Thursday, 27 November 2014

Plans and Providence.

Over the years, increasingly, Thanksgiving has been a holiday not of thankfulness but unthankfulness. That is, I’m reminded how positively unthankful I am. Not only did I demand the money I justly deserved (it was right to hold her to the original agreement), but even the money I didn’t deserve I treated as mine. It would embarrass me to admit how much has been handed to my family this year, you would think we didn’t know how to be on our own. So when the voice finally chimed in "After all I’ve given you, do you think I won’t continue to give?" I decided to forgive the debt, and she kept the money. The reality is our home these three years hasn’t been a result of plans but of providence.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Distant Past.

I can recount it all...the shock of my water breaking at 4:00am, the confusion about whether or not it was time to go, the anticipation during the drive to the city, the anxiety of only being 1cm dilated at my initial exam, the discomfort of being induced with pitocin, the silent plea for an epidural (“I've known you for a year now and you're always smiling," Dr. Ferber said gently, "but I can see it in your face that you're going to need epidural.”), the panic when my blood pressure (and baby’s) made a drastic dip, the exhaustion after varied attempts to rotate the baby; and above all, the terror before pushing, the fear that anything could still happen.

The doctor’s signal. The nurse’s instructions. Each encouraging one-liner Julian could muster. “You can do it!” “You’re doing great!” “Almost there!” “Keep going!” All the pushing, wincing, crying, joined with the hectic hours at the hospital, and even the nine months of carrying her, fused together, leading up to that single moment our darling Evangeline Kyle, a vulnerable 6lb and 8oz and 20in, was laid across my chest.

It’s been said that when a woman goes into labor, she’s in anguish, but after the child is born, she forgets her suffering. And that is what happened when she was handed to us.  As we gazed upon her, the memory of any pain became a distant past.  The sixteen minutes, the long hours, and the nine months, overcome by a single moment of incredible joy I will never forget.

- M

Monday, 15 September 2014

Evangeline Kyle.

“Now I know why they’re called ‘a bundle,’” I whispered to my beloved as our baby lay leafed up like a cabbage in the swaddling that garnered our nurse’s praise: tight, secure, previously unknown yet welcomed like a fond memory. Over the last several hours came an outpouring of texts, emails, messages, comments, and phone calls; amidst which we shared Evie’s sense of calm, surrounded by a presence pressing, tender, and almost unbearable. Even her name, a tribute to those before her, as if by christening her with the invocation “You are your kin, your kin is you,” she really would continue the character and qualities of her legacy, cradled in them like the swaddling clothes. Angelina, Great Grandmother, Iron Matriarch of the Farol Family, Major’s Wife, mother to six sons and one daughter raised in the same stalwart respect and loyalty, such that in her last days they were all there, children having moved from the same home in Batangas to live in the same area of Southern California, children with children’s children and children’s children’s children, all formed in the same living reverence. And Kyle, Dear Cowsin, Forever Young, with his indomitable smile, who in teaching his younger brothers to be older brothers themselves shifted the paradigm for brotherhood: not roughness, not dominance, but with humility and gentleness he taught them to stand on their own feet; Kyle, who joined his grandmother before starting his first day as a UCI anteater, ending his lifelong battle with lupus. Together, Angelina the Iron Matriarch and Kyle the Forever Young, Kyle and Angelina, Angelina and Kyle, they gird her, establishing the principle by which we intend to raise her, that love is given before it is known.

- J

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Before You Meet the World.

By the sheer grace of God, we've made it this far, Baby Girl.  Month 9!  You've grown (according to my app) from the size of a raspberry to a watermelon, gentle flutters to sharp jabs, tiny blob to big ol’ baby!  I'm beginning to understand why parents confront nostalgia with every new school year or birthday (“I can't believe my baby is this old!”) Even now, I already have my share of emotions—“Hurry up!” constantly alternates with “Slow down!"

Your crib sits squished right next to my side of the bed in the corner of our small bedroom with no space between. Still, it won't be the same as carrying you in my belly. Your dad often asks, "Do you love her?” and I can't explain it. This morning I wanted to sleep in a little since you wake me up so much throughout the night. But you got your tiny hiccups again, so I just laid awake and placed my hand on my belly, knowing it won't be for much longer I can share this sensation with you. I feel like I’m protecting you from the world. I know I’ll miss our moments like these.

