All about Rose: The Birth Day

If I've learned anything from the first child, it's that you forget so much. Already at 6 weeks, I'm not remembering things from the first day. So before I forget everything, here's Rose's birth story.

Rose was born on 06/17/17 at 8:07 PM. She weighed 7 lbs 7 oz and was 20 inches long.
Because I had an emergency c-section with the first pregnancy and all the presenting issues still existed this time around, we scheduled a c-section for Saturday, 6/17 at 11am.
There's a lot you need to do when a surgery is scheduled vs. when it's an emergency, like bathe and wipe yourself with some anti-bacterial wet wipes the night before and worst of all fast 8 hours before the surgery.
We went to sleep the night before ready and awaiting the birth of our daughter.
That morning, we got a call from the hospital saying they had a lot of births that day and that they'd need to push my surgery back at least several hours. First, they thought about 2pm. Then, they called again at noon, and they pushed it back to 6pm-ish, but that they'd call again to confirm around 4pm.
All the while, they told me only to drink clear liquids, so that when it was time for the surgery, I would have an empty stomach.
After the second push back, we decided we couldn't just sit around the house waiting for their call, so we took Austin to Korets Playground at Golden Gate Park.

This is him playing on his sister's birth-day, about 6 hours before she arrived.
When I didn't get a call at 4pm, I called them, and they said, "Oh right! I was supposed to call you and tell you to come in!" So we did. We were just thrilled that she'd be coming on the day we'd planned.
We got to the hospital and did more waiting, first in the waiting room while they prepared the room. And then in the hospital room while they prepared me. And then in the operating room while they tended to another emergency c-section. I think I rotated through 3 different doctor's who I met and who said they'd be operating on me! Once was a shift change, not sure what precipitated the second change. Apparently there had been a lot of emergency c-sections that day. And a lot of babies being born. I got a lot of apologies, and while I was hungry and tired of waiting I remembering saying, "well, we wanna make sure everyone is safe and tend to the highest needs first, right? We all just want healthy babies and mommas." I was surprised at how gracious I sounded because while I knew I ultimately meant it, I was also pretty darn cranky…or, let's face it, hangry!
Because I had fasted all day, my blood sugar was in the 50s, and I was given some sugar via IV so I wouldn't go into surgery so low. That then of course spiked my sugars to above 180, so my blood sugars were all over the place.
Rose, too, was hypoglycemic when they checked, so the poor thing had her foot pricked multiple times that first night as they checked her sugars until it normalized.
Once we were ready to go in the OR, it didn't take too long.
She was taken out, and the first thing Mike said was, "She looks like (Austin's nickname)." I agreed. She did. And we were thrilled to finally meet and hold our baby girl!
This time, I got to do skin to skin because I could feel my arms. And then we were rolled back into our room.
Later, we were taken to the mother/baby floor, and the hospital seemed quite under-staffed and low on everything. No baby blankets, no instruments in the room, no one to help move me. Mike actually helped roll my hospital bed in and out of the elevator, and helped the nurse use a gurney to move me from bed to bed. It seemed strange. And I noted that in my evaluation.
Jenny, who had planned to come and bring me dinner, brought me a late night snack at 11pm- miyeok gook (Korean seaweed soup), and it was so good! She got some baby snuggles in return.
It wasn't until at least 2am when we were ready to just settle in and rest a bit. And Rose was amazing that night. She slept so well and hardly cried. I think Mike probably got about a good 5 hour stretch that night, he woke up and said, "whoa! It's morning?"
I should've taken advantage of her sleepiness that night, but I only dozed for about an hour or so at a time.
Nurses were in and out, so I couldn't have slept that long any way, but I wanted to look at my baby, hear her breathing, and hold her.
Second time around, there was a lot less anxiety, a lot less preparation, a lot less thought put into the whole ordeal. But the love, the love just grows exponentially.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings

The child had a whiny, difficult day today. He napped for a long time in the afternoon which may have saved us all. But otherwise, he was cranky and held this low-grade whine for most of the day that I have no tolerance for.

Before dinner he wanted to wash his hands before going potty instead of the other way around which is how we always do it AND the more logical order. And when we wouldn’t let him, he lost it (crying on the floor kind). And then I lost it (not the yelling kind, though I did raise my voice, but the “fine. I’m done. You sit there and cry; I’m gonna go eat-kind”). Because, really? I ain’t got time for that. It all resolved pretty quickly, but he knew I was so over it and that we were upset with his behavior.

After dinner, he wanted to read this book:

And we talked about if he had had any of these feelings today. When we got to “angry” he said, “No, but 엄마 (umma, Korean for mom) got angry when I was being yaiyai (Chinese for behaving badly).” Yes. Yes, I did.

Then we got to the page on “sad,” and I asked if he felt that today. His response, “Yes, when 엄마 was angry.”

