Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Long Story Short

My blog has been dormant. At one point this year I was working two jobs and solo parenting so you can imagine how blogging would not be at the top of my list. I'm still trying to decide whether to go full time lawyering so the blog is on hold for now.

BUT I feel in way that I've passed on the baton. I had my sister Joyce go to BlogHer in my stead and she has been blogging phenomenally since then. She even got a direct response from JOSH GROBAN!!!!! If you are interested in great food content, check out her food blog, Chicago Agashi. She also blogs over at Joyce The Rock Star with fun posts about the single life. The glory days, right? She used to ask me questions about blogging but now she's surpassed me. My sister is a Rock Star, always, forever!!!

Happy December!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

DC Escape: International Spy Museum

Last weekend I went to a wedding in Washington, D.C. without Stewart or the kids. It was a very exciting weekend. Wait, that sentence looks too calm. IT WAS A VERY EXCITING WEEKEND! No one climbing on me, no one stealing my food, no one smearing their snot on my clothes. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY FAB-U-LOUS! A group of us law school buddies gathered to celebrate the nuptials of one of our own. Since we graduated 10 years ago, it was a mini-reunion as well. After the wedding we met up with friends who weren't at the wedding and it was fun reliving old times. Sadly our tolerances for alcohol had diminished considerably, but we were all in such good spirits we willingly listened to one friend's anecdotes about the Battle of Gettysburg into the early morning hours of Sunday. Later that morning, I had a more "Washingtonian" moment when I met one of my best friends from college for breakfast, where we discussed the inevitable reality that our resident adviser Cory Booker would become President. So many great reunions with friends and geeky conversations that could only have been possible with a group of nerds such as ourselves. I loved it all! Thank you Siny for providing the happy ocassion for us to converge!

That Sunday a couple members of our group went off on their pilgrimage to visit Gettysburg, but after breakfast, I was intent on fulfilling my wish to visit the International Spy Museum. I've harbored a desire to become a spy for a long time. I don't know when it started. Maybe it was when I realized my dream of becoming an English princess would never come into fruition (too young for Charles, too old for William)? When one dream dies, another has to take its place, right? The longing for a secret identity may have been planted in my mind during college when I came across at the bookstore a book about the long history of alums going into the CIA. Whatever the reason, I tried twice to get into the FBI and both times I was rejected. But the dream lives on, I think fueled in part by my love of the Emily Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman (RIP). In the series, Mrs. Pollifax becomes an agent when she's a senior citizen so that gives me some hope.

The International Spy Museum did not disappoint. From the picking of the secret identity, to learning about the long history of espionage in the US, to the new 007 exhibit "Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains"--it was all thrilling and welcome fuel for my imagined double life. I didn't have enough time to go through everything in as much detail as I would have liked, but I like to think that I was giving myself a reason to return. Next time I'm running into some store with my disheveled appearance and trio of troublemakers, I'll pretend it is all a secret mission and the children are merely window dressing for my cover. If you are visiting D.C., definitely make a trip to the International Spy Museum. I hope you enjoy these few fun photos from my visit!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School: Ross $25 Gift Card GIVEAWAY

Today was R's first day of Kindergarten (2 out of 3 kids now in school, woo hoo!). It wasn't an actual school day but orientation day. I guess it still counts because the teacher had him take a photo with a First Day of Kindergarten frame around his body. I would have loved to take a photo of it to share but he wouldn't let go of me, so I had to hide behind his tiny body and that is how he took the photo. Thankfully he had finally stopped crying at this point to take the photo. It must be that middle children are just more sensitive because I thought the crying was over last year with the first week of preschool, but I was wrong. To make him feel better about his first day of school, R&I had special Mommy and Me time. We went to the orientation and then headed to Ross Dress for Less to get him some brand new pants to wear on his first day of school. Unlike H, R is particular about his clothes. He likes what he likes and insists upon getting it. Thankfully, Ross is a store where pretty much we can afford to buy whatever he picks.

Today our mission was to replace his favorite pants that now have two holes in them. Perfectly functional but not worthy of the First Day of Kindergarten! R quickly picked out some blue athletic pants with the signature double stripe down the sides that had a snazzy zipper feature for the pockets. He thought it would be funny to take a picture with them on his head. It's supposed to be 84 degrees tomorrow but he wanted long pants so he got long pants!

Ross had a great array of back to school items from backpacks to room decor. H had purchased his new backpack there a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I can't reveal the brand as Ross has an agreement with vendors not to mention or show brands. But I will tell you that the backpack at Ross cost 1/3 less than the same one at TRU. It's not a place to buy last season's remainders, but for the exact same items that you will find in style today. The back to school deals aren't just for kids. I wish that a Ross had been accessible to me when I had gone to college because I would have furnished my entire dorm room with the great deals that can be found there. Ross is currently running a Back-to-School Fashion Face Off promotion that will run through September 6th on its Facebook page. Each week you will be able to choose your favorite back-to-school Ross outfit for a chance to win one of three $125 Ross gift cards! And that's not all, Ross is giving one Random Mommy reader a $25 gift card to discover the great deals for herself!

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:  Contest period runs from Wednesday, August 28th at 12:01 AM (Pacific) until Wednesday, September 4th at 11:59 PM (Pacific). Enter by leaving the name of your favorite coloring or craft supplies, and leave your e-mail address OR sign in to comments using your Blogger ID, making sure your Blogger profile is public and includes your e-mail address.

