Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Take one, take two, take 35

What do you get when you put a toddler who never sits still together with a camera on a tripod and two parents who’d like to somehow get our Christmas greetings out on time? Frayed nerves and blurry pictures, that’s what.


So after about a gazillion attempts, this is the only one that made the cut, where no one is out of focus, cross-eyed or looking dopey.


But I didn’t like the color composition. No matter how hard I tried to de-yellow-fy (my least favorite color on human skin, especially mine), it just didn’t work, completely beyond my area of expertise. In the end, I realized I could either live with a jaundiced Christmas picture (which I honestly couldn’t), or this:


Guess which one I chose. 

Have a wonderful holiday season. With love from our family to yours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

She says Jesus, I say...

When I was growing up, there were three adults in my home: my mom and dad, and my Kuma (my dad’s older sister). My mom's Hindu, my dad's an atheist and my Kuma was a Buddhist who also prayed to our ancestors. And thanks to the influence of another aunt who was the only Christian in my family, I went to church. It started with the Sunday school down the street from us at the local YMCA. At the same time, I also attended a Methodist Girls’ School, so I frequented Christian fellowship meetings, met more Christian friends and followed them to Sunday service occasionally. By the time I was 20, I’d attended services at Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Mormon churches. I’ve also prayed at Hindu and Buddhist temples as well as to my ancestors at home. The gods in my head were a motley crew, but none better than the other. Just different. And equally revered.

My parents had no qualms about my church-going activities, and in return, I happily followed my elders to the house of worship of their preference. To me, these sacred places brought me peace and serenity. And I had faith in all of them. After all, weren’t they all there to teach us to be good and kind? However, the older I got, the more I identified myself as a Christian, perhaps because services were conducted in the language in which I was most comfortable - English.

However, all that fell apart after the death of my Kuma. It didn’t happen overnight – it was a couple of years down the road when I was told that only the ones who accept Christ as their Savior would go to heaven. I thought about my Kuma, the woman with a kind and gentle soul, and it absolutely sickened me that someone like her couldn’t be in that same heaven just because her beliefs were different, not because she’s cruel or that she’d been a terrible person. It seemed so wrong to me for a God to be so merciful yet so…
petty. That was the beginning of the end.

I thought,
Really? You’d rather accept a murderer who asked for forgiveness into your kingdom, but not one who has been decent and kind all her life who just happens to believe in some other kind of good and not you? That was the first of many questions that followed. Soon, there were more questions than answers. Eventually, I began to look elsewhere. And I haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward many, many years later

The mural along the school hallway

At the school secretary’s office this past summer:
“We have about 15 minutes of Jesus time each day”
“Jesus time, where we share stories about Jesus. And they also go to chapel every Wednesday.”
“I see.”

I stifled a smile. An agnostic and an atheist with a daughter in a Lutheran preschool - what did we expect? It was a matter of time before Little Miss came home with little bits and pieces Jesus. They sent home the coloring paper she was working on one day, and it was a mass of red and blue crayon over the nativity scene. One day I asked Little Miss, “What did you learn in school today?” and my two-year-old paused to think before responding with “Amen.”

I was a little surprised, even though I knew they prayed in school. I personally have no issue with her exposure to Christianity (or any religion) at this age. My Guy and I both think that right now, it’s akin to her learning about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, which are fairly innocuous, except the atheist in him thinks someday “she’ll know the truth” about Jesus. I know what he meant, but I don’t share his sentiment.

Whatever that truth may be, I think it’s important that it’s one that resonates with her. I would love for her to explore the world with her own curiosity and questions, the way I was allowed to by my parents. What they gave me was more than just the gift of religious freedom – they gave me the capacity to observe without judgment, to understand multiple perspectives and most of all, to respect and tolerate the differences in beliefs and opinions. And I am grateful.

Because of my own upbringing, I’d like to encourage my kids to find their own paths as long as they know not to put down those who choose to walk another. That is more important to me than trying to indoctrinate them with my own beliefs, because I just don’t think it’s fair. We are all different people – even if we’re related – and choice is a very personal matter. The same way none of my parents’ beliefs were imposed on me but merely shared, I hope to accomplish the same with my own children.

So it starts with a little Jesus time at a Lutheran preschool, which we happened to choose because it’s a great school and they had a spot available for her. Someday someone will offer to take Little Miss to a temple where she will open her eyes to the beauty of the Hindu gods. And perhaps her ears will perk up to the teachings of Buddha. It doesn’t matter to me.

As long as her ears and eyes are open, there will be little room for blind faith and more for questions. I hope that it’s her quest for answers that leads her to her beliefs, whatever they may be, and not because someone says she so.

As for me, I may not have all the answers myself - in fact, I have none - but my eyes are wide open and I’m willing to listen. Always.

* * *

Religion is always a sticky topic, so I have no prompts for you today. Share with me any viewpoints you like - whether it's about your own life, how you intend to raise your kids, or what you think about what I said here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Soup-Stained Stage Star

I attended my daughter’s stage debut last week. She’s in a Lutheran preschool (more about my thoughts on that in a later post) and the preschoolers led the congregation for Advent service one evening. My Guy and I made plans to be there, even though we haven’t been inside a church since…we don’t even remember the last time. Sadly, he was held up at work that evening and had to miss the event.

Since this was my first gig as a parent to a child star performing at a church service, I didn’t know what to expect or prepare for so after work, I just showed up at her school in my work clothes like any other day and found her in her regular daycare wear thanks to her daddy who dresses her in the morning, which means I never know what to expect. That day, it was comfy pants covered in lint and a long-sleeved graphic tee. On the day of her performance. Lovely.

We dined with and met other parents and their kids prior to the service at the church basement and of course that’s when Little Miss was adamant in shoving soup in her mouth by herself, “No, no, I do it!” when I offered to carefully feed her. Of course she managed to spill chicken noodle soup and jambalaya on the front of the only shirt she had on her that day. I looked around and saw the other kids and their parents in what seemed to be their Christmas outfit, and then winced at my own work wear and her average garb with the glistening stains. Awesome.

When it came time for the service, I dropped her off at her classroom so she could congregate with her friends and teacher while I settled into my seat, waiting for the big moment. The pastor began the service and warm memories of my own church-going days many years ago flooded me. The familiarity immediately embraced me like an old friend. All awkwardness of an agnostic in a Lutheran church vanished as I remembered the prayers, ritual and songs that brought me comfort once upon a time. But the savoring didn’t last as the kids marching towards the altar broke my reverie.

