Mom Life #thebestslashworstjobever

I lost it the other day.  I really did.  I finally did.  And did it feel good.

To sum it up, I’ve been feeling tired, overworked, on repeat, for about 6 months. I just realized this coincides with the birth of Jackson.  I yelled at my kids to help with the laundry, otherwise I would only be doing my laundry and I did not care if they went to school in dirty clothes.  I yelled at my husband that he needs to help me with the meals and general housework because otherwise I am going to be living a very angry life.  I admitted to him that it is easier for me when he travels on business overseas for weeks because I don’t have to cook as much, there is less laundry, and I don’t have to wake him up in the morning.  I told him I am tired of feeling like another item on his checklist he needs to tend to.  I admitted to him that I feel checked out of my relationship with him, that we are basically roommates with offspring and our marriage was not at a happy place for me. The list goes on…you understand where I’m coming from.

This is not to say he is a bad husband. He is a hard worker. Too hard.  In the areas that he feels are worthy of his time. All I ask is that he re-prioritize that a little and help me.  I am asking for help, not saying he is a bad man.

This is something I wish I had realized years ago. It is okay…not okay, it is necessary for me to take care of me.  I do not always have to put the needs of my family first. I matter too.  And this does not make me a bad mom. I should not feel like cooking warm meals makes me a good mom. It doesn’t. I should not feel that Lana getting straight A’s makes me a good mom. It doesn’t. What makes me a good mom is that I can somehow show my kids, in whatever way they can understand, who God is and that He loves them.  God also loves me, even when I lose my temper so many times per day.  Becoming a mom was the best thing that happened to me but it is by far the hardest task I’ve had to navigate.  Once I finally feel I have learned how to manage it, I realize ughhhh this is not so easy as I thought.

Now..on with the chore chart. If you have two hands and two feet and you live in this house, you are included. We are about to delegate some tasks….

this pokemon go game has got me thinking…

kids, you are not going to be cool.  i’m sorry.  you might as well come to terms with it now, while you are 6 and 3.

my wishes for you are that you would continue the following practices, no matter how, slow, inefficient, ancient, or uncool they become:

  • write letters to a pen pal
  • check out books from the library
  • send thoughtfully written emails, not just text messages
  • maybe make an actual phone call to talk to your aging mother
  • play board games
  • draw, color, paint, create
  • play outside and get dirty
  • keep a decent bed time and wake up early
  • have regular face to face time with friends who matter to you
  • go to church regularly
  • journal or blog
  • learn how to cook
  • learn how to use a camera and develop your photos
  • date in real life.  he needs to call you and not just text all the time
  • get birthday gifts and just because gifts for your family members and close friends
  • garden

i know these things may sound conservative, boring, and not hip.  they seem old-fashioned and things that your mom did, not things your friends are doing. but they are important to me, i hope they will become important to you, and that you will eventually find value in them.

with technology, it seems that if you don’t keep up, you get left behind.  i’m not saying that i want you to get left behind and not know all the latest trends or apps.  technology has many benefits and can do amazing things in a blink of an eye.  but what i am saying is that there is also value in knowing where you came from and preserving some of that as a part of who you are.  i get it.  time moves forward, things change with each new generation.  you will undoubtedly change with the times and adapt.  i’m just saying, if you ever get bored with your face down, swiping at that screen, try picking up a book or giving me a call.  your life may become more vibrant and full and that is really all i want for you.

 

 

another year . another post

sigh…it’s june 2016, an entire year has passed since my last post….where does the time go??

recent thoughts…

to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community… my heart goes out to you.  I admit that I know nothing of your struggles, oppression, challenges, and the unfair things you face daily.  all I know is that I am saddened by the shooting and violence that happened.  yesterday at church, a few hours after the shooting took place, my pastor shared the stage with a man who shared his story.  his name was Robert and I don’t know if he is homosexual or heterosexual.  he possessed qualities that one may classify as homosexual traits or characteristics, but he did not say, so I am not certain.  but he shared his story, at the “pulpit” nonetheless.  granted, our church is in a highschool auditorium so there is no official pulpit, but I envisioned Robert standing at one.  and I saw my pastor take a seat and sit crossed legged on the side of the stage, listening to his story.  this picture was just so humbling to me, to see a grown man who is probably the most respected man at our church, sit crossed legged, off to the side, on the floor, listening intently.   at that moment in time, I felt so much progress was made for the church and I hope it continues.

