Asian-American

I Remember

Hi! How was your Thanksgiving weekend, readers? And for my neighbors to the north, hope you were able to cash in on some of the US’s “Black Friday” deals … or do you even have any sales like that for the day after the US’s Thanksgiving holiday? Yes, I’m just being curious.

My Thanksgiving weekend was good: Got to spend time with Hubby’s family on Turkey Day. And on the weekend, managed to eek out a few great savings from Black Friday; both locally and at the “big box” shops. But the point is, I managed to check off a few people off my Christmas list.

More importantly, my favorite college football team managed to win the all-important “Biggest Rivalry in College Football” game. AND we got to watch the game at a bar & grill, hanging out with my two cousins.

These two girls — the youngest of my Dad’s nieces (and close to 20 years younger than me!) — have seriously been the support I’ve needed this past year while dealing with my Dad’s passing. Maybe it’s because, like me, Dad had played an important part in their lives; many times being the father-figure that they’ve needed. And as we talked throughout that day, I somehow managed to remember how much my Dad’s passing has affected them as well.

I forgot how my Dad would stick up for them if their mothers (my Dad’s sisters) gave them problems. I forgot how Dad would manage to sneak them some cash when he thought no one was looking. I forgot how much he loved to play with them, and as they got older, joke around with them. I forgot.

So to my two cousins, who miss my Dad as much as I miss him … know that I remember and that I’m forever grateful that you two always manage to check up on me when I need it most.

******

And Rain? Don’t worry, my darling kitty. I didn’t forget about today either. I can never forget the day that I lost my first and most favorite kitty in the world. Hope you’re up there keeping Dad company ….

 

Planning To Fall

My Niece, Emilia Grace on her Christening Day

It’s Labor Day. Where did the summer go?

No … Seriously, people. Where did it go?

Tomorrow all the kiddos in Detroit and its surrounding suburbs will officially all be back in school.  Which always prompts me to question … why didn’t I go into a career that allowed me to always have summers off?

I’m not ready for autumn … which, if today’s weather in Metro-Detroit is any indication (high of 64 degrees), means that I’m definitely not ready for the cooler climate. And, seeing that autumn has always been my favorite season is absolutely pitiful.

Maybe I need to re-think this whole “favorite season” deal.

Even the Lil Texan thought the MI weather was too hot last week!

After all, Hubby & I did survive the sweltering high-90 degree weather with 100% humidity of Orlando. Like we did the previous two days here in Detroit, which were just as hot and humid. All I need is a beach nearby with some nice soothing waves … and I’d be golden.

Okay, maybe not so much “golden” but more “bronze.” After all, I tan nice and brown … like most of us Filipinos do. But you get the point.

Yet seeing that Hubby & I live in the Midwest with (unfortunately) no plans to move to a warmer climate in the immediate future, I suppose I need to embrace what I’ve got in front of me.

So with that said, here’s my list of things I look forward to doing with Hubby this fall:

  1. Leaves changing brilliant hues of red and orange
  2. Freshly-made Apple Cider and warm doughnuts
  3. Haunted Houses and Hayrides
  4. A resurgence in my need to knit and crochet
  5. College Football  – GO BLUE!

How about you, oh Internets? What’s your plans for Fall?

A Song That’s a Guilty Pleasure

Day Thirteen – A Song That’s a Guilty Pleasure:

I should blame it on Ace of Base. After all, if it hadn’t been for listening to them over and over (and over) again during the summer of 1993 … I probably wouldn’t have turned back to their Swedish counterparts and get into listening to ABBA again.

Not that I really knew many ABBA songs prior to my post-college years. At least I didn’t think so.

Or I should blame it on seeing “Mamma Mia.” The Broadway musical. And not the Meryl Streep / Amand Seyfried movie spectacular. It’s because of that musical that I realized I knew more ABBA songs than I ever thought.

Read more »

Forty Days of Night

Forty days ago, my Dad past away. Today, amongst our Filipino-Catholic family and friends, we will be celebrating the 40th day of remembrance.

For those of you that aren’t familiar (or haven’t read this previous post), the 40th day is believed to be the day that a loved one has “finished” visiting his/her loved ones on earth and is ready to ascend into the heavens.

I won’t lie … it has been an incredibly emotional and physically exhausting couple of months. Throw the holidays into the mix and … well, yeah. Let’s just say the hamster on the wheel inside my head has been working overtime.

