The Week in Review – October 19, 2013

A year ago we were preparing for Tanpo’s surgery/biopsy.  It seems like such a long time ago that he has already forgotten – last week he asked me, Wasn’t that TWO years ago?

Nope, it was 12 months.  I don’t forget these things.  I also remember the time he told us he did have cancer – it was August 2002 and he felt it was appropriate to inform us over hot dogs at Costco.  Real casual-like, see.

A lot has happened since then, and the great news is that we are all enjoying a measure of health presently.  Or at least medical stability.  🙂

12B. Codebreaker

One of the little known side effects of my illness is that I was required to be a codebreaker as soon as I woke up.  This happened when people had to say “no” to me but felt really bad about it so they framed it in nice words and I had to read between the lines.

One of my favorite examples is when I started to wake up in the 2nd Hospital and wanted some fruit so badly, but the sign on the wall said “NPO” and told everyone that both food and liquid were contraband items in my world.  This did not stop me, however, from hitting up passers by for some ice chips or fruit.  I though a lot about that part in Pride & Prejudice (ch. 55, I think, for you Austenites out there) when Georgiana plays the reluctant hostess at Pemberly and does her duty by serving pyramids of fresh peaches, grapes, nectarines etc. to Lizzy and other guests.  I wanted some fruit in the worst way and asked Mommy for some.  It pained her to have to deny me something that I wanted so much, and Mom said some very loving and sad words that I mercifully don’t recall.  I only remember the moment when I summarized, “So…‘no’ to the fruit.”

Now that I’m better, I’m the one who speaks in code.  Here is a sampling for my family’s reference:

  • Ed is baking cookies. = I need baked goods NOW.
  • Ed thinks you’re the cat’s pajamas, Mommy. = I love you, Mom.
  • Ed and I are going to go tell Tanpo a joke. = I’m going to go bother Dad.
  • Ed is sitting on the sofa with Tanpo while he “watches” (naps during) the PBS Newshour. = I really, really, really don’t want Dad to be sick.


Monday:  Ed had so much fun…

Tuesday:  Losing Heart

Wednesday:  Wake Up Call

Thursday:  Wounded

Friday:  Timmy’s Monster Cookie

The Week in Review – 10.12.2013

Prayer Detox | Ann Ning Learning How

Let me tell you the story behind this picture. It’s my strawberry lemonade from lunch with Mommy.  I rarely order anything except water, but the colors were too tempting for me this time.  A couple of seconds after I took this picture we began eating.  Sadly, it was not a good motor skill day for me and I kept on dropping food all over the place.  Multiple times.  Grrr.  This might not seem like a big deal to you, especially if you have young kids, but I am a grown woman and I am unused to making this kind of mess.  This is why it took me MONTHS to eat anything in front of anyone when we got home.  On one of my first visits I didn’t partake of the delicious-looking blueberry coffee cake JLSS had made because of the animal-eating factor.  I got over that eventually, as evidenced by my happy eating on Wednesday when we all enjoyed yummy meals from our favorite kebab place.

Anyhoo, back to the lunch with Mom:  I was so frustrated when the third piece of food dropped and rolled around somewhere that I had to cover my face with my napkin, squeeze my eyes shut, and growl so I wouldn’t burst into tears right then.  “Mommy,” I said, “I am so frustrated.”  Mom and Ai Ai have told me that prior to the brain bleed I always presented myself as very collected and controlled.  I think they were referring mostly to my speech patterns, but it’s apparent that my presentation skills on all fronts have been tossed out of the window.

Mommy told me to breathe deeply and have a bite of her lunch, so I pulled it together and proceeded with my day.  It is incidents like these, that happen more often than I mention them here, that make me sure that I need the Prayer Detox and so thankful that I’m able to do it.

Week in Review20131012 |Post AVM Rupture Recovery Yr2 |Ann Ning Learning How

Monday:  Going Big:  “Aunty Ning Ning, why do you walk so S-L-O-W?”

Tuesday:  Dairy Free Roasted Veggie Chowder with Chicken or Clams

Wednesday:  They’ll Keep

Thursday:  Emergency Cookies – vegan, gluten free, no sugar added

Friday:  Creamy Green Apple Smoothie – dairy free

The Week in Review – October 5, 2013


Mommy bringing Leo to me after we retrieved him.

