Friday, December 30, 2005

Year End Thoughts

Two more days and 2005 will be over. What have I done this year? It seems like it was only yesterday that it was January 2005, and yet it also seems like the year has been a VERY long year.

Early in January we got word from USCIS that our application for extension on Denice's tourist visa was denied. We had been able to bring Denice back with us to the US in June of 2004 on a tourist visa while waiting for the immigrant visa application to be processed. Because of the denial, we had to hurriedly make plans to return to Malaysia and wait out the finalization of her immigrant visa there. So there we were, Duncan and I, three months in Miri with Denice and living in my parents' home. Doug had to go back to California, and was going to return to pick us up when the immigrant visa for Denice was approved.

While in Miri, the processing of Denice's immigrant visa moved along, and we (Denice, her birth mother, and I) made a special trip to KL in February so the DNA testing (to prove the relationship between mother and child) could be done. It was in April that Doug returned to Malaysia and signed all relevant documents at the US Embassy in KL when the immigrant visa was approved. What a relief it was when we could all go home as one complete family! On entry in the US, Denice automatically became a US citizen. After more than a year of waiting she is finally in the US for good and no more to be burdened with bureaucratic intricacies of international adoption and emigration.

Once things started settling down at home, I got back into the swing of things with my home business. Business started picking up again when customers started dropping off their quilt tops. My new crop of customers was all due to Shirley Hutcherson's help. Shirley is a regular customer and has become a good friend. She helped distribute my business cards from her conveniently located place of work inside the JoAnn superstore.

In early May, Doug and I, were invited to Kathy Carr's 50th birthday party. It was a great 50th birthday party and I am inspired to arrange a similar party for Doug's 50th birthday next year! Kathy and Richard Carr have become dear friends to us and we really appreciate their friendship.

In June, we made two trips to Nipomo. Doug's parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and they had two big receptions, first with friends, and second with family. It was nice for me to meet some old friends of Doug's parents, and it was also an opportunity for them to show off their daughter-in-law and grandchildren to their friends!

In July we celebrated Independence Day at the Carrs. They had organzied a bar-be-que and it was a nice way to remember the birth of the nation. The kids got to run and play with the Carrs' dogs in their large back yard.

In August, we started sending the kids to day-care/pre-school three times a week. Their time away from home has given me a lot more freedom to go out and do things. It was getting harder to bring to them out by myself now that they are toddlers. They would kick at each other while on the double stroller, or start grabbing at things along the aisle while shopping.

In late August, a good friend from Miri, now living in Florida, came to visit for a week. We brought her to see places around here and also brought her to visit Doug's parents in Nipomo. I fell sick with the stomach flu during that visit but Doug, along with the kids and his mother, showed Tina the attractions in the area.

In early September, a day after Tina left, Herbert and Mui Foon from Miri, came to spend the weekend. They had spent a few days with a cousin in San Jose, and were later intending to go to Las Vegas for leisure and onward to Houston and London for business. I've always enjoyed visits from friends from back home. Wish more were able to come!

In November I got to spend a weekend in Kirkwood with three other ladies. It was the first time that I had left the kids with Doug for a weekend! I enjoyed my trip to Kirkwood and I was glad Doug proved himself capable of looking after the kids all by himself for more than a day! :-)

In between all these, Doug's parents came to visit several times since we all got back from Malaysia in April. They also spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with us. I got to cook turkey for the first time at this year's Thanksgiving, and again at Christmas. For me, that was quite a big deal because I had never attempted anything that big (poultry size wise) before!

Also in between all these happenings there were a lot of childhood illnesses - the usual coughs and colds, fevers, vomitting and diarrhea. :-( As the primary care-giver, I wasn't exempted from these same illnesses either! :-( While we are on the subject of illnesses, I was diagnosed with hypertension in October. Hypertension runs in my family, so it wasn't that big a surprise.

I would like to say a special Thank You to Kirsten and Magenta who were always available to baby-sit the kids whenever Doug and I wanted to spend some time by ourselves away from home and the kids. Kirsten is only 12 but has proven herself to be such an able baby-sitter. We are so glad that she lives very close by! Magenta is now in college, and despite struggling with cerebral palsy, has also been an able baby-sitter for us.

All in all, 2005 has been a very good year. I am glad, despite the reason for being there, to have been able to spend 3 months in Miri this year. It was good to be able to meet up with friends again and spend lots of time with family and relatives. Also the extended time spent away from home has made me realize that home in California is truly my home now.

I am thankful for all the blessings received and all the good things that have happened in 2005. For the other challenges that happened this year, I am grateful that God brought us through, and taught us and reminded us that the bad always comes with the good.

