I unexpectedly (and reluctantly) moved back to my hometown. I unexpectedly fell for an old high school classmate, and he unexpectedly proposed to me. We unexpectedly found out I was pregnant, and we got married sooner than expected. Now, we're experiencing the unexpected daily...the good, the bad, the funny, the frustrating. Read all about it...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jamari Isiah's First Christmas!!

We received an abundance of blessings in the form of gifts from family and friends. Some of the gifts came at clutch moments (like a gas card from my father!!). Also, Jamari being 4 1/2 months old around the holidays is perfect timing because he is at the age when he can enjoy a lot of fun infant toys!!  



Santa came around 4 pm this Christmas because he had to wait for my mother to come home from work. Then, the fun really began when Jamari tore open presents and was more interested in the wrapping paper than what was actually wrapped. He was blessed with clothes and toys, and gift cards for more clothes and toys! 

I never forget the reason for the holiday. Jesus is my Savior, and so the celebration of his birth means more to me than receiving and giving presents. However, I lost the other part of the Christmas spirit around my senior year of high school. Meaning, I lost the excitement and drive to go out and buy presents for people, to help decorate, to watch Christmas movies, and so on. It all just started to feel routine, like robotic, I guess? Here it is, Christmas, so we have to put up the tree and the lights, and find some presents for each other. We open presents, we eat, and the big holiday is over before noon. Big whoop.

However, the spirit is back on! Jamari has rekindled Christmas in my heart. He helped me remember that the essence of Christmas is family, and the presents are tangible symbols of their support and love. Giving presents is not about making sure your friends and family get what they want. It's about buying or making them something that lets them know, "Hey, I'm here for you."

The massive amounts of presents under the tree for my son made me feel so grateful that there are a lot of people who are here for us, who love us and want Jamari to have everything he could ever need. This Christmas beat all of my Christmases past.


HAVE A JOYFUL HOLIDAY SEASON AND NEW YEAR!
- Sirron, Jamie, Jamari Isiah, & Stax
(Holiday card created by JennC Designs)


Friday, December 17, 2010

I Helped Feed a Man

He came up to my car. He told me he was hungry. I handed him $2.00 in quarters.
He said, "Thank you, and have a Merry Christmas."
I said, "Same to you."
Then I prayed for him to receive more blessings than cold shoulders.

Other people might not do the same because they'd think...maybe he's addicted to drugs, and he should be putting money towards feeding himself than getting high. Others might also say that it's his own fault that, for some reason, he's on the streets begging, and he shouldn't get any kind of attention because he brought this situation on himself. People might think there are plenty of places he could go. There are soup kitchens and shelters. He needs to help himself. Try a little harder. But maybe he did try, and tried and tried again.

If You Don't Know, Now You Know...

 Unemployment hiked up homelessness, and so shelters are over capacity in an attempt to accomodate everyone in need. Some shelters have to turn people away. It is even harder to accomplish this in the winter months! Here are a few links of news stories regarding this issue between 2009 and 2010:

Shelters lose funding, are forced to close or reduce services and beds, sending the homeless back to square one. This is like a double whammy for those who sought help because they were affected by the recession. Again, articles between 2009 and 2010:
On some level, we all could use a hand out, a boost, a little "suttin, suttin" to get us through. I would hope it wouldn't matter if I were homeless, on drugs, supposedly "not trying hard enough" to make my life better. I would hope it wouldn't matter if the reason I couldn't find work was because of a criminal record or because I have a drinking problem. I would hope someone would figure out a way to help me somehow, even if it is putting some pocket change in my hand.  It is also important to recognize the new faces of poverty: former teachers, receptionists, fast food workers, etc. Working class people.

The bottom line is that even if I were out on the streets, whatever my history, I'd essentially still be a human being trying to survive in this world...a whole lot like you. I don't think it's fair to judge or blame the men and women on the streets who may need a bite to eat. In this economy, you could be next.

After the gentleman and I exchanged our wishes for a happy holiday, I drove off a happier person, and I am confident he walked away a little happier too.

Check Me Out on BlogHer.com!!!

I am so excited that one of my blog posts has been chosen as a feature on BlogHer!!

For those of you who don't know, BlogHer.com is a community of women who love to blog and who share an interest in social media. It is an avenue for women to voice their opinions, learn about other people's views, and gain insight on topics ranging from politics to family.

I am so grateful and I feel very honored that I will be featured on their home page today.

Please check it out!! Find me on BlogHer and discover what makes millions of readers flock to this site every month!! Take a step further and register to be part of this community of funny, intelligent, and supportive women!

Thanks, BlogHer for this amazing opportunity to reach out to millions!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

F* Without Guilt!

ANYWHERE!
ANY TIME YOU WANT!
DO IT!
AND DO IT WITH PRIDE!
YOU CAN DO IT BY YOURSELF.
OR WITH A PARTNER.
OR YOUR BEST FRIEND.
HECK, YOUR NEIGHBOR.
EVEN YO’ MAMA!

Huh?! What?!

Just listen (or read, rather).

I felt two types of guilt.

The First Type: I felt guilty because I thought my husband felt left out, and I wanted a way for him to feel included.

The Second Type: I felt guilty because, when I chose to do it, I thought I was a bad person.

I’M TALKING ABOUT FORMULA FEEDING, PEOPLE!

Get your mind out the gutter.

While I was pregnant, I was adamant about being the type of mother who breastfed for at least the first six months of my son’s life. I planned on pumping out bottles like a Coca-Cola factory when I had to go to work, or if I ever just needed a break. I was prepared to have my son attached to my hip, so that I could feed him every two hours, round the clock, day in, day out.

I was convinced that the best moms breastfed their babies.

However…

The First Type made me realize that if I breastfed exclusively, my husband might feel useless (for lack of better words). If my baby cried out of hunger while my husband held him, I felt so bad having to take him so he could eat. It seemed like I was taking away quality time between father and son.