Bonus Entries
(leave a separate comment for each entry, it counts if you've done any of these so leave a comment for each one)
1) Follow me on Twitter
2) Tweet this contest and leave the tweet url (once per day)

3) Like Ross Dress for Less on Facebook
4) Enter the Back-to-School Fashion Face Off Contest on Facebook

If you don't leave a qualifying comment and your e-mail address or public Blogger profile, your entry will be disqualified. I reserve the right to extend the contest period. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize to randomly choose the winner. The winner will be contacted by e-mail and will have 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, the prize will go to the next place winner as decided by This contest is open for US Residents only. A huge thank you and much appreciation to my friends at Ross Dress for Less for their generosity! Good luck!
I did not receive compensation for this post. I received a gift card to facilitate my review. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Guest Post: Joyce The Rock Star at BlogHer 2013

I've been to the annual BlogHer conference for the past three years. This year I had to miss it due to personal issues so I had my sister go in my place. Joyce has recently started blogging and I'm thrilled with her dedication. She finds the inspiration to blog almost everyday, it's pretty awesome! Check out her blog Joyce The Rock Star. Joyce had a blast at BlogHer and I wanted to share her insight from the Opening Keynote with my readers:


The 9th Annual BlogHer Conference took place in Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel and McCormick Center this past July 25-27.  Bloggers from all over the world came to network with other bloggers and product/service companies, sample products and services, learn about blogging techniques and protocol, participate in workshops and roundtables, and listen to great, motivational speakers. 

The Kick-off Keynote address was by Ree Drummond; I had no idea who she was, but then I learned she was the Pioneer Woman.  Although I am a major bachelorette who cooks rarely, I have heard about the Pioneer Woman and her “awesome” cookbooks from married and single girlfriends who like to cook.  I learned so much about Ree and was very inspired by her story.  She started off her “speech” to us by apologizing that she truly is not a public speaker and she lamented that she had no podium to stand behind as a crutch.  She even went so far as to tell us that she was wearing SPANX, which perhaps made the audience feel that they could relate to her. 

Ree was an urban girl, but ended up falling in love with a cowboy and settled down in rural Oklahoma.  Since she was the last person her girlfriends expected to live in the country, she was called the Pioneer Woman, and the name stuck.  She started blogging in 2006 and shared amateur photos and recipes.  It was through her blogging that catapulted her successful career writing cookbooks, childrens’ books, and even having her own show on the Food Network.  It was truly inspirational that her success happened as a result of her blogging.  Throughout her speech, she did say many “ums,” to support her insistence she was not a public speaker.  I am also not the most eloquent or articulate public speaker, but knowing that her words through different media inspired so many people around the world was quite edifying.  She wrapped up the speech by singing (pretty badly) to pictures of her basset hound.  “Don’t ever be afraid of embarrassing yourself.”  I will carry that advice with me always.


Thanks Joyce! I embarrass myself everyday so this is very good to hear!

Monday, July 29, 2013

From Left to Write: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

This post was inspired by the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Mere months before Noa’s execution, her victim’s mother changed her mind Noa’s sentence and vows to help stay the execution. Join From Left to Write on July 30 as we discuss The Execution of Noa P. Singleton. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review. Due to the highly sensitive nature of this post I want to make it clear that these opinions are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of anyone at From Left to Write.

It's hard to be a lawyer sometimes. Actually all of the time. Either your relatives want you to do work for free or your own knowledge of the law makes you argue something when it's clearly not worth your time just because you know you're legally correct. There are some decisions that absolutely SHOCK the heck out of me, yet at the same time they don't because I've seen how the law works from the inside. There are always cases that support each side of any issue. Cases from each of the 50 states and cases from the Supreme Court from which lawyers argue citing the main decision or the dissent, whatever supports their argument. Everything is debatable. If you're not familiar with the legal reasoning of the Trayvon Martin case, the reason GZ was found "Not Guilty" is that Self Defense as a legal concept is an absolute defense against culpability. If you can win on the Self Defense, the prosecution doesn't even get to the elements of the crime.
When I was reading The Execution of Noa P. Singleton I was struck by the absolute need for me to post about the Trayvon Martin decision because of the existence of a gun shot in each case that irrevocably changed the lives involved in the shooting.  One single shot ended the life of one character and erased any hope of redemption for another character in The Execution of Noa P. Singleton. One single shot ended the life of Trayvon Martin and the ability for GZ to have a normal life. One act, one fraction of a second, one death that had consequences reverberating far beyond that which the shooter could have imagined. Yet, the similarities end there. For GZ was able to argue successfully the defense of Self Defense that led to a "Not Guilty" verdict.

These are the elements of Self Defense:

Element 1 - Actual belief regarding use of physical force by other person

The first element is that when the defendant GZ used defensive force against Trayvon Martin, he actually -- that is, honestly and sincerely -- believed that the other person was using or about to use physical force against him. The jury found this element satisfied by GZ's voice on the 911 call. I discuss this later, but I think this isn't ironclad. Since no one was there, do we know for sure whether GZ was actually being attacked? Anyone can call 911 and scream that they are being attacked.

Element 2 - Reasonableness of that belief

The second element is that the defendant's actual belief about the force being used or about to be used against him was a reasonable belief. The jury found the belief to be reasonable. Why? Because they believed that Trayvon Martin had actually attacked GZ. I have a different theory. The friend that he spoke to one minute before the entire episode took place warned Trayvon that if there was a big man following him, then he may be about to rape him. Teenagers are very impressionable. And yes, Trayvon had marijuana in his system, so he probably was more sensitive to the suggestion that he was about to be raped. Did the jury even consider that Trayvon Martin was acting in his reasonable belief that he was about to be attacked? Of course not, they only look at it from the perspective of the person who killed him. If Trayvon were justifiably defending himself against an attack, then doesn't that negate the reasonableness of GZ's belief that Trayvon was using force? You don't tell rape victims that they will be punished because they defended themselves against the rapist, do you?

Element 3 - Actual belief regarding degree of force necessary

The third element is that when the defendant used physical force upon Trayvon Martin for the purpose of defending himself, he actually -- that is, honestly and sincerely -- believed that the degree of force he used was necessary for that purpose. If anyone believes they need to shoot to kill when the other person is unarmed, they are not using the degree of force necessary. Is taking a life so easy that you need to shoot to kill when it is your "standing your ground" that has brought you into the situation? GZ only had to use force because he didn't run away or call the police when he first spotted Trayvon. If GZ thought Trayvon was dangerous enough that he had to shoot him, he should have called the police, not acted like a vigilante. And if he wasn't skilled enough with a gun to shoot Trayvon only enough to stop the attack, then he had no business walking around with a gun in the first place. My name is on the NRA Roll and I have no problem saying that anyone who doesn't know how to use a gun shouldn't have one. This is not about gun control, this is about people having guns who are NOT qualified to have them.

