Family Guy

I love this photo of us.

Every woman wants a man to feel safe with; my guy is the best protector and provider for our little family, and we love him so much for it.

We are so proud of him for so many reasons: Bronze Star Medal for Afghanistan, LRS, Ranger School, Air Assault School, Airborne School (2 jumps away from qualifying for Jump Master…); getting his MBA, his EIB on the first try… the list is endless. He does so much for his country, the Army, his career — but especially for me. ♡

I never felt I needed a man to support me, as I’ve always pride myself on my independence; but do feel sometimes I need a protector, and I love having a man that I feel so safe and protected with. I seriously get so anxious when he’s away from home because I need a man in the house! (And because he fixes everything, gets all the stuff on the top shelves… and those annoying jars that just won’t open.)

I am so thankful to God for such a great man for a husband and father. ♡ — and because I know any children we have won’t end up being short, ha!

#FlashbackFridays

Advertisements

Goodbye to the Pony

I think every woman’s goal when she meets a man is to get him on to her spider web. Ha!

Well, my man is definitely all tangled up in my web! Not only am I unbelievably spoiled rotten by him (I mean, I did choose my own obnoxiously priced engagement ring), but since the first day I met him, I’ve been working on removing every last bit of single-free-manhood from him (insert devious, sinister laughter) — my wonderful manly grunt drives the very symbolism of man, a Mustang.

So he’s a gym rat, and every time I call him he’s either running or lifting, at the gym, or playing on his Xbox (man-child!)… I can deal with certain Peter Pan syndromes in a grown man… but the Mustang, no.

There are only 3 types of men who drives around in performance cars — ridiculously rich men, men going through a mid-life crisis, and bachelors. Because no young man under 50 with a two-door car has a wife and kids waiting for him at home… how’s he going to put a car seat in something like that anyway!?

The mister did not want to get rid of the pony. He bought it brand new and it’s only four years old. It only has 30,000 miles on it, practically a showroom demo car with that low of a mileage; but lately I’ve been crocheting baby blankets for our non-existent baby because my baby fever has been through the roof.

He called me on Skype this morning and while we were talking he asked me what car he should get next. My man-child is trading in his Mustang for a much needed SUV for our little growing family. I said Jeep since it’s a very affordable line of SUVs, but he likes the Ford Explorer instead… one victory at a time, I suppose.

I think every man wants to hold on to being single forever, it’s like their dream of being a space cowboy or something. But eventually they fall in love with a woman and do boring things like get a 401K, and trade in their coupes for a vehicle that can seat 7 people and/or has a 60/40 split seating cargo option. I love him so much for always doing everything he can to make me happy… including putting away his space cowboy ideas.

Joe’s Redneck Family …

So you don’t like the rednecks

I’m not I’m just a little country

I know you’re part gangster

My dad’s family are kind of all hillbillies
Grandma can’t say coffee
She is redneck
Her accent

My grandpa mumbles the native tongue so even if you spoke the language you still wouldn’t understand him. Plus he’s going senile. Said he was going for a walk on Thanksgiving, hopped in his truck and took off. My uncle found him the next town over

My mom’s mom is diabetic and extremely obese and has to use a walker to get around or an electric cart at Walmart. So I try to help out and make her life easier. I got her a Roku player because she was watching Netflix on her computer and reading books online. I fixed her Wi-Fi, updated her Kindle and showed her how to FaceTime on her iPad. I put all of our accounts that I knew on there so she didn’t have to figure it out.

She uses my Hulu account to watch The Amazing Race lol

Periwinkle (sea snails)

Periwinkle are edible sea snails. It originated in Europe (specifically in coastal countries like England) as delicacies, and are eaten in France, Italy, Scotland, England, etc. In areas of China that has a large European expatriate like Hong Kong, there is a lot of Asian-fusion in its cooking. Hong Kong is a Cantonese region, and has a large English population from China’s 100 year lease of the area to Britain.

10363915_10152275832343225_757157413043426589_n

China has the world’s largest population, but different areas have completely different dialect and customs — the difference between Spanish and Portuguese (Mandarin is completely different from Cantonese, so it’s not very “politically correct” to ask a person if they speak “Chinese”).

