Exhausted…but content

I’m grateful that for my girls and the joy that they bring to our lives. 

I have never experienced so much heartache and joy all at the same time. They make me cringe and laugh everyday. I cringe from all the tantrums, fighting over toys for the millionth time, cleaning up crumbs and spilled milk, cleaning up poo in random places, and oh the drama – so much emotional drama. 

But then there’s much laughter sprinkled throughout the day – enough to rejuvenate me in an otherwise impossible situation.

Annelise said to me the other day – “Mommy, why do you have white hair?” I laughed and told her, “It’s because I’m getting old.” She said, “Oh…you’re getting tired?” (I had told her previously that old people get tired) Haha! Yes, I’m exhausted. My right leg is completely sore from holding Katelynn (who is 30 pounds) when she was sick the other week. Yes, I’m utterly exhausted but so content.

I’m thankful that we survived two HG pregnancies – the road to bring the girls here was certainly far from easy but so worth it in the end.

I feel that way about bringing Ethan home. The waiting is, at times, so painful. But I have to say I’m so thankful that I don’t have to endure another HG pregnancy. Compared to hyperemesis, this adoption waiting should be a piece of cake! Mostly, I’m honored that I get to be Ethan’s forever mommy. 

Mother's Day 2015

Bringing Ethan Home

I have some very exciting news to share! Last November, we started our application process to adopt a boy from Korea. We found out on Friday that our home study was approved – this means that we are officially approved to adopt! If you want to follow us on our adoption adventure, you can go to bringingethanhome.wordpress.com.

Why did we decide to adopt a boy from Korea?

1) I had two nightmare pregnancies due to a rare, debilitating pregnancy disorder called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  HG occurs in about 1-2% of pregnant women and causes excessive nausea and vomiting which leads to dehydration, fatigue, malnutrition, and a general inability to function. I lost 15-20 pounds with each pregnancy and endured home IV treatment for one to two months.  After much thought and prayer, we decided not to get pregnant again due to the high probability that I would get HG again. If you’d like to read more about my journey with HG, you can go to prisonerinmyownbody.wordpress.com

2) God has convicted us to live out the gospel in a very concrete way by addressing the plight of orphans and foster children in this world.

We hope to inspire you to seek the Lord and to do your part in making the world a better and safer place for our needy children!

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Blessings,

Mimi

adoption announcement

Silliness, Sassy-ness and Sweetness in a Girl Turns Two

Time really flies when you have kids. Your baby wakes up one morning and is no longer a baby! Well, she’s kind of a baby/toddler/girl mix. The kind of girl who can now communicate in sentences like “I want more” or “Hi mommy” or demands to play the same Veggie Tales song twenty times a day. The kind of girl who is independent, strong-willed, and determined to carry her own backpack because she sees big sister going to school with a backpack. But then there are moments you realize she’s still very much a baby. Like when you can’t explain to her why you can’t eat a candle. Candles are not food. Candles are dangerous. 

K crying

Or when you realize that she still has those delicious, baby cheeks. I think I took Annelise’s baby cheeks for granted. Because I don’t remember the exact moment in which her baby cheeks disappeared. So I’m making a commitment to appreciate the little things, like Katelynn’s baby cheeks and her pot belly. I know that soon (maybe in a year), those cheeks will shrink and her belly will go down and she will become a big girl like her older sister. Till then, I have to steal as many kisses on her cheeks as I can.

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Happy birthday to our spirited baby girl, wild child, daredevil, Miss Piggie who can out-eat adults, and the only two year old I know who still drools through five bibs a day! You certainly keep me on my toes – I’ve been chasing you around all year, catching you bathing in toilet water, eating dirt and sand, climbing on all sorts of things and getting stuck in chairs and shelves. Somehow in the midst of the chaos, all your mischief and adventures, myriad tantrums and crying, you have managed to steal my heart. I think it has to do with those irresistibly plump cheeks. Kissing them is pure bliss. 

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Turkey Chili and Cornbread Recipes

Fall is upon us and it’s finally starting to cool down in Valencia! I’m excited to actually be able to take the girls outside to play in the park. It was nearly impossible to do so in the summer due to the scorching heat.