to my children…I am thankful for you.  lana, you are 6 going on 16.  such responsibility and composure at a young age.  I thank you for being my right hand man in helping me with your younger sister.  I could not get through some days without you.  you don’t realize how much clearing your dishes or helping take mia to the potty really truly helps me and makes me feel that I have a teammate and am not alone in this thing called motherhood.  mia, you are crazy.  there is no other way to describe it.  but I genuinely love your no-filter mouth and the way you carry yourself.  you show your true feelings and don’t hold back.  you are self-assertive and speak your mind.  it gets you into trouble, but you will learn.  hopefully.  🙂  I know you will look out and stand up for lana.

to my God…I’ve been questioning your goodness lately.  There has been so much sadness in the world lately.  An unexpected death. Shooting after shooting.  Rape without remorse. It sickens me.  I have been taught that all things, ALL things work together for the good of those who love you.  But it doesn’t always seem that way.  I just feel like you leave people with so many unanswered questions and it doesn’t seem fair.  People want and deserve answers when horrible, tragic things happen that tear their lives apart.  And it doesn’t help make them feel any better when you give them pat answers like, God is in control or everything happens for a reason.  I don’t blame people for hardening their hearts towards you when bad things happen in their lives.  I ask that you reveal yourself to these people, these families who are hurting.  I ask that you bring them comfort and healing and hope.  Because I don’t know what else to ask for.

little . kid . season

ahh!  it’s been too long my trusty friend!  it’s already june!  almost a year since i’ve written??  :(((

so the question posed to me, which prompted this post was, “sooo, what did you do today?” it was delivered to me by my lovely husband as we sat down at the dinner table, eating curry rice, chicken cutlet, and salad. my response was a look of puzzled confusion. did he really just ask me that question? in that tone??  does he not realize all that i have done today??? okay em, don’t overreact…

let me break it down for you. let me even put it in order and use less words so it’s even clearer for you, dear husband.

5:45am-6:15am // exercise
6:20am-6:50am // wash face, do make up, brush teeth, change clothes
6:50am-7:50am // prepare 3 breakfasts, pack 3 lunches, wake up 2 year old. change her clothes, make her eat. put away dishes from last night, do hair for 2 year old and 5 year old. pack 5 year old’s backpack. make sure homework is inside.  put on their jackets and shoes.
7:50am-8:20am // dinner prep, wash breakfast dishes
8:20am-9:00am // drive 2 year old to preschool
9:00am-11:00am // target errands and grocery market shopping
11:00am-11:20am // unload groceries and put into fridge.  eat leftover pizza lunch while continuing to unload car
11:45am-1:30pm // pick up 2 year old from school, continue dinner prep while 2 y/o naps in car. write a thank you card.
1:30pm // 2 year old wakes from nap and has peed in carseat. 2 year old has also managed to simultaneously get a bloody nose
1:30pm-2:00pm // clean up mess, feed 2 year old, drop 2 year old off at aunt’s house
2:30pm-3:30pm // go to 5 year old’s class to celebrate her birthday. help class decorate graduation caps with stickers.  take photos of kids.
3:45pm-6:00pm // pick up 2 year old from aunt’s house. give 2 kids a bath. give 2 kids a snack. have 5 year old practice her piano.  cook and wash dishes while 2 year old insists on mixing the raw egg and wants to be the helper. have 5 year old write thank you cards for her teachers for tomorrow’s graduation. have kids watch a video until dinner has been completed.
6:30pm // husband arrives home.  dinner is served
7:15pm-8:00pm // wash dishes, pack 3 lunches for tomorrow.

wash, rinse, repeat.  there you have it. the life of a stay at home mom, in a nutshell.  granted, not everyday is like this.  but you get the general idea.  oh and did i mention, i’m waking up tomorrow at 5am to make spam musubi for 5 year old’s graduation potluck?

to be honest, i complain almost everyday about my kids.  about how tired i am at the end of days like this.  about how they don’t really appreciate me. about how much husband doesn’t appreciate me. but to be real honest, i’m an ungrateful selfish person who doesn’t realize how lucky she is to have two fun-loving girls and a supportive spouse who i couldn’t survive without. he washed the carseat pee when he got home, he brushes their teeth every morning and night, he puts them to bed, etc, etc, etc.

