To older moms and younger moms and moms who are in between...

Monday, May 1, 2017


I read recently that preschoolers ask an average of three hundred questions a day.


Well, I have two preschoolers. You do the math.


This one isn't talking yet, but really has no problem telling me what he wants. Or doesn't want.

But, really, how did parents do it before google came along? I mean, I already make up a quarter of the answers I give them already...

Which makes bring me to another thing.

I feel like almost weekly, I hear someone (usually at church) say something like, "I don't know how young moms do it today. I couldn't! The world is such a crazy place right now, it must be tough." There seems to be this yearning for a simpler and different time.

And every time I hear someone say that, I think two things:

1. Dear older mom-- you COULD have done it! You would have done it! You wouldn't have had any other choice! Why do you feel like you need to sell yourself short like that? You are way stronger than you think. You're a mom, anyway. That's already amazing.

|| On an unrelated, but sort of related note-- the other day I was at a birthday party with my son for his five-year-old classmate. The topic of superheroes came up, and one little boy raised and waved his hand wildly and declared, "My mom's Wonderwoman! She really is." I LOVED that. I thought, "Now  THERE'S a little boy who loves, values, respects, and looks up his mom. I bet he doesn't even remember all the times she screws up!" And, "I bet that mom loves herself. She knows she's not perfect, but knows she's wonder woman anyway." ||

2. Don't feel bad for us "young moms." Really, don't! It's an amazing time to be a mother! Let me tell you just a few reasons why!

- Technology. (Don't worry, I'm not going to go all Napoleon Dynamite here.) But, if you're like me, and live half a world away from family, you don't get the luxury of seeing family all the time. Because of the technology we have today, I can easily call my parents in Hong Kong, and my kids can sing them the latest song they heard or show them how they can read.

- Thanks to social media (which I knows gets a bad rap a LOT) it's so easy for mothers to connect to other mothers all over the world. We all walk different paths in life, but motherhood is something that can connect women in such a deep way. I don't know how often I've shared a knowing look, a hug, and a laugh with perfect strangers. Motherhood can be very lonely, isolating, and if it weren't for social media, I wouldn't have made so many of the amazing relationships I enjoy today. 

- Our kids are growing up being told they can be whatever they want to be. I can look at my daughter and tell her if she wants to open up an art store that is also a bakery, she can do that!

- Our sons are learning that its okay to have emotions. And to express those. And that they can paint their nails if they want to. And that they can dress up as firefighting princesses. And that they won't be shamed for crying. I know I wouldn't want to raise my sons any other way.

- Moms are getting help for mental health issues in ways that just weren't around a generation ago. Things like postpartum depression and anxiety aren't taboo to talk about anymore. I remember feeling like it was silly when the doctor asked me if I was having depressing feelings after Sof was born. I thought, "How could I? I just gave birth to the most amazing person on earth!" But, by the time that I was pregnant with Oscar, I understood so much more. I was so grateful that the doctos asked about my mental health at one of my early doctor appointments. I had told them about how I struggled with early prenatal depression, and it was something they would keep checking back with me on. 

So, listen. I get it. I am not blind to the news and what is going on in the world. I have my worries just like the next person. Do I choose to ignore them and keep my kids in their own little bubble? Absolutely not. That's not doing anyone any favors. So what do we do? We talk to our kids about what's happening in a way that they understand. We try to pick out the good in our days. We encourage them to love and to be brave. If we can start in our homes, my hope is we can "throw kindness around like confetti." Make that difference. 

Someday I will look back and think, "Those were the best days." And I have no intention of letting fear ruin that.

One Thing That Really Surprised Me About my Motherhood Journey

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Before Sof came along, I think I had all these ideas of what motherhood would be like. I imagined a lot of good times-- baby milestones, reading together, making messes in the kitchen, etc. But I knew there would be rough patches-- sleepless nights, sickness, potty training!

