Posted in Christian songs/ faith, Personal growth, Raising kids

Making meaning of this not-so-glamorous life of motherhood

Mommy life is full of growing pains along with your kids and it is NOT glamorous. It entails sorting piles of dirty laundry, cooking, cleaning after crumbs, getting annoyed by the sound of your own voice as you constantly tell the kids to brush their teeth, put on their shoes, stop jumping, etc.

Mother rubber duck leading several rubber ducklings
Getty Image from TIME Magazine website

One time my friend picked off dried rice pieces from my shirt at a bible study meeting. Last week I got annoyed with Ellis for losing the new nail polish I got from Target. I assumed she misplaced it after tinkering around with it on the drive home. Well, I didn’t expect to find it there but it was chilling out nicely in the fridge next to the carton of milk. As my kids would say in these situations: “doy- yoy- yoy-yoing.”

I thought it’s be fun to list some things I hear most often. Maybe you can relate and we moms can give ourselves a big hug: you’re not alone.

In the ellipses you fill in whatever your kids say most often. Each family dynamic is different and has a lot to do with kid’s and mom’s temperaments.

My list:

  • Could you..?
  • Can I…?
  • I need…
  • I want…
  • I wish you could…
  • I wish we could…
  • Do we have to…?
  • I don’t want to…(followed with huffing and puffing)
  • You always want us to…
  • You should’ve…
  • I’m hungry. What do we have…? (I prepare a lot of meals because of Ellis’ medication for weight gain issues)

I pray that today we moms will have enough patience and grace to pick the right battles with our little peeps. I so need to be encouraged that each day makes a difference in our lives and that it’s not wasted time. It is a beautiful thing that kids love us back with those trusting eyes and will forgive so easily even when we are feeling the effects of hanger and exhaustion.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Do Everything” lyrics speak to me on those days when I’m still in my pj’s and cooking the 5th meal of the day.

Do Everything

Your picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time today
Matching up socks
Sweeping up lost cheerios that got away

You put a baby on your hip
Color on your lips and head out the door

While I may not know you
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long

As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause he made you
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Another day and praying us moms glorify God in raising our kids and loving them for who they are.

A child can teach an adult three things. To be happy for no reason. To always be curious. To fight tirelessly for something...Paulo Coelho
Kaleidoscope Behavioral Health
Posted in Raising kids

Kids say funny things: Part 3. A new fish tank

The fish tank saga started a few months ago when we mail ordered an African-clawed frog as part of our science project. Since then, we’ve raised a tadpole into a frog, lost that tadpole turned frog and its frog buddy we ordered; and gained 3 neon tetra fish, 5 snails, and 1 betta fish. These fish buddies were housed in either a 3.5 gallon tank or a goldfish bowl.

One of our frogs named Ribbit. He’s in frog heaven now.

It didn’t matter that these fish were small. The amount of waste they produced was mind-boggling. We learned that the black long floating things in the water were snail poop.

When I mentioned maybe getting a larger fish tank, kids got fixated on the idea. The whole let’s-butter-up mommy with our art of persuasion, cuteness, spontaneous hugs and flattery, and promising to do lots of homework (I saw right through this one). I tried to ignore it, but they reminded me everyday that their life was incomplete without a larger tank and more fish pets.

I relented and got the starter set from PetSmart. The salespeople there recognize us and we don’t even own a big pet.

After the set up, Ellis sat down in front of it and said she could sit there all day watching the fish.

Ellis: “When I meditate, I’m going to sit right next to the fish tank.”

Me: “Meditate?”

Ellis: “Yes, I sit down and close my eyes. Fishes are peaceful.” Then, she looks suspiciously at me and asks, “Wait, why are you asking me? Are you going to put this on your blog??”

Me: “May-beee? You say lots of funny things!”

Ellis: “Don’t do it!I don’t want it!”

Elliot: Big brother jumps into the conversation. “Why not Ellis? You say cute things and people like it,” he says trying to convince her to say yes.

Ellis: “Oh fine. You can put it on your blog, but don’t say I said it.”

One of the many things that drives my family crazy is that I don’t read instructions. I try to figure it out myself…this leads to lots of troubleshooting later. The new tank filter made some funky sounds and I was ready to call PetSmart to ask them about this when my neighbor, who owns the same tank, adjusted it to make a waterfall sound. I did not put water in the filter itself. Duh?!

Before bed, Ellis stands in front of the tank again and says, “I think that sound will help me fall asleep.”

10 gallon full of happiness: tetras, snails, catfish, and live plant that supposed to grow like crazy

Me: “That would be nice because you never want to go to sleep.”

Ellis: “I think it will help me go to sleep right away and you (pointing to me and then her back) massaging my back. Okay?”

It didn’t sound like a question but more an expectation. She may have realized how demanding that sounded, because she followed it up with a big smile, lifting her chin up to and moving her head side to side with both hands clasped in front of her chest.

