Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear Bride-to-Be

Dear Bride-to-Be,

Later today--sixteen years ago--you will walk down the aisle and marry the man with whom you have chosen to share the rest of your life.  Sixteen years later, I can tell you that you have chosen well <wink>.

We were imbeciles, he'd say of your college days, where life was more about which cafe to meet at for lunch than making that 8 o'clock O Chem class.  But you--the indignant young woman just stepping into your independent adult life--always knew what you were doing.  You knew when a relationship was unfair and uneven to walk away from it, and you knew a good melon when you thumped one.  Oh, wait, that was his line.

Physical attraction is easy.  Having chemistry takes time and real interaction.  You were lucky to have had both.  It helps that you knew you were able to fix his dorky haircut and refurbish his outdated wardrobe, because the more time you spent with him, the more you became aware that the steady yet gentle, calm and assured disposition he possessed was what you had been missing in your tubulent childhood.  You were wise to take anchor. 

Over the years, he will guide you toward a love for the fine arts.  He will take you to ballets, symphonies, plays, concerts, and musicals.  He will suggest that you read books that will blow your mind.  He will play music that touches your soul.  He will queue movies to watch together that allow you to exchange words without speaking to one another.  He will even be able to--through passive diffusion--make you 'like' some sports over the years, and convince you to go throw some balls on a baseball field

And then there's food.  He will provide the opportunity for you to sample foods from all over the world, wines of all varieties, and restaurants from near to far.  Ethnic dishes will become everyday vocabulary, and Friday nights will be dinner date nights, until, of course, kiddos enter your lives.  One of your favorite foods from the good old days of college is pho--Vietnamese beef noodle soup--served with a plate of condiments of basil leaves, bean sprouts, jalapenos slices, and lime wedges.  Since he knew well of your OCD issues and how you don't like citrus smells lingering on your fingertips, he will always squeeze your lime into the soup for you, even without your asking. 

Over the years, you will do a thing or two for him as well.  Before he met you, he was a clam.  You were able to cleverly pry him loose so that he spilled his guts and talked.  Of family, burdens, responsibilities; of passions, dreams, what-ifs; of sadness, distress, misery; of life, death, and everything in between.  You will continue those conversations for years and years to come.  You will also continue to show him how to express outward affection, shower your future children with hugs and kisses, and remind him to hold hands with you every now and then--just for that needed reassurance.

Life won't always be smooth sailing; there will be bumps in the roads.  But you will always have each other.  Even when you feel like you are being punished for wanting something--when it seems like there would be nothing else in the world you'd want more--I can assure you, that you will become a mommy, to not one, but two beautiful children.  That you will be able to provide them the things you didn't have growing up.  That they will be your pride and joy.  Your Sun and Moon.

On this very important day, I know you have the jitters.  You are worried about the ceremony, about your dress and your makeup, about repeating the vows correctly, about everything going 'right'.  They really won't matter, because this entire day will be images only to be remembered by the photos in your wedding album.  Trust me.  Ten, fifteen years from now, all those things will become such trivial matters, of such minor importance.  Of course, this is not meant to take away from the meaning of the celebration of your wedding day, but what is ultimately most important is all the new memories you will be creating together as a family from this day forward.

Soon, you will walk down that aisle, and say the words that make your voice shake--not because you are scared of all those promises--but because 150 people in the audience will be all-ears on you.  But I'll let you in on a secret: the judge's voice will be shakier than yours, so you don't have to feel so self-conscious.  In fact, self-consciousness will one day begin to fade as you ease more comfortably into yourself as a person, a woman, and a mother.  It will never go away completely, but it will subside and you will find life much easier outside the confines of self-doubt and insecurity.

Being that I am sixteen years older than you, with more years of cynicism life experience than you, I only have one word of advice for your next sixteen years: gratitude.  Live with that in your heart and life will not forsake you. 

So, Dear Bride-to-Be, like I said, you done yourself good.  You have a good man waiting for you at the end of the aisle, who will become a wonderful husband and a dedicated father.  One more added plus: his exceptional writing skills will one day inspire you to write, and evoke a passion you never knew you had.  He has to be a great catch.  After all, he squeezes your lime, yo!

Happy Wedding Day to you, and Happy Anniversary to me and the Hubs!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Britax Car Seat

Dear Britax Car Seat,

You have been our Seat of Safety for just short of a decade.  Sadly, it is time to move on.  It just seems as though I'm having a hard time letting you go.

At the time we were expecting our first baby, Dear Daughter, the safety emblem of children's car seat was Britax.  Like all eager-beaver dutiful moms-to-be, I did my research and decided to register for the Britax Marathon convertible car seat.  It received excellent reviews from users, car seat experts, and the NHTSA.  And little did I know at the time that it would also become the arms of a magical sleep-inducer who cradled my babies and lulled them to dreamland time after time.  It has logged hundreds of hours of peaceful sleep with its comfy head support and snug body contours.  As a nap-obsessed mom, the Britax was my savior when it came to tired, cranky kiddos.

Of course, this was not the first car seat we used.  To bring the newborn baby home, we used an infant carrier car seat--the kind that you snap into and lift out of the base that is attached to the car.  Between our Graco infant carrier car seat and Britax convertible car seat, the number of different ways a car seat can be installed was quite daunting.  But after nine years with the Britax, I am going to pat myself on the back and proclaim my expertise in its installation.  While it first started out as this complicated, instruction-book-flipping process, soon, it simply became a two-step process.  Step one: sit my ass down on the car seat.  Step two: attach tethers and pull.  That car seat will not budge.  Voila, it's done.  It just takes some coordinated maneuvering of head and limbs in order to do so inside the small confines of cars.

Speaking of car seat installation, I cannot even count all the times I have had to install and reinstall the Britax, in the number of different cars (own and rentals) and airplane seats.  The mileage it has accrued is significant.  It has gone with us to Taiwan, Hawaii, and several states in the country.