To celebrate the beginning of autumn, I’m posting a turkey chili recipe and a cornbread recipe. It’s a healthy and hardy meal with lean turkey meat, beans, and veggies. Enjoy!

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Turkey Chili (Serves about 8)
Ingredients:
1 pound ground turkey
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
1 red or green bell pepper,
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
1 can tomato paste,
1 can cannellini beans
1 can kidney beans
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

Directions:
1) Sautee garlic, onion, and bell pepper with olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and cook 5-8 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
2) Increase heat to medium high and add turkey. Break up the turkey and cook about 4-6 minutes until the turkey is no longer pink.
3) Add all the herbs (except bay leaf) to the turkey and veggie mixture and cook about 1 minute.
4) Add tomatoes and chicken broth, stir, and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and add the bay leaf and simmer, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes to an hour.
5) Remove the bay leaf and season with more salt as needed.
6) If you like thicker or chunkier chili, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken the broth.
7) Serve with additional toppings and cornbread!

Toppings to serve with the chili:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions
Chopped onion
Sour cream (or substitute plain yogurt for a healthier option)

Cornbread (Serves 8-12)
Ingredients:
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 large egg, beaten

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3) Combine buttermilk, melted butter and egg in small bowl. Mix well.
4) Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until few lumps are left. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared (greased) 8X8 baking pan.
5) Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

*Can easily double recipe by using a 9X13 pan.

Three

I cannot believe how old she has become. Sometimes, I find myself catching my breath when I realize how mature she is. Not too long ago, I think about a month before Lisi turned three, our family was taking a walk around the neighborhood when it hit me that our baby girl was no longer a baby…it’s the little things that you don’t catch when you’re with your kids 24/7.

The thing that I noticed on this walk was that Annelise was sprinting down the sidewalk. I know you’re thinking – So? What’s the big deal? She’s just running.

But it got me thinking about all the walks we had when she was a toddler, when her walking was still wobbly and when her little legs would get tired in a matter of minutes and she would start crying and asking us to hold her because she could not make it back home on her legs. Now, she is running around and able to walk all the way back home without a stroller or without us carrying her.

It was this sudden realization that made me tear up. Where did the time go? How did she grow up so fast without me even fully grasping what was right in front of my own eyes?! On that note, I commit to enjoying every day and every second with my girls who startle me with their development, creativity, joy and love for us. Happy 3rd birthday Annelise!

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DIY Frozen Festivities

Ever since watching Frozen, my daughter Annelise has been smitten with Elsa and Anna. Every night, she asks me before falling asleep – “Where’s Elsa? Where’s Anna?” So, of course, for her 3rd birthday party, I decided on a Frozen themed party for her.

It was a lot of fun coming up with different ideas on Frozen inspired decorations and activities and of course desserts!

Frozen Inspired Decor

I decided to work with blue, white, and dark purple colors for the decorations. Elsa’s gorgeous aqua blue dress was the inspiration for all the blue decorations. For the main backdrop, I used two types of blue tulle (a glittery aqua blue and a deeper blue). I simply hung the tulle onto our two curtain rods in the living room. I also hung up white tissue paper balls (inspired by snowballs of course).  I painted a canvas aqua blue and painted Olaf’s sweet quote about love with white lettering. On the mantle, I hung a ribbon banner composed of white, silver, and baby blue ribbons.

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The balloons were purple, pink and blue (inspired by Anna and Elsa’s outfits).IMG_4554

For the floral arrangements, I used purple delphinium and white and purple tulips.

frozen flowers

Frozen Inspired Party Activities

Pin the Carrot Nose on Olaf

I bought an Olaf poster and made his carrot nose out of orange felt. Super simple!

Elsa Crowns

We made crowns using baby blue paper, decorated with jewel stickers. I hole-punched the two ends of the crown and looped thin ribbon through the holes so the girls could tie the crowns around their heads. How cute do these little princesses look?!

