To the baby that was, and then wasn't.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I don't believe in luck. But as I stare at the number on waiting room 8, I can't help but think to myself that for someone superstitious, eight would be an auspicious number.
I stare at the wall and wait. It is beige. Did they choose off-white so that the room would seem less cold?
It doesn't seem warmer.

I look at the blood pressure cuff hanging from the wall.
Blood. There is so much. Too much to be normal.

I want the doctor to come in, to tell me that it is normal, to tell me it will all be okay. But I know that isn't what she will tell me. The Internet has made me my own doctor.

I stare at the thin white roll of paper atop the examination bed. Vinyl peeks out on either side. Do they disinfect that bare area?

The doctor walks in. Her round belly tells me she is well into her second, maybe third (?) trimester. I smirk inside. I am not jealous, not sad. I think I will feel envious, but the feeling doesn't come. I just think that it is ironic that I am here, with you, you who are perhaps no longer, and the one walk-in doctor that could see me is so charmingly pregnant.

She has a soft voice. I can tell she feels badly for me. She rolls her chair closer to the desk, as if to conceal her belly. She asks me a few questions. I cry. She doesn't flinch and tells me it could be normal or it could be a sign of a miscarriage. She tells me it's not my fault. Then she repeats it, as if to make sure I heard her. I barely hear what she is saying; my mind is elsewhere. Her voice is soft and gentle. Like a warm breeze on a summer's evening. I like her. She tells me it is now just a waiting game.
I watch her type in her notes on the computer: threatened abortion or possible ectopic.


We bought you green shoes. The day we found out, we bought you green shoes. We bought them bigger so you could wear them when you were older. They were thirty-five dollars, and your father didn't even flinch. That's how I knew he was, truly, very, emphatically excited. Your father hates it when I buy shoes.

We were so excited. We shared secret smiles with each other all day. I liked that. A secret that no one else in the world knew except your father and I.

Now, we have a different kind of secret. I now know why so few people mention the 'm' word. miscarriage. I haven't been to work in three days. I don't know how to explain to people this sadness i feel. I play the scenario out in my head: Good news! We're pregnant! Bad news. I've been bleeding for twelve days and it's only getting worse.

You're here and yet not.


The doctor's office just called. hi, this is the doctor's office calling on behalf of dr.______. She would like you to make an appointment for your blood test results. 

Can I come in now?

No, sorry, she has already left for the weekend. Best to come in on Monday.

It's only Thursday and I know that you'll be gone by Monday.

There is so much blood.

I think you're already gone.


Tonight, I took out your green shoes. We stared at them for awhile. I guess the first pair of shoes our next child will have will be hand-me-downs, your father quipped. Then we tucked them back into the box, neatly, one after the other. I put them up on the shelf, where they'll stay. Ready for you to share with your little brother or sister one day.


There is much sorrow tonight. There is also thankfulness. Thankfulness that I was so privileged as to spend these few weeks with you. And, for some reason, much hope. Hope that in this, God is doing something far more than I know or understand.  There is not a note that is out of tune in His song.
I am sitting in the quiet. The gentle rumblings of a snore coming from the little pug lying next to me that you will never meet. Her little furry head has been resting on my belly all day. There isn't much left to say tonight. Only feelings of sorrow and grief alloyed with growing gratefulness and hope and thankfulness.


Butter Chicken & Sweet Potato Lasagna

Sunday, June 9, 2013

So yesterday, HH is all like, "Hey wanna hang out with our friends M & D for dinner?" I was feeling pretty tired, but I had this huge hankering for nachos, so I agreed.

An hour later, HH asks me what I'm making, and I gaze at him all confused, my dreams of nachos coming to a halt.

"Aren't we going out?"

"I told them to come over. They're going to be here in an hour and a half. We can just stick one of our frozen lasagnas in the oven."

Um. Nope, boy. That isn't how I roll. When people come over, we do things proper with the fixins, because I'm all southern like that.

So I looked in our fridge and pantry, and saw that we had chicken, oven-ready lasagna noodles, lots of basil, tomatoes and mushrooms. And a glorious thought came to mind.

Butter chicken lasagna.

And it was all like God was up in that idea, because when I ran next door to get groceries, butter chicken sauce was on sale for 99 cents. NINETY NINE FREAKING CENTS. And it wasn't even the no-name kind, but the kind that actually looks legit (well, as legit as you can get with butter chicken, which is kind of like the Orange Chicken of the Indian world).

Yes, I could have made my own sauce, but NINETY NINE CENTS.

And coconut milk was also on sale. For EIGHTY NINE CENTS.

