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Yesterday my sweet little boy turned 5. We celebrated the day with a pancake breakfast, a trip to Little Farm, and his requested birthday dinner of baked spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread (originally he had only requested salad, but I convinced him we needed some carbs and protein), and of course special birthday cupcakes for dessert which he insisted on decorating with sprinkles himself. He went to bed happy, full of carbs and sugar. I went to bed and scrolled through all the old pictures and videos on my phone of him when he was just learning to walk and talk and part of me longed to have that little baby boy back. Even though I’m so anxious to see him grow, especially seeing how he’s still the smallest one in his class, part of me wishes there was a pause button I could push to stop time from going so darn fast.

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I’m thankful to the Lord for bringing our CC and us through another year. It has been a year of learning for all of us. He has mastered the art of riding a scooter and can now move on to learning to ride his new bike (birthday present from the grandparents). After over 2 years of being in swim class on and off, he’s finally ready to move on to Rays (level 3). He’s learned how to fold his pajamas and make his bed every day before leaving for the school bus. He’s learned how to play chess (I think) and the names for all the ninja turtles. My mother’s heart is bursting with pride.

Now for what I’ve learned. I’ve learned that this little boy can bring a temper out of me like no one else, and that he can match it with an equally hot temper of his own. This year has been a year of learning what kinds of discipline work with him and what kinds don’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m negotiating with a terrorist who refuses to back down or trying to defuse a bomb that can detonate any second. No one told me parenting was such dangerous work. There have been a lot of failures on my part, and sometimes there have been collateral damage. But there have also been days when I’ve been successful in averting WWIII, and I’ve come to appreciate and learn from those small victories. They’ve taught me that the best way to defuse a ticking bomb is not with a sledgehammer, but with a gentle cutting of the right wires. Hopefully I’ll get better at knowing which wires to cut. There really should be a Nobel Peace Prize awarded for parenting.

So here’s to another year of learning! Since there’s no pause, or rewind, or fast forward in life, we might as well turn up the volume and enjoy the music of our children growing up! Happy birthday, CC!

Dear fellow mom at the park this afternoon,

I really wanted to tell you that you’re doing a great job with your twin babies, but I thought it would come off a little awkward. I saw you pushing that double stroller tiredly, weighed down by the double bags under your eyes, knowing it has probably been forever since you’ve had a good night’s sleep. I wanted to say bravo to you for getting out of the house, knowing it probably took you forever and a day to get those two little ones ready.

I wanted to tell you that I saw you, as you struggled to put one baby into the swing while the other clung to your leg. I saw you when you heaved a sigh of resignation when neither baby wanted to be in the swings and watched in admiration as you lifted them out and tucked one under each arm. I wanted so much to offer you help, but for some reason I hesitated. Maybe because I didn’t want you to think that I thought you were incompetent, or maybe I didn’t know how you would feel about a stranger wanting to hold your child. Sorry all I offered you was a sympathetic smile, when what I really wanted to do was to invite you over for tea and take those two precious weights off your weary hands while you cradle a nice hot cup of tea (or better yet, of latte) instead.

I wanted to tell you that I saw you as you sat with those babies on the playground floor, so needy, barely crawling, demanding constant amusement from you. I felt kind of guilty sitting there on the step by myself, watching my own two boys playing happily by themselves, independent of me. I wanted to offer you encouraging words, that eventually those two little ones will also be running and sliding on their own, but I didn’t want to come off as patronizing or condescending.

I watched you as you reluctantly loaded those babies back into their stroller when their fussiness indicated that they’ve had enough of the park, even though it had barely been half an hour. I saw you look back longingly as you headed out the gate, at all the moms chattering and laughing, while their kids played happily, probably mentally counting how many hours you still had left in the day being alone taking care of those babies. My heart went out to you. I wanted to run after you and say, “It’ll be okay, really. It’s super hard, but it will get better,” but instead I offered up a silent prayer for you, that you would find the grace needed to get through the rest of today.

So dear mama, if we do meet at the park again, I’ll try to overcome my shyness and awkwardness and stop worrying about how I come off. I won’t hesitate to offer you help because that’s what fellow moms do for each other. Maybe I’ll even work up the courage to strike up a conversation and invite you over for tea. And while you’re cradling that cup, maybe I’ll get a chance to tell you what I wanted to tell you today – that you’re doing a wonderful job.

