Thursday, October 30, 2008

My New Year's Resolutions

Earlier this week, I assigned my daughter to write about what she wants to do and be when she grows up. I gave her some examples: does she want to be a firefighter, wear makeup, work in a zoo, etc? She put down two sentences: "I want to be a mommy. I want to be a fun mommy."

When I told her to elaborate, she added: "I want to go to the library, color and draw pictures, play with my children, pretending to be animals. Go camping in animal habitats, play games, go to the mall, throw lots of birthday parties, go trick-or-treating, give presents on Christmas (I told her we needed to save money this year and not give them Christmas presents), do art a lot, and go to the park."

So far, I have going to the library down. And also going to the park, because it is right next to the soccer field.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank God for Answered Prayers

In her newfound independence, my younger daughter has made her first friend all by herself. She's always just tagged along her older brother and sister and their friends. My oldest daughter's friends wondered, why is this cute little girl running after us everywhere? It got so that my oldest would have to find a double-sized hiding place during hide and seek.

Her only outside friends had been the children of our best friends, who we see frequently. That was pretty much it for her social life.

Then last week, after her Bible program, she told us on the way home,"I have a new fwend. Her name is Megan. She wearing pink shirt and a pink pant. Her sister also wear pink." I asked her if Megan was nice, and she replied,"no, she wear pink." I guess that's what it takes.

Yesterday, on our way to the Bible program, she exclaimed,"yay, I get to see Megan again!" Watch out, World, here she comes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Ant and His Poopoo

You may be wondering where the husband was during the exciting soccer game. Why didn't he stop me from becoming so crazed? Unless he went crazy too. Actually, he is pretty stoic during the games. Part of the ref training, I guess. During this weekend's game, he was camping with my son, as part of the YMCA's father/son group. We need another activity like we need another dirty sock on the floor, but every time his sister left for a camping trip last year, he begged,"I want to go, I want to go, I want to go,..."

This year, he finally reached the minimum age requirement, so of course out of fairness, because heaven forbid we do anything different for one child, we signed him up. Oh yeah, and it'll be good for him and his daddy.

I don't know what it is about men, but all their trips revolve around camping. While the mother/daughter groups do volunteer stuff and book clubs, all the father groups do is camp. Incidentally, I should point out that there is no mother/son group in our area. Who wants to spend an entire weekend one-on-one with their kid when it's like that the whole week? But hey, I looked.

So each month, the dads get together to eat junk food (chips is an entree there), steak, smores, soda, and beer, all without the ever-so-gentle prodding from their wives. Hmm...I can see why camping is their preferred outing.

My son had free rein to do whatever he wanted. Like play in sand and dig a hole to bury himself. And climb up a big dangerous tree.

At night, they sat around the fire, cooking smores and telling stories. When it came around to my son's turn, he began,"there once was an ant who went poopoo..."

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Most Exciting Game Ever

Now it's time for our exciting weekly soccer byplay. I am not being facetious this time; it was totally heart-pounding, especially during the quarter that my daughter played goalie.

At halftime, the score was 0-1. The other team had a couple of giant-sized players which really makes a big difference. We had gotten in the goal area a couple of times only to be disappointed because their defense was impenetrable. As I walked around passing out the halftime snack, I told our two top offense players, "okay, get us a point, just one point." Great going, Pam, way to send the message that winning is not everything. Just in case that screaming parents on the sidelines isn't enough pressure.

During the 3rd quarter, the ball flew into the air. Jasmine put her arms up to block her face, and the ball hit her and knocked her to the ground. There was a momentary pause, and then she got up covering her eye. The opposing team stole the ball, and the game went on. Except it didn't for our girls. Our girls saw Jasmine cry, so they all huddled around her comforting her, even my daughter who jogged down from the other half of the field while I screamed at her,"What are you doing? Go back! She's fine! Your area is undefended!" She didn't listen to me, which was good now in hindsight, as I had become one of those parents. The other team scored a goal in all the ruckus. It was an easy score for them; our lone and and confused goalie didn't stand a chance.