there are seasons in life.  this is little kid season. soon, i’ll be dealing with bigger and badder issues than “mom, she spit in my face again!”  tomorrow my 5 year old graduates from kindergarten.  tonight after dinner, she told me she wanted a teenager birthday this year.  i asked her what that was and she said, “where you do teenager things.” she settled on either wanting a rose-themed beauty and the beast party, a sofia the first party, or a friends forever party.  better start planning.

palau – PMA and our visit to Angaur

so yes, mike’s company had many briefs during our stay in palau.  the first morning’s brief was for the attorney general of FSM (federated states of micronesia), april skilling.  we met her, along with her two body guards at the palau airport, about a 5 minute drive from our apartment. basically, everything we needed to get to was about a 5-10 minute drive away.  can’t get very far on an island. i met PMA (pacific missionary aviation), the team that was contracted with TSC to pilot the sea dragon plane. PMA’s pilot was Slick,whom mike described as a hot shot pilot who liked being the alpha-male. Then there was Amos, a more soft-spoken pilot, who was currently living in Yap, a nearby island.  Stephan was third PMA pilot, being trained to take Slick’s place, as he is planning to move to Japan.  Slick likes to mess around. One of the first things he said to me was that Mike and Josh spent a whole lot of time lying together underneath the airplane, so Mike must be real happy that I’m here now.  Amos is quiet, but one of those behind-the-scenes types of people who gets the job done and doesn’t need the spotlight.  Stephan and Mike geeked out together over this microsoft password hack that Stephan showed Mike one day sitting in the PMA hangar. I only spent a few hours getting to know these guys, but what they do on behalf of the Lord is amazing.  From what I understood, they fly out food and supplies to Palau and it’s surrounding islands to give to the local people living on these islands.  The locals have no way of getting off the islands.  They are very poor. PMA is their lifeline.  PMA also transports people to neighboring islands for a fraction of the cost compared to what normal airfare would be. They do this all in the name of Christ.  Mike and I had the opportunity to be a part of their emergency food/supply drops to a nearby island, Angaur.  mike and i were driving around koror, looking at the shops, restaurants, and hotels, when he got a text from slick. mike excitedly said that he was asking us if we wanted to join them on a supply drop to Angaur. i had no idea what that meant at the time, but mike was real excited, so i said yes.  we drove back to the airport where slick, amos, stephan, and ray (the airplane mechanic) were loading up the plane with rice. lots of rice.  maybe 20 bags of it. they called the plane we were gonna fly on, the queen air.  they pushed the queen air out on the runway and we all hopped on. there were 7 seats total on this plane. no first class or economy seating here.  we buckled up.  slick said life vests were under the seat.  he made sure mike knew how to open the emergency exit. he showed me how to put in my earplugs and we took off.  i was kind of freaking out, but trying to keep it under control.  if this thing goes down, i perhaps could die.  the plane was small, nothing i was used to. the weather was not ideal.  amos was circling around the runway, looking at the sky. i heard slick tell him that we could wait,that we were not in a hurry. amos took off. no one was freaking out.  my butt was shaking up and down on that chair, but no one was freaking out.  so i mentally told myself, it’s going to be okay. everyone had a window view and it was beautiful.  the beauty of the vast blue water, the clouds below, breathtaking.  it made me all forget that i was predicting my soon death.  the plane dropped a few times, i think due to wind, and i lost my stomach. but still,  no one seemed worried so i guess everything was okay.  in about 15 minutes, we landed on angaur. no airport, no paved runway, just a long stretch of dirt covered with worn tire markings from previous airplane landings.  we landed, amos looked back at us all and smiled as if to say “we’re here,” and i breathed a bit easier.

