Posts Tagged ‘family’

When sisters meet

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , ,
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It’s been long enough now that Smokey and Missy are getting along pretty well. They still have some spats, but they mostly keep it civil. Here’s what it was like the first night Missy arrived after her trip. Smokey spent a lot of time stalking her and staring her down. She’d then hiss (I’ve only ever heard her hiss once prior to this) and sometimes run off. I was concerned about them both, so I kept a close eye for hours into the night. Panda and I ended up sleeping in separate rooms so both cats would have someone with them.

Missy first emerged into a brand new home.

Missy first emerged into a brand new home.

Eventually Smokey came by to smell what all the commotion was about.

Eventually Smokey came by to smell what all the commotion was about.

Missy took to the stairs nearby as her hiding spot.

Missy took to the stairs nearby as her hiding spot.

At some point she found a box to hide in and Smokey didn't even know they got so close!

At some point she found a box to hide in and Smokey didn’t even know they got so close!

Most of the night was spent monitoring Smokey as she stared at Missy from afar.

Most of the night was spent monitoring Smokey as she stared at Missy from afar.

Missy hid under the couch a bit and only emerged with coaxing.

Missy hid under the couch a bit and only emerged with coaxing.

Eventually we settled in for bed around 3, though Missy decided hiding under the bed felt more safe than being in it. Maybe she didn’t know that Smokey was stuck on the other side of the door.

Hawaii 2014 haul

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Somehow I always manage to forget to take pictures after coming back from a trip and it’s week later when I actually have a haul post ready. This time around I got so eager to share some of the snacks we brought back that they were taken to work and devoured (or given to my parents) before I ever snapped a photo. But here’s a look at some of the cool things we got while in Oahu last month!

bag of kulu kulu mini waffles

One of the many snack items I got. These fun little guys came in panda or seal shapes and are filled with custard or jam! I just wish they were more fresh when I got them.

hawaiian red shrimp and snails ecosphere self-sustaining ecosystem

These awesome self-sustaining ecospheres have Hawaiian red shrimp and (optionally) snails. I’ve wanted one for years and I’m so happy they made it through air travel just fine.

pineapple-scented candle in coconut shell, koa wood bookmark, and hawaii calendar for 2015

I got the pineapple-scented candle in a coconut shell and koa wood bookmark from an ABC Store. The calendar came free from a Hilo Hattie purchase!

purple halter top dress with white flowers, blue and beige hawaiian shirt, and hawaii t-shirt from hilo hattie

The clothing we got at Hilo Hattie included a dress for me, a Hawaiian shirt for my brother-in-law, and a t-shirt for my father-in-law. I actually have a dress in the exact same pattern as the Hawaiian shirt, from Panda’s previous visit to HI.

hawaiian host macadamia chocolates from costco and gold sea turtle earrings from hilo hattie

The other item I got at Hilo Hattie are those awesome earrings! I love sea turtles. At the local Costco, we got a giant tub of the Hawaiian Host macadamia chocolates – they were a hit at work. We also got tins of nuts for my parents, but I forgot to get a picture of that.

blue and white flip flop oven glove from dole plantation in hawaii

One day, we stopped by the Dole Plantation and I thought this was a super cute and creative oven glove design. I hope my mother-in-law likes it!

honolulu cookie company pineapple-shaped shortbread cookies

And of course, no visit to Hawaii is complete without some Honolulu Cookies. Panda and I both brought some to our offices. They disappeared pretty quickly!

Black Friday (on Thanksgiving) for a First-Timer

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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My family isn’t big on shopping and my mom’s great at getting deals unrelated to the craze of this time of year. Growing up, we never did Black Friday (who wants to wake up that early?) and we enjoyed a much more chill holiday weekend. However, in recent years with retailers opening Thanksgiving night, it’s become something that I actually considered doing. Lining up at 5 pm at night is far easier than crawling up at 2 in the morning to get in line by 3. This year, Panda and I decided the one item we’d look for is a TV. We had never really gotten a TV since moving to the condo, so we had this giant living room area and no screen to match. What we’ve had is a 24″ that came free with the couch set. Not nearly the size you need when you’re sitting a good 10 feet away.

This morning, the ads came and we confirmed what we wanted: a 48″ Westinghouse at Target. With doors opening at 6, we decided to get into line around 5.

line outside target store thanksgiving night for target black friday store opening sale

It got pretty cold in line, but it definitely could have been worse.

target crackers with deal coupons inside

I’m not sure Americans know what crackers are, but the Brits certainly would!

westinghouse 48 inch tv on sale for black friday at target

Snagged that and went to check out!

broken brand new westinghouse tv screen

Not what we wanted to see upon turning it on.

westinghouse 48 inch tv being exchanged for in-stock 50 inch at target

Of course they were out of stock when we went to exchange it, but we were able to get the 50″ instead.

brand new 50 inch tv versus small 24 inch old one

Now that’s more like it… the old TV was sooo small.

