Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Apparently...I Can't Stay Away

Today was one for the books.  Andy heard a weird clanking sound in his car, so he ended up taking the van to work and I was left with the Lexus, trying to figure out how to get it fixed.  First, I asked if I could exchange carpool pick-ups, then I asked my friends who all live nearby and have kids in the same classes as my #2 and #3, and then I was left with just #4 (#1 already went to school).  But before that could even happen, let's talk about my kids.  My kids have now been eating cold cereal and toast for breakfast, pretty much every single day.  I used to offer them hot breakfast like scrambled eggs, pancakes, breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, the whole nine yards.  At a certain point over the summer, they began to see the joy of cold cereal and have never looked back.  Hot breakfast became a thing of the past.  But with packing lunch almost everyday for Jordan, I didn't mind it so much.  Today, as I was scrambling to call different car repair places and the Lexus dealer, while texting the mom friends to exchange carpools and arrange for my kids to hang with their buddies before school started, my kids decided this was the day they were craving some scrambled eggs.  Not wanting to get a pan out, I did the mom hack of microwaving scrambled eggs in a bowl (be sure to spray the boil and plate that goes on top with tons of oil first) and my kids devoured it, as if they had never had eggs in their lives, telling me how wonderful it was to have scrambled eggs for breakfast.  Of course.

I had a quick work call (so the television babysat my kids), and then managed to get a load of laundry in before and make sure my kids were all dressed with their teeth brushed, before we made our way out to fix the car.

I ended up going to the Lexus dealer, because I wanted that free ride home in case it would take longer, and there I could rest and wait for all my older three kids to get home. That, and I love dealer lounges because if I'm going to wait there, I'd much rather wait on a nice couch, or in a dirty play area (versus a dirty waiting area), and I am glad I chose the Lexus dealer, because that customer waiting area was phenomenal!  They had Jimmy John sandwiches (cut into fourths but I had three little ones), yogurt, granola, salted nuts, soda, water, tea, coffee, packaged crackers and fresh cookies.  Cooper and I enjoyed the dirty play area, the free hand sanitizer nearby, and lots of chamomile tea on top of the yogurt and sandwiches I had for lunch.  I read some magazines, watched some TV, and chilled with Cooper while he looked around from inside the confines of the Ergo, or crawled around to play with the toys in their dirty toy room.  No really, it was disgusting in there, there was a piece of cookie being devoured by a group of hungry ants in one corner, we didn't stay for long in there, even the couch parents sit on was filthy, but Cooper did eat his cookie in there so I'd feel less guilty about the mess he made.

Turns out this huge drill bit was stuck in our tire, and clanking against the inside of the car, and sure enough, it ruined our tire.  Well, we needed new tires anyway, so we counted ourselves quite lucky, and $48 dollars and 3 hours later, we were off.  I'd call it a successful day.

And yet... adulting is no fun.  So many things got overlooked, no laundry got folded today, we had quesadillas, leftover chili, and pho noodles in a bowl from Costco for dinner, and the dishes didn't get cleared until late at night.  I still have to call insurance to see if Jordan's teeth anesthesia can be covered (any little bit helps!), and many other little errands of calling someone or following up on something Andy asked me to do a week ago.  I mean, that's the kind of stuff I live off of normally, but when a wrench or a drillbit gets in your way, it all gets put on hold, and that throws me off guard a bit.  I truly absolutely love being at home with my kids, it's a true blessing to be able to, especially when most of my closest friends are the breadwinners or all have to work along with their husbands, I count my lucky stars that I get to be home with my kiddos, but then something like this happens and I'm reminded that as good as I have it, I'm still an adult who has to deal with adult problems from time to time.  *sigh.  Remember when my biggest dilemma was what to wear to the first day of school?  I don't long for those days, but then again, maybe I do.

And ultimately, the point is, I want to keep blogging, whether it's personal or public, or a combination of both, because I love looking back and seeing that this is how I felt or what I wrote at that time.  I want to remember the tender mercy of being able to handle this car stuff while Andy's at work.  Of having relatives nearby who can come pick me up if the Lexus dealer can't take me.  Of feeling like my village of mom neighbors and carpool buddies can help me out when I get a day like this.  So yes, apparently... I can't stay away.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Journaling Is Good For the Soul

And I need to do it more, but in the meantime, all my public stuff will be reserved for sharing my stories of growing up ABC.

So head on over there if you want to see what I've been working on.  As for family journaling, we probably won't be using this public domain space much for it anymore.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jordan on Being Gone For School

"Dad, I'm gone all day like you now.  Do you ever miss us when you're gone?  Because I didn't even have time to miss Bubba and Dagny, I was too busy doing stuff."

