All about Rose: Your First Thanksgiving

Dear Rose,

It’s your first Thanksgiving with us on this side of the womb. This time last year I was pregnant with you and just starting to tell some family and close friends about you.

Happy Thanksgiving, baby girl! This year, I am so grateful for you.

You joined us during an interesting and hectic time in our lives, arriving in the midst of so much change and transition. But your presence reminds me to slow down and to “zoom out” to really appreciate what matters.

You are a wonder to behold. When you smile, your entire body gets into it- your feet kick, your arms flail, and your whole face lights up. You are also very vocal – so much to say for such a little one.

You’re so easy at home, independent and able to sleep on your own when we put you down. You’re an amazing self-soother- the thumb sucking helps, I think!

When we’re out, you’re still pretty easy, but I’ve noticed you have your limit with people. You tolerate being passed around and having several faces in your face for a little bit, but then you’re so over it.

These days, you’re constantly rolling over and putting everything in your mouth. Five months is a fun time. You interact and smile and coo and even sometimes shriek for joy.

My favorite part of the day with you is walking over to your crib in the morning and being greeted with your big smile. I swear, your brother didn’t sleep as well as you, and he was never thrilled to wake up. He’s still a little grumpy after waking up.

But you. I get the sweetest, most warm smiles from you in the morning, even if I’m the one who’s waking you up!

Watching you and this life we’re making together fills me with gratitude. I hope you find this kind of profound joy in your life, too. I’m the luckiest, most thankful mom today. I love you, sweet Rose.

Happy first Thanksgiving. May your life be filled with much to be thankful for.

Love,

엄마

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Home

The concept of “home” has never been straight-forward for me. I’ve lived in six different cities and many different apartments and rentals within each city. All these places feel a little like home.

Perhaps one of the advantages of a nomadic adulthood is that I do feel at home in many places. And yet, I don’t feel fully at home anywhere. That’s mostly good, I think, to remember that we are all just sojourners, that we really ultimately belong to God and find our home in God.

But recently, we moved. With a newborn and three year old, two dogs, two grandparents, and me & Mike, we moved to a new home in San Francisco. It’s a single family home where both kids have their own room, and there’s an in-law unit, so Mike’s parents can have more space. We’re so lucky to be able to do this, and I’m grateful Calvary for helping make it happen.

It was one ugly house on one of the busiest streets in San Francisco. But the day we walked in, Mike and I knew it could work. We saw its potential, and we’ve been making it feel more and more like home ever since we got the call that they’d accept our offer.

Since then, it’s gotten a lot prettier- a lot of work and decisions that mostly Mike made which I just get to enjoy. He’s got an eye for interior and exterior decorating that I just don’t seem to have.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude that we get to live here, even when weird electrical wiring confuses us or the old plumbing goes awry. This is home, for now any way. And our children will grow up here for at least a little while.

One of our projects was to make our backyard more livable and low maintenance. This included putting in a large slab of concrete in the middle for bike and scooter riding or basketball dribbling and chair sitting.

Our contractors poured the concrete today, and I had this sudden idea to write our names in the concrete. I’ve always wanted to do that- it seems so subversive and like you’re making a mark in time that’ll be there for generations. Since it’s our own backyard, it’s not illegal, also less subversive, I suppose.

The guys let me know when it was best to do it. I wish I could’ve had the kids make hand prints, but they said it would’ve been too hard by the time they got home this afternoon.

So I just did it. It was harder to write on concrete than I thought. And I didn’t have a lot of time to give it much thought or line it up all that well apparently.

But it makes me smile to see our little mark in the backyard knowing that it’ll be there until someone decides to pull up the concrete. This is our home.

And this little gesture really cemented it into reality (pun intended, obviously).

Lost in Translation

One day, Austin will most likely grow up and pronounce all his words the way the rest of us do.

But for now, his “L”s sound like “W”s and he drops the “S” when a consonant follows. It is an adorable marker of his preschool days that I already know I’ll miss.

Sometimes I just plain cannot understand him. But he’s really great at describing what he means or using a synonym to help me.

Two examples:

(1) He kept saying something was ‘Cary and I didn’t understand him. Then he said, “I was afraid!” Ohhhhhh.

(2). He says, “I washt Catwoman.”

Me trying to figure it out: “You washed her? You was her, like pretended to be her? You washed her in the tub?”

Then he said, “No. I cannot find her.” Ohhhhhh. You LOST her.

One day, so much won’t get lost in translation. But for now, I will soak in the sweet ways he says certain words like:

yellow (wewwow)

Spider-Man (piderman)

Stop (‘top)

I love you (I wuv you)

I understand (I unner’tand)

Twinkle twinkle little star (twinkle twinkle wittle ‘tar)

Brave (bwave)

Listen (wisten)

❤️ you, my little talkative man with all the adorable words.

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.