Siblings — You Only Have Each Other

Josh and Meg, best frienemies

No one can make Meg laugh like her big brother Josh.  He knows just the thing to say to make her crack up, and Meg can do the same to Josh, too.  Sometimes I believe with my whole heart that they are best friends.  Then, only two minutes later, I’m convinced that they are their own biggest enemies.  Siblings.

When Meg was a newborn, Josh was the one who made her laugh out loud for the first time in her life.  He made faces at her while my mother gave her a bath.  Her giggle was so cute and so husky that he was totally amused and kept doing it again and again.  His sister obliged every single time, and this went on for a very long time that night.

I never noticed any sibling jealousy which I was concerned about when Meg came along.  Josh kissed my tummy when Meg was still inside, and he helped me around the house after her birth by handing me a clean diaper when it was time for a change.

They began to play together in earnest when Meg started walking.  Josh was really into the animated film “Tarzan” at the time, and Meg’s hair growth made her look like Tarzan’s sidekick Turk.  He called her his best friend.

From about age two, Meg began competing with her brother (cue “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” from the musical Annie Get Your Gun) — Josh hops up, Meg hops up.  Josh puts a plate on his head, Meg puts a plate on hers.  He laughs, she laughs.  He swims, she swims.  It was all cute and very friendly.

Then Meg became more assertive.  One day, when Josh was at preschool, Meg got into his bag of candies in the family room.

“I eat one,” she said as she sat with her legs crossed and the bag on her lap.

“I eat some,” she continued, as she grabbed a few more pieces out of the bag.

I was busy doing something in the kitchen, but the next moment I looked up, Meg sat with her mouth quite full.

“I leave Joshy some,” she promised, although I found it difficult to believe that she had much self-control.

“I leave Joshy one,” she said, as she pointed her finger up for emphasis.

A minute later, she got up, threw the empty bag in the air, and exclaimed, “All gone!” as she ran away. She was way too cute for me to get mad.

As I suspected, there were some tears and screaming upon his return from preschool later that day.  He still brings it up from time to time.

This love/hate relationship still continues today.  Most of the time, I notice that Josh looking out for his sister, particularly at school.  Being only two grades ahead of his sister, Josh is always filling her in on what’s ahead: “So Mrs. so-and-so is a hard teacher,” or “Don’t go to the school dance.  It’s totally boring.”  Because they have different interests and all, Meg may not always follow his advice (and sometimes, she just wants to spite him).  Nonetheless, I know Meg appreciates Josh, and he his sister.

When they are fighting, I often tell them, “When Daddy and I are gone, you only have each other, so you need to learn to get along!”  Most of the time, they only stare at me for a few seconds then go back to their argument.

My mom and her brothers -- they only had each other after their parents died.

I don’t think they comprehend that statement quite yet, but someday they will.  I pray that the day won’t come too soon like it did for my mother and her brothers when they lost both parents during WWII.  They were only 16, 14, and 10, around the same ages as my kids right now. In spite of their occasional sibling rivalry, I’m glad that Josh and Meg have each other.

I agree wholeheartedly with these words from Psalm 133:1-3 (MSG):

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
   It’s like costly anointing oil
      flowing down head and beard,
   Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
      flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
   It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
      flowing down the slopes of Zion.
   Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,
      ordains eternal life.

Do your kids get along?  What’s your secret?

Post-partum Recovery and Cultural Customs

My friend Annie was looking forward to having her mother-in-law come out from Hong Kong to help out for a while after the pending birth of the first grandchild in the family.  After Annie, her husband, and the baby came home from the hospital, she was relieved that her mother-in-law took care of everything so that Annie could rest and bond with the baby.  She even made soup for her everyday.

“Family recipe.  Will make you strong soon and you make good milk for our baby.”

Annie appreciated all the help…at least for the first seven days.  When she began to feel strong enough to do some easy housework, her mother-in-law immediately ordered her back to bed.  Annie was barely allowed to lift a finger except to nurse the baby and to go to the bathroom.

In fact, the matriarch did not allow Annie to get out of bed for THIRTY DAYS!  By the end of the second week, she was nearly in tears.  And by the end of the month, she had gotten so weak that she could hardly walk.  And the baby fat around her belly?  Don’t even think about it.

