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.


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. 

Mama Writer

Domestic Days

Saturdays are my overcompensation days.

During the week, I tend to be all business. I only get to be with my family when I’m resting, so I’m not exactly giving them my all.

On Friday, I even make a list of all the work stuff I need to get done over the weekend. There’s a long list of things I should accomplish on Saturday, specifically, which would free up Sunday for class planning.

Then, on Saturday morning- Poof.


(That is not really me- I found this on Pinterest, and it had no publishing info that I could distinguish.) 

I am the wife-mama machine here to represent all things Pinterest while giving cuddles and trying to pay attention to everyone at once.

This weekend, it even started early- Friday night.

After a grading frenzy, I just had to have an extended family-time activity. Unfortunately, with little planning, our impromptu gingerbread house building didn’t have enough time to dry.

I did get a really cool action shot as it was collapsing, though.


And it still tasted pretty good in pieces.


Today, Saturday, I was in full-on Pinterest mommy mode.

If someone had said “Ms. T.,” I wouldn’t have looked up.

I am “Mama” on Saturdays.

There was a one-pot mac and cheese recipe with the most enthusiastic helper there is. She wants in on the action so badly that It’s all I can do to keep her from climbing in the pot.

Then, we went to the Christmas Tree Shop, where I was literally in decorative holiday plate paradise.



After dinner, both kids helped me make cookie dough, 4 colors of royal icing, and (eventually) 3 dozen perfect cookie cutouts.

The super messy decorating finale was one for the history books.

And, the grand cherry on top for my domestic Saturday marathon- I cleaned it all up.

The after shots:

Tomorrow, I will remember all of the things I had scheduled myself to do today, and I will go back into 50/50 teacher/parent mode. The 7 hour football marathon, when Husband has the kids and I can work in relative peace, usually gets enough done.

I’ll keep that work momentum going until the next weekend rolls around- then I’ll probably try to embroider something while singing the ABCs and baking a cake.


Mama Professor Writer

Passing Down the Good Kind of Busy

My dear babies,

There’s a lot I don’t know (see previous blog posts for a good start), and I will continue trying to improve here and there.

But there is one thing I’m good at.

I don’t do “busy” without wonderful reasons.

I don’t say “yes” to all of the favors, invitations, and extra work. I look for ways to be more efficient instead of just more “there.”

And when I am busy, really and truly busy, it’s because I friggin’ love what I’m doing. I give my time to what I’m doing- like a present.

You will hear me grumble about grading papers. I will seem to disappear for days at a time to take care of the seemingly endless task.

It is this hard part that shows me how much I love teaching, though. Papers may crumple me, but never crush- and I usually emerge from the pile fresh, full of analysis, and ready to start swinging at new syllabus policies and future assignment sheets.

Then, there’s the writing, the planning, the collaborating. Mama will again seem to disappear for almost whole days at a time, as the projects try to swallow her up.

I will miss you. I will be tired. It will often be overwhelming.

And I wish the same for you, one day.

I dearly love my projects. I love losing myself in a subject.

I will always endeavor to make enough time for us. I will also try not to regret being really and truly passionate about something that isn’t always kid-related.  

My kind of busy means I spend my time with you, and I spend my time doing what I love. Everything else is elevator music and call waiting.

Your mama hopes you will spend your time wisely. Make yourselves not just busy but so, so happy. 

Love you always,


Mama Writer

Your Mission: Come and Go Without Making the 4-Year-Old Cry

How to come home for only 5 minutes when you have a 4-year-old.

She will be ecstatic to see you and so sad when you leave. It is too hard.

So, here’s what you do:

  • Park down the street. Turn your engine off and ghost to a stop.
  • Super-speed from car, to behind a tree, to crouched under the open window frame.
  • Sneak towards the front door silently cursing Spouse for leaving the glass door uncovered.
  • Take an agonizing minute to slowly and silently pick the lock, since the key literally squeaks, and you’d rather have youtubed how to conduct a criminal activity than alert the preschooler to your brief presence.
  • Press yourself flat to the floor as you hear little running feet cross in front of the entrance way.
  • Stay still for 30 seconds after the last of the footsteps fade.
  • Open the door at the exact speed that renders it quiet.
  • Tip toe through the kitchen and grab the lunch bag you forgot this morning.
  • From the other room, overhear your daughter ask for a snack.
  • Panic.
  • Stuff yourself in a cabinet.
  • In your panic, you chose the cabinet with the snacks. Dead eye and hold a finger to your lips when your spouse opens the cabinet to retrieve the granola bars.
  • Hand him/her one while he/she obligingly blocks you from view and shuns the preschooler back to cartoons.
  • Unfold yourself.
  • You don’t have time for feeling to come back to your legs, so hop/limp back to the door.
  • You hear Spouse turn the cartoon volume up.
  • You decide to get Spouse the GOOD Christmas present.
  • You quickly open the door, run tree to tree, and land back in the car.
  • Try not to let the tires squeal as you make your escape.
  • Realize you left the lunch bag back in the snack cabinet.
Mama Writer

