Saturday, January 31, 2009

Welcome, KFC!!!

Mr. and Mrs. Brabus welcomed KFC into the world!! 

This picture made my entire day and weekend. He's a super handsome newborn.



(I too am hoping that there was never any chicken in the bucket. =)) Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. B!!! Can't wait to meet him in person.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rally, rally!



An incredibly exciting day for me today:
- I rode the metro rail. I've never ridden on the subway or train in LA. Nor had I been inside Union Station until today.
- I participated in the UTLA rally in downtown! Lots of shouting, fist pumping, and of course, rallying. 

Just a couple of points of clarification, as I've heard some strange things in the media:

- we're currently in contract negotiations. Those negotiations are in the fact finding stage, which is the step before a strike vote. We are also negotiating our health care, but that's still in the mediation stage. The last strike lasted for 9 days. When teachers strike, schools find subs. Subs are members of the union. (Corrected: Sorry for my mistake. I got subs mixed up with paraprofessionals in my head.)

- we are currently boycotting Tuesday after-school meetings and District periodic assessments In LAUSD, students are tested every 6 weeks for English Language Arts and once a quarter for Math. Teachers are still assessing their students. They are either using the District assessment and not inputting them into the District system or testing students with other assessments. The Ed Code only mandates that you test students, but it doesn't dictate which assessments you have to give or that you have to input the information in the District system.

I'm not a fan of striking but when dealing with a monster like LAUSD, I'd rather have another monster like UTLA on my side.



And now I can't get the chants from today's rally out of my head. Poop.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Le Shoebox Update

Happy lunar new year!

Much has been happening at le shoebox! Over the weekend, we finally got our dining chairs (tivoli chairs from C&B) to go around the table (round dining table with cut out legs from west elm) that we picked up from craigslist.



K is going to move the lamp over and lower so that it hangs in the center of the table. We're missing any type of window covering for the window by the dining nook because we're saving money for some shutters. In the mean time, maybe we'll put up a sheet or something. 

We did manage to get some curtains for the living room. We found them at the Restoration Hardware outlet in Camarillo. I tried ironing them, but obviously, I failed.



They are borderline Britney Spear's Circus to me, but I love them a lot!

We also dined on the table for the first time today. We invited Carry On, Askance, and Chewy to eat with us so I was relieved to find that the five of us fit pretty comfortably around the dining table. 

Le shoebox is feeling much more comfortable nowadays. Come drop by for a visit!

Chinese New Year 2009

Happy Chinese New Year's Eve!



I really love Chinese New Year. It makes me feel a bit more connected to the Chinese culture, but it also reminds me that I don't know quite enough about it. Since we always rely on our parents to put on the celebrations, I worry that when it comes time to pass on these traditions, I'll drop the ball. This became especially apparent when I heard Grace Young's story on NPR about Chinese New Year. I hadn't heard of most of the things that she talked about. Apparently, Mumsy knew about them because she did prepare some of the dishes. Yay for Mumsy!


The dinner was fabulous. The best thing about going to eat with Mumsy and Popsicle at their house is that we eat the entire night. Before dinner there are snacks galore, then soup, then dinner, then fruit, then ice cream ... then whatever else you want to eat.

Louie joined us for dinner this year!



That is the face of a dog who will eventually eat way too many peaches for his own good. He will throw up. In my bed. At 1 A.M. Yea, he did. He ate peaches. Then threw up. On the bed. At 1 A.M. Sigh.






Thursday, January 22, 2009

Creature Comforts

Since moving to le shoebox, my distance to work has doubled. Actually, due to strange LA traffic, it takes about the same amount of time to get to work even though the distance has doubled, but it'll take twice that time to get home from work. (About an hour) 

In comparison to other commutes, I know it's really not that bad but I've never really had a long commute before so this has required some adjustments on my part. I've set up house in the car. Included are fuzzy slippers, a blanket, and a bag of snacks and bottle of water. This week's snack is Trader Joe's baked version of Cheetos. 


