Glasses: Rose Colored & Half Full

On this Thanksgiving day, I am reminded to be thankful. To reevaluate my attitude. To see things in shades of pink (via rose-colored glasses). To view my glass as half full (versus half empty).

I honestly don’t find it hard to do so…in this moment. Sitting in my pj’s in a warm house while my hubby tends to the kids downstairs – it’s a pretty quiet and peaceful moment. 🙂 It’s always during the other moments, when life is not like a Hallmark card, that prove to be more challenging times for me to be thankful. Ah, such is the human condition, is it not?

But in celebration of this day, I want to list the top 20 (cause there really are too many to name!) reasons I am extremely thankful for today and every day. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

1. My 2 munchkins who oh-so-loudly interrupted me while I was typing this two hours ago. LOL. They make my life so much more meaningful and complete.

2. My oh-so-supportive hubby who is entertaining them now so I can complete this post! He is my #1 encourager, my partner in life who keeps me sane and happy.

3. The appliances we are so blessed to have and the electricity with which to use them. 

4. Clean water! And more than enough food.

5. Health. And sanity. 🙂

6. Knowing I am growing to be a calmer and wiser parent, one who managed to keep her cool despite sitting in the parking lot of Sweet Tomatoes for approx. 62 minutes yesterday waiting for her dear son to finish having a cow (it’s a long story). And for a daughter who is patient beyond her years.

7. For our little one whom we were so thrilled to have in our family for a brief moment in time… and who makes me long for heaven all the more.

8. For our dear families – parents and siblings – both near and far. 

9. For Facebook, which takes up more of my time than it should, but has helped me reconnect with so many relatives and friends. 

10. The beauty of the written word.

11. Melodies and harmonies. For all the great songs out there. For karaoke. 😉 

12. The group of moms I meet up with regularly for play dates. For getting to vent, commiserate and grow with them.

13. For a good multi-cultural church where I can learn to love and serve people of all backgrounds.

14. For funny things on the internet like this: 31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming A Parent.

15. For cute and furry animals like these dogs and these lions.

16. California weather, where fall means temperatures are still in the mid-60’s.

17. For history, for what we can learn from it; for the future and the ability to dream about what is to come; but most of all, for the present because living in the moment is the best.

18. Being able to help others in need.

19. Every breath I take.

20. For faith, hope and love. 🙂

Celebrate today with this song by Natalie Cole called “Be Thankful“.

What are you thankful for today and every day?

Monday Mentionables: Family Time, Fall Foliage & Gratitude in Action

Aloha! Hehe, just felt like saying that cause I need a bit of Hawaiian sunshine to warm me on this cold fall day. It’s Monday again and hopefully many of you have a short week of school/work ahead of you. Here are today’s mentionables…
 
1. Family Time. We just got home from a beach getaway with my side of the family. When I say beach, I mean cold and windy cause it’s Nor Cal (not Hawaii), but it was good nonetheless. Here are a few highlights of our trip.
This is the home we rented. Love the sign, except for the last part cause there were two moms (me and my mom) living there for the weekend. Haha.

 

A belated birthday gift my sister gave me! She is the best sister ever – she gives the most thoughtful gifts (notice the mug is in my favorite color), plus I think she reads my blog. 🙂
We played “Just Dance 2” on the Wii. All 3 generations (including the grandparents!) got into it throughout the night. Here’s my sis and bro-in-law with C observing. 
This is what C said I looked like when I danced. LOL

 

We toasted marshmallows in the fire pit in the backyard. Gotta get us one of these! 😉

2. Fall Foliage. Don’t you just love fall? The weather is not too cold yet and there are so many beautiful colors to look at. Here’s what we get to see just in our neighborhood.

God is so creative. 🙂

 

Walking around our neighborhood brings back so many fond memories: having our dog Sparkle drag us as he chased cats; carrying our son on his first walk; pushing C in a stroller on her first walk as big brother rode a tricycle in front of us; big brother biking and pulling C behind him in a wagon. Nowadays, they both bike by themselves and leave us in the dust!

 

Dandelion!

 

A cool leaf bug hubby found.

3. Gratitude in Action. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share about how we can help others in need. I was at Burlington Coat Factory the other day and saw they have a Coat Drive where you can donate a gently used coat to help keep someone warm. Also, at Sprouts, they had bags of food ready to be bought and given to families in need for Thanksgiving. I’m sure there are plenty of more organizations out there that are doing the same. Let’s remember how much we have to be thankful for and put our gratitude in action this week and throughout the year. 🙂

Happy a happy Monday, everyone! 🙂

It’s None of Your Business

In our house, our kids get paid to do chores. We started enforcing “child labor” when our son began wanting to buy everything in the toy aisles at Target (well, mainly the ones that have sounds and lights or transform to become something really cool). So, now instead of us paying for their gadgets, they buy their own. Whenever they help out (ie. wash the car or mop the floor), I reward them in the form of praise and coins while hubby gives out bills (yes, he’s way more generous than I am). 