Happy New Year 2006. May God bless you richly this coming year.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fancy Jasper Set

This set is made out of fancy jasper and swarovski crystals. This set is one of my favorite, and I wear them often.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


My home theater speakers are finally connected. We tested the speakers by playing Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. With the 5.1 digital surround sound, home entertainment is a totally different experience! The subwoofer was powerful enough to rattle the walls! Heheh. Good thing it is winter and all the doors and windows of the house are closed and so are the neighbour's! And good thing we don't live that close to each other!

I bought the Logitech Z-5500 speakers. I decided on this because the price was right and the reviews were very encouraging. Most people would use these speakers for their pc, but the speakers are powerful enough for home entertainment.

I still can't get the speakers to work with my microphones plugged into the karaoke player though. I did the setup thing for the mic with the karaoke player but still nothing. :-( So karaoke will have to wait till Doug and I can figure this out.

For those who like to watch movies at home, go get yourself a set of home theater speakers. Movie watching at home will never be the same again!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas 2005

Merry Christmas to my family and friends! It was a wet Christmas in northern California this year.

The tricycles the kids got for Christmas!

A set of crayons, marker pens, color pencils and water color from Auntie Penny and Uncle Tom.

The Christmas turkey fresh from the oven! Yummy!

Christmas Dinner. Doug's parents spent Christmas with us this year, and brought lots of toys for the kids.

Poor Denice, sick with the stomach flu .. vomitting and diarrhea.

Duncan in an inflatable toy that Grandma brought.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's Christmas Eve

It's Christmas eve. We had planned on going to one of the Christmas eve services but a family crisis arose very early in the morning. Denice threw up after taking a few sips of her bottle. That was the start of several more throwing ups for the rest of the day. :-(

Well, I'll spend part of the evening preparing the turkey stuffing. I will roast the turkey tomorrow morning. I will be doing it differently from the Thanksgiving turkey.

Tomorrow my in-laws are arriving some time in the early afternoon. Hopefully the turkey will be done by the time they arrive. :-)

Should we let the kids open their presents tonight? Nah, let them wait till Christmas morning!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. Jesus is the reason for the season.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Karaoke DVDs

These are the Karaoke DVDs that I ordered from Ace Karaoke. Each DVD cost $9.99. Unbelievable! And they are made in Taiwan! What to do? The cheapest I've seen is about $7.00 when they are on sale.

I was at Galt Flea Market on Wednesday, and I found 2 English Karaoke VCDs among a whole bunch of Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, Vietnamese and Thai VCDs. The vendor, who was Hmong, asked me to buy the Thai VCDs ... errr, I don't speak or read Thai. You're not Thai? Heheh. I told him to bring some English Karaoke VCDs if he had more of them. Next week, he said.

I am waiting for DeeJay to send me some Iban Karaoke VCDs. Uk, has already made me some Iban mp3 so I can start learning some Iban songs. I don't know why, but most of the female Iban singers have this high pitched voice, the kind that is really popular with Indonesian singers. I don't have that kind of voice (neither talent for singing!) so it'll be quite a challenge to learn some of the Iban songs. Ok, ok, I can bring the key to a lower pitch on the karaoke player, so the songs will be somewhat manageable but still ... :-) Heheh .. eh, anang enda nguji bah.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I am still waiting for my karaoke player. No, I did not get the all in one machine. I ordered just the player and also a set of speakers .. more for home theater but I hope they work for karaoke as well! Doug and I know nothing about sound system so I am keeping my fingers crossed. I'll be pleasantly surprised if my player arrives before Christmas.

My speakers arrived today; a pleasant surprise indeed! I was informed via email by Amazon that it will arrive after the 24th. My karaoke VCDs also arrived today so I am set to karaoke! Heheh. I played one of the VCDs just to see the quality of the music .. ermm, could have been better. There is no voice in the VCD, just the music guide (melody). :-( So I guess I'll just have to look else where if I want to really learn some of the songs.

My good friend in Indiana, says it'll be a lot more fun to karaoke with a friend .. if only we were neighbours! We could sing up a storm! Heheh. Brings back memories of days when I karaoked with Stephen, Ix, and other Cambodian and Vietnamese students in Gia Lam, Vietnam!

UPDATE: My karaoke player was delivered via UPS around 6.00 p.m. today. Yeah! Everything I ordered arrived before Christmas. I'm pleasantly surprised. Now Doug has to help me put everything together .... connect speakers, etc.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year and marks the first official day of winter. Sundown today in Sacramento was at 4.48 p.m.