As I had expected, there are those days where I’m so busy that I don’t have time to think about the loss of my Dad. And then there are those times … usually during the most random moment … where it hits me square in the chest.

My cousin and I, during the initial 9-day Novena period, started to refer to those moments as “Meltdowns.” Something, typically some off-the-wall memory of my Dad, would transform me into a blubbering mess. And although these “meltdowns” don’t happen as readily as they did in the first few weeks, I still wonder when I’ll start to feel a bit better.

I have many stories to share … some of them involving stories of “visits” from my Dad over the past 40 days … yet I feel I’ve got little strength to write by the end of the day. This is obvious, as I haven’t had the inclination to blog over the past few months.

So yeah … this is my sad attempt to start writing again. And maybe when those every-day memories of my Dad don’t hurt so much, I’ll be able to tell you some of those stories.

But for now, just know that I’m around. And I’m reading. And I’m hoping to get back into some sort of “normal” again soon.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Related Posts:

Emily Prays for Nine Days

Emily Hits a Previous 40-Day Mark

The Whole Nine Yards

Nine days ago, at approximately 7:30 pm that night, a pretty significant hole had formed in my heart. What had been there for the past 38 years of my life was the physical presence of my Dad on this world. And even though (by this time) we had been expecting his “last breath” for a couple of days, it still didn’t help the sudden onset of emptiness I felt in my chest.

I didn’t know what to expect … or how it would feel to lose someone so significant in my life. I didn’t know  that my emotions could swing from one spectrum to another in the blink of an eye. After all, how can I have gone from laughing hysterically about a particularly funny incident involving my Dad … to crying inconsolably about that hole in my heart.

Except now, after nine whole days of gathering with family and friends … of praying the traditional Filipino-Catholic Novena following the departure of a loved one … I can finally say that the hole in my heart has begun to fill. And it’s because of all those family members and friends that have come out in droves to celebrate my Dad’s life.

Although not quite to back to capacity, the emptiness that once occupied that hole is now filled with the memories I have of my Dad … of all those special Daddy-Daughter moments. I know that I can look back at those moments and feel my Dad’s presence enveloping me.

But more importantly, that hole is now filled with all the stories about my Dad that were shared with me these past two weeks. It’s been filled with the incredible support I’ve felt from old friends and even older friends … whether it was driving clear across the State just to spend 5 minutes crying with me minutes before the Funeral Mass. Or making an extra trip to Mickey Dee’s to pick up a sweet iced tea and iced latte for me and Hubby. Or even just being there to hug me; knowing that was exactly what I needed at that moment.

So thank you, all my family and friends … I hope you know how much every single kind word** you’ve said and every single kind gesture you’ve done has meant the world to me.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** Special thanks to my cousins … from both sides of my family. You’ve been my my saving grace during those dark, dark moments.

*** An extra-special thanks to my incredibly awesome husband. We joke about me having a thing for “The Rock” … but rest assured, you are my one and only Rock. You are my constant in the midst of chaos.

Unforgettable ... That's what you are to me.



Things I’ve Learned on My Alaskan Adventure

  • Alaska (at least Southeast Alaska) is not a giant piece of land completely made of ice, like we were taught in grade school. (You know, Seward’s Icebox?)

  • Not all Native Alaskans are called Eskimos. In fact, the Southeastern Alaskan Natives are the Tlingints.

  • Fish & Chips and Clam chowder at a small lunch kiosk on the dock in Ketchican, Alaska is d*mn good!
  • There’s something inherently beautiful about glaciers and the waters surrounding them. Oh, and it is possible to sail a huge ship through some narrow passages and still be maneuver around glaciers.

  • And by the way, Tracy Arm Fjord is not, in fact, an arm. A fjord is long, narrow inlet with steep sides, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.

  • Glaciers have a blue tint to them because that’s the only color that glaciers can’t absorb. And because of that, I think Crayola should come up with a “Glacier Blue” crayon …

  • I now know the five different Salmon species just by looking at my hand.
    • Thumb = Chum Salmon
    • Index Finger = Sockeye … as in “Poke your eye out with your finger”
    • Middle Finger (or tallest finger) = King Salmon, the biggest of the salmons
    • Ring Finger = Silver Salmon
    • Pinky = Pink Salmon.
  • And now you know them, too!

