Just The Two Of Us

Our lives have definitely gotten busier with the 3rd child.  And with a full plate of work, family, church and the ever-present reality of special needs, it’s not hard to lose touch or to just see my husband as the parenting partner. So I’m grateful for the chance to have been able to have a weekend getaway with Mike.  We shipped off the Monkeys and Piglet to our sisters’ and CA Grandma’s and some friends’ and drove down to San Diego…just the two of us.

We listened to all sorts of music that Audrey would deem as “inappropriate, Mama”, ate a bunch of kid-unfriendly food, and walked the streets with no diaper bag or strollers.  We missed the rascals, but what sweetness it was to be able to reconnect with my husband.  And sleeping in till 8:30 in the morning?  That was the icing, for sure.

There’s something to be said for being able talk with each other when we’re not totally exhausted at the end of the day.  And though it’s hard to remember what our lives were like before kids,  the time alone jogged my memory a bit and it felt good to have him all to myself.

It was a beautiful weekend.  Perfect for strolling around town.

Perfect for playing some ping-pong.

And perfect for eating, eating, and eating.  Marcus saw this picture and said, “Mmmmm!”   Indeed it was, my son.  I’m glad I didn’t have to share it with you.  One day, you shall have your own plate of steak and eggs with bacon and coffee.

Please indulge me over the next few pictures in capturing the memories of wonderfully tasty food.  When I’m preparing my 10,000th Dino chicken, I’d like to remember that there once was a weekend when I ate well.  Very well.  Too well.

Goat cheese and toasty bread, you were delicious.

I miss you, ceviche.  I miss you, sardines.

Come here, little fishy.  Come to mama.

Dear mussels cured in lime juice and chilis, you were divine.  We ate two orders of you.  Hope you don’t mind.

My mouth is watering as I remember you, Paella with shellfish cooked in squid ink.

The kids, by the way, had the best time on their own little vacation.  Audrey went bowling, slept at Grandma’s, then went to a birthday party and slept over at a friend’s house, with different kinds of treats and sweets sprinkled throughout.  Marcus had so much fun at Eemo & Uncle Ray’s house that when we picked him up, he told us he wanted to stay longer.  Derek also took awesome naps and slept all through the night.  I’m thinking we should go away more often!

We could have used another day or two away, but it was good to be back.  We headed straight into full parenting mode with Marcus’ annual abdominal ultrasound on Monday morning (which turned out great, btw.  hooray!), Audrey’s first day of Adventure Camp, getting Marcus off to school in the afternoon, several loads of laundry piled up, and a full day of errands.  As I walked out of Costco with a shopping cart full of boys and food, Marcus said, “Thank you for all the food, Mommy.  I love you.”  (tear sliding down my HEART!)

I was both incredibly grateful for the weekend away with the hubs,

and so privileged to be back home with the Monkeys and Biggie Piggie.

(picture taken a few weeks ago)

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!

Remember This

On my wedding day, I kept telling myself, “Remember this.”  I didn’t want the day to pass without me being fully aware of the day Mike and I became husband and wife.  So now, I have the sweetest memories of that day that even the photographer couldn’t capture on film.

Three kids later, my memory-making muscle is always being exercised.  Like every parent, I want to make memories for my children that they can keep for a lifetime.  But lately, I feel like I want these memories for myself as much as I want them for Audrey, Marcus, & Derek.  Time is flying so quickly and I don’t want to forget that I was once a mom of 3 young children who were blissfully content and loved being a part of this family.

It’s been a season of reprieve for our family, and whenever we get those windows of peace, I just want to soak them up and whole-heartedly thank God for them.  This past month, we had the chance to take a few outings.  I couldn’t get the best angles with Big Poppa strapped onto my chest, but I did my best.

So…I want to remember…

How Audrey asked if she could wear this unique outfit on our outing to a nature trail at Newport Back Bay.  She’s at a stage where she must wear a skirt at all times, Duggar style.  She also did some interesting layering with her tops.

and then added shades.

I want to remember how Marcus “Whoa-ed” while admiring the view

and did not want to stop hiking up and down, up and down, up and down the trail,

giving Daddy a workout, as usual.

I want to remember how many times Audrey said, “Look!  Look!” at the aquarium.

And that although he was battling a cold, Marcus enjoyed himself too

and still wanted to walk around and give Dad some more exercise.