"Dad, when you go to work, I go to school.  When I'm done, I come home, and then you come home too.  So now I don't have to miss you all day, because I'm doing stuff too."

He sure knows how to makes it sound like we do absolutely nothing at home all day long.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First Grade Here We Come

Jordan's starting first grade tomorrow.  That means I won't have him home with me for the majority of the day, he will be gone from 9 AM - 3:45 PM everyday.  I used to laugh at the moms freaking out over their kid leaving for school, but now I am in the same spot, freaking out a bit.  But let me explain why...

School orientation and registration for first time parents is ridiculously awful.  As a parent with a child going into first grade at a new school, I was hoping to learn a few things during registration.

How to:
1. drop off and pick up my kid
2. buy lunch
3. excuse an absence

Maybe I didn't read through the information thoroughly (I did), but none of this information was presented to me!  I had to go to the office to ask about everything, which was quickly explained to me, but wouldn't a simple worksheet have solved that for me?

Now as I'm pondering through what time to wake up to get all four kids packed so we can walk him to class the first day, I'm getting kind of nervous.  It reminds me of all those "first time parent" insecurities and questions we had the first time around.  How hard it was to figure things out, how much we scoured the internet and more experienced friends for help.  How dumb we felt.  How ill prepared we felt.  How lost we felt.

I'm so nervous for Jordan.  Mostly because he doesn't have any guy friends with him.  He'll know two girls because their moms are my friend and they came to our house for a 3-day Chinese camp, but all his besties from kindergarten are going to different schools.  I know Jordan won't have any problem making friends, but I'm still nervous for him because I want him to make good friends, ones who will be kind and supportive, honest and good, and most importantly a good influence on him.  I want him to feel proud of himself, I want him to love learning, I want him to love recess, and I want him to love first grade.  I have so many memories of trying to make new friends, of being a loner, of struggling to find people I connected with, and my heart is just praying that if he has those same experiences, that they'll be short lived and a distant memory.  

The other thing I'm scared about is that Jordan is not a sharing information type of kid.  My other kids will tell me what they did, what their favorite thing is, the best part of their day, etc., but Jordan is kind of mums about it all.  If I ask his Primary class what he did for the week, he says, "I forgot" when I know what he did, because I was with him all week.  If I ask him to tell Andy what he did that was fun during the day, he shrugs it off and doesn't respond. It hasn't been a problem for me because I'm with him all day, but once he's in school for most of the day, I won't be privy to his day so much anymore.  And that makes me sad.

Nevertheless, first grade... ready or not, here we come.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Some Humble Pie For One

I Sometimes, I get to thinking I am the bomb.  My pride inflates when I am able to make it to places with four kids on my own, like swimming lessons.  It doesn't help when my friends praise me with things like, "supermom!" or "I don't know how you do it."  And then I go to swim class and have a piece of humble pie when another mom with four kids, all close in age also, shows up and her baby is definitely less than a month old.  And she didn't even have a carrier with her!

Today while I showered during my baby's nap and while the big kids were eating, I thought about this incident as the water trickled and I got some much needed silence.  I started to think about how life is funny, perspective is everything, or it's all relative.  We might think we are having the roughest day, only to hear someone else had it worse.  Or alternatively, we might think we are doing awesome, and there's always someone better or ahead.  Wherever we are on this path of adulthood, there is always someone else who has it harder or easier, and we are all different.  It was a good reminder that I should be proud of my own accomplishments, but not let it get to my head, and to stay humble. Usually, I have to remind myself not to compare my weaknesses to someone else's strengths, but on the other spectrum, is reminding myself not to compare my strengths to someone else's weaknesses.

 It was a good piece of pie.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day Ba-Ba

A few weeks ago, we went to California to visit.  My dad has consistently purchased us Disneyland tickets everytime we visit since we moved out of California.   Through his work, he gets a small discount, and in the beginning, there were only three of us.  And then there were four.  And then there were five.  And now there are six. 