  • I can officially say that I’ve seen a Black Bear with her three cubs and that bears can’t read.

  • We’ve also seen American Eagles and I think I finally understand the metaphor about the strength and beauty of a “Soaring Eagle.”

  • The Filipino-American population in Juneau, Alaska is so big that they have a whole “square” called “Manila Square” dedicated to them.

  • This is probably why the number of Filipinos working on the cruise ships in Alaska greatly outnumbers that of all other nationalities (60% of the staff on our ship alone were Filipino).
  • This includes a Filipino Executive Master Chef and Executive Sous Chef … who were kind enough to create off-menu Filipino dishes. Like pancit. And Topsilog. And Adobo. Yummmm!

  • Skagway is actually spelled Skaguay … but only because the postal office didn’t like the way it was spelled.

  • Skagway was known as the gateway to the Klondike because this was the first stop for most people seeking gold in the Klondike. And from some of the stories I heard (“Soapy” Smith, the thousands of horses killed in stampedes) there were quite a few things people would do for a Klondike Bar … of gold, that is.

  • According to our tour guide, Skagway is a one-horse town. And it apparently likes to hang out in front of the Bonanza Bar & Grill.

  • It’s possible for the U.S. Coast Guard to airlift a critically ill passenger onto their helicopter (on our “Day at Sea”) without officially landing on a cruise ship. It may take more than 30-minutes of practice (and circling the ship) before actually airlifting the person, but it’s doable. (The passenger, thank G*D is now stable in a hospital in Alaska … at least as of Saturday afternoon.)

  • Using the Medical Clinic on the cruise ship (for a pretty big bug bite that caused major swelling and erythema to the surrounding tissue) is much cheaper than seeing your doctor at home; especially for those of us that lack health insurance.
  • There’s not much you can do in Victoria, British Columbia when you only have four hour to spend there between 7:30 and 11:30 pm on a Saturday night.

  • It’s a good thing we didn’t discover the 24-hr Buffet until the last night. Otherwise I would have gained even more weight than I already did …

  • Sometimes all-inclusive vacations (like cruises or other specialty resorts) bring out the worst in people. I think I’ve seen and encountered more rude passengers with an odd sense of “entitlement” on this trip than I’ve had in other vacations past.

    Just because pretty much everything is included on the ship doesn’t mean that you need to take all of the cookies or sweets. Or that you have to be incredibly rude to the crew members who are there to serve you. Don’t think that just because you worked hard for this vacation, you should be waited hand and foot … these staff members are working just as hard for a vacation of their own as well!

  • But overall, we’ve meet some really nice folk … both crew members and passengers alike. If I could, I’d definitely do another cruise to Alaska again. Maybe this time we’d head further north towards Anchorage … and spend a few more days inland, discovering more of this beautiful State instead!

Secrets of an Infertile

The first time I ever took a home pregnancy test (HPT) was on the morning of first wedding anniversary. Hubby & I had only recently decided that we were ready to start the next phase in our lives together. Plus, Aunt Flo had been missing for over a week by then, so I figured it was time.

I won’t lie … I also thought that the prospect of presenting positive “pee stick” as an anniversary gift would have made our first wedding anniversary together all that more memorable.

But when the test came back negative, I threw the stick away and climbed back into bed to cuddle with Hubby who was still sound asleep. And yes, I was disappointed … but at that time in our lives, Infertility was just a distant diagnosis, which was … in no way, related to me.

I’ve never told anyone this story before because until today, it wasn’t something that I considered very relevant to my life as an “Infertile.”

Hubby had been privy to this story, because later that day he happened upon the open HPT package in the trash and wondered why I took one. But otherwise, no one else in our lives had a clue that we were even “actively trying” at the time.

It was something that Hubby & I, as a young married couple, wanted to keep to ourselves.

*****

It’s only natural that most couples wish to keep their decisions on family-planning a secret. Okay … maybe not so much a secret, but more of a discussion that happens strictly between the couple.

After all, it really should be no one’s business to know what’s going on in a couple’s sex life. Right?

But what happens when love and marriage don’t automatically lead to the proverbial baby carriage? And what if months — nay, years go by without having anything to show but a garbage full of negative pregnancy test?

What if you had spent thousands of dollars for an infertility diagnosis and work-up? And then turned around and spent even more money on trying to “fix” the medical problems so that you could produce a biological child of your own?