I’m hearing conflicting reports on how common it is in Hong Kong to remain bedridden for 30 days after giving birth, but my husband David agrees that the Chinese custom calls for keeping the baby away from the public until he or she is at least a month old.

Baby Meg with Big Brother Josh

That’s why I had this unfortunate incident at the nearby shopping mall one day when Meg was only about a week old.  Being the second child and a very easy baby, I popped her out in about two hours and was no worse for the wear.  My first born had already done most of the damage anyway.  It was a hot day in August, we were in a small apartment with air conditioning that couldn’t keep up, so we thought we’d go cool off at the mall.  Besides, Josh loved to go on the merry-go-round there just like any other 2-year old.

A couple of Chinese ladies came walking over to our bench where we were enjoying some croissants, peeking into the canopy of the infant car seat which sat upon the dual-purpose stroller.

“The baby – how old?” the older of the two asked me with a smile, in broken English.

“Oh, six days,” I replied, proudly.

Her eyes grew wide.  She then turned to the other woman, said something to her in Chinese, and turned back to me and glared.  They both pointed their fingers at me.  I wasn’t really sure what they were thinking, but they suddenly didn’t look so friendly.

I asked my husband who speaks Cantonese, “What did they say?”

“I’m not sure, because they were speaking Mandarin, but I think they said, ‘Child abuse!’”  I decided to scurry away before they called security on me.

Every culture has its own way of handling childbirth.  In Japan, they let the mom stay in the hospital for a full week even when there are no complications.  As for me, I followed the cultural customs of Kaiser Permanente Medical Hospital in Southern California.  I went into labor with both babies on a Friday morning then came home with a new bundle of joy on a Sunday afternoon.  It was like I went on a weekend retreat each time.  I just came home with a special package afterwards.  If my husband didn’t pull some strings, though, the hospital would have made me leave on Saturday instead of Sunday.  Also, the German nurse told me that I had to pass poop (and show her the proof) before I could leave.  For once, I was happy to be constipated for 48 hours.

My friend Christy, a fitness instructor, shared with us one time that she had decided to go for a jog, pushing her newborn in a baby jogger, three weeks postpartum.  She quickly found out that that’s not a very good idea.  She recommends others now to avoid her same mistake.

I am not sure which culture does it “right,” but it really all depends on mom and baby.  After my experience with mastitis, though, I would just recommend you to take it easier than you think you should.  That’s what I should have done, in hindsight.

How did you handle your postpartum period?  How long did it take you to get your groove back?  Share in the comments below!

Jetlag and Thoughts on Motherhood

I got the best of both worlds -- mommy by day, rock star by night!

I returned safely from my whirlwind tour of Japan and Indonesia last night to a husband, two kids, and a dog who all were very happy to see me.  There is, truly, nothing like home.  I’ve been up since 4am, though.  It’s always harder to adjust to eastward travel, but it’s as good time as any to catch up on my blogging!

When I first became pregnant with Josh almost 15 years ago, I thought that my life was over.  I was facing 18 years to life, and I knew that I would always have to look after this helpless offspring who, at the time, could do nothing — not even eat and poop — without my assistance.  I had enjoyed a busy career in music, traveling the world and meeting all sorts of interesting people.  Yet, I knew that it was time to kiss my life as I knew it good bye and kiss the cheeks of my newborn baby.

I mourned that death of me at the time, pretty much going into labor kicking and screaming, not wanting to let go of my wonderful life.  I mean, I thought I had it pretty good, and I enjoyed my freedom more than anything.  I did not want to be tied down to domestic life.

For a while after we became parents, I still tried to fight it.  I wasn’t willing to give up my life as I knew it, and I tried hiring nannies and sitters to try to prolong the freedom I had had.  Eventually, though, it became obvious that I was not yielding myself to this new role in life called motherhood.  That’s when I let go.  And then it became wonderful.

In fact, life got even better, much more fulfilling and richer than ever before.  How did I even think that my previous life was so worth holding onto?  Once I dove into motherhood with everything I had, my life became much more…what shall I say? — centered.  To be sure, others may be very well-centered even without having children, but for me, motherhood brought everything into light and my life finally made sense.  Yeah.  Much more centered.

