Monday, September 14, 2009

Super Blanket

I finished this blanket for "Super." It was super easy and super fun and the super colors remind me of the ocean. I hope that "Super" thinks it's super! It was also super cute to watch Evangelyn help DaDa recycle yesterday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Evangelyn Walks!

Her first real steps were Friday night at a friend's BBQ. We were inside and everyone was encouraging her. She finally took a few steps to get from one couch to the other and the whole room started cheering!

We had a practice session the other night...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Commune

Last Friday I took a 5am flight to the Big Island to help and observe Glenn, the owner of Olomana Gardens, as he consulted on farm that was installing an aquaponics system. After getting up at 3:!5am, and landing around 6am on Hawaii, we were picked up by Keika, the 45 year old woman who helped run Dragonfly Farm. On the 2 hour drive out to the farm, I began to learn a bit of how ...interesting...this adventure might become.
Keika (once know as Debbie) ranted about how public education is soon to be owned by Big Corporation (particularly those co. owned by the Cheney's and Bush's). So she believes in an 'alternate' form of education known as the Sudbury method. Let the kids decided how and what they want to learn. If the kid doesn't want to learn to read, no biggie. Then she told us how her kids have rickets, but she refuses to take them to conventional doctors to have it diagnosed and treated. Rickets?! Seriously? On the way to the farm, we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some beer (2 cases of Sierra Nevada even though we were only going to be there less than 2 days), coffee, sugary cereal, and dark chocolate Dove bars (concentrated caffeine according to Glenn). Then we started driving through some barren black lava fields, when we turned off road and down the red dirt backwood trail. This is my first view of the Hangout:


Basically it's a huge structure with no walls. There is a 100,000 gallon water supply on the ground floor with the top floor built over the water tank. Around the edges are the kitchen and other work areas. On the top floor is the 'living' area. Here's a vid of the top floor inside of the Hangout: So basically, this is the remnants of, for lack of a better definition, a hippy love commune. Described by the eldest male, Maayag (formerly known as Peter I think), it is a place of 'no mine'. Meaning no personal possessions. When it started 15 years ago, those who joined put all their cash, all their possessions, and all their children in one pot. Obviously, those with more money put in more, and those with less money scored. While their philosophy was to create an environment to raise kids communally like the Aborigines, sharing partners and love was also a bonus. So Keika has 4 kids, each with a different daddy. About 4 years ago the commune disintegrated when Keika decided she didn't like the fact that one of her past lover hooked up with someone else in the community. Er?! Yeah, whatever. The current inhabitants are Keika, Maayag (her current man), Diga (one of her Ex's, formerly known as Jeff), and 3 or 4 kids, mostly Keika's I think. One of the kids, a 4 year old girl named Eelie or something, rarely wore any clothes. Maayag and Diga are the fathers of a couple of the kids, too. A woman who used to be part of the commune (and now drives a nice Porshe) came onto the farm to give the kids horse riding lessons. She lives next door, but it going to sell her farm and land soon. She bought the land from the commune when it went teets-up for $20K (bc she was family) and is now selling it for about $300K. So that's how it works. Another example of the dodgeyness of the who situation is the fact that when everyone put everything in the pot, the woman who was designated the treasurer put everything under her name. When things went south, she absconded with a lot of the cash. They went to a neighborhood abitration, but she said she'd just take them to 'real' court. Not sure how it turned out. Weird weird. So as you can see from the video, there is crap everywhere. Kay pointed out that they probably don't have too much time to keep things clean when they're running a farm, a school, and a household. Regardless, it was a sty. And the flies! I ate lunch in a swam of gnats and got mercilessly relieved of my blood by an army of skeeters. Needless to say, I was very very uncomfortable. I had to try to get Zen and see beyond the bugs. I failed. It sucked. Now I know why Glenn brought so much beer. That hot sticky night I slept on a futon, lulled to sleep by the dripping of the water tank and the bleeting koki frogs. They milked their own cows, so we had fresh raw milk for the coffee, and they milled their own logs. They are also off the grid, so they get all their power from a $50K solar panel system. So they hope that the food they grow using aquaponics will help pay for the solar system and their CSA shareholders. Here's a pic of

Maayag and the mill



and Diga in the milking hut.









