Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Uncommon Cold

Last night I felt so horrible I did something I haven't done my entire life--I googled around for a doctor so I could make an appointment with him/her the next day.

Just writing that makes me realize how lucky I am to have been in such good health that I've never, not once, felt the urge to see a doctor for a pressing issue. (Oh, wait, there was this one time in law school I hurt my ankle playing bocce ball and went to urgent care begging for some vicodin and the doc mercilessly turned me away with no meds, no sympathy, and a totally unveiled suspicion that I was a junkie).

But anyway, last night was another matter entirely. It was my fourth full day of battling the worst cold I've ever had in as far back as I could remember. Each day I expected to feel better but only felt worse. Last night was the climax--still feverish, still horribly congested, still dripping like a leaky faucet, still bone-achy, but more than that, my throat hurt like I had just gargled with shards of glass. Every cough made me want to die. Although, to be fair, every moment of consciousness made me want to die anyway--everything hurt so dang much.

I started to panic. What if it takes many more days for me to get better? The weekend is ending, the Spouse isn't going to be able to help me with the kids tomorrow. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE CARE OF TWO YOUNG KIDS WHEN IT HURTS JUST TO SIT DOWN AND DO NOTHING?!

I always joke that moms don't get sick days. But it's not really a joke, it's gallows humor. Because there really is no such thing as resting when you need to rest. Your kids do not give you a free pass if you're sick as a dog. Or if you've only slept 3 hours the night before. Or if you've thrown your back out. Your toddler is not going to be like, No worries mom. I can totally change my own diaper today and entertain myself for 3 hours with this wooden puzzle. You go lie down!

Sick moms are screwed. Just totally, and royally screwed. Good for you if you have a relative nearby that you can call in a pinch. The rest of us hate you. (Relax, we don't really hate you...probably).

Anyway, as Will Farell's character would say in Taladega Nights, thank the Lord Baby Jesus, the fever broke sometime in the middle of the night. I woke up feeling much better than I had in days. Hey, what's that weird feeling? Oh, yeah, the absence of horrible pain.

In fact, the difference was so stark I was euphoric for a couple hours. I even felt super-human. It's amazing how good you feel when you stop feeling so bad.

But now I'm a little paranoid about getting sick again. Time to start up the ol' juicer and start pulverizing that kale! Who wants some green smoothies with probiotic powder? Mmmmmmmmmm, immunity.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Learning: A Hate Story

Today I bravely plucked my over-grown Shrek eyebrows, slapped on some make-up and trudged down the street to a new playgroup.

I hate meeting new moms and their kids. You never know how awkward it's going to be (and it can get pretty awkward). So, how old is your child? Oh, yay, 2! *silence......................*

But despite the potential awkwardness AND being sick as a dog, I forced myself to go with the kids in tow. And before I get into the 'why', can we just talk about how totally sick and horrible I've been feeling?

I caught some ungodly germ and have been sick for about 4 days now, but I only seem to be getting worse. Last night I wanted someone to mercifully cut my over-congested head off. It felt like every single possible cavity in my head was pregnant with octopulets (ah, I miss octo mom, wonder how she's doing, can you imagine having octopulets!...sorry, I digress)...what was I saying? Oh yeah, I was congested like a mother up in there and when my nasal drip finally traveled down to one nostril, thereby clearing the other, I could breathe well for about 2 seconds before my one clear nostril felt like the hot-smelting furnaces of Mordor resided there.

It hurt to nose-breathe. But it also hurt to mouth-breathe (as my throat was also on fire and totally sore). But breathe I must...musted? So I lay in bed, in agony, and slept maybe a good 2-3 hours last night.

But why didn't I take Nyquil or Sudafed or any of the other modern miracles of medicine that would've made my congestion much more bearable? Because none of them are FDA approved for nursing mothers. Yes, I'm still nursing. Longish story, we can talk about it another time. Maybe. Kinda boring story really. So maybe not. But this is a mommy-ish kinda blog so maybe yes. Whatever, let's get off the subject of my breasts.

So where was I? Oh yes, this morning, totally sleep-deprived, feeling like road-kill, trudging off to an awkward new playgroup.


Because a few weeks ago I found out that one of my neighbors is a native Mandarin speaker and early childhood educator. And basically, to this Chinese-American mom who is trying so hard to teach her (completely resistant and non-cooperative) preschooler Mandarin, my neighbor was my savior.

She was, to me, the answer to all my Mandarin-language based prayers. A miracle that dropped right in my backyard--close to literally!

I asked her to please, please, please host a Mandarin-language play group in which she would lead the kids in Chinese songs and stories and to my extreme delight, she said YES! YESSSS!!!!! So I invited some other moms to come and, fast forward to today, we finally met and did it!

