Friday, November 23, 2007

first vehicle

I DO believe that Mia will be able to get her license before me...
Until then, I start training her early...
cool homemade pully cart: laundry basket, mommy's old belt, blanket, cushions and a parent to pull the cart

Diaper Rhetoric

"to whirl or not to whirl?" I ask of you... "slow down and soak, little by little..."
"the ultimate question is...still smelling?"
"is that enough camera time, daddy?"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Every year in the beginning of November, I think to myself, 'this year I will have a huge Thanksgiving dinner, and invite all of my American friends, or American friendly friends'. Generally, the next thing I know, I'm receiving e-cards from friends wishing me Happy Thanksgiving, and I look on the calendar, it's the last Wednesday or Thursday of November already.

This difference. Poor planning leads to no turkey. We celebrated Mia's first Thanksgiving with an entire sweet potato all to herself, and she loved it. The parents had some pumpkin seeds. All in all, we have so many things to thank for this year, it will be an all year round event!

Personally, I thank all of my friends for standing beside and behind me throughout this tough first year of learning to be a new mom. I don't know what I would've done without all of your support coming in from afar. Thank you!

May the turkey be tender and potatoes creamy :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


no, not my attempt to make M look more Chinese, although her posture seems so graceful to me...This is a cute outfit by Catimini (hint...we LOVE Catimini :)
M's fighting some strange virus, and has a rash all over. Understandably, she's fussing quite a bit, but she fell asleep twice while eating today... it was both worrisome and heart melting at the same time.

Sightings: Secret Santa from San Mateo resurfaces!!!

THANK YOU! We suspect our Secret Santa wears size 9 shoes, and with VERY high heels!!! :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

ups and downs

Incidentally, I failed my written exam, again. It's my third attempt, and frankly, I don't think even I can continue without shame. Apparently, the result was very poor; N didn't have the heart to tell me how many I missed. Oh well, I'm only mourning for the lost sleep and the long wait in the traffic, right, and the 75 euros they charge with each time they fail you.

On a happier note, I got a letter in the mail today. In fact, I got two pieces of mail this week, and it's the small things in life which make it worthwhile (and NOT the driving written exam). When I asked for comments a few entries back, I never expected to receive a 3-page 'PAPER' response. Thank you, Jenny. Mia and I read it on the way back from the post office, and I thought it deserveed another reading (as most of your letters do), so I went around the block to sit in the park, but then I couldn't find peace there due to some other people, so I just walked around and around until I finished reading it 3 times. A real letter deserves a real response, so , I will just thank you for now, but will write a proper response, as we used to do in another lifetime. I miss you, JL.The thing about going to the post office everyday to pick up mail is, that it gives me a sense of triumph when there is mail. If not, I just look like a fool going into an office, and walking right out empty handed. But, getting a lovely package (thank you, Mandy), or a warm letter (thank you, Jenny), that's not just triumph, it's more like winning the LOTTERY! Have you noticed that people use stamps less and less now? It's always those printed, impersonal looking stickers nowadays. I love these:
On a complete different note, let's say 'Re' (sorry, bad musician joke...I'm tired):
my father in-law, Enric, picked these from Montseny, and I made my first batch without the pan-with-holes. These were made in the oven because we don't have a gas stove. Here's the recipe I used for those of you who are lucky enough to be able to pick them fresh:
don't they spell autumn for you?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Ultimate Integration - el carrito

I've been wanting one of these ever since I first moved to Spain; I wish I had known their existence when I lived in Boston: it's the perfect solution for grocery shopping in a city. I could have saved hundreds of dollars not having groceries delivered to my apartment, and just pulled one of these around town instead. The reason why I didn't get one until now is because N absolutely refused to have anything to do with it. I learned the word 'maruja' from inquiring after these pully-carts. I can attempt to describe it to my English speaking friends, but I hope I won't offend anyone in the process: generally a woman between 40 to 60, often gather with other marujas at the market, chatting loudly about nothing and everything, gossip is very big with all marujas, you can spot one leaning out the window yelling at a neighboring maruja while dusting the carpet, or one with an apron out at the front door sweeping, while chatting with another maruja walking by. Often one can be heard before seen.

