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Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

A friend reminded me the other day that I used to write and I thought to myself, “Oh yeah…what happened to that?” My last post was about a year and a half ago and Ezra turned 18 months this week, so if you do the math and put two and two together, you’ll find who to blame for my long silence on this space.

In all seriousness, I’d love to keep writing, not because I think you’ve all missed me (do people even read blogs anymore?), but because it is therapeutic and it gives me a way to actually use my brain, which isn’t working as well as it used to due to lack of sleep. It’s just been hard to find the time or energy when I spend most my days now following around a toddler who likes to climb on tables, walk off the tops of bunk beds, and throw hard objects, sometimes at people. I feel like his private bodyguard, except I don’t know who I’m protecting more, him, or the people around him. His poor big brothers both bear the scars of battle wounds on their faces, inflicted with little baby nails sharper than claws. And just yesterday I was too slow in fending off a matchbox car which Ezra threw and it unfortunately found my eye as its target. Ouch.

Ezzy the menace (that’s what I like to call him) is thankfully napping right now, and even though I know that I should probably be doing the same, I wanted to see if I could still get my writing juices flowing after such a long pause. No promise that this will happen regularly, but just wanted to get my feet wet a little.

I thought I’d share with you all some of the things that are saving my life right now, and boy does my life need saving. These are some of the small things that have helped me to get through the day, in no particular order.

  • COFFEE – okay, so maybe I lied when I said in no particular order, because of course coffee comes first. I use a French press because I’m the only one in the house who drinks coffee. Some friends who stayed over recently gifted me a stainless steel French press because I mentioned that my glass one broke. In fact, I’ve gone through two glass ones. I was so happy to receive this sturdy steel one which I can just pop in the dishwasher and not be worried if Ezzy gets his hands on it by accident.
  • Podcasts – I’m a latecomer to the whole podcasts thing, so I’m still trying to explore and find ones I like. Most of my day is filled with mundane household chores, so it’s nice to have something to listen to while I’m doing the dishes, folding the laundry, etc. I choose the podcast based on what I’m in the mood for at the time – to be entertained, to learn, or to get some spiritual nourishment. They really do help the time go faster and sometimes I feel like I’m just listening to a couple of friends chatting at my kitchen table while I’m cooking or cleaning. Here are some of the ones I enjoy and have started subscribing to: Life-study of the Bible with Witness Lee, The Simple Show, What Should I Read Next?, Up First (for news), and Read-Aloud Revival. If you have any you’d like to recommend, please share!
  • 7 minute work-outs – Larry recently introduced me to an app that gives you short customized work outs you can do at home. Both of us have membership to the Y, but the extent of our use of it so far has been taking the kids to the indoor kindergym. It was hard for me to find a time to go to the gym regularly, but doing these short routines at home has made regular exercise a lot more feasible. Sometimes I do them at night after kids have gone to bed, or sometimes in the morning with Ezra puttering around me. Often he will sit on me while I’m doing the plank or push-ups for added weight.

What’s been saving your life recently? I’d love to know!

 

 

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This post is long long overdue, but I thought I’d try to squeeze it in while it’s still 2016. So I said awhile back that I’d post when #3 was born? Well, he’s here! Ezra Timothy Chen arrived on October 24, 2016, four days before his due date. He came out fast and furious, sporting a full head of hair, much like his two older brothers. I’ve been a mother of 3 for all of two months now and so far the transition has been okay. We were only able to survive the first few weeks because of so many dear ones who were there to help. Big shout outs to all the people who brought us food, watched our kids, did school pick ups and drop offs for CC and Turner, and got us enough diapers to last the rest of this year and beyond. Big big shout out especially to my awesome mother-in-law, who stocked our freezer with meals, entertained the boys with science projects and Chinese lessons, and made sure I didn’t have to cook, wash dishes, or do laundry for two and half weeks. If I was too sleep deprived to tell you all a proper thank you at the time, please forgive me. Every act of kindness to us, big or small, was much appreciated and our family of five couldn’t have navigated through these last two months without them. So I’d like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I had hoped to get my act together in time to send you all a nice family photo card, you know, the kind you start getting from people right before Christmas. Every year, when I start receiving those cards in the mail, I tell myself, next year we’ll take a nice family photo and send one back. But every year without fail I forget and before you know it, the year has ended. I was really hoping to get some photo cards printed in time for this year, but we have yet to take a family photo of all 5 of us that I feel is nice enough to print copies of. But then again, who says family photo cards can only be sent out in the month of December? I might still try to get some photo cards out, so don’t be surprised if you receive one from me sometime in March that says, “Happy New Year from the Chens!” (I’m half serious, so if you’d like one, email me your address!)