Element 4 - Reasonableness of that belief

The fourth element is that the defendant's actual belief about the degree of force necessary to defend himself was a reasonable belief. I was a successful corporate attorney because I was  paranoid. On an M&A deal, I always thought the other side was out to get us so I would dig until I found the hidden liability they were trying to foist onto us. So my theory is this--I think GZ planned in advance to kill Trayvon Martin. He had seen Trayvon walking home on another occasion and thought it would be the perfect crime. His neighborhood patrolling was just a pretense for him to walk around armed, waiting for the right opportunity. Then he would pretend that he was being attacked, make a 911 call, and kill the unarmed black teenager in cold blood. Is my theory reasonable? Any more reasonable than killing a unarmed teenager because he's black and wearing a hoodie? I'm convinced that if Trayvon Martin had been Asian, even if he had acted in the same exact way, GZ would not have killed him.

I wonder how GZ can maintain his silence. Even if this all were true and the defense of Self Defense actually applies to him, how could anyone who has killed another living, breathing human being out of sheer arrogance hold his head up in society. If it were me, I would have taken a deal with the prosecution to serve at least some jail time to atone for the taking of Trayvon Martin's life. Was he afraid if he did that, that he would be marked man in prison and likely killed before he could get out? He is a marked man now, getting death threats every minute and not able to leave his house without body armor. He may even have been safer in prison.

Since the verdict, I've been thinking about so many different arguments that people have been making about how the jury couldn't find enough evidence to convict. But they don't sway me. GZ killed Trayvon Martin. In my mind that makes him Guilty. Of killing someone! If the legal system doesn't hold him accountable, GZ should atone for it himself. None of us should get away with something because the law lets us do it. If that were the case, we might as well all steal and cheat and lie on our taxes because we will probably get away with it. There is right and wrong. There is justice and injustice. If we want our children to grow up to be decent human beings, we need to stop racial profiling and admit to our prejudices. These days whenever I see a black person, I want to apologize for the failings of society, of the law, of myself. I'm afraid they might take it the wrong way if I do that, so I end up just averting my eyes and feeling guilty. I can only do what I can and make sure my children don't grow up with prejudice. I hope all of us can do whatever little thing we can to make sure something like this never happens again.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Heart Eyes and Feet

I don't post about my faith for the most part. If you know me, you know how imperfect I am and how many things I do that don't match up to what people might expect from a Christian. Just bear with me, though, I have something that I need to share that is punching me very hard right now. Today's sermon given by guest speaker Tae Shin, really convicted me that I needed to post. He spoke about Psalm 131:1. This is the verse from the New International Version of the Bible:
My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.

Pastor Shin's point was that while on the way to Jerusalem, on the way up the hill, King David sang this song of "pre-worship" stating that his heart was not proud, his eyes were not looking down on others, and his feet were focused on getting to worship and not concerned about other things. Pastor Shin's point was that King David was praising and worshiping God on the way to worship. It reminded me of the verse our MOPS president had shared at last week's steering meeting, 1 Chronicles 16:10:
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
What struck me, what I felt God was telling me, was that I need to look at my life and thank him. THANK him for my body. If you have seen me at any point this past week, you will know why this has been difficult for me. I could barely walk because of a personal training session last Saturday that was more akin to an hour of boot camp. Given that the personal trainer was an Army Ranger for 15 years, I think that was his intention. My legs wouldn't work properly and it was not until Wednesday that I could walk in a somewhat straight line. I felt pain all over my body. Of course, most of this pain was my own fault since I wanted to prove to him that this overweight, out-of-shape body could handle it. My pride as a past NCAA college athlete and marathon runner made it impossible for me to tell him that I couldn't handle the weights with which he had me work.

The verse from my MOPS president and watching CNN yesterday at the gym while I tortured myself even more came together with Pastor Shin's message today to strike me like a blow to the face. I need to be thankful for my body, as broken as it is, because this body is ALIVE. Trayvon Martin is dead. A young man who had been talking with his friend a few minutes before his death is no longer in this world to feel whether his body is in pain or not. So I need to be grateful. For this chance to make my body stronger, for the fact that I get to wake up in the morning, for God who gives me everything that I need when I need it.

I'm sure you didn't think that was where this post was going. But I have been screaming on the inside ever since I heard about the verdict because it just doesn't make any sense to me. How can GZ (I don't even want to give power to that man by writing his name) be NOT GUILTY? Trayvon Martin was not perfect, but GZ had no right to take his life. If you think your life is in danger and you happen to have a gun, why not shoot someone in the leg or the arm? Why do you shoot to kill? 

I'm going to follow up this post with another one addressing why I think the legal issues have been screwed up in this case. Can we continue to do nothing and let the kind of fear that killed Trayvon Martin run rampant? My Heart Eyes and Feet need to do something about it. I thank God for my body and my brain and my ability to take action. I praise God for the pain I feel because it helped me realize how great it is that I can feel pain. I wish Trayvon Martin could feel this pain.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In Memoriam for my cousin Shin Dong-gi

These past two weeks have been especially tough emotionally. I found out the Saturday before last that my younger male cousin Dong-gi had been killed in a car accident in Korea. When someone you love is gone without any warning, it is very difficult to process the information. For many days I alternated between denial and grief. If I just pretended it wasn't real, then I wouldn't have to be an emotional wreck. Like I did when my grandmother died, I acted as if I were the Dread Pirate Roberts and I would throw my mind during the torture sessions. Since I didn't actually see my cousin die or go to his funeral, I could pretend that he was alive and well in Korea.

