Pressing the PLAY Button on My Life Again

A few weeks ago I watched my youngest graduate kindergarten. Yesterday, I dropped off both munchkins at summer school in the morning and didn’t pick them up until almost six hours later. Yes, you read that right. Not one, not three, but SIX hours. That’s the most I’ve been on my own in almost nine years.

And it was glorious.

Cue the Carlton!

Cue the Carlton!

I went walking with a friend (four miles, baby!), shopped for groceries and guinea pig bedding, ate lunch and worked on book #3 without any interruptions!

Then today happened.

When I dropped off E and C at school again, I had this odd, unsettled sensation in the middle of my chest. It made me feel kind of lost like this …

One of the best shows ever, agree?

One of the best shows ever, agree?

… except without the island and smoke monster and cute doggie by my side. 😉

After some prayer and reflection on the drive home, I had an a-ha moment (which is a lot easier to do when you don’t have two kiddos fighting in the backseat). I realized that for the past nine years, I’ve poured all my time and attention (and blood, sweat and tears) into helping two people learn how to talk and walk, how to read, how to add/subtract/multiply, how to get along, and how to (insert countless verbs here) that I kind of put myself on hold. I pressed the pause button on my goals and dreams and ambitions. (Side note: Yes, it was a decision I made which I am (or have learned to be) okay with and am grateful for.) I just never thought the day would come when I would get to press the play button again.

Each year as the kids get older and more capable, I find myself with a little more time and energy. And with those extra hours and brain cells back, I’ve been finding joy in writing. If you had told me a decade ago that I would get to make up stories for fun, as well as write about real life stuff to encourage others, I wouldn’t have believed it. I had plans to work as a therapist and get licensed by the time I was forty. Instead, I ditched the internship hours I had earned, stayed home with my munchkins and am now heading down a completely different career path as a writer. And I’m turning forty this year.

Yikes. 😛

Whether it’s a mid-life crisis or a mid-parenting crisis, I am definitely feeling lost. Strange as it may be, as E and C are becoming more independent, I’m having to learn how to “walk” on my own again. It’s a new experience and a new chapter in my life, so I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to take baby steps. And it’s normal to stumble and fall. But as I’ve taught my kids, the most important thing to do is to get up and keep on trying.

And on that note, I’m going to be taking some time off this summer to “find myself” so I will be blogging about 1-2x a month instead of weekly. I’ll be posting on my Facebook page though, so you can find me there. 🙂

I think Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Catch My Breath” is a good song for this post. I feel like I’m catching my breath now that I have some down time, but also looking forward to what’s to come.

I would love to hear from you on how you’ve handled life transitions – I know there are all kinds! What helps you to find your way when you feel lost?

The Twelve Days of Summer Vacation

I don’t know about you, but I’m still in full summer vacation mode with my two munchkins at home. We are now in the post summer school/VBS/relative-hosting part of summer and have entered into the What are we supposed to do for the rest of the month?! time. It has been, to put it in soap opera terms, an ongoing episode of “The Young and the Restless”. 😉 But all this time spent with E and C has inspired me to write a song.

Without further ado, here is the SAHM’s version of “The Twelve Days of Summer Vacation”. (Of course there are more than twelve days of summer vacation, but if I had done “The Eighty-two Days of Summer Vacation”, we’d be here till next year.) 🙂

On the first day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the second day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the third day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the fourth day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the fifth day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the sixth day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the seventh day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … seven requests for ice-cream, six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the eight day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … eight aches and pains, seven requests for ice-cream, six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the ninth day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … nine reasons to pray, eight aches and pains, seven requests for ice-cream, six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the tenth day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … ten fine lines, nine reasons to pray, eight aches and pains, seven requests for ice-cream, six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the eleventh day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … eleven grey hairs, ten fine lines, nine reasons to pray, eight aches and pains, seven requests for ice-cream, six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese.

On the twelfth day of summer vacation, my two kids gave to me … twelve days of memories, eleven grey hairs, ten fine lines, nine reasons to pray, eight aches and pains, seven requests for ice-cream, six books to read, five fights to STOP, four games of Uno, three rounds of Super Mario, two weary ears and a bounty of whine, but no cheese!

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The song for this post is Frozen’s “In Summer“, which I would recommend listening to with your kiddo(s) – it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your faces. 🙂

How do you keep your kiddos entertained during summer vacation? 

Human Beings, Not Doings

I was listening to a sermon the other week when something our pastor said hit me like an overturned bucket of icy water on my head.

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“Why do you say you’re just a mom?”

I raised my eyebrows and my eyes darted quickly to my right and then to my left. Is he talking to me?! I wondered. How does he know?

Yes, how did he know? How did he know that ever since I quit my job and became a stay at home mom 7.5 years ago that I have labeled myself as “Just a mom”? That when people ask me, “So what do you do?”, my immediate reaction is to respond in a hesitant voice, “I, uh, stay at home.”

