Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We will be spending the day at my brother-in-law's place with all my in laws, including an uncle prone to drinking and an aunt prone to arguing about stuff that happened in her childhood. Yes, it should be really something. I'm happy just not having to deal with work or cleaning related stuff. I have a ton of things to be thankful for, I don't have to cook, and I get to visit with loved ones. It's going to be a good day.

For a truly inspiring thanksgiving story, read HERE.

Finally, I leave you pictures of my son's thanksgiving play, where they re-enacted the first thanksgiving.
Of course my son is the one making a funny face
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Fieldtrip

While the rest of the country was digging out their snow plows and building snowmen, we went to the beach. Not to lay out, though, which is the term we Californians use to mean "lay in the sun purposely to fry oneself." No, no, I am not that insane anymore, especially after that one incident where I fell asleep on my stomach and couldn't sit, sleep on my back, bend over, or even use the toilet afterward.

We went on a fieldtrip to the tidepools with my students. It was with a few other classes, but it was clearly not organized, since one instructor didn't show at all, and another one (the one taking roll) showed up very late. Luckily, there was one other lady who seemed to know what she was doing, unlike me. I kind of just hopped from rock to rock, said hi to a few students, and hollered at my kids. Hopefully, now my students realize why I have no time to waste on that stupid blackboard system.

One girl asked me this week,"Will you pass me if I cry?"
I said,"Are you kidding? I listen to crying all day! If you cry, I'll give you an F, even if you're passing."

Surprisingly, the fieldtrip wasn't a complete bust. There were lots of neat critters to be seen, even a seal.

There's the seal on the right side of the rock
The kids mingling with the students.
I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How God Slows Moms Down

I was feeling pretty thankful about my house not burning down during last week's fire when I got hit with a terrible cold. According to both my mom who is a news junkie, the extremely polluted air irritated the respiratory tract of many people, setting the stage for those darn opportunistic germs. Makes sense, it must be that and certainly not because of my poor health.

After about 5 days with this bug, including 2 days of hacking away in class (motto: must stuff as much info as possible into their heads), I finally had to take naps and go to bed early. I felt downright lazy. It was good, like being my old self again.

When my oldest and youngest caught the cold, it forced us to slow down even more. Because all of sudden there were no extracurricular classes. We were just at home resting with the baby who insisted on sitting for umpteen hours in my lap, and there's really very few things you can do with a baby in your lap.

Add to my Christmas wishlist (besides the fancy camera): laptop, and I don't mean the baby variety.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby

May you always be as happy, inquisitive, and loved as you are now. May you have an unquenchable passion for God that will draw you closer to Him everyday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trial by Baby

Two years and seven months ago, I was lying in bed drifting off when a vague thought jerked me into an upright position. That thought was, holy crap, did I have my period this month? I lay there counting back the days, then recounting it like Al Gore because surely there was a mistake. I worriedly told the husband, who responded with his usual panache,"nah, I'm sure you're just a few days late" and then rolled back asleep.

The next morning, I held onto my denial just enough to get essential things done, like feeding the children, changing their diapers, etc. Finally, I could wait no longer, so I dashed off to the pharmacy store, came back, and locked myself in the bathroom. Two minutes later (man those stripes appeared fast) loud wailing could be heard by all. My children, who had never seen or heard me cry like this, ran to the bathroom in a panic, only to be dubiously reassured by their dad. He joined me in the bathroom, where I gave him a good beating for being the cause of my predicament. He was good about it and let me take it out on him, reassuring me and hugging me. Of course it's because he knew it was all his fault. I made sure he knew it because that's about all I said to him for the next 7 months.

There was no way I could bottle up all this depression (my life is so over), so I cried to my sisters, mother, mother-in-law, friends, anyone. I told them,"Normal people do not have 4 children. Only deeply religious and crazy people do." As examples, I cited 6 different pastors we knew, all with 4 kids each.

For the next few months I cried a lot. When I wasn't crying, I passed out on the couch napping. I couldn't go more than 2 hours without lying down and taking a quick nap. My daughter asked,"How come you're always so sad and tired, Mommy?" and the husband had to hire a housecleaner because I did not have the energy to vacuum anymore.

I cried especially in church. Every time there was a song about how faithful God was, how trustworthy He was, or how He helps us overcome our troubles I started sobbing. People around us must have thought I was insane. It seemed to me that there was an inordinate of these songs that spoke to my exact turmoil. I would stand there counting the extra years of diapers and tantrums while willing myself to trust Him. I have never been tested like I was those few months.

The first time I was actually not depressed about the baby was when I saw him on ultrasound. That's when he became real to me. Slowly, really really slowly, I came to accept the situation and was able to stand there and say,"Okay God, I'll trust you like I've never trusted you before (like I had a choice). Your Will be done." It was the first time that I said that and actually meant it completely.

