Monday, February 29, 2016

Millennial Moms United

I received an email from an old co-worker addressed to an old audit team I was on back in 2005.  All of us are married with children now, and the email immediately brought back a floodgate of tortuously never ending commutes to Carson, fine dining in the form of take-out eaten at our desks whilst at our computers, and the true team bonding that can only come from late busy season evenings that blend into early mornings.

I found so much joy in that email, it was probably the highlight of my day (I still love my kids, please don't be concerned).  It was just refreshing and a tad bit surprising from my normal day to day routine.

But it got me thinking that as a millennial mom, I am really fortunate to have such easy access to a team of mothers sometimes disconnected, sometimes in disagreement, sometimes empathetic, sometime problem solving, sometimes inspirational, but always celebrating in the joy that is motherhood (despite the anguish, tears, yelling, and constant mundane humdrum of each day that comes and goes).  I started to wonder what moms did before.  Sure, the Mommy Wars probably weren't as intense, they mostly existed in neighborhoods and with people you knew well, but the collaboration, team bonding, and comradeship that comes from a united cause and objective makes it something unique and valuable.  And the internet, love or hate it as you will, no doubt provides that.

If I didn't have the internet, in all its good, bad, and absolute ugly, I would probably miss full time work in an office setting (I work part-time from home, it's sooo different) a lot more, long for that team I left behind, and wonder who to be witty (or attempt to be) and make jokes with.  Instead, a quick whirl through Instagram or Facebook easily resolve that.  As dubious as I am of my own tendencies to spend too much time on those social media outlets, they do provide a positive in my day by giving me a break from my kids and insight into a world of grown-up complaints, triumphs, and funny observations.  In a lot of ways, knowing how to use it for its good can provide a lot of assistance, support, and good.

I hope we remember that as we worry about the added level of security and regulation we have to provide for our kids from the dangerous evil world wide internet.  As destructive and scary as it is, it is also wonderful in its essence and ability to connect us.  As a web should.  Just don't get tangled the wrong way. ...

what most days look like (though this was a weekend)
vain selfie for posterity 

Friday, February 26, 2016

My Premature Mid-Life Crisis

Lately, I've been struggling a lot with my outward appearance.  Superficial I know.  I came across some wardrobe stylist suggestions about body types, color seasons, and signature styles.  I became instantly and superficially self-absorbed, wanting to know exactly how to diagnose myself and how to better portray myself.  In my research and self analysis, I determined that I don't really have a "style" so to speak, and the color I feel most comfortable wearing is likely black, a dark blue comes in a close second with little spurts of pink here and there.  The only style I don't quite experiment with is "bohemian" but I am a little romantic, a little traditional, a little modern, and a little dramatic, all at once.  To be honest, it's really a non-issue for the most part since I rarely get fully dressed to go out.  I feel quite comfortable in my baggy workout pants (Lululemon mind you!) and a loose comfy concert t-shirt.  I almost immediately change into my old gaucho pants circa 2000 once I'm home, they're soft, loose, and absolute perfection.  I don't like clothes too tight, I prefer them looser, but I also don't want to look like I'm swimming in my clothes.  I know I'm difficult to shop for, my mom is only starting to get it 30 something years later.

Anyway, in the rut that I was, I wanted change.  Without feeling comfortable going out and spending money on a new wardrobe (and because I'm really picky when it comes to shopping and it takes me a long time to find something I truly like), I decided a quick bang cut might be my best bet.  I have had bangs in the past, but never blunt across the forehead fresh off the boat kind.  I've had side swept or barely there bangs.  Normally, I'd be nervous but with the upcoming trip to DC, I saw it as an opportunity for a look that I might not feel myself in in a new place as exciting, and a little safe.

So I went today... and I came out with blunt across the forehead fresh off the boat bangs.  I was going to go for a less blunt look but the hairstylist convinced me to go with this look, something about my face shape and how it'd work.  I shoulda gone with my gut, nevertheless my BFF and Andy both liked it, so I guess that's a good sign.  Bubba didn't recognize me when I went to go pick him up, he stared at me suspiciously for a few seconds before realizing it was his mom.  Then, he wouldn't stop telling me how "funny" it looked.  Jordan told me I didn't look like his mom.  When I asked him who I looked like, he said, "an asian girl."  Funny... I guess he didn't get the memo that I am Asian.  Dagny, however, didn't even flinch when she saw me.  She just walked toward me per normal and sat in my lap.