Confessions of a Fainter

*This is not medical advice. If you’re fainty, see a doctor. If your doctors are like mine, and shrug in confusion, let’s get tea sometime and swap stories.*

Almost five years ago-

“You can’t talk too much with this one, honey. She’s only got a good 3 minutes in her.”

Wise words from the nurse who remembered me from my first pregnancy. I had been woozy during the blood draws then, too, but that nurse saw me through.

This new one, though…

She talked about her car trouble, while she put that rubber thing on the top of my arm.

She leisurely switched to how much she liked my maternity shirt, while slowly swabbing my arm with a wet-wipe.

I don’t know what she was chatting about when the actual needle finally went in, since I had started murmuring my favorite parts of Alice in Wonderland in Latin.

(What’s she doing?

Is she alright?

Leave her alone, honey.)

We all have our coping mechanisms.

She managed to finally fill the tiny vial and bandage me up, but by the time I was allowed to stand, the big black dots of doom had already started forming at the corners of my vision.

I made it two blind steps, trying to form the words “I’m about to crash” with my immobile, uncooperative mouth, when I landed on the floor.

 Thankfully, me and my big baby belly were fine. My previous nurse took care of everything, calming me down. My husband helped lift me off the ground (did I mention the big baby belly?).

From then on, I had a special note in my file labeling me a fainter. All of the following blood draws took place with me reclining, since they knew I was going to end up that way anyway.  

I’ve always been a fainter. The most common reason I crash is a blood sugar drop, but I’ve also passed out due to being too close to loud speakers at a concert, as well as having to withstand any amount of blood drawing, blood pressure measuring, pulse-taking, or generally existing with an IV.

I had amnesia once, and I was continually asking the same questions over and over, unable to calm down. The doctors thought it was due to a shock I’d been through- but my loop finally stopped when they took out my IV.

Not a coincidence in my book.

I thought I’d share some of the needy and funny bits of being a fainter.

During a middle school chorus concert:

My family, trying to aim their cameras: Where’s Stephanie?

(Should’ve looked down.)

In biology class, back in high school:

Teacher: Then you just put the cuff here, to measure the blood pressure. You’ll be able to hear all the action… where’s Steph?

(My classmates eventually remembered to look down. There was Steph.)

At an outdoor concert with my siblings:

Me: I can’t believe we’re next to the stage!

(Saw black dots, crashed into a crowd of strangers, banged up my glasses, and ended up in the care of my little sister faaaaarrrr away from the stage.)

At the movies with a friend (It was his turn to choose, and he picked something super horrible with lots of gore):

Me: I’ll be right back.

(Passed out in the theater restroom, right in front of the sink. I’m told I was lucky I didn’t hit it on the way down. When I get woozy, I always think I either need to splash my face with water, or be where I can hold my own hair back. Instead, I pass out in bathrooms. Even though I know this, I still run to the bathroom every. single. time.)

Having a normal (for me) blood sugar crash:

Me: Honey, I need food immediately.

Husband: Alright. I’m on it… so, do you want like Italian, Mexican, a burger…?

Me: What are you talking about? I’m crashing- just calories, any calories!

Husband: Okay. Got it.

(Hands me food)

Me: …Really? That?

(Every time. A freaky side effect of a low blood sugar crash is you find the thought of food unappetizing. Poor husband.)

I’m super grateful to all of the people who have helped me when I’ve crashed. Once the process starts, and I see those dots, it really matters who I’m with. I’ve been incredibly lucky so far.

Mama Writer

I Might Be Ruining Football

Obligatory first sentence: my husband is awesome, and I love him very much.

Check that off the list.

He’s a family guy, and he doesn’t leave us to go do his own thing lightly. So, when he wants to watch football, for a mere 7 hours on Sunday, he does so right there in the midst of all of us.