When traveling, parents have their own ways of transporting a car seat.  Some put them on wheelies to walk it through the airport.  Some bought the expensive one that came with wheels to push through the airport.  I always wore my Britax like a backpack.  I just pulled out the belt straps, put my arms through them, and walked around with a car seat on my back.  It wasn't comfy, and it wasn't the lightest load either, but it worked.  I got lots of funny looks from people, but hey, when we travel, the Britax is just as important as any one of us family members.  That car seat has been with us through all the good and the bad. 

The 'good' being all the places to which it has safely accompanied us, let's continue with the 'bad'.  The Britax has encountered countless rendezvous with kiddo bodily malfunctions fluids from major GI tract orifices.  There was the time in Orlando when DD looked kinda green in the evening street lights of our rental car, and she proceeded to empty her tummy all over herself, the car seat, and its straps.  There was the time when Dear Son was in the car seat when we noticed a certain familiar stench; we had to pull over in a parking lot to find out that his explosive poop went halfway up his back and out wherever there was a way.  Those were the times I first learned how to disassemble the car seat to remove the cover and straps for washing.  It is not an easy task.  It really tests your mental state of health, since you are concentrating on holding your breath while doing said task.  

Now, let's move on to 'worse', or 'worst', even... you get to decide.  During our first winter in the suburbs, my car became a winter vacation home for mice.  Apparently, that is very common, as our car maintenance guy explained that they hide inside the engine for warmth, and then crawl through holes to get inside the car for food.  We learned our lesson the hard way: children plus food equal crumbs.  Let's just say that it was not a pretty sight to see--among other things--the car seat cover chewed through so the mice can pull out the nylon stuffing inside and make house with it.  I was so entirely gross out that I disinfected every reachable surface of the car and stripped the car seat cover and straps to wash, yet again.  At least that time I already knew how to do that.  (Now, every winter, we equip our garage with mouse traps, and the problem has been solved, thank goodness!)

Because a convertible car seat is much safer than a booster seat, I had planned to keep Dear Son in it until he is over 40 pounds, which is a good, safe weight for riding in a booster seat.  Yes, he's five-years-old now, and still nowhere near 40 pounds.  He's so skinny he looks like he'd break in half.  But then again, his daddy had the same body built at that age, so I guess it's in his genes.  One of the ways I tried to encourage him to eat more was so that he could get a new booster seat when he hits 40 pounds, but every single pound he gains seems to take months and months.  More often than not, the scale just wants to do the one-step-forward-two-steps-back cha-cha with me.  It's worse than watching water boil. 

I had already set my eyes on the exact booster seat I was going to buy when he hit that magical number.  However, I just happened to spot that booster seat when we were shopping at Costco a few weeks ago.  Walking down an aisle that I usually never visit, it was there, all of a huge fraction of the price I was going to pay.  So the rest is history.  It came home with us.  Actually, it didn't even make it out of the parking lot before it got opened and used.  DS got into his new seat with a huge smile, sat in it as if he's owned it his entire life, and just looked like a big boy.  This booster seat gives him more space, two drink holders, and a new found meaning for independence: he can buckle himself in and unbuckle himself out.  Which, if you remember my rant about how I always had to be the one to do all the buckling for him, well, let's just say it was my dream-come-true.  What was I thinking waiting until he was 40 pounds?

The old car seat--the good old Britax--instantly got demoted.  It rode home in the back of the car, awaiting its fate.  We had no reason to keep it.  It cannot even be a hand-me-down again, because the little sticker on its bottom indicates that it's been expired for a few years already.  Technology-wise, it is no longer guaranteed to be safe during a crash.  So it will just have to be discarded.

After almost a decade of service, the Britax now just sits on our garage floor, next to the recycle bin, all sad and lonely, unused and gathering dust.  It's sitting there, because the recycle and garbage trucks have come and gone a few times already, but I just haven't been able to let it go.  It has meant more to me than I ever realized.  It reminds me that I will never ever again have to sit my ass into its seat to install it, which means that I now must give up my crown of Expert Car Seat Installer. 

Finally, this is a good time to thank--again--the lovely couple who gifted it to us a decade ago, who now have three boys of their own, and who are probably Expert Car Seat Installers themselves.  Thank you, friends, for the gift that lasted us almost ten years.

So, Britax car seat, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with you.  Dear Husband even offered to keep you in the basement for sentimental reasons.  I haven't decided yet.  In the meantime, thank you again for being the seat that kept our kiddos comfy and safe inside moving vehicles.  You've been so good to us.  I may still take DH up on the basement option, even with your mice-chewed holes and expired label.  After all, looking at the empty seat on you makes me see my two kiddos' previously tiny bodies and angelic faces sleeping cuddled next to your sides, and my heart dances a little, waltzing to the beat of my babies' sweet dreams. 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dear Summer

Dear Summer,

You officially arrived with the passing of summer solstice this week.  I had to be sure that you were truly here to write you a letter, since just three weeks ago, my status update on Facebook was: I'm wearing my Ugg slippers on June 1st. It's because I want them to match the sweater I'm wearing. <Sigh>.

We had the obligatory discussion of what summer solstice means with the kiddos.  It is the longest day of the year because of the way earth's axis is tilted and the direction it points in regards to the sun.  But even without any explanation, the kiddos know that summer is special.  They can feel it in all the changes and opposites of the dreary winters we have here.  It really hits home when Dear Son looks at me with a most puzzled look and asks, "Why are we taking shower when it's still daytime?"  I guess by that, we know summer's here.  Here are my Top Ten Idiosyncrasies of Summer.  

