Tuesday, March 10, 2015

February 2015

Despite the frigid temperatures, and the kids already missing 5 days of school, February was a month with many firsts, and many fun moments.  Most of these events pertained to Jenna.  She's had a busy month!

Jenna and Jared went on their first Daddy-Daughter Dance!  This dance was hosted by the Hoffman Estates Park District, and we've been wanting to do this for a long time!  The dance was held at the Poplar Creek Country Club.  Jenna was so excited, and she kept counting down the days weeks before!  I bought her a gorgeous peach dress from Janie & Jack, and when she put it on for the first time, she didn't want to take it off.   She danced and twirled, and was in her own little world!  It was fun to see how excited she was to get all dressed up, but even more excited that she got to go on a "fancy" date with her daddy.

The song "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman came to mind, and prior to going to the dance, Jared and Jenna had a brief moment when they danced to this song in our living room.  It was cute because Jenna wanted me to announce her entrance to Jared.  I did so, and when she walked out of her room, she was beaming!  And she went straight to her daddy who affirmed how lovely she was!  Oh my heart!  I can just see this scene replay itself on her wedding day!  (sniff!  sniff!)

So, I went crazy taking pictures!  And after we took pictures at home, we drove over to Jenna's best friend's house, and took pictures there as well, because Sarena and her daddy were both going to the dance.  It's so great that the girls' "first date" is with their dads!

Jared said that Jenna had a lot of fun that night!  When she went to bed that night, she was still smiling from ear-to-ear, and wanted to wear her "princess dress" again the next day!

Another fun thing that happened in February was the Jenna lost her first tooth!  She's been waiting for this to happen so that I could take her to Build-A-Bear, like I did with Joshua when he lost his first tooth.  She lost her tooth at Sarena's house (and she lost her 2nd tooth at Mimi and Papa's house!  So, we're just hoping that we'll be around when she loses her 3rd one!).

In keeping with tradition, I took Jenna on a Mommy-Daughter date on a Thursday afternoon.  We went to Build-A-Bear at Woodfield Mall, and she got to pick out her bear.  She also got to put her tooth into the stuffing of the bear.  She picked out an outfit (my Little Ponies, of course!), and she got to name her bear, "Sparkles".  I love this tradition, and I'm glad I'll get to do it one more time with Becca!

After getting her bear, we went to McDonald's for lunch.  It was so fun to spend time talking and just being together.  I love everything about all our Mommy-Daughter time!

We also celebrated Chinese New Year in February!  It's crazy to think that just last year, Joshua, Jenna and I were in Singapore celebrating CNY with my family!  In keeping with tradition, the kids doned their tradition Chinese outfits, which my mother sends to them every year.  Aren't they just cute?  We gave the kids red packets, and had a yummy meal of Chinese food!

Chinese new Year really is about time with family.  Traditionally, it would be new year's eve night that most Chinese families would host a "reunion dinner" with family members.  There are typical traditional dishes during this meal, but I have no idea how to make them, nor get my hands on any of the ingredients!

I try to do the best I can to celebrate my Chinese heritage, especially during the season of Chinese New Year.  Even if it's for a day, I do want my kids to embrace this part of their heritage, and with each year, hopefully, they'll learn a little bit more about the Chinese history and hear stories about their own ancestors (what little I know of!).  It's such a colorful and beautiful heritage, and I just wish I knew more!  Perhaps as the children get older, we can research and learn more about our precious history together!

Since Chinese New Year is about family, we invited Jared's parents and my cousin, Ivor, and their kids, over for dinner.  It was a wonderful night of being together, reconnecting with my cousin and second-cousins.  My heart was full, and I praise God for the opportunity to celebrate, even if it's just a small slice of the real thing!

Friday, January 23, 2015

From last year...

I know I've neglected updating this blog.  But here's something I found from last year that I think is appropriate.  Here's hoping I'll be more diligent in posting here so you can see what our little family is up to!  Blessings to you!