Should a couple still keep their family-building plans and the infertility diagnosis a secret?

What if you and your spouse had to continuously be poked by various needles and prodded by various health professionals, month after month, just to determine when the optimal time was to reproduce? To go home and have a romp in the bedroom (stress-free, of course)? To collect a man specimen in the comfort of a sterile clinic? To have to sit nice and pretty in those G*d-awful stirrups? Only to be disappointed month after month …

Would it still be inappropriate for a couple to talk about how infertility has affected their lives?

What if you or your spouse were done pursuing the medical route of infertility and decided to adopt? What if you spent an additional thousands of dollars in order to be scrutinized by adoption agencies, local and federal government officials? Just so these agencies can determine if you were “worthy” enough to be parents?

What if the Birth Mom/Family decided to change their minds at the last minute? Or what if the country you decided to pursue an international adoption decided to close their doors on all adoptions?

Would now be a good time to talk to loved ones about infertility?

And finally, what if you and your spouse thoughtfully and thoroughly considered all your other options to build your family … and after years of disappointment and heartache, decided that living child-free was your best path in life?

Would it be okay for the couple to comfortably discuss this decision with any random stranger who asks if the couple has any kids?

These are difficult questions to answer. I know; as I’ve had to dissect each individual question with a fine-tooth comb. I’ve had to determine how each answer would affect the rest of my life and my relationships with those I’ve felt close to at one time or another.

The truth is, each person … each couple and/or the family & friends that are affected by this couple’s infertility … will have different answers. That’s because each person’s journey through infertility can be different than the person standing next to him or her. Even if they were sitting next to each other at an Infertility Specialist’s office.

*****

I find it sad that society deems “family-building” discussions as a private issue amongst infertile couples.

Huh?! WTF ...

Okay, let me reword that last statement: I find it disappointing that society deems “family building” discussions as inappropriate when it comes to Infertility.

While I do think that there are certain discussions and decisions that should be left private amongst the infertile couple, I do think that other conversations should be okay to discuss with other people … other family members and friends and other infertile couples.

Because if anything, Infertiles can be the worse when it comes to openly talking about their experiences and emotions when it comes to building their family.

There’s an article in SELF Magazine’s August issue that outlines this exact issue.

This article (aptly titled “This Woman Has A Secret”) found that a recent survey indicates that 61% of infertility patients hide their struggle to get pregnant from friends and family.

And seeing that 1 in 8 American couples experience infertility … well, yeah. That’s a lot of people that aren’t talking about the heady emotions that can be associated with the inability to reproduce.

Along with those questions I previously posed, other common concerns that an infertile couple can experience include the fear that their life will be eternally empty. Or the sense that the couple is damaged or broken.

Both amplify the shame already incurred by the couple; as they likely feel different from being different than other “normally reproducing” family and friends.

Both make the couple more embarrassed to talk about these struggles and associated emotions with their loved ones.

*****

It’s a difficult thing … wanting to talk about a person’s (or couple’s) individual journey through infertility. It’s ten-times more difficult, given the shame that’s associated with infertility.

As the SELF article points out, it gets even more exhausting when an infertile couple:

… become slaves of their monthly cycle; often unable to leave town even for a weekend getaway due to daily monitoring for hormone levels and egg counts. When month after month a couple fails to get pregnant, their lives stall and the question of whether or not their family will expand looms over decisions about the car they buy, the house they live in, the clothes they purchase.

And this, along with many other reasons, is why many infertile couples choose to keep their “family-building” struggles a secret. Why they continue with the facade that “family-building” discussions should remain personal, as society dictates.

*****

After years of keeping my struggle a secret … of burying the emotions I’ve felt for so long … I believe that it is extremely important to talk about these issues. And I think it’s important for an individual to find their own outlet or support systems.

Hubby & I became "shadows" of our former self ...

But first and foremost, I think it’s very important to keep an open communication with your Spouse/SO. Because if there is anyone else who should know what you’re going through, it should be the person who is traveling down the infertility journey with you.

For Hubby & I, it’s a path that we took together, hand-in-hand. We made it a point to talk about each of our concerns openly and honestly (yes, even the scary parts) so that we knew where we both were at emotionally. And if one person was even slightly ahead of the other person, we’d make an effort to “wait” until both of us were both “on board” before making any major decisions. There was no pushing or prodding; there was patience and understanding that both of us dealt with our issues in very unique manners.

