Phoebe’s 1st Birthday

Phoebe Kaleah

Phoebe Kaleah

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My sweet darling Phoebe turned one last month – hooray! Phoebe is the baby of our family and brings so much laughter and joy to our lives. She is always smiling, laughing, dancing and giving kisses. We celebrated her first birthday with a Sesame Street themed party in our neighborhood park.

We tried to make this party special, personalized but also easy on us. We were a week away from going on vacation and in the middle of lots of changes. Easy peasy and fun was the goal.

  • We kept the cooking to a minimum and ordered most of the food – El Pollo Loco, R&B Filipino Food, NY Giant Pizza
  • We ordered cupcakes from the neighborhood grocery store and placed Sesame Street rings on top
  • We made a special ‘Phoebe 1’ sign to go with the theme and made a great photo prop
  • We hosted the party earlier than usual (and had breakfast items to go with the earlier time)
  • We chose a park just up the street from our house
  • We had Sesame Street inspired games like “How many cookies are in the jar?” and “Cookie toss”

Happy birthday to my babydoll, Phoebe! Your loving and playful spirit brings a smile to my face every single day.
Keep laughing, learning, and dancing! Mommy loves you so much and I can’t wait to watch you grow and change.

The Meaning Behind “No”

When you say YES to others

saying no

On most days, I am the “YES woman” – hardly ever would you hear me say NO to anyone in my family, especially my kids, or my friends, or my co-workers. But in recent weeks, I have been feeling overextended and run down. At times, I have this FOMO thing (Fear Of Missing Out) when it comes to anything having to do with my kids. Today, my Hubby offered to take our 5 year old and her older sister to the Bridgit Mendler concert, when it was me originally. His intentions are good – he wanted me to rest after surviving the JB concert a few days prior. I have to accept these offers like they’re gifts, and know that sometimes I need to say no and take care of myself, regroup, refocus and just rest.

My Little Belieber

A few years ago, when Ella was only 2 (and already a huge JB fan), she had the opportunity to attend his concert. Unfortunately, she was feeling under the weather and I just didn’t think she was well enough, or even old enough, to enter into the pandemonium that is known to all as “Bieber Fever”.

I thought maybe she’ll grow out of her love for Justin Bieber, perhaps she will like a new artist…but no. She has been a loyal fan for the past 3 or so years! So I decided to make it a goal for myself to take her to a Justin Bieber concert and make this a special memory for her.

It happened last Saturday – I seriously stayed home all day to save all my energy for what we were getting ourselves into that night. From the moment she opened the surprise package with the tickets inside to the moment JB himself stepped onto the stage, she was ecstatic, and I found myself just watching the excitement on her face and really relishing that moment.

Ready for her very first concert experience

Ready for her very first concert experience

Ella and Mommy

Ella and Mommy

Her official 2013 concert tour shirt

Her official 2013 concert tour shirt

Popcorn...of course!

Popcorn…of course!

JB on stage!

JB on stage!

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Dedicated to Aubreigh

Those who know me know that music is my therapy. When I run out of ways and words to express myself, I end up putting on my headphones to tune out the world and fill my head with music. Many times, I would hear the perfect song with the perfect lyrics, that express how I was feeling at that very moment in time.

I am a huge Corinne Bailey Rae fan – I dedicate her song “Butterfly” to my eldest daughter who I love very much. When I heard this song, the lyrics were so sweet and so touching, that I almost started crying at my desk (I know, hot mess). I pray that one day she can listen to this song and be reminded of her Dad and me, and how much we love her. She recently graduated from high school so it’s been a very emotional time, and I’ve been thinking about her a lot. This one is for you, Nini <3

Top 10 Horrible Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids

Sadly, this reminds me of someone to the T. Unbelievable.

10. “I’m living the life I’ve always wanted…or am I? I don’t know, I’m drunk again, so I really don’t know my own reality.”

