A Decade Ago…

My first daughter turned 3 a decade ago today. I enjoyed and miss those very young years. They went by too quickly. I was working full-time when she was a toddler so I really didn’t get to spend as much time as I had wanted with her. I’m very grateful to have that opportunity now (and for the last 6 years) so no regrets. She keeps me on my toes, still.

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I can’t believe she’s officially a teenager today.  Take a deep breath.

One Year Older

Smile.  Take a deep breath.  Laugh.  Cry. Live.  Enjoy.  Smile.

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Reminders to myself.

Mom’s Birthday & Photo Restoration

We celebrated Mom’s birthday.

I made a card (above) for her and used an old photo from her childhood and one from around 2005/07 with her wearing a moderned Hmong outfit.  The inside was written with very simple words and then husband and I and the kids signed it.

Before everyone arrived, it was just Mom, Grandma, and me talking about life back in Laos and Thailand.  She began by talking about the Secret War and the single file path that was crucial for survival, through the landmine they had no choice but to go through, if they wanted to get out alive.  She has told me this story many times but each time, there’s a bit more detail.  When she told this story again, the focus was on a family from a close by village.  This family: a husband, wife, and a few kids, followed my parents and their relatives on the path, but for some reason, maybe they stepped outside the path, the bombs went off and took the husband’s arm and both his legs.  Blood splattered everywhere.  He was in a lot of pain and was no longer able to make the walk so was left behind to die.  That was what they had to do because the communist soldiers were closing in.  His wife was extremely torn.

They all came to a huge boulder and rested underneath where there was a small hiding place.  While they were eating their meal for the night, the wife would call out to her husband to come join them by repeating, “Husband, come down from the top of that boulder and join us for dinner.”  She was completely out of her mind.  The strange thing was, when she called out, little rocks from the top of the boulder would fall down as if someone had crawled to the edge and in doing so rocks atop would slide down.

Mom then reminded me that, that was the family, when the the bombs went off, the blood splattered all over my legs.  A young cousin was carrying me on her back and she and I were just a few feet in front of that family.

The conversation then turned to Mom’s memory of things I did when I was about 2 or 3 years old.  Somehow we ended up talking about spirits and Grandma, who’s brought up Shaman, began talking about supernatural stuff that happened to her.  All very interesting, but then everyone started showing up, and conversations about current things took over.

Photo Restoration

The photo I used to create Mom’s card was taken from this original photo:

The photo is of Mom with a few of her classmates/friends/relatives from the Catholic school she began attending at age 12.  It is one of my favorite photos of her.

She is beautiful.

Here it is restored.  I used Adobe Photoshop CS4 to clean it up.  I am not an expert in photo restoration but I try.

Here it is with Mom colored before creating the card with it.

It was an utmost indescribable pleasure to restore it.

Holiday Decorations And Earlier In the Weeks

The house was decorated since the first week of December but I just didn’t have the time to post any photos.  The snow on the Christmas tree was an idea I saw at the mall when husband and I took the girls to see Santa.  We bought our tree (it’s real) from Costco and when we brought it home, out came quite a few spiders!  I’m not scared of spiders if I see them once in while but this was a little different.  These spiders were small and they kind of flew out every which way.  We also found a ladybug in there, in which, Kylie decided to care for by building it a little home out of things we had on our coffee table.  She eventually took it outside giving it one of her teddy bear children’s vitamin to keep it from going hungry.

Here’s what’s been going on since Dec 6 (just within the last two week!):

Kida had her first orchestra concert at her school.  I was almost in tears watching her play her violin to Dreydl, Seminole Chant, Good King Wenceslas, and Jingle Bells.  Here’s a video husband took with his cell phone of Dreydl.  It’s very bad quality but it’s a glimpse at the concert.  I think the kids did great given less than 3 months to learn their instruments and four songs.

 

Kida performed in The Nutcracker, a play through her dance school.  She auditioned in September and landed a role as one of the tiny mice.  She went to rehearsal every weekend up until the show.   She was thrilled to see her 4th grade teacher, her 3rd grade teacher (whom promised over the summer when she missed Kida’s recital that she’d make it to the next show and she did!), and her two aunties at the performance.  The video is a clip of her performance during rehearsal.  She is third on the left to the back.  It was a great show.

