Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Because you think I'm something I'm not...

------- It's been a while since I've written on this blog, but in light of the recent election, and because I hate long posts on Facebook I decided to just use this space to share some thoughts. 

Because one day my two kids will ask me if I stood by my beliefs in a world that didn't stand by me and I want to tell them that I did.  ------

I reserve my social media posts for photos of kids and ridiculously, delicious meals I eat. Rarely, if ever, do I post anything of serious nature and, instead, like to bring bits of levity to my feed. (I dressed up as an inflatable TRex for Halloween for goodness sake. Posts like that are my cup of tea.) Typically, I defer all controversial posts/comments to someone else I hold dear.

But, today, I can't keep quiet any longer.

Those of you that know me, either know definitively (or have assumed) that I lean conservatively in matters of faith and politics. My faith deeply drives my political choices and is the foundation to my core value system.

For the record, I don't like Trump. Never have, though I can't say I never will.

Something alarming has become illuminated by this election. I have seen my Facebook feed filled with hate, divisiveness, and vitriol throughout this election season and that overwhelming reaction doesn't come from my conservative friends, but from all of my liberal friends. In fact, I can only count 3 of my conservative friends who are outspoken on social media and their political posts are typically those of humorous nature.

Yet, I woke up this morning to post after post of anger and disappointment. Defining all conservatives as WHITE, EVANGELICAL, HATEFUL, BIGOTED, SEXIST, RACIST, INTOLERANT, FEAR-MONGERING individuals who HATE the immigrant & LGBTQ community and will be the downfall to this country.

It's time I made something clear to you. I am a CONSERVATIVE and I DO NOT fit that definition.

In an effort to keep the peace, I have many times stayed tight-lipped and brushed off unbelievably offensive and repulsive comments from friends and co-workers voicing their opinions that are starkly different than mine. Never have I forced my own conservative agenda on them - And I'm not going to start today either, but allow me to define for you who I am as a conservative.

I am a CHRISTIAN. I am a follower-of-Christ and his teachings to love God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind and love my neighbor as myself. I am not, however, the liberal media-popularized definition of an "EVANGELICAL". What was once a word that described someone that lived their lives to follow God's two greatest commandments, has become a derogatory term aligned with a hateful, fear-mongering racist individual that supposedly acts this way on behalf of their faith in God. Those individuals that claim to be Christians, but act in this way are not the majority, but unfortunately their actions and words are seemingly the loudest. They do not represent me, what I believe in, or acts I condone. I am surrounded by Christian friends who feel and act the same.

I am an ASIAN-AMERICAN. I am the daughter of two immigrants that left their country to pursue greater opportunity in the land of the free and brave. They both came to this country legally, waited their time, and became naturalized citizens. My parents bleed the red, white, and blue just as much as any natural-born American... and they aren't white. They have cared for this country and its future since they placed their hope in it decades ago when they came here with little to nothing in their pockets but hope itself... and they will continue to do so. They pay their taxes, faithfully attend and serve their church, and do their best to love their family and community. They worked hard contributing to the American economy for the majority of their adult lives in order to provide a good life for me.

I try my best to be LOVING and PATIENT. Inevitably, you may have shared an experience with me in which I may not have been loving or patient - for that I apologize. I am not perfect by any means, nor have I ever claimed to be so. I have had and will continue to have my own fair share of mistakes in life, but because I am imperfect, I am deeply in need of a God that is perfect and continues to show me unconditional love and mercy. I hope that as a friend, co-worker, or neighbor I have expressed that to you. That through my absolute unworthiness & imperfection, God still loves us and brings us back into His arms.

I am INCLUSIVE and NOT a bigot, sexist, misogynist, or racist. I LOVE the LGBTQ and immigrant communities.

As a descendant of immigrants, I welcome those that pursue better opportunities for themselves and their families and proudly commend them.

As a woman, I whole-heartedly believe in the value & power women bring to our society and stand by to cheer them on.

As a person of color, I embrace a community of diversity and hope to raise my kids to not even recognize outward appearances but instead love someone for their character and integrity.

