Thursday, December 4, 2014

Special special special!

Our sweet Baby Samuel turned 12 weeks this week!  From the time I found out I was expecting I knew he was going to be a special baby.  And since he's been born, he's only confirmed it ten million times more.  He is the sweetest cutest little thing! Translation: He's already become a momma's boy.=) He's just soooo cute.

Last July when I found out about my dad's cancer, that's when I started wondering if I should have baby #2.  I wasn't really ready for another one but God gave me a change of heart from "uhhhh NOT YET!" to "uhhh maybe??"  Children truly are blessings and very cute, but from having my first sweet cute Maddie I've found that cute can also be defined as lots of hard work and patience.  James 1 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God..."  So unsure and afraid, I had a heart to heart talk with God last year asking him to give me another baby, maybe...if he thought it was a good idea.

I found out I was expecting this past January and all throughout the pregnancy I prayed asking that God would allow Dad to meet my baby.   By God's grace, it is a miracle that Dad is with us each and every day and after NINE months of pregnancy, Dad was able to meet his namesake, baby Samuel=).

So the name "Samuel" was chosen mainly because we want our baby boy to love and humbly follow God just like my dad does.  One of the verses that was imprinted in my heart as a child was 1 Samuel 16:7, which was another reason why we chose this name.  When I was younger, my dad had me memorize this verse which says "Don't judge a man by his face or height." Other versions say "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."   Even if he is the handsomest boy out there (and yes he is=)) Kevin and I want our baby to know that a humble heart for God is most important.

Speaking of name choices, months before, I was hanging out with my nieces and nephews (all under 9) showing them how baby moved all the time in my tummy.  He really did!  I asked for some name suggestions and my 4-year-old nephew suggested the name "Flash". Thankfully, my 5-year-old niece also looked at me and said, "Samuel's a very nice name!"   It was so funny because "Samuel" was already a strong contender.  That same day, my nieces and nephews even asked baby what name he liked the most.  Thankfully my boy did not respond to "Flash."  But when we brought up the name, "Samuel" from inside the womb, baby gave a strong kick, no joke!

God's timing is also so very perfect.  In the days before Samuel was born, I asked God if he would allow the baby to come before Wednesday, September 10th, since my dad would be starting another round of chemotherapy then.  Things weren't looking good for Dad at the time as with each round of chemo, his symptoms were getting worse.  On Wednesday, September 3rd, I attended our church prayer meeting and I shared my prayer request with three other ladies that I was hoping baby would come before September 10th.  My water broke just a few days after those prayers and after many contractions and long hours of pushing, and then surgery, I was so grateful and in awe of God's timing when our baby Samuel arrived Tuesday at 1:00am, just in time to see his grandpa before chemo and the rest of his big awesome family.  GRAND entrance, drum rolll, meet my baby boy Samuel.





Sunday, August 24, 2014

Waiting Out the Long 9 Months

I am almost almost there and very ready and feeling big enough to welcome baby #2 into this world.  Whereas sometimes it can feel like you're waiting forever, this pregnancy really has gone by ever so quickly.  My #1 "big guy" as she calls herself vies for my attention so much so that for much of my pregnancy, I've forgotten I was pregnant at all.  At one point, I remember contemplating how much fun it would be to bike to work only to remember that I was 5 months pregnant.

April festivities
This time around, though I haven't journaled as much, I have been just as intentional in making sure I celebrate every month.  Sometimes it just means I hang out with friends or I do something little but I need reminders throughout to help me remember how blessed I am to be able to carry a healthy and oh my goodness, extremely active baby.  What I love about celebrating each month is it gets me excited rather than bogged down by the nausea, the loss of motion, the urge to pee every two seconds and so on.  Okay so nothing gets you excited about those things, but at least it helps you with the wait.  I can be pretty grumpy so thank goodness for these monthly celebrations/events that helped me through.

Mother's Day when we all escaped
April - I refused to let pregnancy keep us from having doing things so this month, Kevin and I took Maddie and my still small potato baby in the womb camping at Greenbrier State Park.  Fun, tiring and relaxing all at once.That same week, Kevin and I came back and had our first baby reveal party. My sister was the only one who knew the gender of the baby and baked an awesome cake to help us find out the gender!

