Scaling a Wall for My Kids

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the munchkins doing munchkin type of stuff. That means swimming every day, eating at Sweet Tomatoes (that place is a kid magnet!), listening to kiddie music, and pushing myself out of my¬†comfort zone.

Image courtesy of worradmu/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of worradmu/freedigitalphotos.net

That’s a picture of my comfort zone, in case you were wondering. ūüėČ And that’s what I willingly gave up when I decided to scale a wall for my munchkins.

Before you start thinking we were trapped in some remote castle and had to climb¬†over a 20-foot wall to get out, it was nothing that fancy. Dramatic, yes, but nowhere as fancy. ūüėõ

In reality, we were at our local trampoline park, which also has a rock climbing wall. The munchkins, particularly C, like watching other kids climb it, but neither one of them has wanted to try it. Even with our words of comfort and encouragement (ie. “It’s fun!”, “You won’t fall; there’s a harness!” and “You get to ring the bell at the top!”), they always shake their heads and opt for the grounded fun¬†of the trampolines.

I knew not to push them; our kids like to play it safe and warm up to new things in their own time. But I thought maybe I could help speed up the process by showing them how fun and easy and safe wall climbing can be!

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Ha ha ha … gulp!

Both E and C were pretty excited and announced to hubby, “Mom’s going to do it!” Hubby looked at me with a split second of disbelief and wonder before he smiled oh-so warily and said, “You go!”

So, go I did. The¬†nice teenager¬†manning the wall asked if I wanted the easiest course (hmm, did my shaking knees give it away?), then strapped me into my harness and set me loose. I stood in front of the wall and wondered why they didn’t make those grip things bigger and closer together?! As I contemplated which ones to grab and which ones to place my feet on, I decided to stop thinking and just start. I placed my hands on two grips,¬†found grips¬†for my feet, and pulled myself up. Whew. I’d made it one foot off the ground. I looked for the next, best places to hold and stand on … and the next … and the next. Before I knew it, I’d made it halfway up the wall!

I'd like to tell you that's me in the pic, but hubby was so in awe of my climbing skills that he forgot to take pictures! :p

I’d like to tell you that’s me, but hubby was so in awe of my climbing skills that he forgot to take pictures! :p

And that’s when things got tricky.

As I held on for dear life, I noticed the angle of the wall was changing. It was becoming more slanted the higher you went up. Which meant needing to use more muscles and guts, both of which I lacked. Ack. Cue the white flag. When my biceps started to shake in protest, along with the contents of my stomach, I decided it was time to return to the safety of my bubble. I retraced my steps, slooowly and carefully planting my feet on the grips, and lowered myself to the ground. Whew! Yay! Hallelujah!

I turned to my family, a little disappointed, but mostly¬†relieved. I admitted, “I think it’ll take me a few more tries to get to the top.” But I was happy. Happy that a middle-aged dog can still learn new tricks. Proud¬†that the munchkins got to witness me doing something outside my comfort zone. And¬†grateful¬†for these life lessons I gained.

#1: You’re never too old to try something new.

#2: Often times you won’t succeed the first time, but you can always try again.

#3: Starting is easy, the middle takes more effort, but the ending stretches you the most.

You know what this means, right? I’m going to have to try scaling a wall again … for my munchkins and for myself. Good thing I learned another lesson through this:

#4: The second (and third and fourth, etc.) time around is always better. ūüôā

Take a listen to a song I’ve been listening to on repeat with the munchkins. It’s from one of their favorite shows (that teaches math!) called “Odd Squad” (from PBS Kids). If you love boy bands, you’ll love Soundcheck. ūüėÄ

What new trick have you learned to do recently?

The Things You Do For Your Kids

Several years ago, our¬†family (along with my lil sis) ventured down to Southern California to visit my relatives. Since they live about an hour away from Anaheim, we decided to stop by Disneyland. When I say “stop by”, that was about as much as we could do with a clingy toddler and a waddling pregnant woman (moi!) in tow. E had also brought along his beloved Winnie the Pooh plush toy¬†that he loved with all the heartfelt affection¬†of a two year old (translation:¬†it never left his side).

Isn't he cute? He's even carrying a backpack.