Weeks later, in a coincidentally short amount of time, I encountered several women with fertility issues. One of these women miscarried 5 times in her attempts to have a child (she finally had one); another one had done in vitro twice; yet another had been trying for 8 years without success.

And I realized what a child I had been. Here God had given me a gift, a precious one, and I had acted like a total ingrate. Not only did I not thank Him for His gift, but I acted like it was a curse. It gave me a new and stronger appreciation for Him.

He had tested me so that my faith wouldn't be so shallow. If I were to lose everything I had today, I'm 100% positive that I would be okay, but only because of His love for me. What astounded me is what He used to test me. He could have allowed calamities to happen in order to test me. He could have allowed deaths, illnesses, tragedies. No doubt that would have sent me on my knees in front of Him. Instead He sent a miraculous blessing to convey the same lesson. The tears I have now is not from sadness but from amazement over how much God loves me. He taught me an invaluable lesson about faith and Himself, and he did it all gently and lovingly, without any forcing or pushing.

That was over two years ago. But I'll never forget, despite the fact I'm down to maybe 20 brain cells. Almost every time I look at my baby (not counting when he's throwing a tantrum), I'm reminded of God's immeasurable love.

Now, on the eve of my baby's 2nd birthday, I think what a gift he truly is, not just for me but for the whole family. He has brought out the best in everyone. It's fitting his birthday is near Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

She's a Maneater

There is this girl at my daughters' dance school who gives new meaning to "Lolita." She's a high schooler, maybe a sophomore or junior. She is, for lack of better description, hot. She has a perfect body: long shapely legs, defined rear, and slim build. She has long blond hair, with long bangs that angle over one eye. She wears the latest fashion of UGG boots over skin tight jeans. She's striking but not in that wide-eyed, angelic way; she has more of a bad-girl sexy look, if that makes any sense. Oh yeah, did I mention that she is a cheerleader?

She's hard not to notice. When I first looked into her dance class while waiting for my little girl to finish, I saw all the girls spinning and kicking, but eventually my eye rested of her. And stared. Now, as my glance skims over the crowd, my brain notices if she's there. If I, a completely heterosexual middle-aged mother, react to her in this way, I can only imagine the effect she must have on those hapless teenage boys. The way she saunters around demonstrates that she knows it, too.

Just the other day, as she was walking down the hall towards me, she walked past this middle-aged man waiting for his daughter to finish. This man, probably in his 40's or 50's, immediately did a double take and stared at her until she was out of sight.

Watching his reaction to her and knowing that he was just a normal family man disturbed me. How are we supposed to protect our young daughters from predators if they are naturally enticing? Is it any wonder old men like them young?

Lucky for her, she's got that repelling teenage haughtiness going for her. Otherwise she might seriously conquer the male species. I've only seen her mother once, but the next time I see her, I'm tempted to go up and talk to her, tell her to put some less sexy clothes on her daughter, to watch and protect her carefully.

I try not to run into the girl anymore. She conjures up dark thoughts and worries inside me that I don't like to visit. I prefer to watch my little girls clamor over Spotty.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Congratulations, Sis

The kids have a new cousin! That makes two so far. My sister had a gorgeous baby boy this weekend. My son, who visited his new cousin with me, gushed to his sister on the phone,"He is the cutest baby, even cuter than ours." Which to her is total blasphemy.

Thankfully, the hospital was way west, away from all the fires, so they didn't have to worry about that. Speaking of the fires, we're all okay. I actually spent the weekend with my parents in NE LA County, and the fires came pretty close, even hit a couple of areas in the same city. Driving there, we passed through a canyon, and saw some fires just through the window. With the hills on either side of the freeway, the smoke completely enveloped us, and we could barely see the car in front, just the bits of ashes. It was very surreal.

I know you're all dying for my Monday Soccer Scoop, but all I have to report is that we have no more soccer! Yay! This past weekend had the last games. This means no more dragging everyone to practices and games. Every time I woke up the baby from his nap and told him it was time to go to soccer, he would roll back over and groan,"nooo..."

We might pick up soccer again in the spring, especially since my daughter has developed a real love of the sport. In the mean while, we get a nice break which will be punctuated with colds and more colds. Keep kicking them balls!

Friday, November 14, 2008

When Phases Collide

Question: what's worse than a teenager? Answer: a toddler who behaves like a teenager. That's where my younger daughter is now. She's 4 years old and recently came into her own, to put it super nicely. For the last 4 years years, she was the sweetest and quietest little girl. And then, all of a sudden, she's calling us poopoo heads and telling us every 5 minutes how she hates us. That's followed by crying/screaming capable of making one's head burst and clinging onto my leg for dear life. Then she'll completely calm down like nothing happened, and then 10 minutes later, boom, it starts all over again. Her new nickname is Jekyll/Hyde depending on the cycle she's in. Again, someone please tell me it's just a phase.