In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for some pictures from my phone. Larry got me a new iphone for my birthday, so I finally got around to uploading all the pictures from my old phone to the laptop so I would have space on the new phone. The boys and I sat down and looked through all the pictures and videos from this past year and it was fun reliving all those memories. So in lieu of our family photo card for now, please enjoy some of the most recent pictures from my iphone photo dump.

Happy new year from the Chens!

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I know I said I would try to blog more this summer. Yeah…that didn’t quite happen and now it’s October?!? Just to give you all an update on how the prego and cripple are doing –the cripple is now not so cripple and the prego is very very prego. Larry’s ACL surgery in June went well and with regular physical therapy and the exercises he does at home, he’s pretty much back on his feet. It’ll be a while before he can be back on the ultimate field, but at least now he can manage to walk quickly after our two boys on their scooters. The one highlight from his whole recovery process was that he was able to get a temporary handicap parking permit. It was nice to be able to park in those nice big handicap spots and at any meter without having to pay for as long as we wanted. We got spoiled all summer driving to the library instead of having to limp and waddle there. But alas, the permit expired at the end of September, and now all I can do is look longingly at those handicap spots as we drive by looking for parking.

As I said, the prego is now very prego. I’m entering into my 37th week, which is when the baby is considered pretty much close to full term. Turner was born at 37 weeks, and if what they say about each kid coming out faster and sooner is true, d-day (or should I say b-day) can be any day now. We have diapers and clothes and dug out the bassinet and the car seat, so I think we’re ready. I’ve been trying to remember what labor is like. It’s funny, a mom asked me how I’ve prepared for this delivery compared to my previous two and I told her with CC, Larry and I took an 8 week Bradley class. Every Thursday we would gather in our teacher’s living room with 4 or 5 other couples and do relaxation exercises and I would visualize my beautiful natural birth. With Turner, I think I managed to dig out my Bradley method workbook and actually went over my notes. With this pregnancy, the extent of my preparation has been watching the entire season of Call the Midwife (haha just kidding, I think I already watched the whole season before I got pregnant).

So I thought I’d crank out this post before baby #3 decides to come, because you might not hear from me for awhile after he shows up. Truth be told, I’m starting to get pretty excited. Excited to not be walking around with a bowling ball in my tummy. Excited to eat all the carbs and sugar I want (With this pregnancy I technically did not have gestational diabetes, but “gluclose intolerance.” Not sure what the difference is, but I didn’t have to prick myself 4 times a day, which was fine by me). But most of all, excited to meet this new addition, whose arrival I believe will bring about a sense of completeness to our family, at least for me. Maybe I’ll try to blog at least one more time, just to let you all know when he comes. So stay tuned!

Here are some random pictures from our summer –

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Driving down to So Cal right after Larry’s surgery. We took the middle seat out so he could stretch out his leg.

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One of the reasons we went down was to be able to see my sister and my nieces and nephew!

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I’m ashamed that my last post was 5 months ago. I’ve been a lazy bum, haven’t I? But here I am again, dusting the cobwebs off my wordpress dashboard, ready to update you all on the reason for my radio silence the last 5 months. Some of you already know, but for those of you who only follow me here, I’ve been gestating the last 5 months. Yup, that’s right, incubating yet another little human being, our third one due to arrive at the end of October. So I’m blaming my laziness on those darn pregnancy hormones, which I also use as convenient excuses for my  grumpiness, crankiness, forgetfulness, overeating, and indulging in ice cream whenever I feel like it. Amazing how a little bump can absolve you from all kinds of guilt.

We found out pretty early on that we will be having another boy. Since I’m over 35, they offered me a brand new screening test that can detect the gender of the baby from a simple blood draw at as early as 11 weeks. Many people have been asking us if we’re disappointed or if we’re going to try for a girl next time. The answer is no and no. Not gonna lie, it would have been nice to have a girl, a little mini me instead of three little mini Larrys. But all truth be told, I think boys are way more fun, and I’m okay with not having to deal with braiding hair, tying pigtails, buying princess stuff and the like. I guess I better get used to being outvoted 4 to 1 in this house.