People always ask if we're ready for you to turn our world upside-down. I don't think we'll ever be. Each day will present new challenges where your Daddy and I will stare at each other and either laugh or cry.  We'll endure sleepless nights.  We'll rub your back. We'll wipe your tears. We'll listen to you vent.  We'll share your excitement and shoulder your burdens.  We'll watch you grow and learn and wonder where the time has gone. Most of all, we'll pray with you and for you to know and love God, because, Baby Girl, we know we cannot be everything for you.

We cannot protect you from all the pain or guard you from every danger or guide your every step in this world, but we can offer you up to Him who promises to be our Shield, our Shepherd, and our Salvation. And by doing so, you'll be in the best hands possible for He will guide you, deliver you, and bless you beyond understanding. If you need proof, just ask your parents.

- M

Friday, 15 August 2014

Talk About a Party... or 3!

Over the past couple of months, Leong Party of 3 has had the opportunity to party x3!
In July, I flew solo to California to celebrate our newest addition.  Despite an exhausting commute (which involved a broken-down shuttle bus, my cab hitting a motorcyclist, getting yelled at by a cab driver and a missed flight), the results of the weekend overshadowed the stress and proved to be a true delight! Our dear family and friends collaborated on a sweet shower held at the in-laws' home.  Carrying over the lovebird theme from our wedding, they so cleverly proclaimed that "a little birdie told us... the Leong nest is growing."  Everyone loved every creative detail and I especially enjoyed spending time with ladies that I don't get to see often.  I was so touched by it all.    

Check out our friend Helen's blog for more details and pics!
A couple weeks later, I was called into my boss' office for an impromptu meeting.  As professional and serious as ever, we proceeded with a lengthy discussion before heading to our monthly department meeting, which another co-worker had earlier warned would be "intense."  With my notebook ready to take notes, I entered the room only to be legitimately surprised by smiling faces, decorations, snacks, drinks, games and gifts!  A surprise baby shower!  On top of that, I spotted familiar, spiked hair behind a shelf--- they had secretly coordinated for Julian to join the celebration!  I was floored by such a great display of support and kindness from my co-workers.  Leong Party of 3 overwhelmed by love from the MC Team Party of 20+! 

Next up was our NY baby shower, graciously organized by the lovely ladies of our community group.  It was an intimate afternoon with some of my favorite foods and sweets, complete with games, prizes and an overwhelming mountain of gifts from both coasts!  It's so nice to know that though our blood relatives are across the country, we have developed great relationships with this east coast community, our NY family.  How God has worked to grow these friendships over the last two years has been evidence of His faithfulness, indeed.

To hear others' excitement and kind words throughout these events (and throughout the entire pregnancy), we feel so blessed that our growing family is surrounded by supportive, caring people to celebrate alongside us.  God has been so gracious in showing us that we are not alone on this new adventure and that various communities are ready and willing to further shower Baby Girl with love.  Thank you everyone from the bottom of our overjoyed hearts!  We love you all!    

- M

Monday, 21 July 2014

Cheers to You, Daddy!

No matter how many apps and books and words of wisdom I followed, pregnancy is more than I ever imagined.  Baby and I have countless intimate-- almost secret-- moments, feeling her every movement.  While I try to involve Julian by having him watch my belly move or try to catch her kicking, it's not quite the full experience.  That's not to say he hasn't been along for the ride or contributing a great amount to this pregnancy season. 

Julian has made his share of sacrifices-- altering his cooking to ensure proper nutrition for us (like scrapping his usual chicken dishes when the food aversions kicked in), offering massages (a pregnancy essential and my personal fave), being sensitive to my exhaustion and my inability to participate in social events, stepping up with housework, reading, praying and singing with the baby (oh yes, LOTS of singing),  etc.  And for someone who has always struggled with body image, my growing belly provoked silly questions always directed to my gracious husband who would gently remind me, "of course you're gaining weight-- you're pregnant. You're growing a child," shaking me out of my insecurities. 

He really has proven to be an amazing father already and this season has further revealed how blessed I am to have such a loving husband and now partner in parenthood.  Funny how that works-- because of this little baby, I love my husband even more.  And that'll be so crucial for Baby Girl to feel secure and loved too.  

