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It’s Almost G Day Folks!!

I contemplated long and hard about writing this post. I wasn’t sure if I should be embarrassed…or proud.

I think people tend to be their own worst critics. Course, I don’t believe that about everyone. Browsing through my husband’s Facebook newsfeed, you might actually think otherwise. There’s definitely a good amount of tooting-your-own-horn going on over there. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a Facebook account. Heck if anyone wants to read snarky comments about my life every ten minutes on his or her feed. A few hours of that and I imagine people would start blocking me.

Truthfully, I always feel uncomfortable accepting compliments or praise and it’s a rare occasion I’m not kicking myself for something I wish I did better. It’s a little tiring really, flogging myself all the time. Read more…

Happy New Year…from my house to yours..

January 14, 2012 2 comments

Another year has come and gone, another memorable chapter in our lives closed.

It hadn’t been one of our better years. As individuals, and as a family, I think each of us learned new things about ourselves, strengths we didn’t realize we had and weaknesses we would’ve preferred keep to ourselves . My husband and I found ourselves doing a lot of much needed self reflection. We rediscovered what it takes to keep a family whole and how being happy with ourselves and each other plays a key role in that.

Between the hectic schedule of a family of six and despite our tumultuous summer, we’re all still laughing and driving each other nuts, in a good way..at least most of the time. Read more…

The Stuff Our Kids Teach Us

October 11, 2011 6 comments

The other day I was tossing up the closet when one of my girls came up from behind me in surprise.

“Mama, what are you doing?”

You bet I jumped. “Hey sweetie.”

“What are you doing,” she asked with her head cocked to one side.

Now this is the baby of the family, the kid where hubs and I finally got it right, hence a bit sheltered, so when she asks me what I’m doing when it’s rather obvious I’m nosing through her dad’s junk she really is asking out of innocence. This is opposed to her older, more street savvy siblings whose likely responses would’ve been, “Mom, whatcha’ doin’ creeping through dad’s things again,” accompanied with a wink and a smile implying I owe them one.  Read more…

The Problem With Desire

October 9, 2011 9 comments

It’s a hard thing to want something, and I mean really want something, with all of your heart, and every bit of your being.  So much so you can barely contain the elation in your voice when you talk about it, nor the flutter in your belly attesting to both extremes of excitement and apprehension. You find yourself struggling to keep the knot in your throat from rising just thinking about it, dreaming on it.

Yup, desire can do that to you.

Twenty years  of secretly coveting something for myself; almost a decade’s worth of semesters staggered between raising kids, juggling bills, and the daily grind of nine-to-five; and all the nights spent studying eight hours in one sitting until I was ready to poke my eyes out – I’m finally that much closer to my ultimate goal. But it’s the 11th hour and I find myself questioning everything that got me here, all of my efforts, every what-if and why-didn’t-I, and the actual probability of crossing the finish line at all. Read more…

What The %@#$%^! Is Going On Here?

I’m a warrior, a road warrior. Well, among other things. Really. Just hear me out.

Being a family of six limits our options when it comes to travel. Heck, being a family of six limits us financially in several respects, because as you can guess six times any dollar amount usually equals much more than most people can afford.

Hence, over the last few years this family has become a band of road warriors, trekking it across the state and the country in our bucket of a minivan accompanied by three little dogs. Despite the thousands of dollars we save in airfare, road tripping has its drawbacks, the most obvious of which has to be the circus you’re subjected to by the parties in your car.  Read more…

Exhaustion

March 24, 2011 9 comments

I’m not a morning person, never have been. In fact, I have a love hate relationship with my snooze button. I need her, rely on her, religiously check on her just in case, but every morning I blindly smack her quiet for that luxurious ten more minutes of sleep. Who am I kidding? I set her for 6:30, but shush her half a dozen times before my husband has to coerce me out of bed with coffee at 7. And that’s on a good day.

