Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It's not what I'd originally intended it to be, nor is it what I'd like it to be. It's lacking focus and direction, and I think it's time to just start over.
I'm going to take a couple of weeks off, and then I'll be launching a new blog. If you would like to read the new blog, feel free to email me at kwokDOTjaclynATgmailDOTcom and I'd be happy to share the new address with you when there's something for you to read.
I'd like to thank those of you who have read my meager offerings and taken the time to comment. It's meant a lot to me to have you visit me here, and I hope that my new blog will have more to offer.
Friday, November 20, 2009
So here goes.
1. Since Simon celebrated his very first half-birthday a few days ago, I couldn't help but make him half a cake. But of course it wasn't really for him, since he's way too young to eat it. But his father, sister and I all enjoyed it on his behalf.
And I made a wreath out of wrapping paper that I could have just used instead of getting Norah to make some for me... Oops. But I'm pretty sure her grandparents would rather have Norah's creation than Ikea paper any day.
After all of that, I still managed to pack up Simon and get to a women's potluck supper, socialize for a while, then head back home in time for band practice at 8pm. Whew!
Friday, November 13, 2009
And this kid, well. He laughs:
He hovers when he's feeling kooky:
And he has the most sparkly eyes I've ever seen on a little boy:
Come to think of it, as much as I miss that helpless little bundle, I'm really very fond of this new big boy, too. He sits up all by himself. He loves to look at books and chew the toys on his exersaucer. He loves his Jolly Jumper (obviously!) and "big boy food". Veggies, fruits, rice cereal and even Baby Mum-Mums! But most of all he loves his mommy and daddy and his big sister. He always has kisses and giggles to share, and loves a good cuddle.
I know I need to let my babies grow up, but it's at milestones like this - half a year! - that I can't help but think time is passing too quickly. I guess it's a good reminder to enjoy every minute of every different stage - and to not get too bogged-down when the current stage is a little more challenging. It won't last forever!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I liked the way my "A Day at the Beach" mini cakes turned out. The graham cracker crumbs worked rather well as sand, and I just happen to like starfish. They remind me of that cliche story about the man who comes across hundreds of starfish washed up on the shore, and begins to throw them back into the water, one at a time. Another man sees what he's doing, and asks him why he's bothering to do it. "There are too many of them," he says. "It won't make a difference." The first man picks up a starfish, and before he throws it into the water he says, "It makes a difference to this one."
See? Wouldn't you throw this little guy back into the buttercream ocean? Or maybe you'd just eat him. He tastes a lot like a Tootsie Roll.
Finally, a pair of "Teddy Bears' Picnic" cakes. I think these could be cute for a kid's birthday party.
While I enjoyed all the modeling chocolate work, I also really enjoyed making the fondant pieces. And the teeny tiny food was the most fun of all. The apples are about the size of a pea, and if you look closely, you can see I even inserted a little chocolate stem. I tend to get a little obsessive about these things.
Now I have to touch up the photos (sorry, you just get the raw versions) and then add them to my website. Then, I have to start figuring out how to go about these "under the sea" themed cookies I have to make for this client. (I just really enjoy using that word!)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
No, definitely not happening. Oh wait, yes it is. Dang.
The guy who let his students style his hair and then take this picture while practicing for yearbook shots:
Okay, so maybe I would have walked into his driveway...
Monday, June 15, 2009
For a long time, I pondered exactly what word it is He would say. It's not like an "abracadabra" kind of magic word, I know. I assume it's probably The Word. You know, the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us. The Word who was there in the beginning, who was with God and who is God. That makes sense to the logical part of my brain.
But the emotional, sentimental part of my brain thinks of it a different way. I think of the story of Easter, when Mary Magdalene didn't recognize the resurrected Jesus. She addressed him as the gardner at first, and only saw who he truly was when he spoke her name. She hears him say, "Mary" and immediately she knows him. For me, during Mass, that is the word that is spoken to heal me - Jaclyn.
I bet you're wondering why I bring this up.
If you read my last post, you know that Francis was out of town for a couple of days, and I was on my own with a toddler and a newborn. Thursday morning was great. Thursday afternoon was even better. As of 6pm on Thursday, it all went downhill. Fast.