Of course, I had to tell people to explain why I was being especially flaky or crying suddenly in the middle of an activity. (One friend even asked if my eyes were so bloodshot and swollen because I had fought with Stewart) A close friend who also had experienced the death of a cousin said that one of the things that her aunt and uncle appreciated were heartfelt letters about her cousin. I had been thinking about it since my uncle and aunt were not ready to speak to anyone on the phone. Her telling me this gave me the nudge I needed to go through with it. Why was it so hard? First because my Korean is bad. I left Korea when I was five, and so my reading and writing is basically what a kindergartener can do. But mostly because, if I wrote the letter, I knew I would have to admit that Dong-gi being gone is a reality. As I wrote the letter I had many different thoughts running through my head. I couldn't express them all in Korean, so here I am throwing it out to the world through my tiny footprint in the blogosphere.

If you know anything about Korean dramas, then you know that the way they broadcast episodes is very different from the way American TV works. Most of the time, an episode can literally be finished being shot a couple of hours before it is broadcast and is edited up to the minute of broadcasting. That is why, when a drama is under production, life can be hell for everyone involved, from the actors to the professionals working behind the cameras. My cousin was a PD (a producing director if you aren't into Kdrama) for the drama War of Flowers. He was so busy, he couldn't visit my uncle when it was Parents' Day in Korea. He finally got the chance to go down to Masan (where my cousins and I were born) the weekend of May 18th. Because he had to be on set to film early on May 20th, he left Masan (six hours drive from Seoul) late in the evening on May 19th. He had driven because that was the only way he could get down there and back in the shortest time possible, while maximizing time at home. At 2 AM on May 20th, a couple of hours away from Seoul, he was killed instantly when he hit a truck.

Part of me was angry because the way the drama industry is set up in Korea is so ruthless and crazy. Why can't they do it like they do it in the US where they shoot an episode weeks in advance? Why does the timing have to come down to the final minutes before broadcast? Working under pressure can produce great work, but it also encourages the people working in that industry to make bad choices in order to have an iota of personal time. Over the past ten days, I've come to realize I can't blame the industry. To do that would be disrespecting my cousin, who had made the commitment to work as a PD. It had been his dream from childhood to work in broadcasting. If you can imagine how fiercely competitive the L.A. TV scene can be, multiply that a hundredfold and you might get a sense of what it meant that my cousin had "made it" as a PD in Korea. The U.S. has the network stations and cable--potentially hundreds of channels for which to produce work. Korea has three major stations and a couple of cable stations. Our entire family had been proud of him for building his reputation within that community and finding better and better work since he started on God of Study.

So we mourn the potential of his life. At 30, Dong-gi had so much more to do, so much more to live. He still had to get married and have kids and share all of that with his brother Dong-yeob. The Korean tradition is that all males in the same line, in the same generation share one character in their name. My uncle is Sang-sik and his brother (my other uncle) is Myung-sik. Their cousins are Bum-sik, Hyun-sik, and Woo-sik. My uncle Myung-sik has a son named Dong-hoon. The plethora of Korean names just to emphasize how much a man shares with his male relatives (the sexism of this being ignored for this post), that they are entwined with his very identity. I don't think I can even explain this well, but the fact that there were two Shin-dongs in that family line and now there are one, it tears my heart apart. When I think about how much Dong-yeob has lost, I am so worried that this will push him into ruination. How can there be one Shin-dong?

Maybe it seems strange that I am feeling this death so intensely. After all, I did leave Korea before Dong-gi was born and I didn't keep in contact with him regularly. But because I didn't have any brothers I always felt a special connection with Dong-gi and Dong-yeob, especially since they were the sons of my mom's twin brother. Whenever I went to Korea to visit my grandparents, it would be for several weeks and even months that I would spend 24/7 with them because my uncle and his family lived with my grandparents. We went all over Masan and Korea together, with our grandparents and our uncle when we were younger, and then when we were older, just the three of us or with our older cousins. Here in the US, we had no relatives growing up, so when I would go back to Korea, I would just revel in the closeness and love. Not having to explain myself or be self conscious or worried about acceptance--I cherished every minute of that family life whenever I went back to Korea. So of course, Dong-gi was a part of those memories that I held most dearly in my heart.

Dong-gi and Dong-yeob called me "noona," the Korean term for older sister. Unlike in the US, in Korea being an older person means something. The younger person has to respect you and listen to you. My own younger sisters had ceased to call me "unni" (older sister) decades ago but Dong-gi and Dong-yeob called me noona. I can still hear Dong-gi's voice in my head saying noona-yah. 눈물이 쏟아 나오고 있어.

So I cry for Dong-gi, for Dong-yeob, for myself, for my uncle and sookmo. I look at my second son (Dong-gi was the younger brother) and I think how I would be completely destroyed if anything happened to him and I cry again. I cry because there is one less person in this world that has had a commonality of experience, of family, of history with me. I watched a movie in the theater with my grandmother once in my life and Dong-gi had been there. There is no one left to remember that with me. My love of Korean pop music started when Dong-gi and Dong-yub sang to me when I visited Korea for the first time since immigrating. Dong-gi, Bum-sik and I went to have tong-dak when I went to Korea for my bar trip. Now there is no one to whom I can say, remember that time we had tong-dak before Bum-sik had to flee the country and go live in Manila because his stepmother took out loans in his name with loan sharks? Dong-gi was the only cousin who was there with Stewart, H and I when we went to visit my grandparents when H was 14 months old. Dong-gi saw H singing and dancing and bringing joy to my grandmother who was in immense pain from the cancer that would end her life three months later.  

As cathartic as writing the letter to my uncle and this post have been, I know that there is no end to the grieving process until I can go to Korea and sit with Dong-yeob and remember Dong-gi for all the goodness that was him. Dong-gi, to say you are sorely missed can't even describe what you meant to so many people. Anyone who knew you, knew your quiet strength. You were kind and sweet and funny and all kinds of awesome.

