Sunday, March 12, 2017

Many "Right" Ways to be a Mom

    Sometimes, as it is for most families I'm sure, life gets so busy that it's hard to slow down and take time to think about things and record what's going on. But then, there are days when the pull for me is very strong and there is nothing I want more than to sit and write. Today is one of those days.
   It all goes by so fast. One day your son is three-years-old, dressed in a 'Buzz Lightyear' costume with a pumpkin-eyed smile and his little brother crawling around after him, the next he's nearly a man (though his little brother still follows him around) and the family dynamic is completely different. One becomes two, then three, then four and they just don't stop growing. (Insert John Mayer's "Stop This Train" here.)
   Because of our mobile life-style I have noticed that my children's lives are divided into segments. Two years here, three there, one here, and in a way it seems that all of this segmentation has shortened our time together because I can see so clearly how after our family is done in Manila we will go to one year of training, a three year post, and then guess what? Logan will be gone, off on his mission, and college, and future. It will never be the same again and I don't like it. Then, because we spaced our kids two years apart, before we have time to get used to Logan's absence, Linc will be gone, and then Owen and then Ellie.
   Don't worry, I'm not freaking out. Not really. I just see so clearly how fast it is going and I am filled with a mixture of sadness and complete gratitude that I have been lucky enough to have this family. I love being a Mom. There is no job more difficult or more rewarding. I don't make a paycheck (Yet!) and still, I feel rich when I am with my family.
   I think about the modern feminist movement and I am so grateful for how far we as a society have come toward gender equality. I hope though, that feminism remembers to hold a place in its ranks for women who find their life's joy in motherhood, who do not find the daily tasks to be demeaning, or beneath them, but who work in a partnership with good men (or in some cases even on their own) in separate but equally important roles and love it. 
   I believe there are countless ways to be a good mother. I believe there are countless ways for husbands and wives to raise their families well. I strongly support women who work and juggle family life (I admire them actually, I am sure it is not easy), but I would also like to hold on to respect for those who choose a different way. I have noticed recently that the phrase, "stay-at-home-mom" sometimes carries with it a "less intelligent" connotation among the more liberal community. It's simply not true. I've also heard many talk about how religions and certain cultures are brain-washing and subjegating women into motherhood. Now, while I have seen a lot of gender inequality in different cultures both in the U.S. and abroad, and while there is still MUCH work to be done, it should be remembered that many well-educated women, when given the option, still choose (and that is the key word) to stay-at-home ... happily, and that's okay too.
   My desire to stay with my kids when they were younger was a personal choice. I couldn't fathom the idea of somebody else changing the diapers or kissing the bumps and bruises. I didn't want to miss the first steps, or the cuddles, or the giggles. I wanted to soothe the crying and answer the difficult questions. I wasn't willing to turn all of those learning experiences over to anyone else. That was my choice, and even though money was tight while the kids were young, I would choose do it that way again. I have no regrets.
   I want to be clear that I am not against those who choose a different path of parenthood. As I mentioned, I strongly believe there are numerous "right" ways to be a parent. (Now that my kids are a bit older, I am looking into a career myself.) Children need love and support more than anything else, and there are many ways to do that successfully. What I hope for, is that society (and let's be honest, feminists) will recognize full-time moms as being as intelligent and forward-thinking as those who choose to work outside the home or those who choose a career over family life. At the end of the day, it is a personal decision. 

That being said, I wanted to take a moment to update about our family's first two months of 2017! We always have a whirlwind Jan/Feb. Dan, Logan and Linc all celebrated their birthdays within a few weeks. Dan and Logan took off for their birthdays to Hong Kong. (Be sure to ask them about their awkward hotel room with the clear-glass bathroom door!) We are trying to take advantage of our short time left in Asia before we leave. We have less than three months left already, I can't believe it! Linc turned twelve a few days after they got back, and we were excited to welcome my parents for his birthday. They traveled a loooonngg ways to get here. :) In our faith, boys are ordained to the priesthood when they turn twelve, so my parents came for that special event. Unfortunately for my Mom, Owen and Ellie had nasty colds, so she was kind and stayed home from church with them so I wouldn't miss the ordinations. I am very grateful to her for that. Durning their visit, we went to the American Cemetery in Manila, Market Market for some lazer tag (I know you had fun blasting all the little kids Dad) and to Corrigador Island for a tour of the old WWII historical sites there. It was a very humbling trip. War sucks.
   The kids are all doing really well in school. I can't even express to you how much I am going to miss ISM. It is an amazing school with supportive teachers and an accepting, international community. My kids have loved it there. Logan has been very involved being a student ambassador. He is a people-person through and through and loves being involved. He's also really enjoying playing his double bass in his strings class, and has made the track team. He is doing field events. Logan is as "cheeky" as ever and always the energy in our home. I love watching him turn into a man. He's a good one.
   Linc passed the sacrament for his first time Sunday. I think he may have dripped the water cups on about every person at the end of the isle, but all-in-all he did a great job! He is very involved with his soccer class (the kids loves it) and his IT classes. He wants to be a computer programer. He has a fun little group of friends and is always sweet and loves to eat apples. :)
   Owen is my question asker. He gets very deep with his thinking and has gotten to the age where some of his questions are ... interesting. Dan and I try to be very open with our kids and tell them that they can ask us anything. Owen likes to remind me of that often when he has a question he is a little embarrassed to ask. :) He is loving his "batting and fielding" class (They do cricket and baseball, fun!) and a little robotics class. Owen wants to be a famous YouTuber. I'll let you know if/when he gets his channel up and running. Definitely going to monitor that situation closely! 
   Ellie is really excited for the upcoming 'Beauty and the Beast' movie. She saved her allowance for months to buy a 'Belle' dress, so Dan and I got some little gold shoes to match it. She begged to wear them to school today. I wonder if they will come home the same color as when they left? I guess we shall see. Ellie loves her cooking class. She wants to be a baker. She is the best "sharer" I know. Sometimes she tries to share a little too much. I still love having a girl!