9. “Oh, I didn’t get your Dad’s text or email about your event. I was too busy posting about my inebriated adventures on Facebook. I’ll check it later.”

8. “Yeah, I’m going to your game. My ride to the club is one of your teammate’s parents, and we’re carpooling. Kill two birds…”

7. “Honey, I can’t make it to your game today. I’m getting myself a sweet tattoo today – but good luck!”

6. “You need money for your field trip? I don’t have any money right now.” (said while unloading a bag filled with beer and wine with new tattoo exposed)

5. “This is a bad report card and yes, you can sleep over at your friend’s house.”

4. “I know my boyfriend told you to ‘shut up’ but I want you to have thick skin.”

3. “I should really discipline you but in all honesty, I’m just not a micromanager.”

2. “Hi kids – I missed you guys this weekend. So glad you’re home. I left the dishes in the sink for you guys to take care of – we had a big party this weekend while you were gone!”

1. “Listen, when your Dad and I were married, it was because of me that he spent so much time with you. I would tell him to take you out for ice cream because I had to come home and change for the club and just couldn’t bear hearing you kids begging for me to stay home. It made me feel guilty and I just didn’t want to deal with that.”

Gratitude

I’m grateful for the time I spent with my family today – we walked to the nearby shops, picked up a refreshing drink, and ate a delicious homemade steak and egg salad dinner together at home (also named ‘Aly’s Favorite Salad’). I am also grateful that my 5 year old is interested in cooking – she helped me assemble the salads with great enthusiasm and even ate the greens! :)

I am also grateful that I had the strength to deal with some very stressful situations the last three days – so many times I just wanted to throw in the towel, but I have managed to stay strong, hopeful, move forward and be present for the people I love. Not always an easy thing for me to do. The quote below sums up how I feel – I’ve learned a lot and have been hurt too much, and this is why I am making changes.

“People change for two reasons: Either they’ve learned a lot or they’ve been hurt too much.”

36 Things to Do Before I Turn 37

So…I started compiling this list and before posting, was able to cross off one thing. :) Some of these items are ‘rollovers’ from past lists but as you can see, if they make it to the next one, it’s obvious that it’s something I really want to do. Here it is!

  1. Take my parents on a vacation.
  2. Do a run/walk.
  3. Get down to wedding weight.
  4. Go to a concert. (watched Maoli and Katchafire on 5/24)
  5. Try a new, complicated or a copycat recipe.
  6. Keep a gratitude journal – post at least one positive thing on my blog as frequently as I can.
  7. Teach my kids how to cook a favorite dish.
  8. Visit the museums…or a museum.
  9. Watch a musical.
  10. Paint a utility box with friends and family.
  11. Take family pictures with Phoebe :)
  12. Take a day off from work and do whatever I want.
  13. Be a tourist in our own city (San Diego).
  14. Go on a food adventure.
  15. Go strawberry or apple picking.
  16. Travel to a new place with the Hubby.
  17. Take my kids to a live show.
  18. Go to church more often.
  19. Exercise regularly…I.CAN.DO.IT.
  20. Pamper myself more.
  21. Be more honest about who I want to be a part of my life and give my time to them.
  22. Splurge on something I usually don’t splurge on even if it’s ridiculous!
  23. Have afternoon tea with the older girls and perhaps make it a tradition.
  24. Watch the sunset with my Hubby and have a romantic picnic.
  25. Go on a hike with the family.
  26. Plan a vow renewal for our 7 year anniversary.
  27. Have a picnic in the park with all of the kids and the hubby.
  28. Host a fun themed party.
  29. De-clutter regularly.
  30. Do a 1:1 with each kid.
  31. So what if it didn’t get done – work on not being so hard on myself.
  32. Be better at ‘leaving work at work’ and just being present for my family when I get home.
  33. Start photo books for the littles.
  34. Get involved with Ella’s school.
  35. Exhale more and let it go…especially if you had nothing to do with it and aren’t in a position to change ‘it’.
  36. Start that children’s book.

