Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Spring Break Hawaiian Style

It's October but I want to pretend we just got back from Hawaii (where we went for spring break).  It was our big trip of the year and it was fabulous.  I've been writing this post in my free time since April--it's taken a long time to recap. I wonder how long it will take to recap our Disneyland trip in August!  Listing our fun Oahu itinerary here so I will remember for all time:

Friday, swimming at the hotel, Sheraton Waikiki (because you can get Dole Whip there!), dinner trip to musubi cafe. Four of us like to eat spam musubi. One of us is a complete twinkie, banana, you name it and will not eat Asian food unless it is plain noodles (think udon or kalguksu without the broth or anything) that taste like nothing. H won't even eat plain white rice anymore. He has some serious issues. So while the rest of us were stuffing rice and seaweed creations into our mouths, he had to sit there with a sour look on his face. On the way back we got him some popcorn chicken from KFC. I don't know how many other people go to Hawaii to eat KFC, Burger King, Subway, McDonald's and even R had to join in the fast food frenzy with his favorite orange chicken from Panda Express!

Saturday, wake up early to eat breakfast at Bogarts and have the biggest most deliciously decadent haupia macadamia pancake ever, hiking up Diamond Head with one of my besties from law school, C and her partner B. B was so nice, she stayed with R when he started protesting that he was too tired. Somehow she miraculously convinced him it was worth going to the top and he made it all the way up.  Afterwards we sampled the many offerings at the farmer's market and I bought many many jars of delicious jam. If you were at our wedding, you know that we gave Hawaiian Sun jam as part of our wedding favor. I love Hawaiian flavors like passion fruit, guava, pineapple, which are all so good on freshly made scones.  I pretty much love Lilikoi anything and wanted to name my daughter Lilikoi but Stewart wouldn't let me name my daughter the same names as his sisters so Lili was ixnayed from the get go.

Sunday, Hanauma Bay. If you get there before 8, there is no attendant to take your fees so you can enter without paying a fee. H loved it and had a great time snorkeling. R was back to his fearful, tired self and spent the entire time sitting in the stroller. E had fun making sand castles. I have to say, going to Hanauma Bay was a bit disappointing considering how much I enjoyed it the first time I went there, which was over 12 years ago.  Back then there were turtles and many many schools of fish that swam very close to shore. I was pretty amazed by it. This time, there were not as many fish, which I was told is due to tourism and the ban on feeding the fish. It was still well worth the experience, especially since it was FREE!
Monday, Breakfast at Aulani, tour of Dole Plantation, North Shore drive through to get to Masumoto Shave Ice.  The breakfast at Aulani was great. When you go to a character breakfast in the Disney Parks (I've been to the Minnie and Friends breakfast at Disneyland and Pooh breakfast at the Crystal Palace) you feel a bit rushed because there are so many people they need to get through there and plus the eating time is taking away from your stand in line for Space Mountain time.  At Aulani we were able to take our time and eat the many many plate combinations offered at the buffet.  They sang R happy birthday since we were there for his birthday. The kids got up to do the dance and activities during the breakfast. This was similar to the character breakfast at the Disneyland hotel in Anaheim. You have to look at the meal as an experience, otherwise your palm will hit your face when you realize you just paid $$ for your child to eat one mini pancake.

The tour of the Dole Plantation was everything we thought it would be. A great train ride through the different fields where we saw really cute baby pineapples and the other fruit that grew on the farm. If you didn't know, any pineapple that says Dole on it that you can buy in the supermarket is actually from Dole plantations in the Philippines, not Hawaii as Hawaii can only grow enough for the local market. The kids had a great time in the maze and I had a great time inhaling more Dole whip! I was still really full but I wanted to see why people loved the North Shore shrimp trucks. We went up there and I was not that impressed. I think it's because I had the garlic shrimp fried rice at Bogart's our first morning in Honolulu and it raised the bar as to what constitutes flavorful shrimp. I need to get some more of that fried rice!!! Matsumoto Shave Ice was good, but not better than the shave ice we had at the stand in front of our hotel.  Of course H was not eating any of this so we had to stop by the food court on the way back to the hotel so he could get his subway sandwich, cold cut combo footlong on flatbread with nothing else on it. Sometimes it feels like such a waste of money because he's getting a piece of white bread with fake meat. I have no idea how that boy grows.

