~ dazed - in a state of mental numbness...unable to think with clarity or act intelligently
~ dazzling - extremely clever, attractive, brilliant, or impressive

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Cleaning Daze

One of my From Dazed to Dazzling goals is to organize everything in my home (and life), and it's a never-ending process to decorate and maintain a home, so that's why I'm writing about SPRING CLEANING. Depending on the person, this phrase can strike fear in the heart, be a source of stress, or actually be a good, almost spiritual, process. I'm somewhere in-between. I want to clean things but unless I have hours (days) and two free hands, it can be very difficult to do any cleaning, let alone spring cleaning, with the boys underfoot.

Basically, spring cleaning equals more cleaning than is the norm, a sort of fresh slate for the new year, after a long, musty winter. What spring cleaning means to me: (1) reorganize desks, closets, drawers (not just clean them, but do something different to keep those areas clean); (2) get rid of unnecessary clothes, boxes, trash, or broken things (if I haven't worn it, used it, or fixed it by now, I'm probably not going to); and (3) clean floors, windows, baseboards, behind/underneath furniture, ceiling fans (i.e. things I should clean all the time, but haven't gotten around to yet). Wish me luck! What do YOU really need to do to spring clean your house?

Helpful links and ideas to kickstart SPRING CLEANING:

Attempting Aloha: Think outside the {toy} Box - Over 50 Organizational Tips for Kids' Spaces
* This is a cute blog with a TON of great ideas for organizing, decor, crafts, and more. The ideas in this post can be adapted for your stuff too, not just for kids! Although if you have kids, you know that stuff accumulates, so any idea to organize, de-clutter, or help your kids keep things tidy is a great thing.

Shopping at - Spring Cleaning Edition
* This blog has inspired me to check out my local 99 Cent Store and I LOVE IT! Dollar stores are great for cheap cleaning supplies (you can find name brands like Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, Palmolive, and more), as well as thousands of boxes, bins, and baskets, just to name a few of the storage options. I've been getting crafting supplies, party supplies, and seasonal stuff there lately too. Don't underestimate these stores or criticize the people who shop there's really great for some items.

Then of course there's my trusty Online shopping is great because I don't have to go out (I know, I am such a home-body), and there are reviews for almost every item you could think of purchasing. Just a reminder...I get a small commission when you shop using the product links I post like the ones below (you don't have to buy that product, just buy anything like you normally would), or if you click on any of those boxes/links on the side of this blog.
I earn money from,, and Thanks for shopping! And I hope I've given you some ideas and motivation to start SPRING CLEANING! Here is a handy link to some spring poems I wrote and posted on my Cambodian Mom blog if you need to get into the spring mode.

If you can't see the links product links are to things I have or want for myself: 1) 3x2 cube bookcases, 2) snap-lock lid anti-microbial glass tupperware, 3) set of 3 canvas nesting baskets, 4) wall-mount grocery bag storage, 5) clear vinyl top/cedar inserts/canvas under-the-bed storage, and 6) Rubbermaid Reveal refillable spray mop (can fill with water or your own cleaning solution).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Online Success

One step to becoming more positive and more bold is to put myself out there (on the web) and subject myself to public view and opinion. If I didn't do this, I would just be living in my own little bubble and no one would know how well or how poorly I was doing except me. What's the fun in that? So on my Cambodian Mom blog, I chronicled the past 5 weeks that I've been blogging and writing and publishing online articles. I note how I've made a few bucks (literally) through various ad programs and a few more bucks becoming an Amazon affiliate.

Honestly though, I'm doing all this to have an outlet for what I love to do - which is to write and read. And secondarily, to get validation. A pat on the back. An ego boost. Whatever you want to call it. It's so nice to write something and instantly get feedback and comments. It's even better when readers say they've learned something from your article. This is why I like and think it's different from blogs or other sites. There are tons of writers (amateur and professional, new and veteran), from diverse backgrounds, that are writing informative, interesting articles, and a community of readers that encourage each other. To be recognized for my writing - that's such a new and awesome feeling.

My hub on traditional Cambodian wedding ceremonies has done especially well. Below are my achievements for this article.