If anything … that was my saving grace in our journey together. Hubby was my rock — my torch, so to speak, lighting my way through the darkness. And I hope that he can say the same thing for me as well.

*****

As for other support systems outside of the couple … It’s difficult to find support out there. I know; I’ve tried.

I’ve sought support amongst my loved ones; my friends. But it’s honestly hard for them to completely understand what it’s like, unless they’re walking in your shoes, your path.

But after years (and years) of dealing with Infertility, I’ve finally learned to turn this experience around by educating others about my journey. And I did this by debunking statements (like “just relax”) and myths (like “just adopt and you’ll get pregnant”) whenever they would surface in those inevitable conversations.

This is because I believe that the more an Infertile person openly discusses their experiences, the more that the general population will understand and learn to empathize with the Infertility community.

I hope that this is a lesson that other Infertile couples can learn from my own experience: Talk openly about it now, so that others can be more empathetic to the Infertility path.

*****

I’ve also tried to find support in an Infertility Support Group.

For me, that was not my cup of tea. My experience mimicked how another person in the SELF article so aptly stated, “Everyone gets up and tells their success stories. Infertility treatment isn’t always about success.”

But … that may not be the case for every support group. So please … you should still seek out an Infertility support group before passing any judgment. It just may just be the perfect outlet for you.

*****

Finally, (and only after a major catastrophic life event) I tried some individual counseling. And that planted the seed that allowed me to talk about my Infertility and the emotions that came with those struggles.

My advice for an Infertile person trying to find the right therapist? Talk to your Infertility Specialist and ask for a recommendation. If you’re not currently seeing a specialist; call one in your area and ask. Chances are, the Front Desk staff or the RN in the office will be more than willing to give you a recommendation. If not, check out RESOLVE’s website for a list of professionals in the area.

*****

Again, huh?!

There’s one more outlet for support that I want to point out. And this outlet, I must say, has been the most therapeutic for me.

After much encouragement from my therapist, I sought out support from online communities. I started out by reading message boards and eventually sought out personal blogs. From there, I stumbled onto Mel’s list and found an entire blogosphere of people that I suddenly felt I could relate to.

Suddenly I wanted to share my story. I wanted others to know what *I* had gone through in my journey. And, because there wasn’t enough representation from the Asian-American/Filipino-American community, I wanted to let those Infertile individuals/couples know that they weren’t alone.

And, as the Asian-American culture typically simultaneously praises Motherhood and yet frowns upon discussions leading up to Motherhood, *I* wanted to have an outlet for where I can point other family members and friends to read when the inevitable, “What? You don’t want kids?” questions came up.

The support I’ve received from the three years I’ve now been writing on this blog have been overwhelming. Not only have I met the most incredible people who get me (and understand my wacky sense of humor), but I’ve found support in old friends and family that I might never have found any other way.

So yes … if anything, I encourage writing a blog as an outlet for your Infertility issues. I encourage you to write about your struggles, your emotions … your biggest fears and worst nightmares and post it for the world to see. I encourage you to be honest, as well.

But most importantly, I encourage advertising it to your friends and family. Because we all know that keeping secrets from your loved ones (whether big or small) can ultimately be frustrating and tiring for all involved.

So why not let the secret out?

*****

I write this to let other Infertile couples know that they do not have to suffer through these struggles alone.

I write this to encourage other Infertiles to talk about their experiences to others.

And I write this to ensure that those now-parents – those who suffered through Infertility on their way to parenthood – continue to share their struggles of Infertility … regardless of how busy their lives may be, now that they have children.**

I write this to make sure that Infertility no longer remains a secret.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Related Posts:

A brief history of Emily’s Infertility Journey

When Emily decided enough was enough

Why Emily blogs for Infertile Asian/Filipino-Americans

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** This was the only beef I had about the SELF article. For all that it said about the importance of “letting the secret out,” the last sentence in the article is what soured me the most:

Working behind the scenes [of supporting the Infertility community] is one option, but [Lisa] says, ‘I’m sure my volunteer efforts will be for schools or parks. Once I have twins, I’ll have a lot less free time.”

Hindsight is always 20/20 ...