This was the first time we decided to go to Disneyland for two days.  It just felt like it’d be less rushed and we could take our time since we now have two kids who can ride a lot more and three kids interested in everything going on.  My parents always like getting a hotel nearby so they can be home when we return, they also think we’ll stop by for a nap or a rest, but so far, we’ve only come home when it’s time to leave the park.  So naturally, we all got a hotel with adjoining rooms so we could stay a bit closer to Disneyland before the fun began.  That first evening, after the kids had gone to bed, I went with my dad to buy the kids’ tickets from the hotel (because his work didn’t offer discounted kids tickes anymore).  As we were walking back to the room, I looked at the two Storm Troopers, tickets I had asked them to give me the same of since I knew the kids might fight over them if there were two different ones.  Then, I wondered what the other tickets looked like.  All of a sudden, I was overcome with this weird cloud of oh crap.  I asked my dad, almost hesitated to do it, because I kind of knew the answer… “where are our tickets Dad?”  He told me he had already given them to me.  “Oh no…”   So this is the weird thing about my brain now that I’ve become a mom.  It’s true, mommy brain, or whatever the crap they call it, my brain doesn’t work quite like it used to.  Most of the time, I am just distracted or I can’t process it all at the effectiveness I used to.  So here’s what I remember.  I saw the tickets.  It’s as if I had a dream and I saw them.  But while my Dad was showing them to me and telling me about them, the next part is a haze.  Like a dream, it just sort of fades away.  I had to go take care of a screaming child or I was needed somewhere, I’m not quite sure, nor do I remember it, I just remember I saw the tickets and then I was supposed to put them away, but I never did. 

I was overcome with weird emotions, I felt so so dumb.  So ungrateful.  My dad was so generous, getting us all these tickets, and here I had gone, losing them.  We were 45 miles and minutes (or more with traffic) away from our home, where the tickets most likely still were.  That, or my kids had taken them and thrown them away by accident.  I knew without a doubt that I did not have the tickets, because I’m a controlling person that would have put them somewhere safe, and yet all I remember is the haze that was seeing a glimpse of the tickets and then being distracted.  I checked my bags, Andy’s bags, all my secret hiding places for top secret stuff (my maternal grandmother used to do the same, I fear we share that in common), and nothing.  No tickets anywhere.  Ugh.  Do you know what it’s like to have a problem you feel like you can’t solve?  Helpless.  Frustrated.  Stupid.  Paralyzed with my inability to just solve the problem, I felt so awful.  Here my parents had not only paid for all of our tickets, they were paying for my brother to come one day and my cousin the other so we could have more help with the kids and ride more stuff, they had also gotten us a hotel, and they were basically just hanging out at the hotel at night when we were there, during they day, they’d go back to work and then come back to meet us at night.  I felt absolutely horrible.  Awful.  Like I had failed as a mother, daughter, and what I normally deem an “organized” person. 

My dad said it wasn’t a big deal, that he’d drive home to check, and worst case, he’d get new tickets.  My mom chimmed in with the same, telling me it wasn’t something money couldn’t solve, and that luckily, we were in a place where money was not a problem anymore. 

Do you know how crummy I felt?  How absolutely absurd that they could even say that made me feel like an entitled brat.  Because Andy and I do deal with money issues, we do budget like crazy, and I know we are not in the same position our own parents were when we were younger, but we can empathize despite having super supportive and generous parents who help us out all the time and a stead income.  I felt like I didn’t deserve such parents.  They didn’t even scold me, tell me I was being irresponsible, remind me how scattered brain I was.  I felt like they should have.  Like I deserved a good reprimanding for my irresponsible actions that now meant they’d have to drive an hour home and an hour back, and might not even find the tickets.  I wish I could transport myself home, my brain back to the moment my dad gave me the tickets.  I felt so utterly useless. 

My parents reassured me it wasn’t a big deal.  I felt so many emotions that night, waiting for them to drive to and fro.  I had offered to go with my dad, but they both insisted I get some rest.  I felt so lucky to have such supportive parents, who in the midst of a huge mess up, didn’t remind me how I could be better, but were just 100% supportive.  They told me everyone messes up, and that there were worse things.  They told me not to stress and to just relax as they went about solving my problems.  It felt weird to be 35 years old and have my parents take care of me like I had just fallen, and they had the magical band-aid to fix everything.  It felt weird, but also good.  It felt good to have my Daddy solve my problem.  It felt good to have my Mommy tell me everything was going to be okay.  It felt good to just let someone else take care of me.  It felt good to be a little girl again.  

And more importantly, it made me recognize the immense love I have for my parents, an emotion I'm not always willing to admit because I live so far and don't see them as often as I'd like.  It made me recognize the familiarity and comfortableness with my parents who have always done whatever they can to give me opportunities and safety – financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I wanted to yell, “I love you guys!” but the Chinese part of me just said a timid, “Thank you.”  I love my Dad and Mom so much and I miss them all the time.  I call my mom all the time, I love hearing her voice, even when she nags me about this or that.  I try to call my dad a lot too, but men are different with their love of conversing on the phone.  My dad always wonders if I have news when I call.  Instead, I just send them both photos of what we're doing all the time.  I share all my Instagram photos on Facebook to a family group, but mostly I am sharing the photos with them because I know they use Facebook all the time.  I hope they know how much they mean to me, and how much they have taught me and inspired me to be a good person.  I love them both so much and I cannot think of a better story to show how awesome my dad and mom are.  But since it's Father's Day, this one's just for Dad.  Happy Father's Day Ba-Ba.  I love you.  