You may ask what changed N's mind after all these years, but even if you don't, I plan to tell you now :) Incidentally, Tiana has a market!!! It's more like 4 sucky stands of crap and an excellent 'green grocer'. And, I found this cool orange one from IKEA, and N caved. I like this green grocer because they let you pick the fruits, and even though there aren't prices, you come out happy with whatever price they tell you. The procedure of buying among marujas is actually rather tricky, in order to buy, you must integrate!
Here's how: first, you must arrive very early (we get there around 8:30, and generally a line has already formed by then), and you have to shout (so EVERYONE can hear you), 'qui és l´útim?´ (who is last in line?) In this case, always ´qui és l´última?´ because by definition, marujas can only be women, although...I often tease N to be one, too :)
then you make eye contact with that person, and look out for when she´s being helped, so you know you´re next. This is tricky because everyone knows everyone, and if you´re behind someone, and they see someone they know who comes after you, they greet each other and start talking, by the time the first m´s turn is up, she may feel so generous as to let her friend enter before her, thus before you. If enough of them do this, you´re bound to be the last in line...always, which in our case, happened more than once.
While you´re waiting for your turn, you chat loudly with ALL women in line about nothing and everything, and you all stare at the weird looking foreigner in line (enters me). Then you touch ALL the fruit, bag some and lean them on the ones you didn´t pick, and wait for your turn to ask (scream) for the ´untouchables´ behind the sellers: ¨HALF A PUMPKIN! TWO AVOCADOS, FOUR PERSIMMONS!! PLEASE!!!! THANK YOU!!!! last two optional.

then you´re pretty much done when they tell you a random price which makes you happy.
I do love this ritual every Tuesday now that I´ve been certified by my cool orange carrito as a maruja.

The Story of My Name

I've been wanting to write about my name for a while now, what's a better time than when I'm dead tired, and Mia is asleep? :)

For my friends from the States, my middle initial has always been a mystery. The "J" stands for Jung, not pronounced like Carl, the psychologist. For the longest time, as early as my memory takes me, I've had two names, one Chinese name, and the one that you all know. In the US, it's not uncommon for the Chinese Americans to have a western name, and use their Chinese name as their middle name. I don't use my Chinese name because it sounds terrible when pronounced JUNG, in addition, Jung does not sound anything like my name in Chinese. I don't know why it's spelled that way, but if I was to spell it myself, it would be Rong, but that doesn't look very good either, because in English, you would have say it with an accent, but in Chinese, it's the second tone, and it's softer. Anyway, I'm not really attached to one name or another, all this is just for others to refer to me.

For my German-speaking friends, yes, it's odd that my name is Heidi, but there you have it, I didn't name myself. I was named by a German lady who thought it was appropriate because I was brought up by my grandfather, more or less in a mountain, not in Switzerland, but in Taiwan, close enough.

The problem rose when I moved to Spain: in the States, I'm identified by others as Heidi J. Tsai. Logically, first name, middle name, and last name (family name). All of a sudden, in Spain, my middle name became my family name, which makes no sense to me, or to the Spaniards. Whenever I wait in line to be called, I always have to pay attention when they scream out my non-name, "Heidi Jung". Who is Heidi Jung? oh right, that's me. When I swore in for my residency in Spain, apprently, it's obligatory to have, in addition to your first name, TWO second names, but also a THIRD last name. They don't care what you fill out on your form, they just take whatever names they see from the documents you submit.

When my ID came (after a two-year process plus 1/2 year wait), I was...Heidi Jung Tsai Chin. WHO THE HELL IS THIS??? Who is Jung and who is Chin, and what happened to my name? It's so, long. The third last name is your mother's maiden name, but in my case, it's NOT! My mother has changed the spelling of her last name as long as I can remember. HER last name is Chyn, but for some reason, in my original birth certificate, it still said Chin. So now, not only I am called Heidi Jung, I have an extra last name that doesn't belong to anyone in my family.