The Chinese in me was an olympic trampolinist (Trampoliner?) at that moment.

I was slightly worried because, really, I was pulling the recipe out of my butt, but when it finally came altogether, it was good. So good that the four of us ate like we had just tunnelled out of North Korea and had never seen food before.

Butter Chicken & Sweet Potato Lasagna (serves 6 HANGRY people)
(I don't really measure when I cook, so adapt as you see fit!)

Pull out a 9x13 pyrex dish and heat up your oven to 400 degrees.

Butter Chicken
4 Chicken breasts, cut in thin slices
1 Can Coconut Milk divided in half
2 jars Butter Chicken Sauce
half a red onion, diced

Fry the red onion until aromatic. Then dump in chicken and fry until cooked through. Pour in one jar of butter chicken sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Pour in half the can of coconut milk, let it heat through and reserve this Butter Chicken in a bowl.

In the same wok, pour in the other jar of butter chicken sauce, the rest of the coconut milk and let simmer until heated through. Set aside.


15 strips oven-ready lasagna noodles
475 g Ricotta
1 cup basil, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 package frozen spinach, thawed
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
200g sweet potatoes cut into thin rounds (use a mandoline for best results)
Mozzarella & Cheddar, grated to cover the lasagna

Mix ricotta, basil, spinach, tomatoes, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Cover the bottom of the pyrex with a layer of Butter Chicken. Then lay down 5 noodles. Cover noodles with a generous amount of the ricotta mixture.
Cover this mixture with a layer of sweet potatoes and then lay down another 5 noodles.
Spread more butter chicken on top of the noodles and repeat the process!

When it comes to the last layer, instead of the sweet potatoes, use the mushrooms, and then finish off the butter chicken.

Place the last 5 noodles on top, and then pour the plain butter chicken + coconut sauce all over the noodles. This moisture on top will prevent the top noodle layer from curling in the oven. Finally, pour the grated cheese all over the top, as you see fit (for me, the cheesier the better!)

Cover with tinfoil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove tinfoil, turn the temperature down to 350, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Sorry about the poor quality pictures! We had guests, so I pulled out HH's phone to snap some quick pictures. I assure you, it tastes WAY better than it looks!!


Let's all just take a chill pill. (a.k.a how women could become better evangelists)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A few years ago, before I was married, I was on a staff team with a large majority of young mothers, pregnant women, or women who were yearning to be pregnant.

I myself had never had much of a longing to be a mother or to be pregnant, and so I tried to steer clear of conversations amongst those women. It felt awkward, forced, to be sitting there, smiling, pretending to know or even care about babies and children.

Then, we went on a retreat, and though I liked hanging out with most of these women one on one, I felt as though it was unbearable being with them all together. Picture this: a lot of women talking about strollers (bugaboo or stokke?), diapers (pampers or apple cheeks? disposable or cloth?), and even... nipple cream (apparently 'em milk jugs can get pretty cracked and dry.)

t.m.i. right?

That's how I felt. I felt isolated, not understanding this whole world, and not quite sure if I would ever understand it. I felt mislead, like I had been duped into going on a mother's retreat instead of a women's retreat.

Fast forward a few weeks, months, years, and I've actually learned two things about that situation.

1. I needed to take a chill pill. 

In those years following, I found out that all those conversations that I was awkwardly a part of enabled me to have a greater scope of conversation. I can hold my own when I'm talking to a mother about strollers: the Bugaboo donkey is nice, but might be too wide in small city shops; the Stokke is has really nice lines but doesn't do very well on terrain, etc.

Being able to hold my own and to talk about things a mother cares about makes me a more versatile evangelist.

I don't need to restrict myself to talking to college aged students (as per my job description), or to married women in their mid-20s (as per my life stage). I can talk to other women in a variety of life stages and feel confident in those conversations because I can identify (or at least try to identify) with the things that are important to them (nipple cream one of those things... sometimes).

2. They needed to take a chill pill.

Being a good evangelist means being sensitive to the people around us, which is easier said than done. We've all been around the bride who talks incessantly about wedding planning, or the student who can only talk about impending exams. In my case, it was the mothers who couldn't stop talking about their children.

The reality is that we are all good at talking about the things we are going through, but not very good at putting ourselves in the shoes of others.

We don't think about the barren woman who might struggle to hear about the 'plight' of the fertile, or the student who just failed out of university and doesn't have a clue what she'll do.


