When Worlds Collide

Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune of attending a Moth GrandSLAM in Portland. Live storytelling is an exhilarating experience. The theme of the night was “When Worlds Collide.” This is the story I would have told if I was on stage that night. 

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I taught a classroom full of sixth graders for 10 months during college. I had the travel bug again. You see, I grew up in Hong Kong and had traveled to many different countries by the time I was 16. After a few years of not going anywhere I decided it was time to go back to Asia. So at the end of July, I left for Thailand. 

Growing up in Hong Kong, I was used to comments about my appearance because I looked different than the majority of people. We had our heads touched. We heard people talking about us as we quickly learned the Cantonese word for foreigner. Somehow, even as a preteen, I learned to accept the “compliment” that I was getting fat. 

Thailand was similar in many ways. I quickly learned the Thai word for foreigner. It was amazing to walk down the street and hear the stage whispers, “farang, farang,” follow you. 

Many of my students at this international school had been around foreigners for many years as they had attended the same school since first grade. They were polite and didn’t talk about my foreignness in front of me very often. 

Let me tell you, 6th graders are 6th graders wherever you are in the world. The girls liked the boys. The boys, for the most part, didn’t notice the girls except to bother them, and were more interested in wrestling. I punished them with sit-ups and push-ups to try to get more of their energy out during the day. 

I can’t remember what subject I was teaching or what we were talking about, but I was having a particularly difficult time keeping their attention that day. And then out of the blue, one of the students said, “Miss, why are you so fat?” I didn’t have a comeback. I didn’t know what to say. I just knew that this student, who was well aware that he had just insulted me, wasn’t complimenting me like some of the older Thais. Seriously, fat and plump people are considered rich and it is nothing to comment about a person’s weight. It was so hard to get used to again, even though I was accustomed to it growing up. And in Thailand, I was definitely fat compared to the majority of the population. 

So I did the only thing I could think of as a response. I walked out, leaving 20 6th graders on their own. My classroom was isolated at the end of a dirt road and as I walked away I honestly didn’t know if I could ever go back. 

As I walked in the hot sun, sweat pouring down my back, I felt my spine stiffen. I was not going to cry as I had at 13 after returning to Hong Kong from the states and hearing all about how I gained weight. I wasn’t going to let them win. So I walked back and started teaching. No one apologized. 

And that’s not the most humiliating thing that happened that year: that was the conversation I had about bras with the principal’s wife. But that’s another story. 

Not Enough Adjectives

I’m not sure how to describe the chronic pain I’ve been in for years. Usually I don’t talk about any of it, except when pregnant, because in my mind it’s acceptable to complain then to anyone and everyone because pregnancy is awful. But now I’m not pregnant. But I hurt.

Many years ago I was in a really bad car accident. I had no outward injuries and no noticeable internal injuries either. But here I am, with unbearable neck pain. I’ve been to physical therapy, acupuncture and OMT. And for a while I am better. But the muscle that causes all this pain is back to being rock hard. It’s so hard it feels like bone. So back I go to a new OMT. My next option: pain management.

And that’s just my neck. My sciatica nerve pain never went away after my first pregnancy but for a while it was manageable. Then I got my walking boot for tendinitis, which made me walk cockeyed and my hip hasn’t been the same since. It’s back to the worst it’s ever been.

My right wrist has carpal tunnel that my doctor said would likely go away after pregnancy. I’m not giving up hope as I know there’s still hormones making my body do crazy things while I’m breastfeeding. But it really hurts and since I type at a computer all day long, this one is the most troubling.

On the right side of my body alone, it’s my neck, sciatica nerve, wrist and ankle. I’ve had to stop feeding the baby lying down because the position made my muscles hurt even more in my neck and caused the pain to travel to my shoulder and upper arm. In addition to pain, I’m also up more at night because walking down a hall to feed the baby is a lot more disruptive than feeding him in bed.

I am so tired. I hurt. I never talk about it because I don’t know how to describe the pain and I don’t want to complain all the time. It’s not like I’m dying or have an emergent situation. I feel selfish. So many people have it worse than me.

I just want to have enough energy to go to the gym or do yoga but the vicious cycle of pain makes that feel impossible.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope we can all be a little kinder to the people around us. We are all going through something: emotionally, physically, spiritually and while it may be invisible, that giant rock pressing down on our bodies and souls is getting heavier. Let’s be kind

6 Reasons My House is Never Clean

My house is clean and organized for a total of 30 minutes each week, because for 30 minutes, after everything has been picked up, scrubbed and vacuumed, my 4yr old is watching the iPad. If screen time isn’t an option, then let’s face it: my house is never clean and organized. Why?