After.. dun dun DUN!!! 

My dad was also surprised.  He told me my mom would be mad, because she would think I looked like a China girl.  I talked to my mom the next morning and needles to say, it was not positive.  First, she asked if that was really my hair.  Like I was wearing a wig or something?  Then, before I could even say anything else besides yes, she went on about how awful and why did I do that to my once beautiful hair, and oh at least it will grow out, nothing to get too upset about.  ..... Excuse me?  I was so mad, but I've learned from 30 something years that it's no use getting mad.  I told her I was busy with work (which I truly was at the time) and I hung up the phone.  Jeesh.  This on top of her telling me not to get too skinny because it will make me look older faster.  Ugh, my mom is so infuriating sometimes!!  Alas, that's for the other blog...

after shot with ponytail!
My in-laws weren't too excited either.  My mother-in-law told me how hard bangs are to maintain and my father-in-law just laughed when Bubba told me again how funny my hair looks.  The important thing is that my husband and best friends, all LOVE it.  I say LOVE because that's exactly how they exclaimed their joy over it.  My BFF said it is so much more fun than my boring old hairdo before.  My other bestie said it makes me look 28, she also said it'd be hard to maintain but that it'd be worth it to have something different for a while.   Woo hoo!  Score!

I'm still not used to it.  I think it looks quite fobby, it bothers me a bit to have something constantly hanging on my forehead, but I needed a change and this is a nice one.  I may get more adventurous with my hair next time and go for half shaved?  Pixie?  Highlights?  Who knows what the future holds for this hair adventurer now! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Freebie: Music Print for Your Favorite Suzuki Teacher

I have some horrific memories of learning to play the piano.  But I can honestly now say, I'm glad I had those awful moments existed and haunt me to this day, as they encourage me to be quite particular about how my own kids and exactly how they shall go about learning music.  I've mentioned before that Jordan does Let's Play Music, it's such a great program aimed to help kids learn about music theory in a fun learning environment.  It's still going to be hard.. but at least it can be a bit easier this way.

When music theory eventually clicked for me in about the fourth grade, I learned a lot in a pretty short time... but I also had to go to music theory classes for an hour on the weekends and work on theory homework during the week.  It was tough... I attribute my willingness to work hard to my piano teacher, who unlike my old witch with bony fingers crazy curly hair and bulging four eyes (I can't seem to unforget her) who slapped my hand with a ruler everytime I played something wrong, she seemed to truly care about me and want me to learn.  I wanted to show her I had improved each week we met, so I finally began putting forth the effort.  Plus, she actually taught me how to read music, whereas before I was just reading the numbers and thinking numbers 1-5 would show me where to play on five piano notes.  To my surprise, I wasn't half bad.  The little music trophies I accumulated over years of California Certificate of Merit tests still claim such as they sit and collect dust in my mom's office back home, and sometimes I get on our piano and just play Claire De Lune for kicks.

So when my friend Nicole asked me to help make a print for their piano teacher, I was happy to do, and pleased with the quote.  I didn't know much about the Suzuki method before Nicole gave me the lowdown, but I'm glad there are options for my kids now.  Or maybe they existed when I was growing up, but I sure as heck didn't know about them and neither did my mom!  

download here (for personal use only)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dear Future Pregnant Me....

It'll be okay.

Sometimes it's hard to remember two of my three kids were premies.  They're all so healthy, on the charts, and beyond Dagny's petite size (I get a lot of random strangers asking me how old she is because she can walk, has insane eye hand coordination for even her age but is the size of a big 9 month old boy), one might never even guess.  In fact, Bubba is so solid, he is almost busting out of size 3T pants even though he's still a few months away from turning 3.  Big brother Jordan, on the other hand, can still fit into 2T pants if he wanted to, he's so slim.  Alas, his height has required he start wearing bigger sized clothing.

Babies have been on my mind a lot lately.  I want another child again and now that I've lost the baby weight, I feel ready to go after my life goals of having five children.  The away rotations are halting my life goals a bit, but I go back and forth because who knows how long it will take to get pregnant anyway?!  At this rate, the age gap between 3 and 4 is just growing bigger each passing day!  It doesn't help that our third child is so far, so easygoing and the odd ball out most days.