LOL. Ok, child. At least we’re learning about feelings through some of our debacles.

Any way, it’s a sweet and very descriptive book with beautiful images that really help children name and understand feelings. It was gifted to us, and I’m grateful for the conversations it’s generating.

Early Childhood Education

At the end of January, the child turned three. A couple weeks later, he started preschool. It’s a mix of play-based & traditional: they play for 90% of the time, but they also have circle-time and focus on a letter each week and a theme for the month. 

It was a tough transition. At drop off on the first day, he cried hysterically. It was traumatic. 

He loved his daycare. We loved his daycare. But all the kids his age had left and started more official preschools, and he needed something more than amazing childcare. 

And just in this one month (the shortest month of the year with only 28 days!), the child has grown by leaps and bounds and learned so much!

He can now:

  • Spell his name
  • Recognize his name (not reading yet, just recognizing which letters are in his name and what order)
  • Name the letter that goes with a sound, like mmm, mmm = M!
  • Match the correct number with the number of animals on a picture (see above photo which he matched all by himself!) He has been counting for a long time, but now he can see and name a number on paper which is different than counting. Ok, ok, so his coloring ain’t nothing to write home about…but as of Jan 31, all those numbers meant nothing to him. Now he’s recognizing and using them correctly!
  • Sit quietly and participate while I teach our church’s equivalent of Sunday school. 
  • And perhaps best of all, the dude is 90% potty trained. He still needs a pull up at night, and he can’t yet wipe himself with any success, but OMG. I thought I’d be changing diapers on my 10 year old with his resistance! The impossible has been made possible. 

All that to say, I’m amazed by him and what he’s accomplished in such a short time. 

So, as hard as the transition has been, he was ready for it. He needed it, and I t’s been so good for him. That little, incredible, growing brain was ready to soak up all that was next. And I am one proud momma of a preschooler. 

Ash Wednesday 2017

ash-wednesday

“Child of God, from dust we have come, and to dust we shall return.”

“What does it really mean that we are made from dust? I find it shockingly beautiful—the idea that my life is drawn from the earth. Of course, that dust is made from exploding stars and from all the life that ever existed. It carries the memories of billions of years, of immense wisdom, of lives lived long ago. We are connected so deeply with all that has gone before. One day, I shall return to that dust—and my being will join with the dust. Once, I considered that a sad thought. Now, I am amazed by it.” -Diana Butler Bass, Grounded

Ash Wednesday may very well be my most-beloved day of the liturgical calendar. I find great comfort in being reminded of my mortality. I’m not supposed to live or last forever, and that gives me great freedom to live less attached to the things of this world. The pronouncement that I am dust and to dust I shall return is a truth that rings with hope to me.
Now, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to make this world more just, fair, and even abundant for all, especially those who are oppressed and struggling just to survive. But it does mean that we’re meant for more than just this life. I really do believe that.
I don’t know what it looks like; I don’t obsess about the afterlife or who gets in or what it’ll be like. But I do believe that it is filled with God’s love and light, and that’s enough for me.
So all things of this world come to an end. It’s supposed to. That’s the only way we make room for new life, for resurrection, for rebirth. It’s liberating, really.
And especially in times like these, I find great hope in the truth that all things die, that people, policies, and administrations all perish eventually.
Because through it all, through all the death and grief and loss, love remains.
And dust, well, dust just keeps on keeping on, for now any way… It’s the stuff of the stars, the universe, the earth, and it finds new forms and beings and lives on, too, much beyond my life can or ever will.
May this Lent be filled with things that are eternal and everlasting. May this Lent be a reminder that I do not need to be so attached to the things of this world. May this Lent be a time of transformation and renewal. Here’s to the next 40 days + 6 Sundays.

 

“Expecto Patronum”

It’s been a tough few months. Since the elections, there’s been a lot of fear and uncertainty and anger. And it wears on me. I’m so tired, exhausted really.

It’s gotten much too easy for the dementors to descend and suck the joy and life out of me. I imagine many (nearly 66 million of us) have felt the nearness of the dementors’ cold kiss these days.

Sometimes, I’m just done. So tired, too tired. So angry, too angry. So overwhelmed, too overwhelmed. And I just want to succumb to the coldness, the darkness, the final kiss.

But light and love and joy and hope still exist. I’m reminded of this truth every day.

They exist in the child growing within me, moving and kicking and forcing me to pause, pay attention, and smile.
They exist in the child before me, three years old and delightful; wild and funny; silly and profound, smothering me with kisses and hugs.
They exist in the warmth of our puppies on my lap; the steady hand, support, and love of my partner; in the facebook & text groups among friends that lend support and laughter through the distance; in the resistance of people in houses of faith, in the streets, at city hall, and at airports.

