Celebrating Our Sweet 16 (Years of Marriage)

Hubby and I will be celebrating 16 years of marriage tomorrow. Yup, we chose May 5th so it’d be an easy date for him to remember. ūüėČ (Fun fact: He has trouble remembering his own parents’ birthdays.) As we approach our sweet 16, the one emotion I feel¬†is that of gratitude.¬†I am so thankful¬†because I know I married the right person.

Recently, hubby came back from work to have lunch with me. After our meal, we decided to go to Peet’s (coffee for him, tea for me), and on our way there we saw a man sitting outside on a bench. He held up a handwritten note on a piece of torn cardboard, asking for help. Hubby and I exchanged a quick glance as we passed him. Inside the cafe we placed our order and he went to the restroom. While I waited for him, I took my wallet out of my purse and checked if I had any cash. I rarely do, but that day I found a few bills and placed them in my pocket. I then picked up our order and met hubby as he came out of the restroom. I watched as he also pulled out his wallet to look for cash, and that’s when I knew … I had married the right guy.

“I already got some money‚ÄĒ”

“You did?” he responded in surprise. He paused his search and took the cash I handed him. “Oh, good.”

We left Peet’s and handed¬†the¬†money to the man outside.

I don’t tell this story to brag about our “good deed”, but I do want to brag about my hubby. ūüôā In the time I’ve known him, I’ve learned that he is a generous person with a soft spot for people who would be considered underdogs. He is generous with his money (guess who’s the saver in the family?), but it’s because he understands that money is a tool which can be used for good. Even though he can never wait to get¬†the latest and greatest gadgets, he is patient where it counts the most: with people. He makes time for the¬†munchkins and showers them with daily “I love you’s” and kisses (in private of course, never at school!) and also forgives quickly. I still remember the time munchkin #1 accidentally dropped his precious Nikon SLR camera¬†on the floor. He winced for a split second, but his love for his kids soon replaced any other emotions he could have had in that moment. As a husband, he has been my biggest¬†fan¬†from day one. He walked by my side as I finished¬†grad school, let me squeeze his arm during labor contractions, and supports me daily as a stay-at-home mom. Even though he has yet to read any¬†of my books (he doesn’t like to read, haha!), he encourages me to write and proudly tells his coworkers that his wife is an author.

Hubby is the more generous, gracious and giving spouse in our marriage, and quite honestly, my better half. And because of who he is and his care for our family, I have learned to be more generous, gracious and giving. The reason I wanted to give money to that man outside of Peet’s was because I’ve seen hubby do the same time and time again. The fact that we both opened up our wallets that day showed me that the past 16 years of our marriage have molded and shaped us. We started out as two very different individuals, and while we still are opposites in many ways, we have also¬†influenced one another for the better.¬†Our viewpoints and interests are more aligned. We see eye-to-eye on the bigger issues in life and let the minor ones fall to the side. Rather than a state of¬†coexistence, our relationship¬†has become one of¬†communication, cooperation and companionship. And would you believe it, our marriage¬†has also become more¬†fun. ūüôā

If you’d asked me early on in our¬†marriage whether or not I’d married the right person, I don’t think I would have been able to answer with a firm yes. But now? I’m certain I married the right man. Because this man makes me want to be a better woman.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the Lord and our family and friends for supporting us through our marriage! And our munchkins for bringing so much joy (and white hair) to our lives. Happy anniversary, Honey! I love you. ūüėÄ

Thoughts of an Almost 40 Year Old Gal

I clearly remember the night before I turned 20 like it was yesterday (but it was, wasn’t it?? LOL). My roommates and I were studying in our college apartment, and as soon as the clock struck midnight, I freaked out. I stood¬†up on our¬†lumpy, faded¬†brown couch and began jumping … up and down and up and down.

You could probably guess I was not thrilled to be growing older. Back when I was a kid, I remember thinking that 20 sounded ancient and so far away. There was no way I could ever be that old. But as¬†someone wise once said,¬†time waits for no one. In fact, it seems to pick up speed once you reach your early 30’s. And before you know it you’re 39 and seeing someone you don’t totally recognize in the mirror, except that she kind of reminds you of your mother (and Facebook keeps wanting to tag you in photos as her! #truestory). ūüėČ

That’s where I am today. About a month away from turning 40 – but NOT freaking out this time. Why not? Because I know …

1. It’s a privilege to age. The truth is not everyone makes it this far. I count every day that God gives me on this earth (good and bad) a blessing and an opportunity.

2. The older I get, the more ______ ¬†I am. There are so many words I could¬†put in that blank space. Thankful, empathic and wise are a few that come to mind. Confident is another (which is a major one for me!). The changes¬†happening inside me far outweigh the changes taking place¬†on the outside. You can buy smooth skin, hair dye and a new hip,¬†but you can’t buy internal growth.

3. Age is but a number.¬†I may not have the face or body¬†of a 20 year old, but I can still do a lot of cool things. Some of those things I can actually do better now that I’m older.¬†I listen better. I write better. I even dream¬†better because I have let go of some of the fears that once held me back.