They didn’t find the tickets that night.  And they ended up buying another set.  My mom told my dad they should say they found them and that the newly purchased ones were it.  My dad told my mom that wasn’t a good idea, and they told us the truth.  My parents are so cute.  My dad is super honest and kind, my mom is super thoughtful and protective.  But me?  I was determined to fix this huge dumb problem my own absent mindedness had created, so I spent a few hours at the park talking to guest services, and eventually called the office my dad had bought the tickets from, obtained an emailed copy of the receipt, and begged the Disneyland Guest Services to place reissue me new tickets.  They must have felt sorry for me, because I know they bended the rules a bit to give me six more tickets to replace the ones I was sure had been lost because of me.  At one point, I may have even cried about the whole situation (just a bit) because I am not a crying person, I knew that this meant a lot to me.  

It worked out…. We will now be going back again before the end of the year to use the tickets.  And I’m still a little girl at heart, because my parents still saved the day for me.  And for that, I’m eternally grateful and I love my parents.  And all that they do for me.  The end.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Back to Cali Cali...

Bubba has been so excited for our trip to Southern California, ever since his birthday party was over on Cinco De Mayo.  He has been eagerly asking how many days, a few times we meant to make a countdown chain, but it never happened.  They have been SO excited about visiting po po and gong gong and jiou jiou, that we've begun more religiously studying and practicing Chinese words here and there.  Bubba will ask me how to say it in Chinese now, for pretty much everything, because he is so diligent about practicing so he can show po po and gong gong.  "We're going to California!" they've been telling pretty much EVERYONE and ANYONE who will listen.

Jordan's last day of school was the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, we had a neighborhood ice cream social that Andy was helping to plan (he bought a ton of ice cream for it), and then Friday morning was a whirlwind of packing before Andy came home.  We made our way out at 2:30 PM, and ended up making a stop in St. George at Evens Stevens Sandwich Shoppe (one of our favorite places in SLC also) before making the long drive to LA, getting in around 12:30 AM CA time, 1:30 AM Utah time.  Our sleeping arrangement was Andy, Cooper, and me in the queen bed, Dagny in the pack n play next to us, and the boys on the sofa pull-out in the room down the hall from us.  We tried to make it into the home without exciting them, we had learned from our last trip during Spring Break that our kids can indeed wake up at 1 AM and create chaos for a few hours, laughing and joking with one another.  So we first strategically put Dagny into her pack n play, which she loves.  I think she is attached to that bed as she spent four months in it during all our rotations last year.  She groggily asked, “where are my boys?”  I ignored her, hoping she'd go back to sleep.  She peeked up and saw Andy sneaking into the other room with Bubba and explained to me, “Oh, there’s my Bubba” and then as she saw Jordan, “Oh, and there’s my Jordan.”  Me to Dagny, please go to sleep.  “What are the boys doing?” she asks.  They are sleeping I tell her.  “Oh, so am me.”

Saturday – I managed to sneak in a haircut appointment at 10 AM, so off I went with my mom while Andy took the kids to grab donuts with my dad.  We met up with them and my cousin, Thomas, at the Arcadia mall for lunch at the newly updated and renovated, also very Americanized and a bit too fancy for my taste, Ding Tai Fong (the food took forever to come, it wasn't like that before!).  We stopped over at the Disney Store first, where the kids all picked a towel from my mom.  Lunch was good, but the kids were so hungry because Andy and I did not let them have any donuts since they already had breakfast with my mom when they woke up around 7:30 AM, but unknown to us was the wait would be an hour, even though Thomas and Andy both arrived at 10 minutes past opening time.  It’s just super busy on weekends!  We have found that the kids eat better when they’re hungry, so we let them be hungry.  Too bad the food took forever to come out and then once it was out, it was too hot for them to bite into immediately!  Jordan had 17 xiao-long baos, which he has deemed “bag dumplings” and Bubba asked for soup and drank all of his chicken soup.  Afterwards, I tried to shop a bit with my mom, but it is not fun shopping when you still have baby weigh to lose.  We quickly stopped and joined the kids in the mall playground.  Two mall playgrounds and one automated coin ride later, we were back home.  Andy was still tired from driving the night before, so he took a nap while the rest of us played outside in my parents' backyard.  The weather was great and the playground, newly painted albeit a bit dirty from lack of use, was awesome!  We played until it was time for dinner and then sent Andy off to get something he wanted.  The kids LOVED the backyard, but po po said they could only play supervised because there had been recent coyote sitings in Arcadia (my parents' backyard is completely fenced, so we were safe).  My parents also added a covered patio in their backyard, so there was also plenty of shade for a nice respite in a cushioned couch.  It was great, I really do miss the weather in California, and the flat backyard since we live up in the mountains.  They scootered back and forth for what seemed like forever, and then enjoyed the playground as well.  It was nice to just sit back or stroll Cooper if he got anxious, and so great to hang out with my parents and my kids in the backyard.  It gave me the idea that maybe we should just cater Sunday reunion brunch with the rest of the family, especially since the backyard was SO awesome and inviting.

