Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catsup and Family History

I recently attended a women's conference at which a speaker extolled the virtues of blogging for family history. My journal, the paper paged, bound hardback book in which I scribble once a week or so, is a pretty good history of me already. And this blog tends to be focused on my opinions and thoughts a fair amount of the time as well. But my husband doesn't have a journal or blog to record HIS personal history. Sorry to rat you out, Husby. =)

Anyway, I'm going to start periodically recording here the fun memories he tells me. That way his legacy will be somewhere besides just in our heads.

Last night we had spaghetti for dinner. Jerry put catsup on his spaghetti noodles in place of spaghetti sauce. He asked if that was considered weird by American standards. I replied that it sorta had a "poor-starving-student" feel to it. Then Jerry started relating some childhood memories, and I wished I had a tape recorder. One of the memories is when his mom would take them out for dinner to a "Western" restaurant. I always laugh about the meals Chinese people consider "Western," just as they probably laugh about what I consider "Chinese food." Anyway, Jerry would order a meal consisting of french fries, half a roasted chicken (a chicken cut in half, not just a drumstick or two), and spaghetti noodles with catsup on them. He said the spaghetti he ate last night really brought back that childhood feeling for him.

A note on catsup. The Cantonese word for tomato is ke and sauce is jap--or is it ca and tsup--not sure if I got that pinyin correct. Anyway, it sounds like Catsup/Ketchup when Jerry says it. Catsup is a common ingredient in a fair amount of authentic Chinese cooking. Including tomato eggs, another favorite dish of Jerry's. But I'll save that for a later post...=)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harvest Fest, American Version

Last week I posted about our Chinese Harvest Festival, but today's post will cover our trip to the "American" Harvest Festival, celebrated at the local farmpark.  It was more "Western-themed" than mooncakes and lanterns, I suppose.  They had pony rides, peddlers, pumpkins, and...corn mazes (couldn't figure out a way to say that last one with a P). 
An apple butter cooking pot.  We got to sample the apple butter, and also had samples of a few different varieties of apples.  I think I have not yet explained the apple consternation we have in the Tam household.  I personally like all kinds of apples except red delicious, because more often than not, this variety tends to have a tough, bitter skin and mushy, bland insides.  I have heard they used to be delicious (hence the name) but modern fruit developers (is that the real title of those people?) tried so hard to get a beautiful red color on the outside that they neglected to preserve the flavor.  Jerry, on the other hand, enjoys only apples that are "sweet," rather than those that are "tart" or "sour."  He insists red delicious is the only apple variety he has tried that is reliably not too sour.  So we never know quite what to buy at the grocery store.  But sometimes I get red delicious just for Jerry and feel quite big-hearted as I do so. 

Anyway, you may guess it was with great interest that we sampled apples this day.  We consulted each other, trying to find the perfect apple for our household purchase that would satisfy both of us.  Turns out one does indeed exist: the honey crisp apple is perfect--sweet, crunchy, flavorful.  Too bad I'm not aware that any of our usual grocery stores sells it. 
During our last few visits to the farmpark we declined the pony rides because they cost a few dollars extra.  But this visit, Lo seemed enamored with the horses--finally!  Note his cuteness pointing to the horses in the videos below (if you watch just one, the last one in the lineup is the best).  So we couldn't resist letting him get the 2 min. saunter around the circle on horseback. 
Again, a purchase we made just because our Lo is so adorable.  He gave an excited grin to all these jack-o-lanterns-to-be, and then wouldn't let go of this mini punkin.  So we bought it and he carried it around in his clutching paws for half the day.  A lot of people commented how cute it was that he loved his pumpkin.  And we agree. 
Perhaps this child can never own too many pairs of overalls.  He has four teeth on top; they never show, no matter the size of his smile.  Interesting, no?  We've only caught passing glimpses of those teeth when turning him upside-down.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Colander

A few days ago I was making dinner while Lo entertained himself at my feet. I glanced down absent-mindedly to find he had helped himself to the contents of one of the kitchen cupboards: He kept it on his head for a SOLID 5 minutes or more. It looked so entertaining, I gave it a whirl and found that yes, the world does look better through slatted holes. For awhile anyway.
Also note the strainer in the background and a few other objects strewn around the floor. Yeah, that kitchen floor is never clean.

