So, I’ve been really overwhelmed by a lot of things (some of which I’ll go into at a later time) and this week, everything was just magnified because I have both the kids because of Winter break. I swear I feel like I’ve been non stop screaming. I am trying so hard to teach my four year old patience, respect, and Number One: Refraining-From-Hitting-The-Sister. It is super freaking hard! I’m hoping things will cool off once he’s back at daycare, but it’s like it takes literally two seconds for him to snap at her. I’ll admit, I snap too! So maybe I’m contributing to the problem! Aghhhhh what am I doing with my life?!?! My friends have tried to comfort me, and they’ve helped. “We all go through this”, “You’re a good mom”, “They’re just kids”. And yet I still feel so desperately worried that I am scarring my children for life by doing something wrong.

No solutions today. Just venting. 

Bedtime used to be my favorite time of the day. Y would go down into her crib without a fight while T stayed patiently in the other room playing by himself for 5 minutes. Then, all of a sudden, he decides he WILL NOT stay in the other room. And almost simultaneously Y decides she WILL NOT go down into her crib without a very loud fight. So for a few weeks, I struggled with them and tore my hair out trying to figure out what I should do (my husband works nights, so I’m alone). After some contemplation, I decided I shouldn’t force my son away from me if he just wants to be close to me. So I let him stay with Y and I in her bedroom. Our current set up is just the three of us all lying next to each other on the big bed. T is still pretty calm and falls asleep relatively easily (I miss my sweet alone time with my sweet boy), but Y, oh my God, she is a hot mess when she’s trying to fall asleep (like T used to be…so I guess it’s normal). Just the tossing and turning and rolling on us and the whining and crying UGHHH for like an hour (at about the halfway point, her brother usually falls asleep). And just like that, bedtime is now my LEAST favorite part of the day. I pray to God it changes again (well, yeah, of course it will, but we don’t know when).

I also had a really uncomfortable (ok, infuriating) conversation earlier today with some family members, and I am just so done at this point.

I love parenting. I share many, many inspiring, life giving moments with my children. Today, it’s just really hard.

Sorry for the doom and gloom post… In case you missed it the first couple times, I am having a sh*t day. Just keepin’ it real, folks. Hope y’all are feeling better than I.

Obligatory Christmas Post

Merry Christmas everybody!!! I love Christmas. It’s so beautiful everywhere- all the lit up houses, decorated shop windows, and sometimes snow if we’re lucky. Christmas classics on the radio are the cherry on top (though I adamantly believe these should not be played -or listened to- until the earliest, after Thankgiving).

We had a beautiful Christmas service at church. My dad recounted the story of Jesus, walking us through various parts of the Bible. After all, the most important thing at Christmas is to remember what it’s really all about- God being able to finally send His Son. The shiny packages and bows (and Santa Claus’) are nice, but I hope that people will always, always remember the true meaning and Christian spirit of Christmas.

After church, we went to my aunt’s house. I am blessed to have a good number of family members living close by me. This year, I’ve come to really appreciate that. I’ve talked to several people recently who have told me how lucky I am to have so many local family members to spend special occasions with. It’s true! On the big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, usually almost 30 of us gather together. (This is my dad’s side of the family- the Chinese side. My mom’s side is in North Carolina, my second home, and I missed them this Christmas. It’s a little more difficult to plan out getting together with mom’s side, but always worth it. You may recall our visit this past Summer?)

My kids were delighted to open their piles and piles of gifts. I took a bunch of photos and videos, of course, as a good mom should. Though about three quarters of them are out of focus or someone’s head is cut off or someone’s picking their nose (what else is new). That’s why the trick is to take three times more photos than a normal person (i.e. non mom of toddlers) would. I’m sure I’ll be able to dig out a few keepers. I did buy a couple of matching Paul Frank shirts for the kids this year: “I’m on the Nice List” for Y and “Does good enough count?” for T. Bless that little boy’s heart, he is doing so, so much better. Learning more self control and delayed gratification, and becoming such a good helper to me (Lord knows I need it right about now).

It’s always so nice to see my cousins. I miss the times when I could sit and have a conversation for longer than 3 minutes without being interrupted. But those times will come again.

Fellow humans, treasure your loved ones at Christmas and always! At the end of the day, the quality time spent with them is truly the only thing that matters.

Two Years

On November 26th, two years had officially passed since mom died. A group of friends and family went to her gravesite and had a small ceremony- sang, prayed, read devotional. We brought her some beautiful flowers and her favorite foods. (You’re the only person I’ll ever bring myself to make liver and onions for, mama!)

