Lazy Susan

Don’t you just cherish those moments when you get so inspired and renewed with hope?

Last night, when half my family, K and M, went out in the fresh snow to fetch the family some Chinese food for dinner, I used the half hour to unwind by playing on Facebook.

I came across a video clip called, “Oprah: ‘This Is Gonna Shut Your Mouth!'” It’s really too late at night for me to summarize the clip accurately but basically I got to “meet” Nick Vujicic, a young man born without arms or legs. Sure, I’ve heard inspirational stories before but this dude really got to me. He had such lively eyes as he broke it down for us all – how he is now able to truly rejoice in the Lord though he was tormented in his childhood, feeling cursed and worthless.

His journey to self-acceptance and blessing others all around the world is beyond astounding. Visually, he is jarring to lay eyes on, especially for the first time, as he is only a handsome face/head set atop a torso with no arms or legs. All you see is a torso making its way around effortlessly. No prosthetic limbs so he is sometimes carried around like a baby.

Nick sports a huge smile like he just can’t contain all his joy and has that twinkle in his eye as he speaks. He plays soccer, surfs, golfs, and is more active than most of us able-bodied folks. He just recently married the love of his life (gorgeous, of course), and is expecting his first child (a boy) in just a few weeks (I think).

I started reading up on his organization, Life Without Limbs, and was truly inspired to overcome my own deep-seated self-doubts and negativity that sometimes have their way with me. This guy was born without LIMBS yet he is able to THRIVE and live life to its fullest.

As I basked in this moment of Church right at my cluttered desk, my boys arrived with our warm, fatty meal in honor of TGIF. Kevin set up the Korean sahng (table) on the floor, where we eat our dinner.

As I reached for more Beef Chow Fun, Yang Chow Fried Rice, and Walnut Shrimp, I realized I had to get up yet again to grab water and napkins from the kitchen.

I growled, “Man, we can’t be eating on the floor no more! Do you know how hard it is on me, to get up to grab stuff? You know I have a bad back…and a long-ass torso!”

It’s the Thuggish Ruggish…

“Excuse me?  Hi.  I received an email this morning that my book had arrived.  But it’s not there.”

The man behind the desk looks up from surfing the ‘Net to say, “You sure it’s not on the reserve shelf?”

“I already checked under my last name and library card number but it isn’t there.”

After he checked two other spots, he apologized and said he didn’t know what to tell me.  The book was just missing.

My theory for my missing copy of “Toilet Training Without Tears” was that one of the many local parents of toddlers saw my copy set aside in the reserve section and swiped it for their own pee pee, poo poo needs, all the while knowing that it was pre-ordered for a Ms. Lee and her clearly marked library card number (last four digits). 

My vengeful nature flared up.  I was tempted to retaliate by swiping the pre-ordered copy of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” that was hovering next to the other book I had requested.  It could be easily mistaken as an accidental borrowing as the other patron’s last name was also LEE. 

I’m proud to say I didn’t follow-through with such an immoral act, as tempting as it was. 

I AM a mom after all.  I have to set an example.

Library Beef.  That was how a fraction of my Friday unfolded, with my two boys waiting for me patiently in my tall-ass double stroller.

What happened to my street cred (shout out to Slauson Swapmeet, Crenshaw Blvd)?  My hard core South Central upbringing where people would retaliate for more major offenses like, say, KILLING THEIR LOVED ONES, not for borrowing one’s pre-ordered How-To book?  Did my thuggish ruggish bone get replaced with sorry shelving woes?  card catalog catastrophes? 

(Truth be told, Library Beef is quite in alignment with my nuanced flava of street cred, i.e. my doing homework diligently Joy Luck Club style in the back of my Korean parents’ Chinese takeout store in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings were as expected as the mail).

Such a fruitful week in terms of playdates and other activities but by today, (thankGodit’s)Friday, I am wiped out.  Too wiped out to write about the mundane details of my day other than Library Beef, like about how Micah wanted to pick out his own clothes (blue shirt and black pants), how Ellis has become real quirky wanting to nurse only in strange and uncomfy positions, like lying upside down next to me on the bed, at which point, Micah will join us in the high, King-sized bed jumping up and down with all his might, squealing with delight, not caring that he’s giving me small heart attacks because he could fall onto Ellis, the frame, or the wooden floors while I am helplessly latched onto / occupied;

how it has become a bigger production to get out of the house now that Micah has such strong 25+ month-old opinions about what he’d rather be doing than getting bundled up and strapped into the stroller, and how Ellis pooped so much after skipping a day, that it went up his back and onto the shoulder blades, while they were supposed to have already been strapped into the stroller. 

Later on in the day, after taking apart all the dried-up blue PlayDoh all over crazy messy living room, Micah told me he has to pee, by which he meant, he had already peed into his training briefs, into his sweatpants, and onto some part of the living room.

One of those days I get real grouchy towards the husband for simply providing for us via a desk job where he can run out to buy some premium olive oil without two kids and a Transformer-looking stroller in tow.  Punk!

Tomorrow is Saturday.  I’mma drive up real slow to the library…

(after stopping by the charming French bakery)

and find out what happened to my book (thumping chest, adjusting bandana).