The Second Type made me feel like a lazy, careless mother for not going the all-natural route of exclusive breastfeeding. I felt selfish for wanting a break from constantly waking up to feed my baby. I felt selfish for wanting to go back to work, instead of being at my son’s beck and call 24/7. I also felt bad because older mothers were proud of my decision to breastfeed, since it does take a lot of dedication (and pain tolerance!).

I came to the conclusion that combining breast and formula feeding would please both sides. My husband could feed him and I would not feel bad about them not being able to bond at all. My son takes to formula well, unlike some babies who get sick from it. I could still give my son what’s considered the best diet for his growth and development.

However…

My son screeched constantly after feedings, and unless I gave him a bottle to supplement, he was not getting enough to fill his little tummy.

Then I realized that my own diet was actually hurting my son. I barely ate anything, and when I did eat, it sure as heck wasn’t the right amount of vitamins and minerals and stuff like that. It wasn’t enough for me, let alone me and him. I figured that formula would always supply my son with the important stuff that may not always be available from me. Sometimes, people do not realize that breastfeeding is a lot like being pregnant still. You have to eat for two, meaning eating sensibly for two. I could get by with eating only a sandwich or two, with a few snacks in between. But that wasn’t going to be enough for both me and my son, nope!

So I came to the conclusion that formula works better for us.

Oh no! (Gasp!) No way! Not formula!!

Whatever.

My son is developing very normally, even slightly faster than some breastfed babies. He is extremely happy - I’ve said this a dozen times - he smiles and laughs way more than he fusses and cries.

And most importantly…he is healthy.

In the battle of Breast Milk v. Formula...ding, ding, ding! a happy child with either diet wins.

If you feel alone in the world because everyone hates you for being a "quitter" for turning to formula, don't worry about what other people are thinking. Every baby is different. Every situation is different. Formula is made to be almost exactly like breast milk (unfortunately, it's the word "almost" that gets people's panties all tied up in knots). I say...

F* all you want, sister!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's World AIDS Day

But why does it seem like nobody is as aware of this as they are of, let's say, Breast Cancer Awareness Month? (It just seems this way, but I hope I'm wrong!)

Why am I surprised to find out that a lot of people on Blogger are not posting anything about this?

Why am I shocked at the fact that Google chose to commemorate Rosa Parks' defiance on the bus, instead of increasing awareness of AIDS facts and research developments, on its homepage?

Why did everyone turn their Facebook profile pictures pink in October, but not red today?

Is it because people think that, since it is spread through unprotected sex, those who have it deserve it for not being more careful?

Is it because people believe that it is a gay person's disease, and they are against homosexuality?

Is it because people think that only promiscuous people have the disease?

Is it because people think it is really only a big problem in Africa?

Is it because people think it is rampant within poorer populations, those who are already "taking advantage" of the system?

Or is it because drug users who share needles contract the disease, and so because they are addicts, they should not be helped?

I don't care.

Because it's not true.

HIV/AIDS affects more people than drug users, sexually active people, homosexuals, and disadvantaged communities. Sadly, there is a social stigma on this disease. And that disgusts me.

Any person could unexpectedly contract the disease, especially when engaging in unprotected sex. Let's be real with ourselves and admit not everyone uses a condom (or uses them correctly) every time. That's how babies are made, silly!

HIV/AIDS is not a dirty person's disease. Many people are going about their daily lives who don't even know they're infected! Unless you and your partner get tested, you'll never know for sure if either of you have the disease if you've had previous sexual partners (including those with whom you've only had oral sex).

WORST OF ALL...

Children are born with HIV/AIDS, or contract the disease through the breast milk from their infected mothers.

These children could not prevent themselves from getting infected.

ONE, a non-profit organization committed to diminishing global poverty, stated on their website that 1,000 babies are stillborn in Sub-Saharan Africa every year due to HIV/AIDS.

However, it also states the brighter side...research and medical advancements (aided by funds raised by people like you and me!), is helping. Access to healthcare is improving. Immunizations are helping children survive and live longer, giving them a hope for the future, hope that as they grow up, a cure will be discovered.

But it's not just affecting children in Africa. This is a global issue. It affects people, no matter who they are, how much money they have, or who they choose to love.

HIV/AIDS is an illness that is way, way beyond the stigma that it is a poor, drug-addicted, homosexual's disease.

We need to be less ignorant and more helpful.

http://www.broadwayhouse.org/ (I used to intern here, and by the end of the semester, I learned that a lot of the employees were HIV positive. I would've never guessed by looking at them...because that's impossible.)
http://www.one.org/
http://www.keepachildalive.org/
http://www.projecthope.org/
http://www.youthaids.org/
http://www.ejaf.org/
http://www.fhssa.org/
http://www.actionaids.org/
http://www.gmhc.org/
http://www.aids.org/
http://www.unaids.org/
http://www.worlded.org/
http://www.who.int/hiv/en/

Now you can't say you have no idea where to get information or how to get involved.

Help make change.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

At a Drop of a Hat...

Imagine going on vacation to visit relatives you have not seen in decades. You are having a great time catching up with your brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, et cetera. They decide to take you sightseeing and shopping.


Then, all of a sudden, while you are in the middle of the mall...


You collapse.


You are in a coma for weeks, and you leave your family wondering if you'll ever wake up from this indefinite sleep.


This is what recently happened to a close family friend. She had not been home to the Philippines in over 20 years. Now, it is uncertain whether or not she'll have the chance to leave the country again.


We can only think positively, only pray for the best.


As the blog title suggests, life is full of nothing but the unexpected. Life changes by the second...


By one moment.
By one word spoken.
By one word left unsaid.
By one accident.
By one triumph.
By one coincidence.
By one decision.


As much as we prepare and plan, the "unexpectations" get the best of us. Some are good, some are tragic. Some change us for the better, some for the worse.