And they exist in the crocheting of blankets. My dear friend, colleague, and mentor Theresa Cho made these blankets. They are huge, soft, and hand-made. Yes, that’s right: hand-made.

And each one says, “Expecto Patronum” reminding us of the patronus charm in Harry Potter that drives the dementors away. Remus Lupin says, “The patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive – but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so Dementors can’t hurt it.”

It’s not an easy spell. But it is a projection of all that is positive within you- all the joy, the hope, the light, and the love.

I desperately need to be wrapped up in a patronus charm today, and this blanket does just that. I need for all that is good to be conjured up within us and to come forth to defeat all that is evil.

So raise your wands and join me in saying, “Expecto Patronum!”

patronus-shield

Forever Do-Overs

As the toddler moves through his “terrible two’s”, he’s testing out his whiny voice. We call it jing jing in our home; I think because that’s what you call “whining” in Korean, but mostly because that’s what my bff Mannam calls it in her home, and it stuck.

Whining is awful. It’s like nails on a chalkboard, someone saying the word “moist” over and over again, a persistent cough that tickes your throat. It’s awful. We ask Austin to use his words, that we don’t understand when he jing jings; we attempt to reason and logic with him to get him to just stop. But sometimes he doesn’t want to stop. He wants to whine.

Sometimes it’s because he wants the blue cup. Sometimes it’s because I accidentally broke his cracker or cut his food. This morning it was because he wanted “2 pretzels.”  That’s what he kept repeating in his whine, “I want 2 pretzels…” And it wasn’t a tantrum (I’d use an exclamation mark for a tantrum); it was a whine. Over and over again.

Never mind he already had 2 pretzels. I told him to count them. “You already have 2!” I’d say. Didn’t matter.

So, I was pretty annoyed and short with him for most of the morning. Maybe I even told him to take himself to daycare because his whining was exhausting me.

But then I pulled into the driveway at daycare and saw that face, chubby cheeks, pouty, sad. By this time he’d dropped one of his pretzel sticks so he didn’t actually have 2 anymore. Life is hard when you’re 2.

“Oh, Austin. It’s been a tough morning. How ’bout we do a do-over? Let’s start the morning over again. Good morning!”
“Good morning!” he replied with a smile.
“Did you sleep well?” I asked. He nodded.
“I hope you have a good day at school,” I said. “I’ll miss you; I love you.”
“I love you!” he responded.

So that was our do-over.

Sometimes we just need a do-over (pro-tip: almost always easiest in the last few minutes before dropping your kid off at daycare).

As Easter people who trust in the resurrection, life is about second, third, fourth chances, and forever do-overs. Deep breath, recalibrate, try again.

As Glennon Doyle Melton says, “God is forever tries.”  

Luckily, toddlers who are good at whining are also really good at forgiving and at do-overs.

Good morning, baby.  Good morning once again.

How do I split my love between my child and my congregation? 

Recently, our daycare provider took a much-deserved, two-week long family vacation. I knew it was useless to hope for any kind of productivity with a toddler by my side 24/7, so I decided to take these two weeks off, too, including two Sundays!

Other than maternity leave, I have never taken two Sundays off in a row. Pastor friends, I highly recommend it! It takes a couple days to get work out of your system, and you have to start preparing for work at least a couple days before you start, so it really helps to take two consecutive Sundays off. Do it! It’s so good for you! But I digress.

While I looked forward to some time away from work, I also wondered if I would survive two weeks with the little one. I’m the kind of mom who is convinced that I am a better mom and person because I work; because I have extended time away from my kid; because I am able to drop off my child with people I trust and get some time away to do non-baby, non-child-rearing things. So two full weeks with the little one? We were probably all a little concerned.

I am happy to report that not only did I survive, but Mike & Austin survived. AND I actually really, really enjoyed it! (What we did and some pictures are included below. A big shout out to Mike (who is always a great and involved daddy), my BFF, and my brother in law who were such a huge help these two weeks!) There were of course moments of tantrum and crying that would terrify and/or frustrate even the saintliest of people (which I am not), but I genuinely loved spending morning to night with my growing baby.

So much so that on Thursday of week two, I started to feel a crisis of call. As our two weeks of mommy/baby together time came to a close, and I began to prepare for Sunday worship, I started to feel anxious, upset, and even a little resentful.

Friends, I love being a pastor. I believe God has called me to congregational ministry, at least this season of my life, and it is a privilege to serve in this capacity. Most of the time, I am in deep gratitude for what I get to do day in and day out (and get paid for it no less!)

But here I was, getting ready for something I ordinarily love, but feeling completely disconnected and even angry that I had to do it. Jokingly, I said to Mike a couple of times, “Should I become a stay-at-home mom?” And as I laughed and played it off, I suddenly wanted those words to come true. I wanted to devote all my time, love, and energy to this baby. I wanted to wake up to his sweet smile and spend the day exploring the world together.