Just because I’m reaching mid-life doesn’t mean the fun is¬†over. God willing, things are just getting good. I’m ready to tackle my 40’s with purpose and passion. I hope to publish more books. I want to meet new people, such as authors or readers (preferably online since I’m an introvert, haha).¬†I want to grow old with hubby and be able to reminisce about the good ‘ole days with him.¬†I may even want to experience what it’s like to live with teenagers.

There really is a lot to look forward to as I turn 40. Just not the couch jumping. I’ll leave that part to my little monkeys. ūüôā

Image courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/MIP-Does-This-Shirt-T-Shirt/dp/B00NUG7CUW (this is not an affiliate link)

This shirt comes in pink! (Image courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/MIP-Does-This-Shirt-T-Shirt/dp/B00NUG7CUW – this is not an affiliate link)

This is a new song by Meghan Trainor (featuring John Legend) called “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”. The lyrics are a beautiful reminder to not take anything, especially the people in our lives, for granted.

What have you learned from growing older? What do you look forward to in the years to come?

Conversations with a 6 Year Old about Relationships

C was in the middle of her bedtime routine when she asked me, “Do you love Po Po (maternal Grandma) and Gong Gong (maternal Grandpa) more or Bob (aka. Baba) more?”

In the mirror I saw her head tilt up as she looked at me, the top of her three foot frame nearly reaching my shoulders thanks to the stool she stood on. Her big brown eyes sparkled with intensity, waiting for an answer.

Hm? What was she getting at? And why do I always get asked the strange/deep/unanswerable questions?

Humph. But as any parent (and¬†therapist) knows, when you don’t have an answer to a question, you keep your cool and do the ‘ole switcheroo. So I asked the¬†question back, “Who do you think I love more?”

She¬†replied¬†without hesitation (because as usual¬†C already had it all figured out and was just testing me!), “Bob, of course. Because without Bob, you wouldn’t have me and E.”

Hee hee. Of course. ūüôā

Although her 6 year old logic had some flaws, she was right about one thing. Life is all about relationships.

No matter who we are, where we come from or where we’re going, we are all connected to other people. Our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, children, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, enemies, strangers … the list goes on and on, especially if you include social networking.

My conversation with C got me thinking that as much as I’m an introvert and prefer to be alone, I am a better person because of the relationships I have. (I may have groaned as I typed that last sentence.)

The hardest things I have had to learn¬†have happened because of other people’s presence and influence on my life. I’m talking about the processes of acceptance, forgiveness and trust. There’s also¬†the acts of sharing, cooperation and encouragement. To put it simply, it’s the lessons of learning how to get along¬†that have built my character. (Okay, I did groan this time, haha.)

As complicated and messy and tiring as relationships can be, we would not be who we are without them. And I firmly believe the people we have in our lives are there for a reason.

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What’s that reason? It’s the¬†four letter word that seems to weave itself through all of our relationships: LOVE.

It’s a sense of belonging that we all want and need. It’s the idea that C has that she and E¬†are important to me, which is why I should¬†love their Baba¬†more than their¬†grandparents. I didn’t mention¬†to her that without my parents, I wouldn’t be around to have kids, but that’s beside the point. What I did say to her at the end of our conversation was this: “I love God the most¬†because He gave all of you¬†to me.”

And maybe that was a cop-out answer or the most brilliant answer I could have given, but it is what I know to be true. I am thankful for all the people that God has brought to cross my path. I may not always act like it (especially when I just want some peace and quiet!), but my world is so much richer because of all the relationships Рclose and far, in person and online Рthat I have had the privilege of meeting and doing life with.

So, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend of being with the people you love, especially the¬†moms in your life¬†this Sunday. ūüôā

And here’s a fun parody of the song “American Boy” by Only Won & Larissa Lam called “Cantonese Boy”. I picked it in light of C’s answer to her own question (that I should love hubby more) and also because I just celebrated 14 years of marriage with my own Cantonese boy. ūüôā

Who are the people in your life that you are sure crossed your path for a reason? 

4 Truths I Learned About Higher Education

Well, it’s that time of the year again when commencement speeches are made, caps are thrown in to the air, and eager (but scared) young’uns¬†get ready to enter the “real world”. Yup, it’s time for graduation. My own baby sister is graduating from grad school tomorrow and I could not be prouder. She worked hard to earn a degree, while holding down a full-time job, and still emerged in better condition than this guy!

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This is the photo my sis posted on her Facebook when she finished her thesis! LOL

It’s been a while since my college and grad school days (17 and 9 years ago to be exact), but I still hold many memories of my time behind bars the desk. Though things have definitely changed technology-wise since I was a student (for example, I used to type all my papers on one of these¬†things!),

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Image courtesy of wikipedia

the purpose of college has stayed the same. You go to college to learn – and learn, you do (yes, that was my Yoda moment of the week).