10.  Sunscreen.  You've already heard my rant about sunscreen.  It is an inevitable part of summer.  One addendum: it doesn't freakin' wash off, which bothers the heck out of me.  Well, duh, it's waterproof!  Isn't it what we want when we go swimming?  (Update: a doctor friend reminded me that we should choose mineral sunscreens over chemical sunscreens based on a scientific article he read.  Mineral sunscreens are made of just that--minerals, thus natural--typically with the active ingredients titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.  Chemical sunscreens are made of, well, chemicals, which are all the other ingredients (namely avobenzone) you see on the labels of sunscreens on the market.  Mineral sunscreens are typically marketed for babies and children who have more sensitive skin and don't need extra chemicals.)  #sensoryprocessingdisorderissues

9.  Pool/ beach.  As much as I am a heliophobe, I still go to the pool and beach for the sake of the kiddos.  They love water with a passion.  So against every ounce of my natural instincts, I go into the sun with them.  The only plus is that if I have enough sunscreen on, I do get a nice color to replace my glaringly-fair skin.  And... for a few moments in the water, as I look up at the stunning azure sky and cloud puffs in freestyle design, soak in the warmth of the sun on my protected skin and feel the gentle summer breeze brush my cheeks, and see the laughter and playfulness of the kiddos, I think to myself: this is really nice.  In those few moments--which I force myself to remember--I am willing to go through all the trouble and face my issues to make it happen for the kiddos, and just a little wee bit for myself, too.  #notasunworshipper

8.  Heat and humidity.  I am your typical high maintenance whiny baby when it comes to the heat.  I've long declared that air conditioning is the one modern day convenience that I cannot live without.  But see, it's really not the heat that bothers me; it's the effect of humidity on my sweat glands.  If you have hyperactive sweat glands like me, you'd understand.  This summer, however, I finally got a prescription for Dry-Sol (active ingredient: 20% aluminum chloride), an antiperspirant that can be used on feet--my problem area--as well as hands and underarms.  This is the first time I have had dry feet in heat and humidity, which means I can wear sandals and flip flops without slipping and sliding in them!  It has been the BEST thing EVER.  My feet I have never been happier.  I'm sorry that this is TMI, but for me, it's a groundbreaking discovery.  #doingthehappydrydance

7.  Bugs.  This one is above all else that I cannot stand in warmer weather, including all three of the above.  I detest mosquito bites more than anything in the world.  You can imagine my glee when we went to the marshes of Florida a few years back to ride boats and "see manatees or your money back."  And one manatee we saw--a lighter shade of the water color by the banks.  One underwater shadow, 45 very hot minutes, and a dozen mosquito bites later, we didn't get our money back.  You see, mosquito bites in numbers like that for me (and Dear Daughter) will trigger an immune response that leads to a fever.  Yes, a fever.  Did I tell you I hate bug bites?  I just got my first few of the season yesterday.  And yes, there are those bug sprays to help, sure.  But did I mention I have issues with putting chemicals and stuff on my skin?  Yeah, THAT.  #heebiejeebies

6.  Pretty toes. Now onto nicer things about summer.  We girls love our pretty toes in the summertime.  As soon as the socks come off, DD immediately begins to beg for me to paint her toenails.  And she really rocks her hot pink nail polish on her girly toes nicely.  I have my few staple colors, although I will venture out to uncommon ones once in a while.  And no, I don't go out for pedicures.  Miss Stingy would rather that I contort myself into an oddly shaped ball to paint my own toenails.  Each year it gets harder and I get achier.  So the one day that I cannot paint my own toenails is the day I know that I'm old.  At which time I'll beg DD to do them for me for all the times I've made her toes pretty.  Fair trade, right?  #timeforacolorchange

5.  Flip flops. While we're on the topic, how better to show off our pretty toenails than in our favorite flip flops?  I live in flip flops practically all summer long.  I read an article a few years ago about the detriment that flip flops do to our feet.  I felt very guilty about it, so instead of spending $3 at Old Navy for flip flops, I now spend ten times the amount to buy what are supposedly 'better' flips flops, ones that contour and cushion, for my summer feet.  #hopelesslyattached

4.  Lawn care. I wrote about our grass last summer.  It is a fine balance between keeping our water bill affordable and not killing our grass.  In our neighborhood, it is easy to see who waters the lawn and who doesn't.  We water, but just enough so that the grass doesn't die.  We're cheap homeowners that manually turn on the water sprinklers when we have a heat wave or drought.  This year, our grass has been looking pretty nifty.  We were just patting ourselves on the back when I may have realized that the automatic sprinkler has probably been turning on in the early hours of the day without our knowing.  Oooops.  #scaredtoseethewaterbill

3.  Gardening. Each year I look forward to warm weather so that my rose bushes come alive and bloom hundreds of roses.  Besides growing tomatoes and herbs, this is the first year I'm keeping a vegetable garden in my new planter box.  I've harvested, cooked, and eaten my own swiss chard.  There's something to be said about cooking and eating foods from your own backyard.  I've made pesto with my own basil, made ice tea with my own mint, and toss salads with my own parsley.  I'm looking forward to harvesting green beans and red bell peppers, big boy tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.  I cannot even begin to describe the joy of watching a plant grow, flower, fruit, much less be harvested and eaten.  I've also had the joy of chronicling this process with photographs.  Yay, Instagram!  And I'll have photos to come.  Pinky swear!  #itsreallylikemagic

2.  Picnics. Whether it's at the park, under the stars at an outdoor concert, or on our own driveway, a picnic is just a 'funner' way to eat.  Lay down a blanket, cop a squat, munch on food, and gaze at the sky.  Or search for bugs.  When we're done eating, I shake the blanket once or twice and leave all the crumbs for the great outdoors.  Cleaning?  Done.  Oh, and when it's raining, I pull away the coffee table and we picnic right on the living room floor.  It's fabulous and the kiddos love it.  #beakidalloveragain

And finally...