It is important to live with hope, to be more positive than negative, because we do not know how much longer we have on Earth, because the length of our lives are unknown, because at a drop of a hat everything can change.


I believe in the power of prayer, and so if more people pray for her recovery, the more likely she will awaken once again. All I ask is for your prayers. She is a woman of God and a friend to so many. She is also a wife and a mother. This could be anyone you know.

Even if you don't believe in a higher power or in praying, the least you could do is provide your well wishes and hope that she comes through. It has been quite a few weeks since her collapse in the mall...and we are praying and hoping that she can enjoy another Christmas.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Too Much to be Thankful For...

  • God's undying love and forgiveness. I am far from a saint, but I know that God has hope in me, otherwise I would not still be living.
  • My parents' sacrifices for me. They may think I take them for granted, but they have no idea how lucky I feel to have them.
  • My son's good health and happiness. I have never met a baby as happy as he is. I don't know what we are doing right, but he smiles and laughs a million times more than he cries. 
  • My husband's dedication to our family. I am so grateful that he is a good husband and an even better father. 
  • My sorority sisters. It's not four years, it's for life. Two of them were my bridesmaids, and they truly are my second family.
  • My best friend, who stuck by me through a whole lot during college. She's one of the only people I genuinely trust. 
This Thanksgiving was a difficult one. It was a day of mixed emotions, as I came to blows with people who deserve to be treated a lot better. However, it remained a day of family, at the end of it all, and this year I've learned more than ever the importance of having a family, as well as how fortunate I am to have their support.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Being 25

I've been 25 since October 25th. 


If you notice, that was the day after my last post. Let me tell you why...


Turning 25 seems to be a big deal to most people. I kept putting this post on hold, not knowing exactly what to write about. I just knew 25 is important, so I must write something big, something meaningful, something that explains how turning 25 could change a person.


A quarter of your life is gone.
You are officially in the later part of your 20s, which brings you that much closer to 30.
You're halfway to 50! 


So, I figured that I needed a really meaningful post, something to sum up the importance of turning 25 and moving into what most people would consider "real" adulthood.


I edited. I re-edited. I typed. I deleted. All to realize the truth behind Aaliyah's words, "Age ain't nothin' but a number." 

Yes, turning 25 is important. It is a big deal. It means something. However...



Becoming one year older will always be important. It will always be a big deal. It always means something. 


Becoming one year older means that God is not through with you yet. It means that you have more to contribute to this world. It means that something bigger and even better is bound to happen. 


The number of years we spend in this world is nothing compared to the number of moments we create. Yes, certain ages mark certain milestones: 16 or 17 for your driver's license, 18 (well, 19 now) to buy cigarettes, 18 to vote, 21 to gamble legally (or at least walk through a casino floor in AC), 21 to drink. But if you think about it...every year is significant. Every year, there is a milestone in your life, something important that has happened to you.
That's because God gives you a purpose to live every day of your life until he says, "You've done all that you're supposed to," and you go home to Him, or to wherever you believe you're going after this life. 


I have realized why it's been so hard to write about turning 25.


It's because it is no different than turning 22, 23, or 24...or 8, 9, or 10, for that matter.


If you live life the way it ought to be lived (in my opinion, at least) ... it doesn't matter what age you're turning, as long as every year on the day you were born, you just celebrate the very fact that you were allowed to live another year.


Life is about the way you feel, the way you live, the way you view each day, each month, each year as a blessing rather than one day, one month, one year closer to the end. 


I might have turned 25, but I don't see it as getting older. I see it as getting another opportunity from God to make my life, and the lives of others, that much better, that much more memorable, that much more worth living.

Yes, turning 25 is important. And if I live right...then every year here on out will be important to me and to those I hope to affect positively until I am due to rest for good.


Today, after about two years of contemplating, I've formed my personal mission statement:
I will not go through life unheard, unrecognized, or unhelpful.


And you know what? It doesn't matter how old I am as long as I always live according to this statement.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"But How Are You Two Doing?"

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the night my husband proposed. Thinking about this past year,  I've been reflecting on the outside factors of our relationship - our families, friends, exes, and money.

I've come to realize that the outside factors are a heavy influence on how we get along as a couple. During the past year, and the first few months of our relationship prior to our engagement, we've hit some major bumps on the road. We've encountered and tackled numerous obstacles. We've had arguments about our past relationships because they've somehow influenced us as a couple. We were raised very differently, and so we've argued over different values, beliefs, and even the way we do laundry and handle money. Our friends are different, so there has also been conflict over how we spend our time away from each other. No matter what, nothing has broken us (so far!). We're living testaments of the overly used cliche, "What does not kill you makes you stronger."

Our parents are still very much involved in our lives. After all, we live in my parents' basement and they are helping us buy a house. Both sides of our family tell us how we should handle certain situations, how we should make time for each other, and how we should raise our son.

My point is, a couple can hear everyone else's opinion on their relationship and their growing family. Money is hands down one of the hardest things to communicate about, which explains why it is the cause of most divorces. I think that couples should always listen to the advice of other people, but ultimately go with what they believe is best for them.

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by how other people, especially parents, expect you to do things the way they want you to. Sometimes we try to meet those expectations because we've grown up trying to appease and please our parents. However, it can be hard to fulfill those expectations while trying to learn and grow as a couple and/or a family. It's also hard to ignore those expectations when they are constantly being brought up and...well, expected to happen. It can become a struggle of how to make everyone in your world happy and satisfied.

The way you were raised does not necessarily have to be the way you raise your children. The way your parents handle their marriage does not necessarily have to be the way you handle yours. Life is not about "copying and pasting" others' ways of life. It is about molding your SELF.