February 29, 2012 - After a few days of "campaigning" my friends to vote for my article, I received this email from one of the awesome Hubpages Elite (a hub veteran who chose the Hubnugget nominees - who are new writers in various categories):
Hi sunbun143,
Congratulations! With 22 percent of the vote, your Hub was selected by the HubPages community as a winner! Excited? We are!
Your profile picture and an excerpt and link to your Hub will be included in today's weekly HubPages newsletter, which is sent to tens of thousands HubPages community members. You will also receive the HubNuggets Accolade, one of the rarest Accolades on HubPages.
Let me be the first to congratulate you and encourage you to continue to write such wonderful Hubs. You're an inspiration all Hubbers who are getting started and an encouragement to “veterans” as well.
We hope that you continue to enjoy writing at HubPages and participating in the community. We certainly enjoy your work.
Congratulations again, and we look forward to seeing you around.
March 5, 2012 - I received the accolade of "Hub of the Day" for this same article. It was promoted on the Hubpages homepage; I hope it was a good example for people curious about Hubpages and got more people interested in writing and sharing what they know. I'm very proud in particular that it shined a light on Cambodian culture and got a lot of people commenting on what a beautiful wedding it was (patting myself on the back). I think all the pictures pushed it over the top - we were all smiles on our wonderful wedding day (despite the 100+ temperature!). Below is the explanation of the "Hub of the Day" accolade:
The Hub of the Day is an exemplary Hub chosen by the HubPages Staff to be featured on the signed-in homepage for one day and in the carousel of the signed-out homepage for ten days. Staff are looking for Hubs that contain interesting and useful subject matter, high-quality and grammatically correct writing, and beautiful formatting. A Hub of the Day accolade will be displayed on the Hub itself, as well as in the Hubber’s accolade box. To see previous Hubs of the Day, we have archived them for you here. For more information on the Hub of the Day, check out our Blog post. {click HERE to check out the archives of Hub of the Day and enjoy reading other great articles!}
Additionally, over 70 wonderful people have made nice comments following the article. It's been viewed over 500 times this week and almost 1000 times total since I published it mid-February. And I've gained quite a following in the Hubpages world in just under 6 weeks with 5 articles published so far. You can always check out these articles and comment, even if you don't join (links to my articles are in the Hubpages box to the side of this post). Anyway, I wanted to share my achievements lately because that's what this blog is for - to outline my goals and challenges, to list my successes and setbacks. Two of my Dazzling goals were to learn how to praise myself for my successes and learn how to accept a compliment. So thanks for the compliment readers!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exercising ... Baby Steps

I've been exercising this past gym or anything offficial, but when I have a moment during the day, or feel couch potato-ish, I do a few sets of push-ups and sit-ups and other things. It's a conscious part of my look better/feel better attitude and my journey to become healthy and awesome. Exercising is not the most bothersome thing to do, as I used to think. It's actually fun to do with the kids. Here's how I involve them:
  • I lay the baby on a blanket on the ground, facing up. I do 10 push-ups, kissing his little face each time I go down. My toddler, in the meantime, is usually mimicking me on his own rug.
  • Then I do stretches, e.g. things I learned from pilates. Like sitting up with both legs folded to one side, and stretching arms up and then down over my head to one side, then up and bending down to the other side (called the mermaid HERE to learn more). And we do some toe touching and leg stretches too. The baby is very entranced and amused by my movements. The toddler will try these moves with my encouragement.
  • For core work - I do bicycle crunches. Alternating right elbow to left knee, then left elbow to right knee, etc. and stretching the straight leg out as high as possible. I find that doing these well, engaging my core, really makes a difference. I'm feeling muscles I haven't used in months! Maybe years! My toddler loves "helping" by trying to push me up from behind.
  • Then I do some jumping jacks. These are the kids' favorites. It's very stimulating for the little one to see his mommy huffing and puffing and jumping around. And the toddler loves counting or doing ABC's with mommy as a way of multi-tasking during this exercise.
  • We also dance whenever there's music on or when we play dancing video games (xbox kinect is very fun!) or when his cartoon theme songs come on. We may watch tv quite a bit but I interact with him and dance and sing as much as possible!
  • If I'm feeling ambitious, I do some tricep dips or bicep curls, but I think my arms are getting a workout every day when I'm lifting my 15-lb baby and carrying him around everywhere. And of course, there are the vacuum lunges I do, marathon laundry days, wax-on/wax-off dusting...(j/k on that last one)...basically, keeping my fitness in mind while doing chores makes things more interesting and maybe more calorie-burning.
Another thing I've been trying to keep in mind is to NOT finish my son's food. Being a picky eater means he leaves a lot of food on the plate, sometimes wasting half a sandwich or bowl of rice for example...well, I stop myself from popping that perfectly good piece of food into my mouth, and falling prey to what every parent becomes at some point - the human garbage disposal. I'm trying to only eat when I need to (not just because it's there) and to stop when I'm full.

