Monday, January 4, 2016

Pot Roast

Made this pot roast from one of the last cuts of beef from 1/4 cow that we got last year from Petaluma. 

But the reason for the post isn't the meal (tho it was perfectly juicy & tender!)- I'm showin off the new Lodge enamelled cast iron dutch oven I got for xmas- maiden voyage was a success, a delicious, savory success!

Tooth Fairy

Huelan lost her first tooth Dec 28, then promptly lost her second tooth on Jan 1. She could not be more proud and excited to show off her new gap-toothed grin at school today. 

We were stuggling a tiny bit with how much the Tooth Fairy was going to value each tooth (especially after the long flight from China). Glad we went with the small denomonations. 

Time Lapsed; Auntie Barbara

Oops I almost let another month go by between blog posts!  What can I say, sometimes I am on it, sometimes I slip.  Sometimes, it's just hard to muster some creative energy at the end of a long day.

Several very cool things have happened in the past month, but the funnest might have been Vansen's birthday/4th of July party.  It was just a family affair, so it was very relaxed. It was also a beautiful, sunny day that was begging some water-balloon tossing.

He doesn't quite have the hang of it- luckily for me this one missed.  

Vansen also had his 2yo doctor's appt- shots and general check up.  He weighs in at 36lbs (Huelan weighs 38lbs).  I forget what his height came out to be, but he grew 2.5 inches since our last home measurement, just, four months ago.  Good enough for 99%tile in both height and weight.  Good thing he's a gentle giant for the most part.

Huelan has been busy as ever.  Swimming twice weekly and gymnastics on Saturday mornings have us running around a bit, but she has the energy only kids are blessed with, and it doesn't even phase her.  

One of the awesome things that Huelan has been doing is READING!  She's five-and-a-half, and lots of kids start to read around this age, and she's just doing small words and sentences in the most basic of kid books, but it's definitely reading, which amazes me and just swells me with fatherly pride almost to the point of tears. I just love it.   Pretty soon, she going to be immersing herself in the wonderful world of books and it all starts with, "Kit sat on the mat."

Along with the joyful stuff of the last month, there were some decidedly sad and tragic events.  Auntie Barbara passed after a long battle with the after-effects of a debilitating stroke.  She worked as the banquet manager at the Fairmont San Francisco (where she organized our wedding reception) for over three decades, and as such hosted celebrities and dignitaries from around the world.  She died peacefully and we believe comfortably, but for such a vibrant, outgoing woman to change so drastically after her stroke was truly tragic.  You are loved and missed!

Christmas 2015- Great Christmas, or Greatest Christmas?

I hesitate to call anything perfect, because, really, everything can be a *little* better, but this Christmas was as close to perfect as any family holiday can be.

First, let's start with the obvious- no travel for/with any of the kiddos simplified matters for all involved.  Having the kids sleep in their own beds just made it all easier, which equated to happy, well-rested kids.  The four adults who traveled here did it with aplomb (despite a few minor snags!).  And the house hosted everyone with ease.

We had plenty of delicious food thanks to everyone chipping in with a dish or meal.  Seafood Hot Pot.  Hue food from Ba No's luggage.  Egg casserole.  And crown jewel of Christmas dinner- the prime rib roast.  Eating together is such a great part of the holiday memories!

And of course the kids. There are now three little ones in the youngest generation, and the two older ones are totally stoked on Christmas.  With all the decorations, anticipation, and excitement, they could feel the holidays in the air.

As for the generation up, my cohort, well, our gift to Ba Noi was her first Christmas ever with three grandkids as well as all her kids having a boy/girlfriend.  She was grinning all weekend.

THEN, we had Christmas at Grandma and Papa's!  And we did it all again- family, food, gifts, new-born cousin, and a 6th Birthday party to top it off!

OK, I decided: Greatest Christmas.

Pics here

And the SF Xmas!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Caleb catch up

We all cannot believe that it's been 4 months already with this little guy. He's grown quite a bit since the last checkup with him practically gaining nearly a pound a week! This visit he weighed in at 17.8lbs putting him in the 89percentile, not too bad.

With this visit came more vaccinations, he did great with the shots initially, but a fever took him for several hours and he also had vomitting spells. Super scary, since he wouldn't take any liquid infant tylenol and was becoming very pale. We were terrified, and called the advice nurse and ended up taking Caleb to the emergency room to get him checked out to rule out anything super serious. After being there for a couple hours, he was cleared to go. We didn't sleep much that night, but the next day he didn't reject the tylenol and was better by the evening.

Rewinding a couple weeks, we spent 2.5 weeks down at Ba Noi's house (grandma's). As Patty and I have 3 weeks overlapping between our baby-bonding time, we decided to take a road trip down south. We stayed a night in Cambria on the way down and had a great time. It was Caleb's first time at the beach! I think he liked it.