I think he should reconsider. I think I’m about to start putting gift cards to Buffalo Wild Wings in his wallet.

‘Cause I think I’m ruining his football experience.

I can’t stop:

  • Rolling my eyes and sighing at the absolutely idiotic pregame and half-time commentary.
  • Laughing and making snarky comments when I hear the commentary on the plays (“As you can see here, Tom, this is where he dropped the ball.” “Yeah, I see, and if they want to win, they’d better stop doing that, Rick”).
  • Chatting about which of the names I see on the jerseys would be good romantic hero names (Hightower is winning).
  • Tweeting my inane questions at the teams.
  • Rating and cheering for a team based on the uniform color. Extensively chatting about how this year’s uniforms are so much better than last year’s uniforms. (Looking good, Panthers.)
  • Giving long lists of pros and cons for cheerleaders. (They do a lot of good, have a pretty good platform for charities, etc. but also, yeah, they’re scantily-clad women jumping up and down for a bunch of grunting athletes. And sometimes it’s cold, and they don’t even get pants.)
  • Talking about how the stereotypes of aggression and chauvinism proudly displayed in so many of the commercials hurt men and women everywhere.
  • Only bringing snacks into the room if the halftime show is any good.
  • Wondering out loud why football and patriotism are supposed to be the same thing. Trying to get a political conversation going…
  • Getting excited when the two-minute warning finally comes around, then groaning for every time out and play review that happens afterwards.
  • Throwing things when there’s a tie that puts the game into overtime.

Poor husband.

Next time, I think he should go eat some wings and watch the games with people who just yell out single syllable phrases at the multiple TVs.

Our marriage will probably be better for it. 

Love you, honey. 

Cooking Irresponsibly Mama Writer

The Magical, Kid-Proof, Sugar Cookie Cutout Recipe

My kids have always helped me bake. They stir, operate the mixer, measure, and decorate. My daughter especially loves it.

We used to try to do the traditional, Christmas-card, sugar cookie process. The kids were still really small, though, and it was always a mess.

A lot of recipes call for softening butter, so you have to plan for your cookies 3 hours in advance, or do a complicated boil-water-put-it-in-a-glass-for-a-minute-pour-it-out-and-place-it-upside-down-over-a-stick-of-butter-for-a-while-and-hope-for-the-best dance. Neither worked well for me and my kids.

The recipes also want you to chill the dough. How does this sound:

Me: let’s make cookies!

Kids: Yes!!!

(measure and mix. Dough goes into the refrigerator)

Me: Now, we just wait for two hours.

(Sad faced children)

It never worked out anyway. Since those recipes need the dough to stay cold, me and my littles were racing the clock to get everything rolled and cut. I wanted my kids to be included in the process, and little hands need time to get things done.

Then, there’s the fact that you have to flour the board. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. With kids, though, the stickiness factor quadruples, and, no matter what I do, we end up with cookies that taste like cardboard and look nothing like the cookie cutters.

Too little chilling. Too much rolling. Too much flour.

(If you’re in a similar boat, maybe because your kids are just really little, I suggest cheating. Make rice crispy treats (or buy a sheet of the things), cut with cookie cutters, and use store-bought tubes of icing. You can make memories, and stuff should still end up edible.)

Then, there came the magical recipe that made traditional sugar cookie baking and decorating possible with even my tiny children. I found it on Pinterest many moons ago, and it’s thanks to this recipe that my kids and I have made forest cookies, pumpkins, acorns, candy canes, Christmas trees, hearts, and Easter eggs.

The butter can be just a little softened. No chilling needed. Roll, cut, and add flour, flour, flour, and they still somehow taste like tender, buttery cookies and still look just like the cookie cutter.

I have had no contact with the writer before, and I’m not sure if she knows what a gift this recipe is; she doesn’t even mention baking with children throughout her whole description/instructions. I’m grateful, though.

Here’s to you, Katrina’s Kitchen, and your “Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever.” Because of you we have made wonderful baking memories, and, without you, we would have eaten a whole heck of a lot of rice crispy treats. I look forward to Christmas cookies soon.

Here’s the page (check out her shortening frosting recipe, too):


easter 2
When their hands were just strong enough to start trying to use the piping bag- but they also made the cookies. And the cookies are perfect. 
My daughter’s “sprinkle cookies”
We substituted some flour for cocoa powder to make some Easter colors really pop.
Mama Writer

Traveling with Kids: Where’s My Teleporter?