I looked for Little Miss, but she was so tiny among the two to four-year-olds that I missed her in the procession. They filed in obediently in their red velvet dresses, pretty bows and pressed shirts and when they were all on stage, I finally found her. It wasn’t hard - my daughter’s the one in the soup-stained top that says SASSY in bold colors and a velour bottom with a pant leg stuck in her boot. Way to stand out kid.
See the pant leg in boot?

The two-year-olds played the mini tambourine while the older kids sang. My daughter, who loves to sing, mouthed the words as if she knew them. But then again, she probably did as they had been rehearsing this for a couple of weeks now. My heart swelled to see her “on stage”. So that’s what it’s like to be a parent in the audience. We naturally looked like the paparazzi with our phones and cameras, crowding the front of the room. I, unfortunately, only had my phone on me so I did the best I could. Again, way to be prepared mama.

At that point, my head latched on to another memory. It was of my first Christmas play. I think I was around nine and have been attending Sunday school for awhile when I became involved in a Christmas play and was cast as the innkeeper’s wife, the one who suggested to Joseph that he and Mary could stay in the stable. I wore my best dress, which was periwinkle blue with silver embroidery and ruffles, and it was incredibly uncomfortable for our year-round 85-degree heat but I didn’t mind. My mom sat among the audience and watched me utter my two lines. I may have forgotten the words, but that moment was crystallized in my mind forever.

It marked the beginning of my “drama career” in school but that occasion was especially memorable because it was probably the only time my mom had ever seen me perform. It might have been because it occurred on a Sunday and all of my other school productions were held during school hours, which were also the time she was at work. I don’t know what it’s like in Malaysia now but back then, parents’ participation in school wasn't a norm. It was more a luxury as many of us came from working class families who couldn't afford the time off to participate in something that seemed rather superfluous when compared to the food and shelter our parents worked hard to provide. It never occurred to me to mind that my folks were absent from my school productions most of the time; I guess it helped that my friends’ parents weren’t there either. We understood.

Now that I am a parent myself and can afford to be available, it was a no brainer for me to be there for Little Miss’ stage debut. When she was up there that evening, I saw my baby shining, and when she spotted me, her face lit up, so happy to recognize a familiar face in the sea of strangers and to know that the one face out there was smiling with her. At her. For her.  

 You probably can't see it from my crappy phone pic but she was smiling at me

I might be biased but I thought she did really well. After their one and only song, the two-year-olds were dismissed while the others continued leading the service. Little Miss ran to me on the center aisle, hardly able to contain her excitement: “Mommy!!!”

I knew then that I never want to miss any of her performances in the future (and from her demeanor on stage that evening, I suspected there would be many). While I was never upset at my mom’s absence in the audience, I also know, from the one time she was there, what it feels like to have someone in the audience who’s there just for you. And I want Little Miss to always have that.

I could tell that she was so proud. So, so proud. And so was I. Soup stains and all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The P.R.O.J.E.C.T. and other happier things

What happens when you haven’t posted in almost two weeks? You end up talking too much, like I did here. But no worries, since I won’t be posting regularly during the holiday season, you can read this in parts. A paragraph a day perhaps? Here goes:

I’m so excited. I’m finally out of the first trimester of my pregnancy, and I’m feeling more like my old self again, minus the skinny jeans. The fog of lethargy has lifted, and man have I been making up for lost time! Reviving dormant projects? Check. Creating new projects? Check. Entertaining? Check. Attending parties? Check. Cooking? Check. Baking? Check.

Just this past weekend, I completed a long overdue craft project on a quiet Friday night (go me!) and we awoke to a city in white the next day. It was our first big snowfall of the season. Our little weather girl confirmed it for us every ten minutes, “Look, mommy, it’s snowing!” interspersed with exclamation number two: “Mommy, daddy, lotta snow outside!” as if we’d forgotten since the last time she informed us. Naturally, we had to make our footprints on the pristine sidewalk as I’ve always loved feeling fresh snow under my boots; it’s possibly my favorite thing about winter. Watching my little girl bundled up in winter gear delighting in the disintegration of snowballs in her mittened hands has to be a close second though.

Snowjoy2The snowball crusher

That night we attended an annual Christmas dinner/gift exchange with friends at a steakhouse in the burbs, and even though Little Miss was the only kid there, she didn’t seem to mind as she basked in the attention of her favorite “aunts” and “uncles.” She also blinded everyone as she used the camera for the first time. It was a distraction that kept her content at the table, although I’m sure those with stars in their eyes probably hoped I had remembered to turn off the flash a little sooner. (Sorry guys!)

HandyworkA small sample of my daughter’s handy work. Not bad for a toddler, eh?

The dinner, while lovely, was not the end of the evening for us. After we reached home, we left Little Miss with a sitter and went on to the next event - a white elephant party that lasted past midnight. It’s amazing what a difference the second trimester makes. I’m not just back, I’m back with a vengeance!

Even then, the evening did exhaust me, but thankfully, Little Miss decided to sleep in until 9AM the next day (gasp!). There was definitely an OMG moment when I heard her stirring on the monitor and groggily looked at the clock, expecting to see sevenish only to see nine! On days like these, I love her even more. Yes, it’s possible because there are days when I don’t even like her. So it all breaks even.

A well-rested family meant plenty of energy to brunch, shop and finish trimming our Christmas tree, or “Kisses twee” as Little Miss would say (I think I like her version better), although we completed the tree while she napped because she thought it was more fun to help by removing the ornaments than to place them up on the tree. Now we have to fend off two cats and a toddler from our tree. Joy.

MonkeyOrnament Let’s see how long these ornaments stay up there

We later had dinner with a friend in her house, where our kids could just go crazy while the parents had adult conversations without having to worry about disturbing “the nice people at the restaurant” (although I have my doubts about “nice” when people roll their eyes at a toddler squealing happily, like the two-year-old “should know better” and like we planted her there on purpose, just to piss them off. But I digress...)

After Little Miss went to bed that evening, My Guy and I decided to continue our discussion about our bedroom makeover, a side project we’re tackling to battle the winter blues. Honestly, it isn’t so much a bedroom makeover as it is bedroom making (a.k.a. finally deciding to treat our bedroom as a bedroom and not an extension of the storage room in the basement).