(Sorry about the weird highlighted text.  I was cutting and pasting it from my journal entry.)      September 17, 2014

Today is the first day that all 3 kids are at school and I’m marking this epic occasion by sitting at Starbucks with my venti decaf mocha non-fat, no whip.  God has also blessed this September morning with gorgeous weather, and I’m sitting alfresco at The Streets of Woodfield (or as the hip teenagers call it,“The Streets”!)

I have to confess that when I dropped Becca off at Conant a few minutes ago, I didn’t want to let her go.  Granted, this is technically her second week of preschool, but last week didn’t count because I was with her in the classroom.  This week will be her first full week, without me there.  She’s been having a difficult time transitioning into new situations, which is rare for Becca.  Anyone who knows her knows that she’s probably the most social of our 3 kids.  But even last week, I had a friend take her to gymnastics, and she refused to go in without me.  So, she sat out for about 20 minutes until I got there.

I feared today would be the same.  But my brave, little girl gave me a big hug and looked me in the eye.  Her eyes told me “Mommy, I’m going to be brave.  I’m going to be okay.”.  And those of you who know Becca, her big brown eyes can speak a million words, and pierce the very soul!  I embraced her for a long time, and then I released her to her high school helper.  Her hands left mine, and reached for the hand of another.  At that transaction, my heart knew that this was just the beginning of me letting her go, that I can no longer control or watch over her, or even guarantee her safety.  But the truth of the matter is, God is with her and He will go with her to all the places that I can’t.  He will be her guardian, her playmate, her confidante, her protector, her boo-boo-kisser.  And in that, I find comfort.

So it is with all my kids.  I thought I would take to new milestones easily, because I’ve had to go through so many with Joshua.  But it doesn’t get any easier.  In fact, as the last one completes each milestone, there is a sense of finality because there will be no more.  No more changing diapers, no more midnight wake-up calls, no more high chairs, no more riding in strollers (unless you’re 8, and whining at Disney World that you’re tired of walking!), no more bottles to prepare, no more pureed or chopped up food, no more onesies, no more bassinettes and cribs.  No more shopping in the baby section, but instead, having to walk across the aisle at Target to shop at the big kids section.

While each season comes with both blessings and trials, I’m learning to embrace and enjoy each season.  To grieve that which has come and gone, but also to celebrate all the moments in the present.  Maybe that’s why Jared and I are such looneys when it comes to celebrating even the smallest of moments, like when the kids went pee-pee in the potty for the first time, or when Jenna tries a new food (that’s a big cause for celebration!), or when Joshua scores goals in soccer.  Celebrating the moment is and always will be part of our family’s DNA, and for that, I’m very grateful.

If I spend too much time grieving, then I’ll miss out on the blessings of the new season.  And there is so much to look forward too!!  In this season, with Joshua being 8, Jenna 5, and Becca 3, we have so much fun together!  It’s easier to travel (especially on an overseas trip!).  I love our conversations, the silly questions, their innocence, their wanting to help and please mom and dad, but also wanting to flex some independent muscles as well.  I love seeing their learning grow exponentially, from reading to riding bikes to asking a million questions about tornados and fireflies, and Jenna wanting to learn how to bake and cook, even though she won’t try a lick of anything!  I love seeing how Becca tries to emulate her older siblings, and use phrases like “Everything is awesome if you’re part of team!”.  I love how our kids enjoy art and creating, but at the same time, enjoy a wrestling match and climbing trees.  

I love seeing glimpses of Joshua’s quiet confidence, leadership, and work ethics. I pray that God will use Jared and I to hone and nurture these traits, so that Josh may grow up to be a man of strength and integrity.  I love seeing Jenna’s focused abilities (especially with puzzles!), and her graceful movements, and her love for the arts.  I remember my sister-in-law, Rachel, saying that she can picture Jenna dancing in front of the throne of God.  Oh what a vision!  That is my heart’s prayer for her, that she would dance with abandon and worship her one true King!  I love seeing my baby Becca’s feistiness, her determination, no-holds-barred attitude to accomplish the things that are important to her, and to make her voice known.  I pray that she will be a mighty warrior for God’s Kingdom, fighting for those who cannot speak, fighting the injustice that plagues our fallen world, and to fight the good fight for His glory.