Doug and I did our last minute Christmas shopping today. After dropping off the kids at preschool, we went to the Flea Market, right here in Galt. We saw tricyles for sale, and decided to get one each for the kids there. We had originally planned on getting the trikes at a store in Sacramento, but figured that it would be cheaper at the Flea Market. After all the vendor didn't have higher overheads like store rental!

But we did go to Sacramento to get other stuff. We stopped at Costco first, hoping to get sea food. But the seafood was no bargain. I had thought about serving seafood for Christmas dinner, but I guess it's going to be turkey! I got two bottles of wine, one white for myself because I prefer white to red, and a red wine, for the turkey recipe. The red was a cheap one imported from France, while the white was twice the cost from a winery in California.

At the Asian supermarket, I was surprised to see kangkong (water spinach) still available this late in the season. It was only when I got home that I noticed that the bunch I got cost me $4.55! A bit expensive for kangkong, don't you think?

It was raining and already quite dark when we finally made our way home. Fortunately it had stopped raining when we picked up the kids from school. It would have been quite a hassle trying to get the kids strapped in their seats if it were raining!

No, the kids didn't know anything about their new tricycles. We are saving that for Christmas. The look on their faces when they see their trikes on Christmas morning will be precious! :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Money is King

Last night, I was watching a little bit of Hannity and Colmes on Fox News Channel. Among their guests last night were a pimp who ran a legalized bordello called the Bunny Ranch in Nevada and two of his prostitutes.

Alan Colmes asked one of the women, why she was doing what she was doing. She said it was all for the money. She said she was only 20 years old and already she was doing very well for herself making well over $100,000 a year. The other woman said she had a degree, but said she chose to do what she was doing because she could make a lot more. Sean Hannity even quoted the words of Jesus "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" to the woman with the degree. Her answer, "I've already lost my soul".

So my guess is she has sold her soul to Money. For the sake of money these two women chose to sell their bodies rather than use their brains to make a living. I guess for them it is a lot easier to make that kind of money selling their bodies.

My final conclusion from watching the interview with these two women is that in America you cannot say you were driven to prostitution due to poverty or lack of opportunities. But still I wonder how women who choose to do this, can look at themselves in the mirror and not hate themselves for doing what they are doing. Have they really learnt to separate their "work" from their lives away from "work"? Have they really learnt to treat their bodies as just a commodity, like any other skill you would use for employment?

I guess they must have, otherwise how else would anyone choose to prostitute his/her body for the sake of money.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Karaoke Machine

I don't know what it is with me these days, I've been looking at electronics and cameras and coveting them! Must be the festive season! :-)

I have been browsing sites selling karaoke machines. I don't have a hi-fi system, except for a mini stereo that I brought with me from Miri when I moved to the States. So I am debating whether to get an all-in-one machine or a set of speakers and a mixer that comes with a key controller. Since I already have a DVD player (3 of them!) I don't need to buy a DVD player with karaoke function. But the thing is the all-in-one machine that I am interested in is more than I am prepared to spend on such an item! But it'll make me sound great though, since it is almost professional quality! Heheh.

I am also interested in getting a home theater speaker set, so if I get the karaoke mixer, and speakers, it'll mean I am also getting my home theater speakers! I don't want just any old speaker set, no siree, I want the high end, like the Bose home theater set! Well, at least the more affordable set! Heheh.

Next on my list will be a widescreen flat panel TV! That'll have to wait, yeah, wait till the prices come down a bit more! For now, I'll just watch TV and movies on my old Panasonic 44" projection TV that my mother-in-law handed down to us.

Lampwork Necklace

This was created with a friend in mind. She loves to wear chunky necklaces, and I thought this design goes very well with her sari or punjabi outfit.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Foggy Mornings

Woke up to a rather foggy day today. It was already 9.00 a.m. yet the visibility in my backyard was about 50 meters. The fog must have been really dense when Doug left for work at about 6.00 this morning. Yesterday there was also patchy fog when I drove the kids to school but right at the school it was clear! :-)

I couldn't see my neighbour's house from our back porch.

This was taken after 2.00 p.m. and this is the view from my back porch.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Where to Spend Christmas?

Last year we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with the kids' grandparents in Nipomo. This year the grandparents spent Thanksgiving with us. And for Christmas, I have invited them to spend it with us too. I have not yet received a positive answer from them.

I don't know why, but this year I feel like I am done with traveling long distances .. by car, by plane .. whatever. I just don't feel like getting into the car and spend 5 - 6 hours on the road just to spend a few days at a place. And while on the road put up with kids' whining about being confined in the car. :-(

In January we flew to Malaysia and spent 3 months there. And of course the flight back. And in June we drove twice to Nipomo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the kids' grandparents. Also we took a friend who visited from Florida to visit the kids' grandparents in September. That is all the traveling I am willing to do for this year.