You see, our bedroom is on the basement level, and it’s been pretty convenient for us to just hide the extraneous stuff (there’s always so much STUFF!) around the house in the bedroom because the only time we’re ever there is to sleep, so all the unused space (and there’s plenty of it) became a hot spot for displaced items like Little Miss’ crib, an old rug, an old TV, two empty trunks and a plethora of space-hogging infant toys. The neglect is now painfully apparent, and we could no longer ignore this enormous elephant in the room. Or rather, one that is the room.

So we devised a plan, except this plan involves deciding on design, colors and accent pieces, and between two people with rather different design ideas and preference, it has morphed from a project to a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. My Guy is the “designer type” who leans towards the edgier, more modern lines and I’m the “hodgepodge type” who likes “all of the above” but “it all depends”. This just means I’m picky but I can’t tell you exactly what I want; I just know what I don’t want when I see it.

I once tried an online “What’s your bedroom style?” tool and broke it. When I completed the quiz, it simply said “Your bedroom style is...” and the space below it was left completely blank. Further down, it said, “Please try again.” So yeah, I broke it.

This make-our-bedroom-look-like-a-real-bedroom project started out as fun since there were so many exciting possibilities but these same options are now driving me insane. It’s becoming a laborious process as we keep going back and forth but not really moving forward. How could we when most of our conversations sound like this:

”What do you think of this? Mmm...I dunno. What about that? Well...we’ll see. White? No, too impractical with our puking, shedding cats. How’s this throw pillow? For that price? Are you smoking crack? We can buy a couch with that money! How about this organic design? Too feminine. How about this geometric pattern? Ugh. Looks like a torture device.”
Just like this process.

My energy may be back but it’s dissipating fast with the holidays and the (impossible) projects. As a result, my time in this beloved space of mine is pretty scarce. I miss you guys, but I trust that you’re keeping well, and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones.

I should be back with regular programming soon-ish. Unless My Guy and I kill each other first, which, at this point, is looking entirely possible.

So please wish us luck. Although what we really need is a miracle. Who knows, it just might happen. ‘Tis the season after all.


* * *

What craziness is going on in your neck of the woods this holiday season? Pray tell. Misery loves company…

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You wanna piece o’ me(at)?! - a turkey and a baby duke it out

Turkey1Little Miss was only two weeks old here. Turkey, 26 lbs. Baby, not quite 6 lbs. 
“I’m not taking on something four times my size - are you kidding me? Maybe next year.”


At just over a year old. Turkey, 24 lbs. Baby, 20 lbs.
“Err…not quite. Man, this is humiliating!”


Two weeks after second birthday. Turkey, 13 lbs (and cooked – she was napping when it was ready to go into the oven so we missed the photo op). Baby, 27 lbs.
“A-ha! Look who’s tiny now, sucker!”


* * *

Hope you had a wonderful, coma-inducing feast with your family and/or friends. Tomorrow: Operation Black Friday. Woot! Do you get into the frenzy too? Any good deals I should know about? Any I’ve missed?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Will you have coffee with me? I have news...

To find out more about this wonderful Virtual Coffee series, please go here:

 join me for coffee!

If we were having coffee today…

I’d be a little breathless from my hectic week as I breathe a sigh of relief and plop myself across from you at our favorite neighborhood coffeehouse with a mug of hot caramel latte in my hands (because Pumpkin Spice is so last month). With my dog’s eye surgery last week, from which she’s slowly recovering, we have a post-op appointment this week, and canceled Thanksgiving plans where we were supposed to travel eight hours to join my best friend for the holiday. Instead we decided to prepare a feast for just the three of us in our home. No fuss, no stress. A 13lb turkey is sitting in our fridge as we speak, and you’d see my eyes light up as I describe how delightful it would be for me to spend the day in the kitchen this Thursday.

Between the grocery shopping, menu planning, the dog’s vet appointment and of course working full time, I would also add that I have to get to a doctor’s appointment myself; at your quizzical expression, I would then hand over this little sheet to you with a sheepish grin.


I’m sure I would then be pelted with the requisite questions, which I would cheerfully answer: No, it’s not a prank. Yes, I’m pregnant. I’m 13 weeks along (although this ultrasound was taken around 7 weeks, so the little speck you see here has probably grown a few times its size). The baby’s due late May and yes, we will find out the baby’s gender this time, unlike the last. It was an agreement between My Guy and me – I get the first surprise baby, and he gets to find out with the next.

I would confess that the first-trimester fatigue has been kicking my ass, followed by an apology for not being as available as I used to be. With a toddler around this time, rest and recovery have been scarce, and I’ve not been feeling up to anything. Blogging has become a chore for awhile, so I changed my schedule from posting thrice to twice weekly. Then I couldn’t even keep up with that! And finally I just had to let it go and be kinder, gentler with myself. Now I post when I can, and believe me, that is just as hard for someone like me, who thrives on routine and predictability.

What I need most every day these days is sleep, and I’ve given myself permission to slack off. It’s nice really, to be rid of guilt because what I’m doing is actually for my baby’s health. For our health.

As far as the pregnancy goes, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. There are food aversions that annoy the food lover in me - one day I’m craving blackened salmon, the next day I can’t even look at it. But I’ve been fortunate that I can at least keep my food down with no real “morning sickness” to speak of, just waves of nausea that hit me at the most inopportune moments (naturally) but as long as I keep snacking, I’ll feel fine (only I don’t always know when to stop, which could be a problem).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, it’s so much easier to converse with friends and to write when I can express what’s often foremost on my mind. Our family has much to plan for our future, but until I have a better idea myself, we’ll just leave it at that for now.

As I absentmindedly swirl the last of the latte in my mug, the topic moves on to Little Miss, and I’d apologize for not having any pictures of her birthday party to share with you. Again, I blame my pregnancy blahs but I assure you I’ll have them soon. We told her about the “baby in mommy’s belly” just recently (because we were worried Little Miss Blabbermouth here, whose current skills include word-for-word parroting, would unwittingly spread the news when we weren’t ready), so when you ask her now what’s in mommy’s belly, she’d say “baby”. And if you asked what baby she would like, she’d gleefully respond, “baby girl!”. Yes, she has already put in her request. I doubt she comprehends these conversations, but I’ve seen how gentle she is with little babies and how excited she is by them, and I’m hopeful. The way she nurtures her baby dolls (feeding, diaper changing, bathing) is perhaps a good sign that she just may handle her role as Big Sister well. Perhaps.