Posted in Faith journey, Raising kids

Abdominal migraine on our way to Legoland

On our latest vacation, Ellis ended up getting hospitalized for abdominal migraine again. This happened the first day of our long-awaited trekk to Legoland, San Diego.

Fortunately our plan involved an overnight stay at my parent’s house, because at 1 a.m. I was frantically googling to find a new children’s hospital that had extensive experience working with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome kids. Throughout the day, we tried multiple home remedies but nothing worked: Motrin, prescribed anti-nausea medication, Pedialyte, tummy massage, and many piggy back rides to distract from the pain. It was time to go to the hospital when her breathing sped up and she couldn’t be consoled.

Car rides to the emergency room is especially horrendous in the middle of the night, and this night was no different. I couldn’t believe we were in this situation again, and all kinds of scary thoughts passed through my mind. Well-meaning friends and family tell me not to think of death, but it’s a constant worry for us.

Almost every night I dream of hospital corridors, waiting for doctors, feeding tubes, shots, patients in gurneys, operation rooms, me in her place; my fears project through these nightmares. Doctors told me it’s common for parents with heart children to struggle emotionally and have symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In these situations, you brace yourself for the worst and you stil continue to pray and pray for the best outcome.

At 2 a.m. we arrived at CHOC, the Children’s Hospital in Orange County. Before the car even stopped, my car door was already half open and my body ready to jump out. I walked up to the registration window with Ellis, holding a green barf bag, in my arms. I explained how she has a single ventricle, been vomiting continuously, and that she is breathing rapidly. Thankfully, the admitting nurses checked Ellis’ vitals right away and took her into the examination room. If we had to wait, I would’ve had a fit and made a scene although you could tell immediately looking at her that this was urgent. I’ve learned that making a lot of fuss speeds up the process…most of the time.

Our family tries to take these life interruptions in stride, but it’s difficult to accept when they happen. Guilt consumes me: maybe I could’ve done something to prevent her from getting sick; how is Elliot going to deal with this again?; and I feel the weight of Chris’ responsibility in carrying us through these emergencies.

After an initial check up and hours of waiting for test results in the examination room, the attending doctor said she’ll get admitted to treat dehydration and monitor her condition.

Moved up to patient floor from emergency room. Knocked out from pain medication.

With lots of desperate prayer and encouragement from close friends who reminded me to avoid the “what if’s,” I reluctantly let go and decided to let God. He doesn’t take the situation away but He pulls us through. I have to remember that He has good plans for me, even though I don’t understand. I wish I could say that I trusted God from the beginning without all the kicking and screaming, but sadly it wasn’t so.

What I’m going to write next is bizarre. But some of my happiest memories include these hospital stays. It’s a different kind of existence where outside worries stay outside and it brings life’s priorities into perspective. Isolation rooms really make you think and bring you in closer relationship with your child. The bonding is special and I realize that God has given me an important job to take care of this little person.

I can only attribute it to God’s peace, the only kind of peace that passeth understanding (like the lyrics I used to sing in Sunday school).

The second day in the hospital fell on Mother’s Day. I forgot all about it until the nurses reminded me. That wasn’t the reason why I cried. My heart was breaking for Elliot who tries to act happy when he is scared or sad. He knows that we are stressed so he overcompensates with good behavior and kindness. Then, I look over and see Ellis slumped over in bed and I cry for her too. Ugh, so many emotions.

Elliot and I spent some quality time together when he visited with Chris the next morning. We took walks outside holding hands, talking about how he slept little because of daddy’s snoring, enjoying the fresh air together, searching for Starbucks, and of course, making a quick stop at the gift shop.

Midday our wonderful nurse Andrea informed us that we will be discharged the next day. We were in much better spirit with family who visited us, family waiting for us to come home, watching “Raven’s Home” on marathon, and freely taking Ellis on wagon rides around the hospital.

CHOC lobby

In the middle of washing her up before bed, she looks up and says, “Mommy, thank you. I know you’re trying your best to take care of me.” Her comment was unexpected and it took me aback. My goodness, she has matured so much. That’s an affirmation I will never forget.

Ellis was discharged the next afternoon. Diagnosis was abdominal migraine again. It’s hard to define it and it’s a cause that resulted after other possible causes were eliminated. She went through days of testing last December to find out what causes these bouts of cyclical vomiting and intense abdominal pain.

There’s not much you can do to control it except to avoid triggers. I asked the doctor what to do if this happens again, and the answer was a bit disheartening: bring her to the e.r. This means that we need to be in driving distance of a hospital wherever we go and our hope of camping outdoors for the first time this summer is definitely a bad idea. Oh well.

We adjust and make the best of our situation. It means we can’t easily do what others do and much more thought goes into making simple decisions, like deciding if we can go somewhere or do something out of our routine.

Although our vacation plans got off to a rocky start, we still got to do lots of fun activities. We also spent more time with family than expected and shared some wonderful conversations and meals together. We still made it to Legoland for the first time and revisited our favorite San Diego Zoo.

Lucked out and saw a baby giraffe

What a trekk! What memories! I assume our next vacation will be a staycation.

