Precious Moments

As I grow older, I am realizing time is as much of a commodity as money.  In some cases, more.

Right now, I have to use the bathroom but I want to write so badly before Olive wakes up from her mini-nap.  I would choose writing over eating, depending on my mood that day.

Once Olive is up, we have to be on our way to fetch the boys who will stick their sweaty heads into her Snap N Go to give her kisses all over her chubby face as I repeat myself, “Give her space!  She is a person!  Here’s some Purell!”

Hours later, I will get to hand the three off to Daddy as soon as he gets off the subway to release me to Parent Engagement Night, aka Back to School night.

As packed as our days (and nights) are, I can tell these are the very days Empty Nesters will remind us to enjoy every moment of.

I’m not sure what I want my blog to be.  I often wish I could be the blogger who writes about tips on taking trips with kids, or recipes, or other how to’s but I’m not wired that way.  I am prone to confessing, sharing too much, and talking about my inner life, aka being a Non-Monetizing Blog.

My kids take my breath away.  I won’t be able to share much as they get older but for now, I can still share these mundane but meaningful moments:

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Photo #1: Alone but Together

My big one wanted to assert his independence by riding alone on the kiddie ride this past weekend at Six Flags.  This was a precious moment as Ellis and I beamed when our ride would line up with Micah’s and Micah would beam back with his one missing tooth.  I will carry that moment in my heart and hopefully conjure it up when they are pre-teens.

He wanted to be on his own but did not find it uncool yet to be thrilled to see us next to him.

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Photo #2:  I Spy with My Blue-Lashed Eye

“Micah, can you make sure Olive…”

“Yeah, I’m already holding her hand and foot so she knows she isn’t alone.  I checked to make sure the sun is not in her eyes.  She has some tears on her cheeks so I wiped them.  She has some on her lashes, too.  And I’m gonna sing to her now.”

Though Big Boy and I butt heads from being wired too similarly during our low moments, he blessed me so much when he told me yesterday, unprompted:

“I appreciate you taking us to the library program even though it was crowded and loud.  I’m proud of you, Mommy.”  HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY.

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Photo #3:  These are the Days of Our Lives

When there is a new baby on the scene, folks immediately and naturally relate it to their own stage in life.  “Oh, we are SO done!  I can’t even imagine going through that again!”  “Now we get to travel!  No diaper bags!  We sleep so well.”

It’s been extra busy with Back-to-School events and forms that have got me cross eyed, those darn blue cards with fonts shrinking every year, this time in Spanish first, then nearly invisible English.

Kevin and I have not been able to soul-talk after a big fight because we have to talk about the more mundane but necessary items like how to keep us all clothed, fed, bathed, hydrated, schooled, homeworked, and bedtimed, and other -ed’s.  And yet, I can just feel that these are the very best, most tender days of our lives, while the kids are still so pure and while we are still not decrepit.

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Photo #4:  My Olive Royl at 3.5 months old, post Baek-Il

Cracking us up by being so calm, down for every family adventure, suddenly drooly like Biggest Bro was, sucking on her whole fist and wrist like she workin’ on a jokbal (Korean roasted, seasoned Pig Foot).  She has moved on from smiling to trying out this sound called Laughter and splashing lots in the bath.  I must capture on video.

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Photo #5:  Don’t Forget Me, Mommy!

My Middle has expressed that he would like to be born again so that Mommy can love him again as a baby.  Awwww.  Imagine being snuggled so much until a smaller, cuter thang arrives out of your mom’s swoll belly, monopolizing her time, energy, and teat.

With three kids, there isn’t as much of Mommy and Daddy to go around.  I pray that we can still make each FEEL loved.

Olive is up and we must get going.  Thank You Lord for each moment.  Please give us more energy for the second half of our day.

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Behold: New Things Have Sprung Forth

I know the timing of this post sucks. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston about a week ago and now Floridians are bracing themselves for Hurricane Irma.

So I feel sheepish and rude to share that while catastrophes swirl about on our green globe, in my personal life, I am happy. Quite possibly the happiest I have ever been.

I recently realized that I respond to “How are you?” by sharing laments or struggles because that seems to be the easier way to connect to others. I know I can’t connect to someone if they only share green pastures, Happy Happy Joy Joy, perhaps because there is no risk involved in sharing only the shiny moments.