I could write on and on about all the things that have surprised me about motherhood, things that no amount of years and reading and talking to other moms could have prepared me for.

***

This morning I woke up to find Sof, my forever little early bird, sitting on the couch, with neat little stacks of folded laundry in front of her. Too tired to get to them last night, I had left a basket of just-washed clothes out in the living room, with plans to get to them this morning. When I walked out of the room, Sof looked up and said, "I noticed you forgot to fold these, so I wanted to do it for you!"

Chris jokes that one of my love languages is cleaning, so you can imagine just how loved I was feeling at that moment. I scooped her up in my arms, and a flood of memories and feelings immediately came to me.

Yes, this was one of those good moments I had dreamt of. I've been so blessed that she and I have shared so many of these together.

But, though our relationship has always been solidly firm, it has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.

I'm going to be super honest and vulnerable here, and I hope what I say next doesn't get misconstrued. Because really and truly, I have loved her every second of her life. I loved her since the moment we started praying for her.

But here it goes....one thing that has really surprised me about my motherhood journey is that while I always always always have loved her, I've had lots of moments that I just plain didn't like her.

Gosh, that sounds awful doesn't it?

It's true though. Especially during her third year, there were so many days where I woke up already praying for bedtime. She has such a big personality with SO many emotions, and all those emotions are also big. This can be such an amazing thing because it means that she loves so hard, laughs with her whole heart, but also has big fears and big anxieties. And I haven't always known how to help her through those. (We are now in the process of learning how to help her with those fears and anxieties, and she's learning how to face them herself.) I'd start off by being patient, but I'd end up feeling like I needed to just walk away. Even at a year and half, someone at church once remarked that she acted like she "...had the whole world on her shoulders."

And how would these feelings manifest themselves? Tantrums, slammed doors, disobedience, whining (and whining and whining), and rudeness. I constantly have to remind myself that she's only five, even though she's always seemed much much older.

While the slammed doors haven't stopped (nor do I imagine they will anytime soon) I've found the moments of "I just don't feel like I like you right now" have lessened. I wish I could tell you the answer as to why, but this isn't a "tips on how to deal with a hard child" post. This is a "I'm telling you that I'm not a perfect mother and have my struggles" post.

The only thing I can say for certain does help, though, is hanging on to those bright moments. Make that hug last a little longer. Check on them after they've gone to sleep and breathe them in. Close your eyes, and make that good memory of them stick so that when the going gets tough, you have plenty of "THIS is why I love AND like them" memories.

Hang on to those bright moments.



8 Things You Couldn't Pay Me to Do

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Ever see someone do something, and you're like, "Ummmmmm, there's no way you could pay me a bajillion dollars to do that!"

Of course you have.

I don't know what made me start thinking about it, but during this last week, I've been keeping a mental note of what I'd put on the list. I was originally planning on making this a list of TEN things, but I ended up taking way way too long talking about #8. You'll soon see why.

1. Drive a semi truck cross-country. I don't even like driving. Heck, I wouldn't even want to back that thing out of the driveway. I can already imagine the headlines popping up across the news: "Stay-at-Home-Mom Runs Over Hundreds of Innocent Cows."Or, "Thousands of Road Trippers Cancel Trips Till Semi-Truck-Mom Week Ends." It would be so very bad.

2. Go back to high school. You know those 80's John Hughes films that always have a rocky, wrong side of the tracks start beginning, but somehow the jock up ends up with the nerd and the girl shows up to prom in a killer handmade dress? Yeahhhhhh...no. I mean, maybe if I had had a Duckie then I'd consid--no. I'll stop. But you know want to know the silver lining? I ended up way better off than my sixteen-year-old self could ever imagine. My taste in music, however, still has managed to go unchanged.

3. Give Donald Trump a loving embrace.

4. Sing the National Anthem at a major sporting event. I wouldn't even sing it at a MINOR sporting event. I can feel my hands clamming up just thinking about it!

