Nothing to Write

Being an introspective person, my mind and my heart are constantly going. Being a mom, so is my life. However, sometimes I just feel like I have nothing to write.

I’m on summer break right now, one of the perks of being a teacher. My summer days are usually spent working on home improvement or personal projects that I can’t usually get around to doing during the school year, taking my kids to educational places or fun play-dates, reading a book on the hammock under a tree in my backyard, and trying to see all of my friends whom I’ve neglected throughout the school year (I’m sorry, friends!).

It’s a blessing to have my children and my hobbies and my friends, etc., don’t get me wrong. But as I sit here at my computer, I am staring at the mostly blank screen before me. Nothing comes to mind worth writing. I’m looking around the room for inspiration, hoping that something will inspire me to write something brilliant and clever and funny. Nothin’.

To my right, there’s a stack of worksheets I printed off the internet for my daughter to practice throughout the summer. Things like writing letters and numbers, cutting with scissors, reading sight words, and simple math problems. She’ll be in Kindergarten soon. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by since she was born! One minute, I’m looking down at her precious little newborn face, the next minute she’s off to another year of school.

Pinned to the cork board above my desk are some tickets to Magic Mountain. My husband and I will be going there in a couple of weeks, while our kiddos will stay home with my in-laws. I absolutely LOVE roller coasters! Since it’s summer, it’ll probably be packed and we might only get to go on a few rides due to the long lines. That’s life. One of the blessings of living here in California is the availability of so much different entertainment. So many different theme parks (at least 5 off the top of my head), a variety of professional sports teams, miles and miles of beautiful coastline, stunning mountains and valleys and deserts, and major centers of culture and commerce found in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I love living in California!

Hanging proudly off a corner of the overly crammed bookshelf beside my desk are all of the medals I’ve earned so far from various running events I’ve done. They’re reminding me that I will be running my first ever half marathon in about 100 days. Yikes! They’re also reminding me that at one time, I thought 2 miles, a 5K, 4 miles, and 8 miles were daunting, yet I’ve run each of those for various races, and have earned my finisher’s medals. Now my goal is 13.1 miles. As one of the tasks on my summer to-do list, I plan to organize all of my race bibs and medals, so I ordered a display holder thing off of Etsy. It should be coming in next week!

On the very top of the bookshelf is a little souvenir I got from when I studied abroad in Portugal back in 2004. It’s a small, wooden fishing boat painted red, green, and black. Inside, there are two small oars and a little fishing net. Studying abroad in Portugal was the experience of a lifetime! Being of Portuguese blood, I was thrilled to be walking among some ruins, eating the delicious cuisine, making new friends, seeing so many wonderful and beautiful sights, learning new words and traditions… On more than one occasion, I got tears in my eyes because it was all just so amazing to me. I must have taken around 2000 photos of all of the places I went and things I saw!

That year, Portugal was hosting the Euro Cup soccer tournament and the entire country was overflowing with national pride. Everywhere you looked, the Portuguese flag flew proudly, children were playing soccer in the streets, and excited voices carried out the doors of packed bars and restaurants. With each match, there was an influx of foreigners from the visiting teams. I well-remember riding the Metro one day, and with each stop more and more people wearing bright orange got on. They were singing songs at the top of their lungs and had such energy and enthusiasm! I didn’t recognize their flag, or their language, nor the significance of the bright orange, and so I asked around. Turns out that they were from Holland and their country’s team was playing in the tournament that day. Remembering this right now still makes me smile.

Apparently, I have plenty to write about, but I’m still keeping the title. Thanks for reading.

 

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My Old Toys

The older I get, the more I see things come full circle in my life. It’s amusing, mysterious, and amazing!

I had left some old, childhood toys at my mom’s house when I moved out years ago, and I had forgotten all about them. Gathering dust in my old closet were two Pound Puppies, a Barbie still in her box, my Tree Tots Family Tree House, my Lite-Brite, my Strawberry Shortcake doll, my Poochie coloring book, and the most prized possession of my childhood: my Easy Bake Oven. All of them in great condition and all of them now considered “vintage”.

Well, I recently brought them home to my children. I explained to my daughter about how I used to play with the toys I was about to give her, and that she’d need to take extra special care of them.

