A Father’s Investment: that thing called separation anxiety

Six weeks is a very long time to be away from my husband. It’s not the most ideal situation and definitely not a common practice for a vacation. But here we are, millions of miles away and across the globe experiencing this separation for the first time in our marriage.

See you in 6 weeks!

See you in 6 weeks!

I have to admit, it wasn’t such a bad idea when we first discussed it since we considered all the factors involved. We also prayed about the situation for a while. But boy is it way harder than I thought. Judging by the way our oldest son has been acting, it is safe to say that we are not handling this situation well. I didn’t realize how much a two and a half year old would understand the words, I MISS YOU. He’s been showing it to me the past couple of days and it broke my heart every time.

A few nights ago, as we said our goodbyes, gave our last hugs, and prayed our last prayer together as a family, we explained to our boys that daddy needed to go to the airport, ride the airplane, and fly home to go back to work. Micah sat on his daddy’s lap and held him extra tight. We told him that Mommy, Titus, and Micah would be staying for another six weeks so we could spend more time with his grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins.

Chris explained that this would be a great time for him to enjoy his family and spend time with his cousins here in the Philippines. Micah nodded in agreement and he seemed to understand what was being explained to him. He said “Papa, you will ride the airplane in the airport so you can go back to work, right Papa?” Chris said yes and told him that he expected great daily reports and exciting stories every day when we talk on the phone. He reminded Micah that it was very important for him to obey and respect Mama and take care of his little brother.

As we drove to the airport, Micah and Titus sat on Chris’ lap and were both surprisingly well behaved and quite silent. As we held hands, I felt like jumping the gun and purchasing last minute tickets to fly home with him. Six weeks never felt like such a long time! I saw the way the boys hugged their dad and looked at him admiringly with eyes filled with sadness as they said goodbye. It broke my heart as Micah whispered during the car ride, “Papa, I will miss you, Papa.” Such simple words yet so profound and so powerful. Chris was dumbfounded by his son’s sincere words. He hugged them and said, “I will miss you, too. I love you so much.”

As I sit here and replay this scene in my mind, tears are rolling down my cheeks. Emotions are running through my heart. My boys LOVE their father. Micah repeated these words a couple more times during the seemingly short ride to the airport. Chris responded with sincere reassurance of his love and care for them. Their vulnerability showed me how fragile and tender all their hearts were. Those father and son moments were quickly photographed in my mind and captured in my heart. Micah held on to me a little tighter that night as we drove back home.

As tears rolled down my cheeks, he quietly kissed my face, as if telling me, “It’s ok mom, I’m here.” He prayed for his dad as he held my hand and wiped my tear away. My heart was full yet broken. He repeatedly told me that he misses his papa. He tried to stay strong and held back his tears. But before bed last night, he broke down. He sobbed as we prepared to say goodnight. He told me, “Mama, I miss papa. I miss papa. I want him to come home.” Titus joined in the choir, too. Micah concluded that Titus was sad and misses Papa, too. He asked me if I was crying because I also missed Papa. The three of us held each other and cried together as I prayed with them. Titus was so uneasy and found it difficult to settle down for bed. But as soon as I sang the song only Chris sings to the boys he settled down and finally fell asleep. I guess my wise toddler was right. His little brother was indeed missing their father. Only God’s embrace could comfort us now. We rested in His arms and trusted in His calm assurance.

This sea of sadness created an opportunity for me to share with Micah how it is okay for us to process our feelings and share it with God. I told him that Mommy and Daddy feel sad too even if we are old. I shared with him that God comforts those who are sad and makes them feel better because He promises never to leave us. Even though Daddy is far away, he will not stopping loving us and that we will see him again soon. We called Chris and chatted with him while he waited to board the aircraft because Micah wanted to hear his daddy’s voice.

That night, Micah chose to read Noah’s Ark as his Bible story before bed. He said, “Mama, I want Noah’s Ark because God takes care of Noah.” I guess he knew in his heart, God is taking care of him, too. It was a simple reminder that taught me to trust in God’s hand through it all.

These days have been quite rough, both for him and for me. Even though I tried to fill his days with a fun trip to a play area and the park with his cousins and soccer practice, he still had his moments of sadness. At one point, I found him sitting at a corner with tears rolling down his face. As I went over and asked him what was wrong, he gave me a huge hug and told me, “Mama please hold me. I miss my papa. I really miss my papa.” I couldn’t help but have my own set of silent tears roll down. I just said, “I miss him too, sweetheart. I miss him, too.”