Tuesday was our trip to Pearl Harbor.  I have a lot of Japanese friends, I love Japanese food, I've visited Japan, I have Sony, Panasonic, Sanrio, Muji, etc stuff all over our house. But after you visit Pearl Harbor, you have this feeling like you never want to encounter anything Japanese ever again. The stories of all the people who were killed and affected by that attack and the images, the huge images of destruction, the names of the sailors on the wall of the memorial, and the artifacts from the era all really get to you.  I noticed that while there are Japanese tourists all over Hawaii, very few were at the USS Arizona Memorial. It would be too hard when you are there for vacation, not an exercise in self-loathing. I suspect that Americans who go to Japan on vacation do not visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I certainly didn't.  I fully believe in the theory that the US military knew about the attacks and could have mobilized to stop much of the destruction, but let it happen anyway because they wanted Congress to vote to enter the war.  So many lives sacrificed.

Our last day we were supposed to go play with dolphins but after reading all of the reviews of how inhumane those places were we decided just to hang at the beach and pool. Somewhere thrown in the trip was H's surfing lesson, hiking to a waterfall, outlet shopping, Leonard's, Costco, Liliha Bakery, and two hours spent at the Ross Waikiki because it's open till 2 AM!  We also met our friends from church, who coincidentally were staying at the same hotel in Waikiki. The wonders of social media, they posted a photo at a hotel on FB and another friend commented, Eunice is there too!

There are still so many things we wanted to do so we will definitely be back. None of us are stay still and relax type people so I don't think we will be making it to Maui or Kauai.  Maybe our next trip will include the Big Island--I remember the volcano being pretty cool! Aloha!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Public Service Announcement: How to avoid a $200 auto detail bill due to child's EPIC vomit

R has a weak esophagus. At least that's the official diagnosis as to why he has the ability to vomit on a dime. So after two crazy vomiting episodes in the past two weeks, I thought I should share some tips of how to deal with the mess.

1. Get a cover for the back seat of your car. I don't know why other moms didn't tell me this the minute I became pregnant with H (oh wait, we didn't have a car in Manhattan) but if you have a child that is in a child safety seat, get a waterproof pet cover for the entire back row and put the seat on top of the cover. Look at this one on Amazon for $32. It is padded and waterproof. I did find one that is not padded that is less than $20 but if you have older kids who will be sitting on top, I think the padded ones are nicer.  And it's really funny because the minute you switch categories from a pet car cover to a child car cover, the same exact cover goes from $20 to $80. Sorry, I'll save my money and go with the one for Fido. Anyway, this means if your child vomits or has a diaper blowout or decides to put her leaky sippy cup spout side down next to her, at least you can just wash the cover and not have to pay $$$ for a car detail.

2. But if you experience a R-size vomit incident where the vomit is dripping down the insides of both seat belt openings into the insides of the actual stuffing of the car seat (not just the child safety seat) because you don't have a car seat cover and you don't want to pay for a detail since it's going to happen again, then there is another product that I love and have used for many many bodily fluid accidents in the car and on their beds. The name is totally awesome--Urine Destroyer. Believe me, when these accidents happen, you definitely feel like destroying something or someone (under 4 ft tall!). It actually is an enzyme that will kill the bacteria causing the horrendous vomit or urine odor in your car. I've also used it on carpet, very effective on smells, not effective on pink sharpie.

3.  Of course, the best way to avoid the accidents all together is to stop your kids from eating and drinking too much. R doesn't have the best self control when it comes to food so I have to remind him if I notice that he's been eating nonstop for an hour. or two. or three. which happens at Cub Scout camp if your camper doesn't like to hike or do outdoors stuff. Why is he in Cub Scouts? But if you're too late and your child has over-indulged, then make sure you have sick bags on hand. You can get them for free when you go to a dr appt, ask the nurse for a few. If you exhaust that supply, they are also available at most pharmacies.

Please, new moms out there, save yourself some aggravation and get the car seat cover. Isn't it nuts that I'm on kid #3 turning 4 this year and I only figured this out now?  Absolutely no payments were made for this post and all opinions are my own, but if you have any airplane vomit bags, please send them my way. THANKS!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

From Left to Write: The No More Excuses Diet

It's hard to write this post because all I have are excuses. But mostly I think my excuses stem from not caring that I'm fat. I'm fat. It's ok! All these crazy diet books are out there but I have no motivation to exercise to the degree required to get to my pre-baby weight because I don't care!!!! Of course I'm influenced by posts from other moms who are embracing their fatness and happy in the process. But I wanted to try. I thought maybe if I signed up for The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang, it would get me going, but so far, I haven't really exercised any more than I did before the book. I do try to follow the stricture to stop eating 3 hours before bedtime, so maybe that's something!