 

Kylie performed at her pre-school’s Christmas show.  I thought she was fantastic!  She had been practicing her verse at school and at home too, with me.  I had no idea that she was also learning songs and such.  She never talks about them (when I ask) and the only song she sings at home is “Deck the Halls” (she sings ‘Deck‘ with an i) instead of the ones she learned at school.  Here are a couple of videos of her during the Christmas show.  In the first video, she is near the end (letter, X) in the purple dress.

 

The girls finished ballet/dance classes for the year.  They performed for the parents and also gave out presents to their teachers and treats to their classmates.  Husband and I missed Kida’s dances (because I forgot) but we attended Kylie’s.

 

Kida is done with school until the new year!  How time flies!  I was asked to be the photographer again to take some class pictures.  Kida gets so excited when I’m there.  She just loves showing me everything and wants me to see her goof around with her friends.

Kida performed at the Hmong Catholic Christmas party.  She danced to the choir’s, “Oh Holy Night”.  The dance was choreographed by her and her auntie (my sister).  She didn’t seem to have practiced much but it still turned out great!

(updated 12/19…with my sister’s much better recording of the performance)

We donated a little money at Kylie’s preschool to help the less fortunate during this Holiday season.  Kylie also picked out an angel card off a Christmas tree to give a gift to a less fortunate child.  Originally, I was supposed to take the girls shopping for the gift but husband and I ended up doing the shopping because of the limited time we had to buy and wrap the gift.  Both girls got to drop the gift off with me though.

We celebrated husband’s and my birthday at my parent’s home and then we gave each other cakes and a card at our home.  We also went to dinner without the girls.  We had wanted to go to our favorite sushi place, Makuni, but it was closed.  Out of business.  The Cheese Cake Factory was nearby so we went there instead.

Christmas cards were made, printed, and sent to friends and family.  Btw, I ran out of cards and had to do a quick print at Walgreens!  This means some will receive one a little late (I’m sorry if you are one of them).  This year, I decided to do something new by including a 2011 In Review Newsletter for friends and family who don’t follow me on this blog or Facebook.  The newsletter is basically the same things I blog about but less detailed.

And, finally, I have been keeping up with the 24-days-of-Christmas gift giving to my girls.  I’ve taken photos of every one of their gifts but as you can see, it’s been a busy couple of weeks and I haven’t had time to post (but I will!).   Most of the gifts are fun toys and candy.  The girls really love this idea except they’ve gotten bored of some of the things I’ve given them.  Hopefully next year, I’ll be better prepared with not jut random things but more meaningful things.

Also, if you’ve been following my digital scrapbook blog, you’ll know that I’ve been spotlighted on Inside the Creative Studio on Creations by Tinamarie’s blog.  The spotlight includes a free quick page download I made using the Christmas Morning kit by Creations by Tinamarie (in collaboration with Valorie Wibbens Designs).  I hope you stop by Tina’s blog to read about me and to grab this freebie!

Thanksgiving Birthday And The HNY

We usually celebrate my sister’s birthday when we gather for Thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s place.

How time flies. 

I remember when we were only kids.  Innocent.  Free spirited.  Full of happiness.  I also remember the fights and the VHS music video we created.  My sister sang to “All Cried Out” by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.  She even dressed herself in one half girl and the other half a guy with a five o’clock shadow.  I’d love to see that again!!   Anyway, I created a cute card for my sister.  You can see it, here.

Not sure what my dad was doing here…talking, but what about? I don’t know.  Kylie and Logan as always are stuck together like glue and going for the cake.

Photo credits: actions by dbox.tumblr.com.

Hmong New Year

The Colorado Hmong New Year Festival was slow again this year.  Everything reminded me of the one last year except for the Miss Hmong Colorado Competition.  That’s a whole other story though.  I left annoyed.

In the vending area, there was really nothing new offered.  This was the only clothes rack.

And these were pretty  much the hats.

The HNY in Colorado is dying.