I'm also drinking (a little) more water these days. A cup of warm water to start off the day and end the night is nice, comforting, and calorie-free. That said, I am still addicted to sugary snacks and drinks. At least, the hubby and I are eating less fast food (like maybe only once or twice a MONTH, rather than a week).

RESULTS: I haven't been tied to the scale, so I'm not sure of exactly how long it took, but I'm seeing numbers I haven't seen since before my first pregnancy 3 YEARS ago! It took about a year to get the baby weight off the first time. Then with the second pregnancy, I gained less and lost it all in these past few months. I probably lost a pound or so when I cut off all my hair. And now, I'm losing even more, zooming by that pesky "pre-pregnancy weight" mark that's been looming over me since February 2009. And that weight was a whopping 25 lbs more than my "wedding weight" which was only 9 months before (it was a tough 9 months*). Needless to say, I have a bit more to go before I reach my previous wedding weight. Maybe in time for this summer's whirlwind of weddings to attend?

*Here's a helpful timeline:

May 2008 = wedding weight

{June-July 2008 - studying for and taking bar exam #1             } 
{Aug-Dec 2008 - waiting for/recovering from bar exam results } 
{Jan-Feb 2009 - studying for and taking bar exam #2              }
= +25 lbs

Feb 2009 - got pregnant {this was my official pre-pregnancy weight}
Feb-Nov 2009 - pregnancy #1 - gained 28 lbs
Nov 2010 - Jake turns 1, I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight
Jan 2011 - got pregnant again
Jan-Sept 2011 - pregnancy #2 - gained 20 lbs
Dec 2011 - back to my pre-pregnancy weight
Feb 2012 - lost 5 additional lbs

Feb-May 2012 - lose another 10 lbs!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Operation Beautiful

While browsing the blogosphere (blogging/online world), I came across this site: and I just had to share, especially since today is a day devoted to love (well, "Hallmark love" but we can make it mean something else). Basically, the website promotes the mission of posting positive notes in random public places, so that whoever comes across it can read it and feel beautiful or just smile. It started with the idea that women and girls are too down on themselves a lot of the time, and encouraging, positive messages to boost one's self-esteem can be revolutionary in changing that negative cycle. I thought - what a simple and amazing idea. Imagine how nice it is to get a compliment or when someone admires your kids. It gives you a little ego boost, maybe just when you especially need one. Now imagine that when you're in a public restroom, or at the park, or driving down the street, and instead of horrible graffiti, you see "Smile! You're beautiful." or "You are a beautiful CUPCAKE in a world full of MUFFINS." Hehehe. Not that there's anything wrong with muffins but cupcakes have frosting!!

Anyway, I thought that I would participate in this mission. It goes right along with one of my goals to look and FEEL beautiful as a part of becoming DAZZLING, and my step of asking for help and helping others. When you perform random acts of kindness, or help a friend, or give encouraging words to your partner, you spread positive feelings, to combat all the negativity out there. If you promote positivity in your circle, your community, the online society, the can only bring more positivity to your own life too. You can join in the fun...just carry a pad of post-its and a pen or some note paper, and leave notes in random places. You can send in your pics of notes you've posted or found and they'll put them up on their website every day. How about a sticky note on the shopping cart handle. Or the windshield of a car in your workplace parking lot. You can put the website name on there, to spread its message. Maybe you can start right at home...put one on your mirror, and snap a pic of your beautiful self and your little note. Here's mine:
That says: "You're a wonderful person, so SMILE!"