Mads and her cousin getting ready for their 1st canoe ride!
May - Celebrated my bday, went out with my sisters and my mom (JUST us, no kids) for Mother's Day dinner. My sister and I also snuck out of the house and went to the theater to watch Mom's Day Out thanks to be my awesome husband who willingly babysit Maddie and my sister's 4 kids + my grandma.  I also ran a 4 miler on Memorial Day!

June - Last race of my pregnancy. Ran the FC
A 5k Endurance Run
July - Beach trip just with my girlfriends (There were many naptimes, a lot of eating, and just lotsa laughing. So good for the soul.

August - Had family vacation with the family thanks to a family friend at the Chesapeake Bay. And yes, I went canoeing with big belly and even took Maddie out for her first canoe ride!

And now comes a few more days, weeks or maybe a month of waiting. We'll see!

Friday, June 6, 2014

One of my New Favorite Things - Bekvam Step Stool

While I do still hope to write about aging in my blog, there are other things I want to share that always flood my mind. For weeks, I have been dying to share with you one of my new favorite things. Yes, its the Bekvam Step Stool. My husband and I bought it for Maddie's birthday last month and I have to say that it is a hit, both in my mind and hers.=)

When my precious girl turned 2, I knew everyone else would likely give her toys or food and as her mother, I really wanted to beat out the competition. The gift had to be functional, memorable and of course, budget friendly.  The current stool that Maddie has is one that Kevin made in Boy Scouts and she has always loved it. She carries it around, sits on it at her "work" table", sits on it in the corner when she plays with her toys, eats on it, etc. I happened to paint it a cute color (with free paint!), which has upped its cuteness factor by 100.  As Maddie has grown, however, I realized that as a stool, it really can elevate you so much (which at times is a good thing).

The issue came though when I realized that Maddie loves washing her hands. She loves washing her hands and every time she wanted or needed to wash her hands, I was her "stool".  As my belly continues to grow and as Maddie seized every opportunity she could to wash her hands, I realized a two step stool was a must in our home.

Two requirement for this stool was cost and size.  I didn't want to spend bookoo bucks on it nor did I want an additional piece of chunky furniture in our place.  So after searching online, I found the one and only Bekvam Step Stool.  To make her day extra special, I brought Maddie to Ikea for special field trip on her birthday to buy the stool.  We've had it for about a month and here is why I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.

- Its sturdy yet inexpensive (a mere $14.99 at Ikea).
- It encourages Maddie to do things on her own because she too can look in the bathroom mirror and wash her hands, wash her face, etc.   Brushing her teeth is something she now LIKEs to do because she can climb up and see herself in the bathroom mirror.
- I no longer have to carry her everytime to wash her hands!
- The stool is multifunction.  It serves as desk for her activities and she also loves to eat on it.
- Its simple and cute.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Turning 31

Things don't always happen the way we plan. I think that's the lesson God wanted me to learn this past year and I am just starting to understand and accept it.

So Sunday was my 31st birthday and in all honesty, I was a bit disappointed with how things went.  I didn't expect surprise parties or a big shebang but I wasn't in a celebratory mode for my birthday at least.  Kev and I stayed at my parents most of last week since my dad was finishing up another round chemo. Kevin had a busy work week.  Maddie's birthday was last Thursday and then right after school on Friday, Kevin left on a camping trip for the weekend with my nephew and his Treeclimber's group.  Me and Maddie were on our own for a girls weekend and we had a busy weekend with wedding and all.  It was just a busy busy week. 

My birthday all started when I woke Maddie up for church. The first thing I told her was it was Mommy's bday.  Her response? 

"No MEEE!!"

Most people would congratulate me and just say "Happy Birthday" but I was left to leave it to a two year old. Since her birthday was only three days before mine, she clearly thought it was HER birthday, not mine.  And so everytime I tried to remind her that it was my birthday, she screamed back at me and said that it was hers. I eventually realized that there really was no use fighting with a two year old and so I ended up keeping my mouth shut for the rest of the morning.  Ignoring the fact that it was my birthday...at least around her.

 
               bday pic AFTER she locked herself in her room
Maddie honestly did not help me feel that special that morning!!  That same morning as we were getting ready for church, she locked herself in her bedroom.  So much for hoping that everything goes smoothly!  Another reminder to me that things just don't work out the way we want them to all the time.  And this is pretty much the lesson I've been learning all year. 