Wisdom from “The Bachelor” aka “I Just Know My Wife Is In This Room”

Happy New Year! 2013. Year of the Sssnake. Hard to follow the dopest year around, Year of the Dragon, but perhaps this is the year, the snake can redeem hisself from the Garden of Eden associations.

Since I may not be able to write a more thought-out post until later, I’ll just get something down to get into the practice of posting more often. I had so many deep thoughts during the holidays but sho’ ’nuff, since I didn’t jot them down, they may be lost for good.

Whether I’m five years old or 36, I have to tattle when I witness bad or unbelievable behavior. It is a compulsion. I was a precocious kid, not a cool one.

When Micah was around five months old, our little family was roaming around Roosevelt Field Mall. A mama of twin infants started chatting with me and said, “Wow, another one on the way already,” pointing to my “bump” (upper stomach fatty fats).

I was not even a little bit pregnant. She was embarrassed so I actually made her feel better by saying, “Yeah, I guess my stomach can give off a pregnant look” but I just had to vent immediately to someone who would be just as indignant as I was at this woman’s comment. I nearly ran into one of my favorite baby stores, Janie and Jack, and vented to an employee there while Kevin strolled off with Micah to change his diaper.

Homegirl said, “Wait, I’m confused. You’re NOT pregnant?”

Double Ouch!

Kevin walked in on my asking her, “Wait, so you thought I was pregnant too!?” He said, “Jihee-yah! I knew it. I knew you were gonna go off and tattle so you can get a satisfactory response from someone out there. That’s what you get for tattling and fishing for compliments.”

I was mortified and wanted to hide myself in the clearance rack, under the basket of miscellaneous items (hats, ties, socks) but my stomach would probably protrude and a customer might congratulate me on the twins I was carrying. But I have to confess…STILL tempted to find someone else to tattle to. Someone who might say, “Clearly, you don’t look pregnant.” But even I have a little bit of shame. Not much but a seed-sized amount of shame.

Today, I wanted to tattle on a woman I’ve interacted with at least 16 times with our toddlers yet she NEVER says hullo or even looks at my boy or his mama like we human, while I’ve tried so hard to continue to be my warm and gushing, kid-loving self.

Sure, this must be my own deeper issue, something about how not greeting or even acknowledging my walking into a room makes me feel invisible or small or unworthy (oh, starting to remember some of my deep thoughts at the end of 2012 now…some fetal position profundity), but I think non-greeting is SUCH a huge pet peeve of mine, I treat it as a form of immorality.

Extremists will be out there picketing abortion clinics with me across the street with a sign painted, “SAY HULLO!”

Kevin came home to my tale of No Greeting at 17th meeting with Nongreeter:

K: “Jihee-yah, do you know what today is?”

Me: “Of course. Season Premiere of The Bachelor.”

K: “Have you not learned a thing from your faithful viewing of all previous seasons?”

Me: “Of course I have. But remind me in your own words.”

K: “The girl who tattles and causes unnecessary drama? It NEVER works out for them. That girl never gets picked!”

Who would’ve thought that this vapid show would be teeming with such rich life lessons? Life lessons that I cannot apply overnight but life lessons, nonetheless, to guide me throughout this new year.

And I will not hoard them. I will share them with you. (“The Bachelor” also scoffs at greed, those who already had a one-on-one date AND secured a rose should NOT hoard quality time.)

I Miss You, Me

The guy next to me at the smoovie store at my gym is supposedly 7’3″ but he seems more like 8 feet tall because I looked like a toddler by his side at the cash register. So, that sentence was my way of casually sliding in the fact that I finally went to the gym today after a long hiatus. So long that it was mimicking a retirement. I haven’t been since…well, the point is I went tonight.

I had even purposely let the membership expire because I didn’t want to pay up if I wasn’t going to go regularly during my second pregnancy. But I just HAD to go tonight to check in. To see wassup out in the world away from my living room, away from my double stroller. I had fire in my eyes so I knew I was gonna go no matter what. Usually, to just get out the door, into the building’s hallway, past our doorman and neighbors coming home from work, through the other side of Queens Blvd just a handful of blocks away, especially in the winter, triggers all kinds of psychological obstacles but there was no stopping me tonight.

I have been feeling down lately. To be more accurate, both up and down, then down and up. Probably exacerbated by postpartum hormones but also the very natural ebb-and-flow as an at-home mama.

Moments of, “I am the most fulfilled, blessed woman on the planet as I now have TWO morsels to nibble on. This is better than ANY meaningless office job as a lawyer that I had to struggle through each day. Thank you Jesus,” but interspersed with, “I feel like crap. Who am I other than mamamamamama? I am an all-you-can-eat-buffet for my new bundle of joy when not engaging my toddler. Even during my ‘down’ time at night when the kiddies are sleep, it’s more mama duty follow-up on the laptop like arranging playdates, researching stepstools and preschools, or email-consulting with my fashion-forward girlfriends back home about different shades of red for a perfect winter jacket for my Micah.”

