Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gratitude jar

(source: farthest trackback I found was 28 Days of Gratitude, but she says she found it elsewhere but doesn't list a source. Thank you, OP.)

Gonna start doing this. I think it's super important to also document things to be able to find them during the year -- thus the blog, which is more searchable than tracking back thru FB or a handwritten journal, but a year's summation of good times and moments sounds incredible.

Happy 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Love languages

I know Gary Chapman says the love languages are quality time, acts of service, physical touch, giving gifts, and... ummm...
...words of encouragement! That's it! (Came up with those out of my head; very pleased I didn't have to look them up.)

But I submit to you there are at least two more love languages. For example, Big Frog's mom's primary love language is quantity time -- not necessarily doing something or having an experience or going somewhere, just being physically together. Words are not even necessary; being in the same room and each, separately, reading a book is just fine. That's quantity time.

I recently discovered in myself just how strong my Chinese grandma love language is. This arguably could be any culture in the world: Yiddish, for example, or German, or Polish, or Italian. I have had grandmas of many different heritages1 and all of them speak the all-important love language of food.

1 We lived geographically far from our biological grandparents, so we adopted local grands -- people we knew from my parents' work, from the neighborhood, etc. We had literally dozens of grands.

I also grew up in a food culture of the family table, everyone tries some of everything off everybody's plate. It's by request and exchange, we're not reaching forks across the table to spear our favorites or anything, but Big Frog did not have that experience growing up. So when we eat out, I usually want a bite of his whatever, which he gladly2 gives, but he usually resists trying mine.

2 Or at least graciously.

Just yesterday, at Purple Fiddle, he didn't want to try my apple-turkey-pesto-hummus sandwich and I was forced to remind him, "Ily food!"

And then today at Tip Top Cafe, he gently declined to taste yet again. I had a brioche bun with, among other things, local proscuitto, provolone, leeks, and morels. And Big Frog said, "No thanks," yet again. He is polite, I'll give you that.

But this sandwich was amazing. Yesterday's sandwich was amazing. How can you turn this down? This IS the good stuff!

So I had a little outburst:

Why are you fighting me on this? It's like God's hot pocket!

He tried the sandwich.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


I commend to you NPR's recent interview on on Paper Sons.

I also highly recommend The Chinese-American Family Album, which is in a line of different cultures' American family albums: Jewish, Irish, Italian, German, African-American, etc.

Tangenially, on other aspects of the Chinese immigration/assimilation experience, I love the kids' novel In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, which is about an 8yo (10 by Chinese reckoning) who immigrates to the states and has to learn what it means to be American without losing being Chinese.

Graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese (ABC) weaves three stories about family and heritage, and his Level Up is about parental expectation and personal preference for second-generation ABCs.
Personally speaking, when my grandfather was finally able to come clean about his identity, he got a declaration page that something like seven different aliases would all be known as R____.

Over the course of time, my mom and every one of her sibs actually had their names changed to add in the true family name. Some added it as a middle name, others as a surname.

Dads are important.

Mine has been married to my mom for 46 years.

He worked hard to provide for the family for 29 1/2 years at his first job out of college. And when corporate decided that he was expendable, he worked contract engineering jobs until he found a place to stay for 10 more years until he retired.

There are a lot of times when he and I don't speak the same language, let alone love language, but he's my dad, and my personal PR person (to the point of embarrassment), and always a wonderful supporter. When I was little, we built (OK, assembled, but I was 4) metal bookshelves together for the basement. He came on school field trips with me. He still drives me to the airport whenever I need to fly out of DC (and I leave my car at my parents' house instead of in long-term parking). And just ask him about interpreted theater... no matter that it took four years of "Your oldest child! Your only daughter!" to convince him to come up to see me interpret a show, he now raves about the experience to anyone who will listen.

We had an interesting conversation recently on encouraging in a way that encourages rather than expects overmuch... (there were kleenex involved, on one side anyways)... but for "all the daddies with little girls who aren’t old enough yet to ask for what they need from you", I encourage you to read What Little Girls Wish Daddies Knew.

source: My baby book! Ostensibly mom took it.

Note to self... hopefully I'll remember for next Christmas

image source: GeekMom Lisa Kay Tate.

1) On gilding gifties. Take pre-loved toys, clean 'em up good, and SPRAY PAINT THEM. Brilliant. I want a shiny silver steggy. Someone get on that. Bring on the glitter glue.

2) Gift exchange at a distance -- gather the family via Skype, adults on both ends make cocktails, kids at each location read out to whom the gift goes, unwrap on their behalf, and then mail later. That makes so much sense. Any excuse to see cousins, even via screen.

News & Notes 2013

Because I use this to track things, I wanted to throw my newsletter online. But because it is a public blog, I've redacted News & Notes. I'm not quite sure what I think about that.

