Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prettier Pictures

In the back of my mind, I have always wanted a good photo editing program that's easy to use, but they're quite expensive so I never even thought to ask for one and was really quite content without one.

Through their connections with someone who works for Adobe, my brother and his wife were able to purchase Lightroom 2 for super cheap and they gave it to me yesterday for our family's belated Christmas celebration!

I took a few pictures of their precious two month old just a couple of hours before opening the gift. After I received it, I installed it on my netbook, received a little tutoring session from my big bro, ran a photo through a preset action called "Creative - Cold Tone," upped the saturation a little bit, and voila!, she looks like a snow angel from heaven.

Here's the already adorable original: 

Thanks Dan & Erica!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What Will She Look Like?

Will she get Daddy's brown, acne prone skin or Mommy's mole-dotted, pale skin?

Will she get Daddy's black hair or Mommy's multi-colored hair?

Will she get Daddy's brown eyes that disappear when he laughs really hard or Mommy's green eyes that are so big she has been called both a Disney princess and a cartoon cow?

Will she get Daddy's wide, Thai feet or Mommy's narrow feet with fallen over toes?

Will she get Daddy's six pack or Mommy's little tummy pooch?

Will she get Daddy's four-head or Mommy's five-head (my forehead isn't four fingers tall like most, it's five fingers tall)?

Will she get Daddy's family's not-so-tall genes or Mommy's family's super tall genes?

Will she get Daddy's thick eyebrows... or Mommy's thick eyebrows?

I can hardly wait to see what she looks like, I am sure that she will be the prettiest thing I've ever seen, and I hope that she internalizes what I think of her, what her dad thinks of her, and what God thinks of her over the strange, narrow portrayals of feminine beauty that saturate our culture.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Third Trimester

The third trimester is here! Our little daughter will be here in less than three months!

My friend, Heather, asked me today what I was most looking forward to. I am quite simply looking forward to seeing her face, touching her soft skin, holding her tiny body, and gawking for hours at all her perfect little baby eyes, nose, ears, toes, fingers, elbows, on and on. In short, I am looking forward to being with her!

Today, a neighbor with a two month old gave me about three dozen little onesies and outfits and about fifty diapers that her little boy has outgrown. I love staring at these little bear feet on this onesie she gave and imagining putting our little girls tiny toes into them!

A few more random thoughts and updates...

Someone recently told me that they call the first trimester "dreary," the second trimester "cheery," and the third trimester "weary." So far, the first two have held up and the third is on course to be weary. I wake up multiple times (as in three to six? ten?) times per night because my hips and back are sore and/or I have to go to the bathroom. I have created a little pillow nest in bed for comfort, take some low strength acetaminophen at times, and have started taking warm baths about every other day to help with the pain.

People tell me it's good prep for not sleeping through the night with a baby, but I would rather not have the practice!

A few days ago, I laughed out loud when I reread my old blog posts and found one from a couple of months ago where I mentioned that the weight gain seemed impossible. I have gained about twenty pounds! Which means that by the end of pregnancy, I will probably have gained about a fourth of my body weight. It now feels like I will never be thin and in shape again!

But, honestly, I don't think I've ever felt so beautiful in all my life. I absolutely love my pregnant lady curves! As if you can't tell by all the pregnant belly pictures I've been posting. :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Mom's Enchiladas

Every year after Thanksgiving dinner, my mom removes all the meat from the turkey carcass and makes turkey enchiladas. They are so good and I have wanted to learn how to make them for the longest time, but when I've asked her for the recipe, she says, "There is no recipe, but they are so easy! All you have to do is..." The "..." being her description of a process I can never seem to remember.

Well, this year, when I saw her in the kitchen getting ready to prepare the turkey enchiladas, I watched. And she was right. They're almost as easy as they are delicious.

I made a big pan and a little pan of these a couple of weeks ago, and between some dinner guests, my husband, and me, they were gone in less than thirty hours. So, I made them again later that week, and between just my husband and me, all twelve enchiladas were devoured in less than three days.

So these enchiladas are apparently too delicious to have enough time to take a picture of the final product. You'll just have to make them yourself to see what they look like in the end before you dig in!