Fast forward 14 years, and I’m finally crawling out of the mommy fog and reentering life again.  Things don’t look exactly the same, and I’m no longer chasing unrealistic dreams and expectations nor running away from demons on my shoulders.  Yes, I had my issues back then.  Anyway, in the past year, it has felt like I’m slowly getting my life back, and it feels good.  In so many ways, my music ministry and career look so much better than ever before.  Ironically, though, I don’t care as much about it; I can honestly take it or leave it.  Boy, is that ever freeing!

As I sang at and taught workshops at this children’s ministries conference in Jakarta with other speakers from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and other parts of the US, I noticed that many of us have children about the same ages as mine — preteen to young teens — which made me think that perhaps my parenting journey is not all that unique.  For a while — maybe 10, 12 years — we (especially moms) need to let go of our own selves and focus on raising our kids at home.  Ten years used to sound like a very long time for me back then, but now, in perspective, it is just a blink of an eye.  Then, just at the right time according to God’s infinite wisdom, we get back out there and continue with our lives and leave a lasting mark on humanity, both by raising children who are, hopefully, well-adjusted and contributors to society themselves, and also by doing whatever God made us to do here on earth.

So, if you are stuck in the mires of life that is raising young children and you feel like you will never wear dry clean-only clothes and/or high heels again, fear not!  You will get out there again, in due time.  And then you will realize how much more fulfilling life is and that you wouldn’t trade all the sleepless nights and poopy diapers for anything.

No, I wouldn’t trade my life as a mommy for anything.  Would you?

Singing at New Hope Yokohama. Some of the young parents there told me they heard me long time ago when they were kids. Oh boy, I've been at this a long time!

Did I Waste My College Degree and Career by Becoming a Mom?

My alma mater, UC Irvine

I have a bachelors of science in Information and Computer Science from UC Irvine.  I don’t work in that field now.  In fact, I had only worked in it for about 8 years when I transitioned to pursue my music.  Since childhood, there was nothing I wanted to do more than music, but I didn’t think that a music degree would help me much in pop.  Besides, I wanted to be a good Asian daughter to my parents, so I got a very practical degree despite the fact that computers was never my passion.

It just took motherhood to realize that I had majored in the wrong field.

Today, I’m a full time mom with a part-time job in music.  I try to perform as often as I can, but a great majority of my time is devoted to being a mom and a housewife.  I have to turn down possible bookings if they interfere with my kids’ schedules, and I have to think long and hard about traveling for my work (which I’m doing this later this week and about which I will surely blog).  So, does this mean that I totally wasted my college education and degree?

Well, maybe…

Being a mom requires a huge variety of skills.  Never before did I wish so much that I had been a Child Development major.  I rarely paid attention to babies and children before I became a mom; I was too busy being a Professional.  My friends who studied Child Psychology and Early Childhood Education had it so much easier than I did as a new mom.  I was practically in tears each night trying to figure out how to put a crying baby down or, later, how to handle a tantrum-throwing toddler.  I was never so tortured by such a tiny human being.

When the kids started reading, I wished that I had studied Literature so I could do a better job introducing our kids to the literary world.  For a long time while we had babies and toddlers, all I ever read were People magazines and the backs of cereal boxes. Not exactly the Classics. (For the record, I am now a voracious reader of real books!)

Once the kids were eating solids and beyond, I wished that I had studied Culinary Arts or Nutrition.  I was making terrible meals which, I’m sure, will continue to haunt me as I my kids march down the road to bad nutritional health.

I have also often wished that I had become a nurse, because there were so many health issues to deal with when kids are young.  Fortunately, we did have one member of our family in the medical field, so I felt a little better here.

But the aforementioned member of the family in the medical field works long hours, so I was the one who often played catch in the front yard with our son.  He also needed to try basketball and baseball at one point, but I knew nothing about these sports.  How I wished that I had majored in Physical Science and Sports Psychology!  As the kids got older and I felt the need to keep them (or at least get them) into shape, I wished that I knew more about Fitness Education.

Everything I did as a mother, it seemed, I had to learn from scratch, scouring the internet and reading up on volumes of books.  So often, I cry out to David, “But I didn’t get a degree in this!”  Now that the kids are in middle school and high school, I wished that I majored in Mathematics, Accounting, Social Sciences, Biology, Physiology, Psychology, and Political Science and had become a certified school teacher.