It turned out to be quite the adventure and required another trip to Target. At first, the manager seemed reluctant to give us an exchange for a similar product without charging us the difference (which sort of defeats the purpose of the Black Friday deal, don’t you think?). Luckily, when we found the same brand with a slightly larger screen, she was willing to let the extra $100 price difference slide and gave us an even exchange. At least we got an extra 2 inches for all that hassle!

Hong Kong haul

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Check out the awesome things I acquired in Hong Kong last month – some were gifts, some were free, and some I purchased. I’m very pleased with what I got! You’ll probably want to see some of these in more close-up, so feel free to click on the images to enlarge. 🙂

pandora bracelet and christian dior coin purse with pandora bag

Fancy gifts from the relatives!

3d holiday cards, tissue box cover, scarf, hong kong dollars, and red envelopes

More stuff from the relatives, including a tissue box cover, scarf, and red envelopes.

pizza express bag, ovolo hotels go bag, and drawstring bag with slippers inside

Free stuff from the hotel and Pizza Express. Two totes and a drawstring bag with slippers.

collage of black wristlet pouch with three compartments and clear purple pouch for toiletries

The very first items I bought were these pouches. I love the three compartments on the black one and the translucence of the purple one.

collage of chopstick set in box with two pairs of chopsticks and chopstick holders

At Ngong Ping, I got to choose chopsticks and chopstick holders. Panda and I both chose our own chopstick holders so they don’t exactly match! 😛

collage of glass teapot and mini cups set with pack of six blossoming teas

I’ve fancied a glass tea set for awhile and I’ve always wanted to get blossoming teas, so this package was too much to pass up.

collage of hong kong mtr map microfiber cloth

At first I saw generic ones and bought one, but then we found this one with the MTR map, so I immediately exchanged for it.

uniqlo purple down jacket and gray fuzzy hooded jacket

I have officially discovered Uniqlo and looove their jackets. These two are my favs for fall.

navy blue boxers with cat faces

When I saw these while shopping for gifts, I just had to get them for Panda. Smokey will love them!

empty box of flaky almond pastry treats from macau

We got these for our coworkers from Macau, but I forgot to take a picture before they were all devoured.

collage of five 3d cards that pop open to ferris wheels, eiffel tower, ship with sails, and dragon designs

Last but not least are these awesome 3D cards that I got my friends who helped catsit Smokey (and of course I snagged some for myself too).

Where are you from?

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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It starts off as an innocent (and usually simple) question. “Where are you from?” asks the person meeting you for the first time. For most people, a city or country name will suffice to bring about a certain level of understanding regarding their background.

But for me, this is a truly complicated question. Do you mean where am I from ethnically? Do you mean where I am from as in where I’m living right now? Do you mean where I am from as in where I grew up? Do you mean where I am from as in where I identify with most and consider home? I mean, really, this is a loaded question dressed up in innocence. The poor people asking me that question never know what’s coming until they’re knee deep in my explanation. So let’s break this down bit by bit.

To start, the easiest answer I have is when I am traveling abroad. Then I can say either the US or China, based on if the asker wants to know where my family heritage is or where I grew up. Since I’m in another country, I don’t have to explain in as much detail and general answers like that work. But when I’m in the US and people ask me, it’s too broad to just say “United States” – they’ll want to know what state, what city even.

Where am I from? If you mean my ethnic background, my familial “roots” then the answer is China. More specifically Northern China and even more specifically, Shenyang in Liaoning Province. This drills down enough that those familiar with Chinese geography and culture will know right away some basic things: I am from a Mandarin-speaking area, I probably have some Mongol in me, and there are certain slang terms specific to my region that I may use. This also explains why I often get mistaken for Korean – we are very close to (both) Korea(s) and people living in the same region tend to look alike. However, this doesn’t mean I’m truly Chinese. I’m certainly nothing like those who grew up there.

Where am I from? If you mean where I’m living now, then I would have said California, Southern California, Los Angeles, or Valencia. Do I feel like I am Californian or an Angeleno? Yeah, by now I do, since I’d been in the area on and off for a decade. I didn’t grow up here though, so I don’t consider it anything more than my most recent home that felt like it. For now, I’m still not connected enough with Virginia to think of this as my real home, even if my beloved condo, husband, and cat are here.