Like many children, she has a number of toys. So, the deal is that she has to pick out two or three of them to be donated to Amvets every so often, usually when she gets new ones. She doesn’t put up too much of a fuss about parting with them, and it warms my heart when she explains that some other child will get to play with her toys. This time, she selected four toys, one of which was her brother’s. Nice try, Emily! πŸ™‚

So far, I’ve only allowed her to play with the Pound Puppies, Barbie, the tree house, Strawberry Shortcake, and the coloring book. Flipping through the coloring book, we found a page that I had filled out 31 years before, to the day! She couldn’t quite wrap her young mind around the idea of me as a little girl 31 years ago, but I had goosebumps! It was the oddest sensation to see my scribbled handwriting and faded coloring, and to realize that the date was exactly the same! A genuine moment ofΒ dΓ©jΓ  vu!

Logan hasn’t really taken much interest in the toys, but then again, he’s still pretty young to even know what to do with them. So far, it seems as though Emily likes playing with the tree house the most. It’s so endearing to watch her play, creating a pretend world using the same toys that I used to play with when I was only slightly older than she is. A wondrous thing the imagination is, from one generation to the next.

Below are a few photos.

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13.1

Well, it’s official. My quest for 13.1 miles (as in: a half marathon) began a week ago when I signed myself up for a local race that will be held in early November.

My running career started way back in elementary school for the track team. I ran sprints. The 100 meter dash and the 200 meter were my specialties. I was a fast little thing! I also did the same short, fast races for my high school track team, and I was a forward on the soccer team, which required speed. Long distance running wasn’t at all for me.

Then about five years ago, a few of my friends convinced me that I should do a 5K fun-run (the Color Me Rad run) with them. I didn’t even know how long a 5K was in miles! I don’t remember their exact argument, but it was something along the lines of having to prove something to myself.

Well, that one fun-run did it. I became hooked on running. The freedom of running. The runner’s high. The pushing my own limitations. The strong and sexy legs. The race bibs and fancy finisher’s medals. The camaraderie with other runners. It was as if I suddenly belonged to a not-so-secret club.

Fast forward to now. Five years and fifteen fun-runs and timed races later, I’ve logged nearly 400 miles. That’s really not that impressive when you do the math. Turns out to be only 80 miles a year. However, I can say that I’ve run in five different countries, and that’s pretty impressive. Also, I’m somehow the local chapter leader for a nationwide women’s running club.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, I am not an avid runner. Thirteen miles sounds so daunting right about now! The most I’ve ever done at one time was eight miles and that was three years ago. I’ve since had another baby and let running turn into walking. As of this post’s publication, I’ve got a mere 164 days to get myself ready. Oh and did I mention that the temperatures are already up into the 100’s here? What did I get myself into? What sane person willingly signs themselves up for miles and miles of running, mostly in the heat during the training months, and even pays a race fee for it?!

And yet, all of my runner friends (there’s more of them now, so I am outnumbered) are trying to convince me that I’ll do fine. That I won’t die. That it will be an amazing achievement. And yes, I’ll admit that maybe the prospect of breaking in a new pair of running shoes did give me the slightest feeling of excitement. So did the idea of being able to cross the finish line after 13.1 (grueling?) miles…even if I have to drag myself across it.

13.1… Bring it.

Recent Travels

Recently for Spring Break, I went to England and Scotland! Most people travel to hot and sunny places for their vacations and come back bronzed or sunburned, but not me for this trip. I went to chilly and cloudy places! I think I actually came back paler than when I left! πŸ™‚

Anyhow, I have an old high-school friend who now lives in England, my pen-pal since about 1990 lives in England (and I’ve adopted her mother as my own British “mum”), and I have a long-lost cousin who moved to Scotland with her husband over 15 years ago. Therefore, cold and rainy weather aside, the obvious destination choice was Europe!

I’ve been to England before with my husband, a friend, and her husband two years ago, and we also went to France. I was 7 months pregnant with my son at the time, but did just fine. It was such a great trip! We got to be a part of my friend Suzanne’s beautiful wedding. Fast forward to now, and Suzanne and her husband have an adorable baby girl for us to visit!

For this trip, my cousin Jen joined us, but my husband did not. Jen had never been to Europe before, so her enthusiasm was contagious! She’s also super-organized, which helped make planning a piece of cake.

Rather than write out a long, boring post about it, I’m going to highlight some of the more awesome parts of the trip and include some photos. I recommend reading this blog on a desktop computer so the photos are easier to see. I’m also including some links if you feel so inclined as to want to get more information about some of the places I visited. Happy travels!

Rosetta Stone

One of the oldest and most amazing things I saw in England is the Rosetta Stone. It’s housed at the British Museum.

grizzly bear

Over in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, I found this native Californian, the grizzly bear.

