Category Archives: Parenthood

Christmas Traditions

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Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25th each year. Christmas is both a religious and cultural celebration observed by billions of people around the world, both Christian and non-Christian.

The observance of Christmas occurs in 160 countries worldwide and celebration varies by country. Some countries celebrate on Christmas Day or December 25th. Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, South Africa, Argentina, and Madagascar celebrate Christmas in another month other than December.

Christmas celebrations around the world can vary greatly in Christmas traditions. They usually involve setting up a Christmas tree with lights, hanging Advent wreaths and stockings, candy canes. Churches and families set up nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Families also send out Christmas cards, exchange gifts, and prepare a Christmas feast to share with their family or their extended families.

I have practiced the following traditions most of the years or done it in a different way as time changed in the recent years.

1. Send Christmas Cards or Letters

I wrote a Christmas letter one year to print it on the Christmas stationery. After that, I switched to sending photos. I picked photos that represented the major activities or events of that year and included descriptions of them. The first couple of years, I made a collage of photos with Publisher, saved it as Jpeg, made 5”x7” prints to send them out. Then I switched again to order the 5”x7” Christmas cards from Costco. For the last two years, I ordered two-sided cards.

2. Exchange gifts

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My husband came from a large family. In the early years, instead of giving gifts to everyone, members of the extended family drew a name to be the receiver of the gift. The members of the immediate family, of course, exchanged gifts on their own. I bought gifts for my immediate family and wrapped them and put them under the tree. For the last five to seven years, I no longer bought gifts to send to my daughter’s family. Instead, I asked them what they would like to have for Christmas, then ordered them on Amazon, Macy’s, Columbia Sportswear, REI, or Sierra. The stores sent the gifts directly to them. If the clothes, shoes, or other items are not exactly right, they would return them, and I would order the right size until they’re happy with them. I don’t wrap Christmas gifts anymore.

3. Have a Christmas Dinner

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Our extended family used to have the Christmas dinner on Christmas day around 1:00 p.m. After dinner, some members would go to visit their in-laws from another part of the town, or another state. After the children are grown and married, most of the members spend Christmas with their grown children and grandchildren. We don’t meet as a large family.

I have been going to Portland, Oregon for many years to spend Christmas with my daughter’s family and enjoy our time with the grandkids.

4. Advent/Christmas Countdown Activities

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One friend brought a 2’x2’ wooden Advent calendar with drawers to a women’s meeting to share her tradition with us. She used this calendar for years during the growing-up years of her kids. She had age-appropriate activities for her four children. Another friend who was a teacher brought a 2D calendar to share what she did for her second-grade class for many years. Ideas such as filling 24 drawers with notes, candy, small toys, or keeping special ornaments in each box! For a 2D calendar, each day can be a window that opens to show the activity for that day.

5. Decorate a Christmas Tree

My granddaughter Nora picked a tree

We’ve had a Christmas tree almost every year ever since we live in a house. We only have the artificial tree, though. When I first decorated a tree, I covered the entire tree with garlands and ornaments. Several years ago, my daughter inspired me to do it with minimal decorations. I like it. It leaves so much room to show the green. My daughter and her husband pick their tree either from the national forest or tree farm. People can get a permit from Recration.gov to purchase a permit. It cost $5 for a permit of each tree plus $2.5 for the online processing fee charged by the website.

I think they got their tree from a tree farm this year. Autumn and Nora had a great time helping to pick one.

6. Start a Holiday-Themed Collection

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My sister-in-law collects snowmen. She hosts Thanksgiving dinner for many years. She put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving to make the event festive. She decorated the entire house with snowmen, from ornaments to wall hangings, stuffed snowmen, snowman candles, to a ten feet tall figure. I collected Santa, angels, and nutcrackers, but didn’t go too far before I stopped.

7. Attend a Christmas show or see The Nutcracker Ballet

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I have done both. We bought the season tickets to see the Broadway shows at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater for many years. The Christmas show is always a heartwarming story of Mr. and Mrs. Santa. The last song is an invitation for all the kids to come on the stage with the help of the elves. Mr. and Mrs. Santa would pick the youngest kids to sit on their laps when they sing the last song.

When I was teaching, I took my students to see The Nutcracker ballet every year as one of my field trips. I teamed with another class to go to share the cost of the school buses. I also took my daughter to the theater to see The Nutcracker. When I stopped going to see it in the theater, my daughter and I still watched the DVD at home.