Though it is natural to feel like all I am is mama especially as I am currently in the thick of it all (newborn plus toddler plus winter gloom plus hating on my post-baby body), I wanted to do something about feeling cranky and lost at times. Though I am FAR from being a Martha Stewart mama, I am still so SPENT from doing only mama duties. Started feeling really imbalanced as a human being. Craved using the other side of my brain. Everything I lived and breathed was mama-related. Of course when I mention that to my own mama from another generation and culture, she be like, “AND? Of course, you are mama, mama, mama. As you should be. You blessed.”

In some ways, I can’t help but agree with her as I am old school in many ways, but I don’t want to feel guilty about admitting that while mamahood is beyond amazing and rewarding, I just want to carve out a little nugget for myself. To recharge and regroup. I may not be able to figure out a five-year plan or ten-year plan for incorporating a livelihood into my full-time mama life but I can carve out more me time, to invest that into being a better mama and wifey at home.

So after a Monday full of:

fingerpainting (to curb his requests for tv and computer),

battling Micah to please wash his hands after fingerpainting,

battling him once again as he ran away smirking with his diaper full of grown-man poo,

feeding Ellis any time he fussed,

finally getting to eat my breakfast for lunch while wearing Ellis in an Ergo because he realized that being stuck on mama was the way to go at ten weeks old,

vacuuming Micah’s tiny Play-Doh and lunch crumbs scattered about the playmats,

picking up after toys strewn all over the living room so that I won’t trip over them as I walked around with Ellis still stuck on my now sweaty chest,

enjoying a playdate full of toddler noises (x 3) when our beloved little twin friends came over to help our afternoon go by faster…

I sat on the couch to nurse once again. I started caressing Ellis’ explosively fat cheeks when Micah came to join us, snuggling on my right side. A picture of love and tranquility…

until my usually too-gentle-with-his-friends little rascal started to pull out my hair from my half-ponytail. Pulling it HARD, strand after strand, while beaming at me and beaming even brighter when I pleaded with him to stop. He thought it was hilarious. Then Ellis started strumming my tri-rolls, the fatty fats on my torso as he nursed, like he was saying, “Oh, mama! We have the same body! Tri-rolls rule! I love you, you squishy thang!”

Once Kevin walked in the door, I was ready to bounce in my fingerpainted pajama/lounging/workout/going out elastic-waisted pants and a very unforgiving t-shirt perfect for showcasing my tri-rolls.

Sure, when I got to the gym, I realized I was too hungry after nursing to do a full workout, but at least I got there. I read my US Weekly on the elliptical machine and only 20 minutes later, I was in line buying a chocolate shake for dinner. I belatedly realized that “Performance Shake” was probably meant for bodybuilders who wanted to gain mass (doh!) but some natural peanut butter and whey protein wasn’t gonna kill me. And so what if I got hungry after my meal REPLACEMENT drink and had to eat a gang of cheese on Fire-Roasted Tomato Triscuits?

What I’m gonna take with me tonight is that instead of giving into the nightly temptation to NOT step away and do something, anything, just for me, myself and I, even if it means walking around the block to talk to a girlfriend on the phone or going across the street to CVS to look at nail polish colors or Christmas wreaths or fill an overpriced antibiotics prescription, the key is to be ALL BY MYSELF. To step away. To unwind. To exhale the stale living room air and inhale some wintermint air. To remember that the world does not stop just because mama duties call, that this is just a season in my life.

Once these seasons pass, it would be beneficial to remember who I am since the boys won’t need me as much (sniff, sniff) and I can’t hover over them forever. I need these little “me” moments to balance me out and even revamp myself once the time comes.

If I do step away just a little bit, say every other day once Kevin walks through the door, I think I’d have more energy and peace for my daily duties. For playing hide-and-go-seek 11 times in a row with a toddler who never even bothers to hide and refuses to let me use the computer during the day. For switching sides every few hours as I sleep for a newborn who has started snacking on me throughout the night.

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams have been replaced with longing to go buy milk and grapes all by myself please.

Election Day 2012

Typing with my warm new baby sprawled out, snoozing on my lap. He loves my body heat or “skinship” as Korean FOBS like to say. If I put him back in his bassinet, he will fuss so I will let him be, while also getting in some “me” typing time.

October has already come and gone. Ellis Zachary Kim, our beloved boy #2, E.Z. Kim with his huge, intense eyes and full head of lush McDreamy hair, arrived on the first of the month, just as CA Gramma arrived to take care of his older brother so that mama can get to the hospital to push (and pull) him out. Couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. He graciously even allowed time for me to “train” Gramma on Micah 101 through my contractions. Since we didn’t know if he’d be a “he,” we decided on his full name while driving to the hospital, on that bright and sunny October evening while I bit into a chicken parmesan sandwich between contractions. Though not adhering to the family five-letter naming rule, the too fresh “Z” initial of Zachary nor the meaning (Hebrew for “remembered by God”), could be passed up.

“Ellis” is an homage to immigrants, as in Ellis Island, though discovered when Daddy was reading Sports Illustrated almost immediately after we found out we were expecting baby #2. He was attracted to the name Ellis Valentine, some baseball player of yesteryear. And naturally, Mama was sold instantly because of the immigrant connection. After checking the meaning (“My God is the Lord”), we knew our baby girl OR boy would be ELLIS. Now we got an MLK and Ellis. Already nudging them to be passionate about civil rights and the immigrant plight.