Here are some notes on why I chose some of the things on this year’s list:

31. So what if it didn’t get done…
I think it’s completely true what they say – “you are your own worst critic”. Yep, that can be me. But lately, I’ve been giving myself a pass…sometimes several passes. I’m a creature of habit, lists and routine. I’m kind of addicted to order. So imagine me when I can’t get things done when they’re ‘supposed’ to get done. Nowadays, I’m working on giving myself some extra time to breathe and ‘getting to it when I can’. I’ve realized that I am doing my very best every day, and sometimes I need to realize that my best is good enough.

34. Get involved with Ella’s school.
This was something I missed out on when I was a kid. My Mom and Dad weren’t involved really – yeah, it’s a bummer. But I want to give my kids what I missed growing up. I think it’s very important that kids see their parents involved and interested in their school activities. Every opportunity I had to volunteer for Ella’s pre-k class, I was there! This coming school year, I have ‘unofficially’ been named the Family Nights Coordinator for the PTA, a position that is so fitting for me. :)

35. Exhale more and let it go…
If anyone has walked a day – even a few hours – in my shoes, then maybe they’d understand the level of stress, pressure and anxiety I can feel at times. I have been better, however, at letting things that are out of my hands, just go. This is a challenge in my life. By nature, I am a worry-wart and can be emotional, even outspoken if I feel passionate about it. Guess that means I just care too much and am extremely protective of people I love. But what I learned about myself last year was that I need to show myself some love and take care of myself more. Unnecessary stress is just that. Unnecessary. I’m trying to spend more time focusing on things that make me happy and finding ways to just relax.

One Lucky Mom

Hubby asked me what I wanted to do this year for Mother’s Day…after almost 10 years, a once bittersweet day is finally one that I can celebrate and feel celebrated. Not many people are in my shoes and understand the emotions that I feel the days leading to and the actual day itself. I would feel sad, forgotten about, unappreciated…after all, I am only the stepmother. Why would the kids want to spend any part of their day with their stepmom? In my heart, I would hurt as I did and gave everything I could for those kids like a mother would, but it broke my heart that I did not get to spend time with them on this day.  Thanks to my kids, who are older now, it has been easier to get through Mother’s Day. When they were younger, they didn’t have much of a say as to how they wanted to spend the holiday – the parenting plan dictated that one. But now that they’re older, by choice, they have extended their gratitude and love to me on their own, which means the world to me.

My response to the Hubby was that I didn’t want to do anything that would be stressful like dining at a crowded restaurant. I wanted to just be with the kids who were with me and spend quality time with them. I wanted to be in the moment with Ella and Phoebe. I said perhaps a picnic in the park. Check. Maybe we could try out a new place for dessert. Check. I’d like to go to church. Check. And have breakfast somewhere. Check. Hubby also surprised me with my favorite dark chocolate and a delicious steak dinner at home – yum! And our one and only son came over to make me a Sushi Dinner – I felt like a Queen!

I feel like the luckiest Mom in the world to have five amazing kids. I felt so much love from the messages I received, the beautiful memories made, and the time my family spent thinking of me and showing me in their own ways how much they love and appreciate me. Truly the best Mother’s Day yet!

Messages my two older girls wrote to and about me <3

Messages my two older girls wrote to and about me <3

 

Picnic in the park

Picnic in the park

 

On our way to Azucar

On our way to Azucar

 

Azucar sweets

Azucar sweets

Foodie in training

Foodie in training

Breakfast after church

Breakfast after church

 

Impromptu photos of Mommy with her two littles

Impromptu photos of Mommy with her two littles

 

Spoiled by my oldest and only boy

Spoiled by my oldest and only boy

 

Delicious!

Delicious!

 

 

 

Final Update: 35 Things to Do Before I Turn 36

So, yours truly just turned another year wiser. Here’s a look at what I was able to cross off my list in one year, notes and all!