The goal counted. Everyone was mad. One dad wanted to go out and give it to the ref. Our coach had to hold him back. Even he, who is pretty unflappable, tossed his clipboard with his game plays to the ground. Everyone on the sidelines was skewing the ref except for me. Because my husband is also a ref, I felt compelled to justify the ref's actions amidst a group of angry parents. Yeah, I was on a roll that game, wasn't I? My opinion is that he was fed up with all our "injuries." One of our offense players is somewhat of a drama queen. She's one of our star players, but she sits on the ground every time she falls down. The first quarter, the game paused 3 times just for her. So the ref might have been suspicious, except he should have noticed it was a different girl and that our entire team was leaving their positions.

The score was 0-2 going into the 4th quarter. Mentally we parents checked off another loss and prepared to console the girls. I thought, no way that defense would let us score 2 goals in less than 10 minutes when they haven't let us in 30 minutes. 5 minutes left on the clock. Our four offense players set up an intricate play outside their goal. Pass to one, then another, pass back, bounce off someone's shins, get the ball back, pass to one, then another, then in all the jumble of legs, BOOM, it goes into the goal! Yay! Clap! At least we won't go home scoreless.

2 minutes left on the clock. Another play set up by our team outside their goal. Is it possible? Do we have a chance to tie? The entire opposing team is all over our 4 girls. Our girls are spreading themselves out, trying to make themselves available, trying to fight off 7 good players. The soccer pinball starts: bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. IT GOES IN! I jump up and scream at the top of my lungs. The other parents are all cheering and jumping. The baby, who I had to put down, is staring at me like I've gone insane. And I had.

One minute later, the game ended. To us, it was a victory, and we celebrated like it was. Some of our parents thought that one goal by the opposing team during the 3rd quarter shouldn't have counted so the "real" score was 2-1. I didn't care; 2-2 was a real triumph for us.

I am so proud of our girls. We parents really could learn a thing or two from these 7 year olds. (1) Always stand by your teammate. Winning is less important than a teammate's well-being. (2) Don't get discouraged even when you're losing. (3) Fight till the very end, though tired and pressured you may be.

Next week, I'll just post the entire video of the coming game.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Be Careful What You Pray For

I'd been praying for my younger daughter to break out of her shell. She's always been naturally shy, although we jumped on anyone who said that in her presence because of the danger of it becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. With her speech difficulties (what? what did you say? everyone be quiet and look at her!), she practically became a mute outside of home. She was the cutest thing that ever stared at you wordlessly.

Recently, she came out of her shell. In a big way. Suddenly she's screaming and yelling all over the place, whereas previously that was only reserved for home sweet home. Also, it was easy to shush her before if need be. Now she gives us backtalk and even hits us if she's inconvenienced in the slightest. Like she'll whack her daddy while he's buttoning her up. It's like all the rebellion that's been bottled up during the terrible two's and three's is spewing forth in her little 4 year old body.

Her speech teacher tells me after each session that she speaks right up and volunteers to say all kinds of stuff. And I have to tell her, I was not lying to get more sessions, she did have a tough time in a group before. Maybe that's why they took 5 months to get her started.

Her daddy is wondering if it's genetic or something since our son has the same issues. I tend to think her toddler hormones (very similar to adolescent hormones) have kicked in, and she's picking up bad habits from her brother. I'm not smarter, just more in denial that we might have two with genetic differences.

She's still the cute little girl staring at everyone with her big baby browns. But these days, she's liable to be screaming or hitting you at the same time. We now tell everyone when she's around that she's a respectful and obedient girl.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Boy and His Sister

It's either cat poop or rats

The other day while we were at Lowe's, my daughter saw some bird seed and begged to get some, to which we said,"no way!"

