Sunday, March 30, 2014

UP

What's UP?

Spring break is officially over in T minus a few hours. This is how ours went down, er, I mean, held UP.


We drove UP to Toronto, Canada and had a family destination reunion. A first visit for all (eleven) of us, and we were much excited to leave behind the mundane for a change of scenery (and currency).




First and foremost, Toronto is known for its delectable ethnic foods, especially of the Chinese variety. We Yelped the local restaurants and made our tummies super happy. The first place we went to had a beautiful wooden ceiling to go along with the Chinese cuisine. But the dim sum restaurant we went to had hanging chandeliers and giant French paintings on the walls. It was as if the decor justified hiking UP the pricing because French gold-trimmed teapots made better Chinese tea. Nevertheless, we ate UP all the food, sighed in complacence, and stared UP at the ceiling.




As the dutiful tourists that we were, we visited the CN Tower. We went UP and looked at the view of the lake and city. We walked on glass floors and shook on wobbly knees. We studied the height of all famous skyscrapers in the world and sized them all UP.




We also visited Ripley's Aquarium, which we all very much enjoyed. Visitors walked through ginormous aquariums, watching fish of all sorts swim above our heads. Look UP! There's a stingray smiling at us, and a shark showing off all his teeth.




For a week, I had the luxury to stay UP and read. I finished off two books and started on a third. What a total treat that was! I even had my coveted booze accompany me while reading--Kahlua, straight UP!


For this trip, we rented a home to accommodate the lot of us. One requirement UP on our list was free wifi. Well, let's just say that I shook my fist UP at the wifi gods in pitiful desperation because our connection was spotty at best. It's one thing to want to be disconnected while away on vacation, but it's another story when I can't access the internet when I need to. It totally left me all roiled UP. I will never look at wifi connection the same way again. I am home now and I'm whispering sweet nothings to my beloved wifi. I have missed you so!


In addition to yummy foods, we drank UP on my Taiwanese bubble milk tea and Hong Kong milk tea/coffee combo. The bubble milk tea was one of the best I've ever had, apparently a number one brand in Taiwan. The Hong Kong milk tea/coffee combo is from an award-winning cafe, known for its tea and coffee. These beverages are so good that I'd be willing to give UP a meal for each drink. They pretty much made UP for the lack of access to good coffee everyday while traveling.




Lastly, as we were so close, we visited Niagara Falls. The water was not as magnificent as I had imagined it to be, but that is because water flow is reduced by half over the winter season as compared to the summer. There were large, frozen boulders at the bottom of the fall that completely blocked the view to watch the waterfall from an underground tunnel from behind. I guess it wasn't meant to be this time. We did get to look UP at the fall, and stand UP above the fall to see its grandeur. The naturally occurring turquoise colors were beautiful. The moisture and mist at the bottom of the fall were mesmerizing. I just wish it hadn't been so cold and dreary!




Alas, spring break had to end. We had to pack UP, say goodbye, and drive home. None of us are looking forward to getting UP Monday morning and facing reality again. 




But there is one awesome thing to come back to (other than the comfort of our own home and beds): the weather is finally starting to look UP! We will be in the high 60s tomorrow, and believe it or not, all the snow in our yard has melted and I see my tulips sprouting! Woo hoo! It is AMAZING what a little warmth and sunshine can do for the soul! 


Now that spring break is over, Spring must finally be here?! 


Your time is UP, Winter! Ta-ta! Farewell! Goodbye! 


I hope you have/had a wonderful spring break, too! What did you do UP in your neck of the woods?



Friday, March 21, 2014

Little



My Little Guy just turned seven.


My quiet, no-nonsense, highly orderly and deliberate child by day, and silly, goofy, and rambunctious kid by night.


The child uses a timer when he reads. All because he has to log his reading minutes daily for school. Should I even go on? He even stops the timer if he needs to go to the bathroom in between. He doesn't believe us when we tell him he doesn't have to be that precise.


The boy needs a chill pill. Because by-the-books is how he rolls.


When he gets in a silly mood, he will spew out a string of Chinese phrases--all of the inappropriate type (learned from listening to his often-frustrated mama muttering under her breath)--in a thick, tongue-challenged American accent. We, as his parents, naturally try to hold in our laughter and act appalled. I say, You mean I send you to Chinese school and all the Chinese you speak are these? DS, not missing one single beat, recites numbers from one to ten, in Chinese, in the most perfect intonation one has ever heard.


That goof.