Isn’t he¬†cute? He’s even carrying a backpack.

We hit up a couple of the calm rides (ie. It’s a Small World) and then got in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean. Hubby had reservations about how our highly sensitive munchkin would react to¬†the¬†one-eyed buccaneers, but I was determined (aka. stubborn) to go on my favorite ride, which I hadn’t been on since high school. When we finally made it to the front of the line, we hopped aboard our little boat and set off for the great unknown.

Great unknown was right.

Thirty seconds into the ride, I started regretting my stubbornness. Poor E was huddled next to hubby, his little body cringing at all the strange sights and scary¬†sounds around him. Those fun plunges down the waterfalls that I’d been looking forward to didn’t seem so fun anymore, especially when 7 months pregnant (hm, maybe that’s why C is so feisty?)! We were all more than relieved when the ride ended, and we quickly got off, with not even a backward glance.

It wasn’t until we were a good thirty feet away did E realize we’d forgotten something back in the Caribbean. Yup, we’d left Pooh with the pirates!

Poor E was distraught, his big brown eyes filling up with tears. Hubby ran back to the ride as we waddled after him, but¬†before we made it, he met us with a sad, weary look on his face. We spent the rest of the evening at the Lost and Found, hoping someone would find E’s toy and turn it¬†in. Suffice it to say, Disneyland¬†was not the happiest place on earth for us that day.

After E went to sleep that night, hubby and I racked our brains for some way to console our dear son. If we could have, we’d have rushed out to buy him another Pooh Bear (maybe 2!). But as life would have it, his Pooh Bear had been a gift from a friend who lives in Europe and didn’t exist on our continent. So, I did what any desperate parent would do, I turned to eBay.

Thank you, eBay!

Amazingly, we found the ONLY listing with the EXACT SAME Pooh Bear being sold by someone in the UK. The catch? They would only ship to UK buyers. So, I did what any stubborn parent would do at one o’clock in the morning, I sent the seller a message of our epic, tragic tale. I even offered to pay extra¬†for them to ship it to the US. They replied with a gracious message agreeing to the transaction and voila‚ÄĒwe were the proud owners of E’s Pooh Bear (again).

A week later when we were back at home, a package arrived in the mail from the UK. I promptly brought it to E and opened it with him. When he took Pooh Bear out of the brown paper bag, he eyed it carefully, then eyed me, waiting for a reasonable explanation as to how we managed to find his toy.

“Mickey Mouse found him and mailed him to us!” I declared with what I hoped was enough¬†conviction and enthusiasm.

E seemed to buy my story, but to be honest, he didn’t¬†treat that Pooh Bear the same way he treated the first one. ūüôĀ

Just last week I was cleaning out C’s room and stumbled upon¬†Pooh Bear (the second) whom she had inherited from E and couldn’t bear (pun intended, heehee) to give it away. I turned to E and asked him, “Remember this? You used to love him.”

In his no-nonsense way, he replied, “Didn’t you say someone found it, but you bought it?”

Yes, dear son, that is the simple explanation¬†of the story. But it leaves out all the emotions we as your parents experienced that night. Guilt for dragging you on a ride you weren’t ready for. Angst at the sight of your sweet, sad face when¬†you realized your prized possession was gone. Determination to make things right again in your world. And finally, joy when we found the elusive pirate’s booty (obtained in our case¬†by legal means) and presented it to you.

Even if neither you nor C treasure Pooh Bear anymore, I think I’ll hold onto it. It helps remind me¬†of all the crazy, roll-your-eyes things that parents¬†do for their kids. Why? Because we¬†love them.

Hm. Maybe it is a simple explanation after all. ūüôā

I couldn’t find a song to go with this post, but I did find a funny, very stereotypical video by Wong Fu Productions about the things Asian parents say to show they love their kids. ūüėČ

What are some crazy or cool things you’ve done to show your love to your kids (or your parents did for you)?

Dear Son (A letter about puppy love)

Dear Firstborn Munchkin,

When I dropped you off at school today, I got a glimpse of some budding puppy love. I recognized that delighted, somewhat mischievous smile on your face, the one you have when you purposefully do something to bug your little sister‚ÄĒexcept this time, it wasn’t C that¬†you annoyed, but a cute girl in your class.

