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.