Thursday, October 18, 2007

Giving Thanks

For the past few years I have tried to focus more attention than normal to the Thanksgiving holiday. It is such a great holiday but there are a few things that bother me about it. First, the stores & malls: why do they begin selling Halloween decorations around the end of September and Christmas decorations around mid-October? What happens to all the Thanksgiving items? Well, the few items they do place on display typically end up in the clearance area of the store by November 1st...and Thanksgiving hasn't even arrived yet! As individuals we tend to welcome the coming of Thanksgiving so we can have a day off from work and a full day of stomach-stuffing and football watching.

There are millions of things to be thankful for so, as a way to remember Thanksgiving this year I have opted to create a Thanksgiving blog instead of sending out Christmas cards. Although it saves on postage (and I'm always looking for ways to save a penny) I can promise you it has taken much more time to prepare than just signing my name to a card!

We are continually giving thanks to God for keeping our family healthy over the past year. We have had a few medical issues such as Ko's heart problems and Joshua's sleep apnea/tonsilectomy but we rely on our Jehovah Rapha to heal.

NOTE: While viewing our blog you may notice a few photo slideshows. If the slideshow is complete it will show an arrow in the middle of the photo. To view the photos just click on the arrow and the slideshow will begin.

Our photos from the past year are listed on our online photo album. You can access the photos by clicking on this link: .

I hope you enjoy my new idea...

The kids

Let's start out with our (not so) little one, Celeste. This year has been so amazing watching her grow. From a physical standpoint she was just learning to walk this time last year. Now she dances, throws a karate punch and kick, jumps (from the top of picnic tables...and "sticks" the land like a true gymnast), swims (still with help), and is trying to "tuck and roll." Our biggest surprise (SHOCK!) from a physical standpoint was when she purposely did a swan dive from a first-level step on to a patio. Yes, she threw her entire body on to the patio (similar to the photo below only on wood instead of sand) and then just stood up and kept on running. She is one tough little cookie and a "tom boy" through and through. I have NO IDEA who she gets that from!

Intellectually Celeste is growing as well. She loves to read books and sing. One day I heard her going down the steps saying "sebin, eight, nine" so I started counting with "one" and realized she could already count to five (sometimes with and sometimes without the number 4). Her biggest intellectual accomplishment is something near and dear to my heart...singing and dancing. She follows her big brother's footsteps in enjoying "High School Musical II" and loves to listen to the song "Fabulous." One day I realized not only was she singing the song but she was also doing the choreography as well! The funniest part of this story came in mid-October when we were shopping in Gymboree and I heard her start singing part of the song... "I need, I need...I need, I need...I need FABULOUS!" If only the Gymboree marketing folks could have heard her.

Celeste turned two years old on November 2nd. She received several gifts of dress up clothes and shoes in hope that she will stop wearing my size 10 high heel shoes up and down the stairs and all over the house!

Joshua has had an interesting year. He has performed in one voice recital and three piano recitals this year. He sang "Little People" from Les Miserables and performed wonderfully at all his recitals. He looked so "cool" (today's version of "handsome") in his black suit and red tie! Unfortunately for Joshua his vocal coach is in her second season with the Bach Concert Series at the Kennedy Center and has stopped teaching lessons privately. This summer Joshua was part of a Christian performing arts camp with the Leavening Agency which ended with one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen from a non-professional group of this age. Joshua had a solo, a small acting part and a chance to play the kazoo for a few hundred people!

Joshua turned 8 on January 4th. For his birthday we threw a party with about 30 of his closest friends at his Enshin Karate dojo. After learning a little about the martial art and playing a few games Joshua got to cut the cake with a real Samurai sword! All the children at the party were given the opportunity to break some boards using the techniques they learned at the party. Of course, Joshua's mom & dad had some talents to show as well! :)

Physically, Joshua had quite a year. He has advanced two belt levels in Enshin Karate and will be testing for his yellow senior belt around the time of this publishing. This is over half way to black belt with only green and brown belts to advance to before he becomes a black belt. Joshua also ran the One-mile Kid's Shamrock run and finished with an amazing time of about an 8:30 mile. Pretty good for someone that didn't train! I only wish I could run that fast! :)

Intellectually, Joshua has improved in each of his subjects over the past year in home school. We don't have a "report card" like public/private schools but if we did he would have had all A's. He really gets to challenge himself with school work as a home schooler and is currently on a 6th grade level in math. We have had a few struggles in History but a History buff friend of ours gave us a great idea for learning and we hope that both Joshua...and his teacher...will learn a little more about History this year!