While a fascinating adventure, I was glad to leave and even gladder that Jess and Evangelyn stayed back at Olomana Gardens.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hawaii

Here are some pics of our time in Hawaii so far. We've been here a week. The first few days were good. We were shown around the farm, taught how to feed the animals, and had some free time to spend with friends. The last couple days have been tough. We're both being slowly eaten by mosquitos and my pregnancy hormones have been very active, making me cry over three more mosquito bites. Chris has been doing all sorts of things on the farm, but I can't do much cause of my growing baby. I've been given some menial tasks like stuffing papers into sheet protectors and collecting the chicken eggs. Today, I was shown how to take care of baby ducks and horses, but I don't think I'll actually be doing either. Yesterday was quite a day. We were meant to meet Milo for church, but he had other obligations which we didn't know about because we don't get any phone reception on the farm. So, we showed up at his house and he was getting ready to leave. No worries. We decide to just go on our own. We turned the corner and suddenly Evangelyn puked all over herself and the carseat! Yuck! All the eggs from breakfast came shooting out and I got to witness it cause I was sitting next to her. We pulled over immediately, stripped her down to her diaper and went back to Milo's to shower her off an clean everything up. Therefore, no church. No worries. Instead we visited a Buddhist temple, walked around Waikiki and swam at the beach. Last night, we went to Amy's bbq and ate delicious food! It was a very refreshing day away from the farm and mostly away from my little enemies.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer 2009

We started with a flight from London to LA, spent the night in San Clemente, and returned to LAX at 4:30 the next morning to fly to St. Louis for Pat's wedding. We spent about 5 days enjoying the wedding festivities, spending time with friends, eating frozen custard, and visiting the zoo! Our next destination was South Orange County for a couple of weeks. Nothing compares to perfect beach weather, Pedro's, Golden Spoon, and evening picnics. We spent the 4th with family in a madhouse of 5 kids and then on the Seraj's street in Costa Mesa where we watched the neighbors compete for the best firework "show." Now, we're in Hawaii living on a worm farm. We sleep in the back of a truck converted to a cabin. It's about a step and a half up from camping. So far, we've learned how to feed the chickens, geese, baby ducks, goats, fish, and rabbits. Chris helped build some sort of pipe yesterday while I hung out with the baby and enjoyed a 1 1/2 hour nap. Today, a 4th grade class is coming to tour the farm, so Chris has been asked to explain some of the aquaponics and I'll hang out in the back of the crowd and follow along.

Chongling...he's a boy!


We're going to have another baby! He is due December 17th.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My First Sewing Project

Here's the result of my first attempt at making something with my new ancient sewing machine. It just took a few adjustments to the tension to get a good straight stitch and then a very smooth process to the finished product, a cute little skirt for my baby.



Isn't she fierce...
watch out ANTM cycle 46!



Monday, May 18, 2009

She's on the Move!

The last month has been full of new and exciting things for Evangelyn. Once she figured out how to roll there was no stopping what she could do next. She pulled herself up one day and then took a break from that accomplishment for a few weeks. The next time she did it, a whole new world opened, a world of pulling her clothes out of drawers, table cloths off tables, finding the remote controls on the coffee table. She's now brave enough to attempt the transition from leaning on the coffee table to leaning on the couch and she likes to creep along the edge of the bathtub. Her favorite position has always been standing, so it's no surprise that she still loves it, especially when we hold her hands and she can move from one side of the room to the other. She can do this without any help on all fours thanks to Uncle Joel who taught her how to crawl during spring break. Here's a little video of her crawling and walking.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Sprang


Last week was Spring. The cherry and magnolia trees started donning their floral finery and the sun was blooming. Around the base of every tree, the Daffodils made their yearly appearance and the heady scent of of plant pheremones saturated the air. This is a pic of a couple of the trees in the yard. You can also see the daffodils. I ate outside for lunch, went on a refreshing bike ride, though the temps didn't get higher than 65F. It was near perfect weather and reminded me why I love enjoy it out here so much.
Then Fall bullied Summer into staying home. The rain and clouds came back, and the wind started throttling the flowers. Last year at this time, it snowed. They say it won't be sunny again until after Easter. Oh well. Just gives me something to look forward to next year.