The good thing is, since we got back from Malaysia in April, the grandparents have been to visit more often than we've been to see them at their place in Nipomo.

In truth, I have developed some kind of phobia and get quite stressed out when it comes to travelling. I always imagine the worst, planes falling from the sky, a pile up on the road, some drunk driver hitting us, falling asleep behind the wheel .. you know the worst possible scenario. Even while on the road, a plane might hit you! :-(

Has age done this to me? The older one gets, the more cautious one becomes? Or is it motherhood? I fear the kids losing one or worse both parents while they are still very young. I fear losing my kids to a ghastly accident. The Bible says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philipians 4:6,7 I guess I just need to put my trust in God, and let him take over my anxiety.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Play 2005

Last night, our kids (one of them!) took part in their school's annual Christmas Play. My kids are in the 2 -3 year olds class, so their part in the play was minor .. they don't really listen to instructions very well .. :-)

Denice stood on stage with the rest of the kids with this look on her face, "What am I doing here?" Duncan had to be taken off the stage because he was screaming and crying.

The church hall was full of proud parents. Every parent had a video camera or a digital camera taking pictures of their kids! It was quite a scene .. I had to squeeze myself in between the camera carrying parents! :-)

Kids with their teachers, Ms Carmen, and Ms Laura

Huh, huh, what am I doing here, Mommy?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Tree 2

I got my xD picture card reader today so was able to download the pictures in my memory card. The first picture was taken with the lights in the dining room turned on, and the second one after all the lights had been turned off. :-)

Talking of xD picture card reader, I got the one whose order I supposedly cancelled when I made my order at! Heheh, now I am going to end up with two card readers! Good thing this one is a refurbished item, hence it only cost $5.99. I won't bother returning it - all in all it cost me $10 including shipping. The other one which is still on its way, is much smaller and cost three times more.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Tree

The tree is finally decorated and out of the children's reach. Heheh, it looks bare. :-) I have lots more ornaments but didn't want to put up too many on this little tree.

I need to try taking a picture of the tree with the lights on, without the camera flash on. My new camera will be able to take a picture of the object in its natural light. :-)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christmas Tree Shopping

This evening we took the kids to the Boy Scouts' christmas tree lot to buy a christmas tree. We usually buy our tree from the Boy Scouts.

Before we left, I bundled the kids in warm clothes. The temperature tonight is 38 F which is about 3 Celcius. The kids and I took the mini van while Daddy drove the pick up truck.

This is actually the kids first real christmas tree. They were so excited the see the trees at the lot that they ran here and there among the trees. :-) We chose a small tree, a silver tip fir, about 4 - 5 feet tall.

When we got home with the tree, we couldn't decorate it yet because the tree we bought was quite skinny and the screws that held the tree together in the tree stand wasn't long enough to clamp the tree down. :-( So it'll have to wait till tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Camel-Cookie Night

Come join Puteri, Kathy, Paula, Rin and Karen

You are invited to our
Second Annual Camel-Cookie Gift Night

on Saturday, December 3rd, at 5.30 pm
at the Carr's home on xxxxx Ave, Galt

What to bring: Cookies to Exchange and
a donation towards a camel for a family through World Vision

Whay a camel during the Christmas holidays?

"Families in desert regions can depend on the remarkable camel
for almost everything.
Camels carry loads of up to 1,000 pounds
and can travelfive days without food or water.
Their rich milk is
made into nutritious cheeseand their hair is woven into durable
Over its 40 years life span, one ofthese relaible, hardworking
animlas can
dramatically improve life ofa poor family?" Think
of it as a refrigerated SUV for the
desert, only much,
much cheaper!

We will also be making simple jewelry with the help of Puteri that
you can take home with you along with a sampling of everyone's cookies!

Please RSVP Kathy Carr at xxxxx

Thank you!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shopping Online

This afternoon I went shopping on After comparing prices from different merchants, I settled on a SanDisk 512 MB xD memory for my new camera. It cost me $55.99 and shipping was free for any order over $25. I've seen the same memory for less at ebay but I didn't want to deal direct with an unknown seller with regards to payment.

I also bought a new card reader, an xD reader/writer for $16.14. It's very small, lightweight (14 grams) and travel friendly. Just what I needed! :-)

I looked at PDAs too, and decided to get one for Doug for Christmas. It wasn't the latest model, heheh, but good enough. It is a PalmOne Tungsten E2. Actually, I was looking for a personal organizer for myself, nothing fancy, and I might just go back and get one for myself! :-) There are a few that are quite reasonably priced. If I do get one, I just hope that I am not too dumb to learn how to use it! Heheh.