This is the point where I’d prod you about your life, your family, your Thanksgiving plans. You regale me with your own stories as I sit back and bask in the light of our friendship. It’s wonderful to be able to share these details with each other like that. However, this week is not one that affords me a languorous date at the coffeehouse - there are doctors to visit, out-of-town friends to meet for dinner one evening, last-minute shopping to do and a Thanksgiving meal to prepare. Reluctantly, we bid adieu with a lingering hug and part with a smile on our face and a promise for a coffee date after the holidays, when the frenzy evaporates.

We don’t do this often, but when we do, it nourishes my soul. I can’t wait to do this with you again.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, my friend. May your life be as full of love and joy as the bounty on your table that day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The aftermath

First, I’d like to say just how much I appreciate all of you who reached out to me with your kind words, advice, support and hope in response to my post about my dog’s surgery. These are dark days indeed (oh dear, no pun intended) and your voices have helped carry me through some of these difficult hours. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Kirby is convalescing now; her surgery went well. My Guy and I picked her up on Tuesday, and while I held it together at the doctor’s, I bawled in the car. The sutures in her eyes were just too much for me. But then again, when I imagined what it was like for her, I felt worse. I’ve been surprisingly emotional these few days. While I’m often easily moved to tears, I usually feel strong enough to face whatever it is that I have to face. This, however, is not one of those times.

On Friday, when I had to make the impossible decision to have the surgery to remove both of Kirby’s eyes, I cried at the doctor’s office. When I got home, I was too immersed in work to dwell on it, but when My Guy came home from work, I lost it. In front of Little Miss. I frightened the poor girl, who murmured in quiet desperation, “mommy, mommy” as she wiped my tears. When she saw that I was inconsolable, she started to cry herself, and I felt awful. That pretty much ended my sobfest right there. Note to self: Don’t cry in front of your two-year-old.

Yesterday when we brought Kirby home, Little Miss was acting out in ways that made her unrecognizable. My sweet little girl became an absolute terror, and we suspected it had something to do with the fact that Kirby was getting all the attention, and that she didn’t quite understand what was going on with the e-collar around the dog’s neck and the sutured eyes that she kept referring to as “Kirby’s big owie”. Explaining to a two-year-old that Kirby could no longer see was like talking to her about what happened in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 - an exercise in futility.

Little Miss was so belligerent that when she wanted to go to bed at 6pm, an hour before her bedtime, and even though she had only taken a bite of her noodles when she asked, I couldn’t get her there fast enough. For once in my life, I didn’t plead with her to eat more and I didn’t worry about her not eating a meal; I just gave her some milk, sent her to bed and there she stayed until 7am the next day. Thankfully.

Because I just wasn’t equipped to handle anything that evening. My body betrayed me too. My stomach was upset, I felt nauseated and dizzy all evening and ended the night by throwing up in the bathroom. Stress does funny things to the body doesn’t it?

My family was in all sorts of funk yesterday, and the only one who held us together was My Guy. He was the rock who dealt with the demanding toddler, the ailing puppy, who was disoriented and mostly kept to herself, and the useless partner, who spent the evening watching Law and Order: SVU reruns on TV because that was all she could manage. I’m ashamed that I didn’t couldn’t handle it better, but I’m grateful that he was by our side. I don’t know what I would’ve done without him.

The thing is, I’ve usually handled bad news pretty well (like the deaths of both my grandmother and grandfather who were in Malaysia while I was here in the States) and dealt with many horrible situations with strength I didn’t know I possessed, which was why my reaction this time surprised me. I guess trying to predict our emotions is another exercise in futility.

While my body may have failed me, I know that I won’t fail Kirby. This is the beginning of a very difficult road ahead of us, but she will get better, and I know that because we’re committed to get her there. She may not have her sight, but she will have our love. Hopefully that will be enough to get her back to the active, happy little pooch she once was. And us back to the somewhat sane, slightly off the wall little family we once were. Dog, cats, toddler and all.

For now, thank you for “listening” and I promise you, I will have a lighter, brighter post for  you next week. In fact, I have joyful news to share. Stay tuned...


TheLastNight Taken on the night before the surgery. Hoping to remember Kirby the way she was…

* * *

How do you respond to stress? Have you ever surprised yourself in how you handled a particular situation? Who is the rock in your family? Have you ordered your Thanksgiving turkey yet?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Please forgive me

This past week has been a roller coaster ride for my family and me. There were highs but when we hit the low, it was unbearably low. I’ve not been able to write much this week. I was often short on time or low on energy, but for the past few days, I couldn’t even put into words the fluctuations in emotions that I’d experienced.

The thing is, there’s so much positive news to share, but I just can’t indulge in them now. Not when my 10-year-old dog, Kirby, who’s been with me since she was a puppy is going into surgery tomorrow. To remove her eyes. As in “orbit irrigation” – the medical term that made me sick to my stomach when I read it on the estimates sheet that the eye care specialist handed me last week. It was the point at which I was supposed to decide what they needed to do with her.

You see, when I came home from work one day last week, I discovered a very different dog. One who wouldn’t budge from her spot, one who goose-stepped her way along the periphery of the rooms, and one who ran into doors and walls. Then I realized she couldn’t see, which was a shock because just the night before, she seemed perfectly fine.

I took her to the specialist and after some tests, they explained that she has glaucoma in both eyes and severe retinal degeneration in one eye. The other could be saved but it’s a fifty-fifty chance that it would be back to normal. In fact, they couldn’t guarantee anything apart from a lifetime of treatments and perhaps more expensive surgeries. In essence, I could save one eye but possibly bear the brunt of future complications, or I could just remove both eyes now to save her from an unknown future but in the short term, will have to help her adapt to her new disability. I also have to come clean – the latter surgery is the more financially viable option for us too.

In the end, I had to make a very difficult decision and opted for what made sense for our family. Financially, we were already tied to so many places, especially in the near future, that having a surgery that provided no guarantees didn’t seem to be the right course for us. Yet, the thought of being responsible for the decision to remove sight from Kirby’s future stabs me at my very core.

She’s been my constant companion longer than any living person or animal I’ve known, save my mom. Now, every time I look at her I want to memorize her face, because when I pick her up Tuesday evening, she will no longer look the same. Her eyes will be sutured shut and behind the lids will be silicone orbits in place of those beautiful brown ones that always look up at me, doe-like, as she begs for scraps under the table. That face always wins. Hence the extraneous 3 pounds on her body. And her enormous booty. Well, those she will probably still have. But not those eyes…It breaks my heart.

What makes all this even more difficult is that I can’t even explain to her what is happening, and I certainly can’t ask her opinion on the matter, even though they are her eyes. I am better equipped to execute someone else’s wish than to make the decision for them because then it is I who has to live with it. And I don’t know if I can.