But I’ll tell you two areas where my major and profession have come in handy:

1.  I set up the LAN network in our house, complete with wireless remote printing from any of our devices.

2.  I sang them lullabies and wrote a song for each of my kids.

And when I start playing the “I could have/should have” game, I recall these words from Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

He has indeed redeemed even this Computer Science major Panda Mom, so I do know that nothing — not even my college education –was a total wast, after all!

* * * *

Did you go to college?  How has your major helped you in motherhood (or not)?  Tell me about it!

Birthday Parties and Priceless Gifts

Meg and her friends at last year's birthday party. Not too pricey!

Meg has a birthday coming up, so we’re gearing up for yet another party with a gaggle of preteen girls…and preparing to open up our home and our wallets once again for the celebration.

Have you noticed that it can get really expensive to put on birthday parties?  Whatever happened to the days of cake and ice cream and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey followed by opening presents? The whole thing used to be over in about an hour. These days, it’s a major production which takes so much time and involve so many guests that the birthday child can’t make it through the party without a complete meltdown.

I hate to admit it, but it’s almost as expensive to get invited to others’ birthday parties.  You can’t just buy any old gifts, and you certainly can’t — gasp! — bring a homemade present.  Kids have their own registry at Target and Toys ‘R Us, for goodness’ sake.  You really have to count the cost of your child getting too popular.

“Mom, I made a new friend today!”

“Oh yeah?  When is his/her birthday?”

“September.”

“You already have two good friends with September birthdays.  You have to space them apart.  Drop this one and go find someone with a March birthday.”

Of course, it’s understandable to go all out on the baby’s first birthday.  Bring on the caterers, professional entertainers, and the dance floor.  You deserve it.  Your kid will probably nap right through it, but honestly — it’s all about the parents’ mile stone!  You might want to read up on my past blog post about hiring costumed entertainers as a precaution, but really, go have fun.

If you’re planning a birthday party, you could choose to have it at your home to save money.  However, you still have to watch you wallet, because you could start going crazy with the caterer and entertainment, and before you know it, you’ve blown your budget.  And don’t forget the goody bags for your guests.  I’m not sure who ever came up with the tradition of stuffing goody bags with pencils, stickers, and candies, but we began to accumulate so much of those items that I began to “re-gift” them in our own goody bags at our parties.  I’m pretty sure that other moms did that too, because I swear I saw the exact same items bounce back and forth at several birthday parties in our neighborhood.

I started out doing parties at our home, then I got tired of the cleanup afterwards.  The blue cake icing smeared on our beige carpet on Josh’s third birthday was the last straw.  David and I decided to take our parties elsewhere.

Meg, stuck in a maze at Chuck E. Cheese during her brother's birthday party

So, we began to frequent places such as Chuck E. Cheese, bowling alleys, and amusement parks.  Stores such as Color Me Mine (paint your own ceramics) or Justice clothing shops even offer hosted birthday parties.  They have event coordinators on staff to take care of everything, so we just show up like one of the guests and go home with a boatload of presents.  The only major factor is the cost, but it certainly is nice to have someone else put on a party for you.

Our kids are getting older now and are starting to appreciate more intimate parties at our home or a restaurant with a few good friends.  We started a tradition last year where everyone around the table shares something that they really appreciated about our birthday child.  I make sure I have the video camera rolling during this time.  Yes, our kids still like getting birthday gifts, but I think these words of affirmation are priceless, treasured long after the party is over and the goody bags all dispensed.

And we hope and pray that both of our kids will come to truly appreciate the most important gift of all — God sending His only Son, Jesus, to this world for our salvation — and that these birthday parties we do for them and the gifts we bring would give them a glimpse of the everlasting celebration we’ll someday enjoy together.

What are some of the most memorable birthday parties you’ve done for your kids?  Let us know here!

 

 

Then When and How of Potty Training

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com

“Why, you still haven’t potty trained him yet? We trained you by the time you were 12 months,” I heard my mother brag more than once during her many visits with her first grandchild.  Each time she made that comment, my potty-training age got younger and younger in her memory as I gained another gray hair.  I was sure that she would soon be telling me that I was born potty trained.

I suppose cloth diapers back then were motivation enough to get your baby potty trained as soon as possible.  Diaper rashes occurred more readily, and the mothers got tired of washing dirty cloth diapers.  “It sent up a pungent smell every time I ironed them,” my mother used to tell me.  Why in the world would you bother ironing diapers? Talk about an overachiever.

