Sunday, May 11, 2014

Glad to Be a Mom (GTBAM)

...when I see our toy kitchen sink looking like this.

No dishwasher in this toy kitchen.

I just have to shake my head and laugh.

We will just ignore the fact that children learn by example - and that my own sink also looks like this half of the time. Ok?  Ok.  :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just Because.

It's hard to believe, but Abby is turning 11 months tomorrow! She is in that funny in-between stage, where she is super active (always standing, cruising, climbing and crawling) but not quite walking, so it is really frustrating for her to go to public places like the playground and library, since there's no place for her to roam free.

I was cuddling with her in the rocking chair before her afternoon nap, when it struck me.  My kids are growing up.  It's one of those things that sneaks up on you, while you are wishing away those difficult stages like teething or spitting up every 10 minutes.

And then, suddenly, you just look at them and they look so grown-up to you.

Little big guy.

As they grow, I sometimes get nostalgic for the days when I could just hold them forever and take in their newborn scent and tickle their teeny tiny feet, and they would just give a contented sigh and sleep, sleep, sleep in my arms.

Yet, somehow this makes it all the more special when they come and sit with their mama these days.  Not just because they need something or because I make them do it...but because they choose to.  

He grabbed a blanket and crawled into my lap, announcing, "Sit with umma."
And my heart promptly melted.

I love when they come just to find rest, comfort, and enjoyment from being with me.  
I love when they sit with me solely to show me that they love me and to receive love from me.

Can't get enough of her giggles :)

And today, as I loved on my little girl and received her onslaught of kisses and giggles, I think I heard God whisper, "I love it too."

I know everyone says this, but I am learning so much about the Father's heart from being a parent myself.  When Jonathan was just learning to talk, I would coach him to say things like, "I love you!" And when I asked, "How much?" He would answer, "So much!"  It cracked me up and warmed my heart...but it is nothing compared to these days, when he comes up to me and, unprompted, tells me that he loves me.

When we were little, we were taught to tell God how much we loved Him and to thank Him for everything.  I believe God loves any time His children come to Him, but it can't compare to how it delights and honors our Father's heart when we sincerely express our love and our gratitude.  When we come to Him - not with an agenda or out of desperate need or out of habit before a meal - but simply to find rest in Him.  To love Him and receive His love.

I've always thought the sweetest reason for sending flowers was "just because."  Now I believe it is the best reason for spending time with God.  

Just because.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Tribute

This morning I received the sad news that a former coworker of mine recently passed.  Although Mrs. Luby had been battling cancer for the past seven months, it still came as a huge shock.  Just about six weeks ago, I had taken the kids to visit her.  She did mention that this was the time she felt strongest - right before another round of chemo - but she also just seemed like her usual sweet and friendly self.

In the classroom, she had been one that I always looked up to in my profession.  She taught Pre-K and had the patience of a saint, an extremely creative mind, and a sincere love for children.  I think the little four year olds could sense her love for them and immediately felt at ease in their new school environment.  All of my kindergarten and first grade students who'd been in her class adored her.  I always loved to see the glimmer of excitement in her eye as she told me about her latest activity with the kids or the progress one of her students was making.  She was the teacher I hoped to be one day.

Wherever she went, she made a difference.  Our school is in a rough area, so she took the initiative every spring to get on her hands and knees to dig in the dirt and plant beautiful blooms that brightened up our school entrance.  Even though, year after year, the plants were inevitably trampled on and the flower buds picked, she persevered in this effort to bring beauty into an area that otherwise might have been dismissed as hopeless.

My son Jonathan loves people, but there is always a warm-up period when he meets someone new.  Not so with Mrs. Luby.  She came outside to meet us when we arrived at her house for a visit and offered to help bring things inside.  I asked if she wouldn't mind leading Jonathan up the steep steps to her house, temporarily forgetting about his shyness around new people.  Knowing her gentle personality, however, I should not have been surprised when he clasped her hand without hesitation or fear and walked up the steps with confidence.

Once inside, Jonathan quickly made himself at home, befriending their sweet dog, and playing with all of the toys that Mrs. Luby offered him.  I had been a little nervous about my kids making too much of a mess or making too much noise, but Mrs. Luby simply smiled and fondly commented that Jonathan reminded her so much of her dear grandson, who is around Jonathan's age.  She had a way of putting adults at ease, too.