Too many memories from October to type out right now (nervously typing out my choked thoughts because the boys will wake up in 3…2…1…). Also some unexpected life lessons like: Don’t choose the sushi bar to sit at if you are going to squeeze in a hearty, postpartum fight with your spouse. It’s not just about you getting much-missed raw grub into your tummy. The sushi bar is an experience for you AND the sushi chef/owner. He wants to have some fun with you to fill in his boredom from a slower night and will NOT hook you up with extra fish if you are too busy arguing, not allowing him to lecture you on the history of Okinawa. Then, the gushing Japanese waitress will gingerly place her hand on your back and ask if you are pregnant in the same tone as if she were asking you, “Are you a celebrity?”

As always, I digress. Today is Election Day. Day Two of being on my own with my two babies now that CA Gramma has flown back home, after showering my boys with so much love and care. Having never made it outside yesterday and with an impending nor’easter on its way tomorrow (I still can’t get used to that word – it seems like only old white men who say, “Is it cold enough for ya?!” should be saying “nor’easter”), we three made it out this morning for a brisk walk. Ellis hasn’t been out more than a handful of times and dude needed some Vitamin D.

Daddy had told us that we will vote together as a family tonight but when we saw blue and white signs all over our co-op to VOTE HERE (VOTE AQUI), I decided to head to the polling site “just to see.” Our double stroller is not quite here yet (long story) so I was strolling E.Z. in a twice-handed-me-down snap n go while Micah was running around.

We ended up in the basement polling site. I got nervous as I realized that Ellis was in an unventilated, enclosed space with many people, probably many of whom are sniffly like me in this colder weather. I left him in the hallway with one eye on him. I contemplated actually voting since I was already there and it wouldn’t take too long with the late morning crowd being sparse. I spotted a Korean neighbor in the voting booth. I wanted to yell across the room and ask her, “Eeeeyyy, can you watch Ellis parked in the hallway for a few minutes while I vote?” We always speak Korean to each other and I paranoidly thought that the poll workers may think I’m trying to influence her vote in our own language so when Micah ran outside, I followed. Without voting.

Micah started exclaiming, “Abu? Abu?” while peering into my eyes. What the? Just as I was about to kneel down, nose to nose, to whisper, “WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?” (too much passionate viewing of “Homeland”) and shield him from the poll site bouncer who may radio in this Asian toddler Nicholas Brody, Micah finished his phrase: “Abu Joosssss, Abu Joosss.”

So we walked around the block one more time, doing what we were supposed to be doing anyhow, naming the colors of all the parked cars, and went home to some Abu Joossss (apple juice). We will be back tonight for family voting time.

4 for 7

“I would take out minimally three mortgages on my home so I can pay for her to go to therapy four times a week for the rest of her life,” said K.

“Wow, you nice. I would disown her. Fine, too harsh. I would just make my friends adopt her even if she is 26,” I responded.

We were watching a gem of a show on ABC called “The Bachelor Pad.” This beautiful girl named Jamie was so delusional in her one-sided romance with a guy who did not value her in the least. She would follow him to his bunkbed and beg to makeout with him even when he had shoo’d her away before. And even after he had been making out with another gal on the bottom bunk as she fell asleep on the top bunk, knowing what was going on. She obviously did not value herself. This seemed to be a recurring theme among the quality reality shows we tune into.

“These shows are really making me scared to have a daughter,” admitted K.

For better or for worse, we’ve committed to not finding out the sex of our Belly Baby this time around.

For better: We want the experience of being surprised as a few friends have shared that the surprise was the most amazing, thrilling event of their lives. (Here, Kevin wants to point out that the pronoun should be “I”, not “We,” as he was all for finding out).

For worse: I don’t think we’ve purchased a single thing for this baby even though we know there are some gender-neutral options out there. When we are out shopping, we just freeze when we see boy/girl options for clothes and accessories (and Kevin unfreezes just long enough to shake his head at me though he was initially into this surprise business.) And the suspense (that yes, we created), even though we know that there are only two options, Lord willing.

To not know whether we are going to have another son or a daughter is a strange stage, a new experience we created to make our second pregnancy stand out from the first. (Again, I’m sure Kevin would like to insist that I use the “I” pronoun for accuracy). We end up fretting about the potential problems specific to girls when we don’t even know if we’ll ever have a daughter.

On the way to the gym one day, Kevin saw a teenage boy trying to hit on a teenage girl. He watched their interaction and worried that one day he will be cringing at the sight of someone trying to pick up his little girl. If he has a girl.

When I was carrying Micah, I didn’t have time to wonder TOO long as I found out Week 17. The night before, as we were about to fall asleep, I said, “C’mon, Que Bin. Let’s close our eyes for a few seconds in silence and then on the count of three, tell me which name you see on the wall of our imaginary nursery. One, two, three…” We both said “MICAH” even though we were still name-shopping. We both thought “boy.”

The next day, at the anatomy scan, we were holding hands tightly as the sonographer lubed up my belly.

“Can you tell me when you’re actually gonna tell us ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ because I want to brace myself. Otherwise, I’m just gonna stare at your lips intently to see if they’re gonna form a ‘b’ or a ‘g’ sound. Thanks for bearing with me. I’m just too excited,” I said.