From Cambria we went to Ba Noi's house where she was greet by Caleb's bright smile and cackling laughter. She made all of our favorite foods and was able to watch him on a couple of nights so that Momma and Ba could go out to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary. We had a nice dinner and watched a movie as well, it was a great celebration. 

We had gone to the beach a few more times while our stay at Ba Noi's and the weather was very accomodating. Caleb and momma loved it immensely. The sound of crashing waves, smell of the saltwater, it doesn't get much better than that for a vacation.

From there we drove dowm to La Jolla to our wedding ceremony site and took a picture, we're trying to make it a tradition to take a picture every year there. On our way back home, we stayed a night in Santa Barbara and a night in Monterey. It was great being able to split up the drive home into 3 legs. It really pains me putting Caleb in a car seat for hours on end.

Patty goes back to work tomorrow and I will be taking care of Caleb, it's definitely going to be interesting how that goes. I'm trying to think of things to do with him besides strolling him to the park, feeding him, putting him down for naps and stuff. RIght now, the park will be the main activity. I mean, it's not like i can take him to the casino, shooting range or hunting excursions. It'll be interesting how this next week will pan out.

This is the time that we can never get back, and we are making every effort to milk it for all it's worth.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Park time

We were fortunate to go to the park where the Ly kids can kick it. Most times our schedules are hit and miss, but we made the most outta it this time. It was a time of firsts. First time that Caleb was outdoors for  the longest stretch of time, 5hours and first time Vansen had a big kid's ice cream popsicle.

Caleb was pretty much chill the whole time, just laying on the blanket in the shade of a tree. He loved looking up at the leaves swaying and seemed to really like the breeze too. My thought is that 15,000 years ago, there weren't any houses  or structures, so our ancestors were in the outdoors all the time and Caleb being outdoors was home base to him....he loved it! Maybe that's why most little kids love being outside?

Vansen and his ice cream was so cute and funny, I still laugh about it, especially when seeing pictures. He chose the spiderman ice cream with 2 gumballs as eyes and Nyo Nyo chose the ninja turtles. When he ate that thing, half of it was either on his face, legs, arms. He loved it so much. I feel like an accomplished uncle having given him his first big boy's ice cream.

Here are some pictures of today's park day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Story time

First night getting this little guy into a night time routine. Bath, food and storybook. Hope it catches on soon!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Though it's cooler downstairs, the kids like chillin in the living room with the iPad. I was in Seattle over the weekend, and they had near record highs- 93*!  

I think we have one more sweltering day, back to coolness. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"What are you doing, buddy?"

"Washing my Ding-Ding!"

In addition to this very accurate response, Vansen's vocabulary has exploded in the last few weeks. Loving the full sentances and use of syntax (he watches a lot more TV than we let Huelan watch when she was his age). We can tell he's getting a lot of satisfaction out of finally being communicate to us what he wants. This is a fun time, and I'm convinced that this is the cutest period in a toddler's development, when they're just starting to really express themselves and we get our first glimpses of what's really going on inside that head of his. 

Up unitl now, we kind of make up our own ideas about their thoughts in a kind of parental tranferrence. For some reason, I've been imagining a bigger kid's voice in his head who has just lacked the ability to form his words. Now that he's talking a lot more, it's apparent that he's got a two-year old's outlook and motivations. Unsurprisingly, it's usually food, bubbles, sandbox, horsey rides, and iPad. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Couple of pics from the BBQ at the park for Mel's birthday from a few weeks back.  She's around chalk a lot (I hate chalk), but I've never seen her draw on anything that wasn't "supposed" to have chalk on it.  In the top pic, she's writing on a tree.  She had to have me help her spell the phrase "Don't Pee."  And an arrow pointing down the tree to the ground.  I have no idea, but as you can see she gave herself a big kick out of it.

There happened to be a birthday party a few tables down from us.  Huelan was eyeing the pinata (it was a large, deluxe one, and she was impressed).  Well, I watched her creeping closer and closer to it, scoping out the kids to see who would be important enough to deserve such a remarkable pinata.  She eventually made friends, basically crashing their party, scooped up some pinata candy, and walked out with a goody bag to boot.  Not sure if I should be proud, embarrassed, or chastising.  In the end, I just let her enjoy the fruits of her charm and persistence, like any decent father who is also a career salesperson would.  Not sure that there's a better tack to take with that one... opinions?

Fast Friends

This is a giant raccoon (or something) in Tom and Adrienne's bedroom, where we went to celebrate Mothers' Day, and learned that news that we'll have another mother among us come December. 

When Vansen first saw this guy (gal?), he was frightened beyond belief. Running and shrieking, terrified, trying to climb up my leg and away from its grasp. 