So yesterday in the car, she was in that mood again and muttered over and over again,"Hmm. I don't like nobody. Hmm. I don't like nobody..."

Her brother responded,"What? You don't like your big fat butt?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someone Please Tell Me It's Just a Phase

Yesterday, while I was un-knotting his soccer cleats, my 5-year old said,"Hey, Mommy, wanna see something?"
He turned around, pulled down his pants, and mooned me.
I said,"Um-hm" in that non-reaction way hoping to discourage him from doing it again.

Later on, he goes to his older sister,"Hey, wanna see something?"
And he pulls down his pants showing her his genitals while laughing wildly.

Who, me? What did I do?

Immediately I scolded him. A couple of minutes later my younger daughter asked,"Mommy, what are you laughing about?"

The husband is convinced he saw someone else doing it, in real life or on TV. I'm not so sure. He's got an unusual and creative mind. I'm just hoping he doesn't do this at school, otherwise he's liable to get expelled for sexual harrassment or something.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Boy and His Sister 2

The hardest thing about homeschooling is surprisingly not the school work itself but dealing with distractions. Like, for example, when your baby brother crawls into your lap, grabs the pencil, and scribbles all over the paper.

Then proceeds to wad it up and throw it on the ground
Or pester you with a book until you finally give in and read to him

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The New Racism

This whole fervor over Obama has made me think more about racism the last few days. People are acting like the old guy who God allowed to survive until Jesus was born. I know it's notable that Obama is the first black president, but you'd think he's the Great Black Hope, that we've been living in KKK times till now. Is it so hard to believe that everyone, even Caucasians, would find him impressive? He's an eloquent speaker, classy as anything, and one of the smartest people there is.

The way black people are reacting, it's like they didn't expect the rest of us to be able to set aside prejudices and choose someone based on his real worth. When Michelle Obama said early on in her husband's campaign that for the first time she was proud of her country, I know exactly what she meant. She was surprised by how everyone voted for her husband. She had become used to the notion of a racist people who would never vote for a black candidate no matter how qualified he was. When he started to lead in the primaries, she thought, wow, people are really getting it, they are seeing below the surface. And she said, "For the first time, I am proud of my country."

I thought it was impressive myself that a man with a Muslim family background with the middle name Hussein who also happened to be part black had a chance of being president. I remember thinking at the time, we've come a long way. Here in Southern California it's no big deal because diversity is the norm here. But people from Kansas, Alabama, Nebraska all voted for Obama. It means the majority of Americans are not racists.

What's more interesting is the black community's reaction. They've come to expect the worst from us. They think, oh she's not black so she's ignorant or she's racist. Granted, they've had to deal with a lot of persecution but I would hope they've learned just by being the victims not to victimize someone else in the same way. There's nothing worse than a bully victim who becomes a bully.

Now everyone's preparing for an assassination attempt on Obama. They're doubling the protection and planning for the inauguration. Once again, they're expecting some Caucasian person to be so racist that he would sacrifice his family, life, everything. Even the Caucasian officials are expecting this. They should just keep him in a bullet-proof box like the Pope.

It's great that Obama will be president. Now can everyone please stop the weeping and get on with life?

By the way, I'll start using the official designations of African-American when they reduce it down to a 3-syllable word (ie. Asian or Latino or Jewish).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spotty and Meltdown Days

We have a new pet. He/she is a ladybug named Spotty. Walking home from school yesterday, my oldest found him crawling near our front stoop. She immediately scooped him up, to prevent her baby brother from squishing it. Then she proceeded to run around the yard foraging for leaves, which she stuck in a little pail, Spotty's new "home." Now, whenever she goes out or comes back from anywhere, she first checks for Spotty. Yesterday he left for awhile but actually returned. Either that or he was hiding somewhere when they looked the first time. Whatever happened, it's given her hope. Just this morning, she checked and found him gone. She said,"it's okay, he'll be back, just like yesterday." We also have a "pet" spider in our tree named Max. My daughter wisely put Spotty's pail far away from Max. Of course, if anything happened to Spotty, we could always get an ant or something to replace him.


Our son's Bible lesson this weeks was about turning to God when you're having a bad day. I asked him,"can you think of a bad day you've had?"

He had no idea what I was talking about. "No, I don't have bad days."

His older sister piped up,"I can think of lots of bad days he had. Almost every day is a bad day for him. He has bad days a thousand times."

