SOCIAL MEDIA

26 March 2020

Staying Home - A Song Parody about Being Quarantined

Hello.

How are you?

The Movement Control Order that we're living with right now just got extended until April 14. I think the extension was both discouraging in some ways and also entirely expected. Everybody is in a state of uncertainty, truly not knowing what will happen next as we race to slow the spread of the virus.

This isn't a fun time for anyone on the planet, but I was reminded recently by a friend of J. R. R. Tolkien's words in Fellowship of the Ring:

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”


Funny how the words from these 'old' writers keep coming back and ringing true in different seasons of life. 

What I've decided to do with the time given me is to keep on being creative. Using my talent with words, taking care of my family, keeping my ears and eyes open for those in need, and praying.

This is a heavy time, but I think the human response to extreme heaviness often involves humor. That's why we've seen so many coronavirus memes, and the like. This is my contribution to the humor needed in this season...and also a bit of a "stay home" PSA. I hope you enjoy our newest parody music video--it's been a while!


Vocals by my talented sister, Lizzy!

Lyrics to "Six Feet Away":

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away

Call me, baby, if you need some bread
I just wanna sanitizE
Come on, come on, come on
Washed my hands for you, don't take a chance

No matter where you go
You have to be alone!

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away

No matter where you go
You have to be alone!

Stay inside with me and don't be scared
Covid-19 is outside
Come on, come on, come on
You and me cannot go anywhere
For now we can stay here for a while
Even though it might be a long, long while

No you cannot go,
Unless you go alone!

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away

And we seem weak, the virus strong
We're gonna keep fightin' on
I know you worry, but it won't be long, darlin',
And when you feel like hope is gone, 
Just stay inside your home!

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away
I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away


17 March 2020

"I'm Sad, God."


I've been teaching my toddler a different way of responding to his emotions lately. 

I tell him to just say, "I'm sad, Mama."

"Then," I say, "When you tell me, I will hold you and hug you and tell you that I understand that you feel sad right now, and this is a sad thing. You can feel sad for now, but it won't last forever. You'll feel better again and we'll get through this sadness together, and later we will feel happy again."

I started this as a way of teaching him how to handle disappointment in a way other than screaming, throwing toys, and general aggressive behaviors of toddlers who have big feelings and who don't yet know what to do with those feelings. My intent is for him to learn to communicate when he is sad and to comfort him in disappointment even when those disappointments are very necessary to his life.

We're not all the way there yet, but it's starting to click. We're seeing fruit as this idea begins to take hold in his mind and instead of screaming when he doesn't get his way, he might say, "Sad, Mama" and come to me. When he does, just as I promised him I would, I take him into my arms and reassure him that I understand that he feels sad, and that we'll get through this sadness together, and he won't always be this sad.

Because he's two, things that make him sad might be being told he can't have milk right now, or that he's not allowed to sit on his brother, or that Papa has to go to work. I'm trying to build in him the idea that he doesn't have to respond to sadness with actions that are unkind to others and cause hurt and unpleasantness. Instead, he can communicate how he feels calmly, and he can trust that I will always meet him right there.


I've been noticing in my own self, as the world has seemingly slid into chaos, a lack of patience. A lack of others-focused thinking. Snappy responses. My actions have started to look alarmingly like the adult version of screaming, throwing toys on the floor, and pushing people out of my way.

And that's when I realized.

I'm sad.

I'm sad about small things like canceled date nights and canceled vacations and not getting to go shopping.

I'm sad about medium things like canceled events that people worked hard to plan and prepare for for months.

I'm sad about big things like disease and death and people not having easy access to food and basic necessities and about businesses and livelihoods and economies being crushed by the impact of this season.

I'm sad.

But I need a different response mechanism. Not snarky comments or misery-competitions, Not lack of patience and excessive selfish behaviors and lashing out at others. I need to refuse to throw an adult-sized toddler tantrum and realize what the real problem is: I feel sad.

I need to do what I tell my toddler to do and say: "I'm sad, God."

