Keepin it Real

I haven’t written in three weeks. Today, I need it. I need the angry, pulsating blur of frustration, fatigue, and exasperation to dissipate and trickle out of my fingertips in the form of words on this page.

If any of you were wondering what it’s like being pregnant with two other kiddos under 5 running around, in a word, it’s exhausting. Some days are really f*cking hard. Today was one of those days. I’m empty. I’m at the end of my rope. I have used up every last reserve of energy. Between making meals, sweeping floors, washing dishes, attempting to knock a few calls off my call list and changing diapers, attempting to toilet train (haven’t gone all in yet; must get serious soon), putting baby girl in car, picking up older brother from daycare… (This reminds me – people have said to me in passing “Don’t run“, “Don’t pick her up“….Seriously? How is that possible? Do you actually expect me to go through my whole pregnancy without running or picking anyone up? Don’t see that happening… I mean I understand the good intention and I appreciate the concern, but it’s simply unrealistic.)

I don’t know what I did wrong today. I don’t know if I ate something weird, if I didn’t drink enough water, if I didn’t sleep enough, if I slept too much, if I didn’t read enough Scripture, if I didn’t pray enough, if my brain is too wired or on overdrive from trying to do too many things at once or simply from too many screens for one day… Some of you are probably thinking, “Ummm hormones? It’s not rocket science…” I’ll admit, you may be right. Except that this has happened before; many, many times when I wasn’t pregnant. I think every parent has these days. I think it comes with the territory.

Around dinner time, I had a full on screaming match with T after he started flipping out because I said he couldn’t have chocolate after he ate his meal. He had already had one this morning (and quite a lot over the last 3 days, so I had to put a stop to it before it became a habit). Totally stooped to his level, totally did all the things the parenting experts say not to do. I “lost my cool”. Supernanny would be so disappointed.

And I was doing so well…

I never told you about the instance when my mother in law told me I shouldn’t scream at my son so much, did I? This was about two months ago I suppose. I went into a mini depression because she was basically validating what I already knew was true, what I already felt impossibly guilty about. After I got over the initial shock, I kicked myself into gear and finished reading that Supernanny book I borrowed a month prior and had only read the first chapter of. She actually has some really helpful, basic, straight forward advice. She’s really big on praise and says it leaves 10 times as much of an impression as disciplining does, which was encouraging because I’ve always made a point to put a lot of emphasis on praise. We had already been using a sticker chart and it had definitely helped (I give him a sticker when he follows directions and acts properly and take one away if he does something really unacceptable. At first, it was 6 stickers to a prize; we recently increased to 8). What I have been meaning to incorporate is Supernanny’s version of Time Out which she calls the “Naughty Step”. Basically, you give two warnings – two chances for the child to correct his/her behavior (have to talk them through it and be very specific about what you are expecting) – and then the third time they repeat/continue the misbehavior, you take them to the “Naughty Step” or chair or corner of the room or wherever you decide for it to be. So, we made our list of House Rules (kept it simple – no hurting others, sit at the table when eating, clean up toys after playing). We didn’t write a No Screaming at the Top of Your Lungs til You’re Red in the Face and Throwing Laundry at Omma rule, but we should have. I gave him the two warnings. I told him he had to sit down and be quiet and stop disrespecting me, and he continued, so I screeched, “THAT’S IT! TIME OUT!” What I did wrong was that I got all heated and I grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the next room (Supernanny notes the time out spot shouldn’t be a bedroom, but in the heat of the moment, I thought taking him into a different room would get my point across better.) Poor baby. It makes me sad thinking about it. Where was my patience? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I know this devastated feeling won’t last. This too shall pass. The good news is that tomorrow, I have a chance to start anew and to do better. I’ve come to expect all these highs and lows. This is real life. This is not a movie scripted to make everything fall into place; where everything works itself out and resolves itself neatly by the close of the day.

When things get crazy, when our minds are a mess and we are on our last legs, we just need to stop. Stop everything (even if we have to wait til after the kids go to bed, which most likely as parents, we do). Whenever we finally, finally have the chance, take a minute. A minute to take a few deep breaths, to meditate, to do yoga, to pray, to take a hot shower, to belt out a few songs on our favorite singing app (My singers, look up Smule in the app store! You won’t regret it!), to call a friend, to blog. Strand by strand, we can gather ourselves back together, pick up the pieces of ourselves that were tossed every which way in the tornado that was today. We can adoringly, quietly watch our little angels (I only call them angels when they’re asleep….) and rest assured that there’s no shortage of love in our hearts.

Tomorrow is a new day.