In the few hours I spent chatting with her, I was so encouraged by her life stories and determination to live a full life.  She was sick, yes, but extremely hopeful.  She told me how she had spent her life teaching at all different levels, including the collegiate level, and had signed on at our school to teach Pre-K because she wanted to finish her teaching years working with the age group she enjoyed most.  This was supposed to have been her final year before retirement.

I was also challenged by Mrs. Luby's selflessness, even in sickness.  She served us homemade zucchini bread and, the following week, she sent me a thank you card for the flowers we had brought.  She proudly showed me a manila envelope full of homemade cards from a class of third graders in our school.  Many of them had been in her class for Pre-K and she marveled at their creativity and academic progress.  Even though she was still undergoing medical treatment, she shared with me plans to write individual replies to this group of third graders and collaborate with their teacher to provide cross-curricular writing prompts in the future letters they exchanged, so their teacher could also use the letters as grades.

It was unthinkable.

But I believe, for her, it was simply natural - to keep loving kids and looking for opportunities to do what she did best - teach.  There was no time to feel sorry for herself.

Today I asked Jonathan if he remembered Mrs. Luby.  He did.  I guess someone this special leaves a lasting mark on a 2.5 year old's memory.  He told me about her dog and the blocks he'd played with.  I showed him a picture I had taken of them and he remembered reading the book about dogs together.

I am so thankful to have known such a beautiful person as Mrs. Luby.  I am even more thankful for that precious morning in January in which she opened up her heart and home to me and my two babies.  I will always treasure her words of wisdom and the stories shared.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Luby.  We miss you... Heaven is so lucky to have you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Where I Work

On a whim, I decided last Saturday to join a photo challenge for the month of March.  Nothing fancy - just my camera phone and a small way to stretch my creativity on a regular basis.  (Here is the photo challenge I'm doing. You can view my photos on instagram)

Today's challenge had me thinking.  The prompt was "where I work," and being a SAHM, this could mean so many different things.  My original thought to pinpoint the specific location where I get the most done.

The entire house?  The laundry room?  The kitchen island is where I spend a lot of my day, making lists, preparing meals and feeding my family.  I even thought about my bed, which is where I usually tackle my crafting projects late into the night (bless Aug's soul for putting up with my craft clutter!).

This is what I chose.

This rocker, though only a few years old, has racked up a good number of miles.  It's where I put up my weary feet as a nervous yet excited mama-to-be.

It's where, as a brand-new mommy, I rocked my newborn to sleep while reading stacks upon stacks of parenting books.  It's the one seat that I've warmed at all hours of the day and night.

It's where the kids and I share secret giggles and silent, inside jokes - the kind where all I have to do is look at them and we both break out in hysterical laughter.  It's the place where, if Jonathan sees me holding Abby, he will drop everything to climb in my lap, too, for cozy cuddles.

In this chair, I rock, feed, comfort, talk with, sing to, and pray over my babies.

It may not be the place where I get the most "work" done, but it's the place where my most important work is done.  Sowing into the lives of these little ones that I have been entrusted to raise and love.

This is where I work.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Verses for a Snowy Day

It's a beautifully frosted snow day today, which means that all four of us are at home!  Abby and I admired the snow from the cozy indoors, but someone else couldn't wait to jump in and help shovel.

just call me the michelin man...
I savor these moments :)

He helped out by eating the snow and making sure there was a fresh pile atop the tires :)

The two squirts are currently tucked away for nap time, so it's the perfect time to continue posting some memory verse cards.  (See here for the first installment)

Such challenging verses!  Praying they encourage you today :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mother Hens

My babies are extremely blessed to grow up with not just two sets of grandparents, but four!

In Korean culture, family terms are flexible - close family friends are referred to as aunts/uncles and anyone older is called "older brother/older sister." 

These four ladies - or mother hens, as I affectionately call them - are such an inspiration to me.  They have been close friends for about 40 years...loving, supporting, and praying for one another as they each chose a life of mission, got married, became a mom, and now a grandma :)

Life hasn't always been easy for them, but they have been faithful in all things..and have been there for one another through thick and thin.

I am so grateful to have grown up under their love and care...and my heart is happy when I see my children being showered with their love as well.

I want to be this beautiful in thirty years!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Words to Live By

A couple days ago, I read a beautiful blog post about one mom/missionary/cancer patient's sincere and honest struggle with God's Word.   Her story and life always amazes me...and this post in particular really encouraged and challenged me in the way I view Scripture memorization.