And now that Autumn is officially here, this should mark the last of our naked baby posts. Honestly, half the summer he wore nothing but his diaper. Have I mentioned he does not like being dressed. I put him in sweat-pants the other day for the first time in months (we've just been having him wear shorts of course in the heat) and he went crazy trying to pull the pants off. Only he hasn't yet perfected the valuable life skill of how to de-pants oneself, and just kept tugging at the knee area. Pretty funny/futile, Lo.
Though I suppose he'll have the last laugh when he finally does acquire said skill and starts to spontaneously run around naked to his mother's chagrin.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

As requested: Behold The Walker

It was brought to my attention we haven't really posted a video of our precocious Little Toddler.  I suppose I never felt like we had any "good videos," since all our videos of him toddling around happen to also show our messy house, or me wearing nothing but my unmentionables, or whatnot.  So I just decided to forget about my shame in the name of sharing that Lo's cuteness with the world:  Behold the walking.  And notice him carrying stuff.  I'll have to get some better videos up here someday.  Wish I knew how to edit videos.  That might be helpful for future posting needs. Oh, and when I mention the obstacle course in the video, that was just refering to the way the table legs stick out clear to the opposite wall, so every time Lo walks past he has to weave his head around funnily.  Good times.      video

Moon Cake

For yesterday's Zhong Qiu Jie celebration, I baked moon cakes. I used a recipe found here. Since I didn't have lotus seed paste, I used red bean paste (also a common filling for moon cakes). And since they have nuts in the filling, I made a few special ones without filling for that Lo to enjoy.


His first time to eat moon cake! The next couple pictures had some bad flash glare, so sorry about that (why is food so hard to photograph?). Anyway, I ran low on filling, so these are not as "full" as moon cakes usually are, but Jerry assured me he likes it better that way. Cute! Very tasty and they do look like little round "moons," even if I did not have a way to press the tops with design the way moon cakes usually are.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

中秋节

In honor of the Chinese holiday tomorrow (or today, if you were in China), here are some photos we took recently on a grocery shopping trip to Chinatown: Year of the Tiger. Local artists decorated these statues, which appear to be guarding the parking lot to the grocery store. They are decorated in great variety--some had inlaid tiles, jewels, or other 3-D knicknacks, while others were simply painted in gorgeous designs.
And in a spirit of tourism, I flagrantly disrespected the artists' work and let our baby crawl on these lovelies.
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everybody! We probably aren't doing much, but might eat a moon cake or two and go outside to say hello to the full moon in our sky. This holiday is similar to the American Thanksgiving, I suppose, if we had to make an illustration.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Carrying Stuff

Just a quick note to share something about that Lo that made me smile today. He has started to enjoy carrying stuff around with him. Often he carries objects nearly as big as him, like his giant stuffed pony, or a sofa pillow, or some of the clothing I've been trying to fold from the laundry basket. He just grabs something in one hand and marches off down the hallway.

Tonight Jerry and I were in the living room, and Lo was off wandering around by himself somewhere else in the apartment. Soon we saw him coming down the hallway dragging a whole blanket behind him. He was singing a song (waYa...yaya...ahAH), and looking around with this funniest squinty-eyed look on his face. Jerry and I stopped our conversation to just look and laugh at that baby coming toward us. We fully expected Lo would come join us, but he made a sudden right turn to veer into the guest bedroom instead. The hallway and guest bedroom were dark with no lights on. It was the silliest thing that he went off by himself, and we just never know what is going on in his head.

He walks a lot now, and definitely prefers it to crawling or being carried. Sometimes he throws tantrums if I do not let him get down from my arms to walk by himself. He is also balancing well enough to squat down when he wants to look at something, rather than toppling over to get something off the floor.

