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Put to the test

Letter to Nikisha (Five years seven months):

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Dear Niknik,

What a month this has been, huh? It started out fine and we were content.

Then our tolerance for each other was put to the test. In many ways we failed, but we made it through without injury. All four of us were sick at one time or another, overlapping each other at some points. You can only imagine just how awful that was for us. Tension ran high and patience ran low. We got on each other’s nerves and couldn’t help but get mad.

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Being sick for so long also made us tired and sad. Coughing and sniffing, and blowing our noses. Unable to smell anything good or taste our food. All we could do is lay around and watch cartoons. Doesn’t sound so bad, huh? Except when Mommy was the one that was sick and couldn’t do anything. You wanted to play games and I wouldn’t. You wanted to talk and I couldn’t. You wanted to sing and dance, and I just didn’t have the energy to even entertain the thought. It hurt me inside seeing you so sad because I couldn’t do anything with you. I failed that part of the test, didn’t I? The one where I’m supposed to be SuperMom even when I’m sick?

Do not worry, though, because even though we didn’t pass every test, we’re learning.

I knew that the next week was going to be all three of us girls… all the time. Your school district was having a mid-winter break and you had no school all week. You didn’t even have jazz class this week. Added to that, Daddy had a full schedule with his regular job, his part-time job, plus his side job. We hardly saw him these past three weeks, and when we did, he was on the computer working some more. We were both sad that he didn’t have time to hang out with us, but it’s understandable. He’s doing what needs to be done to give us a good life. Mommy knew what to do to make things better.

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When I felt well and my mind was clearer, I came up with an idea. We were going to have the mother-daughter crafty time we so deserved. You didn’t even know what the idea was, but you jumped onboard without hesitation. You trusted that I would have something fun for us to do. That I did, and I planned to spread it out through the week. On the plus side, there were enough things that you could do on your own that I could get some of my own things done. That is, when I’m not playing with your sister.

The first day I had you sit at the table and make a list. You had to write the names of all the people that you love. Since you were learning to read and spell in school, I figured this would be a good test of how much you’ve learned. With very minimal assistance from me, you spelt out each name by sounding them out. I was so proud of how well you did, it didn’t matter that you spelt every one of them wrong except for the one I helped you with.

Then, over the next few days we drew and cut out shapes, wrote messages and glued things together. Let the ones we started dry and continued the next day. Finishing the first set, then starting on the second. The morning after we finished the first set, you were so excited to put it in the mailbox. We did a little every day and are still working on them.

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The best part? It had been warm outside despite the fact that it’s still winter. We needed the fresh air and sun, so I got us dressed and headed to the playground for some fun. We went three days in a row, and you got to be as loud and crazy as you wanted. No one got mad and you loved every minute of it.

An emotional roller coaster was the ride we got on for February. What a month it’s been, huh?

Love,
Your Mama

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Year One

Letter to Lorelai (1 year):

Happy Birthday, Pumpkin.

Should I begin with all the things you’ve been doing? Like playing Peekaboo with us. Walking backwards and sitting on my face. The fishy face is a huge surprise too. Knowing just when to laugh even if you don’t get the joke is freaking cute. There are just so many things that I’m sure I’ve missed some.

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This month I put together a small party for you because it was your first birthday. Little lady, I can’t begin to tell you what I went through all the way up until the day.

It started with deciding where we would have it. Our apartment in Seattle was our final choice for many reasons. We couldn’t have it at your grandparents’ house because we couldn’t afford to drive back and forth AND put together a party. That, and we weren’t sure if Daddy worked that weekend. On the plus side, it was the first time the family came to visit us at our new apartment. Our good friend Amber really wanted to be a part of it but wouldn’t have been able to make it if it were elsewhere. Also, I really wanted to be a part of putting it together, but if we had it in Deer Park, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.

I decided with October 27, 2007 because it was on a Saturday. I know your birthday was Sunday, but I really wanted to make sure everyone invited was going to be able to make it. Your grandparents, aunty and cousins had to drive 300+ miles to get here. I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to stay long on Sunday because of school and appointments, so Saturday was the better choice.

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Photo by Grandma Auayan

We also decided on using the Halloween theme for obvious reasons. Your daddy believes you were supposed to be born on Halloween, but it’s my fault I didn’t hold you in a few more days. The shopping for decorations, costumes and other supplies was insane. Every time I went to the store, I picked up a few things here and there. Then I had daddy and Amber go with me to help with some more shopping. I couldn’t figure out what we needed and how I was going to decorate. You were my little pumpkin while your big sister was The Black Cat. Daddy and I wanted to dress up, but he couldn’t find the costume he wanted and by the time I was done with everything, I noticed no one else was dressed up and didn’t want to be the only adult to. Sorry kid. I know how much that disappoints you.