I wrote this post for myself mostly, to try and make some of my thoughts into coherent sentences. But of course, that is hampered by the fact that I knew Dong-gi in Korean, so much of what and how I think about him is in Korean, which doesn't always translate. I must live better, to make my life worth more, to appreciate the time that I have. God, please help me live better.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bay to Breakers Participant Missing

I received this email today. If you were there on Sunday and saw something, please call the police:

To all participants of Bay to Breakers 2013:
As you may have seen on the local news, Beau Rasmussen disappeared on Sunday, May 19.  He broke away from his group of friends around 12 noon at 30th and JFK at Golden Gate Park.  Beau was headed to Ocean Beach with intentions to meet back up with his friends.  Beau never returned to the meeting point and a passerby on the beach found his clothing, cell phone, passport later Sunday evening. 
The family is asking for your help with any information of seeing Beau or if you might have any photos or videos with Beau in the background. 

If you have any information, please call the Emeryville Police:  510-596-3700

 A community search will take place on Saturday, May 25 at 9am
Information below:

Please arrive between 7:30-8:30 for registration & assignments

Bedford Hall at St. Gabriel School
2550 41st Ave  (Corner of Ulloa St and 41st ave)
Questions about the search: 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More Random Thoughts from Bay to Breakers

When I was making my way down Hayes Street Hill, I noticed a house that had a large screen TV on display. It was broadcasting the feed from that house party's Facebook page. I guess the runners wouldn't be able to read it but the people who were walking could catch the messages. I wonder what the people in that house wanted, for participants to check in at the party and post to their wall? What exactly was the point? To show how socially savvy they were? At the pace I was going, I knew I couldn't post anything to FB, too many buttons involved! I had a hard enough time taking photos. I tried to get one of the ladies doing Taiko on the course in the park but all I could get was a blurry mess.

Because it was so hard to take photos, I found myself thinking, I wish I had something like Google Glass. I bet that's not why billions went into designing that device. But the fact that I honestly had that thought and the FB feed I saw made me think about how much technology has become integrated with our consciousness. I bet no one thought twice about the FB TV on the street. Which made me think, with all this technology, it's amazing that people are still willing to use their feet to run for miles. Running 7 1/2 miles isn't about exercise, it's about being part of an amazing experience with other people. People still crave social interaction, it's not enough just to be engaged in social media! Thank God for that, otherwise, I think we would become like the people in pods in the Matrix, not because AI puts us in there, but doing it to ourselves.

There was a man there that had been a tree in Bay to Breakers for 40 years. He's become an institution now, a landmark for other runners to judge where they are in the race. There were a bunch of runners with "Run Forest Run" on the back of their shirts, and I imagined them to be his disciples (Yes, I know the reference to Forest Gump). It was great seeing him at the finish. I was worried he might have a heart attack. I could tell he was struggling up the hill. But something pushed him to go forward. The tree couldn't fall in the middle of the forest because everyone was watching!

The only thing disappointing was the afterparty. I guess race organizers thought it was pretty much unnecessary since most of the participants party along the way. But for people who actually ran the entire way, it was disappointing that there wasn't more support. Every race I've run (and I've run probably close to a hundred), they always give you something at the end to help you recover. A banana, a bagel, something other than a bottle of water. I guess they've heard the complaints before because I overheard someone say that the handful of food trucks at the end of the street was something new this year. Why did they think anyone would want to eat curry bread at 8:30 in the morning? I love curry bread, but it's not my go-to food at the end of running a race. It was a good thing I had a pack of Honey Stinger chews in my Gu pouch to mollify the growling in my stomach. I'm a huge fan, by the way. I think they taste a lot better than the Cliff Bar Shot Bloks, and no hidden caffeine!

I did get hit in the head with a tortilla at the start of the race. I just don't get what that's about. It is such a waste of food. Some traditions shouldn't continue just for the sake of being tradition. What race should I run next? I've offered free media admission into a Spartan race, but the photos of the contestants on the website are really scary. They make me think of concentration camp victims. I guess I'll have to think about that another day--time to get R ready for T-ball! That ends the non sequitur thoughts for the day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bay to Breakers 2013

Salmon swimming downstream
 It's a very strange phenomenon when your husband places you in a herd of naked men running for their lives. Let me back up. Stewart grew up in the Bay Area. He left to go to West Point, was stationed all over the world, and went to Harvard Business School after being honorably discharged as a Captain. After having been everywhere, he decided the Bay Area was the best place to raise a family. So his goal from the very beginning of our marriage was to get back to CA and then to the San Francisco Bay. This might make one believe that he knew all about the Bay Area--the history, the traditions, etc etc.

A Nun, a Priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar-OUCH
When we moved here from LA a couple of years ago, Stewart told me about this great race where you get to run over the Golden Gate Bridge. He said people wear costumes like they do in the NYC Marathon and it is a really great time. So early this year, I signed up for this race that Stewart claimed began in SF and ended up in Marin County. What was the name of this race? The Bay to Breakers. I didn't really think about it much but as the race date got closer and I told people I would be running this race, it became apparent from people's reactions that there was something that just wasn't quite right. Some people would say, "really, that's very brave of you." And after the Boston Marathon, when I told people I was worried about the race because the bridge was such an obvious target, they just looked at me like they thought I was missing a few marbles. So I went to the internets and the veil was lifted from my eyes. Instead of a race with incredible views from the Golden Gate Bridge, I had signed up for drunken debauchery, complete with a view of naked men running through the streets!
TREE! In case you don't see the sign, he's run in the Boston Marathon

After I told Stewart what the race was really about, he said I couldn't put the blame squarely on him since I didn't do the research. This wasn't the first time he was wrong about something in the Bay Area, so I shouldn't have blindly believed what he told me. As a lawyer, I should have done my diligence. Yes, it was my fault for trusting the man to whom I had pledged eternal love and devotion. Nice one. To be fair, he did offer to run it for me.