If you think this is not enough beauracracy, there's more:
I'm in the process of changing my name BACK to just H.T. as I am known most of my life. I have to fill out numerous forms stating WHY I am 'changing' my name (because of you stupid 'funcionaries'!). I had to submit at least 8 different documents which have my original name on it, so I thought, ok, let's make it serious and official: newspaper reviews (RAVING ones) in Catalan AND Spanish on my performances, concert programs, monthly pay receipts from the conservatory, etc...BUT! wait! You need TWO people to write a statement, sign their name (at least they have one!), and add their ID number. I thought, ok, I'll have Alfred do it, he's famous. NO! RANDOM PEOPLE! Apparently, all of my documents aren't enough, they want random people to sign random forms in order for me to change my name to what it has always been. What the f*)()C(*ck??

Incidentally, when I went in for my written test, I was (should not be by now) shocked to see a room of 70 men with names like Ali and Mohammad. And then I heard, Heidi Jung, and I said 'soy yo' (more or less meaning 'that's me', in this case). I've never thought much of names, especially mine. I figured that I'm not identified by my name, I didn't name myself, it just is. Perhaps I've been wrong?
What's YOUR name, and how do YOU like it?

A Sense of Direction? I think not.

Well, the dreaded written test for my driver's license was today. N asked me how I felt, well, I always feel pretty good up until when the result comes out...

If getting up at 6am to sit in the traffic with a 6-month old to take a test which most likely will need to be re-taken again wasn't exciting enough - it DOES get better:

After N drops himself off at Auditori, the plan was for me to drive home with Mia alone. I've never done this before, and was kind of nervous about it. It's not just driving with her, but driving in the city makes me very nervous. I figured I had to start someday, so I did. N reassured me that it was a short ride, and I believe him...since it's the same ride where I go to work and back. If truth be told, I don't have ANY sense of direction whatsoever, I mean NONE! In the city, I get around by foot with remembering which Zara is on the corner, next to which Mango, but in a car, I'm pretty screwed. So, while I was busy exhaling and trying to look nonchalant, I missed my exit onto B-20 (for those of you who live nearby). Of course, I wasn't exactly sure I missed it, so the only thing I could do was keep going. Here is something I learned today: you can't just get off and turn around, like in the US. What happens is, you keep going, and it splits into more highways. If you get off, it's either going to take you onto another highway, or it takes you into a labyrinth-like urban area (let's just pretend I did NOT see signs for Cerdanyola, Montcada or Sabadell), oh wait, what do we have here? signs for Girona and FRANCE!!!!!

I thought about calling N for help, but I couldn't find a place to stop, I just kept on looping around ribbons of highways, one loop after another loop. Eventually, I figured out how to get off (after being honked by a big semitruck), and miraculously found my way back. There must have been a guardian angel nearby to keep Mia asleep, otherwise I think I would have literally died of a heart attack. It's a good thing I wasn't taking my practical driving exam today. I don't think the examiner would have enjoyed the excursion to Southern France (N. Catalunya)...

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Ironically, I've never been very good with children, let alone, babies. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever been allowed near anyone's newborn until my own...(Hmmmm). Anyway, this week, Nabí´s orchestra has been taking him far away to exotic and exciting lands such as Lleida (sarcasm intended), Tarragona, and of course, my favorite, Girona. This leaves me with many hours of idle time, waiting to be passed in fun, challenging, educational, but not frustratingactivities.

To my dismay, Mia has never showned much interest in any conventional toys, I´ve tried organic dolls, wooden rattles and teething thingies, I´ve even broken down and let her play with an ocassional plastic toy, just to no avail. So, what DO you do with a 5-month baby all day who doesn´t like toys ...
Here we go:
let´s try papa´s open cello case...who needs teething toys when you can have a travel case?
ok, five minutes are up, time to move on...
toy number two...
aaaah, mama´s getting creative...(don´t ask why I still have Mardi Gras beads from high school, but there you go, I ´recycle´)
a girl who loves shiny things
and the way they taste...
and they way they sound when you bang them around on the floor...
who would´ve known? plastic beads, a stimulant to all senses...

oooo, pretty blue...
incidentally, Mia really likes Beethoven sonata in C major, Op. 3 no.3, particularly the third movement
papa came home to take a quick photo...and left
so, grand aunt Coloma came, and well, Mia is tired from so many non-toy activities :)
Good night, all, may you sleep with the small angels~~

Friday, November 02, 2007


Tiana, 2007
I imported this from a walk in the park today, picked it up and 'planted' right into my own garden...Bloomington, 2006 (right about the same time as now)