One day after the kids had finished working and gotten paid, our son came over to me with a pensive look on his face.

“How much did you give C?” he asked.

Two thoughts rose in my mind. Uh, what? and Hello, it’s really not your business, dear.

His question kind of threw me off, though it really shouldn’t have surprised me. Our son is and always has been detailed and rule-based and dare I say it, square. On this particular day, he had noticed that he and C had been given different chores and that she also hadn’t done her work as quickly as he had (she had been a little whiny about it at first). That’s why he wanted to know whether or not they had received the same number of coins. 

Image courtesy of posterize/freedigitalpictures.net

Good question, kid. But I chose not to answer his question. This is what I said.

“You don’t need to worry about C. It’s up to me how much I want to give her. You just do your job and worry about yourself.”

“But how much did you give her?” he persisted in asking. Haha, did I mention he’s stubborn, too?

I just repeated my answer and moved on to another topic.

This incident however really made me think. It first reminded me of the parable from Matthew 20:1-16 about some workers in a vineyard who grumbled about how much they got paid in comparison to some other guys who hadn’t done as much work as they had (sound familiar?). Then, it got me thinking about how we humans just like to compare. We have this need to look at what we have and do and then look at what other people have and do. We then make assumptions and judgments not only about ourselves, but also about those other people, based on our comparisons. These assumptions may sound like: They must be so much happier than me, They must not have any problems, They don’t deserve what they have, Why can’t I have what they have, etc. 

But, and this is a BIG but – comparing gets you nowhere. Actually, let me rephrase that. The only place that comparing will take you is to the land of greed, envy, discontentment and unhappiness. And who wants to go there?

Instead of comparing (and complaining), we should focus our concerns on ourselves.

This is something I’ve been learning as a mom. Moms can be some of the most judgmental, harshest, yet insecure people out there (speaking from experience of course). We each think (or hope) our way of parenting is the best and we secretly compare ourselves to other moms to try to make ourselves feel better. Sometimes we do feel better, but most times we feel a lot worse.   

What I’ve realized though is that we are each on our own journey in life. We are all learning as we go along and there’s no use comparing our journey with someone else’s because we can only walk our own. We are only responsible for our own life, for what we’ve been given. So, why waste a second of it by worrying about what other people have and do? Let’s focus our time, energy and thoughts on our own journey. Celebrate how far you’ve come, the ways your experiences and abilities have shaped you, and continue making your journey the best it can be. 🙂

I had a hard time coming up with a song to go with this post, but I think Michael W. Smith’s “Place in this World” comes close to relaying the message of focusing on your own journey. It’s seriously an oldie, but goodie as you can tell from this video. 😉

In what areas do you compare yourself with others? How can you turn those comparisons into celebrations of your own personal growth?

Monday Mentionables: Meaningful Jewelry, Thanksgiving Crafts & Serenity Prayer

Hi everyone, is it me or is this month passing by a little faster than usual? Anyhow, Monday has arrived again so here are today’s mentionables…

1. Meaningful Jewelry. I picked up these bracelets from Kohl’s for free last week. That’s right, free. Thanks to Kohl’s and their sneaky ways, I got a $10 off anything over $10 coupon from them, which got me in the door just as they hoped it would and out the door with my “freebies”…and a skirt for C… and a work shirt for hubby. Haha. That coupon gets me every time. But you have to admit these bracelets are super cute and meaningful. 🙂

They also had other colors with the words Peace, Faith and Mom on them. I was so tempted to buy them all… maybe if Kohl’s sends me another coupon. 😉

2. Thanksgiving Crafts. So, have you ever wondered just how many ways there are to make a turkey craft? Well, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I’d help answer that question for you. I found this website with tutorials on how to make a turkey from a toilet paper roll and coffee filters, a handprint with candy corn, a juice box and a painted pumpkin. Now that’s a lot of turkeys! But if you’re looking for something a little more meaningful than a bird that goes “gobble gobble”, check out this thankful scroll and thankful mobile

3. Serenity Prayer. Since we’re on a roll with meaningful things, I’d like to share with you something I repeat to myself on days when I really need a reminder of what I can and cannot do and how to get through those “bumps” in the road. 

God, give me the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

So on that note, I’m going to try to tackle this Monday with serenity and hope you do, too! 🙂

Justice, Kindness & Humility

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 7+ years, it’s that parenthood is one looong, continuous lesson on love.