He just needed a few minutes to hold me in complete silence and then he was fine. We had a couple of these moments and I treasured them. At one point he even said, “Mama I’m having so much fun, I wish papa was here. He will have fun, too, right mama?” Wow. I didn’t realize he could comprehend such things. He understood and truly loved being around his dad. I never thought he would understand and process his feelings in such a mature way. It opened my eyes and highlighted the importance of a father’s role and influence in his son’s life.

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a daily bedtime routine

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after work daddy dough making moment

 

I was so glad my husband invested so much in his son that in those moments of laughter and joy, my son wanted to share them with him. As I contemplate on the time my husband sets aside to remind his boys how much he loves him and enjoys being with them, my eyes are filled with tears of joy because I see the fruit of his labor through the comfort my boys find in his presence. Even my brother was moved and blessed by Micah’s heart towards his father.

A moment in time

A moment in time

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God created light!

I pray that the boys will not only find comfort in the loving arms of my husband but also ultimately they will see that our Heavenly Father loves and cares for them so much more. It says in Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I pray that they will take it to heart that God is always with them and though we will not be around all the time, He is and will always be.

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A Legacy Left, A Life Lived and A Hero Loved: Our Grandma

On this wonderful Christmas day, I want to share this special tribute I tearfully wrote and dedicated to our dearest Grandma on Monday as we said our final earthly farewells.  As we remembered her life, we laughed and cried as we relived the memories she left. We look ahead to our grand reunion in heaven where laughter and joy will forever fill the air.

See you soon Ama.

Creating this tribute to my ama is probably one of the hardest things I ever have to write in my life. Words will never be enough to express the kind of woman she was. I don’t I will ever fully express the depth of love and gratitude that I have for her. She wasn’t just the matriarch of our family, she was our rock. She carried our family through the toughest circumstances, sacrificing all she had and did all that so she could to keep us together.

After my mom died, ama took on the role of being my mom and my grandma. She went way beyond the normal grandma’s to-do list. She raised me as her own and loved me with all that she had and all that she was. She cradled me in her arms when I was sad, she hugged me when I was lonely. Even though her arms were tired, she tapped me until I was finally asleep. She woke up early to prepare my meals and made sure I was ready for the day. She even braved the flood with me when the water was up to our knees just to get me home. Sacrificial love was her gift. She lived it daily. Though I was brat, she loved me without hesitation. Never once did she complain. I regret not saying thank you enough and appreciating her enough but I know now that her unconditional love drove her to care for me as much as she did.

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I clearly remembered the night back when I was 7 or 8 years old when I snuggled next to her and as tears rolled down my face, she hugged me a little tighter and asked me what was wrong. At that age I still slept in between her and my grandpa. I told her to promise me that she will never ever leave me. I told her I wanted her to be a part of every single significant moment in my life. I told her I never wanted her to die. She told me her time would come but it wouldn’t be soon because she was going to live to see her great grandchildren. She laughed and told me to promise to give her many great grandchildren. We ended that night with a promise I so desperately wanted to keep. Years went by and as her health deteriorated, I worried that I would break that promise. In 2011, when I found out I was pregnant with our eldest son, Micah, I prayed hard for many many nights that the Lord would have mercy and grant her the grace to hold on—to hold just a little longer so she could meet her first great-grandchild. I wanted so much to keep that promise.

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In His kindness, the Lord allowed us to bring Micah home twice and she got to see him. Micah got to play in her room and hug and kiss his tai-ma. I remembered sitting by her bedside and whispering in her ear, Ama, I kept my promise. I saw her blink her eyes as she looked at me, like she agreed. My heart was full. When I got pregnant with Titus last year, I prayed and asked God to ask her to hold on a little longer once again. Her condition had gotten worse and was in and out of the hospital. My family told me they would miss his birth because of ama’s condition. As I counted days to our trip home this year, I couldn’t wait for their first meeting to happen. Visiting her was our top priority. I would smile every time I imagined Titus in ama’s bed and touching her face with his tiny fingers. It would be a heartwarming reunion, or so I thought.