To my LGBTQ friends, I hope that you have felt nothing but love and respect from me. I care deeply for the LGBTQ community and have worked hard at expressing my love for you. I can't begin to understand your struggles, so I try my best to listen, care, and seek mercy for you.

I firmly believe, above everything, that regardless of color, race, background, gender, sexual-orientation, religious or political beliefs, God loves you. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:17

As we embark upon this new journey with Donald Trump as president, I implore you to remember our country's preamble...

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Key word: WE. WE ARE the people. WE ARE AMERICA. Let's use this opportunity to embrace our differences and not be divided by them. Utilize our collective skills and strengths to build a stronger country and society for our kids and their future. Love one another and love each other well. Let's listen to each other and hold each other in the highest regards and to high standards. Let's value each others' opinions and not disregard them because they're not our own.

I hope to build a future world for my children where they do not live in fear, but instead, get excited in the thought that they can proudly voice their opinion (conservative or liberal) in a country that will not shame them for their differences, but embrace them. A country where my daughter knows she could be president, a CEO, or a stay-at-home mom and be praised for her efforts and hardwork, regardless. A country where my son respects women because he has watched his father, mother, and those around him emulate that respect to him and women around them. Help me build that dream for them.

We can argue point after point over the recklessness, disregard, and disrespect of political leaders, celebrities, and renowned public figures till we're blue in the face, but that doesn't excuse us as people to stop taking responsibility for our own actions and how those actions and mentalities shape our society.

This is not the end. We all want what is best for this country so before you post an over-generalizing, polarizing, or hateful sentiment-remember that I am your sister, neighbor, co-worker, and friend and your words can be hurtful and offensive. Every political season, one side will beat the other, but that does not afford us the right to to undercut and demoralize each other. Be respectful and loving and let's build a better country together. 

I end with this: my hope rests not on one person, thing, or even a single government, but nothing less than God's love & mercy and Christ's righteousness.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Friday, August 8, 2014

Naked Mornings and Other Short Stories for Brave Parents

Navigating through parenthood is tough. Navigating through parenthood with multiple children has proven to be quite interesting.

My collection of short stories from my adventures with Abishai in the last few months.

Diaperless Summer
These days, it's hit or miss if I end up sleeping in my bed.  Most mornings, I find myself waking up on the couch with Hope after falling asleep from one of our middle of the night feedings.  Usually Abishai toddles out into the living room and is eager to start his morning.

One morning this past month, Abishai greeted me with a bright, happy smile.  Leaned up against the couch, his eyes widened as he gleefully shouted, "Mommy!"  Still groggy, my eyes fluttered open as I reached to give him a hug and kiss.  My hand reached out to feel his bare back.  Hmmm... he must've taken his pajamas off.  I went to lift him up onto the couch beside me only to find my hand gripping onto not only a bare back, but bare legs, and a bare butt.

I jolted awake, quickly grabbed for my glasses to confirm my nervous assumption.  Yes, he was naked. Absolutely, butt naked wearing nothing but his Crocs.  Lying on the floor next to the couch (where he obviously disrobed) was his overnight diaper, flayed open like a fish. Now, asking a 1.5 year old anything about their activities is like putting your hand into a grab bag-- you never know what you're going to get.  I frantically asked Abishai if he had peed or pooed anywhere in the house.  With confidence he replied, "Nooooo", slyly smiling at me.

Great.  Fantastic.  Who knows what liquidy (or not so liquidy) substance has been planted onto any flooring in my home. I found no evidence that he lied to me... although the truth remains a mystery. For now, I took Abishai through Diaper Necessity 101 so he completely understands that going diaperless is not an option... at least until he knows how to climb onto the toilet by himself.

Viking Manners
In the last few weeks, Abishai has really made progress in learning to feed himself.  Now that Hope has arrived, I've really had to rely on him to be independent so that our mornings can not only go smoother, but in a timely manner. Every morning he asks for cereal and milk- more specifically, "ser ser n muk".  I can confidently leave him in his high chair with a bowl of cereal to feed himself and ask for more while I feed Hope.