Feelin’ Lucky

The Happy Newlyweds

Hubby & I have spent the past week in Canada. While the main reason was to celebrate his cousin’s wedding in Toronto last Friday, we spent the past week touring Eastern Ontario and Québec. And actually, as I type this … we’re on a three-hour tour bus drive from Kingston back to Toronto, where we first started this bus tour.

The main purpose of doing these tours is because Hubby’s Uncle and Aunt have flown in from the Philippines to attend the wedding. Since they’ve flown halfway around the world, Hubby’s parents as well as the other family members living in North America have decided to have a “mini”-reunion to show Hubby’s Uncle a small chunk of Canada.

And when I say “mini” … I mean that it’s a smaller portion of Hubby’s entire family. During the actual wedding weekend, the total number of family members (including aunts/uncles, cousins, children of cousins, and all significant others) equaled 37. When we went to Niagara Falls on Monday, about 25 of those family members were still around for an overnight stay. And when we started the three-day bus tour on Wednesday, we whittled down to 17. Regardless, it has been an incredible week with the family … something that we haven’t done since January 2008. And unfortunately, that happened to be in Virginia Beach when Hubby’s grandmother passed away.

Only a handful of the "young" cousins with Hubby

In that two-year time period, four new children were added to the family. One was our niece, Kairi and the subsequent three babies were girls born between 2009 and early 2010. In addition, Hubby has much-younger cousins between the ages of thirteen and eight. The other young kids are children from his sister (Tyler) and his first cousins. This puts the total of “young kids” fourteen years old and younger at twelve.

That’s twelve kids being watched over by parents; twelve kids being beckoned by the various parents and their “Tita” or “Tito”** or “Até” or “Kuya.”*** Twelve kids all calling out “Mom” or “Dad” and approximately seven sets of parents responding to that title.

That’s about eleven of Hubby’s Aunts / Uncles / First Cousins out of the 37 family members that have young kids under the age of eighteen.  If my math is right, this also means that about twelve of those 37 family members are either parents of older kids (eighteen or older).

Partial Group shot in Old Quebec

Then there’s Hubby & me; the childless couple. We’re not counted amongst those who have children at any age. We’re only counted as children of Hubby’s parents. And we only get the title of “Tita/Tito” or “Até/Kuya.”

But we’re definitely not called “Mom” or “Pa” (which is what Hubby’s family calls their Dads).

Now, I know what you’re thinking … here goes Emily, once again, complaining about not being a Mother; of not being able to experience what its’ like to be called “Mom” or “Mommy.” And yes, I do admit that it has been bittersweet this past week when seeing all the babies dressed up for the wedding; when seeing all the other Aunts and Uncles and Cousins passing the new additions to the family around the group, oohing and ahhing and fussing over them. (Although, I do fully admit I took part in such activity … )

But you know what? I actually found the silver lining in all the hullabaloo of the “World of Babies/Children.” And that silver lining is this:

Hubby being silly with our nephew & cousin

I was actually ecstatic that I didn’t have to respond to being called “Mom” … especially when it was in regards to the constant questions from the kids older than four years old about what was going on next.  Or why we had to leave now to go to our next destination. And I certainly didn’t mind that I wasn’t responsible with having to deal with attitudes or behaviors that the kids doled out once they got grumpy.

While I dealt with each instance that came my way or happened during our “watch” over them****, I have to say that I finally appreciate the fact that I’m “just the Auntie” or “just Até Emily” to all the kids.

In fact, I can honestly say without a doubt that Hubby and I are lucky. And I don’t mean “lucky” in the sense that, as a Child-Free couple, we don’t have to deal with the day to day issues of being a parent … because, I still wouldn’t trade the opportunity to raise a child for anything else in the world.

Great "candid" photo of the older kids

No, I mean “lucky” in the sense that we get to be the “Cool Auntie and Uncle” to the children. We get to take the kids around to do fun things (while hopefully giving the parents a bit of a reprieve) when we want to and/or are able to. And we get to “play” with them and joke around with them as much as we want.

But most importantly, we also get to be the ones who they can talk openly to;  feel comfortable around to ask some difficult or sensitive questions. And we’re the ones whose words, at this point in their lives, can make some sort of impact on them; put a different perspective in mind for them … even if they’ve been told the same things twenty times over by their parents. And it feels great.

