It’s Not About the Money

Image courtesy of Simon Howden/freedigitalphotos.net

If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s finding bargains.  I love walking into a store and heading straight for the sales/clearance area and digging around for treasures.  You could say that I got the “el cheapo” gene passed down to me because frugality runs in my family.

Let me tell you just how cheap my family is – my sister told me a few years ago that she didn’t know cars had windshield wiper fluid because the hand-me-down she inherited didn’t have any!  I guess my dad never bothered to refill it after it ran out, which meant my poor sister had been driving around with a dirty windshield.  And whenever my parents give my kids things that are not packaged, I can be certain that they found it lying around somewhere (and some poor kid is still looking for his or her hat/scooter/swimming gear/nintendo). 😛

While it’s not a bad idea to save some money for a rainy day, I’ve learned that being cheap is not always the best way to live your life.  For one thing, it’s a bit limiting to buy something I kind of like just because it’s on sale instead of buying what I really like at full price.  It’s also kind of silly to have a bunch of almost empty lotion or shampoo bottles taking up residence in the bathroom because I’m trying to squeeze every last drop out of them.  And driving across town for less expensive gas may be defeating the purpose of saving 3 cents per gallon. 😛

When it all comes down to it though, it’s not about the money; it’s about people and how money affects them.  As hubby, Mr. Not-So-Cheapo, has taught me, money is just a tool and should be spent with a purpose.  Maybe its purpose is to buy lunch for the kids at Wendy’s instead of cooking it at home so mom saves her sanity.  Or its purpose is to buy a little plastic toy from one of those money-sucking vending machines just for the sake of making your kid smile (this was hubby’s idea, not mine, haha).

Lately, I’ve been seeing the purpose of using money for helping those in need.  I really want to pass on a heart of giving to E and C and not a heart of frugality, which can easily turn into one of stinginess (believe me, I know!).  So, being inspired by hubby of course, I now try to keep some cash in my wallet and give to people who are homeless.  The kids have caught on and whenever they see someone standing on the street, they readily want to pull over and help them.  One time, C even wanted to give her fruit bar to a guy holding a sign that read, “homeless and hungry”.  It makes me so happy to see them show concern and being generous towards others.  And hopefully they are learning that it is better to give than to receive (which would be nice to keep in mind the next time we are in the toy aisle at Target).  🙂

I’m certainly not a scientist, but I’m starting to think about doing some genetic engineering.  I think it’s about time to modify my el-cheapo gene cause it’s about so much more than the money.

Here’s a fun song, “Price Tag”, by Jessie J.

Are you a spender or saver?

Opposites Attract

Once upon a time, there was a typical Asian girl who had done the things that typical Asian girls do – graduated from Cal, drove a Honda Accord (and has never gotten a moving violation, haha), spent little and saved a lot and didn’t do anything too risky or adventurous.  One day she met a not so typical Asian guy who hadn’t finished college yet, drove a sports car (and had many moving violations and was once even chased by the cops for speeding!), was definitely a spender and loved to take risks.  And of course she loved how different this guy was from her (and vice versa) and they fell in love and got married and lived happily ever after.

Okay, that’s the Hollywood version of the story.  🙂  Chick flicks conveniently end the movie right before the part where the guy drives the girl crazy when he leaves his socks lying under the dining table…and that this still happens even after years of the girl reminding the guy about where his “lost” socks should go.  

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/freedigitalphotos.net

You would think that after 10 years of marriage, hubby and I wouldn’t be so surprised at how different we are.  Lately though we’ve really been rubbing each other the wrong way, but I think a lot of it is my fault cause I’ve been extra anal about cleaning the house/keeping it clean for relatives who are visiting (his relatives I might add!).  But we have come to a point where we don’t drive one another as crazy as we used to and can poke fun at each other now instead of putting on our boxing gloves.  

It’s so true that opposites attract.  But I really wouldn’t want to have it any other way.  I mean, can I picture myself being married to someone like me?  That would make for a very boring movie…one called Square and Squarer.  🙂

If I look at it in the right perspective, I can appreciate being married to my alter ego.  It’s like what the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Or in my case, hubby is like sandpaper, sanding down my corners to be a little more well-rounded.  I just hope that in the process I am imparting some of my squareness to him so those socks find their way home to the laundry basket someday! 

Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” is the perfect song for this post.

Do you believe opposites attract?

The Queen of Anything

In our family, even though we are not of royal blood, I think it’s safe to say that I have earned my title as Queen … more specifically, the Queen of No’s and Don’ts. I probably say or think “No, don’t …!” a hundred times a day.

Let me give you some examples:
“No, don’t …
hit
put that there
run
throw
pour
kick
touch
yell
call so and so a poo
… etc.!”

Hubby calls me a bubble burster, as in bursting the bubbles of anyone who is trying to have fun. I just like to think I keep things in order. But yes, I do agree that my “no’s and dont’s” do make me a bit of a killjoy (according to urban dictionary, one of the synonyms for killjoy is square!). I guess my sharp corners do cause some bubbles to pop along the way. 😛

The other day I woke up to the sounds of hubby playing with the kids in our room. I heard a high-pitched ssss-shhh as multiple things spilled out of a bag and then the high-pitched voice of our munchkin girl ask, “What is that?” Hubby replied matter-of-factly, “Popcorn.”