And to trust that He will hold me while I'm sad. That my sadness won't shock Him, that He will say, "I understand you feel sad right now. This is a sad thing, and I'm not going to leave you alone while you feel so sad. But this isn't going to last forever."

...

Revelation 21:4
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

.....................................

If you're new here, thank you for visiting my site and and hope you find encouragement in this contemplation of our response to sadness. For both new and old visitors, I am more active these days on Instagram and Youtube as Seven in All. Please feel free to follow our family's journey there!

20 February 2020

Life Lately: February 2020



This photo makes me laugh.

Angel has a couple trips this semester for track and field tournaments, and my grand reflection on this is: Man, I remember last year feeling nervous about him being gone and having one baby to take care of. Now that I have two, I'm like, "Why was I so nervous last year? Only one baby would be a piece of cake!"

I think it just goes to show that we are constantly learning, adapting, and growing in our abilities. My other recent reflection on parenthood is to notice that one result of parenting is that it does a pretty good job of showing us that we aren't nearly such wonderful people as we would like to imagine that we already are...nope...we've still got a lot of growing to do! Good thing God's not finished with us yet.


Cyrus got a bike  for his Christmas gift from us this year and has really been taking off on it! Every time we leave the house he asks, "Bike?" and is somewhat disappointed if the response is that no, we aren't taking a bike ride right now. I did make a video of one of the first times we let him take the bike outside on the street.



Coronavirus: It's been interesting living in Asia during the coronavirus episode. Of course, the effect of the virus is worst for those who are sick and those who have died from the disease, but the effects have reached far beyond the illness that the disease causes, and is affecting general life for many who aren't ill. It is having far-reaching affects on various industries due to closures and travel restrictions. My sister and her husband teach at an international school in China, but were visiting us when the news about the coronavirus first began spreading and measures started being taken. Their 10 day trip turned into a 36 day trip away from their home as they scrambled to figure out teaching online and continuing through "normal" working life but without their own laptops, without their textbooks, and away from their own home for an extended period of time. We have enjoyed having them visiting us, but are sad about the reason, and sad to see so many people and businesses hurting in Asia right now. Many large events that took a great deal of work to organize have been canceled. Hoping that all the measures that have been taken will be sufficient and that 'normal' life resumes soon. We visited the hospital last week for an appointment for Glenn, and all of us had to have our temperatures taken at the door. Wherever you go, you see people wearing masks--and masks are sold out at nearly every pharmacy around town (Lizzy and Joey went looking to buy some to bring back with them to China, because where they live it's currently a law that you have to wear a mask when outside).



Glenn has remained small-but-mighty since before his birth--currently coming in around the 3rd percentile for weight and 1st percentile for height. so it's probably not a surprise that he's still wearing 0-3 month clothes and I won't be surprised if he hangs out in them for at least another month. He's also not holding up his head or controlling his neck as well as you might expect a 3 month old to, so we're on a more vigilant routine of giving him exercise times throughout the day. Propping him up on the nursing pillow to help motivate him to hold up his head. We encourage him while he's holding up his head, clapping and saying, "Good job!" So, obviously, now Cyrus will plop himself down in the middle of the nursing pillow and hold up his head as high as he can so that he will get applause, too. That cracks me up!



He has the best baby grins!

I recently made a "Day in the Life" video, which was funny to me because until I was actually putting the video together, I didn't quite realize how much or how little I do some things throughout the day. I think it's a good snapshot of our lives right now. I'm not quite sure why two babies feels so much busier than one baby, but it does!


I think it's something like, just when you're feeling comfortable with and good at something, something else comes along to throw you for a loop and get you out of your comfort zone. In this case, that "something" is my little Glenn. We have been taking videos more lately and I'm glad, because I know these babies are growing all too fast! You can subscribe to our Seven in All channel on youtube if you want to have a chance to see more, because I won't post all of them here. 