I can honestly say that the time we spent with Hubby’s youngest family members has been wonderful and truly satisfying. And I hope that during the week we’ve spent with them, we’ve been able to contribute to lasting memories and life lessons that they can take back with them to their own homes.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Related Posts

Family Fun in Niagara Falls

The Mr. Apron Strings Family Bubble

Welcoming Kairi to the world

Pregnancy New(s) Edition (PWP)

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** Means Aunt or Uncle in Tagalog (the native language of the Philippines)

*** In Tagalog, Até (ah-teh; feminine) or Kuya (koo-yah; masculine) is a title given to show respect to your elder siblings or cousins.

**** And believe me, this week there were lots of times where we voluntarily offered to take responsibility for the kids.

Probably my most fave pic from this trip. We'd go back to Quebec City if we could!

Everything Is Kung Fu

When Dr. Bro was about 12 years old, he took up Tae Kwon Do. Part of it was to learn self-defense; another reason was to gain confidence. I’d watch his classes from time to time; fascinated by the discipline needed to practice this martial art.

Of course, a year after he started practicing Tae Kwon Do, the original “Karate Kid” movie came out. It was definitely a movie that both of us had wanted to see. Dr. Bro, because of the reference to learning martial arts. And me, because I wanted to see Ralph Macchio again after seeing him in “The Outsiders“. Of course, both of us just loved the film; as did every 10-14 year old that saw the film with us. It was quite evident, especially during the scenes during the tournament, when every kid cheered for Daniel Larusso to win.

This past Friday, Hubby & I went to an early evening show at the movies; something we haven’t done in awhile since finding myself unemployed. And of course we went to see the new version the “Karate Kid” … not only because we wanted to see how Jackie Chan could fill the role of Pat Morita, but because we were wanted to see how the story would translate now that it was set in China. We were not disappointed.

I must warn you, if you’re looking for a completely different spin on the original movie, you won’t find it here. The story line, from the cute classmate to the bully, down to the some of the sayings “Strike first! Strike hard! No mercy!” are the same. Except with this version, there seems to be some sort of twist to each element we see in the original film.

The first (and obvious) twist to the story is that instead of being taught Karate, Jaden Smith’s character (Dre) is taught Kung Fu. So, as a good friend pointed out … why not call it “The Kung Fu Kid” instead? Well, after a little research I did manage to find out that the film is, indeed called “The Kung Fu Kid” internationally.**

Another twist is in how Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) teaches martial arts to Dre. In the original movie, Mr. Miyagi’s method of teaching Karate ranges from from waxing a car to painting a fence.  This version does not have Dre being Mr. Han’s chore boy. Nope … instead, Mr Han teaches Kung Fu by having Dre take his jacket on and off.

I admit that when initially seeing the whole “Jacket On/Jacket Off” technique (as opposed “Wax On/Wax Off”),  it appeared pretty lame, for lack of better words. But when put into context with the rest of the film, this method of teaching not only taught Dre Kung Fu, but it end up teaching him about respect.

Being a first generation Asian-American, that is the aspect of the film that spoke to me most. It was watching a kid from the new “Western World” try to integrate his life in the old “Eastern World.” There are many moments where we see Dre  act like a typical American teenager; brash and arrogant, unaware of his surroundings. This attitude obviously would not be acceptable in China where tradition and elders (as evident by the multiple scenes  of senior citizens exercising) are revered.

Mr. Han does an excellent job, albeit reluctantly, teaching Dre about the importance of respect in the Eastern World. He does it in the method in which he trains Dre in Kung Fu; because as Mr. Han says:

Kung Fu is in everything we do. It’s in the way we put on a jacket. It’s in how we treat people. Everything is Kung Fu.

In other words (or at least what I get out of it), if you respect everybody … everything in your surroundings … you, too could be a master of Kung Fu. You, too would be able to find balance between mind and body.

What I hope that most kids (and let’s face it, adults as well) get out of this movie is that there needs to be respect for everything; that we must treat people with the same respect that we would want in return. Whether it has to do with other cultures or religions … or with Mother Nature and our own planet … we should find that balance within ourselves.

When reaching the last few minutes in the movie, I couldn’t help but cheer Dre on as he moved through the tournament. And that last scene … otherwise known as “the crane kick” in the original movie? Well, listening to those 10-14 year old kids around us clap and cheer … it reminded me of that day, some 26 years ago, when Dr. Bro and I watched the original.