It was everything I envisioned it would be. A song, a story, some flashcards, some finger-puppets, and a very basic lesson using 4 key vocabulary words. Perfection. Except...(and of course there's an "except." You know by now this blog isn't filled with success tales)...except...I learned that Judah transforms into a total monster when someone is trying to teach him Chinese.

I already knew that about him with respect to myself as his teacher, but I thought it would be different if someone else taught him. He's such a social guy and he's so great at paying attention to his teachers in preschool, but turns out, nope. He just hates learning Chinese.

I really can't explain this picture. Maybe Judah heard a Chinese word.

I just don't get it. He's happy to learn about dinosaurs and outer-space and every superhero that ever lived, but when it comes to a new language he completely melts down. Does he feel threatened? Does he feel too challenged? Does he feel too much implied pressure from me?

Of course I asked him all these questions, just like that, and got a very intelligible response--I DON'T WANT TO LEARN CHINESE!!!!!!!


It made me recall my own childhood experiences with learning Mandarin, and another dreaded subject, playing the piano. I hated both. Absolutely hated them.

Why? Because it's boring? Because it's hard? Because I didn't have a natural interest in either? Probably yes to all the above.

But kids have to learn a lot of things they don't naturally want to learn. Heck, if learning was fun and painless, we'd all be Rhode scholars by now. So my parents did what any other Asian immigrant parent did back then. They forced it on us.

I remember sitting at the piano at an early age--maybe 5 or 6, tears running down my face as I was being forced to practice my pieces. My vision was so blurred by my tears I could barely make out the notes in front of me. Which made me feel so sorry for my poor, young, privileged self. I vowed, like many kids I'm sure, that I would never be so cruel as to force my kids to learn something they hated.

And...fast-forward to today. I was about ready to strangle Judah and threaten him with certain death if he didn't stop whining and crying at the Mandarin playgroup and causing The Biggest Scene Ever.

But I didn't. Because I wonder if there's a better way. How do you get a child to learn something they really don't want to? How do you do it gently? Humanely? Even, gasp, enjoyably? Certainly this kind of resistance is not going to stop at "peripheral" subjects like a second-language or musical instruments. Kids hate math. Kids hate science. Kids hate reading. Kids hate school!

They have a lot to learn.

I have a lot to learn.


Time to consult Dr. Child Expert--Google.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Bad Dream

Today Judah recounted some dreams he had. One of them was just...weird.

In his own words (as well as I can remember):

Mommy, I remember the bad dream now.
I dreamed that Satan was actually more powerful than God and he could control God's mind. And he made God command us to do bad things, like fight and kill and hurt people.

Weird right? I mean who dreams about this kind of stuff? I guess it comes with being a pastor's kid.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I try to be thoughtful on this blog.

I try to be coherent.

I try to not let it descend into word-barf followed by a chaser of emotional vomit.

But you know what? Sometimes I just can't.

Sometimes I just have to word-barf and emotional vomit somewhere to someone. And although you poor readers are not exactly flesh and blood people sitting in front of me, this will just have to do because I am currently all alone.

And the problem is I am almost always all alone. Because being with your kids who are all under age 4 does not really count as real company. As much fun as they are (and they really are) you can imagine how limited the conversation gets. Judah doesn't even get the concept of time. How long is five minutes Mommy? Yeah, we're not going to be discussing world events anytime soon.

But even if I'm at the park or having a playdate, if the kids are around, I'm in "soundbite" mode. That means I try not to say anything or respond in a way that would cause the other person to say anything that requires more than 3 seconds time. Because someone somewhere is trying to talk to me (Mommy, MOMMY, MOOOOMMMMMYYYYYY! I'M TRYING TO TALK TO YOU AND YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!!!), or about to eat a discarded cigarette butt, or needing his butt wiped, or simply wandering off.

So you can imagine how shallow the conversation gets.

After the kids go to bed is the only time I can actually finish 3 consecutive sentences without interruption. But sadly for me the Spouse is an introvert. And frankly, I'm a very sucky conversationalist after spending 14+ hours with the kids and cooking, serving, and cleaning up 16 meals, plus dealing with countless episodes of meltdowns, irritating behavior, and general all-day non-cooperation.

Maybe, gentle blog reader, you ARE the ideal conversationalist for this beleaguered and weary shell of a woman. You can not talk back. And I can go on forever about me, me, me without a second's thought about you. How was your day? Uh-huh, and how did that make you feel?

Anyway, I suppose it's only right to say, at the end of all this, thank you. Thank you for "listening". Thank you for "being there". Thank you for letting this tired, lonely woman prattle on into the wee night. Now, can you also please just HOLD ME?

The barbarians arrive at the gate in zero minus 6 hours.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Turns out kids do say the darndest things...

Overheard this conversation Judah had with my friend:

Judah: How old are you?

Me: Oh [friend] you don't have to answer that!

Friend: No, it's okay. I'm 34!

Judah: That's old.

Friend: How old are you?