slick opened up the door and locals arrived. out of the jungle. i kid you not.  i have no idea where they came from. there was no town, no road, no store in sight.  only jungle, as in bushes and trees.  but from somewhere, locals came. some by foot, some on bike, some by cars. slick asked if someone had a truck. one of the locals backed up his truck so it was close to the airplane door.  everyone, both locals and missionaries together, formed an assembly line and started unloading the rice and supplies from the plane and onto the truck. food went from the hands of amos, to ray, to a local, to another local, to slick, to more locals who were organizing it all on the truck.  there was something beautiful about this. i wasn’t sure if i was to help. i felt weird being the only girl and did not want to get in the way of the guys.  but i also wanted to help.  instead i took a video. lol.  after the unloading was done, slick waved his hand over to me and said “get out,” so i took that as my okay that it was fine for me to participate.  i got off the plane and gravitated toward these two girls, sitting in a car. reminded me of my girls. i asked the first girl her name, it was anna (as in “ah–nuh”, as in the princess from frozen).  i asked her who she came with. i don’t think she understood. so i asked if she came with her mom or her dad. to which she replied, “my dad is dead.”  silence.  i asked who the other children were, one was her sister, the other was her brother.  she said came with another man, but i wasn’t sure his relation to her.  anna asked me if i had kids. i told her about lana and mia. she grabbed my hand, gave me a round, flat, smooth, black stone and before her car drove off, she said, “to remember me.”  then i met lakesha.  i tried to converse, but i had a hard time understanding.  she was 5.  dirty black long hair that was tangled and matted. she did not seem to have good control over the movement in one of her eyes.  we talked for a good 5 minutes, but to be honest, i don’t understand what the poor girl was trying to tell me. but i hope that at least she understood that i was trying to show that i cared.  she told me another little girl playing in the dirt a few feet away was her friend. she tried to introduce us, but her friend was shy. lakesha came with her mom.  lakesha also asked me if i had babies and i told her about lana and mia. as we were about to leave back for koror, i grabbed lakesha’s hand and wanted her to come inside of the plane with me.  just so she could feel special. she was afraid and ran to her mom’s leg. slick picked her up and put her in my arms and we took a picture together in front of the queen air. as we were about to head back on the plane back to koror, i remember the locals thanking slick for bringing the food. i remember he pointed up to the sky and said, “don’t thank me, thank Him.”

[ later on during the trip, i had asked slick what had happened to anna’s father. he said that anna’s father was a respected business man on Angaur.  anna’s mom is the nurse on Angaur.  Her father was also slick’s very good friend.  he said on new years eve 2013, her father died during a night fishing accident.  the current was too strong.  slick and his team flew the skies in search of him but could not find him. ]

dearest palau,

I’ve been meaning to write you ever since I left.  I keep thinking about you!  I know, this is some sort of sick co-dependency I’m having… 

I wanted to write you so that I could document.  document the memories you have given me.  the first will be all written, I’m sorry for my rambling.  the second will be photographic, so I can always remember your visual beauty.  I seriously sound like a twisted psychotic person who is talking to an ex-lover… I am not.  🙂 

day 1 – I arrived on your soil at night.  I was scared stepping off that plane.  I saw about 20 darker skinned faces looking at me, some holding up signs looking for weary travelers, others chit chatting with a friend.  I quickly scanned the room, hoping to see the familiar face of my husband who I haven’t seen in over a month.  no husband.  really!?!?  scan again.  oh god, everyone is staring at me.  I quickly find a bathroom and hide. 

took a leak, washed my face, and waited a good 5 minutes in the bathroom.  what do I do?  where do I go?  where’s mike???  so many questions.  I gathered my carry-on and pink shoulder bag and headed out into that sea of strangers.  I heard comotion…the moving of suitcases, luggage carts, people chit chatting.  it wasn’t English.  but mike told me everyone spoke English!!  ugh.  I waited near the entrance for mike to arrive.  5 minutes.  10 minutes.  crap.  is this even the right place?!  I go outside and see cars pulling up curbside, picking up passengers.  this is familiar.  just like LAX.  I will wait here.  15 minutes.  mike appears and gives me a hug.  his breath smells like beer.  wth.  we hug, he says something like, “you made it!” and we walked over to his rent-a-car.  he introduces me to matt, his program manager.  matt says sorry they’re late, it’s island time.  I’m confused by this statement.  we wait around for the rent-a-car guy, they are picking up another car for us to rent.  matt offers to buy me a coconut.  again, I’m confused. when I understood his comment, I sarcastically said, “I want a shower!”  matt quickly offered to get us a cab back to the apartment, then I suddenly felt bad for my remark.  I told him it was okay and we waited another 10 minutes for the rent-a-car guy to show up.  it was raining by the way and everyone just walks around in shorts, sandals, and a shirt.  not an umbrella in sight.  this is no LA. 

the roads are empty.  let me rephrase.  the road is empty.  no cars.  no traffic.  bushes, trees, lots of trees.  the roads are dark.  we pass by a section of street lamps, maybe 10 in a row.  mike explains to me that Taiwan gifted these lamps to Palau, but the Palauans weren’t using them for the longest time because no one put batteries inside the lamps.  Mike says you are a lazy culture, I’m not sure if he is right or wrong, but that is his opinion of you.  it’s hot.  it’s humid.  it’s almost 10pm and the A/C in the car is on full blast. 