Do you remember that man at the Taj M’Teeter I talked about on Wednesday?  (Praise the Lord!  How you doin’ today?)  When he told me he’d pray for me he said he’d pray specifically that I’d throw my cane away (he just pointed to Leo and said, “this thing”) within two months.  I was thinking, I’m all for that – it’s good to be optimistic, and I know the Lord could execute rapid or instant healing, but that doesn’t seem to be His will thus far.  Plus I thought it quite bold to give a time frame for such a thing – I probably wouldn’t, but I’ve met a couple of random people who have prayed for immediate results for me and I’ve honored their faith in asking for a miracle even though God’s answer was “no,” and it didn’t happen right then and there.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I started experimenting by walking without Leo more often in public.  I had no falls, but then my legs started acting up and I got a little more nervous about weight-bearing, so Mommy said I should use the cane just to be safe.

We went to Wegman’s last week and we were halfway down 270 when Mommy started looking around the car funnily.  “Where’s Leo?” she asked.

I looked around and gasped.  I had forgotten him!  He was hanging on the shopping cart and I had just gotten in the car without him.

I was so sad I whimpered in a panicky sort of way.  “I feel like a bad mother!”  I told Mom.

We turned around and retrieved Leo, after a nice parking lot attendant ran around and found my cane for us.  I told Leo I was sorry, and that I wouldn’t forget him again.

I just realized Friday morning that the man at Harris Teeter had his prayers answered.  I didn’t throw Leo away like in the trash or anything, I just forgot I had him and left him behind.

Similarly, we went to E & R’s this week because my baby Karine had Granparent’s Day at school and had invited Grammo and Grampo to attend.  It was so nice to see everyone!  It was a short visit, though – less than 24 hours.  10 minutes after we had started the homebound journey I looked around the backseat and had a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach.  The back seat was devoid of the large orange pumpkin Ed wears at this time of year.

Ed!!  I forgot Eddie!! I told Mommy, recalling that he was sitting in the exersaucer near the front door.  Mommy told me it’d be okay, and I should be a big girl and Ernie and Ruthie will bring Ed home on their next visit, which will be soon.  Okay,  I agreed.

Ernie sent me this picture an hour later, and Ruth texted me saying that Ed was eating some chocolate chip pie to console himself. (The pie is in the collage at the bottom.)


This morning Mommy told me, See?  It shows that you’re better since you’ve not fallen to pieces because Ed isn’t here.

Mommy, I confided,  I’m holding on by a shred.

Week in Review 20131005 |Post AVM Rupture Recovery Yr2 | Ann Ning Learning How

PS.  Don’t you love this picture of Peter?  (bottom right)

Monday:  All Dressed Up…

Tuesday:  Pumpkin Spice Mocha

Wednesday:  Prayer Detox for Beginners

Thursday:  Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Squares [Vegan]

Friday:  Gingerbread Latte


The Week In Review – Sept. 28, 2013


11. Wok Breath

11. Wok Breath

Ed got to come to lunch with us on Friday.  We went to the same restaurant we lunched at after I met M (37) for the first time and wrote about wok-breath.  This picture is of our appetizers.  If you live in the DC Metro area, this place is fabulous – a hidden gem.  It’s Sergio’s Ristorante in Silver Spring.  It’s in the basement of the Double Tree hotel near the corner of Spring and Fenton and the food is superb.  All three of us usually have “the fish” – it comes out crispy without being too “fried,” with some beautiful bits of green arugula on top with a lemon-butter sauce all around.  Mom and I will get veggies for our side and Tanpo gets that wonderful plate of pasta.  That pasta is so good, even though it’s super plain – I think it’s just butter or olive oil and parmesan – I wish I was eating pasta right now, but the veggies are also so good that I don’t feel too badly about that.  The salad is also very simple but astonishingly delicious – olive oil and lemon, I think, with greens.  Usually, I like salad with a lot of color.  But I’m content to eat this in all of its monochromatic yumminess.

While I’m at it let me tell you about another basement gem: Makoto – a Japanese restaurant on MacArthur Blvd.  I used to go there with Mommy to celebrate the passing of the semesters when I was an undergraduate at Georgetown.  One of the last times I went there before I got sick was right before graduating from Business School.  My friend and small-group teammate, R, came with me and we had lunch boxes there right before he had to go home to Japan.  They had soft shell crab tempura in the lunch box that day, and I’m telling you – it was literally the stuff dreams are made of.  When I was babbling at Vibra one of the places I told Mommy we needed to go was Makoto.  We have been there a couple of times since I got sick and they have not had the soft-shell crab again, but it doesn’t matter – I am always delighted by whatever is in the box that day. Sadly, I’ve decided to abstain for now since you do have to navigate the flight of steps down to the restaurant, and the whole experience is gastronomically fabulous but not so great for me in my mobility-challenged state.  The entryway is full of shoes (you have to take yours off – I wear grippy socks since I am unable to wear the slippers they provide), and the seating area is very small.  I think it seats less than 25, and there are these little stools that are not overly conducive to my uprightness.  When we’ve gone my parents have been careful to position me near a wall.  The fact that I have even attempted to go there means that I enjoy my meals there.  So.  Much.