On Saturday, December 11, 2021, my daughter Mercy took her older daughter, Autumn, to see The Nutcracker. They’ll start a new tradition.

8. Watch a Christmas Movie

My favorite Christmas movies are White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Polar Express. There are many newer Christmas movies. I don’t watch too many movies and I like these old ones so much that I seem to watch the same ones all the time.

9. Visit Christmas Lights, before or after Christmas

We went to this Christmas Boat Parade in 2018

Since 1932, each house on Peacock Lane – Christmas Street, in Southeast Portland Oregon, has been decorating for Christmas. The residents of Peacock Lane are happy to share that they will display their lights from December 15th – December 31st. For safety reasons, the Portland Police may shut down the Lane to motor vehicle traffic. My husband and I joined my daughter’s family to stroll up and down Peacock Lane one year. Each house had themed light decorations. The address is SE Peacock Lane, Portland, OR 97214.

For the last four years, except in 2020, my husband and I went to Newport Beach to take a cruise to watch the Christmas Boat Parade.

10. Build a Gingerbread House

One year, our church fellowship group had the Christmas catering dinner at a retirement facility. Every year the chef starts months before the season to use his own time to build the Gingerbread Village. He built one house at a time, and the trees, the decorations, and put them in the freezer. Right after Thanksgiving, he would set up the village and add the operatable train. The residents and visitors admired this creation with wonder.

My daughter built a Gingerbread house with Autumn. I know many families do this activity with their kids.

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You may have practiced some Christmas traditions for years, but you no longer keep them because of life changes. You may still keep some, or you want to start a new one. How about traditions your parents had? How about traditions your grown children have with their families?

Please describe them and share them with us in the comments. Thank you! 

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Give Thanks in All Things, Part I

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November 2021 proved to be an extraordinary month for me. My heart swells with gratefulness and joy.

Back in early October, I invited my daughter Mercy and her family to come from Portland, Oregon, to spend Thanksgiving with us in California. Her husband Will had talked to his cousin in Seattle about visiting her for Thanksgiving. They couldn’t decide because his cousin was waiting for her dad to see if he would visit her family for Thanksgiving. Each one’s decision was depending upon another person’s decision.

I wanted to book the air tickets early. The airfare was reasonable, and many seats were available in October. Thanksgiving is one of the two most travel holidays of the year. The closer it gets, the more expensive the airfare is, and the seating availability would be limited as well.

The last time my daughter came to visit was Thanksgiving 2018. Autumn was fourteen months old then. Autumn is an excellent traveler. She flew with her parents about ten times before turning two. She slept most of the way or enjoyed doing things even when we went to Hong Kong and Japan in January 2019. My younger granddaughter is twenty months old. I would like her to have the advantage of flying for free before she turns two.

At the end of October, I asked my daughter about their plan. She said they hadn’t heard from Will’s cousin. I didn’t want to rush, even though I was anxious. Then on November 1, she texted me, attaching many photos of Halloween trick-or-tricking with a message that they were coming for Thanksgiving.

I got on Alaska Air right away to look for the flight schedules. The airfares for the flights fitting their schedule had gone up to about $695 to $1095 each. The main cabin on several flights was fully booked. I could find a few flights with seats close to each other in the Premium section. I gathered the flight schedules and seating and emailed them to Mercy. After she passed on the info to Will, we video called to do the booking.

The anxiousness fell off my shoulder after I clicked “purchase” for the air tickets. On the flight coming, I got the only three seats together in one row. On the returning flight, I got two seats on one side and one seat on the other side of the aisle, but at least they were in the same row.

Mercy said they would check in two car seats and a Pak-n-Play. The car seats would be free, but they would have to pay for the Pak-n-Play. I remember the much luggage they took when we went to Hong Kong. It was when they had a sixteen-month-old Autumn. This time around, they have a toddler and a twenty-month-old. I can’t imagine traveling on the plane, taking care of the kids, carrying the luggage plus two car seats and a Pak-n-Play.

I got busy right away, calling my friend Rhonda and asking if I could borrow something from her. Rhonda has nine grandchildren from toddler to eleven-year-old. She said she had a toddler car seat, Pak-n-Play, and a stroller for me to use. I took photos of the items borrowed and texted them to Mercy. She was delighted to find out she only needed to bring one car seat.