1.  Relaxation.  There is nothing like the relaxation of summer where we get to sleep in.  Even if we don't sleep in late, there's no rush or schedule, lunches to pack or papers to check.  I have anxiety-related blood pressure issues (so I monitor on a fairly regular basis), and rightfully, I have the lowest and bestest blood pressure during the summer months.  (It's pretty amazing that on the first day of summer vacation, my BP reading literally drops by 20 on both numbers.)  It is our my time for relaxation and rejuvenation.  Well, that is, until summer school is over and I have the kiddos 24-7.  #grassisalwaysgreener

There are other summer-musts that I didn't mention, mostly regarding foods, such as making ice cream, popsicles, pies, smores, and outdoor grilling.  Those can fill up a Top Ten all on their own.  So for now, these represent.

So, Summer, until September 22, we get to enjoy and endure all your idiosyncrasies.  Lastly, I just want to say that you give us the most beautiful skies of the year.  The blue is extra blue, and the clouds are extra puffy, and the sunsets are simply breathtaking.  And thank you for those few extra hours of daylight.  I simply love it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dear Acrophobia

Dear Acrophobia,

I have a long list of fears and anxiety causes.  Commonly known as 'fear of heights', you are right at the top of my list.

I don't remember when this fear began for me.  But I do know that I have had dreams all my life where I'd fall from a very high place, and at the moment of impact, where I'm probably dead it'd probably hurt a lot, I'd jerk awake in a cold sweat. 

For me, it is the fear of the sensation and danger of falling.  Not that I've ever fallen a long distance by any means, but I feel that the sensations I've felt by falling in my dreams is sufficient for me to not want to fall any distance at all in real life.  The dangerous effects, obviously, are broken bones, dismemberment, and death.  (Gloomy, I know, but that's why the phobia.)

More recently in life, after having children, I've had worse dreams of my child(ren) falling, which scares the bejeezuz out of me.  One such dream went something like this...  We were in a fire station on the second floor.  In the distance, there was that pole--the infamous firefighter sliding pole--that makes emergency calls answered quickly.  I think we were touring the fire station, and my toddler-aged Dear Daughter let go of my hand and ran toward the HOLE that housed the pole.  In a dream-like trance, she fell right through the hole, but almost with a slow-motion bounciness of an astronaut walking on the moon.  I gasped, my heart stopped beating, and couldn't figure out why everything seemed so surreal, yet it was happening.  I rushed toward the hole, and then woke up.  No little girl found in a splat of blood; no screaming child writhing in pain; no lifeless princess lying in a discombobulated position.  It was just a dream.  My heart started beating again and soon blood rushed back to my brain and my limbs.

But that's just the thing.  My mind goes into imagination overdrive.

In real life, when put into a fearful situation, my mind goes places I wish it didn't.  I wish my imagination was as nearsighted as I so that I can't see the possibilities and end up with a panic attack.  Most of the time, I am still able to ward off going into a full-fledged attack.  Last weekend, however, I came close; I was somewhere high up and I really wasn't sure how I was going to fare.

One of our other outings when we went to Dubuque, Iowa for Dear Daughter's violin performance last weekend was an alpine slide at Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena.  It was a very interesting concept.  There are two tracks that looks like the track of the Olympic sport, luge, except the tracks are made of plastic (instead of ice), and the thing on which you sit upright (instead of supine) is a board with wheels on the bottom (instead of a sled).  There is a lever in the middle right between your knees.  To go faster, push it away from you, and to slow down, pull it toward you to brake.  The tracks are long, and takes about a minute to complete if no brake is applied.  If you applied your brake (like any first timer would), then it could take two to three minutes long.

That part was all nice and dandy.  Dear Son would sit with me on my board, and Dear Daughter and Dear Husband would each have their own boards.  I had even watched a video of what it looked like before we went, just to make sure that we'd all be able to handle it.  Here is a video of someone who did not apply any brakes at all, who finished the slide in about one minute:

But--and here is the caveat--to get back uphill after the slide, one must ride a ski lift back.  At age 39, I'm still a ski lift virgin, partly because we've never been into winter sports, and partly because, well, it's high up in the air.  And there are no belts or harnesses to buckle one down.  These lifts just dangle, up there.  One little slip and oh let's not go there.

So I agreed to go and check it out.  I saw the dangling ski lifts and I thought OMG am I really going to do this?  Then I find out that only three people are allowed on a ski lift at a time, which meant that I would have to go with DS all alone.  What if I freak out up there?  How would I be able to mind my poor DS?  I kept telling myself that people did this everyday and all the time and you don't hear of anyone falling out of a ski lift (and if you have, don't ever tell me).  Reluctantly, I agreed to do this thing.

The alpine slide part was fun!  There were curves and dips, and I was in total control.  DS had a great time with me.  We leaned with each turn and bounced with each dip.  And then it came to an end all too soon... and there was the ski lift.

What was probably a ten minute ride up the hill felt like an eternity to me.  That was me, up in that picture, clutching onto DS for dear life.  I'm not sure if it was for his sake or mine.  No belts, no harnesses, oh, but there was this bar they tilted down in front of us to hold onto.  Let's just say: white knuckles the entire ride.  DD and DH were on the lift right behind us.  They kept talking to me.  I couldn't even turn my head--I was that scared.

At first, the height was not bad.  Totally doable.  Five minutes into the ride, I realized that we were coming up to a very steep drop underneath us.  What the hell did I get myself into?  That is at least a five story drop.  My knuckles turned whiter than white, if that's possible.  I felt my heart race.  I felt my knees quiver.  I felt Panic knocking at my door.