Other than the arrival of the third and LAST Chen boy, there isn’t much else to share with you all. Life around here has been busy, but relatively uneventful. We plan to have a quiet summer at home. I had hoped to do some traveling this summer before the baby comes, but Larry had to go and tear his ACL and is in surgery getting it repaired right now as we speak (or should I say, as I write?). It could take up to 6 months for him to recover and be fully back on his feet, so we wanted to make sure he got it done as early as possible so he can be ready to be up at nights with the baby come October when it’s my turn to be bedridden. What a lovely couple we’ll make – the prego and the cripple – sounds like the title of a bad feature film.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Back in March, Larry let me go to Boston for a week with the college students on their spring break trip while he stayed home with the kids. It was great and so much fun, despite the fact that I was in the very early stages of my pregnancy at the time. I had forgotten what it’s like to travel without little kids in tow. Amazing how much you can do in a day when you don’t have to stop for naps or deal with tantrums.

So this summer I’ll have to content myself with nesting at home. Hopefully I’ll get around to blogging some more. Feel free to come and visit us if you’re in the neighborhood. You’ll probably find us both on the couch with a bowl of ice cream.

Happy summer!

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Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to take Turner to his preschool on the bus. The day before I had unfortunately gotten a flat tire on our brand new minivan after picking up the kids from school. It wasn’t fun having to sit at the gas station for an hour with 3 kids waiting for roadside assistance, but with the car’s DVD player and the one granola bar I managed to find in my bag, we somehow made it through.

So anyways, Larry wanted to take the car in to the dealer early in the morning so he wouldn’t have to deal with waiting in line, which meant I would be car-less for morning school drop offs. I borrowed a car from a friend to take Christopher to his carpool ride and then decided I would take Turner to school on the bus so that I could go straight to the car dealer afterwards to retrieve our car. Turner couldn’t be more excited to go on the big public bus. For the first few weeks of school he would look longingly at the yellow school buses parked in front and always ask me if he would get to go on them. Berkeley public transit may not be the same as a yellow school bus, but in the eyes of a 3 year old, it’s just as exciting.

We walked the couple of blocks from our house to the bus stop and waited for only about 5 minutes before our bus pulled up. I instructed Turner before getting on that he should say “Good morning” to the driver, and he did just that as we ascended the steps. I asked him where he wanted to sit, and he said, “in the caboose!” so we marched to the back of the bus and plunked down in two empty seats by the window. As the bus pulled away and as we watched the streets of the city flash past us, I was suddenly transported back to my childhood. I did most of my growing up in New York City and taking public transportation was a huge part of my life. I think as early as 4th grade I was already taking the public bus to school on my own and in junior high and high school, I had to take two buses everyday to school. I have fond memories of me and my friends gallivanting all over the city with our free school bus passes. It’s a little shocking to me now as a mom to think of how much freedom I had back then as a kid.

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Waiting at the bus stop

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Sitting in “the caboose”

 

As the bus curved its way through downtown Berkeley, I looked out the window with my son and noticed things I had never seen before. Turner and I took turns pointing things out to each other, people we saw walking down the streets, things we saw in shop windows. Before we knew it, we were at our stop. I pressed the stop requested button and both of us hopped out the back door and took our time walking the four blocks to his preschool. He was as happy as a clam…and I was too. I don’t think I would trade in the convenience of a car for taking public transportation every day, but it was nice not to be the one behind the wheel for one morning. And it was also nice being able to share a slice of my childhood with my son.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yesterday we had an early celebration for CC’s birthday. My not so little boy will turn 6 tomorrow. For weeks I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether to throw him a birthday party this year, not because he had asked for one, but because for some crazy reason I thought I’d be less of a mother if I didn’t. It seemed like ALL his little friends got birthday parties and I didn’t want him to feel left out. In all honesty though, we are not birthday party people in this house. Things like that tend to get me stressed because I feel like I have to get everything perfect and pinterest-worthy. Kind of like when I tried to bake the fire engine cake when he turned 3…I don’t need to remind you all how that turned out.

