Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book Club

Disclaimer: when I drafted the 32 Reasons I had "friends and family" in the same entry with local resources, but when I typed it up, I decided my friends deserve a more significant space. You can imagine the rest. We had a running joke about my mom when I was growing up, she used to keep “the most important stuff” like my favorite shirt “in a special place”, and wala, no one would ever find it, herself included. I’m becoming my mom. If it's not for the Book Club, there would not be this blog today. This blog, a reflection of myself, along with my readers' kind words have helped me going in this time of personal crisis. I'm a person made of words, my book club gets me back to reading, and now the blog world gets me back to writing. A Thank You is not good enough. Our book club was officially affiliated with Las Madres, an organization for (mostly) stay at home moms. I was very active in LM during the three years I stayed home with Henry, even volunteered to be Program Director for one year. Although my son is the light of my days, I must admit that I'm not made to be a stay at home mom. I was antsy, unsatisfied without my job, having no money didn't help by any means. I had a lot of trouble connecting with my fellow moms, so when Henry was old enough to go to preschool, I found myself a job right away. Just when I was ready to severe all ties with Las Madres, Lesley moved to the area and started the book club. There came the messages from Lesley about the book club, Lesley pumping her fist preaching to everyone would listen to join the book club. I dragged my feet for months, following them along reading some of their picks, falling behind most of the time (my, these ladies read fast!). Finally one day the tracks merged, I listened to the audio version of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less, finished it a week before the meeting, and I have been part of the regulars since. If anyone can be a “bad” book club member, I must be the one. I’m constantly skipping books, even my own picks, yet shamelessly attend (or host) the meetings. Being associated with a book club makes me a better person; seeing my friends once in awhile completes me. I’m sticking around for it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

32 reasons to stay in the sand pit

We read The Woman in the Dunes last month, a story about a tribe living in the sand dunes, digging themselves from under the sand every day, yet staying there forever. Relating that to what’s going on in my life at the moment, we complain about the corporate world and the high cost of living in this valley (that’s the big sand pit), I work on meaningless projects and look for a stable job every day (the sand digging), so what makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing right now right here? Many people I know have made the move from either coast to middle America or at least from bay area to other “cheaper” areas, like North Carolina.

I’m here today because:

1. Big Sur
2. Golden Gate Bridge
3. Los Gatos-Santa Cruz Mountains
4. Open space along highway 280 on the peninsula
5. Rolling hills south of Morgan Hill.

I’ve always lived within 200 miles from the ocean. The proximity to the open water makes me feel calm, even if I go to the beach once a year. The beautiful scenery of the bay area, the perfect combination of mountains and water, the Pacific coast, simply cannot be placed elsewhere in the world. On our flight back from Indy, our plane approved the area from south, it was early evening and the sun was glowing on the brown hills. I could spot all the familiar places, the traffic on 101, red roofs in the Silver Creek development, and the endless hills. This is a beautiful place that I call home.

6. Stable healthcare for our parents
7. Our vet of 11 years, Dr. Larson
8. network of resources

When people move to a new place, it always takes some time to find those life’s little necessities – dentist, pediatrician, housekeeper, etc. We’ve been living in this area for many years (Bill for almost his whole life, me for 16 years) and we’ve helped three out of four of our parents to move close by (My Dad is in China). It would be hard to replace the resources that we have here for seniors, adults, kid and dogs. My mother-in-law just had hip replacement surgery at Stanford Hospital; I’ve heard of people travel thousands of miles for what we have in our backyard, hard to beat that. We’ve taken our dogs to Dr. Larson for their entire lives, gone through multiple surgeries. She’s the only one can deal with our freaky little terrier mix, or they find a way to get along that is.

9. My home
10. Los Gatos
11. Smith Ranch

After we hand picked the granite counters, the tiles for the bathroom, the color of the grout, and cabinets, window shades, designed our own backyard, this is our home, for which we pay a hefty price. Some days I do wish we are still in a ranch house, not have to lug the laundry up and down the stairs, not have to block the pug downstairs to save his back. I love to be in a neighborhood where we can set the kiddo loose to ride his bike around.

12. My corporate job
13. Silicon Valley brain power

It’s a bit funny to think I might lose anything on my career when I don’t have a job, but really, people are still willing to consider me as a corporate finance person. I’m almost sure that if I drop it right now I’ll never get the edge back again.

14. Bonfante Gardens
15. Monterey Bay Aquarium
16. Legoland
17. Los Gatos downtown
18. Jazz in the Plazz
19. Lake Tahoe

Just a few things that only exist in this part of the world.