The amazing thing was that I got a free infant car seat the next day. There are Facebook groups called Buy Nothing. It is a group where members post items they want to give away. Other members show interest in those items. The givers and receives make arrangements for pickups. I’m a member of one local group. I had posted many give-away items. When I scrolled through the posting, there was a person giving away two infant car seats. She said she was a foster mom but didn’t want to take any more infants. I showed interest in one and picked it up the next day. After I told Mercy, she was really excited that they could travel light.

Now I could get the house ready for their visit. Mercy’s bedroom is always kept in the same way as it was when she lived in the house. I just needed to fix up the other bedroom for Autumn. There is a full-size bed in the room. I was debating whether to put it away to replace it with a twin bed or not. I picked out a stackable twin bed and a mattress online and saved the online links. When Mercy lived in the house, I had a bunk bed for her, and it’s stored in the attic. Setting up the bunk bed was another option. It would be a lot of work. Nora won’t be ready to sleep in a bunk bed for many years. I may not want to have it open yet. After all the considerations, I used the existing full-size bed. It would be a little big compared to the toddler bed Autumn has in her house. I picked up a couple of large stuffed animals to make the bed comfy and cozy.

There are student activities in the attic from my teaching days. I found a set of six new puzzles, coloring books, simple board games, dominos, and large Legos. I also saved some of Mercy’s medium and small size stuffed animals. To complete the activities, I bought sets of 20 crayons, 10 washable markers, and four-color play dough. These would be enough to keep them busy.

There are boxes of books for Autumn also, but I took the age-appropriate books to her on my previous trips. I’ve been reading to her every six weeks except during the pandemic. I know the books she’s interested in. The local library is only two miles away. I checked out twenty-two books for Autumn and six books for Nora.

After getting all the things needed, I converted the family room into an activity room for the girls.

The next thing to do was to get the food. Mercy’s family is vegetarian, and Mercy is allergic to dairy products. I couldn’t buy some things too early because of the expiration dates. A few days before they arrived, I bought individual yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, non-dairy milk, and creamer for them. The day before their arrival, I cooked two dishes of veggie quiche and two packs of tofu. I wanted to reduce the cooking time and spend the maximum time with them.

All the preparation paid off. The kids felt very much at home. With no surprise, Autumn went to the books and picked out a bunch for me to read to her. Nora had fun playing with the play dough and building towers with the Legos. My husband played with Autumn one day before I got up. She finished four puzzles. After I got up, I watched her finish the other two puzzles.

When I’m around, Autumn prefers me to read bedtime books to her. Since it’s a special treat for her, she could ask me to read three to five books plus her devotional book. Even though sometimes my throat gets dry and sore from reading, I don’t want to stop. She likes me to read to her. On their returning trip, I went with them to the airport. Will drove. She wanted me to sit in the back seat with her and read to her all the way to the airport.

Reading to Nora
Reading with Autumn in the morning when I still had the bathrobe on
We went to a local park
Autumn was making a cake. Nora always wants to help.

One of my daughter’s best friends since third grade lives close by. When her friend went to college in New York, Mercy visited her. When Mercy got married, she came from New York to attend the wedding. Whenever Mercy is in town, they always get together. Mercy’s friend’s mom was an OB/GYN and their Girl Scout leader. She presented sex education in a mother-daughter meeting. I laughed so hard when she drew a big circle on an easel and a large almond shape in the middle. Having a childhood friend is precious. They are like your siblings.

On Thanksgiving Day, I cooked a yam dish and a corn dish. Will cooked a pumpkin pie and a mixed-berry pie. We got together at my husband Lynton’s brother’s home. With the six of us, we took two cars. Will drove my Acura. Lynton and I took the Hummer. The drive was surprisingly pleasant, with no trucks on the freeway. I found out later that most of the major stores, such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and JC Penny, were closed all day, partly because they were open super early on Black Friday.

There were twenty-five people at the Thanksgiving dinner. My sister, Queenie, and her daughter were there. I hadn’t seen my sister for three years. She gave me the exciting news about her engagement a month prior. I was so happy for her. It has been eight years since her husband passed away from cancer. I jokingly offered Autumn and Nora to be her flower girls.

They love each other
Autumn didn’t want to look at the phone camera. She had enough photos of the day

Several days zipped by in a flash. We all had a wonderful time together. Now, I’m looking forward to Christmas.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #148 – Spots and Dots

Ann-Christine’s Photo Challenge this week is Spots and Dots. She wants us to have fun with it! But, also recognize and enjoy the different interpretations, meanings and importance of these two little words. Spots and Dots. Because even if they are small…they can make a big difference.