Backstory: Last summer we hung up some bird feeders in the yard. We loved checking out all the different birds that stopped by. Unfortunately, the birds were messy eaters and would leave seeds all over the ground. Turns out there was a nice little family of rats living under the deck waiting for the dropped seeds. Every morning the kids would press themselves up to window and watch these baby rats scurry around for seeds. There were five of them zipping all around the back deck and even coming around to the porch where we had another feeder. They were completely unafraid of us. We would bang on the window, and they would just hide for a minute and then come right back. Mama Rat never made an appearance. She was probably resting while the babies were running around fending for themselves. Hey, that's kind of like me. Except I'm not a germ-filled vermin. Yuck, I get disgusted just thinking about it.

We never did anything about the rats, just removed the birdseed. We never saw them again, and for my peace of mind, I have to assume they moved on to another house.

I was surprised to hear my daughter ask for birdseed. I reminded her of what happened last year, and she said,"I know. I want the baby rats to come back so that we can catch them and keep them as pets."

We now have a pile of sand out back to attract the neighborhood cats. It's a small price to pay to be rat-free.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Biology Lesson of the Week

Did you know that alligators and crocodiles have no sex chromosomes? These would be the chromosomes that determine male or female. Instead, they exhibit something called temperature dependent sex determination (TSD, scientists love their acronyms) where if the egg is incubated at a certain temperature, then it's a male, and if it's another temperature, then the eggs become female. The difference is usually only 1-2 degrees C, and if the incubation temperature is borderline, then there is a mix of both genders.

Weird but true. That's why I love biology.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Superheroes and Smooches

Random shots from the week that are at least not depressing.

Goggle Boy
Trying to get my son to remember his bible verse of the week
Taking advantage of his preoccupation

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Morbid Thoughts

Warning: today's post is a tad sad, so if you're already feeling down, go read some Dave Barry instead.

Over the weekend, I found out about the tragic demise of two different moms. One was my son's coach's wife. I had wondered why he always dragged all of his kids (3 of them) to both the practices and 8 am games and why his wife never made an appearance. During the game, his 8 year old daughter wandered over to chitchat, so I asked her where her mom was. She told me that her mom was dead.

That hit me, and I didn't question her more. We continued to talk, and pretty soon she was asking to sit in my lap. Her hair was messed up (why is it that the men can never do hair?), she had stains all over her shirt, and she was tired of wandering around on her own while her dad was busy coaching. I wanted to adopt her right there and then. Later on, the coach on the opposing team noticed her brother dribbling snot and told him to come to me so that "your mother" can wipe your nose. To which he responded by screaming,"I don't have a mother!" No kid should ever have to utter those words.

Then on Sunday night, we went to Saddleback Church. The husband had gone camping with my daughter and missed our usual church time. He hates to miss church so we went to Saddleback because they have Sunday evening services. Rick Warren was supposed to preach but he had a family emergency. The emergency was that his daughter-in-law, who just had a baby a month ago, was diagnosed with brain cancer.

We don't know what will happen to her, but the possibility of another mom being gone got to me. What if, God forbid, something happened to me? Not that I'm afraid of death or anything, but my kids need me. Please, let it not happen in the next 17 years. Then I thought, really, I could go at any time.

And how do I want the kids to remember me? As the mom who worked a lot to send them to activities, who was always on the computer blogging or working with powerpoint? No, I want to be the mom who sat down with them on the carpet and helped them build their train tracks. I want to be the mom who laughed more often than yelled, the one who took them bird-watching rather than stayed at home doing the laundry.

I don't know if it's some odd chance that I found out about these two tragic women in the short space of two days. But I'm not going to let it go by without learning something from it. So excuse me now while I go romp with my kids.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's a Prerequisite

What is it with college teachers and flaming liberalism, as indicated by their office doors?
Never mind Iraq or Airforce 1, the most dangerous place for Bush is on a college campus
You have to click on the picture to see what it says below Osama Bush Laden

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Sabbath Gift

I know I've said it before, but I am constantly amazed at how God speaks to me at church. Not in a vague, fortune-telling way but to me personally.