So, when other people tell us their opinion of how to argue, how to manage our finances (okay, we actually do need help with this!), how to take care of our kid, how to do pretty much anything they think we need to learn...I try so hard not to be annoyed or frustrated. Instead, I think about how the two of us are doing. Despite a financial blow and the need to move out of our apartment, we are taking everything in stride, rebuilding our life together, and trying to keep levelheaded. Because of this (rather large) obstacle, we are being criticized, analyzed, and publicized (which is the worst of all - my dad is quick to tell everyone how much he's been helping us).  We feel inadequate, unreliable, irresponsible, untrustworthy, and most of all - like leeches. We do not want to be any of that, and we are fighting and working hard toward the goal of standing on our own. We will always need (and always appreciate) guidance, but we want to rely on others as little as possible.

Sometimes I feel like a big disappointment in the eyes of my parents and my in-laws. However, sometimes I need to forget how they feel and remember how my husband feels. In the end, he's the one I am going to live with for the rest of my life. He's the one who will be affected the most by my opinions and decisions. He's the one to whom I'm married. 

Above all obstacles, we have to remember that we're dedicated to each other and our son before anyone else. We have to think about how we are doing as a couple, despite everything happening around us and to us, and despite what everyone else is saying, thinking, and trying to make us do. As long as we continue to love and respect each other, we will always be happy no mater what.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Fat Talk Free Week!!

I am famous for staring at the mirror (or a car window, a glass door, my cell phone...anything that shows a reflection of me) and checking myself. Some people think it's because I'm full of myself, but it's actually the opposite. More times than not I point out things I don't like about myself rather than the good things. I am pretty self-conscious about my body. My upper arms have always been an issue for me. I get bloated any time I swallow any piece of food, so it seems like I have an ugly beer belly. I know I can tone my body a whole lot better with more dedication to working out. And it doesn't help that I just had a baby two and a half months ago. My body is all out of whack because of it -- my face is chubby, my stomach still makes me feel like I swallowed a watermelon, and my legs are ginormous.

BUT WAIT. It's Fat Talk Free Week, a full week dedicated to preventing people from talking themselves down, critiquing every part of their body that sags, and asking the questions, "Does this make me look fat?" or "Have you lost a few pounds?"

Therefore, I cannot look at myself and think negatively about my body. I cannot ask my husband if my arms look huge in the tank top I'm wearing. I cannot stare at my belly and hate myself for not starting my workout routine sooner after having my son. I cannot look at another girl wearing a skintight dress and measure my body against hers.

I have never heard of Fat Talk Free Week until I read about it on Time.com (the article is the link I provided above). I think it is an awesome way to help people make a conscious effort of looking at themselves in a different, more positive way, avoiding any talk about weight. In the same manner, it helps people talk to others without mentioning weight gain or loss (for instance, it is better to say something like, "You look great in that top!" instead of, "Wow, it looks like you've lost some weight!").

It is so much easier said than done. As a matter of fact, just while writing this post, I looked in the mirror and straight at my protruding tummy thinking, "I gotta get on my ab routine!" It is such a subconscious and natural act for me to critique myself in a negative way rather than point out the good parts about myself. It is just as natural for me to size up other girls. 

Then and Now
It's hard for me to even share these before-and-after shots! While I was pregnant, I refused to take belly pics, but honestly, I didn't have a huge, huge belly. In the latter part of my pregnancy, people could not believe that I was as far along as I told them. But, being self-conscious, I figured they were only being polite. Recently, however, I stopped untagging "fat pics" of me on Facebook because I think being pregnant is a good excuse for why my body isn't in the best of shape yet. I guess that's a step in the right direction?

My body in August 2009, about three months before I conceived my son

My body two months after Jamari's birth

By substituting negative thinking with positive, we automatically start feeling better about ourselves and start believing the positive thoughts over the negative ones. I am definitely going make an effort to shift my focus in the way Fat Talk Free Week encourages. The article I've shared shows examples of what "fat talk" is and how it affects a person's body image. I think this is a phenomonal step toward alleviating poor self-esteem and encouraging self-praise.


Instead of saying "Eww, how'd I get so fat??" I want to be able to look at myself and say, "For someone who had a baby just two and a half months ago, I could look a whole lot worse than this!"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Past's Influence on the Present

Ohhhh, the dreaded questions...


How many girlfriends/boyfriends have you had?
Did you ever cheat on any of them?
How many serious relationships have you been in?
What was your longest relationship?
Were you ever in true love?
Ever have a one-night stand?
How many people have you had sex with?

If you delve too deeply too soon, you're a creep.
If you constantly ask your significant other about his or her past, you're obsessive.
If you don't ask anything at all, you're sketch and might be hiding something about your previous relationships.

It's like we're looking for trouble by asking! But really, can anyone say they can go into a relationship without wanting to know the answers to any of the above?

Yes, it's important to know about the history behind the person you're dating. Yes, it's perfectly fine to ask questions. No, it's not okay to hang over a guy's head the fact that he has cheated before. No, it's not okay to assume a girl is undateable based on her "number" (so apparently "undateable" isn't a really word, but I'm using it anyway).


AND NO, it's not okay to base your current relationship on another one from your own past. Uh duh, there is a reason why that one ended. So, don't go around saying, "My ex did this, that, and the other thing," because your current man or woman does not want to be compared to someone else you might have loved once.If you cannot shake the memories, maybe there's a reason. Some people go into relationships wanting to still be with their former significant other. No one wants to be the rebound, so try to spare a heart from breaking.


Also, some people have done naughty, naughty things when they were younger, and they probably didn't think about how their decisions could affect their lives in the long run. I mean, think about it...say you know a boy from high school who liked streaking through backyards back in the day. You think that, at 24 years old, it's still his favorite pasttime?


Some people DO mature.
Some people DO change.


We've all heard the phrase, "You can't turn a whore into a housewife," but we shouldn't generalize. 


Besides, everyone could use a little redemption in their lives. If God can be forgiving, can't you??