Me, I thanked the Lord every time I opened up a brand new package of disposable diapers.  It always smelled fresh — no pungent smells here — and all I had to do was to wrap it around my baby’s buns and seal it closed.  Voila!  Clean baby.

Occasionally, I did feel guilty about the fact that diapers went into landfills.  I couldn’t very well recycle them, for goodness’ sake!  More than once, my baby would pee right on the clean, fresh diaper in the process of changing.  “Really?  Now?” I would lament.  Then I would stand there for about three minutes debating with myself: Well, it’s not THAT wet…no, he’s going to get a diaper rash…an extra layer of Desitin might help…oh, come on, have a heart, mother…and so it went.  When I did have to go through three diapers in about 10 minutes, I kept reminding myself that some people throw trucks and refrigerators into landfills, so what’s an extra diaper or two?

You’ve got to admit that putting off potty training has its advantages, though.  It’s great that we don’t have to sprint to public bathrooms on short notice.  I opted for the convenience of the diaper with my first child for as long as I could.  He had almost outgrown the largest diaper size before I began thinking about potty training — or Depends — and only because our preschool director sat us down for a heart-to-heart.

“Mrs. Cheng,” she said sternly.  “Your son is now over 3 years old.  He’s ready.”  I knew he wouldn’t be allowed into first grade unless he was potty trained, so we picked a holiday weekend, Memorial Day, to get ‘er done.

The preschool director suggested the all-or-nothing approach, so we started by going commando.  She thought that pull-ups only reinforced old habits so we bypassed using them except at night.  Good thing we have wood floors, because, sure enough, halfway through the morning he started to tinkle.  “Uh-oh…” he said, as he stood in a small puddle on our wood floor.  We spent the rest of the morning on the grass in our backyard.  He only had one more accident, and that was it.  “Mommy, I have to go,” he said the next time he had the urge.  What sweet music to my ears!

The real test was #2.  Surprisingly, he didn’t have an accident with that one.  After lunch, I sat him down on the little training toilet, and there he went.  That was it.  He returned to preschool on Tuesday as a changed, underwear-toting young man.  Yeah, I guess he was ready to be potty trained.  More than ready.

Could have I trained him sooner?  In hindsight, probably yes.  I wouldn’t recommend waiting until past 3 years of age for everyone (“trucks and fridges, trucks and fridges…”), but at least for my boy it was so surprisingly easy to go through the process.  Incidentally, I kept the pull-ups on him at night for another 6 months or so until I realized that I kept pulling it off dry in the morning only to reuse it again the next night.  I figured I might as well use underwear and wash them daily!

What was your potty training experience like with your babies?  Tell me here on the comments below!

Hand Sanitizers and Germ Phobia

Photo courtesy iStockphoto.com

We’re not paranoid parents about germs.  Well, we used to be.  Aren’t all new parents a bit phobic about germs?  With our first baby, we wouldn’t let anyone — not even our relatives and best friends — touch him unless they sanitized their hands under our strict supervision.  If we dropped our son’s binky, then it would be hermetically sealed until we had had a chance to boil it clean.  Anything that our baby could possibly touch had to first be wiped down with disinfectant wipes.  His hands became raw from so much hand washing.

By the time our second one came around, well, let’s just say we got a little more relaxed about things.  If our daughter dropped her pacifier, then I would do a quick wipe down on my sleeve and say, “Thirty second rule!” then plug that thing right back in her mouth.  We still cleaned counters and toys with disinfectant wipes…if someone had vomited on them.  And we still got her to wash her hands before eating.  Most of the time.  Sometimes, she got to the food before we could get to her!

End result? Both kids are pretty darn healthy.  Sure, they both occasionally get sick, but they sure bounce back quickly.

While paranoia is not good, we do ask our kids to try to follow these general rules:

  1. Always wash hands with soap after going to the bathroom.
  2. Sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands.
  3. Wash hands before eating.
  4. Don’t drink pool water.

When you don’t have access to soap and water, you can always use those disinfectant gels or wipes.  (When I’m feeling especially phobic, I actually do both — hand wash AND disinfect).  Although these gels are great, the sad truth is that we’re rubbing alcohol into our hands and our kids’ hands, and I’m noticing some dryness of the skin as a result, not to mention the latest trend by teenagers to get drunk on alcohol gel.