The first thing that popped (pun not intended) into my head was, “ON THE CARPET?!” I didn’t dare sit up in bed to take a look at what was going on; I could only imagine tiny uncooked popcorn kernels flying everywhere around the room. (Did I mention that hubby is the “unsquare” one between the two of us?) When I did work up the courage to peek over the covers, I saw the kids shoveling up the kernels and pouring them into their beach buckets. Then hubby made a chute from a long cardboard box and the kids began pouring the popcorn down the chute into the buckets. By the end, there was popcorn all over the carpet as I had predicted.

But we also had two very happy kids playing happily together.

Our corny beach!!

Sigh.

Was having a little mess on the carpet worth it to see the kids, not to mention hubby, having fun?  Um, er, ah … okay, fine, yes. Although if I were to have done it, I would have put a sheet on the floor first and kept the popcorn in a contained area. But then again, I would probably never have done something like that because I would have been too worried about cleaning up (which hubby and the kids did do when they finished playing – whew!).  🙂 And ultimately, I would have missed out on a fun experience with the kids, which is what I will remember and treasure many years from now.

So, it looks like being a queen (of no’s and don’ts) isn’t all that it’s cut out to be. Maybe it’s time I started thinking about trading in my crown and becoming the court jester?  😉

I love this song by Sara Bareilles’, “King of Anything”, which is so perfectly applicable to this post.

Do you have a square or unsquare personality?

Don’t Worry…Be Happy!

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am a girly girl.  I LOVE the color pink, laugh with my hand over my mouth, sigh and cry during chick flicks (even the predictable ones), try to steer clear of any activity that requires getting dirty, and cannot hit or throw a ball to save my life.  I am good at labor and delivery though, but unfortunately that doesn’t qualify as a sport yet. 😛

So being the girly girl that I am, I’ve always hoped for a daughter to share in my girly-ness and was so happy when we found out our second child was a girl (hubby knew from my voice over the phone what the ultrasound result was even before I told him).  Little did I know though that I would give birth to my alter ego. 

My alter ego is Bumblebee…just kidding!  C loves to try on masks and have me take her picture.

The word that perfectly describes C is feisty.  She is adventurous, spunky, mischevious and loves the color red.  She likes to hold my face with her little hands and smoosh my cheeks together and laugh with delight.  C has no problem holding her own against her older brother (E is actually the more timid one).  Although she does like dolls and stuffed animals, the last toy she wanted to buy was a tow truck.  And she loves to climb on things and isn’t afraid to play rough.  My theme song for her is “Don’t worry, be happy!”  🙂

Sometimes I wonder how she could be 50% of me (hubby likes to say his gene’s are more dominant, haha).  She definitely has my stubbornness and funny sleeping positions, but other than that, we are like night and day.  Which is why C really helps me to see life in a different light.  She is helping this square person to relax, take time to laugh and have fun, which is no small feat for a 2 year old!   I am just so thankful for my little alter ego.  🙂

For a quick pick-me-up song, listen to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.

Are any of your kids your alter ego?

All By Myself

This is SO true!

Having grown up as an only child for 10 years, I got pretty used to being by myself.  It is actually I, and not the hubby, who needs some cave time now and then, haha.  So it came as quite a shock to find out after becoming a mom that I would rarely ever be by myself again.  All the moms out there know this is not an exaggeration.  😛  Not only is my time not my own anymore, neither is my personal space.  

So in order to not go crazy when my devoted entourage starts making me feel claustrophobic, I remind myself of three things. 
1 – Kids stick to you cause they like you.  And they feel safe with you.  This is probably the most flattering way of looking at this.  🙂
2 – It’s good, and necessary, to get some “me time” regularly.  This is especially true when I find myself getting excited about the chance to go to the dentist’s by myself. 
3 – Try to enjoy the attention I get from the kids now cause there will come a day when they probably won’t want to be seen with me.  😛  

It’s true that kids do grow up fast.  And this part of parenting will soon pass.  A friend reminded me recently that there used to be a time when both E and C would follow me into the bathroom every time I went.  But now I can usually go alone.  

Just yesterday I was doing my morning routine and they were playing together in the next room.  E came in 2 minutes later and said, “We didn’t fight yet.”  Smart boy adding the word “yet”.  🙂  Then 2 minutes later, he came back and informed me that C had a poopy diaper.  So much for my alone time.  Oh well, there will be plenty of time to be all by myself in about 16 years!

Here’s Celine Dion’s “All By Myself“, but in my case, I’m taking out the “don’ts” cause I want to be all by myself!

How do you get some alone time as a mom?

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (AKA. Life with a High Need Baby)

Hubby and his siamese twin 🙂

If I do write a book someday, I think it will be about what it’s like to have a high need child.  What is a high need child?  Well, when E was about a month or two old, I was exhausted and frustrated to no end about why he wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. One night, I was so desperate and worn out emotionally that I randomly googled “can’t put baby down” and found the answer to all my parenting questions!  Dr. Sears’ website and his list of the “12 Features of a High Need Baby” saved my life…or more specifically, my sanity.

