Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Just let them loose, why don't you, lady?!!!"

A gray-haired lady quietly but audibly fumed, through gritted teeth, at me, "Just let them [my 2 1/2 year old twins] loose, why don't you, lady?!!!" at the grocery store today.

My parents flew in from out of town. My mom, the twins, and I were out shopping. I thought that since I had another adult with me, I would give the twins a change of scenery and a chance to exercise and move about. Instead of having them sit in their stroller, they could walk around holding my mom's hand or mine. The twins were pretty good, for the most part (about 20-30 minutes). We were about to check out, when they somehow simultaneously decided to disobey and run for the wild blue yonder (slight exaggeration here).

I must confess, my first response to this woman's angry words was feeling rather offended, frustrated, hurt, and a bit angry. Who is this woman?

It isn't as if the twins were hanging from the rafters, milling through the shelves, or tripping everyone passing by. I have four children between the ages of 2 and 7, and I do my very best to teach them love, respect, responsibility, and consideration. I let them stretch their legs and arms once in awhile; is that a crime?

Perhaps this woman is from a generation where children are expected to be unseen and unheard. Or maybe she'd feel better if I had them on harnesses or leashes.

Alas, I want to let my children be children, while molding and shaping their characters into good persons. Striking the fine balance between setting rules to be followed (in the character formation process) and allowing their unique personalities to flourish can be a difficult challenge.

Lady, whomever you are and where ever you are, try not to get excited so easily. Life is too short to be so angry and frustrated.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If only it were a fool's joke; or, maybe I am the fool

Today was a busy day in the making. My older two, one in 2nd grade and one in kindergarten, are home for spring break. That means, I have four children, between the ages of 2 and 7, around the clock. But, to add to the fun, I had invited two girls who had been adopted by a dear family, less than a year ago, for an all-day play date. So, today, I was going to have and did have six children, between the ages of 2 and 7, under one roof, with only one adult (me) all day.

To start the day, I got a super angry, spiteful e-mail forward from my ex. I don't even want to call him my ex, because I do not want there to be any remaining association between us. But, to to refer to him as the children's father would still hint at some sort of residual relationship binding us, albeit real but discouraging one. Our divorce was final July of last year. Since then, I have seen increasing anger, spite, wrath, and dishonesty. Enough dishonesty and lies to leave the judge appalled and offended, when we went to back to court recently. I could sense the hate, spite, and venom rising from the e-mail he had sent to my attorney and copied me.

This day, like most other days, I spent time with children, cooked, washed dishes, started some laundry, and tried the best I could to provide for well-being of children; whilst some angry 40 year old man explosively threw a temper tantrum fit for a four year old. So glad am I to no longer have the ties of marriage to such a man, because such a life would be grievously bleak, unpredictably frightening, and dark. I truly want to be a good mother to the children, and I have trouble sleeping thinking about where I can improve and where I fall short. It is April fool's day. Tears are streaming down my cheeks at the relentless, raging storm I have been weathering. Am I the fool here?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Question that Left Me Surprised and Speechless

Yesterday afternoon, after church, my four kiddos and I headed to Trader Joe's, a favorite grocery store that opened just last month. I hesitated in going, because there was much to do: cooking, grading papers, eating (for five hungry mouths), amongst other things. But, everyone was very stoked about going.

This store has been only nearly a month. Opened on Valentine's Day. This particular Sunday afternoon was crowded in store. But, push a tandem stroller (with the older two holding on to the stroller) and pull a shopping cart I did. Looking around and picking up a few odds and ends was cumbersome and slow.  But, inch forward we did.

Whilst in the produce section, a male voice said, clearly and kindly, "May I help you shop by pushing your shopping cart?"

What? Huh?

I was doing what I do routinely and sometimes several times a week, shopping with 2 or 4 children in tow. I thought nothing of what I was doing. Well, other than hearing the frequently unsolicited comment, "You've got your hands full."

No. No, I am fine.

"May I help you by pushing your shopping cart?" He asked me again.

The Trader Joe's employee might have even asked me this question three times.

I was speechless.

When I finally got around to finding my words, I told the thoughtful employee that I had never been asked that question before and wasn't quite sure how to respond. I assured him I would get along fine and that I did not want to cause any trouble.

He ended up being my shopping assistant. Wow! A first for me.

I am flattered and tickled pink someone would take action to help me shop!

Grocery shopping must get done. Given that the children and I eat mostly fresh food and there are five very hungry mouths that need to be constantly fed, I am frequently visiting various grocery stores several times a week. Usually, two or four little persons are with me; so, they come along with me!