As I look at each of my children, and how God has gifted and blessed them, I pray that in each season of their lives, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, that God would open my eyes to SEE them.  To see how I can nurture their gifts and talents, to show them that they can live an abundant life for His glory.

And at the end of the day, may they know how much I truly, deeply love them.  That my love for them will transcend time and seasons.  In my heart, they will always be my little Joshua, Jenna, and Becca...the little ones who goof around, wrestle, scream and yell, but also passionately embrace and smother me with kisses.  They fill my heart with the core of who they are, and I carry this fullness with me from season to season.  My cup indeed will continue to overflow.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of School

(from my post in "For Such A Time As This")

Today is the first day of 2nd grade for Joshua.  How did 7 years fly by in what seemed like a blink of an eye?  I must admit, I get as nervous and anxious as Joshua does!  With the start of each year comes a blank slate.  What will this year hold?  What will he learn?  Who will his best friend at school be?  What will be his favorite subject (it thrilled me to no end that he said that his favorite thing to do in school is writing...and not recess!!  He even bought a journal!)?

With the start of each year also comes lots of prayers.  I pray especially for the teachers, his classmates, and for protection over the school.  Prayer is the only thing that keeps me sane while Joshua is away from me.  Prayer is an acknowledgment that God is greater, that God is in control, and that God is watching over my Joshua and is with him when I can't (He's the omnipresent babysitter!).  Last year, I invited a couple of moms from Joshua's class over to our home for some fellowship and to spend some time praying for our children.  I believe that there is a great battle going on over the hearts, souls, and minds of our children.  We need to be warrior moms who will go into battle for our kids.  God has equipped us with the gift of prayer as our weapon.  And nobody wants to mess with a group of moms who have donned their armor and are wielding their swords of faith, right?  So, I'm looking forward to our battle prayer time with the other moms from school.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Joshua didn't want to get out of bed this morning, even though we started getting him up early last week so that he'd get used to it (he's such a teenager-wannabe!).  Eventually, he did after much coaxing and threats!  We finished breakfast, got dressed, and took the traditional first day of school pics.  As we walked to school, I wondered...will he still hold my hand??  And he did!  And that just made my day!  I remember telling Jared that this may be the last year that he'll hold my hand before he thinks it's uncool!

Anyway, I sent my first-born off to 2nd grade this morning, and I'll have a couple of weeks for my mommy heart to recover before sending Jenna off to preschool.  I thought that with each passing year, the first day of school will get easier.  Well, it isn't for me.  It's not just a rite of passage for the children, but for the parents too.

In honor of the first day of school, below is a blog post I wrote for Joshua when he started kindergarten!  It still brings a tear to my eye...


The night before the first day of Kindergarten...

We picked out your clothes...you wanted to wear your new football t-shirt.

We packed your backpack, and placed it by the door...I'm so proud of you for not complaining about not having a new bag, and you are perfectly happy with the Toy Story backpack from last year.

We snuggled into your bed, and read a new book about the night before kindergarten...you were so excited about all the new things that you would learn this year!

And we prayed together...for a good night's sleep and thanked God for the many blessings in our lives, especially for Kindergarten and that it's finally here.

I kissed you good-night as I always do, and as I turned off your light, you said to me "Mommy, I'm growing up! I can't wait to go to Kindergarten tomorrow!"

"Yes, baby! You're going to Kindergarten! And I'm so proud of you!" But as I said those words, I fought back tears, and I felt something squeezing my heart. For I never thought this day would come. Okay, I know it's just Kindergarten...but time is zooming by like the speed of light, and I can barely catch my breath before the next milestone appears. So, on this night before yet another milestone, I want to capture the moment and store it in my heart forever. I feel like this is the first step of me letting go, as if my pinky finger is being pryed open...slowly, but surely, I have to let you go.

But as I let you go, I know that you are not going alone. I pray that you will know that God is with you...and my heart goes with you, too.

So, on the morning of the first day of school, this is what I saw...

But my heart saw this...

And when you sat in the car, I turned and saw this...

But really, this is what I saw...

And when I hugged you goodbye and wished a great first day for you, Daddy took this picture...