When I received the news last Tuesday, my heart broke. I wept and asked the Lord why He didn’t let her wait a little longer. Two more weeks and my magical day would happen. But He is Sovereign. I wasn’t angry, I was just sad. As Chris and I prayed that night, memories of her flooded my head. I held the boys a little tighter that night, just like she held me. A peace overwhelmed me and a promise was remembered. My husband reminded me that God had already answered our prayers and I had fulfilled my promise. I knew he was right and I was thankful for the time she had with Micah. As I contemplated, I realized now that she doesn’t only get to see my boys, she also gets to watch over them everyday. Distance will no longer hinder her presence anymore. She will get to see Titus’ first step and witness Micah’s first day of college. She will no longer miss out on any part of their lives because she can watch them from the best view, heaven.

You can now watch them grow everyday!

You can now watch them grow everyday!

It’s funny how a lot of her comes out in me as I raise my boys. An oatmeal (Quacker) will always be a staple for breakfast while a cup of rice, lots of meat, vegetables, and fruits will always be present at lunch and dinner and noodles will always be available in our pantry. I always add an extra layer of t-shirt and tuck it in because I can hear her voice in my head, telling me that if it wasn’t tucked, draft from the wind will make their backs cold. Socks need to be on their feet to keep them warm at night and a jacket is a must-have in the car. Always finish your food or every single grain left in it will be a pimple on your future partner’s face. Keep your elbows off the table or you’ll forever be stuck with it. Some are silly, some are wise, but all of them are memories and stories that will forever be retold. Though she may not be here with us physically, her legacy will last a lifetime. Her stories, her smile, her words of wisdom, and acts of love have forever been engraved in our hearts and it will live on through generations.

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As I smile at her memory and celebrate her life, I see her singing praise to God with the choirs of angels. Her face is lit up and glowing like the sun. What a magnificent picture that is. This year will probably be her best Christmas yet. She gets to celebrate and sing happy birthday to the celebrant with Himself! I will always rejoice knowing that because of Christ, this is not our final goodbye, this is a just a “see you later, Ama.” To the One who has created the best grandma there ever was and will ever be, to the One who has called her home to be with Himself, and to the One who is capturing our hearts and giving us overwhelming peace, Jesus, be all the glory, honor and praise. I love you, Ama. Forever.

Your legacy lives!