A hard part was the menu. What do I make for a group that can be pretty picky? I didn’t want the traditional barbecue and potato salad, though that stuff is really good. I wanted it to be a bit different. I racked my brain for days until I finally decided on tacos and pizza. We even had fruit nachos. You loved the fruits but couldn’t eat the tacos or pizza. You did eat bits and pieces of the veggies.

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I was worried everyone was going to get here late, but it turned out they all got here on time and Mommy was the one late. Preparing the food and finishing up the decorations took longer than I thought it would. Luckily, Amber came to my rescue and helped me finish up the food. We started about an hour late, which I was disappointed it turned out that way, but no one else complained. At least not to my face.

You took your regular 11AM nap while Daddy, Niki, Amber and I finished up what needed to be done. Everyone arrived while you were still sleeping. The kids got to play at the playground for a while so we could finish cooking the food. We even got to eat and play more before you came out. As soon as you woke up, I changed your diaper and put on your costume. Just so you know, you were one really adorable pumpkin.

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Photo by Grandma Auayan

I had to bake your cake myself because I didn’t have enough time to find a bakery that made a non-dairy or soy cake. Guess what you had? A double chocolate soy cake! We did the cake on your actual birthday, not because it was planned that way, but because the time flew by so fast that those that weren’t staying the night had to leave. It all worked out in the end which is all that mattered.

This was the first time you’ve ever tasted chocolate. Let me tell you, you absolutely loved it. You barely touched the cake itself, but had a lot of the icing. You had a ball and got it all over yourself. Grandma, Aunty Mandy and I have pictures and videos to prove it.

So much had happened up to, on, and after your birthday that if I put it all down here, I’d might as well write you a book. How does “Maeby’s first birthday and the insanity Mommy went through” sound? It was completely insane, but totally worth it.

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Photos by Aunty Mandy

Maybe those that were there could add to this because my brain is loaded and hard to sort through.Despite the awesome turnout, I’m not sure if I’ll be doing anything like this again for a long time. No ma’am.

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Night Fright

Letter to Nikisha (5 years 3 months):

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Sweet Little Niki,

You’re growing up way too fast. Every time I look at you, I wonder where the time went. Then all of a sudden, you remind me that you’re still small and vulnerable. You still need us even though sometimes it seems like you don’t.

This past month something happened. Maybe it’s the sound of the cars driving by, or the people’s voices as they walk past our apartment, or maybe it’s something else. All I know is you’re back to crawling into our bed because you’re scared and don’t want to sleep alone. Some nights, after we lay you down to sleep, you cry and cry. It’s not a fake cry, but almost a pleading for us not to leave you alone. It breaks my heart, but I can’t figure out how to make things better.

One night, when I told you it was time to sleep, I had laid your sister down next to you so I could put your clothes away. You were so happy that I did and said to me “Thank you, Mommy, for letting my sissy sleep with me”. When I told you she couldn’t because she could fall off your bed, you began to cry that pleading cry. It broke my heart even more knowing that you would even settle for having your sister, who is just a baby and much smaller than you, sleep with you. I explained to you that she couldn’t because she’s been extra cranky lately and refuses to sleep in her own bed. Then you asked to sleep with us. I explained that our bed isn’t big enough for the four of us because you and your sister are getting too big. You looked so sad and I knew you would end up in our bed sometime in the night while we were asleep. So, I gave in just a little, and made a bed on the floor with a comforter and pillow. As you laid down and crawled under your blanket, you closed your eyes and had the most content look on your cute little face. It lightened my heart and the weight on my shoulders, even if it was only a temporary fix. Looks like that little “bed” will be there for you for whenever you get scared, but I’ll still have you go to sleep in your own bed and hope that this fear goes away.

Let me not leave out what drives me crazy about you, for it wouldn’t be fair to either of us. You are far from being the perfect little angel I make you out to be sometimes. Not that you aren’t awesome, because you most definitely are.

