Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Let Me Be As Christ to You"

Hubby and I just celebrated our 10 wedding anniversary.  We've been together almost 15 years. We met in college and became friends. On my 19th birthday while I was working in the college library reshelving books, he approached me in a Superman t-shirt and said, "Hello Lois."  He asked me on a date and on my 19th birthday we began a relationship that has continued into marriage.

Our wedding theme was, "See Ye First the Kingdom of God." It was my prayer in college to seek God first before anything else.  When I did, he blessed me with a Christian man who later became my husband.

I'm not the easiest person to get along with. I have a temper, I think I am always right, I'm quite stubborn, and I am passionate about goals, life, and the way I think things should be. But my husband sees through it all, and still finds me to be one he has wanted to be with for the rest of his life. I'm blessed.

My husband is quite stubborn as well.  He thinks he is always right and rolls his eyes when I come up another scheme for something or other (volunteer coordinator, writing the MOPs newsletter, etc). Yet as frustrating as he can be, he is still the one I want by my side for the rest of my life.

"Seek Ye First" was sung before I walked down the aisle. Friends of ours sang "The Servant Song" as part of our wedding Mass. And we danced to Alison Krauss's "When You Say Nothing At All" for our first dance.

Music is a part of our lives and I often feel that it echoes the thoughts and emotions that I have on a daily basis. In The Servant Song it reminds us to serve on another through life and "to have the grace to let you be my servant too."  And in When You Say Nothing At All the line that resonates with me is "the touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall."

Dear Superman,

Thank you for choosing me to be your wife. Let us continue to seek God first in our marriage. Please allow me to be your servant and I pray that God grants me the grace to let you be my servant, too.  Thank you for always catching me whenever I fall. You say it best when you say nothing at all. I love you!

Love, Lois

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Asian Invasion

Twenty-five years ago my mom petitioned for her brother to come to the United States. Just over a year ago that request was granted and in the wee hours of the morning, my uncle, his wife and his two daughters took their first trip to the U.S. It was a surreal experience.

After many delays, including an 18 hour delay in Manila at the start of their journey, my Filipino relatives finally arrived to their new home. My parents had worked hard on the paperwork, spending endless hours filling in applications, talking on the phone, and scouring the internet. Their hard work finally came to fruition.  My mom, for the first time in her life, has family living in the United States. Just ten years ago (about 17 years after she had left her home to begin a new life in America with my father) my mom began taking regular visits back to the Philippines to visit her family. But it never seemed it would happen to have her family join her here. And now here they are. (Though her parents, three sisters, and brother are still in the Philippines).

This will turn our world upside down in a wonderful way. My mom has her brother and my kids and I will get to know some of our Filipino relatives. This is an exciting adventure. I hope my cousins will journal about their experiences here. Here's to family! Cheers!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Friends

My best friend gave birth to her third baby just a few days ago. We've been on the same baby timeline so now each our kids are best friends. Take a look!

J. and Boogie. Best friends since 2006 (Boogie's in the carrier)
A more recent picture of the best friends. Taken last year at Boogie's 4th birthday. This is one of my FAVE photos.

C. and Bug. Bug is in yellow.
Taken a few months later. Bug is in red.  I realize I need more photos of these ladies!

The newest set of best friends. Mr. Bananas and Baby Z.  

Where it all began.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Celebration of Life

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die...4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2, 4)

This weekend has been about celebrating life.

Late last week I heard that a family friend passed away. While I mourn her passing, I am also celebrating her life. She was an incredible woman who had a heart for serving others. She did it in such a way that was never forceful, but quietly done, and greatly missed now that it's no longer here.  She is and was a great example of how to love others unconditionally. At her funeral service today, many paid their respects. While we are mourning a life gone, the theme for the funeral was celebration. Yes, celebration. It's what she would have wanted. We were asked to wear bright colors, especially purple if we had it.  Shar went home to her Savior and is dancing at his feet.  The song, "I Can Only Imagine" has a new meaning for me.

In the same breath I am celebrating the birth of a new life. My best friend gave birth to her third baby, her first son.  I cried when I got the message and I cried when I held him because of all the love I already have for him. He is beautiful and perfect.  He is my littlest one's best friend.  So I celebrate his life and to the wonder of his birth.  I marvel at his existence. One day he was snug in his mother's womb and today he is with us. How beautiful. How blessed I am to be a part of his life.