Our pastor has been going through the 10 commandments one by one, giving each one a fresh and relevant application. Last week he spoke on the 4th commandment. That would be honoring the Sabbath for all you heathens out here (J/K, I can't recite them either).

I figured this commandment was as applicable to me as Thou Shalt Not Murder, because I knew I was no murderer, although I'm sure when we get to that sermon, I'll find out that I really am. After all, just about the only people who still keep the Sabbath are the orthodox Jews (except on Saturday) and Chick-fil-A.

The religious leaders of yesterday did a fine job of messing this commandment up for us, with their do not cook and do not heal on the Sabbath. What this commandment says is very simple: Do Not Work Too Hard. Take a break once a week. Things will be okay if we do. God will give us 7 days of provisions in only 6 days, just like He did with the Jews in the desert for 40 years.

We need to take the Sabbath, at least I do. I think my meltdown proved that. I need to rest and reconnect with family, friends, and of course God. I need to look back at the past 6 days and admire all that I have and did, just like God did when He rested on the 7th day and declared that it was good.

This message was exactly what I needed to hear at the exact time that I needed to hear it. Coincidence? No way. It's too specific and happened too often to be that. I'm thankful that He cares so much to reach out to me like this, even though I've been a flake to Him lately.

Incidentally, when I stuck to my guns this past Sunday to not work, it just about killed me. On Monday there was a a pile of stuff for me to do. On the plus side, I refused to think about work and do my list, so I've mostly forgotten what all I have to do, so I guess I don't have to do it. If it's not that important to be remembered, then it's not important to be done, right?

I couldn't not do the dishes, though. The thought of entire kitchen full of caked on dishes was too much for me. Fortunately, I had the dishwasher. Overall, it was a nice relaxing day. Time seemed to pass slower, and everyone had time to both rest and play. We even went to another church service in the evening (more on that later).

I never thought I would reach the point where I would need to slow down because I've always been fairly laid back and slow. I know plenty of moms that are doing even more, but God knows me well and knows that I am not made of that same stuff. He knows I can't handle it, so He told me so. Let's hope that I have enough brain cells to remember it.

Monday, October 13, 2008


A month ago, I was sucked into the whirlwind of my present life. This life consists of hours of extracurricular activities, part-time homeschooling and working, same amount of housecleaning if not more, and never-ending hours of feeding (I hungry is my younger daughter's favorite phrase) and tantrums.

I embraced this life. I thought, finally I'm busy. Finally the kids are able to do more than just knock down blocks and scribble. Finally I've joined the rest of the moms out there juggling it all. My previous life consisted of watching the kids build blocks and reading fiction books. It was comatose compared to how it is now. I knew it was too slow. I wanted to be more productive (there are entire books on women suffering from this malady). I jumped into the whirlwind enthusiastically.

Last week I crashed. After enduring yet another tantrum, I lay down on the couch and literally could not get up again to prepare for soccer practice (water, snacks, getting 3 kids to potty, changing a diaper). So I called the husband and vented. That helped me to feel well enough to get them to soccer. The husband must have left as soon as we hung up, because he met me at the field and told me to take a break (see, he can be thoughtful).

I spent two hours in the bookstore, browsing through magazines and books. I picked out two books as gifts for people, one as a thank you to my friend and the other to my baby's adored Sunday school teacher who is moving away, and then picked up some essentials at the grocery store. My getaway time was spent running errands, but that's how a mom's life is. At least I didn't have to rush, and more importantly, it worked. Now, back to the whirlwind I know and love.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun With Hangers

The other day while my mother-in-law was here, the kids were ambling around aimlessly and complaining,"I'm bored." Right away, my mom-in-law told me to put a video on for them because that's her fallback to everything concerning the kids. Kid doesn't want to eat? Then stick him in front of the tube and spoon the food into him. Kid being too active? TV. Kid being too quiet? TV. I could understand if the kids were bugging her to death and she needed a break, but that wasn't the case here. She said,"Pamela, just put on a movie for them" in that way that haunts my brain.