Come Norah's bedime on Friday, I was done. Spent. Finished. Gonzo. I had nothing left to give, after getting only four hours of broken sleep on Thursday night, and having a rough day with two exceptionally cranky kids all day Friday. So when Norah threw a tantrum as I put her in bed, I wasn't in the best state to deal with it.
She was in her bed, crying. Simon was in my arms, crying. And I was sitting on the floor outside Norah's (open) bedroom door, crying. And trying to reason with her through my tears. She wasn't having any of it. Finally I gave in, and took Simon into her room, where the two of us sat on a chair and waited for her to fall asleep. At this point, I was feeling like an utter failure as a mother. I know that most of that was irrational, post-partum stuff. But that's how I felt. So I prayed.
I told God how unworthy I felt to be given the enormous blessing of raising these two (and any future) children. Desperately and completely unworthy. They're so perfect, so wonderful - and I'm so broken and flawed. I can't possibly be worthy to be their mother.
And then a song came on. We always have a CD playing in Norah's room while she sleeps - it helps to drown out the noise from the rest of the house, and having worship music playing while one sleeps is lovely. So it's Matt Redman in Norah's room, and one of the songs on this particular CD is called - get this - "You're Worthy".
Now obviously Mr. Redman wasn't singing about me. He was singing to the One who is truly worthy. And that's when it hit me:
"Lord, I am not worthy to receive these children. But only say the word, and I shall be healed."
And so He who is worthy has spoken the word - or the Word - and I am healed. I may not be worthy by my own merit, but He has made me so. And for that, I praise Him!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
"When the baby is born, people are going to want to come over and visit to meet him/her. If people come over, I have to serve them something. I'm not okay with putting out a plate of Mr. Christie's finest. But I'm also not likely to have the energy to bake with a newborn to look after. Therefore, I should bake now."
The Cool Whip, of course, can be considered optional. But I like to garnish, so for me it's mandatory. Plus - it's pretty yummy.
Now you just need a few standard things from your fridge/pantry:
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp unsalted butter (margarine is fine too, if that's what you have)
Mix the first 4 ingredients with 3 cups of berries. Take the pastry out of the aluminum pie plate, and place it, more or less flattened-out, in the middle of a cookie sheet.Pile the berry mixture in the middle of the pastry, and dot with the butter/margarine. Now comes the fun part! Fold the pastry over the berries, overlapping the folds and leaving the berries visible in the centre. (Optional: you can brush the pastry a mixture of an egg whisked with 2 tbsp of water to help with the browning). Bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 375, until golden brown. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting into it (this helps it to thicken).Trust me, it tastes as yummy as it looks!
If you choose to skip the Cool Whip, you can always dust the galette with a little icing sugar. It's also very tasty if you swap the Cool Whip for vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. (My problem is that ice cream isn't as likely to survive in my freezer!)
Try it out. You won't be disappointed!
*Next week: Chocolate Trifle, also with simple things from your freezer!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
This is the photo that ran with the announcement. Weren't we cute?
Not long after it was published, I received a card in my mailbox at work. The announcement had included the name of the parish where I worked in Orleans. The envelope was addressed to:
c/o Divine Infant Parish
That's it. No address, no postal code and no return address. I thought it was a little odd, so I checked the postmark, and saw that it had come through the post office not too far from my parents' neighbourhood.
I opened the envelope, and took out a pretty flowered note card. Inside held a message written in lovely, somewhat old-fashioned penmanship. The note began by congratulating me on getting engaged. How sweet! I thought. Yeah, right...
It went on to say that the sender (who signed the note only as "A Grandmother"), was sure that my decision to marry "outside my race" must be a huge disappointment to my parents and my grandmother, because she was certain that they had "raised me better than that". She went on to tell me that such unions never last, and I should go find a "nice white boy" to marry instead. She insisted I should spare myself the future divorce, by getting out while I still could.
Reading this, standing in the parish office, my jaw was dropping lower and lower. The secretary and another staff member (both ladies I was very close with) were watching me with some concern. They could tell something was wrong. But it wasn't until I read the next part - the part that reduced me instantly to tears - that they swooped in and took the card away. (After reading it themselves, it went instantly into the shredder.)