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A Poem

I decided to revisit my fifth grade gifted and talented class days and try my hand at poetry again. I call this “Sketch of a Typical Morning in the J Household”. Just a rough draft, nothing serious. I’m not liking the way WordPress adds a whole giant space every time I go to the next line, but whatryagonnado…

[Dreaming]

Hubby and I walking through Central Park

What is that ruffling sound?

Zzzzzzzz

Is hubby crinkling a plastic bag?

Zzzzz

Tap tap click clack

Is that a train approaching?

[Roll over]

[Yawn]

*Giggle

That doesn’t sound like hubby

Heavy weight on my body

Something squishing my cheeks together

[beautiful dream fading]

*Giggle

That’s not hubby.

Eyes flutter, open halfway

I look to my right. It’s Y.

Up at 6:30

the usual.

Busy as a bee arranging blocks in a line and shuffling papers

Better get up before she gets to the fridge

She always does.

Come on, Diane, you can do it

Up, up, up!

….

Outta bed sleepy head!

….

Where’s mom with that annoying Time to Get Up song when you need her?

Ughhhhh

Why do I NEVER feel like I had enough sleep…

Oh I know. Probably because each child generally wakes up at least twice…so I really DON’T get enough sleep…

And now I’m pregnant….

Woe is me… Ok enough of the pity party

[Finally extracts self out of bed as slowly as humanly possible]

Let’s see the mess she’s caused so far

Ok, not too bad, only three toy baskets overturned.

At least all the food is still in the fridge. Let’s count our blessings

“Y, let’s go into the other room for a few minutes until big brother wakes up” (maybe mommy can even steal another few winks…)

10 minutes later (or 15? Who can tell)

*Footsteps

That’ll be him!

“Morning, darling”

*big hug

Time to start the day

Any legit poets out there, I’m open to constructive criticism, but be gentle please! I’m rusty after…17 years πŸ˜‰

Good Ol’ New York

Ah, New York. I’ve gotten used to people saying thank you when I hold the door for them (leave it to Jersey). Not the case here! Things to do, places to go, people! Ok, I’m exaggerating. It was one woman. And oh, look, that guy said thank you. He must have read my mind.

I just got off the bus and walked through Port Authority. Meeting up with a friend in Times Square today! Yay! Grown up time!

I just now realized how slow I’ve gotten accustomed to walking. When I used to work in Manhattan, every morning, I was on a mission. Get up, get out, on and off the bus, and book it to my office. There’s just too many people in Times Square. I can’t deal. Gotta get through.

All right, here it comes. I’m picking up the pace. Gotta keep up. Seriously, everyone walks so fast! At least the natives. I did feel like a tourist of some sort rambling my way through leisurely a minute ago. Get in the zone, Diane! You’re still a New Yorker! 

Anyway, now I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs at Villa, waiting for my friend. We ordered something online together through my Atomy business (learn more on my About page) and I’m delivering her hand creams personally! Also, I’m craving New York pizza. Thank God I can eat wheat again (more on that later).

Oh God. Oh God. They’re playing Call Me, Maybe. I think I’m going to be sick. I think I have to leave. Ahhhh pins and needles. Breathe. Breathe. It’s just a song. It will be over in 3 minutes. Ugh, the horrible part is that eventually you start singing along anyway πŸ™„.

Ok, this pregster needs to eat! P.S. Whoever loves me the most, please buy me this shirt:

Mom’s Jingles

I come from a musical family. Simple, home grown kind of musical, nothing professional. Mom also grew up surrounded by music. She, her three siblings, and her parents all have beautiful singing voices. My parents and I used to sing a lot during road trips to pass the time: lots of Sound of Music, John Denver, My Fair Lady, and church hymns. Three family favorites were Getting to Know You, High Hopes, and Today

Mommy had song coming out of her pores. Sometimes I felt like she thought in music. She used to make up little jingles and sing them throughout the day. Here are a few I remember (of course it would be more interesting if you could hear the melody. Maybe one day I’ll record them):

Joomi Joomi koko bop Joomi Joomi bop…

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s, really go! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s, really go! (this one was more like a chant)

It’s time to get up, its time to get up, its time to get up this mooorning! (I think she thought she was easing the blow of getting me up by singing a happy little tune, but this used to drive me crazy! ☺️)

Focus, focus, and no hocus pocus, hey! Focus, focus… (I think she got this from her high school cheerleading squad or something)

I burst into song a lot, too. Singing makes me feel alive. And I’ve totally been making up my own funny jingles as I stroll along this path of raising my silly little snickerdoodles.

Miss your pretty voice, Mama! I feel you when I sing. I love that I exude song like you did. I’m just like you! 😊


Blueridge Mountains. Taken during one of our trips to North Carolina. (We used to love Country Roads too!)

February 9th, 8:15 pm

Every once in a while, I still think to myself, “Hey, I should call mom; she always wants someone to call her.”