Few seconds later…

“OK. Are you ready? I’m going to tell you now.”

“Yes, we’re ready!”

“It’s a boy!”

I started to cry. Kevin got verklempt.

“How sure are you? Can we tell the grandparents?”

“90% sure.” She moved her gadget on my belly a little bit more. “100% sure.”

After the visit, as we’re about to call our parents, I took out a boy’s onesie I had brought in my purse to show Kevin, “Booyah! I had known all along!” I had just felt it but wasn’t sure if it was wishful thinking as gut feelings are not 100%. Then I went on to have a Joy Luck Club conversation with my MiL who said something about how NOW, I can really lead the Kim family since I am producing the fourth generation first son. (Cue “Lion King” song).

This time around, I really don’t know. In a way, I can’t imagine either. I can’t imagine another boy because when I think “boy” I can only imagine my beloved Micah. But I also can’t imagine a girl because I can’t imagine my womb producing a different product from before. I do know that their sonograms look nothing alike. Micah was rounder, this baby is pointier, sharper. Pregnancy symptoms and the way I’m carrying is pretty much the same, not that those are conclusive.

I am pretty surprised at the reactions I’ve been getting from our family and closest friends about our not finding out the sex this time. My mom has begged me to quit doing this because it is just too frustrating and contrived to not find out what is readily available. She said back when I was born, there was no choice but to not know until the birth, but now, for me to look away during the anatomy scan and not find out was ridiculous. My mother-in-law went on a recent trip to Korea and said she couldn’t buy this baby ANY gifts since we don’t know the sex of the baby. My close girlfriends have taunted me, saying on the one hand, this is so not me, but on the other hand, why I gotta make everything such a dun-dun-dun event, and let’s just break into your online medical file.

I admit it’s driven us crazy here and there especially because my medical file is online, always available with my username and password. Yet, it has made our second pregnancy feel less like a mere sequel. It’s been fun hearing people’s theories and hunches, based on their own experiences or general wives’ tales.

For instance, after one of my o.b. appointments, a Black man come up to me on the F train while I was devouring some S’mores scone crumbs from inside my Alice’s Tea Cup bag, making sure I got every last bit. He stared right at my face then at my belly, then back to my face. “GIRL! You having a girl!”

“Is that right?” I asked, wiping the crumbs off my chin. “How’s your track record? How many times have you guessed correctly?”

“I have seven kids. Four by my wife. I guessed right four times. You having a girl.” He was honest. Didn’t lie about his less than stellar track record.

Another time I was running after Micah at Barnes & Noble when I noticed a tan Asian woman staring at me. I wasn’t offended at her long stare because it seemed like she was readying to strike up a conversation.

“How excited are you to have a girl this time?” she finally said.

“Really!? We actually didn’t find out the sex this time but what makes you think that?”

“You’re carrying so wide like I did when I had my daughter. You are having a girl! I’m Indonesian and we know these things.”

And finally, I met a gorgeous mother of four gorgeous, well-behaved boys today. She guessed girl as well but admitted that she thought she was having a girl the fourth time around. Her girl turned out to be her now three-month old son, Luke, the only blue-eyed child among her brown-eyed brood.

Why resort to something as scientific and accurate as a sonogram when I can have all this fun speculating for up to two more months?

Marveling in the Mundane

On the phone with the husband:

K: Ji-yah! Remember to eat the pack of mesclun and endives for lunch. They have to be eaten soon.

(We have a bad habit of throwing away produce because we postpone eating them).

Me: Well, I find salad to be more of a dinner or a never kind of entree.

K: (laughing) Thanks for always reminding me why I married you.

He married me because my eating habits point towards a proclivity for getting real round?

Then I remembered that while we were dating bi-coastally, pretty early on in the courtship, we were walking around Manhattan when I saw someone stroll by, devouring a gooey slice of pizza, folded in half, NYC style. I started to whimper and growl like a dog, even patting the ground with my paw to express my ravenous hunger. I was just being myself. I also knew that many a Korean-American menz would find me too quirky or “weird” to fit into their mold of wifey, which was fine because I found their mold to be hella boring.

But Kevin didn’t trip. He simply responded with that pleasant mug of his, “We’ll feed you soon, dear.” Little did I know then that this dude was full of quirks himself.

We recently celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary. We fondly recalled those bi-coastal dating days when we were law students who visited each other in SF and Boston only as much as our class schedules and financial aid packages allowed. I would cry sometimes, telling him, “I feel like I am dating a voice. Like in Charlie’s Angels. What if we don’t make it? What if we just wonder what could’ve happened but we just run into each other one day with our respective spouses who were only geographically more desirable? Oh, Kevin, that would be SO SO sad!” We didn’t do Facebook or Skype back then though they may have been available. I bought Kevin a webcam as a gift, but his laptop was so old it could not handle such a device.

Kevin laughed at me as usual. “You watch too many movies. We’ll be fine.”

My biggest wish was to partake in the mundane like “normal” couples. I was sick of these hyped up visits where we would pine away for each other for at least two months at a time. We would plan such DATE-like events each time we made it to the other’s coast, to take in so much of the sights in each city to maximize our time together. I told him I craved going to a CVS together to pick up some toiletries or just buying some hamburger meat together at a Stop N Shop.