They say birth order makes a difference. The youngest of the family comes with a list of behavioral generalizations. As much as we try to stay away from conforming to birth order stereotypes, I still have a hard time letting go of the fact that he's small. Not just the youngest small, but little. DD was always on the high end of the chart for weight and height. DS turned out to be on the low end. He's perfectly healthy; he just has a small frame and stature. He's actually saved us a lot of money since he outgrows his clothes at a much slower pace than DD did.


To me, he always looks younger than he is. He's shorter than most kids in his class. He can wear his shoes forever before needing bigger ones. Even the Tooth Fairy hasn't paid a visit yet--not even once! How can having all his baby teeth in an ear-to-ear grin not make him look little?


DD is tall for her age, and seeing her among her peers makes me feel less concerned about others picking on her. DS, on the other hand, is usually "looking up" at his friends. Being the worrier that I am, I wonder if he needs to work harder to be noticed. Or if he must do more than others to stand out in a crowd.


A parent worries. Whether the worries are warranted or not.


You might remember that we ran out of breath preparing for DD's last birthday morning surprise. Well, I wanted nothing to do with latex and hyperventilation anymore, so for DS's surprise, we strung lights all around his room for an evening surprise. As he stomped upstairs in objection of violin practice, he opened his door to find his room showered with glowing lights. His face turned from utter spite to boyish wonder, all in a matter of split seconds.


We got ya, bud!






My Little Guy is working his rank up in Tae Kwon Do. For his birthday, DH and I decided to get him a belt display rack. We all look forward to filling up this rack with colored belts as we and he gain more confidence throughout this learning process. I need visuals, you know, for knowing that my little one will not be picked on.


This rack is as much for me as it is for him.






Six was the year he finally found comfort in his own bed. It was the year he had the maturity to be introspective about his difficulties during transitions and actively attempted to improve in that area. At six, his smile was an even blend of a contemplative reserve, a trusting gaze, and a radiating beam. I look forward to see what Seven will bring.


If nothing else, hopefully a visit from the Tooth Fairy, at the very least.


Today, I picked him up from school and he unabashedly proclaimed to me in the school parking lot, as if stating an absolute, unmistakeable truth, "Mama, I love you like crazy."






My heart melted into slobbery goo. But not before I said, "You know I'm totally going to blog that, right?"


Happy Seven, my Little Guy!



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Be


Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

I was a little girl who rode the waves of an ocean, drifting, not knowing where I'd end up, but not fighting where the currents took me. I washed ashore here, there. I weathered storms and bathed in calm. And in order to survive, I placed my trust in the palms of grownups all around me.

Some of those palms took my confidence and forgot they even had it. Some were not able to do much with it. But some took it and nurtured that trust. I learned how to be more selective later in life, but I never withheld the pleasure of sharing a little of me with the people that came into my life.

I was a crazy child who put a staple in her thumb because I wondered how it would feel to have a thin, sharp piece of metal pierce my skin. As the blood came gushing out, I was stunned by the searing pain and learned that a staple does not belong in the flesh. I played inside a clothe dryer often because it was strangely comforting; I felt like I was being cradled inside the dark, confining rotating drum with a slow, pendulum-like swing.




Then I went to school. There, I learned about the world in a safer manner (without bleeding, the risk of electrical shock, or perpetuating an emotional deficit), and consistency became my new cradle. I could count on seeing my teacher's smile everyday. I could engage with my peers. I looked forward to the challenges of grades and competition.

I loved and respected my teachers, and I was always eager to please them. And the first time I ever wanted to be something ("when I grow up") was in my kindergarten classroom, as I watched my teacher gesture, teach, and lead the children with ease and poise. I thought, One day, that's what I will do, too.




As I grew older, the World told me to be many different things. A journalist, one voice said. A doctor, another whispered. It's a respectable profession and you'd make a good living. The World told me to go to school and get degrees; get married and have children; buy a house and have a job. I did all of these things, and this is what I found out:

I learned that I wasn't cut out for medical school, but being a pediatrician wasn't the only way to work with children. I learned that I have much love for the humanities--a philosophy that brings people together through culture and the arts. I learned that children are kindred spirits and that working with them would teach me how to be a better person and parent. I learned that having my own children solidified how I feel about each and every child being a precious miracle, and that parenting and teaching unquestionably go hand in hand.

I remember who I was before the World told me what to be. I was a girl searching for anchors, and I found them in my teachers, who always provided a safe physical and emotional space for me to grow and reach. They were the grownups that--even in the short span of nine months at a time--treasured me and fulfilled my needs. I was a girl that wanted to parent the way she wasn't parented. I wanted to be a mother and have children of my own to love absolutely and unconditionally; to raise to be kind human beings; and to hopefully send out into the world to be their own.

Now, I  open my palm to children and take their Gifts in confidence.

Now, it's not  "who I want to be."

Now, I am.