Sunday Morning 12/22/2019: Week 4 in Portland

Hanukkah sameach! Wishing all who celebrate a happy and peaceful Hanukkah along with best wishes for the coming year.

In spite of breakdowns, storms, squalls, delayed flights with late departures, and middle-of-the-night arrivals, the girls (and one boyfriend) all eventually made it to Portland this past week. Meiling left yesterday morning for a couple of days down in Eugene with K and his family, but she’ll be back tomorrow. Currently, the girls are awaiting a few more of their packages to arrive, but otherwise, we all are ready for Wednesday’s festivities. And my goodness, these girls still eat a LOT! I’m frankly shocked by how much they can still put away. Meiling received some big news the day after she arrived: although she has been at her job less than two months, apparently she has made a very good impression because this past Thursday she learned her manager would be leaving the company to take a position elsewhere . . . and she was asked to take over the manager’s position! She was initially very stressed by the offer, torn between wanting the increase in salary/benefits versus the added stress she’d be taking on, at least for the first few months. However, with encouragement from her manager and several others in the company, and from her boyfriend and Brett and me, she has decided to accept the position and is getting prepped. Her manager, who Meiling adores, is already helping her with the transition and will continue to serve as her mentor even after she leaves. To say Brett and I are impressed and proud of this girl would be an understatement.

Meiling was actually not unhappy when she arrived early Thursday morning, just very, very tired since her flight on Wednesday had been delayed by several hours and she’d been awake at this point for over 24 hours)
WenYu’s flight on Thursday was also delayed by several hours, but at least it was during the day and she had been able to sleep most of the way so she arrived in a better mood.
YaYu was the last to arrive, on Friday, the only one whose flight arrived when it was supposed to. Her flight from Philly left over an hour late so she was sure she would miss her connecting flight and was surprised to be the only one whose flight got into PDX on time.
K’s flight was also delayed, but he ended up arriving just a few minutes after YaYu so we didn’t have to make two trips to the airport that day.

Brett had a follow-up appointment this past week with the doctor regarding the endocrinology issue that was discovered this past summer. The doctor wants him to have surgery to remove a misfiring parathyroid gland in the coming year, but how and when he will get this done is going to be a challenge as we will be out of the U.S. for the first half of the year, and not be back in Portland for at least a year. Thankfully the issue is not as troublesome as it was last summer, nor is the surgery urgent. We’ve already checked on whether this was something he could have done in Japan while we’re there, at the naval hospital, but we found out that endocrinology is not handled there; patients requiring the same surgery as Brett would either be sent back to the U.S. or out to a Japanese hospital. Anyway, fitting this in is going to affect future plans one way or another as it’s a very delicate procedure and the doctor did not recommend getting it done just anywhere.

