Posted in Hospital visits, Raising kids

In the e.r. again with stomach issues

Today was Ellis’ third trip to the e.r. in one month. Speechless. Familiar frantic drive, packing overnight hospital bag, phone call to Chris to hurry home to babysit Elliot.

I hope this time they find the root cause of the severe stomach cramps and dry heaving. She shakes while her body is hunched over her throw-up bag. No answers. The symptoms come fast and severe: they immobilize our family into basket cases.

Waiting for test and imaging results in the e.r. Looks like another hospital stay.

I pray that I don’t fall apart. I’m holding up, but this is a lot of mental, emotional, and physical strain to take: 3rd e.r. visit in one month. If we stay, 3rd hospitalization.

You know it’s weird when lab people and nurses recognize you. I just saw the front desk lady from Standord heart center in the e.r. this afternoon: her son was sick. Small world.

My heart goes out for Elliot. He’s just doing his thing and he gets thrown into these overwhelming days: mommy crying, running around packing overnight bag, Ellis throwing up, me calling people for help.

He’s familiar with the emergency drill but today we couldn’t follow through with our afternoon plans and picking up Chik fil A. With tears in his eyes he said, “Ellis is getting kind of annoying.” But just yesterday he held her blankie while she was throwing up. Complex relationship. We’re figuring it out.

Thanks Chris for holding down the fort at home! Doctor is calling the children’s floor to get us admitted.

Today is one wild december day.

Ninja pose this morning
In the er this afternoon
No definite reason for dry heaving
Posted in Container Gardening, Raising kids, Uncategorized

Taking gardening troubles into our own hands

We’re taking gardening to a new level this time around!

First of all, none of our plants have died since we planted them this summer. Second, we’ve pruned, remedied some overcrowding issues in our tomato pot, added crushed egg shells for extra nutrition, and added support sticks to help long stems. Third, we studied our plants by checking their leaves, researched online about how to make our plants thrive, and generally invested more time and interest in caring for our green friends.

And drum roll please…

We hand pollinated our pumpkin plant!! I didn’t even know this was possible. Our babysitter who has gardened extensively looked at our plants and told me our pumpkin plant only had males. She didn’t see any bulbs on the stems, which would be the female flower. Facts learned: first blooming flower is a male; a little bulb on a stem that will sprout a flower on top is a female; if no fruit has grown that means it hasn’t been pollinated by bees; and placing the plant in a shaded area could stymie bees (that mainly like sunny spots) from pollinating.

I found this amazing and helpful website that explained how to remedy the lack of fruit: Pumpkin Plant Not Producing: Why A Pumpkin Plant Flowers But No Fruit (

Hand pollinate. Ellis rubbed her finger on the pollen of the male flower to get the pollen and rubbed it around the green emerging bulb on a stem (not sure if it was a bulb but it felt harder than a budding flower). As you can tell, we improvise a lot.

Circled areas show where pollen was rubbed on green bulbs 

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

— Janet Kilburn Phillips

When Elliot learned the yellow stuff was pollen, he worried about his allergies flaring up again. Ellis came to the rescue and offered to do it instead.

Kids problem solving together with no tears = happy mommy.

Update:  No fruit has emerged so far. However, we feel very proud to have been proactive in doing something useful to help our plant grow fruits. Also, kids learned the important roles of bees in helping flowers to reproduce and continue the life cycle of nature. This is just a thought, but I think this hands-on lesson would be good for explaining to older kids in learning about the reproductive cycle.

Posted in Homeschool Adventures, Personal growth, Raising kids

Watching my kid in gymnastic’s class gives me that worried constipated look

My five-year old daughter has been dreaming of doing cartwheels for months now, which probably seems like an eternity for a small person. Much to my dismay, she has been practicing her jumping, bending, climbing, and tumbling any chance she gets.

The look on her face is priceless though; at the end of some acrobatic move, she smiles proudly with both arms stretched high and legs straight together. She’ll stay in that position till we clap and cheer.

I worry about her budding interest in gymnastics. Although her third heart surgery last fall improved her exercise tolerance, it’s still an ongoing issue. She tires easily and plops into a fetal position after running around a lot. It’s frightful. So I’ve been convincing her that maybe she’d prefer some other extracurricular activity, like art, music, cooking, or something other than strenuous physical exercise. She nods no. It has to be gymnastics. Positive side to this: she’ll learn how to cartwheel safely and build stamina.

Raising her I realize how much I need God’s peace every moment. If I went through this life without God helping me, I would be a wreck. I can’t control circumstances and I can’t forbid her from trying new things: how will she know if she doesn’t try? Instead, I need to offer support, encouragement, and reasonable boundaries so that she can discover her potential. The one thing I want to avoid is transferring my own fears to her.