When I was growing up, it was all about memorizing the verses to rack up stickers on a memorization chart.  It was always about memorizing - trying to get the exact wording right and feeling successful when I did it.  I saw the benefit of it - being able to recall applicable verses when situations arose...but at the heart of my motivation was the pride in my accomplishments and my memorizing ability.

I feel challenged to dwell on the Word of God - not just be able to recite it from rote learning.  I truly believe that God's Word is living and active...and I want to spend time mulling over Bible verses, turning over the words in my heart, and giving time and space for God to speak through them.

I figured a good place to start is with our youth group's weekly memory verses.  I will be making printable memory cards for the verses and posting them here for anyone to use. :)

The dimensions are perfect for printing out as 4x6 photos, if you choose!

These verses are from the 2011 edition of the New International Version (NIV).  (Since I grew up reading the 1984 edition, some of the slight changes throw me for a surprise)

We began memorizing back in September, so I will be posting verses we've previously memorized, as well as adding to the list as time goes on!

Hope this helps anyone else who is looking to spend time meditating on Scripture!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bedtime Monkeys

The other night I was away from home during the kids' bedtime.  Augustine texted me this photo to show me what I was missing...

Jonathan + Curious George = Buddies 4 ever
Apparently, while Aug was getting Jonathan ready for bed, Jonathan spotted the monkey pajamas and insisted that George wanted to wear them.

I'm not sure what I love more - the fact that Jonathan wanted to dress up his toy monkey or that my husband so willingly complied...  :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Easy Preschool Alphabet Activity

When I stopped teaching a little over seven months ago, I couldn't bear to throw anything away that could potentially be useful in the future.  (Come to think of it, this is true in all areas of life for me...a problem, you might say...)

The bad news?  The storage area of our basement is completely taken over by boxes upon boxes representing my seven years in the classroom.  (Sorry, Aug...)  :(

The good news?  Anytime I want to do an art project or learning activity with Jonathan, I just go my basement :)

Today's activity came from a nearly-discarded box of foam alphabet stickers.

I had used these babies to label several items in my classroom and had been caught in a sad dilemma because all or most of the most common letters were used up, but couldn't bring myself to pitch the rest of the perfectly useful stickers.

Enter the boy.  He actually dug this box up in the basement and trotted it over to me one morning this week.  It suddenly hit me that it didn't matter that some letters were missing - it was the perfect, hands-on activity for him to practice his letter recognition!

I selected different uppercase letters and spread them out on the floor and handed him a piece of black construction paper (just for the nice contrast).

Before he picked up a letter to stick onto the sheet, I asked him to tell me the name and color of the letter.  Then, for kicks, I asked him what sound each letter makes.  (He actually learned all of the letters sounds before learning the letters names from watching Leapfrog: Letter Factory, which I highly recommend for introducing letter sounds!)

Peeling off the back of the sticker was a bit of a challenge, but he remained focused and determined to do it.  Some of them were a little tricky, so I gave him a little head start.

He then slapped the letter stickers on any which way he pleased.  In the future, I might draw lines on the paper and have him stick them onto the line so they face the same direction.  Since it was the first time we did it, though, I just wanted him to be free and have fun :)

The finished product!

Hamming it up
Since then, he has requested to "do letters" again several times.  I think we can call it a success! :)

Side note: the box of foam letters came also with lowercase letters.  Since he is still learning his lowercase letters, I waited till after he finished his project to pull some out to show him.

Hehe can you guess what he thought these were? (answers in the caption)

(The "v" was a "heart"...and the "j" he called a "saxophone"!) hahaa
I guess we know what to work on next! :)


And, just because most of my recent posts have been very Jonathan-heavy...

Here is a gratuitous shot of our little gal who has been chomping down finger foods and army-crawling all over the house.

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013: a Photo Recap

I know we're almost halfway through the first month of 2014, but my college roomie (who blogs over at Run With Holly) just did a Year in Pictures post that I really enjoyed, so I thought I'd follow suit while 2013 still feels fresh on my mind. :)
Roomies for 3 years, friends for 13 and counting!