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Frozen Inspired Desserts

Snow Cake

I baked a simple coconut cake. The flaked coconut really looks like snow! The great thing about this cake is you don’t have to worry about frosting it perfectly since you get to cover the frosting with the coconut. I made an adorable banner for the cake using blue and white polka dotted straws and a baby blue ribbon decorated with white snowflake stickers.

coconut cake

Recipe – I used Ina Garten’s recipe for coconut cake.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/coconut-cake-recipe.html

Snowflake Chocolate Cupcakes

I baked chocolate cupcakes frosted with a cream cheese frosting. I created baby blue frosting by mixing the frosting with Wilton’s Sky Blue Icing. Then I decorated the cupcakes with white pearls or blue sprinkles. For the cupcake toppers, I used snowflake stickers that I found at Michael’s.

frozen cupcakes

Recipe – I followed Glorious Treats blog’s chocolate cupcake recipe as well as the cream cheese frosting recipe.

http://www.glorioustreats.com/2010/12/snowflake-cupcakes.html

Hope this inspires your creativity for a fun-filled Frozen party!

Blessings,

Mimi

The Joys of Mothering Toddlers

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s a great time to reflect on the blessings of being a mommy to two active toddlers. Our days are hectic and filled with lots of drama (aka fighting between my daughters) and it can be so easy to grumble about how tired I am or how difficult it is to raise my little ones who are only 18 months apart (or how many diapers I have to change).

But I know that despite how exhausted I am, at the end of the day I am a very blessed mother. It’s such an honor and privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted, especially as I think about my friends who have been waiting to get pregnant for quite some time. Furthermore, I know that God truly had mercy on our family by granting us healthy daughters as I battled hyperemesis with both my pregnancies.

Here is my list of the top ten joys of being a mama to toddlers:

  1. Hearing them say, “I love you.”
  2. Receiving hugs and slobbery kisses from them.
  3. The way they eagerly imitate everything you do (from the way you eat & drink to the way you scold the dog).
  4. Knowing that you are their security in times of distress.
  5. The privilege of training them to obey the Lord
  6. Losing yourself joyfully in sacrificing your body, time and energy to these little ones because they are so needy
  7. The complete and genuine joy in their faces when you come home…from a short trip to the grocery store.
  8. Hearing them say the darnedest things like – “Mommy, don’t worry.”
  9. Having a little shadow with you all day – they follow you even into the bathroom.
  10. Witnessing their amazing milestones – walking, talking, climbing, spinning, engaging in pretend play, making friends, saying their own prayers.

That Irksome Question…

That irksome question that people like to casually ask stay-at-home moms is, “So, what do you do all day?”

It almost feels like you have to defend yourself to be a stay-at-home mom. I think the question that they are really asking is – “Why are you a stay at home mom? / Why aren’t you out in the world doing something productive?” / “Aren’t you bored out of your mind staying at home all the time?” / “What do you really do with all that extra time you have?”

I usually go out with the girls to the library, park, a friend’s house for a playdate or the mall in the morning and come home in the afternoon for their nap. Here is a sample schedule for a day in which we stay at home.

7:00 am-8:00 am – Annelise wakes up and comes running to my bed. “Mommy, come on! Mommy? Mommy?”

8:00 am – I get drag myself out of bed. I change Annelise’s diaper, then Katelynn’s.

8:15 am – I take our dog Cole out to the yard for his morning pee and poo.

8:30 am – I make the kids breakfast and feed Katelynn and sometimes have to help Annelise eat.

8:45 am – Annelise spills her milk. I encourage her to be more careful while cleaning up the mess.

9:00 am – I make myself breakfast and eat try to eat in peace.

9:15 am – I wash the dishes.

9:30 am – If laundry needs to be done, I sort and do laundry (I have to do about four loads of laundry a week)

9:45 am – I change Katelynn’s poopy diaper.

10:00 am – If the house needs vacuuming (I have to vacuum twice a week because of the dog hair!), I vacuum upstairs while the kids are playing downstairs.

10:15 am – Annelise interrupts me, “Mommy, are you all done vacuum?” I will tell her no and encourage her to play with Katelynn. She refuses to and will simply wait for me at the stairs.

10:30 am – I am almost done vacuuming but I hear hysterical screaming/crying from both the girls. I run down the stairs to see what’s going on. They are fighting over a toy. I try to calm the girls down. I try to convince Annelise to play with something else. Sometimes she’ll push Katelynn to get her way.

