the pig is a very happy pig. she loves desserts so much that she bakes an enormous sweet every afternoon to eat all by herself (after all, she is a pig!). one day, a family of mice sneak into her kitchen and nibble on her freshly baked apple cake. after overhearing them say that it tastes "incredible!", cherry decides to enter her cake in the great harvest festival bake-off. all is going well until she runs into those mice again, who now proclaim how "incredibly awful!" cherry's cake tastes! embarrassed and disheartened by the misunderstanding, cherry hides under a tree until she's surprisingly awarded the grand prize of the bake-off. curious to understand why the mice didn't like her cake, cherry tastes their bag of left-behind biscuits and realizes that mice prefer "very hard, very salty, very cheesy" instead of light and fluffy, cinnamon sweet goodness. aha! with her newfound fame, cherry goes on to open her very own bakery filled with desserts galore... and some very hard, very salty, very cheesy biscuits too.

i love this book for many reasons. at some point, every child will come across a misunderstanding and feel the same emotions of sadness and embarrassment that cherry felt. this story is a great way to talk through that experience and help kids understand that words can be hurtful, and that sometimes people say things because they may not understand or be familar with something that you are / have. cherry learned that the mice have a different opinion about what tastes good, and she opened herself to trying something new (in this case, their food). i think this book will encourage children to be more open-minded about things that aren't familiar (whether it be food, race, gender or anything!) and reinforce the idea that their words can have an impact on others and should therefore be chosen with some thought.

to complement this great story, utako yamada's illustrations evoke feelings of old-fashioned simplicity and happiness. her palette of only red, yellow, green and brown remind me of many books i read as a child, and the charming animal drawings seem very welcoming to little ones. i look forward to sharing this book with emmy when she's a little older (although she definitely paid attention when i read it for the first time today too!).

and if all that wasn't enough, here's the icing on this cake: kane/miller has provided a free activity sheet to go along with this book! it has some great discussion topics, fun games, a word search, and most importantly, an official apple cake recipe to help you get the most from their book. i can't wait until emmy's old enough to help her mama make an apple cake! (seriously, how can you go wrong when the recipe says to "put everything in a big bowl and mix it up with your hands"?!) for those of you that can't wait, here's the recipe - i think i'll try it soon!

Almost Cherry the Pig's Apple Cake*

2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups light vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups diced apples (whichever kind you like - crisp is best though)
1 cup chopped nuts (unless you hate them)
1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, or dried cherries... or nothing)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then... put everything in a big bowl and mix it up with your hands (no, really!). Bake in an ungreased 9 x 13 pan for an hour, and let it cool (if you can wait) before cutting.

*Cherry doesn't share her recipes, but this one is almost as good as hers!


the job is well done*

here's a question for all you mommies (and daddies) out there:

if you're part of a mixed ethnicity parenting team, do you intend to teach your child(ren) both languages (or have you, if your kids are older)?

we've been debating this question since before em was em. i speak a small amount of korean, mostly simple vocabulary words, foods and such, and can sound out the characters if you give me long enough. (sadly, i only managed to take one semester of korean 101 in college - but hey, i already knew the lyrics to san-tokki!) blair obviously knows much more than i do - he was raised in a household where his folks always spoke korean (and still do) and has had the benefit (curse?) of spending many years in weekend korean school. he and his cousins, however, always choose to respond to their family in english - that seems to be the routine in many first/second generation households that i've seen. since neither of us are really equipped to pass along the language, should we? do we try to find a local korean school / teacher to help us in this quest (maybe one that would let me attend too?) or do we wait until em inevitably picks up spanish or chinese in the school system? obviously we understand the benefits of sharing one's heritage, but as future generations move further away from their original foreign language speakers and potentially mix in more languages / cultures, what's the "magic" answer? what has worked for you?

* taken from tonight's fortune cookie... but what job? perhaps you mean a steak instead? and really, why does our neighborhood vietnamese eatery insist on giving out these "chinese" cookies anyway?

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