Posted in Cooking Irresponsibly, Mama, Writer

Cooking- Whether They Like It or Not

I’ve always loved to cook. Since I was a little kid, family members have complimented me on my simple, but enthusiastic, kitchen skills. It was a common joke that I would easily “catch” a husband because I could cook. When I was pregnant, friends wished the babies would be boys, so I would have those legendary appetites to feed.

Reality was a complete surprise.

My husband is a Korean gentleman who has been adjusting to American food. It isn’t easy for him, and, while he always politely eats my food, and even compliments me on it, there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

For him, roast turkey with mashed potatoes and balsamic Brussel sprouts are equivalent to hotdogs with canned baked beans. If I said we were going to quit my home cooked meals and just start eating out, he probably wouldn’t feel a thing.

Then, there’s my boy. Eating me out of house and home? Only if my home was made out of carbohydrates and/or cheese. He’s one of those super-picky eaters. He practically hyperventilates at the prospect of trying different foods.

We have a “tasting” rule that’s been in place for the last two years. He doesn’t have to eat all of any item on his plate, but he does have to taste everything and behave politely.

Two years- and he still fights the rule Every. Single. Night. He stalls. Squirms. Tries to negotiate. Begs. Pleads. Sits there for long periods of time. Eventually, finally, reluctantly takes an excruciating bite.

After all that drama, of course, he always says he hates what he just tasted (our rule requires him to say it with a polite, “No, thanks. This is not my favorite.”).

My daughter is not super-picky. She’s more of a traditionally picky preschooler. She doesn’t want vegetables and needs three or four reminders not to call new food we put in front of her “disgusting.”

Did I mention I love to cook?

I forget sometimes, too. I’ve been worn down like a crayon.

They don’t want my food.

My husband appreciates my cooking efforts. I know he does, but, overall, It’s just hard to keep presenting beautiful dishes that took planning and patience when I’m going to get the same polite thanks and a couple of “yucks.”

I’ve been wondering how I can make the situation more positive. So far, figuring out some Korean recipes is sounding pretty good. Maybe Husband and I can find some common favorites.

As for the kids, I’ve been assured this is a phase most littles grow out of- though it does sometimes take a decade or two.

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Posted in Mama, Writer

Thankfully, 30 Wasn’t My New 20

I just finished my 30th year, (Happy Birthday to me!) and I’m well aware that 30 was supposed to be tough.

People expected me to suddenly feel a rush of aging.

People might have expected me to mourn the loss of my twenties.

A few wrote hopeful little “30 is the new 20!” messages on my timeline.

These feelings probably run through all of us in varying degrees.

But, I wrote a lot of my twenties down. I remember them through the pages, so I don’t feel like I’m losing them.

Plus, while I love how my life grew during those years, looking over my writings from my twenties, the one thing I see that I needed, again and again, was 30-year-old me.

For example, I will have to go on a trip alone for the first time in 9 years. My husband and I have been road trip people since we married. This will be the first time that I’ve had to handle a flight/hotel/adventure on my own since I was 22.

So, when I was planning my trip, all of my 22-year-old issues starting rushing back to me.

When I was in my early twenties, I studied abroad for a session with the UNC honor’s program. It was a great opportunity. We split our time between London and Oxford while studying theater and Shakespeare.

Such a wonderful trip in so many ways.

Also, incredibly difficult.

I had never been on a plane before.

I had never had to deal with passport checks, security procedures, layover problems, missed flights, and exchanging currency.

I did it all, except the initial airport drop off and final pick up, alone.

While I struggled, while I fought to overcome a tidal wave of unprepared ignorance in order to survive the trip, what I desperately, tears-in-my-eyes, wished to have was a traveling companion who knew what the hell she was doing to show me the way.

It occurred to me the other day.

That’s me now. That’s 30-year-old me.

If I were to see a young woman looking lost and alone at the check-in counter at the airport, being told she was sold a problematic ticket, had thus missed her impossible flight, and would have to wait 12 hours for the next one, I would know what to say.

I could help someone through that.

And this new self-assured experience carries over in other ways.