Dungeon Paintball

Met some guys from Team GBH, Kent and Ron, downtown at Tower Paintball to get some trigger time before the tournament on the 5th. Took the train into Waterloo, then hopped on the Tube to London Bridge. Took about an hour total, but I had to heave my 30lb pball backpack around town. Got to the field right next to the London Dungeon and found myself in a damp dark cold storage facility beneath the London Bridge (I think). The field (there was only one tourney field) was about 70 feet long and 20 feet wide. The concrete floors had a thin layer of astroturf that my Osiris skateshoes just barely gripped. Water constantly seeped through the walls and saturated the floor. The only drill I didn't like was 'jousting' in which players from opposite corners ran toward the center cone guns blazing. Ideally, the first person hit or the first person to the center wins. But the way these guys played it, it didn't matter if you were hit, so they just kept charging and firing 12 balls/second until they reached, or often passed, the cone. This is what I call 'pain'ball since it's basically the first guys to give up from the pain. Stupid. It was defintely an interesting experience, though, got a bit of training in, found a source fro cheapish paint, and spent some quality time with Kent, Ron, and some spicy chicken wings, so it was a good time overall.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NorthDownsWandererers

Mens Retreat March09


Gabriel Stroud and I took a little ride along the Pilgrims Path over the weekend. More details to come, but here are some pics...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

She's growing!





Evangelyn does all sorts of neat tricks, now. She can roll, sit, eat food, spit the food out, and she loves to read (or eat) books! She's also figured out how to peek out of her crib and see if we're in the room to play with her.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rollin' rollin'

....keep that baby rollin'. So here's Evie's new trick. The back to front roll. She uses it to get closer to things instead of crawling. Especially since she can't crawl. I'm teaching her to roll up stairs next.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baby's Eating Food!

Evangelyn entered a new stage of life last Saturday - real food. So far, she's had potatoes, carrots, apples, butternut squash and baby rice. She loves the butternut squash and baby rice. The apples were definitely not her favorite, which surprised me because apples are sweet. Maybe she didn't inherit the Bussjaeger sweet-tooth, or the Chong sweet-tooth. Maybe she takes after her Nanny who has never eaten many sweets and prefers the crunchy, salty chips! We'll have to wait a while for Evangelyn to try chips, of course. It's pretty funny watching her figuring out how to chew and swallow. She usually sucks her bottom lip while trying to get the food down. Somehow, it works. Today as I was feeding her, I gave her the bowl to play with because I was advised that eating time should be fun. I forgot that she likes to fling things from her hand until the bowl of bright orange butternut squash went flying across the room, splattered across the window and landed, splat!, on the carpet. Silly me. No worries, though. It's school housing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome to Team GBH

So I joined a new paintball team called Team GBH and had my first training with them on Sunday. They're a cool bunch of guys who are much closer, and even beyond, my age. I don't have any responsibilities except being a soldier and doing what I'm told. It's great. No worries about setting up trainings and tournaments or finding sponsors (unless Scott and Etnies takes an interest ;) ) or making drills or nothing. The guy who's training us is well-seasoned and well-respected and knows what he's doing. I'm on the 'A-Squad', which is the first team, though I'm not entirely sure of my position yet. But the best part was just hanging out with the guys, getting to know them, and playing for fun. 'Just for a laugh' as they say here in Blighty. Though we'll take tournaments and training seriously, we won't let it govern our lives and beat someone up if we lose. And since there are quite a few players, there is less pressure on me to commit to everything. While it was hard to leave Conspiracy, and I wish those guys the best of luck, I'm relieved and excited to play with GBH.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Netherlands Saga