DS, on the other hand, was having the time of his life.  La-di-da.  He was chatty and smiley, and kept saying he wanted to do the slide again.  On the down ski lift, an older couple approached us and the gentleman smiled at DS and said, "Someone's having fun!"  To which I managed to lift my white knuckle hand, point to myself, and shake my head, and then grab that bar again as fast as I could, clutching it like Walkers snatching at human flesh.  The couple chuckled and passed by.  Then I heard my smart alec DH lament to them, "She's so mad she won't talk to me!"  To which they laughed out loud, heartily.  Thanks.

I forced my mind not to go places.  I told myself to look up and not down.  I tried to imagine I was flying.  I chatted with DS about pretending to be birds.  I kept my flip flops in place.  I held my breath longer than was humanly possible.  And then I saw the landing deck.  And I exhaled. 

My feet landed on solid ground, hallelujah, and I didn't even pee in my pants.  Major accomplishment of the day.  Everyone wanted another turn.  Sans moi, of course, and it was fine by me.  The thrill of the alpine slide was not enough for me to hold myself together for another ski lift ride.  

So, Acrophobia, you are definitely not something I want to overcome by sky diving or bungee jumping.  (DH bungee jumped once just before we started dating eons ago, and that will be something that I will never understand about him.)  I don't need to overcome you.  I just need to stay the hell away from high, open, and unprotected places.  I don't need to win a trophy because I know my limits.  But I do need to gloat a little and do a tiny celebratory dance, because I endured that ski lift ride despite my fear and anxiety and lived to tell about it, and for the simple fact that I am no longer a ski lift virgin.  (High-five me!)


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Tomorrow is Father's Day, so we wrote you poems.


He is a jar of honey.
He is a click-y photographer.
He is a joking clown with a big RED nose.
He is a silly joker.
He is a trip to the moon.
He is a ride on a shooting star.
He is a smart calculator.
He is a descriptive writer.
He is a giant watermelon.
He is a wonderfully decorated Christmas tree.
He is a wreath hanging on a door.
He is a sky full of stars.
He is a run through the Field of Dreams.
He is a giant wave in the ocean.
He is a tiny wish come true!

He is my dad.


Happy Father's Day

Heart is where I love my Daddy.  He likes
Action figures just like me!  He likes to say, 'Perfectly
Perfect' to things I do.  I am his
Prince, and he is my
Yes-Man: instead of 'no', he says, "Go ask Mommy."

Forgetful is Daddy sometimes, but all the time he's
Adventurous.  He likes to watch sports on
TV, and yell at it quite often.  He is always
Helping me build, find, or fix my toys.  He gets
Excited and talks in character at his turn to
Read me picture books.  He's almost as cool as
'Super-heroes who fight villains!

Do-do bird, he likes to call me, and tells me, 'An
Apple a day keeps the doctor away'.  He's like my
Yo-yo because I've got him wrapped around my finger.



I feed kiddos meals; you give them candy.
You put toys away; I keep them 'handy'.

I look for discounts; you buy the whole store,
You take the kids out, I like it indoors.

I cook from scratch; you boil spaghetti,
You like to de-clutter; I find it petty.

I kiss the boo-boos; you play the boardgames,
You break up the fights; I put out the flames.

I do things my way; you do not imitate.
You do it differently, but I still dictate. 

I say, 'Go ask Daddy'; you say, 'Go ask your mom'.
Together as a team, we are 'Da Bomb'.

Happy Father's Day!

Dear Daughter, Dear Son, and Dear Wife

P.S.  DD wrote the first poem.  She wrote a metaphor poem for me for Mother's Day, and wanted to do the same for Daddy on Father's Day.  Those are her exact words and colors she wrote on paper.  DS worked on the second poem.  Since he is learning letters and sounds, I thought an acrostic poem would be good for him to try.  He came up with all the first words of the line with some help from DD and me; I linked the words together to make the poem.   And obviously, I wrote the last poem.  Silly, but every bit true in this family.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Field of Dreams

Dear Field of Dreams,

You have been an enigma to me since your theatrical release in 1989.  It has taken me more than twenty years to find the magic that you embody.

The first time I watched Field of Dreams was the night of Junior Prom.  Our group of friends planned to see a midnight movie after the prom.  I did not voice an opinion as to the choice of movie.  It didn’t matter to me what we watched, as I was still basking in the delight of having been asked to the prom by a dreamy, blond-haired blue-eye boy one year my junior.  I was already in Heaven that night even before the movie took us to Iowa.

Truth be told, I didn’t 'get' the movie, that night, nor for the next twenty years.  I knew nothing about baseball.  It wasn’t in my ‘newly-American’ blood.  But when that giddy girl in the dark movie theater stole a glance at her prom date during the movie, I knew I was missing out on something tremendous.  His gorgeous blue eyes were surrounded by pink and wallowing behind a pool of tears.  At age fifteen, he felt something from that movie that was completely out of my realm.  

It’s about fathers and sons--Dear Husband would explain to me a decade later, when we watched it again on TV.  The movie is symbolic of an unspoken bond--the love between fathers and sons--represented by this great American sport.  This very movie struck a sensitive chord with male audiences as it successfully and unquestionably made grown men weep.  

Perhaps I’m a very literal person.  I didn’t understand the fantastical themes of the movie.  Kevin Costner’s bewildered expression that lasted the entire movie also did not help with my comprehension of the existent emotional thought process going on inside a man’s head.  The voices, the ghosts of baseball players, and the pain-easing thoughts were all toying with my logical and analytical mind.

To help counter my naivete, DH took me to baseball games.  And I tried-- really tried--to get into the games.  I knew the basics of the rules, and watched the pitches and the hits and the fouls.  But in the end, the highlights of these baseball games for me were basically eating nachos and hot dogs and singing during the seventh inning stretch.  After which I was ready to go home.  

I chalked it up to a Mars-verses-Venus thing and gave up on trying to understand it.  

