Why God Gave Audrey Soccer Legs

We are more than halfway through Audrey’s first season of soccer, so I thought it was about time I record how her experience has been so far.

She and her team are the Ladybugs.


The girl is totally into it.


You can’t truly capture from these pictures how much she loves running on the field.


Or how much she’s learning about the game.


And teamwork.


And sportsmanship.


But you also can’t tell from these pictures that they’ve lost all 5 games.  They’ve made 2 goals the entire season, and have been scored on 27 times.


During the first full game of the season, I looked over at Audrey, worried that she was completely discouraged.  But right after the 900th goal the other team scored against us, she screamed, “I. LOVE.  SOCCER!”  And then I wasn’t so worried.

When the Ladybugs scored their very first goal, Audrey came home and said, “That was fun!  I hope we win again!”  Mike and I looked at each other, silently exchanging, “You tell her.  No, you tell her.” And then one of us broke the news that we didn’t win the game.  In fact, we probably lost 12 to 1.


I wish you could have seen how the girls screamed and hugged each other after the 2nd goal one of our girls made a few weeks ago.  The parents were also jumping out of their seats, I was a little teary-eyed, and we all thought we made it to the World Cup.


But what we lack in skill, we make up for in fun.


My little Ladybug, I love how you run and then turn to ask, “Daddy, am I really fast?”  I love how your shin guards barely wrap around the soccer calves Daddy gave you.  I love how you push the girls on the other team who aren’t even close to the ball, and then look at Daddy, so proud of yourself for being aggressive.  I love how you gulp down your water during breaks like you are literally dying of thirst.  I love how sticky every inch of your body gets after the first 30 seconds of each game. I love how you and Daddy get to spend so much time together on the field and how you giggled when he told you there was a soccer player named Hans Jorg Butt.  I love the soccer legs and the soccer booty you’ve had since birth.  I love you, Auj!


How I Feel About 1st Grade

My firstborn went back to school last week, starting her first year of full school days, the new bigger kids’ playground, and sack lunches.


She was stoked.


A little nervous, but ready.


One of her brothers thought it was pretty cool seeing her off.


The other brother was indifferent, probably wondering why he was wearing his striped PJs in public.


And we said our good-byes.



The week leading up to the first day, I was sad.  Seriously considered homeschooling and doubted that this public school deal was a good decision.  Just didn’t feel ready letting her go, knowing that 1st grade would turn into 12th grade in a snap.  Stayed up in bed wondering if I’ve done a good job, if I’ve done enough, if I’ve messed her up with my sins,  if I’ve connected with her enough so that when she was tempted to grow distant in the coming years, she would remember the relationship we’ve forged during these early years and come running back.

Then I read this post and knew that for now, this is where I want my heart to be as well.

My imperfections are a reminder that I am in need of a Savior…that we all need a savior. And I have one desire…to have my attempt at parenting glow like a neon sign pointing to the One who will never let them down…

This whole parenting thing is not about me…not about how I have let them down…or built them up. And I am so thankful that I have something to offer them besides my flawed parenting skills
I can point them to Jesus..and He will never let them down…

–  Julie Martindale, Not Just An Ordinary Life

I’m praying for my dear, precious girl.  I know there are so many things I could have done better with her these first 6 years, more ways I could have invested in her soul.  But I’m so thankful that He who holds my heart holds hers as well.


Dreams Do Come True

Whenever I ask Marcus if he had any dreams the night before, he always says, “yes” and he always says he dreams about music.  I’m not sure if he knows what dreams are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he really did dream about playing all his favorite instruments like a pro.

A couple weeks ago, we took the kids to see the Pacific Symphony perform a free outdoor concert in our city and take part in the interactive musical playground.  Needless to say, it was a dream come true for our little Mozart.


We approached a violinist who I thought could have been David Arquette with a curly mustache.  Marcus saw David’s violin and then, of course,  had to pull out his own.


David started playing a piece for Marcus


And Marcus thought it would sound better as a duet.


After that, he looked around and realized that this place was THE BOMB.  I didn’t get it on camera, but his knees were bouncing and the hugest toothless grin plastered his face.  In this picture, he’s probably thinking, “I can’t believe it.  It’s just like my dreams!”  There may have even been expletives involved.  The boy was excited!


Up next, real life, man-sized trombone.


Look at his form on the trumpet!  You better watch your back, Wynton Marsalis!


I think the highlight for him was playing the violin because he talked about wanting to play it again for the rest of the night.