The worse days entail me waking up to my fourteen year old standing above me citing I have fifteen minutes to get dressed and out the door. Better believe I’ve long since given up fixing my face and hair unless I can work that in while I warm up the car. I usually focus on just trying not to wear the same outfit two days in a row and some weeks I don’t even manage that.  Read more…

The Price We Pay

I was recently invited to write a piece for The Write On Project, a fabulous blogging community featuring some really great writers. I’m quite humbled and flattered they extended me an invitation. The suggested topic of the post was guilt. My post is scheduled to post on their site tomorrow morning, but titled as “This Girl’s Road to Redemption”. On my site I prefer the title “The Price We Pay”. I hope you all enjoy it. I wonder if some of you might even relate, especially those of you I grew up with. Here’s to all the other “survivors of our era”.

The dictionary defines guilt as “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, or wrong, whether real or imagined.” Real or imagined, that sounds about right. Might even be more accurate, at least helpful, if they added a footnote, “Warning: Duration of guilt known to last several years. Atonement not guaranteed.” Now that’s the kind of guilt I know. Come to think of it, I didn’t know there was another kind. Read more…

Protected: Okay Boys, Lets Talk About Sex

January 31, 2011 Enter your password to view comments.

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Are My Children Mentally Deranged?

January 16, 2011 9 comments

Here’s a scene from dinner a few months ago, not quite sure what to make of it.

Mom: Where’s Taylor?

Rodney Jr.: In her room.

Kayla: She’s still trying to get out.

Mom: Of what???

Rodney (nonchalantly): We tied her up. Read more…

Remember the Name

January 7, 2011 9 comments

This is 10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will,
5% pleasure, 50% pain, and 100% reason to remember the name.

Fort Minor

I root for myself, a lot. Really I do.

Life is hard enough as it is just trying to get through the day to day stuff, dare you start dreaming for something bigger, setting ambitions for yourself that seem dubious, silly even. Sometimes I need to cheer myself on just to get through the day. Read more…

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

January 1, 2011 2 comments

Here is an excerpt from our annual holiday  family newsletter.

It’s amazing how quickly the years go by, especially when you’re having fun. Well, it hasn’t all been fun, but it’s definitely been memorable.

Yesterday AJ was still tossing his 2nd grade lunch in the garbage bin instead of eating it, Rodney Jr. was still waving at me through tears every day I left him at daycare, Kayla still cried just because you looked at her funny, and Taylor still swore by the tooth fairy who jipped her when she woke up to use the bathroom.

Today AJ is an adult and navigating his way through early adulthood eating every last bite of the lunches we feed him, and yours if you’re not careful, Rodney Jr. spends weekends at his friends’ homes as if I shared custody with their parents, and this year the girls think they’re too old for anything from Toys ‘R Us and prefer jeggings. Read more…

Sorry, It’s Just Not Your Lucky Day

December 23, 2010 11 comments

The current economic crisis has left few unscathed, myself included. My husband’s business is rather slow to say the least, but I’m thankful we continue to stay in the black, as opposed to many of our counterparts who aren’t even in the game anymore.

We’re fortunate that I have a great job, receive a pretty adoption stipend, and that I know how to budget up the wazoo. It’s never easy to feed a family of six, all of them hearty eaters, but we make it work. Determination is always a plus.

Sure, we’re lucky enough to manage but every now and then, like when a car unexpectedly needs work done or your son comes home with a lacrosse registration demanding $500 payment, it’s a challenge not to scream, or beat somebody up, or incite some other grand measure of self destruction to express my frustration or mask my desperation. Read more…

Protected: Top 5 ‘God, Help Me’ Parenting Moments

December 19, 2010 Enter your password to view comments.

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Save yourself or remain unsaved

December 11, 2010 3 comments

This month has been rough, what with finals, car problems, my sister in the hospital again, my brother moving out,  then there’s the rest of life; bills, kids, work. And, of course, the ordeal with my 18 year old son, who’s doing some soul searching of his own. I’m learning new life lessons and rediscovering old ones, too, some of them heart breakers.