I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

But something seemed suspicious, just a little not-quite-right.  You know that feeling when you can tell you’re making a decision not out of joy or love or a sense of call but out of fear? That’s what this felt like. Some people choose to be a stay-at-home parent, and it’s exactly what they should do. My desire to do so, however, felt ill-motivated and somehow wrong, even though it’s what I thought I wanted at the time.

Somehow, I knew it wasn’t so much the desire to be a stay-at-home parent but a fear of going back to work.

So, as I occasionally do when prompted by the Holy Spirit, I prayed.
I didn’t pray for guidance or use eloquent words. I just prayed, “I need you,” over and over again.

Now, I know some of this was my way of processing the shooting at Emanuel AME in Charleston, SC. The feelings of grief and anger, hopelessness and wanting to just give up and quit are all tied up with that horrible act of terrorism. I’m continuing to process this and discern how to be an agent of change, so that hatred, white supremacy, and violence may be addressed head on so real change may occur. I no longer want to give up and quit. But I’m getting to that.

As with most “God things”, I can’t quite explain it, but as I prayed, the root of my fears were revealed to me:

I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough love to give.

You see, to be a pastor of a congregation, you have to love that congregation. You have to see its shortcomings and faults and be willing to challenge the church, too. But those are all facets of love.

After a two week love-fest with the baby (with some tantrums and frustrations sprinkled in, but still love even in the midst of it all), I didn’t know if I wanted to share that love with anything or anyone else. I didn’t know if I could or if I should.

I imagine every parent with multiple commitments feels pulled and stretched at some point. I certainly struggle with work/life balance and dealing with the guilt of being gone so much.

But every person’s situation is unique in some way. And I think what made my situation unique was that my work required my love: my love of the people sitting in those pews, my love of the community in which it stands, my love for God’s people known and unknown to me. Without love, you cannot be a pastor. (Well, arguably without love, you cannot be anything. But without love for your congregation, you cannot be a congregational minister. I simply believe this to be true.)

And I was afraid that I didn’t have enough love. Nor did I want to share the limited love I did have. I wanted to be a love-hoarder and save it just for my kid and my family.

Here’s the amazing thing, though. Once my fears were revealed, God was able to break my heart wide open and fill it with love.

A heart, clenched like a fist, attempting to hoard love cannot be open enough to receive love. But when it is open, it can both give and receive.

And I realized that there is no such thing as “not enough love” because love is not a scarce resource. It is abundant and overflowing. And it comes not from me, but from God.

There is enough love to love both a child and a congregation. It will be imperfect and flawed, but it will be enough.

In fact, there is enough love even for me, so that I am not completely depleted of love as a parent and a pastor, but filled and carried and renewed by God’s abounding and steadfast love.

So, how do I split my love between my child and my congregation? I don’t.
There’s no need to split my love between anything because there’s enough love to go around and then some. Love doesn’t need to be divided and parsed out; it multiplies.
I do have to split my time, but my time is not my love.
Love abounds. Time…well, I’ll just have to learn to manage that better.

Sunday, I got up and returned to work for the first time in weeks.  Worship is exactly what I needed. I allowed myself to openly weep as our children’s choir sang, “Down in the River to Pray.” We named the names of the victims and saints of Emanuel AME. We considered our complicity in systems of hate and supremacy and how we might be agents of change. We grieved; we confessed; we celebrated four baptisms. We were church together. And God enabled me to give and receive love.

There is enough love, friends. There is enough love for it all.
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And because months from now, I won’t remember: here’s what we did during those two weeks (with some pictures included):

Sat. 6/6 – Wed. 6/10: Road Trip to LA: family, friends, beaches, and food

dan and annie

Dan & Annie

terrance and grace

Auntie Grace & Uncle Terrance

emo family

my youngest aunt & husband

beach in water

fee in the pacific

sand

feet in the sand

Thurs. 6/11 – 6/20: Staycation in SF begins: fun times at the San Francisco Zoo; sleepovers in the South Bay with the Lee’s; playing at Calvary’s Playgroup and Rochambeau Playground; getting a library card; quick and last minute meals caught with the Yoo’s, Kim’s, and Irene; getting kid furniture at Ikea; visiting Mike at work, and special snuggles and bonding time between Austin and mommy.

20150618_120136

selfie on a lazy morning

library

pubilc library

leetrio

with his favorite noona’s

water play

Bay Area Children’s Discovery Museum

calvary playgroup

Calvary Playgroup

dragon

slaying dragons with daddy at his workplace

lightsaber fight

lightsabers

petting zoo

petting zoo

family

family photo on zoo train (courtesy of bff)

fathers day

spent father’s day with these great dads & their kiddos