The Favorite Ones

“You’re my favorite, you know.”

She would whisper the words conspiratorially in our ears.  I can still see the little twinkle in her eye as she’d utter the sentiments quietly, so that no one else around us could hear the words meant only for us.  And we’d giggle and nestle in for a hug, embracing the secret we shared with Grandma.

It didn’t matter that she’d say the same thing to all of us.  Seven children (I know, seven, right?  The woman was clearly super-heroic.), fourteen grandkids and umpteen great-grandchildren.  We all got the same line.  It was kind of a running family joke, actually.

Apparently, she had lots of favorites.

But it didn’t matter to me.  I knew what everyone else knew.  It didn’t matter how many of us there were; there was more than enough love to go around.  And Grandma had a heart big enough to hold it all.  So much so, that we all felt, unequivocally, like we were her most treasured.

Towards the end, when we were chatting, she’d occasionally look at me and inquire, “which one of my children are you?”  The words always struck a funny (yet somewhat bittersweet) note in me because, being the only Asian in our family, I clearly looked a bit, well, different than her “other” children.  But, sometimes, instead of correcting her, I’d just answer, “I’m your favorite one.”  And she’d get that familiar little glint in her eye again.  Even as some parts of her faded away, she still understood our secret joke.

To say that I’m grateful to my grandma for giving us life, kind of goes without saying.  It would be silly to point out the fact that we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Grandma (and obviously Grandpa contributed to that as well).  But what I’m most grateful for are the life lessons they both taught us.

  • To work hard, but remember to play hard as well.
  • To live life with passion, creativity, and a desire to try new things. You’re never too old, or too young, to learn something new.
  • To laugh.  That includes laughing at yourself every once in awhile.  Because if you take yourself too seriously, what’s the fun in that?
  • To enjoy the simple things in life.  Like holding hands.  Or going to rummage sales looking for 5 cent bargains.  Or eating ice cream before dinner (she only let me do it once, and my parents were out of town).
  • To be honest, and say what’s on your mind.  Grandma didn’t mince words.  I loved that about her.
  • To say “I love you” to the people you love.  And to say it often.

These are some of the lessons my grandparents taught me.

They didn’t just give us life.  They were instrumental in teaching us how to live.

And now that she’s gone, I find myself left with questions.  To be honest, for a  long time now, I’ve struggled with the question of what happens to us after we leave this world.  What happens to us when we die?  Do our souls go somewhere?  Are we reunited in some way with the ones we’ve loved and lost?

I don’t have the answers.  And maybe, in my own personal journey to find them, the answers will allude me.

And then again, maybe I’m searching for an explanation that I will never really find.  Maybe the real question I should be pondering is not where we go, but what becomes of the pieces of us we leave behind.

Realistically, I don’t even have to ask that question.  Of that, I am certain.

I know without a doubt that there is a little part of Grandma in the hearts of all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of the people whose lives she touched.  We’ll hold the love that she showered on us, the laughter she gave freely, and spunky feisty-ness that she embodied, close to us… because it’s a part of who we are.

And we’ll do that, knowing that we were her favorite.

Because she certainly was mine.



C’mon baby, light my Kindle.

I’ve never been much of a book person.

Granted, over the past 6 years, I’ve read plenty of books.  But most of those have been picture books, board books and, generally, anything impervious to teethmarks or drool.  With a little Tikki Tikki Tembo thrown in there as well.

But the other kind of books?  The ones with actual words targeted at audiences over the age of 8?  I’ve never taken much to.

There are so many other things I want or need to spend my free time doing.  Working on websites.  Playing Words With Friends.  Facebooking or aimlessly surfing the internet.  Important stuff like that.

To my husband, the ex-literature teacher, this is baffling.  There are few things he’d rather do than sit around and bury his nose in a book, or his Kindle.

So when the reading fever struck me earlier this week, I don’t think anyone was more shocked than he.

Or sad to see his Kindle go.  And he knew it would be a while before he got it back.

Because I started reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

If you haven’t started reading the books yet, I highly recommend that you don’t.  Because they are positively addicting.  And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Housework has been neglected.

We’ve gone out for dinner 3 of the past 4 nights.

I haven’t gone to bed before 1 am since I started reading the books.

I might be just a wee bit obsessed.

But here’s the thing I’ve discovered.  Even if I let everything else slide around the house, there’s still the small matter of those two little munchkins that need me.

Kindergartners aren’t very sympathetic to I’LL-MAKE-YOU-BACON-AFTER-I-FINISH-CHAPTER-10’s.   They want their breakfast now.

Toddlers don’t like it when you say, “I’ll come play with you after I find out who gets picked from District 12.”  Hungry Hippos wait for no one.