The "grandmother" told me I was being selfish. She said I obviously hadn't considered the future of my poor children, who would "bear the mark of my sin" because they'd be bi-racial (except she said "mixed").
My sin? My sin? Marrying a good, honest, loving, faith-filled man is a sin? Just because he happens to be Chinese? For some reason, this woman was raised to believe that God has a problem with people marrying someone of a different ethnic background. Even though she seemed to be somewhat familiar with my family (identifying my grandmother), she clearly doesn't actually know my family. If she did, she'd know my parents and grandmother would never have a problem with my choice of spouse based on race. Not just because they're not racist, but because my father himself is the son of a bi-racial man. My dad is one quarter black - his paternal grandfather was a black man who married a white woman.
I've had many (and I do mean many!) strangers stop me on the street, in stores, in church, just to tell me how beautiful they think Norah is. In fact, it happened 3 times in 2 days last week. Nobody has ever stopped me to tell me that they could see the "mark of my sin" in her.
I still feel the sting of those words in that card. Not because I believe a word of it, but because it saddens me that racism still exists. It upsets me to think that Norah may someday personally encounter someone who thinks that way. Growing up white in a predominantly white area, I'd never experienced racism like that on a personal level before this. It changed me. It made me aware of the need to continue to pray for people's views to be changed - for hearts to be changed. I can't hate the woman who sent that note, because I'm sure she honestly believed she was doing the right thing. And, more importantly, because intolerance can never be healed with more hatred.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
What is it with people that makes them think a woman's body/child-spacing/future is fair game once she gets pregnant? Don't people (other women, other mothers, especially) realize that the hormones and sleeplessness that go hand-in-hand with gestating a human make one less able and willing to receive such insensitive comments with grace? Honestly...
*The following comments are all actual things that have been said to me over the past seven months - and more than once.
"Wow, Jaclyn! You're HUGE!" Yeah, you too!
"Two under two, eh? You're going to have your hands full!" Really? Hadn't thought of that. I was thinking it would get easier the more kids I had.
"Pregnant AGAIN? You do know what causes this, right?" No, care to explain it to me?
"Wow, you're actually going to eat THAT? (Pointing at whatever evil brownie/cookie/peanut product I happen to be holding.) I guess you're not too worried about your baby!" Baby? No, I only worry about my taste buds.
"Are you really going to drink that coffee?" Yes, but don't worry - I made it good and "Irish".
"So you'll be done after this one, right?" Done talking to you? Quite likely.
"You're planning to have more? Have you considered the cost of university educations?" Yes. But it's okay. We plan to encourage all our children to drop out of high school and spend their lives flipping burgers or maybe cleaning people's windshields for spare change.
"Do you know what you're having?" Well, we hope it's a baby, but you never know - could be a small kitchen appliance.
Just for the record, I've never actually said any of those responses out loud. Usually I just smile and bite my tongue, or say something nice and polite. At least I only have about eight and a half weeks left. Oh, but then it's "You still have 2 months left? Where are you going to put the rest of it!" I'll tell you where I'd like to put it...
See? I'm sarcastic and NOT NICE!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Yup, they're all edible!
If you love baked goods, even if you don't make them yourself, just check out Bakerella. The photos of the stuff she comes up with will make you drool all over your keyboard. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Why would anyone choose such an experience if it weren't necessary? Why would one want to be numbed from the ribs down, have her arms strapped down straight out by her sides, have a sheet draped in front of her face, and be totally cut off and disassociated from the birth of her child? Every time I watch "A Baby Story" and the woman ends up having a c-section, I end up in tears. I know I certainly never want to repeat that experience.
And yet, that is what I have chosen to do.
If you've read my older posts, you know that recently my OB offered me the option of attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian). I was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to fulfill my dream of actually pushing out my baby. Actually, the way I explained it to Francis was "to actually give birth, not just have a baby taken out of me". So, like with just about everything else in my life, I sat down and started researching the pros and cons of each option.
