Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Christmas 聖誕節後......

For once, we didn’t have to return any Christmas gifts.  My son and I toured the South Park Mall in this snowy cold weather mainly to catch the movie, Sherlock Holmes.  We had some fun walking through the mall and sort of exercise people watching.  S.P. Mall was busy as usual but this time, not too many happy faces.  We tagged along some people that dropped in different stores to either exchange gifts or turn the gifts into cash.  I shouldn’t have been surprised or appalled by such behavior, after all, I was one of those post Christmas moms who just didn’t like what I received and stood in the line waiting my turn to validate the gifts to things that were more beneficial to me.

And I didn’t have my happy face on then, either.

The honest truth about Christmas gift giving in our house has been a rather educational event this year.  You see, now I have more time being at  home, I am more conscious about our money’s outflow.  The staunch Chinese mom being extreme “frugal” has its merit and I am not ashamed to admit that  sometimes I did go a bit overboard on money saving.  For example, I will labor over coupon clipping process and price comparing strategy from weekly merchant flyers to make sure I get the best price bargains when I do my shopping; it has saved more than $100/week on an average shopping trip not to mention the dinners are more desirably prepared.  This Christmas, armed with limited budget I wanted to spend, and after consulting with my loving husband, he turned me loose on the shopping excursions.  <Chances are, it was probably very difficult for him to remember what I said, wanted, and the rules went with the shopping budget, he just said ok.>  Each year, I put up a Christmas wish list on the refrigerator to the kids to put their names and items they wish to own – and this year was no exception.  The deadline to take the list down was two weeks before December 24th and after that, they would be out of luck trying to squeeze one last minute after-thought “must have” stuff.  This year, kids didn’t ask much, in fact, my middle child said she didn’t really want anything <hinting at that IPod might not be a bad idea but knew that she wouldn’t get it>, she mentioned a few girly items she would like to have (that wouldn’t break Santa’s bank account).  And as usual, we exchanged and opened gifts on Christmas Eve and the smiles on each child’s face were brighter this year than previous ones.  My husband, too, was thrilled with his new TomTom GPS that comes with lifetime unlimited map updates.  Of course, Santa came in the middle of the night and that’s why there was another gift opening event before we ate sweets for Christmas breakfast, there were more thrilling shrieks of pleasures from my kids than ever – my oldest daughter got her white wool coat and several gift cards to her favorite stores; my middle child received her favorite perfume and a few gift cards to her frequent visited stores, my son had his games and M&M pack; my husband is a fan to Brown Bag Burgers so there, he was behaving well enough to receive a few gift certificates from Brown Bag, xoxo from Santa. 

Looked like there wouldn’t be any gift-returning trips at all.

I must say that this has been one blessing year for all of us – we have learned to scale back on our spending and become more compassionate about others needs.  I still remember when we had two incomes; I could barely keep track of what we spent on anything other than the fixed expenses such as mortgage, car payments, and utilities.  Most time, the immediate need to satisfy our empty stomachs at the end of the day prevails the conscious choice to cook at home and one thing we all know, it is very costly to dine out in this country.  Now image that a family does that twice or three times weekly because both parents are working more than 10 hours a day that home cook dinners no longer a pleasure to undertake.  I am not saying that we don’t eat out any more.  We do, however, with careful choices and timing and more money conscious about what and where we desire to spend our money.  We have become more disciplined in making sure taking care of what’s more important, mainly, having dinner together at home, more often. 

As I reflect on how this year has passed, I looked at my son with content smiles, he is no longer a small child and I still have the pleasure of being with him during his Christmas break.  What a blessing to both of us!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

霜地博物館 (Frostville Museum)



我們幸運,在我家過個橋就是個古式建築博物館(Frostville Museum)。走路大約5 分鐘。 在2005 年開始,歷史俱將這些兩百年多的建築物一家一家從另外城市搬來此地。最明顯的建築就是這教堂。今天我有個機會和歷史具的 財務負責人兼附董事 大尉(David) 和前任董事 保羅 (Paul) 談談這教堂重修的過程。他們說從來2005 年開始,很多義工幫忙修蓋教堂,拆除壞的石膏板, 安裝新的彩色玻璃窗, 打蠟原木地板和教堂座位,他們捐獻屋數時間把這教堂復原如同它成立的狀況。在2008 年八月, 歷史俱將此教堂重新貢獻開放。現在任何人都可以在此舉行婚禮;尤其附近風景完美,在此婚禮舉行了很多。婚禮所照的相片如同從神話故事畫出,令人驚嘆嫉妒!在教堂頂樓有個手拉的大鐘樓,每次聽到這鐘響,我的心境就覺的飛到一個世外桃源的仙境,平靜的感覺無法描述。David 和 Paul 很謙虛的說教堂的建修還是要繼續因為很多部份還需要仔細處理才能完全將這教堂的原目驕傲的顯示。從他們的眼神中我體會他們對古物建築的熱愛和貢獻。他們說經常想象以前人如何生活,如何崇拜,建修古物供給他們一個物價的機會和過去的人事接觸。

我們進入木匠屋觀賞。這個建築物於1831 年所蓋聯邦式的房屋。今天這裡有許多女義工幫忙介紹講理18世紀人類在家吃喝睡的方式。這個房子有五個火爐, 樓上是主臥室,地下室有個大火爐用來取暖和烤食物。樓下有個客廳,飯廳,廚房。他們煮飯的方式讓我回想到我的外公外婆的家, 在台南嘉義梅山, 他們有個由石頭造的大廚房,有時他們用廚房熱水來保暖。

霜地博物館還有其它的建築物, 我們希望他們能快把個18 世紀的學校搬過來。來觀光是免費,歷史俱只收獻金。你若是個念古的人, 這裡是個起頭懷古的好地點哦!





<左>大尉(David) 財無管理兼附董事
<右>保羅(Paul) 前任董事





娜妮(Noreen) 義工





黛比(Debbie) 義工


比利(Bill) 和老式的爆玉米花機器



Saturday, November 12, 2011




我住在“鴻世地。坲思” (Olmsted Falls) 這是俄海俄州的一個小城市。 根據當地政府的地區資料,鴻城只是一個小城鎮。但就如女歌王,鄧麗君的名曲, 小城故事多, 我想在此和您分享我的生命旅程;我的故事。更是的,不論你在世界上那裡, 你能嚐味到一個美國家庭狀況以及我家附近的美麗自然風景。美國人生活並非像好萊塢影片式的誇張,相反地,家庭日常生活和台灣,日本,歐洲,都非常相似,只是人種和語言不同而已。


Rocky River - 在我家旁邊的落機河