Thursday, December 30, 2010


Someone I barely knew from my graduating social work class told me of his trip to India, and how he witnessed children, half-naked on the streets, who were just so happy, smiley, and giddy playing around in puddles of oil. Yet, American children are so dissatisfied with everything - even brand new toys - and have an insatiable want for more in quest of finding an evanescent happiness.

I haven't thought about that statement in a while, and maybe it's because I've been reading a Buddhism book, or maybe it's because I now have my own child, that I am reminded of all the new and shiny things we buy for her. Is all that materialism necessary? It's hard not to want things, especially if the Joneses have it. And in our society, success is measured by quantity, not quality, and it's also hard not to fall prey into that materialistic way of thinking (I want, I want, I want!) Still, you have to admit, after getting what you wanted, it's never enough, is it? There's always something else that you want and there remains a deep and unsatisfied hollow within us.

How shall we fill that emptiness? With love? With hope? With peace? With spirituality? With God? And no one knows the answer to that question better than yourself. But the problem is, what if you don't know? We can't all become Buddhist monks and abandon our families and material possessions. What shall you do in the meantime? Continue our search? For what? I don't have the answers to these questions, and I'm sorry to put you through this mental gymnastics, blog-readers, I'm only following one of Buddha's eightfold paths.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard

A family friend of ours came over for dinner the other day and inquired about our quarter jar, which is an old mayonnaise jar filled with quarters that sits on our fireplace mantle. Since we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, there was no clear reason why we had a quarter jar. I say it is for Nicole's college fund, but really, it's an old habit of mine from almost a decade of using coin operated laundromats.

Let's see...this includes 4 years of college (when I lived in Germany they used tokens, but still the same idea), 2 years of graduate school, and even when I bought my condo, the complex shared laundry facilities using quarters (that's another 2 years).

Quarters are like gold. And like gold, quarters are not as easy to come by. Some banks are not willing to exchange bills for quarters unless you were an actual customer of the bank (and no, not the walk-in kind). The grocery stores around the college campus would not exchange them for you because they were so use to college kids begging for quarters. And being the responsible, slightly anal roommate, my roommates were always mooching quarters off of me, which meant that I was always on the lookout for more quarters.

In addition to having my mom buy me rolls of quarters from her bank, I also got in the habit of paying for everything with bills in order to acquire my quarters' collection. Even if something was $1.01 and I had a penny on me, I'd still pay with $2 because this meant I was getting a whooping THREE quarters back! I find myself doing the same today sometimes, even though it's been over four years since I've stepped into a laundromat. Still, you never know when you're gonna need those quarters!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top 15 Benefits of Being Unemployed

15. Having strangers wonder to themselves, "Don't people have to work anymore?"
14. Family day trips to Multnomah Falls and the beach
13. Being available for doctor appointments, carpet cleaning, and other appointments
12. Lavish homemade lunches (followed by a nap)
11. Reading or watching a movie on the couch
10. Grocery shopping in the middle of the day in the middle of the week
9. Having a clean house and no need to do chores on the weekends
8. Relishing in an empty playground, swimming pool, etc. and no lines when running errands
7. Greeting the mailman, UPS and FedEx drivers, in-person
6. Having the time to volunteer
5. Watching Oprah and cooking shows on the Food Network
4. Napping in the afternoon (or morning)
3. Hitting the gym when no one's there
2. Spending time with my awesome husband
1. Quality time with my cutie pie daughter

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


As any parent knows, balancing is not an easy act. It's a mixture of compromise and multi-tasking. Now that bar studies are well under way, as in, there is much more work than I have time for, I am called upon to balance my priorities once again.

Although I have always been blessed with great time-management skills, being a mom has changed the way I balance because I would rather spend every waking minute with my daughter. But I can't. BarBri has me by my neck collar with its daily rigor of 3.5 hour morning courses 5-6 days/wk plus homework assignments requiring a bazillion hours of your time per day.