I came back from a delightful Mother’s Day week visiting my daughter and the grandkids. My daughter Mercy talked with Autumn about Mother’s Day celebration and Autumn understood the relationship of mothers. She said, “My mommy is a mommy. You’re a mommy and you’re my mommy’s mommy. I’m not a mommy.”

Autumn loves to have the undivided attention of grandma. She has a huge appetite for books. On the days when she didn’t go to school, I read about ten books to her after breakfast. Then she played for a little while. Her latest favorite was building a fort with tunnels. She took out all the cushions from the couches to build the formation and covered them with blankets. She didn’t want my help but wanted me to watch (with attention).

Apparently, she has nap time at school, but she doesn’t take naps at home. Mercy wants her to have quiet time when Nora takes a nap. It’s also the time when Mercy takes a nap. It takes a lot of energy to care for a toddler and a baby.

There are boxes of books from my teaching days. I pick the age-appropriate books with me on each trip.

After the quiet time, I read another ten books to Autumn. She likes to listen to the same books over and over again, especially the books with longer text. She picks up more details of the stories from each repetition of reading.

The day is getting longer, and the sun doesn’t go down until about 8:00 p.m. We take the kids to a school playground across the street from the house. The neighbor next to the school has a home farm with chickens and six or seven goats. Many kids love to feed the goats.

After the walk or playground time, we read several more bedtime books to Autumn. She would ask to read “one more,” but we must be firm, otherwise, we’d be reading all night long.

In the afternoon on Mother’s Day, my daughter’s family, joined by another family went to the zoo. Autumn wanted to see the Polar Bear and carried the white stuffed bear with her. The Polar Bear was in the water under the cave for a long time but swam outside for a little while. I was glad that Autumn was not disappointed.

Nora turned one-year-old in March, so she is learning to climb the stairs and playing with different toys. She loves to follow her big sister and does the same thing. During the several days of my visit, she learned to do new things. It’s amazing to see the kids making so much progress at these ages.

There are many small dots of progress in the child development but in a long run there’s a huge impact in one’s life these small dots make. Research shows the first two years of a human life make the fastest and most growth within the shortest period compared to the remaining life span. As parents and careers, we could facilitate and make the small dots and spots colorful ones in the kids’ lives.

Mercy’s orchid plant
Spots at the zoo
More spots at the zoo
This gorgeous guy was in another garden showing off his spots and dots

This is Autumn at the zoo. How many dots and spots can you see?

Nora was fascinating to watch all the spots and dots flowing in different directions. She was trying to catch some of them.

Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful week ahead!

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Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

This week, the theme from Sheetalbravon is ‘A Glimpse into your world’She invited us to show the things we love that make our world spin or things about our world that make us delirious with joy.

The immediate world that fills me with inspiration and amazement is my garden. My morning routine, especially in the summer, is to visit the garden while I drink my coffee. After coffee, with the gardening tools in hand, I check the flower bushes, trim the dead branches, or dig up weeds.

I started feeding birds from 2014 and the regular visitors are Ruby Throat Hummingbirds, mourning doves, American Finch, American God Finch, Scrub Jay, Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, and a few I couldn’t quite identify. Over the years, there were baby Mourning Dove, baby House Finches, and One baby Hummingbird born in my garden.

There are other animals such as squirrels, stray cats, and lizards roaming during the day or at night.

I have many hobbies, more than I have time to fully enjoy each of them. Not included in the images here is photography, which I started as a teenager when the photos were black and white. Another hobby is ceramic. I did the whale free hand with clay. I made it into a nightlight for my baby daughter. When my daughter was nine years old, we took a ceramic painting class together in the summer. It’s something we continue doing separately until these days.

I learned to draw and watercolor painting as a young adult. After retirement, I took classes on both and used some watercolor painting to illustrate the poems in my book.

My immediate community of 35 years is a church fellowship and the group of ladies. They are a part of my world for fun, for friendship and support. Some of these friends’ kids and my daughter grew up together. The ladies gave a bridal shower to Mercy for her wedding. Some friends still send gifts to my granddaughters as their own.

Music has been my world since I was a kid. I didn’t have a family background to nurture my love of classical music. It seems to be a natural favorite. The first time I performed Handel’s Messiah was when I was still in Hong Kong.

Most of my family except for one sister are in Hong Kong. Lynton’s family is my extended family, and we see each other regularly.