He came home with Malaysian and Hawaiian food.  It was a LOT of food but it was delicious.  The kids went to bed and then I met up with my HS friend, Jenny, and we tried to get Rite Aid ice cream and Half and Half, but both were not available or closed, and we ended up at good old Tapioca Express for some papaya milkshakes and lots of catching up.  I could have stayed up all night talking to her but I realized I had to be an adult and get some rest as Church was at 9 AM the next day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Motherhood At Its Worst and Best

Today, I looked at my microwave and an outpouring of gratitude erupted.

How would I ever make it through lunch without it?

Today's lunch consisted of three different meals.  Jordan had a microwaved frozen french bread pizza and Bubba had microwaved dinosaur chicken nuggets with frozen pineapples (his request) because Costco is our culinary lunch specialist, and yes, we got everything from Costco.  Meanwhile, Dagny requested noodles and I didn't feel like having another drawn out battle only to admit defeat by acquiescing to her demands eventually, so I tried to conceal their ownership of me by making it seem like I had decided to make her noodles.  I quickly boiled a pot of water, tossed in some brown rice ramen blocks I had intended to use for my Fast Metabolism Diet, mixed in some teriyaki sauce and sesame oil, and called it lunch.  A few leftover pepperonis, decapitated dinosaur nuggets, and a bit of milk left in a cup later, I claimed victory.  Lunch was finally over.  At least the eating part.  Cleaning was another story.

I retreated to the bedroom to nurse Cooper, because at 20 pounds, it is easier to lay down with him since his neck control is still not stellar.  The kids eating their lunch at the dining table in the kitchen slowly made their way into the room with Cooper and me.  Jordan had to leave for school soon, Bubba was excited to "be with everyone" and Dagny's messy hands scared me as they lured towards my white sheets (sprinkled with stains that were not attended to immediately thereafter and are not henceforth part of the fabric I lay on and avoid).  Cooper stopped eating, stared at his siblings with pure elation, and then proceeded to continue his lunch.

In that sweet moment, life seemed to stand still with wonder before it was interrupted by my own yelling for Jordan to get ready, Bubba to stop touching my hair, and Dagny to go wash her hands.

Motherhood is funny, isn't it?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Six Years

It is really difficult for us to have two kids with birthdays within a week of each other.  You obviously want to be fair to every child, but then there is the incessant comparing of every single thing we have done for them.  Things have a way of working themselves out, if Jordan's birthday had been when Andy left for work, I'm sure I would have had to do more to make up for his absence.  Bubba is so easy, loves and looks up to his brother so much, that he was willing to wait and open presents with Jordan.  That, plus we basically said that is what is happening because we got so sick of all emotional ups and downs of being happy and celebrating your brother but then asking about your own birthday and wanting the same exact thing.  It is exhausting.  I'm sure there are better parents out there who can teach their kids to respect each other's birthdays despite being a week apart, but for us, it worked out best to just wait.  There's no harm in waiting...

So Jordan's birthday came along and he very abruptly advised us that he was going to have a Grandma and Jordan date to pick out a gift while we went to breakfast.  Huh?  Is that a thing?  And then I realized, he was referring to the fact that we went to dim sum without Bubba the week before while Bubba was supposed to run errands with Grandma.  Of course, he roped Grandma into taking him to the toy store where he bought something small.  So Jordan expected the same.  Duh.  Luckily, Grandma was up for it.  A tradition is born I suppose.  But then Jordan comes home with a BIG gift, of course Grandma tried to convince him otherwise but nope... he had been eyeing this power ranger sword for so long.  So poor Bubba... the look of longing, the sudden regret that he hadn't picked something similar to his brother.  And that is why we do their birthday together!  If I could, I'd get them the EXACT same gift just to avoid the bickering.  Bubba won't say anything, Jordan would have, he told Jordan how cool his gift was and asked nicely if he could also play with it.  That's the thing about my second born and my first born.  The second just tries so hard to be happy for his brother and I know he is dying to have the same thing, but he knows he already got his gift and can't ask for it.  It just about broke my heart.  Of course, I spoiled him.  I decided the gifts from my mom which was originally just going to be money into their education funds, would go with me to Target to get Bubba the same gun.