5. Sleep in a room full of mice and vermin and basically anything that scurries. I'm certain my heart would stop and I would die.

6. Give up desserts for the rest of my life. Okay, so I would mayyyyybe consider giving them up, but it would have to be a whole lot of money. Chris and I gave up sweets for Lent, and I've come super close to wanting to set myself on fire half a dozen times because of it.

7. Watch any of the Freddy Kreuger movies. I watched parts of the movies when I was wayyyyy too young (my uncle was watching with his friends and for some stupid reason I thought it would be a good idea to watch) and I had nightmares every night for YEARS. Pretty sure if I write much more about I will be having nightmares tonight.

8. Drink a glass of milk. So, I probably would do it for $100, but I'd most certainly be crying the whole entire time. I hate milk. And I do not say that lightly because as Sof will always remind us, "We do not say HATE!" But I hate it so much. If it touches me, I have to wash my hands right away because I am so worried that it will soak into my pores and go right into my bloodstream and kill me. You know the saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk?" Well, the person who came up with it clearly has never ever met me. Quick anecdote for you: my freshman year of college, I was sitting with a table of friends at dinner in the good ol' BYU Cannon Center. They knew I hated milk, but they had NO IDEA how much. One of my friends decided it would be funny to toss his pork chop into our other friend's bowl of cereal. I took one look at it and I felt the tears pouring out of my eyes. I ran out of there so fast. Crying. I don't think I'll ever, ever, forget that. Ever seen "Inside Out?" Yeah, that incident made its way into my core memories.

***

So, if you were hoping to throw some money my way to do any of the aforementioned things feel free to just keep it in you wallet cuz I just ain't doin' it.

What about you? What's on your list?

A time when I didn't have a good answer.

Thursday, April 6, 2017



You know those moments in parenthood where you look back and think, "Pretty sure my kid was the one teaching something here." Today I had one of those moments, and for some reason, I can't seem to shake it off.

But, maybe that's the point. Maybe it needs to stick with me and make me feel a little bit uncomfortable so I can learn the lesson.



Here's what happened...

The kids and I were in the car, out to get some bagels. I had just gotten a piece of good news, and I was excitedly chatting about it with my brother on the phone. (Don't worry, it was on speaker!) As usual, whenever the kids hear or see me talking to someone, they immediately have, like, a thousand things they just HAVE to tell me, and it has to be RIGHT NOW.



So, I'm on the phone, and I keep giving my kids half-answers, while trying to finish telling my brother the details about my news. I pull up to a red light, and I'm the first one in my lane. As I wait at the light, I hear Sof say, "Who's that man, mama?" I ignore her because I didn't really know who she was talking about, and again, I was on a call. But, then again, she asks, "Mama, who is that? Why's he standing there?"

I look over and see who's she talking about.

"He's homeless, baby."

- "What does that mean?"

"It means that he doesn't have a home."

- "So, you mean he has to sleep on the sidewalks or on the streets?"

"Maybe. There are special places where homeless people can go to and get help. Sometimes they can sleep there."

- (pauses) "What did his sign say?"

"I don't know, sweetheart, I didn't see. But, maybe he was looking for a job, or asking for money."

- "Why didn't you give him any money?"

I sit there, not saying anything.

- Again she asks, "Why didn't you give him any money, mama? Is it because you don't have any monies?"

This is where I got stuck. Why didn't I give him any money? Was it because I didn't have any? Well, that wasn't true. I knew I had a few singles in my backpack sitting right next to me.

The truth was I simply didn't have a good answer. I had a couple of answers running in my head that weren't very good; maybe he'd use the money to buy something that wasn't good for him. Maybe I was feeling extra nervous because the driver side window sticks when I roll it down. I'm sure I could have come up with a dozen not-very-good reasons.

So, after she asked me a third time, I simply said, "I don't know."