I know it’s for the best. I know with the right tools and care, she will cope. But when I closed my eyes for a few seconds to imagine what it’s like to walk down the familiar hallway of my house in utter darkness, I felt disoriented and anxious. And I crumpled to the floor. I couldn’t believe I was subjecting Kirby to that. I don’t think I could ever come to terms with my decision. I don’t think I could ever feel “right” about it. I don’t even know if I’m doing what I can do or what I should do. All I know is, it will be done.

I could only hope she will forgive me.




* * *

Have you had to make a difficult decision like this? What was it like for you? How did you cope? 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Did someone say cake?

This is a big week for us. Little Miss will be turning two this Saturday, and there will be a party at our house. That also means I have about three nights to get the stuff I need done, DONE, which means it’s time for the last-minute crazy shuffle. That’s what happens to procrastinators like me. Could I have done some of these things a few weeks earlier? Sure. Could I have spent the last week leading up to the shindig a little less frazzled and a little more organized? Of course. But if I did, I wouldn’t be me.

I’ve crammed for my exams in school, started 40-page research papers the night before they’re due and completed a project at work minutes before its deadline, and since I’ve done relatively well most of the time, I haven’t seen the need to change. My Guy is the same as I am, which means our daughter is out of luck. While I feel the need to apologize to her, I also know that she will find her groove and make this work to her advantage.

The adrenaline from procrastination has fueled my fire, and I have faith it will do the same for her. In high school, she will learn to live with less sleep, in college she will learn to love the thick black sludge of black coffee at the wee hours of the night and later on, she will thrive on the merits of working smarter, not harder. I think she’s going to be OK. Although that doesn’t mean she won’t exasperate me when her procrastination affects my own agenda.

As for me, in just these three days alone, there will be some crafting, baking, prepping, decorating, cooking, shopping, organizing and housekeeping. But compared to the paper I did on Hamlet for grad school in one night, this week is going to be cake.

Speaking of, what makes all this worth it is that there’s going to be cake at the end of it! Oh and to see my daughter’s joyful smile. Of course.


Isn’t that why we, parents, do most of those crazy things that we do anyway?


* * *

Are you a procrastinator? How has that affected your life? Is there even a cure for it? Are you a birthday cake junkie too?

P.S. This may also mean a more sporadic blogging schedule for the next week or so. Not only will there be a party, Little Miss is also starting a new pre-school/daycare next Monday. I’m a bundle of nerves, so forgive me for being a little more unreliable and unavailable than usual.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Festival of Lights

In my walk around the city these days, I’ve noticed the wreaths, a million twinkling lights among barren trees and even candy cane! There’s no denying that the holiday season is finally here. I usually enjoy the festive atmosphere and when the air is saturated with Christmas music and gingerbread candles, I can’t help but feel embraced by warmth despite the chill in the air.

However, when I saw the decorations for the first time this year, I wasn’t thrilled. Something felt amiss. While this part of the world busied themselves with the impending holidays, another part of the world is about to celebrate a grand festival that does not make the slightest bit of impact here. At least not on the window displays in the middle of the shopping district.

On Friday, November 5, Hindus around the world celebrate Deepavali. It is a celebration I grew up with, and I remember many years of noisy family gatherings at my grandparent’s house. It’s the good kind of noise – the kind that reverberates in your heart long after you’ve heard it. Years later, I can still hear the laughter, the banter and of course, the fireworks. It was always so full of life.

This year, my family will continue that tradition without me, as they have for as long as I’ve been here. I will call and greet my mom, grandma and whichever relative that happens to be by the phone, and I will hear the noise that was once so familiar to me in the background. And my heart will ache. I’ve not known a gathering like this since I left home. Not for Thanksgiving. Not for Christmas.

It’s just not the same over here. The celebrations I’ve experienced in the States are generally more subdued and rather exclusive. It’s mostly the immediate family members that congregate on special occasions. In Malaysia, because Indians are only one of the three major races, we usually open our homes to the other races, the Malays and Chinese, on our holiday so everyone can partake in the joys of our celebration, and they would do the same in return. We’d invite neighbors, co-workers and friends, and all day, there’d be people coming in and out of our homes. And of course we would feed every single one of them. What’s a festival without an overabundance of food right?

Those were the days…

On Deepavali this Friday, it will be business as usual. There will be work. Then I will pick my daughter up from daycare, and if My Guy comes home early enough for all three of us to have dinner together (which rarely happens these days), we will have homecooked Indian food. I will light some candles in honor of the Festival of Lights and my daughter will go to bed at her usual hour. The house will soon settle into its usual evening calm with the exception of the occasional meowing cat. This will be our celebration.

It may be quiet, but for me, it will be no less heartfelt.


Diwali Lights

Happy Deepavali to all my friends and family. May you have a bright and joyful year ahead. I miss you and love you. Always.

Image courtesy of Peromyscus.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

That’s my girl

I’m not sure if anyone noticed but I am off my regular schedule this week. I didn’t have a Monday post as I normally would. Nor will I have anything for Wednesday or Friday. In fact, this is going to be a Tuesday/Thursday week, and I think with two house-related projects, two special birthdays and THE HOLIDAYS in my near future, I may be sticking to this new routine for awhile. For my sanity.

Speaking of holidays, Halloween weekend was incredible. We left the city for a brief respite from urban life in Small Town, USA with some friends – the kind who are more family than friend - in their lovely home. There was plenty of scrumptious homecooked food and intimate, wonderful conversations while their kids and ours had a blast together. Well, when the two-year-olds weren’t fighting over the same things that is. We attended a Halloween party, leaving the house right at Little Miss’ bedtime and didn’t come home until a couple of hours later. We braced ourselves for a meltdown.

there wasn’t any. In fact, when we got there, she let go of our hands and explored the strange new place full of strange new faces (in costumes nonetheless) all by herself in her Abby Cadaby from Sesame Street costume – our own little fairy with wings who literally took flight from our sides and into the chaos that only kids high on Halloween candy could conjure. 


That night, our little family of three shared the same guest bedroom although Little Miss was in a pack n play by herself. She awoke in the middle of the night and groggily said “Hi Mommy!”, “Hi Daddy” to us. I thought it was going to be a long night if I left her in there so I picked her up and placed her between her dad and me. We normally don’t have her in bed with us, but I was tired and didn’t feel like fighting her so I brought her in for some delicious snuggling. I was secretly thrilled to have her in my arms.