I'm a list person, I like to cross things off that I've accomplished but then lose all motivation to do those things again. I worked out and dieted every day so I could lose 30 lbs for my wedding. Done. I trained for six months so I could run a marathon. Done. I gave up fried potato snacks for one year's new year's resolution. Done. I worked at a startup. Done. I started blogging so I could go to BlogHer in New York five years ago. Done.

So the things that are remaining on my bucket list are: walk from Kathmandu to Everest base camp, skydiving, and write a book. All of which are things I'm going to do once my kids go to college, mostly because for the first two things, it will matter less if I die trying. So for the next 12 years I have no motivation to do anything!

Actually that's not true. I did have a few New Year's resolutions for this year. Climb Mission Peak, done. Frame my law school diploma from 12 years ago, done. Clean out my garage so I can park in it--this one is blocked by the fact that our annual MOPS rummage sale is in May and our church community group garage sale is next month.

I'm waiting. For my Pavlok. I need that will really SHOCK me into getting back into shape and sleeping earlier. I am acknowledging I have no will power. I have no motivation so I need something external to really poke and prod me into the right direction. The Pavlok is one of those wearable fitness devices that tracks your movements. If you don't reach your goal, it will give you an electric jolt. Perhaps not the best idea for someone with a minor heart issue, but at this point I'm willing to try anything.

Another random post from random mommy. If you would like my copy of the No Excuses book, please let me know and I will send it to you!

This post was inspired by The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang who shares her no excuses philosophy that motivated her to become more fit. JoinFrom Left to Write on March 12th as we discuss The No More Excuses Diet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy New Year!

It's still January so I think it's ok to still say that, right? Another huge break in blogging, not because there was nothing to report but no time since December is a huge month for fund work. If you have $$$ to invest in investment funds, let me know and I can get right on that for you.

Yesterday was the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (his birthday is actually the 15th). I asked H about it and he said that he didn't know what the big deal was. I told H if it weren't for Martin Luther King, he would be treated unfairly because he was Korean. Like he has so many times before, H protested that he was not Korean but English. I told him yet again that if his parents are Korean, people will treat him as a Korean, no matter how well he speaks English. I then asked him how he would feel if he had to go sit on the back of the bus, not be allowed to eat at certain restaurants, not be allowed to vote, not drink from the same water fountain, etc as white people. He said he wouldn't like it. But I have this feeling that he doesn't really get it.

Part of the problem being that where we live, there are no white people except our senior citizen neighbor Bob. R had a white friend, L. They played video games and had playdates and everything everything together. Then L moved away because his mom wanted to get him out of the ethnic homogeneity of our neighborhood. I can't even call it a community because there is no community. Nobody knows anyone because everyone keeps to themselves and interacts only with their own ethnicities. Being Korean, we're the outliers here so we have no alternative but to make friends with our Indian and Chinese neighbors.

How do you teach racial tolerance or equality in a place where you are the minority majority? If you live your entire life in the Bay Area, how do you even begin to understand or appreciate the civil rights movement spurred by Dr. King's bravery? When we lived in Los Angeles, I had white and Latina friends to break the homogeneity of my Asian friendships. One of my good friends was married to a wonderful black man, so we saw him occasionally and his kids frequently.  Now I live in a place where I don't interact with a single black or Latino person for weeks, if not months. I cling to my white friends from MOPS through our monthly Bunco nights even though I really don't have time since I would lose all connection to them otherwise. I wonder, how do I teach my kids about color when there are entire shades in the color spectrum missing from our daily existence? They're definitely too young to go watch Selma and words don't seem to be sinking into their consciousness. They teach the importance of the holiday and Dr. King's work in school but to them MLK is a day off school, nothing more.

As usual these random thoughts of a random mommy are stuck in the denouement with no resolution. I do know this, though, I too hope that my children will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I pray that God equips me to teach them to have a character that is honest, fair, trustworthy, brave and loving. I thank God that he gave Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the courage to stand up for TRUTH.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From Left to Write: J by Howard Jacobson

To be one of the chosen people of God. I've had a fascination with Jewish culture since my family moved from Chicago city proper to its suburbs. All of a sudden half my classmates had the last name Cohen, Finkel, or the like. They talked frequently about the shenanigans they pulled in Hebrew school. Somehow Korean school wasn't as glamorous or exciting. The year I turned 13 was filled with friends' bar and bat mitzvahs, elaborate over the top parties where kids would get carried in chairs in the air and everyone would dance holding white napkins together in a circle. Throughout my formative years schools were closed for every Jewish high holiday (but not Good Friday) and we frequently talked about seders and Hannukah in class. I wanted to be Jewish. It looked like such a cool club from the outside.