I refused. I told the kids to go find something to play. They said there was nothing, much like how we women look at our closets and say we have nothing to wear. So I told them to either go to sleep, clean up, or stare at the wall. I tried to reassure my mom-in-law that they wouldn't really do any of these, but I don't think she believed me.

It's too bad she left because this is what I found half an hour later on their bunk bed.It's nice and neat but what is it?

Well, duh, it's monkey bars for their animals.

I'll spare you a picture of their closet floor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ohio, Here I Come

I thought this election would be exciting, but this is turning out to be the most boring ever. I mean, is there even a contest? Seems like Obama's got it all wrapped up, especially here in California. There's almost no point to voting here because we all know how it will turn out. There are too many liberals here to have any other result.

Even the introduction of an interesting VP candidate has fizzled. Once she opened her mouth, that was it. These days all she's good for is elevating Tina Fey's star. Of course I still like her because she had the guts to go for 5 kids and become governor, which believe me, is more than any man could ever handle. Now that I have some taste of all the juggling that must entail, I have more respect for her. Afraid she can't deal with obstinate world leaders? Hey, she's got 5 kids. Afraid she can't work on both domestic and foreign issues? She's a mom (=multi-tasker). Afraid she won't know how to answer the emergency call at 3 am? She'll be the only one awake to answer it at all. So her main qualification is surviving and thriving with 5 kids. You try it and tell me that's not enough.

Still, it would be nice if there was some sort of tension in this race, and not just felt by McCain or Palin. Makes me want to move to a swing state.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Demanding Work

The stress of teaching only two classes is more than I thought it would be. Because this is my first semester back, I'm spending more time than I'd like on preparation. Even when I'm not actively doing something to prepare for it, I'm mentally going through my checklist of what I still have to do. Like now, for example, it's floating around in my head that I have to make up a quiz for my lab, go over my lab lecture because I'm getting evaluated this week, decide whether or not to have a pop quiz for the other class, and make up that quiz. Also double-check my powerpoint slides. I miss having an empty head with no pressing thoughts.

My students are getting more demanding, too. They want office hours, which I gave up after realizing only one student ever shows up the entire semester, and only to pump me for exam information. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I have email, which I thought would be enough for answering any confusing questions. But these people don't even know what they're confused about. I can't just ignore them, either, especially the old lady who's come back to school after 12 years, the Latina lady who doesn't speak English that well, or the young girl who's rethinking being a biology major after doing badly on my exam. So I might just have them show up on the soccer field because who knows when else I have the time.

I'll be starting another class soon, an 8-week one that meets double the amount of time that a regular class does (because a regular one is 16 weeks). The guy who was supposed to teach it dropped out at the last minute, so thanks to my light schedule, I got recruited. I'm hoping it to be a lot easier because I have everything all set up. I tell myself it's only 8 weeks.

One thing is for sure: God provides everything we need. The timing of the economic crisis with me getting a job is definitely not a coincidence. He set up my situation months ago before this whole economic catastrophe. He knew what would happen, and He knew what we needed. He's amazing that way.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

39 years

Sunday was my parents' wedding anniversary. Thirty-nine years ago they were married; eight months later I was born. My sister the eternally suspicious one was the first to discover this discrepancy. When I found out, it was like a soap opera, except without the gorgeous people or the hunk having an affair with his wife's daughter's half-sister.

We celebrated their anniversary at a crowded Chinese restaurant, where we yelled at each other over dinner (this is one reason that Chinese people yell at each other in a normal conversation). Then we went to the closest house, which was theirs, where the kids watched some 'toons while the husband and I passed out at different times. I also raided their closets and garage as I always do (so much abandoned stuff since my sister got married and moved out). After we had all rested and messed up their place sufficiently, then we picked up a week's worth of food in tupperware that my mom had made and left.