Fast forward another decade.  This past weekend, Dear Daughter had a violin performance in Dubuque, Iowa.  Again, DH suggested that we visit the Field of Dreams baseball field that is close by in Dyersville, Iowa, just as he did over a decade ago the last time we visited the area.  As you can imagine how I felt about baseball, my reaction the first time was, ‘meh’, so we didn’t go.  This time, with two kids in tow, I reconsidered, for their sake.  As you know, life isn’t all about me anymore.  (Yes, my poor DH, indeed).  So we packed up Dear Son’s Spider-Man baseball bat and ball, brought the kiddos’ caps, and outfitted DS in his White Sox T-shirt and DH in his Cubs T-shirt.  We were gonna go hit some balls over in 'Heaven'.

In the hotel room before we went, DH quietly shared with me a tender thought.  He said he was sad that he couldn't share that All-American father-and-son baseball tradition with DS.  He described to me how fathers break in a new baseball glove with their sons by oiling the mitt, putting a baseball inside it, tying it and placing it under the sun and subsequently in a cool dark place.  I asked why he wouldn't be able to share that with DS, and he simply replied that since he never had those experiences with his father before, he would just be emulating some directions rather than following a meaningful tradition.  Oh.  I assured him that he was, in his own ways, passing on many other valuable cultural traditions to DS that he does know well.  We wrapped up the conversation and headed out.  But in my head I marveled at the depth of thought that DH had on baseball and his beloved son. 

As you can imagine, I was not jumping up and down to go see a baseball field.  It was a scorching, hot day, and I had to do my thing with sunscreen on the kiddos, much to the dismay of my sensory processing disorder.  Off they went onto the field, and I followed with my camera phone as soon as I finished slathering sunscreen on myself.  Interestingly, I found myself strangely enthusiastic about the field as soon as I stepped onto it.

One of the things DH immediately noticed was that the corn fields looked drastically different than in the movie.  It turns out that now is the season of baby corn stalks, not the fully grown, seven-feet-tall ones.  That made things a lot different, because DH wanted to walk into the cornfield (you’d understand if you saw the movie).  But, sadly, all we saw were corn stalks that didn't even quite reach our knees.

I went onto the field and walked straight to the back to take pictures of the baby corn plants.  I thought it was kind of funny and wanted to capture that ‘not-quite-the-experience’ photo of the cornfield.  Well, with no real perspective, the short corn photos came out uninteresting and didn’t mean much.  So I turned around and to snap pictures of the field itself.  

That was when I saw that the kiddos had begun to hit balls with Daddy.  DS ran to first base, and DD was up to bat.  I immediately felt a surge of excitement as I waved DS to second base after DD hit the ball.  It dawned on me that this was his very first time running the bases of a real baseball field.  Something inside me kicked in and I got really pumped up.  DH batted, and I followed.  We took turns and ran the bases.  Me, in my flip flops, getting sand and dirt into my toes, and I didn’t care.  I watched DH and the kiddos and felt--completely happy.  

The picture above captured it all.  DD was pitching in her all-serious, by-the-books, and methodical way.  DH was batting not-so-seriously with a Spider-Man bat.  And DS was on first base with his typical stance--head cocked to the side, pigeon-toed, and having very little clue as to what was going on.  It was the perfect picture.  And I was soaking all of this in: the bright sunshine, the blue skies, the green grass, the leisurely ambiance, the smiles on the people I loved, and the field that made all this possible.  It felt magical.  

We didn't get to walk through the cornfields.  I didn't hear any voices.  There were no home runs.  But I felt something I never felt about a baseball field before.  I felt that I was on the Field of My Dreams.  I was reaping the fruit of that teenage girl in me who once dreamed to find a soul mate, a life partner, and the love of her life.  He was there on that field.  I was collecting the prizes on a treasure hunt by the once child-less me, now with two precious miracles of my own.  And they were on that field.

It was a feeling of completeness.

In the end, I may never feel that love for baseball as some men do.  DH may never feel that father-and-son bonding via baseball.  But we connected with this baseball field in our own ways as parents, and we created memories for our chidlren.  Except next time, we will make sure we time it so that we'd be walking into seven-feet-tall cornstalks.

So, Field of Dreams, what was it that made me feel your magic twenty-something years later?  Perhaps it was the Spider-Man bat and ball.  Or perhaps it is the culmination of twenty some-odd years of life experience, gaining some of what I didn't have before (knowledge and insight), and losing some of what was holding me back (innocence and inexperience).  Or perhaps because it was Iowa, and we were indeed in Heaven.


Memories Captured Linkup here.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dear Kiddo Spiels

Dear Kiddo Spiels,

You are the words that reverberate in the air around me.  On a daily basis, I invariably get bombarded with your mantras, questions, and demands.

I tell the kiddos that I have eyes on the back of my head.  They are often puzzled by that statement because, one, they don't see any eyes on the back of my head, and two, they really don't understand why I can finished their sentences with precision and know their every thought and move.  Let's face it: I'm a mom.  Moms know their kids like the back of their hands.  Every hair, line, and vein on the back of my hand know my kids' spiels.  And they go something like this... (the following are the Top Ten most often said quotes of my precious two.)