I found some disinfectants that contain no alcohol at Whole Foods the other day, and what do you know — I just got asked to review their product!  It is called Clean Well, and I truly LOVE their product, so it is easy for me to review and to endorse it right here.  They have all-natural soaps, cleaners, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants in three fragrances: original, orange vanilla, and lavender.  The original smells nice and clean, but my 11-year old daughter Meg and I especially like the orange vanilla.  The Whole Foods we went to didn’t have lavender, but we can’t wait to try that one so that we could get clean AND relaxed.

We got the spray hand sanitizer, and we used it right away on our hands as well as on our iPhones.  Yeah, those phones get pretty dirty and germy, you know?  The small spray disinfectant bottles cost $3.99 at the store in Southern California as do the travel-size packets of wipes, which is a little pricy compared to the $1-bottle alcohol gels at the grocery store, but I would pay a little more for the alcohol free product!  The 1 ounce bottle yields about 225 sprays.

So, if you want your family to have clean hands without getting drunk on alcohol gel and feel green, more enlightened, and generally superior at the same time, I would highly recommend you check out the products by Clean Well today.

(And yes, this blog was unabashedly brought to you today by our friends at Clean Well!)

A First Birthday Surprise

David and I were getting ready one afternoon to attend the first birthday party for our neighbor’s daughter.  She was born only a few weeks before ours, so we were eager not only to celebrate their child’s milestone but also, vicariously, our own.  We were also taking notes to help us plan our own bash for our son.

We were running a bit late as usual, but we sure wanted to get there before the scheduled arrival of the “Special Celebrity Guests.”  They were characters from a popular TV show geared towards very young children, so I knew that Joshua would be excited to meet them.

As I was changing his diaper one last time, I happen to glance outside our front window.  A beat-up car was puffing down our quiet cul-de-sac.  It was an ancient model like a Datsun B210, which my older sister used to drive in high school.  In fact, I bet it was the exact same car except that one of the windows was completely covered (or replaced) by duct tape, and each panel of the automobile was in various stages of a paint job.  This car  parked, of all places, right in front of our home.

I realize that in many parts of the world, a sight of such a beat-up car wouldn’t cause any alarm, but not here in my suburban paradise.  Our city is clean and pristine, and you never see cars held together by duct tape.  I raised my eyebrow as my mama bear instincts took over.

Two shady characters climbed out of the car — both from the passenger side, as the driver’s door was permanently shut.  The platinum blonde twentysomething girl shared the last drag of a cigarette with the young man with the shaved head who then squished the butt with his Doc Martens.

I called upstairs for David.

It was a warmish day for February, but I was still surprised at their skimpy attire which clearly revealed their generous body art.  I was therefore somewhat relieved when they popped open their trunk and pulled out some bright-colored attire.  The girl stepped into a yellow colored suit, and the guy into the purple one.  They zipped each other up to their necks.

Before I could realize what was going on, they then grabbed two round things out of the trunk and pulled them over their heads.  That’s when it finally dawned on me:

Oh my goodness.  They are the Special Celebrity Guests!

After checking each other one last time, they walked up to our neighbor’s house and rang the doorbell.

I yelled for David to hurry down.  I finished dressing my baby, grabbed my bag, and we ran down the street to the party.  “Honey, we’ve got to warn them!  Children, avert your eyes!”

Too late.  By the time we arrived, the two TV characters were happily mingling with the little guests and their parents while their theme song played.  Like characters at Disneyland, they only gesticulated without verbalizing.  Androgynous characters anyway, no one could tell who was inside those innocent-looking costumes.  Only a couple of children ran off crying, instinctively sensing danger. If the parents only knew.

The Special Guests then popped a CD in the stereo and proceeded with their show.  They hopped and moved just like they do on the TV screen.  The parents coaxed their children to sing along.  They were surprisingly entertaining, and, for a moment, even I forgot what was inside those costumes.

After they finished, they collected their check from our neighbor and left.  I peeked out their window to watch the pair as they returned to their junk mobile.  They emerged from their costumes, shared another cigarette, climbed  back into the car from one side, and drove off, most likely to their next party gig.

I never did tell my neighbor what I witnessed that day before their sweet daughter’s party.

And I have been searching for a lesson in this whole thing ever since.

Don’t judge a book by its cover?

Beauty is only skin deep?