Just as it takes a whole lot of work to maintain a good marriage, it takes a LOT of work to be a loving, patient, kind, understanding—insert all the warm and fuzzy adjectives you can think of—parent.

I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. I can’t imagine my life without them. I love how I am probably the most important person to them in their lives right now (sorry hubby!)—and yet I also cringe at that thought. I cringe because every word I say, and especially the manner in which I say it, has great power. My words can either inject light and approval into their little hearts or instill gloom and doom. And once my words are out there, I can’t take them back. Sure, I can (and often do) apologize when I “lose it”, but the damage has already been done (sigh).

To be truly loving towards our children all the time may not be possible (we are only human), but it is something we can strive for – and believe me, there are plenty of chances to practice. Just the other day I had the unfortunate opportunity to show love to our dear son. I say unfortunate because it’s always easier to love our kids when they say and do what we want, however this time was not one of them.

For some reason which I can’t remember right now, he had a major meltdown 30 minutes before bedtime. The fact that he was very tired probably explains why he was sitting on the couch crying with his head thrown back, eyes clamped shut and mouth wide open. When he cries like this, it’s like a dam has opened and all of Niagara Falls is gushing out of him. It’s hard to calm him down or reason with him about anything at this point.

In my head I was thinking, Aiya, what now?!?!?! and starting to feel like a pressure cooker about to burst open. I looked at hubby who was already exhausted from a crazy week at work and saw that he was getting frustrated, too (which is rare because he is very patient with the kids). Before I knew it, my own dam cracked and I was spewing out some harsh words at our son, until hubby shook his head and said, “It’s okay.”

What?! It’s not okay!! I wanted to yell. Instead I shut my mouth and stomped into the kitchen. After a while, our son ran out of steam and tears and stopped crying. We then convinced him he was tired and needed to sleep, and off we went to bed.

The following day hubby and I had a chance to debrief, meaning I had a chance to vent. I asked him how in the world he had stayed so calm and he admitted he almost lost his patience, but reminded himself not to go there.

“He didn’t deserve it,” hubby said about our son. “He just wanted some attention. He needed compassion.”

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/freedigitalphotos.net

WOW.

If you can imagine, I totally moaned in frustration and disbelief at hubby’s comment. That was such a classic “give me a pencil so I can poke my eye out with it” kind of moment.

Of all the things I wanted to give to our son during his meltdown, compassion was NOT one of them. What I thought he deserved at the time was a good scream-fest about how unreasonable he was being – because he was. I thought I had the right to feel frustrated and impatient over his behavior – and maybe I did. But I missed an important point. Even if I was upset over how he was acting, I didn’t need to give in to the moment. The very thing I wanted him to do – control his emotions – was something I needed to do myself. But why? Simply because my love for my son should be bigger than his temporary meltdowns.

If I could have taken a step back from the situation, I would have realized that pouring fuel on a fire never puts the fire out. It’s only when you douse the flames with water, does it die down. Yes, our son neither deserved nor benefitted from me pouring my wrath upon him. What he needed was my patience and understanding.

Oh, how I hate it when hubby is right! 😛 But I am oh so thankful that I learned something more that day about love. This verse from Micah 6:8 came to mind:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
I usually see this verse used for social justice issues, but I believe it applies just as much in our homes. Do we treat our kids justly? Do we show kindness to them? Do we acknowledge our weaknesses as parents and ask God to help us?

Sigh, sigh and sigh. So much for being a perfect parent! (I’m kidding, I know I’m not!)

I am really challenged by this verse. I almost feel like I have to go back to the “drawing board” and reevaluate the way I parent. At least I have a better idea of what I need to work on now and that’s justice, kindness and humility.

I just love this song by Chris Tomlin, “Kindness”, which speaks of our ultimate example of kindness. 🙂

What ideas and thoughts do you have about “doing justice” towards your children?

Monday Mentionables: Pumpkin Cranberry Scones, Stage of Life & Veteran’s Makeover

Happy Veteran’s Day! 

This post is going to be super quick cause I have two munchkins vying for my attention on their day off from school! 😉

Today’s mentionables are…

1. Pumpkin Cranberry Scones. I tried this boxed “recipe” from Trader Joe’s and got good results. I substituted the one stick of butter with coconut oil and it still worked. The kids liked it (although briefly, haha), but I thought it tasted more moist than the other boxed scones I tried before. 

Watching them bake!
The finished product!

