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The Christmas season has come & gone in unceremonious fashion. It’s already the year 2023. Every year we all say the same exact thing: Halloween is a blur, Thanksgiving is pretty much passed over as an eating ‘cheat day’, & [whichever holiday you celebrate in December] whizzes past in a flash before we’re all counting down to the new year. For me, Christmas is a mixed bag of emotions. It’s my most favorite festive holiday, not just for my own personal reasons, but also because it was my dad’s favorite holiday as well.

Christmastime always has me reminiscing about my dad, & these past few years, as well as up till now, I have felt a thin veil of bittersweetness fog over the entire holiday. Ever since my dad passed, I’ve tried to make Christmas extra special to honor him & his loving Christmas traditions. My mom tries to as well, but I have noticed that in recent years her heart isn’t just as into it anymore. My dad’s Christmas traditions aren’t as celebrated by my mother as it is by me, except for the main tradition…or should I call it a rule?…that all children must come home for Christmas, even if it’s only for Christmas Day.

I, however, love to carry on my father’s traditions of decorating the house & putting up a huge Christmas tree stuffed full of brightly colored ornaments. Just like my dad, I love hosting our annual Christmas Eve party full of family & friends, & I especially love the gift giving part. If I had unlimited funds, I’d gift all of my friends & family at least a dozen presents during the Christmas season! We both love being surrounded by our closest family & friends during this time, celebrating, eating, drinking, & just overall being merry.

Recently, in the back of my mind, I was feeling a little more nostalgic & bittersweet. I tend to revert back to one singular thought that always lingers in the back corner of my mind: I wish my dad could be here to be in & share this moment with his granddaughter, my little bean. I think about this A LOT; probably at least 5 times a day. Envy builds up inside of me, thinking about how my sister’s children got to spend at least a couple of Christmases with my dad (who is their step-grandfather, just to clarify) before he passed. I then have to tamp down & squash that mindset because it can become an extremely toxic rabbit hole to fall down in very quickly. I try to make Christmas memorable for everyone, not just for my little bean (who is still quite young to remember much of anything, but still I try).

This Christmas was one for the books, & I wish we could have celebrated longer. My sister for once did not get drunk & start arguments with anyone. For the first time since I’ve met him, my sister’s new husband wasn’t stuck on the same seat the entire time, watching the golf channel or ESPN. He actually participated in family activities & played games. My nephew & niece are both teenagers now; well, my niece is still technically a pre-teen, but I’m considering her a full fledged teen based on her personality & interests. They were really fun to hang out with, even though they were both GLUED to their smartphones, & they really got a good chance to bond with their little cousin, even though they’re 10+ years older than she is.

I was so proud of my little bean when she truly started bonding with her older cousins. In the past she would get nervous & scared interacting with them, especially if one of her parents are not right next to her. My little bean would actually cry whenever she saw her male cousin, but now she likes to play with him, although she does need to see someone she’s more familiar with in close proximity to where they are playing, or else she will feel anxious again. This past Christmastime was a great time for my little bean to open up & blossom. She built stronger connections with a lot of the family members she only sees a few short times a year.

Overall, I was so happy we really got to bond as a family this year. I thought this winter holiday was going to be a real downer after our entire household all got nasty colds in the beginning of December. In fact, I actually got the worst of it, which is typical of me. I actually got the full-on flu, complete with the chills, vomiting, 100 degree fever, not being able to eat, etcetera. It started with my mom getting a cold first, then passing it on to Jian, who then passed it on to myself & our little bean…which I am extremely thankful that the little bean only had minor cold symptoms. Jian only had a fever for one day, then he quickly recovered. I on the other hand, had symptoms so bad, I was pretty much bed-ridden (or shall I say, couch ridden) for 3-days straight. I was worried that I would not recover in time to celebrate with our friends & family, but I pulled through.

This Christmas was quite memorable. I still had thoughts of missing my dad, wishing he could be here with us. He would have loved seeing all of us, three generations, getting along & celebrating together. I also wished that my eldest brother could have come home to be with us, but ever since he semi-retired & moved over to Las Vegas, it’s been a lot harder for him to travel over to see us here in California. Although we missed spending another Christmas with each other, I am extremely happy that I will get to see my brother again soon. His eldest daughter will be getting married in March, & our little trio (plus all the grandparents) will be making the trek out to Las Vegas to celebrate the joyous occasion. It’ll be great to see my eldest niece walk down the aisle in a wedding gown, when I remember seeing her just learning to walk & growing out of her diapers. Time flies incredibly fast. Even my own kid is going to be growing out of her diapers this year & learning how to use the “big girl potty”. I just cannot believe it. At all. Well, while I process this unbelievable fact, I will sign off on this Blogmas recap. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

Disclaimer: All graphic images courtesy of the Happy Color game app.