2013 was a year filled with joy!  It was a lot of fun to look back at my pictures from this year because so much of what happened and what God did made me smile :)

2013 in Review:

We were delighted to discover that we were expecting a baby girl!
We also celebrated cousin Bella's 3rd birthday with a costume party (for the kids)

We saw Pentatonix in concert! I'm forever amazed by their vocal ability and musicality!

Over spring break, Aug and I did a bunch of date days instead of going on a long trip...I loved it!
One of them included a Thai cooking class - yum! :)

My sister kindly did a maternity photo shoot for me (and included my beloved cherry blossom tree)
Aug turned 31 :)

On Mother's Day, our church family threw a joint baby shower for my friend and me.
Jonathan mopped the floor as a Mother's Day gift to me ;)
I said goodbye to teaching (for now) and ended the school year early with maternity leave.

Abigail was born!
(This was taken when she was 3 days old.  My co-teacher sweetly made this blanket with our class for Abby)

Jonathan turned 2! We celebrated at Glen Echo park, where we watched a puppet show and rode the carousel, which he found slightly terrifying :-/
My mother turned 60 (a special birthday in Korean culture)

We celebrated 4 years of marriage!
Abby went to her first wedding :) (Dream & Chris)

We went on a family vacation to Deep Creek

We went to the fire station on the final day of summer vacation!
Aug started a new position at his school, while I tried on the Stay-At-Home-Mama hat for the first time. :)

I turned 31 :)
We celebrated Abby's 100th day (another Korean tradition)
Gummy Bear Mama was born.

We soaked up the fall weather with lots of play dates at the playground
We went apple-picking and came home with lots of Honey Crisp..mmm!
We bade farewell to Uncle Joe, who moved across the country for his new job

Firefighter Jonathan saved the day with Dalmatian pup Abby by his side :)
We learned about God's generosity all over again as the yard sale for Carlin yielded over $2,000!
Kinda-sorta started potty-training Jonathan :)
I entered the 21st century - upgraded from my trusty flip phone to a smart phone 
Abby was Aug's date for my dear friend Alison's wedding for which I was a bridesmaid
(bridesmatron? haha)
Abby became mobile and started eating solid food (she was skeptical at first, but now is completely sold!)

Abby's first Christmas!  She started crawling on her belly right before Christmas day.
This was Jonathan's third Christmas but first time actively participating in the decorating! He made sure that one patch on the very bottom half of the tree was extremely well decked out with ornaments.

Every year, everyone in our church chooses a Bible verse to focus on for the year (we call them "key verses").  Last year's verse was all about generosity, and while it challenged me a lot, I am grateful because I learned a lot about generosity through the opportunities that came up and through the ways God showed His generosity to me.

This year, my verse is about encouragement.  It is my hope and prayer to be intentional about encouraging others and being encouraged through His Word.  I want to look for opportunities to encourage those around me (especially these two little squirts and their daddy) and build them up!

"Happy 2014! WE LOVE YOU."

 Looking forward to great things to come in 2014!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Melting My Heart...

Maybe I'm just a big ole softie, but this boy has quickly learned how to melt my heart into a puddle of nothingness.

Bedtime is his favorite time of the day.  It's also his least favorite time of the day.  He loves it because we spend time cuddling in bed, talking about our day, reading the stories he chooses, and praying for others.  

He hates it because it always ends with the lights being turned off and that silly thing called sleep.

So Jonathan has been getting creative with his bedtime-delaying tactics.  Usually it's the typical plea for a drink of water...but the other night he used his Curious George stuffed animal as an excuse by saying, "No turn off the light...George scared!"

Jonathan positioned George and Bear and then requested that I take their picture...

He then joined them, but was concerned because "George not smiling!" (I guess Bear was ok...)
[Also - pardon his pants-less state... See #1 on the list in this post :) ]

The other night Aug was putting Jonathan to bed and he started calling out for Umma (what he calls me - Korean for "mama").  He's been doing this as another bedtime-delaying tactic, so Aug just continued on with the bedtime routine.

Then Jonathan started repeating over and over, "Tell Umma "I love you"!", which caught Aug completely off-guard.  Who could say no to a plea like that?  Not this daddy.  He brought Jonathan over to our room just so Jonathan could tell me that he loved me.

And Jonathan did so, grinning proudly that he had finally found a loophole in bedtime.  :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I've decided that it's okay that Jonathan has learned to pronounce "Christmas" correctly, as long as he continues to call this toy an "Abby-kiss." :)