A year ago, for a few months, I was a married person in the minority, hanging out with a bunch of singles. They would go off and do their thing and would often decline to invite me (sometimes forgetting, sometimes perhaps purposefully). I felt really hurt and isolated, but when I took a step back, I thought, why would they want to invite me? The married are constantly guilty of flaunting their non-singleness, and PDA isn't the most appealing thing to witness even as a married person, let alone a person struggling to come to terms with her singleness.

The singles probably needed to take a chill pill and realize that married people aren't aliens who can't identify with singlehood (after all, we were all single at some point), but married people need to also take a chill pill and strive to not flaunt what could easily be a sore point in someone else's life. Being a married person, it is my responsibility to deconstruct the negative impression that my predecessors have left on singles, and to show them that we aren't all that different, after all.

This will make me a better and more trustworthy evangelist.


Something I've noticed about HH and his guy friends is that they can often pick up wherever they left off. Guys seem to, generally, be able to talk about a myriad of topics, and that makes them effective evangelists, giving them multiple 'ins' to gospel conversation.

As women, we need to work on this, becoming all things to all women in order that they might gain Christ. We aren't defined by singlehood or motherhood or ____(insert adjective here)__hood. Our identity comes from Christ, and Christ was stellar at was being able to identify with people from all sorts of backgrounds and genders. This made Him the best evangelist there has ever been. We would do well to learn from Him.


Sweet Nothings

Saturday, April 27, 2013

HH and I aren't very romantic people. I loathe PDA that goes beyond than hand-holding and we're usually too cheap to buy things like flowers or lingerie.


Sometimes, when we are lying in bed, late at night, HH will hold me and whisper sweet nothings in my ear.


He actually whispers the words, "sweet nothings, sweet nothings" over and over again.


Photo courtesy of Lao Brothers Photography


Malaysian Curry Puffs

Monday, April 15, 2013

For some reason, unbeknownst to my present self, before the age of 9, I refused to eat Chinese food. So, whenever we visited Singapore or Malaysia, I would only eat food from Pizza Hut or McDonalds. This was a real tragedy, because now that I eat pretty much anything, I realize that I missed out on 9 whole years of the BEST FOOD EVER.

The one thing I would eat, however, was Won Ton Noodles. Gosh, I loved that stuff. And almost every day for the multiple weeks we were in Malaysia, my grandmother would go down to the hawker stall and bring me back a hot steaming bag of Won Ton Noodles with barbecue pork.

Speaking of my grandmother, check out this picture of my grandmother on our wedding day. Her cut-eye at HH is the best thing ever.

Anyways, sometimes, along with the noodles, my grandmother would bring back a small, clear, red plastic bag, full of curry puffs. And even for me, the picky one, they were amazing. The pastry would be light and flaky, and the insides full of warm curried potatoes and beef. We would sit around the table, and snack on those puffs until they were all gone.

You can't really find puffs like these in Canada. Sure, there's Chinese curry puffs that you can buy at some Chinese bakeries. But those are triangular in shape and have a different pastry texture. And there are samosas with curry filling. But a malaysian curry puff is like a marriage of the two and best when fresh or reheated warm out of the oven.

I've had a hankering for these for awhile, but always thought they would be too hard to make. And it's true, they do require a lot of work and time on your hands, but these little pillows of goodness are totally worth it! If you can do some of the prep work beforehand, it would take a lot less time to make.

First start by chopping up potatoes. Take a picture of your fast chopping skills. Then fry these babies up with a splash of sesame oil.  (You can use regular oil, but I love the smell and taste of toasted sesame oil).

While you're frying the potatoes, grab some shallots and chop em up. Do the same with the carrots and measure out the peas. Drop the peas and carrots into boiling water and cook em up till they're soft.

Put the fried potatoes aside and splash a little more oil into the wok. Start frying the shallots until they are nicely caramelized and then add in your curry paste. Malaysian curry paste has a distinct flavour, but if you're like me and don't have any on hand, any other curry paste will work. I used a mix of Glico Curry cubes and Thai Kitchen Red Curry paste. Fry until the colour of the paste has darkened and your house smells wonderfully fragrant.

At this point, add in your ground beef/chicken/turkey. I used ground turkey because it's healthier for you and has less fat (and...loblaws was out of ground beef..shhh), but if you want to be super legit, ground beef is where it's at. 

Cook up the ground meat and when it's cooked, throw in the potatoes, the carrots and the peas. Stir everything together and then pour in the coconut milk. Let it simmer for awhile and then take it off the heat. The mixture should thicken upon standing, but if your mixture looks too wet, add in a teaspoon of flour or cornstarch. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients of the water dough. Use your paddle attachment on medium speed for about 1 minute. Then switch to the dough hook, and take it out when it forms a ball. (You can also do all of this by hand.)