This was a week ago. I started to panic. I didn't want to run by myself in a sea of drunken, potentially naked people. I asked a few friends but then it came to me like a bullet between the eyes. I needed Carol there. Carol was my roommate during my investment banking years. Any female banker, past or present, knows how to hold her own with a crowd of drunken men. Carol is also active enough that I knew I could ask her to run a 12K with no training and she would be able to handle it. And she lives in SF! I emailed her early in the week and, the awesome friend that she is, she changed her weekend camping plans to sign up for the race with me! Thank you Carol!!!!
Had to get Darth Vader

Carol had run B2B before so she knew about the costume aspect of it and wanted to participate. Since she was nice enough to run with me, I thought it would be great if I got into the spirit of things to wear a costume as well. I sent out an SOS to my MOPS group and they came through for me. I picked up the costume on Thursday. It was labeled adult, but I should have known that didn't really mean one size fits all. Sunday morning, I stuffed myself into the purple witch's costume over two other layers and went to the start line. Carol was dressed like a blue character from X-Men, I thought. A witch and a supervillian--we were ready for drama.

Thanks to having a friend there, I was able to run the race with more confidence. We did walk up the upper half of the hill, but the rest of the way we ran. Considering the longest I had run in the past couple of years was 3.5 miles, this was great. The run went really quickly and if I needed a boost I would play Eye of the Tiger again from my playlist. If you've been looking for a running app, by the way, Runkeeper is a great one! I clocked in at the finish three minutes under my goal of 1:30 (I just checked and my actual time was 1:24:53). We saw the Breakers! And Stewart, they are not in Marin County.

Breakers behind us at the end
I was going to take the muni back but I couldn't find it so made the call to the second number written in sharpie on my arm. I walked back to the south side of the park so it would be easier for my friend EY to pick me up. We had a fabulous Manhattan-type brunch at Mission Beach Cafe (I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo of my food!) and then picked up some pastries for Stewart and the kids at Thorough Bread and Bakery (restaurant links included because they are so good and I want you to go there!). Did I mention that Stewart and the kids were waiting for me back at the hotel? There was no way that I was going to get up at 4 AM to take the Bart to SF, so we had spent the night close to the start of the course. I made it back, cleaned up the disaster of a hotel room, and walked to the minivan to drive back to our life in suburbia. Originally we had planned to take the kids to Fisherman's Wharf this afternoon, but I just couldn't muster up the energy. The kids were happy with a banana split from the Ghirardelli on Market Street instead of in Ghirardelli Square, and we were on our way. I told Stewart he should run the race next year--the view from the Golden Gate Bridge is magnificent!

Friday, May 3, 2013

May Fourth Free Comic Book Day

 H and R love comic books. In any given room of our house you'll find classics like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and Sonic and more recent ones like G-Man. This morning I gave H the copy of Superman: Last Son of Krypton #1 that will be given out free tomorrow in comic book shops across the nation as part of Free Comic Book Day 2013. This book is part of the June 14th launch of Superman Unchained, the new monthly series created by comic legends Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.

H was really excited to get the Superman comic. Of course, he was Superman for Halloween two years ago so that is definitely one of his favorite super heroes. The other is Batman, which is what he was for Halloween when he was 4 years old and then again at 6. So he was over the moon when I gave him the other comic book I received from DC Comics-DC Nation Super Sampler #1, which contains a sneak peak at two sensational series from the DC Kids line--Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go! This second one was more appropriate for his reading level and includes two all-new stories for readers of all ages, based on new animated series coming to Cartoon Network's Saturday morning programming.

I will spare you the details of R and H fighting over the comics, but I will tell you that H immediately went downstairs and put on his Batman cape. I was worried he was going to school with it since he left that way with Stewart who was dropping him off at school. Luckily, I found it on the driveway when I went outside later today. I know there are a lot of books out there other than comic books, but if it gets kids reading, then I think it's a good thing. R wanted to read the comics so he sounded out the words starting at age 4.  They run to the Sunday paper to grab the comic section. I like the fact that they are registering that things like print newspapers still exist. 

I received these comics for free from DC Comics and so can you! For more on Free Comic Book Day, including a list of other titles and participating locations, please visit There is a video of Wolverine explaining what the day is all about, need I say more? Have fun!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

From Left to Write: Afterwards

I return to the Blogosphere with an account of Princess E's trip to the ER last week. She has been unlucky the past few months with one cold after another. She had a lingering cough that would act up at night time. Last Tuesday she started coughing during the day. She was wheezing audibly by 6 PM, at which point I called Kaiser. To give you some background, this wasn't my first trip to the rodeo. H had cold-induced asthma as a toddler. R had croup which was so severe he needed to be hospitalized. That is why we own a nebulizer and have facemasks and cords bulging out of our medicine cabinet. Because of our previous experiences with the kids, I, in all my medical wisdom, decided I would ask Kaiser for a prescription for albuterol so Princess E could have a breathing treatment. The nurse listened but ultimately denied my request and told me I should take my daughter to the ER if she got worse.

Two hours later, Princess E was wheezing even more and then threw up violently after I tried to brush her teeth. I figured that meant she was "worse." I drove her to the Santa Clara Kaiser ER even though there was another Kaiser ER 10 min from my house. Stewart and I each had had bad experiences with the closer Kaiser ER and I thought driving to the one in Santa Clara would assure us of a better experience. Ummm, not! The same intake doctor who had been at the closer hospital ER was now at the Santa Clara Kaiser, whaaaat! He didn't seem to think that Princess E was in serious condition so stuck us in the exam room/supply closet. It was very strange. Doctors and nurses would walk in to get supplies while we were waiting for the exam doctor. Maybe they felt bad about this, but all of them felt like they had to pat Princess E's head or squeeze her foot. Hey doctor, why are you touching my kid without sanitizing your hands??????

Finally the exam doctor comes to examine Princess E and says what she needs is a breathing treatment (yeah,
really?). They also order a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia since she has been sick for so long. Almost immediately after the breathing treatment, Princess E is breathing better. I really don't see why they needed to make us go to the ER when they could have ordered a prescription for her for the exact same thing. Since albuterol is not a harsh drug by any means, letting her have the treatment at home and then having us follow up with her pediatrician the next day would've made more sense to me. All clear on the X-ray, by the way.