K thinks I'm disgusting for living this way. What? Do Uggs not go with gray slacks? =)

I also make up for the longer drive by stopping somewhere for breakfast nearly every morning. As a creature of habit, I was eating Noah's Bagels' three cheese bagels with an orange juice for about two weeks, rotated to Starbucks, and now I'm stuck at Peet's Coffee. Chocolate croissants are my BFFs, as are chocolate chunk walnut scones. This habit gets expensive and unhealthy so I need a new routine. Cereal is too hard to eat in the car and I don't like microwaving those breakfast sandwiches. Starving is not an option. What do you eat?

 


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama/Inauguration Day

We celebrated Inauguration Day at work today. This inauguration is so special for our students particularly because a lot of them are African American. After today, I finally feel truthful in saying, "You can do anything." The reality of racism and social injustice will still reign after today but for today, we celebrated their right to optimism and hope.

We encouraged everyone to wear patriotic colors or Obama gear today.


A co-worker with the voice of an angel sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing" to start off the morning.


Most of the kids were able to watch the inauguration on TVs or computers but I had to listen to it in the car because I took K's keys with me this morning and had to drive home to return them so he could get to work. Fail. 

Nevertheless, I really, really enjoyed his speech and Joseph Lowery and the benediction at the end made me chuckle: "...black won't have to go back, brown may be down, and yellow may be mellow." (or something to that effect)

I, of course, sported my obama gear today:



I had wanted to purchase a shirt directly from the website but didn't have time so I stopped by Urban Outfitters and paid way too much for this one. You can't see them in this picture but I am sporting the Obama barrettes. 

Go USA!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

25th Birthday - 3rd Anniversary

I kept the birthday celebrations very low key this year:
- dinner at Phoenix Inn with BFFs - 1. 
- a usual treat at 21 choices: vanilla, strawberries, and nutella galore!!


- celebrated Chinese New Year Festival at church. (Shout out to Gun Boy and Gun Girl for uh-may-zing lavender milk tea again!)
- attended K's bball game. (attended = sat on the sidelines and paid zero attention to game.)
- dinner at the Olive Garden. Yes, I said the Olive Garden. Don't ask, because I have no explanation. 

The birthday gifts were by no means low key. On top of thoughtful cards, I got things to use, read, and eat. What more can a girl ask for?


Well, a Canon 30D, of course!! Thanks to K and BFFs, I am now in the DSLR club. 

I haven't been able to stop playing with it since I got it and while my eyes are becoming crossed while trying to figure out shutter speeds and f-stops, I'm looking forward to pretty, pretty snapshots.

K and Louie are naturally my very first models.


Whee!! 

Thanks to Dr. King, I'll have another day tomorrow to relish in the glory of this birthday. *contented sigh*

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This just in...

While supervising the kids at lunch, a first grade girl says to me, "You look like you're going to have a baby."

Granted I'm wearing a more voluminous top today but it is by no means from the maternity section. 

I have no words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dining Table

Lots of people have wanted to know when they can come over and see our place. I've been telling everyone and their mamas that we'll properly invite people over when we get a dining table. 

Well, we finally got a dining room table.


Bought it on craigslist for $85 and while it's obviously not brand new, it's in good enough condition. Especially for $85!

I'm thinking of sanding it down and painting it in Benjamin Moore's Twilight. I hear it's a lot of work though. Any one with any experience?



K and I have had a heck of a time furnishing the place because of a lot of reasons, but the one thing I really needed was a table. Before the table we were eating on some ottomans and Louie loved this arrangement since he could easily get to the food. But no more! We don't even have chairs around the table right at this minute, but it's going to be nice just to put food somewhere other than the kitchen counter. 

Now people can come over and stand around the table to eat! Welcome one and all!


Monday, January 12, 2009

And so it begins

I used to be in the habit of celebrating my birthday for the entire month. I'd treat myself to food, clothes, massages, etc. all under the pretense that it was my birthday month. If I could, I would have worn a button that said "Birthday Girl" all month.  'Twas pretty glorious.

Now, as my actual birthday is coming up, I'm just sad. Sad, sad, sad. Much sadder than I really should be. For the past few years I haven't felt like really celebrating but I've managed to at least get a dinner in with the BFFs because after all, it is my birthday and I love me some celebrating. I'm going through a post-quarter-life-and-30-is-around-the-corner crisis. Yes, I'm being dramatic and ridiculous.
 