Where am I from? If you mean where I grew up, oh boy. I didn’t grow up in one place – which do I choose? I really can’t pick, since I spent an average of 3 years in each throughout my childhood before moving on to the next. First, 3.5 years in China, then about 2 years in Pennsylvania, then 3 years in Kansas, 1 year in China, 1 year back in Kansas, 2.5 years in Missouri, 3.5 years in New York, 4 years in California (2 in Valencia, 2 in Westwood/UCLA), 1 year in England, 2 years in California, 0.5 years in Singapore, 2 years in California again (El Segundo), and then back and forth between CA and Virginia for 1.5 years until my most recent 1 year in Virginia. Do I feel Mid-Western, as my 7 years there would suggest? No. Do I feel like an East Coaster? Certainly not. Do I feel like a West Coaster? Only in more recent years.

Where am I from? If you mean where I identify with the most, where my childhood memories are, where I consider home… I really don’t know. I can’t pick a single place, whether a city, a state, or even a region. For my adult life, it has mostly been the greater Los Angeles area, within about 50 miles. But my childhood? There is just too much of a story there to give a simple answer. And then of course I am now officially moved to Virginia, giving me yet another piece to the identity puzzle.

Who knew such a seemingly straightforward question would create so much havoc in my attempt to answer.

The homebody lifestyle

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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cat laying on newspaper on porch

Family activities include Smokey getting in the way of some reading downtime.

Panda and I aren’t much for a partying lifestyle. We’re pretty big homebodies, completely content to stay at home relaxing together, enjoying takeout, and doing (or not doing) other such quiet activities. We could spend the whole night watching some shows or browsing online as we tuck ourselves in bed. It’s a nice sort of bonding for us. We may not be doing things together, but at least we are next to each other sharing our space. It’s comfortable and comforting. I’m at the stage where I’m ready to start building a home life. Suddenly I’m thinking about stuff I can get to personalize our home (guess that comes with the territory of having a home to personalize)!

I’ve always enjoyed this sort of home life, even as a teenager. Of course there have been plenty of times that I’ve gone out to various events or just to hang out with friends late into the night, but usually I just want to hole up in my room and spend my time on my computer, chatting with family, or reading a book. Back then I had plenty of homework to keep me busy for ages too. I see a lot of my peers going out to bars and parties and whatnot, but that doesn’t interest me. Similarly, more active home activities like board games or running around the house playing tag or hide and seek don’t interest me either. Maybe it’s not good that so much of my habits are sedentary, but I am in good health.

Just the other night, Panda and I were going out to eat, but on the way decided to get takeout. I enjoyed that option a lot more than sitting at the restaurant. It was really nice to have our food ready, eat at our own pace, and get some other things done while eating. Plus, I got to wear super comfy clothes that I probably shouldn’t go to a restaurant in lest I be taken for a slob. Perhaps that’s my true motivation – being able to relax without people judging me because I’m dressed so casually and never wear makeup. Home is a place to take off all those layers you throw on for the outside world, a place where the true you comes out.

Are we the only ones our age like this? Seems like everyone else always has some grand night or weekend plans coming up. Ours are just quiet – stay in most of the time, get some chores done, maybe go out to grab some food or stroll through Target, and return home again. No happy hours or late nights out or parties of any sort. It’s not that the opportunities aren’t there – in fact, Panda often turns down invitations to social gatherings with his coworkers and I often skip out on activities with my networks. We do like to plan some nice vacation getaways though!

So what’s your preference? Are you still living it up on the social scenes? Or maybe you’re like us and pretty settled into a calmer pace of life?

Tea time

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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blue and white tea pot, tea cups with tea in them, and slice of strawberry cake on round wooden trayPanda’s mom gave us this adorable tea set when we were visiting and I finally unpacked it today for us to use. After rinsing it all out, we got some of the loose leaf tea I’d bought from the Tea & Spice Exchange and brewed a pot. There’s something about brewing tea in a pot and then pouring it into tiny little cups that is such a fun experience for me. There’s a certain ceremony about it and it exudes gracefulness as you pour. The delicate little cups make me feel all fancy. I’ve been coveting those cast iron pots at Teavana for years and I’m still trying to justify the cost to myself. In the mean time, this set makes a perfect starter set for us to use at home. Paired with a slice of Chinese-style cake, this spread made the perfect way to wind down at night. I’ll be having mini tea parties nightly!

World Cat Day!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
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Between vacationing, reading, writing, and so much more, I’ve neglected to post as much as usual. I just finished up the novel I was reading (Amy Tan’s latest – The Valley of Amazement) so that should free up time to blog more. It’s hard to write when so much flowing through my head consists of ideas for no less than five separate story lines for potential novels of my own. I add to them when I can and get a mind dump every few nights.