He, like all humans, loves to drink the sugary milk. Now this is all fine, except that, he only wants to drink the milk if he can drink directly from the bowl.  Most civilized individuals wait till all the cereal is gone and the leftover milk can be politely sipped from the bowl. Abishai, being the vibrant toddler that he is, doesn't wait for that moment.  Instead, he likes to take generous gulps of the milk throughout his meal.  This has lead me to police his cereal eating like a hawk. Then, to top it all off, he ends his meal by banging the (hopefully) empty bowl on his tray to announce completion-- as if he's in some kind of eating contest.  Sometimes he does that and he just wants more and proudly announces, with spoon held high in the air, "MOH! MOH!"

Here's a video showing one of the moments I slipped while on watch:

The title of this last one is in caps because, really... "PUT THE SCISSORS DOWN, MOMMY" is what I should always scream to myself anytime I have the urge to give Abishai a "trim".  Abishai's "bangs" (can I call them bangs even though he's a boy?) grow fast and tend to fall into his eyes often.  He never seems to notice or care, but I catch myself constantly brushing his hair to the side.

One morning, the OCD part of me took over and I pulled Matt's shears out.  "Just a trim," I thought. Just enough so that it doesn't dangle into his eyes.  How hard can this be? I wet his hair while he sat on the toilet watching Elmo on my phone and went to work.  There I was, mimicking what I've seen my hairdresser do hundreds of times, pinching hair between my fingers and just snipping away.  Great. Done.  Looks good and now it's out of his eyes.  So, I jump in the shower and he patiently waits in the bathroom unmoving.

As I showered, his hair dried.  I open the shower door, grab my towel, and glance up at him. NOOOOOO!!!  Your dad is going to kill me!! The "trimmed" hair had dried and now shrunk into straight doll bangs.  Yes... doll bangs.

Thankfully, the woman that cut his hair before was able to take him that morning and rectify my idiocy. I was saved.  Matt didn't kill me and I will never touch cutting shears again. Ever.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Olive Poo Poo

Olive Poo Poo. No, I'm not talking about the color of something Abishai created during his latest potty training episode (although a potty training post is definitely forthcoming).  Olive Poo Poo is actually pretty awesome - it's the newest addition to Abishai's ever growing list of words and phrases, but since it's my favorite, I'll translate it last.

Other than Dada and Mama which have now transitioned to Daddy and Mommy, Abishai didn't really start using words (at least comprehensible words) until 13 months.  At 22 months, he is now extremely expressive. He impresses us sometimes with phrases that we are shocked he knows.  The other day he broke his bubble machine and the following conversation ensued:

Abishai: "Bubbles broken"

Me: "Yes, they are broken. Who broke the bubble machine?"

Abishai: "Abishai broke it." (pause) "Daddy, gon fix it!!"

Now whenever something seems "broken" to him, his go-to phrase is "Daddy, gon fix it"  with an enormous grin on his face.

Here are some of the fun tidbits out of the Abishai language dictionary/translation book:

"Ampa  & Amma": Grandpa & Grandma

"ans"(said post meal with palms up in the hair) hands, typically used to tell you he wants his hands wiped clean

"fowk" (pronounced exactly like the f-word): fork, sometimes "work"

"hum hum": used to express that he would like to eat or try whatever you are eating

"fies fies": french fries

"skeeeze": (said midst hug) to tell you he's "squeezing"

"bat": (said with syncopation at the end) bath

"ser ser & mok": cereal and milk

"kees": keys

"seeping": sleeping, typically used in the following sentence- "Baby Ope seeping!"

"wooking": working

"bru-ken": broken

and finally, my favorite...

"Olive Poo Poo": I LOVE YOU

Here's a video of him talking while trying to Skype with Ampa & Amma:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hope Elise - 2 months

We are a week or so behind on this post, but tardiness is my MO unfortunately.  This last month went by so fast.  Hope is the perfect second child.  (I probably just jinxed us).  She sleeps well, eats well, and gives in to the whims of her brothers hugs and kisses.  We can't be more grateful for her easy temperament. 

This month we indulged ourselves in staring at her smiles and listening to her attempts at conversing. Here are a few of our adventures from this last month. 