On Friday, during my lesson to the kids at church, I mentioned that my birthday was coming up and later on, one of those girls came up to me and told me that I share a birthday with another girl in the group. 

Girl: How old are you going to be?
Me: 28
Girl: Wow! You're twice as told as Joyce is going to be!
Me: *blank stare*

I told K that I've decided to start lying about my age this year. So if anyone asks you, I'll be 25. Forever. =)

So this is what a 25 year-old does for her birthday:

We went shopping. Bought some trouser jeans because I was trying to embrace being a grown up, and then caved and bought some skinny jeans because I gotta wear them while I still can.

Also bought this bag because Kate is having a great sale right now.



We had dinner on Saturday night with the K's side of the family because my sister-in-law has a birthday pretty close to mine.


We dined at NBC in Monterey Park. It's newly renovated on the outside but everything is exactly the same on the inside. There was a gigantor Chinese wedding happening there that night. I love gigantor Chinese weddings, in the same way that I love watching trashy reality shows. Fun and festive, but not for me.

I am still looking forward to dinner with the BFFs - 1 on Saturday. Should be a good time. Since I'm 25 and all.



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Retreat

From Vegas to Retreat! 

After getting off the plane on New Year's Day, I had a few hours before I had to get on a bus to Pinecrest Christian Conference Center.

Every so often, we take the youth group up to the mountains and give them time to learn about God, in the same way that people in the bible retreated up to the mountains to be with God. This year was a big retreat with 6 of our sister churches, so we had about 300 kids going. I was only responsible for about 45 of them so it wasn't as daunting. But clearly,  Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have nothing on me. 

Prior to the retreat, we had a Thanksgiving food drive and since the kids met the goal, we had to wear costumes on the first day of retreat. Here I am giving last minute instructions before getting on the bus:


Believe it or not, the kids actually obeyed instructions from a milk carton.

Everything went swell and no one was hurt. My kids are angels. Perfect angels who: 

- play basketball at 6 A.M. to the chagrin of people still sleeping in or near the gym

- go sledding down mountains with no sled

- try to break through the frozen ice on the lake

- may have broken windows in a snowball fight (I am still praying this wasn't one of my kids.)

- stuff wet clothes back into luggage bags primed for mildew

- hang wet clothes directly on top of the radiator  (to his credit, he was only following my instructions to "hang your clothes so they can dry.")

- tear icicles off the roof of the chapel and sucks on them

Perfect angels. =) Actually, being with 300 other teens and preteens made me appreciate how superbly sweet my kids are. It's really amazing to be a part of their growing up experience. Even if they are sucking on dirty icicles.

Love you, kiddos!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year!

'Twas a crazy week. On Tuesday, I embarked on a 6-hour trip to Vegas. I had to go to be a date to Marathon since everyone else going was paired up. She's the best date ever.



Traffic was ridic beyond belief but the time went by faster because I was busy grilling Greenpeace's new man, 10-mile Winner.



We had dinner at David Burke at the Palazzo and it was literally one of the best meals I've ever had. You must, must eat the rib eye if you ever go. I'm drooling just thinking about it. 
The restaurant is filled with pictures/statues of various versions of Humpty Dumpty and walls of sea salt. Butter is served on sea salt. The bread comes in All-Clad measuring cups.


The balloons anticipated the countdown festivities. I abhor balloons.



The best part of the meal is that the table is served raspberry cotton candy with the check. The large, large check.



Since our dinner reservation at 5:30, we had plenty of time to nap and rest before heading out onto the strip for the countdown.


I had never been to Vegas for New Year's Eve, so I was expecting something akin to the countdown in Times Square. However, it was not crowded and the fireworks were more like fourth of july on your front lawn and less like Disneyland. It's a good thing I had fabulous company.



On New Year's Day I made it back home in time to get on the bus to take my church youth group on a 4-day retreat in Lake Arrowhead. I'm still recovering and hope that I'll make it to work in one piece tomorrow.