Posted in Personal growth, Raising kids

Frenzied day: juggling kids and their needs on a dentist outing

Wednesday started with a frenzy. I was taking both kids to their dentist appointment and I barely slept the night before: too much coffee too late in the evening. 

As I grabbed the last minute things to take with me, I realized that Ellis’ antibiotic was still in powder form.  She needs to take it 30-60 minutes prior to her dental cleaning to prevent bacteria from infecting her heart. Keeping track of when to give her the medicine within the recommended time frame, in addition to all her morning ones, usually stresses me out. It was no different this morning.

When Chris picked up the medicine on Tuesday, we assumed the pharmacist reconstituted it already. I couldn’t even get mad because the pharmacist probably thought he was doing us a favor: longer shelf-life and convenience to mix it when we needed it.   

I called Chris for help. Ringing, then voicemail. He was probably in a meeting. So I stashed the powder bottle in my bag and decided the best thing would be to reschedule Ellis’ appointment; only Elliot would have his check-up. Ugh, whatever, I’ll figure it out on the drive there. I told Ellis the situation expecting her to be delighted but her response was unexpected.

Ohhhh, the drama that ensued: Ellis moping because she needed professional help to check for loose teeth. The first baby tooth that falls out will magically turn her into a big girl. Elliot, hearing the commotion, asked with a grin if he could skip his appointment too. Sorry dude, you’re still going in. And the barrage of questions demanded answers that I wasn’t motivated to give: “How come she gets to….?” “Why do I have to…?” 

Five minutes behind schedule and I’m running out of time to tend to my OCD counting before leaving the house.

We all had different needs begging for attention that morning.

I asked myself in exasperation: can’t these kids just give me one silent minute to count in peace? I’m not asking for too much. I just need to check the stove like 3-5 times until I’m reassured that it’s turned off. And if the kids don’t need my immediate attention, I can spend a few seconds to check more thoroughly by placing my hand on top of the burner. (I know it hasn’t even been turned on and it’s not hot at all, but I still feel the need to check). This behavior is bizarre, irrational and compulsive.

It was a wild morning. Thankfully, the antibiotics situation resolved. Chris called back and walked me through the steps to reconstitute the powder at the dentist’s office. And to Ellis’ dismay the dentist did not detect any wiggly tooth. 

In the meantime, she can check herself for any sudden shakiness while keeping up with good dental hygiene. The former she does enthusiastically, but the latter with much reluctance and complaining like you wouldn’t believe.

I think God created kids to be adorable, with their small angelic faces and big smiles, to help parents to overlook the small things. There’s so much going on raising kids and living life that I’ve got to learn which battles are worth fighting. 

Photo by Caio Resende on
Posted in Raising kids

Kids say funny things #2

I’m doing something new on my blog. My first “Kids say funny things” post received many positive comments and views. It may have brought to mind conversations that readers have had with small children or recall things they said themselves as kids.

It was also fun for me to write: great memories to record parts of my kids’ childhood and their growth. This is the second post of “Kids say funny things.” My postings will be spontaneous: you can’t plan when kids will have their adult-like conversations. So stay tuned! Thanks for reading. 🙂

In the car, older brother preps his sister for dance class sounding a bit like me. They whispered as though I couldn’t hear them even though they were only in the back seat of the car. 

Elliot: Ellis, we’re almost here. Promise that you’ll do the class (dance) today. No crying and getting grouchy like last time. Don’t you want to practice for the recital?”

Ellis: “I do,” she says irritated with her brother’s nagging. I didn’t say anything except to remind them that we are one minute away from class. She takes out her annoyance by kicking the back of the driver’s seat with her foot.

Elliot: “That’s not nice. Say ‘sorry.’

Ellis: “Sorry,” she says to no one. 

Elliot: “Don’t just say ok then change your mind when we get there. Like whaa…whaa…whaa…whaa,” he says flicking his wrist back and forth with each “whaa”.

Ellis: “Ugh…I won’t. Okay?” “But you and mommy sit in class with me.”

Elliot: “We will,” he says satisfied with her response. “But remember you promised (to take the class).”

Ellis is worried that she hasn’t lost her first tooth on her 6th birthday:

Ellis: “I’m six years old now, but my tooth is not falling out.”

Mommy: “It won’t fall out right on your birthday.”

Ellis: “But I want it to.”

Mommy: “Why?”

Ellis: “Because I’ll get a gold coin under my pillow or a toyyyyy.”

Mommy: “It will fall out soon, but all your baby teeth haven’t even grown in yet.”

Ellis: “Uh huh, but this one feels itchy” she says totally ignoring my comment.

Mommy: “That’s a good sign. Maybe it will get wiggly soon.”

Ellis: “I’m wiggling it with my tongue right now,” she says mumbling.

Mommy: “What? No you’re not,” I say surprised. 

Ellis: “Yes, I am,” she says with a smirk. 

When I lean in closer to look, she says, “Ok, maybe it’s not.”

She giggles with a shrug and says, ” I’m kidding.”