We had a big adventure this past week when Angel had a day off of work--took the whole crew (there were 15 of us in three cars) out to a waterpark in celebration of a plethora of family birthdays. This was our "longest" roadtrip with both little boys--we were in the car for a total of almost 5 hours during the day, so not that long, but probably a good length for a first trip with two of them. I realized that I probably should be a bit of a "better" mom and actually pack an activity or something for Cyrus for a long car ride like that. I saw the other older kids in the other cars had packed their own little backpacks with a couple toys or coloring stuff and I was like, "Hmmm....too bad Cyrus didn't have the forethought to pack himself some activities for the long car ride!" ha! Okay, fine, at this age, yes, that ought to still be Mom's job. I'm still new to this gig, and it shows sometimes. I gave him a wipe from the diaper bag to play with and I did have snacks to feed him on the the road so I wasn't totally without resources...but honestly they both did really good.

The waterpark was a long day and at one point they both fell asleep--Cyrus still can't really get through the day without a nap. Good thing we had remembered to bring a stroller (we're not total newbies) and he just slept in the stroller with my parents keeping an eye on him while we went on the big water slides! I think big days like this will be a little easier in the post-nap era.


And I'll end this update with this drink, which is lovely, and made me laugh, because this is the drink I ordered for Cyrus at a new restaurant we visited with my sister. It was a quirky little restaurant on the beach, and I ordered Cyrus an orange juice. It arrived a little bit extra-fancy, considering it was a toddler's drink, fresh flower and everything!

How has your life been lately??
27 January 2020

Favorite Toddler Activities (For 2 Year Olds)

Toddlers are busy little creatures, full of energy. I've learned that Cyrus does best when times of free play are balanced with more structured activities and times when he is given a purpose to live up to. He is not yet two years old, so most of these activities are aimed at a very early "2 year old" stage...I know during these years kids change so fast.

A lot of my activities around this age have largely involved giving him new tools he doesn't know how to use yet and letting him figure out what to do with them. Here are what our favorite activities have been lately:

Puzzles.


At first, he was using this little cardboard puzzle every single day, vehemently encouraging family members to come and assist him in puzzle building, because he definitely didn't know where each piece went, but he knew if he could get a big person to help him, they could come and build enough of the puzzle to the point where he could figure out the rest. He especially loved to build the puzzle with Grandma. The cardboard puzzle wasn't holding up well under Cyrus's use, however, but I found a set of little 12 piece wooden Melissa and Doug puzzles, and bought a set that featured animals because he loves animals...these have been working well. He still doesn't do a whole puzzle individually, but it's a good activity that he loves to do with a family member, and he has already learned the 'trick' of hiding the last piece by sitting on in, and then triumphantly bringing it out with a mischievous grin when his partner can't find the last piece of the puzzle. haha!

Books

Of course, this is the most classic activity with toddlers. We've kept up our storytime routines with a couple storytime sessions throughout the day, but lately he has really begun to listen to longer stories and interact more and more with the books. He loves pointing out things he knows the word for on the pages. He gets emotional in responding to the tense drama of some of our little stories ("Bubble Trouble" is a highly dramatic book that we read about once a day....I wish I could record his responses to the different pages, they crack me up!) Angel has been bringing home library books from his school library about once a week sine last August and that's been a really fun addition to our storytime routine for me, the onc who has read the same books hundreds of times.

Bike

Cyrus's gift from us this Christmas was a glider bike, and during the first week or two I thought we had maybe planned a little too ambitiously, because it didn't really seem like he was getting the hang of it. I thought we might have to put it away for a few months, but then in the past week or so, he's been asking for his bike and getting it out and it seems like every day he's getting a little more confident and a little bit closer to really riding the bike the way it's meant to be used. For now, we just let him ride the bike in the apartment, or else take him out into the apartment's hallways (large, open-air hallways with a tiled floor) and let him ride his bike up and down the long hallway.