So, I must make compromises and sacrifices where I can and this has yielded the following "results" thus far:

1. I'm not going to kill myself to get the daily assignments done. I will do as much as I can during the week and use the weekend to catch-up.
2. But I will also devote an entire weekend day to my family, which means no studying and squeezing in my chores (cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping!) on the same day.
3. Sleep is important, and I will never compromise that one.
4. I allow myself 30-45 minutes a night to rewind before bed, such as watching tv or reading a magazine.
5. Because Nicole's sad face breaks my heart every time I leave in the mornings, I will come home early once a week (on Wednesdays) to spend some quality play time with her.
6. I will allow others to help me (i.e. cook, clean, and take care of Nicole).
7. Exercise is important too, which is why I like to take Nicole out on walks, allowing me to get a workout and spend time with her!
8. The sacrifices I've made sometimes means that I will not be taking practice tests during the hours of 9-5pm and sometimes the only "quiet" place in the house is on my bed, which is also not very conducive to studying, but again, it's another compromise I'm willing to make occasionally.
9. I will waste my time (i.e. on Facebook and my blog) if it keeps me sane!
10. The light at the end of my tunnel? Our Alaska trip and getting to spend all my time with Nicole! (and job-hunting...haha)


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Art of Gift-Giving

Giving a gift is probably not as much fun as receiving one, but it ought to be.

The best gifts I have ever received are ones that are unexpected, thoughtful, and tailored to that individual's taste. Starting a couple years ago, I started buying gifts for family and friends whenever I see something that I think they'd like, rather than waiting for the annual holiday or birthday, when you're just scrambling around to find something that the person might like - lip gloss, Sudoku puzzle, poetry magnets. It can become a pretty desperate experience. If I don't do this, I sometimes find myself with "gift-giver's remorse." Somehow, saying "I saw blah at the store and thought of buying it for you, but didn't" is not very satisfying to any of the parties involved.

Of course, if I were a millionaire, gift-giving would be a cinch (money *is* the solution to everything, right?), but the reality is, I'm not. Sometimes the gift-giving grinch can get the best of me. Before I buy a gift, I will think to myself, "well, so-and-so didn't buy me a gift for (insert occasion), so why should I buy a gift for them?" This, of course, goes against the spirit of the gift-giving and is contrary to my idea of the best gift - the unexpected ones.

Recently I had the pleasure of receiving some unexpected packages in the mail from friends and relatives (btw, I count gifts for my daughter as gifts for myself!) and it spurred me to send unexpected gifts to others. Gift-giving is like karma: what goes around, comes around. If you don't share some of your gift-giving spirit, you won't experience it either!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Nicole!

Our precious little girl turned 8 months old today, and I'd just like to take a moment to reflect on what remarkable baby she is (if I don't say so myself...ahem). Nicole has become quite the skilled crawler - she loves following us around the house. Lately, Nicole's been eager to pull herself up and she will grab on to nearly everything to accomplish such a task, even on some things that are not-so-steady.

Nicole also gets lots of attention when we go out - people like to marvel at what a beautiful baby she is. And Nicole loves to interact with people, especially babies and other small children. Nicole is also a very active and mischievous child, often requiring us to keep close supervision lest she ingests something she's not suppose to. Nicole seems to have a penchant for cables, shoe laces, and paper. You'd think that we aren't feeding her at the rate that she goes after paper! On the contrary, we make her baby food from scratch and her dietary repertoire includes carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, celery, brown rice cakes, egg yokes, turkey, rice, oatmeal, barley, chicken, lamb, bananas, pears, peas, avocados, zucchinis, yellow squash, applesauce, and peaches.

Nicole loves music too. If she is ever upset, all we have to do is sing to her and she will immediately stop crying. Nicole, who has slept in her own room since she was 2 months old, is also an excellent sleeper and a good napper too. She sleeps well above the recommended average of 14 hours a day - often sleeping 12 hours at night with two 1.5 hour naps during the day. All we do is put Nicole in her sleep sack, lay her down, and she will go right to sleep without much pomp and circumstance. We are truly blessed to have Nicole in our lives - she has brought joy to everyone who knows her.