20. Chinese community – grocery stores, library, book stores, news papers, radio, TV
21. Vietnamese noodles
22. Sushi boats

Where am I supposed to get my black eggs if I move away? And it’s so nice not to be the only oriental face in town. ‘nuff said.

23. California real estate
24. Los Gatos schools

These sort of come in one package. We pay the high mortgage so my son can go to good schools. Another thing once we lose we’ll never get back.

25. the weather
26. fresh produce

Here we complain about over 100 degree heat wave for a week, or the “freezing” winter when it drops below 40. I’ve lived in places where I had frost bites all winter, and the “heat wave” lasts from April (when the misty rain stops) till October, only interrupted by a few typhoons. And I assume all that fresh produce in the farmers market come with the nice weather, but I’m Chinese and I stick with the fresh stuff, no freezer veggies for me.

27. my lack of sense of directions

It’s not a pretty scene when I’m lost, and it tends to happen A LOT when I’m in a new place.

28. South Bay Knitters
29. Stitches West
30. CNCH

Since I started knitting again in January 1998, I’ve been with this great group of knitters. In the world full of new fancy scarf knitters, these women show me what it means to enjoy the fiber art and keep me challenged every day. We have one of the greatest knitting communities here, with five yarn shops within ten miles from my home, and Stitches and CNCH practically in my back yard. I can never live in a place you have to count on mail order for yarn or travel hundreds of miles to the closest knitting event. Not happening!

31. Los Gatos Creek Trail
32. Vasona Park

It takes five minutes to walk to a nice trail, twenty minutes to walk to one of the nicest lakes around. What more can I ask for!

This was supposed to be “100 reasons”, but I only came up with 32. That’s it for now.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Playful Bucky

This is the pug dog that only a few months ago I thought we were seeing the end of him. Now he's running around playing with his toys again. On Thanksgiving 2005, Bucky seemed completely lethargic, with his back crouching and refused to eat. Pugs live for food, so when Bucky doesn't eat it must be a big deal. Later X-ray showed that he had two discs in the neck pushing together. The vet tried different painkillers at different dosage. Finally baby aspirins worked. In the mean time we stopped walking him, other than a circle around the ranch once in a while so he could see the neighborhood, and we've been carrying him up and down the stairs. So nice to see my baby alert and playful. We'll still carry him around of course, he got his parents well trained.

Finished Objects

Mitered squre baby blanket, finished couple of weeks ago. The yarn is 100% wool, well aged, donated from a local knitter. I hope CIC will take this, since it's nice and warm, would make some little ones very comfortable in the winter. Obviously Bucky thinks the blanket is his, just like everything else mom knits. What a good boy. These socks were knitted for Henry, in some sort of self pattern sock yarn. The first sock was finished on the plane to Indy last weekend. He tried it on and said it was very nice. But this morning he tried on both socks and decided they are too small. Boohoo. They will go to CIC for sure.

Captain Underpants

This is so stupid, we can't stop watching it! http://www.bordersstores.com/features/feature.jsp?file=captainunderpants_video Tra-la-lalalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Friday, August 18, 2006

Feb99 Reunion Pictures

For my local friends, here are my online friends that I went to visit in Indianapolis. I forgot to bring my camera to the Children's Museum and the party on Friday night, so all the pictures are "borrowed" from other friends. Henry digging dinosaur bones at Children's Museum. One of the dinosaurs. The whole group.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Neurologically Asynchronous

In the old days people just thought some kids were smart, they were good at some stuffs, and some of them became quite successful and made a lot of money. Today if junior uttered three words at five months old, he's linguistically gifted, he needs to be tested, he needs to go to special school for his talent. Actually no school is good enough -- or no school is tolerant enough. At a tender age of six, junior might be reading at fifth grade level (there is test result to prove it!), and mom insists the school should keep him challenged and put junior in the fourth grade classroom. School compromises and puts him with second graders. Junior, whose emotional and social age is less than a toddler, throws half a dozen temper tantrums on the first day. Why not? Mom always bought him a new book when he got upset, and never talked him about how to behave in a classroom. Later Mom complains to the teacher that they should have given him more challenge. Oh no, junior is not spoiled rotten, he's simply gifted, he's not understood by the society, he needs to be left alone and grow at his own pace. Mom feeds junior more what he likes, educates him on her own, and puts off math and science -- he'll get it when he's ready. A very very smart Mary Jane, learned her shapes and numbers before she could talk, wins all the memory games and word games against her parents. She's fatally allergic to everything cow, soy, nuts, eggs, has asthma, threw up day and night as a baby because of reflux, has sensory integration issues so bad that back to school shopping is all about which tag is easiest to remove. Mary Jane's immune system crashed when she was a baby, and at three years old she was busy growing brains than body, because she was so gifted and talented. Her parents were constantly in awe of what she could accomplish, and did everything to accommodate her special needs. What they missed was giving her a break so her body could regulate itself. Children did not ask to be born into this world, their parents made the decision "to have a family", more precisely their mothers did. We are responsible for bring up intelligent, kind persons. We are in charge, not the society, not the educators, not themselves.