Fast forward two hours and it appears that they've formed a bond. Thank goodness he didn't want to take him home with us. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Welcome Baby Caleb! (Long Overdue)

Baby Caleb is here!

It has been a long journey with getting adjusted with having this little guy here with us. Life as we know it has changed and we aren't complaining one bit.

Caleb came to us two weeks prior to our expected due date on Saturday, May 9th, 2015 at 6:54AM, the day before Mother’s Day.
Caleb weighed in at 7lbs. 8oz. and was 20 inches long.

Mommy was in labor starting that previous Wednesday, May 6th in the early evening. During the time from laboring to the birthing, we visited the hospital a few times as contractions were regular fitting the guidelines the hospital gave us 4-1-1... contractions coming every 4 minutes or less, lasting for a minute or more, for at least 1 hour.
I was in Sacramento in a meeting during this time and all I could think about was getting home. Luckily, Patty is a tough one and held out til I made it back. When I did eventually get home, we took our first trip to the hospital where she and the baby were examined but weren’t ready to be admitted. The contractions progressed for 2 more days which consisted of 2 more trips to the hospital. The second trip was to check dilation and get pain medication per our Primary Doc to help Patty get a couple of hours of sleep through the night to prevent exhaustion. The fourth trip was the real deal.

It was Friday night and contractions were hitting harder and harder! We scrambled to the hospital, where we were told that Patty was dilated at 9.5cm! At this point, Patty’s birthing plan for a non-medicated, natural birth came true as an epidural (which at this point was not out of the question) was advised against since we needed to start pushing immediately. We made our way to the birthing suite and about 2.5 hours later, Caleb was born! Labor lasted for a whopping 62 hours! I have so much new found respect for Patty…that was some intense stuff.

Since then, it's been a month and a day since Caleb's birth. When people tell us to embrace every moment since time flies, jeez, they weren't kidding! A month seems to have flown by, partly because of the whirlwind of feelings, feedings, sleepless nights, constant Google searches on baby stuff, more feedings, pooping sessions, diaper changes. Adjusting was tough the first couple of weeks, but we're slowly getting dialed in…slowly.

One of the toughest parts of these past few weeks was taking Caleb to the lab time after time to get his cute little foot pricked for blood work as he presented with slightly higher than normal levels of bilirubin and was a bit jaundiced. Kaiser, a huge proponent of proactive healthcare, was persistent with monitoring his bilirubin levels on a very regular basis (every 1 to 2 days then weekly). We’ve familiarized ourselves with all of the lab techs at this point and have our favorites to request at two locations as we’ve unfortunately come across several not so baby-friendly techs. We also learned what a Bili-blanket was (blanket with UV lights that look like a cool raver toy) as we had to have Caleb on it for a couple of days to prevent his bili levels from increasing further.

As hypochondriacs, this experience was by far the hardest to deal with. Fortunately, his testing today showed a significant natural decrease with no additional treatment necessary.
We are so happy to have him here and he is such a blessing. All things aside, he's been pretty easy. His cries are 50% hunger, 30% cuddling needs, 20% other (dirty diaper/gassy).
During this month stretch, he's luckily had a lot of visitors! His new Ba Noi, Ong May, Grandma Li (all the way from Virginia!), Auntie Kristine, O Bibi, Cousins Huelan and Vansen, Auntie Liz, Uncle Hung and several family friends.

We're thankful for all of the advice, help, love and FOOD from everyone!

I can't believe we've waited so long to become parents!

We're super blessed.

Caleb is absolutely perfect.

Absolutely elated ..... and exhausted at the hositpal.

Bathing in indirect sunlight.

Caleb saying, "1 month?! Ain't no thang... it was easy!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Say What???

These are the words that came out of this girl's mouth tonight:

"I don't like going to sleep by myself. I want company. I want to be a grown up so that I don't have to go to sleep alone. As soon as I'm a grown up I'm going to travel the world and find the perfect person to marry me."

I'm glad that Liz was there to handle that- I'm not sure I could have.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Future's So Bright

Well, you know the rest. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Sometimes they're cute with each other. Mostly, she's cute with him, saying things like, "He's the cutest thing in this house." She often likes to snuggle with him, too. 

For him, on the other hand, this hug is more rare. When we ask for a hug or a kiss, 70% chance he just flat out says, "No." and walks away.  In the mornings, I usually go to his room first because he's awake first. That's usually the best time for hugs. But when she starts to stir, he hears her and doesn't want me to go get her. 

She's pretty good a sharing stuff with him and taking turns. Him not so much. He's in a "Mine!" kind of phase, so sometimes feelings are hurt (among other things). 

But... sometimes they're cute, and those are the best times.