20-year-old me almost broke a middle-aged dude’s hand on that first flight. He turned into an octopus when we were sky-high. I was so proud of myself for strong arming him and finally getting him to leave me alone.

30-year-old me, though, would have started with the pulling his fingers back to his wrist, then stood up and reported his ass, so he would think twice before ever doing that to another woman.

24-year-old me thought she was the worst mama in the world, as I struggled to take care of my first newborn.

Now, I know I was just a regular mom fed a myth about “good” moms. Now, I’m on the lookout for new moms who need to be told how good of a job they’re doing.

My twenties were about learning to take care of myself, then learning to take care of my family. At this point, though, I have those things pretty well in hand. It’s a lot easier to think about others, now.

I’m saying hello to 31, today. As someone officially on the other side of 30, I am happy, proud, and relieved to report that, for me, 30 was not the new 20.

Thank God.

 

Posted in Mama, Writer

In Case the Grandparents Missed Visiting for Christmas

The important parts of today, in case the grandparents, who couldn’t visit, are feeling left out:

-Husband and I woke up before the kids, since we were so excited. Then, we didn’t want to miss the part where the kids storm into our room to announce it’s Christmas, so we went back to bed and waited for the kids to “wake us up.” Worth it.

-The stockings were full of dollar store finds, and they are probably some of the favorite gifts overall.

-Jocelyn asked Santa for a tiny stuffed cat with “sparkle eyes.” I bought it the day after she asked for it, and she hasn’t stopped carrying it since 6:20 a.m.

-Breakfast was a lot like a pretend tea party, since we set the table, but no one actually ate much. Purely decorative food.

-We staggered the present opening to try and make the excitement last. Stockings. Break. Small gifts. Break. Christmas lunch. Big gifts. It worked out really well- and Husband and I weren’t swamped with stuff to put together or batteries to find all at once.

-Josie loves her 80-piece tea set… that came with 80 stickers for some hapless parent to put on every. single. item. (It was MEEEEEE!)

-Lunch and dinner were easy since our favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, turkey sandwiches, and bratwursts. I didn’t even bake anything. The house is already overflowing with goodies that will seem out of date tomorrow (Candy cane fudge on December 26th? I don’t think so).

-Noah is playing his new video game every chance he gets. Pretty sure he’s going to turn into a Pokémon.

-We purposefully did nothing but play at home today. It was interesting. I, the watcher of almost no T.V. (besides cooking shows and my kids cartoons- which I admittedly love) watched two movies today. TWO.).

-The kids just helped me take all of the candy treats off the tree. We put them in a big bowl to munch on tonight.

-Husband and I plan to take the tree down after the kids’ bedtimes.

-Tomorrow is my birthday, which will help all of us transition out of Christmas mode. The party doesn’t have to end. It goes on without a tree- and with a more varied color scheme. I think I want a Carolina blue cake with sunflowers on it.  

We missed you, grandparents. The kids asked about you, and we’ll probably call soon. We’ll rehash some holiday highlights. If we skype, get ready for an intense closeup of a kitty with sparkle eyes.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Posted in Mama, Writer

Might’ve had fudge for breakfast.

How much damage can we really do in two days? It can’t be a lot, right?

Right?

I’m trying to relax my standards for the holidays, but there’s some internal struggle.

After working hard to play Christmas Fairy and getting my kids the special items on their Christmas lists, I’m left wondering: well, isn’t getting them everything they asked for spoiling them? Or, wouldn’t just the special items have been enough? Why are there also 1,000 other things under the tree and planned for the stockings?

Then, there’s the food.

My kids haven’t had a healthy item in 24 hours, and, if I can’t get them to eat an apple at snack time, I admit the menu for the next 24 hours is also planned to be holiday-rich-tastic.

Husband had signs of high blood pressure at his last doctor’s appointment. We were planning on a change of diet after the holidays, but I feel twinges every time I’m serving him anything that isn’t salad- Christmas Eve or no Christmas Eve.

And I’ve been on a slow and steady weight loss program since July-

But not right now, of course.

Is it hot in here? Please get that spotlight off of me.