Except two minutes later, she asked to go back to her own space, much to my surprise. I was delighted that she didn’t think she needed to attach herself to us, but I was also slightly disappointment to lose the rare opportunity to cuddle with her in my sleep. Oh well, at least we all slumbered comfortably for the rest of the night.

The next day, we did more lounging and eating (don’t you love that?) and relished not having to do a single chore or run any errands. Little Miss made up for her lack of sleep with a long nap so we could indulge in more adult conversations and even a movie! I don’t remember the last time I watched a movie at home with friends in the middle of the day. When it came time for trick-o’-treating, she donned a giraffe costume that we thought would be more comfortable for her in the cold. My heart wasn’t the only one to melt when she said her “cheek o cheat” and politely thanked the candy people. She was the littlest in our troop of girls and boys between five and eight years old (all friends of our friends), who were probably competing for the biggest candy haul that would hopefully last until the next Halloween; it was easy for Little Miss Tiny to get lost in the shuffle.


Except when the kids placed themselves in front of her to get their baskets filled, she nudged her way around them, lifted her basket higher and demanded “This! This! This!” That pretty much guaranteed her share (which we would later imbibe in her sleep, although she didn’t know it then – hey, she had some Kit Kat for the first time and loved it. We kept those for her).


Finally, with a heavy heart and quick goodbyes (because we were already close to my daughter’s bedtime, and we were 2.5 hours away from her bed), we left the quiet pace of the country and drove home in the dark. While Little Miss was lost in a Barney episode (or two), I was lost in my own thoughts. She will be two in a couple of weeks, and I already feel like she needs me so much less each day. It’s hard for me to reconcile the difference between the baby who once clung on fiercely to my one finger, when that was all she could manage to hold, and the little girl who doesn’t even think twice before letting go of my hand to explore the world before her. While I admire her fortitude and her independence, it doesn’t make it any easier for me to let go when she does.

Except I have to. And I will just have to trust that she will always need me and come back to my side when she does.  As a parent, my job is to make sure she will always know that I will be here. Waiting. Hoping. Smiling. And feeling so very proud as these words echo in my head, that’s my girl.


* * *

How was your Halloween? Did you dress up? If so, what were you? How about your kid(s)? Are you still enjoying/stealing your (kids’) candy haul from the weekend?


Friday, October 29, 2010

Wow! Has it really been a year?


I blinked and here I am. A year later…

October 30 marks the first anniversary of this blog. It almost escaped me, as I scramble around trying to prepare for a small road trip for the Halloween weekend, my daughter’s birthday and her new school. We’re also giving her bedroom a minor update (as in dumping all the toys around the house back into her room). With all that’s on my plate, I’ve not had the time to think about this post, but I know there are some things that I have to say, so here goes.

When I first started writing, it was around the time that Little Miss was finally sleeping well. My evenings became mine again, and with all that free time and the lack of ambition to scrapbook, I decided to chronicle her growth here in this space. But little did I know, I was also capturing my own growth here, as a mother, a woman and a person.

Secretly (and now not so secretly) I had this irrational fear that I may not be around for her someday, and I was worried that she wouldn’t know me. For some reason, I desperately wanted her to, beyond the superficialities of skin color and hobbies. This was also the space for me to capture stories about her so that she will always have them. Each remembered with clarity, not in a haze thirty years down the road with an exaggeration here, an untruth there. Every honest word, every crystal clear memory is my gift to her.

But what I also didn’t realize was what a gift this space has been to me. Writing is my creative outlet, but it’s also therapeutic. The power of the truth, when uttered, can rock your core. And it did mine as I found myself uncovering emotions that were once internalized. The more open and honest I became with myself, the more I realized I wasn’t alone. And it’s a wonderful feeling, not just from the shared experience but the camaraderie – my favorite gift of all.

The friendships I’ve made and the ones I’ve rekindled this past year through this blog have made this experience more incredible than I could ever have imagined. I am both humbled and inspired by the myriad authentic voices that are out there, and I’m often reminded of just how vast and, at once, small this world is. As well as fascinating. And painful. And joyous. And sometimes, just breathtaking. Thank you for opening your world to me, so that I can truly see our world.

And most of all, thank you for your support in my journey, whether you’ve been with me this year, this month or this day - I will always be grateful and honored that you are with me here, where I have landed.


p.s. Happy Halloween my friends!


Birthday Cake image by Theresa Thompson.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Be careful what you wish for…

I get Little Miss from her daycare every day and in the ten minutes we’re in the car during our journey home, this is usually what takes place:
Bye yia-yia. (Everyone’s already out of sight)

Bye yia-yia’s house.

Bye papou.

Bye Amaya.

Bye Yuyia (Julia).

Bye Ben.

We’re going home!

Mommy wat dat? (what’s that)

Man on a bike!

Man on a bike with helmet.

Man on a bike with yewwow helmet.

Geen light.

Weeeeee!!!! (when the car accelerates).

Mommy wat dat up there?

Mommy! Airpane in the sky!


We’re going under the choo-choo train

Mommy, new carf? (scarf, which she puts around her head – see picture)

Tow truck! Car with owie. They fix the car.

Wat dat sound?

Mommy, Lady Gaga? (I mumble that it’s at home)

Mommy, Hot Chip? (I’m delighted; I love that band, BUT it’s not in the car. Dammit!)

Mommy, White Stipes? (Can you tell by now there’s no “kids’ music” in the car? But I’m not in
the mood for White Stripes)

Turn on the music? (I resort to the radio, which I dislike, and settle on some overplayed tune)

Change the music? (Aaargh!!!)

Yewwow light.

Wed light!

Mommy, man is wunning (running)

Man with black pants!

Mommy wat dat?

(She makes a weird repetitive guttural noise in her throat and I ask her what that is)

Like a the Wookie  (Oh, are you Chewbacca? – as in Star Wars)

Yes! (more Chewbacca noises)

Oh, Mommy! Moon! (It’s broad daylight so I ask where)

There! (she points at the faint, distant moon – she’s right of course. Eyes of a hawk)

It’s nighttime! (No, the sun is still up, it’s still bright. It’s not night time yet)

Moon mommy. Night time! (Errr…ok. She wins)

(We near our neighborhood)

Mommy we’re home! (THANK GOD!)

