Sensory…over stimulated

This morning, Mr. O handed me $80 in cash before we headed out to OC for a short day trip to haul kitchen stuff. He knows well enough that many businesses up there only take cashes and prepared the money for me in advance. However, I didn’t need to use cash today. So now I am $80 richer!

We took highway 15 North, connected to 91, then 55, then 22 to get to Garden Grove. It took a little bit over an hour with little traffic for both ways. The mountain ranges right around Temescal Valley looked so dry and scorching brown, evidence from the lack of rain and long-term drought. I told Mr. O that we should take another trip in December, when we have a little rain to see if there are going to be some changes to the scenery. It was still a beautiful drive, squeezing in between mountain tops and valleys.

It’s been about eight months since the last time we were up in Little Saigon. Whenever I am there, I seem to have my sensory feeling overly stimulated with all the environmental prints in Vietnamese. And during the election time of the year, political campaign boards and slogans were also lining up on sidewalks, traffic corners, front yards, as well as billboards. Many of them are of Vietnamese surnames — Nguyễn, Đỗ, Hồ, Bùi.

So interesting to see!

The overflowing number of restaurants, shops, and markets also made me feel anxious when I have to select which one to go. There are so many, and I don’t want to limit my options, but I also want to stick to the ones I had been to for consistency purposes.

There are also so many Vietnamese restaurants I want to try, but they are not suitable to Mr. O’s taste or preferences. And with more than one dietary restrictions, it makes even harder for me to go and enjoy the food that I like to eat. That sucks! He tends to stick around with fusion food, the ones that are somewhat cater to his type of clienteles. I once took him to Garlic and Chives, but he didn’t think highly of their food. We also went to this famous bánh xèo (Vietnamese savory crepes) place, but he did not enjoy it, even though I did. He just compromised.

I just want to kick his ass sometimes!!!!


I hauled a whole bunch of stuff from ABC supermarket, including bunches of Vietnamese herbs. I need the stems to propagate and regrow them in my backyard. That’s the downfall living in the valley with only two Asian markets and neither one carry selected items that I need. I am hoping that my effort will pay off so that I have a reserve of fresh herb in the garden in the months to come.

Anyway, I also hauled six bottles of fish sauce and two bottles of Maggi soy sauce. Mr. O told me to buy more, he suggested that I should get a whole case for each, but I was afraid that one of them might break during transportation and stink the rental car. Other items I stocked up were rice noodles and rice flour of different kinds for different cooking/baking needs. The prices were fairly cheaper than the ones they have here.

I also bought some bánh mì, but was disappointed that the baguettes were off. They lack that crunchy texture on the outside and airy on the inside. However, the shop that I went to had other items that I like and found them to be of good quality. I guess that cancel out the disappointment for bánh mì.

Today, a blog reader commented with some good recommendations…I have to try these places next time I go back.

Thank you, em! 🥰🥰🥰

…Saigon’s bakery or carrot and daikon for banh my are highly recommended. Banh my thit heo quay is very good at carrot and daikon (there is a drive through) and the rest is just ok. Saigon’s bakery is good with everything and it is close to Long Phung bakery for moon cake for upcoming tet trung thu. There is also My Thuan market at the same plaza. The only drawback of Saigon’s bakery, Long Phung and My Thuan is the small size of their stores. I went grocery shopping there to stock nuoc mam, banh Trang, noodles and all Vietnamese spices around 3pm yesterday and were not overcrowded. Was able doing everything in less than 2 hours. My parents in law told me that purple yams at My Thuan are the best yam they found in OC.

When I can’t sleep…

Urghhh, I am restless!

It’s almost 2 a.m. and I could not fall asleep. I have a heartburn. Lately, I seem to have a weak digestive system, and what I ate for lunch sit much longer than usual in the digestive tracts. Or perhaps, I have not been consistent with physical activities and the lack of it caused the eventual slow down of digestion. Ever since the kids started school, we left our morning walk off the schedule. I know, it is bad, but we want them to have enough sleep and be fresh for an early start of a school day. I think doing my one-hour or so of gardening helps a bit but that cannot replace active cardio activities. I told Mr. O that I will organize one side of the garage to make space for my make-shift yoga/aerobic studio. All said, but nothing had been done!

Our to-do list is so long, but we are not quite available to have more time working on them.

Oh well, I still need to squeeze in more physical activities as a priority for health and wellness!

PP asked me earlier today (it’s technically 2 a.m. Sunday morning when I am writing this) if I have been writing more about them. He was disappointed to know that I slacked off a bit in keeping the daily journal active and alive. Basically, he wants to read this blog in the future to know what we do or how we spend the days with them.

I guess that I have to be less lazy about writing and updating.

So what we did today…

We rented a car (our car is beginning to fall apart and we rent a car when we need to travel beyond 20 miles) to go down to San Diego. I have two bags of books that we borrowed from a local library right before Covid shutdown but have not been able to return since moving away. I had to enlist my friend’s help to do the drop off for me. All the libraries down there only open on weekdays, and we could only make the trips on weekend, it was hard to return the books. Our friend were happy to see us; we could only stand six feet apart for a quick chat before I had the temptation to run and hug her.

We also took the boys to DelMar for a round of mini golf. They like playing golf on the Wii Sport game but playing in person was a quite of a different experience. Peanut was into it, and PP did not even hide his lack of enthusiasm. He was just going through the motion, and wanting to get over it quickly. That tells me that he spent too much time playing the Wii and I have to cut back their game hours next week.