Many have warned us that you will never be completely "ready" for parenthood.  Our prayer has been that our growing nest will be full of the love of Jesus and for each other, so that when our daughter joins the party,  she will enter a home overflowing with that love.  And with a leader and partner like my dear husband (and the sheer grace of God!), I think we're on the right track.  So cheers to you Ian, Baby Girl and I love you so much!

- M

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Sharing Our Joy.


We were so touched to see our loved ones cheer and shed tears of joy as they joined in our excitement.  Thank you everyone for your kindness thus far and we continue to ask for prayers for our growing family and all that is soon to come our way.  One thing is certain, that whether here or there, our little Leong will be showered with lots of love.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

That's My Girl.

I see my daughter several of times a day. The preteen on Prince Street, clutching her dad’s hand over her shoulder; the gurgling pink and white bundle, bouncing on her mother’s knee; the silly schoolgirls shoving each other and shouting at their mom. I say to myself “That’s my girl.” I wonder about our days together as father and daughter—what we’ll bond over, what she’ll resent me for, how I’ll pore and fuss over her to no end. My affections for her grow stronger each day. I say her name. I whisper to her at night. I tell myself I’m out of my depth. People ask if I’m excited about becoming a dad. I’m not going to be a dad, I am a dad.


The Sweetest Sights and Sounds.

February 26, 2014

Today, we would see our child for the first time.  We sat back as the sonographer did her thing.  The numbers, lines and black-and-white blurs made no sense to us until, indeed, we saw little baby--- or what looked like a little peanut at the time.  "And there's the baby.  Congratulations!"  I think Julian and I simultaneously let out an awe-struck "wooow."  As if the sight of this precious baby wasn't exciting enough, "...and here's the heartbeat.  Sounds good."  Those sweet little thumps confirmed that the image onscreen was more than just a blob of cells.  That was our baby, at a mere 7.5 weeks and just about the size of a raspberry, so full of life.  As that tiny heart beat, two first-time parents' hearts filled with joy.  We are so incredibly excited to see you, Baby.  
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

"One for You, One for Me..."

When Melody met me I was standing in a dusty corner of the Times Square station parked next to a staircase that led down to the 7 train, where I had been waiting for over half an hour. The day so far I had spent on a disappointing workout, a grueling shift, braving the tail end of Wednesday’s shiver, and idle time to lament it all while catching plenty of passing looks. “Having a bad day?” she asked me on the train. I nodded, a little embarrassed. I told her about my day, and she asked me if I wanted something to make it better. She told me that morning she was going to stop by Uniqlo. I even saw the bag, I figured maybe she got me a tie or suspenders. I had no clue. She reached inside and instead pulled out a small hazelnut box made of recycled paper, with a sun flare sticker smoothed over—the color of dark chocolate—sealing it shut. “Sprinkles” it read. I mustered some gratitude, though I wasn’t in the mood for cupcakes. “That’s nice, only I don’t have a big appetite right now.” She just kept smiling, oblivious to my lack of enthusiasm. “Read what it says,” she gently instructed. On the box she had written in pen “one for YOU, one for ME…” finished with a heart. I didn’t get it. Wasn’t that just being cute? Why is she so excited? She reached into the Uniqlo bag a second time, this time she pulled out a tiny paper bag—the same color as the box, with the same sun flare sticker. It wasn’t big enough to have another regular cupcake in it, it was much smaller. On it, in pen, was written “…and one for baby.” A dozen different Julians clamored over each other in my head. What? When! Hey, this is a special moment! Be excited! Remember this! But why now? Why here on the 7 train? Can everyone see me? Cupcakes? I nearly jumped up and woke up all the sleeping riders. She giggled. (01/26/2014)


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

She's kind of spicy.

Yesterday, a friend told me “You know, I thought Melody was just this sweet happy girl with a big smile, but she’s kind of spicy!” “Yes,” I chuckled, “she’s got sass.” She is also courteous, responsible with money, a lover a wisdom, and is fiercely committed to children most people don’t want to deal with. I see her in most of her facets, and I can say she is a joy to know. Happy Birthday to my Melody! My wife, my confidant, and the delight of my eyes.