Meanwhile, Audrey made a tambourine craft while eyeing the 2 bounce houses she was excited to sweat in.


Audrey’s dream come true = football field-sized bounce house built on top of a trampoline, with alternating Icee and cotton candy stands inside + built-in air conditioning so that she can expel liters of sweat to her heart’s content.  Either that, or to be the first 6 year-old contestant on Wipeout.


She looks like a bizarre combination of Ramona Quimby and Mike’s dad in this picture.


BTW, all the swimming this summer made Audrey several shades darker.  She looks like the offspring of a bi-racial marriage.


I don’t know Derek well enough yet to know what his dream come true would be.


But something tells me that baby body building might be involved.


And snacks.


So our summer evening out at the concert was a fun time for all of us.  We had full tummies, a camera full of captured memories, and happy kids.  I’m not sure what Marcus dreamt about that night, but I think I have an idea.


What The Kids Have Been Up To This Summer

It’s mid-August already and I almost want to take myself out to a nice dinner and pin a ribbon on my own shirt to congratulate myself for surviving the summer with the kids.  I’ve felt both “Oh my goodness, when are these kids going back to school?!” and “I never want to let my babies go!” simultaneously, many times day.

I’m terribly backlogged with my picture editing and posting, but here’s part 1 of what the kids have been up to this summer:

We’ve been trying out underwear

Violin practicing (no, my son doesn’t have 4 arms)

Observing the violin practicing

We got to enjoy a free outdoor concert.

And made good use of the grass

Audrey agreed to let me cut her hair, since it was getting a bit too long.  I searched through magazines and hired a stylist to give me some inspiration for my daughter’s new ‘do.  (j/k) Here’s what I came up with.  This style is called “Accidental FOB”.  It will be the new craze amongst 1st graders this year.

Yep, the first cut was way too short and I couldn’t undo it, so now she looks like a girl whose mom may not speak English very well and may wear high heels to Disneyland.  She also is now the real-life version of Ramona Quimby.  But it’s okay because she did NOT flunk her swim lessons this year!  My firstborn is swimming!

The summer has been both restful and full.

I’m thankful.

(photographer:  Marcus Lee)

In His Own Words

Last week at VBS, Marcus had the privilege of sharing an abridged version of a Bible verse in front of everyone.  His was Luke 9:25 “God is better.”  Short and simple, and pretty much what we’ve been trying to share with him…that Jesus is better.

(If you’re interested, you can watch Marcus’ class presentation here and Audrey’s here.)

Today, I had to correct him for some bad-boy behavior and as I was praying with him, I couldn’t help but literally cry out to the Lord.  I clenched him tight, let my tears land on his shirt, and just begged the Lord to pour out His grace on my son.  It is the Lord who saves, not Marcus’ capacity to understand the Gospel, so I pleaded with Him to give him a saving faith in the incredible love shown through Jesus.  I felt like a baby, just begging.

Later in the evening, I put on my Wicked Stepmother outfit and yelled impatiently at the kids in the car, being especially ugly to Audrey.   I could see the poor girl whimper in the rear view mirror and I realized how harshly I’d treated her.  Normally, I would let her sulk for a while  so she would feel guilty for turning me into Meanie Mama.  (Because it’s all her fault, right?) But after a few minutes, by God’s grace, I asked her to forgive me. It went something like this:

Me: Audrey, I’m so sorry.  Please forgive me.  Mommy was so ugly, huh.  Mommy was so angry and impatient and I shouldn’t have yelled at you.  Mommy’s heart was so full of sin, wasn’t it?
Auj: (whimpering)
Me:  Why are you crying?
Auj:  Because I thought you didn’t love me anymore.  (ouch!)
Me:  (heart pretty much crumbled) Audrey, I’m so sorry. I love you SO much.  But because Mommy’s heart is sinful, my love for you is not perfect, even though I wish it could be.  Remember how we learned that God loves you no matter what you do or don’t do because of Jesus? Only God’s love for you is per…

And that’s when Marcus chimed in.
Marcus:  Jesus is better.  God is better.

It was the first time he had said those words without us prompting him to.  I’m not sure if he really understood the meaning of it in his heart, but it sure spoke to mine.  God’s’ love for my kids is better than my love for them could ever be.  I ache for my kids to know this.  Especially when they experience heartbreak and pain of their own, I want them to know that nothing can ever separate them from God’s love; a love that was proven when He hammered nails in the hands of His perfect and beloved Son so that He could carry the burden of their fallenness.  A love that calls them His own children and doesn’t change because HE doesn’t change.  A love that welcomes them with open arms no matter how much they don’t love Him back.