Move On Mom

Playdates are usually fun for the mom and the kids until someone cries, gets tired, or doesn’t share. It’s been a couple of months since an incident in a playdate happened to us. It has taken me a while to write about it because I wasn’t ready to sift through my feelings and swallow my pride. Micah clearly is way over it and I, on the other hand, took a while to digest it.
Some months ago, Micah had a playdate with a friend. He was still busy eating lunch, as we all were, when his friend said he wanted to play. My son knows the rule about getting up during meal time. It’s a big no..NO. There will be mishaps here and there but for the most part, Micah knows he is not allowed to run around during meal time until we are all done. That goes for everyone including mom, dad, and Titus.
His friend was getting agitated so he came over and flipped Micah’s plate and water cup. Luckily, he was about 2 bites away from finishing his meal. (If it was a whole plate, I probably would be even more irritated.) The food spilled all over his clothes and water dripped down from his body to the floor.
My eyes grew wide open, my heart started to pound and my temper, well it began to rise. I was in shock. I was more in shock that his mom laughed at the situation as Micah sat there wet to his socks. He whispered quietly, “Mama, I’m all wet.” (In my head, I was like…YEAH CLEARLY!) I saw him looking at me, watching my reaction to the situation. Knowing that my son’s thought bubbles would go like, “Mmmm Wonder what my mom will do?” I smiled (on the outside but definitely not on the inside) and in a very controlled voice, “It’s ok Micah, let’s clean it up. It’s just water. It will dry up.” As we wiped up the spill, his friend started to whine and fuss. He was still upset that Micah hadn’t gotten up to play with him. He cried and yelled for Micah to come over. His mom just laughed it off and said he was tired.
After I cleaned up the mess, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I needed a time-out. I was sorting through my feelings of anger and confusion. I quickly texted my husband, “Please pick up your phone in 5 minutes. Thanks.” I knew I needed an outlet and my poor husband was in for it. I prayed quietly and asked God to change my heart and calm my voice as we prepared to say goodbye. I told Micah to say goodbye since everyone was probably tired from the day and needed some down time (I needed to get out of there or it will not be pleasant.). When we got to the car, Micah hesitated to sit down and buckle up. He told me, “Mama, I need to go down and say sorry to Michael. He is crying. It’s Micah’s fault.” Oh!!! The fumes burned inside me even more. I gently said, “No Micah, that wasn’t your fault. He spilled water and food on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s time to go home now, ok?”
As we drove off, I quickly called my husband. Thankfully, he picked up. I ranted on and on about the whole situation and expressed how irritated I was. As I shared my feelings, I realized I was upset because they never apologized for what happened. It made me even more upset that Micah felt blamed for the situation because it was the other child who ended up crying. I was upset because his mom made excuses for him. I was upset because there was no remorse or sense of urgency to remedy the situation. I know it wasn’t really that bad, but I was after the principle. I told my husband that I was trying so hard to teach Micah how to play nice, share, and apologize when he is wrong and now that he is wronged, he wasn’t apologized to. WAHHH!!! AARGGGHHH!!!
Praise God for my patient husband. After I chewed his ear out with my frustration, he calmly said, “Are you done? I’m glad you were able to express your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it when I get home. I have to go to the court now.” I was A LOT calmer at this point and I agreed and thanked him for listening to me.
A few minutes later, Micah said, “Mama, are you ok? I think you should pray.” (GRRRRR!!!!!! I DIDN’T REALLY FEEL LIKE PRAYING AT ALL!) “You are right Micah. Let’s pray and thank God for today, huh?” I really tried hard to sound happy and sincere but I was struggling. In the midst of our prayer he says, “Mama, pray for Michael and auntie *his mom*.” I was like…MMM NO WAY! But clearly the Holy Spirit was using my 2-year-old to convict my hardened heart. I asked the Lord to bless them and change my heart towards the situation. After we said Amen, Micah said, “Mama. It’s all done. Ok? All done.” As if he was telling to never ever bring it up again. MOVE ON MOM! Everything is fine now. Boy did I struggle even more! I wrestled with God because I wasn’t done yet.
When Chris got home that night, I quickly said, “Micah, tell daddy what happened today.” He looked at me blankly and said, “Mama, it’s all done right?” But continued on to tell his dad briefly, “Michael threw water at me but it’s all done now Papa, right Mama?” Again, as if telling me to drop the case of the spilled water. I knew God was speaking to me. He was dealing with my heart and asking me to forgive and forget. But I just couldn’t get past it.
I discussed it again with Chris that night as we lay in bed. I just needed to share how slighted I felt. I was definitely crying over spilled milk (but in this case, water). I didn’t want Micah to feel like a bully and that everything is always his fault when he plays with Michael. But Chris, in a kind and gentle way pointed out, “Babe. Micah’s already done with it. He even told you multiple times that it’s all done right? I learned that it takes genuine forgiveness to move past a situation when we feel wronged. Micah has been over it since you guys prayed and you are still dwelling in self-pity and pride.” He continued on to say, “Micah is showing a lot more maturity and godliness in this situation than you are.” MMMM YEAH HE IS! I agreed.
We didn’t see each other for a while because our schedule got crazy. It wasn’t till recently that they asked to meet up with us again. I struggled as I read the text. I called my husband (again, my favorite go-to person for wisdom). I told him about meeting up and he quickly encouraged me to go. I had come up with a text stating I was unavailable and had lots to do because of the busy weekend ahead. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to hold off sending it. Chris told me that Micah needs to learn to deal with different people and different situations. And that I had to grow in dealing with how other parents discipline and respond to our children as well. He said, “This would be a good practice and that it would be a great way for you to show Christ love. It would be a perfect place to practice and apply the message we heard from our pastor last Sunday. Maybe you can win them over to Christ with your love.”
I knew in my heart he was right. He knew my to-do-list was long and needed to get checked off but he said growing in character was more important. Praise God for a godly husband! I responded and met up with Michael and his family with a smile. With a changed heart, I can say that it went much better than I anticipated. My son had a great time and seeing him deal with conflict (as it arose once again) made me appreciate his sincere and genuine heart even more. He dealt with it with ease and handled it with grace. He used his kind words and won his friend over with kindness. I learned to be gracious and respond in love and let my child take charge of himself. At the end of the day, I was glad I went. We all need a lesson or two on love, no matter how old we get.
Today, I came to the conclusion that at this time of my life, motherhood is my ministry and our playdates well, you can call them my mission field, where the character of both my boys and mine will grow and get tested. I pray we will truly reflect Christ in every situation and show love even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m grateful that God’s love overlooks my faults and this prompts me to do the same even if it’s hard. I’m still a work in progress and I’m thankful that God’s love will never give up on me. 🙂

PS: Real names weren’t used.