Sunday roast

I’m all about food, so I had to document some of the things I ate. Here is a typical Sunday roast that we had on Easter: roast beef with brown gravy, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding.

Portobella Market street

This is part of the famous Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, London. It had so many cool shops! There were antiques, cafΓ©s, touristy junk, clothing boutiques, handmade jewelry… We didn’t even get to see all of it, there was just so much!

Hogwarts Castle

We got to tour the studio/sets where much of the Harry Potter movies were filmed! It was beyond awesome! So many props, sets, scale models, costumes… I geeked out thinking about how the actors had been there!

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And now for Scotland! Here are my cousins, Toni and Jen, with me in the red. We’re on top of Calton Hill, with the gorgeous view of some of Edinburgh behind us. Toni and her husband, Dave, showed us around to many incredible places, some well-known and some a little off the beaten path.

St. Giles' Cathedral

This is St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s truly beautiful and magnificent, both inside and out.

Royal Mile

Here I am, backpacking my way around Edinburgh! Okay, so I only had the backpack on for maybe 20 minutes. I’m standing on the Royal Mile. There are so many neat shops, restaurants, and points of historical interest along here.

Portobella Beach

This is Portobello Beach and Promenade. I went for a run here! I’ve made it a personal goal of mine to go jogging in every country I’ve ever been. Scotland now makes 5 countries.

Holyrood Abbey

Here we have a portion of the wall atΒ Holyrood Abbey. I love finding things like this to photograph. There’s something haunting and sad about how it’s in ruins, yet the structure itself is pretty impressive and awe-inspiring to still be standing there after all of these centuries.

I took over 200 photographs, so you can imagine how difficult it was to be able to condense my trip down to these ten. It truly was a blessing to be in such beautiful cities as Oxford, London, and Edinburgh! Their histories date so much farther back than ours here in the U.S. Β There’s something fantastic about being around all of the history and buildings and people and food and culture…

And in case you were wondering, yes, I tried haggis while I was in Scotland. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say it was great, either. I also tried whisky (they don’t spell it with the e) and ate the most amazingΒ Scottish shortbread. Shout-out to Pinnies and Poppy SeedsΒ for being so kind as to hold onto my backpack for me so I could go sight-see comfortably, and shout-out to Toni for taking us there to enjoy the delicious shortbread! In England, I tried guinea fowl, and it tasted like chicken but also like turkey. I also got to sample a variety of English cheeses that were delicious!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Please click the “Like” button below or leave me some love in the comments. Thanks!

Sweet Delicious Air

Have you ever caught a whiff of a breeze scented by citrus blossoms? It’s quite possibly the lightest, most heavenly sweet aroma you’ll ever smell.

We live on a third of an acre and have a pretty big backyard for being in the city. It was one of the main reasons why my husband and I bought our house. Over the years, we’ve planted a number of fruit trees to go with the citrus and nut trees that were already established here. The nectarine tree is my favorite; I love fresh, juicy nectarines off of our tree every summer. Their bright reddish-peachy color, their fresh flavor, sweet juices running down my chin and hands as I bite into one that’s been ripened by the early summer sun…

My second favorite would be the citrus trees, especially this time of year. We’ve got a Meyer lemon, an orange, and a grapefruit tree. The fragrance from their blossoms is absolutely divine! It’s hard to put into words, but being a word-nerd, I’ll try. When I step outside, it’s like I can almost taste the sweetness of the air. It’s not a thick, syrupy sweetness. It’s a light, fresh, aromatic sweetness.

It makes me think of spring. Fresh breezes and buzzing bees. Beautiful colors of flowers. Warm, bright sunshine. Soft grass and puffy, white clouds. A sense of newness.

It makes me think of love. The lightness of love. The soothing comfort of love. The sweetness of love. The heady joy of love. The intoxicating, sensual desire of love.

It never seems like the citrus blossoms last all that long, and after they’ve withered and fallen off for the season, I typically forget all about their amazing smell. When spring and the blossoms return next year, and the breeze stirs up their delicate fragrance, I’ll be blessed to have this same delicious, renewing, incredible experience.

 

 

A Day Off

So an unusual thing happened today. I took the day off. The whole day off. Off from work. Off from kids. Off from responsibilities. Off from everything!

Let me back up my story a little so you know how this day off came to be. Besides bringing home the usual art work or school work, my daughter will occasionally bring home an illness from her preschool. About three weeks ago, she brought home a cold. A few days later, we all had caught it, too. The four of us (husband, two children, and myself) all sounded so awful with our cacophony of sneezes, coughs, sniffles, and general whining about being sick.