The biggest world to me is my daughter’s family. My granddaughters lighten my heart and give joy every day. My daughter has a TinyBeans.com account where she posts multiple photos and videos daily to chronicle the kids’ growth and family activities. There was not one day I go without checking on what they do. Nora’s birthday on March 22, and I wish to visit them.  

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Thank you for reading. I hope to hear what the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.

Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131-Emotions

This week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131, Patti invited us to focus on Emotion. We choose the photography or a theme that evokes emotions. I could think of many situations for this theme, but for this post, I narrowed down to a couple of thoughts.

The latest excitement for us was on January 3, less than three weeks ago, when my husband Lynton turned 65. He retired in November 2016 and had an extension of health insurance for another 18 months, and then just paid cash for prescriptions without paying the premium for full coverage. He started the Medicare on the first of this year. It has been less than three weeks, but he had a Zoom visit with a family doctor, got all the prescriptions filled, and made all the other doctors’ appointments to establish a baseline of his health. He was like a kid in a candy store.

My friends and I arranged a surprised birthday party at their house for him. I told him they invited us for brunch but hearing me talking on the phone and running to the store; he wanted to know what was going on. I’m not good in keeping a secret, so I told him it was a surprised party. He had to act as if he was surprised to see the guests.

There were eight of us meeting at our friends’ patio. We didn’t go to any parties for ten months and were hungry for chatting with friends of thirty years. We were in no hurry to finish the meal. Even when we did, we continued to talk, and the party lasted for four and a half hours.

My daughter Mercy, and her husband Will, enjoy outdoor adventures. They regularly go cross-country skiing, camping, kayaking, to name just a few. They are in good company with a core group of friends who have the same passion. In June 2015, Mercy, Will, and their friend took part in the triathlon–swimming, biking, and running. Two other friends who didn’t enter the race but rode their bikes along the trail to cheer them. Will kept Mercy in sight all the time. The last leg was running, and they ran side by side. At the last stretch they were holding hands, pushed through the finish line together. Their proud smiles were ear to ear.

Friends came with signs of cheering messages. It was my honor to be there to join the cheering team and photographed the event.

In early 2017, I had a strong emotion connection with Mercy and sensed that she was pregnant. She didn’t say too much when we talked on the phone. In February, I couldn’t withhold my feeling and asked if she was pregnant. She changed the subject. My husband and I scheduled to visit them late in March, but early in the month, she and Will skyed us and showed us the ultrasound. She was going to surprise us during our visit, but their excitement couldn’t wait for another two weeks.

It is a blessing for them to have two adorable and intelligent girls. The three-year-old Autumn is a toddler nerd. She started reading by herself in her bedroom when she was 15 months old. For the first two years, she preferred books than toys. She now loves to play with problem-solving toys. Like parents, like daughter, she is a daring rock climber, hiker, and biker. She is her mom’s proud helper in cooking. Nora is an all time happy child with a biggest smile.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #131-Emotions

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Lens-Artists Challenge #124 – Now and Then

Happy Thanksgiving from Beach Ford! | Beach Ford

This week Amy invited us to reflect on our time staying at home mostly due to the pandemic, compared to what happened to our life prior to this situation. What happened then, and what happened now?

“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” — Albert Schweitzer

It has been over eight months since COVID-19 hit. Did time go by fast?

It did not; it was like forever. The second week of March was difficult to be confined at home. I wanted to run outside to do something. I wanted to shout or talk to someone. It was boring to do the same things day after day. There were no special events such as travel, movies, family and social gathering, birthdays, or holidays to punctuate the different seasons. As time went by, I accepted the new normal and set up my new routine. In fact, I appreciated the concentrated time to do certain tasks without interruption. Even when the social distancing was relaxed, I was not ready to take risk except going to see my granddaughters with great caution.

On the other hand, time went by fast. This one enormous bubble of a single day was in fact eight months long. Yet, it will not last forever. History told us that this will end. I will do my part to observe the safety regulation. I will stay safe and keep healthy, so when this is over, I can fully enjoy my family.

We had been doing major traveling since 2000, went to Australia, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Germany, Austria, Spain, and China, to name some countries. We didn’t go anywhere except Portland to see Mercy and her family. I spend a lot of time gardening.