Anyway, there's the "short" update. I always go on a bit longer than I intend to--but what can I say; we love our Lo and could talk about him all day if people want to listen. =)

Friday, September 17, 2010

True Story

I read a book recently called Peace Like a River. As I do not have a copy handy, I’ll just paraphrase rather than quote from it. The author mused that sometimes people say, “What a miracle,” when they see something like a particularly beautiful sunset or a baby’s birth, etc. but while those are special events, they are still fairly explainable. This author argues that a real miracle is an event that leaves people squirming for justification. It most likely triggers some people to have an uncomfortable feeling—because miracles are events that stretch our understanding of reality.

Today I watched my doctor feel such consternation as he tried to talk about my latest test results. “I guess it is my job to give you some kind of explanation,” he shrugged. After lengthy pause, he described how sometimes an aggressive neck examination can cause thyroiditis. So maybe his examining my neck had caused my thyroid to fix itself?

He can take the credit if he insists, I suppose. But you and I—the praying sorts—know the source from whence miracles come. My hyperthyroidism is gone, and I can only thank God for it. The prospect of surgery seemed imminent, as two specialists agreed it was needed, and urgently so. But one final blood test last week declared otherwise.

Despite me being a person of faith, I have to admit part of me recognizes the uncomfortable side of this miraculous change. Because of the “fear of men,” perhaps?...I had already set in motion a plan to have help after the surgery, and now find myself struggling to explain to the dozen or so friends that I simply do not need surgery anymore and don’t know why. A month ago my thyroid was enlarged enough that perfect strangers commented on it; it caused discomfort and pain when I swallowed, and I did indeed feel at least half the symptoms of the hyperthyroidism my blood tests confirmed. But now my neck swelling has receded entirely, and it takes a specialist's trained fingers or an ultrasound to even detect the nodules.

Anyway, I’m scheduled to have a few more biopsies next month. Even though my thyroid nodules are no longer enlarged, they are still present. So it is something to keep an eye on. But I am thankful for the prayers of many, and the way a loving Heavenly Father has evidently seen fit to relieve my concerns. Being the primary caregiver of our young child, it was bad timing for me to have this surgery so even if I need to have it eventually down the road, any delay makes a big difference.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Headlands Beach

Okay; last catchup post from our anniversary week celebrations. We had other fun activities, but not all of them had photos/videos to document, so I'll just share this final one. We visited Headlands Beach, Ohio's longest sandy beach coastline (I think?). When we first arrived, the seagulls swarmed over our heads in a scene reminiscent of Hitchcock's film The Birds.
That Lo seemed excited by the water. And even though we did bring a bathing suit for him this time, he didn't end up wearing it...

Yes, I am yet again posting nudie pics of our child on the internet. But who can blame me wanting to broadcast that cutest of baby bottoms?

I did not plan ahead too well with my outfit either--hence the makeshift clam diggers. Long shadows since it was late evening. We hoped to catch a sunset, but didn't end up staying quite that long.

Showing us (proudly) the sand he kept trying to stuff in his mouth. I didn't worry too much about it until later when we discovered a few dead fish washed up on the beach.

Sparkly waters. I'm always so glad Jerry is the camera man of the family, because I would never have thought to capture these types of shots.

That diaper got so water-logged. I think in this photo I am trying to keep Lo from running out into the deep. He seemed to think the further into the lake he got, the more fun to be had. Only problem, there isn't much oxygen down where the lake gets deeper than his head. It felt like the whole time I had to keep dragging him back on shore, and he immediately tried to crawl back out to where the waves were deeper than his head, etc.


videoHere are some fun videos. When we first drove up, we noticed a doe munching grass. She was a nursing mother, apparently, as her udder looked as big as a cow's! Crazy.