Traveling with kids has some challenges. I was thinking today, that if I could design a special car to cover all of the needs of a family with littles, I would end up with an RV.

A house with wheels.

Tuesday, Husband and I packed everything imaginable for our family to travel four hours away and stay a couple of nights at my parents’ house. On the way there, we stopped for fast food.

While munching nuggets, my son confesses he’s actually really sick, but he’s been hiding it. He was scared we would cancel our trip if we knew.

Husband and I had packed the car to the brim- but we were still unprepared for that surprise.

Once we got to my mom’s, my son had deteriorated to the point that, if my mom hadn’t already happened to have a thermometer, I would have had to go get one right away.

My daughter started coughing the next morning.

We were all beyond lucky that our destination was my mom’s house. My parents are accommodating and understanding. They helped us through, and my family is home again today, comfy, albeit sniffly.

I can’t help but feel connected to the parents still in it this weekend. So many people won’t do the travel thing until Saturday or Sunday. So many have further to go. So many have smaller kids.

We need teleporters, y’all. Forget the flying car. I bet our littles would still be carsick in those, anyway. In the future, an “RV” won’t cut it. We literally need home to travel with us. 

Until then, parents, when you’re out there in it, you have all my sympathy.

I see you pulled over letting the sick kid be sick.

I see you pulling out an easy mac as your picky kid sits down to grandma’s 8-course dinner.

I see you trying to put your light sleeper down on a pull-out couch while, downstairs, the party continues at a jolly volume.

I, too, see the line at the gas station restroom, and I, too, pray your kid “makes it.”

Solidarity, parents. If I see you, I’ll share my saltines and wipes.

And don’t forget- there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll be home eventually.  

Mama Writer

The Commandments of the Southern Thanksgiving Gathering

The Commandments of the Southern Thanksgiving Gathering

  • Thou shalt bring something.
  • Thou shalt obligingly laugh while everyone teases what thou brought. Ice? Who raised thou?
  • Thou shalt not partake of more alcohol than that which makes thee a more pleasant companion.
  • Thou shalt not eat for a goodly number of hours before feast-time. All tasting/picking/thieving fingers shall be smote.
  • Thou shalt put a little bit of what everyone brought on thy plate (and discretely place thy paper plate with thine uneaten portions upside down in the trash to avoid hurting feelings.)
  • Thou shalt write thy name on thy solo cup with a sharpie. Thou shalt keep thy solo cup.
  • Thou shalt ring thy hands in mourning for those working on this day- and run to the store for just one more thing.
  • Thou shalt slow thy roll and let the elderly and kiddos get food first. Thou art a grown-up.
  • Thou shalt free thy brother and neighbor by obligingly jumping up and moving thy car from the parking fiasco that is the front yard.
  • Thou shalt not eat until everyone is seated and the agreed upon terms of pre-eating have come to pass (e.g. praying, going around and sharing gratitude, etc.).
  • Thou shalt make a wish on the wishbone- even if it is most gross.
  • Thou shalt compliment everything. EVERYTHING.
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s last roll.
  • Thy pie consumption shall not exceed thy elastic function.
  • Thou shalt chase thy host/hostess away from the sinkload of dishes with the nearest long-handled cleaning utensil.
  • Thou shalt not politic to the point of hurt feelings. Remember why thou came and partook of turkey in the first place.
  • Thou shalt not take a plate, if thou didst not bring a dish. 
  • Thou shalt not covet thy sister-in-law’s casserole dish. Even if she did “leave it behind.”


Mama Writer

Smile and Nod (with love): Holiday Edition

Daily blogging is illuminating how much I think in the form of lists. They’re therapeutic, and they catch a lot of reality.

Some people are talking about how they’re dreading holiday political talk with the family. If that were to happen, and it isn’t unheard of with my lot, I intend to let my eyes glaze over and start planning next semester’s syllabus (I already know who I’m voting for).

Fortunately, politics isn’t my family’s number one thing. So, if my syllabus is thoroughly planned before Christmas vacation, the reasons will more likely be my siblings and parents discussing:

-Game of Thrones

-Superhero movies I haven’t seen


-Anything someone’s seen on YouTube

-Game of Thrones (yes, I know. They’re SO into it).

I’m just going to let it happen. Internally, though, I’m going to be the Homer Simpson disappearing backwards into a bush meme.

I don’t need spoiler alerts. These lovely humans don’t need to accommodate me. I’m just going to nod and try to figure out whether or not to include a classwork grade… with love, of course.