Okay, enough food talk.  Wait, I take that back – this week has been very food-heavy on my blog – this was Sun Butter Week!  I’m going to bed now (Friday night).  Good night!

The Week in Review 20130928 |Post AVM Rupture Recovery Yr2 | Ann Ning Learning How

Monday:  Homemade Sun Butter

Tuesday:  At the Ready

Wednesday:  Giant Sun Butter Cups [Dairy Free]

Thursday:  Seriously?  Could you HAVE any more friends?

Friday:  Sun/Almond Butter Scones [Grain and Dairy Free, No Sugar Added]

The Week in Review – September 21, 2013


In case you haven’t figured it out yet, when I post a verse like this:


…it’s not for you, it’s for me.  Well, it’s kind of for you – I’m hoping that while I’m busy trying to encourage myself in the Lord like David, you’ll be encouraged, too, as a happy fringe benefit.   And come on.   Could you really tell me you don’t need this verse?  I sure do.  I mean, I know it, but I need to be reminded of it all the time – hence the pretty picture.

The first picture above is my cart at Whole Foods when I went shopping with Mommy this week.  I experimented with caneless walking in public and did okay – I do think I either have to get more used to the possibility of being jostled or give in and carry the cane sometimes bc Leo is a good visual cue for people to be a little more careful around me.  But I was using my core the whole time and was therefore reasonably confident that I wouldn’t fall, but if I did, I would not throw anything out of whack.

We were at WF bc I needed some ingredients (organic and pastured) for some things I wanted to make for a very dear friend’s baby shower.  So I distracted myself with that!  And I found out that you can make a lovely custard in the Vitamix.  Scarily, the Vitamix heats it up until it’s plenty hot.  There are eggs in custard so I looked up the temperature at which an egg is considered cooked and safe enough to eat – FYI it’s 160 degrees.  My custard reached 170.  YEAH!

I might have also fallen off the grain-free wagon at WF due to some lovely hamantaschen in the baked goods area.  I have been very good over the past few months, but I do love me some hamantaschen.  If the hamantaschen incident did not signal my fall off the wagon, it was confirmed as I spent a lovely few hours with S&J, who stopped by on their way up to CMML, and we had a morning tea/coffee break that somehow morphed into a dim sum party at the Tan’s Favorite Chinese Place.  They are fixin’ to move to Burundi and will live a couple of doors down from ChezJ – and I am terribly excited for them and so pleased that JCJ & JJ have colleagues now – JJ’s brother, his wife, and two daughters moved there (perhaps a year or more ago, I can’t recall), and now S&J are joining them.

When I got to see DnA (my Oregonian Parents) earlier this summer they were on their way to Burundi for a few months (but are safely home now).  As veteran missionaries themselves (they spent a lifetime in Ecuador), I figured they were up on this whole subject and confided in them early on in my Africa Quest.  They very kindly stopped by my apartment while I was in Africa and picked up a package from Amazon that had arrived while I was away – it was a French Bible with teeny tiny print.  It was the Bible I carried on my last Sunday at church before I got sick.  I sat next to Mr. and Mrs. N, JJ’s maternal grandparents.  I don’t remember much else.

But I gave that Bible to S&J since I don’t need it anymore.  I am so pleased that they can use it, and am grateful that our house is a few pounds lighter since I got them to take a few other books, too – my Kirundi Bible, dictionary, and my giant Perspectives reader and workbook.  I made poor Mommy pack them to come home with me but didn’t understand that I wasn’t going to need them.  I was wrong about a lot of things.  The hardest thing about not going to Africa is that I thought I was right.  I truly thought that I had discerned the will of the Lord and I was SO excited.  And then I got sick.  Being wrong isn’t actually the source of my angst, it’s the contrast between my excitement and my disappointment when I began to understand that what I thought I wanted more than anything wasn’t going to happen.  But you know what?  In the long run it’s not going to matter.  Plan “C” is going to be better than any of the plans I hatched on my own.

Psalm 34 Sunflower | Downloadable print | Ann Ning Learning How


Monday:  Kept in the Dark

Tuesday:  Pumping Iron

Wednesday:  How to Make Yogurt (Laban)

Thursday:  Learning How to Walk

Friday:  Anxious?

The Week in Review – 9.14.13


Another picture from the Hillsboro Library

You’re probably like, Umm….really?  She’s kind of fixated on that library.  Guilty.  But I’m serious – it was one of my favorite places.  It was a nice new facility with oodles of books, videos and study space.  The “backyard” was wonderfully landscaped and it was a great spot for me to read or exercise if I didn’t want to stay in/around my apartment.  Yes, it’s a little nerdy – but I’m not fighting the nerd-like tendencies.  I need to save my energy for other stuff these days.  I like to read, and my writing style was largely influenced by the fact that I loved to read as a child.  My bottom line defense for why I think about the library so often, though, is that I was happy there.