Being in the hospital with Princess E made me think of Grace, the main character in the novel Afterwards that I had just read for the From Left to Write book club. Grace thought she knew what was the best for her daughter and (I don't want to spoil it for you so I'll be vague) engineered it medically so that what she wanted for her daughter would be done by the doctors. Grace knew what her daughter needed and made sure she got it. In hindsight I feel like I should have been more insistent with the Kaiser nurse on the phone to get the albuterol, and if she had said no, I should have gotten the script from another doctor. Instead I let myself be cowed by the medical "professional" who didn't know my child or her history. I took Princess E to the ER where she was exposed to a needless X-ray and a plethora of germs, especially from the doctors and nurses who couldn't keep their hands off my beautiful daughter!

Next time, I won't be making the half an hour drive to the "better" ER. If I recognize the symptoms of something she has had before, then I will insist on home care. There is a saying in Korean 엄마 손, which translates into "mom's hands medicine hands." I think I know where that is coming from--no one knows a child better than her mother, no one loves her child better than her mother. And love can be a powerful medicine indeed.

This post was inspired by the novel Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children's school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arson as her teenage daughter lies in a coma in Lupton's suspense thriller. Grace fights for her daughter and believes she knows what her daughter needs. Join From Left to Write on April 11 as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Moving Stress!

We are moving up the road five miles and the stress of this is actually something I did not anticipate. I thought it would be easier but it's turning out to be worse in some ways. So blogosphere there is my short explanation of the lack of recent posts. Hopefully I will be able to catch my breath in the next two weeks and catch you all up on the crazy that has been a part of this move. Bis dann!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tape Scape!

Photo by Oleg Alexandrov
My kids and I had the good fortune to visit the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose when Eric Lennartson's Tape Scape was there on exhibit. It is a really cool exhibit that is a lot of fun. It is made entirely of tape and plastic wrap. I love the fact that it is so simple, yet the kids loved it so much! Not everything has to an electronic gizmo for kids to have fun! Princess E had a lot of fun crawling through the tunnel in the center "pole" but she was too quick for me to take a photo. R said he loved walking on tape. You wouldn't think something made from tape and plastic wrap would be strong enough to withstand hundreds of kids jumping and sliding on it every day but the 100 hours+ it took to construct it made sure it was tough enough for kid action. It was definitely one of the highlights of our visit to the museum.

When H wasn't in school, we used to go to a children's museum or the zoo at least once a month. Now that "real" school has started, we haven't been able to do that as much. The first kid really does get all the perks. We used to do crafts every week and paint but now all that stuff is covered with dust. Sorry R and Princess E! I'm glad I was able to go to the museum with them earlier this month. Tape Scape has been dismantled at the Children's Discovery Museum but check your own local children's museum to see if it is coming to your neck of the woods. SO FUN!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Baby's E Bad Mommy Incident: Saved by Dolphin Organics

Shortly before her first birthday, Baby E suffered from a case of Bad Mommy. I love to drink hot drinks. Imagine the worst. What happened was that there was a cup of just-brewed tea on top of a placemat on the kitchen table. She had just become tall enough to reach the table and pull on anything close to the edge. Of course, I hadn't realized just what that meant. She pulled on the placement and the cup fell on her face and then shattered on the floor. For burns, many people don't know that the burn continues to happen even when the heat source is removed. You have to first stop the burn before you treat it. So I immediately grabbed Baby E and put her under cool water in the shower, clothes and all.

After I was sure the burning had stopped, I changed her clothes. There were some very pronounced red spots on her face and chest. I knew that aloe was the best thing I could put on her. But what to do, it was late at night and I didn't have an aloe plant. Then I remembered that I had received a bottle of Dolphin Organics lotion at BlogHer. I checked the label (which is so straightforward and clear to read and understand) and it had aloe as the first ingredient! I put the lotion on her face and chest. Then Baby E fell asleep. When she woke up an hour and a half later, the red spots were gone. I was completely amazed! The lotion worked like a miracle balm! It was so awesome. Because I saw how well it worked on her, I put some on my arm where I got a sunburn that day. It gave me immediate relief. Amazing! I put the lotion on her for the next week and her skin returned to normal.

I had been meaning to share this story so my readers would know what a wonderful product Dolphin Organics has put on the market. I put it off though because of the Bad Mommy embarrassment factor and, of course, once I got over that so many things had come up that it slipped to the back of my mind. Recently, however, I received a pack of trial sizes of the new product line and it brought back the feeling of complete wonder I had when I went through the experience last year. The kids and I have tried the new products and we give them a big thumbs up! I asked Princess E which one she liked the best and she picked the pink bottle of DO Naturals bodywash (justberry). What I like about it is that it is really thick and doesn't run like some lotions. It stays on the skin so you know it's working! H, with his picky nose, likes the Simply Citrus lotion the best. Honestly, the original formula that we used last year didn't smell so nice, but the reformulated products are very pleasant. If H will use it, then I know it passes a very high standard.

I've suggested to the company that they should put out a natural burn, itch, etc product because there is nothing out there that is completely natural like Dolphin Organics. I heartily endorse this product and hope you will give it a try! I've found some great deals on (currently on sale) and Amazon and can't wait to get the sunscreen to block the hot California sun.

I did not receive compensation for this post. I did receive product samples but without any expectation of posting. I do not receive commission for links to stores and have provided them as a service to my readers. All opinions are my own!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stress Buster: Emmy Rossum's Sentimental Journey Review

Last week was a very stressful week. Well, every week seems like it's a very stressful week. Last week was more so due to a combination of illness for Princess E (going on week 4!) and myself. When the mom is sick, it's a very stressful time for the family. So it was as if my friends at the One2One Network knew how stressful the week was going to be when they sent me a review copy of Emmy Rossum's new album, Sentimental Journey, releasing today, January 29th. If you aren't familiar with Emmy Rossum, you must go to Youtube right now and search for her. I especially love to listen to her renditions of the songs from Phantum of the Opera. The new album is a collection of classic covers that spans much of the early part of the last century.