I’m seeing more and more how I need to cry out at the feet of Jesus for my kids (for our whole family, actually).  Even if Marcus couldn’t speak a word or if he never showed signs of “understanding”, I want to grow in faith that it is HE who saves and His grace is wide enough to cover over our little ones.

Attack Of The Brothers

Big Brother:  Yes! She is pinned down, in perfect position.
Lil’ Brother:  I just pulled her hair.  She seems okay though.
Sister:  (nervous laughter)  Heh heh.  I sure love my brothers.

BB:  Let’s see if she’ll tolerate me sitting on her now.  Derek, watch and learn.
LB:  I have so much to learn, Big Brother.
Sis:  Uh, this is kind of uncomfortable.

BB:  Okay, Little Brother, I think I’ve found her threshold.
LB: Boy, that was a great move, Big Brother.
Sis:  That really hurt and I’m sad now.  I thought you loved me.

BB:  I do love you, Sister.  I really do.
LB:  Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong…right?
Sis:  Waaaah!

Sis:  Why do you boys always torment me?
BB:  Sister, we love you.  Tormenting you is how we show our love for you.

Sis:  Well I don’t LIKE that!

BB:  But, I like it.  (pause) I like it a lot.

LB:  Wow, I think I’m going to enjoy this brother business.
Sis:  Hmph!

We are brothers!  Yeah! Brothers!


How We Celebrated 2

Highlights from July 4th and birthday celebrations:

Audrey was elated to be able to drink a whole can of soda as promised on her birthday.

My daughter officially wears shoes that are more expensive than mine.  May I just say that the Twinkle Toes commercials are powerful at winning over young girls?  Audrey gets sucked in by advertising.  For a year now, she keeps telling me I need to buy Shape-Ups.  Not sure whether or not to laugh or cry at that.

Marcus dug these firework 3-D glasses.  Did we take him to see fireworks?  No.

We dipped in the pool and pretty much our whole neighborhood did too.

California Grandma was there and we’re stoked she gets to celebrate every birthday with us from now on.

Marcus was excited for  big sister’s birthday.
   Me:  Marcus, are you thankful for Noona on her birthday?
   Marcus:  Yeah
   Me:  Why do you love her?
   Marcus:  Because she’s cute.

The father-daughter birthday duo got to bond.  During their night out together in search of fireworks:
Auj:  Dad, do you know what I wish for when I’m by myself?
Mike:  What?
Auj:  You.  I just love being with our family

This past weekend, she had another chance to celebrate.

First, tea party

Then, a princess musical at the Ebell Theater in Santa Ana

She loves her “girls” and I loved seeing her interact with them.

We are done celebrating her 6th.  Now I’m looking forward to finally being able to go on a date with my husband to celebrate his 37th!

She’s 6

On July 4th, 2005 at 7:53am on a Monday morning, our daughter was born.  And here she was this morning, Monday, July 4th, 2011 at 7:40am.

I remember the first 2 years of her life rather vividly.  What a sweet time it was as a family of 3, being able to enjoy her to ourselves and digging our heals into the virgin territory of parenting.  Every joy and every difficulty with her was a thrilling new experience.

Unfortunately, after Marcus was born and especially after his diagnosis, my memories with her get blurred.  I feel sad in thinking that age 2 to 4 are the lost years with Audrey because I was neck-deep in the muddy trenches of trying to figure out our new life with Joubert Syndrome.  It was not uncommon for her to ask, “Are you crying, Mommy?” or “Are you sad again, Mommy?”.

She had to tag along to every therapy session and almost every doctor appointment.  When other kids her age were taking classes or spending the day at the park, she spent 7+ hours a week watching different people play with Marcus to help him in his development.  She was also there whenever the doctors gave us disheartening news and was the closest eyewitness to how we handled it all.

It wasn’t until she was 4, when Marcus started pre-school, that I got to redeem some of that time with her during our one-on-one times.  I cherish that year and in retrospect, am so thankful that we had that time together before she started school herself.

She is experiencing something Mike and I will never understand for ourselves: being a special needs sibling.  And though I can worry incessantly if she’ll be okay in the longrun, and wonder if all of this will burden her young heart, I’m drawn to the One who calls me to trust Him when I’m anxious for Marcus as well.