videoLots of splashing. videoAnd more splashing...as well as Lo's attempts to drown himself. He smelled like a dead fish afterward. I was actually pretty grossed out by it, and loved scrubbing him down in a bubble bath once we drove home.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lake Eerie Cruise

I promise these "catch-up" posts won't go on too long...but here's another one anyway. For one of our anniversary week activities we splurged on a little mini cruise. We still have yet to try a "real cruise," but this one on the lake was perfect for us right now. The day could not have been more beautiful, with blue skies, a lot of sunshine, and a light breeze off the water. Cleveland is known as the "city of bridges," so we enjoyed seeing all the different types. This one fascinated Jerry to no end, because we got to see it raise and lower a couple times as trains crossed and then our ship was allowed to float under it.


Lots of other people were enjoying the lake that day too. Sailboats are the prettiest boats.


That Lo had lots of excited yelling when we let him look out over the water.



The Cleveland Browns' stadium in the background, and Ohio's pennant flag in the fore.




The birds ended up looking fairly tiny once we took the photo, but in real life they were more easily observed and I liked trying to guess the different varieties. More than just the average seagull, I could have sworn I saw half a dozen different birds perched on these rock walls, including pelicans??





More Cleveland cityscape in the background, and Jerry hugging that Lo in the mei tai. Halfway through the cruise, after we'd eaten lunch, that Lo fell asleep to the rocking of the ship on the waves...and then Jerry leaned his head against the table and fell deeply asleep also! So I was "alone" for a few minutes to enjoy the cheesy, inescapable music.


Nothing much more to say about this photo, except that I just love the clouds and blue, blue sky.

We had a relaxing, lovely time on this mini cruise, and ended up being so glad we decided to give it a try.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cleveland Art Museum

More belated postings from the last several weeks. In the latter part of August, we celebrated the 3rd anniversary of our wedding. Three years--woo hoo! Since we didn't feel very good about leaving Lo with sitters (check that video after the temple trip to recall how traumatized our baby gets), I developed a theory on how to have quality couple time even with our baby in tow. We are pleased to report the theory held true over much testing. =) Here is my "theory": when we are with the baby, approx. 50% of our time talking involves him directly--speaking toward him, or including him in the conversation, or making him the subject of the conversation, etc. A separate 30% of our time talking does not directly involve the baby, but he manages to interrupt and fragment our thoughts/speaking regardless. That leaves 20% of the time we are together that ends up being quality "couple" conversation. Therefore, if our anniversary is technically 24 hours long, and we do not want to leave Lo for even a few hours of that span of time, then we need to celebrate the anniversary for about 144 hours (6 days) to filter out just one day of "quality" couple time, adding up all the 5-10 minute segments. Does that make any sense at all. Well, anyway, it made sense as we experienced it, because this anniversary WEEK was awesome. Jerry took a couple days off work, and we did something exciting each day--but mostly just enjoyed the time together. We feel renewed and refreshed in our relationship after having all these great anniversary moments. It was fun saying to each other all throughout each day for a whole week or more, "Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!" And then the next morning it was like Groundhog Day when we'd say yet again, "Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!" So. For one of our "anniversary days," we toured the Cleveland Art Museum. This place is glorious. Totally FREE every day for every person who walks in, it is rated the #1 attraction of this city. Here we are pictured in the catacombs section of the basement. I cannot even describe the awe at seeing art pieces that are thousands of years old.
This mummy was a little tiny person compared to that taller one in the picture above. Both were decorated with intricate hieroglyphics and gold leafing. They even had painted toenails. Ah, the details! So fun.

The African art was a favorite--totally exotic. I liked this nursing momma statue, because as soon as I noticed it, my milk let down and I remembered I needed to feed that Lo. lol.


The medieval section was housed in a grand hall that seemed as big as a castle. Fitting. Jerry kept saying he expected this knight on horseback to just ride right off the display unit, like in the movie Night at the Museum.