My family is from the Canton region of China, therefore they speak Cantonese. In China, the largest city with a Cantonese culture is Hong Kong and Macau (where the people speak Cantonese and English, and Cantonese and Portuguese, respectively). These two areas have cuisines that combines the influences of foreign cultures to traditional Chinese customs; English in Hong Kong, and Portuguese in Macau.

One of my favorite seafood dishes is periwinkle, Cantonese style (of course). My pen-pal of almost 15 years is actually from England. (I love his accent!) In England, they sell them in food carts like how New York City sells hotdogs, shish-kebab, sausages, etc. (Well, if you’ve never been to NYC, I just don’t know how to explain it to you!) My UK pen-pal says the English like to eat it by boiling it and usually with butter. (That is not how the Chinese eats it, as most Chinese are lactose-intolerant and diary products like butter are never use in authentic Chinese cooking… probably why you’ll rarely see an overweight Chinese person.)

10300317_10152275965533225_7505480726907312887_n

My mom always makes this for me when I go home (that and my favorite, whole steamed fish), and my kids love it because it’s fun when you eat food that you kind of have to work at — they like sucking it out of the shells! Of course, there’s always the few occasional ones that they just can’t get out, so I get it out for them — reminds me of a mom bird feeding worms to her baby birds, ha!

1456515585399

This is my mom’s recipe. (You’ll probably never get to eat this unless you’re in a coastal state, you’ll definitely never find it in Iowa!) Periwinkle are sea snails, it’s a fancy way of saying it, kind of like escargot. Although, you should know that periwinkle and escargot are different though. You’ll find them at fish markets. They’re not very expensive, usually like $3.50 a pound, (definitely not more than $5 a pound). A bag full is usually around $8 or so.

First, you have to clean it to get all the sand out. (They are found on seashores.) Wash them until the water runs clear. Then boil them covered. This insures that they are thoroughly cooked and any sand or dirt is removed. Drain your periwinkle.

IMG_1462769060260

Chop up finely garlic and red/green chili peppers (I like using cayenne, jalapeños, or serrano). In a wok (or a large skillet), heat oil (my mom uses vegetable oil) and add the finely chopped herbs. Stir for a few seconds, add the periwinkle, add soy sauce, Hoisin sauce (it means “seafood” in Cantonese… you’ll find all this stuff in the Asian aisle next to the soy sauce); oyster sauce, salt, black bean sauce, and a bouillon cube (the brand that my mom uses for all this stuff is Lee Kum Kee — it’s a Hong Kong company that specializes in Chinese cooking sauces). Stir-fry for about 5 minutes, add a few tablespoons of water, cover and steam for about 2 minutes, and you’re done! (If you haven’t quite gotten how to get the meat out, use a toothpick, it’s what I tell my kids to do.)

Relationship Therapy

So I’ve been studying a lot about psychology and different therapy methods and such, so much that I find I am analyzing people and situations in my every day life.  One of the topics that I am absolutely fascinated about is relationships and the dynamics of our behaviors in relationships.

Successful relationships require hard work.  Every relationship will be faced with challenges, some small and some that really tests the strength of the couple; most relationship challenges can be overcome with trust, open communication, and a willingness to change if needed; however, some relationships are also doom for failure, and no amount of therapy can “fix” it.  These barriers are often left unstated and ignored, leading to resentment, contempt, and a general unhappiness that not only affects the already troubled relationship but can also spill over into our work, family, friends, and other aspects of our lives.

The most common relationship issues involve financial difficulties, communication barriers, routine arguments, and lack of trust. Even marriage itself can be the cause of conflict for an unmarried couple, when one partner wants to marry and the other partner is reluctant to.  This is often the case in long-term relationships where many women start comparing their relationship to others, and they feel the family and societal pressure to get married; especially as they approach their late twenties, and even more so when they’re reached their thirties.

Having chronic conflicts in the relationship can produce stressors that can cause mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety; it can also affect self-esteem and even physical health, as well as contribute to addictive behaviors, like substance abuse. Relationship problems can also unintentionally affect family members, especially children, who may repeatedly witness relationship conflict between their parents, thus developing them to have their own relationship issues to work through in their adulthood.

Couples usually seek counseling for their relationship when the constant fighting has become too overwhelming to be able to cope independently, or to save the relationship; or even to fight in front of a “referee” so that they can get the sought after confirmation of who was right or wrong.