The Adapted Version of Mom's Enchilada Non-recipe (write THAT on a recipe card)

  • Onion chopped up
  • Two big, deep green, almost black chiles chopped up. I'm pretty sure they are called chiles pasillas, but really any chiles will do. Get rid of the seeds if you don't want them spicy.
  • Three large, cooked chicken breasts cut up into bite size pieces (or leftover bits of Mr. Turkey if it's that time of year)
  • The big, 28oz yellow can of Las Palmas hot green enchilada sauce, or really any other brand if your grocery store doesn't carry Las Palmas.
  • Sour cream, about half a cup
  • Cheddar cheese, about half a pound
  • Tortillas, about a dozen

1) Brown the onion and chiles. 
2) While they're browning, mix the entire can of enchilada sauce with the sour cream. Spread a thin layer on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
3) Add the chicken to the now sauteed onion and chiles. Pour in the enchilada sauce/sour cream mixture reserving about a cup.
4) Heat it all up to bubbling. This is the filling for your enchiladas!

5) Assemble the enchiladas: Hold a tortilla in one hand, scoop some enchilada filling inside, and then sprinkle with the cheese. I usually put in just a little more cheese than this picture shows.

6) Roll up the enchilada and place it in your prepared pan with the seam down so it doesn't unroll. Continue assembling trying to ration the ingredients evenly(ish). Don't be afraid to cram them into the pan! In the picture below, I still have room for at least four more.

7) Pour the rest of of the enchilada sauce/sour cream mixture over all of the enchiladas.
8) Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
9) Serve with a spicy, fresh, handmade salsa from a local Mexican grocer and a gigantic fruit salad.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Childhood Memories

It seems that almost every time I visit my parents, they direct me toward a box of assorted items from my kid and teen years for me to sort through and bring back with me to California. Usually I am able to use the "our apartment has no room" excuse to weasel out of it, but this Thanksgiving, now that I live in a bona fide house, I didn't even try the excuse and came home with the rest of my stuff.

Sorting it has been entertaining. Here are a few favorites!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't proud to have had a passport made at such a young age! World traveler from birth!

Here's a man I drew in preschool. I can't decide if it's the enormous left hand or the squished face, but something about him is truly frightening. 

A tree. I definitely don't have this creativity anymore. :-(

I found diplomas from all school milestones starting with my preschool "diploma." Pictured here with my law school diploma (holder), they represent over two decades of education. I'm getting tired just thinking about it!

In high school, I went on a life changing missions trip to Brazil and made an ugly scrapbook when I came home.

And in the back of the scrapbook was undeveloped film! I'll have to pull this out to educate the grandkids. Scratch that. To educate the kids!

I lettered in academics in high school. I also lettered in another area of high school life that begins with a 'B' and rhymes with 'land.' Though, believe it or not, my husband and I have compared our high school activities and decided that I was the cool one of us two. Scary.

I strongly dislike having stuff around the house that I don't use, but rummaging through these memories has encouraged me to save at least a few things from every year of my daughter's (and other kids') childhood and teenage years.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bar Results and the State of the Baby Bump

First thing first: I passed the California Bar Exam! The results are hugely relieving since the next opportunity to take it is at the end of February within days of my due date, and the next opportunity after that is at the end of July when I will have an adorable five month old. Definitely not ideal times to be studying for and taking an extremely difficult test!

Second thing second: My baby bump is getting bigger and bigger! I am constantly touching the foreign shape of my abdomen, and it grows so quickly that I am never used to it and am constantly surprised by how big it is! I feel my baby girl kicking and moving all the time, especially when I am sitting or lying still. My back and hips are sometimes sore, and if I eat too much, my lowest ribs are tender from the stretching. And yet our baby still has to quadruple her body weight before she exits! Yikes!

Here's my bump at about 18 weeks:

19 weeks 
I never realized how slimming black is until I took this picture. My tummy looks a lot smaller than in the previous one.

20 weeks 
Michael and I went to a rap concert that had something to do with Humble Beast. I don't remember what. He knows. I stuck the bumper sticker on my stomach and apparently thought it was hilarious.

21 weeks

22 weeks

23 weeks

24 weeks:
No Picture!