Saturday night, we went to Pizza Pie Cafe after sadly learning Sweet Tomatoes had closed in Utah.  I grew up on Souplantation, the sister or parent company... who knows.  At least we can go when we're in California - cuz my kids LOVE that place and I do too!

Jordan woke up Sunday... mad that he didn't get balloons.  He stomped into our room demanding to know where his balloons were!  "Bubba got balloons on his birthday, where are mine?!"  Of course we got him some, we just thought it'd be smarter to leave them in the hallway instead... and he didn't even stop by the hall.. even though you must go through it to get to our room.  He was that upset.  He felt pretty silly afterwards, apologized, and we all had a good laugh at big brother.

I was up pretty late the night before perfecting his Ninjago cake, the one he had requested.  It turned out pretty okay thanks to Tammy's advice about using chocolate melts for the eyes.  I ended up piping it out and letting it dry on the parchment paper before putting it onto the cake.  As I was making the cake, I thought, this is pretty fun and out of necessity, since I do not want to buy two cakes within a week of each other every year, I better learn how to make some fun cakes.  I'm not going to be trying fondant just yet, but I think I'll play with different icing techniques for now.  Jordan loved his cake.  LOVED.  Which really makes me so happy that I spent the time to figure it out and make it.  I ended up making a trifle also because there was so much leftover cake I cut off from the dome.

Church was good.  Jordan got a cute little blue CTR block like his brother had the week before (Bubba's is yellow) and we had a lazy afternoon.  The kids watched Karate Kid 3 and Dagny fell asleep (she's not a huge fan of her big brother's movie picks but she's outnumbered everytime).  Dinner was at Grandma's where both boys got to open their gifts.  They got SO MUCH!  They are so lucky to have so many close family members.

Dear Jordan,

Can you believe you are six years old?  It feels like just yesterday that Dad and Mom were sitting on the couch and Daddy noticed Mommy was having a lot of contractions.  I just thought you were kicking.  I'll never forget becoming a mom for the first time.. how tired, how scared, how emotional, how unsure I was of everything.  I'm so grateful that you are such a great older brother and that you put up with Dad and Mom trying to figure this whole raising kids stuff.  We know you are expected to do a lot, but we also remind you all the time that you had the most "alone time" with us, and we hope you never forget how wonderful it is to be the firstborn.

You are... so so talented.  You are so full of energy, goofiness, and emotions.  The highest of highs, the lowest of lows.  You are emotional, understanding, smart, hyper, and full of questions.  You remember so many things, and you are kind and obedient, helpful and well mannered (when you want to be).  Most of the time, you are just all over the place.  You love doing activities, are always asking when you can do the next thing, and have been begging mom to let you start martial arts.  You heard about Mom's anti-gravity class, and then asked if you could try it out also.  You've been so much more focused in music class even though you still have to try really hard to focus because you love being silly and asking questions out of turn.

You are shy at first, but once you open up, there's no stopping your incessant talking and questions.  You have an odd fascination with poop right now, and there's no shutting you up, not even with soap in your mouth.  It's a phase we hope you grow out of soon.  We've noticed you are completely different when it's just you and us, or you without any of your siblings.  You're much more mature, you talk to us like a little adult, and you are calm and listen very well.  Sometimes, I think you just want to make your siblings laugh and you'll go to great lengths to do it.  You are sensitive, sometimes you tell me you don't like it when people laugh at you and you are afraid to do your hair a silly or crazy way because others might make fun of you.  We are constantly telling you that you are loved no matter what, but that's definitely something we have to keep working on with you.  You remind me a lot of myself as a kid which might not be the best thing, but Mommy was silly like you and talked back a lot just like you.  You remind me to be forgiving, remind me to say sorry, and remind me to take a time out when I need to.  You've been along with me this whole time, with each new sibling, each new obstacle of parenthood, and each new fun thing.  I'm so grateful you are mine and a bit shocked that I am actually getting sad that you will be off to elementary school next year.