But because I am the opposite and lead with difficulties first, I want to work on sharing praises more, without worrying that others might be like, “Well, congrats to you, bitch. Can’t relate.”

I’m repeating myself but having a baby at 40 was an answer to a couple years’ worth of prayers, asking, “Please remove this impractical desire for a third baby OR somehow work it out for our family as I am consumed by this desire.” I shared before that Kevin had a vision from God and it was realized when I conceived at the age of 39.

Sure, we are tired because we have a wide-eyed baby with no official bedtime yet, in addition to two growing, active boys who need our attention, in some ways more than when they were babies. But even in that sharp tiredness, we sing and laugh each night, as our cheeky girl shimmies to our pitchy serenades.

We shake our greying heads in amazement that she has joined us when for years, she was a fantasy I tried to excise, only joking about it, wiggling my eyebrows and quipping at Costco, “I’mma just buy some prenatal vitamins, eh? My obsession won’t go away,” and Kevin saying, “Not funny.”

Also, after many of our weekends were devoted to house-searching, our prayers for a house were answered in the form of, “Nope, NOT YET!” Surprisingly, staying in our imperfect town has added to my happiness. I appreciate living closer to couple close friends, our non-family village.

Just a few weeks ago, we moved to a slightly more spacious apartment in the very town we wanted to graduate from, and we love our new amenities.

We sit on our tiny terrace to have family dinner together while the weather is still gorgeous. Kevin and I people-watch. We saw a dad screaming at his kid because the kid didn’t listen, causing some groceries to spill out. Now that we are parents, we completely judged the kid and commentated, “He should have listened. How many times the poor dad gotta repeat himself!?”

Biggest quality of life update: We have a second bathroom. Glory be! Even with such upgrades, by the grace of God alone, I remain down-to-earth puahahaha.

Because we live a quick jog away from our old co-op, we were able to drop by twice before we gave it up completely. Though we outgrew that space almost as soon as we moved in in the fall of 2010, all the memories came rushing back as we looked around the vacant space:

My parents, fresh from the airport, walking in to see their first grandchild, just days old, six pounds of fragile newborn, laying in his bassinet.

Another son joining his more laid-back parents two years later.

Hoisting my pregnant self off our high bed once again in 2017 and my water breaking for the first time, to meet our first daughter.

Just as Micah and I became teary-eyed about the memories housed in those 900+ square feet, Olive let out a rare yelp, as if to say, “Enough. Let’s roll out. I only had a couple months of memories here and I’m ready to make more with you guys.”

19″Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

Thank You, Lord, for letting us say goodbye in installments, to our old home. And thank You also for new things springing forth. I am so happy and learning to enjoy green pastures. Every good and perfect gift comes from You.

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If These Walls Could Talk

In less than a week, we will be waking up in our new home, our unexpected new home for just one year, while we soul search about where to lay down roots.

I might have to force the family to do vision boards.

Goodbye to our first home as parents.

Seven years, three babies, 900 square feet.

Thank You, Lord, for watching over us, through the laughter and awe, through the screaming and tears.  ALL OF IT.  Only You knew the answers to all of our questions.

I waddled in here on September 28, 2010, with baby Micah in my womb.

Now we walk out as a family of five.  Grateful beyond belief.

What words

have smashed against
these walls,
crashed up and down these
halls,
lain mute and then drained
their meanings out and into
these floors?

What feelings, long since
dead,
streamed vague yearnings
below this ceiling
light?
In some dimension,
which I cannot know,
the shadows of
another still exist. I bring my
memories, held too long in check,
to let them here shoulder
space and place to be.

And when I leave to
find another house,
I wonder what among
these shades will be
left of me.

“The New House” by Maya Angelou

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6.24.17 (photo credit:  Keri Tan Photography)

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“Immeasurably More…” – Mother’s Day 2017

Mother’s Day 2017 started out with the boys scurrying around with their homemade cards and origami flowers while I enjoyed a prolonged snuggle with my Snoogle, our old pregnancy pillow that we miraculously didn’t throw out over the years because Kevin liked it for himself.

The boys presented me with their bounty and also did their Mother’s Day choreography to Boyz II Men’s “Mama you Know I Love You,” directed by Daddy since 2015.  Kevin made me a veggie omelette, which Ellis also nibbled on.

Micah’s one gift was a handmade heart that said, “I love you so much it’s as easy as drawing a heart.”  He also added, “And you’re also easy to draw, Mommy, because I’m good at drawing fat people now.”