I remember she felt lonely a lot. She used to tell me she had “empty nest syndrome” (I’m still not convinced this is a thing). She wanted me to call her every day if I could, but she accepted my intention to “do my best to call every 2-3 days”. Even if we talked for 10 minutes, she was grateful. And if I said “I have to go so-and-so”, signing off real quick, she was completely understanding. I should have talked longer. 

I miss her voice. I miss her “Ok, darling, thanks for calling”s. I hope I remember her voice forever. I wonder if there comes a time when you can’t really recall on your own and you have to go back to your collection of videos. 

I have a million videos on Facebook (that’s my default dumping ground for ALL photos and videos- I set most to private, but I’m sure it’s not the most “private” option out there, so I need to make it a point to switch over). If I scroll down far enough, I get to the ones of mom. Reading T a book with him on her lap, following him around in the garage area at church, together at the doctor’s office, playing guitar on the stairwell, staring awkwardly and smiling into the camera when I zoomed in on her. She was a smiler. Though the smiles finally started to fade as she got weaker. 

I want to hold her hand again. I want to lean on her and feel her arm around me again. 

I can’t think of a conclusion to this. There doesn’t seem to be any resolution or lesson learned or grand finale to this train of thought. Just ongoing feelings. (Why am I such an emotional being?!) That’s the funny thing about writing. It usually comes in neat, organized parts that fit in nice, little packages and feel complete and resolved and settled. Life is nothing like that (at least not my life ha!).

And with that, I will simply end awkwardly and abruptly.

Toodles!

My Philosophy: When you have nothing else to write about, write about Chocolate

Being the sugary goodness connoseuir that I am, I think it’s only fair that I share some of my infinite wisdom with my beloved readers. The fourteen (hard as I tried, I couldn’t narrow it down to ten) best (not surprisingly mostly all chocolate) desserts on the planet:

1. Pecan pie and apple pie by my aunt C (homemade ALWAYS makes the top of the list!)



2. Chocolate chip cookies by my uncle J – top secret recipe (wondering what I have to do to get it out of him!)


3. Tiramisu by my sister in law H


4. Manner Original Neapolitan Wafers (to DIE for Viennese hazelnut chocolate cookies which if you haven’t tried, you absolutely MUST. I think they may actually warrant a trip to Europe, however, you can also find them for a hiked up price on Amazon or an international food market someplace)


5. Coldstone Founder’s Favorite (this founder clearly knows what’s good). Sweet cream ice cream chock full of pecans, brownie bits, chocolate syrup, and caramel syrup. My mouth is watering talking about it… 


6. Ferrero rochers (I mean I hate to be so predictable but I think we can all agree)


7. Glutino gluten free chocolate covered pretzels (where my gluten free folk at?)


8. Godiva everything (practically)


9. Lindt Lindor “Irresistibly Smooth” dark chocolate truffles (though nearly ALL the flavors I’ve tried are pretty darn irresistible!)


10. Those big variety boxes of “specialty”  European chocolate cookies that I’ve seen anywhere from BJs to my local Chinese supermarket 


11. Pepperidge Farm Geneva Dinstinctive cookies (ooh, not just any cookies, distinctive cookies)


12. Entenmann’s rich frosted doughnuts (you may recall). Oh great, they spell them “donuts”. *facepalm


13. Nutella (something about hazelnut with chocolate! Those Europeans know what they’re doing!)


So I first found this image, and then I found this one:


and I thought Thaaat’s more like it πŸ˜‰ (Found this pic at divyakumar.com – pretty hilarious blog by the way)

14. Riesen chocolates


And that, my friends, concludes my list of all time best (mostly chocolate) sweet tooth satiators! Hope you enjoyed! Comment below if you think I left out something really crucial!

Duh duh duh dun duh DUN!!! *Trumpets playing*

So, I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you we are expecting a baby! My son turned 4 in December, my daughter is 2 and a quarter and this little piggy makes number three! Hubby and I are pretty sure we feel like this completes us, but I think we should always leave the possibility window open a crack, in case God has other plans. We’ll see what I say once bebe is here. I may slam that window right shut 😜.

I am excited and petrified. Part of me finds myself in la la land daydreaming about holding a wee one again, and part of me gets nervous knots in my stomach thinking about handling three at bedtime. Or mealtime or going to school time or anytime.

I have a few friends with three kiddos. I may be knocking on their doors (at least their Facebook Messenger doors) a few times over the next…decade. Surely I will need advice (and comfort?!) from those more experienced than I. My favorite reactions to my news from my seasoned mom friends so far are: “You’re in for a wild and wonderful ride!” and “Three is big time!” πŸ˜¬πŸ˜„


Hey, guys, can we get kisses too?