we arrive at the apartment.  it’s bigger than I had imagined.  one master. one bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.  I unpack my things and mike starts cleaning.  he is mopping the floor.  I told him it is 10pm and he is mopping the floor.  nothing has changed.  he is the same person.  it secretly makes me happy that my husband is the same husband and will start doing chores at 10pm at night.  I check out his pantry and kitchen.  frosted flakes, granola bars, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, drinks, lots of Japanese bottled drinks like pocari sweat, peach ice tea, green tea, black tea, etc, etc etc.  the only sight of produce I see are the mini bananas on the counter. 

I can’t keep documenting in such a fashion or this will really turn into a novel.  i’ll move it along….

briefs.  not hanes. but briefs.  I kept hearing this word thrown around by matt.  tsc, mike’s company, was sent to palau to do a demonstration on sea dragon.  sea dragon was a plane with a built-on attached radar and camera, with the intended purpose of catching bad guys, aka illegal fisherman in Palau’s EEZ (economic something zone).  part of this demonstration included briefs, lots of them.  matt had to brief, or present, to various groups of people what sea dragon was about, explain how it works, and answer any questions the visitors may have.  I went to about 5 briefs.  matt gave the presentation and mike did the audio/visual. 

// to be continued //

after months of looking into different schooling options for lana, mike and i came to a decision to decline her acceptance into a private school.  this has been a time consuming, energy draining, emotional experience, but I am glad for the journey.  sort of.  🙂  what I’ve been struggling with is this concept of money.  private school is a lot of money.  should I be spending this kind of money on my child’s education?  or just on my child in general?  is that what God wants me to use money for??  i don’t know.  would private school cause my family to financially struggle?  would it cause me to want to increase my work hours and thus, spend less time at home with my children?  so many questions and unknowns.  but in the end, we decided to pass on the opportunity to enroll her.

last week, during the opening circle time at lana’s pre-k class, her teacher brought out a sign which said:

parents: please donate paper towels, tissues, or baby wipes.  -room 10

for some reason, the simple request hit me.  this is a school in need.  not in need of fancy things, like computer upgrades or new playground equipment, but very basic necessities like paper towels, tissue, and baby wipes.  I did a Costco run and dropped off the items when I picked up lana from school.  camila’s dad saw me struggling with the large items, while pushing mia in the stroller.  he hoisted the paper towels over his head and I swear I heard cheering.  lol.  I don’t know if that really happened or if I just made that up in my mind.  they were celebrating a classmate’s birthday so there was a lot of commotion going on.  her teacher, ms. bautista, had a huge smile on her face and said,  “we got some!” and shot a hopeful glance over at her assistant teacher, whose expression was equally joyful.  it was just a neat experience to be part of a very small “joy” in a very simple way.  it did not take me a lot of effort.  it did not break my bank account.  and it served a good and needed purpose.

—–

i had written the above paragraphs weeks ago, but had only saved it as a draft.  the lord has been good to us and lana got accepted into el marino!  it is based upon a lottery, so there is no guarantee of admission.  my heart could not be happier.  she’ll be starting there this fall.

speaking of paper towels, tissues, and baby wipes…being a mother is messy.  it is not pretty.  it is downright ugly at times.  i don’t know why we have this misperception or glamourized idea of motherhood.  it’s sorta like how victoria secret commercials make you think you’re actually supposed to somehow resemble these women AND eat normal human food everyday?  i think not. excuse me for wanting a burger every now and then.  i feel like motherhood is somehow glamourized in a similar fashion. i’m sorry, but i do not smell nice or look nice or act nice at the end of the day with my two children.  i am exhausted, cranky, and pretty much done by the time 6pm rolls around.  ask my husband,  it is not pretty.

