Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest post: On Halloween, Marriage, and Kids

A dear friend of mine wrote the following. She, in my opinion, is a talented and captivating writer. Happy Halloween!

Halloween, Marriage, and Kids
by Rendy Sell Lemke

I hate Halloween. Despise it. It’s not against my religion or anything, but I wish it was. Come to think of it, now there’s an idea: “Kids, this is a satanic holiday and you will stay inside and away from all exterior windows, otherwise you could become possessed with demons. How about we just set out a basket of anti-Halloween tracts on the porch.” Anyway, contrasted with my pre-parent years, when I really did watch “Faces of Death” episodes just for kicks, photographed dead people, and obsessed over all things Ted Bundy, I now do not get a thrill out of blood, gore, death, ghosts, zombies and all that other nastiness. Call me boring. It’s actually the one night of the year I will do something domestic, like sweep the floor, because it sounds so attractive compared to the alternative.

To be honest, part of my dislike is rooted in my fear of crowds of kids (as in anything over one kid, that is awake, is a crowd). Crowds of kids are panic-attack inducing. I hyperventilate, I get dizzy, I lose my vision, it all blurs together into one large ball, all their voices turn into a loud background of, well, scary and inaudible noise. But I never felt any mom guilt over this, you see, because I have a husband that LOVES Halloween. Loves it! Daddy is here to save Halloween for the boys! He makes the best costumes; takes them trick-or-treating and doesn’t come home until their pillow cases are packed to the brim with candy; goes with them to their school Halloween festivals/parties (folks, there are hundreds upon hundreds of kids gathered at those things); carves the most awesome pumpkins, one for each of the boys, and then he throws in an extra for himself and the dog. He’s the Santa Claus of Halloween. He really is.

So, as I was relaying all of this to a friend the other day, apparently Andy was eavesdropping. When I got to the part about how it all works out perfectly, because Andy loves Halloween, my usually calm, not-easily-excitable husband (Listen, I am not saying Andy is boring, but in order to balance out his often hysterical and frantic and overly-dramatic wife, he does have to remain pretty calm. Really. For the sake of the children) interrupted with a loud and booming voice, that was also heavily Wisconsin-accented (These days, the accent only comes out on the rare occasions when he gets angry), “What?! Are you kidding me?! I HATE Halloween! It’s the worst holiday ever. And those pumpkins? What a pain in the ass to carve. And the trick-or-treating? Tromping around in the freezing cold and not knowing whether or not to actually go to the door with the kids or wait on the sidewalk? What a mess! And who knows what sort of damage is being done to our house while we are away! For crying out loud!”

Wow. That threw an entirely unique wrench into the equation. All these years, I thought I was getting off easy. But to find out that my husband made this holiday into what our middle boy, Drew, has dubbed “the most wonderful time of the year,” and what our 18 year old boy, Alex, still loves so much and is convinced, every year, that of course Halloween is a school holiday, and so much fun for our youngest, Sky, just for that reason: because he loves his boys and would sacrifice, no, I mean SACRIFICE MIGHTILY and HUGELY and VASTLY just because he loves them? I have no words. I am not sure that I know that kind of sacrifice. I mean, even in childbirth, they at least give you epidurals. I don’t think they hand those out to parents on All Hallows’ Eve. And I am humbled. And I find yet another reason to be grateful that I, despite my typically flighty and impulsive decision-making method, even to the extent of agreeing to get married on our first date, lucked out in the husband department like I did. Thank you, Andy. Your children have the best dad in the world. Now, off to google images of brooms, so I can prepare to sweep the floors next Monday night.

Saturday, October 29, 2011



Sometimes I need a little reminder that what seems so huge and overwhelming in life isn't all that bad. This week's constant reminder, for me, is that the Lord is my shepherd, I am one who belongs in His flock, and I get to rest in His pasture.

Lord, thank you for providing us with four wonderful children, who provide such delight and remind us of what is and is not important in life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brightening my day


I hadn't noticed that something was written on my cup of hot chocolate until my friend Shauna removed the sleeve to show me. Another friend and a barista at Starbucks had written "The Amazing Lily" on my cup.

The Amazing Lily.

Wow. That surprise definitely brightened my day.

Next best thing, since I wasn't thinking caffeine was a possibility I'd attempt with newborn twins who depend solely on me for food. . . I don't feel I'm an amazing person. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Am I a hair stylist now?

I'm not sure at what point Rapunzel's hair length was no longer favored, but my first born wanted a haircut. My husband volunteered to cut her hair, but I quickly offered. Isabella decided the length, whether she'd still have bangs, and the length of her bangs. A significant amount got cut. Excited she was and is. She is exhibiting my lips in this photograph.


My second child adamantly opposed coming close to her with scissors that day. The next day, however, she asked to have her hair cut. Getting her to stay still for two seconds in a row was no easy task. However, eventually, I did trim her hair. Still might need a bit of work. But, it'll do for now.


How child hair stylists can cut squirmy, constantly-moving children is beyond me; they impress me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How does your garden grow?

The girls, especially Isabella, have been interested in nature for some time now. They have a book from the Cat in the Hat series (did you know there's such a thing?) that talks about seeds and plants. Isabella has been especially interested in growing things. So, A-gong and A-ma took the girls to pick out flowers to plant, even though this is autumn and even though snow was not that far away (we had snow overnight last night and today!). Many things that interest Isabella are suddenly of interest to Victoria as well. And, both got the opportunity, with A-gong's assistance, to plant flowers.