Right away, I realized what was going on and my heart cringed in my chest.¬†I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. But now that it’s here, let’s have a little¬†chat … about love.

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re sensitive like me, you probably feel a lot of emotions and will¬†end up being a hopeless romantic. You’ll notice things about the opposite sex and will discover a¬†little quirk about someone‚ÄĒa certain laugh¬†or look‚ÄĒthat will catch your eye. You’ll experience butterflies in your stomach whenever you hear her voice, and if she looks your way, it will be like one of those¬†Matrix moments when time slows down … waaaay down.

If you’re a ladies man like your Baba was, you won’t have trouble catching a girl’s eye. You’ll know how to strike up a conversation by asking good questions and making¬†just the right amount of eye contact¬†so you come across as interested, but not creepy. You’ll do all the gentlemanly things,¬†like¬†opening doors or giving her your jacket when she’s cold, that will have her falling faster for you than the bullets that drop to the ground when those Matrix slo-mo moments are over.

Okay, enough with the stalling (and movie references). ūüėČ I guess what I’m trying to say is that love is a tricky thing. All the emotions you’re feeling are normal and a part of life. But don’t give your heart away just yet. The feelings you have¬†now are sweet and special, but they will likely change. Someone new may catch your eye next year or the year after that. Like I always tell you and C, hold your horses! Be patient. You’ve got a long ways to go.

It will probably take another decade or two to find the girl of your dreams. In the meantime, keep growing and improving yourself. Make friends and develop those friendships. Guard your heart from liking the wrong girls, the ones who don’t appreciate you for exactly who you are. Pick yourself up when you do fall for the wrong ones, and learn from your mistakes. Save up your dreams¬†and hopes for the woman¬†who’ll be worth waiting for.

And come talk to me and Baba anytime. As hard as it is to believe, we were young once, too. We’ve got a lot of life experiences to share from (most of which we will not tell you about in specifics). ūüėČ We do remember what it feels like to fall in love, but more importantly, we know what it’s like to work hard to stay in love.¬†We’ll do our best to help you navigate through the crazy, but wonderful, journey, too.

Love,

Your Mama

P.S. Baba says your tactic is one he would’ve used when he was your age, but he didn’t care about the opposite sex¬†that early. Hm. Seems like you got a bit of both of our genes. ūüėČ

Take a listen to JR Aquino’s song, “By Chance (You & I)”, a super cute and catchy song about falling in love. ūüôā

Do you remember your first experience with puppy love?

Dear Struggling Mama

Dear Struggling Mama,

I see you. Yes, you, the one hiding in the bathroom with her head in her hands. I know you just endured 40 minutes in mama hell as your little one had (yet another) homework meltdown. I heard her screaming and crying and saw her face turn tomato red as she released her frustration with clenched fists and kicking feet. I felt your¬†frustration as you tried¬†to explain the assignment to her (in between her gulps for air) and give¬†examples of how to answer the questions. I sensed the effort you made to stay calm‚ÄĒcount to 10, take deep breaths, and pray‚ÄĒand be sympathetic because you remembered losing your patience last time and how much you regretted it. I know how with each passing minute, your ears began hurting and you just wanted to run away and hide because the situation seemed hopeless. You felt hopeless. Beaten up. Exhausted. Just. Plain. Defeated.

No one ever told you it’d be this hard. How there would be moments, days even, when you didn’t like being a mama. Days when you couldn’t see past the endless crying, the long nights, the sore arms and back from the non-stop carrying, the power struggles with someone half your size, the feeling of having lost yourself. Days when you couldn’t see past¬†your own tears.

I get why your kids say you go to the bathroom a lot ’cause that’s one of the few places you can hide. Even for just a minute to sob and breathe and splash cool water on your red-rimmed eyes. To let yourself fall apart before you need to pull yourself together again. To remove yourself from the situation because it is just that‚ÄĒa situation. An experience to struggle through and to learn from. Because this mamahood journey has a lot of !@#$% hard situations, and there’s still so much to learn about being a good parent.