Slowly, everyone recovered one after another from this cold. Everyone except…you guessed it. ME. The mom of the house.

By this time, which was about a week ago, I had already figured that my cold was done and over with, but that an awful sinus infection had taken its place. A trip to the doctor yesterday confirmed my self-diagnosis and a number of medications were prescribed. I was put on a anti-inflammatory steroid, an antibiotic, a maximum strength pseudoephedrine decongestant, Mucinex, and my allergy pill.

That was all alarming enough, but the real shocker was when she told me that I needed to take a day or two off of work to “rest.” Rest? What’s that? In as light of a way as I could, I reminded her that I am a mom, a wife, and a teacher. I don’t have any time to rest. She was not as light with her response. She reminded me that our bodies need rest, especially when we are sick. This miserable illness might take longer to go away even with all of the medications if I didn’t give myself a little rest and relaxation. Well that did it. I did not want to be sick any longer than necessary!

So, I took today off. Let me tell you, it’s been a really long time since I was last sick enough to need a day off.  I still got the kids dressed, fed, and off to the babysitter and to school in the morning, but after that, nothing of my usual busy routine for the next seven, blissful, relaxing hours.

The house was so quiet. I had my breakfast and hot Moroccan mint tea in silence at the table. I watched an amusing movie called Sing Street on Netflix. I read some of a library book that I’ve renewed already twice and therefore, really need to finish soon. I went to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and ordered a delicious chicken pho for my lunch. I sat outside in the back yard with my dogs to enjoy the sunshine. I washed a few dishes and tidied up the kitchen. I tried to take a nap, but my frequent coughing didn’t help. I made some mental notes for this blog post. I did not think of work or of bills or of anything that required too much effort. I rested. My doctor, if she’s reading this, should be nodding her head in approval.

One day of rest isn’t going to miraculously make me better, but I feel good right now. It’s just about 8:30 pm, the kids are in bed, my husband isn’t home yet, and I will eventually need to start planning for tomorrow. Things like lunches for my daughter and myself, lesson plans for my students, outfits for my kids, which bills to pay, what room of the house needs the most cleaning, tomorrow’s dinner, etc. You know: the typical, routine things that can sometimes stress us out, weigh us down, and in my case, make us stay sick longer than we want.

While I know it might not be easy for you, may I suggest that all of you overworked and stressed out parents take a day off if you can? It might make you feel a little guilty at the luxury of it at first, as it did for me, but we really do need to take care of ourselves. At the end of the day you’ll feel rested and ready to face tomorrow. Good night.

 

Small Victories

Sometimes, being a mom is just so dang difficult!Β If you’ve read last week’s post (titled Just Do Your Best), you’ve seen that I am exhausted these days. After having talks with some of my fellow mama friends, we’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes it’s the small victories that help us to get through each day. It’s worth it to recognize these small victories and celebrate them, especially when times feel tough.

These small victories can be just about anything, and they should remind you that you’re a great mom and to hang in there! Feel free to add any of your own small victories in the comments section. Thanks!

  • You got dinner on the table before 7 pm? Wooo!
  • They might still be in the dryer instead of their dresser drawers, but your children’s clothes are washed, dried, and ready to be worn.
  • Your house-plants are mostly alive, even if they are looking a little thirsty.
  • If you can get at least one of your children into bed on time, that’s a small victory to celebrate!
  • Valentines for your kid’s classmates were purchased a month in advance just so you wouldn’t forget about them? Smart thinking!
  • Target.com offers free shipping if you use their REDcard for online purchases, plus you get 5% off your purchase! You never have to leave your house for diapers, wipes, etc again!
  • You achieved a time-management victory if you were able to sort through the mail while the baby took a nap.
  • If you napped while the baby napped, then that’s a self-care victory , which is so necessary when you have kids.
  • You stashed some crayons away in your purse for “just in case” and sure enough, you ended up needing them recently.
  • Singing silly songs with your daughter as you drive her to school means you spent quality time with her.
  • Good news if you were able to take your dog for a quick walk: you got some exercise and fresh air! Bonus points if it was a sunny day, because then you also got some Vitamin D!
  • My cousin reminded me about the importance of just being there for your kids as a small victory. Before bed, she looks forward to talking with her son about their day, with no TV or cell phones being a distraction.
  • Hearing your child say, “I love you, Mama” is definitely a victory.
  • Finding out that your child did the right thing even when you weren’t around is a major victory! ❀