Friday, November 7, 2008


Week 3 of my new schedule has just ended. I think that's sufficient time for me to say, my life is insane, and I do not ever want to do this again. I am gone 4 days out of the week teaching.

students are starting to think I am the laziest instructor ever, because I tell them, no I do not have time to post this slide online, just copy the dang thing down. Or, no I will not photocopy your study guide, just download it and print it out yourself. And finally, heck no, I am not assigning an extra credit report because I don't want to waste time grading some report that was plagarized from the internet.

Thankfully, we are in the home stretch. We will be starting Ecology which is infinitely easier than Photosynthesis. Ecology is otherwise known as the Duh Unit because it's made up of principles like this: when one species of prey declines, the predator switches to another prey species. Anyone who has any amount of common sense can figure out ecology. Except that commo
n sense is not very common.

Interestingly enough, my mother-in-law met one of my students in the library. When my MIL saw the student studying, she went up to her and asked her what subject she was studying. Nancy replied, and of course my MIL then said, "oh, my daughter-in-law teaches that." So then they find out that I am indeed Nancy's instructor. Immediately Nancy bombards the MIL with questions about me, so much that my MIL clams up. She apparently wanted to know my age and weight amongst other things, because she told my MIL,"she's so young and trim." By the way, Nancy is a grandmother.

Now she's calling up my MIL on the phone and talking about who knows what, although I've told my MIL that me and the family are off limits as conversation subjects. Let's just hope that my MIL actually listens. Meanwhile, I face the unprecedented dilemma of flunking my mother-in-law's BFF.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Real Meaning of Boyfriend

During lunchtime this week, my oldest daughter had an interesting conversation with her classmate. I forget how, but the subject came to rest on boyfriends.

My daughter: I have boyfriends. Luke, Anthony, Jakey, Daniel... I like playing cars with my boyfriends.

Madison: No, you're not supposed to have boyfriends. You're supposed to have one boyfriend, and he's only your boyfriend if no one else is around.

Daughter: That's not true.

Jared, who happens to be sitting near them: Yeah, you're not supposed to have boyfriends.

Madison: Except if you're 11 or 12, then you can have one.

My daughter ended the conversation by going to sit next to Anthony. She told Anthony about the exchange, and Anthony said,"I don't know what Jared is talking about. He has 20 girlfriends!"

They both agreed that Madison and Jared didn't know what they were talking about, then went back to looking for bugs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Candy Plea

How about them elections? Not nearly as exciting as say, the Bush/Gore election, but still something. I'm more excited about the shift in people's attitudes than about the man himself. Suddenly, everyone is hopeful and involved, and that can only be a good thing. I'm just glad the thing is over. I can maybe go back to checking my mail regularly instead of letting it pile up till it no longer fits in our mailbox, and then bringing it in. On second hand, nah, we've still got those bills coming in.

I would like to use this opportunity instead to thank all those parents out there that handed out something besides candy, like stickers or pencils. Yes, the older kids hate you and will blackmark your house for life (which as I see it, is a perk), but the younger kids like them, their teeth like them, and most importantly, the moms love them.

Because we now have a big bag filled with candy. It's amazing how much candy 3 trick-or-treaters will generate. We even went through it and gave away everything except our favorites, and there's still too much leftover. After 3 days of munching on candy, I've realized it's easy to prevent the kids from eating the candy (just hide it up high), but it's impossible to stay away from the it myself. So someone please come and take this candy away from me. Anyone. Anyone at all. Because I can't do it myself.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Soccer Scoop

It's time for the highly anticipated soccer game recap. Except I did not go this week because the game was at 8 am, and I did not have the heart to drag all the other kids out of bed. We knew beforehand that the other kids would sleep in and that one of us would have to stay behind. I debated having the husband stay behind while I went to the game, but in the end I let him because he missed last week's exciting game. That's the kind of tough compromise a marriage is made of.

Of course, I quizzed them to death when they returned. We won 2-0, so it clearly wasn't as nail-biting as last week's game. More importantly, my daughter stopped 3 balls as goalie, which is awesome. There is nothing worse than watching your daughter let in a goal. As a mother you think, it is all her fault for losing the entire game, which means it's all my fault for not going out to practice and kicking some goals for her.

For certain critical people's information (you know who you are, stinkers), my son did not have a game yesterday, so I am not being biased in coverage. The soccer league apparently had mercy on us and gave us a soccer-free week, at least for the younger age group. Hey, we'll take it. His games resume this coming weekend, although I can pretty much describe it now. They'll run around like a pack after the ball, bounce the ball off each other's shins, block their own teammate's ball, and kick a ball into their own goal. It's absolutely hilarious. I'll be roaring on the sidelines the whole time.

That's it this week for another exciting edition of The Soccer Scoop. This is your sports writer in training, signing off: Go Kick Some Balls!