After playing one round of golf, we took the kids to our favorite Mediterranean restaurant for kabobs and rice. The food was excellent, and unfortunately, I over ate. Hence, indigestion ensued.

We also stopped by Haagen Das for some ice cream treats, which they would never turn down.

And then we drove 60 miles back to the valley!

I also stayed up late tonight to work on a college-essay workshop, of which I have to put together an action-packed plan for different segments. I take on two high school seniors this year in helping them with their college essays and I want to make sure they have a working structure, as well as a clear timeline. It takes a lot of time and work, but I enjoy it.

Even Mr. O recognizes how much I enjoy doing what had defined my professional career before putting it aside to devote my time raising two boys. I just bought a few reference books on college counseling, writing techniques, and editing and proofreading. I do not plan to make this as a fee-based side job in the future because I want to enjoy doing it at my pleasure, and not for financial gain. There is an organization opens for volunteers like me to work with low-income students and I think I will sign up to volunteer next year.

PP thinks that I am doing a noble job helping others without asking for money in return. He told me yesterday that he is proud to have a mom like me, and he admires my integrity.

What a sweet-mouth kind of guy he is becoming!

It’s 2:40 am — we are going to Orange County early tomorrow since we have a rental car. I need to do a large haul of fish sauce, rice, and other kitchen essentials from the Vietnamese grocery store up there.

I also need some good bánh mì fix, too!

Mr. O needs to be back by 1 pm for a Zoom meeting. It’s going to be a quick trip there and back.

green-thumb wanna-be

Not too long ago, a mama-friend in my chat group posted photos of her little Vietnamese herb garden and with that she tagged along a comment of something like — when you get into gardening as a hobby, you know you reach a certain phase of your life.

So I am entering that certain phase of my life. I guess I am okay with that, because I find gardening is quite therapeutic.

As a brown-thumber, I have doubts about my ability to plant and grow any vegetables. My past experience of gardening have been nothing of an honored achievement. I killed a perfectly beautiful mandarin tree a year after we moved into the house in SF Bay area. I almost — phew — almost killed the lime tree as well, until we hired a gardener to take over the task of care-taking.

So not only that I have doubts about my ability, I also have anxiety. I scoured youtube videos, put them in a save list, took a shit ton of notes, and the more I learned the more I develop anxiety about gardening.

I guess I just want to have a green thumb so badly that it has a reversal effect on my nerves. And I am also a neurotic person who is afraid of failures. I think of being a fail first before I allow myself to think of success. This is one of my deficiencies.

Anyhow. Mr. O has been making fun of my attempts to do serious gardening.

Amazon has benefited quite a bit of my nee hobby; I have been getting seeds, fertilizers, grow bags, and tools from them. Mr. O makes fun of that too, that I now move on to something new. But he is supportive!

This week, I started germinating water convolvulus (rau muống/kangkong/ong choy), garlic chives, purple broad mustard, Japanese shiso (green and purple), culantro (ngò gai), French sorrel, and three or four kinds of lettuce. I also germinated seeds for Cosmos, which I bought from Walmart Garden Center (the saddest garden center I had been to) and some California poppies from a seed packet that I received from visiting an open house last summer.

Then today I found that a cilantro pot (bought at Lowe’s) that I transplanted to a grow bag just withered away. I think it’s overwatering and the roots are rotten, or the cilantro got soil shocked. It’s my first victim! Either way, I need to buy a seed packet to start over.

The weather is getting cooler this month. I think these few herbs and vegetables I have will do for now. I just need to wait for them to germinate and see whom I kill next in line!

the days go by

When I have inspiration, I really have inspiration.

And when I don’t, I could sit in front of my blog draft for quite a long time and still cannot find something to write.

It’s been a busy week. The boys are really getting into the thick of their remote learning, and I am on stand-by to check their work flow and schedule for class meetings, help them edit their writings, or check their math homework before submission. I also assigned extra after school homework so they could do a bit more of math and writing. They are not happy about the extra work, but oh well, the boys have the iron woman for a mom. They will thank me later! But the rewards of doing these extra work was to gain an hour or two of Wii sport time. The first few days were met with grumpy and crying faces, but they seem to flow with me now, even though a few complaints and grunts were thrown around here and there.

PP has been quite a leader in his class. I can tell, from listening while he has class meetings, that he is comfortable sharing opinions, asking questions, and being cooperative with classmates. The other day, the teacher broke the class into small groups. PP worked with four other kids on some math problems, and then later he told me that three out of five were either playing video games or talking to each other about playing video games. He was disheartened, and told me how frustrated he got when those three kids didn’t seriously take their education. In the end, he said, he had to lead the group of finally get the work done for submission.

I am glad that he is being proactive in taking the lead. 😀 All those encouragement and pushing from me and Mr. O have finally yielded some substantial results.

Mr. O is extremely busy with work. He is constantly on Zoom meetings and inter-office phone calls that usually by the end of the day, his throat is sored. I sit in the family room listening to his phone calls and I, too, get tired…and sometimes frustrated for him.

There have been some issues, I am not sure how hard-cored they are, but I can tell that at the end of the day, he seems agitated. They just drained his energy from exhaustively long meetings and discussion.

Office politics are just bitches!

I don’t think I can go back to work and have to deal with all the shenanigans.


Promises kept!!!

I am currently working with two high school seniors, whose moms are my dear and close friends, on writing their college essays. This is a promise given more than ten years ago when I offered them of future assistance when they come of age for working on their college application.

I just cannot believe that the time is now. I know of these girls when they were three or four years old.

The days go by…and the years just….arghhh, we are getting old, mợ ơi!