People ask me if I'm crazy, don't I already have my hands full?  Didn't I just have a baby?  How can I even think of having another child?  As a premie mom, a twice NICU mom, I am scared out of my mind.  I don't know if my body is going to decide to have a baby again at 34 weeks.  I don't know if my weird almost heart shaped uterus might trap a baby in breach position again.  I don't know if my weird almost heart shaped uterus might mean my placenta has to be physically removed by the doctor again.  I don't know how I will make trips to the NICU when I have three kids at home and one starting kindergarten.  I don't know if I can handle another c-section.  I don't know if I wanna go through another 5+ months of insecure self pity at not having anything to wear that I feel good in.  I don't know if I want to be nauseous for three months straight with three kids 5 and under at home.

I don't know.

But I do know that I have always envisioned having a large family.  I do know it took me forever (in my book) to find a man who could endure my crazy and wanted to be with me forever.  I do know that man also happened to want a big family so I felt like I had hit the jackpot.  I do know my body can't seem to handle it.  I do know the baby will probably come early.  I do know how dry my hands will get, how heavy my heart will become, and how stoically unemotional I will become as I try to digest it all.  I do know the loud beeping and ringing of NICU monitoring alarms.  I do know the dim pale yellow light of hospital corridors.  I do know the late night juggling of a million pump parts while watching Netflix.  I do know the hundreds of cords attached to my tiny little baby who I can only see for 30 minutes every 3 hours.  I do know.  ...and despite all that, I still want to try.
To be honest, I almost wish the doctor had said "No! You cannot have anymore babies," because then we could be exploring a surrogate, but the doctor said, "You just never know why the baby came early."  If only they knew more about at risk pregnancies from prematurity, right?!

On the bright side, we already have a deep freezer, so any pumped milk will have a place to reside.  

I want another baby.  I just want my future pregnant me to know how much I wanted another baby right now.  When I'm swollen, tired, annoyed, sick, etc. ... it'll be okay.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Some People Think We're Crazy

It's not always easy being a doctor's wife during residency.  Before Andy made the switch to his new no call specialty, I was often on my own with the kids for the weekends, holidays, nights here and there, etc.  I can't say I miss that old schedule.  In fact, the new schedule has spoiled me so.  Andy is home for dinner almost every single night by 5:30/6 PM and never has to work a single weekend ever again.  He has all major holidays off and depending on some minor ones, even those!  But he does have to do some away rotations that are quite lengthy, but we have decided they are worthwhile and helpful for his professional progression and network, and that we not only support it, but are going along with him!

So... one thing Andy and I discussed before we got married and agreed on was that if we were ever married, we would aim to never be apart.  Aim.. as in try.  Obviously, I couldn't pack him along with me for PwC trainings... or BlueSky meetings in Manhattan Beach, but if I could, we would.  We just didn't believe that being apart would benefit our family, so we try to limit the amount of time we are away from each other.

Fast forward five years later and here we are about to leave for Washington D.C. together with our three kids in tow for two months and then Orlando for a month thereafter.  I know, I know.. why not just stay home during that time?  Why pay so much for a vacation rental by owner when you are essentially paying double mortgage?  Well... to be honest, it's an investment in our family.  I don't want my kids to be without their dad for three months.  I don't want my kids to have a cranky mom for three months.  And together, it's an adventure we get to have.  Plus, there's something fun about the unknown in a big city and though I am scared out of my mind about spending all day with three kids and no car, the silver lining is that it's only for two months.  You can do anything for two months... right? ... please say yes.

It'll be over before we know it!  Our boys will turn 3 and 5 while we're there.  Our baby girl will become Nursery eligible at Church (18 months).  I will turn 34 (wow....), we'll celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and it will be one for the books.  Or so I tell myself as I'm wondering what in the world to pack.

Our goal is to only check two large bags, take two carry on's, our computer bags, a diaper bag, and the pack n play and stroller.  Think we can do it?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hello From The Other Side

Have you ever seen these signs?

