“When You Believe”

The other night I was browsing through YouTube and happened upon Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey singing “When You Believe,” and I was surprisingly, unexpectedly moved and almost shed a tear. :’)

So I share it with you, if you haven’t been one of the 211 million viewers already.

Happy Christmas!

love, Yohan, Jeanee, & Elaine

“For God so loved the word, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).

Gift Guide: for the comfort and self-care loving female in your life

I started reading advent stories with my daughter yesterday (since it was Dec. 1) and now that she’s older, she appreciates the stories and understands the reason for Christmas with more awareness. We have been using the Jesus Storybook Bible for reading since she was a baby, but I recently discovered they have an Advent calendar reading plan and some printable coloring pages available for free online. Here is the link. It was so funny because the introduction starts with the question that asks the child, “What do you love most about Christmas?” and my daughter immediately responded, “Presents!” and the book continued, “Most of us say, PRESENTS! And all the grown-ups will laugh and want us to say something more spiritual.” Haha, I was laughing and thinking the same thing. The introduction continued, “That IS the best, most important thing about Christmas. Because, you see, Christmas is all about a present—a gift. The greatest, most magnificent gift there has ever been…”

With the daily reading and reminder, my daughter has been preparing gifts to give others as well by drawing something for everyone she knows. It’s fun to watch her thinking process and how she goes about her plans. I say she gets that trait from me; I love drawing and planning, and it’s no surprise I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping!

And for all the planners out there, here is a short list of practical gifts for the female person in your life that likes comfort and self-care. This is a funny list because most of the items are great for moms and grandmas and they are things I already own, tried and true items–things that I would 100% recommend because they’re really good compared to other products from different brands. I am a grandma, so I should know. ;)


  1. HUE Women’s Hidden Cotton No Show 4 pack socks: $11.20. I’ve tried so many no-show socks from so many brands, but these are the ones, ya’ll. There’s one at Macy’s that’s not cotton but a nylon-type material and it does not fall off your feet even when you’re taking off your shoes (which happens all the time with no-show socks)! They’re amazing and comfortable.
  2. Sweese 2102 Porcelain Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid, 15oz.: $18.99. Practical in design so that you can rest your tea infuser, then cover the mug when you’re not drinking the tea. Brilliant! And it’s a large size. There are 7 other colors available.
  3. WarmCrystal, High Borosilicate Glass Teapot with glass infuser set and lid (20oz): $17.99. I love a good teapot.
  4. Real Simple 1-year magazine subscription: ~$18 I love magazines about home-making and lifestyle. Other options: Martha Stewert’s Living, Better Homes and Gardens, The Magnolia Journal (quarterly issues), Parents.
  5. Hanyul: (a) Face Moisturizing Cream $19.99, (b) Rice Essential Skin Moisture Cream $34.76 : Like the “no-show socks”, I have been on a long journey trying to find the perfect moisturizing cream. It had to be moisturizing enough so that I didn’t have to apply it every 30 minutes and it had to be very gentle so that it didn’t sting (because my face is extremely dry and sensitive). I’ve tried many brands from varying prices and although I have found a few others that work just as well as the Hanyul cream, Hanyul beats them all because it works so well and it won’t break the bank.  Other brands that have worked for dry, sensitive skin:  Sulwhasoo products (I used their lotions and essence and they are excellent. I heard this serum is liquid gold; I’d recommend it to gift mothers) and La Mer products. But again, they’re pricey and Hanyul has great results for such a good price.
  6. Crabtree & Evelyn 6-piece mini hand lotion gift set: $16.99 I purchased this set to gift because it’s an essential, everyday item that people like teachers, nurses, and people whose jobs require them to wash their hands constantly would appreciate. I always carry around hand lotion and I would assume almost every female I know does too.
  7. Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over Coffee Maker ($16.94) OR this one ($14.97): This one is especially for my mother who breaks every coffee-making related product made of fragile material. In the past two years, she has broken 2 ceramic pour-over coffee makers and 2 glass French press coffee makers. This Christmas, I am getting her this one made of stainless steel! If she somehow breaks this, I… can’t.
  8. Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly: $28. This product absorbs well unlike other lotion/moisturizing products that have creamy consistencies and sometimes sits on top of my face or leaves a white streak/residue. I use this product throughout the day when I need a quick touch-up on dry spots and they also sell a smaller tube so that it can fit in small purses so that you can carry it around everywhere.
  9. Chocolove Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate Bar (2 for $5) OR the Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups ($1.99). I found these at Sprouts, but I’m sure you can find them around your local Whole Foods-like grocery store. I’ve been trying to consume dark chocolate instead of other sweets to satisfy my sweet tooth, and since I’m always low on magnesium and it just so happens that dark chocolate and almonds contain magnesium, it seems too good to be true that I can eat “candy.” They also taste amazing–much better than Reese’s peanut butter cups. *gasp* (and I love Reese’s peanut butter cups)
  10. UNIQLO’s Heattech extra warm scoop neck shirt: $19.90. Great for PJs, great for loungewear, great for yoga because it’s clings to the body instead of sliding towards your chest during downward dog and other upside down exercises, great for layering under sweaters on cold days, great for wearing by itself on slightly chilly days. Great great great. Can’t find anything else like it.
  11. Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb: $48. Moderate price for eye cream that thoroughly moisturizes, is lightweight, and doesn’t sting the sensitive skin around your eyes. Again, my skin has become so sensitive that products I used to love, e.g., Shiseido’s eye creams, cause too much pain now. Also, I think Belif’s Moisturizing Eye Bomb carries more product than other eye creams, so it lasts longer.
  12. InnoGear 200ml Essential Oil Diffuser: $21.99. I didn’t think I’d be an essential oil-user, but I tried it and have enjoyed using it while sleeping. Certain oil-combinations have helped with lessening stress/anxiety.
  13. UNIQLO plaid flannel pants: $14.90. During warmer seasons, I like to wear these, but my sister thinks they look like elderly-country-women (Korean ahjumma) pants and refuses to even try them on despite my testimonies of them being the most comfortable pants in the world! haha. Well, here are flannel ones that look more “hip” but still has the elastic waistband and wide legs, so they’re a thumbs up from me.
  14. Oral-B Black Pro 1000 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush Powered by Braun. $39.94. We own the Philips Sonicare ones, but the Oral-B electric toothbrushes have great reviews and they are also on sale.
  15. Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery: $24.99. For those who misplace everything and never know where to look.
  16. Essential Oils: $15.95 for this set. Other than the basics that you’ll need, I have been loving the vanilla oil from Gya Labs.