Pat Ashforth Visited My Blog!

I'm so thrilled! Pat visited my blog and left a comment. Here is a link to the original post: http://trinket-t.blogspot.com/2006/04/pat-ashforth-patterns-and-books.html I really hope the duo will make it to the US some day. There seem to be quite a few people visit my posting through Google search on Pat and Steve's names. I'm sure there are lots of their fans out there and we'll all be happy when we can meet them. I should start knitting from one of the patterns -- I'm thinking either Cubism or Double Vision. Anyone wants to knitalong?

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Blissful Ignorance

I'm very big on planning. Henry and I were to fly half way across the country by ourselves, with no direct flight from San Jose to Indianapolis, plus rental car, hotel, connecting with my friends and their kids, so I had every small step planned out way ahead of time. Our departure flight was Thursday morning at 10:55. Bill was to drop us off and go to work. We wouldn't land in Indy until 5:30pm California time. We might not have time for lunch at all since the layoff in Dallas was going to be only 40 minutes, and dinner will have to wait till Indy. We packed lots of snacks the night before, and I grabbed couple of bottles of nicely chilled water for the road. On the way to the airport, all the details were still racing through my head -- make sure Henry stays with me, he can be in charge of his own back pack (his snacks, toys, books), I need to drag the suitcase and his carseat (only needed for the rental car in Indy, not on the flights, thank goodness), all the papers are in the second zipper of my backpack, wallet in the left pocket, cell phone, reading glasses, sunglasses in the right. Drop off was uneventful, kiss my beloved good-bye, it's our longest separation in about a dozen years. The airport was very crowded but couple of volunteers helped us get everything upstairs and showed me the counters and security lines. The end of the lines were out to the parking garage, but they reassured me it wouldn't take long. The lines moved very fast. They confiscated my water bottles, but other than that it was amazingly smooth. I figured it must be some regulation I wasn't aware of, after all they confiscated countless knitting needles and knitters had to find new ways to entertain themselves for awhile. In fact, the security guard at the immigration office sent Bill to take my knitting to the car on February 4, 1999 when I went for my citizenship test (yes, that was 11 days before Henry was born and I did pass). Dallas was a horrible mess as I imagined. The first flight was late, leaving us about 30 minutes before the next flight. DFW is an incredibly big airport and we had to run from Terminal D to Terminal A. After 3.5 hours flight with no lunch, Henry was cranky, I promised him a cheeseburger with toy -- you'd think they have a fast food joint in a big airport in Texas! First find potty, then with 25 minutes left, we couldn't find how to get on the skylink. I held Henry hand and apologized over and over for not stopping at any of the restaurants we passed. I really don't want to be stranded in Dallas! It's a lovely 103 degrees and I have not desire of staying there. Skylink was fun once we got on it, very very fast, Henry wishes they are in every airport. We found our gate 15 minutes before departure time. Still couldn't find that cheeseburger, we ended up sharing a ham sandwich from Texan deli with rock solid French bread. Henry only ate the ham and cheese. After chowing down the sandwich, we took two minutes to get him a travel chess set from the newsstand. It wasn't until the next day when my friend Lori told me about the current events I finally realized what was going on. Should I have paid attention to the news on Wednesday night or Thursday morning I would be a basket case. I probably wouldn't cancel the trip given the cheapskate that I am, wouldn't waste the tickets I already paid for. Bill insisted that I needed to call him when I land in Indy and I only thought he was being insecure. Now I cannot stop telling my husband how nice it is to be home. My sweet lovie even bought me a watermelon, and yogurt smoothies for Henry. Home sweet home.