I guess you just can't win with kids.  You clean, they mess up.  That's why my home is such a mess! But I don't personally like the above because I like teaching my kids to clean with me.  I like being the example and hopefully encouraging them to like a clean space as well.  I mean, I get it.  My home will not be spotless without a lot of effort and constant upkeep until my kids are out of the house.  It will never look like the home magazines, there will always be a ton of laundry, dirty dishes, and crumbs everywhere.  But what feels odd is when moms tell stories about how they took the time to play and be present with their kids instead of cleaning up the home.  Seriously?  If you don't feel like cleaning up the house, just admit it.  But don't go blaming it on the fact that you're being present with the kids.  You probably just spent 15 minutes on Facebook posting that meme or status update when you could have been cleaning.  HA!  

There are a lot of hours in the day.  It takes 15 minutes to unload the dishwasher and re-load it.  It takes 5 minutes to load laundry and another 5 to move it to the dryer.  It takes 20 minutes to fold laundry.  It takes 15 minutes to vacuum.  It takes 15 minutes to mop the floor.  It takes 30 minutes to clean two bathrooms.  Really, you could do ALL of that and it's still be less than a few hours, but obviously you could also do a little each day and use less than 30 minutes per day.  That's still a whole lot of other time to BE with your kids.  

My house is not spotless, but we do pick up and make cleaning part of our weekly routine.  It is a sometimes futile attempt but I want my kids to understand that beds are made, dishes are put away, floors are swept, and being neat and organized is something they should strive for.  I am a firm believer that it will spill over into other aspects of their lives.  They can object in their own future homes, but I dunno anyone who has gone to a hotel and explained, "dang it, why did they make my bed?!"  I like coming home to a made bed, and so I make it. I like waking up to a clean sink, so I make an effort every night. But like with everything else in our life, it's just about what matters most and what you're willing to make time for.  

Anyway, here is a funny meme of what moms on the other side are thinking when the above signs get posted.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

I don't think I fully understood how much my parents loved me until I became a parent myself. My heart is constantly overwhelmed with the love and joy that these three bring me despite the frustration and fatigue that sometimes comes along with parenthood. Those quiet moments before bed are often spent looking back at the photos of the day and this is one of my favorites from today. 

My heart constantly aches for them, I want to protect them from everything and shield them from all the bad in this world. I want them to always love one another and be kind, hopeful, and full of faith. I worry about them being insecure, scared, or alone. I stress about if they'll make good friends who will support them and be good influences. But right now is the only time when I can wipe away all their anxieties and pain with a kiss it a hug. One embrace solves it all. I know it won't always and that may be why this time is so insanely glorious and difficult at once. The moments are so fleeting and my little kids change so fast and learn so much while other moments feel like a never ending replay of déjàvu (like being on my hands and feet and sweeping their crumbs off the floor or picking up duplos and wiping pee off the bathroom floor). And yet like my kids, just one glimpse of a sweet moment when my three kids are loving each other or playing together, and all the repetition of cleaning after them, falling asleep while they play and hoping they don't die in this instance and then waking up to mediate a fight or because someone jumped on me, the angst and cruel pain from tripping on a tiny toy in the middle of the night, or wishing they would just get out the door already in the morning is wiped away. I'm a blank slate again and all I see are hearts. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Let Them Be Little

My favorite part about being a mom to young kids is how much they love me, no matter how many times I fail (and I fail often).

Every night, I lay between my two boys until they fall asleep. Sometimes we listen to a church devotional or browse through my Instagram feed. I know it's a bad sleeping habit and that I'm stuck, (and Bubba roams around for 10 minutes crying for me when I go work out once a week during their bedtime), but I secretly really treasure these sweet moments (95% of the time) because they tell me repeatedly how much they love me and I know this won't last. 

One day, they won't want mom next to them at night. One day, they won't want to talk about the day with me. One day, they won't care about my Instagram feed. One day, they won't want to continually hug and kiss me. One day, they won't shower me with "I love you's" 
I actually get extremely nervous thinking about weekends without my kids by my side 24/7. I'm not sure if this makes me a helicopter mom hidden behind a wannabe tiger mom but it just scares me to think I won't be as involved in their lives as I am now. I am with them almost all day long with the exception of some school here and there. I'm the one always telling Andy what they did, funny things they said, if they are well, had a tantrum, did well playing together etc. and it makes me sad that it's just a few more years and all my kids will be in school a lot longer doing who knows what!! 

Is it bad that I want to let them be little for a long time? Cuz I kinda do... Or I want them to grow up but still want to be with me all the time. Maybe homeschooling isn't such a bad idea after all...