Christian is in his second year of college at Montgomery College - Germantown, Maryland campus. He is currently working toward a degree in Information Technology and hopes to receive his Associates degree in 2008. This semester he is taking a course in speech and we have really noticed an improvement in his communication skills.

We don't get to see Christian as much as we would like but when we do it is always a pleasure. Christian now has his driver's license and has taken on the challenge of driving by himself from his house to our house on several occasions.

He continues to live with his mother in Germantown, MD (still suburbian DC) and really enjoys all types of electronic gaming systems such as Playstation etc.

Ko & Tracy

At our church, McLean Bible Church (, Ko and I are the leaders of a married couples group called Connections. Our group meets each Sunday morning just like a typical Sunday School class but we are anything but "typical!" Every February the guys in our group create (or in some cases buy...) a special dessert for our Valentine's Day Party. It's the one time a year the ladies can sit back and enjoy the party without having to worry about what to bring (okay, so that is a little bit of a stereotype!).

Anyway, this becomes a competition of major proportion for the guys. Ko has set out every year to win this competition and he has done very well in the past. One year he won the award for "Most Romantic Dessert," another year for "Best Presentation," and this year he won for "Best Flaming Dessert." Yes, you heard me correct...flaming dessert! Ko made a wonderful bananas foster with ice cream. This recipe was directly from a restaurant in New Orleans that made the dessert famous and Ko learned how to make it over 20 years ago from one of his best friends who was a gourmand. It was very yummy!!

This year we purchased our first investment property in DC - a studio apartment on the sixth floor of a 13-story award winning building in the upscale neighborhood of Penn Quarter. Due to the purchase of our investment property, we decided to open our own corporate housing business and so, ( was born. Tracy is responsible for the daily operations of the business but Ko puts in as much time as possible given his full-time working schedule. If you ever need a place to stay while visiting DC, is a quality alternative to a hotel. We currently have about 20-30 locations across the DC area.

This year we had the opportunity to go to some amazing events. Tracy was an invited guest to the First Lady's Luncheon. It was a wonderful experience to spend time with the First Lady and to be entertained by Ruben Studdard (previous American Idol winner). The theme this year was "Soul of the South" - how appropriate! Another amazing event was our invitation by the lead soprano of "La Boheme" to attend their final dress rehearsal at the Kennedy Center. We not only were able to go backstage with her but were one of only about 50 invited guests to the performance. We had the choice of any seat in the house! It was a truly wonderful performance. We also had the opportunity to take Joshua to his first musical theater production - "The Putnam County 25th Annual High School Spelling Bee Musical" (or "Spelling Bee Musical" as the cast likes to refer to it!). We were given complimentary tickets to see the show by one of the cast members. It was an extremely funny production and a real blessing to be able to see it for free!

Tracy continues to enjoy running and ran her second and third marathon (26.2 miles each) this year. In March, she ran the Shamrock Marathon (Virginia Beach, VA) and in October she ran the Marine Corps Marathon (DC) for the second time.

Being able to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year was a blessing in and of itself. For various reasons I hadn't been training for almost 2 months prior to the race and had given up my dream of running it this year. I had been continuing to run throughout the week but my longest "long runs" had only been 7 miles. The week before the race I began thinking about all that had transpired over the past few months and the fact that I was going to be there to run 10 miles with a friend who would be running her first marathon so I decided I would run the race. If I didn't finish it would be no loss because I hadn't trained. If I finished I knew it would only be by God's grace! Guess what? I did finish the race and persevered through it with God's help. It was truly an amazing experience.

Ko ran the Shamrock 8k race the same weekend as my marathon and was able to complete it with a decent time given only one day of training and wearing brand new running shoes. I was just bummed that his race shirt was much nicer than mine!

Ko was offered a position recently with Northrop Grumman in Chantilly, VA to work on the military healthcare system. Ko feels it is an honor to work to support our armed service members even as a civilian. Although Ko enjoyed his position as project manager in his previous company the hour-long commute was difficult. His new 15-minute commute has greatly added to his quality of life which, in turn has been great for the family. His new position has so many great benefits: free coffee, free soup, a cafeteria and best of all...a dimly lit room with comfortable sofas for an afternoon nap! You think I'm kidding??? I don't know if Ko actually uses the "nap room" but he sure does seem to have a lot of energy these days when he gets home from work!

We are so thankful for each and every one of you. Each of you have touched our lives in very meaningful ways throughout the years. As a good friend of mine says: some people we meet for a reason, some people we meet for a season, and some people we meet for a lifetime. There are so many reasons to be thankful at Thanksgiving time and we hope that each of you will find time to stop and celebrate it in a very special way this year.

God Bless you all!