My holiday story

Hello! I hope you had a wonderful Holiday weekend with your family and friends. We had a great weekend filled with fun, family, friends and festivities.

My Saturday is a bit hectic, I still can’t find one gift for my friend’s daughter, she wanted a blue Angry bird and I went to three different store and they were all out! Gosh, I actually turn to be a pretty angry myself! 🙂 Then I also spend all day preparing for the feast on Sunday, I hosted a Christmas dinner this year (as was I last year as well – but this time it’s at friend’s house) so I spend most of my Saturday evening preparing for it – more story latter on. And a not so good thing, one of my dearest friend’s sister – who also a friend of ours – need to have a emergency tumor removal surgery so we also spend quite a bit of time visiting her at the hospital. But all is good. Nothing says Christmas/Holiday like a busy hectic day! 🙂

Sunday morning Tyra and Kalia literally running down the stairs wanting to open their presents. I love hearing the ooh… and ahh…. Each time Tyra open her presents, not to mention “thank you mommy, thank you daddy, thank you Santa, thank you elf and thank you God.” Hahaha… 🙂  They got a great combinations of toys, clothes and educational items for gift, so I’m pretty happy. Of course, the night before I made sure they choose their old toys to give away to goodwill. My friends notice that Tyra took little after me that she loves to cook and bake so she got her first easy bakes oven and a Hello Kitty cupcake maker! She’s way too excited to see them. Now Kalia, she doesn’t understand gift as much as Tyra, but she got excited over this one gift that my husband choose, it’s her first mini cycles. It’s pink and so cute. Apparently it need to be assembly so husband have to assembly it and she just sat there waiting patiently (most of the time) for daddy to finish putting her little bike together. Then she have a blast going all over the house with it and literally couldn’t care less on the rest of her gift.

The girls have been very blessed with their Aunties and Uncles (either from friends or relatives) with great gift their received. And I can’t thank them enough for loving my children.

As for the holiday feast, we have a progressive holiday feast on Sunday, we all agreed to have an all day eating fiesta, so instead of gathering on one place for dinner and everybody bring a dishes, we split into two places and have two family host each gathering. So we started our Sunday at 11 am with brunch at one friend’s house hosted by the homeowner and one other friends. It was so delish!! We have tons of pastry stuff (one of my friend is Hmong French so she cooks lots of French food) we have Mussels, Salmon, sandwiches and chicken, fruit tarts, etc..  I was so full and they even joked to moved dinner to 8 pm because they were all so full.

Dinner is my turn, I actually host it with one other friend and we do it at her house, however my friend is on an early stage of pregnancy and she really have a rough one. So she can’t cooked anything literally! So I cooked all the heavy stuff and all she need to do is preparing the eatery stuff, the utensil, drinks and salads. I made Roast Turkey, Roast Beef, bakes pasta and sautéed shrimp and mixed veggies, I also bakes a Christmas cake for dessert. I literally do all by myself cooked to feed about 20 – 30 people. I was so worried that we don’t have enough or it didn’t come up right etc… at the end it all went very well and they told me that I actually graduated to be a Nyab Hmong – I think it meant a good Hmong daughter in law. My husband and I was laughing so hard when they all say that. Laughing aside, I take it as a great compliment!

We really had a marvelous time together on Sunday. I love being among them, there’s nothing pretentious on our relationship,  it is mostly laughter that we shared I’m not going to lie, of course we also have our share of argument and tears but at the end we all become such a great friends that we put all aside. I think we truly become a family.

I hope you guys have just a lovely time as I was over the past weekend. Here’s to a great and successful 2012!!

Ps, sorry I haven’t got any time to load pictures yet, but I will and will share them soon.

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Balance is overrated!

As summer ends, my husband and I have to make tons of adjustments. Scheduling for example, Tyra has started school back in July but we still have our niece with us to help baby sit Kalia, now she’s back to WI and Kalia need to be back at day care. Tyra will also have to go to before and after care and that brings up another adjustment, budget! Having two kids is crazy expensive!!! We have to pay $1600 just for child care alone! I don’t know how others with more than 2 kids can do it, we barely able to afford ours!