I will be taking the next week off from the blog but will be back next Sunday. I am so ready for the big day on Wednesday – the girls are here, almost all the gifts have arrived and have been wrapped, and all the food has been bought and is ready to prepare. Beyond the holiday hoopla, I’m planning to bask in the simple joy of our family being together. I know our time together will fly by, but I’m going to enjoy every moment we get.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Jewel That Was Ours, #9 in the Inspector Morse series (which had a different ending from the TV program – I was surprised) and immediately downloaded book #10, The Way Through the Woods, from the library. I won’t get all the Morse books finished by the end of the year, but I’m making good progress.
  • Listening to: The heater is running strong this morning – it’s cold outside! Brett is making coffee and putting away yesterday’s dishes, and WenYu and YaYu are still asleep. In other words, another quiet morning (so far)!
  • Watching: Brett and I binge-watched the British detective series, Broadchurch, at the beginning of the week. We’d seen the series before but found it just as compelling the second time around. David Tennant and Olivia Colman have to be two of the best British actors working these days – both their performances were amazing. Meiling and WenYu went together on a subscription to Disney+ and have set that up here, so the girls have been busy watching stuff on that channel as well as all sorts of videos about their favorite K-Pop group, BTS (they are all slightly obsessed), and YaYu is catching up with everything.
  • Cooking: There will be lots of activity going on in the kitchen this week! We will be having big bowls of vegetarian dumpling soup this evening and tomorrow night, when we’re all back together, I’m putting together a big salad bar for our dinner (along with some sourdough bread). Then, on Christmas Eve, we’re having a pizza night. I going to make four different pizzas: classic pepperoni; roasted vegetable; lamb sausage with feta and artichoke hearts on pesto; and Thai chicken. On Christmas Day we’ll be having ham, macaroni & cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and apple and cherry pies for dessert. After Christmas, I’ll be making turkey divan casserole; pasta with ham, peppers, and spinach; and super nachos one night to break up the ham and turkey monotony. I actually baked a couple of times this past week – a pan of brownies for the girls and a pumpkin coffee cake.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Our big accomplishment this past week was getting all the girls and one boyfriend picked up at the airport no matter how delayed their flights were or what time in the middle of the night they finally arrived. Keeping them fed has been a bit of an accomplishment as well!
  • Looking forward to next week: Christmas, of course! But most of all just being together with Brett and the girls – the only thing that could make the week better would be having our son and his family here too. We put a different twist on the girls’ Christmas stockings this year and I’m excited to see how they react to that.
    Our tree now has some bling!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our hosts brought up some extra Christmas ornaments they had after decorating their tree, and now our little tree is all decked out for the big day! Little by little my stomach issues are getting better. It’s been a learning experience though about what and when to eat and what I need to avoid (for example, chocolate has sadly turned out to be an irritant), and when to take medication, etc. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m getting there. Brett took all the girls and Meiling’s boyfriend out to a doughnut shop just up the street for breakfast yesterday. I haven’t had a doughnut in ages, but the jelly-filled (my favorite) they brought me was very good and much appreciated. 
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than one last shop for a few things at Winco on Wednesday, parking fees at the airport ($9 total), and the trip to the doughnut shop yesterday morning we had a no-spend week. There’s also been no effort or worry this week about leftovers getting eaten!
    Grateful to love and be loved by these beautiful girls
  • Grateful for: I’m so thankful that the girls all arrived safely in Portland and that we’re together again. I love hearing their chatter and their laughter.
  • Bonus question: Have you ever regifted or returned something you got for Christmas? Yes, but only a very, very few times. I’ve only made one return that I can remember. For our first Christmas together Brett gave me a sweater. I liked it except for the color (pale tangerine orange and I don’t look good in pastels). I asked him if it was OK if I exchanged it for a different color, and he said OK so we went back to the store. However, none of the other colors were available in my size and I ended up exchanging the sweater for something else. I knew he felt disappointed, especially that he had missed on the color, but I wore the new top I got in exchange a lot so it all worked out. I can only remember regifting a couple of items, a massive three-level cake stand I received from someone one year and a set of cut-glass wine glasses I got from one of my students. Neither was something I liked nor would use and I regifted both to people who were happy to have them. There have probably been a very few other items I’ve passed along but I don’t remember them.

No matter what you celebrate this coming week, or with whom, or whether you celebrate at all, I hope everyone has the holiday they hope for and makes wonderful memories in some way. I know it can be a difficult time for some (it was for me for many years), so take care of yourself and your heart, and ask for help if you need it. For all, I wish a time of comfort, peace, calm, and love.

Happy holidays to all!


20 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 12/22/2019: Week 4 in Portland

    1. Meiling was completely caught off guard by the offer. She said she had just hoped to “coast” for a couple of years and learn everything she could, but now she’s on the fast track. We couldn’t be prouder!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours as well, Denise!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Happy Merry to you all! Congratulations to Meiling! And I know you & Brett will bask in the love of your family! Looking forward to the next post…


    1. We are having the best time with the girls and love hearing them together. They sort of turn into their “younger selves” as well and let us spoil them, which we enjoy, so we’re having a great time and know it will all be over too soon.

      Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas too!


  2. So happy to hear about Meiling’s promotion! ( Our granddaughter is a college senior and stressing about her future employment prospects.) I wish I was in Portland so we could get together; I hope you have ☀️☀️☀️and a wonderful holiday🎊🎅🏼🎊


    1. Meiling stressed as well about getting hired, and she is actually not doing what she thought she would be (coding) and is instead handling documentation because she’s very, very good at it (It’s what Brett used to do as well).

      Hopefully we can meet up here in PDX in the future. We may be back next summer for Brett’s surgery, and we’ll be back for sure next December. I will cross my fingers that you’ll be passing this way as well!

      Happy holidays to you and yours as well.


  3. So glad the girls made it home safely! So happy for your daughter and her new job! I have been stressing because my oldest was in the ER with a swollen face this afternoon. He just texted he had antibiotics and was on way home to sleep. I was about to get in car and drive four hours north in rain! We never quit worrying about our kids. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


    1. Getting those girls here was a real effort this year. So much bad weather back east and in the midwest really messed with their flight schedules – poor Meiling sat out on the tarmac in her plane for over three hours before they could take off as only one runway was open for both arrivals and departures. So yes, we worried until we saw them here. They are here now and that’s what counts. You’re right though – we never stop worrying. And of course, once they get here they want us to do everything for them, like when they were little (feed them, do their laundry, etc.) but we’re happy to do it because we know they soon will be back to their respective jobs and schools and it will be a while before we see them again.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours – wishing you a very happy holiday season!


