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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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I love Christmastime. It’s one of my favorite times of the whole year. Christmas reminds me so much of my late father. He truly loved Christmas, making our house look festive & cheerful, & having friends & family gather around to celebrate together. Christmas was my dad’s most favorite time of year to get our whole family together: grandparents, parents, brothers & sisters, cousins, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, even in-laws. My dad loved having a house overflowing with happy people celebrating & sharing in the joys of family togetherness. Plus, my dad loved spoiling his loved ones with plenty of food, drinks, & gifts for all the little kiddos scampering around the house. That’s probably where I developed my love of giving to others & taking care of others…learning from my dad’s selfless generosity.

Each year at Christmastime, my dad loved having the house decorated, looking colorful & festive. My mom loved it too, but she always dreaded having to put away all of the decorations after the holidays were over. (Who doesn’t dread the massive holiday clean-up?) I also loved decorating the house for Christmas, but my all-time favorite was decorating the Christmas tree. The tree was always the main attraction at our house, & it still is, which brings me to the next topic in my 99 Things That Bring Me Joy journal.

One of my favorite childhood holiday memories was when I was in my teenage years, & my dad would make a big fuss over decorating the house for Christmas. He would load up our family (usually myself, my mom, my dad, & whichever cousin was boarding at our house at that given time) into his minivan, & we would drive to the wholesale flower market in San Francisco. Back then you didn’t need a wholesaler’s/decorator’s license to shop there (unless you wanted to get a discount on bulk items).  There were a few decorating supply warehouses that would be packed to the gills with every Christmas decoration & novelty item you could possibly think of.

My dad loved taking us to these shops during the holidays, so we could all pick out new ornaments for our tree & decorations to liven the house. There were a couple of Christmas holidays where we would buy entirely new sets of tree ornaments to create a different theme/color-scheme each year. One time we decorated the whole tree in plastic, metallic musical instruments (i.e. trumpets, saxophones, drums, guitars, etc.) & music notes. My cousin & I had a fun time decorating the tree in all of these wacky ornaments. The next year, my mom chose the theme of our Christmas tree, & she decorated the tree in a pastel Victorian theme with lots of ribbons/bows, angels, plastic violins & harps, along with papier mâché hearts.

Picking out tree ornaments was a big deal in our household. However, over the years, we stopped shopping for plastic ornaments at the wholesale flower market. We now prefer to pick & choose ornaments that are more durable/long-lasting, a higher quality, & have thoughtfulness & meaning. My parents are the super “bougie” kind of shoppers, & will only buy Christmas decorations (mainly tree ornaments & decorative candles) at places like BloomingdalesCrate and Barrel &/or William-Sonoma. As for myself, if I see a holiday tree ornament that I like, I will spend an unnecessary amount of time, pacing back & forth mulling over whether or not I will get it. Then, after a lot of complaining from Jian, & a lot more internal back-&-forth thoughts in my mind, I will end up buying said ornament.

I’m not quite sure exactly how many Christmas tree ornaments we actually have. I haven’t counted them all, but I can safely estimate that we have a crap load amount. I had to buy three jumbo sized ornament storage containers from The Container Store, & with my super amazing organization & compartmentalization skills, I’m pretty sure I’ve been able to fill each box with triple its designated capacity. Organizing & compartmentalizing (to the point where I often forget where I’ve stored things) is probably my biggest & proudest skill to date.

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an example of the storage containers we use for Christmas decorations

Since my dad’s passing, I’ve taken it upon myself to head up the Christmas decorating department. My dad always loved to shop for Christmas gifts & decorations around this big holiday season, & I suppose this trait has very much rubbed off onto me. I also love to give gifts & shop for Christmas decorations…mainly tree ornaments. It is a fun tradition that keeps me forever linked to the memory of my dad during the most festive & cheerful time of the year.

Oh, & just a little side note… our Christmas tree is fake. Yes, it’s a plastic fantastic (& metal) contraption that we have to make a big to-do about each year, but we love it nonetheless. It’s always a pain to set-up & take down our tree, but it’s just one way we’re doing our part as a family to conserve environmentally. Well, to be honest, we mainly decided to switch to a faux tree because my dad & I are both severely allergic to pine trees (especially freshly cut ones with tree sap & pine needles aplenty). My dad hated having to put the tree on a tree stand, which always made the tree crooked no matter how much adjusting we did, & that annoyed my mom, who liked everything in our home to look Architectural Digest Magazine-ready at all times, especially during the holidays when we hosted many parties. As for me, I hated always being delegated to keep the water tray on the tree stand full, which was an extremely difficult task for a child who was prone to spilling things & inadvertently making messes everywhere. Let’s just end this part by saying I got more water outside of the tray than inside, & that got me in trouble with my mom more often than not.

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our now famous Xmas tree

I love keeping my dad’s tradition alive every year by adding something new to our overly-decorated Christmas tree. Both my mom AND Jian think I go overboard on decorating our tree each year, but I think it’s quite lovely & definitely necessary. Our annual Christmas tree is an absolute statement piece whenever someone  new walks into our home, or during the time when we host our annual Christmas party extravaganza. Yes, it’s a huge pain in the ass to carefully pack away all of the decorations at the end of the year, but it is all worthwhile as long as I get to keep my dad’s memory & tradition going for all of the family to enjoy together. We’ll just have to wait & see how our tree will be decorated this year. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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