I also finished my book right at the end of the semester. I’ve been decompressing for a week, but I’m itching to start my revisions.

But, not yet. I can’t be working now. It’s the holidays.

Must soak up magic. Must eat butter. Must color pictures for Santa Claus and watch The Grinch.

Try not to think about nutrition. Or general health. Or teaching the principles of discipline.

It’s just two days in anything-goes-except-work land. Try to enjoy it.

Pass the candy cane fudge.

Posted in Mama, Writer

Back in Time for the Holidays

I have prepared my excuses. There are a lot of reasons why I took a week off from blogging.

Grades were due.

Graduation ate a whole day.

I had fun houseguests.

My son and daughter took turns being sick.

But the whole time I was missing blogs, I didn’t realize it until I was about to drop at the end of the day.

Work, work, work, work, lay down, eyes pop open-

“Didn’t blog today.”

That happened most days.

I’m disappointed to have broken my daily blogging streak. However, this is a great time to come back. I want to share some of my Christmas.

What I write about this holiday, I will probably keep forever. My kids are 6 and 4, and this is a big year for holiday magic.

For example, Husband wrapped the big gifts last night. I’m up early, so I’ll be able to see the kids’ reactions when they come out and see new gifts under the tree (We already had a few under there. They knew exactly how many and who each one was for).

They’re going to freak out.  

Also, this year, we live in a well-established neighborhood. We’ve been able to take afternoon walks and see some mega decorations. People around here get serious about their lights (I suspect a few neighbors are actually dueling).

The kids are enchanted.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. We have plans to make cookies for Santa. I’m trying to figure out what goes in their stockings and what should go under the tree.

We won’t have guests this year. It feels strange that it will just be the four of us. I usually try to make “favorite foods” for Christmas dinner, but with the kids mainly in attendance, I guess that’s… mac and cheese? Festive! Maybe I’ll dye it red and green.

Any minute now, the kids will come blinking out of their rooms to ask me how many days left until Christmas. I’ll tell them just two more to go- then, I’ll watch as they discover (and carefully tally) the new presents under the tree.

It’s already a fun day.

Posted in Writer

Slapped an Ending on That Thing

I did it! Two weeks later than the goal I had originally set, but I did it!

My rough draft finally has an ending on it.

This book took a long time, and quite a few miracles (one of them is named Dianna), to make happen. I am so excited to FINALLY have a completed draft.

I must have eight incomplete books lying around. I can be such a fickle writer, especially since time became so precious.

It’s hard to believe that I was once a prolific writer. Before kids, I used to write all the time. In fact, my completed books (not my self-publishing story sets) are all from pre-baby time.

Wow. So, this book I just finished is my first beginning, middle, and end completed novel draft in over six years.

Holy.

Crap.

I wanna say, “what was I doing all this time?” but I’m not that far gone. I know what I was doing.

It was all things good, valuable, and loving-

And it deflected writing better than Captain America’s shield could have.

Which is sad, since I probably never had as much to write about as I did when the chaos was reigning.

But the streak is broken! I’m back! I even have a new story started that I intend to tackle with the same regiment of writing that got this last draft completed.

The next step, revision, is time consuming, but it’s the best part. I especially love being able to print and start scratching on paper. It makes everything fresh again, and my energy for the story comes back.

Looking forward to it.

I’m going to go make chocolate milk to toast to my draft. ‘Cause it has an ending! Yes!

   

Posted in Mama, Writer

“Yes, she’s mine. She looks like her daddy.”

I wasn’t familiar with the incredibly problematic term of “passing” until I had my son.

He’s 50% his daddy’s boy, but he has my coloring. When we go out together, I’m sure he is generally expected to be Caucasian, despite having his Korean daddy’s eyes, mouth, ears, stubbornness, etc. My son looks white.

Husband had some discomfort with this “white son of a Korean guy” feeling. He told me he felt like people weren’t sure he was Noah’s father. The fact that Noah calls Husband “Appa,” the Korean word for daddy, didn’t help.

When we met new people, we had to explain that Husband is Noah’s father. It wasn’t always assumed- which could be difficult for Husband and confusing for Noah.