Now we all have to wake up super early I’m sure my husband beat the rooster (if we would’ve own one) waking up sleeping kids and baby are another thing I have to do, waking up Tyra is easier than Kalia, I mean, how could you wake a peacefully sleeping baby? So cute and comfy snuggle in her blanky and here’s come monster mommy waking her up? Oh.. breaks my heart every time! Good news is kalia normally wake up as soon as I’m up as if she can sense it. So I hardly have to wake her up.

 I do enjoy making and having breakfast with the family though.. even if it’s just as simple as cereal and milk. Once a while pancake or waffle is on the table, depend on my mood and how early we can get everybody ready.

The first few weeks, I got to work exhausted. Mostly mentally, thinking about what to prepare for snacks tomorrow, what the kids will wear, what’s for breakfast, what’s to cook for dinner tonight. Etc…. I drive myself crazy.

Then coming home to a messy house, the house I clean every morning and every night, it will miraculously messy again by the time I get home around 6pm. My husband is pretty helpful, he do dishes, laundry, vacuum and mop. However he and I have different concept on where toys and dirty clothes should go. It’s not on the floor!

Few weeks ago I broke down and have one of the biggest fights in our marriage life. It’s so big that it almost involve elder (it’s a Hmong thing) not that my husband believe in the elder but almost. Good friends talk to me and calm me down and we manage to get through this. I think everything just happen all of the sudden the change the adjustments we have to make and it’s all built in to the point that I can’t take it.

Finally I talked with my Mom and just cry myself out. Then, this is what my mom told me “having balance at home is over rated! There are no such things as perfect balance in life and in marriage. It’s all about give and take. The house will always be messy – you have two kids and two dogs what do you expect? – and you will always have disagreement but that’s what life is. Talk it out and work it out, that’s how you get through it.”

She said it’s okay to have a messy home once in a while, that’s mean my kids actually have fun and bring the house to live.

I always compare my life to my mom’s and have the image of a perfect marriage and perfect household should be. My mom told me to stop and remind me how even her life is not perfect. Once my mom and my dad were separated, they get back together and work it out. It hits me even my “perfect parents” have problems too.

She also remind me that she have plenty of helps back home with maid, gardener and drivers at her services.. (my dream life!) and most importantly all the family back home. She also then told me how proud she is of me and not sure if she can do the same if she was in my position. She thinks of me as a strong woman who is able to manage a family life with just me and hubby and we have as close to perfect as a life should be. That is the biggest compliments I heard from my mom! Over and over again I learned from my Mom. What will I do without her?

So last night, I let it all lose, I watch as Tyra and Kalia play together, this time instead of worrying what they will break or what they will spills, I just watch and listen. I listen as they both laugh while they were chasing each other. I watch Kalia do silly dance mimicking some TV commercial and then her laugh…

It’s beautiful and the house wasn’t all that bad. Just pick up few things this morning but I have the best night ever! As I quote my mom ‘Balance is over rated! Have fun, laugh often, build memories is more important than have your house looks like Martha Stewart Magazine.” Love you mommy!!

Tyra & Kalia being silly

My “Hmong” recipe

As you all know my husband is Hmong and beside fallen for him (ahem..) I also fall in love with some of Hmong food. In all honesty when it comes to food it really doesn’t take much to impress me. 🙂

I can actually master few of Hmong recipe – that’s better than my man who can only made one – water and rice! – ok, if you’re not Hmong you didn’t really get the joke… 🙂 anyway.. but really I can make good enough Hmong food to be consider as an “ok” nyab (daughter in law) by my in law. For example, I can make a really good papaya that in most of ever gathering I was in charge of making them – until lately cause I’m getting lazy – .