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Truth Be Told: A Toddler’s Confession

Today marked a milestone for me as a mom of a two. I never thought about dealing with honesty this way or this soon.

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Micah at 2.5 and Titus at 8 months old

I would often let Micah and Titus play together while I cook, clean or do the laundry. I would be around the area or within a short distance from the two of them just in case some mishaps happen. Titus is a pretty tough baby. He doesn’t get hurt very often and is usually quite tolerant of his brother when he starts playing a little rough. He would laugh when Micah would pretend to play or throw a football or swing his imaginary baseball bat. He loves hanging around his older brother and follow him around (in a much slower pace a.k.a crawling).

It’s fun watching them interact and be buddies. Micah is usually pretty good around Titus and is pretty careful when Titus is close by. There would be days when he would get frustrated with Titus when he chews on his toys or mess up his work during home school time but for the most part, I think he likes having his little brother around. The other night though, we had to remind him to be more gentle when he pretended to tackle and run around Titus. We told him that his baby brother isn’t big enough to play football yet, let alone be his football at the moment. 

This morning, as the boys were playing in the living room, I ran upstairs to grab my phone and my wallet as we prepared to leave for an errand. I told Micah to watch Titus for a second. He was busy playing with his big construction trucks while Titus was crawling around him. There were coos and laughter but as soon as I got my wallet, I heard Titus crying. I ran downstairs to see what had happened.

Micah had stepped a couple of feet away while Titus was on the floor (in a crawling position) with his hand outstretched with fingers apart. My initial thought was probably one of the wheels of the excavator must have ran over his tiny little fingers. Whether it’s on purpose or not, I don’t know and I really can’t tell. I decided to pick up Titus, wipe his tears, and calmly ask Micah what happened. He told me, “Mama, Titus just cry. I don’t know.” I asked him if he had anything to do with it, he said, “no mama” and started rolling his truck the other direction.

Titus was way over it at this point. It literally took him one loud “WAAHH” then some “sniff sniff” and then it was over. I debated whether I should pry some more or not. I was tempted to accuse Micah (gently) or present the “possible” scenario of what just happened. But I restrained myself and thought it was best to just end the situation with a calm reminder to be careful around his little brother and to make sure he paid attention to where he was going. 

We all hopped in the car and I drove away. At one of the stoplights a couple blocks from home, Micah quietly said, “Mama, I gotta tell you something.” I glanced up and said, “Yes Micah?” He continued on with a remorseful and almost teary face and said, “Mama, I sorry. I hurt Titus and he cried. It was accident. I sorry Mama. I hurt Titus. Mama, I forgive you.” (which means “please forgive me,” he still can’t quite figure that one out yet.)

I pulled over after crossing the red light and asked him to look me in the eyes as I smiled and said, “Micah, thank you for telling mama the truth. I’m so glad you were honest. Mama wouldn’t be mad as long as you tell the truth. I’m so proud of you for being brave enough to tell mama what really happened. God is really happy about what you did, too. That was very mature and God-honoring. I forgive you. Please be more careful around Titus next time ok?” He smiled. I continued on, “How do you feel now?” He said, “Mama I say sorry to Titus.” Then he quickly turned towards Titus and said, “Titus, I sorry. I hurt you. I forgive you ok?” (again, it means, “please forgive me”) I chuckled in the front seat as I watched him in the rear view mirror. After his sincere apology, I noticed his whole demeanor changed. He was smiling, talking and bubbly once again. We prayed and I thanked God for giving him an honest heart. He quickly added “I sorry God for hurting Titus.” as we prepared to say Amen.

I praise God for giving me the wisdom to stay calm and restraining myself from accusing Micah of hurting Titus. I praise God for the sensitive heart that He has given him. I pray that he will always choose to obey Christ even when things get difficult.

As I shared this story with my husband, we were reminded of Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We pray that both our boys will come to know Christ at a young age and have a personal relationship with Him. It is our desire to pass on a godly legacy that will always point them to our Creator. This incident also reminded us that we are accountable to the Lord to teach our children biblical principles and to be the godly example He wants us to be. But apart from Him, we cannot do it. We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit to help us through this journey of parenthood.