Seriously, people really do grow up to realize that what they did when they were younger won't fly if they were to do it now. They realize that they should take relationships and themselves more seriously if they ever expect to settle down and have a meaningful connection with someone else.


If you made one mistake in your life, would you like it if everyone judged you for it forever and ever, never giving you a chance to prove that it's not something you'll do again?


Trusting someone else with your heart takes a lot of guts, a large dose of faith, and a willingness to get over what's been said and done.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Kind of Mother I Hope to Be

Jamari is two months today, and so this has prompted me to think about the kind of mother I hope to be when he gets older.

I want to be a parent with whom Jamari can relate. Meaning, I would never pretend that I hadn't made mistakes Jamari might eventually make. I would never make him feel like I don't understand what he is going through, if he is going through a difficult time, whether it be with a girlfriend, school, or friends. I want to teach him lessons by relating his experiences to my own. I think that, by being relatable, Jamari will know that he can talk to me about anything because I will talk to him about anything.

I grew up not knowing very much at all about my parents' experiences when they were younger. I'm not sure if they are hiding anything, or if they just don't feel comfortable talking to me about their lives prior to being married. My dad has little stories he shares about his 22 1/2 years serving in the US Navy. My mom has never spoken about her life as a nursing student. The  three of us and my brother all lived in the same house but hardly know each other. I do not want to be like this with Jamari because if I am uncomfortable talking to him, then he will be uncomfortable talking to me.

I will never make Jamari feel like a failure, even if he has failed. If he were to come home with a failing grade, of course I will let him know that I am disappointed. However, instead of punishing him, I would offer my help or suggest ways he can improve his grades. Trust me, he may not get punished for an F, but I'm sure there will be many, many other reasons he will be on punishment! I just personally don't believe it makes sense to punish someone who failed a class or a test, unless outside factors, like hanging out with friends when he should be studying, influenced the grade.

I want to be able hang out with Jamari without him thinking it's uncool. There may come a time when he'll feel like a loser hanging out with his mom at the mall, but until then (hopefully that won't ever happen!), I will take advantage of spending time with him.  I doubt he'll ever be embarrassed hanging out with me because most likely we'll spend our time together playing sports or going to the gym or watching movies at home.

I don't want Jamari to think I am too old to do anything with him or for him. I tried getting my mom to do things that I thought would be cool, but she pulled the "old age" card even when she wasn't that old. She still isn't old, but she aged herself mentally.

If Jamari wants to stay out late at night a couple of weekends, I'll let him. As long as my husband and I teach him right from wrong, I know I can never monitor his every move, and coming home at a reasonable time never prevents a kid from doing something he shouldn't. Besides, I do not want to rob him of what could potentially be the best memories of his life.

Today, Jamari is two months, and I am so grateful God has given me a chance to be a mother, and to see this face every day:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"When You're Down to Nothing, God is Up to Something"

I don't know where that quote originated, but it was definitely timely for me to find it in an e-mail.

I am a firm believer that God's mysterious ways always work in our favor. I also believe the quote above. Therefore,
  • I will try harder not to make the lives around me any more difficult than they already are...
  • I will be grateful instead of distraught that I just had to move my family into my parents' basement last week...
  • I will not be hard on myself for destroying my Galant this past Monday...
  • I will help my husband get through this trying time...
... And I will leave it up to God to guide us to where we belong spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.

I may no longer have my only operating car.
I might have had to swallow my pride and ask my parents to help us.
I might have had to sacrifice privacy in order to save money.

But,

At least I was not injured and no one else was in the car, especially my son.
At least I have my parents, who are always willing to help me as best as they can.
At least we have a means to save for a better and more secure financial future.

For every negative there is a brighter positive. My husband and I are living our vows of being there for each other for "poorer" and "worse," and God willing, we will get through to the "richer" and "better" side. 

I'm over feeling sorry for our situation, knowing that God has a plan for us; we just have to put up with the rain until the sun shines again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

So You Want to Marry Outside of Your Race?

I am not against it, obviously, because I am in an interracial marriage and as a result, we have created one gorgeous mixed baby boy. In case you're curious, this is what a Filipino-Panamanian-Brazilian baby looks like (really, I don't care if you  happen to be wondering what one looks like; I just like showing him off):


Anyway, I totally get why people, especially older generations, want their sons and daughters to marry within their race or religion. It ensures that the heritage stays alive and well throughout time. However, in a world that is ever shrinking thanks to technology, and due to immigration, especially in the United States, that brings together diverse cultures, it seems less important to marry someone of the same race or religion because we're not restricted to living with just one race or religion.

In my case, even if I wanted to marry a Filipino, my options were limited. I live in a town where, although there is diversity, Filipino guys my age are few and far between. I think that access, so to speak, is also a factor as to why it just seems improbable for people to marry others of the same background. 

I understand that there are many pros to marrying within your race or religion - the compatibility of both families, the continuation of traditions, shared language and beliefs, and even the aspect of avoiding criticism from the community or racist remarks from the less open minded. I also think that there are many pros to marrying outside of your background. For instance, there is a fusion of cultures and traditions; thus, people can learn from each other and experience things of which they otherwise would not have had the chance. 

I am pretty excited for the future because the percentage of interracial marriages is increasing. That means there are going to be more and more people like my son. Hopefully that means there will be less and less ignorance and more understanding of different cultures. The link I've shared is from a CNN article from this past June. It mentions how interracial marriages were illegal back in the day (approximately 50 years ago). I cannot fathom the idea of such law, and I am grateful that we no longer have to live by that rule. It also mentions that men and women in my age range (aka - the future leaders of society) are more accepting of interracial relationships.

We are at a time when generations are colliding when it comes to tradition. Older generations, especially those who immigrated to the US, hope that their kids find someone of the same background for whatever reason they may have. So bringing a guy or girl home who is unlike you can cause a rift between you and your family (think about "Our Family Wedding" or "Guess Who," which are comedies that bring to light very real issues on interracial relationships).  