There are risks involved with both c-sections and VBACs. And those risks are not insignificant. For example, with a c-section (which is major abdominal surgery):
- The maternal death rate is twice as high for elective c/s as for vaginal birth
- Babies delivered by c/s have an increased risk of respiratory problems.
- Serious complications for women undergoing c/s include infection (up to 30% of women acquire one postpartum), haemorrhage, blood transfusions, bladder and bowel injury, heart and lung complications, blood clots in the legs, anesthesia complications, possible scar tissue adhesions, the ability to establish breastfeeding is reduced, and possible hysterectomy (both in current and future pregnancies)
- In subsequent pregnancies, women with a prior c/s have higher rates of secondary infertility, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and serious placental abnormalities.
See? Scary stuff. Believe me, I don't take any of that lightly. But here's the difference: with a VBAC, the biggest risks are to the baby, whereas the risks with the c-section are primarly to the mother's well-being.
The most significant risk in attempting a VBAC is uterine rupture. Sure, it's my uterus that would rupture, but it's my baby whose life would be on the line. Best case scenario - oxygen-deprivation related problems like cerebral palsy. Worst case scenario - baby would die. Because of the extreme pain I've been experiencing at the site of my internal stitches, I worry that this may be an indication that I'd be at higher risk for complications during labour and delivery, should I attempt a VBAC.
As a woman, I have strong preferences about the kind of birth I would like to experience, and nowhere in those preferences will you find "c-section". But as a mother, I know that it is my job to do what is best and safest for my baby regardless of my preferences. And isn't that, really, what so much of motherhood is about? Dying to ourselves, dying to our preferences, to do what our children need.
I'd prefer not to change poopy diapers. But I do, and I do it with love. I'd prefer not to let my dinner get cold while I try (often in vain) to find something that will suit Norah's tastes of the day. But I do, and I do it with love. By the time I was using my third kind of antibiotics and was bleeding nearly constantly, I would have prefered to stop breastfeeding. But I kept going, and I did it with love.
I'd prefer not to give up my hopes and dreams of being able to push my baby into the world. But it's safer for my child, so that's what I'll do.
And I hope I'll be able to do it with love.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
My two babies!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Of course all this was not so much luxury as it was necessity. Norah woke up extra early yesterday, then wanted to cuddle in bed with me after Francis had fed her breakfast. She fell asleep for nearly an hour, and I was happy to have the extra time to doze. At a little after 8am, I woke to hear her coughing, then - before I could react - she vomitted all over herself, me (including my hair!), and the bed. We started our day with a mother-daughter sponge bath, because I find lifting 24lbs in and out of the tub tricky with my big belly.
She spent most of the day clearly under the weather. She was extra affectionate (some days I call it "clingy") and took an extra nap. It was low-key but tiring in a funny way, so come bed time, I was grateful for the extra cozy & comfy sleeping arrangements.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
(This picture was taken just 30 days before Norah was born. I wanted to have something to celebrate the way I felt about my pregnancy, so Francis set up his camera on a tripod and set the timer. I love the way it turned out.)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The FOUR of us Kwoks at Norah's party -
Considering how miserable she must have felt, she did very well at the party. She was in a good mood the whole time, and other than having NO interest in eating cake or ripping wrapping paper, she was pretty close to perfect.
This is the princess castle cake I made for the party. Well, to be clear, my mother baked the cake and cupcakes, and I just decorated. I whispered to Norah, "I had fun making this, but don't expect one every year!" It took me close to an hour and a half, mostly because constructing and icing the towers was a longer process than I'd expected. Mom also made golden pig cookies (which required some explanation for the non-Asian guests) to honour the fact that Norah was born in the year of the Golden Pig - very auspicious in the Chinese culture. I wish I'd gotten a photo of them, but I was too busy eating them!
Of course Norah's first birthday also happened to fall on Chinese New Year, so my mother in law took Norah, my mother and me out for Dim Sum, then over to one of the schools she works in to introduce us (well, mostly Norah) to some of her co-workers. When Francis got home, we sat down to a lovely dinner (courtesy, again, of my mother) of homemade chicken soup and fergosa. It was a wonderful way to spend the anniversary of my firstborn's birth - and, more selfishly, the anniversary of the day I became a mother. That's a day I wouldn't trade for the world!