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Convicted by a Toddler

Today was not a good day. I had a bad attitude and I lost control of myself. I woke up late and rushed to get everyone dressed, fed and raced out the door to their swimming classes. I chose to snooze the alarm, check Facebook (uh-huh) after I finally woke up and dilly-dilly-dallied before I looked at the clock and panicked. I had to pump, get the boys fed, changed, and into the car all in 15 minutes! Uhhh no way that was possible! I quickly got up, pumped Titus’ milk, changed him and went to get Micah in his room. Micah was happy and energetic like he always is in the morning, but mommy’s agitated spirit caused his mood to change. I greeted him with a cheerful good morning but followed it up with a “Get up! Let’s go! We gotta go now! Hurry!” I could sense that he felt stressed because he wanted a morning hug but instead he was greeted with mommy’s bad attitude. I told him to hurry up or else he wouldn’t have any breakfast. I had packed his cereal to eat in the car but my empty threat had given him an anxious heart. I carried Titus and the swimming bag to car and yelled, (yes, yelled.) “Micah, I said let’s go! NOW!” in a mean and rude voice. Micah started crying. He started whining as he made his way down the stairs and out to the garage. His cheerful disposition had disappeared. It was replaced with apprehension and distress. He quickly got into the car with tears rolling down his eyes as he whined about wanting his cereal. In my stern and angry voice I told him to sit down and buckle up. The whole time I knew I was struggling and battling my flesh. I tried hard to control my temper but I lost it.

It was silent for a few minutes as we drove away. After a while, Micah quietly and humbly said, “Mama, I’m sorry for crying and whining. I’m sorry God. I had bad attitude.” I was taken aback and convicted. My heart sank. I realized that it wasn’t his fault at all that we were late. It was mine. I woke up late. I was slow. I chose to check Facebook over getting ready sooner. He was actually up earlier than I was and was just waiting for me to come inside his room. (because that’s the rule.) I pulled over, looked up at the rear-view mirror and in a gentle (much gentler) voice, I responded, “Micah, I am sorry. Mama is so sorry for yelling. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have yelled at you at home. I could have asked you nicely to get ready but I shouted at you instead. That was not kind or pleasing to God at all. Will you please forgive me?” He smiled as he looked back at me and said, “It’s okay Mama. I forgive you. Let’s pray and say sorry God.” We prayed together as I asked the Lord to forgive my rude and harsh behavior. I asked Him to teach me how to speak gently and control my temper. Micah quickly added that he was sorry for crying and whining.

My heart was blessed, convicted and touched by the Holy Spirit. My son not only showed humility, he showed me grace and forgiveness. He showed me how to quickly forgive and with a smile. He showed me how to apologize sincerely and how to receive apology graciously. He taught his mama how to turn to God in prayer after I offended our Heavenly Father. God truly touched my heart in a remarkable way today.

As I shared my guilt and shame with my husband, I realized that I am such a recipient of grace and I too need to extend that to my son and others. I admitted that it was my fault because I was late but instead of owning up to it, I blamed Micah for it and rushed him so we can make up for loss time. My sweet husband encouraged me that this was a great reminder for me but also a great example to our son. He graciously said that I showed a great example by apologizing and acknowledging my mistake. I gotta admit, I’m usually the teacher but today, I learned a lesson or two from my toddler and it was good. He showed me how a  humble heart, a gracious smile and a sincere apology can turn an unpleasant morning upside down.

God allowed me to experience Him through my two and a half year old. In the midst of my chaos, I can have peace. IMG_3651

The Reading Habit

Even while I was pregnant with my firstborn Micah, my husband Chris had always expressed how much he wanted our kids to love reading. Not only that, his next goal was to make them understand and comprehend what they are reading. He would read a bible story to our boys while I was still pregnant. We admit and regret that we read more to Micah than Titus while he was in the womb. We kinda figured, Titus was “read to” a lot because he hears all the books when we read to Micah. Back then, we would either read a chapter a book that we go through as a couple or just a bible story to Micah right before bed. We wanted to get into the habit of reading to him every night even while he was growing in the womb. After he was born, we would continue to read to him every day. We practically memorized some of the board books because we’ve repeated it so many times! It was an investment worth making!

