My Adorable Penguin Who Became a Beautiful Swan

Seventeen years ago today, I gave birth to an adorable little penguin.


That little penguin grew . . .


And grew . . .


And grew . . .


And grew . . .


And grew . . .


And eventually became this beautiful swan.


Happy 17th Birthday to my Cecily who is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

One Heck of a Product

Yesterday my heart stopped beating for a few seconds.  I was in the midst of doing my weekly hundred loads of laundry.  I was moving a load from the washer into the dryer when I saw (it was so horrible!) my daughter’s iPod lying, face down, at the bottom of the washer. NOOOO!

You see, we have this little family rule.  It goes like this:  Mom and Dad aren’t going to give you an iPod.  If you want an iPod, you gotta buy it yourself.

When Cecily was 11, she saved up $250 and bought herself the (then) top of the line video iPod.  It took her months to save that much money.  And it was a super cool iPod.  She could listen to music AND watch movies!  Nothing could ever be cooler than that.

Or so we thought.

Then a few years later, Apple came out with the iPod touch.  Whaaaaaa!  It was so cool!!!  Cecily had to have one.  So she sold her video iPod to some outdated college student, saved some more money, and bought herself an iPod touch.

And then yesterday, that iPod touch went through the wash.

But here’s the amazing part:  After I fished the iPod out of the washing machine, I put it in a bag of rice.  Then last night, Cecily took it from the rice and (miracle of miracles) THE THING TURNED ON!!!!!

Steve Jobs (may you rest in peace), you Rock the Casbah!

BTW, Noah (age 13) just bought his first iPod (the latest and greatest iPod touch) last month.  Now he thinks he’s all that.  He listens to it with his rad Beats headphones (purchased from a street vendor in Hong Kong 4 months ago, and now held together with tape).  Ben (almost 15) is still carrying around an iPod that years ago Jason’s former company gave out free as a spiff.  There were boxes of them lying around the company.  Even though it was free to us, Jason made Ben pay him $40 for it, because like I said before, we don’t give our kids iPods.

We’re so mean.


This past weekend I went to Hong Kong for a Mormon women’s conference.  I had a great time and it was a wonderful conference.  The keynote speaker was Julie B. Beck, a woman who I greatly admire.  The conference was very well planned and I was spiritually uplifted.

I decided at the last-minute to go, only three days before the start of the conference.  I’m really glad I went.  I shared a hotel room with my friend Gaby.  She was a great roommate and we had a ton of fun together.  She brought her 10 month-old son Elias with her and he was a perfect baby. He added to the fun.  For only 10 months-old, Elias has a pretty funny sense of humor.  The three of us laughed a lot.  And Gaby’s more developed sense of direction kept me from getting lost; a problem I often have in big cities.

However, although I had a great time with all the women who attended the conference, in general, I don’t just love taking girls trips.  I usually avoid them.  The reason for this is because I prefer to travel with my husband.  If I’m going to take a trip, I want it to be with Jason.

Now, Jason and aren’t perfect companions in all things.  For example, we hate each other’s movies.  For Jason, a movie isn’t worth seeing if there aren’t a lot of explosions.  I prefer a lot of accents.  Jason likes car chases, while I prefer period costumes.  I would rather stick needles in my eyes than watch a movie with Bruce Willis.  Jason would rather shove bamboo under his fingernails than watch a movie involving anything British (James Bond excluded).  Now, for the record, he pretended to like my movies before we were married.  We frequently attended the international cinema at BYU when we were dating.  But after we were married, he admitted it was all a ruse to get me to like him.  The things guys will do to get a girlfriend …

So over the years, I have had to deal with the letdown of his movie choices.  But he has made up for that little lie in other ways.  And travel is one of the biggest ways.

Jason and I travel really well together.  I have often said that Jason and I are at our best when we’re out-of-town.  Jason is a great trip planner and I’m the beneficiary of that.  Trying to capitalize on our great travel experiences was one of the biggest reasons we decided to join the Foreign Service.  There is no one I would rather walk through a foreign city with than Jason.  There is no one I would rather try new food with than Jason.  There is no one I would rather hop on a plane with than Jason.  There is no one I would want to see an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with, including Jason.  (Sorry for the digression.  But I really do hate action films.)

In conclusion, my favorite way to spend a day is to explore a foreign city in a foreign country with just Jason.  That’s my perfect day.

DSC_0058{A perfect day in Portofino, Italy}

Oh No He Didn’t!

My cousin Angie came to visit.  Angie and I aren’t blood relatives.  She’s actually Jason’s cousin.  It would come as no surprise to anyone that Angie and I aren’t related because she’s good at math and sports and I’m not.  She’s so good at math and sports that she has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and she was an All-American volleyball player in college.  When I was in high school I was into drama, debate and choir.  And I have a very impressive Bachelor’s Degree in humanities.  Yep, she was cool in high school and college and I was a debate/humanities nerd.  That’s how you can tell we’re not blood related.

But for the past few days I have been seen on the streets of Taipei with the cool math/sports girl.  I have finally arrived.  (Yea me!)

So today Angie and I were driving down the street in Neihu.  We stopped at a big intersection where a man was selling flowers on the street.  Like math and sports, I’m not particularly good at flower identification, but I love to buy these white aromatic flowers that are frequently sold at intersections throughout Taipei.  Three or four flowers are strung on a thin piece of wire which are sold for $10-$20NT ($.30-$.60US).  I hang them on my rearview mirror.  Then for about two days my car smells like a nameless white aromatic flower.  It makes me happy.  (Yea me!)

So after I stopped at the intersection, I rolled down my window and handed the man two silver coins and he handed me my wired flowers.  But then he said something I couldn’t understand and pointed at the center console of my car.  I had no idea what he wanted, but Angie picked up a 3/4 drunk plastic water bottle that was lying on the console and handed it to him.  It was obviously what he was asking for because he happily took it and walked off.  I thought he must have wanted to water his flowers, but when I watched him walking away through my flower-laced rearview mirror to my horror he (I can hardly say it) was drinking the last few swallows from the water bottle.