Remember few weeks ago I was in a cooking frenzy? One of the food I cook that day was one of my husband’s favorite Hmong dishes, it’s called Kaphong – I probably butcher the spelling – it’s a curry noodle soup. It can be made with any meat you wish. The weather is colder makes it a perfect time to make it. I was in the mood of having a noodle soup dish-like but I wasn’t craving a heavier broth type of food. So I’ll try to make this dish but forgo the coconut milk… a little scare, this can either make me or break me – in term of my husband liking it. 🙂

He ate it…. and…. he like it! Even have second serving.. phew… now, for anybody who knows me I’m not the type that asking for my husband approval, but this is his favorite dishes and I since I twitch it from the original recipe I’d like to get my opinion…

Here’s my lighter version of Hmong dishes Kaphong or Kaphoon…

My version of Kaphong

It’s very simple to make – much simpler than the original recipe. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Boneless chicken breast – cut in cube
  • Garlic – 4 crush or chopped
  • Shallot 2 or 3 depending on the size – chopped
  • Gallangal roots 2 inch
  • Lemon Grass – 1 stalk
  • Lime leaves – 5
  • Bamboo shoots – 1 can
  • Red Curry Paste – half of small can
  • salt n pepper
  • Tomato – around 5 cherry tomato
  • 1 cube or dry chicken stock
  • Fish sauce for taste
  • Limes
  • Chopped cabbage
  • Cilantro

Boil the water in a medium pot add the lemon grass and gallangal roots. Dice up chicken Breast. In saute pan, heat cooking oil and brown the shallot and  garlic then add the meat. after all cooked, add the curry paste. Add them all to the boiling water, add fish sauce, salt and pepper to taste and chicken stock. At the very last, add the lime leaves, bamboo shoots and choped up tomato.

Serve in a bowl over rice noodle with chopped cabbage, cilantro and a squirt of lime.  Enjoy! 🙂

I’m from Indonesian, Hmong & Colorado…

My husband gave me and my mom  a spa treatment at Antoine Du Chezt for holiday. When we went to get our treatment, Tyra want to come along.  As we get pampered, Tyra was busy chatting with the message lady. Tyra has always been a chatter and can carry on a great conversation with adult.

One thing that caught my attention right away is when she said: I’m from Indonesia, Hmong & Colorado.” She’s proudly tell her how she can say some words in Hmong and Indonesian. I am so proud of Tyra how from very early on she’s always been proud to call herself Hmong, Indonesian – American. Yes She’s a mutt!  🙂  She’s American, she was born here, raised here, go to American school and will learn American history, etc.. and she pledge a legion to the flag. However, she also part of Indonesia – from me and Hmong from her dad.

I haven’t seen this with my Indonesian friends, but I’ve seen so many example of Hmong youth who deny his/her heritage. How they don’t want to be associate with the Hmong culture.  They try so hard to be just American, they even hated the fact that they’re Asian! The things is, they can’t deny the fact that no matter how American they want to be, they’re still Asian and they will always be Hmong. The problem is too, others will always label them as Asian-American. Never just American. (note: I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it.)

I understand that there are many Hmong culture that can be seen as outdated and (to me personally) doesn’t makes sense or flat out just ridiculous. I am also a firm believer that we need to respect the culture and traditions no matter how ridiculous it is, BUT we don’t have to practice it, but still need to respect it. In any culture and traditions, we need to take the good and learned from them and ignore the bad. To deny it entirely is just wrong. That’s my opinion.

I’m still learning about both Hmong culture and Mine. I want to learned it more now since I have a child because I want to pass it on to them how proud I am being Indonesian and I want them to know about their dad’s heritage as well.

To me, the problem it isn’t at the traditions but with the people, I’ve seen some pick and choose a traditions that benefit them only and that’s just so wrong. For example, here’s a “funny” story:  in my husband culture, once the women are married, they no longer consider as part of her parents family, they belong to their husband’s family. Personally I don’t agree with it – maybe because I brought up with matriarch culture and to me nobody can tell me that I’m not part of my family who raised me and love me and make me the woman I am today – some of the woman in my husband’s family, each time there’s help needed they always claimed that they’re the outsider and that’s the job for the boys… so they use this tradition as an excuses for not wanting to help. But this traditions doesn’t apply when they need help.. “funny”.