It's the circle of life isn't it? With each passing there is a birth. Life continues. We celebrate a life well lived and life yet to live.

Peace to you and your family, Shar, as you journey home. We miss you dearly.

Welcome to the world Baby Z! You are so loved and we rejoice in your birth. Love you!

Made it!

This past week and weekend have been a whirlwind of activity. With Hubby being away I tried to keep busy and productive. I was definitely busy, but maybe to productive unless you count investing my time and energy into cultivating friendships, then, yes, very productive!  While Hubby was away I took the kids to several playdates with new friends, family that I am blessed to call friend, and one of my nearest and dearest friends.

I will admit that I was a walking zombie by the end of the week. I almost never napped (though I really should have!) and I fell asleep past midnight every night and awoke early with the kids and woke up several times in between to tend to the baby.

I finally found a pair of "big girl pants" that fit and didn't call my husband in a fit of tears while he was away. Not once! Hurrah for being a big girl.  He noticed and even commented that he missed me. He's never done that. Probably because I'm usually on the other end of the phone crying from the lack of sleep.  He heard my weary, yet cheerful voice each night and I think it made him miss me :)

My poor husband finally rolled in around 5am on Saturday morning exhausted and a little grumpy. He missed his original flight and his next flight was delayed and arrived in a completely different airport so he had to take a cab to the other airport where he left his car, before finally arriving home to us.

But he made it and so did I. While I'm not looking forward to future business trips, at least I know that I can survive a week without him. Hurrah to having him home for a while before his next business trip.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Good Day While Daddy's Away

If you've been keeping up, you know that I hate when my husband travels. Everything just seems tougher to do. I also tend to be sleep deprived when he's away because I can't sleep and then I wake up in the morning with the kids. By the way all three are napping now and so should I!

However, Hubby left on Monday afternoon for 4 day business trip and things are alright. I admit that on the first day as soon as he left the driveway I put all three kids down for a nap and I slept, too. Ahhh, glorious sleep.  The evening went pretty well and the kids left an enthusiastic good night message to their daddy on his cell phone. It was super sweet. During bedtime prayers, Buggy said she was thankful for Boogie, Boogie said he was thankful for me, and I'm pretty Mr. Bananas is pretty thankful for both of his siblings.

The next day went much better than I expected. I had signed up the two big kids for private lessons now that swim team is over. The Head Flipper coach for the swim agreed to teach my kids for the week. I think having that as a routine every morning will help keep things moving along.  After swim lessons we headed back to the house and shortly our friends arrived for a playdate. This is a new friend for me. We met through MOPs and her son was also a first year flipper on the same swim team. During swim team,  our boys swam, our little girls played together on the pool deck, and we chatted getting to know one another.  My friend knew that my husband was out of town this week and offered to give me a break with the kids. I was grateful for some adult conversation.

After they left, my kids went down for a nap.  My parents had just gotten home from a high school reunion in California and my father made it a point to come over and spend time with Boogs. It was awesome. While the little kids napped, Boogie and his lolo ran around the backyard having a blast with super soakers. Boogie had so much fun soaking his lolo.

Last night, I had my last formation meeting for Summer Camp. My wonderful and reliable babysitter took care of the big kids while I took Mr. Bananas with me to the meeting.  I stayed longer than I should have, but things seemed to go pretty well. I was pleased. We recruited over 90 volunteers for our camp. We have 92 volunteers and 103 campers. Wowzers!

It was very busy day, but it went without a hitch. I just wish I could sleep better while Hubby was gone. We're taking it easy today and tomorrow I'm taking the kids to visit some of their cousins.

If you think about it, please say a prayer for us that things will continue to go smoothly and that Hubby has safe travels while he is away.  Two and half days to go!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mommy According to Boogie

This is a cute idea. I saw this on a note on a friend's Facebook page and I thought I'd give it a try.  Copy this note, ask your kid the questions, and write them down exactly how they respond. If you post the answers on your blog, leave me a comment with a link back to your blog. I'd love to check out your answers.

Me, according to Boogie....

1. What is something mom always says to you?!
I love you

2. What makes mom happy?
Being nice to my little sister

3. What makes mom sad?
Not being nice to my little sister

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
By tickling me.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
That one’s I don’t know, Mommy

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?
Oh, I don’t know that one.