I’m learning that people aren’t always who you think they are and that’s not all their fault. Sometimes we build them up in our minds to be who we want them to be instead of accepting who they are. We assume we’re older, we know better, so what we say goes. We think that because they’re our children or kid brother we’ve earned the right to plan their lives for them, especially if you’re afraid they don’t have dreams of their own or you just don’t like what they do have. Then we act surprised when they’re not plugging away working on that list of ambitions we set for them never once thinking that maybe it wasn’t what they wanted. We ignore the signs that tell us they’re anything other than what we want them to be and convince ourselves we can fix them, save them.

Well into adulthood, you still think it’s your job to look out for your kid brothers and sister, making sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to, just like you did when you were ten. You carry their failures and burdens as your own. You forget that you can’t mold people into who you want them to be. You can’t change them. They are who they are, take it or leave it. People evolve at their own pace not yours.

We mistakenly assume an 18 year old without plans is an instant sign of disaster, a distress signal that a parent is required to reply. We forget that some things even a parent can’t answer and that includes telling your son who he is or is supposed to be. We forget what it was like to be 18 years young, and confused, and scared, and trying, just trying to figure out your place in this big old world.

You confuse your kids’ mistakes for your own. You think your siblings’ misfortunes belong to you. You forget that kids and siblings alike grow up and have to figure things out for themselves, without you shadowing them or judging them.

So I’m learning..to have faith in my last 18 years of parenting, most of which were good. I’m learning that sometimes my support is needed more than my direction. I’m learning that I have to let people learn from their own mistakes just as I do mine. I’m learning to accept people for who they are, with all of their flaws, even if it means they’re not doing anything I wish they were. But mostly I’m learning that I can’t save anyone besides myself. People have to save themselves or remain unsaved.

The voices in my head

November 27, 2010 3 comments

I have to wonder sometimes if I’m the only sane person who has voices screaming inside her head. What an oxymoron, right?

But really, doesn’t anyone else have moments where he (or she) finds himself questioning why in the heck they bother doing what they do? If it matters at all? Don’t the voices in your head just scream for you to give it up, let it go, to just forget it already?! But then there’s that stubborness in you that won’t allow you to stop until you’re done. Some call it tenacity, I prefer to call her the crazy voice in my head and I would like nothing more than to punch her quiet this morning.

It’s Saturday and I’ve already spent the last few hours trying to make sense of exponentials and logarithms. I’ve always thought of myself as a smart girl, but college algebra makes me question my sanity, tests my self confidence, and makes me feel downright stupid.

Add to that I have a ton of other things to prepare for; next week’s out of town conference for work, another research paper due for Business Ethics, FINALS!!, and I still have to do a practice run on fixing Kayla’s hair for her cheer competition next week, but instead here I am stuck on problem #5 on page 370 of Beecher’s 3rd Edition College Algebra.

Great, now the voices in my head are arguing. One is yelling at the other about this being the reality of a mom going back to school when she barely has enough energy to clean the house, another insists things will be okay, and then there’s a third voice who just keeps singing that New Radicals song over and over again. I’m so flustered, I’m not even sure which voice I want to smother. I could really cry right now, that is of course if I had the time, which I don’t.

I only wish I was as good at college algebra as my professor so smoothly explains it every Wednesday evening in room MH 208. Maybe then I could get on with my day and quit wallowing in self pity. I think I’ll make that my early Christmas wish. Dear Santa, if I’m good, will you please help my brain wrap around f(x)=-2(to the power of x) – 1. Don’t forget to show me how to graph it as well. xoxo Maria

Readers, thank you for listening to me vent this morning, I’m not usually this depressing. I still have several more hours of studying to go so….

Happy Turkey Day! Gobble, gobble

November 25, 2010 2 comments

It’s only seven o’clock but after polishing off 15 pounds of turkey and two pumpkin pies my entire family, dogs included, has already passed out in the living room. I’m sure you’re thinking precious, right? No, not really, they actually look like a bunch of beached whales, but still, for this I’m thankful.