  • Make popsicles from scratch. (May 29)
  • Makeover our patio. (July 24)
  • Makeover my “creative space” where I can write love notes, draw, wrap gifts, scrapbook, etc.   This is still a work in progress but I DID get as far as buying a dedicated caddy to stash all of my scrapbooking, gift wrapping, die cutting, and other fun tools in…hey, it’s a start ;-)
  • Achieve (or get pretty darn close to) goal weight and lose the “baby weight”. Lost the pregnancy weight…now time to lose a wee bit more!
  • Plan a romantic date or getaway for my Hubby. We do so many cute and fun things together…not to mention, romantic! But I DO need to plan something special and go all out.
  • Take family pictures with our new Baby Girl. Not yet, and ironically, my older daughters have asked me when we were planning to do this. <3
  • Knit a beanie for our new Baby Girl. Ok, so towards the end of my pregnancy, I was super-tired and not so ambitious…this was a fail.
  • Participate in a run or walk. This may have to roll over to the next list ;-)
  • Write an article in Mira Mesa Living. I did contribute to the last issue but for some reason the editor hasn’t published the issue at all. I get the feeling they’re a little short-staffed since I believe it’s all voluntary??? I wish I could find time to volunteer and design the newsletter myself so that way our community can get frequent updates. Well, we can’t do it all, can we?
  • Paint a utility box in our community with friends and family. Possibly another rollover…
  • Go bowling with family and/or friends (even though I really suck at bowling). Nope.
  • Prepare vegetarian meals for a whole week. Nope.
  • Work on a children’s book about “blended families”. Not yet…on my bucket list though.
  • Start a photo book for our new Baby Girl. Have gotten as far as taking TONS of pictures of her and printing some of them out.
  • Finish more photo books for Ella. Nope…I need to get on this one – she’s going to be 5 next month!
  • Do something different/drastic with my hair (even if it’s super-temporary). Ombre’d out…does grey hair count? -__-
  • Try out Jiu Jitsu. Nope.
  • Reconnect with an old friend over lunch or dinner. (May 30 – with “Sis”) Lots of times with lots of old friends :-)
  • Volunteer my time. Multiple times at Ella’s school. I even read a story to her class – that was fun!
  • Plan a “me-date”. So happy to report that this has been a semi-regular thing for me and it feels so good!
  • Go strawberry picking or apple picking. Sigh…nope.
  • Try out a recipe for a Filipino dish I’ve never tried to make before. I’ve been researching empanada recipes in an effort to replicate my Grandmother’s legendary empanadas.
  • Have a picnic in the park. (Sunday, May 13)
  • Create a new family tradition. Over the holidays, I introduced the kids to the “Giving Back” tradition. We started with 3 missions: 1) Paid for the people behind us at Starbucks 2) Baked and delivered cookies to our local post office and 3) Gave a family movie tickets. I can tell it touched the kids and is teaching them the value of generosity and giving back. This will DEFINITELY be something we’ll do every year around the holidays. This year, I will even have them come up with the 3 missions.
  • Improve upon my photography skills. Meh…not really. But I suppose my ‘skills’ are passable.
  • Start a Savings Account for Baby Girl. Not officially.
  • Take Ella to the Children’s Museum. (Sunday, June 10)
  • Send a surprise to someone in the mail.
  • Work on being debt-free.
  • Try Bikram’s yoga…at least once. Fail.
  • Plan a fun and creative girls day/night in/out. I hosted a “Magic Mike” themed baby shower for my SIL and a Favorite Things Party.
  • Travel by train for the first time. Possible rollover…
  • Do something nice for my parents regularly (i.e. make a healthy meal, give them movie tickets) just because. Yes! Whenever possible!
  • Say the “Serenity Prayer” as often as needed in order to accept certain things in my life and find peace.
  • Make myself a priority and make it a regular thing.

Not bad! Time to start compiling my 36 things to do… list.