If you happen to be in the same situation I was in - wanting to marry someone of a different background but having parents who prefer you to marry within your race - think about all aspects, understand where your family is coming from, and ultimately make the right decision for yourself, and be prepared to live with that decision for the rest of your life. I think it's important not to assume your parents are racist or ignorant (unless they actually are, which is a whole different issue); they want you to marry within your race or religion because they want continuity in the family, and they don't want your culture to be forgotten or lost in history. It's along the same lines as a man hoping that his pregnant wife has a son so that his last name can be passed down.

I don't think one race or religion could be forgotten over the other as long as a couple upholds both of their traditions, does not forget where they come from, and raises their children to appreciate and practice these traditions.

Having a population full of people like my son, whose blood flows with more than one race, could perhaps mean a more educated population, a population more open to learning about different cultures, traditions, religions, etc. This could mean people like my son could feel more accepted by their peers because they'll have more people with whom they can relate. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's 4:30 AM: Do You Know Why Your Baby's Crying?

My son Jamari is a fairly good baby. He doesn't cry or whine for no reason; he only makes noise when he needs something, like a diaper change for the one millionth time.

In the same manner that I can see why someone would want to commit suicide, or becomes addicted to drugs, or resorts to illegal occupations like prostitution...I could see how people can reach the boiling point with their babies and end up violently shaking them out of frustration, especially if these people already have preexisting anger management issues.

It can be very annoying to hear a baby wail at the top of his or her lungs, craving attention and needing care. It's especially frustrating when you have no idea why the baby cries, or if you have a baby who tends to cry for no apparent reason. Throw in the fact that he or she is crying at ungodly hours, like at 4:30 in the morning, or at the worst possible times, like right before you have to leave for work.    

Like I said, I am so thankful Jamari does not cry for nothing. However, there were times when he would cry and I had no idea why. I eventually learned that it was because he either wanted to be held or moved from his crib to his beloved swing (which is, by the way, a savior! It soothes him right to sleep, and he cries a whole lot less when he's chillin' in it). But before I figured that out, I was afraid I had a colicky baby who wasn't going to let up no matter what I tried! There were nights when I had the nerve to say, "Shut up, already! You just ate, I just changed you, so there is nothing more you could possibly need! You're a freakin' baby!"

Thankfully, my frustrations were only verbal and I didn't actually scream at him; I only used a very stern (but severely irritated) voice. It was then that I learned that patience truly is a virtue, and a life saver to boot. Because if parents are easily angered, impatient, and lacking sleep, they may not take the time like I did to learn their baby; thus resulting in the unnecessary (and extremely, extremely sad)  infant deaths caused by Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Approximately 1,000 to 3,000 kids die each year in the United States because of Shaken Baby Syndrome (the link directs you to the New York State Department of Health, so click on it if you're interested in the facts of SBS). This is 100% percent avoidable, and NEEDS to be avoided. I am not an expert on how to soothe a crying baby; besides, every baby is different. Jamari is easy; others are not. All I know is that parents and caregivers need to feel their babies out, learn what they like and dislike, and eventually it'll get easier. But if you have a colicky baby and one who cries for no apparent reason...I don't have advice for that, except, whatever you do, DO NOT VIOLENTLY SHAKE YOUR CHILD!

For some people it is a whole lot easier said than done, but every effort must be made to remain patient so that you don't lose your cool and do something you will definitely regret later, and have to live with for the rest of your life. We must all understand that babies cannot talk, and their way of communicating is through crying. When I start to feel a little annoyed, I remember that there isn't anything else he can do but cry, and I think about what he's going to be like when he starts talking. And if he talks for as long as he cries, he's gonna be an earful! But who violently shakes someone who doesn't shut up? Not too many people, I'm guessing. That's just my little trick when I start to get fed up with the fussiness. Remember: it's their language.   

I know that this blog doesn't have a large following, but I hope that it reaches at least one person who needs to read this post.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's Wrong With Telling Kids White Lies?

My husband and I were in the car one evening and he turned on the light so that I can look for something while he drove. I hurriedly looked for the missing item, and when it was found, immediately shut off the light. Why the hurry?

Well, a long time ago when I was like 4 or 5 years old, I used to turn on the dome light for whatever purpose. One night I turned the light on, but my parents told me that if I kept the light on they'd get pulled over. So, for the longest time (and I mean from that night until, like, three years ago) I thought it was illegal to turn interior lights on while driving, so I always turned them on and off quickly if I ever needed them. 

I try to shut the light off as quickly as possible, even though I know I can legally drive with it on, because some part of my brain still sends the signal that what I am doing is wrong.

It's funny how some white lies will stick until the truth is finally explained.

"Very creative little white lies told to children" lists some parents' white lies, and they are so useful! I know I probably shouldn't use the article as a reference guide...but how can't I?!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weddings!!

Our Parents

 The happy couple before the reception.

 My Bridesmaids (sister-in-law, cousin, Maid of Honor, and two of my sorority sisters)

In the Filipino culture, weddings include sponsors called ninongs (male sponsors) and ninangs (female sponsors). They are considered "godparents" to the couple and serve as witnesses and are supportive throughout the marriage. These are our ninongs and ninangs, with a few missing.

I went to a wedding for a college friend about two weeks ago, and it was a gorgeous outdoor ceremony. I was in love with the bridesmaid dresses and the live band at the reception. Yesterday I went to my sorority big sister's wedding, which was a traditional Muslim ceremony followed by a kick-ass reception with a father-daughter dance that included an adorable performance to Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" (just imagine an elderly Indian man breaking it down - it was too cute, and if my camera didn't die I would've spoiled your imagination with a picture). I have one more wedding next month, and I am looking forward to it because it's for one of my husband's groomsmen who also happens to be a childhood friend (we stopped hanging out in middle school but reconnected through my man. I don't know why but it's kind of weird - in a cool way - that he's a good friend of my husband and ended up in our wedding). The past two weddings prompted me to reminisce about my own day...what I wish I did and what I would have done if I wasn't crunched for time. My wedding probably could not have been any better. I have no regrets. It was a lot of fun (even though I was sober and 5 months pregnant!), and the day was flawless.