10.  "I'm bored."  Variation: "I have nothing to do."  To which my reaction is a blatant eye roll, albeit inside my head.  Puh-lease!  I have so many things on my to-do list that those two words are no longer a part of my vocabulary.  I seriously want to tell the kiddos that their very existence is what stole those foreign words from me.  Wanna trade places with me?  #youcandomychores

9.  "I'm thirsty."  And it's okay to be thirsty, but this one always comes at the most inopportune times.  Like when we are in a public restroom.  Um, really?  Or during the one outing that I did not pack a water bottle or juice box.  Mommy Fail.  #thinkwetthoughts

8.  If they're not thirsty, then what are they?  "I'm hungry."  Variation: "I'm starving," "I'm famished," and "I want a snack."  Again, it's okay to be hungry, but it's not okay when I hear this as I am running around in the kitchen like a chicken with her head cut off in the middle of making the dinner we're about to eat in five minutes.  Or half an hour just after our most recent meal.  Or when the kiddos just emptied their travel snack bag.  Deep breath in; out through the nose.  #eatmoreatthenextmeal

7.  "What's for dinner?" is one of DD's favorite questions, asked in the most nonchalant, sing-song-y, innocent, and simple way.  To which I usually answer through gritted teeth because it feels like I must run a marathon just to have that not-so-effortless answer.  The amount of work that takes place--the process from an abstract thought to concrete dishes on the table--in order for that meal to happen is monumental compared to that three-word question.  #YOUtellmewhatsfordinner

6.  "Five more minutes!"  Variations: "Later" and "I will."  These words always follow any of my announcements that begin with "It's time to..."   #ishouldusethatonetoo

5. "Are we there yet?"  Variation: "How much longer?"  Whether it's a 12-hour drive or a 12-minute ride.  Enough said.  #alwaysoncetoomany

4.  "Do I have to?"  Of course, whenever the kiddos are on the receiving end of a conversation, this is their most popular answer.  From my requests to pick up toys, do homework, or go to bed. #whatdidijustsay

3.  "Can I HEEELLLPPPPP?"  These seem to be such kind words, but they never show up when I'm scrubbing the toilet, doing the laundry, or mopping the floor.  Whenever the kiddos hear the Kitchenaid mixer whirl, they make a mad dash into the kitchen and expect to have a hand at my baking project.  #noidoNOTneedanyhelprightnow

2.  "Where's _____?"  Variation: "I can't find my _____" and "Have you seen my _____?"  Did you not hear the pronoun you used?  What was that?  "My?"  Yeah, yours.  DD can be reasonable and attempt to find her own things, but for DS, it's time for a lockdown.  I must drop what I'm doing and search for that Toy-of-the-Hour before all hell breaks loose.  A mere two hours later, said toy has already been abandoned and I just lost my precious 20 minutes searching high and low like a madwoman.  #youhavegottobekiddingme

1.  "I'm not tired."  Your classic example of narcolepsy.  Mommy Win.  #yesdearibelieveyou

Whenever one of these Kiddos Spiels vibrate through the air and enter my ears, I experience an intense internal struggle between Incredibly-Selfish Me and Ever-So-Patient Me.  They battle it out with a brutal tug-of-war.  Depending on time of day and circumstances, one contestant prevails.  I am only human.  And it can always be worse.  On the grand scheme of things, these Spiels represent the Colors in my Mommy Life.

So, Kiddos Spiels, you undoubtedly paint rainbows in my mundane days.  Since I know exactly when to anticipate each of you, I shall never be blindsided.  Until, of course, a whole new set of Spiels arrive in a few years and I have to reexamine the old and wrinkly back of my hand.  At which time I will surely miss my younger-looking hand, and all of you.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dear Sundress

Dear Sundress,

You are my favorite way to welcome the summer.  Goodbye to the limbs-constricting long-sleeves and pants; it's time to air out the body and say hello to the warmth of this season! 

The sundress in the picture above is my newest clothing purchase.  Your reaction upon seeing that sundress will fall into either one of the following categories: #1. "Oh, nice sundress!' (whether you really think that or not) or #2. "I know exactly where you got that from, and I have one, too!"  Let me explain. 

If you are a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), then you know what our wardrobe consist of: anything stretchy, washable, easy on/off, and resemble (the comfort of) pajamas.  Since I have been out of the workforce for almost a decade now, my closet has dwindled to jeans, sweatpants, yoga capris, and workout shorts.  My dresser is filled with long-sleeve and short-sleeve tees, all cottony, no buttons.  Let's face it: if I'm gonna get stained (and you bet SAHMs get stained everyday), I might as well stain old tees that are already decorated with splotches and splatters.  Needless to say, my wardrobe is quite on the boring side.

Since having children, the experience of 'clothes shopping' has become exclusively 'for others', or more specifically, for the kiddos.  Children grow like weeds, and they need new clothes every season of the year.  They have winter wear and gear needs, summer swimwear needs, and everything in between.  They have needs for shoes for every season just like grownups, but they need new ones all the time.  In order to afford all this clothing (not to mention accessories) for the kiddos, Dear Husband and I practically do not shop for ourselves anymore.  Much of our 'new' clothes come in the form of gifts or some 80% off sale rack.  (Is it pathetic when I tell Dear Daughter that I wear shoes that are older than she?  Or that DH and I still have and wear clothes from our days in college?)

The stores at which DH and I shop have changed over the years.  On a graph, the amount of money we've spent on clothing is appearing to be inversely proportional to the progression of years since college.  We went from shopping at clothing retail stores such as The Gap and Banana Republic, to all-in-one retail stores such as Target and Kohl's, and now finally at wholesale stores, namely Costco.  While shopping for necessities, if something on the Costco clothing tables (no clothing racks available, sorry for the ghetto-ness) catches my eye and the price is right, I grab it.  DH will toss out a request for some casual shorts, and he'll probably get some at the next Costco shopping trip.

At my Costco shopping trip last week, I spotted a rack (yes, a rack, of special collection of clothes that are seasonal and not replenished) of summer dresses.  They caught my eye because they are floral sundresses, by designer Calvin Klein, for a whopping $16.99!  They are knee length tank cotton dresses with an empire bodice, and came in four different prints/colors.  I immediately liked two of them, but not knowing how they'd fit, I chose one and just hoped for the best. (You Costco shoppers know that its fitting rooms are your own homes, with the buy-to-try and return-and-rebuy policy.)

