Bits of the Aftermath

Bits of the aftermathWhen I was in elementary school, there was a fire.  Our house burned down completely.  All that was left was a pile of ruble and some bits of the room in the back of the house where the cellar was.

It was the creepy part of the house actually.  The part of the house we were afraid of as kids.

I believe I was in 1st grade when this happened.  We lost everything.

I have mixed, random memories of this event.  Well, I was in school when it happened but I do have memories of my grandparents picking us up from school and telling us that we no longer had a home; That we would all be staying with them for a while.

They drove us by the house to prove it, and as I watched in awe as the black smoke danced and twirled its way up into the clear blue sky, I remember wondering where our dog Roger was.

Roger didn’t make it.  My memories of that dog are few, but the memory encompassing the upset of that discovery is vivid. I also remember that we had named him Roger because we loved Roger Rabbit.

My grandparents house had a small building next to it the size of a shed.  This building contained an open room with a bed on one side and a bathroom on the other side of it.  This is where we stayed after the house burned down.  All 7 of us.

It’s weird to think of that now.  How we all crammed in that little space together and coexisted there for that time.  When you’re a kid, things like that can seem like an adventure.  Like a camping trip.  Something new and out of the ordinary.  That’s a good thing, the blissful ignorance of childhood.

Some nice people in the town collected money and everyone pitched in to buy us a mobile home.  They placed it on the land that was previously adorned with our house.  We lived there, all 7 of us, for a couple of years until my parents purchased a new home closer to where my dad worked.

When I returned to school, I walked into my classroom and was greeted by compassion and empathy.  My desk was surrounded by bags full of toys and clothes.  Everyone had pitched in to give us anything they could.  Everyone was eager to help.

I remember standing there in shock and unable to move.  I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears. I was surrounded and attacked with hugs.  It was my first lesson for a lot of things.  Compassion, empathy, sympathy, sorrow, loss, unity, sincere thankfulness…and hope.

The remaining ruble of what once was our home became a playground for us.  We would climb the bits of brick and shout from atop the aftermath of an event that had surely caused my parents great heartache.

To us, the ruble and brick was a castle.  A great prop to an imaginary kingdom.  We could be princesses in that castle.  We could be kings.  We could be strong, brave knights.

The bit of aftermath was a great fortress too.  We could hide from our imaginary enemies.  We could climb to the highest part of the fortress and proclaim that we had conquered it.  We could state that we had won.

With the bits of the aftermath, we could be anything.  As long as we could dream and laugh and play.

Time later concealed the remains of those bits of aftermath.  Eventually, grass and earth covered the ruble and created a small hill.  The slate of land was clean and fresh again.  Renewed for a new beginning.

I hope to never forget that.


Possibility is Endless

Possibility is EndlessThis town is slush.  The snowstorm brought several inches of snow last week and then came the rain.  On my drive the other day, everything was a haze.

When rain and warmer temps met with the snow, a foggy steam-like mist was created.

I looked across an open field, and couldn’t tell the difference between sky and land.  The colors matched perfectly and everything in between land and sky was masked by this haze.

It was like a picture of space, only everything was white, and of course, there were no stars.  It looked as if it was endless and infinite.

It made me feel like possibility itself really is endless.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a thing before.  What I mean is, I’ve never looked out my window in this state and not seen an array of color.

Or maybe, I just wasn’t ready to pay attention to those things before.

The route to my moms place from here takes us by a wind farm.  There are giant poles cemented in the fields that stretch for miles and miles.  Blades that spin like a helicopters propellers on the front of each one.

I couldn’t even see those through this haze.  Those giant, man-made industrial looking creations.  Planted in farmland, sprouting up as far as the eye can see, like giant flowers; Massive, colorless pin wheels made of steel.

It made me feel like we really know how to take away from what is natural and beautiful in this world.

Right now, this town is slush.  My brain is mush from the gray and white, the blandness of my view from the window.  But, I’m still grateful to be here.