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Quiet time (bible reading) can be establish even at his age. 🙂

As Micah grew older, we noticed he was drawn to books more and more. He would choose to have some quiet reading time on his own after naps and before bed. He would look forward to reading time with Daddy after dinner and bible stories were a must before lights out. A few weeks ago, I noticed Micah “reading” to his little brother in the living room while I was making dinner. I heard him repeat the words on the page pretty accurately and I was totally caught off guard! I thought he was reading! But after a few minutes the words would dwindle down to something else. I realized he wasn’t reading the words but due to countless repetition of certain books that he absolutely loves, Micah has now memorized the words on the page. He was reciting the words (in surprisingly the right order) to Titus. As he turned the page, he continued on. He would even recite it with the tone or voice changes his dad would do while reading that certain paragraph. It made me realize how important it was for us to keep this great thing going. I admit, sometimes I am tempted to just say, we can just read tomorrow.

Micah and Titus reading together

Reading the book The Day The Crayons Quit!

I praise God for my husband’s wisdom and persistence in making sure we were intentional in making reading a priority in our home. More importantly we are delighted to see that he is so enthusiastic about reading God’s Word. He would not go to bed without reading a bible story no matter how sleepy or tired he is. Indeed, he is a great reminder of how we need to improve on our bible reading and the enthusiasm we put into it. If we want our boys to love reading God’s Word, we need to do a better job modeling it to them.

Bible reading before bed.

Bible reading before bed…

Here are some ways to help encourage a love of reading in your child.
1. Encourage and expand their oral language.
Depending on his or her age or level, your child can read a story, have a story read to him/her or even take turns reading and listening. As you read, ask your child questions about the details you just read. Keep them engaged by having the little ones point out the characters being discussed on the particular page.  When you are done, invite them to identify their favorite part is.

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The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

2. 1 to 10 and read them again!
The more exposed they are to different kinds of books, the more their love for reading will grow.  We have enjoyed several authors whose writing styles are completely different yet each of them bring something great to share. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to understand the content. If you think some words are too “big” for him, explain it! Check out our list of favorite authors whose books are quickly filling up our shelves.

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3. Sing a song and recite a rhyme.
Name that tune to your favorite nursery rhyme! Rhymes and songs are creative ways to encourage memorization, rhyming, and melody. It’s a great way to introduce poetry and other creative writing styles. Sing together on trips, on walks, and even in the shower! Add hand gestures or dance moves or start a rhyming band to enrich the overall experience. My husband loves to make up words to familiar songs and Micah just bursts out laughing!

Sandra Boynton books are so much fun!

A family favorite!

4. Have a book nook and hang out there!
Micah can hang out here for 30-45 mins after he wakes up and just read all the books on the shelf. He would look at the pictures, make up words or recite the ones he has memorized and time just goes by, while I get my chores done. Make the area inviting and fun for your little reader. A couch or bean bag, a rug and a shelf make a great little space for some quiet reading time. Designating a “quiet reading time” encourages them have a special time with their books. You can do solo silent reading or reading aloud together there, too. Reluctant readers may be encouraged to read more in a fun and unique environment.

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The book nook in his room.

5. Be a literacy advocate!
I need to do this more! My dad is an avid reader and so is my brother, but for some reason, I didn’t get that gene. I only read about the things I am interested in. I need to learn to broaden my literacy choices so I can encourage my boys to do the same. If you have an older child, you may want to encourage your child by setting reading goals and when they achieve them, recognize and reward their efforts. Get the other members of your family to read with your kids too!

Auntie Kim reading with Micah

Auntie Kim reading with Micah

6. Add creative intonations!                                                                                                                                                  Intonation refers to the rising, or falling pitch in a person’s voice as one says words or phrases. Stress the different ways you can read the questions, commands or conversations in the book.  Make different sounds or change your voice or accent as you read aloud. We noticed that Micah would copy our intonations when he reads the books to himself or to his brother. Echo reading is a great way to encourage paired reading as well. (Paired reading can mean alternating sentences while you read aloud together.)

7. Make it a habit! 

The reading habit is one of the best things we can pass on to our children. In an age where everything is digital and kids can easily get sensory overload from media, books have a way of opening their eyes, increasing their imagination, and making them appreciate some down time in those magical pages amidst this fast-paced world. Read on! AND don’t forget to teach your child about the author and illustrator of the book he is reading too.

Titus enjoys reading time too!

Make it a part of your routine!

Our Top 13 Authors & Their Books
1. Kevin Lewis & Daniel Kirk: My Truck Is Stuck-This is the first book Micah memorized.

2. June Sobel: The Goodnight Train– love the rhyme and sounds in this one

3. Alice Schertle: The Little Blue Truck; The Little Blue Truck Leads the Way- Who doesn’t love Blue? The sounds the characters make just adds to the fun.