I wondered if Lo would get bored in the museum, and even feared we would have to spend all our time entertaining him instead of enjoying the art pieces, but this baby was totally entranced by all the art around him! Most of the time he just stared in awe, pointing this way or that way. I guess that must be the hallmark of good art--a person doesn't have to be educated, or even be older than a few months of age, and yet still be drawn to look at the art.




Weaponry. The glass cases made for some cool photos. We only saw about a quarter of the museum's exhibits before we decided to head out to eat some dinner, so we'll have to go back again someday. HIGHLY recommended for anybody to fit in a trip to this museum, whether you think you like art or not!











videoThe video shows another part we enjoyed: the echo of the museum walls. That Lo figured out the acoustics pretty quickly, and then wouldn't stop yelling his joy for all to hear. We got lots of smiles from fellow patrons, and only a few sidelong stares from the docents and security guards. =)

I know him so well

Cute story about that Lo:

Jerry was laying in bed one day over the weekend (trying to nap?) when the baby toddled up and grabbed his daddy's watch from the nightstand. Fast forward several days later...we still couldn't find the watch. But then I remembered Lo really likes putting objects inside of containers. So I looked for the watch inside of anything that resembled a container. And within just 10 seconds, the watch was found!

Lo had put the wristwatch inside a roll of vinyl (we store about a dozen rolls of vinyl under the bed...don't ask). Jerry and I were delighted, picturing in our minds how Lo must have looked as he put the watch in and out of various objects before finally leaving it in one and moving on to play elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Temple Tears and Rainbow Promises

In that previous post, I alluded to some of our quality weekends lately. Since a lot of our weekend fun happened to be recorded on Jerry's phone, it took awhile to get uploaded. Here is the beginning of my backlogged report: Three weeks ago: We attended an endowment session in the Columbus Ohio temple. This was as "extra" temple visit for us Tams since we have the goal of just quarterly attendance during our life stage and had already gone the month prior. We knew there was a ward temple trip planned, but did not intend on going until one of the stake leaders announced, "ALL endowed members should plan to attend." We felt an inner stirring to follow this counsel, though it would mean some sacrifice at this stage of young parenthood and living so far from the temple. As usual, God seemed to recognize the extra effort on our part to be faithful; we felt an abundance of revelation for ourselves during this temple trip. Definitely happy we made the journey, though it meant a few tears from that Lo. The video shows him in the moments following our return from the temple (he'd been babysat by sweet young men/women from our ward in the chapel adjacent to the temple). When we walked out to our car from picking up Lo, there was a rainbow flying over the temple (pictured above) and I took it as a beautiful promise from God that we would be greatly blessed as a family for our work in the temple that day.

videoBefore driving home, we had dinner at Red Robins with some friends from church. Oh, and before the temple session we got to spend some time visiting with our good friends "the Jarretites," who live in Columbus. They just got a new puppy, and I was gratified to see that Lo has gotten to the age of being excited about animals.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Balance Achieved

We have had several consecutive weekends now that were the perfect blend of both recreation and rest. Sometimes it might just be a happy accident that we decide to nap instead of go out, or visit a museum instead of rent a movie, etc. but for the most part, we are really learning our limits of what it means to live with a child. It means we need to break up the fun into smaller, more bite-sized segments--but not give up on the fun altogether. This past weekend we decided to figure out how to grill. On Saturday at lunchtime, we quickly discovered starting a fire in a gusty wind is no simple matter. A half hour--and a roll of tin foil later, Jerry announced to me he'd done it. The coals were hot and ready to go. Our tin foil chicken turned out well enough we were confident about proceeding to host a barbeque with a group of friends on Monday evening. We grilled shish kababs, and they were adorable and yummy. Kind of like that Lo:
Forgive the camera man's finger, but we love this pic because it shows that Lo's finger pointing too. Over the past month or so he's been a pointer extraordinaire, showing us everything he sees and/or wants. Note his hooded jacket; it was very chilly for our Saturday grilling session, but the weather Monday turned out perfect. Autumn is right around the corner, but we've got a few warm days left I'm sure.