   I'm beginning to feel a bit over-whelmed with moving details, and I'm starting to really feel the sadness I usually feel when we are about to leave. I'm excited too, but I have made some amazing friends here. I'll miss them. I'm grateful for social media so we can all keep in touch. I guess, that's enough for now. I hope everyone has a great week!

Logan's Birthday! 

A New Suit (tiger sound)

Ellie helped me make Logan's cake

 These didn't last long. Linc's birthday!

A few from Corrigador Island...

My cute Parents

 Poor puppy had to get shots.

Sports Day!

Hong Kong...

  Fun with friends!

 Ellie getting ready for Valentine's Day

 Spirit Week ...

Logan's week-long service trip to Chosen CHildren's Village

 Crazy Dog.

 Manila in one picture

Monday, January 09, 2017

December Update

We had an amazing December packed with so many events, I felt that by the time New Year rolled around I was ready to sit back and take a nice long nap. Thankfully, our church time switched from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. so I was able to do just that!

     In the beginning of December we had a barrage of end-of-semester activities going on, including a few strings concerts, a 2nd grade music concert, a piano recital and a few class parties. I'm not sure how, but I got roped into being "class mom" again this year for Owen and Ellie's classes. I swore I was going to take a break since I've been a class mom every year for nearly a decade, but then when no one else volunteered, I discovered that apparently I'm a sucker for unanswered pleas for help of the email variety. Ah well. What can you do? In the end, I'm happy to be there with the kids because it makes them feel special and I get a moment to remember how fast it all flies by.  Anyway, after the school was finished, we had a church party, and then prepared the house for Abuela and Abuelo to come. They arrived on the 17th, the same day that our youngest, Ellie was baptized. We flew from the airport to our apartment, had a quick lunch, and then headed straight for the church.

       Her baptism was beautiful with so much support from our little church family. Ellie has really grown up this year. It's a testimony to me that eight is such a great age for baptism. I felt like she really understood the promises she was making. A few days later our entire family boarded a little plane and flew to the island of Palawan. From there we took a bus to Honda Bay, and then a boat to a beautifully secluded island called Arraceffi (Dos Palmas) where we stayed a few nights. It was absolutely gorgeous. We were able to bike around the island, kayak in the ocean, swim, snorkel, eat lots of food and just relax. We hadn't been to a beach since Rio, so it was especially nice. (Apart from the Jellyfish, but you'll have to ask Logan and Dan about that.)

      We returned home a few days before Christmas with just enough time to visit Intramuras and the St. Agustin Cathedral there before the big day. It was so nice (even though the drive made me want to throw myself out of the car from carsickness) to walk around and see the almost five-hundred-year-old church that reminded us all of a scene out of Harry Potter.
    The kids loved Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We did our usual gingerbread houses with graham crackers (who has time to bake gingerbread, honestly?!) and opened one present from Grandma and Grandpa Braithwaite on Christmas Eve. The kids get pajamas from them every year. After that we read the Christmas story from the bible and put out milk and cookies. We ended the evening by watching our favorite Christmas movie, "Polar Express". Santa came and brought plenty of toys for everyone which we drug ourselves out of bed to open before heading off bright and early to church. (Our service still had the 9 a.m. time-slot on Christmas, darn it.) I think everyone got something they'd hoped for. Dan's favorite gift was a wood-carved chess set his awesome wife searched months for, mine was a pile of board games signifying that I have a husband who loves me enough to play them with me even though they aren't his favorite thing, Logan got the headphones he's been dreaming of, Linc got a fun set of 'Snoopy Comics' (he loves comics!) and a robot he can program and command, Owen's favorite gift, surprisingly, was a little Pok√©mon watch that Dan and I purchased as an after-thought and Ellie got a new hard-cased, purple travel suitcase that she has rolled around the house on like it were a scooter for weeks.

    Abuela and Abuelo's trip had an unexpected extension when a Christmas typhoon that never reached it's fully predicted potential blew in and delayed their flight. Soooo, we went to the Mind Museum for one of the days and spent the other trying to re-book their flights while facing incredible resistance from their annoying airline.

    Dan and I celebrated out 15th anniversary on the 29th which was incredibly special. He gave me some gorgeous Filipino pearls and I made a video of our family over the past fifteen years for him that I'll try to post later if it will let me.

     All in all, everything worked out well and I'd say December was a lot of fun. I tried my hardest to chill and relax and not get caught up in trying to do more than I needed to. We had a lot of opportunities to serve others and "Light the World" (something that is very easy to do in Manila) so it was just beautiful.  I'll end the post now with my many, many, pictures and wish everyone out there a very happy New Year!!