To make a long story short, we had a baby who was intense, draining, needed to be fed frequently, demanding, awakened frequently, and was super sensitive.  I felt like I was in baby boot camp H-E-L-L.  It was hard enough being a first time mom, but trying to meet E’s needs was next to impossible.  It was not at all how I imagined having a baby would be like!  I had it all planned in my head when I was pregnant that we would have him in our room sleeping in his crib till he was 3 months old, then move him into his own room.  I would go back to work part-time when he turned 6 months old and my mom would babysit him.  Little did I know that he would only sleep well with us holding him (day and night!) and started developing stranger anxiety at 2-3 months and would only want me to hold him.

And what made it more frustrating for me was seeing others’ reactions to E (okay, mainly my mom, haha) and how we were spoiling him by holding him all the time, etc.  And it was not fun hearing about how our friends’ babies were sleeping through the night at 3 months (however if yours did, I’m happy for you)!  🙂  It was only after our second child was born that I felt like we had proof that we didn’t make E the way he is (because C is the complete opposite of him)!

Once I realized we had a high-need child on our hands, I was both relieved and frustrated…and a bit angry.  I was upset that I couldn’t control E’s sleeping or eating schedule and I wouldn’t be able to go back to work as I had planned.  The only saving grace I had was that hubby absolutely adored E (and still does!) and was there to help me day and night.  And he helps me continue to see to this day that having a super sensitive child is a blessing, and that E will grow up soon enough and he won’t be sleeping in our bed one day (uh, yes we have a family bed).  😛

What I am most grateful for about E is how he has helped me focus more on people.  As a task-oriented person, it’s easy for me to get caught up doing things and forget to pay attention to people’s needs.  E has taught me that relationships come first and to-do-lists second.

It really makes both hubby and me happy when we see E treating others the same way he likes to be treated – with love, patience, generosity and sensitivity.  The other day he helped a friend’s 3 year old daughter go down a slide when she was afraid of going by herself; he held her on his lap, wrapped his arms around her waist and slid down with her.  When we saw a huge, stainless steel BBQ grill at Costco, he asked if we could buy it for Uncle S (who, believe me, would drool at the sight of it) cause he knows Uncle S loves to BBQ.  And E just melts hubby’s heart (they are 2 of a kind) when he says things like, “I want you forever and ever.  I don’t ever want to lose you.”  🙂

Oh, why did I name this post, “it’s the end of the world as we know it?”  Cause that’s my theme song for E when he has meltdowns, or cows, as I like to call them.  😛  He is starting to grow out of them (thank God!) and is growing up to be a more confident little boy.  And when things get hairy as they sometimes still do, I like to remind myself that at the end of that song by REM, it goes, “and I feel fine”.  😀

Here’s “It’s the End of the World” by REM. (FYI – I honestly don’t know/can’t understand the lyrics to this song besides the chorus!)

Have you ever met a high need baby?

P-E-R-F-E-C-T

One of my favorite quotes from a former counseling prof is: 

“Perfectionism leads to hopelessness, but failure leads to hope (cause you can always try again)!”

I have come to the conclusion that perfectionism is not fun.  Trying to make things go a certain way, prevent things from going a certain way, having things happen when I want them to, how I want them to… it all ends up being a bit nerve-wracking!  😛  And I am certainly finding out that perfectionism and parenting do not go hand in hand…AT ALL.  Try making sure your kids’ pasta does not get all over the table or their clothes or preventing them from spilling a whole cup of water or peeing/pooing on themselves or worse, on you!  The list goes on and on.  And all this work for a brief moment of feeling like things are under my control…until the next situation that needs perfecting.  It’s like trying to keep the lid down on a pot of boiling water…all I get is burned and frustrated.  But if I can turn the fire down (ie. change the unreasonable and non-beneficial rules I have in my head), I can enjoy life a lot more and not be so anti-fun.  🙂

Image courtesy of vorakorn/freedigitalphotos.net

So I admit I am a recovering perfection-aholic and this is day one…again…of my sobriety (cause I’m pretty sure I tried unsuccesfully to perfect something yesterday). 😛  I think I’ve realized the solution to perfectionism…it’s unconditional love.  Knowing that God already knows all the good and bad about me that has happened and is yet to come and still loves me – well, the only one making me jump through hoops is myself.  And tangibly seeing God’s love through my hubby and kids (who are great at showing unconditional love) helps me not be so hard on myself.  Which is important in parenting cause I just have to remember that kids are kids and things happen, but it’s all good cause we can always try again (and it’s easy to google different ways of getting stains out of clothes and carpet).  🙂

This reminds me of a verse: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
 
Seems like the one thing that we can try to be perfect in is love, loving ourselves and others, the way God loves us.  So here’s to a new day of being okay at failing so I can try again.  🙂
 
The song for this post is Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T, which in my case would be changed to P-E-R-F-E-C-T!
Are you or someone you know a perfectionist?