The Lord answered our prayers. Fast forward to five-plus years as a married couple with a kid and a belly baby and we have basins overflowing with the mundane. (Literally. I see Micah’s drooly bibs in a basin in our bathtub, awaiting a wash tonight). And add to that my third trimester aches and pains:

Me: How you gonna just leave stuff on the floor? You KNOW how much I hate bending down these days. I know you so quirky you don’t mind sleeping on top of yo clothes or books but to pass by and SEE your boxers on the living room floor but not pick them up? Oh, uh-uh, Que Bin!

Kevin: Ji-yah. You know you wore my boxers last night because you said your pajama bottoms were choking your belly? So uh, YOU actually left them on the floor. (He picks them off the floor for me.)

Me: Well, they must’ve just fallen off from my belly sweat or something then because I would NEVER do such a thing! (Tryna bat my eyelashes, I am smiling sheepishly, Kevin shaking his head).

These days we are pretty exhausted from day-to-day life as still new-ish parents. Kevin works all day at the office but helps out SO much before and after work, even more than usual because he knows I am wiped out too and that we don’t have local relatives to drop by regularly to help out. But even though it’s hard, we always remark on how much more fulfilling and FULL these hard days are than when we had all the time in the world for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or Korean bee-dee-o marathons on lazy Saturdays or even when we were able to travel so much more on a double-income with no kids.

Me: Oh, you took out the trash already? Thank you! Thanks for lining the trash can with the plastic bag already, too!

Kevin (tired, bleary-eyed): (sighing) WHAT!? I DID line the trash can already! Look!

Me: I know – that’s why I said THANK YOU! Oh, man, you thought I was being sarcastic? Am I that much of a wise-ass? That is SO sad!

(We both smile). Kevin is about to come back with something.

Me: Don’t you start, boy!

And as if on cue, there is Micah, waking up from his postponed nap this rainy, humid afternoon. We are all about to get schooled in the mundane, Advanced Placement classes, in the months to come as Belly Baby arrives. As long as we can laugh, we’ll be fine…right?

“Supplies!” I Funny!

Walking to the subway from my visit to my o.b., I realized I had no idea how well the baby was growing because I had gotten sidetracked by my doc’s warm personality. She has a real girlfriend vibe about her and in our ten-minute appointment where she simply measured my belly with a tape measurer, she and I ended up chatting about our husbands’ personalities and how we are wired differently from them. She is the opposite of my previous rush-rush-rush older male o.b. who charmed me at the initial visit with his warm Italian uncle routine but once he had hooked me as a new patient, he even asked me not to ask questions at our monthly visit because he was too tired and my questions so routine. Not a bad guy but not touchy-feely at all, especially at the delivery where some support would be nice. The nurses were intimidated by him and he didn’t explain what he was about to do when his entire forearm seemed to reach right into me to break my water. He was going on vacation immediately after my baby arrived so he seemed to want to bone out right quick. Maybe it worked because I had such a swift delivery, especially considering it was my first baby. Checked into the hospital at 12:06 am on Thanksgiving Day 2010. Micah arrived at 6:26 am Thanksgiving morning.

My new female o.b. remarked again how funny she thought I was. She has said it before at least a couple times each visit but today she kept shaking her head, fist-bumping me saying, “Have you always been this funny? You really are a funny girl!” looking deep into my eyes.

I felt sheepish and Joy Luck Clubby because I really didn’t say anything riotously funny and she was making a big deal out of it. She seemed so amazed and surprised that I was funny. It came up while she was telling me not to go to the playground so much with Micah since it’s much harder in the heat and this far along. To relax by going on playdates at other mamas’ homes so that I can just park myself on the couch. I told her I would never be able to just sit there as I have to watch my boy, make sure he doesn’t knock down anything or get into other kids’ faces, even though he is hardly ever aggressive. She said, “Sure you can just sit there!” (She has three kids of her own so she is very experienced.)

I said something about well, I never want to be a gross mama who doesn’t watch her own child especially like those extreme mamas whose children can never do no wrong. How their kid will slap a child silly and the mama will just say, “Oh, he is just so curious!” without any apology. We bonded over how we always correct our kids even at a young age because we want them to learn right from wrong. But she asked again, truly wondering, “Were you always this funny!?”

(I told you I didn’t say anything really funny. Just imitated annoying mamas per usual).

I said, “Well, I was nominated Best Sense of Humor back in my high school days. Some people didn’t vote for me because they said I didn’t LOOK funny. I guess I can look kind of corporate?” I was being Al Bundy, reliving my glory days, but she asked for it, inquiring about the origin and development of my sense of humor.

“Yeah, it’s really unexpected because of your ethnicity.” She responded without pause. I agreed.