Put the dough on a floured surface and cover it with a tea towel. Let it rest for about ten minutes while you prep the butter dough.

Combine the ingredients for the butter dough and with a paddle attachment process it into pea sized crumblies, or use a pastry cutter to achieve these results.

Press the crumble together to form a rectangular block.

Roll out the water dough and then place the rectangular butter dough in the middle. It might not look super pretty, but just go with it!

Fold up all four sides of the water dough into the middle, like an envelope. A yummy buttery letter inside an envelope. Then flip it over and roll it into a larger rectangle.

Once you've rolled out the dough (sorry, I don't have a picture for that. Oops!), fold the top and bottom ends into the middle, and then fold that in two. Is that confusing? it should look something like this: 

Turn the dough 90 degrees counter clockwise, cover it, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

Then, roll the dough out again into a rectangle, fold it into three parts, rotate 90 degrees counter clockwise, cover and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Watch Frasier because it's fun and witty.

Finally roll it out into a large rectangle. Or, if you're inept like me, something that doesn't even remotely look like a rectangle, but strangely looks a bit like Grimace, the purple monster. 90s children don't even get that reference.

Cut the dough into four and then start rolling each quarter up. Roll it tightly but don't overdo it!

Cut up the dough into little blocks. Each block should weigh no more than 20g.  

Then roll out these blocks into circles to make the puff wrappers. Each wrapper should be about 2mm thick, not less, or else you will have some meat explosions whilst filling! I speak from experience!

Gaze at your work with admiration and look at the little spiral pattern. You know it'll be some flaky goodness!

Now it's time to fill! Put a couple of spoonfuls of the curry-meat mixture in the center of the wrapper, and fold in half, so that it looks like a little moon. Make sure to press the edges together firmly. Then, it's time to start pleating. I didn't manage to take pictures of how to do this, but this youtube video should help you! 

Admire your handiwork and breathe a sigh of relief. Only 29 more puffs to go!

When you've finished pleating all of them, line them up on a foil pan, and line another baking tray with doubled up paper towels.

Heat up oil in a dutch oven or wok, and start frying for about 2.5 minutes per side. 

Take a picture of your HH being your sous-chef.

Get back to work fry up the rest, and then let them sit to cool for a bit. They will be VERY hot and very irresistible and sexy-like.

Then, enjoy your handiwork! Yum!

The Moose agrees.

Malaysian Curry Puff Recipe
(adapted from Indochine Kitchen)

makes ~ 30 curry puffs. This recipe is easily halve-able.

Water Dough
420g flour
120g salted butter
220 g ice water

Butter Dough
240g flour
150g butter

400g ground beef/chicken/turkey
600g potatoes, cubed and pan fried (approximately 6 medium sized potatoes)
5 shallots
100g peas
100g carrots
1 cup coconut milk
3 cubes of Glico curry and 1 teaspoon Thai Kitchen Curry Paste
salt to taste
flour or cornstarch
sesame oil for filling
canola oil for deep frying
To reheat, just stick in the oven at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes!



Saturday, April 13, 2013

So many blessings this week for which I am thankful.

Beautiful Flowers
Date night with HH

Fake Chinese Food Buffet with the staff team and HH

AMAZING eggs benny and family.
Celebrating a friend's 29th year with Chicken&Waffles and Fruit&Sweet Potato Pancakes

Things have been really grey around here, but it seems like spring is just around the corner.



Monday, April 8, 2013

I think I have a bit of sleep anxiety. When I go to bed, if I know that I'll need to be awake in a mere 5 hours, it seems impossible to fall asleep. The harder I try, the more awake I become. You know the feeling? I wish I could be more like HH, who somehow manages to fall asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

But speaking of pillows (see how good I am a segues?)

HH and I have been married almost two years, but up till now, we've only had a sad little pillow, sitting lonely on our couch. I mean, the pillow itself is nice, but one small pillow on a three person couch just doesn't cut it. (Even the Moose looks puzzled by the lacklustre pillow). Those were sad, grey times.

please disregard all the dog hair on the couch...
So I made us some pillows. And then I made some more for some friendlies. And 8 hours one day, and three hours another day later, I was done! We went from one pillow to eight. SUPERHEROES!

(All of them have different fabric on the back and hidden zippers; ours have a chevron pattern, which I personally think is super lovely.)

And the Moose? Well, she still looks puzzled. But I guess when you go from zero to hero, that's pretty understandable.

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