Although we’ll try our best, we have and will fail her as parents from time to time.  But my heart is comforted that Jesus will never fail her.  She is complete in Him, just as Marcus is complete in Him and they will both find in Him the greatest love ever known.  I’m desperate for God to snatch my children and call them His own and meet them in their greatest times of need.

I hope that Audrey’s automatic citizenship in the world of special needs will be considered an honor to her someday.  Praying that God will have used all of this to draw her close and to grant her a tender heart towards the weak and lowly of this world.


Whew!  I started out writing this post about how much fun we had celebrating her 6th birthday and then it got all deep!  But now that I got all the serious stuff off my chest, I’ll write my next post about how she enjoyed her special day from 5am till 10pm.  Plus, it’s her Daddy’s birthday tomorrow (or is it today now?) and there’s even more celebrating to be done.

Until then, here’s me and my girl.  Happy Birthday, my love!

I Still Have My Baby

Now that Marcus is 4, he thinks he’s all grown up.  His “Mommy” has turned into “Mom, “Daddy” to “Dad”, and even “Thank you” has turned into “Thanks!”  By next year, he’ll be smoking cigars while sporting a goatee.

So with his new vocabulary and Audrey’s funky looking teeth, I’m painfully aware that the kiddos won’t stop growing.

But I still have my baby.

I still can’t believe I have another baby.  Lord, thank you!

The big kids are equally as grateful for the little one.

Even Marcus, who idolizes Audrey, has been more into his baby brother.  “Where’s Derek?”, he randomly asks during the day.  When I tell him he’s napping, he tells me to wake him up to play.  We’ve also witnessed him plant spontaneous kisses on the baby and once found Marcus try to rescue him from being tangled inside a blanket.  Makes my insides melt!!

This one’s definitely not a baby anymore.

And my girl SO isn’t a baby anymore.  Well, I take that back.  She asked to get in the crib too and I said no because I was scared her 53-pound booty would break the whole thing.  So she pouted and cried and I gave into her moaning and then let her in.  Then I took this picture and got grossed out that she’s so old and big now.

I have a feeling that Derek isn’t so interested in being the baby.  I’m pretty sure he wants to be a part of the Big Kids Crew.

Even if it means just vegging in front of the TV with Marcus.

If Marcus looks up to Audrey, then Derek’s hero will most likely be his big brother.

He’ll be giving Derek tutorials on how to tell potty jokes, how to intentionally aggravate their sister, and how to wrestle with Daddy.

Boy, has he got a lot to look forward to.

But no matter how much he learns from the others, I have feeling this one will always be my baby.

Kindergarten Done

My baby finished Kindergarten this week.

It was a thrill to see her experience a sliver of the world on her own.

And make friendships that have taught her so much and blessed our family as well.

My baby grew up.  She lost 4 bottom teeth.  I told her she must try her best not to lose her top ones because when she does, I will cry.

I’m not ready for her whole mouth to be filled with the too-big-teeth yet.

For the most part, it was a very good school year.  Even the after-school tears were good ones because they helped her learn more about the world, more about Jesus.

Seeing her at school made me realize how different my childhood experiences were from hers.  Funny story:  she noticed that some of the asian girls brought roasted seaweed to school as a snack.  She asked if she could take some to school too.  Unfortunately, she came home crying after that because her caucasian friends made fun of her and looked at her funny for bringing seaweed in her lunch box.  I couldn’t stop laughing as I consoled her because I had flashbacks to the days when I was the ONLY asian girl at my school.  I kept hearing, “Suey-Kung-Fuey” in my ear while I wiped away her tears.

I’m so thankful that she felt she could tell us everything about her life outside the walls of our home.  Even though it wouldn’t have been my preference to already answer her questions about what a “crush” is, or that her friend had a boyfriend named Justin Beaver, we praised her for telling us everything she was thinking about and experiencing.  It kept her close, even though we had to let her go a little.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Cinderella” was on the radio yesterday and yes…I cried.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I switched the station and then I heard J.Lo’s “On the Floor”.  My tears went away.  It’s not really appropriate to cry to that song.

She will be turning 6 in a few weeks.  I’m savoring the fact that she still demands hugs and kisses and cuddles, that she calls me “Mama”, that I have to ask her to stop sweating, that she’s a Daddy’s girl, that she adores her brothers, and that she has a sensitive spirit.   I love that when she’s bored, she’ll write cards to her teacher and fill the envelope with random trinkets from our house.  I love that she’s at an age where she’s making real memories that she’ll keep in her heart as an adult.

Apparently, she’s officially a first-grader now.  But she will always be my first baby.