That man's assistance offering made my day. I was exhausted, but the offer and the actual help gave me a resurgence of energy!

This morning, my four children and I met a friend for coffee. Well, I packed our breakfast, and the children (and I) had breakfast while my friend and I drank coffee. I ended up not appreciating the coffee that was made for me.

But, I do not like to make a fuss.

So, after hitting a grocery store, I went through a Starbucks drive-through. I discretely mentioned to the barista that I didn't really like the taste of the coffee I got earlier in the morning but that I still much desired some coffee. To make the long story short, she said that that coffee I had just purchased at the drive-through was on them, despite the fact that coffee purchased earlier was at a different Starbucks. The iced espresso-based drink was made incorrectly, they wanted to remedy the problem, and they hoped I would visit them (Starbucks) again.

So nice.

At least two blessings within 24 hours. I am truly grateful.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Zoo Craziness at My House

It's nearly 9 pm, and I am working against a fast-approaching grading deadline. Yet, what I desperately want to do is to seek the warmth and refuge underneath the covers of my bed. If you knew half of what my day looked like, you would, too.

I have four children, ranging from 2 yrs old to 7 years old. The older two did not have school today, because of teacher in-service day. So, I packed all of our breakfasts and we headed out to one of my favorite Starbucks. After that, the craziness ensued. The newest member of the family, a kitten who is approaching a year old, we think (she is animal shelter rescue, and her accurate age is unknown),  takes on every inch of the house as her adventurous playground, from the curtains to the twins' bed. Then, the twins, 2 yrs old, are all over EVERYTHING, dragging their toddler-sized chairs to help themselves to items on counter tops, table tops, where ever. One of the twins likes to help herself to toilet tissue 'to blow her nose.' One of the twins (both are potty training) constantly desired going to the bathroom's toilet (though they each have their own little potties). And, since they are potty training, I didn't want to thwart or discourage any genuine effort or desire to go. But, this child also insists on wiping herself (never mind the fact that a 2 year old cannot possibly wipe herself well), getting off the toilet, and flushing. She's in no hurry to get a diaper on after that, and I have wiped up one too many messes on the floor to want to wait. This is happening while the other twin oftentimes is harassing, I mean, playing, with the kitten. He wants to play with the kitten and love the kitten, but that often comes out in the form of laying on her, pulling her tail, or grabbing her fur. We have been blessed with a rambunctious and super active kitten who is gentle with my very active children. Even so, she can communicate 'stop bothering me' in a limited number of ways, so I find myself scrambling to see if my son is terrorizing the kitten and getting hurt in the process of doing so. Then, there is one of the older children, who has a spirited personality, who is known to pick on people; and I had to check and see if someone was screaming because of that. The older two have no problems snagging stuff from the younger two, and the fun never stops.

I was trying to manage the children and keep them out of harm's way, all whilst wiping bottoms, cooking, doing laundry, washing dishes, putting food on the table, tidying up (so I could eventually put in some time to work), and repeating many of those tasks. Now, everyone is in bed, and I have loads of grading to do. But I have very little time. There's no telling when a twin will wake up and want my company or want to nurse (the twins are sleep-trained and I don't give in to nursing requests in the middle of the night anymore, but still. . .). And, frankly, I am ready to call it a night. 4 or 5 am, which is when the twins regularly wake for the day, comes sooner than later!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday isn't just for the 'spiritual'

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Tonight was the first time I have taken the eldest two to an Ash Wednesday interactive service or to any Ash Wednesday service. I had to keep the point simple and age appropriate. The oldest two are seven years old and five years old.

I told the children: We all do wrong, wrong that sort of began long, long ago. God did something very special that wiped those wrongs clean and gave us a chance to be with him forever, by sending his one and only beloved son (Jesus Christ) to die (for our sins).

That there is a being - God - who does not hold that long catalog of sins against us blows my mind. That sort of love that involves forgiveness and grace for all the wrong doings is difficult for me to imagine and accept. Yet that love exists, waiting patiently for acceptance and embrace.

This Lenten season, my focus is learning more about this love, the Lord's love - unfailing love.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kimchi Fried Rice

Recently I touched base with a friend I hadn't in quite some time, and she asked what I am doing for myself these days. Given that I am a single mom, tending four very small children, teaching part-time, and taking care of everyday matters that consume no insignificant amounts of time and energy, that was a very good (and thoughtful) question to ask. I write, sing, visit with friends. I had forgotten to tell her (or did I?) about my love for cooking, experimenting new territory, and perfecting my own dishes. Well, today was one of those exciting adventures in my kitchen.