 

 

Make me a Hannah

Sorry y’all…I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. It’s been a long and busy yet lazy summer and I’ve had two boys to entertain and amuse everyday. But that’s all about to change soon because school starts on Wednesday! (Cue in Hallelujah chorus). CC will begin his first year of kindergarten (well, technically Transitional Kindergarten because his birthday’s in October). Whatever they want to call it, the fact is that he’ll be in a school with big kids, I’ll need to pack him a lunch, and he might possibly even be riding the school bus home. I honestly don’t know who’s more excited about it, him or me.

Sending a child, especially my firstborn, off to school is a big deal. There are so many different conflicting emotions involved. I’m excited and proud to see him growing up and moving on to this stage in life, yet scared and nervous because it brings back all my own memories of being in school. What if he gets teased by the other kids like I was for being so small? What if he doesn’t make any friends, or has no one to sit with at lunch? Worse yet, what if he makes the wrong friends and learns the wrong things?

Every time these kinds of fears assail me, I’m reminded of the story of Hannah in the Old Testament. She wanted a child so badly that she bargained with God that if He granted her a son, she would lend him to Jehovah all his days. Little did she know that her prayer for a son was an echo of God’s own need to have a Nazarite who could turn the age. In that time the priesthood under Eli was corrupt and devoid of God’s speaking. But in Samuel, God found someone who would obey His speaking and cooperate with Him to bring the whole nation of Israel out of degradation. If it wasn’t for Hannah’s prayer, that never would have or could have happened.

What reassures me about this story though is that Hannah trusted God enough to allow her son to grow up in the temple with Eli, who, judging by how his own sons turned out, was probably not the best parent or teacher. His sons profaned the priesthood, yet they were probably the patterns Samuel saw growing up. What must have been in Hannah’s motherly heart, to send her young just-weaned son, to be raised in an environment like that? Surely she knew, as all Israel did, the condition of the priests at that time. Yet she also knew that she had made a vow to Jehovah and that Samuel did not belong to her. I can’t imagine how she felt those first few years of Samuel’s life, knowing that she would soon have to send him away. She must have taken every opportunity, even while he was a babe, to instill in him a fear and love for God and to remind him that he was a Nazarite. And she probably prayed for Samuel her whole life. I believe she laid a foundation in him, so that even when he was surrounded by negative patterns, they didn’t affect him, but rather became warnings to him of what not to be. This was probably the same with Moses. He grew up and was educated in the palace of Pharaoh, but he knew he was not Egyptian.

There would be no Samuel or Moses, if not for their moms. I aspire to be like Hannah, to take every opportunity to infuse the knowledge of God into my boys. To trust more in prayer and God’s mercy than my own mothering skills. To not be so afraid of their friends’ influence on them but to make them kids that would have a positive influence on their friends. To make sure they know who they are, even if they have to be educated in an environment that is corrupt and Egyptian.

So as we enter into this new school year, let’s not miss those little opportunities. To use the time while we’re making lunches to pray for our children, to have those little conversations in the minivan before dropping them off at school, to say that little prayer before tucking them in at night. In the end, those little things can really make all the difference.

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Last month my little boy turned two. My little baby, who couldn’t wait to be born and surprised us all by coming almost a month early, is no longer a baby. Waahhh! Now he is a full fledged toddler with his own personality, complete with a quirky sense of humor. Like his older brother, Turner is extremely verbal for his age, and is turning out to be quite a ham. He likes to crack jokes and laugh at himself with a hearty guffaw and it’s impossible for us not to laugh along even though sometimes we have no idea what he’s talking about.

So far God has been merciful to us with this kid. He’s just an all around easy child – good eater, good sleeper, and for the most part a happy-go-lucky boy. Maybe that’s just how second-borns are. So Turner, I know you can’t read this yet, but Mommy is so happy you came along and joined our family. I feel very blessed to be your mama. Thank you for being so flexible and easy on us as parents, at least for the first two years of your life. Thank you for letting mommy still rock you like a baby (or “do rocky baby” as you like to call it) sometimes even though you are now a big two year old boy. Mommy loves you with all of her heart and will always be here to laugh at your jokes.