motherhood is, however, beautiful.  there’s a difference.  on the surface, my kids irritate me.  we fight.  we yell.  we bicker.  i clean up snots, i pick boogers, i do laundry when i swore i just did laundry, i cook and poop one handed.  does any of this sound pleasing or attractive?  nope. it’s not pretty.  but it is beautiful.  it is beautiful because God has entrusted this little person into my hands.  it is beautiful because this little person actually calls me mom and trusts me with pretty much everything her little world is made up of, whatever that may mean or look like to a 4 year old.  it is beautiful because mia is calling me ma-ma now and is able to communicate to me that she is finished eating.  it is beautiful because she is so joyous over the silliest things and will pretty much copy whatever ridiculous face or dance her big sister does and laugh until she topples over cause her head is just that big.  i am trying to remember the things i love about being a mom.  it’s hard when all the unpretty things start to add up and it feels overwhelming and frustrating.  but what a privilege and responsibility it is to care for and guide a child’s life.

lessons from the kiddos

life’s theme as of lately seems to be significance.  where do i find my significance?

sig·nif·i·cance

noun

 1. the quality of being worthy of attention; importance.

i was pretty down, frustrated, hurt, angry about something that happened at my job recently.  i felt under appreciated, like they were telling me i wasn’t good enough.  no one came out and told me that, but it was the way i interpreted the events that took place.  i’m still trying hard to not let it negatively affect my job performance, but it’s hard.  my dad told me that at the end of the day, i can only be accountable to my own work ethic and i should only care about my own performance.

i heard the sermon at church and one of the lines caught my attention.  the pastor said that our work can provide us with a false sense of significance and that’s why we all work so hard.  why am i trying so hard to prove myself?  do i need to prove myself?  i have never been one to find my identity in my work…it’s never been super important to me, i’m no doctor or lawyer.  but then why am i so affected by all of this?

i was chit-chatting with a friend at work, filing papers on the ground.  we were talking about pressure to be good at stuff.  i was telling her how lana freaked out and got all self-conscious at the harvest festival ring toss game and didn’t even want to try.  i interpreted her actions as her being afraid to fail.  at age 4.  wonderful.  what have i done to my poor child???  then i said something like, “i don’t want lana to grow up thinking she has to be perfect at everything.  that it’s okay for her to not be good at things.”  my friend said, “yea…BUT IS IT?!?!”  we both looked at each other and laughed, because we all know that really, it’s not okay.  no one wants to be the last one picked for the team, the one with the ugliest artwork hanging in the classroom, or the winner of the best sportsmanship award.

easier said than done.  it’s all around us.  that’s why people have nice cars, nice phones, nice clothes, nice homes.  because somehow it makes us feel significant.  i don’t want my home to be a home where people feel they must put their best face forward.  i want my home to be filled with dirty feet, less than straight A’s, and messy hair.  i want people to be comfortable being themselves without the show.  but that means i have to be okay with having a less than perfect child and also be okay with the thought that people may criticize my less than perfectness.  why should i expect perfection from my children, when i am not perfect???

these are my kids and i love them because they teach me that is okay, normal, and expected to be less than perfect.  my significance is not determined by performance, nor should I place those high expectations on others.  we never did get the perfect photo and you know what?  that’s okay.

 
.  Image

lord, who am i

identity.  there is only one you out there.  as cliché as it sounds, it’s true.  no two people are exactly alike.  similar yes, but not identical. 

i am not my favorite outfit. I am not my job. i am not my parent’s daughter. i am not my husband’s wife. i am not my children. while all of these contribute to who I am as a person, some more so than others, i am not these things.  i am a child of God.  i am (and not very willingly might i add) a servant.  i am a sinner.  i am beloved.  these are the things God says i am and i will choose to believe Him over what my inner thoughts tell me, what others tell me. 

my husband’s job situation has been interesting.  last week, his hours have been reduced to half-time.  the LA office is not doing well so people have either been laid off or hours reduced.  on the positive side, he is one of the few remaining employed.  there are future plans for him to do some work off-site in Alabama for 3-6 months.  his company offered to relocate our family, in which my response was a hell no.  the alternative is that they’d fly him out there approximately 2 weeks per month. 

change.  it happens.  it is the inevitable.  it is not always a bad thing.  it is not always a good thing.  but it happens and life goes on.   my God does not change.   and in Him, i stand secure.

the story of gra & papa

I got to thinking about my own parents and what I know about their past.  i thought i should document it somewhere…just so i can pass it down to lana and mia at some point in time.  so here goes nothing, the story of gra and papa, emily edition.

dear lana and mia,

to you, they are gra and papa.  they are the nice old wrinkly people who always took you fun places, always spoiled you rotten, and never disciplined you.  no wonder you love them so much.  but to me, they are mom and dad.  my hope is that you will grow to know your gra and papa at a deeper level, but who knows how many actual years you will get to spend getting to know them.  my hope is that this will help you get to know them a bit more.