As some of you may know, I’ve been yearning for my daughter to start talking – I’ve always thought that it would be my favorite milestone. Now that she has, she hasn’t stopped. Not once. Perhaps in her sleep, but that’s it. We get pelted by her incessant questions, comments and observations every minute. Her 23-month-old curiosity is boundless. If this is what I have to deal with in the ten-minute car ride home, I can only imagine what’s going to happen this weekend, when we’re driving 2.5 hours to celebrate Halloween with a friend and her kids. And then (gasp!) an eight-hour trip to see my best friend over Thanksgiving.

Can we say horse tranquilizer*? Please?

* For me that is.

* * *

What’s your favorite milestone (not your own, but your baby’s)? How do you survive a road trip with your kid(s)? Any tips? Please? Will this neverending chatter ever stop?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The American Dream

We’ve made plans for our future as a family, and recent events have brought us to a realization that our plans will have to change. Not drastically. Just delayed. But it left a little fissure in my heart, wondering when will things just fall into place magically for us.

You see, we are not yet living the American Dream. This house we live in isn’t ours. We’re still trying to save up for the life we want. We are not married, but we live together with our daughter, who’s of course the love and light of our lives. But sometimes even her illumination does not reach these dark, hidden crevices of my mind.

When I see those who seem to have it all - the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect marriage, the perfect kid and the perfect career - I am just baffled at how easily things seem to come together for others. But not us. Not me. And it leaves me feeling insecure. Where did I go wrong?

I look back and here’s what I see: a move across the world, a life riddled with homesickness, a change in career paths, a marriage (where we bought a home) and ultimately a divorce (where we sold the house), a new relationship with someone who on paper seems so wrong for me but in life seems so right, and finally a baby. My journey here took many turns, sometimes uphill, sometimes inadvertently into dead ends that meant starting over. And most didn’t happen by accident – I had a hand in the detours. 

So here I am, still chasing the elusive American Dream. It was once almost within my grasp. The house. The car. The marriage. The 2.5 kids. The dog. But it would have been with the wrong person. It would have been the wrong life.

Now, the Dream continues to hover on the horizon, mocking me with its manicured lawn and three-car garage. Again it seems beyond my reach.

But still I smile.

I may not live the American Dream - at least not yet - but I have the man of my dreams and together we have an amazing little girl. Really, I have the family of my dreams.

Sometimes in myopic moments, I lose sight of perspective. But today, the clouds have parted and I know with unequivocal certainty that the foundation of the Dream isn’t the house, the car, the career. It’s the family. In that respect, I think I have a pretty good start. My foundation is strong.

As for the rest, it’s only a matter of time.    


* * *

Are you living your dream? If so, what’s your secret? And if not, does it matter if you do? Are you happy exactly where you are or are you striving for more? What is your idea of the American Dream anyway?

Friday, October 22, 2010

My words in pink

As many of you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the founders of Bigger Picture Blogs have embarked on a worthy cause in raising awareness through their Write Pink project. Today, you will find my contribution on Melissa’s blog, who hosts the topic, support.

I urge you to click on over, and come support us today.

Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lovely Gratitude

Big Little Wolf has kindly bestowed me with this award, and I can’t tell you how honored and happy I am. She’s one of the bloggers that really make you think, and when I discovered her blog earlier in the year, I thought to myself, Man, I hope I can write like her someday! She is an inspiration. Truly. Thank you, BLW!

I’m supposed to choose 15 other bloggers to whom I can pass this gift, but alas, I think I’ve exhausted many of my favorite bloggers through various memes, so I will stick to the number 6, because I’m weird like that. And here they are – all fabulous, all must-reads:

  1. 6512 and Growing
  2. Drama for Mama
  3. Fluffy Bunnies
  4. Go Pop Go!
  5. Trains, Tutus & Tea Time
  6. The Yellow Door Paperie

Speaking of The Yellow Door Paperie, I was invited to share my thoughts on gratitude on Mary’s space, and I’m honored and delighted to be featured. If you are so inclined, please click on over to read my interview for her Gratitude series and while you’re there, be sure to check out her lovely blog.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things that make you go hmm…


I had the kind of weekend that made me wish I had another day just to recover from the whirlwind that took my breath away. We did so much. Perhaps too much. But it’s the kind of much that reminded me of just how full our life is. It’s a good thing. A wonderful thing.

We babysat twice for friends, both with a daughter who’s the same age as ours. While the first occurred while Little Miss was asleep so she didn’t even know her little friend was there (shhhh…don’t tell her; she’d be disappointed), the other involved an action-packed day that involved the zoo, playtime (and nap) at our house and then an ice cream jaunt. Running around after two kids this weekend left me a little battered tonight. As much fun as we had, it made me wonder... just how do people with two, three, four kids do it?

But it also made me wonder, how would we do it if our family of three became a family of four? Now that’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?



* * *

How did you decide to “add on” to the family? Did you go with the flow or have you always known the number of kids you want in your life? How do you know when what you have is enough?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shhhh…just between you and me…

Somebody woke up with a pounding headache and skipped work. And somebody decided to have a headache too. Together with another little miss somebody, they rested in the morning, felt better and did what most people in Chicago do on a weekday afternoon.

They went to Hot Doug’s after prime lunch hour.

With a line of people that goes around the block on weekends, this was the best time for these somebodies to go because having a toddler in their midst means they could no longer afford the long wait for food. But today, the line hadn’t reached out the door – no way! -  and they enjoyed their shortest queue ever. Just enough time to decide from a wall of choices.


And if you’re wondering, little miss somebody had the mini bagel dogs and tater tots, somebody had the Spicy Skyline Dog: Jalapeno and Cheddar Hot Dog with Yellow Mustard, Cincinnati Skyline Chili and Cheddar-Jack Cheese, and somebody had the Tequila, Black Bean and Lime Chicken Sausage with Tomatillo Mole and Habanero-Jack Cheese. Mmm…



Hot Doug’s is an institution around these parts, and one of the reasons I'm glad I live in Chicago. Or as my daughter would say Hee-Kah-Go.

You know what they say – a family that plays hooky together…eats gourmet sausages together.


already wondering what to get next time

* * *

Have you ever played hooky? Do you have a must-do activity reserved for those days? What?! You’ve never done it? Come on! I won’t tell…if you won’t.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Goodness! Is this what I sound like?


Little Miss, who’s turning two in exactly a month, wakes up from her nap, and hearing her sing-songy voice, I walk into her room just in time to witness the following scene:

“Oh! Mickey diaper wet. Change Mickey’s diaper!”

Mickey Mouse is one of her many bedfellows - I can see how she thinks his red breeches are diapers. She begins to “change” him, either oblivious to my presence or simply ignoring me.