At home, I tried it on, and lo and behold, it was a perfect fit.  I liked it so much that I began to fret.  I should have bought the second one; they have so few in my size that they will be sold out very soon!  I immediately began planning my second trip back to Costco to snatch another Calvin Klein sundress for $16.99 on the seasonal rack before they sold out.  Fortunately, the Sundress Gods were looking out for me, and I successfully purchased TWO new sundresses for myself this summer.

This past weekend, I had planned on wearing this sundress to my BFFs' daughter's birthday party.  It was not warm enough that day for a sundress, but my vanity prevailed and I threw on a sweater over it.  I was determined.  It took no time for BFF to notice my dress, and her immediate look told me that she belonged in Category Reaction #2.  I knew it!  (All this happened within seconds with no word exchange.)  I had a feeling that she also grabbed it while shopping at Costco, the exact same way and under the exact same circumstances as I did!  See, there is a reason why she's my BFF.

But just look at the dress.  It's stretchy, comfortable, sundress-y, airy, washable, no buttons, and comes in an elegant floral print.  Emphasis on the 'elegant floral print' because that is a huge camouflage for stains and spatters!  It's Calvin Klein, and did I mention it's only $16.99?  It's only $16.99!  It's a win-win all the way.  If you're wondering, the other one I got is a nice peachy-y orange-ish color, in a free style print of swirly blocks. 

It wasn't until last year that I realized I had stopped wearing dresses.  Dear Daughter noticed and asked me why I never wear them.  I have a few long summer dresses in the closet gathering dust.  Out of necessity for conforming to SAHM Uniforms, I totally forgot about them.  Then again, if you realize that they are over a decade old, the print is also a wee bit out of style.  So I cannot even begin to express how these two new sundresses will bring out my Summer Happy in the next few months.  These casual sundresses makes me feel girly and special, something that we grungy old SAHMs need every once in a while.  Every now and then, we want to be wide-eyed little ballerinas tip toeing across the stage, knowing all eyes are on us while we twinkle in the spotlight and toss shiny glitter in the air around us...

And then come back to reality when we get a big spaghetti sauce stain on said sundress. 

So, new Sundresses, am I ever glad to have you this summer.  I promise to keep you as much away from grease spots and ink stains as possible.  Thank you for taking the boring out of my wardrobe!  And I expect a lot of knowing glances from people who fall into Category Reaction #2, but I won't mind.  It will just represent a comradery of My Kind, a sort of Badge of Honor.  And we will wear you, our special SAHM Uniform, with pride. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

Dear #PhotoADayMay

Dear #PhotoADayMay,

You had me at Instagram.

My bloggy friend Kim@Amommaly first blogged about about the photo prompts over at Fat Mum Slim.  Then I informed her on the very first day that Instagram was available on the Android market.  We both got an account and the rest is history. 

#PhotoADay is the photo a day challenge hosted by Fat Mum Slim, an Australian blogger.  Anyone who wants to participate just uses the hashtag to mark the prompt-related pictures on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or personal blogs.  Then anyone or friends can see different photographic interpretations of each prompt.  The best part is when friends participate and you can see each other's photos.  Instagram conveniently posts pictures onto Facebook and Twitter, and it is easy to add a little blurb about the pictures. 

The #photoadayMay prompts were:

And my corresponding photos are in the gridded pictures above, going from left to right, top to bottom. 

Here are some of my favorite ones; I'll include my blurbs that you cannot see here.
  • Day 4, fun!: Making Words with our new magnetic letters set.  (We've been making words and leaving messages.)
  • Day 9, something I do everyday: Coffee, my Daily Dose of Happy.  (In fact, coffee can probably be used for more than half of this list.)
  • Day 10, a favorite word: 'Dear'.  (A picture that inspired the new banner for this blog!)
  • Day 11, kitchen: my cookie cutters.  (I got a few comments about me being organized; that's called 'deliberate placement' and not 'spontaneous photography'.)
  • Day 12, something that makes me happy: watching my kids 'go!' on wheels.  (But running behind them and trying to snap a picture was not so easy.) 
  • Day 13, mum: my niece's new sibling is in there!  (Wherein I announce my new status as Auntie again.)  
  • Day 20, something I can't live without: that thing on my lap.  (That was Dear Husband's immediately suggestion when I told him the prompt that day; I hate it when he's right.)
  • Day 21, where I stand: in the SHADE, of course!
  • Day 23, technology: thumb at work (wherein I can turn on the ceiling fan without having to move one inch from my bed with 'that thing on my lap' still in its place; win-win.)
  • Day 30, my personality: "sweet and sour" says The Hubs (that's short for 'Hubster'; I had to explain that to my own DH, who wondered why he was plural.)

The only things I do every single day are: shower, brush my teeth, and feed my kids.  That I followed a chart and did something else every single day was kind of a miracle.  But everyday, I actually looked forward to completing each prompt.  I tried to think of creative ways to photograph the prompt.  Some were more of a challenge than others, and some prompts took about 20 takes to get a satisfactory final product.

I only had a few friends who did #photoadayMay with me.  If you are interested, hop on board and share your pictures for the June photo challenge!  It is a great deal more fun when you can see friends' photos, too!  Kim (@Amommaly on Instagram) takes amazing photos and I adore her photo collection.  Won't you join us?

So, #photoadayMay, it's been quite a ride.  I'm hooked.  I think I'm in for another month for Fat Mum Slim's photo challenge.  There is also another photo prompt challenge at Chookooloonks that I've got my eyes on.  It starts on June 4 with the hashtag #instacamp.   We'll see how that goes.  Alas, goodbye, #photoadayMay, and Hello! #photoadayJune!

Happy Snapping!


P.S.  As these are prompt-related posts, I will place all subsequent photo challenge posts over a at Promptly I Write, which is only fair.  So hop on over if you are not on Instagram and you'd like to see my #photoadayMay photos and blurbs in detail and my #photoadayJune pics next month!