10:45 am – I am disciplining Annelise for pushing Katelynn. She is not liking the discipline…It takes 15 minutes for her to calm down and apologize to me and Katelynn.

11:00 am – We go outside to our yard for some play time. I blow bubbles for the girls or we color with chalk on the concrete.

11:30 pm – The girls are fighting over a piece of chalk. I have a talk with both the girls.

11:45 am – I make lunch.

12:00 pm – I feed the girls lunch.

12:30 pm – I make myself lunch and eat try to eat in peace.

12:35 pm – Annelise wants me to hold her. I tell her she has to wait since mommy’s eating lunch. She sulks and goes to a corner to suck her thumb.

12:45 pm – I wash the dishes.

1:00 pm – I read books to the girls.

1:20 pm – I change Annelise’s poopy diaper. (Sometimes I feel like a professional poop cleaner…)

1:30 pm – I put the girls down for their afternoon nap.

1:45 pm – Annelise sneaks out of her room and says she doesn’t want to sleep.

2:00 pm – I put Annelise back down for her nap. She finally takes her nap.

2:15 pm – I have to decide whether I want to shower, take a nap, or fold laundry or vacuum downstairs. I need to take Cole out for his afternoon pee/poo.

3:00-4:00 pm – The girls wake up from their nap. I change their diapers.

4:00 pm – Time for their afternoon snack.

4:15 pm – Katelynn has managed to grab a hold of shoes and she is gleefully gnawing on one for the hundredth time. I tell her no and take the shoe away. She throws herself on the ground and starts wailing…as if it’s the end of the world. I ignore her and she eventually gets distracted by another object.

4:30 pm – Coloring time or an art activity for Annelise. Free play for Katelynn.

5:00 pm – Time to cook dinner.

5:30 pm – Annelise interrupts me, “Mommy, watcha doing?”

5:45 pm – Katelynn is crying because she’s hungry. I appease her with some cereal. Annelise wants some too. They gorge on Cheerios or goldfish.

6:00 pm – Dinner is served. Danny will feed Katelynn. I can semi-enjoy dinner. Annelise refuses to eat dinner. I have to scramble to find something she will actually eat (lately the only things she wants to eat are Cheerios, goldfish, fruit, kimchi, pickles, cheese, milk, bagels, yogurt, soups).

6:30 pm – Danny will do the dishes while I play with the girls.

7:00 pm – Bath time for the girls.

7:30 pm – Drama ensues because both the girls want to be held by me (not daddy) at the same time. I try to hold both of them on my lap but they are pushing each other while on my lap. (Sigh)

7:40 pm – Annelise is frantically searching for her bunny. She cannot sleep without her bunny. (Sigh) We search high and low for her bunny. I finally find the bunny downstairs. I make a mental note to purchase a back-up bunny in the case of an emergency in which we really cannot find her bunny. Of course, this is the 20th time I make this mental note.

7:50 pm – We brush the girls’ teeth and change their diapers one last time.

8:00 pm – We pray together and put the girls down for bed.

8:30 pm – Annelise sneaks out of her room and attempts to negotiate her bedtime…

8:45 pm – Put Annelise down again. She wants me (not daddy) to lie next to her in bed.

9:00 pm – I sneak out of Annelise’s room.

9:00 pm – Midnight – Cole eats his dinner. I am exhausted and want to sleep but I get my second wave of energy (I’m a night person!). These are the things I can get done while the kids are asleep – I can take a shower, read, fold more laundry, clean up clutter around the house, go grocery shopping, clean the toilets, watch TV, spend some time with Danny.

12:30 am – Katelynn wakes up crying because she lost her pacifier. I grope around her crib for her paci. I find it and place it back in her mouth. She falls back asleep.

1:00 am – I finally go to sleep. I should be sleeping right now but of course, I found something else to do – blogging….I will so regret this tomorrow morning!

This is what I do all day, every day. Sometimes it feels like the chores are endless. The dishes pile up, there is always laundry that needs to be done or folded, the toys are always cluttered around the house, and something always needs cleaning.