You¬†didn’t think it’d be so hard to love your kids. But it is. Not because they aren’t lovable (they are so lovable when they’re sleeping!), but because you’re human. You only have so much energy, attention, and patience to give. That’s why you struggle. But remember this: your child is struggling, too.

She is struggling to grow into her own skin. He is struggling to manage his emotions, his fears and frustrations at feeling helpless in this great big world. They are struggling to learn words, facts, and theories. They are struggling to feel accepted, valued, and loved‚ÄĒespecially when they are not acting lovable.

And they are looking to you to help them.

Okay, so¬†that’s not what you wanted to hear. But it’s the truth. You play one of the most important roles in your kid’s life. You’re their mama. The one who gets to witness their tantrums and meltdowns. The one who has more gray hair and wrinkles (and a secret stash of chocolate) than the other parent in the house. You are the one whom they trust enough to bare the darkest, scariest and craziest parts of themselves to.

You’re also the one who got a¬†letter slipped through the crack of the bathroom door the¬†day of the 40 minute meltdown. A letter written from the heart of your little one that made you cry and almost made the craziness¬†you endured worth it.

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There are not enough words to describe how hard parenting is. But there are also not enough words to express how humbling, amazing, and fulfilling it is, too.

So don’t give up. Hang in there, mama. You’re doing all right. Someone even thinks you’re the best. ūüôā

Yours truly,

A Struggling Mama (on a good day)

P.S. Do yourself a favor, frame this letter and hang it up in the bathroom for the next time (oh, yep, there will be a next time) you find yourself hiding there. And some chocolate, too. ūüėČ

Here’s Adele’s song, “Remedy”, covered by Sara Marathas. These lyrics remind me of being a mom: “When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool,¬†I promise you will see that I will be, I will be your remedy.”

Who do you trust to bare the darkest, scariest, and craziest parts of yourself to?

Appreciating the Value of Art

The family and I went to a nearby mall last weekend to window shop. This is one of the fancier malls around here, and when I say fancy, I mean expensive. ūüėČ You won’t¬†find a Target here,¬†although they do have my other favorite (aka. affordable) store, Old Navy. Walking around this mall is like entering a shopping haven; it’s beautiful, clean and somewhat glamorous (for this part of town at least, hehe).¬†Even the decor is fancy. While we were sipping our Jamba Juices in the food court, my eyes were drawn to these lights hanging from the ceiling. Apologies for the fuzzy picture, but these lights are really cool in person. They are like huge tear drops with cut outs on the lower halves that form an intricate latticework. Hubby said they would look even better at night, and I agree.

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I pointed the lights out to the munchkins and commented on how neat they were. After taking a quick look, E promptly replied, “What a waste.”

WHAT!¬†I picked my jaw off the ground and fired back, “But it’s art!”

He gave a half-hearted shrug and remained unmoved.

Aiya. ūüėȬ†I think what bothered¬†me the most about E’s lackluster response was how familiar is was to me. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had the exact same reaction before. Sometimes¬†it’s been in response to what I think are extravagant party decorations or fancy food. For example, why would a chef spend his time, money and effort on making something that will just get gobbled up and “disposed of” a day later? ūüėõ

Image courtesy of piyato/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of piyato/freedigitalphotos.net

Well, the reason is the one I gave E: it’s for the sake of art.¬†It’s for the purpose of taking an idea and bringing it to life. To see beyond the ordinary and boring and mundane. To express the hopes and dreams that exist in our hearts. To create beauty where there was no beauty before.

You’d think a writer would understand the value of art. I do, but there’s also the cheap,¬†square, not to mention, Asian(!) side of me that is a little too practical for my own good (and has obviously been passed down to E!). But this is a good reminder for myself to appreciate all forms of art. The ones that I may squint at and scratch my head over to the ones that resonate more naturally¬†in my heart.¬†The amazing thing is that there is so much art in this world. That’s one of the things I really thank God for‚ÄĒthe ability to create and the ability to appreciate creativity. Plus, the ability to inspire creativity in others, which is something¬†I obviously need¬†to do more of with my munchkins.

Because …

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Don’t you agree? ūüôā

Take a listen to this absolutely beautiful “Disney Love Medley”, featuring Kirstin Maldonado and Jeremy Michael Lewis, with Voctave.