I want to remember my model parenting:
Me:  Audrey, take a picture in the shark’s mouth.
Auj:  I don’t want to.  It’s scary.
Me:  Audrey, put your face in the shark’s mouth NOW.  Obey.

I want to remember how stoked the kids were for their first swim of the season.

And how Marcus was sporting his new shades, male model-style.

I want to remember how bad of  a swimmer Audrey still was, after flunking her swim lessons last year.  This girl thinks she is HOT STUFF when she puts her head in the water for a few seconds.  She says she doesn’t need lessons because she already knows how to swim with a vest on.  (????)

I want to remember how Derek woke up from a nap one day and found himself at the beach for the first time.

And Big Brother thought Lil’ Biggie looked pretty cute.

I want to remember how Audrey had a perpetual smile on her face the whole day.

And although he was only able to take catnaps, Derek was super happy to be in the sun too.

I want to remember how much the kids liked picnicking on the sand.

And how Audrey could have jumped waves for hours.

I want to remember that although Marcus was scared of the ocean,

he was King of the sand

and couldn’t be happier.

He loved ordering his father to “Get more water….pleeeeaase.”

And Mike fulfilled his wishes again and again and again.

I want to remember how stoked I was to still be married to this guy

And thankful to add more pages to my mental wedding album.

Thankful Friday

1. My baby lost her first tooth this week.  After being scared to death of having her father pull it out, she managed to get through it without too much trauma.  As for her mother, she was sad.  Goodness, wasn’t she just teething?!  I don’t know what I’m going to do when she starts driving.  Ugh.

2. Last weekend, Mike and I went on a date to celebrate our anniversary.  I love my kids to death, but boy was it nice to talk and eat with my husband without munchkins around.  But then, we get home from dinner and mess with them while they’re sleeping.  Oh, the paradox of parenthood.

Here’s Auj,  hugging us as we’re leaving.

3. Mike has found the perfect cure to CSB (Childhood Summertime Boredom).  You take them outside and spray them with icy cold water.

Isn’t Mike  such a great dad?

4. Today, we get to go to Mike’s annual company picnic at the Back Bay of Newport Beach.  Free food and free fun in the sun.  Yeah!

Edit:  We won a new Samsung LCD TV at the company raffle!  Double Yeah!!!

What I Didn’t Know 8 Years Ago

Since it was our anniversary today, we watched our wedding DVD.  Don’t worry, it’s not like we were holding hands on the couch, feeding each other strawberries, and intermittently gazing into each other’s eyes saying, “Remember that?”   It was more like Mike on the couch drinking tea to relieve his cold, and me on the floor trying to sit comfortably with a 50-pound damp girl on my lap while my belly was protruding between us.  On top of that, the 3-year-old was climbing my back while leaving streaks of snot on my shirt.  Romantic, no?

Nevertheless, I loved watching clips of our wedding day.  I tasted the giddiness I felt when my boyfriend became my husband.  What I realized, though, was that we were two totally different people back then.  There were so many things I didn’t know when we exchanged our rings and danced the afternoon away.

1.  I didn’t know that I would grow to respect Mike so much.  We were immature kids on our wedding day.  Now my husband is a man.  Wow.

2. I didn’t know that our offspring would turn out like this:

and this:

3. I didn’t know that marriage wasn’t just about striving to be the perfect husband and wife.  Naively, I thought that we could will for our marriage to be blessed by just working really hard at it and fulfilling the ABC’s of our roles.  But it was inevitable that we saw the nasty ugliness of each other shine brighter than our goodness.  Now, I’m beginning to learn that any blessing in our marriage comes from the goodness of the Lord, and that more than being a good husband and wife, it’s about seeing each other the way the Lord sees us.  Looking past our sin, He considers us forgiven, accepted, loved, because we were bought by the precious blood of His Son.

4. I didn’t know that Mike would come to know me so well.  I thought I could get away with a lot more, but I can’t hide a thing from this guy because he can detect the minute when something is on my heart.  And even though he risks getting hurt and offended (and believe me, I’ve hurt him bad), he asks me to reveal whatever is on my mind.  I’m thankful for that.

5.  I didn’t know that life would get so hard so fast.  Trials were inevitable, but I had no idea that there would be so many tears cried together, so many late-night-heartbreak talks, and so much weight on our hearts this early on in our marriage.  I also didn’t know that I could come to a point where I could genuinely thank God for these hardships, because they’ve made our short 8 years of marriage so rich.