Much of this has to do with the journey of motherhood where at times it just doesn't feel like you have any control over anything. You buy your daughter the expensive good stuff that's dairy free for her and she throws it all over the floor. You try to help her with something and she pushes you away and throws a fit.  Then she tells you she wants you to help her again and you go back to help. And then screams at you again.  When you need sleep the most, she wakes you up and calls you by name in the middle of the night trying to use up every ounce of energy you don't really have.  Inside I have found myself throwing inner tantrums this year because life doesn't feel fair sometimes.  Part of my growing I'm sure.

I think turning 30+ can also be hard because in our minds we wish things were different. Some wish they were married by now but aren't. Others want kids but can't have them. Others don't like their job and just hate the daily grind.  In the midst of another "It's not fair!" moment, God convicted me Sunday to remember his goodness even when things don't happen as planned.  Here we go...my happy birthday goodness list. Because I am still so blessed.

when everyone is gone or asleep, it comes down to selfies.
1. My sister, though overseas, arranged to have a super chocolatey cake delivered to me for my bday. After I got the cake at church, Kevin and Maddie were both exhausted so they both ended up taking a nap at my parent's house before we headed to our next event.  At first I was a bit sad that they both were asleep and noone could eat the cake with me.  In the end though, my dad, who was the only other person home and who by the way just finished his 4th round of chemo was there to savor the cake with me.  God's worked it out and it was better than eating cake at a big party.  Thankful Dad could eat a little of the cake even with a bad appetite.  Thanks Yeeg for the super-d cake!

hanging so gracefully!
2. On Friday, I made one of those 1-minute purchases and bought myself a new purse at HALLMARK that I really like.

3. Maddie, her Chinese name meaning "God's extra grace", is the perfect mix of beautiful, sweet and silly.  She is SSOOOO precious to me and the best and cutest little gift I've ever seen! She gives me drama with the joy=).

4. Kevin, my studly husband, who despite his exhaustion from camping this weekend, driving home from West Va. for hours, and attending his bro's graduation and dinner on Sunday, stayed up until midnight to catch up with me (even though I know he was sleepy).  I am so blessed because of him, his commitment and his patience with me. =)

A good man. =)
5. Good family.  I have good family on both sides.  My MIL gave me a thoughtful gift, card, dinner and an ice cream cake this birthday. My brother in law was able to graduate after much work from UMUC yesterday. Very proud and excited for him.  My parents have poured their hearts and prayers into my life.  I have the best sisters and the cutest most precious nieces and nephews who make me laugh and smile all the time. I feel so blessed that Maddie, though only 2 has so many friends/cousins to enjoy life with.  If you can't tell from our pictures she totally just loves them.

6. Good friends!  Throughout the weekend I was blessed with emails and visits from good friends that I really do treasure. Some knew it was my bday and some didn't but they were still emailing just to say hi.=).  I am so so blessed.

completely soaking in her bday with two of her cousins
No words.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Spring Break - Camping with the Tom's

I thank God for the time/opportunity to write!  So before I was married and had kids, I always thought once you had kids, you couldn't do anything.  A lot of us think that. Thus the babymoons and the many trips before that little one comes.  Forget having friends. Forget grad school. Forget running races. Once you have kids you need to stay home all the time! Having a baby does make things logistically tougher and it can make you extremely tired, but I think I've come to realize that parenthood need not keep us from doing all things.  And parenthood need not suck out the joy and fun in life.  In fact, I think kids make life very rich (for those of you who are afraid to start having some=)).

Ready for our trip!
Prior to parenthood, I always dreamt of going camping with a baby and thought that people who could take their young kids camping were just entirely awesome.  While I am no wild child, I do love tackling challenges.  So this springbreak, Kevin and I decided to take Maddie camping at a local state park.  When Maddie was 10 months we went cabin camping at Point Lookout State Park and that was awesome. Sometime after that we planned a last minute tent camping trip which turned out a fail.