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Going to the waterpark and go swimming with me at the swimming pool

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Go to the grocery store

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Painting, I think

11. What is your mom really good at?
Giving birth to babies

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Running around on the treadmill with Johnny
**I have never attempted this...I don't know where he came up with this idea!

13. What does your mom do for her job?
working, spending time with her children.

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
I think it’s milk stuff

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
playing with me

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
I think she would be Astrid

17. What do you and your mom do together?
spending time, sometimes play video games

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both like playing MarioKart

19. How are you and your mom different?
uh, Mommy likes to do the hard races and I don’t

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Because she says, “I love you” everyday

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
The Gym

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mr. Bananas is 5 Months Old!

I lov this smile. I just wish the picture was a little clearer
Boy does the time fly.  Baby Boy is already 5 months old. When the reflux isn't bothering him, he is one happy, happy baby.  I love it. He brightens all of our days.  His older sister is like his second mama. She watches over him, wipes up his spit-up, throws out his diapers, tells him she loves him on a daily basis, and usually kisses him goodnight and totally forgets to give me a kiss.  Ah, well.

This month was a little tougher with Mr. Bananas trying to battle his reflux. He was put on medicine and it worked well for two weeks and then not so much. After numerous consecutive days of not sleeping well and me breaking down in tears because of sleep deprivation I took him back for another evaluation. He was given a new prescription and I think he's doing better.

He is reaching for toys and loves things that roll.  He can spin his body around so that he is facing a different direction.  He can roll from back to front. He doesn't mind tummy time. Mr. B. is grabbing anything and everything and will put it in his mouth.  I still suspect that his sister is his favorite person.

Of the sibling pics I took that day, this is my favorite...though I wish it was clearer
He is truly a very happy baby and I think monkeys are his mascots. I can't believe that he is growing so quickly and soon he will attempt crawling. I love him dearly and I'm so glad we were blessed with his birth.

I love Bug's expression in this photo

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Lot of Heart

One of the Flipper coaches providing words of encouragment
Every morning, for the last three weeks, Boogie has gotten up five mornings a week, put on his swim trunks and we've headed to the pool for practice.  One thing I've noticed about my sweet Boogie. He has a lot of heart and not a lot of finesse, much like his mother.  I loved swim team, but was never the best swimmer. But that didn't matter because I LOVED it.

My husband doesn't get it. He grew up 45 minutes away and swim team was not a part of their norm. He didn't grow up getting up early for swim practice or spending his Saturday mornings at the pool swimming in multiple events, or cheering on his fellow swimmers. But I did and for our county, it is a HUGE deal and just about everyone joins. As one of the team reps told me, it's the only sport where 5 year olds participate alongside older teens. There is a sense of community among the swimmers. You spend most of your summer poolside, most of your day on Saturdays and one evening a week participating in meets, in addition to pep rallies, pasta dinners, and team building fun. It's a great life and I'm thrilled that Boogs is a part of it this year.

He was more nervous that we realized
We are winding down to our last week of swim team for my little Flipper.  He participated in his first mini-meet yesterday. It's a way for the little swimmers to experience what a meet would be like and to perform the skills they have learned. As with all the swimmers, Boogs was registered for the 5 & Under Kickboard race. However, last Friday, his coach asked me if he would like to swim in the 5 & Under Freestyle. I thought, "Why Not?"  So he was registered for that as well.

For weeks Boogs has swam the freestyle with his head in the water paddling away.  But wouldn't you know it, for the freestyle event, he swam with his head above water waving at me?  So silly. When I spoke to the coach about it, she said that most kids get so overwhelmed with the excitement and the crowds that they don't swim like they usually do. But Boogs did great! He earned a 5th place ribbon (out of 9 swimmers) for freestyle and I was sooooo proud.  He participated in the kickboard races as well.  My husband noticed that the faster he wanted to go, the more he bent his legs and kicked from his ankles, which only made him slower. He placed 19th overall in the kickboard races. There were a lot of kids swimming and many heats. It doesn't matter. He got out there and he did it. I am one very, very proud swim team Mama!

Being told to get in his start position

Swimming the freestyle event. The coaches are there in case the kids need them  along the way. Phew!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Note to Self

Note to self: do not volunteer for anything (no matter how wonderful the cause) while pregnant, nursing, or when the baby does not sleep through the night.