That was all I could muster up. I didn't want lie and say I didn't have anything for him. That would have been SO easy to do, but I couldn't do that to myself or to her.

- "So you couldn't help him?"

And that's when I knew I had to show Sof that even mommies need to be humbled.

"No, Sof. I could've helped him, but I didn't. I should have done better. Thanks for reminding me to be better."

- "It's okay, mama. Next time we can help."

***



It hit me hard that Sof still only sees people in the very best way. She doesn't judge, doesn't care about people's pasts, and doesn't understand why we don't always make the right decisions. I mean, that's exactly what we try to teach her, right? To mourn with those who mourn, visit the sick, and help the poor? How can I teach her about giving away the shirts off our backs, if I'm not willing to take a second and pull out some spare change.

Anyway, I learned a really important lesson today. And I think it was good for her to see that.

***Sof's darling shirt and skirt c/o Lucy & Leo.

Cake Smash

Monday, March 27, 2017


He came.


He saw.


And he conquered that cake.

Happiest of birthdays, Oscar boy. I have a feeling your cake days are far from over, darling boy.

And her heart grew three sizes that day. Oscar's birth story.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017



I've been meaning to write this for a long time.

Almost three hundred and sixty-five days to be exact.

I kept putting it off and putting it off because it didn't feel like the "right" time. When is the right time to sit down and try to put into words one of the best days of your life? When, with that joy also comes the hard, punch-you-in-the-gut reminder that time is both a thief and a gift, and you're constantly trying to grab a hold of it as it swiftly sifts through your fingers?

But, with Oscar's first birthday finally approaching, I knew it was time, and that I was ready. Or, at least, I am forcing myself to be ready.

So, here you go....the story of when Oscar was born.

***

It all started the morning of March 21, 2016. It was a Monday, and I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for that morning. I was a four days short of being 40 weeks pregnant, and at that stage where you're frantically googling natural ways to induce labor. When I hopped on the table for my weekly check-up, I told my doctor to please strip my membranes. To be more specific, I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Make sure you strip 'em *real* good doc." (No shame here, guys. None. I wanted that baby OUT.) And let me tell you, he did his job allllmost a tad too well.

My mother-in-law had flown in during the appointment, and together she and my husband met us at the hospital because the kids couldn't wait to see her. I then said bye to the sweet nurses and receptionists, and told them that I hoped I wouldn't see them again. Well, not tell I had a baby to show for it. Then we all went back home, and I'm pretty sure I just went straight to bed.

Fast forward to around 7 o'clock in the evening. I don't remember what happened exactly, but I remember that I didn't give Pato a goodnight kiss and hug before bed. Maybe C and his mom put him to bed? Anyway, I remember thinking "Oh gosh. I forgot to say goodnight! What if the baby comes tonight and I didn't have a chance to tell him that I love him? It will be the last time he's the baby of the family!" Hormones you guys. HORMONES.

It was around then I started having some cramping, but nothing major. Chris, his mom and I finally sat down to eat dinner after the kids were down, and I stayed mostly quiet. I don't think anyone really noticed though because my husband loves to talk and his mom is the most amazing listener. It was sometime during dinner that I kept thinking, "Hm. These cramps don't seem to be going away. And they sorta hurt." I did't want to say anything though about it quite yet, so I just excused myself, and went upstairs to our bedroom.

I'd like to say I turned something amazing show on. With Sof, I watched "Friends" as I labored. With Pato, it was Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations." With O, I seriously just wanted something to distract me, so I watched that show called "Brain Games." Guys, I NE-VER watch that show. I really have NO clue what I chose that.

Anyway, it was then that I started timing my contractions, and I was surprised by how long they were lasting. And getting more uncomfortable. Oh, and closer. But, I STILL didn't want to say anything, and Chris and his mom were still downstairs. At some point I thought, "Okay. These are getting worse. I'm going to take a bath." So, I did, and I sat in the bath and facetimed with my mom who lives in Hong Kong. She kept saying, "I think you should go to the hospital now." Now listen, I LOVE my mom. But, she will send you to the doctor if you cough more than once in an hour. I kept telling her, "No, mom. I don't want to go just to have to turn right back around."