What kind of art do you appreciate the most? What kind do you enjoy creating?

Conversations with My Nine Year Old About Puberty

Aiya.

That’s the first word that popped into my head when I typed the title to this blog post. Now let me show you how I felt when I had the actual conversation with E about this oh-so-crazy topic.

Image courtesy of think4photop/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of think4photop/freedigitalphotos.net

Take away the rhinoceros and imagine¬†me swimming in the¬†murky¬†waters¬†of De Nile (denial, get it?) River. ¬†Better yet, picture me with my head under the goo with mud clogging up my eyes and ears so I don’t have to see or hear anything related to (gulp!) puberty.

Sigh.¬†It’s a little late for that though. ūüėõ

I was helping E with something the other night when he remarked out of the blue, “K has a mustache. It’s kind of like one hair sticking up.”

Now, mind you, this¬†is a¬†3rd grader he’s referring to, so when he says his baby-faced friend has a mustache, it’s more like a 5 second shadow. Still, it’s dark¬†enough that¬†I spotted it one day from a distance as the kids were walking to car line.

E¬†then proceeded to ask, “I wonder why he has it?”

Hm… good question. (The more important question was:¬†Why do I always get stuck with the hard questions?!)

My mind raced, trying to think of all the different tactics I could use to educate E on the ins and outs of¬†the “p” word. Finally, I decided to tackle it head on. “It’s part of puberty. Everybody’s different. K’s dad is not Asian (his mom is though) so he probably will grow a mustache earlier (no offense to all the Asian men out there!). We have hormones in our bodies that make it happen.” (Looking back,¬†I realize¬†my train of thought was all over the place and about to jump the track and derail.)

E asked, “What are hormones?”

“Uh, they’re the chemicals in your body that make you a guy or a girl …,” I replied slowly, trying to remember everything I forgot from biology class. At seeing E nod (and thinking that I might as well take advantage of the awkward opportunity), I opened my mouth to elaborate some more. I didn’t get a chance to though because he promptly started talking about¬†his favorite game “Plants vs. Zombies”.

Eh?! :O

Wait, I was on a roll! I didn’t even get to talk about testosterone yet! ūüėČ

Believe me, part of me was relieved to be let off the hook so quickly, but the other part was surprised at how¬†short (and uninformative) our conversation was. Which likely means it wasn’t our last one.

Aiya.

The fact of the matter is kids do grow up. And growing up can be weird and awkward and scary. But we as parents are supposed to walk them through it somehow cause we know how weird and awkward and scary it was for us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make it a little less so for them?

So, till our next crazy¬†convo, I’m going to do some homework on this topic (and get hubby involved too cause I know he wouldn’t¬†want to miss out on the fun!). If you have any suggestions on how to tackle talking about puberty¬†with kids, send them my way! Even better, if you can make up a video game with¬†plants and zombies and puberty¬†facts, I’ll be your first customer. ūüėČ

I thought the perfect song for this post would be Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road”, sung here by the Huang family on the TV show “Fresh Off the Boat”. It addresses another part of puberty I am NOT¬†looking forward to – teenage heartbreak. :p

How did you learn about puberty? How would you have liked to learn about it?

Conversations with My 6 Year Old About Growing Up

There are so many children’s books out there in the world; some are strange, many are funny, but only one has had the power to move me to tears. That book is called “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch.

To be honest though, the first time I read it, I thought the author was a little nuts. Let me tell you why. In a nutshell (pun intended, haha), the book follows the journey of a mother and her baby from the time he is born until he is a father himself. Every evening the mother rocks her son to sleep and sings a sweet song that goes:

“I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.”

And when I say she does this every evening, I mean every evening. Even when her son is a 6 foot tall, hairy man living across town, she drives over to his house in the middle of the night. She takes the super long ladder she strapped to the roof of her car and climbs up to his bedroom on the second floor, makes sure he is fully asleep, and takes him in her (very strong) arms and rocks him to this song.

LoveYouForever2

Yup. The counselor part of me totally had a field day psychoanalyzing this scene. ūüėČ My initial thoughts were: This mom is so codependent, overly attached and unable to let go of her kid. Where are¬†her boundaries?!