Matching Bears (Osos)

We have this cute set of cardboard bears that's intended to be a game of memory that we've been using in different ways over the past couple months. Since this photo was taken, we've actually started playing memory in the traditional way, taking turns turning over two bears, but just with 4 or 5 pairs of bears in the game at a time, and he's really starting to get it. I feel like everytime I think the first time that I introduced something a little too hard and I should slow down, but usually, if I just keep giving him a chance to figure it out, he gets it. So don't be afraid to introduce things that are too hard! The first time I got out these bears and showed him the idea of matching pairs that were the same, he didn't do it at all. But a week or two later, when we had them out again and I introduced the idea, he picked them up by pairs and matched every one. Who knew? Toddlers are pretty amazing with all the connections they can make. We usually use this game as Spanish practice, I can use different describing words for each pair, I try to narrate in Spanish because this one's pretty easy for me.


Blocks/Building Toys

We have wooden blocks and duplows and he is loving the classic build and destroy type of activities. He was actually given duplos for his first birthday, but only in the last month or so has he really started building with them on his own. He likes to build them on the rug in his room, and already I'm getting visions of a little boy building legos in his room for hours at a time, haha!

Bubbles

This is a great age for bubbles! At least as long as you're okay with them putting the bubble wand in their mouth once in a while. 

Scissors

Okay, hear me out on this one. It's mostly because he loves figuring out new tools. I've been giving him a pair of child scissors and a piece of craft foam (because I think it's a little easier to hold and cut than paper), setting him in the high chair, and letting him work at it with scissors. I stay close and keep a close eye on him. He really enjoys working at it and figuring out how to hold the scissors...and chopping the foam into tiny bits.

Stick Collecting

Or rock, or leaf, or whatever the most interesting bit of nature is that day. He loves to go on walks and find interesting things to carry about and make piles of...

Drawing

We do some 'drawing' every day. His most favorite utensils to draw with are pens and pencils, because he can sense that those are for big kids, not for him. haha! We're working on skills like "Only draw on paper." We also use chalk, watercolor paint, and crayons (but crayons are the least exciting...obviously...).

As we're entering the year with a two-year-old, I am adding a bit more structure to our days, and have certain priorities that I want to make sure to hit each day. It's not quite 'preschool' yet, but it's the beginning of it, and I made a video about what our focuses are for learning each day:




What are your favorite activities to do with toddlers?
09 January 2020

Christmas Break Festivities

Particularly when your lives are tied into a school schedule...something about the couple of weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year's feels a bit otherworldly...as if they are quite disconnected from the rest of the year completely, because the way you're living at that time looks almost nothing like life during the rest of the year.

As soon as Angel finished school for the year, the fun began! His school has a yearly staff Christmas party, which was Glenn's first visit to the school to meet Angel's coworkers and he dressed up for the occasion:




Cyrus loves holding "baby" but they have some work to do when it comes to posing together...


On Sunday before Christmas, we had our own little family celebration, opening gifts together.


Cyrus got the hang of opening presents really fast, and was happy but not terribly excited about the new t-shirts and shorts he got. I was happy, though. Some of the shorts he'd been wearing were 9 month size and...it was well past time that they were retired. :P


Glenn only got one present, which Cyrus opened and did get pretty excited about--this little set of jungle animals. Sorry Glenn, that's just life when you're 6 weeks old for Christmas. Cyrus will happily play with your toy until you are old enough.


We also got Cyrus this little set of construction vehicles which came with a puzzle piece wooden train track. All of us wonder why contruction vehicles are riding around on a train track...but whatever, it was a good discount, I love wooden toys, Cyrus loves "dump trucks," and he has played with it multiple times a day ever since. He loves building the track in different ways. One time he brought the set to Angel at around 7 in the morning while Angel was still in bed--no sense wasting any time not playing with new toys!


We had a couple outings to the beach, pictured is Glenn's first-ever time visiting the ocean!!


Christmas with my family was celebrated on Christmas Eve. Pictured is a gift from grandma--a treat that Cyrus's mom would NEVER buy, haha! Leave it to Grandma to repeatedly introduce snacks that Cyrus never knew existed...