This is the highest point you’ve hit on the ‘I want’ phase. Almost every single toy commercial expels that constantly growing despised ‘Wow! I want that!’ phrase from your cute little mouth. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t work anymore because you just start whining knowing it gets on my nerves. I’ve even tried compromising with you. I first explain that there is no space in your bedroom for anymore toys. If you let me get rid of some of the toys you have now, maybe we’ll get something new. You say yes, so we head into your room and I ask you to choose a bunch of toys you would like to trade. You say okay and get to work, but after going through the huge lot of toys you have, you pick out two or three of the smallest toys possible. The rest end up right back into your toy bin. I also noticed that some of the toys you chose to give away were your sister’s!

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Your cousins Alicia and Baby Josh came to visit. They came for your sister’s first birthday, but stayed a whole week and two days. You got to go Trick-or-Treating with them after dressing up as a Princess Kitty. You couldn’t decide on what you wanted to be, so you just put both of your costumes together. You all had so much fun during their visit that I wish it hadn’t ended.

I know that you and Alicia missed each other so much. You kept asking if we can go visit her. She said she wanted to go to school with you. Oh how I would love to have her and her brother stay with us. I know she would love school so much more because you’ll be there with her. She’ll see how much you love it and want to love it just as much as you. She’ll feel the love our family has amongst us and be a part of it. Our love is and always will be unconditional. Never fleeting, always without reason except just because. Not because we feel we have to love them, but because they are meant to be loved. I wish we could give them that, but our hands are tied. Hopefully someday they will know the life you live everyday and live the same way.

That was the original plan, staying together with them at your grandparents’ house, instead of moving here to Seattle. Problem is, things beyond my control forced us to make the difficult decision of changing our plans and actually moving us farther away from your cousins instead of closer. If you ever want to know why, I’ll tell you personally, but not here. It’s not something that should be shared with the world. All I can say is that the events leading up to our decision is embedded in my mind forever though I wish they would disappear. I just hope that it will fade from yours as time goes by.

Believe me when I say that I may not be able to give you everything you want and most definitely deserve, but I will do my best to teach you how to survive in this world. I will teach you how to live life to the fullest and take chances. I will teach you how to make decisions on your own. There may be times when I do the wrong thing, but I hope you’ll forgive me because I’m doing my best to do what’s right. Please know that I fight with myself all the time to do what’s right and not do things with selfish intentions. The things I do are for what I feel is best for you even if it’s not what’s best for me. I will always put you first when you need to be put there. You, your sister and your father are my highest priority, and I will drag myself through a road of broken glass if that is what’s best for the three of you.

Listen to me, crappy sappy mushiness flowing through my fingertips through this keyboard and onto the screen. I want to delete it all so you don’t think your mother is a big softy, but it is who I am and always will be even if it doesn’t always seem like it.

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My Little Monster

A Letter to Nikisha (5 years 2 months):

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My Little Monster,

Yes Sweetheart, you read that right. I called you a monster, because that is what you are 2/3 of the day. That doesn’t stop me from loving every ounce of your little being. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I’ve felt throughout the years because of you.

You’ve given me life and a reason to reach for the stars. Your crazy little quirks remind me why you are so awesome. You are so freaking smart that sometimes I don’t know what to do with you.

When you are not happy with Mommy or Daddy, you let it be known. Recently you drew a picture and said it meant “No Daddy Allowed” because you were mad at him for getting mad at you. I think it might have hurt Daddy’s feelings a little, but it was cute. I like how you draw pictures to express how you are feeling at the time even if sometimes they have sad or crying faces.

I’m trying to understand why you do things backwards. When you write your name, you write it backwards from right to left. You could read it perfectly fine… if you hold it up to the mirror. I asked you what time it was the other day only to find out that you read the numbers backwards. It wasn’t as late as I thought and I was already rushing you to get ready for bed. I’m going to take it as a sign of ingenious behavior. Maybe you’ll be a little Einstein.

You started school earlier this month. What a big girl you were. No tears on your first day, only excitement. You even got upset when I picked you up afterwards because you wanted to ride the bus. You seem to enjoy riding the bus to and from school. You’ve already received a Sparkle ticket and then won the Sparkle Award all in the same week. Most of your homework is a piece of cake for you, probably because you have the best teacher ever at home. Your Daddy. You now know how to write your whole first name, but for some reason you always put a “I <3 U” at the end. I’m not complaining, though, it’s cute.

That day you insisted on going to school even though you threw up just minutes before we had to leave the apartment was amazing to me. If I had been in your situation, I would have stayed home.

Nik, you have a constant stream of amazing things flowing from you. Even though you can drive me crazy with little effort, you amaze me even more.

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