Walking away from that visit, I realized I have no idea if my baby is growing as he or she should be right now. I am gonna guess yes since my doctor didn’t flag anything. Need to focus next time. Also, what she said about ethnicity. I found it to be nakedly honest. A bit surprising that she admitted it since people try to be so damn P.C. these days. It’s true that most people don’t expect Asians to be funny and she straight up admitted that casually during our ten-minute girlfriend-like chat. No wonder she would always be surprised by my personality during each visit. Proves that people definitely believe in stereotypes and only fools wanting to be applauded on talk shows go around saying, “I don’t see color.” But is it really that surprising that an Asian-American gal can be funny? Would it be less surprising if I just sat there very quiet and demure, artfully peeling an apple while waiting for her to come in? Giggling off to the side with my hand covering my mouth? Offering her a quick dry cleaning of her doctor’s white coat?

I meant to write about how much of an uproar my Not Finding Out Baby’s Sex has turned out to be but I totally went on a tangent. Goodnight.

“Jesus Christ”

Had so many things to write down from our trip back home to LA but if they don’t get typed out right quick, hard to capture the essence of the memories. So many pictures still on our camera. Hope to write about them eventually but not holding my breath especially with my recent bout of drowsiness and lethargy. We in Third Trimester Territory now!

A big entry like “LA Trip” is too daunting to write up during a half-hour break but thankfully, venting/tattling flows freely from me like water.

Micah has been to LA three times now. First trip at 11 weeks old after the seven snowstorms in NYC made mama pack up the family and flee. Second trip at around 13.5 months old. Third trip was a few weeks ago at full-fledged toddler age of about 19 months old. Worst flight yet.

Early a.m. flight means he needs to nap while on the plane especially after we woke him up around 5 a.m. Hard to succumb to the much-needed nap due to sensory overload and no place to stretch out since he is still in our laps. We start paying for a seat once he turns two. We brought a bag full of distractions: snacks, toys, books, my phone, our tablet. We are all strapped in but we do not take off. For 90 minutes. Having to restrain him is brutal. He wants to walk up and down the aisles or at least have daddy take him around in his arms but he has to stay seated. We try to distract him with our bag of goodies but they aren’t too helpful. Kevin is exasperated trying to restrain him but I am so worried about getting lightheaded that I still manage to eat a boiled egg during this stressful time. (I am willing to share my bounty but Kevin is having too hard of a time to even think about eating. I eat his egg, too).

Even after we take off, it’s not pleasant. Micah is whining because…who knows why? He’s a toddler. I apologize to the passenger sitting next to me. “I’m sorry about this. It’s gonna be a long flight for all of us [nervous laughter]. It’s hard for us to hear, too.” She was from Brooklyn, young and hip. “Don’t even worry about it. I’m a nanny. I’m gonna sleep the whole way with my earplugs on.” Thank you Jesus. That brings a little relief during this whiny period. Speaking of Jesus…

There is a lovey dovey couple sitting in front of us. The dude is clearly whupped on the gal. They are kissing and smushed up against each other, nuzzling. Direct contrast from the harried, sweaty couple behind them – us. The “Fasten Your Seatbelts” sign keeps lighting up so we have to restrain Micah many times and he is protesting. I have a blanket around my neck, dry cereal all over my body, a few packets of snacks on and under my thighs, fake food toys under my butt. Kevin has crazy eyes under his glasses and whispers, “Ji-yah. It sounded like I was abusing him in the restroom. I’m so embarrassed. Micah screamed and peed all over me as I tried to change his diaper. I’m not gonna lie. If there was an eject button in there to jump out the plane with a parachute, I would not be here right now. I’m sorry to have to tell you.”

We both started laughing because Kevin sounded like me for once. He never complains but this time, he admitted that he would’ve abandoned us by choosing to fall from the sky instead of being where he was now. He started laughing some more when he saw just how much crap was strewn all over me.

“Que bin, I really can’t wait to do this next year with a newborn, too! Just imagine that for a moment.”

Oh, back to Jesus.

Micah started another round of whining as he wanted to nap but couldn’t get his bearings on this packed plane. The gal in front of us stops making out with her boyfriend to exhale dramatically and exclaim, “JESUS CHRIST!” when Micah got going again.

Oh no she didn’t. Did I hear right?

“JESUS CHRIST” again as she adjusted herself on her dude’s shoulders.

“Que bin, you KNOW I’mma have to fight her now!” My body grows hot.

“Ji-yah, don’t! She has every right to be annoyed. His whining is annoying, even to us.” He always play devil’s advocate. To offset my playing the devil.

“OH MY GOD. Of COURSE she has every right to be annoyed but she needs to be a decent, empathetic human and talk trash about us to her friends once we deplane, not passive-aggressively exclaim ‘Jesus Christ’ after each whine. That would be the courteous thing to do! We are doing everything we can and her ‘Jesus Christ’ is so wrong! As if we aren’t stressed enough!” (I start to passive-aggressively talk trash about her loudly, daring her to turn around and respond. Choice words about entitlement, not having enough balls to complain to our faces, and related matters.)

And speaking of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I never appreciated it when people used his name in substitution for a choice curse word. I would never do that to y’alls gods.

I thought about what would happen if I did tell her off especially in my agitated state. How the air marshall would have to get involved and how I may be banned from future flights. And I did want to return and present my newborn to my loved ones. So I held my tongue.