I sat in the bath and just breathed through the contractions, and then there were a few that were just taking my breath away. It was finally then that I thought, "Okay, maybe it's time to go."

Things escalated pretty quickly after that.

And thank goodness I had packed my hospital bag that morning because one minute I had finally broken it to Chris that it was time to go, and the next we were walking two blocks away because our Uber driver was picking us up at the wrong spot. Did I mention I felt like my break was about to break?

So, we get in the Uber sometime after 11PM, and my husband tells the driver just what every Uber driver just DREAMS of hearing, "We need to go to the hospital, she's in labor!"

The great thing is that because it was late, the drive only took about twenty minutes. You can never really tell with Philly traffic, and it had sometimes taken me forty minutes to get there. But even though the ride was technically short, it felt like one of the longest in my life. She stopped at EVERY yellow light, and I could feel myself getting so irritated. I rolled down the window and just moaned and moaned in the back. Poor lady.

(I should mention that with Sof, I had to be induced, so I never really experienced real labor pains at all. With O, I was admitted into the hospital when I was 3 cm dilated, and my contractions had just begun. I want to laugh and laugh and LAUGH when I think back on that time because I thought THAT was painful. Oh, honey.)

So we get to the hospital and I walk right out of the car, and didn't even think to look back and see if Chris was behind me. I walked right up to the front desk of the ER (where we had to go since it was after-hours) and I could feel everyone staring at me. The lady up front calmly asked, "What seems to be the problem?" EXCUUUUUUSE ME?! I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to forget my manners, so  in between breaths I said, "I'm...having...a...baby."

A few seconds later, I'm taken to this room off to the side and asked to sit back in this chair that looked like a dentist's chair. The doctor starts asking me WHO KNOWS WHAT to see if I truly was in labor, and I'm just like, "Is this a joke?" Thankfully, the most amazing, heart of gold, male nurse took one look at me, and basically picked me up and put me in a wheelchair and said, "No, she's definitely in labor." And then he raced me through the corridors and up the the maternity wing himself.

Okay, I need to stop the story for a second. I don't know why I do this, but I always start acting really funny when I'm around doctors and nurses. Especially when I'm about to have a baby. I have this internal battle between trying to be polite, trying to be THE BEST PATIENT EVER, while also being extremely uncomfortable. So, I get wheeled into the delivery room, and I'm all excited and saying, "Hi!!! I'm having a baby!! It's happening!" Well, that upbeat attitude left the room REALLL quick.

The doctor came in and told me she was going to check my cervix and see how far along I was. She then said, "Well, you're about a six and half, almost seven." I was like, "WHAT do you MEAN." And then I was relieved because I've watched enough Grey's Anatomy to know they are not going to turn away a woman who was that far along. I immediately let her know that I most definitely would be wanting that epidural...like five hours ago.

The pain. The pain was SO intense. And I'm sure I broke all the breathing rules because as soon as I felt one coming on, I would just hold on to my breath so tightly, and I thought I would break the sides of the bed from clutching them so hard. I had to get my IV put in, and it took the poor nurse close to 20 minutes just to do so. And it took every ounce of strength in me not to burst into tears (actually, there were definitely tears, I lied) and start screaming at the heavens. I was pleading for the epidural as I felt like every fiber in my body was being broken. To make it even worse, the nurse was asking me all sorts of questions like, "When's your birthday?" and "How much do you weigh?" I don't think I even knew my own NAME at that moment.

I'll fast forward to when the anesthesiologist walked in and administered my epidural. Even as I write this, I find myself holding my breath just thinking about that time. I finally started to feel the numbness, and with it, pure relief.