College and life in New York afterwards expanded my love affair with Jewish culture in the form of food and life-long friends.  The Kosher Kitchen was one of the best dining halls on campus and it was part of the meal plan. Manhattan's offerings were even better--Artie's deli on 83rd street with its sides of cole slaw and pickles, Cafe Edison for matzoh ball soup, and Zabar's to pick up everything else, to say nothing about the deliciousness of real bagels! Many Jewish girlfriends and boyfriends enhanced my appreciation for a people that have endured so much hatred and oppression for thousands of years and yet have persevered to excel in education, the arts, medicine and every field of business.

While I ultimately did not end up converting or marrying in, my belief that Israel was given to the Jews by God has never been diminished. So imagine the horror I felt when I found out that, on Tuesday morning, two Muslims from East Jerusalem armed with a gun, knives and axes burst into a West Jerusalem synagogue shouting Allahu Akbar and then proceeded to open fire and bludgeon praying men with axes. Of course, this made me think of J, the novel I had been reading for the From Left to Write book club. I had read a review of the book that it was not realistic that another Holocaust would happen as suggested by the book. I beg to differ--in a world where Jews in Jerusalem can get massacred in a synagogue, is the possibility of another Holocaust really that far fetched? I had originally been planning a different post, but how could I not comment on the fact that most people in this world are not outraged by what happened, and it did happen! Why is the flag not lowered to half staff for the Americans that were killed in this tragedy? Why doesn't the POTUS come out stronger against the incident? Does he even care?

I am praying that God will comfort the families of the three AMERICAN and the other victims of this travesty. If it is God's will, I pray that he will help Benjamin Netanyahu carry out his vow to "settle the score with every terrorist."  Whenever things like this happen, I question whether it is the end times. More and more I agree with the answer my pastor recently gave to this query, "it's been the end times ever since Jesus returned to Heaven." If you live in a place where there are no Jewish people and the problems of the Middle East seem far away, just think about how Hitler was able to affect the life of every human being on Earth during World War II. Ignoring the issues will not make them go away, please spare a thought for these issues today.

This post was inspired by the novel J by Howard Jacobson, about a world where collective memory has vanished and the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited. Join From Left to Write on November 20th as we discuss J. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween: Jaded Mom Recap

Non-scary Children of the Corn
Stephen King eat your heart out
When the boys were little, I was a bit crazy about Halloween. I took them to ten different parties in October and multiple pumpkin patches. I loved the cuteness they oozed out of their costumes. Maybe it's the fact that they don't wear cute costumes anymore (no more pandas or Tigger), but I'm definitely over Halloween. We did go to our first legit corn maze, making the trek to Dublin with out community group. It was hot, it was long, it had trivia questions that told you which way to go. E and I went back to the car after the first half. There was also a corn box (instead of a sand box) at the corn maze pumpkin patch. The kids loved it. I immediately thought,  "This is why the rest of the world hates the U.S." People are starving and we are wasting bushels of corn for the amusement of our children. They were also charging $$ for the opportunity to shoot ears of corn as part of target practice. All the endless talk about the drought, yet we don't flinch when food that was made possible by the use of the precious liquid is used as entertainment rather than as sustenance. Of course, I'm as guilty as the next person since I was there!

I missed the Halloween carnival at their elementary school because I just happened to have a lunch appointment at Chez Panisse that day. Even if it had been at Jack in the Box, I think I would have picked the lunch over the carnival. Apparently, it turns perfectly normal girls into zombies. And out of all the activities at the carnival, their favorite was "eating chips." Parents and high-schoolers spent three hours setting up the carnival, putting up games and decorations all over the multi-purpose room. The boys and I were there for an hour before I had to leave for Berkeley stretching out cotton to resemble cobwebs and hanging it on the walls. So much effort for a four hour event, what if all those volunteers had instead picked up the garbage in the school playground and fields? A better use of time and volunteer manpower but not quite as fun for the [young] adults channeling their inner Chucky.