But when she went to the restroom, I was so tempted to tap her dude and say, “Psssst. Hey. You may think I’m just a crazy lady with a whiny toddler but one day you will recall my words. You may think you in love now with that skinny li’l gal but ohhhh trust me, someone who keeps loudly muttering ‘Jesus Christ’ about a whiny toddler lacks heart. NOT wifey material. You’re gonna want you a woman who maturely and patiently waits to vent until after the flight. I wish her many bad flights with triplet babies about ten years from now. But you. You can change your fate by letting her go.”

I smiled as I fantasized about being able to tell him that. Micah was in better spirits after a short cat nap on our laps. I took him back to the flight attendant area to explore and chat with them. I tattled on the “Jesus Christ” gal because tattling usually makes me feel better. They made him a balloon with their latex gloves. A beautiful mama of four kiddies, flying alone, joined us and presented Micah with a makeshift puppet she had made out of the vomit bag. Now that’s true wifey material.

Our flight back to NYC was just about perfect as it was in the afternoon. He was able to nap at the gate for about 90 minutes before we got on the plane. Many empty seats, too. No whining. No “Jesus Christ.”

Know Thyself

Fourth heat wave of the summer in NYC. Got lots of delicious rest this weekend thanks to the always helpful hubby and almost no commitments (no birthday parties). As I enter my third trimester, I’m feeling more lethargic perhaps due to my growing girth alone. This morning, I woke up wanting to take Micah out to a playground before his nap even though I knew we were in for a “scorchaaa.” I didn’t have time to eat a real breakfast because I wanted to head out as soon as M was done eating and honestly, I can’t eat when he’s awake because he will climb onto my lap or ask me to stop so we can play. The more we dillydallied, the harder it would be to actually get out into the world.

I strapped him into the stroller with some Goldfish and a couple books while I rush rush rushed – quick ponytail and sunscreen application, brush teef, grab his drink, bibs, wipes, extra diaper, my small yogurt drink (which I can’t drink in front of him because he will bogart) and emergency granola bar (which I can’t eat in front of him because he will attack it and sit there with his big innocent eyes ackin’ like he didn’t do nothin’ even with a very guilty chocolatey goatee). The longer he was strapped into stroller, the higher the chances were for the whining to start, especially as he kept dropping his books and wondering why I was taking so long. And it was already getting hotter so I had to make my exit before having to turn on the a/c again, only to turn it off a few minutes later (that whole cycle of not getting out the house – augh!).

I grabbed a green dress I used to wear all the time while dating Kevin. Used to wear it so regularly in the summers that he would call it my uniform. Very flowy and roomy so I tried to slip it on today during my morning rush. Not so flowy or roomy. It almost tore at my broadening rib cage but I kept it on because I knew I would end up a sweaty mess trying to take it off. One of those dresses that will tear some time during the day with any sudden movement. Not “may” tear but WILL tear, just a matter of when. But we had to go.

On our way to the park, it got hotter. Very little shade as we walked for blocks. I drank my small yogurt-on-the-go smoothie in one gulp and even ate my granola bar while I strolled. Got to the park and did our usual: some swing time, going up and down the apparatus with him, including this Indiana Jones type bridge that I’m finding harder to balance on. It’s getting hotter even with some spots of shade. Rivulets of sweat now rolling down my face, neck, and bressesses. I don’t feel too well. I am drinking my water consistently but not feeling stable at all. I grab him from a tunnel he’s enjoying and I strap him back into his stroller after only about 30 minutes. Relieved that he does not protest leaving the park. He says “bye” to the swing, slides, sprinklers, Chinese grandmas. He seems ready to nap too.

On the way back, I feel worse. A familiar feeling. I’ve passed out maybe around ten times in my life, due to period cramps, high altitude, low altitude, dehydration, and more. But I was never with my baby before so I start forcing myself to talk while strolling so that I don’t dare pass out. My knees feel wobbly. I start panting and forcing exaggerated breaths in and out like I’m in labor and M laughs, imitating me while babbling his fave words of the weekend, “Dadddyyyy, Dada, Dadddyyy, Ahppaaah, Dadadada?” Alright already, we know who you love! Talk about kicking a gal while she’s down. I just want to make it home.

Halleluyer, I am SO grateful to get home. I grab a banana for a quick “shot” of potassium and M just as immediately grabs it from me to play telephone before taking a tentative bite himself. I grab it back and take a few quick bites.

Lessons learned (I hope):
1) Be real. For other gals, a small yogurt drink and Kashi bar may suffice as breakfast but for you, that amounts to nothing. You need to at least have a banana, juice and big bowl of cereal because you know you will digest that sh*t in one block of strolling. Yes, what would really nourish is a bowl of meeyukgook and bahb with a fried egg and bahnchan to start the day off SOLID but no time to eat such a feast when M is standing there with his pleading, “UP!? up? Up?”

2) Know thyself: You are prone to passing out! So don’t think, “Oh, being pregnant does not mean I’m disabled. I can do my daily playground run even when NY1 keeps on talking about the Fourth Heat Wave of the Summer.” Stay in and even let him watch some tv! Maybe playground runs aren’t meant to be so daily any more.

Imagine if I had passed out! What would happen to M? I suppose the other mamas/nannies/grandparents would watch him while I came to? Or ’til the paramedics came? They would’ve said, “Wow, she must’ve fainted from high atop the apparatus because her dress is torn in half!”

Stay cool y’all!