Toledo, Spain

Thanksgiving is our major family gathering time. Two sister-in-laws and I took turns to host the Thanksgiving dinner. Mercy and her family came to California to join us. Two weeks ago, California, Oregon, and Washington jointly announced a new restriction. Upon arriving in Oregon, we would have to be self-quarantine for 14 days. The new spikes of cases spread throughout the country, it is worse than March when the pandemic started. Hubby and I will spend the holiday just the two of us, and cook a 15-pound turkey, eat some and freeze some for later.

Autumn had a big birthday party with many friends her age in 2019. We are not big cake eaters. Autumn had a birthday pie. This year, she had a smaller birthday party in the front yard serving a cake to her friends and aunties and uncles. They came in masks keeping the social distancing.

Nora is growing fast. The first two years of a kid’s life is the fast growing period in proportion to the remaining of one’s life. When I visited her in August, she was not sitting up yet. She turned eight months two days ago. She is now sitting up and enjoys eating many mashed veggies.

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Lens Artists Challenge # 124: Now and Then

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

Patti Moed invited us to focus on the theme Simplicity this week as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads and intensifies, many of us around the world are spending a lot of time at home, following governmental regulations to shelter in place.

As of April 6, 2020, California has 15,221 cases reported and 351 deaths, according to a New York Times database. The government issued the rules of wearing masks outdoor and when shopping.

 

We have tried our best to stay home and keep things simple. We set up a home gym with workout bench, dumbbells, and treadmill. Hubby has a manikin to practice boxing. He runs in a nearby park. I walk around a nearby lake or in the neighborhood.

1. morning walk

2. morning walk

 

We eat simple food with eggs, avocados, tomatoes, and fruits for breakfast, vegetables and alternate chicken and salmon for dinner. The shopping list is simple, so Hubby only goes once a week for a quick run. I rarely go to the stores.

3. breakfast

 

To increase physical activity, I do more gardening when weather is clear. I planted some seeds for gladiolus several years ago. They multiplied, and some flowers grew under a grapevine last year, not getting enough space and sunlight to grow. I dug them up last week and transplanted to another area to grow better.

4. flowers3

5. gardening5

 

My daughter has a Tinybeans.com account where she posts photos of her kids and family activities. I checked the account every day to look at the photos and videos. They give me much joy and I look forward to them every day. The daycare is closed, so Autumn stays home. She plays in the backyard, rides her balance bike or skateboard in the nearby park or on the street.

6. Autumn skateboard2

 

Stay safe and please share with me in the comment how you maintain simplicity yet keep your life interesting.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance

Tina looked at the “Social Distancing” and invited us to focus on DISTANCE this week as a challenge to serve as a reminder of its importance.

I grew up in a big city and now live in one. When we traveled, it amazed me to realize some people live in a great distance from each other. It made me think that these people do not have the convenience to access many things, things at our fingertips we take for granted. These people also don’t have the luxury or technology city people have. I asked myself why people choose to live in these locations and live in this lifestyle. “Are they happy?” Then the next question is, “What makes people happy?” I think people either have no choice or choose to be content wherever they are and however they live.

 

The first set of photos is the distance in the land.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.”Robert Morgan

c21 Longleat 3

Longleat in Somerset, UK, is an English Stately home. The house is set in 1,000 acres of parkland with 4,000 acres of let farmland and 4,000 acres of woodland.

 “Ocean separates lands, not souls.” – Munia Khan

Four Miles Beach Port Douglas, AU

Four Mile Beach is considered the premier beach of Port Douglas, Australia, beginning at the northern rocky headland and continuing for four more miles without any buildings or construction interrupting the pristine views.

 “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Denali National Park, AL

Denali in Alaska is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190 m) above sea level. With a topographic prominence (measures the height of a mountain or hill’s summit relative to the lowest contour line) of 20,156 feet (6,144 m) and topographic isolation ( the minimum great-circle distance to a point of equal elevation) of 4,629 miles (7,450 km).

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The next set of photos is our family practice of social distancing.

Because of the Covid-19, I canceled my flight to be with my daughter, Mercy, for the birth of her second daughter. I planned to be there to watch Autumn while she was in the hospital. They live close to Washington sate which is on the top three states with most Coronavirus cases and death. I live in California which is one of the three states among the top three. It was for the safety that I canceled the flight. If it were not for a dangerous situation, they could have friends volunteer to watch Autumn. Under these circumstances, on Sunday, March 22, my son-in-law was able to take my daughter to the hospital but not staying with her during her labor. They did video chats during her labor. After baby Nora was born, their friends watched Autumn in the afternoon so Will went to the hospital and held Nora in his arms. They continued to do video chats in the next two days. The hospital discharged my daughter on Tuesday. Baby Nora had the first check-up appointment on Thursday.