Now I’m contemplating the bookshelves in my room and am plotting to clear them out, book by book, shelf by shelf.  Thank God that I am physically able to read.  It has gotten easier since VT (thanks, everyone!), but if my eyes stay like this forever I will never have the same relationship with books that I used to.  I am firmly in the “listening” camp now, which is rather unfortunate since I am a visual, not auditory learner.  Anyway, I’m ready to get rid of my books and bookcases. It’s just going to take a while bc I want to do as much as I can by myself and I’m kind of impaired presently.  But I have to start thinking of the things in storage that are coming home.

There are basically 3 things, besides my shoes and handbags, that I’d really like to see again:  1) my piano, 2) the tiny secretary (desk) Aunty Sila gave me – I used to keep my jewelry in it 3) my green dragonfly chair/ottoman.  Mom and Dad got me that chair in the Summer of ’08 when I was interning in OR and living with L.  They went to NC to look at furniture and they got me a special birthday present.  If I get rid of my bookcase it will fit in the corner of my room nicely.  But that’s assuming that it’s made it through the past 2+ years undamaged.  We did not anticipate leaving my things in storage for so long – I don’t know that anyone (besides me) imagined me getting all better, moving into my apartment again and picking up where I left off, but I think Mom and Dad were just focused on getting my stuff moved and packed away so they could take me home.  My chair was wrapped in plastic, and I hope the upholstery is okay, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it isn’t.  I’m just bracing myself for the moment when we open that garage and see the state everything’s in.  When I go and see it, I’ll tell you whether or not the chair’s okay.


Monday:  Yee Haw! and Taking Sides

Tuesday:  Grilled Pizzas

Wednesday:  I’m Rooting for You | Things I miss about OR/My Old Life

Thursday:  Baby Pictures

Friday:  There’s no crying in Baseball!  

The Week in Review – August 31, 2013

Hello!  Here’s another winner:


[Melting.]  Have a great weekend!

The Week in Review | AVM Rupture Recovery Yr 2 20130831| Ann Ning Learning How

Monday:  Thoroughly Movie-Ready

Tuesday:  My New Cohort – Rehab Class of 2013+

Wednesday:  Ed goes to the ENT…and…”Come with us!”

Thursday: Peachy Crisp [Grain Free & Dairy Free]

Friday:  Gait Training with The Boys & How to Laugh when you Really Feel Like Crying

The Week in Review – August 24, 2013

Handicapped Air Travel | Ann Ning Learning How

Look!  I’m home.  I had SUCH a good time with Tim&Ai Ai, Hannah and Josh (and Skittles!) but all good things must come to an end.  Happily, coming home is also a good thing.  Notably, they had special seating for me at the airport.

The Week in Review | AVM Rupture Recovery Year 2| Ann Ning Learning How

Monday:  Shepherd’s Pie for the Family
Butternut Bacon Mushroom (Dairy Free)
Bacon BBQ Cheeseburger

Tuesday:  Ancestry

Wednesday:  How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

Thursday:  Vanilla Maple Walnut Milk
How to make no-strain, no-wait, hassle-free nondairy milk & creamer

Friday: So Simple:  Asian Grilled Tofu

The Week in Review – August 17, 2013

It’s almost time for me to go home!  It has been such a lovely summer, though.

Here’s a blast from the past:


Do you see how little Josh is?  And how able-bodied I am?

Sniff.  Enough reminiscing.

I’m going to go eat some peach crisp and be happy.  So there.

The Week in Review | 20130817 AVM Rupture Recovery Yr2 | Ann Ning Learning How

Monday:  The Belt of Truth

Tuesday:  Thin Mint Brownie Pie [Gluten Free & Vegan]

Wednesday:  Food for Thought Series 4/4 –

Who are your customers and how will you reach them?

Thursday:  Flourless “Nutella” Bars [Gluten free & Vegan

Friday:  Paleo Sandwich Bread


The Weeks in Review – August 10, 2013

This is another favorite of mine:


Mm hmm.   Classic.


2 Weeks ago:

Strawberry Peach Frozen Lemonade

Fluffy Nutella

Operation Hospitality

I’ve Got This

Ed Goes to the Driving Range & Don’t You Care?

Last Week:

Monday:  Radiant

Tuesday:   Lime Cream Icebox Pie [Vegan and Grain Free]

Wednesday:  I Found Grace in the Valley

Thursday:  Classic

Friday:  Golden Cream Sauce [Dairy Free]