For my dysfunctional family, for the feast my husband spent five hours preparing while he got drunk, for a job and a business that continue to pay (most of) the bills, for a year full of more good memories than bad, for having good friends and family, for readers who actually like my blog enough to read it, and for anything and everything else God’s blessed me with, big or small. I’m thankful for it all.

From my family to yours, may you always know the full value of what you have waiting for you at home.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

A Mother’s Declaration

November 23, 2010 2 comments

Life is good, but it can also be very, very trying. You’ll often find yourselves at crossroads that will surely test your judgment and confidence. Sometimes you’ll choose the path laden with smooth stones and simple turns. Those will be the days filled with more good times than bad. Other times you’ll choose the road less traveled. This is where you’ll learn what you’re made of. Life is filled with choices and when you’re in the moment it’s so hard to know if you’re making the right ones. Strive to make decisions that you can be proud of, that reflect who you are and what you stand for.

Remember the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated, not how they treat you. This is difficult, I know. People can be terrible and cruel. You mustn’t reciprocate that. How people treat you is their karma, but how you react is yours.

Dream big and don’t be afraid to fail. The world is filled with people who stay confined to the limits set before them. Fear can do that to you. Don’t be one of those people. Live your life with a perseverance to survive and succeed despite the challenges you face. Nothing worth having has ever been easy, but I assure you the taste of success is sweeter when you’ve worked that much harder. You can be as big as you want to be, the possibilities are endless. Your father and I believe in all of you and the potential you possess. Believe in yourself.

Inevitably you will make some mistakes. You’re not perfect and no one should expect you to be, including yourself. Create a compass of your triumphs and misfortunes, a means of understanding what works for you and what doesn’t, but never let either conclude you. Victories can be short lived and tragedies can ruin you only if you allow them to.

Be grateful for everything, however big or small. We’re not guaranteed anything in this life except the air we breathe, but through the grace of God we are blessed with opportunities to make better lives for ourselves and those around us. It’s up to you to recognize those chances. Remember that when you feel you have nothing or no one, you have yourself.

Our family has been fortunate to been able to provide you with material possessions and amenities that have suited to make your lives comfortable. We are neither rich nor poor. Many people have more than us, but far more have less. I don’t regret living in a nice house or filling it with pretty things. I believe in enjoying the dollar you earn, but I hope I’ve raised you well enough to distinguish the difference in values we place on objects verses people. People are what matter, not things. Don’t forget that. When you die you can’t take things with you, but the memories you foster with family and friends are everlasting. If you lose someone you love that new BMW or diamond necklace will do little to comfort you. Be mindful of what you cherish and who you don’t.

We are all born into varying cultures, religions, and families that influence us and have the propensity to carve circles around us. Often these circles are intended to protect us, but more frequently they hold us down. You’ve been shaped by our family that loves you, groomed by our social and ethnic cultures, and blessed by our religion that has handed you down its own values and beliefs, but you and you alone must be the one to define yourself. Stay true to you. Always. You are unique and that is what makes you special. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or who you shouldn’t be, not even me. Embrace yourself for your differences even if it feels like everyone is telling you otherwise.

I have tried to instill the significance of your relationships with one another. Friends are wonderful, but blood will always be thicker than water, at least in this family. You’ll grow up, move on, go to college, and meet new people. The changes in your life will be constant. You’ll find a better job to replace the old one. You’ll lose touch with friends and make new ones. New loves will become past loves. Throughout it all, your brothers and sisters will always be there. That will not change. Your relationships with one another are forged by childhood memories, the secrets only a sibling could know, and just in knowing that neither time nor distance could ever break the familial thread that link the four of you together.

I know that your father and I have made dozens of mistakes while raising you all, mostly unintentional. Maybe by the time you read this we’ll have made a dozen more. I beg you to forgive us our indiscretions and not just for us, but for you. Throughout your life people will hurt you, betray you, sometimes with malice, other times with ignorance. Forgive them all, no matter the immensity of their offense. Nothing good comes from a grudge harbored from deep within. Anger only serves to feed hate and resentment, both of which lead to self destruction. You must will yourselves to be bigger than that.