Why do I (and people in general) feel the need to base our worth on what we do? For moms, why is staying at home with the kids not enough? Maybe because in this world, we have been conditioned to base our value on what we do. We grow up thinking we need to get the best grades, go to the best school, secure the best jobs and make the most money. We do, do, do… until we are no longer human beings, but human doings.

With that in mind, another thing our pastor said that made me ponder was this: It’s not just the bad we do (that should concern us). It’s also the good we do that we do with the wrong motives.

For me, it’s the hectic scramble to clean the house – even at the expense of ignoring my kids – before guests arrive, so I look like I have it all together.

It’s the effort to say everything’s fine and redirect the conversation to the other person, so I don’t have to share about my struggles.

Lately, it’s the need to tack on a “I do some writing on the side” to the “I stay at home” response, so I can make myself sound more important.

There is nothing wrong with tidying the house, extending a listening ear to a friend or sharing about my writing endeavors. But when the reasons I do these things stem from a place of fear or pride, I fall into the trap of doing and not being.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty tired of being a human doing. As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve had plenty of experience doing all the right things at all the right times. What I’ve learned is that when you’re constantly doing, there isn’t much room for error… or for enjoyment. You end up kind of like a zombie – alive, but not really living. And if you’ve ever seen a zombie movie, you know those usually don’t end well.

So I’m on a quest to start being – to be okay with who I am, to make mistakes, to let go of my need to appear calm, cool and collected all the time. It’s time to be a human being, not a human doing. I hope you will join me, too. 🙂

Demi Lovato’s song, “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” is a great song for this post.

What do you need to let go of in order to be a human being, not a human doing?

Let The Words Fall Out

I am reposting this piece so I can participate in an online Writing Contest: ‘You Are A Writer’, held by Positive Writer. Thanks for reading!

I was at the dentist’s office recently and I had to fill out the customary forms. I wrote down the usual 411 – name, address and phone number. Then I came to this line:


Occupation _______________________________________________


I considered leaving it empty or putting down “none”, which is what I’ve been doing for the past 6+ years ever since I became a stay at home mom (not that being a SAHM is not real work, don’t get me wrong – it’s just not the kind of job where you would have a work phone number to jot down next to it). But that day, I decided to be different. I chose to fill in the blank. 


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/freedigitalphotos.net

I put down “Writer”. 

I smiled cautiously when I read the word in my mind. Then I started wondering if I was justified in calling myself one.


Sure, I love to write. Actually, I really, really love to write. The feeling I get from piecing together a story and choosing the right words is almost euphoric. Sometimes my mood is a little too tied into my writing, which is not a good thing when writer’s block occurs. But the rest of the time, I enjoy the process and feel just plain happy and privileged to be able to do it.


Maybe this is what being a writer is all about. Someone who enjoys the craft and tries to do it regularly. Someone who has gotten positive feedback from others on her work, has been published a few times, and has won a writing contest (thanks for letting me bask in the limelight a little here!). Someone who has yet to get paid for her efforts, but is still hopeful it will happen one day. 


Most of all, being a writer means expressing your thoughts, sharing your convictions, relaying some of the lessons that you’ve learned, and making people ponder. Being a writer means being honest and brave enough to say what’s on your mind, patient enough when the results aren’t what you hoped for, and persevering enough to keep doing what you love.


If this is what being a writer is all about, then sign me up. On second thought, it seems that I already signed myself up that day at the dentist’s office. 🙂


This is a new song by Sara Bareilles (love her songwriting!) called “Brave“. I can really relate to the chorus: “Say what you want to say, let the words fall out. Honestly, I want to see you be brave.” Perfect words for a writer!

What words are you holding in that you need to get out?

Quantity vs. Quality

Image courtesy of Daniel St. Pierre/freedigitalphotos.net

Whoever invented the buffet style restaurant must have been Asian cause what Asian would pass up cheap food and lots of it?! Eating a buffet is truly getting more for your money. I used to think it was a great deal, but now that I’ve tasted more foods and visited some fancier restaurants, I understand why some chefs (predominately non-Asian ones, lol) prefer to serve small portions of fresher and tastier foods. It all boils down to the question of quantity versus quality. Do you want to eat a meal consisting of a LOT of so-so tasting food or a few bites of delicious (albeit expensive) food? Of course if it’s possible to have larger portions of the latter (without having to drain your savings account!) that would be my ideal meal.