“Goodness! Lotta peepee in the diaper!”

I don’t know where she gets that from, really (*whistling innocently*). She lifts Mickey’s legs and exposes his behind.

“Put the medicine cream…”

And she applies the “affected area” with “diaper rash cream” before announcing:

“All done!”

I am highly amused – she just reenacted a scene she remembers well, except with the roles reversed, where she’s playing mommy.

Isn’t it funny how you see yourself in your kids’ pretend play? When they’re at the prime age to parrot the adults, do you often wonder to yourself, do I really do that?

I know, this is only the beginning, and it’s only going to get more embarrassing interesting in the future. For now at least, watching her role play is my new favorite thing. Until she begins to unearth my bad habits that is. Then perhaps I’ll steer her towards Legos.


* * *

What is your favorite memory of a parroting or role-playing child? Least favorite? What’s the next stage should I be looking forward to? Or afraid of?


Monday, October 11, 2010

How could I forget parenting lesson number 1? Expect the unexpected

We experienced an Indian summer this weekend, with Fall temperatures that reached the mid eighties. There aren’t that many days like this left in the year, and we wanted to make the most of it. We walked around our neighborhood in search of a restaurant with outdoor seating for dinner. We walked by the new restaurant that we’ve been eager to try and hesitated. It wasn’t exactly a family restaurant. It’s the type of place that had one token high chair and booster seat, just in case, not because they really wanted your kids there. We figured it was not even six o’clock and the tables outside were still empty - we could probably manage a quick and painless dinner.

Oh, how wrong we were.

Well, at least in the beginning, it was apparent that Little Miss was not going to be that exemplary quiet kid in the corner. This place, not surprisingly, didn’t have a children’s menu, but it didn’t faze us as she often shared our plate with us. When the bread arrived, she wanted none of it. Gnawing on ice from her water glass was the only thing that amused her. When the soup, a Dutch version of split pea, arrived, I spotted the carrots and enticed her with a biteful of split pea and carrot. No dice. That came out as soon as it went into her mouth. We also had a chicken liver mousse appetizer, which she ate off a piece of bread like ice cream but after the third or fourth bite, she was done.

Not only would she not eat, she decided she wanted out of her high chair and became a little belligerent, much to our chagrin (and embarrassment). While this wasn’t normal behavior, it was also not the first. With her, or perhaps any toddler, there is no predicting how she’d behave that day. Despite a two-hour nap and a jaunt to the park to expend her energy, she was still a little restless. We had two more courses ahead of us, and I hated the thought of having to leave in the midst of of it.

When I glanced at the table next to us with their quiet kid enjoying the bits of food placed before him and I looked over at mine, I cringed a little. Who was this kid sitting at our table? Surely she can’t be my baby?

However, a small miracle happened. Our entrees arrived, and when she saw my bowl of mussels, she dove in. I showed her how I ate mine and she mimicked me, pulling the shell apart and digging the flesh out with relative ease. When it went into her mouth, I was poised and ready with a napkin, so sure she’d spit it out. But she never did, much to our utter amazement. 

In fact, she asked for another. And then another. And another. My almost-two-year-old probably ate half my bowl of mussels! They came with pomme frites (the skinnier version of fries accompanied by aoili rather than ketchup) and she of course dug into that too. The absence of ketchup didn’t bother her; the garlic mayonnaise worked just as well. My Guy and I couldn’t believe how quickly our evening turned around for us. The mussels and fries kept her busy, and we continued our meal in peace. Who woulda thunk? An evening saved by mussels?

Many parents make announcements or a note in the baby book when their kids learn their numbers, colors and alphabets, but those have gone with little fanfare in our house. Don’t get me wrong - we’re definitely proud, but for someone as passionate about food as I am, I’ve never been prouder than the moment I saw my little girl tear into her mussels with such fervor, like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Well, I suppose it is natural; she is my baby after all.


* * *

What have you been most surprised by with your child(ren)? What are the other parenting lessons of which your kids constantly remind you? Do your kids eat mussels too?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Apples apples everywhere

Couple of weekends ago, right after the Autumnal Equinox, we went apple picking to herald the arrival of Fall. We drove an hour outside the city and found ourselves in an apple orchard that had everything we were looking for – a large orchard with a variety of apples, tractor rides, corn mazes, a petting zoo replete with fuzzy, furry, feathery farm animals, fresh made cinnamon and pumpkin donuts (those were my favorite part of the day, in case you were wondering) and a colossal barn filled with homemade goodness from the country.

I was excited for Little Miss; it was her first apple-picking experience. We met another couple and their daughter there and the girls roamed free and ran wild for the most part, getting lost in mazes and eating apples as they picked them at the orchard. As this was a first for our daughter, we took a gazillion pictures of course (I spared you by selecting just a choice few – you’re welcome).


Apple1Her first.


Apple2She didn’t waste any time. Finders eaters!


Cornmaze Little people in a gigantic (seven acres!) corn maze.


That’s more like it. My kid’s in there somewhere. Really.


tractor Yeah baby. Come check out my ride.

Bunny Little Miss loves bunnies. But her little friend REALLY loves bunnies.


Apple3 The moo-choo train (you’ll see why it’s so named below).


Apple4See? And here’s our Little Miss Independent.


I was so busy capturing Little Miss and her firsts that it almost escaped me that I’ve never been to an apple orchard myself, and obviously, I’ve never picked an apple in my life. So really, this was my first too! 16 years in the Midwest, and it took having a baby to finally get me out here. Of course there’s no picture of my momentous occasion, but that’s fine; everyone had a blast and that’s what counts.

I never had these activities with my own parents when I was growing up. Granted there weren’t any apple orchards in tropical Malaysia, but I really meant immersing ourselves in weekend activities and out-of-town jaunts for a day’s fun. We had occasional vacations but with two busy parents who worked six days a week, they took Sunday as the day of rest very seriously. And who can blame them really?

While I understand my parents’ situation, I still hope for it to be different for my little girl. I don’t want her to have to strain to remember fun memories of us as a family. I want them to be as abundant as the apples we saw that day, tumbling into her head, full of juicy sweetness. It’s too late for me to change my past, but through Little Miss, I just realized that not only do I get to help shape her childhood, I get a second chance at mine.


* * *

What is your favorite Fall activity? Do you find yourself trying to recreate your childhood for your little one(s)? Or do you find yourself scaling new heights with them? What do you do with all these apples???!!!


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