Mercy and I did video chats and sent video messages to each other. She set up a Tinybeans.com account for her older daughter Autumn. She also posted many photos of the family and Nora on that account. That is the account I don’t miss checking every day. I can’t get enough to look at the photos and videos again and again.

“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Tom McNeal

1. Mercy & daughters 3

Happy mother and daughters. I think Autumn read to Nora!!

“I exist in two places, here and where you are.” – Margaret Atwood

2. Autumn practices

Autumn practiced care for the baby in the car seat.

“Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars.” – Gilbert Parker

4. Autumn & Nora

Autumn had Nora on her laps. She was very gentle with Nora.

Let’s do our part and keep social distancing. Stay safe!

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance

 

 

 

New Granddaughter

Yay! I’m a grandma of two granddaughters now!

 

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I visited my daughter Mercy at the end of February. Her friend planned a baby shower on Saturday for her second baby. I arrived on Thursday. Her friend called on Friday to cancel the shower because she was exposed to someone who might have exposed to the Coronavirus. She didn’t want to take the risk to cause any harm to my daughter’s pregnancy.

Mercy has a headache and runny nose. She worried that she might have the virus. Nobody knew exactly the symptoms of the new disease. I didn’t want her to add any worry to her pregnancy. I told her that the Coronavirus may have flu-like symptoms, but not all the flu-like symptoms lead to the new disease.

My son-in-law Will took Autumn out for a bike riding. Mercy and I spent time talking about various things while I gave her a head and shoulder massage. She had a good night sleep and felt better the next morning. She was released that it wasn’t a Coronavirus.
After I came home to southern California, I booked the tickets to fly back on March 24, four days before Mercy’s due day. They needed someone to watch my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Autumn.

On Thursday, March 11, The California Governor announced the social distancing policy that the gatherings should not be over 200 people. By Friday, March 12, the school districts announced closing of the classes. Our church announced cancelling all the meetings, including small group meetings. The world was crumbling down like an avalanche.

On Tuesday, March 17, Mercy and I had a video chat. She said she worried about my health and didn’t want me to get sick from the pandemic. I tried to ease her worry for me and still wanted to go. After talking for a few minutes, I sensed that she also worried that if I got sick, it would affect the babies. I then canceled my trip.

On Sunday, March 22, Mercy went to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. with 7cm dilation. She video called me at 9:00 a.m. before taking a nap. Baby Nora was born at 12:30 p.m. weighted 6 pounds and 7 ounces. Will sent me a couple photos of baby Nora. Mercy video called me again around 1:00 p.m. and chatted.

The doctor discharged her on Tuesday afternoon, even though the baby didn’t eat too much and didn’t have too many pees and poos yet. Because of the Coronavirus, the doctor sent her home with distant support. She called me again on Wednesday when she was feeding the baby. They were thrilled to have Nora.

I later found out that on March 22, they left Autumn at home while she was sleeping. Will dropped off Mercy at the hospital and rushed back home. Will was not with Mercy when baby Nora was born. In the afternoon, their friends watched Autumn for a couple hours so that Will could go see Mercy and the new baby. How I wish to have been there!

Will started taking paternity leaves. When he resumes working, he still works at home because of the Coronavirus. It’s so good to have him working at home in times like these.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

My husband and I spent Mother’s Day weekend with Mercy, Will, and Autumn. Autumn is now seven and a half months old. She started crawling fast on Mother’s Day. What a joyful Mother’s Day gift she gave to her mom. She also learned to clap her hands and feet. Yes, she curls up her legs and claps her feet. She pinches something smaller than a piece of rice with her index finger and thumb. I was impressed with her fine motor dexterity.

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We arrived Portland on Wednesday. Mercy took us to different gardens on Thursday and Friday.

For this post, I include several photos of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. It is a botanical garden located near Reed College in southeastern Portland, Oregon. The garden covers 9.49 acres (3.84 ha), is named for the numerous springs within the garden. Crystal Springs Garden features more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants in small lakes, fountain, and small waterfalls.

Many kinds of ducks, birds, and geese are residents in the Garden. My favorite is Wood Duck. This time of the year, Canada Geese have a whole bunch of offspring. It was fun watching the goslings running around eating seeds.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Liquid

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