Hello! I’m just popping in to write another check-in post. It’s been hard to squeak out any personal time to write anything since I’ve birthed my very own tiny human. This girl takes up 95% of my time & attention, but I love it & wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. The only “free time” I have to myself is that little chunk of time at night between when I put the babe to bed & when I plop my head down on my pillow to sleep. Even then, I get lost in playing my favorite hidden objects game on my tablet or the color-by-numbers app on my smartphone.

So far, I have been spending these first three months sleep training my tiny human, & building a solid routine with Jian. It gets a little difficult when a certain live-in grandparent wants to do whatever they want with the tiny human & all of your best laid plans, rules, habits, & routines go flying out the door. This grandparent has admitted openly (on several, well-witnessed occasions) that they are not confident in taking care of a tiny human in today’s modern world. However, whenever they feel like Jian & I are parenting in a way that they disagree with, they will throw around the fact that they’ve raised THREE humans of their own, & have taken care of multiple grandchildren in the past. It gets frustrating, but we take it one day at a time, & really try to reinforce our status as the parents/guardians/ultimate-and-final-decision-makers.


The holidays have come & gone, & if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll remember my previous declarations of love for Christmas. No, I didn’t get any new tree ornaments (per sé), but I did the cliché thing & ordered family holiday cards with the tiny human’s photo printed on it. So, I dropped a couple of extra bucks & sprang for the fancy cut-out cards that comes with fancy ribbon so you can hang the card like an ornament. I mean, who wants another postcard of someone else’s kid(s) pinned to the refrigerator along with all the other postcards of other people’s kid(s)? At least my cheesy family holiday card can be used as a temporary tree ornament.

All of my siblings came home to celebrate the holidays (& our tiny human’s first Christmas) with us. My oldest brother & his family did not stay for any festivities/food due to the fact that he works in an industry where he has to physically interact with people on a daily basis, & he was trying to be responsible & courteous by social distancing. He dropped off gifts, said his hellos to the family & spent the rest of the holiday at home with his family. My other older brother COVID tested negative before coming home for the holidays, & really got to bond with his new little niece. My unpredictable sister also came home & brought along her entire brood, which means her two kids & her new husband. I was so thrilled to see both my teenage nephew & niece really get along & try to play with my tiny human. Those kids are the best cousins my tiny human could ever have.


Since our tiny human has been born, Jian & I have been more addicted to coffee than ever before. We are coffee lovers by nature, but since coffee has become a vital part of keeping us alive while taking care of our tiny human, we have been investing more time (& money) looking into getting a top-of-the-line drip coffee maker & artisanal coffee beans from our favorite local coffee roasters. Jian used to be a one-cup-&-done kind of coffee drinker, but now I see him going for that second cup in the morning, or having an extra iced coffee in the afternoon, made from the leftover morning coffee. I am usually a two-to-three cuppa kind of gal, but since getting pregnant & then jumping on the breastfeeding wagon, I’ve had to cut back my caffeine intake & only stick to one and a half cups (meaning one full morning cup, plus a top off). Our morning breakfast routine wouldn’t be complete without a steaming hot cuppa Joe.


My plans to teach my tiny human about music have been a success! she absolutely loves listening to music, & we try to play music as often as we can when she is around us. Of course we’re not blasting the music at a high volume, but we’ve been openly introducing our tiny human to all different genres of music. Jian predominantly plays Japanese pop, western hip hop, & alternative music for her, but I’ve been introducing her to all the other genres like: 90s rock, jazz, lo-fi chill beats, 80s new wave, etc..

One genre of music our tiny human really enjoys is bossa nova. No, not Frank Sinatra, but artists like: Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, & Joao Gilberto (along with his wife & daughter, Astrud & Bebel). I have always been fascinated with bossa nova music ever since I first heard them in the movies from the 50s & 60s. It takes me back to those golden days of those movie stars jet setting to Rio de Janeiro to vacation at some posh beachside resort while drinking a tall gin & tonic. I’ve been playing this type of music for my little one ever since she’s been in my womb, & she’s been enjoying it so far. Her favorite song recently has been (So Nice) Summer Samba by Walter Wanderly featuring Astrud Gilberto. She’ll kick her feet and smile every time I put this song on.