6. I didn’t know that the divorce rate for couples with children with special needs was 80% or higher.  Had I known this, I would have been scared to death.  Yes, our marriage has been stretched in many ways, but my heart explodes with thankfulness for God’s grace.  For some reason, He has allowed the difficulty to strengthen our love for one another, and to magnify His great love for us.

7.  I didn’t know that true joy didn’t come from being fulfilled in my marriage.  In the early years, I wanted so bad for my marriage to be perfect and if it wasn’t, I was deeply disappointed.  As much as being married brings indescribable joy, I’m beginning to learn that it’s bound to fall short, and that the relationship is so much better when we’re both deeply fulfilled by Christ.

8.  I didn’t know that I would feel as blessed as I do now, and that Mike and I would be so much more in love now than we were then…8 years ago and counting.

I leave you with my favorite picture of our wedding day.  Auj was inspired to draw it after watching the DVD.  Don’t we look radiant?

Father-Daughter Birthdays and More

I know it was our nation’s birthday this past weekend, but we were so busy celebrating Audrey’s and Mike’s birthdays (on the 4th & 5th respectively) that we didn’t have enough energy to do anything patriotic.  Instead, we started the weekend with Audrey’s first sleepover in celebration of turning 5.  Audrey was SO excited, I think it was an out-of-body experience for her.  Mike and I also had a blast, especially because during dinner, we found out things about the girls’ parents that we otherwise would never have known.  🙂

Here’s the list of our activities:

– Pho lunch
– Browse the Disney Store & Sweet Factory at the mall
– Toy Story 3 (again)
– Dinner at home
– Decorate cupcakes
– Paint nails
– Watch “Aristocats” on video

(Note:  While I took the girls to the mall to watch the movie, Mike & Marcus did manly things on their own.  They hunted wild boar, got tattoos, and drank blood.)

On Monday, we had a little BBQ feast to celebrate Mike’s 36th.  I can’t believe the young 19 year-old I met years ago is now 4 years shy of turning 40.  My husband is old!

Besides almost sharing the same birthday, Mike & Audrey share many other things.  Here are a few:

1. They share the same anatomy.  Not only the soccer calves, but almost every feature of their faces are the same.  The shape of their faces, their eyebrows, their small asian eyes, their cheeks, their noses, and their hair texture is the same.  Even their gummy smiles are exactly alike.  When they are both smiling in full-joy mode, the gum to teeth ratio is about 70/30 in both of them.  It’s amazing!

2. They share the same over-productive sweat glands.  When Audrey was first born, Mike’s mom would tell me stories of how as a young kid, Mike’s bowl cut was perpetually wet due to running around and sweating all the time.  I laughed at those stories while inwardly imagining my daughter always sitting still, demurely sipping tea and quietly playing with her dolls.  Little did I know that I would have my own wet child.

3. They LOVE NEED to run.  If too much time passes before either of them expend some energy, their bodies, souls, and minds don’t function properly.  Once Audrey learned to walk, she would run laps around the dining room table.  I’m still trying to engineer a contraption that can turn her running into usable energy.

4. They both consume a large quantity of fluids (probably due to #2).  Mike is never without either a coffee cup, a Nalgene full of water, or some other cold beverage on hand.  As soon as I introduced Audrey to a sippy cup, she could down 8 to 12 ounces of milk or water in one large gulp.  And to this day, I have to keep up with keeping her cup full of something to keep her hydrated.

5. They both have a bio-psychological reaction to tight clothing, especially pants, shorts, etc.  We purposely stretch out both of their clothes so that they can endure the day comfortably.

6. They both love to be with people.  Although Mike really enjoys his alone/family time now, as a kid, he was exactly like Audrey.  His parents used to host many different people in their home and even if they were strangers who only stayed for a few days, Mike would cry once they left.  Audrey loves when we have people over, when people come to babysit her, and especially when people spend the night.  Once they leave, it’s “I miss them” on repeat.

I look into both of their eyes and I feel like they share the same soul.  In many ways, even though I’m Audrey’s mom, Mike has a keen understanding of Audrey that I don’t have because they are essentially the same person.  To me, they are my loves.  Why do I love birthdays so much?  Maybe because it gives me an excuse to unabashedly stare at my loved ones and thank God for all the ways my life is so richly blessed by calling them my family.