And if I haven’t told you enough, I’ve always known you were great. Don’t allow yourself to be labeled by your paycheck, your job title, the college you did or didn’t go to, your social class, the color of your skin, the clothes you wear, or even your physical beauty. These are not the things that matter. Your greatness resides in the goodness in your hearts, in the way you treat people, the compassion and tolerance you offer them, the inner strength that gets you through the most challenging occasions, the ferocity with which you face your utmost fears, and the effort you put into your own lives.

Wherever you are, whoever you become I know all of you will make me proud. Borne of my blood and nurtured with the potency of my love, all of you were destined to deliver nothing less than brilliance to this world.

Letter to my 17 year old self

November 19, 2010 5 comments

Several years ago a few friends and I practiced an exercise where we each wrote a letter to our 17 year old selves, words of advice so to speak. It was awesome, very self-reflective, and showed us just how much we’d learned and been through in the previous decade. I encourage you to try this yourself. Here is my letter.

Dear Maria,

I know you feel alone, like you’ve just lost the rest of your life because you have this baby to raise, but I promise you – it will get better. Just ride this time out, it doesn’t seem like it, but this time will only equate to a very small portion of your life. And your life is far from over.

You will learn to be a good mom. It takes time and I know you are unsure of yourself right now but you will learn.

Finish school. Go straight to college, even if it’s only part time. If you fail a class because you’re having a hard time juggling work and your son, ask for help from the family and take the class again. Make it work this time. Just don’t stop going. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Get a digital camera as soon as you can afford it. Take a lot of pictures. Those digital pictures are going to last a lot longer than the 35mm film. Honest.

You will find the love of your life.

You haven’t even met half of the people you are going to meet in your lifetime. Don’t worry.

You are going to make a million more GREAT memories that you don’t believe you can- but you will! Just be patient.

Save some money in a secret bank account. Make it an IRA plan that you can’t access so easily.

Save more money for AJ sooner, college will be around the corner before you know it.

Spend less time worrying about your weight. You’re not fat.

You are beautiful. You have great cheek bones, smooth skin, and a sweet smile. Enjoy your youthful beauty for as long as you can because when you get older you will regret that you never realized what you had.

Practice safe sex.

Don’t have sex with your girlfriends’ ex-boyfriends, it complicates things.

Cherish the group of friends you have in your 20’s. They will be the best you ever have.

Don’t drive drunk.

Accept your mom for who she is. She’s crazy but don’t ask her to change, don’t expect her to. She doesn’t have to and she won’t ever. The sooner you accept that the sooner you can make amends with who she is to you.

Don’t be sad  about Dad. I know you think he doesn’t love you, but he does. It’s not about you. You didn’t do anything wrong. Some people are just broken.

Hold onto every moment with your baby sister. Make every memory with her last longer. Love her. Take care of her for as long as you can. Forgive her.

Control your temper. Don’t get so angry. The world isn’t out to get you. Think before you react. THINK FIRST. Revenge doesn’t fix anything.

Don’t sweat the stuff people do to you, life really is a circle. You get what you give.

Get into jogging, or running, or walking in the mornings. Make it a habit.

Write it all down. All of it. Everything you feel. Everything you’re afraid of. All of your secret hopes you don’t want anyone to know about. Write it all down. Hide them if you have to but just write it all down. Your own words will serve as your record that you actually did it, you went through it, you got through it. I know you’re afraid people will read what you write but that’s okay. When you get older you will want them to.

When you are 22 you will go through some things that make you question yourself. You will ask this question everyday for several years. The answer is yes. Yes, the tears will stop. Be strong.

Throw less house parties. They are not worth the headache.

Buy a hybrid car as soon as they are available. I’m serious. Don’t worry about how they look. It won’t matter soon enough.

Go ahead and take those risks. They won’t always pay off, but when they do, they will pay off BIG.

Take care of your credit.

Don’t talk back to Grandma. Just listen to her. You don’t have to believe everything she says, you can pretend. She won’t be around forever and you will regret the times you fought with her.

You don’t know who I’m talking about yet but- he will come home. He will.