Anyway….

I will try my hardest teaching my kids their heritage and to be proud of who they are.

 

 

 

Tyra in Hmong outfit

 

Tyra in Indonesian outfit

We’re not perfect.. we’re family!!

That’s coming out of my 4 yr old few weeks ago. We were just relaxing in the family room when she just blurt it out. My husband and I just look at each other and laugh…  She’s right though. No one is perfect certainly not us, but we are family.

Bring me to this story… about a month ago, little incident happen to my father in law that lead to a discovery that he have dementia and early sign of Alzheimer. He was hospitalize for few days for observation. Although he is getting better but I think what had happen is this incident makes them finally realize that they not young anymore and can’t do things they normally do. Maybe they still can but need to slow down a bit.

We went and visit the family in WI over Labor day weekend and it was a nice relaxing family visit. No plan of sightseeing or places to visit, just a plain relaxing family visit. Some of my husband’s niece also come down to see us from other state and city, so is my husband’s sister that drive from Michigan. It’s like little family reunion. Now they all regret that we didn’t take family picture! Oh well, too late now.. hehehe…

We spend the first night at my husband’s brother house in Madison, they were waited for us that night and we have a very delicious Hmong food waiting for us when we got there.

 My mother in law know that Tyra is turning 5 this year and did little celebration in the backyard for her. She prepare everything, all I did was buy a cake. Early that Sunday morning when I woke up, everybody is already gather in the garage cooking for Tyra’s party, my mother in law made her famous Hmong egg roll and all of my older sister in law were there to help cooking and my brother in law already start the grill for bbq. I was really touch. Then the family start coming and we all have a nice lunch together.

On a  different day my husband’s niece also made an effort to cook for us and invite the whole family to come and eat. She make Kophia  (I know I probably butcher the spelling) from scratch! – and Pho. My sister in law made her famous Kaphong the next day for lunch.

Tyra is having so much fun with all of her cousins. She just play and play and play… I swear I hardly see her as she’s always out there playing. My 4 month old, somehow she was very fussy during our stay there, it was very nice to have a lot of helping hand around us, my mother in law so quick in jumping and help us with her, so is my sister in law, and niece, they were all helping us when we’re overwhelmed with her.

My husband comes from a big family and majority of them live closed to my parents in law and they house is always open and people always comes in and out from the house – remind me of my own family homes where all of my cousins living so close with us and their kids will comes to see my parents all the times – it gave me such warm and good feeling.

We stayed in Colorado because it makes sense for us financially. We kinda already settle here, we’re both have a good jobs and house, with my father in law being sick and the experience from our last visit we realize that money isn’t really everything. Yeah.. we’ll miss living in this beautiful place, yeah we’ll miss our friends here. In the end we just have to make decision that makes sense for us.

We have 3 – 5 yrs plan to move to WI, things may change along the way that enable us to move faster or not moving there at all… again, we’ll see what makes sense for us in all aspect.  The perfect plan is to move to Indonesia, but that’s almost impossible – I said almost because I come to realization that nothing really is impossible, you just never know what life can through at you, the good, the bad and the unexpected.

In term of family, things has not always this smooth, there’s drama along the way, things were said and done that wasn’t meant to, but just like Tyra said, in the end we’re family.

“We’re not perfect, we’re family!”

Enjoy some picture from our trip below….

Our niece Vicky making Kophia (Laotian chicken noodle soup) from scratch

Grandma and Tyra's auntie making eggroll & cook for her birthday

Family gather on grandpa & grandpa yard for Tyra's birthday

Tyra & some of her cousins opening present

Pinata time

Cousins play at the park

Tyra (on the right) & Bella

Bella & Kalia

Tyra & her cousins in Hmong dress