I don’t know how I was able to amass a small stationery haul during this time of nesting with my tiny human, but I did it somehow. I got a couple of extra stationery supplies that I use frequently to write thank you cards to all of the people who were gracious & thoughtful enough to send a little something our way for this tiny human. Here’s a photo rundown of all the things I got recently…

Aside from this small haul of goodies, I was still able to get my yearly batch of calendars from my favorite store in Japan, Tokyu Hands. I usually get 3 calendars to put around my house: one in the kitchen, one in my bedroom, & one in the room that has now become Jian’s home office. This year, I got a mouse themed desk calendar illustrated by Leo Lionni, a Japanese illustration wall calendar (that is waaay too huge, & I accidentally bought the wrong size), & a cow themed mini desk calendar by orientalberry Inc.. Sorry for the lack of calendar photos. First off, I forgot to take any pictures of them when they I got them. Second, I am too lazy now to take any pictures of them. They’re already being used anyway.

Every year I also get an extra large desk pad calendar from Paper Source that I always put on my dad’s home ofice desk. Yes, we still keep my dad’s corner home office setup in the exact same place it has always been, & now it has unofficially become my mom’s home office desk which I will semi-often use as well. The large desk pad calendar is easy for my mom to read & write down all of her appointments & notes. Jian calls me the calendar queen of the house. Every year he likes to see which new designs I will choose.

Well, that’s about all I can write for now. I don’t have much more to update you on. Plus, the tiny human has woken up from her nap & is demanding my attention at the moment. I must attend to the queen or else. Until next time, cheers!


Today’s song of the day:

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The Christmas season is upon us once again. Another year has passed us by, & so much has both happened & not happened. I am all at once excited & anxious for the next year to come. Hopefully things will be different in the new year.

I have said this quite a few times in my blog, but I will repeat myself once again. I love Christmas. I love spending time with my close friends & family, sharing good food with plenty of delicious drinks to keep our cheeks flushed until the new year. I also love dressing up the house with festive decorations & really making our yearly Christmas tree the main centerpiece.

Each year we put up less decorations than the previous one. It’s mostly because there’s only three people living in our house now, & we’re all so busy that we each don’t have time to pull out the decorations from storage, put them up, then store them away again. Plus, the three of us are all equally lazy people & just don’t want to bother, but justify our actions by saying we want to have a minimalist vibe for the holidays.

One thing’s for sure is that we will always have a Christmas tree extravaganza, per my dad’s annual tradition. Every year when I put up our faux Christmas tree & I start decorating it, I get a little melancholy reminiscing over holiday memories with my dad. More & more I wish he could still be with us to bring the family together. It’s feeling more\ like since he’s no longer with us, my family has become more deeply divided over the recent years. However, I’m not going to open that can of worms today. Besides, that part is not my story to reveal anyway.

Then again, regardless of whichever pot’s being stirred up, or whatever’s going on behind the scenes, I am still very much excited for the holiday festivities. This year, along with celebrating Christmas, my entire family (including aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, siblings) will be celebrating our grand uncle’s 90th birthday. This uncle is the foremost patriarch of our family, the glue that holds all of us together, & also unfortunately, the last remaining family member of his generation.

It’s been a long time, practically forever, since my entire family has all gathered together in Northern California. I’m extremely excited to be celebrating with all of them, & kind of excited to show off my most beloved & gloriously decorated Christmas tree. I can’t wait for the festivities to begin (which will be just a few short days away), but until then, here is just a little taste of my household’s holiday decorations:

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I love my Starbucks advent tree. I fill it each year with chocolate coins. My nephew & niece love discovering all of the chocolates inside.

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Per our American traditions, we put a festive wreath on our front door that lights up with LED lights. The Asian part of us has us scratching our heads as to why Americans put up decorations that represent funerals during a happy occasion?

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I got this pop-up Christmas card many years ago when I was in Japan. I never use it as a card. Instead I use it as simple decoration for our fireplace mantle. It’s also a nod to my nephew who loved Santa Claus when he was younger.

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I bought this laser cut village scene at Crate & Barrel, but it looked too plain just being bare wood. So I ended up bling-ing it out with plastic rhinestones from the craft store for some added color.

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This laser cut ‘NOEL’ sign was part of a Christmas card set I bought while I was in Japan. I also just use this mainly for decorating purposes. It’s not too big or small to fit right on the table next to our second front door.

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This year is the first year ever that we put up string lights on the front facade of our house. With our awkward Eichler home roofline & sloping driveway, plus our rickety ladder, it was a real b*tch to string up.

HERE IS THE PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE!!! THE TREE………

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I still continue to add new ornaments to the tree every year. However, each year I have to decide which ornaments of Christmas past have to stay in storage for one more holiday in order to keep the tree looking balanced & not overcrowded.

Well, that’s all I have to say about that. This is the end of my post, & I am now off to prepare for the onslaught of guests & holiday parties. Until the next post, Happy Holidays everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

 

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