April 17, 2015

Running in place

I competed in sports before I was a mother. Naturally, then, I should be one of those active moms who gets up every morning to run with the rising sun (not mentioning any names, Candace). But notice I did not say I was a fitness guru, nor did I say I was a runner. I said I competed in sports. Give me a pair of shin guards and a jersey and I'll run nonstop for an hour, protesting if you try to pull me out of the game to give me a breather. But give me a gym membership, and I hate to say it but I'll probably cringe. It's just not my thing.

Consequently ten years went by and I never moved faster than chasing a toddler across the room. When depression hit in my early 30s, I blamed everything but my lack of exercise, not thinking that a girl who grew up in athletics would probably always need to move. When it finally dawned on me, I made up my mind to break a sweat at least every other day. I figured it was better to die of boredom in a pair of running shoes than drop out of life on account of depression.

Three major barriers: the pollution in our city is rarely under the hazardous mark, bad knees run in my family, and my four kids are never not in my care. Where to run to, when there is no clean air outside? How to run, without jarring my knees? How to break away from my kids? The answer: a miniature hot-pink stair-stepper that I bought for 200 kuai at our local sporting goods store. I can move it around the house, to wherever the kids are playing, even up on the roof if the air happens to clear. It doesn't hurt my joints, and it isn't too boring so long as I have a game of Battleship and a light-saber duel both going on before my eyes.

We moms of young children sometimes feel chained in place. Especially home-school moms, I think, because everything depends on us, and we can't check-out, even for a sec (or we feel like we can't). It gets tiring, and sometimes we wish for a chance to break away, even to run away, if we're honest.

But we can't run away, and we would never actually do that anyway. But we can run in place! We can put a hot-pink stair-stepper in the living room and use muscles we forgot we had, pushing pause on the timer to wipe a butt or pour a drink of juice. 

We can write a novel in our sweatpants while the kids build a pillow fort. 

My advice to young moms? Don't get stagnant. Stir things up a little bit! Stay healthy. Stay YOU. And whatever you do, stay in the game. Don't lose heart. We don't have to feel trapped. We can get our groove on, right where we are. Running in place.

April 15, 2015

Double Digits

The night before Gene's tenth birthday, he and Zion quarreled, if you can even call it that. They were grumpy with each other, better said. But Gene was in bed but a moment before he had hopped back out again, running into his brother's bed to tell him he was sorry.

"I didn't want Zion's last memory of me as a nine-year-old to be a bad one," he told me. Of course not.

Then he was back in his bed and I was tucking him in. I admit my eyes misted over. I looked at my firstborn child and said, "I can't believe you're ten! I've so enjoyed being your mom."

He looked at me puzzled and said, "I'm still going to need a mom." Of course he will.

The next morning, he awoke to a decorated dining room. Daniel and his streamer creations! Presents were opened (each and every one of them a Lego Mixel set) and Fruit Loops were eaten.
Later in the day there was a visit from his Chinese teacher. She brought him a children's book in Chinese, and for good luck, as is the custom, coins and an egg (usually a real egg is given, but this one he can keep).
Then I ventured to make a Lego cake. Again, without the proper equipment, the result was a bit less defined than it's Pinterest cousins, but we made do.
A quick adjective search on Google provided the perfect words to describe our son.
Tacos for dinner, his three best friends to spend the night (his first slumber party EVER) and ten shining candles on the cake.
It was a happy, happy day.

Elijah, Reister, and Gabriel with Gene.
The next day, we went to Polar Ocean World, which is here in our city.
The place is old and a little crumbly, but the animals are obviously loved and well cared for, and the dolphin show rivaled that of any fancy aquatic zoo. Jubilee was very impressed.
They even had sharks! That's Brave against the glass, looking up in wonder.
Gene isn't the biggest ten-year-old around (though sturdy-built and unafraid), and he hasn't ever played on a baseball team. But he can speak a little Chinese, and he does know the size and brokenness of the world. But most of all, no other ten-year-old is loved any more than he is, and no other ten-year-old is happier.
Or handsomer, but I'm a little biased.
Welcome to the double digits, my son. May you live every day of your life on purpose. I love you.

April 05, 2015


And to think, I was worried about these two forming a bond. It's laughable now.
Calm, handsome, and fuzzy George. Sleek, sweet, and silky Winifred. George and Winnie are two of the best parts of my day. I love them!

April 04, 2015

Addy in the world

Addelyn Taylor Greene is here! (Addy will probably become her nickname)
Late night hospital selfie. I got to hold Addy all through her first night!
And here is the "belly cake" I made for Alisa's shower a couple of weeks ago. I promise you, I didn't mean to make such a plunging neckline, but with no ball-pans or fondant, this was the outcome. Alisa looks a wee bit embarrassed having her picture taken with madame cake, but I hear it tasted good (I'm gluten/dairy/egg free, so I can no longer sample my cakes).

For that matter, I was a bit embarrassed making the cake, rubbing my icing spatula down the cleavage and all. Although I did enjoy the process. I would have loved working at a bakery.

I love the ladies in my life!
At the shower, from the back: MySan, Sonya, Ashlei, me, Anita, Alisa, and Laura

April 01, 2015

Eugene's wedding

"I'm going to convince my fiancĂ© not to make all these plans. Let's just have our wedding on the grass, no tuxedos, just a few people invited. And it'll be right away! None of this waiting 52 weeks."


Alisa is going in tomorrow for the birth of her fourth child! She is sleeping at the hospital tonight, and the scheduled C-section is in the morning. I will sleep with my phone by my pillow tonight. I will wait eagerly for the call from John, saying that baby girl has arrived! Daniel is on call tomorrow to bring in big sisters and big brother, to meet their baby sister. Exciting times in our neck of the woods!

Tonight we two families went to Peter's to celebrate. Here is a pic of Alisa, pregnant for the last day, for the last time. A thing of beauty, isn't it?

March 30, 2015

A letter to my daughter

Jubilee, my girl, here me say this: being a girl isn't easy.

Your daddy says females are like moths (deal with us too roughly and we turn to powder). He's right, you know. And yet, he knows there is strength beyond measure inside of us. He has seen it when I birthed your brothers, and again when I battled depression.

And he watched you and I, as we painstakingly crafted a mother-daughter relationship from the ashes of your abandonment.

We are strong.

But still, being a girl isn't easy. Every 28 days you'll be reminded of that. And in the long hours of the night, when you are nursing your baby while your husband slumbers beside you in your bed, you'll know that yours is a life of self giving. Your body is not your own; it will be stretched and scarred, enjoyed, fed from, and clung to for years and years. Your heart is not your own; it will hopelessly belong to your loved ones, in a way that only a woman can know.

But girl, you will always be an individual. Don't lose sight of that, either. When you get the chance to voice your thoughts, do it. Oh please do it. If you can throw a perfect spiral, throw it. Don't let the fact that you are a girl hold you back. If you find yourself at a rock face in China, and you are conveniently wearing leggings under your sundress, climb it. Why the heck not?
After all, moths can fly.