25 weeks:
I definitely look pregnant! At this point, strangers ask me when I'm due and I occasionally notice middle aged and older women giving me a tender, misty eyed look. Too funny!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Photo Shoot

In the apartments where Michael and I used to live, we had the privilege of striking up a friendship with one of our neighbors, an incredibly hardworking mom named Yesenia and her boys who loved Michael to pieces. Yesterday, I got to take pictures of them.

Aren't they unfairly beautiful?

Playing in the leaves.

These next two shots would have been awesome if it wasn't for the horribly positioned leaves right over Christian's face. Oh well.

Boo. :-( Get out of the way, leaves!


The whole time I was taking pictures, I could not get a good one of Christian's little brother, Matthew. He was at the same time super active and super camera shy, so he was constantly running around with his back to me. Finally, I resorted to lying to him, telling him that there was a squirrel in the tree. He froze just long enough to get this shot.

Then he realized their was no squirrel and I got this shot right before he ran off.

Little model.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My First Reach Concert

My husband has been a big Christian rap fan for the past few years, and I have to admit that I've gotten a bit into it too, so I decided to go with him and a few of his students to the Reach Records "Unashamed: Come Alive" tour.

So, last night, I was on my feet for almost five hours straight in a room filled with a few thousand young people singing things like, "I'm fresh! Not because my swagga' right!"

And it was fun. I got to see the main guys that my husband talks about and listens to so much on stage rapping and going crazy.

And it was exhausting. When we were five rappers in and I had already stood for three hours straight, my back was killing me and I felt like I was going to fall over. My sweet husband walked me to the back of the room and I sat down and drank lots of water for about half an hour and then got back up for the last and best part of the concert.

When I woke up this morning, my feet and back were still sore and I had rap stuck in my head! What an experience.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All the Way

In light of all that has gone on in my life since May, and even more so in light of my whole relationship with Jesus since I was a little girl, I have fallen in love with these lyrics. They were originally written by 1875 by Fanny Crosby. Chris Tomlin slightly changed them in the recent revamped version. 

All the way my Savior leads me.
Who have I to ask beside?
How could I doubt His tender mercy
Who through life has been my guide?

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.

All the way my Savior leads me.
O, the fullness of His love.
O, the sureness of His promise
In the triumph of His blood.

When my spirit clothed immortal
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way.
Jesus led me all the way.

May this continue to be the story of my life!

Monday, October 29, 2012


As if things weren't exciting enough over here these days... Meet Lilianna Marie, my new, little niece!

She was born on October 17th and my brother and sister-in-law became her adoptive parents on October 22nd. Welcome to the family, Lilianna! We are sooo thrilled for you to be here, I can't wait to meet you in three weeks and three days (that's right, I'm counting), and I am so excited that our little girl gets to have a little girl cousin to grow up with!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's a Girl!

Michael and I went in for our mid-pregnancy ultrasound (yes, we're already halfway through!) Thursday morning and found out that we are having a GIRL!

We celebrated our daughter by sharing a pastry from my favorite cafe that happens to be a short walk from home, texting and calling people, and dancing in our kitchen to this song by Jimmy Needham:

They said you have wrapped around your finger like the ribbons that you wear in your hair.
Maybe 'cause when I see your little fingers holding onto mine I don't have a care.
You've got me buying you bows and dresses. Oh, what a beautiful mess that this is.

I think I'm in love.
She's two foot three
Eyes blue and green
I just can't get enough
She got my heels over my head
Or better yet, she's got me moving to the beat of her drum
And if love were time, I would spend all mine 
Just living inside her world 
'Cause she's Daddy's Baby Girl

They warned that you'd demand all my attention not to mention you're my very first child.
It's true I'm spending nearly half an hour making faces to get you to smile.
You've got me doing these silly little dance moves. I hope they don't make it onto YouTube.

I think I'm in love
She's two foot three
Eyes blue and green
I just can't get enough
She got my heels over my head
Or better yet, she's got me moving to the beat of her drum
And if love were time, I would spend all mine 
Just living inside her world 
'Cause she's Daddy's Baby Girl

I can hardly wait to meet my little daughter!