I was almost an 8 when I finally got the epidural. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be at 10 cm.

The next few hours were pretty uneventful. C and I were both so tired, and it's amazing how going through the very worst pain of your life really wipes the energy out of ya.

Finally, around 4 in the morning, I told the doctor I really felt like my body was ready to push, and she checked me and got the nurses all ready. It was baby time!

It happened so fast! I pushed once. Then was told to stop, and then half a push later, he was out! He came out so peacefully and when they placed him in my arms, I immediately had the thought, "Oh, there you are!" I didn't feel like I was meeting him for the first time. It felt like we were finally back together again, and my heart, my arms, the spot on my chest where he rested his tiny head- they already knew him. He laid quietly, and I remember asking the doctor, "What's wrong? Why is he so quiet." She then said, "There's nothing wrong. He's just happy."

Oscar Andres Jones. Born March 22, 2016 at 4:16 a.m. 21 inches and 7 lbs. 5 oz. of light, joy, love, and perfection.
(Cue the waterworks as I sit here in Starbucks writing this.)

"He's just happy."

I had no idea just how happy this special boy has made me. Has made his family. My heart yearned for him before I knew him, and he is even more wonderful than I had imagined. And to be honest, that's saying a lot because my expectations were admittedly high.



After taking a few minutes of smelling him and loving on him, I remember turning to the doctors and saying, "OH! Wow! Did you see how fast he came out?! I PUSHED SOOOO GOOOOD! Was that one of the best pushes you've EVER SEEEEEN?" (Seriously, how ridiculous was I?! Told you I got funny around doctors!) They laughed, and all assured me that indeed, I was a rockstar pusher.

***



Oscar Andres, you have lit up my life since the day you were born. You made my life more peaceful, and made me forget all the uncertainties that still surround us. You make me feel like everything will work out because we have you. I will spend the rest of my days trying to make sure you feel my love, and even beyond that. Thank you for choosing us.

6 Things that I do now that used to scare me...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


...and my life is way better for it.

1. I've stopped apologizing so much. Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't say sorry when you do something wrong or own up to your mistakes. Did you accidentally imply that your friend's baby is not very cute? You should probably say sorry. Did you wait until the last minute to bail on an appointment? The kind thing to do would be to apologize. But, I used to say sorry all the time for things that weren't my fault or even WRONG. Does anyone else ever do that? Or does that not even make sense?

2. I voice my opinions. "Wait, you used to not voice your opinions?" Sometimes I did, but a lot of times I didn't. I was afraid that my opinion was wrong, or that I couldn't say anything because I was worried I'd be the only person who thought something. For example, I was in a recent discussion with a friend, and I said, "You know, I can see where you're coming from, but I don't know that I agree completely with that thought." And did she bite my head off? No. My head is still fully intact. Did I lose a friend? No. Does she think I'm a horrible person for disagreeing? Maybe. (Kidding, she is wonderful and I think she still likes me.) 

3. I accepted that I'm not perfect, and accepted that I will never be. And guess who's expecting perfection out of me? NO ONE. The load that took off my shoulders, I tell ya! I am so done chasing that impossible golden finish line.

4. I stopped selling myself short. Boy, this one is still hard. This has been more of a "business-y" decision, but I used to be afraid to say, "Hey, I'd love to work you, but this is how much it costs/ these are the terms." Also, when people used to ask about my blog, I'd answer with something like, "Ohhhhhh, ya know, its just a thingggg. It's dumb. I just write random stuff." And then I'd try to change the subject. But you know what? It's not true. I actually enjoy writing, and it's anything but dumb. I put thought and effort into every post I write. 

5. I started to say "no" more, AND "yes" more, too (especially if saying yes means stepping a bit out of my comfort zone!)

6. Get in front of the camera more instead of always staying behind it. 


***

Just don't ask me to get over my fear of heights. Or stick me in a room full of bees. Not happening.

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