I had it easy, though. Noah looked like my son in all of the stereotypical white kid of a white lady ways.

Then, I had my daughter, Josie.

She was born with a thick head of jet black hair that stood straight up. Her perfect skin is two shades lighter than Husband’s and about four shades darker than mine (my color going all the way past porcelain to “transparent”).  

My daughter has a few of my features, but her lovely coloring meant Husband and I switched places. Now, I’m dealing with the “white mom of the Asian girl” idea.

And, apparently, people just can’t even.

A woman at the grocery store approached in order to ooh and aah over my beautiful baby. Josie sat smiling in the grocery cart while the woman asked if I would mind giving her some details about how I “got” my daughter. Her own daughter was also interested in adopting from Asia, and she wanted some tips.

Yeah.

At Discovery Place Kids, while I struggled to hold on to an ecstatic one-year-old girl who was trying to go for a swim in the water table, a woman approached me and tried to bond over adoption. Apparently, she “also” had adopted a child, though not from Asia.

When I told the woman that Josie wasn’t adopted, she grew flustered, apologized, and pointed at my sister-in-law (also Korean) to ask, “Oh, so she’s hers?”

Is it so hard to believe, people? I mean, I know I’m pale, but come on. We all had to learn about the pea plants and genetics in high school, right?

Ironically, on the same trip, a little boy at the booth next to ours in the cafeteria stood up and labeled my family. Husband and his sister were “the mommy and the daddy,” the kids were “their babies,” and I was “the grandma.”

Lucky he was a minor.

I’ve been very nice, so far, but it’s getting harder. The last couple of times we’ve run into this problem, my kids were present to hear these ignorant assumptions. I do not need anyone asking if my daughter is adopted in front of my daughter.

She will have plenty of confusion about her biracial identity as she grows up in this crazy world (we’re trying to prepare for it). She doesn’t need additional confusion.

Last time, I was in the checkout line, when a man in a Harley Davidson jacket smiled at my daughter beside me. She smiled back, and the man looked at me, bent his head meaningfully in my daughter’s direction, and asked, “China?”

I laughed- and the flood gates opened.

“Nope- Charlotte, North Carolina. Presbyterian Hospital. 6 days late even though I was already 3 centimeters dilated when she was 8 months along. Had her with no anesthesia and minimal tearing, thank God. She was 7 pounds, 15 ounces, 20 inches long. She looks like her daddy- who is not Chinese.”

The poor guy. The line was pretty long, and we had to wait together for a while.

But I’m totally going to do the exact same thing the next time someone asks me.

If they’re going to walk in front of my daughter and hint at her being adopted, I’m going to speak up in front of my daughter about how she did a good job not tearing mama on her way out of my baby-making place.

At least she’ll never have to doubt where she came from. 

Posted in Writer

Only Read the Title? Got Something to Say?

If you read the article, you’re a rare gem. I encourage you, you wonderful readers, to go ahead and leave some sort of comment for the author.

Why?

Because, down below, in the murky waters of the comments section, the non-readers hold court. They spout nonsense and usually comment just because the title made them upset in some way.

Writers deserve comments from readers. We should endeavor to outnumber the non-readers.

Reacting to a title, only, is incredibly problematic. I can think of just a few scenarios where I could maybe have a legitimate reaction to an article based only on its initial title and caption.

Here are a few:

Scenarios where you’re allowed to react after just reading the title of an article-

Article: Another less-known reason not to vote for the pedophile is-

Me: Got it covered, thanks.

Article: Nuclear war could cause-

Me: (stops reading, clicks to open the comment box, writes, “Death.”)

Article: Woman who was sexually assaulted was once convicted of-

Me: Rape culture, ass hats.

Article: Laptops in the classroom-

Me: Results may vary.

Article: Parents should stop-

Me: (wishes we had an eye roll emoji for facebook reactions.)

Article: Late last night, President Trump tweeted-

Me (murmuring): He should really stop doing that.

Article: The benefits of wearing the same thing every day include-

Me: I’m in.

It’s a short list, for me. You might think of something that should be included here. 