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Kiddos

I wrote last week about the volunteering I've been doing at an after school program in a low-income community a few miles from where I live, and I posted a picture of one of the darling Kindergarteners.

This week, I brought my camera and took a few pictures of some of the other kids.

I love taking pictures of kids because they don't often have inhibitions in front of a camera, and they don't care what their smile, hair, teeth, etc. look like in the final product. All they want to see is their face appear instantly on the tiny camera screen.

These kids were particularly fun to photograph because they not only lacked inhibition, but they hammed it up! They posed, gave real smiles, gave goofy smiles, and gave goofy faces. If only adults were this easy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

What I'm up to These Days

Four months ago, the looming post law school life had me stressed out.

Four months ago, I was applying for a fellowship to fund a job in an area of law that I actually wasn't that interested in.

Four months ago, I was burned out from three years of studying executory interests, adverse possession, and other tedious topics that were far removed from my desire to pursue justice by advocating for people in poverty.

Four months ago, there was that long phone conversation with my wise parents where I vented my frustrations with law school and the immediate future. They challenged me to pray and by "pray" they meant to tell God exactly what was on my heart, give it all to Him, trust Him to guide me, and then stop thinking about it.

And that's what I did.

If you had told me four months ago that today I would be advocating for undocumented immigrants, teaching an art class to inner-city kids, writing grants for an awesome nonprofit, and incubating my first child, I would have have smirked and responded, "You must know me very well because that sounds like my dreams turned to reality."

Long story short, I didn't receive the fellowship that, on paper, I should have gotten, got a temporary part time job working with an incredible immigration attorney at a large well-reputed nonprofit law firm, and started volunteering extensively with a local community organization... aka started hanging out with awesome kids like this cutie:

Let me give you a few more details about my job and my volunteering:

My volunteering. 

I volunteer two days per week at a faith-based community organization just a few miles from my home. It's literally on the other side of the tracks. I get to mentor/tutor young elementary kids, teach art to K-6 kids, capture the kids' adorableness for the newsletters, and I am just beginning to write grants for the organization in hopes of getting them some major chunks of change to help them do more of the awesome work they do in the city.

The best job I ever had was working at a similar nonprofit on skid row, though my current paying job [see below] is now a strong contender for the "Best Job I've Ever Had" award. I have really enjoyed getting back to working with kids through this local nonprofit.

My job.

My law firm's sixty attorneys and several thousand pro bono attorneys do fantastic social justice work throughout the county of Los Angeles. I work with the Immigrants' Rights Project.

On Tuesdays, I do U Visas. Prior to legislation passing, undocumented immigrants who were victims of crime had to choose between reporting the crime to the police and risking deportation or keeping quiet and staying in the U.S. Today, an undocumented immigrant who is the victim of a crime and who is helpful to the police can apply for the U Visa thereby protecting themselves from deportation and giving them hope for the future.

I love this law because (1) it makes society safer for us all when undocumented immigrants, there are millions in this country, can report crimes and (2) it protects a particularly vulnerable section of our society by giving them legal status, a work permit, and access to justice for the crimes they've experienced. (Relevant side note: I believe undocumented immigrants have a special place in God's heart. If you don't believe me, do a little search on all the times God talks about loving the foreigner and alien among us.)

To give you an idea of who my clients are: Most of them are monolingual Spanish speakers (Yes, I get to speak Spanish!) from Mexico and Central America and the crimes they have experienced are horrific... attempted murder, human trafficking, rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault to name the few I've seen.

On Thursdays, I help staff a clinic for undocumented teens and young adults who qualify for "deferred action" under the DREAM Act legislation that Obama passed this summer. These young people were brought to the U.S. by their parents, most barely remember the country they are from, and they all have dreams of having legal status to be able to work and travel and not fear deportation from the only country they really know. I help these young people apply for the two year legal protection created this past summer. Google it if you want to know more.

It is truly an honor to work with my clients, both the victims of crime and the young people who are so hopeful about their future ever since this new law passed. I love providing them with something tangible (legal status) that will help them as they move forward in life.

Looking back four months ago and looking at where I am now doing work that is so me, I am constantly thanking and praising God for His guidance. I have seen and experienced that He is the Good Shepherd just as He said.

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