Mom was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, when I was 14. She underwent her prescribed chemotherapy and had a hysterectomy, and was later considered in remission. I was not a good daughter that year – too consumed in my own selfish desires and concerns. I remember feeling lost at 14 for many reasons, not knowing clearly what was up and what was down, and what I really wanted. Deep down, I’m sure I wanted to help my mom and be close to her, especially when she was suffering so much, but I felt so detached and disconnected from her – emotionally, for sure, but almost to the point of feeling physically detached. She was getting thinner every day, throwing up constantly, but I generally helped her get to the bathroom or brought her what she needed quickly, and then went about my business, often alone in my room. I do remember going with her to shop for wigs a couple times. There was one instance when her hair was growing back, but she couldn’t tell it was her hair. Her natural hair is red (them Irish genes!), but after chemo, when it started to slowly grow back, it was more brown (mixed with some white and gray). She had been scrubbing her head over and over and she finally said to me in exasperation, “I can’t get my head clean!”. I looked at her head closely and said, “That’s hair, mom.” My heart hurt for her in that moment. I should have been warmer, more tender. Given her a hug and told her she was so strong, I was so proud of her, and everything was going to be ok. But it was too awkward and unnatural; I just didn’t talk to my mom like that. It wasn’t until several years later that I became open and genuine and loving with her. Thank God I finally did, though!

Looking back, my parents and I should have all been more diligent about getting regular checkups after her initial treatment and “clearance” so to speak. At the beginning of 2014, she complained of a cough that never went away no matter how much cough medicine she took. After much persistence and several second opinions, they finally had her take CAT scans. Sure enough. Lung cancer. I asked my mom the year she passed, when she was going back to the hospital and getting opinions from doctors about what to do for her Stage IV cancer, “How did we not catch this earlier?” Apparently, in 2010, she did see a doctor who told her to go back through chemo, but she was hesitant (who knows what planet I was on) and swept it under the rug until she forgot. How could she just forget? Believe me, it’s possible. More on Huntington’s Disease later.

I cried a lot that weekend, even into last week. It’s just a lot to take in sometimes. I mean it’s a simple thing; it’s a death. But with death comes so many layers of emotions you never even knew you had.

C called me on November 26th. Of course she did. She left the kindest, most poignant voicemail. All the simple things I needed to hear. I would expect no less from her. I got back in touch with her a few days later and something she said really touched me. I was explaining that it’s still hard living day to day without my mom and I think about her and miss her often, but overall, in my every day life, I feel a sense of calm and joy and appreciation. Like everything’s going to be ok. I just think about what I have (and who I have) and I feel so incredibly grateful, which naturally leads to a serenity and a happiness that just bubbles out of me. I asked her if that was a good thing or a bad thing. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure. I mean I don’t want to be this idealistic, head in the clouds person (I KNOW I have issues. My husband and I, we have our struggles. We have our shadows). What C said to me gave me a warm hug right through the phone. She said “That is an AMAZING attitude. Don’t ever change that.” Leave it to C to just know me to my core and know with such confidence that I’m a good person.

A lot of what keeps me so happy is little (or big) meetups with good friends! I’m getting ready for my first cookie exchange tomorrow! So excited! Not really gunning for any of the prizes as I’m a totally amateur cookie maker, but just looking forward to mingling with all the girls!

Mama, I know you’ll be there in spirit! I think you’re part of why I feel ok. I think you’re embracing me. I think you watch over me and the kids more than we remember. While you were here, I was the one constantly telling you everything was going to be ok. You had a lot of doubt and fear. I don’t think you have that anymore. And I think you want me to know that. That you’re free and happy and you’re here for me. And that everything really is going to be ok.

Healthy Snacking

So, I’m finally realizing, in my old age, that 


is actually freaking amazing.

Anyone ever make their own? I have GOT to try. I used to turn my nose up at hummus without giving it much of a chance, but this past year, I tried some Tribe Lemon Focaccia with carrots (has to be carrots!) and I gave it enough of a chance…to where I fell in love 😍. To my horror, the local grocery stores I checked didn’t offer Lemon Foccaccia. So, like their website instructs, I emailed Tribe to let them know! I am happy to report that Tribe customer service agents are super cool! They apologized for my distress, suggested I talk to the managers of the stores, and mailed me a ONE FREE Hummus pack coupon! WHAT!! 

So, I decided to try their regular ol’ “classic”. Not as exciting as Lemon Focaccia, but still delicious! I’m currently furiously cutting up a whole bag of carrots. Another element of inspiration is that I’m now getting tons of extra wholesome veggies! My eyes are gonna be amazing! (I hope my skin doesn’t turn orange. As soon as I see a sign of that, I will slow down.)

Another GREAT way to get your veggies in is with Lipton or Knorr (I’ve found them to be equally delicious) spinach dip. It’s essentially mayo, sour cream, spinach (I personally prefer to leave out the water chestnuts), and an intoxicating mix of heavenly spices. I still stick to carrots with this dip, but I’m sure everyone likes different veggies.

Happy (healthy) snacking!