Farmers Market & Mall Buddy
In her first two months of life, Hope has been a great companion.  She sleeps for long stretches and doesn't mind strolling around the South Bay with me.  We now have our weekly trips to the Farmer's Market to pick up fruits for big brother, which also allows me to get my "cardio" in.  If I were speaking in person I would've used air quotes for cardio because it doesn't take much to get my heart rate up-- you know... because I'm so active... or because I'm winded easily.  I pretend it's not the latter.

Then we spend hours wandering the mall... again so Mommy can get her "cardio" in.  You get the idea. 90% of the time we're just window shopping. 10% of the time we're eating a snack.  0% of the time we're shopping... okay maybe it's more 5% snacking and 5% shopping.

Ninja Spitter
All babies spit up. Spit up is technical parent terminology for burp vomit.  Y'know... the leftover food that is still sitting somewhere in your esophagus that hasn't made it to your stomach yet, but heads back up when you burp.  Mmmm.  Hope has this fancy knack of only spitting up when Matt holds her. She plans her attacks strategically and strikes quietly like a ninja.  She may even offer a smile to entice you to come closer before she projectile burps milk into your face and always down your shirt and pants.  In the last 9 weeks, Matt has yet to escape with a clean shirt.  The more elaborate attacks are those when she happens to violate your clothing and still manage to demolish the floor while incorporating that ever-so-recognizable SPLAT sound as it makes contact with the ground.  She never shows any sign of discomfort, before or after.  It's always just a messy surprise.  Matt loves surprises. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Future Speed Racer

Grandpa Lalo, Grandma Teofy, and Nanay Daday bought Abishai a hot looking, red mini cooper for his first birthday.  Despite the fact that the box said it was a vehicle for children ages 3-6, they were uber excited to spoil him.  Well, it's been nine months and he can finally reach the pedals! It was Memorial Day weekend, we were down in OC, and the sun was out so it was a great day to "put the top down" and let him finally take his wheels out for a spin. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

One Month of Hope

We have two kids.  Not just one anymore... two.  Yeah-- that one over there that's running around one minute and melting down on the floor the next--- he's not the only one we have anymore.  Soon-- we will have two running around and melting down on floors.  Two... melting. Whoa! 

Sometimes I can't believe it.  For 19 months prior to Hope's arrival, I was knee deep in everything boy. Blue blankets, blue clothes, cars, trucks, superheroes, and Elmo.  Boys are easy.  Their clothes don't have to match, they go with the flow (for the most part), and aren't afraid to get dirty.  Plus, having another boy would mean we wouldn't need to buy anything new.  Alas, that was not the adventure God had planned next for us.  He looked at our happy little family situation and said - "Now that Abishai is almost into his terrible toddler stage, I shall bless you with a newborn.  One that requires a whole new set of clothes and will need to be wiped from front to back." And bless us He did. 

The thought of having a girl was daunting.  Ribbons, bows, coordinated outfits, the inevitable emotional roller coasters, and let's not get started about all the PINK-- and I'm just talking about myself. I kid -- I hate pink.  All these things overwhelmed my thoughts before Hope came because, let's be honest, I'm girl enough for this household.  

Then she arrived... and she was perfect.  My distaste for pink immediately subsided as I excitedly dressed her in her first pink dress in the hospital and found a headband to match. I drank a big pitcher of pink Kool-Aid and it was all over after that. Matt is still reeling over the $27 I spent on handmade floral headbands.  Yup-- that happened. 

Everything this time around (with the exception of the pregnancy itself) was so much easier.  We had a planned c-section (hence the perfect birthdate) and everything went smoothly.  At one point during the operation, I was listening to my surgeons talk about Disneyland trips. When we were moved to our maternity ward room our nurse Kady surprised us with a HUGE corner room.  We talked so much about Hope being our last, so she thought it would be a nice treat to have the grande suite for our last maternity stay.  Here's hoping we keep that promise, but God has scoffed at our plans many times. Our room was so large it even had a mudroom/foyer attached.  Having all the extra room did make our stay a lot more comfortable. 

