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.



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

10 Days and Counting: The pity party commences

I don’t like it when my husband has to travel for work.

So, when he leaves, I often take the opportunity to throw myself a pity party.

I like to whine about the evenings that seem to stretch on.  And on.  And ooooonnnnn.

Or the weekends playing zone defense against Team “Let’s Drive Mommy Batty.”  I complain about the fact that I don’t get to pee by myself anymore.

Wait.  That last one happens all of the time. 

Oh yeah, where was I?

Poor me.

But the worst part about him being gone?  My kids miss him.  A lot.

And I’ve found that the number of times I’m asked, “How many days until dad gets home?”  seems to multiply exponentially with the number of days he has to travel.  Example:  When he travels for one day, I sometimes get asked the question once or twice.  Two days=5 or 6 questions.

So when I got wind that my husband was going to be gone for ten days this time, I did some quick calculations.  Approximately 526 questions.  My math might be a little off there.  But it’s definitely in the ballpark of 100’s.

However, I was prepared for this trip.  As soon as dad left yesterday morning, I came up with a brilliant strategy.  We pulled out a pad of sticky notes, and made a little countdown calendar.  Kind of like an advent calendar.  Except when you got to the end, there was no scary bearded guy coming down our chimney.  Just dad, coming home.

And, because I was feeling a little sorry for myself, I snapped a photo of our calendar, and posted it to my personal Facebook page.

T-minus ten days. But who's counting?

And then I sat back, and waited for my Facebook friends to shower me with well wishes and encouragement.  Because that’s what you do when you’re having a pity party, you know.

I did get a few sympathetic souls willing to play my little game.  Like this lovely lady:

(By the way, Old Tweener, I will send you my address later in the day.)

But some of my other friends seemed to take more interest in the weekly menu that was posted right next to the countdown calendar.  Those comments went something like this:

“I like your menu. Jay is missing out on some good grub!”

Or, “…At least you have some yummy meals planned. I assume J would never condone corned beef in January.”

Or, my personal favorite:

Yes, people.  My corned beef soup is delicious.  But the point of my Facebook post was not about our menu, but rather, about me and my pity party.  Sheesh.

For the record, my weekly menu planning was done before I realized I’d be flying solo this week.  I have a strict “no cooking” rule when Jay travels.  And by “no cooking,” I’m referring to the use of the stove, the oven, or any sharp knives.  The microwave, I can do.

So this morning, I reposted on Facebook a more accurate reflection of what we’ll actually be eating this week.

And now that the issue of the menu has been addressed, let the pity party recommence!

Those of you in the area are more than welcome to come join me for the festivities.  I would be grateful for the adult conversation.  And you can even stay for dinner!

I just hope you like Spaghettios.