Monday Feb 9: Out of house by 8:30am to get to Folkstone by our 10:15 check-in time on the Eurotunnel. As always, things were hectic until the moment we hit the road...
Part of our downfall was deciding to go see a movie the night before. A free babysitting offer came in and we figured we could spare the time since we're pretty good packers and don't need a lot of time to do it. Plus being able to spend some time w/o the kid before a week of 24/7 kidwatching seemed too good to deny. Wrong. I forgot my jacket of all things. Luckily my cousin Scott came through, but he should have had to. Other little things went screwy as well. The 2+ hours we spent watch Revolutionary Road should have been spent packing and alleviating our predictable morning stress. At least we got to the train on time and everything turned out hippy.
Got to Calais, set our clocks forward and hour and started our trek up to Haarlem. Googlemaps predicted it'd take 3h15min to get to the hotel. It ended up taking 6h. Now this did include about an hour of stops for lunch, potty, gas, etc, but still. There was a bit of traffic around Antwerp and some confusing directions. Whatever. Evie slept most of the time. Which meant we were in for a night of hell in the hotel trying to get her to sleep.
Nice little hotel called Hotel die Raeckse. The room was a bit smallish and we put an extra chair out in the hall to fit Evie's porta-crib tent thingy. After some settling, we wandered around Haarlem downtown to find a non-existent Indonesian place. Cute little area. Cool big church and main square with some pedestrian areas. Nothing too special, but fine. Eventually we found a nice Thai place and I had some good peanut coconut Musaman (?) curry and Jess had her spicy Pad Krawpow shrimp dish that she likes but can't get anymore at our local Thai place, Siam food Gallery. Evie was good as always but we held her for most of the time. But man, did she have a tough time going to sleep back at the hotel. And there's nothing worse than a crying baby at 11pm in a hotel. It's one thing if it's at home, but another if you're worried that the other guests are getting angry. After seeming hours of trading off walking and rocking and putting her in the stroller, Jess finally sat down on the bed to rest, and that's when Evie decided to fall asleep. Whatever. We figured the long car drive and how much she slept during the day threw her off. Both of us had sore backs and wrists from holding and rocking her so much. Hopefully Haarlem would be worth the torturous frustration of getting her to sleep at night.
Tuesday: Typical continental breakfast (at least it was included in the 65Euro price) and we were off to explore some more of Haarlem. Cold wet winds and rain most of the day. The worst part was not having a jacket and layering up with thermal shirts and a wool cardigan. God bless the big umbrella-ella-ella we brought.
Jess wanted to go to the Corrie tenBoom house museum. Who? I ask. Corrie was a Christian woman who helped hide Jews during WWII. Cool. So we met the 60ish tour guide and she gave us a well-rehearsed and scripted tour of the house and the secret room. We were the only ones on the tour. While the tour was recited without much emotion or pauses for breath, it did have a health dose of the Gospel. That was neat and made it a bit more interesting that the museum was also part of Corries legacy to spread the Word.
Scott met up with us later in the day and was my hero for bringing me a nice snowboarding shell and a fine selection of Etnies SWAG goodies incl. shoes and 3 zip-up hoodies. Yeah Scott. We went out to sushi when we couldn't find his buddy's restaurant recommendation, Cafe Bizarre. Odd. Seeing Scott was the highlite of the day and pretty much the whole trip. It was so cool to hang out with Scott and catch up with him. He's enjoying himself in Amsterdam working as a sales manager for Etnies. He's got a nice big place that we offered to us whenever we hit Amsterdam again. Sweet. I think Kirsten and I might take him up on his offer in April. (He's on couch-surfer .com if you're interested...). Sneaky Scott also grabbed the sushi check and would have paid for the apple pie if Jess didn't distract him while I paid. I'm really stoked for him and it was just cool to see him. We hung out a bit as kids during family gatherings and at UCSD, but haven't seen each other since our wedding. While Haarlem wasn't the best of places, it was worth it to see Scott.
Evie gave us some some more grief, but after rocking and walking for a bit, I just said 'screw it just let her play in her tent' and set her in the tent. But she played for a while then just fell asleep on her own by 11pm or so. Reprieve.
Wednesday: Got up and hour late bc my iPod reset itself to London time and woke us late. We wandered down to bfast and it was all cleared. Crap. But the hotel owners were super cool and brought us some food and hooked us up. Nice dodge.
Followed the walking tour on the tourist map to see if there was anything we missed. Some pretty little Dutch streets and 17th century houses. A picturesque canal around the edge of the downtown. When we got back to the hotel in the afternoon, Jess let me go back to a pipe shop I saw the day before while she rested with Evie.
The pipe shop, Jan van der Pigge est.1800, boasts it's the oldest pipe shop in the Universe. Wow. Plus, while I have a couple Dutch pipes, Big Bens, I don't have one that I actually bought in the Netherlands. One of them is from Malaysia actually. So I spend a bit of time looking over the pipes at the shop looking for one of the Royal Dutch Pipe series of Big Bens. I found a nicely shaped and pretty colored one. Big Bens aren't known as the best pipes in the world, but they can be nice and this one is decent. Nothing too flashy. Not my favorite, but it smokes well and fulfills my quota.
Walked around looking for Italian food that night. Walking a lot actually trying to get Evie to fall asleep in the stroller. She finally did and we settled into a nice little place on the main piazza called Applesauce or Applause or something. We had a simple pasta dish with a sauce of roasted pine nuts, basil, garlic, chopped tomato, and red peppers all saute├ęd in lots of butter and little olive oil. The pine nuts are what tied it all together. I tried to replicate it when we got back and got distracted and burn the butter...which crisped the garlic. So I said screw it and threw in some sundried tomatoes and mixed it with too much pasta. SNAfU. Oh well. I'll get it better next time.
Thursday: Woke up a bit earlier than the previous days, so around 8am, to pack, have breakfast, and bring the car around (the hotel also gave us free street parking). We saw the sun for the first time that morning and got really excited. Then it went away. Then it snew. Then it hailed. Then the sun came out again. Then it rained and snew again...while the sun was out. Weird. Then we were off. Scott couldn't stop talking about how good his favorite Mex food place was in Amsterdam, so we decided to hit it on the way down to Delft. It was only 2omin away, so we figured it was worth it to have some good Mex. A nice surprise was to see Scott again at the Taco Shop and hang a bit more.
Drove for about 45min down to Delft. Mini Amsterdam. Super pretty with canals and old timey buildings. Kinda wished we'd stayed there instead of Haarlem, but then we wouldn't have seen Scott. There is a couple huge cathedrals(?) on beautiful plazas along the canals. One of the towers is actually bending over the canal as the integrity of the foundations are being undermined by the canal. At least that's what I think is the reason it's leaning. (pic on right)
The Hotel Plataan is florally themed and each room is named after a tree. But the names are all in Latin so it was hard to identify where we were. Rhodopsis or something. The walls are all hand painted with odd little nature scenes and lots of naked people staring at you (see below). Weird but interesting. The headboard was a giant maple leaf. The gave us a complimentary drink down at the bar, so we hung out there and played Boggle (Foggle App on iPod) until Evie got too fussy. (Jess was addicted a similar Boggle-like game called Shake-n-Spell then entire trip. It's always funny to see her so engrossed in a video game. The last time I think was our little Tetris game that we took up to Big Sur). For dinner, I just went to a pizza place that I saw while we wandered around and order a Quattro Formagi (4 Cheese) to go. Then we watched '7 pounds' (we also got free internet in Haarlem so I used Xtorrent to download a buncha stuff: The Wrestler, Defiance, Australia, 7 Pounds, The Office, CSI, Underworld, Paintball movies, Pride and Glory, and a couple new albums) during and after we got Evie down.
Friday: No free bfast this time, so we went to a cool little place we like in NL called Bagels and Beans. While loading the car in the hotel parking lot, we noticed a bunch of chickens running