I love these anniversary celebrations. We should seriously do it more often. What's amazing is that my parents really want to.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quote of the Week

This is a picture of my friend's new baby. With this little guy, she joined the elite club of being mom to 4 kids, otherwise known as the Functionally Insane Club. It was either that or the Oopsies (as in Oops We Did It Again).

When I visited him in the hospital, he was completely wide-eyed, so unlike other newborns. He's only a week old and already sleeping 4 hours a stretch at night and 6 hours during the day, which is what a normal 3 or 4 month old does.

I wouldn't be surprised by anything this little guy does, though, because he was conceived after his father had a vasectomy (yes it is his). My friend's pregnancy was a shock to everyone, especially to the doctor who performed the vasectomy and did the follow-up 6 months later. We are all still puzzled as to what happened to the guy's anatomy. The moral of this story is to not be surprised if you should find yourself pregnant. Also not to tell your husband this story, otherwise he will say,"What's the point of getting a vasectomy? It doesn't even work!"

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Good and the Not-So-Good

I'm so proud of my daughter today. Every month, her school has a featured character trait that they learn about (integrity, responsibility, etc.), and then at the end of the month, each teacher chooses 3 students who exemplifies the trait. The first character for the school year, and for this past month, was Respect. My daughter was one of three students from her class recognized at an assembly for showing respect. Granted, all the students will receive awards by the end of the school year, but it means a great deal that she was one of the first. Her friend told her,"I'm glad it was you."

On the flip side, I am at a complete loss over my son. Since that first day in kindergarten, he has been behaving really well. So well that I've stopped asking his teacher anxiously at pick-up time if everything was okay. That's what I get. Because he got busted twice today. The first time, he was reprimanded by the aide to quit his potty talk (butt this, poopoo that) during snacktime. He responded by insulting her and speaking to her rudely, probably calling her stupid or something. The second time he got busted was when this boy said something to upset him (he doesn't even remember the kid's name), and my son just slapped the other boy on the face.

I didn't even know where to begin, so I left it for the husband to deal with when he got home. Of course he was clueless like me. All of a sudden I'm dreading his parent-teacher conference next week, which ironically follows his sister's one.

Note: I originally titled this post "The Good and the Bad" but the hubby changed it because all the parenting books have ingrained it into us never to label a child as bad, only to call their actions bad. I was willing to forego this rule for the sake of a catchy title but apparently I've been overruled. Whatever, it just doesn't have the same ring.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Owl in Training

Every night when we go to sleep, the baby throws one book upon another on our bed. When every single kiddie book in the vicinity is on our bed, he climbs up and "reads" through each and every one before tossing it on the floor.

Disclaimer: Yes, he still sleeps with us even though we tried to stick him a crib. All he did was play in the crib until he got tired and then screamed for us. Besides, he is our last baby, and if he wants to hold on a little longer to Mommy and Daddy, then so be it.

Disclaimer 2: Okay, he goes to bed pretty late, at the same time that we do, actually. He's watched me go to bed almost every night with a book, so that's where he got his bright idea. At least he doesn't get up at the crack of dawn (super duper major perk of not working in the morning). He gets up at a reasonable hour (you wouldn't believe how reasonable) so that if he and his siblings are restless in the morning, we can go out and do stuff, instead of just sitting at home from 5 am to 9 am. We are still trying to up their bedtime, but it's hard for two people who used to eat dinner to Jay Leno. Yes, that's his daddy who fell asleep before him. Besides learning to read,
he's also training his daddy to be the heaviest sleeper ever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's just like Him

I love this story about the prophet Elijah fleeing from Ahab and Jezebel who were trying to kill him. He had done this big presentation proving to the people that their idol was false, and here they were trying to kill him, so he ran off and hid in a cave. But the Lord had other plans for him. He told Elijah to stand on a mountain so that he could feel the Lord's presence when He passed by.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. I Kings 19:11-12

He has been gently whispering to me my whole life. I'm thankful He didn't rage at me, although He had every right and power to do. A good reminder for the next time I feel like yelling at the kids.