Merry Christmas!
I find I want to greet with "He is risen!" which traditionally is an Easter greeting, but honestly, if Jesus is not risen, there's no reason for him to have come at Christmas.
In light of that, "He is risen indeed!"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My 2014 goal: Filled to the full, so walk worthy.

Colossians 1:9-16 AMP

For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things– That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]. [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God's holy people) in the Light. [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins. [Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation. For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.

(emphasis mine)

Monday, December 23, 2013

ASL storytelling

I've got a surprise for you:

That was the good surprise. Here's the shocker, though:
Rhymes don't mean anything in ASL.
Mother Goose?
The rhythm and cadence of "Jack and Jill went up the hill" kind of gets lost in JACK (sign-spell-sign to establish a namesign) JILL (sign-spell-sign) HILL GO WALK.
This is not to say that they don't sign the children's poems. They are part of the larger cultural experience. But poetry in ASL is a visual experience, not an auditory one.

As Hermione told Ron re Beedle the Bard, Muggles have entirely different stories. (I am not saying Deaf are Muggles. In fact, the Hearies are probably the Muggles in this analogy, in not knowing about an entire society that exists right within the larger community.)

When I first studied ASL, we learned several children's stories from within Deaf culture. For example, TRAIN STORY tells of a wild west train ambush, all by using the handshapes for the numbers 1-15 in order. (The first version of the story I learned, the white people surrender to the Native Americans. Later I learned a version in which the calvary swoops in and capture the Native Americans. Revisionist history?) We also did MAGIC POT to work on classifiers, using handshapes to illustrate size and motion. (Even without ASL, use your hands to show me the size & shape of a baseball. A basketball looks different, although it also is a ball. A high-bounce ball you'd probably only use one hand to show me the shape. A marble, maybe only two fingers.)
Meet Sheena. She's 4yo and Deaf-of-Deaf. She is Deaf and her mother is Deaf. (Approx 90% of Deaf people are born to hearing people.) (And when Deaf have a Deaf child, there is rejoicing to have a child who is "like us". Like recognizing a family nose.)

She tells Twas the Night Before Christmas in full ASL (her native language). Please read this article before you watch the video. It will help you appreciate the linguistic complexity of what this little girl is doing.

Thanks to Tim for the find!

P.S. This spring's CVHS musical is Children of Eden, a retelling of the Adam & Eve, and Noah's Ark stories. It is a Bible-as-literature version, not a Christian perspective. A lot of fun, but we'll set aside the theology of it. Interpreted matinee Tues 4/8/2014.


me: Big Frog, how was Saturday #2?
Big Frog: It was great!
me: And what's tomorrow?
Big Frog: Saturday!
me: How many Saturdays do we get?
Big Frog: LOTS!!
It's a whole other world here.


Big Frog is drinking a beer-you-can-chew (that's how I describe anything in the same vein as Guinness) from a mason jar, in front of a door with a stained glass window mended by duct tape, in front of a cafe stage. We are loving The Purple Fiddle.
Found a new cool group: Loves It. Folk-rock. Super fun. Two guitars, also sometimes violin and banjo. Big Frog is rubbing off on me. I really enjoyed their opening number, Katydid, and also a new, unrecorded song ("Lay it"... I think), which has an amazing boogie-woogie bass line on blues guitar.

They have been touring constantly for three years. Their goal was 200 gigs/year for two years. Tonight was the last of a very long run.
(Also, they had tees with glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs at their merch table.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My new favorite tap video.

I don't know what I love most about this.
Could be the style of tap.
Could be this cover of the song.
Could be the syncronicity.
Could be the vintage look.
Could be the triptych.
Could be a latent love of Gap ads.

Doesn't matter.

I. Love. This. Video.
(When I grow up, I wanna tap like her.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Family history of bargain shopping (and hoarding).

Hoarder tendencies can be explained by a lot of things. My mom, for example, has lots of stuff, but she can find just about anything you need at the drop of a hat. She is one serious recycler, which is to say, reuser/repurposer. One time she was asked for coffee cans for a project... she came up with close to 40 cans of the right size, even though no one in our household drank coffee!

Her parents, my GungGung & PorPor, came to the States prior to Mao coming to power in China. And they raised five kids (born within a 6 1/2 year span) without a dollar of government welfare. Families sponsored other family members to come to the States and housed them as they learned a trade until they could stand on their own two feet. My mom remembers having as many as 17 people living in their home, above the Chinese hand laundry. To say they lived frugally is an extraordinary understatement.

source: Eugene Leong. Photo from 1951.

Also, some photos of old photos1 of the extended family, including my mom's parents. This one is GungGung & PorPor at mom's brother's wedding, 1971.

1 Album is on snapfish. You will need a (free) login & password to access the family photos

Recently I asked my mom if she had any index card file boxes. She found three of her parents', and we found a treasure trove in them.
All this was in three index card boxes! I was expecting to find recipes, or perhaps just empty boxes.