  4. My DH had parathyroid surgery at UofM two years ago. I agree that it can’t be done just anywhere…it’s touchy. And a good endocrinologist has been important afterward for regulation. Glad to hear your stomach troubles are improving. Sadly, chocolate is problematic for me, too. 😢 But there are other things I can still indulge in. Ha!

    Merry Christmas to all of you! It’s nice to see all your girls together again. And big congrats to Meiling! Enjoy the holiday!


    1. We’ve been looking into Brett possibly getting the surgery done in Japan, but it would be complicated from a paperwork and language standpoint, plus we would have a considerable up-front payment (although much less than we would pay in the US). Still if things get worse, we know good services are available there. Most likely though Brett will schedule the surgery back here in Portland next summer, after we finish with WenYu’s graduation. Second choice is that he stay with his sister in Dallas and have it done there. Thankfully for now we have choices and time to make the best decision for him and us.

      We’re very proud of Meiling. For a variety of reasons we wondered if she would ever get this far, but she has grown into a very accomplished, mature young woman and we couldn’t be prouder of her.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Lauren! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad to hear Brett’s medical issue isn’t anything serious or urgent, but will it require you to postpone your trips to Kauai and/or Japan?

    Congrats to Meiling! It’s quite rare for a manager who is leaving a job to mentor someone at the previous job, so that’s pretty special!

    Glad everyone arrived safe and sound. Enjoy the time with your family. Merry Christmas!


    1. Thankfully, the surgery isn’t urgent and can wait until this summer – we’re thinking we’ll come back to Portland again in the summer and he can get it taken care of here before we continue on. If things get worse when we’re in Japan we can get it done there, although he’d prefer to have it done back in the States.

      Meiling was informed about her manager leaving by the manager’s manager, so the decision to offer her the job came from higher up. Her soon-to-be former manager has already been in contact and they’ve been meeting (online) to start going through stuff, transfer files, etc. And, the manager has agreed to mentor Meiling – they get on very well and she’d like to see Meiling succeed (she’s not leaving the company for any negative or competitive reasons and would like to see it continue to grow as well).

      We’re almost ready for Wednesday! Meiling gets back from Eugene this evening and we’ll spend the day tomorrow getting last minute things finished up and watching “Love, Actually.”

      Merry Christmas to you, JJ! Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday!


  6. A big congratulations to Meiling! Forward progress early in your career often leads to a lifetime of higher compensation, retirement savings, and continued progression. Even if it’s not a perfect job match, locking in the higher salary, etc will benefit her in all future roles.

    Hope you are enjoying Portland. We are loving the Oregon coast!


    1. Brett and I pretty much told her the same thing. We’re proud too that the first thing she did when she got hired was set up a savings account, 401K, etc. to start saving for retirement, and as she says, “now I can save more.”

      If you are going to pass through Portland and have time for a quick get-together, let me know! We’re just 12 minutes from the airport, so could meet you there if necessary.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours – Christmas out at the coast is the way to do it!


  7. How lovely to have all your girls together for Christmas. Congrats to Meiling.

    I like how without owning Christmas decorations, people lend you some. I’m thinking that could be the way to go for many things.


    1. One of the things that has made us fall in love with traveling and staying in Airbnbs is that others provide what we need, even if we don’t know sometimes that we need it! It has been so freeing not having to own things or tote them around other than a few odd kitchen utensils and some coffee mugs (for some reason we love drinking coffee out of our own mugs – it feels more like “home”).

      I am squeezing every moment out of our being together because it will be over before I know it, and then it will be another year before it happens again. We’re making as many memories as we can.

      Meiling, as we used to say, is probably going to rule the world some day (in a good way). She’s had her ups and downs, but the potential has always been there.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so happy for you that your nest is full for the holidays!

    When I was reading the menu, my first thought was, “what a lot of work!” But it is so nice to be spoiled and to have people to spoil.

    Sending you wishes for a joy-filled Christmas and a happy and HEALTHY new year.


    1. Our menu may look complicated but I use a lot of shortcuts and the girls and Brett help out. Our macaroni and cheese comes from Costco and the pies from New Seasons, and everything else is easy to prepare. They’ll help assemble the pizzas (crusts from Trader Joe’s), and best of all Brett always does the dishes and kitchen clean-up at the end of the day. So, I’m spoiled too!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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