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The prompt for this week is…

Release

GO

For the majority of my 30+ years I’ve had long hair. The only times I can remember when it has been shorter than shoulder length was probably before the age of 6 when I had a typical bowl Asian haircut. And I only remember that because of the pictures I’ve seen. In college I think I tried a bob slightly above the shoulders, but I don’t have good memories of that haircut because at that time it was accompanied by bangs, glasses, and braces. College is definitely not a time I’d like to go back to in terms of the looks department. I’m so glad Facebook and Instagram weren’t invented then and I will seriously unfriend anyone who will dare to scan and post any of those old photos now. (Just kidding, I won’t unfriend you, but I will vehemently deny it if you try to tag me).

My long hair has always been a security for me. At times when I wasn’t that happy with the image I saw in the mirror, I could at least still regard my flowing locks somewhat vainly. Doesn’t the Bible itself say that long hair is the glory of the woman? But since the birth of my second son, those flowing locks have been more of a drag than a glory to me, literally. It was becoming cumbersome to wash, to style, to tie up and I envied women who could effortlessly pull their hair up into a loose bun and have it stay and look good. For me it just never worked…unless I employed like 100 bobby pins and maybe a can of hairspray.

So I decided, enough was enough. I made an appointment at the salon and prepared my husband for what was to come. On the appointed day I told my hairstylist (whom I’d only gone to once before), “I need a change. Chop it, please.” She checked with me a few times just to make sure I meant it and then set to work. My head immediately felt lighter as I watched the black locks fall to the ground. It was such a release for me! I felt like I left my old tired mama self on the floor of that salon and skipped out of there lighter, freer, and a happier me. That is definitely not my usual after haircut experience. 

I know it’s not a big thing, you might even consider it somewhat superficial, but I’m glad I took the risk to change something about myself that I didn’t like. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and take the plunge. For this summer season, I’m happy at least that I won’t be spending hours in exasperation wrestling with pins and ponytail holders in front of the mirror. I’m glad that weight is literally off my shoulders, even way above my shoulders. Happy summer!

STOP

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The prompt for this week is…

Hands

GO

I look down at my hands typing on the keyboard and notice how dry and worn they look. Product of washing dishes without gloves and being too lazy to apply lotion, because really why bother when I have to wash my hands every 15 minutes? These hands that are constantly wiping down tables, counters, little faces and little bums, handling food and sticky messes, folding laundry and papers for crafts…these hands that do so much in a day and need constant washing.

These hands that carry the weight of babies and my own heavy head at the end of a long day. These hands that are constantly responding to the cry of “Mommy, help!” These hands that wipe away tears of others and many times of my own. These hands that absorb the smell of garlic and baby skin and dish detergent. Thank You Lord, for giving me these hands and may You use them as Your own. Remind me to take care of them because so much depends on them. Okay, time to go put on some lotion.

STOP

A couple of weeks ago I got to visit my family back East and of course as I expected, my mother made comments about me being too skinny. It wasn’t the first thing she said when she saw me, but I could tell she was holding it in as she sized me up with her eyes. It finally came out on the last day as we were saying goodbye – she gave me the gentle admonition in Chinese “tai shou bu hao” (translation: too skinny, no good).

I was ready for it so it didn’t bother me too much. My in-laws had made the same observation the last time we visited them. They all seem concerned that my apparent loss of weight means that I’m not eating enough, that I’m too tired and run-down. Okay yes, sometimes lunch for me consists of toddler leftovers and yes, my energy could use a boost on most days. And yes, sometimes I’m so focused on feeding the boys that I forget to feed myself. But I think I’m doing a pretty good job of eating three square meals a day in addition to snacks in between and sometimes late night desserts. I’ve just been cursed with fast metabolism which I’m sure will eventually catch up with me sooner or later.

Apparently my father-in-law has the same problem. He’s been trying to gain weight for years and has tried all kinds of things. His latest diet scheme is to eat lots of good quality dark chocolate as a high calorie snack. Larry was down in So Cal last weekend and guess what he brought back from his parents? Yup, that’s right, bars and bars of dark chocolate for me so I can gain some weight. I don’t know if it’ll work, but out of respect for them, I guess I should just bite the bullet and give it a try? I guess I can live with comments about me being too skinny if it means I can indulge in free dark chocolate. :)

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