At her first class yesterday, I was all nerves and had that constipated look from worrying so much, especially when I saw her sweating and running out of breath. I almost asked the coach to end the lesson early. But we stayed till the end.

Ellis must’ve picked up on my concerns; she reassured me that she was feeling okay and just needed a little nap on the ride home. Then I panicked that she needed a nap and kept checking her face through the rear view mirror.

Gulp…a hovering parent?!

Pure joy. Even though she barely made the 10 jumps, she kept going and smiled throughout. Proud of her for trying.



Posted in Hospital visits, Raising kids

It’s inevitable. I get insomnia when I need to sleep.

It’s funky, erratic sleep the night before any heart-related doctor’s appointments for Ellis.  I can’t pinpoint one worry, but a general sense of fear overcomes me. Other concerns that prevent continuous sleep: I’ll oversleep; I’ll be stuck in bay area traffic and miss the appointment entirely; I’ll hear upsetting news; I’ll need to be extra patient with Ellis and attentive throughout the long appointments; I’ll get hangry and run out of coffee; I’ll take at least a day to recover.

The other night I was wide wake at 3 a.m., slept a couple of hours, and woke up at 6 a.m. We were due for a follow-up ENT appointment. With her vocal chord paresis after her heart surgery last fall, extra air passes through the vocal chord making her voice sound raspy and hoarse; also, liquid could sneak into the trachea making it possible for infections and pneumonia.

I dreaded this appointment because it involves pushing a thin camera tube down her nose. While in her nose, she’ll need to make certain sounds and take sips of green dye liquid. It’s uncomfortable and frightening for both of us.

She sits on my lap face-forward and I wrap my arms tightly around her. A nurse stands behind to hold her head still. She acts brave and giggles more than normal, but her dry heaving afterwards tells me otherwise. When the thin camera tip touches her nose, she bursts into a loud cry. Even in her hysteria, she asks “done?,” “be fast.”

These moments jolt me out of complacency. Suddenly, the daily things that irritate me become unimportant; all that matters is comforting this little frightened person. When I mutter “Oh dear Jesus,{” it’s not me taking the Lord’s name in vain. It’s a panicked soul plea; an SOS to Jesus.

If we’re not overly tired, we stop at Nordstrom just blocks away from the hospital. Ellis agrees to go, but she tells me to get the stroller. Looking at pretty things and sitting outside their outdoor cafe revives our wearied spirits and makes our day happier. It amazes me how quickly we forget the pain until next time.

Colorful blooms at the Stanford mall…forgot to take one outside Nordstrom


Posted in Personal growth, Raising kids, Uncategorized

Why I need to have realistic expectations about time

Disbelief and denial. Is May only a few days away?! It was just winter, now spring, and summer plans are already underway.

Time runs while I stroll. When I was younger, grown ups would wistfully comment how time passes too quickly for them. They’d say, “Enjoy this time, because living gets busy when you have to work and raise a family.” I still couldn’t wait to grow up and experience this fast passing of time.

Fast forward a few decades. I write the wrong year on forms or show up days early or days late. But for my kids, time passes too slowly. They huff and puff at night saying morning will never come, they never need rest, and that Christmas is like a billion years away. Their concept of time is enviable to me – only day-to-day things matter.

When Ellis refers to something from yesterday, she’ll say it happened when she was little or younger. I can’t help bursting into laughter. She refers to days as years, minutes in terms of millions, and months and weeks are just crazy things grown ups talk about. When future outings are discussed, she asks, “Are we leaving now?”

Actual days seem long, but in retrospect, time faithfully moves forward whether I’m conscious of it or not. I want to tell myself to do something today that I wanted to do yesterday or decide to embrace each moment as special, even in the mundane.

Who is this harsh voice in my head commanding me to save time, be productive, do something important (whatever that is) all the time? On days when the babysitter comes, I start stressing the night before about what I’m going to do with my time.

Does everything need to be productive? Why can’t I just enjoy driving alone or sit at a coffee shop doing nothing.

My compassionate side tells the drill sergeant in me to chill out. Just enjoy doing what I’m doing and stop judging it. So what if I dawdle? So what if my day is not compartmentalized neatly? So what if I don’t get all things done? (I usually don’t anyway)

I need to set down these worries and stop judging how I use time. It’s a hopeless struggle fighting with myself.

My kids teach me much about this. Seeing the lightheartedness of my kids and hearing their hilarious giggles over something inane show me that life is happening now and it’s a happy thing.

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”

Dr. Seuss

Yes, belly laughs are allowed when a bubble comes out of your nose and you play the piano with your bottom. Say “poop” to turn that frown into a huge smile.

See it through the eyes of a child and everything is an experience not to be missed. This moment is a special gift from God that I’m alive.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31