It¬†was about nine years ago when I first saw this book at the library. Since then, every time I see it on a¬†shelf, I bypass it because of¬†its “dysfunctional” message. But recently, I finally understood what the author was saying (and now know¬†that he was not nuts when he wrote the book). ūüôā

The other day C and I were talking about her upcoming trip to the dentist to have 2 (stubborn) baby teeth pulled. I attempted to allay her fears by going over the procedure and answering her questions. The conversation was going well, and she was staying calm and looking thoughtful when she said something that made my heart drop.

C: “You can stay outside.”

Me: “What?”

C: “You can stay outside. You don’t have to come with me.”

It took a minute for me to register that C was saying¬†she didn’t want me to go into the dentist’s office with her during the procedure. I was supposed to stay¬†outside in the waiting room.

Me: “Are you sure?”

C: “Yes. Stay outside.”

Me: “Aw, my baby’s growing up!”

C: “Mo-om!”

Me: “NOOOOOOO! Okay, I’ll wait outside.”

And that’s when the story of “Love You Forever” came to mind. Because with every ounce of blood pumping in me, as long as I’m living, my babies will always be my babies. I may not be as crazy (or brave) as the mom in the book to break into my kids’ homes when they’re adults and rock them to sleep, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to. (Actually, hubby¬†would probably beat me to it!) But in my heart of hearts, I will always¬†remember E and C as the cute, chunky babies who¬†challenged and inspired me, and ultimately, grew¬†me into the mom¬†I am today.

So, yes, sweet daughter, I know you (and your brother) are growing up and don’t need me as much as before. I just need a little while¬†to catch up to this new reality, so be patient with me. But I (and your Baba) would really appreciate it if you could do us a favor and¬†choose¬†a one story house when you grow up. ūüėČ

Here’s a link to where you can hear “Love You Forever” read to you and view the illustrations as well. (Get the tissues out!)

And we’ll end with Mariah Carey’s song, “Always Be My Baby”. ūüôā

When did you realize you (or your kids) were growing up?

Life is Like Waiting for Water to Boil

The kids and I stopped by a friend’s house last week, and she marveled at¬†how tall they had gotten. I replied in an uncertain voice, “Oh yeah? I guess so.”

Considering we hadn’t seen each other for over six months, I figured she was probably right. Definitely right, however, was more like it.¬†E’s pants which I had recently hemmed now looked unseasonably short as they skimmed¬†his ankle bones. And C just mentioned¬†that a shirt she had worn a few months ago no longer covered her tummy well. Even with this evidence of growth though, I had¬†a hard time recognizing it.

I wondered why, and realized it’s because my perspective is so limited.

I see the munchkins day in and day out – that’s 365 days out of 365 days! And as any parent knows, every one¬†of those days can feel long (though the years are short!). Trying to capture the kids’ daily growth is like waiting for¬†water to boil. You stare and stare at the pot on the stove, even lifting the lid every ten seconds to look inside, but it still feels like it’s taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r for anything to happen. It’s hard to notice the tiny bubbles forming on the side of the pot as the water heats up. It’s also easy to discount the role of those bubbles because they appear so insignificant. But it’s that slow and easy simmering action¬†that eventually produces¬†bigger and bigger bubbles, ones so powerful that they “cannot be disturbed or disrupted by stirring or by dropping ingredients into the water” (thank you, www.wisegeek.org!).

That’s what it’s like for me waiting for my kids to “boil” (aka. mature). I witness¬†their daily sibling wars, hangry meltdowns and homework struggles.¬†I make them the same cheese quesadillas for lunch and the same pasta or fried rice dish¬†for dinner. It’s like I’m running in a hamster wheel trying to keep up with them, and I see the same view of them every day. But the view is a lot bigger from outside the “cage”, and even bigger over the course of time.

Thinking about the kids’ growth shed some light for me when a good friend asked me the other day, “Do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to this year?”

My immediate reaction¬†was to answer, “No, not at all!” If I could have, I would have wanted to write more and publish more books. And, of course, to sell more. It’s easy for me to list all the¬†“mores” that I wish I had accomplished this year. But when I proceeded to tell this to my friend, she shook her head and exclaimed, “You did a lot!”