Don’t be angry when your kids act just like you, they are doing it because you are what they know.

Don’t get angry when your kids don’t act like you, they are their own people. They’re not you. Let them be who they want to be.

Last piece of advice. Remember this one because you will question this time and again for decades to come. Things are going to work out for you. You will be okay. Don’t let your fears stop you from trying or you’ll miss out on all the successess in store for you. Don’t stop trying. Your life is worth it. You are worth it.

Love,

30 year old Maria

P.S. Don’t overanalyze this letter. It’s not a map of your future. It’s just some advice from someone older and wiser.

Even his dog knows

November 16, 2010 3 comments

Recently my 18 year old son informed me that returning to the coming spring semester of college “did not fit into his current plans” to which I appropriately responded “and supporting your *ss until you figure out your life does not fit into mine!” Is he sh*tting me?

*Sigh* Honestly, I actually saw this coming. He’s never taken too well to academics and he struggled throughout high school, but still, I thought he knew better than to be a college dropout. This topic is still premature, so I’m hoping he changes his mind – before I wring his neck. If he doesn’t, well, I’m going to pray for the kid because if he thinks I’m going to let him lounge around the house until God knows when he’s got another think coming .

If he wants to live in the real world, I’m going to give it to him. Go to school, get a job, or get out. Other parents, be careful not to judge me or you could find yourselves in a similar situation several years from now.

I refuse to be the typical Asian parent who lets her children live at home rent free, usually encouraging little sense of responsibility, until they turn 35. That may work in some families, but it doesn’t work in mine. You can call it tough love, I call it a dose of reality.

I love my son, don’t even try to to accuse me of anything different, but if he’s going to take this path, inevitably limiting his choices without that college degree, I won’t knock him, but he’s going to get a taste of how hard it is without one early on. I’d be nothing short of a bad mom if I didn’t make sure he realized the full consequences of his actions before it was too late or too hard to rectify things. He can drop out, but he better have a good back up plan, because I won’t be it.

He’s spent the last week staying at friends’ houses, I’m sure in an effort to avoid discussing this further with me.  Following a four day absence, he came home and tried to play with his dog, Hyden, before dashing out the door again. Hyden refused to play with him. Instead Hyden walked over to him and started barking at him incessantly. Each time my son reached out to pet him, Hyden cringed backwards to avoid his hand.

It was as if Hyden was trying to tell him something. Maybe he was saying “C’mon kid, what are you doing? Get your head out of your *ss. Go back to school, or get a full time job, but do something. You’re driving your parents nuts. Ruff!” See, even his dog knows.

I’m so cheap..

November 14, 2010 1 comment

Personally, I prefer to describe myself as cost-efficient, but everyone else tells me I’m just plain old cheap. So I’ve decided to start a series of rants documenting my cheap antics or tips to save money, whichever way you want to look at it.

Enjoy people, you might actually find some of my tips worthwhile and not just crazy.

I’m so cheap … I save and store every condiment packet, napkin, and plastic utensil we don’t use when we eat out. It’s not uncommon to eat at my house and find the table set with varied McD’s, Wendy’s, and Jack in the Crack napkins, ketchup packets, and sporks. One evening when I ran out out of soy sauce for the chicken adobo dinner I was preparing I just used all the soy sauce packets in my pantry instead of buying a second bottle. It still tasted good, at least no one complained.

I’m so cheap … when my youngest son requested Estancia Churrascaria, a fancy Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouse, for his birthday dinner I agreed under one condition. For a family of six our bill would be upwards of $200 after tax and gratuities and that’s assuming I limited everyone to drinking tap water, so in an effort to maximize my return I forbade each child, even the girls who were eight at the time, and my husband not to consume anything more than water and one snack prior to dinner that day. No, I’m not kidding. I wanted to make sure everyone was hungry and we got our money’s worth. I’m sure all the gaucho-attired waiters were amazed by how much steak six people could actually eat in one sitting.

Stay tuned for more of my ‘I’m so cheap’ blog segments!

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