Besides the fact that it was 35 freezin degrees at night I really did enjoy the trip.  Aside from bringing Maddie who is 23 months, I am also pregnant (2nd trimester) so I give Kevin major props for even considering camping with a dramatic toddler and a round bellied woman?  So... Kevin gathered the wood. He chopped it. He made the fire. He made dinner. He washed the dishes. He put up the tent.  Um... he just did all the work!  If it weren't for him, Maddie and I would have froze and starved to death especially since Kevin sacrificed by giving his ladies the two lone sleeping bags and thermarests to keep us comfortable.
the fire!

Being away from technology and just being in God's creation is something so healthy for me. It is all about getting fresh air! So despite a chilly night and Maddie waking up screaming in the middle night and her being super clingy which meant Kevin and I didn't get to sit back and relax as much, I really did enjoy this spring break trip!  Hopefully next time we can go with other people.  For now, here were some of our favorite moments from our trip!
 

watching Daddy setup the tent.

Fresh air!

Daddy fishing early while Maddie was sleeping.
Freezing our butts off!

Early wakeup time but a pretty view!



tent fun!
Maddie praying for her cousins while setting up camp.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lessons of a New Mom - All About Pants

After 1.5 years of mothering, I continue to learn a lesson that I'm sure my mother and many others will testify to -- your hard work may never be appreciated.

I've spent a lot of time making allergy free fresh food for my little girl and have seen it catapulted onto furniture and carpet. I've put ointment and moisturized Maddie multiple times a day to ease her eczema and yet she probably doesn't remember.  Just recently, I have learned this lesson to be all too true. Those precious beautiful pants.

So the story is that my little girl only had cotton pants last year and as the winter months approached, I felt convicted to get her a warmer pair of pants.  To save money and to be ultra resourceful, I decided I wouldn't buy, but I would make this pair of pants.  I've never crocheted pants before, so after months of crocheting, screwing up and redoing and redoing and crocheting, in January 2014, I completed what I consider to be the best pair of pants ever.

They were cute, versatile, easy to coordinate with tops and of course, I spent countless hours making them.  On top of that, I was and am especially proud of the fact that aside from the months of man hours to make them, the whole project cost less than a dollar. I had bought 5 skeins (rolls) of yarn at an estate sale for $1 and the yarn was good stuff!

She really liked them! But now, sadly, perhaps after a wash or maybe after I foolishly bought her two pairs of fleece pants, she refuses to put them on.  So while they aren't being used anymore, here is the memory of her awesome pants.=)  Props again to Winyan SooHoo for giving me inspiration to do this.   To see other masterpieces, check out this post.
Pattern from Little Crochet by Linda Permann 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Amazed. When You Think You Know Your Parents.

At least 60 years separate my grandparents from myself and so in my mind, my grandparents have always been the "old"ones.  I'm starting to realize that aside myself, my parents are getting old too and so I guess part of my blog ought to reference them a bit.  A little about my parents. They're ordinary Chinese hardworking parents. Immigrated from overseas, earned their college degrees in the U.S.  They've worked their jobs in the U.S., raised three awesome girls (wink wink), cared for my grandparents in their home for 30 years or so and so on. They work hard as all Asians do of course, but over the years I've been amazed at how they are so much more than hard work and the American dream of making money.  Behind all of their hard work, they know what life should be really about and have taught my sisters and I that life is more than the cute outfits, nice homes, big shot careers, winning medals, earning that six figure income. It's more than luxury or just being comfortable. And it's more than about ourselves. 

Since last July, my dad has been living with small cell cancer.  Fear, anxiety, pain, uncertainty. Its all been here and there and so really if there is anytime to be thinking about yourself, I would think that it should be allowed and actually completely acceptable at least in this season of his life.  

Just check out #5 in this past Sunday's church bulletin.  Amazed and touched by my dad (Pastor To) and mom and I am blessed to be in the front seat watching how when we are submissive to God, he can use our toughest times to bring his goodness in such beautiful ways. 


No need to always hide away, throw up our hands or give up when you still have life in you.