My sister and her husband came into town to spend the holidays with us, so we had a big crew--11 of the family around for Christmas breakfast at my parents (technically, Glenn doesn't count since he wasn't eating at the table with everyone else...but he is still counted in the number of family present!)


Another reasonable attempt at a family of four photo! Not too shabby, everyone looking!


My artist sister gave notebooks with handpainted covers to everyone in the family, each one suited to that person's personality and likes. Her notebook for Angel was especially perfect--a "close up" interpretation of the scene from "Road to Emmaus," Angel's favorite painting, along with the words, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road" lettered beneath. I'm not sure there could have been a more perfect gift for him--he told me later that he very nearly cried when he opened it.


Cyrus and Glenn's big gift from Grandma and Grandpa was a toy kitchen! This is pretty special to me, as I have many happy memories of the Fisher Price toy kitchen I had as a kid, playing with my brother and sisters. So far the kitchen has been a huge hit in this house! The first morning that he woke up with the kitchen in the house, he played with it for two hours straight! His most favorite thing at the moment is reorganizing the kitchen equipment in the shelves (ultra-practical mom confession: I wrapped up some kitchen utensils that he's already had and played with for about a year and let him re-open them on Christmas to go with his kitchen. Also the bowls I gave him to play with are plastic bowls that were already in my kitchen cupboards. The kind of things you can get away with when your kid is 21 months old for Christmas...) He also got a little set of play pancakes and burger because my mom and I chanced up them on mega-clearance at Toys'r'us, for $3 a set! Score!


My sisters definitely spent more time playing in the pool during break, and Angel took Cyrus quite a few times, as well!


My big surprise for Christmas was a Lego gingerbread house set. The funny story behind this was, I had seen that it existed online,  and thought it looked really cool. I had never had a big Lego set before, but always liked the concept, and this one, that seemed to be designed like a dollhouse with a Mom, Dad, and Baby gingerbread man, seemed too adorable! I could already imagine that if I had it, I could set it up every year as part of my Christmas decor. But that was when I was in confinement with Glenn after he was born. I asked Mom to check it out at the Lego store and see if they had it in stock, if it looked nice in person, etc.
Some time later, I asked my Mom if she'd had a chance to get to the Lego store and see the gingerbread house and she told me, "Yeah, I saw it...but it was kind of disappointing. Maybe I had just been imagining something too amazing after your description, but it wasn't as cool as I expected it to be."
Which seemed like a kind of weird response to me...from what I had seen online, I couldn't imagine what she'd been picturing for a Lego gingerbread house that was so amazing that this one would be a big disappointment...because it sure looked awesome to me!
But I left it at that...until Christmas! It took me about three days to build in between taking care of my babiesm and is in no way a disappointment. It's my only piece of Christmas decor that I still have on display because I haven't been able to bear to put it away for next year yet. It was quite a special Christmas gift and one I will always remember! The first big Lego set that was all my own!


A brand-new park recently opened up in our downtown area, and we took Cyrus and my youngest sisters to go check it out! (a big theme of Christmas break was visiting different parks...I think we visited a total of 6 different playgrounds during the break).

Two things we did a lot of on break were film videos and make delicious food. Here, they combine, into the video about a strawberry dessert recipe we "invented"/"adapted" and have been making a little too often lately. We usually make two dishes of this dessert every time, and my joke is that one is for Rachel and one is for everyone else (it's not a joke). Warning: this dessert is not healthy at all. It is also addicting.




It was a lot of fun having my sister in town and hearing about her adventures in China. However, as a mom, clearly the focus of this photo is actually Glenn. Sorry...my camera is just full of pictures of my babies.


Proof. Cyrus has figured out the quintessential toddler smile. Saying "cheese!" and making this exact face that looks nothing like a smile. It's a childhood milestone, right?

It was really fun having extra family around...and especially nice to have Angel around for 2.5 whole weeks! This next season is track season, which means he'll have later work days and will be traveling with his team a couple times, so it was especially nice to recharge before the new semester, and for him to have a little extra time to get to know Glenn as we've been getting into new rhythms as a family of four!