Of course, it's easy to smile when you're with this little guy :)

Operation Beautiful also has published a book that compiles some of the best, most inspiring notes they've collected over the years. Below is a link to buy it on I hope you check out their site and perform an act of random kindness today (and every day, if possible). The book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" is a great book that can help explain to kids why they should do and say kind things. Also, if you need inspiration, here is a great article full of positive quotes and sayings. And of course, give your loved ones an extra nice hug today. :D

Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Taking The Next Step

Step 2: Tackle challenges and acknowledge successes.

As my last post showcased, I am very happy and proud of my achievements, no matter how small. I want to continue in this fashion and post what I am (or should be) proud of. Yes, I am also fishing for compliments. I recognize, of course, that with each new success, there are dozens more challenges I need to confront. Hopefully, posts about my successes in overcoming each challenge will be numerous :) 

Step 3: Ask for help and help others.

There's no shame in asking for help, as my friends and family can attest to every time I am running late or when the house is a mess when they come visit. In that same vein, I think it's nice not to judge others when they're running late or the house/party/dinner or whatever wasn't perfect. It would be better to jump in and lend a hand, so everyone can have a good time, right? That way, you will always be a good guest as well as a good hostess. I should add this to my list of challenges...

Step 4: Learn something new every day.

This should be everyone's goal. One time long ago, I envisioned being a world traveler, seeing new sights and meeting new people every day. That may not be my life right now, but fundamentally, I am experiencing something new every day as a mother. Life is never boring when you have kids. To keep growing and becoming a good person, no matter what successes I have in my life, I will always strive for more and hope to learn something or do something new every day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New year, New style

A couple weeks ago I attended the wedding of my husband's old med school friend. At first, I was apprehensive about going. We hadn't talked to this particular friend for over a year (maybe even two) and had never met his fiancee. And after a hearty holiday season and just having had a newborn and dealing with a wild toddler at home, I wasn't feeling particularly in the mood to emerge from my cocoon and party all night at a wedding. Especially not a fancy Beverly Hills wedding. But my husband had rsvp'ed us weeks before, so we were definitely going.

It was decided that we'd leave Jake (our toddler) at home with his grandparents while we took Logan (4-mth old, still nursing) with us. Jake is familiar with his Korean grandparents, and sees them every other week or so, but besides a couple movie nights out, my husband and I had never left him in their care for very long. Four hours tops. And I thought about this....the most I had ever been away from my son during his entire TWO YEARS of life was...FOUR HOURS!? Okay, that settles it, we're going to this wedding and enjoying every minute of it.
I wore this dress everywhere. Jake is almost 4 months older in every picture!
I had to get a dress, since I'd worn the same (blue) dress to every function and wedding for the last 2 years. And I had to do something about my hair - it was long (almost to my butt), constantly got in my way, and was now shedding all over the place (it's normal to lose hair post-pregnancy). I thought I'd get it cut and styled in time to go to the wedding that evening.

So off we went to Macy's department store. After striking out on the juniors floor (I am SO not a juniors size or age anymore, I realize), I go to the Women's floor, but am disappointed in the styles (matronly) and selection (I needed a v-neck or something that I could still nurse in, is that too much to ask??). I tried on a few, and thankfully, one fit. It also didn't have any tags in it (weird), only a store-generated tag, so I don't actually know its size or designer name. I used this weirdness to get an additional 10% off, and used gift cards I had, so the dress was only $57. I wanted something sparkly, like a brooch or sash to add interest to the black lace dress. So the store staff pulled out a box of discarded belts (I don't know how or why they had this) and gave me a couple FOR FREE!! I ended up wearing a leather rope belt and I thought it contrasted nicely with the old-fashioned (but elegant) lace. Over it all, since it was a rare drizzly night in Los Angeles, I wore a black bolero-type jacket. And I had black shoes (never worn) at home that went with it all, so that was not an issue.