To be in this town of slush, with this brain of mush, in this state of farm-land and giant, steel pin wheels.  To have seen sky blend with land.  To feel like possibility is endless.

Give it Up, Girl

Give It Up

I’m going to have to admit it.  I’ve been stuck in the house for 8 days now.  Let’s make this clear.  Eight days in the house with my two kids, who also haven’t left this house for 8 days.

Can we say, stir crazy? Or cabin fever maybe? Or oh my goodness, we are going crazy?!

Anyhow, I let it get the best of me today.  I have been getting irritable.  Partially because the kids are getting bored and irritable, and partially because I am too.

You know what I have realized tonight though?  Aside from the mess that gets cleaned up and messed up and cleaned up again (on a daily basis), I really, really, love my family.  They are awesome.  The best, really.

Even though Ashley acts as if she is starved for attention most of the time (because I have dedicated so much attention entirely to her for so long), she is such a sweetheart.  You would not believe the thoughtful things she does, all on her own.

When Ryan works, she asks me when he will be home.  If I say that he should be home soon, she immediately climbs the bookshelf, picks out two of his books, and places them on the arm of the chair he loves to sit in.

She says, “I’m going to do something just for Ryan.”

It is so sweet, and really considerate and thoughtful.

Jackson, well even though he’s only almost a year and a half old, he’s very demanding. Actually, lately he has been REALLY attached to me.  I’m not sure if this is what all little boys do at this age, or if it’s because he’s been stuck indoors with me for eight days straight, but it’s really crazy how attached he is lately.

He can be very forceful and aggressive when he wants me to do something for him.  For example, if I’m in the kitchen trying to cook, he’ll come up and push me as hard as he can, until I acknowledge him.  Then, when I do, he’ll grab my hand and lead me to a place he wants to go.  It’s usually the bathroom tub or sink, because he LOVES playing with water.

But, you know what?  That little boy is so sweet too.  He comes to me because he knows that I’m the one who gives him the things he wants.  He comes to me when he’s hungry or thirsty.  He leads me to the kitchen and points to the faucet for a drink.  Even though he isn’t as vocal as my daughter was at that age, he uses his little, mighty and forceful strength, to tell me what he needs.  I love him for that.

Now, as for Ryan.  My poor sweetheart has felt a bit of the wrath of me the past couple days.  I have been so emotional.  I need some fresh air, some sunlight.  Well, air that isn’t -50 degrees and sunlight that isn’t just a reflection off the blaring 8 feet of snow.

I started to get crabby about the sink that was filling with dishes after I had everything cleaned up and he began to rant in argument and I realized that it was all so pointless.

I mean, really? What the heck are we doing?  Do I really want to spend an hour arguing about some stupid dishes and spend an entire evening and night angry about it? No…and as a matter of fact, NEVER.

Sometimes you just have realize what’s going on.  What’s really going on and why it’s going on, I mean.  We have been cooped up and let’s be honest.  If you barricade the exits and trap anything in a cage, it’s going to go a little crazy before it gives up and rests.

So, I spent a little time going crazy…and now it’s time to give up and rest.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I understand why you used to threaten to throw all of our toys away when we were kids.  We thought it was unfair and ridiculous, but I see it clearly now.  I understand why you expected us to help with the chores. 

Sometimes, it’s just too much for one woman to handle.  I’m beginning to think that maybe you were the Asian Superwoman.

I get it now. Even though we had a ton of toys, you still continued to buy us the new ones because we just had to have them. I understand because even though my kids have mountains of things, we continue to add more things.

The proof that mountains can grow is in each of their rooms.

In fact, it has now gone beyond their rooms.  There is even a mountain of toys that started growing in front of the bathroom door today.


These kids are small, but mighty mom. You should be so proud. They moved those there all by themselves today. I had them neatly put away in Jackson’s new toy box.

I’m amazed how easily these children move mountains. They do it so quickly and so effortlessly.

Much more quickly than I was, when I spent hours putting everything away only days before.