Since we’re *planning* that three is it, I spent some time reminding myself of all the things I wanted to do during my previous pregnancies that I either got too busy (or lazy) to do or just didn’t allow myself because they were “unnecessary”. I have written out a whole list of things I’m going to do this time around because this is my last chance! One thing on my list is “cute announcement photo”. I wanted to take some “Aww” inspiring announcement photos, so that my entire Pinterest board would not have been made in vain. I actually tried to do the above shoe one when I was pregnant with my daughter, but my husband was fussy and I dropped it. This time I stood my ground and pulled the “Last baby” card! I may have to keep that card real handy πŸ˜‰.  Didn’t my sister in law do a great job? She visited from Cali at just the perfect time! In case you were wondering, no, it is NOT easy to take photos with two active kids. I’m actually amazed how many came out well. We did the same shoe succession picture on a football field as well, so that the number 3 was in it.


This one was with a Samsung (don’t know if you can tell the quality difference at first glance, but this is the main reason I have an iPhone). Lighting was much better at this time of day than in the others. I probably should have gone back home to get my charger, but I didn’t. We came back the next morning on our way to breakfast – hence the really bright ones – and the dang park/field was closed, so we couldn’t go back to the “3”.


This one was taken with my iPhone before it died. Big difference, right? I got these shoes at Walmart. They didn’t really have any gender neutral ones like white or something, but we could have a sporty girl. I may try to do a short gender reveal photo shoot (also something on my list). Not professional, just something like what my sister in law did for us.

I also quite like this unplanned one where you find yourself trying to figure out if that is belly or just lumpy coat.


The answer is both! I definitely started to show earlier this pregnancy than during my first two, which they say is the norm. Not that it made me very happy… I just felt fat. But now my belly is sort of rounding out nicely so it looks more like baby and less like a dozen too many doughnuts. Speaking of doughnuts, during the early weeks, along with nausea came my body’s rejection of sweets. Very weird (but good, of course). The brownies and cookies and chocolate I normally love made me sick, so I went for a while without. It was kind of nice to not have to use will power to avoid all that goodness. As I neared 12 weeks, unfortunately, my usual sweet tooth came back with a vengeance (Eek! Now, where did I leave my Self Control?…)

Readers who have more than two kids, any words of wisdom for me?! Advice is much appreciated! 

Truth

In this video, Simon Sinek speaks on “Millenials in the Workplace” and the four major problems with this generation: parenting, technology, impatience, and environment. Ironically (but not surprisingly), I initially discovered it on Facebook. 

Simon Sinek Millenials in the Workplace
[I wish I could embed the actual video here, but I think I need a paid subscription for that (something to work up to πŸ˜‰).]

The message is clear and simple, yet eye opening and profound. As it happens, I am a Millenial myself. In my opinion, the realities described in this video need to be understood by all Millenials/young people of today. The points that hit home with me the most are Technology and Impatience. As Simon says, technology can be addictive and can seriously stunt the emotional, social growth of adolescents especially. Facebook is great, but its use should be carefully monitored. Before I was a parent (because being a parent just changes EVERYTHING), I did have a certain attachment to Facebook. On more than one occasion, I found myself a little too quick to log in, almost automatically, as if my mind couldn’t handle 5 idle seconds. I certainly experienced what many experience: As I scrolled, I subconsciously compared my job, my face, my partner, my clothes, my partying (or lack thereof) to those of my friends. As we all probably know, Facebook is completely one sided. The vast majority of posts on Facebook are of the happy moments, the accomplishments, the victories. People don’t post nearly as much about their struggles, their worries, their failures. For the most part, photos are all carefully selected and edited.

I love that this guy suggests removing temptation. One easy way is charging your phone in a room other than your bedroom. Facebook in itself is a harmless, useful tool (or form of entertainment at the least). We just need to pay attention to how we feel when we use it and whether or not we are relying unhealthily on it.

Next, impatience! Instant gratification is the devil. People have got to learn to WAIT. I am so insanely aware of the danger of instant gratification that I keep myself up at night worrying about how I’m going to teach my 4 year old son patience and the necessity and beauty of delayed gratification. Most of this generation’s unhealthy expectation of immediate gratification is a product of the Internet, obviously. The Internet is genius and powerful and freeing and dangerous. As a parent, it is my number one worry.

As I sign off tonight, I want to ask you this: Please don’t be afraid to talk about the ugly, to show the ugly. Life is made up of just as many disappointing moments as joyful moments, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Challenges and failures teach us to be resilient, to be appreciative. Imperfection makes us compassionate, makes us human. Be true to yourself and embrace the people in your life for all their perfect imperfections (Thanks, John Legend πŸ˜‰).

Blah

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.