You love to play, especially with your brother only two years younger, and whenever you come home from school, you ask what the littles have been doing.  I think you will miss Bubba the most, because you guys play all the time.  He will miss you too, but at least you guys can be silly together at night sharing a room.  It is tough sometimes having a little brother, but for the most part, you two are best friends.  Bubba looks up to you so much and wants Cooper to be his lil buddy like Bubba is yours.  You love your little sister too, you play with her often, and she adores you.  You like to hold Cooper and you have helped him learn how to roll over.  You have been a lot more daring this year, doing things you haven't before, climbing a lot more, and not much scares you lately, not even nightmares.  You will walk over and tell me about one, and then just ask that Mom or Dad tuck you in, instead of climbing into bed with us.  You are slowly becoming such a big boy and it's weird to mom.  Happy birthday son.  Can't believe you are 6!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reflections on Living in Utah

Everyone warned me about the Utah Mormons.  Turns out they are just the same as anywhere else, just judged a lot by everyone else.  HAHAHA.  Or maybe I am one of the Utah Mormons now.. who knows.  But here are five things I have noticed about Utah after living here almost four years (this summer marks FOUR years!)

1) Not all blondes are real blondes.  Okay, technically, I learned this when I lived with Jackie, a blonde girl, in my 20s.  She would get her hair done every so often, as much as I would get my facials, she'd be off getting her hair "did."  In Utah, not only are non-white people rare, we are all assumed to not be Mormon.  Random people will ask me where I'm from and when the conversation turns to how I ended up in Utah and the fact that I am indeed LDS, there's a shocking but attempted subdued reaction every time.  But here, I hear a lot of moms talking about "I need to get my hair done," or "I just got my hair done" and "it looks so great!" as much as you'd hear the Asians back home talking about their monthly facials.  Different place, different stuff.. right?

2) Relative ethnic standards.  I learned there is such a label as "white people spicy."  That means not as spicy.  Asian or Hispanic or any other ethnicity for that matter that is not white, is spicier.  Likewise, a lot of white people have classified Andy and me as "foodies," a term we do not take lightly, given all of our true foodie friends from California.  Here, because we want to be adventurous and eat at hole in the walls or places with high ratings, we are "foodies."  In California, we don't even come close.  Our true foodie friends would laugh at us.

3) People love waving here.  If I'm driving, and someone is walking on the side of the road, I feel like I'm supposed to wave.  But I'm never very confident about it, so it's always a half uncommitted wave.  When I'm walking, EVERYONE who drives by me, waves at me.  When we first moved here and Andy waved to people as we drove, I would ask him if he knew them.  He never did.  Why, in the world then, would you wave?  It's just a Utah thing.

4) People love their soda here.  I'm definitely more of a soda person now than ever before, mostly because Andy's family's Sunday dinners always consist of some and it takes so long to grab water from the fridge (I know, the sink is fine.. but it's a California thing, we don't like tap water).  Soda chains are rampant here, like the boba chains from Southern California that I'm used to.

5) The Holy War - The rivalry between the University of Utah and BYU is a big deal here.  The only other place I've been where people wear SO MUCH of their alma mater wear has got to be Michigan, where the school is spread out over the city of Ann Arbor.  I don't think I see as much UCLA or USC gear in So Cal as I do here.  Looking at my own husband, half of his wardrobe is dedicated to BYU, and same with my kids.  I have a few BYU shirts I can wear to games, and I've slowly and effortlessly accumulated a lot of blue and avoided red.  I like the color red because of its symbolic relationship to my Chinese culture, but I also don't appreciate the assumption that I'm dressing for Utah everytime I'm in red, so I mostly avoid it.  I don't make fun of the Utes, I feel like I shouldn't since my husband works there, but the amount of ridicule I hear from both sides is embarrassing.  How two sides could harbor such hate for the other is beyond me.

6) It's all relative.  People have a lot of kids here, Mormon or not.  You might think the non-Mormons have small families, but it rubs off.  It's all relative.  It's super rare to meet someone with only one child.  In California, that seemed the norm. Everything is so kid-friendly here.  Have to go grocery shopping?  Use click list, grocery store pick-up, or show up with a fantastic huge cart that can shuttle your three or four kids around safely in buckled contained seats.  Yes, skinny fools can still make their way out.. oh well.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Four Years

It's so fun to celebrate birthdays with my kids, but this year was a little different for our little Bubba (who is not so little anymore) because Andy had his annual AECOM conference and wasn't going to be home all weekend.  We still managed to have a good time and make it a special day for Bubs.  I think 4 is the age when my boys have both come to realize it is their birthday and that they can celebrate themselves all day.  Last year, we were in DC for Bubba's third birthday and after birthday donuts, we headed off to Philadelphia to see family.  It was still a great day, but he barely realized it was his birthday besides blowing a candle off of a cupcake at night.  The difference a year makes, because this year he was so excited about the fact that it was "my birthday!"  He woke up, ran into my room, and told me he was "four years old now!"  He doesn't quite understand that height restrictions are what held him back from riding certain rides at Universal, he thinks it's turning 4, so he then exclaimed, "I can go on the Transformer ride now!"