So Larry finally put an end to my hemming and hawing and put his foot down and said we would just celebrate CC’s birthday as a family. I complained for all of 5 minutes but was inwardly relieved. I told CC we would go out for dinner for his birthday and he can pick the restaurant. Just as I predicted, he picked Homeroom, a very hipster joint in Oakland touted to have the best Mac and Cheese this side of the bay. So yesterday afternoon, before heading out to Homeroom, we let CC open his one present from us (more on that later) and Face Timed briefly with his grandparents. The place was super crowded, even at 5:45, but we scored a table outside relatively quickly. We ordered two kinds of Mac and Cheese, a side of buttery minty peas and a Limeade for me, and watched my soon to be 6 year old son chow down more calories than he probably ordinarily gets in a week. He was happy as a clam, and I was too, knowing I didn’t have to frost any cakes or fill any goodie bags.

After dinner, the boys of course asked for dessert. Larry, thinking ahead, had printed out a coupon for a free birthday scoop from Ben & Jerry’s for CC. We asked CC in the car what he wanted for dessert and he said ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. Score! Isn’t it great when what your kids ask for is actually the same as what you plan? So we made a stop at B&J and even though we were planning to get Turner his own scoop, CC very graciously said he would share his cone with his little brother. So we walked out with free ice cream and two very happy boys.

When we got home, CC had about half an hour to play with his birthday present before he had to get ready for bed. For his birthday, we got him a box of 125 Zoob building pieces. Recently he’s really been into Legos and can spend hours by himself just building things. So we wanted to get him something similar – open ended creative building toys. The Zoobs are pretty cool, basically ball and socket type pieces you can fit into different configurations. It also comes with guides with instructions of different things you can build. CC got into it right away, and for half an hour we all joined him in building things. Definitely quality family bonding time.

We got the boys ready for bed and CC thanked the Lord for his new present. I thanked the Lord for giving us such a simple yet wonderful day. My son will only turn six once. I’m glad I didn’t miss it because I was too busy planning a party he never asked for. When he looks back on his 6th birthday, I hope he’ll remember that we had mac and cheese and ice cream and that his mommy and daddy sat down and built Zoob robots and animals with him. I know that’s what I’ll remember. 🙂

Happy birthday CC!

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Hello out there blog readers! Are you all still there? Sorry for the long silence, I took the summer off and then the new school year kind of took me by storm. Yesterday was Turner’s first day of preschool and CC is well into his second full week of kindergarten. That means I’ve graduated from being a stay at home mom to being a chauffeur mom. My days now seem to be an endless series of drop-offs and pick-ups. But hey, now I have almost all of 3 hours to myself every morning!

I think the boys and I all welcome having some kind of structured routine back to our days. It was great having them both home with me for the summer, but I think having some time apart now is good for all of us. Now a lot of the time we spend together is in the car. This year Larry and I decided to send CC to a brand new French immersion charter school that just opened in Oakland. It’s about a 25 minute drive from home with no traffic. We prayed a lot and considered a lot, and in the end we felt good about sending him, even though it would require a lot of driving on my part. It was a hard decision, especially since I had gotten used to him taking the school bus to and from school, but I’m glad we did it. Fortunately, both boys are okay with being in the car so much, as long as there’s a good audio book playing and snacks on hand.

When we tell people that CC is going to a French immersion school, many have asked, “Why French?” Both Larry and I have taken multiple language courses in our high school/college years, but sadly neither of us have attained fluency in any of them. We would love for our kids to be bilingual and get an early start on language learning, and since we’ve been lazy about speaking anything except English at home, immersion schooling seemed like the next best option. We can in no way afford any type of private school, so when we heard about this new charter school opening, it seemed like a great opportunity. We had already tried applying for a Mandarin charter school, but the lottery was not in our favor. So French it was. After meeting the great community of staff and parents at this school, we began to feel better about the decision. So when people ask me,”Why French?” my answer is “Why not French?” If my child had the opportunity to learn Swahili at a great tuition-free school, I’d still do it. Besides, you have to admit that hearing a little Chinese boy speaking French is kind of cute. It’s only the second week and already CC is spouting French sentences here and there. He’s gotten really good at saying, “Can I go to the bathroom please?” I guess that’s a pretty good first sentence to learn.

I’ll try to be better about my blogging, maybe in between all the drop-offs and pick-ups. No promises though.

In the meantime, a bientot!

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