Kimchi Fried Rice

Dipping my fingers into first-time ventures took me in the direction of making kimchi fried rice. I must confess that my one major short-cut was that I did not make the kimchi, from scratch or on my own; I bought it from a Korean grocery store.


  • fried rice
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced very thinly
  • egg(s)
  • kimchi juice
  • kimchi, sliced very thinly

  • make fried rice - this time, I used frozen peas, carrots, corn; egg; Applegate organic (gluten-free) uncured beef hot dogs
  • bring kimchi to a boil in a sauce pan - I don't know that this is a necessary step, but I used kimchi juice that had been sitting around for a bit (in the refrigerator), long after the kimchi had been consumed, and I felt better killing any unfriendly germs that might have gathered
  • fry thinly sliced sweet onion, with some olive oil, in a pan until nearly transparent. then add kimchi.
  • add kimchi and onion to fried rice.
  • in a clean pan, cook an egg sunny side-up. i like the yoke a bit runny. i made sure the whites of the egg were cooked well by cooking by flipping over the egg to make sure both sides of the whites were cooked (and not transparent). whilst cooking the egg, I drizzled freshly grounded rainbow peppercorns and freshly grounded garlic sea salt.
  • to finish, I put the kimchi fried rice, adding the egg sunny side-up on top.
I don't have any clue whether my version of kimchi fried rice matches authentic versions of Korean kimchi fried rice (I'll be sure to have some of my Korean friends taste test my dish at some point), but one of friends and my 2 year old twins could not eat enough of it! The twins asked for seconds, thirds; I lost track of when they stopped asking for more. Wait, they didn't stop wanting more; I had to stop them from getting more.

I am delighted my dish was such a hit. The popularity of the dish alone made my day.

Oh, and by the way, for all those who are gluten-free out there, the version I made was/is gluten-free.

Monday, February 17, 2014

When the Bottom Neary Fell Out

The day before yesterday was rough. That was the first time in awhile I was nearly in paralyzing despair. The reality that I have not been successful in landing a full-time job for the 2014-2015 year was hitting me like a ton of bricks. The fact that I still have nothing in place to financially provide for the children (and me) nearly put me in debilitating pain.

Even if I somehow do get full-time employment, these children need extra loving and nurturing through a prolonged, difficult and unpredictable time in their lives. How do I juggle working full-time with being fully present for them? Right now, being a full-time mom and working part-time takes no small amount of me. The twins are in full terrible 2's swing, dragging or pushing around their chairs everywhere, for extra height, so they can turn off and on light switches (over and over again), grab things off the counter they desire, make mayhem. Dealing with two, wait four, attempting to exercise as much autonomy as possible can be quite exhausting and time-consuming.

Though I believe tears, whether tears of joy or tears of exasperation, have important places in life, I do not have time to curl up in a fetal position and cry myself to sleep or to hide until everything blows over. I have mouths to feed, grocery shopping to do, places to take children, laundry to wash, food to cook, dirty dishes to clean, bottoms to wipe, stories to hear and respond, students to tend, etc.

Desperate to utilize my despair in a more productive way, I ventured beyond the comfortable and put a voice to my cries. At the end of service at church yesterday, when some of the staff were standing at the front of the sanctuary to pray for anyone wanting prayer, I went up. With tears in my eyes and barely any ability to speak in comprehensible fashion, I asked the pastor and his wife to pray for wisdom on what I should be doing. I cried through prayers bestowed on my behalf. Expected afterwards, I would attempt to wipe away my tears and quietly but quickly find my way back to my seat.

I was surprised by what came next. The pastor affirmed that I have been through a lot. I assume he was referring, amongst other things or events, to the process of filing for divorce (that lasted nearly two years), the divorce itself, and all the difficulties subsumed in this. Tears welt up even more and I was sobbing, perhaps tears of relief. I am not as useless as I had been feeling the day before. Plus, given the church's position on divorce, I wasn't sure I would gain any support as a divorcee.

Depression and despair are not to be merely brushed aside. They can be fierce, unforgiving contenders.

I am glad for reprieve from debilitating despair, for now. Though I have no answers on the difficult questions, I have survived yet another day. Today, I conquered the day with not four children (the older two were off of school for Presidents' Day) but five children (I looked after another young child for a single mom, who had to work and attend classes). Packed breakfast for everyone and we ate at a coffee shop and drew afterwards. Went to Petco, the six of us, and picked up a second Beta fish, an I.D. tag for a relatively newly adopted kitten, and few odds and ends. Did a few loads of laundry, fed children, got potty training children on the potties, bathed four children, cooked, took care of a few work-related tasks, played with the kitten (who was starving for attention and play), and several other tasks.

Today was a good day. I will take what I can get.