Judah: Three and a half. I have a whole big life to live still.

Friend: That's right! You sure do.

Judah: But you're going to die soon.

Ba dum chhhhh

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The 'What if' Game

Sometimes I like to play a twisted little game called "What if I didn't have kids?"

I would still be working. But I wouldn't just be working, I would be KILLING it at the office. High heels, pencil skirt, lipstick...okay, maybe I just mean my outfit would be killer. But seriously, I really loved the attorney job I left. It was hard, challenging, totally noodle-cooking stuff, but my boss was reasonable and it was really rewarding to feel like a lean mean drafting machine.

I wouldn't miss my friends so darn much. It took until my 30's to realize how much I LOVE my girlfriends. I think I prob love them more than the Spouse (sorry honey!). But seriously, they are so so so awesome. Girls are just better than guys. There I said it. It's true. Sorry guys, I love you too but my idea of quality "hanging out" consists of something deeper than watching sports games or playing video games. It ranges from talking smack about celebrities to drooling over the new Michael Kors collection to ruminating over deep life sh*t in a way that makes you feel like the spirit of Oprah has descended upon you.

But alas, ever since kids entered the picture, it's been so hard to find time to just hang with the gals. And it's absolutely impossible to have a conversation with the kids around. Especially now that Noah has entered his IS THAT YOUR CELL PHONE? OMG I HAVE TO HAVE IT NOW!!!!! phase. Btw, if you get a random text from me that says 39fd8i389hunr893892he89hf, you can be sure it's from Noah.

And then there's all those little things.

Like, if I didn't have kids, this weekend I would definitely be watching Maleficent in theaters. And eating out before or after it.

And I would get a proper haircut. Instead of letting this mop grow haphazardly on my head cuz I need something low-maintenance.

And as cliche as it sounds, I would definitely be having brunch in the city with my fabulous gay and childless friends.

Oh, and I would have an immaculately clean house. No crumbs. No random foam swords in the kitchen. No pee-soaked diapers in open containers. And no disgusting car full of snack debris and smelling of old crusty milk.

And speaking of house, I would not live in a house. I'd live in a tiny little apartment in a cute little urban spot where I could walk to farmer's markets and feast on ghetto gourmet. And of course the school district there would be horrible.

What an amazing, awesome, fun, and sanitary life I would have. I guess I'm supposed to end this post by saying something like--but I wouldn't trade my precious angel miracles of life for any of it.

But you prob know by now, I'm not that kind of blogger or that kind of parent.

All I can say is...it is what it is.

I love my kids of course.

They've made me a much better person than I otherwise would be. But you know, that's also what people with cancer say about their illness. I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Why oh why oh why, because because because because, good bye good bye good bye

Sometimes as a special "treat" I allow Judah to ask me 3 questions. This is my very clever way of preventing him from asking me to do something much harder--make up a story about superheros. My superhero stories are completely lame--Batman goes to school for the first time, Batman goes to the grocery store, Batman has a birthday, you get the idea.

Today Judah warned me that his 3 questions were going to be "really, really, really hard." I told him to bring it.

First--Why did all the dinosaurs die?
Easy, we don't really know. Told him about the theory of the giant asteroid and something about them freezing to death. I should read up more on this dinosaur stuff, hmmm. Next.

Second--Why do scientists look for dinosaur bones?
Easy, they like to explore. Next.

Third--Why did God create people?
What?! Where did this come from? Mumbled something about God having a lot of love and joy that He wanted to share with people, but I didn't want to tread on the notion of God's self-sufficiency--the idea that God was perfectly content in Himself before all of creation.

Fourth--Because Judah wouldn't be Judah if he actually limited himself to the pre-arranged number--Why do people need food to grow?
I deflected and said what a great question it was since plants don't need to "eat" food to grow. Why is it that people need to eat? Hmmm...

Fifth--Why don't plants need food to grow? How come they can just grow with water?
Okay, that deflection backfired. I guess maybe now is a good time to go into cellular biology...mumbled something about cells and microscopes, at which point Judah wanted to know if Superman could see cells without the aid of a microscope. And when I came down on the side of "no" Judah protested and debated me for a very long time.

And then, because Judah is an equal-opportunity pre-schooler he said it was my turn to ask him questions.

Judah, what is your favorite thing to do with Noah?
Not exactly what I was looking for, but okay, valid.

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
Watch new videos.
Not exactly quality-time bonding...we need to work on that...

If you could have one super-power what would it be?
I want to be smart like Batman...the power to read lots of books.
Wow, the Spouse has truly created another being after his own image. Domination complete.

This also reminds me of the time when Judah said, out of the blue--We are like robots because God controls us.

Hmmm....I guess three is not too young to start grappling with the age-old Calvinist paradox of God's sovereignty and man's free will.

All that to say, I actually enjoy conversing with my kid now...sometimes.