Jordan's Big Hero 6 Party

Jordan's almost 5 but I guess I took a break from blogging and never stopped to recap on his 4th birthday party.  We picked a fun theme that both Jordan and I were on board with, so it made planning DIY elements super exciting.

I was especially excited about the black and white tablecloth we got from Ikea.  It's great for the Big Hero 6 Party theme, but it's also great for future use.

I downloaded a free banner here, got some small white lanterns and glued some Baymax eyes, used the prints we got from pre-ordering our DVD from the Disney Store, and made food tags (and used themed foods we made up!)
 DIY Baymax lanterns.  We went with red and purple ribbons to hang them.

Honey Lemon's cupcakes (swirly frosting cuz she uses colored gas balls)
Gogo's Bagel Pizzas (cuz she loves using discs)
Baymax's health chips hehe
Wasabi's Edamame (cuz it's a Japanese appetizer and serving wasabi might be weird...)

We made water bottle stickers and used clear packing tape so it wouldn't smudge with condensation
Fred's fireballs (aka Clementines!)
Baymax name tags and Baymax fists (made from this DIY) for everyone
free downloadable banner from here 
we loved making the swirly cupcakes!
lucky us, we had a purple blanket (on point with the theme!)
Baby Dagny and her Baymax onesie we made ourselves
the boys wanted green and blue Baymax shirts
Andy came up with all these games...

Andy led the kids with the games he made up for Big Hero 6.  They sliced balloons with Wasabi's laser sword, threw rings around poles for GoGo, saved their toys from villains (who shot them with Nerf guns from above), and then threw colored balls as far as they could to imitate Honey Lemon.  We used all our Big Hero 7 memorabilia, which is a lot.... and it was awesome.  It was so fun planning the party with Jordan who was equally excited and afterwards, the lanterns are still there (through the snow almost a year later) and the little lanterns are above the boys' bottom bunk.  We use it sometimes and it's quite fun to have the room lit up.

I can't believe this party was almost a year ago.  With us heading to Washington D.C. and celebrating Jordan and Bubba's birthdays there, it really does remind you that time flies.  I've been telling him that D.C. is where we celebrated his first birthday, and now we'll also celebrate his fifth birthday there!  Kind of fun huh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

We Bleed Blue

One of the biggest advantages of living in Salt Lake City is how close we are to Provo and how often we can make our way down for football and basketball games!  This year, Andy found a $20 deal for 8 tickets, so a bunch of us all jumped on board.  Sometimes the games are at night, making it a bit harder to take our kids with us... but this last weekend, we had a 2 PM game!  A few weekends ago, after a brief morning ski session (trying to take advantage of the time we have before we leave in 2.5 weeks!), we headed home, changed, and made our way to Provo.  

It was our first time at Brighton, we normally go to Alta for the afternoon 3 - 4:30 PM $10 access to the bunny slopes, so we were a bit lost about where to park.  We followed the masses and had to walk/ski along a huge pathway for what felt like eternity.  We know now to park on the streets and just ski down near lot 4.  It feels a bit weird that my kids are going to grow up skiing.  It's definitely an expensive sport, we're grateful that Utah Ski & Golf has the $30one time payment deal where you can trade up boots and skis until they're an almost tween size.  It's already been made worthwhile with Jordan's skis and boots!

OGO and Grandma went to Roots Tech, so we headed down with Jeffrey (a Ute!) and Jan.  Notice Jeffrey's subtle red shirt underneath his black cover up.  

Despite it being an awful game where BYU decided shooting free throws didn't matter, it was fun as always to go down with the family.  I'm always amazed at the amount of BYU fans all there with their kids.  I'm never alone roaming the hallways with my children, BYU fans bleed blue and since most of them are Mormon, they all have tons of kids to bring along.  HAHAHA.  Even though I'm not a huge BYU sports fan (not compared to Andy), games are always more fun to watch in person.  Plus, I really like watching the Cougarettes dance!

I'm glad we bleed blue.  My alma mater for college was a D3 in sports, I made it to a few games here and there, but nothing to get super excited over.  It's really fun to cheer for a D1 school, but the real reason I bleed blue is because Andy does.  He gets so excited, and though I don't always watch the games at home with him, it's always more fun in person.  I might go run errands or work on the side or even catch up on my own shows upstairs while he's watching a game, but most of the in person games are fun and enjoyable for me too.