We had a beautiful traditional Filipino ceremony, and the reception confirmed  that time really does fly when you're having fun, and it was over all too soon. But with all the planning - choosing flowers, finding a gown and bridesmaid dresses, picking songs for the ceremony, blah, blah, blah...the most important part of that special day is the emotions behind it and the meaning of it all...not what colors I chose for the bridal party, not the favors for our guests, not the kind of car we drove in to the reception.

With all of the material aspects of a wedding, it is easy to get lost and forget the true meaning...kind of like forgetting the meaning of Christmas when you're trying to find the perfect gift for someone. When I think about my wedding day, of course I think about how the cake matched the color scheme well and how my bouquet was a perfect last-minute masterpiece created by my mom's friend...but more importantly, I remember what it felt like when my husband smiled at me in front of the altar, when the pastor told us how to keep our marriage strong and God-centered, and when we danced to our song...the feeling of being loved, happy, and excited for our future.

I think about my wedding every day, and those feelings flood back to me, and I believe that's how my marriage will last. We can't forget the meaning of our marriage and why we chose to be together forever - love isn't effortless, it takes work, and sometimes we need inspiration to keep that love going. If married couples felt the way they did on their wedding day every day, perhaps the divorce rate wouldn't be so high. Perhaps people would not feel discouraged to get married. Perhaps people wouldn't feel compelled to cheat or look for love elsewhere. 

In Mitch Albom's For One More Day, Posey wrote a note to her son on his wedding day that I find very inspiring. By sharing the quote, maybe I'll be able to help other people remember the reason for being married and wanting to love their spouse every day for the rest of their lives:

"Here is what you are going to find out about marriage: you have to work together. And you have to love three things. You have to love
1) Each other
2) Your children (When you have some. Hint! Hint!)
3)  Your marriage
What I mean by that last one is, there may be times that you fight, and sometimes you and Catherine won't even like each other. But those are the times you have to love your marriage. It's like a third party. Look at your wedding photos. Look at any memories you've made. And if you believe those memories, they will pull you back together."


Saturday, September 25, 2010

When You Find Out Your Child is Pregnant

An unplanned pregnancy at any age is surprising news. However, when you're the parent of the daughter who admits she is pregnant, or if you are the parent of a son who impregnated a girl, it can be unsettling and hard to deal with.


Whether your son or daughter is a teenager or an unmarried young adult, an unplanned pregnancy can bring the same mixed emotions. Anger, guilt, confusion, worry, and embarrassment may be initial feelings of a parent who could've sworn up and down that their child knew better than to have premarital sex without the right measurements of safety and protection (after all, the "talk" was given and you're pretty sure sex ed covered anything you didn't). Parents sometimes see their children through rose-colored glasses, strongly believing (or wishfully thinking) that their kid is a drug-free virgin who has never gotten drunk or lied to them.


The fact of the matter is, many teens and unmarried young adults are having sex, and are most likely denying this to their parents. Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a study on sexual behavior trends in 9th through 12th grade students. According to the statistics, almost half of American high school students have had sexual intercourse. See the study for yourself: Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors.


Kidshealth.org states that one million American girls give birth every year. You can talk to your kid until your blue in the face, but the reality is, they're either going to take your advice or not. I am no expert but I am experienced. As you can tell from this blog, I had an unplanned pregnancy. Although my situation may be different (I was already engaged and a college graduate with a full-time job), my parents' reactions were typical. It didn't matter to them that I was 24 and already planning on marrying the baby's father. In their eyes, I was their little baby, their only daughter and youngest child, about to have a baby herself.


It is a hard fact to swallow when your kid approaches you about an unplanned pregnancy. If this should happen to you, as difficult as it may be to comprehend, you have to give props to your son or daughter for even telling you. They want you to be involved. They want you to support them. They need your help. This would be the time to truly demonstrate your parenting skills. You might want to discuss different choices such as adoption or abortion. Especially if your child is a teenager, you might feel the need to make the decision for them, or do all you can to persuade your child to make the choice you want him or her to make.


I believe the best thing to do you for your child is to let him or her make the decision. Although you might've raised your son or daughter to condemn abortion, he or she may have his or her own point of view. He or she may feel equally as strong about his or her opinion as you do about yours. I don't believe it is right to enforce your own beliefs when it comes to pregnancy; it could have longlasting emotional effects on a girl if she is forced into having an abortion or keeping a child she does not feel capable of raising. Pregnancy requires a great level of maturity. It's best to believe your child is mature enough to deal with the consequences of sexual intercourse if he or she was able to make the decision to engage in sex in the first place.


This is undoubtedly a sensitive subject. It's extremely important to realize that parents are NEVER at fault. In my opinion, it doesn't matter if a kid was raised with both parents, neither parent, or either one of them. What is important is that the child was taught right from wrong. If parents/guardians/whatever did their job in educating their children, that's about all they can do, and they have done their best. I think that a straight edge parent with strong religious values or a parent with a criminal history have equal chances of having a daughter who gets pregnant before she is "ready" (which in itself is subjective).


If your family is facing an unplanned pregnancy right now, or if you just want to be prepared or further educated, I think a great resource is this: When Your Teen is Having a Baby. Although it mainly talks about teens, it applies to parents of unmarried young adults as well.


There is only one word to summarize what I think parents and other family members or friends should do when a girl finds out she is pregnant: support.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Month of Motherhood!