Case Example of a Relationship Conflict
Jane and Joe enter counseling because they have been fighting often. Inquiry reveals the fights are verbal but not overly emotional, it has never been physical. The fights have so far been considered “healthy”, with no traded insults or direct intent to hurt one another; yet, it seems that the fighting has become routine over the same topics.  Joe feels the pressure of Jane wanting to get marry.  It’s a big commitment, and although he loves Jane, he’s not sure if he’s ready for that just yet.  Jane feels insecure about the relationship; she feels Joe is dragging his feet in regards to marriage, but they have been having somewhat of a good communication in regards to getting married.  However, lately they’ve been fighting over an incident that has caused a rift in their relationship.  An ex has contacted Joe, and Jane feels unsure about how Joe reacted to it.  Joe responded to the attempted contact, and this has Jane questioning whether or not there is unresolved issues that Joe needs to work out with his ex.

During the sessions, there are many ways that a counselor can go about trying to help Jane and Joe, including finding out what the “family of origin issues” are. As the saying goes, everything starts from home — much of who we are have been developed from our childhood environment. From our family we learn many of our values, which can directly affect our behavior and actions; as adults we can either reject our family values or enforce them. An example of this is the belief that children who grew up in abusive homes are more likely to be abusers themselves, or be in abusive relationships, thus continuing the cycle. Our self-identity is also defined by our family, which can dictate a strong self if we were loved and felt safe within our family, or a damaged sense of self if love and safety were not shown during our childhood.

When children lack a healthy environment to base love and relationships on, they develop survival skills that are attune to what they perceive is “normal”. Jane shows signs of having commitment issues, despite pushing for marriage. Jane’s family origin issues were revealed to have been a very unhealthy and unsafe one. Of course, since the child’s behavior isn’t the cause of a parent’s failure to love, this created the personality that is now Jane’s.

A client may recognize their family wasn’t “perfect”, but for many individuals it is still difficult to confront our childhood, especially our family. We often feel loyalty to our family. It can be stressful in itself to examine our upbringing, but often it is necessary to get to the roots of our personalities.  However, it should be noted that family experiences doesn’t contribute or explain everything about who we are; genetics often play a role as well, including external factors outside of the family, like friends and school.

Couples bring their extended families into their relationships, whether consciously or unconsciously. The issues that we struggle with in our childhood contributes to our adult personalities. If we sought out our parents’ attention through perfection as a child, we may well continue to strive to achieve perfection for our mate. Additionally, we may put our own unrealistic expectations on a partner that is unaware, unable and ultimately unwilling, to live up to these irrational expectations. Bringing unaddressed family of origin issues into a relationship can create problems that are often confusing and overwhelming to both partners. In order to fully understand the behaviors we exhibit in our adult relationships, we must first become familiar with why we developed those behaviors in our childhood.

Joe stated that he wants to “wait for the right time” to get marry.  He feels that he is not yet financially secured enough to support a wife and ultimately a family.  Joe’s family history reveals that he comes from a large family, where finances were always a cause of concern, as well as his father being the main provider for the family.  With Joe, CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) would be the best approach; it deals with the here and now, and puts emphasis on the present, not the past.  Although Joe’s values might have come from his childhood, in his situation it is best to focus on the present for a solution.

Joe needs to change his current cognitive outlook on what he perceives as his reality.  Unless Joe wins the lottery, it is unlikely that he will ever feel financially secured enough at any point in his life. Other contributing factors to Joe’s values is gender-roles and societal expectations; the man is the provider of the family.  This puts great pressure on a man to be able to support a family, and is often one of the focusing reasons why men are reluctant to get married.  However, with CBT Joe can change his current thinking process — which is that the concept of the “right time” is unrealistic.  There will never be a right time, financial stresses beyond his control will always come up — the stock market crash, he lost his job, he got injured and is now disabled, the car broke down, the roof caved in, the pipes broke — basically Joe needs to realize that he will probably never be financially secured enough to not worry about money, but he has to learn to be okay with that.

(This psycho-babble, Sigmund Freud stuff is actually really interesting, right!?)