Sometimes it feels like the battles with discipline are endless. I am constantly having to remind Annelise to share and not push and to be gentle with her sister. I am perpetually taking random objects out of Katelynn’s mouth and telling her to not touch dangerous items.

I am a diaper-changer, a housekeeper, a chef, a wife, a referee between the girls’ squabbles over toys, a discipliner, a story-time reader, an art teacher, a bible teacher, an educator, a temper tantrum tamer, an entertainer, puppet show master, professional tickler, but most of all a mommy who has been blessed with the opportunity to love and care for her children.

I have been given precious time to nurture these relationships and to teach them the ways of the Lord. I have to remember this in moments where it really does feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again.

Elsa?

Today, I was in the bathroom and I made sure the door was locked because if I don’t lock the door, I know that my daughters will come bursting in. And of course, my older daughter Annelise (almost 3) came running to the door and knocked.

Instead of our usual back and forth – “Mommy?” / “Mommy’s peeing, you have to wait”, something different unfolded.

“Elsa?”

I chuckled and replied, “Yes?”

“Elsa? Snowman?”

“Do you want to build a snowman?” I asked. She was re-enacting the poignant scene between the two sisters from Frozen.

I opened the bathroom door and was greeted with a very enthusiastic rendition of “Let It Go.”

Annelise then grabbed my hand and urged me, “Elsa, come on!”

“Oh okay….where are we going?”

“Build a snowman!”

“Okay, let’s go build a snowman!”

We gleefully ran around our magical, make-believe castle, searching for Olaf the goofy but lovable snowman.

Somewhere down the line, it hit me – my little girl is growing up. She has such an active imagination and is so impressionable and absorbs stories and information like a sponge. I had to hold back my tears as I tried to compose myself and continue to engage in her fantasy in which she was Anna and I was Elsa.

Sometimes as a mom who spends all day, everyday with my children, I don’t notice all the changes in them that take place everyday. It feels like I just blinked and life fast-forwarded and my oldest daughter has become so mature, creative and expressive.

As Anna and Elsa loved each other with a fierce kind of love, I hope that one day, my girls will build many “snowmen” and many memories together.

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Katelynn’s First Birthday

It’s been such a long time since my last post! It’s a been a very busy and blessed year. My youngest daughter turned one this January! I am going through a mixed bag of emotions – ranging from gratitude that we all made it in one piece and that Katelynn is so healthy and a voracious eater despite the nightmare of my pregnancy and relief (that she is sleeping through the night, no longer refluxy/gassy) to sadness (that she is getting bigger every day and now a toddler almost ready to walk on her own).

Then there’s the uh-oh feeling I get when I realize she’s starting to show her true personality now (complete with tantrums and angry arm flailing when we tell her no). When I see couples holding their newborn baby, I start to feel nostalgic – remembering the times I held her all day to keep her asleep.

Then I remember how hard it was and I feel relieved that we survived the chaos of Katelynn’s first year and my first year juggling two children! There were countless sleepless nights when Katelynn needed to be burped 10+ times due to excessive gas and reflux. Midnight was her average bedtime those first few months!

The hardest moments were trying to figure out how to manage my time between my two girls – nursing Kate took so much of my time/energy and Annelise would be so sad and jealous of the amount of time I spent holding and nursing the baby. I experienced a ton of mommy guilt but my heart feels more settled now. I realized that I cannot be the perfect mommy to even one child so how could I possibly try to be the perfect mom to two!?

We have finally gotten into a rhythm and a routine. I can bathe both girls at the same time (woohoo!). Katelynn can eat real food now so I don’t have to fix two different meals for the girls. Katelynn and Annelise have started to play together and can entertain each other for short periods of time. Life is still very crazy/frantic but a bit more manageable.

It’s good to sit in quietude and reflect on how abundant my life is. I’m thankful for the sweet and funny moments like when Annelise is belting out a song and Katelynn is dancing to her sister’s random tune. My favorite part of the day is when all of us are laughing together because of something random and silly. That and when the kids are sleeping so I can finally catch a break!

Happy birthday to our sweet baby girl who has brought much laughter, giggles, dancing, and chaos to our family!

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