Typeface. These were bundled up like a small pile of matchsticks in a tiny square of cellophane. I asked mom, but she didn't know anyone who actually had a printing press. Murg thought they were typewriter letters to swap out. It wasn't until we unbundled them that he realized what a laborious process printing was. These make me glad to live in an era of blogging.

A size comparison w/ galena & silicon. Don't you have mineral samples around your house for this? Mom actually used to work at Cranbrook Institute of Science, which has a fabulous rocks and minerals display, and a better public display than the Smithsonian puts out. FWIW, the galena weighed about the same as the typeface, and each weighed about 20x what the silicon weighed. Size aside, the density difference was remarkable.

Gung Gung's pincushion. He was a man whose faith could move mountains. And what an evangelist -- I remember him sitting me down to show me how the Chinese characters for man appear in come2 -- a cross on which was a big man in the middle, and a smaller man on either side. A picture of the crucifixion. My Sunday School kids also get GungGung stories about snakes, figs, and faith on a regular basis. Jesus Saves indeed.

2 Come.

source: left:; right:

Frog buttons from where? and when?: These wired frogs (frog buttons is redundant, but makes for greater clarity) are so much prettier than western buttons (although my knitting friend Dee gets some pretty nifty ones, like the Legos she put on a pair of mittens recently). The fasteners are frogs, regardless of the shape of them. These particular ones are frogs shaped like butterflies.
Interesting bit about these frogs. First notice they're from Toronto. I asked mom when her parents would have been in Toronto. She said they were back and forth across the border all the time. Sure, but that was when they lived in Detroit. My grandparents moved from Detroit to the San Francisco area before I was born. Then take a look at that phone number! There's an exchange on that phone number. So these frogs are at least 50 years old.

Mom says her parents were big on finding "good deals". Then they'd tuck them away and find a use for them later. Well, even years after they went home to Jesus, their treasures made for a delightful evening of discovery and storytelling for my family.

This kid thought his parents were breaking up after 20 years, but he was wrong.

I used to listen to Snap Judgement on NPR every week on the way over to meeting with my mentors on Sunday evening. Tiny changes can effect huge differences. This story was voted the 2012 Snap Judgement top performance. Powerful stuff.
My parents celebrated 46 years married this past summer. Big Frog's celebrated 51 years in the spring. We're both grateful for their example of longevity and perserverance.

Also, when our 2002 Saturn SL2 topped 200k in May 2012, we made a special both-of-us excursion in which we sang 500 Miles by The Proclaimers, held our breath in the last mile or so, topped 200k, and celebrated with ice cream. Yay us!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Yarnflower: Forever Blooming

To make: Forever Blooming Flowers. Thanks to Joyful Darkness for the pattern.

Source: The Crochet Crowd

What a creative God we serve!

10 Macro Photos of Individual Snowflakes

Anyone want one?

Nameplate, anyone? Completely customizable. Made using my 3Doodler, in this case using glow-in-the-dark blue extruded plastic.

I've worked out my system & am enjoying making these... now all I need is a marketable name. And to figure out etsy. And to figure out a packing-shipping system, because they're definitely too big for the small flat-rate boxes. But other than that.

In other words, nothing is figured out yet. But if you're local (-ish, or local to my parents) and are interested in throwing money at me, I accept.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dream big! (And tell Santa. Just in case.)

O Canada!

Westjet Airlines put an interactive Santa in their terminal, then fulfilled gift requests at the baggage claim at the end of the flight! (Full article in The Huffington Post)

Also, an outtakes reel. I particularly like Santa's response when, at 1:55, a woman requests a pair of warm socks.
I'm also delighted to be involved in redditgifts' 2013 Secret Santa gift exchange, making a stranger's day as part of a 160+ country, 110k+ Santas exchange. It's more than doubled in size since last year's, which was itself, a Guinness World Record exchange. If you get right on it, the redditgifts Holiday Cards 2013 exchange is still open for signups thru Thursday, December 12!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Steggy got yarnbombed at Cranbrook Institute of Science, in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. Mom used to work there and we always visited, every time we went to Detroit.

To add to my project list: Dino hat, with spikes, with this as the base hat.

Or maybe this Steggy hat?

Monday, December 2, 2013

My parents used to be my age.

Sometimes it's particularly good to be a firstborn.

Over Thanksgiving at my parents' I went digging through old photo albums. Among other things, I found my baby book and my younger brother's. Let's just say mine is significantly more filled-in than his.

That being said, my parents had other "loaner" kids before they had me and my brother. Much like my hubby and I are involved in our godkids' lives on an active basis, my parents loved to love on their nieces and nephews. One summer they had cousin Optimista & her brother L over for a whopping seven weeks. A few photos are here. (It's a snapfish album. You will need a (free) login and password to view.)