Going to the Fish Market with Mom

One of the things that I miss the most about home (NYC) is the foods.  You just can’t compare it to anywhere else in the world.  NYC is home to every culture and ethnicity there is, you don’t even need to know how to speak English because you can always be certain that you will find a community from ” back home” somewhere in NYC.

10593107_10152275832828225_1068239942848519569_n

What I love the most about going home is having REAL Chinese food!  I love all of the Chinese vegetables that aren’t available in Iowa, and I especially love the fresh seafood that’s caught right from the Atlantic Ocean.  When I am coming home, my mom always knows to get a fish to cook for my first night’s dinner.  I love my mom’s fish.

903736_10151594401658225_418571963_o

One thing I love doing with my mom is going to Chinatown with her to buy groceries.  She’s most comfortable in Chinatown and Flushing (Queens) because there she can find people from the same village as her from China, or from nearby villages.  It’s that feeling of cultural communion with another person in a faraway land that makes my mom take a train ride into Manhattan instead of just walking a few blocks to the supermarket by the house.

So when my mom buys groceries she takes the M train into Chinatown and buys from the vendors who have their fruits and vegetables displayed in barrels and bins outside (I guess the Midwest’s version of a farmer’s market, only it’s year-round and no one selling it grew it themselves).  My favorite thing about dinner shopping with my mom in Chinatown is going to the fish markets, I LOVE seeing all of the freshly caught seafood.  I can’t even describe the vibrancy of it when I’m at home compare to frozen fish in a bag when I’m in Iowa.

I remember when I was little and my mom would get crabs, I’d play with them; I try picking up and poking at them to see if they’d snap their claws at me, sometimes I’d even get them out of the kitchen sink and put them on the counter to see them walk.  If I was with her when she was in Chinatown to buy them, I choose one myself and it would go into the big, brown paper bag (one of the rare occasions that you don’t get a red plastic bag); during the train ride home, I’d peek into the bag to see what they were doing because I just liked watching them snap their claws and move their legs.  You can’t do that with a bag of frozen, process crab in a supermarket … Food is so much fun!

Arroz con Pollo Recipe

My niece is half Puerto Rican and my best friend is Dominican.  I grew up in a very Hispanic neighborhood that use to have a large Italian population, which by now is mostly eastern Europeans from the former Eastern Bloc (especially Serbs and Poles).  There use to be a small Spanish restaurant up the block from us that I loved going to all the time; they were Dominican and family run and owned.

Arroz con Pollo means chicken and rice, and there’s many ways of cooking it.  Different Hispanic cultures have different spices that they add, different methods of cooking, different ingredients that they like to use, etc.

For mine I used Spanish olives with stuffed pimento, lean boneless chicken breast strips, onion, garlic, cilantro, and red bell pepper.  I use white rice, I’m not sure what the difference in rice is (too Americanize to figure it out, I guess), so I usually just get the white rice in the Asian section at Walmart or Hy-Vee.  I have a rice cooker, but if you don’t, you can do it the old-fashioned way; which is just cooking the rice in a pot (I use to cook rice like that in North Carolina).

I leave the olives whole and cook the chicken in whole stripes first; and I chop up the garlic, cilantro, pepper and onion.  So first, I get the rice going in the rice cooker, then I get the chicken cooked at the same time.  It doesn’t take a long time to cook chicken, and you can tell it’s done once the meat turns white when you poke it with a fork.  In a large skillet, heat up cooking oil (I use extra virgin olive oil), and cook it on both sides evenly for a few minutes; take out chicken and tear (or chop) the chicken up into big chunky pieces (or however big you want them to be); add some more olive oil and sauté the other ingredients until they’re cooked (I usually judge this by the onions when they’ve soften), and then add the chopped chicken pieces back into the pan along with the cooked rice.  Give everything a good mix around in the pan for about three minutes and then you’re ready to eat! 10322771_10152080608798225_2918613737295522574_n

Sorry for my lack of detailed instructions and directions; I really believe that as long as someone knows the basics, they can substitute things like cooking time, measurements, preparations, etc. for whatever they’re comfortable with, or what their preferences are.

Stir-Fried Shrimp & Vegetables Recipe

I love seafood, but unfortunately I’m currently in Iowa — so no ocean, which means no fresh seafood either.  I end up with the frozen stuff from Hy-Vee or Walmart (better than nothing!).