  1. Play-doh. I love the stuff because it can keep Future President entertained for up to an hour. But those tiny little pieces? Hard to vacuum while wet and if you let the play-doh dry up before vacuuming, the little pieces usually get smashed into the carpet. It’s a nightmare.
  2. Baby stuff. Between the playmat, the jumper, the bouncy chair, the Bumbo, the car seat, the diaper bag, the baby carrier, and the diapers and wipes, there is baby stuff all over the house. And as soon as it’s put away in its proper corner, out it comes again, because inevitably baby has tired of swatting at the fox’s tail and wants to play with the plastic monkey.
  3. Laundry. If the baby’s hasn’t created a blowout or spit up situation, then the 4yr old has spilled blackberry juice on his white collar (who buys shirts with white collars? when will I learn?!). Socks are always dirty, burp cloths are plentiful. And if the laundry is clean, it will likely sit in a basket, unfolded. Dirty laundry or clean, it seems to multiple like a school of fish.
  4. LEGOs. After LEGOs are picked up, it’s like a new spot on the floor has been freshly discovered. And then as soon as it’s clean, the 4yr old decides he needs a specific piece that is at the bottom of the box. The sound of crashing LEGOs being dumped out on the floor is like nails on a chalkboard.
  5. Puzzles. I love that Future President enjoys puzzles so much. I hate that he seems to lose at least one piece per puzzle and the moment he almost completes a puzzle and realizes this…well, the play room floor is a disaster zone as he searches for that missing piece.
  6. Food. I complain endlessly that Future President only eats three things: bread, some form of cracker, and cheese. In reality, he’s pretty good about fruits and veggies, but his two carb favorites mean there are crumbs everywhere all the time. Who knew toast and peanut butter crackers could make such a mess? I bought a standup vacuum that plugs into the wall specifically to clean up crumbs after meals. My only regret? Not spending more money to buy a more powerful machine.

I love a sparkly clean house but I keep telling myself I need to sit down on the floor more often and just enjoy my kids. Time flies: just this week Junior started sucking on a cucumber and playing with toys on the Bumbo tray. The next thing I know he’ll be crawling (talking, walking, dating).

TOMS on Sale!

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Oh, TOMS, you do it to me every time you’re featured on Zulily: cute shoes on sale for both me and baby. We could match if we wanted to!

I love, love, love these kid’s red rain boots. Can you please make rain boots for women? Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.26.37 AM

Can I have one of each of these adorable flats? I want a pair of TOMS ballet flats so badly.

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You can shop the TOMS sale here.

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** This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my link

Happy 4th Birthday

Four years ago on Valentine’s Day, my first baby was born. He was 11 days early, a pleasant surprise because we had scheduled an induction to ensure my husband would be at his birth as the bar exam was scheduled so close to his due date.

Four years goes by very quickly. I wish I could remember, physically remember, how small he was when I first held him. Even though Junior came along only four months ago, I can’t remember what a newborn feels like in my muscle memory. I wish there was a way to make a molding of the size and shape of a newborn, but as they grow, so do a parent’s muscles and the 16 pound baby doesn’t feel heavy, even though just a few months ago, he was half that.

Three has been our toughest year yet. Future President skipped the terrible twos and embraced the torturous threes. There were epic tantrums. But I don’t want to dwell on those, because they were also great moments: success at speech therapy; the complete embracing by Future President of his role as big brother; riding a bike; advancing in swimming lessons; sleeping through the night again; expanding his vocabulary with words like condiment and raucous; counting to 100 and loving math. He went on his first overnight camping trip with Daddy and Grandpa (and rode a llama!) and vacationed in Hawaii, Walla Walla, Sunriver, Rosario and California. He learned to love play doh and sidewalk chalk and enjoyed making crafts for Great-Grandma.

Future President: you are one of the kindest and gentlest souls. You talk loudly nonstop and love Cars more than anyone else in the world. You are an expert negotiator and filibusterer. I love that every morning you carry stuffed Thomas, Olaf, your baby doll and Elmo into our room, along with whatever cars you took to bed last night. I love how much you love to read stories. I am constantly amazed at your memory, that you remember things from two years ago. I love that you pray for our family every night and catch me if I mess up any of the words in the four songs we sing at bedtime. You are more musical than your parents combined and I love your made up songs and dances and that you can play the harmonica. You are awesome. Thank you for making me a mommy. I love you.

The Dream of the ’90s

Stop what you’re doing and set your DVR to record Hindsight. Or go to VH1 online and stream it there. You will be transported back the ’90s in a split second and if you’re like me, you’ll be dancing to the music and wondering if your sunflower dress and choker necklace are somewhere in the back of a closet.

Ok, I admit the premise of this show is a little unbelievable, but we loved Battlestar Galactica and Alf, so…

None of us are going to be transported back in time and get the chance for a do-over. But what would you do if it did happen to you? Becca finds out that knowing the future doesn’t always work out for the best and complicates her life in ways she couldn’t imagine. And because it’s set in the ’90s, there’s all sorts of nostalgia in fashion, music and lack of smart phones. What would we do without our iPhones? Use pay phones and check out VHS tapes!

I hope you like the hop back in time as much as me. Happy watching.

Thankfulness

I haven’t been in the best mood lately so in an effort to see things in a more positive light, I’m forcing myself to be thankful.

Today am I am thankful because:
My baby slept for almost 7 hours in a row last night.
I can wear black jeans to work and no one will question if my fashion choices are work appropriate.
There’s been so much free food at work I can bring the leftovers home and avoid cooking for another night.
My head cold and cough isn’t the flu.
My first baby is turning 4 on Saturday.
I have awesome friends who text and message me when the going gets rough.
My husband gets up with the baby at night even though he has to be up at 4:30 to work.
Dual monitors.
Cake.