We went to church and all the adult females were gifted with a single pink carnation.  Ellis asked, “But Mommy, why you take the flower when you said we can’t buy you any kind of plant because then you have to take care of it?”

Pastor Rich Villodas spoke from Ephesians 3:20:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Now he pointed out that though many focus on “immeasurably more” as in blessings in our personal lives, the passage is actually referring to how God can bring opposing groups together, immeasurably more than we ever imagined.

But I was marinating in the “immeasurably more” as in more blessed than I’d ever imagined.  There were two times in my life where I struggled with a debilitating depression.

While in the pit, I informed my parents that fine, I will stay alive because I have to but that I won’t ever thrive in this here life.  Sorry for being so broken and such a burden but you guys will have to take care of me for the rest of my life because of the darkness I just can’t emerge from.  As a parent now, I think about how devastating that would be to hear from your child who “should” be having a blast in those much anticipated college years.

Talk about immeasurably more than I ever imagined.  Despite those earlier dark times and even tough times in more recent years as we struggled in our marriage, here I was, sitting in the balcony at my colorful church in Queens, NYC, with a bonus baby in my belly, my two sons who crack me up daily, and a husband who just may be the Most Reviled husband for making others look bad.

But I have to put myself on blast as the day took a different turn.  I swear I was thinking about my Immeasurably More Blessed status even as we drove to Brooklyn for the Mother’s Day Brunch that Kevin had reserved.

On the way there, Ellis warned us he was getting carsick so we parked very far from the restaurant to get him some fresh air.  Whew, vomit averted.  We walked many blocks to the restaurant.  One block before the restaurant, Ellis gagged and bent over, vomiting onto the sidewalk, like a little man hungover.  Passersby commented, “Aww poor kid.”

As far as vomit goes, this was ideal.  Sidewalk vomit, only a mild spittle on my shoes.

I don’t know if my bad attitude started brewing then but once I saw the set menu, I went from basking in my Immeasurably More Blessed status to griping for Immeasurably More than the limited fancy egg or samich on the menu.  I still don’t know how I went from beyond grateful to pissed off so fast.

I started getting crabby as the boys fought over the phone, which I had hoped would not have made its appearance but Kevin was worried about Ellis’ stomach so he thought it’d be a good distraction.  Then I noticed all this glassware on the table that no one else seemed to be mindful of while I could picture spills in slow motion.

No kids’ menu so they were gonna have to order same overpriced egg or samich from the adult set menu.  The waiter said he would bring the kids some pistachio ice cream for their dessert later and because we were harried, we both said, “Yum.”  Then I called him back to say, “Oops, he’s allergic.”

My attitude spiraled down from there, as I thought, “Man, I wanted to just tag along today.  Clearly, I can’t just be passive for one day.  Mama still has to be hyper-vigilant.”  Again, unfair since Kevin totally holds it down so that I can mostly be passive.

Ellis remarked, “Mommy, you MEAN on Mother’s Day.”

I just wanted to confess this Mother’s Day attitude that I later apologized for.  I dunno if it was the hyped up holiday or my hormones, but even at my most grateful, I jacked up AGAIN.  I might have stayed up too late the night before, finally trying to catch “Catastrophe” with Kevin, or I just had too high expectations, unbeknownst to me.

After I apologized, I asked Kevin to not surprise me next year as his veggie omelette was way better than the $40 egg I had at Glassware Galore Restaurant.  He reminded me that last year I had requested brunch ambience aka White Papple ambience, so that is why he chose this place but that next year, I can chime in since my cravings are ever-changing.

Anyone else’s Mother’s Day take a topsy turvy turn?

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At least the $40 egg included homemade cinnamon donuts with caramel sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

Reaccommodatin’

Substitute my brother’s white Mitsubishi Eclipse from decades ago for our silver Honda Odyssey minivan.  And my 20-something self with my bigger 40 year-old self with pregnant belly protruding onto the steering wheel and basically, we have the same scenario.

When I was younger, I would blow off steam by driving in the familiar San Fernando Valley streets with music blasting.  I hadn’t realized that driving alone to de-stress was still an option for me until this past weekend.  Lemme back up.