gra’s name is nancy terada wong.  her maiden name is terada.  her middle name is yoshiko.  her mother (your great grandma) is haruko terada.  gra was born and raised in southern california.  she grew up in the west la area and actually lived on the corner house on butler avenue, just down the street from where mommy went to church.  went to venice high, then uc irvine (psych major), then fuller theological seminary where she got her masters of divinity.

her family was poor.  her mother worked in a factory for a company called barlow that manufactured these special types of stickers.  i remember ba-chan would have lunch pails full of these stickers at her house and we’d play with them, collecting our favorite stickers for ourselves.  gra’s dad was a gardener.  gra’s family did not have a lot of money.  ba-chan sewed all of gra’s clothes for her because they couldn’t afford to buy her much.  in highschool, gra was a bully, a jock, and only dated white guys.  she sat in the back of the classroom and made fun of the goodie two-shoes who sat up front.  she stole ji-chan’s cigarettes to smoke.  yes lana, your favorite gra. i actually believe the rebellious gene that runs in both you and i all started with gra.

some of her jobs included a receptionist job at a pharmacy in marina del rey, cashier at mago’s (a Japanese owned fast food burger place), associate pastor at venice free methodist, and currently the head pastor at anaheim free methodist.  some of her unpaid jobs included homeschooling uncle jer, uncle tim, and I for over 10 years and coaching all of our basketball teams for over 10 years.

her family was buddhist, but she became a christian during her time at santa monica college.  she was trying to find meaning and significance and thought that money was the answer to finding happiness.  she remembers always working, working, working and saving all her money and eventually was able to buy her first car.  but in the end, she was still unsatisfied.  she remembers testing God and told him that if he really did exist, that he would need to prove himself to her.  and he did.  one time at a local rite aid.  she stumbled upon a bible amongst the shelves at rite aid of all places.  another time, she told God that in order to believe in Him, she needed to meet with three people to dialogue about their faith: a non-christian, a christian, and a christian who became a buddhist.  and she did.  after many meetings with each one, she believed.  🙂

i have high respect for your gra.  something i really admire about her is her ability to swim upstream.  to go against the grain.  she is not your typical japanese american female.  she is not sweet, kind, and shy.  for one, she is 5’7″…a good 5 inches above your papa.  she told me that she believes God gifted her with height because it really plays out to her advantage in her role as a pastor.  she feels people wouldn’t respect her as much if she were a small asian female.  she is a female pastor.  lots of people think this is not cool, lana.  that girls should not be able to preach the word of God.  that yes, they can play the piano, maybe teach sunday school, but not speak from the pulpit.  she has faced adversity because of this, but you know what, she keeps on.  she doesn’t let it get to her and she keeps going.  she told me that when she was pregnant, she had asked the bishop if she could take some time off for the pregnancy.  he basically told her there was no maternity leave policy (since all pastors were male), and she would have to quit her job.  it ended up being the best thing because it eventually led her to her decision to homeschool us.  she has always been in roles of leadership…from being a pastor to a basketball coach.  her hobbies are also more “male” as her favorite pastimes are fishing or grabbing a good teriyaki avocado burger.  what i’m trying to say is that she has a mind of her own.  she doesn’t follow the crowd.  she is strong and independent.  she is different and she is okay with that.

probably the best quality about your gra is that she cares lana.  she really does.  she spends SO much time with you, it’s pretty ridiculous.  she has always always always put her relationship with her kids first.  hence, the homeschooling.  i think it was less so about the educational value and more so about the relational value of spending so much time with each other.  even as an adult, gra would come get lunch with me every monday during my lunch break from work.  mondays are gra’s days off (since she works on sundays), and it’s her time to do basically whatever she wants with her free time.  and you know what?   she chooses to spend that time with me.  little ol’ me. and gra is doing the same thing with you lana.  she bought you and her a membership to the zoo.  you guys are regulars there.  you also have a membership pass to camp snoopy…which now gra is regretting because she gets sick on all the rides.  🙂  she takes you to the park weekly.  i guess what i’m trying to say lana (and mia…hahahah POOR MIA is always left out!) is that you are loved.  by me, by daddy, and by gra.  don’t ever forget that.

i guess i will save the story of papa for another time.  🙂

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