This (like all stir-fry) recipes are relatively easy to do.  You really can’t mess up anything when you’re stir-frying in a wok.  If you don’t have a wok, a large skillet is fine too.  Woks are great for cooking because they heat up really fast and the heat is evenly distributed so that everything is cooked.

The ingredients that I use (but can be substituted or completely eliminated to your taste) are: cilantro, red and green bell pepper, garlic, mushrooms, onion, and shrimp (you can use chicken or pork instead of shrimp).  You can buy frozen raw vegetables in a bag too if you’re feeling lazy — I’m starting to think Americans are so overweight because everything is in a bag nowadays!

You can buy frozen shrimp that’s already cooked in the bag, or raw in the bag, or if you’re lucky and have access to fresh shrimp I highly suggest using fresh instead.  Shrimp doesn’t take a long time to cook; so depending on which route you went with the shrimp, you might have to do a little bit of work.  If you got fresh shrimp, just wash the shrimp in cold water and remove the head, then with a paring knife slit the shrimp down the middle, and remove the shell and vein from the body.

Heat the wok up with cooking oil, stir-fry the shrimp for a few minutes (you’ll know they’re cook when they start turning pink-ish), and remove from wok on to a plate.  Add oil to the wok and put the vegetables in and stir-fry for a few more minutes, then add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Hoisin sauce (this is a Chinese sauce that has a Romanize name, the word pronounced in Cantonese means “seafood”).  Add the shrimp back into the wok with the vegetables, stir-fry for about two more minutes, and that’s it — you’re done!

774472_10151545303968225_1690519192_o

This recipe is great with any variety of Chinese vegetables.  Other vegetables that can be used are: carrots, snow peas, Chinese celery, bitter melon, mung bean sprouts, kohlrabi, and/or napa cabbage.

1077051_10151545330163225_1538902565_o

Mom’s Home-cooking ♡

I know there are just certain things that people are bias to — like, your kid being the smartest and the cutest and the most behaved; and your mom being the best cook ever… only, my mom really is the best cook ever (in my eyes anyway).

There’s no restaurant or food in the world that can compare to my mom’s cooking; her cooking is one of the things that I look forward to when I’m home.  Besides from the dinner shopping that I tag along with her in Chinatown for (usually consisting of some sort of fish/seafood, vegetables, and fruit), she also grows her own vegetables and herbs in her garden in the back of the house.

10593112_10152275808868225_4924255504825949367_n

One of the many winter melons that my mom grows in her garden. She usually makes soup out of it or stir-fries it.

My mom has such a green thumb!  She grew up in a rural village in China, where the livelihood of the villagers was farming.  My mom said we use to own dogs, cats, fishes in a pond, hogs, chickens, etc. (I imagine she grew up in a place that’s probably like Iowa! — but how I grew up would be comparable to a place like Hong Kong instead).  Anyway, she grows Chinese vegetables in the backyard — things like chives/scallions, cilantro, winter melon, green beans, and other things that I don’t even know what their names are.  She has an abundance of vegetables and herbs, so much that she is always giving some to my aunts and uncles, to my sister-in-law’s mom, to extended family and friends, basically to anyone.  It’s also a part of the communal sharing that is exhibited, especially in the past in rural areas of China under Communist influences for crop sharing (before what historians now term as the evolution of “modern China”).

10354800_10152275825863225_3280010619012280941_n

One of the many winter melons that my mom grows in her garden. She usually makes soup out of it or stir-fries it.

My mom cooks everything (except for soups) in a wok.  Seriously, whether stir-fried or steamed, it is cooked in a wok.  It’s crazy because I hardly know how to use one!  You’d think since I grew up seeing one every day of my life I’d know what I was doing with the thing!  I don’t know what the best type to buy is, and I don’t know how to properly clean it so that it doesn’t rust.  I’ve never seen my mother doing anything other than washing it like you would normally wash any other cookware; but online they have instructions on how to “properly” wash a wok — things like “seasoning” it by coating it with oil and rubbing it down and cleaning it up with paper towels.  The funny part is, all of these instructions are usually from a white person!  I mean, would anyone seriously listen to a Chinese person giving cooking instructions for Italian cooking?  I supposed she’s never had to do any of that because the wok is constantly in use, so there’s never a concern for it rusting because it would never be “put away” in the cabinets.