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Archive for the ‘Ordinary days’ 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’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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I know I said you probably won’t hear from me until January, but I thought today deserved a post, it being my birthday and all. Now please, no need to plaster my Facebook wall with happy birthday wishes, there’s a reason I purposely didn’t disclose my birthday on my FB profile. And this year of all years, I’d rather not be reminded that I’m not only one year older, but that I’ve officially begun a new decade in my life. Yup, believe it or not, I can no longer consider myself a hip thirtysomething (okay…maybe I was never hip), but starting today, I am officially MIDDLE AGE. That’s right, the big four-oh. I still can’t bring myself to say it, but I guess I can type it…40. Today I’m 40 years old. Yikes!

When I was in college, 40 seemed so far away. At that time, I thought for sure that by the time I turned 40, I’d be married with kids in grade school, have an Asian mom perm, and have life all figured out. How silly I was. I’m far from having life all figured out and I’m definitely not ready to take on an Asian mom perm. In many ways I do feel older and wiser, but I also feel like there’s so much more for me to learn. I guess that’s good because my husband always says the day we get old is the day we stop learning.

I turned 40 today without much fanfare. (As you know, we’re not big birthday celebrators in this house). I woke up, took the kids to school, and proceeded to go to my usual yoga class at the Y. As I was waiting for the class to start, I noticed lots of women gathering around getting ready to go into a cardio dance class. So I thought to myself, “It’s a new year. Why not break out of my routine and comfort zone and try something new?” So I walked into this dance class and stood nervously in the back trying to hide. The instructor was a energetic woman over 60 with a body of a 25 year old, and most of the other women around me were not much younger. Before I knew it, the music started, and I found myself shuffling, sashaying, popping my hips…basically making a complete fool of myself. But it was great, and I loved being in the company of these grey haired grandmas who didn’t care how their hair looked or if their outfits matched. They danced with abandon without any need to check themselves out in the mirror. Maybe middle age won’t be so bad.

So here’s to another decade and to more years of learning. And of course, to more years of Christ growing in me. Spiritually speaking, I think it’s also time to step out of my routine and comfort zone and try something new. The Lord has definitely given me some real experiences of Him in my thirties, but I sense that it’s time to forget the past and stretch forward. Time to go deeper and higher in my experience of Christ and to enjoy the Lord with abandon, not caring for my image or what others think of me. This is what will keep our spirit young no matter what age we are.

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hibernation

We took the whole Thanksgiving week off last week and just came back from visiting family and friends in SoCal. I’m still recovering. We all ended the trip with some stomach issues, with the exception of Turner. That boy has a tummy of steel; doesn’t seem like anything can suppress his appetite. We had a good time, but I’m glad to be back in my own bed and to have the kids back in school. Hopefully I’ll be back to eating soon too.

It just hit me today that IT’S DECEMBER! It’s hard to believe that in a month 2015 will be over. Crazy, isn’t it? I was recalling my post about my goals for this year and it just made me groan. At some point I will revisit that post and let you all know how I did, but this is the time of year when I lose all motivation to do anything, anything productive, that is. I wish I had the energy for that final sprint, but instead I think I’ll be dragging myself tooth and nail to the finish line.

I so wish I was a bear and could just go into hibernation for this next month. Winter has finally come to Berkeley (meaning the temperatures can go below 60!) and all I want to do is hide under the covers all day and waste my time scrolling through Facebook. Last night I went to bed at 9pm and woke up this morning at 6:30am. 9.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep = pure happiness. Maybe my stomach is telling me that I ate enough last week for me to just sleep this week. That would be so nice…

I’ve decided that for me December will be a season of rest, at least until we make that drive down to SoCal again in three more weeks. Maybe I’ll wake up from my hibernation refreshed and ready to tackle goals for another year. So you all probably won’t hear from me until January. Until then, happy December!

 

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It’s one of those days. It’s absolutely beautiful outside, sunny and blue skies, temperature has finally dropped so that it actually feels like fall here. Those are my favorite kind of days. But for some reason today I have no motivation to do anything. No motivation to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather, no motivation to clean the house that sorely needs cleaning, no motivation to try to figure out what to do with that hunk of meat defrosting in the kitchen. Instead I’m sitting in front of my computer, nursing my second cup of tea for the day, randomly opening useless windows on chrome, and all the while something keeps lifting my gaze to the big window in front of me, the one with five tiny pumpkins on the sill. I look out and see the big tree, full of leaves that are still green and somehow it calms me in my current restless state. Don’t psychologists say that looking at green is good for the brain and for the soul? I thought I’d heard something like that.

Something besides looking at that tree is good for my restless soul. It always hard for me to get started, especially on a blah day such as this one, but I find that when I close the other useless windows and grudgingly open my wordpress window and just start typing, I start to feel the same way I do when I look out at that tree. I feel centered, purposeful, and as I read the words pouring out through my fingertips onto the screen, I finally begin to understand how I feel. I would not call myself a writer by any means, but I have to say tending to this little blog for the last five years has become a therapy for me. Sorry to say, I’ve been neglectful of it these past few months. But today, being one of those days, I needed to come tend it again. I needed to get some words down so that my soul could be at rest.

Now that this post is written and my tea cup is empty, I think I have the motivation to go deal with that hunk of meat in the sink. So if you’re having one of those days…take a few minutes to go back to those simple things that bring you joy. And if that doesn’t work, go stare at something green. 🙂

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