Spring Break was upon us and this year, it went on for seven full weekdays.  So counting the weekends, it was for 12 days straight.  Kevin took one day off for our trip to local Bear Mountain.  I noticed during the break that my boys have grown much bigger in stature and presence.  I could not physically control them like I could when they were morsels I could lift in and out of their double stroller.

The most stressful moments of Spring Break were when we had to get somewhere by a certain time.

Like on Good Friday, the tail end of that first week of break.  The boys entertain each other so well these days that I am practically a third wheel to their inside jokes, songs, and secrets.  Until they fight.  Right when we had to go get the car to get to our parking-challenged church for Good Friday service, Fight Club was at it again.

Perhaps because this was the end of a fun but long week, I started seeing red.  I wanted to swat them.  We somehow made it to church and I noticed that en route to church, they had fallen asleep.  They must have woken up earlier that morning and that was why they were more rambunctious than usual.  But I didn’t care.

I needed to tap out.  I counted the minutes ’til Kevin could meet me in the church parking lot when he could tend to the sleeping angels and I could take just Me Myself and I (and obedient, compliant, quiet Belly Baby) into the sanctuary.  I hoped Kevin knew from my terrible mood to not try to find me once we were in the sanctuary.  BECAUSE I NEEDED ME SOME SANCTUAAAAARY!

I sat in the balcony, my favorite section.  I couldn’t even sing or pray.  I just kept fanning myself, just feeling beyond drained from the week of quality time with my boys.  I was at a -10 in self-care.  I didn’t know how to get them to listen to me, these growing, galloping horse boys in our apartment.  In some ways, this stage was much more taxing than a baby with no visible neck, just sitting there, with all of its delicious rolls and sausage arms to objectify and nibble on.

As I was fanning myself, Kevin texted me, “We are downstairs,” right after I saw them walking in.  Because I was so tapped out, my first instinct was to hide!  (Family – if you ever read this, I LOVE YOU.  But I am also human and I need to tap out and recharge).  My beautiful Denzel-smiling Micah located me right away and looked up at me in the balcony.  He beamed like he and his Fight Club partner hadn’t just put me through the wringer.  I smiled back but didn’t budge when he gestured for me to come down to their level.

I gazed down below at a family of six, sitting together, the youngest nuzzling into Dad’s neck.  Father, Lord, help me, I just can’t right now.

I was able to savor my solitude throughout the beautifully planned special Good Friday service.  I wanted to clap back with an exclamation of, “Glory Hallelu!” when Pastor Rich Villodas pointed out in his sermon that Jesus did not say, “You are a good good Father!” when He was being crucified on the cross.  Instead, even Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  And we can take comfort in that because it gives us permission to be human and voice our anguish to God.

And man, I felt VERY human on Good Friday.  I couldn’t get over how hard of a time I was having just taking care of myself, Belly Baby, and Wrestlemania Kims.  As I was headed to different, interactive centers set up throughout our church for focused meditation and reflection, a couple people kindly informed me, “I saw your kids in the Elephant Room!” as a way of greeting me.  Usually, I would beam at any mention of my kids but this time I thought to myself, “Good, they there with they Daddy and Mama here in the Upper Stage Room, still ketchin’ her breath.”  I did peek in without being seen and was relieved to see that they were enjoying a jellybean Jesus activity instead of absorbing my Tapped Out Toxins.

I was still emotional even after we were able to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt at twilight with our friends.  I told Kevin, “Hey, I know I am repeating myself but I am so tapped out.  I cannot repeat another day of Fight Club.  It sounds extreme but I cannot take care of anyone tomorrow.  Please.”

Kevin heard me but still said, “OK, but remember, tomorrow I have to check out open houses and all you would have to do is take the boys to soccer.”

Tread lightly, brother.  “All you would have to do?”

I got salty because that sounded tame for any other day but I was tapped out.  And taking the boys to soccer meant walking them over, taking them back home, feeding them, keeping them from fighting, and little details you don’t quite think about.  Suddenly, I had a lightbulb moment.

“Hey, *I’MMA* go to open houses and you will take them to soccer.  And I will return laaaaaaaate.”

That is how I found myself on the highway, blasting my radio and driving like a free bird.  I always thought I hated driving but I had to check myself and qualify that:  I hate driving in our congested neighborhood with my precious treasures in the backseat, demanding The Weekend and Ariana Grande at the same time, but driving ALONE AND UNENCUMBERED with full control of the radio on a highway to a land of parking spots galore!?