I have been working on getting Ashley to start helping by cleaning up her own room. Take a look at what a great job she did.


She says this is clean because before she pushed the mountains of toys against walls, I couldn’t even walk through the door and get to the bed.

So mom, I understand now. Perhaps it took me 32 years, but you can write that one off of your list.

Your daughter Michelle

10 Things to do During a Snow Storm

It’s winter in the Midwest! We’ve been watching the news a lot lately to figure out just how much snow we can expect in our area of the state and to put it simply, it’s not looking good.

We didn’t make a mad rush to the grocery store to fill up 10 carts of milk and bread or anything, but Ryan did make a stop there on the way home from work for onions.

This is what he reported:

“The store shelves and produce were pretty bare. The only onions they had were white onions and there was no bread, at all.”

Oh my dear goodness! What can that possibly mean?

White onions must be the least favorite type of onion in America.

The kids and I get pretty bored when we are stuck in the house for days so I have put together a list of 10 things to do if we get snowed in.

1. Redecorate your walls (you may be staring at them a lot while you’re stuck indoors). I went ahead and took down a shelf and put up a picture gallery, with the help of my honey.20140104-194602.jpg

2. Try a new recipe, like this authentic Filipino dish. Chicken Adobo.

Take a few pieces of chicken, pork, or beef (I usually use chicken because it’s the kids fav) and cook over medium heat in a frying pan or wok. Add fresh minced garlic (or garlic powder) and onions sliced or diced, it’s up to you. Dabble in some soy sauce and cover pan with lid and let it all cook together. Should be done in 20 to 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked). In the meantime, make some white rice. I use a rice cooker, but if you don’t have one, follow the directions on packaging for cooking rice on the stove. Pour chicken adobo over rice in a bowl and dinner is served. It’s so tasty too. I haven’t met a single person that doesn’t love it.

3.  Organize the Clutter.

If your family is like mine, you know that areas that were once in perfect order can easily become over cluttered.  Take a look in those drawers and clear out what you don’t need.  Being trapped indoors is the perfect time to organize areas like book shelves and put random papers and folders where they belong.

4.  Work on some DIY projects.

Get creative and start working on those DIY projects you’ve been dreaming you had the time to do! I did a couple of Shadowbox frame projects to add to my picture wall, but you can work on whatever you want.


5.  Clean, Polish, & Disinfect.  Make everything sparkle.

Okay so maybe your house looks clean already, but it could always be cleaner right? How about taking this time to break out the items you may not use every day, like the wood furniture polish. Go ahead and bust out those disinfectants too and sanitize everything. What better time for this than during a winter snowstorm (and cold and flu season, I might add)?

6.  Play with your kids.

If you have wished you had more time to play with your kids, now you do. If the snowstorm has made it impossible to leave the house and get to work, look at it as a free pass for some quality family play time. Work hard, play hard right?

7. Learn something new.

Today I used the resources I had to learn how to use Open Office Writer. There’s no better time to surf the web or thumb through books to teach yourself how to do something new.

8. Pamper yourself a little.

Yes. I’m a mother of two Pre-K kids and I wash a lot of dishes. Can you tell? I swear I just painted those things a couple of days ago and already, they are ready for some TLC. Take a little time for yourself if you can. Take a bath, moisturize that dry winter skin, take a nap, or for goodness sake paint those nails!

9. Read something.

It’s rare that I get a chance to sit down to read a magazine (aside from the waiting room of my kids Doctor office, between chasing them of course). Being cooped up inside leaves plenty of time for chores, organization, play time and even a little left for some leisurely reading. Enjoy it while you can!

10. Love, laugh, smile, and hug. A LOT.

Take some time to love on your main squeeze. Being stuck in the same place with the same people for days can irritate anyone, but instead of bickering, snuggle instead. Who would you rather be stuck indoors with during a blizzard?  You’re probably looking right at them. Enjoy your family, and the love of your life.

Stay warm Midwest folks!