Eight years ago, pre Dot Com boom, I was very active on the web, belonged to a few dog related email groups, and the Knitlist. So when I found out I was pregnant with Henry I immediately joined an email list hosted by Pregnancy Today. The groups were set up by the month of the due date. Henry was due February 26, 1999, so our group was called Feb99. We are in the eighth year of our cyber friendship. Membership went from well over 100 at the beginning to about 40 now, with probably less than 20 active posters. We send updates once in awhile which usually brings up the discussions and we all get busy with email for a few days, then list goes pretty quiet for awhile. There have been so many babies we all lost track. A few members dropped off in the early days due to failed pregnancy, the goodbye messages were heartbreaking. Eventually we moved to Yahoo Groups for better organization, I just went back to the Pregnancy Today website and checked, there is still a Feb99 group! Over the years we've had multiple gatherings in various regions. Jenna hosted a big gathering in her house when she was still in Maryland. There was another big gathering in Nashville (I think it was last year). In California we've done birthday parties for the kids couple of times, Nancy hosted in her house in Oakland and Eleen hosted in her kids' preschool in Palo Alto, with gift exchange and all; and I traveled to southern California and met Brigid, Lisa and Elizabeth there. Kari and Kathy traveled to the bay area and I met up with them at various points. The latest attempt was supposed to be a national gathering, but looks like I was the only one made it from the west coast. Of course it's much easier to travel with one child, and as far as I know I'm the only left with one child, while others all went on to have some extra baby love. I met up with Tina from Virginia, Lori and Jenna from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Elizabeth from Carmel, Indiana, who fortunately didn't have to travel since we met up in her town. Feb99 is one place that I know I can count on for support. They have heard so much whining from me in the years past, about Henry's colic, allergies, separation anxieties, my griping about DH, job roller coasters. I scored major sympathy points when I had to work on Halloween nights and missed Henry's trick o' treat two years in the row.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Brain Fart

This job search has been going for over two months. The job market is pretty hot, if you have the right skills. The recruiters obviously think I do and I get quite a few calls, so much so that I've stopped talking to the ones offering me accounting contracts in far out places like Redwood City. Company recruiters are much more welcomed in my dictionary. I'm even willing to use my precious cell phone minutes to talk to them -- I'm on prepaid plan, pay for every minute I use. And then there are certain reputable companies with good track record and easy commute, such as Apple, Yahoo, Symantec, etc. My ears perk up when one of them is on the phone, which obviously doesn't happen every day and so far has not produced very positive result. One can always hope. Never hurt if I just put in the effort. I'm consulting for a start up, good money, very nice boss and co-worker, very laid back environment, except for a nagging little thing about not going to have enough work to do. So I checked with boss this morning, they need her to do anther round of funding later this year; she'll need to travel a lot and won't be able to set up her "Finance Housekeeping" as she planned. Oops, that means no work for me. I wasn't terribly thrilled, I like this place after all. The phone rings, another recruiter. Yak yak yak. I answered all the questions half heartedly. The woman sounded a bit arrogant, as if hoping I'd take her more seriously. Oral English language penetrates my brains only when all my brain cells are active, and I didn't manage to get to that stage till the end of the conversation. So after she's done with "forward you to the hiring manager .... blah blah blah" I remembered to ask her (again!) what company she's calling from. It's Apple. If only words would come at the right moment. Henry and I are going to our Feb99 reunion in Indianapolis on Thursday, it’s our first time to travel alone. Bill starts a new job today, Henry starts school in three weeks. JCC is waving big flags to support the war. I’m a bit frizzled to say the least.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sometimes there is too much work

I'm trying to stay awake after working here till midnight last night. Yesterday was my first day to have a badge (took them two weeks to produce one since the office manager was on vacation and she's the only person in the company to code new badges), so I came in early thinking that I could leave at a decent time. Best laid plans, you know how that goes. We were planning to go to Jazz on the Plazz, our regular Wednesday night outing during the summer. At 5:30pm I shut down the computer, checked up with everyone all around, made sure they didn't need me to do anything else, packed up and ready to go. Then the other consultant wanted a print out of my report for the accountant, luckily they were able to take care of it. Then the accountant wanted the same report, for the past six months. Then the CFO gathered everyone, she wanted clean financials since last year, which is pretty much the start of the company. She wants them by the time she comes in the next day. Before I knew it, the PC was rebooted and I was calling the husband to let him know not to wait for me -- "just need to wrap up some stuffs here, I'll see you guys at the park." 7:30pm, the husband checking in, Henry was waiting for me to have dinner. Just barely got started with March COGS. 8:30pm, call the guys, obviously I wasn't going to the concert. Finished March, starting April COGS. 10:30pm, message on my cell phone, the husband wants to make sure I was still alive. My head was tumbing in COGS. 11pm, correcting mistakes for the past consultants. The accountant grabs a coke to stay perked. Midnight, home sweet home.