Throughout the day, he would exclaim, "It's MY birthday!" and then when we went to Andy's parents house for dinner and family members started to show up, he ran around screaming, "Say hello to the birthday boy!" It was so funny.

We had been watching an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey had a Mickey shaped cake.  He turned to me, and told me (this was a few weeks ago) that he also wanted a Mickey cake.  The boy are having a combined birthday party after both of their actual birthdays at Jump Around Utah with a Captain America (Bubba) and Spiderman (Jordan) theme, so I figured why not - we can do some Mickey Mouse stuff now.

But buying two cakes over the course of a week seems a bit overkill.  I decided I better make him a cake, and then another for Jordan next week.  So last minute, I went with a box cake and tried to imitate a Mickey Mouse cake I saw on Pinterest that was much like the one he wanted from the show.  Cooper was not having it.  So May was nice enough to come over and hold Cooper while I worked on the cake.  I also left the three big kids with my in-laws on Saturday afternoon and went off to get balloons for Bubba.  I had to sneak them into the house downstairs below the stairs and then retrieve them after the kids had gone to sleep, because I can't blow balloons.  I'm not kidding, every year - we have done balloons on the floor for the kids, but Andy has always blown them up.  So without him around, I had to go buy helium ones.  HEHE.

Dear Bubba,
My sweet dear four year old!  You are such a stubborn little boy.  You know exactly what you want, you are hard to persuade, but you seem to eventually come around and want to help mom out.  You love your big brother so much, in fact, you idolize him, he is your best friend, and you always want to know where he is, and you can't wait until he gets back from school.  Even on days when you have school, you are back before him, and eager to play with him again.  You love your sister, but you also find it amusing to bug her from time to time.  You love Mommy and Bubba time, and any one on one time you can get from anyone, but you also are always thinking of your brother and sister.  At gymnastics, if you get a treat after, you'll always ask if you can also get one for Jordan and Dagny.  If given the option to only get two things, you'll of course pick Jordan over Dagny, but he is your BFF for now.  One day, it'll be him and Dagny and Cooper.  Speaking of Cooper, you think he is the cutest baby in the world and you tell everyone he looks just like you and shower him with kisses, about 25 a day, at least.  You take care of him the way Jordan took care of Dagny, and you love being near him when Mom is nursing because "he is soooo cute!"  
You love sweets, more than any of our kids, and you will eat cake and ice cream for dinner if we let you (you did tonight, but then you had some carrots with ranch).  You also love ketchup and ranch, and will eat carrots with ranch, and eggs and chicken nuggets with kethcup.  You love grilled cheese sandwiches, in n out burgers and milkshakes, McDonald's nuggets and burgers and breakfast sandwiches, and pizza pie cafe's oreo dessert pizza.  
You sometimes cry in anguish when mom asks you to do something and you feel you need "help" from Jordan who is coincidentally at school.  You cry for a bit before coming around and telling me you did it all by yourself!  You are also stubborn.  But sometimes, in a good way.  You can buckle yourself in the carseat and always do it correctly, pulling the buckle to your armpit as instructed by mom and refusing to wear a jacket in the carseat because Mom told you it's dangerous.  You even once yelled at Grandma and OGO to let you take off your jacket before putting it on, and then started to cry when they tried to convince you it was okay.  
You are deathly afraid of elevators after getting stuck in the 15 floor elevator at the Hilton in Florida when we lived there for the month of May last year.  You were returned to us by a security guard, but those few minutes have scarred you for life, and you are super duper careful everytime you enter an elevator now, and also cautious about everyone else in the family, because you know how quickly you could get separated.  You take walking with Mom in the parking lot VERY seriously as well, and you never joke around when Mom says something is dangerous.  
You love drawing, doing "homework," cutting, running around, being Captain America, jumping off of our couch, and being outside.  You know so many letters and have already begun writing them without much instruction from us, you just seem to recall them from all the endless alphabet games you have played.  You don't care what anyone thinks, you pick out your own clothes, and on occasion, you decide that you want to wear jeans and a nice sweater because you do.  You love playing pretend, pretend cooking, pretend family, pretend ninjas, pretend superheros, pretend dinosaurs, and you have learned how to chew gum and spit it out.  
You have surprisingly turned into our best stay in your own bed at night sleeper, a huge change from when you used to crawl into bed secretly with us, every single day.  You are independent and full of ideas, and the only one of my kids who came out through a knife cutting me open.  It's as if you knew four years ago, that you didn't want to be upside down, so you stuck to it.  I love you so much, even if sometimes you're too cuddly for me and Dad, but we know your love language is presently physical affection and we try to remember to give you that attention whenever we can.  Happy Birthday my dear Bubba.  I cannot believe you are four years old already.   

Love, Mom