4. Drew Daywalt: The Day the Crayons Quit– Brings back great moments with Crayola box! My husband and I were laughing while he was reading it to Micah.

5. Sherry Dusky RinkerSteam Train, Dream TrainGoodnight Goodnight Construction Site- She does a great job teaching the different kinds of trucks and trains

6. Mo Wilhems: Elephant and Piggie Series: These are just hilarious!!! You will just fall in love with these two!

7. Amy Krouse Rosenthal:Little Pea; Exclamation Mark; Spoon; Chopsticks- Simple concepts, great points, fun & entertaining for the whole family!

8. Chris Van Dusen: Circus Ship; Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit; If I Built a House, If I Built a Car (our first one); Camping Trip with Mr. Magee, Down by the Sea with Mr. Magee, and more- I think we have all his books! We love all of them! Illustrations are great and the rhymes are just incredible! His characters are funny & the conversations are witty.

9. Watty Piper: The Little Engine That Could– A great classic and must have on the shelf!

10. Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are– Micah just loves this! Let your imagination lead you to the wild things.

11. Eric Carle: We read through a lot of his books for different stages in their lives. The shorter ones like Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you see?, Head to Toe, etc- we read from 0-12 months. The longer ones like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Busy Spider are great for 18-24 months and up and perfect for lessons & activities.

12. Sandra Boynton: Dinosaur’s Binket is our favorite. We have a lot of her books too! We read her board books when Micah was 0-12 months. He still enjoys them when we read them to Titus. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her adorable illustrations?

13. . Audrey Wood: Silly Sally: He memorized this book and loves reciting it to his little brother. A fun, silly and entertaining book. I first read this with my 3-6 old students in my classroom and they loved it. I knew it was a must-have for my own kids.

What’s in your shelf?

A Birthday Dedication

God knew I needed a big sister to help direct my path as a mom and a woman. He knew I needed a friend, a momma-model and a partner in crime. And yet, it wasn’t after 26 years of existence that He brought you into my life.

We met rather unconventionally and Facebook was the key. It was on that delightful Saturday afternoon in Fountain Valley that we first met. We didn’t even talk much that day but meeting was a start. I thought I was there for an acquaintance and to find answers to the mysteries of my mom’s life. But little did I know that God had other plans.

When I moved here to the Bay Area, I hardly knew anyone. New life, new job, new place with no friends, no family and nothing was anywhere close to familiar. But with the surprise of our honeymoon baby, you and I reconnected. I was hesitant at first since I had no clue who you were.  But you reached out and lent a hand when I was giving up. We bonded over labor stories and my nightmares with breastfeeding as we both held our little ones across from each other. You breastfed like a pro while I struggled through the nursing covers. As I battled through the agony of nursing, you said with a confident smile, ” You’ll get a hang of it! One day, it will become really easy too. You can do it.” I honestly thought you were nuts! But I’m glad you were right! Months passed, you moved on and taught me how to make puréed sweet potatoes with a hand blender and coached me through sleep-training, teething and potty-training. I think I copied almost everything from high-chairs to bath soaps, rockers to utensils. MMMM….Amazon made a lot of money because of you! I just bought what you’ve tried and tested. I was your number one copycat!

Little do you know but you silently show me a lot of things, like how to discipline in love and develop (and try really hard to stick to) a schedule. I watch you diligently as you set the tone for a godly home and reign with Christ-centeredness. You and I know you sometimes flip the switch, but you quickly admit your faults and direct yourself back to the Lord. I love that we live 45 minutes away now and see each other as often as we can. Our kids love each other and they surely are making up for our lost time.

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I enjoy our blunt conversations about our struggles and laugh about our mishaps. I love you for your wisdom and how you generously share your knowledge about motherhood and the tips that you’ve learned through the years. I’m glad you went before me in this journey, for I have great footsteps to follow. Thank you for literally giving my kids beds to sleep on, toys to play with, clothes to wear and yummy noodles to eat. I’m eternally grateful!


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My boys and I are beyond blessed you were born…not so long ago. Happy birthday to you, Naemi! Even though you grew up in opposite ends of the world, how far we’ve come has brought me closer to home than I could have ever imagined. May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams and may He continue to bless others through you. Psalm 89:15 “How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance.” My prayer is that you will always be filled with His joy and may His countenance always be a reflection through your life. We love you! Cheers to you cousin! So glad I’m related to someone so awesome…I guess it’s in the genes!  Happy birthday Naemi!