The kids (and E and I) paraded around the school on Halloween in the rain. E had protested her original costume (Snow White) to join the army of Stepford Elsas. I ordered it off eBay and we had received it well in advance of the big day. The weather on Halloween morning, however, required E to take off her Elsa costume since it would have dragged in the rain. Instead she was very practical and put on a hoodie sweatshirt to protect her head. I couldn't understand why the school didn't just cancel the parade. I never had Halloween parades at any of my five elementary schools in Chicago. It may have been too cold on Halloween to do so; coats would have hid our costumes and defeated the entire point.

Halloween night was pretty uneventful. We went down the street instead of roaming the hills near my mother in law's house as we had done in past years, seeking out the neighbors known for giving full size treats. Sanity for the full-time working mom won out over the Hostess cupcakes and Costco size chocolate bars. They went through a decent number of houses and got a decent amount of candy (which will be going straight into the Operation Christmas Child boxes). Halloween, done. Does anyone need an Elsa costume?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

From Left to Write: Dataclysm PIZZA

Photo by Pierre Alan Lepetit

This is a hard post to write.  From Left to Write is a book club where we write posts inspired by the books we read. They are not meant to be book reviews. However, when we write posts that are funny, heart-warming or even simply informative--that is when a blogger writes a good post--in some way that casts a positive light on wherever that post came from because heck, at the very least, that something was inspirational. So let me make one thing clear about the book that prompts this post--I do not endorse this book. To say anything more about it goes against the principles that make From Left to Write such a great book club so I won't go into the reasons why. Instead I will write about something that I really do love and that is PIZZA.

The author brings up early on that the most frequently used word after the word "the" on his dating website is "PIZZA." And I can understand exactly why. I love pizza. I love deep-dish pizza (I'm from Chicaaaaago), I love thin-crust pizza, I love New York pizza, and I even love Korean style pizza with corn and kimchee on top. If I were stranded on a deserted island with a food replicator from the USS Enterprise that would only assemble one type of food, that food would be pizza. I'm betting I wouldn't be the only one. According to Wikipedia, 13% of the U.S. population eats pizza on any given day.

When I think about my childhood and what I ate as a latch-key kid, the image of Totino's pizza and a tall glass of milk instantly come to mind. It was love at first bite when I sank my teeth into my first ooey-gooey cheesy slice as a FOK (Fresh Off Korean airlines). Frozen pizza was the first thing I cooked in an oven by myself. I did burn my hand, but I remember feeling pretty proud of my 9 year old self. High school was all about deep dish, since every club's end of the year celebration was invariably held at Nancy's Pizza. Hey, any pizza place with Ditka on its website is legit by any Midwesterner's standards. And what college student doesn't eat her own body weight in pizza every semester? quarter?

I had the good fortune of going to college in New Haven, CT, where good to great pizza could be found on every block.  Naples was the go-to place where you could get a hot slice any time it was open. They had a article on the wall quoting a history professor saying that pizza was the perfect food and he ate it nearly every day. Well, if it was good enough for him, then any guilt I had previously for eating the amount of pizza that I did just dripped off my plate like grease from a piping hot slice. Pepe's was for taking the parents and Bar was for dates. In college I discovered the deliciousness of mashed potato, white and red clams, anchovies, and other toppings that you wouldn't find on a supermarket freezer pie.

After college came New York City, the mecca of pizza IMO. I have had pizza in Italy and I don't think it is as good as it is in Manhattan, the crust is not the same chewy yet crispy texture you get from NYC water. Lombardi's, Otto Enoteca, Waldy's, Fat Sal's, Ray's, and even the 99 cent slice that used to be across the street from Port Authority--they all had their place in the pizza kaleidoscope. I ate a lot of pizza. I could no longer drink milk with pizza (Asian lactose-intolerance caught up with me), but anything else went perfectly whether it was Jarritos Tarmarindo, Brooklyn Lager, or Yakult-laced Jinro.  

I used to be able to eat 4 slices of an 8 slice pie in one sitting. These days any more than 2 makes my pre-diabetes symptoms flare up. But PIZZA, I can't quit you. Be it a slice from Giovanni's, the Matt Cain from Patxi's, or an entire pie from Hot 'N Ready, I need my fix weekly. October may be the time to break out the pink ribbons, but it's also NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH!!!!! Guess what I'm eating for dinner tomorrow. After reading this post, you might be eating it too!  Bon Appetit!!

This post was inspired by Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, where he analyzes online data to find out that people who prefer beer are more likely to have sex on a first date. Join From Left to Write on October 9th as we discuss Dataclysm. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.