2. Stage of Life. I got an email today saying I won my first writing contest hosted by Stage of Life! Whoo-weeeeeeeeeeee!  😉 The topic of the essay was “I am scared of…”. You can read my entry here. My winnings include a $50 spa certificate and a pen! 😀

3. Veteran’s Makeover. I love makeovers of all kinds – hair, clothes, homes, etc. – but my most favorite kind of makeover is that of the heart and mind. This video I saw online totally reflects both. I have started to appreciate how much veterans have sacrificed for our nation and wish life wasn’t so hard for many of them. I’m thankful there are great organizations out there that try to help them get back on their feet. 

Happy Monday to you all! 

Making 3rd World Problems 1st World Concerns

I was trying to enter my passcode into my iPhone yesterday when it froze up on me. I heard the usual click after I put in the numbers, but the screen didn’t respond. I let out a deep sigh of frustration and thought to myself, “Noooo!!”

Yes… 1st world problems, I know!

I almost wanted to laugh at myself for reacting so dramatically to such a minor, small, insignificant “problem”. In fact, I’m smiling right now as I type this. And I’m thankful I have the resources to own a cell phone, working or not.

This got me thinking about all the material things I have, which I totally take for granted on a daily basis.

~ clean water
~ electricity
~ more than enough food
~ more than enough clothes
~ feminine products

Yes, you read that right. I’m talking about those lovely products that we females get to use once a month. When I see a box of those items, all I get is a nagging reminder of “Aunt Flo’s” never-ending visits. But to girls in Uganda, having access to sanitary pads is like having a boat come to your rescue when you’re floating aimlessly in the ocean.

I came across this need recently (thanks to this amazing website) and was just shocked to learn that there are many young girls in Africa who are too embarrassed to attend school during their menstrual periods because they can’t afford pads! This means they fall behind on their schoolwork and eventually drop out and are then forced by their families into an early marriage. This then translates into teen pregnancies, possible exposure to HIV and broken dreams. Without an education, they cannot pursue a career and will have to be dependent on someone else for their survival.

I can’t imagine what these girls go through. I can’t even bear to imagine what it would mean for my daughter if she was in the same situation. No girl should have their lives thrown off track because of something that can be solved rather easily.

That’s why I was so excited to find out there is an organization that is providing these girls in Uganda with underwear, soap and sanitary pads (eco-friendly ones made from papyrus leaves) so they can stay in school! The girls also receive mentorship in life skills and character development. Support systems are put in place within the community to emphasize the importance of educating girls.

Image courtesy of africa/freedigitalphotos.net

Isn’t this cool?! 🙂 And to think that we, all the way around the world, can be a part of the solution to this PROBLEM (in caps because it is major, huge and significant).

There are so many 3rd world problems that can become our 1st world concerns. This is one of them for me. What are yours?

I thought Alicia Keys’ song, “Girl on Fire“, would be appropriate for this post. When girls are empowered through education, they are on fire!

What global problems are you passionate about fixing?

Monday Mentionables: Pomegranates, Monterey, Parenting Express & Beautiful Day

Hi everyone! Just happy to be alive this day and thanking God for everything He has brought me through. Hope you are getting a good start to this week, too. 
 
Here are today’s mentionables…
 
1. Pomegranates. In case you like pomegranates, but have no clue as to how to get those seeds out, here’s a super easy way to do it (I listened to my mom on this one and it works!). 
 
Yes, this is one fruit where you actually eat the seeds! There’s lots of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants in them!
The secret is in the spoon! You first cut the pomegranate in half and place one half face down in a cup that is about the same circumference (thank you high school math!) as the fruit. Then, using a metal spoon, start hitting the pomegranate! Turn the cup around as you hit so you get all the sides of the fruit. Keep hitting (and getting your stress out) until most of the seeds fall out and then use your fingers to pry the final few out. Oh, and be sure to wear an apron while you’re doing this so you don’t get pomegranate juice on your clothes.
Here are two pomegranates’ worth of health and deliciousness!
2. Monterey. We took an overnight trip to Monterey this past weekend for hubby’s 30th (plus or minus a decade) birthday. We almost didn’t make it cause he had a work emergency that had kept him working almost non-stop for 3 days. But thankfully, we were able to go at the last minute.
We had a great view at lunch of these sea lions (who are no longer on the endangered species list!). I commented to hubby that they reminded me of us in our family bed. 😛
This poor seagull was sitting outside the window for over ten minutes just waiting for Chloe to drop her corn dog!

3. Parenting Express. Just wanted to share a story of mine that got published on Parenting Express’ website for this month. You can read about my adventure going down a very tall, tubular slide with my kids and how that experience relates to my journey as a mom!

4. Beautiful Day. This song by Jamie Grace is cute and catchy, just what I need for a Monday! Enjoy!

Have a wonderful week!