I gained a wealth of information during my years in school, which I would like to share with you now. Here are 4 truths I learned about higher education:

Truth #1: You will see new things. Specifically bigger things. Such as huge lecture halls that can fill thousands of people, large cafeterias with more semi-tasty food than you would ever care to eat, and BIG, hairy feet peeking out from under the shower stalls of the coed bathroom where your girlfriend lives (such a sighting reaffirms your decision to live in an all-female dorm and to steer clear of the bathroom when you visit said friend).

Truth #2: You will learn how resilient you are. That you and your roommates can stay healthy even when the refrigerator in your apartment becomes an incubator for green, slimy stuff. That you can manage to survive taking 3 (3 hour long) finals within the span of 12 hours on 2 hours of sleep and still have enough energy to celebrate with your friends afterwards.

Truth #3:¬†You will meet lots of people.¬†Some of them will become your closest friends. Some of them will break your heart and leave you wondering if you will ever “love” anyone else again (but trust me, you will!). Some of them will try to lead you astray (intentionally or not). Some of them will challenge you to deepen your thinking about life, faith, and God.

Truth #4:¬†You will remember little, but be changed much. And hopefully for the better. Because one day when you pull out that framed diploma which you had packed away in a box years ago, and as you consider the time, energy and money you invested for the sake of higher education, you likely won’t remember any lessons you learned in the classroom. But you will recall the moments when textbooks intersected with reality, when recklessness crossed roads with responsibility, and when naivety converged with knowledge. And you will be thankful for the ways higher education gave you a nudge down this road of life.

Take a listen to 10,000 Maniac’s, “These are Days,” (from just before the turn of the century!). The lyrics are a good reflection of those fun-loving college days.

What truths did you learn from your years of higher education?

Raising Kids in the Real World

E and C came home from an afternoon at the grandparents’ while hubby and I watched a movie and ate dinner (without interruptions!) and said to me, “Gong Gong (Grandpa) told us the story about when you walked home.”

Ah, that story again. Even though I am the main character in the tale, I only recall bits and pieces of it from what my parents have told me. From what I know, it goes something like this: When I was 5 or 6 years old, my family lived in an apartment in San Francisco across the street from my elementary school. One day when the last bell rang and all the students had been dismissed, I was left standing at school by myself. My dad (who usually picked me up) had taken my grandmother to a doctor’s appointment and was running late. I waited and waited for him to arrive, but saw no sign of him. That’s when I decided to walk home.

Image courtesy of stevanin/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stevanin/freedigitalphotos.net

(Side note: I’m not sure why the teachers let me leave campus without a parent, but it was the ’80’s and perhaps things were different then?)

Now imagine a small, nearly 4 ft. tall Asian girl (likely with two ponytails) crossing a busy street in the middle of the afternoon in a large city by herself. That was me. I made it to our apartment in one piece, knocked on the door and waited for someone to welcome me inside. When no one opened the door, I burst into tears. I then decided to walk back to school and wait there again. After a while, my dad and grandma finally showed up and took me home.

This story makes me think about my own kids and what they would do if they were ever in the same situation. I actually asked them once about it and hubby interrupted me with one of his ever-so-logical comments, “We live too far from their schools for them to walk home.”

Aiya, yes, but that’s beside the point.

What I really want to know is whether they will be able to figure out a solution should they come up against a problem? The bigger question is, will they be able to make it in the real world?

Being a parent has opened up my eyes to two things: one, how big and unpredictable the world is and two, how important it is for us to teach our kids how to not only survive, but thrive, out there on their own one day.

Sigh. This is scary stuff for any parent to think about, but especially for an overprotective, perfectionistic one. If it were up to me, I would stick both my kids into a bubble made of¬†carbyn¬†(or separate bubbles so they wouldn’t fight) and preserve them there for the rest of their lives. This way they wouldn’t ever get hurt.

But the truth is that being safe and protected only gets you so far in life (and especially not out the front door if you’re stuck in a bubble made out of the strongest stuff on earth). Sure, being a parent means nurturing your child to the best of your ability, which includes sheltering them from the bad stuff of the world as much as you can. But it also means equipping them with the smarts and the heart to know what to do in the real world. It means teaching them how to spend within their means, say no to temporary pleasures, do the laundry, lend a helping hand to others, write a resume, cook a simple meal, change the car oil (or where to take it to get it done), laugh at themselves and love another person. Most of all, raising kids in the real world means preparing them to try new things, showing them how to get back up when they fall (because they will) and letting them know it’s okay to try again.

Because it’s the struggles and adventures of life that allow us to see just how strong and tough and persevering we can be. For me, it was that solo journey I made as a little girl so many years ago that reveals to me how brave and adventurous I might really be.

I hope and pray hubby and I are doing a halfway decent job of preparing E and C for everything that lies ahead. But I know that even when we can’t always be there with them, the One who knit them together – each and every little cell in their bodies – is always with them.

Check out Paramore’s song, “Ain’t It Fun“, which talks about living in the real world. I hope though that E and C will always know they can come back to us whenever they need help!

How are you preparing your kid(s) to live in the real world?