loose around the parking lot. Weird.
We didn't have to be at Calais until 4:50pm, so we decided to make a stop in Brugge for some chocolate and fries. It was pretty easy to do and we didn't get lost driving the confusing streets this time. It took us about an hour and half or so, I think, to get to Brugge from Delft. Then another hour and half to go from Brugge to Calais and back on the Eurotunnel train. Arrived back in the UK just a couple minutes after we got on the train in Calais since we set our clocks back again. After some crappy traffic, we made it back to the house around 7ish or so. Home again home again jiggity jog (as Mom used to say for some strange reason;) )-Chris

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Emergence of the Why

The Y-Chromosome that is.
This, I believe is my first entry in our 'family' blog that Jess has been faithfully updating and I occasionally drop in to read. But being a family blog, I have finally been inspired (by the Bowser Blog and Pat's historic Madrid Blog and a wandering around the backyard with my pipe for the first time in an aeon) to start putting down some of my thoughts and experiences. Not that I have a lot of time atm (at the moment: I've gotten into using a lot of the chat-acronyms from the kids) to write much but this intro, since inspiration for me often comes (too) late at night. It's 11:07pm and I need bed. So hopefully this is just the beginning. 'Nite.
-Chong the father
**this is my font, so all future posts written in this font are probably from me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Evangelyn is a Movie Star

Here's a short video of Evangelyn and some of her latest tricks. There's no rolling over, yet, but she makes lots of fun sounds and likes to try to eat things. The best is at the end, so you'll have to watch the entire film to see her really laugh.


Snowy Day!

We had a snow day today!

It was the most snow England has seen in 18 years and we loved it! It began to snow yesterday afternoon and continued off and on throughout the night. I woke up at 3:30am to check on Evangelyn and everything was white outside. It was so bright that I had trouble falling back asleep. Then at about 6am we got a call from work to tell us school was canceled. Aaaah. We all slept in, even Evie. It felt like a holiday. We made pancakes for breakfast, went to the Bowsers to watch Lost and Heroes, and then played in the snow until the sun went down. I learned how to roll proper snowballs for snowmen from my friend, Erica, and we all made a Chong snow family. Tomorrow we get to do it all again because there's still snow on the ground and school is closed again!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

baby jet lag



1:37 a.m.
Our third night back in England and the only way my baby will sleep. After two nights of 10 to 30 minute naps all night long, with crying and calming in between, I have given up on trying to put her in her crib where she cries the most painful, heart wrenching cry. In my arms, or her dad's, she's as peaceful as can be, so she's in my arms and may just stay in them until morning.
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