Okay, so it's actually more like a month and a half. But within this time, I've learned so much. These are a few thoughts and lessons I've learned about being a parent:
  • Taking time for myself does not make me a bad mother! I felt bad the first time we had to leave him with my mother-in-law for a few hours, but I've realized that if parents don't take a break from their kids now and then, they'll go crazy and be way more stressed than they should be. It's also very important for partners to take a break together to keep their relationship strong. You can't forget about each other even though obligations get in the way.
  • I can stare at Jamari all day long and not get bored, even though I've been with him every day of his life! And it's even worse now that he laughs and smiles. He's a whole lot more entertaining now than when all he did was stare. 
  • Everyone will have an opinion on how you should raise your kid. But as long as you are not hurting your baby physically or emotionally, the best way is your way.
  • Babies cry in their sleep...and I hate it! At first, I jumped out of bed every time Jamari cried, but then I realized he was probably dreaming. I Googled the reason why babies cry in their sleep, and I read somewhere that it might be because they're dreaming about losing their mother. And that's why I hate when Jamari does it. He lets out a little scream, his face gets all sad, and then he relaxes again. But that sad face makes me want to wake him up and tell him I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere.
  • Googling can only make things worse. With all of the opinions floating in cyberspace, it's difficult to distinguish fact from fiction and assumptions from actual statistics. Besides, every baby and parent is different. It also isn't smart to rely on the Internet for answers. I Google just to see what others have to say, but nothing can replace an actual visit to the doctor.
  • Babies will always act hungry! At first, I thought my son wanted to eat every half an hour, but then I learned that they shouldn't have two feedings within an hour of each other because they get too full and bloated. Luckily for us, Jamari is pretty easy to soothe when he cries, but I know other parents could have a very difficult time trying to stop a baby crying without having to resort to feeding him or her.
  • I talk to Jamari the way I talk to anyone else, but it's good and bad. Good because it'll help him develop his communication skills. Bad because I curse too much.
  • Babies seem to instinctively know to trust in family, be kind to friends, and to smile even though they've just been crying.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is How I Live...

I think it's only right to introduce a few of the "characters" in my life story. I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my husband, son, two cats, a dog, and a guinea pig that I often forget we have until he starts squeaking. We live about 40-45 minutes away from our hometown, where our families still live. Although we're a good distance away, we see each other as often as possible. More often than not I compare my life to the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" (it's all i watch now that I am on maternity leave). I'm not trying to insult anyone, but by sharing my opinion on my family, you might see where I am coming from if you've ever watched the show:
  • Sirron (aka Isiah): My husband goes by his first or middle name, depending, and I never questioned why or cared ("What's in a name?" - Shakespeare taught me to look past it). Never in a million years would we, or anyone from high school, have ever thought we'd date, let alone get married. But here we are, and honestly, I think we're the only ones who could put up with each other...therefore, we're meant to be. He's a big animal lover (he majored in Zoology). He dresses way better than I do, cooks better than me, and is better at cleaning, and I get insecure about it all. My son looked nothing like Sirron when he was born, but Sirron (as far as I know) never questioned it and accepted Jamari as his own (and don't worry, he's his for sure).
  • Jamari: My son is my world! He makes stank faces when he's kissed or when anyone gets near his face. He has a weird fascination with his hands, and even though he stares at them the majority of the day, sometimes he makes a scared face as if he's never seen them before. We're instilling independence in him already (he's only one month), and we swear he can hold his own bottle. He has no toys accept for one rattle, which he could care less about. His eyes are too big for his face for now, and we think he's the cutest baby in the world...and even though everyone says that about their kid, it's the absolute truth.
  • Stax: He's a Shar-pei/American Bulldog mix, and is way too big for our apartment. He's probably around 20 weeks right now, and he has to be well over 50 pounds, and we don't know how much more he'll grow. He's jealous of anything Sirron puts in his arms, especially me. He thinks he's a lap dog still and tries to sit on us. He's a big cuddler and even bigger baby. He looks like a grown dog, so it's weird to call him a puppy. Stax is very disciplined. He likes to chew on grass, but we think it's just a nod to his roots - he's a country boy straight from Alabama.
  • Nikko and Tobey: Our two cats are the strangest animals alive. They run through our apartment at lightning speed. They're territorial and hate when other people visit us. They steal our food (Nikko likes to swipe his paw at our forks when we try to eat). They love to climb inside boxes, and they hide under our bed and swipe at us when we least expect it.
  • My mom: She has the best intentions, but can sometimes push her ways on me. This reminds me of a "Raymond" episode when Ray's mother Marie says to Ray's wife something along the lines of: "I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's not right." My mom tries to tell me that her way is better than how I do things, and I do my best not to argue, but I can't help myself. I know she's only trying to teach me a few things. She's a great mom and person, no doubt, and I appreciate her opinion and advice, even if I don't take it. 
  • My dad: Everyone says he's one of the funniest people they've met. I inherited his sarcasm. He'll joke about anything in front of everyone, and I think it's his Filipino accent that lets him get away with it without insulting anyone. He tries his best to help everyone he can, especially our relatives. He pretends he's listening, and by the time you're done talking, he wants you to repeat everything you've said, and he doesn't care if it's rude; he'll say outright, "I wasn't listening."
  • Kenneth: My brother is five years older than me, and just like in "Raymond," my parents treat him differently than they treat me. In the show, Ray's older brother Robert often gets the spotlight stolen from him because of something Ray does that gets everyone's attention. I don't mean to do things, like get married and have a baby, to overshadow him. It just happens.
Then, there's my in-laws. I am so lucky we get along and I have no horror stories about my mother-in-law hating me, or vice versa. Sirron's a huge momma's boy and calls his mom all the time. She's like an encyclopedia, or Google. You can ask her anything and she'll have the answer.


My life can be a sitcom, and it'd be cool if it became one, but I swear, it'd be like "Everybody Loves Raymond" all over again accept it'd be about an interracial family in an apartment with a whole lot of pets. And we thankfully don't live right across from either of our parents.