And, if you read the article, I’d be happy to see your suggestions in the comments. I love it when that happens.

 

Posted in Professor, Writer

Talking to Myself

I’m on a perpetual loop during final grading. Here’s a good example.

(If you read this and worry that I could be suffering from split personalities-

Us, too.)

Conscience: Maybe we should let them turn in those assignments they didn’t turn in.

Rationality: Why? We didn’t give the other students that kind of leniency.

Conscience: But the other students didn’t have a major crisis and a medical emergency all while grieving for the loss of three loved ones.

Rationality: Yeah… about that- don’t you ever think it’s a little strange that these problems only come to light in the last week of classes?

Conscience: They must have been too scared/down/unwell to tell us.

Rationality: OR.

Conscience: ?

Rationality: OR they’re making it up to get extensions.

Conscience: (gasps) How can you be so cold? You think they would make up major illnesses and a dead grandparent?

Rationality: It happens all the time.

Conscience: I can’t believe we’re related.

Rationality: Just imagine it. They thought we were a big softie, laid on the puppy dog eyes, gave us a sob story, and BOOM- they go from a D to a C.

Conscience: … It really happens?

Rationality: ALL. THE. TIME.

Conscience: Oh… but what if they really were in the hospital and grieving, and we just shrug?

Rationality: Then we just… uh… wait…

Conscience:

Rationality:

Conscience: Maybe we should let them turn in those assignments they didn’t turn in.

Posted in Professor, Writer

Asspresser and Chipmunks: Our Kind of Breakfast

Marrying someone who is not a native speaker of English might seem like a surprising choice for an English teacher.

I’ve gotten the “do you bring your work home with you?” joke before.

First off- rude.

Second, I do want I like. I like English. Therefore, I English it up.

I like teaching. I’m not sure I could stop if I tried.

I lecture in the shower.

And I super-like Husband.

Anyway, there are advantages to loving a language and marrying someone who is in the learning stages of it.

I’ve read the articles about “keeping things fresh” and “using date night to find a common topic and reconnect,” and they all sound swell. In our experience, though, when things are getting repetitive, all we need is a commercial with an unusual word/phrase in it.

He asks me to explain it.

I give definitions and examples.

He brings the clipboard and asks me to write it down.

He diagrams it.

We both end up searching for linguistic explanations for why English is doing this quirky thing it’s doing.

Repeat in a few days when new vocabulary/wording strikes again.

And we do not get tired- over eight years of marriage, now.

What people sometimes forget is that Husband came here willingly. He wanted to be in America and learn English. He studied English in Korea, and one of his visas was a student visa- when we met, in fact. He might still be figuring this English thing out, but we’re both technically English majors.

It’s our kind of fun.

The other advantage is the stories. Sometimes it’s the way the language works that gets tangled, and sometimes it’s just pronunciation, but it is often hilarious.  

Like the time he tried to order an “asspresser” at the coffeeshop, and I thought a barista was going to slap him.

Or the time I was craving donuts- he grabbed his keys, and asked, while standing in the doorway,

Husband: Do you want the hushpuppy kind? 
Me: Hushpuppy? What kind of donut is that?
Husband: The ones from food lion. Creamy crispy.
Me: …. krispy kreme?
Husband: Of course. Do you want glazed from dunkin donuts? Or chipmunks?
Me: …..munchkins?

There was no real danger here- it’s not like I could be dissatisfied with any kind of donut. Or forest animal.

When Husband wanted to take a walk with me:
Husband: We need the… uh… (starts Google translating).
Me: Romance? Quality time? Exercise?
Husband (holds out phone for me to read): “Photosynthesis.”

Google Translate is like our hilarious roommate.

And, sometimes, not knowing the vocabulary makes us extra creative.

Husband trying to warn me when he rolled the giant yoga ball downstairs.
“Honey! INDIANA JONES!”

I have so. many. stories.

We will never run out of things to talk about. English contains infinite quirks.

We make lasting, meaningful memories just from trying to order at a drive through speaker.

I really don’t know how people who speak the same language keep things interesting. They’re at a surprising disadvantage in my book.