I NEEDED TO DRIVE ALONE BY MYSELF ON THAT SATURDAY!  Sure, I came back and reported to Kevin that one house was very close to a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut and that was cool so now he needs to go re-visit houses for me, but that Saturday of Solitary Driving saved me.

Added bonus:  Kevin reported back to me that his staying home with the boys was just what he needed to rest!

We reaccommodated our roles and were much better for it.  I drove home, loaded with gyros and Greek chicken soup that night and was able to miss my boys again.  Recharged for Resurrection Sunday.

Now we lookin’ for more ways to reaccommodate our roles after I experienced some cramping and contractions that we first chalked up to a rare Taco Bell consumption.

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When you feelin’ like this, REACCOMMODATE (but not like United)!

Pi Day/(Almost)Blizzard Stella/Snow Day

3.14.17 – So the predicted 12-20 inches of snow resulting in a rare early announcement of the following day’s Snow Day ended up being a Cancelled Blizzard as of 8:15 am this morning-doh!  Governor Cuomo had even called a state of emergency for New York but the forecast was off and it turned out to be only 4-8 inches of snow, an icy slushy snowstorm with strong winds.

It cost me a day of pay so I was hoping for an epic, record-breaking blizzard with snow mountains we could touch from our third story window.  Even though it was anti-climactic, I made sure we at least took some photos. It would have been too dangerous for me to slip and slide, walking to and from the subway to get to work so no regrets.

The boys and I spent some quality time watching a show we can all enjoy (I dislike kid shows and the boys begged me not to watch Wendy Williams).  So we watched three episodes of CBS’s “Kevin Can Wait.”  I have always had nothing but love for that adorable comedic talent, Kevin James.

Here is the photo dump of our half hour outside.  It was too windy and icy to play longer though the boys stayed out to shovel around our minivan.  Back to our regular schedules tomorrow!

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Musings in the March Snow

While we were in Orlando, my 96 year-old down-the-hall neighbor, Charlie, passed away.  We missed the funeral because we didn’t see the memo until we belatedly checked our tiny mailbox.

Charlie was the neighbor who came up to me a few years ago while I was running out to take out the trash.  His wife had just passed away and his grief was raw.  He hadn’t planned to come up to this Mama down the hall but the grief was so overwhelming that he shared with someone he had never spoken to before – “I just lost my wife.  We were married for ____ years.  I don’t know what to do.”

I dropped my trash and gave him a huge hug as tears escaped from both our eyes.  I told him later that sometimes I take my baby to Forest Hills Park and that he can walk with us but he was too frail.  I kept seeing him around with his full-time caregiver and dutiful son.

I ran into his son on Queens Blvd. while walking to the boys’ school this week and I grabbed his forearm to tell him how sorry we were for his loss.  His 60 something(?) year-old son had shared with me once, “I don’t know how family live so far away from each other.  I am so close to both my parents and always lived a building away from them.”

He told me that he was present at both his parents’ deaths and that they parted while holding his hand.

Growing up, I knew that my dad equated success with being a world traveler and adventurer.  He immigrated to the U.S. after falling in love with it on a business trip.  He always said that children should go far away for college instead of being sheltered and fearful, only confident at home.

He was disappointed when I didn’t get into Harvard.  I applied, for his sake, Early Admissions and got Early Rejected.  He never hid the fact that he thought my going away “just” to UC Berkeley, a one hour flight away from home / six hour drive, was not grand enough.

And because I always chase (chased?) after my dad’s approval, I believed the same.

But when I spent a few minutes talking to my recently deceased neighbor’s son on the street this week, I realized that my beliefs have changed.

After the boys go to sleep and Kevin and I get to unwind, one of us can’t resist going back into their tiny room to gaze at or squeeze them, especially after an episode of “This is Us.”  It’s like having a cartoon rotisserie chicken asleep on the bottom bunk, and a scrumptious pork belly slider tucked in in the top bunk.  Irresistible.

I no longer define success as globe-trotting  and being as far away from family though I drool at my globe-trotting friends’ adventures in lands I have to Google.  I would love for my rotisserie chicken and crispy pork children to traipse the entire globe…then return to home base to share as much of their lives with me as they will allow.

I will be waiting.

RIP neighbor Charlie.  I am so glad that Art had the privilege of holding your hand as he ushered you into eternity.

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