This was Victoria's choice. For some time now, she loves a variety of color.


This was Isabella's choice.

How does your garden grow?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Joining the 21st century


Not long after the twins were born, my dad was looking for some means of playing music. He came back with this clock looking device. Not the iPod touch; that was mine to start. That's right, it's a device that plays the music on an iPod touch. Pretty nifty, right? In some small way, I feel like I have joined the 21st century.

Life after doubling the brood


Dreaming a little dream. I dreamt of not waking in a stupor from being woken up off and on through the night. I dreamt of not being so tired by early afternoon that I am dazed. I dreamt of not being so tired by 6 pm that I mistaken the time for 4 am. Then, I was awoken by my second oldest child, who's three, who wanted me to fashion a sheriff's pin on her attire.


My parents are returning to their abode soon. They came a week or so before the twins were born. I don't know what I would have done had they not come early; I wasn't only gigantic (carrying singleton-size twins in my belly), but I was feeling so much pressure on my body (lower extremities and elsewhere) carrying those babies everywhere. My parents committed to staying a month following the birth of the babies.

Well, that time is drawing near.

And my heart's filling with anxiety, fear, and dread.

I have a kindergartner who goes to school forty minutes away, and we have to leave the house by 6:45 am to get her there on time. That's three hours of driving time in the morning and three hours of driving time in the afternoon. Plus hundreds of dollars in gas money.

I have a preschool age child who goes to school three days a week in the morning.

Then there's the issues of meals, bedtime, and other routine activities for the older two children. My parents have been giving them their meals. Oftentimes meal times coincides with nursing times. What am I going to do?!

Also? I have done absolutely no cooking since the last week or two of my pregnancy. Where would I find the time to cook, when I have two older children and two nurslings?!

With my parents here, I am eating well and resting well. Notice I said resting, not "sleeping," well. The lack of adequate sleep isn't due to any shortage of effort on my parents' part. I have not only one newborn but I have TWO!


Speaking of drama, my more sensitive and vocal twin is stirring a raucous; I had better make sure he's not poking his twin sister's eye out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bed time with A-ma and A-gong

Amongst other numerous helpings, A-ma and A-gong, with me, have taken turns with getting the girls ready for bed. Here, A-gong is seeing what letters Victoria recognizes.


And, A-ma is taking care of Christian.


Seems a very cozy, warm environment.


Where's the other twin? Oh, there she is, in A-gong's arms. Hello Christine.


A-Gong's birthday

My dad's birthday was on Saturday, October 8th, just a week after the twins were born. My sister flew in for that weekend. She left two children at home with her husband, so we could potentially avoid having SIX children, five years old and under, in the house. At the time she purchased her plane tickets, it was anyone's guess when the twins would make their way into the world. Turns out, Tenny got to meet the twins at nearly a week of life in the world.


My sister made the cake, which is really the Taiwanese version of what we use to ring in Lunar New Year. Yum. My sister was amazing; in her third trimester of pregnancy, she was doing her best to help us out.

Back to my dad's birthday, my dad's my hero. He let me start taking piano lessons when I was 4 1/2 yrs old, younger than Isabella. He would sometimes sit in the family room and listen while I practice piano. My dad taught me every aspect of running a business, a business he ran on the side when he wasn't acting as professor. The list goes on. I love my daddy. Happy birthday, Daddy.


I have to say, I'm not leaving my mom out intentionally. My parents came about a week or so before I delivered. Of course none of us knew at that time when I would deliver. My parents knew I was barely getting around, my tremendously huge belly and me. Not only was I half an inch from making contact with the steering wheel, but I couldn't stand or walk for very long, without putting uncomfortable pressure on my lower extremities.

Both of my parents, my mom and dad, were and are amazing. They've been working around the clock to do what I would do on my own and more: cooking, dish washing, transporting the older two children, burping the twins, the list goes on and on. I'm not sure what I am going to do when my parents leave. Weep, moan, groan, panic.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Our newest additions to the family, twins

I started uploading photographs for this post on October 4th, and today is October 14th. A few days have passed since I first began preparing this post, as you can see. So, I had better hurry, while I have a moment, or two.

First thing is first: BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS - twins:

Christine Myo Chang-Nunley
born: October 1, 2011, 8:10 pm
weight: 7 lbs, 9.1 oz
length: 20 1/2 inches long

Christian Ahai Chang-Nunley
born October 1, 2011, 8:21 pm
weight: 6 lbs, 14.1 oz
length: 20 1/4 inches long

The twins' siblings came to greet them the very next morning, October 2nd.


That's right, we doubled our brood with one fell swoop. Doubling the brood with one pregnancy certainly took its toll on my body, but looky looky at the cute little children and siblings.

A-ma and A-gong came about a week or so before I delivered, doing what I couldn't do at the end of my pregnancy forward, and more. I can't provide an exhaustive list; they have done so much: pedaling Isabella and Victoria to their respective schools and back, cooking, cleaning, etc.


Now, here's a clue as to who is who: Christine (who is wearing the pink hat) and Christian (who is wearing the blue hat).

And, now the twins are ready to go home; maybe not. But, we're being sent home.


Welcome home twins.