And you really don’t earn brownie points with the husband when tell your son, “Go ask Daddy to change your diaper, honey.  Momma needs to see whether Katniss makes it out of this one.”

I’ve discovered that it’s really, really hard to finish a book when you have kids.

The good news for my family is that I’m burning through the books at an alarmingly fast rate.  After a couple days of reading, I’m on number three in the trilogy.

My husband, who’s already read the books, has been humoring me while I satisfy my obsession.

Secretly, I think the ex-professor in him is glad I’m finally reading an actual book.  One that does not have pictures in it.

Or perhaps he knows that, at the rate I’m reading, the end is near.  In another day or so, The Hunger Games will draw to a close.  And he’ll have home-cooked meals, and semi-clean house once again.

And, if he’s lucky, he’ll also get his Kindle back.

Bring it on, Tooth Fairy. Bring it on.

It’s amazing how much hubub we parents make about our children’s teeth.

It begins even before they make an appearance, actually.

“She’s teething,” we say to onlookers in the restaurant, as we try to explain her unusual fussiness.

We give them cold washcloths and teething rings to gnaw on.  We rub Baby Orajel on their swollen little gums, and give them Tylenol in hopes that it will soothe away the crankiness.  We fuss over low-grade temperatures, and rush them to the doctor… only to be told that it’s probably … just … teething.

And when that first little nub of white pokes through, it’s quite a momentous occasion.

So I suppose it’s no wonder that losing your first baby tooth should be equally momentous.

For months, my daughter has been obsessed with losing her first tooth.  She’d gaze jealously at the gaping holes in her friends’ mouths.  It became almost a competition which one of her classmates would lose their teeth first.

She’d badger us with questions about the Tooth Fairy.

“How much will I get?” 

“What does the Tooth Fairly look like?” 

“Is the Tooth Fairy a boy or a girl fairy?”

So when that first tooth came out this morning, naturally, we made out like it was headline news.  We took pictures, and had her pose with her mouth open.  Because it’s a BFD when you loose your first tooth, you know.

And tonight, I readied the shiny gold dollar, inspired by my friend Sherri.   I placed the Hello Kitty necklace (because the Tooth Fairy always brings something special for the first tooth) in the box by her door.

And I couldn’t help but think about that first tooth coming in.

What took months to finally emerge… came out in less than a minute.  It’s the first of 20 little white vestiges of babyhood that will fall out over the next few years.  I have to admit, I got a little sad.

Tonight, the Tooth Fairy will bring it on.  And a little girl will wake up to find her tooth replaced by a little coin and cheap trinket.

I just hope the Tooth Fairy knows what a bargain he’s getting in that trade.  Because it isn’t just any tooth.

It’s my baby’s first tooth.

An open letter to the imaginary friend living in my house

Dear Coco,

When you first moved in to my house a while back, I thought you were cute.

Well, not literally cute.  I mean, I couldn’t see you, after all.  None of us could.

But Chip could.  And I thought it was adorable how you and he would have conversations together.  How you’d whisper secrets into his ear, that were relayed on to the rest of the family.  How he’d clutch you in his tiny little hand, and hold you close to my face so I could inspect your beautiful blue hair.

I admit that I initially frowned a bit at your blue hair.  “What kind of influence would you be on my children?” I thought.

But, still, I welcomed your arrival at first.   You encouraged my son to use his imagination.  You played nicely together.  And you were very, very quiet.

You were the perfect house guest.

Lately, however, things have changed with you.  Over the past few weeks, your ugly side has slowly emerged.  And I’m beginning to think you’re not the perfect angel you initially made yourself out to be.

First, there are the messes you keep making around the house.   Candy wrappers strewn haphazardly on my kitchen floor.  Matchbox cars lying in a heap beside the toy box.  Silly putty stuck to the living room carpet.

I’ve been told that you are the culprit for these messes.  What’s up with that?

And then there are the mealtime battles.  You see, we have a rule in this house.  You must take a “no, thank you” bite of everything on your plate.  But apparently, you missed that memo.

So when you refused to eat your pancakes this morning for breakfast, it caused quite a ruckus.  Apparently, if Coco ain’t eating it, neither is Chip.

Seriously.  Who doesn’t like pancakes?  I slaved over a hot microwave to nuke those pancakes, and you will at least take a “no, thank you” bite, mister.

I’m not liking what I’m seeing, Coco.  I’ve had enough of your shenanigans.  And I think it’s about time you packed your bags and moved out.

Or maybe that’s too harsh.  On second thought, maybe that makes me a bad hostess.  I’m willing to give you a second chance to shape up.

I just have one request.  Do you think you could start eating your breakfast?  Or, at the very least, pretend like you’re eating your breakfast?

That would be a big help.  And if you do that, I might let you stay after all.

As long as you pick up your toys.

The Lady of the House