Hmm?! Her words made me step back for a moment. Maybe, similar to the situation with the kids, my being too close to the action makes it hard to recognize and remember the progress.

With today being the last day of 2015, it’s natural to want to reflect on the past year. What did you accomplish? What did you wish you had accomplished? Are you closer to, or farther from, doing or getting or becoming _____?

What about regrets? I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and memes¬†about forgetting the past and starting over. I’m sure these were written to encourage and motivate us to do better and more in the new year, but reading them just¬†leaves a bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth.

What if when we reflect on 2015, we reevaluate the year through a wider and deeper lens? How about celebrating the baby steps of faith you took to do something out of your comfort zone (even if you were pushed out of it)? Or being thankful for the challenges you faced, and even those you failed at miserably, because you learned more about yourself through them?

And how about looking at the past year through someone else’s lens?¬†Like that of a gracious and kind friend who doesn’t hold the same set of high expectations that you hold for yourself. Or that of¬†a spouse who¬†witnesses all your¬†ups and downs, and still has faith in you. Or a parent who supports you in doing what you love and encourages you to keep going.

The great thing about a new year is the fresh start it offers. But let’s not forget or dismiss the days and years that brought us to today.¬†All the life lessons God so patiently taught us in order to help us grow up. Those are the small bubbles simmering in us that will someday soon produce a rolling boil.

Image courtesy of khunaspix/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of khunaspix/freedigitalphotos.net

And if there’s more that we want for this new year, let’s make that “more” count. Let’s strive for more faith, more hope and more love. ūüôā

Cheers to a wonderful 2015! Thank YOU for walking along with me in this strange and amazing¬†journey called life. ūüėČ I look forward to more blogging fun¬†in 2016.

Take a listen to this cool song by Pentatonix, appropriately called, “New Year’s Day”.

What did you learn in 2015? What do you want more of in 2016?

Lessons on Letting My Kids Face Challenges

When I met C outside school a few¬†weeks ago, I noticed she wasn’t her usual peppy self. She dragged her feet along the sidewalk like she was trudging through mud, and plopped down on the concrete bench next to me with the weight of the world on her small shoulders. I tried to ask what was wrong, but she only answered me with a pout. It wasn’t until half an hour after we got home that she handed me a note detailing her woes:

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In case you aren’t familiar with first-gradernese, it reads: “I want to change schools before Thursday or skip Friday please. The jacket, it is bad because K said me and L are twins. Thanks, Mei (little sister).”

We proceeded to have a very long (according to E who was patiently waiting for me to help with homework) discussion about the two issues she wrote about. First, she¬†didn’t want to go to school Friday because her class was having a Thanksgiving/Heritage Day potluck, and her teacher said the kids¬†would need to introduce their dishes using the language of their cultural heritage. Keep in mind, C’s first language was Mandarin and she was speaking 11¬†word sentences by the time she was 18 months old. And I¬†was only planning on making fried rice, which is only 2 words long. But, it’s been a while (sigh!) since either one of the munchkins have spoken Mandarin fluently, so she was pretty anxious about speaking it in front of her teacher, her classmates and their parents.

Now, the second issue involved a new fuzzy purple jacket I bought for her … which happened to be the same fuzzy purple jacket as another girl, L, in her class. As a result, one of her friends, K, started teasing her that she and L were twins, and refused to sit with C at lunch.

Aiya, right?

I thanked C for telling me what was on her mind, and we started troubleshooting the problems one by one. The first one was fairly simple; we practiced saying the words …

Chao Fan (aka. Fried Rice)

Chao Fan (aka. Fried Rice)

throughout the week until she was comfortable with them. It turned out, she didn’t even need to say the dish in Chinese, but it was a good mini lesson anyway. ūüėČ

The latter issue, however, was much more troublesome and worrisome (or rather, trouble-most and worri-most because honestly, it troubled and worried me a lot!). When C told me about¬†K (and also T) not wanting to sit with her, my heart fell. I could only think about the times I was bullied or felt left out as a kid. I absolutely did¬†NOT want C to go through that. My initial reaction (and also hubby’s when I told him about this) was¬†to say, “We’ll get you a new jacket!” Getting a new non-fuzzy non-purple jacket was sure to solve the problem, right? Actually, not right. It might make things better temporarily, but rescuing C from this conflict wouldn’t help her in the long run … especially when she faced another situation like this again.