15 inches!
I went to a Korean hair salon nearby that I'd gone to before, this time with a stylist that I had yelp'ed (i.e. looked up on a review site) and made an appointment with (rather than just walking in and hoping for the best). He didn't understand much English, but the reviews had led me to believe he'd understand what I wanted (or needed) without much direction. So I put my hair in his hands. I also wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love, so I asked him to put it in a ponytail before snipping (hacking) it off. He did so, but my asked-for 10 inches (the minimum required to donate) shoulder-length style turned into a whopping 15 inches cut off and chin-length! I told him how my hair tended to curl at the ends and I didn't want too much response, he gave me bangs! I've never had bangs! Luckily, they're long enough to tuck behind my ear but annoyingly, they're not long enough to tie back in a ponytail. Oh well. At least, the styling of loose waves/curls that I asked for was nice. I was just about ready to go to a wedding that night.

Makeup - I don't wear ANY on a day-to-day basis but I have a lot of bits I've collected over the years. Yes, I know makeup is not meant to be kept for years and years, barely being used, but it's what I got, so I use it. I used Benefit tinted moisturizer, Bare Minerals medium powder and mineral veil (click here to check it out), some brown eye shadow, and black mascara. I also used a rose cheek tint, and a dusty rose-colored lipstick. I painted my nails with a sheer shiny nail polish. I realized later that my "going-out" makeup was probably the same or less dramatic than most women's basic everyday makeup. Oh step at a time for me.
BEFORE (Oct-Dec 2011)

AFTER (Jan 2012)

At the wedding...I drank a few cocktails that night...yippee!

So...what do you think? The wedding ended up being really fun, and I didn't feel out of place at all. I belonged among the young, fun, wear-makeup-every day crowd. I was Sunny and Dazzling and looked Beautiful, even though I was a mom of two under 3. It was funny actually that a lot of guests we talked to and who were at our table had kids also, and had left their toddler at home too. Logan, an itty bitty newborn (the youngest there) was oohed and aahed over because he was so well behaved and cute. It was a fun night, which, including commute from our house, ended up being about 7 hours. Now that's the new longest time I have ever been away from Jake. And when I came home, I gave him a big hug and a kiss and told him I missed him (I did, a little) and he was nonplussed, having had a great time with his grandparents. They were exhausted though. Ha!...welcome to my life.

Separated for so long but none the worse for wear.
Isn't Logan the cutest?? He was an angel for the whole wedding.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Step 1

As my definitions of dazed and dazzling explain, I want to go from being a mentally slow, confused, almost inactive person to being a brilliant, amazing, impressive and active person. We all have areas of our life that we want to change or be better at, right? In addition to my personal blog and online articles, I wanted a place where I could just list my goals and accomplishments in an ordered fashion. My first goal is to be proactive about acknowledging my small successes, so my posts will chronicle any and all steps in the right direction. Please feel free to apply these steps to your life if you relate to them.

Step 1:
Identify problem areas and state goals

Problem 1: I don't look or feel beautiful. 
Goals: Makeover my outward appearance, dress more fashionably, wear makeup and style hair when I go out in public, exercise and eat better, have better posture. Praise myself and learn how to accept a compliment.

Problem 2: My house is always a cluttered mess.
Goals: Get organized: create a home for each wanted item, purge unnecessary items, donate as much as possible, get rid of everything else. Have one beautiful thing in each room for the eye to focus on. Get the family involved in daily/weekly/monthly chores so the mess doesn't ever get overwhelming.

Problem 3: My family needs to spend more quality time together.
Goals: Spend more time talking, playing, interacting and less time in front of the TV or watching movies; designate dinner time as TV-free time. Plan for and go on an outing at least once every two weeks. Take care of errands during the week, so weekends can be work and stress-free.

Problem 4: We need more income flowing in, not flowing out.
Goals: Find ways to work from home, contact lawyers and friends for possible paying temp work, keep writing/blogging/utilizing the internet. Keep our spending in check, look for deals for neccessaries, extreme-coupon/contact manufacturers for coupons and samples.