Material for my blog someday?

Parents, beware before booking entertainment for your kid’s party?

All of the above.

Second Life for a Diaper Bag

Today, I have a short post to tell you about something fun I saw at the gym yesterday.  Do you know what this is?

20120612-213259.jpg

Yup, it’s a diaper bag…and a very cute one at that.  But what makes this so fun is that the owner of this bag now uses it as her gym bag!

It totally makes sense!  After all, a diaper bag

  1. Is waterproof
  2. Has baby bottle pockets to use for your water bottles
  3. Has a matching changing pad which you can use for your floor mat when you do abs
  4. Is roomy

This mom was even using her burp clothe as a workout towel.  It’s really absorbent and soft, so why not?

I wouldn’t dare reuse any of my own diaper bags, however, because they were mostly those freebie bags with tacky designs you get when you leave the hospital, courtesy of baby formula or diaper companies.  Also, by the time my kids grew out of diapers, my bags were filled with Cheerio bits and emitting a strange odor which, I’m certainly, ate through the ozone layer.  I think roaches lived inside my bags near the end.

But hey, if I had a diaper bag as cute as the one pictured above, then I’d use it as my purse on a dinner date!

Any other clever ideas for old baby things?  You tell me!

Going from One to Two

Last night, we celebrated Meg’s 6th grade graduation at church.  I know everyone says this, but I still do wonder: where did the time go?

What is this little creature next to me?

While digging up baby photos for the slide show, I became nostalgic about the early days of having not only one but two babies.  In case you’ve got either zero or one child right now and are contemplating adding another one to the mix, let me share with you a few thoughts on the subject:

1.  Going from one to two is much easier of a transition than zero to one.

There is nothing like going from the twosome as husband and wife to parents with one small critter who turns our world upside down.  Just as the dust was settling, we were blessed with a second child.  Sure, there is no denying we knew better what to expect the second time around, but as a bonus gift with purchase, God gave us a second baby who was extremely easy.  She kept on sleeping and sleeping and rarely cried.  It just might have something to do with me being more relaxed as a mom myself, but I seriously doubt it.

2.  A second baby won’t cause that much more damage to your body; the first one pretty much ruined it for you already.

My first baby gave me stretch marks which are unsightly but are useful for future pregnancies.  My body was like a balloon that had already been inflated and deflated; it’s so much easier to blow air into it once it’s already been stretched, made all supple and, truth be told, flabby.  While my first fetus worked hard every minute to expand while in utero, my second one immediately got comfy in a womb of her own.  No wonder she was such a relaxed baby.

Same with the birth canal.  My first labor and delivery took an eternity, and I pushed and pushed for 3 hours before Josh finally came out.  Meanwhile, I coughed and Meg fell out. Parenting truly stretches us — thankfully, in more ways than one.

3.  Initially, I felt like I betrayed my first born.

In the days leading up to the birth of our second child, I felt guilty about no longer being able to be there 100% for my son.  When I came home from the hospital, Josh wanted me to put him down “in his big boy bed” at night, but I had to bring the nursing infant in with me.  “I don’t want her here,” he demanded.  Being postpartum and hormonal, I cried and begged him for forgiveness.  “I’m sorry, Joshy.  I’m sorry I can’t be with you all the time anymore. I’m sorry you have to share mommy with baby Meg.”  He cried as he drifted off to sleep. It was indeed a lot for a two-year old to handle, what with getting evicted from the crib to no longer having mommy all to himself.  We eventually adjusted, though.  Within a couple of days I was saying, “Get over it, son.”

4.  ‘Tis so sweet when the two children begin interacting with each other.

The first person ever to make Meg laugh was Josh.  He can still make her crack up like no one else can.  At first, Josh wasn’t quite sure what to make of this new baby, but he eventually warmed up to her and actually became somewhat helpful.  “Go get the diaper for Meg, please.”  “Okay, mommy!” He won’t admit it out loud right now as a teenager, but the bond between the siblings is strong.

* * * *

We’ve all been stretched together as a family, and the two children have had to learn to share a lot more than just mommy.  I can no longer recall what life was like before we had both of them, and I am grateful everyday for this gift of family.

There's nothing like a family...at Chuck E. Cheese!

How did you feel when you added a second (or third or fourth) child to the mix?  Was it a hard or easy transition?  Share your experience with us!