Hope has been great.  She eats well and sleeps even better.  She was well over her birth weight by her first week doctor's appointment and has maintained a healthy, steady growth.  She is the first person Abishai wants to see in the morning (next to Elmo) and the last person to get kisses from him at night. He adores his little sister, whom we think he is convinced is named "Baby".  We repeat her name to him often and he pauses with a blank stare before saying "ope" (silent H) and then immediately follows it with "BABY!" 

Sleeping arrangements have been interesting in our house lately, though. With Abishai asleep in the kids room and Matt in the master, Hope and I spend our late night/early morning feedings in the living room where I eventually fall asleep on the couch till the morning.  We have a makeshift ottoman as a changing table and it works out quite nicely for us.  Thank goodness for comfortable couches. 

Once again, my parents stayed with us for a few weeks- which was a tremendous help.  Matt went back to work immediately so my mom took over Abishai duties during the day, allowing me to focus on taking care of Hope and getting a nap in once in a while.  Here I am at almost 30 and I still need my mommy.  The unconditional love and support I get from her is priceless. 

In true Laleanne fashion, my recovery wasn't without a few, albeit survivable, obstacles.  Shortly after heading home from the hospital I broke out into hives which took over my entire midsection and then some.  Let's just say I won't be wearing a bikini ever again (or at least in the next decade).  After a cortisone shot, a strong dose of steroids, and some good ol' over-the-counter Zyrtec, the hives started to dissipate.  My allergist concluded that the culprit was most likely just my hormones.  Nope-- not a medication or food allergy-- just my pregnancy hormones wreaking havoc on my body.  Y'know like a last hurrah before it headed out of my body.  Woo hoo! 

Despite the hives and the general discomfort from the c-section, we still made it to church on Easter Sunday- six days after Hope was born and even had a mini Easter egg hunt for Abishai back at the house.   Ever since the doctor cleared me to drive again, I've been heading to the farmer's market regularly, going for walks, and even made it to the mall once.  Hope sleeps for pretty generous stretches of time which allows me to run errands here and there.  

Although adding a child hasn't been easy, Matt has definitely made the transition smooth.  Abishai has become Matt's shadow and both Matt and I have essentially taken responsibility of one child.  Now if only Matt could breastfeed... :P

More adventures await us.  Especially now that Abishai informs us when he has "poo poo" in his diaper.  Potty training time?  Hmmm... we'll keep you updated.  Until next month...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Three + One = Four (Welcome Hope Elise)

On April 14, 2014 we welcomed our precious little Hope Elise into the world.  Our cozy family of three became four and once again mine and Matt's hearts expanded to love this beautiful pint-sized creature.

A little over three years ago, I sat in my OB's office and she delicately informed me that I had PCOS, a condition that would make conception extremely hard or even impossible for me.  I distinctly remember staring at her blankly, stunned, and unsure of the words she was explaining to me.  Unprepared for this news, I called Matt to explain how my visit went.  As I repeated the information to him, the severity of the situation settled in and my throat was choked with tears as I realized what this meant for us.

Two years later we were blessed with the birth of our fun-loving, energy-filled Abishai Lee.  I don't know why, but although I've always desired to have three children, a part of me thought that maybe we would only have one.  With all the treatments & stress we endured to conceive Abishai, I wasn't sure I had it in me to re-live the process to have another child.

Fast forward to summer of 2013.  It took so much work to get pregnant with Abishai, being "responsible" about conception was not a concern for us.  Phrases like "meh, it'll never happen on its own" were thrown around carelessly.  In moments like these, Matt enjoys talking about God's sense of humor.  Sure enough, just two weeks after our 7th wedding anniversary God let us in on that humor--- He was probably laughing/smiling... we were silent in shock.  SURPRISE-- you're having another one.

So... here she is. Hope Elise Stanbery.
Born 4-14-14 (cool, right?) at 12:41pm.
6 lbs, 11 ounces (the same weight as Abishai at birth)
18.5 inches long

We have been blessed beyond our expectations.  Abishai can't stop loving on his little sister and neither can we.  We are a very happy family of four.


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