Besides her lead role in Phantom, Emmy Rossum is an acclaimed actress currently starring in the Showtime series Shameless with William H. Macy. Next month, her film Beautiful Creatures with Emma Thompson and Viola Davis opens on February 13th. I watched her on late night television a long time ago and she said she got her start as a singer performing at the Metropolitan Opera at age 7! So it's no wonder that the album shows a wide vocal range and careful thought as to how to craft the album into what Emmy has characterized as an emotional musical journey, with each song representing a month in the year. Emmy said of the process, "Some songs were obvious fits, like Summer Wind for June, and Pretty Paper for December...I chose Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out) for September, because, to me, the plaintive melody and lyric emotionally reflect the cold weather creeping in and the sense of melancholy we can get in the fall months."

The entire album was a balm to my stressed out soul. It was exactly what I needed since the last new song I bought was Gangnam Style. After a whole summer and fall listening to that because my kids were addicted to it, I felt like listening to Sentimental Journey was like going through detox. There is a special treat at the end of the album, a bonus song that made me laugh out loud. The lyrics are so ridiculous that it makes you wonder how they sang songs like that in the "good old days." It made me glad I am alive today, even with the crazy stress that my life usually is--at least I don't have to wear lipstick to be loved! If you want to find out more, check out the album here.   

I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

Monday, January 14, 2013

From Left to Write: The Expats

This post was inspired by mystery thriller novel The Expats by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore happily sheds her old life to become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband's secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 (the paperback release date) as we discusss The Expats. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

When I read this lead into the description of the book, what struck me for the first time was the term "working mother." I've heard it many times before, but I never thought about the irony of it. When a mom works outside the home, she is called a working mother, but if a father does, there is no equivalent, he's just a father, right? It also denigrates what stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) do because it implies that moms who are raising their kids are not working. Any SAHM would tell you in a heartbeat that the job we have is definitely the hardest one in the world. You are all at once a psychologist, housekeeper, cook, day care teacher, van driver, janitor, laundry operator, facilities manager, computer operator, and CEO of your household. calculated last year that an average SAHM should be paid $112,962 for her work. I think mine would be higher because of the many many times I have cleaned R's vomit off the floor due to his weak esophagus (sorry Costco shoppers). Unfortunately you can't list this on your resume.

So that was why when Kate Moore decides to quit her job as a CIA agent to become a SAHM in Europe, I mentally shouted at her, you idiot! Do you have any idea how hard it will be to ever work again, especially if the break in your resume is measured by years and not months? A lot of people say that nowadays it is understood that a woman can take a break in her career (although being a SAHM is no break but time spent doing hard labor!) and she will be able to return to work. But in actuality, this is still much harder to do than it appears. And I get it, all things being equal, would I want to hire someone who has not being working in her profession for a period of time if there is at least one other person that is equally qualified but that has been working the entire time? Of course, the less risky path would be to hire the person who is currently working in the same career.

I have been quite frustrated by the responses I get from employers during my job search. Because I clarify that I was not fired from my last job but that I resigned to stay at home with my kids, they think it is fair game to ask me how many kids I have, who will take care of them, and how I would feel about missing Christmas and Easter with them. And even though I tell them I will work as hard and as much as I am required, they don't seem to believe me. One employer provided the feedback that it seemed like I didn't want it that much. Really? I guess I took the California bar exam while pregnant and taking care of two kids for the pure fun of the mental exercise. I guess I hired babysitters to go for interviews all over the Bay Area and even to Washington, D.C. because I wanted to get out of the house more. I guess ensuring the survival of our species through propagation is actually an act of professional suicide. Let me point out--no one would ever question a man's ability to perform at the top of his game because he has three kids.

If you are an employer given the opportunity to hire a woman with kids who has taken a break from her career, you need to look beyond the fact that there is someone else you can hire who is currently working. You have no idea how dedicated this woman will be to making sure she outperforms everyone else because she has to prove that you don't need to cut her any slack because she is a mom. She will be better at multi-tasking and at learning new things than anyone else you have working for you (other than the other moms of course). If she can juggle the extra-curricular activities of three kids (currently swimming, math, chess, piano, science, and Awana for my kiddos), she will be able to manage the deadlines of cases and assignments in her sleep. And speaking of sleep, she will be used to not getting any, so you know she can pull all-nighters effectively. If you have a new client or topic that she needs to learn about quickly, you will not be disappointed, for a woman who can learn about the five different generations and 649 different species of Pokémon over two days can certainly get up to speed to write an in-depth relief letter to the CFTC on a new carbon trading investment vehicle.

(Spoiler alert) I was so happy and relieved at the end of the book when Kate is able to work again. At least there is a fictional woman of my recent acquaintance that I can vicariously live through. Thank you for your consideration.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

It's actually 2013. The Mayans were not right. Our family celebrated by going to the last day of Christmas in the Park at San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Since it was the last day, the line for rides were nonexistent and everything was uncrowded. R did comment that some of the exhibits were missing eyes or other parts, but that's understandable since the exhibits have been standing in the rain for over a month. If you are ever in the San Jose area during Christmastime, it's a great family outing to see the trees decorated by groups all over San Jose, go ice skating, and go on carnival rides. A great start to the New Year!

Secret Door to Bagel Nirvana, aka Baron Baking
Actually, my New Year's Day really started off right with a delicious treat, actually two, because Stewart had driven to Oakland to get me some bagels. Would your husband drive an hour each way to get you bagels? When you're not pregnant? Points for Stewart!

These were real bagels. As in chewy and flavorful goodness that took me back to my bagel walks on NYC's Upper West Side. First I would hit H&H, then Zabars, then Nussbaum&Wu. If you are eating a multitude of bagels, a five mile walk is definitely the only way you can eat that many and not suffer serious indigestion. I digress. Yesterday, I managed to eat four. Stewart bought 2 bakers dozen (26) from Dan Graf himself at Baron Baking. I had read the NYT article about him and had made eating those bagels a goal of 2013, which Stewart made happen very early on! (Is eating a bagel a valid New Year's resolution?) I've eaten 6 so far, so I have a lot more to go. But I'm going to eat them all. As I told Stewart, think of District 12. If you are an East Coast transplant anywhere near Oakland, you must get some for yourself. HAPPY NEW YEAR!