There you have it: the ultimate comfort and self-care loving person’s gift guide.

Joined at the Hip

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I am, more frequently than not, a terrible mother. Sometimes I lash out at people without apparent reason, including at my poor daughter, and I soon regret my words and actions which puts me in a deeper state of misery and anger.

In Beauty and the Beast, I didn’t understand why becoming a beast would make the prince so angry. Sadness–I would understand, but anger? He slashed his portrait and turned over furniture. He was ill-tempered and treated his servants with contempt, and he spent most of his day hidden away in a dark chamber. He was angry because he wasn’t beautiful anymore, and as vain and foolish as it may seem, his altered physical identity made him mad. I, too, judged him for his vanity, but now I understand the significance of his anger. Something was wrong with him and there was nothing he could do to fix it. I think that’s why I get angry at times: something’s wrong with me, whether it’s how I look or how I feel, and sometimes I feel so hopeless/helpless. I know there’s always hope and help in the Lord, but the reality is, as some say, “the struggle is real.”

picture from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Beast

Do you remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when the characters need to choose the “Holy Grail” cup and the man (I forget his name and role) chooses the wrong cup and he is suddenly shown decaying down to his skeletal state. It’s such a traumatic scene, especially for those of us who saw the film when we were children (what were our parents thinking?!).


Well, if there was another image I could conjure up of my current state of being, it would be that man in his speedy decay. Every bit of moisture being sucked out, leaving me with skin so dry it feels like sandpaper, and the layers of oil/lotion that I lather on my face every hour dries up again within the next hour. Lines and wrinkles have become so deep and visible in the light, I want to hide in darkness. Lines and wrinkles I didn’t think I’d see until I was at least fifty years old.

The Beast, the decaying man, is me. And I feel like tearing up my portrait, if I had one.

I hide it well during the day with layers of make-up and moisturizer, and if you stand far enough away I look rather normal. But I am at my most vulnerable state when you are talking to me face to face or in the morning, when the hours of the night have dried up the oils and all you can see is my protruding eyes on a surface of red, bumpy, flakey skin, with no eyelashes or eyebrows (because they fell out some time ago). I envision myself as a thing of nightmares.

But this daughter of mine comes to me and hugs me sometimes in the morning when she’s not so consumed by the thought of breakfast. When I dare look in her direction and make eye-contact, she looks straight into my eyes and smiles. It’s as though she doesn’t see any of my insecurities. She doesn’t see a monster.

She sees her mama.