I started thinking about this whole quantity versus quality issue recently when I read yet another debate about it on a blog. But this time it wasn’t about food, it was about the time parents spend with their kids. To be honest, I think this debate is all an effort to put our parental minds at ease. In today’s world, with all the duties and distractions that we try to juggle in a 24 hour day, it’s easy sometimes to neglect our kids (I’m speaking from experience). But we all know kids demand, crave and need our attention!
Our current family situation is a good example of this debate. Hubby works full-time outside the house, which puts him on the quality time side of the argument (he really does give 110% with the kids when he’s home) and I stay at home all day, all night, every day, 24/7/365 (you get the idea!), so that puts me on the quantity time side. So who do the kids like more – cause they are the best judges of this debate? I’d like to say, “Me, do you even need to ask?” (haha), but the real answer is they like both of us equally, just in different ways. 🙂  They prefer Mama when they get hurt or feel sick or tired and they prefer Baba when they want to play and do fun, adventurous, borderline dangerous stuff!
In thinking more about the parent-child relationship, it seems that there’s a purpose for both quantity and quality time. This relationship is just like any other one and when it starts off, it’s basically two strangers trying to get to know one another. Believe me, if you have more than one kid, you learn they each have their own personality and you have to find different ways of relating to each one. So what better way to establish a new relationship with your child than to spend lots and lots of time together? Specifically speaking, this means spending countless hours feeding, burping, changing, holding and all the other seemingly mundane, repetitive tasks you do with a baby. However, all this quantity time that you spend helps familiarize you with your baby and his/her needs and builds up your baby’s trust in you.
Then as kids get older, there’s less hand-holding (and micromanaging, hehe) and more opportunities for answering questions and teaching life lessons, which definitely count as quality time. I’m finding now that even though E only attends school three hours a day, I already have a lot less time with him. I imagine we’ll gradually get less and less of his time, and C’s too, as they grow up and want to spend time with other people who are cooler than us (sniff!).  🙂
For me, this quantity versus quality time debate is challenging me to change my view of how I spend time with my kids. As a stay at home mom, I can’t just play all day (contrary to what hubby thinks!); I have chores to do, errands to run, all with the kids in tow. It’s hours upon hours of quantity time!  This is in comparison to hubby, whose time spent with the kids is usually fun and centered around what they like to do.  Inspired by hubby, I try now to think of my time spent with them as “shared experiences”, experiences which are mutually beneficial and should be mutually enjoyable (I’m working on the latter for myself!). So now when I’m doing chores, I try to involve them in the activities, which could include teaching them how to fold clothes or how to season salmon.  When we’re buying groceries, I show them how to pick out fruit or what buttons to press on the credit card machine (C’s already good at making purchases!).
What I’ve learned through these shared experiences is that most times my kids don’t care what we’re doing as long as we’re doing it together.  Of course it does require extra time and patience to get things done, but it’s encouraging to know that I can turn my quantity time with them into quality time.  Thinking about my time with the kids in this way makes it more meaningful and enjoyable…instead of never-ending!  It’s the moments when I’m stuck looking at my phone instead of paying attention to them or feeling frustrated that I can’t get anything done with them around that they are neither getting quantity or quality time with me.  I also lose because I miss out on deepening my relationship with them.  And relationships are what life should really be about!  🙂
Now, if there was only a way to turn a buffet meal into a gourmet experience! :pCheck out this fun song by Macy Gray, “Time of My Life“, which I hope describes the way my kids and I view our time together.

What do you think matters more – quantity or quality? 

Not Missing A Thing

So it’s been five whole years since I changed careers to be a SAHM (stay at home mom).  It’s been a wild ride with so many unexpected ups and downs and through it all, I can honestly say I am glad I have been able to do it.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t miss working outside the house…there are many times when I feel a sense of regret when I hear my former classmates say they are now licensed counselors and I wonder what I’ve been doing the past five years.  Being a full time mom is unlike any schooling or career I’ve ever had; there are no tests (well, maybe every day is a test – of patience, that is!) and no quarterly reviews or promotions to work for (and definitely no pay increases!).  It’s truly been a learning on the job experience even with all the parenting books out there (which I believe are good for general information, but those authors have only had experience with their own kids, not mine!).

I wish there was some way I could evaluate my work as a SAHM and get a grade or just a piece of paper that could tell me I’m on the right track.  It’s hard to see progress when you’re stuck in the every day mundane-ness of it all.  When I see old pictures of the kids though, I see how much they have grown, so that must mean all my blood, sweat and tears have done something productive, right?  And it’s nice to get complimented by random strangers in restaurants (it’s happened 2x so far!) on how well behaved E and C are; it makes me feel like I must be doing something right (and grateful these people don’t see the kids when they are melting down right before naptime).

But enough with the moaning and groaning.  To fully appreciate any job, I think the best thing to do is to look on the bright side.  So with that said, I have come up with the top 5 list of reasons why I like being a SAHM.

1 – I get to wear whatever I want to cause my kids don’t care how I look.
2 – There are no long lines at the grocery store during a weekday.
3 – I don’t have to be stuck in traffic going to and from work.
4 – I can take naps during the afternoon.
5 – And best of all, I get to see all the kids’ firsts – first word, first step, first time going down a slide alone, first time when they are successful with the potty…the list goes on and on.

Witnessing my munchkins’ first time holding hands 🙂

I’m sure when the kids are all grown, I’ll look back on these early years with lots of gratitude that I could stay at home with them.  Paychecks and promotions can wait, but childhood can’t.  And I don’t want to miss a thing about seeing them grow up.

Here’s Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

How do you make the most of your time with your kids?