I posted the above as my Facebook status in a bout of frustration a couple of weeks ago.  Many of friends "liked" my status saying that I do too much already. I have decided to start cutting back on some of my committees. I simply cannot do all the things that I would like to do because I don't have the energy. The baby is having a wicked time sleeping through the night because of the reflux and that means Mama is having a wicked time getting enough sleep to get even the simplest tasks done. I'm just too tired and feeling very, very overwhelmed.

So overwhelmed in fact that I bursted into tears while chatting with a friend at swim practice. I wasn't blubbering, but tears kept rolling down my face. Poor Bug became concerned, sat in my lap and whispered, "I got chu, Mama. I got chu."

Honestly with a full night's sleep, things will seem less daunting. But right now, not so much. I have decided to cut back on the activities I've assigned myself. I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief once camp is done. Just 3 more weeks to prep.  Swim team will be over soon, but to be honest I'm having a ton of fun with swim team so it hasn't been that bad.  I still have four things on my plate, but I'm considering dropping one of them when it comes time. The other three things (baptism prep, Church cleaning, and MOPs publicity I'll keep).  The first two are things Hubby and I will do together. I'm committed to MOPs, but since I was literally crying to the assistant director at swim practice, they might be pretty understanding when I cry, "Uncle!"

I'm very frustrated that I can't seem to keep up the pace that I was doing before being preggers with Mr. Bananas. Post-partum with this guy has been tough and it's because of the lack of sleep. I wasn't banking on a reflux baby, though I should have realized that it was good possibility since there's a family history of reflux babies. Including Mr. Bananas half of the kids in the family have had reflux (9 of the 18).

Mr. Bananas has been a good reminder to keep things simple and to not do too much. He's also a good reminder not to be too hard on myself. Do what I can and things will get done eventually. It just might take much, much longer! Speaking of which, L. if you're reading this, I have a birth announcement to send to you in Switzerland, but at this rate he might be 18 before you get this or you'll get it with your Christmas card.

So I'm taking the advice of several friends and sisters and reminding myself that I've got time and to take it easy while I can. In due time I will do my share.

A Time for Everything--Ecclesiastes 3:1 (New American Version)
      1There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

Friday, July 1, 2011

First I Freak, then I Troubleshoot

I keep saying, "I don't want to lead anything." And I don't. But I think my first-born tendencies and type-A personality make that impossible.  I do have some of the qualities of a good leader: self-starter, planner, motivator, list-maker, etc. What I don't have? Diplomacy. I have learned the hard way (ahem, many times) is that saying what you really think in the heat of the moment (although it may be true) is not a good thing and will not get the job done. What I have learned is that being gracious, kind, and flexible tend to get better results.

Unfortunately for me and why I should not lead, is that when a problem arises, I freak out at first. My mind races and I think of all things that are going wrong. However, once I talk it out (oh, my poor husband), start examining my possibilities, and given some time, I find ways to troubleshoot. And those ideas tend to work out really well or even better than the original plan. The troubleshooting part makes me a good leader, the freaking out? Not so much.

In my current role as volunteer coordinator for our church's summer camp I'm learning very quickly to learn to be flexible and patient. We have a few new volunteers and they are a little overwhelmed with what it takes to coordinate summer camp. The things is, they have the easier part. They get to work with the kids and lead them to the different activities.  It's the coordinating camp and the people that is more daunting.

I had received an e-mail that was just irritating and quite a few not very nice things stormed through my brain as I read it.  Really, I wanted to tell the sender to woman-up. Fortunately for her I decided not to respond right away, because I would have totally called her out. Totally. It seems like I'm less patient in my old age. Step up or step back because I do not have the time to coddle. Unfortunately that's the side of me that comes out when I'm in charge...probably another reason why I shouldn't just stresses me out.

Instead I took a step back, reminding myself that we are all volunteers and quite frankly the woman was overwhelmed by the task of leading a group of preschoolers through camp activities.  After spending the day catching up with a friend and watching my kids have fun, I went back to the e-mail. God gave me patience, diplomacy, and grace as I responded. I've yet to hear back from the sender, but the others CCed in the e-mail responded positively. Whew.

As time goes on, I hope to freak out less in challenging situations when working with a large group. I hope that I can continue to employ diplomacy in my interactions with others and to emulate the positive characteristics of patience, grace, and peace from the saints that we are learning about in Summer camp. Say a little prayer for me if you will.

Peace and all good --St. Francis of Assissi