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** And while I was at it, I managed to find that there was actually a Philippine TV show called “Kung Fu Kids“. Hmm … talk about coming around full circle!

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, click here … )

While I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those particular grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

Why do I say that? (And Kelly … hopefully, this will help answer the question you posed to me at one time … ) Well first of all, I just know what I’m capable of handling emotionally, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to survive any further disappointment or heartache. Or as my new favorite quote from Pam says:

It got to the point where the potential for more heartbreak was more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.

The second reason I feel as if I have little strength is because I have little confidence that things will come relatively straightforward and simple to us.

Not that I expect adoption to be an easy path. If we did decide to adopt, I have this very strong suspicion that we’d have so many more walls to climb. Give me a chance to explain … and I’d absolutely love to hear what others have to say to contribute to this discussion.

Let’s start off with Domestic Adoption:

  • Hubby & I both Asian American; Filipino American, to be specific.
  • How often do you suppose any Potential Birth Moms (PBM) would look at our dossier and — just by looks alone — think that we’d make great parents when their child will (most likely) not look at all similar to the adoptive couple that they’d hope to raise their child?
  • Or that the PBM might worry that their child would face more barriers having Asian American parents?
  • How often are Asian American babies given up for adoption; especially if the PBM is also Asian or Asian American? Culture dictates that family is important. If the child is not wanted in the immediate family; chances are that there is another family member (aunt, cousin, third uncle twice removed) that is willing to raise the child. Unfortunately, that’s a situation that’s likely never going to happen to us.

Moving onto International Adoption:

  • There are stricter laws and regulations from various countries in effect.
  • Some specific countries, like Russia and Guatemala, have either suspended or have placed holds on any adoptions to the US.
  • Wait time. Even for Filipino adoptions there are certain stipulations on how and when a child can be adopted; when the child can come back to the US with the adopted parents. And quite frankly, I don’t think I can afford the three-year wait in order to adopt a child from my native country.

And finally other, all-encompassing barriers:

  • Age: Let’s face it. Hubby & I are currently pushing 40. And yes, I know that there are couples out there that are raising babies that are much older than us. But there was a reason why Hubby & I started trying to conceive within a year of marriage: I had always seen me as a younger mother; one that wanted to finish having babies before the age of 30. There was a specific reason behind that: my mother and I are exactly 3o years apart in age (sorry Mom!). Growing up (particularly in high school), not only did I deal with a cultural barrier, but I also dealt with a huge generational gap. Both my parents were pre-baby boomer, while I was most definitely a Gen-Xer. Even though after I turned 30, I knew that this was something beyond my control, adopting now — especially as the rules and regs of adoption have gotten more strict — well, it no longer seems prudent for both Hubby & my sake.
  • Energy: Along with age, this is the second biggest concern that I have. And, if I was honest with myself, the flimsiest barrier of all. Because, really this has to do with energy and stamina. It’s one thing to raise a child with the thought in mind that you’ll be young enough to (somewhat) keep up with their needs. It’s quite another thing knowing that I can no longer wake myself up in the morning without hitting the snooze button a dozen times. Would I be able to care for another life if I can barely care for my own? Like I said, flimsy … but I’m just being honest.

I don’t bring up these points to be negative in any way, shape or form. I’m simply stating facts that appear to be the most obvious barriers for our individual case when it comes to adopting a child. And that’s assuming that we would ever go down that route. And, as I said above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I perceive as barriers.

*****

As it is, I feel that we’ve already played our game of Infertility Roulette. We’ve already placed all the bets we wanted to at this time in our lives. And we lost that bet. With adoption (or h*ll, even if we ever decided to go through IVF again), I want something I can be sure of … something I can count on.

I hesitate using the word “guarantee” … since nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but after more than ten years of fighting the odds and now facing even greater odds against us (age, finances, etc), Hubby & I opted to get out of the betting pool.

And this is why, at least in my eyes, it’s never as simple to “just adopt.” It’s never easy to go through another round of IVF.

This is why Hubby & I have decided to “cut our loss” … or in this case, “cut the strings” … and live child-free after infertility.

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Related Links:

Cutting The Strings

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

Thoughts on Adoption

Information on Filipino Adoptions

Wiki Info on the Pre-Baby Boom Generation

Wiki Info on Generation X

Other Related Strings

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