In the mean time, here’s a belated World Cat Day dedication to my beloved felines. I was absolutely tickled to find it coincided with my now marriage anniversary date!

cat napping on top of open book

To Missy, the best snuggle buddy ever, particularly in the cooler months. She’s overcome her little mute tendencies and now meows all the time!

cat standing with front paws in sink and back up on counter

To Molly, whose old grumpy self has eased up a bit. She still follows my mom around like her life depends on it and it’s hilarious.

cat sitting on sofa with one paw outstretched

And to Smokey, the adorable little weirdo who gives me some super entertaining stories to share at work. She may not like to be held, but she’ll come to you on her own.

My cats are a special bunch and provide me with endless joy and entertainment. Don’t worry if I become a crazy cat lady. I’ll be loving it!

The name game

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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With our civil ceremony fast approaching, Panda and I are preparing to jump through the legal hoops. One of these items is the marriage license application, with which I will need to indicate how (or if) I will change my name. The only thing we’ve agreed is not necessary is for him to change his name. But when it comes to mine, I was all for adding his name as a second last name, ie, Qin Bear (assuming his full name is Panda Bear, you see). I remember reading about a blogger who had done this and claimed to be able to use Qin or Bear or Qin Bear. That’s exactly what I’d like – a tie to his family name without actually really changing my identity. On the day-to-day, I’d still be Mary Qin. When it came to anything related to him, I could be Mrs. Bear. If it was something related to the kids (who I plan on naming with his family name), I’d be Mary Bear to match their surname.

However, I’ve been digging in to it and it seems things might be more complex than that. Technically adding the extra last name is changing mine, which means I’d still have to go through the annoying process of updating all my records (no thank you). Then there’s the question of whether two last names (NOT hypenated) is truly acceptable and whether the two can sort of be used interchangeably. If I indicate my new name is Mary Qin Bear, would a check written to me as Mary Qin be just as valid? I haven’t a clue… [any lawyers in CA please feel free to chime in!]

We were talking about this last night and he sees no need for me to change my name. I’ve built an identity around it and it’s a strong name. I actually have far less of a connection with my first name than my last. Perhaps I should drop it and make my name Qin Bear! You may call me Qin from now on. 😉 I did want to add his to have that connection to his family roots and also share part of my last name with the kids. To some extent, I didn’t want complications because my surname didn’t match theirs, but Panda makes a valid point that our mothers raised us with their own last names and never had an issue. So should I just keep my name entirely? Seems a little lacking, after all this time that I was planning on adding a name.

And then of course I have intense debates with myself in terms of what the social influences are that are playing into my decision. Am I being too deferent to tradition by including his name? Am I being too headstrong by not? What is actually making me choose the way I am and does it make sense with my values? I’m thoroughly confused. Is it legal to list Mary Qin Bear on the marriage certificate but not update all my legal documents so I continue to use Mary Qin but have Bear floating in there on the marriage license? I think I might go with that.

Thinking of all this last name drama reminds me of an amusing fact: all three of my cats have different last names. Molly was given my mom’s last name, Missy was given my last name, and Smokey was given Panda’s last name. I sure hope it’s less confusing with the real kids. 😛

A year in

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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It’s the 1-year anniversary of our engagement, just so happening to fall on Father’s Day this year! We’ve made plans for the marriage, but not yet the wedding and it’s one big confusing set of circumstances. I’m putting off wedding planning as long as possible, but I probably should start since it’s going to be only a year away soon enough (less than two months from now). A year is a decent amount of time to plan, right? It’s not like we’re going all out crazy; I’d rather have a nice time celebrating and enjoy a more elaborate honeymoon. Actually, it looks like our “honeymoon” will be coming in three (or more) parts. A 7-day thing here, a 10-day thing there… and hey, why not make every vacation going forth part of our never-ending honeymoon?

Was it just a year ago that Panda was getting his Master’s and we got engaged? Hard to believe, with all that’s happened since! I relocated from California to Virginia, decided to rejoin the workforce as an employee rather than an entrepreneur of sorts, got a condo, adopted a cat, and pretty much experienced change in most parts of my life. I feel like we’ve grown up so much in this span of time and I look forward to all the adventures we’ll have together over the years. The next great adventure will be getting our marriage license and legally getting married, which seems so strange to do a year before the wedding ceremony. We’ve grown up associating the two, but they don’t have to be hand in hand. So, as I always seem to do in my life, I fall neither here nor there – the exception to the norm, the couple who’s married but not yet, sort of? How are we going to explain this to people?

Nevermind that, though. We’ll do things our way and enjoy it all along the way! I just learned that my dad is going to be around for the civil ceremony this year, which is super exciting since he’s usually only in the country a few weeks each year. It looks like our entire immediate families will be able to attend – both sets of parents, plus Panda’s brother (maybe even my cousin??). That’s all we need! I don’t want all the fanfare and formality and I hope they don’t expect it. Let’s just do the legal stuff and have a good meal together.

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