Sigh. Double SIGH. (This was one of those times I wished some over-protective parent out there¬†would invent a kid-sized bubble cause I’d be the first one to buy it.)

Even though I desperately wanted to take the easy way out to¬†protect my little girl, I took a deep breath and put on my big girl pants. I¬†told C to sit¬†with her other friends for now, and that K would likely stop teasing her after a while. I¬†tried going the logical route and said, “She’s being silly. Doesn’t she know you¬†all wear the same clothes (uniforms) already?” She replied with an even more logical answer, “Yeah, how can we be twins? We don’t even look the same.” (No kidding, L is blonde!)

LOL. You go, girl! ūüôā

This was when I knew she would be okay. Fuzzy purple jacket aside, C is learning how to think for herself and to stand strong in the face of¬†¬†challenges. It’s definitely not pleasant for me to watch her experience these growing pains, but I’m thankful I can walk alongside her and help her through them. ‘Cause that’s what my job as her mom is about.¬†I can’t put her in a bubble or prevent her from getting scraped and bruised. But I can be there to sit with her, tend to¬†her wounds, and nudge her back into the¬†world … loved and lifted up and stronger than before.

I love the passion in this¬†song by Demi Lovato, “Skyscraper”. It’s all about rising above our circumstances and standing strong in the face of challenges.

Who or what has helped you stand strong in the face of challenges?

Leaving the Porch Light On (for Your Tween)

Hubby and I have an unspoken contest going on. There’s no monetary gain involved or prize to be won, just¬†bragging rights. Every so often one of us will¬†turn to the other with an “I did it!” smile on our face, while the other will respond with wide eyes. We trade our stories with a great sense of accomplishment and pride. So, what is¬†this “skill” that we like to boast about to each other? You’ll probably never guess …

It’s getting to hold E’s hand.

Yup. Our high need son who always clung to us, sat on our laps whenever possible and never left our side for years is (finally) growing up. And with his growing confidence and independence comes a desire to do things on his own. Gasp! Without us.

Let’s pause for¬†a moment to observe the passing of childhood and the commencement of the tweenage years. :O

The reality is, E is now less than a¬†year away from the double digits. He¬†is sounding more and more like a big kid, especially when he rolls his eyes at my jokes and says, “Mo-om” in the most¬†unimpressed way possible. He never wants me to come help out at school or even to chaperone field trips (sorry Mrs. V!). And worst of all, he doesn’t like to hold our hand. When I try to, his hand just slips¬†out of my grip like one of those water wiggler toys you can never hold onto (kids of¬†the ’90s know what I’m talking about!). Which is why it’s such a HUGE deal whenever hubby or I get to hold his hand.

I was sharing this with his former kindergarten teacher the other day at parent-teacher conferences (she’s currently C’s teacher). She affirmed his growth over the past few years and encouraged us with this line, “Just keep the porch light on for him.” In other words, even though he may not need us as much, it’s our job to¬†let him know we will¬†always be here for him.

Image courtesy of dreyboblue/flickr.com

Image courtesy of dreyboblue/flickr.com

Even now as I type this post, I can feel my eyes welling up at the thought of E not needing us. How can someone who was once so dependent on us for his every need not need us?! :O

Well, his independence definitely didn’t happen overnight. And thankfully, I have a feeling it’ll be some time before he packs up and moves out of the house. Right¬†now, he wavers between the little boy we once knew and the teenager he is becoming. He may not want to hold my hand, but every now and then he’ll let his knee touch mine under the dining room table. He still pauses and waits for me to kiss the top of his head¬†when I drop him off at school. And if I’m lucky, he lets me hold his hand for a few seconds while we cross the street.

He may not be my baby anymore, but I’ll always keep the porch light on for him. Even if I can’t hold his hand, I will always hold his heart.

My firstborn. :)

My firstborn. ūüôā

Take a listen to this sweet song by Rascal Flatts, “My Wish”. It captures my wish for both my munchkins as they grow up.

Who do you leave the porch light on for? Who has left it on for you?