But these are the pictures that are etched in my heart...

I love you, Joshua!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jenna's birthday

I know we're not the typical parents who throw birthday parties for their children every year, and I pray and hope that my children aren't scarred by that.  We just don't think it's necessary to invest gobs of money on a party every year.  Rather, as a family, we truly celebrate each person, and get excited about each other's birthdays! 

Jenna's last night of being 3!
 We decorated the hallway with streamers and balloons!
We also decorated Jenna's chair at the table with balloons!
The birthday girl is awake!
Our 4-year-old is ready for her birthday!

So, on Jenna's 4th birthday, she got to pick a friend to spend the day with (and Joshua did the same on his 4th birthday too).  Since her birthday fell on a Thursday, she had to go to preschool that morning.  I sent her with a homemade bag of chocolate candy to pass out to her friends as treats.  I'm sure her teachers and friends celebrated her because she had a birthday crown in her bag. 

The chocolate lollipop treats I made!

Jenna helping me with them.
After I picked Jenna and Aaron (her friend of choice) up from preschool, I swung by McDonald's and picked up 2 Happy Meals for them.  We then proceeded to JumpZone where we ate our lunch and the kids played. 
Aaron and Jenna eating their Happy Meal

We met some friends at JumpZone!

After I dropped Aaron home, Jenna and I spent some Mommy-Daughter time.  I took her to the Arboretum in South Barrington and went to Claire's.  I have always wanted to do something like this with my daughter, and it's so much fun to finally be able to do it!  Jenna got to pick out one item from Claire's, and she picked a "Hello Kitty" necklace.  Next, we went to Anna Shea's Chocolate Lounge for some "afternoon tea".  Well, I had tea, and I was hoping Jenna would enjoy some milk.  But she declined.  Nevertheless, we had a great time sitting there on the comfy couches, just the two of us!  I had my tea, and Jenna and I worked on putting her new Minnie Mouse bracelet together, which was a gift from Aaron.  I just loved everything about that afternoon!  I'm sure going to Anna Shea's will be a tradition!

Jenna and me at Anna Shea's Chocolate Lounge!
Chillin' with a game on my iPhone while I finish my tea.
We finished Jenna's bracelet.

Before heading home, we stopped by Mariano's to pick up Jenna's birthday cake.  She picked out a Tinkerbell one.  We were hosting our small group that evening, so we thought it would be fun to have everyone sing Happy Birthday to Jenna before she headed off to bed.

Our present to Jenna this year was a big girl bed.  She's finally transitioning from her toddler bed to a twin bed!  We bought the bed at Value City.  It looks almost like the Catalina bed from Pottery Barn Kids.  We liked it so much that we actually bought 2 of them (one for Becca when she's older).  It was affordable and we wanted the girls to have matching beds eventually.  So, why not. 

Jenna's new bed!  It took me a few years to purchase different pieces of this owl bedding set.
Jenna in her new bed!

In keeping with tradition, we tend to go somewhere as a family to celebrate the birthday boy or girl.  With Joshua, we've always gone to the zoo.  With Jenna, we've gone to the museums.  But this year, there was a Groupon to a Family Palooza in St. Charles that I thought would be kind of fun to take the family too.  We had a blast, and Jenna had so much fun!  I think her favorite thing is the bungee jump thing (I don't know what it's technically called).  But it's so like Jenna to enjoy something like that!  We ended the day with having brinner for dinner...it was Jenna's choice!
I think this was the highlight of Jenna's day...meeting Rapunzel!

Enjoying Family Palooza!

Jenna in her element!  She loved the bungee jump! 
Enjoying my time with my girls!

Despite the fact that we didn't throw a birthday party, I know that Jenna felt loved and celebrated.  She isn't a demanding girl and she doesn't mind not having an elaborate celebration.  Jenna is content with what she has, and she is easily excited by the smallest of things, like brinner!  I love that about my Jenna.  I believe that she'll see the beauty in anything, and perhaps be the blessed few who can see the beauty in ashes.  I praise God for fearfully and wonderfully making her the way she is!

We love you so much, Jenna!