To Be Like Daddy

This was a week of milestones: the first parent-teacher conference, the first picture hung on a wall in the house we’ve lived in for over a year, and the first graffiti by Future President.

On Sunday, my husband finally agreed to take the plunge and put nail holes in our lovely scratch-free, hole-free walls. On Tuesday, in the midst of attempting to get a dirty baby into the bath tub, I watched Future President grab a pencil and take it to his room. While trying to both remove the baby’s shirt and preven crumbs from falling on the floor, I didn’t think twice about the pencil. Since starting Kindergarten, he’s fallen in love with drawing, coloring and practicing letters. It’s wonderful.

Except not when the letters end up on the wall.

After getting baby into the bath, I went to check on Future President and to ask him about his day at the pumpkin patch. As soon as I walked into his room, he threw down the pencil and put his arm over something on the wall.

“What did you do?” I asked. And there it was: his first graffiti, an upper and lower case ‘B’. I didn’t yell or shout. Instead, I said in a very flat voice, “You know better than this. You do not write on walls. Time out. Toys will be taken away.”

I think it might have been the very first time in his life that he really understood that he had done something bad. “I just want to be like Daddy!” he cried from his bed. And then I realized that he was telling the truth – to hang the picture on Sunday, G had made two small pencil marks on the wall to figure out where to hang the picture.

“I just want to be like Daddy!” he sobbed, over and over again, and then he put himself to sleep.

img_7652At least I thought he was asleep. When we went to check on him later, he had created a math problem on the floor using blocks and cars, lining them up perfectly with correct addition.

I went to bed both proud of my little Kindergartener for his penmanship and math skills, but also a little angry. Parenting doesn’t get any easier the older they get, does it?


Fall is Here. Bake!

Now that Fall is here, and it’s dark at an absurdly early time, I’m ready to start cooking meals again that take more than 10 minutes. I was going through old emails recently looking for meal inspirations, and re-discovered the following two recipes. I highly recommend both.

Copper Penny Relish

  • 5 cups thin sliced carrots (5-7 min. par boiled)
  • 1 cup sliced celery (5 min. par boiled)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (par boil 1-2 min.)
  • 10 ¾ oz. can cream of tomato soup
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. each (or to taste): salt, pepper, Worcestershire sause

Par boil the veggies, drain and put in bowl or flat baking dish. Mix all dressing ingredients and pour over the veggies.

Baked Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

  • 4-5 Sweet Potatoes
  • 10 brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • 5 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • 3 pinches Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • (optional: pinch of paprika and mustard)

1. Cut each sweet potato into four pieces – leave the skin on (it’s easier to remove after cooked) and boil in salted water in a large pot until mostly cooked. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Remove from heat, drain pot, and put potato pieces in a bowl to cool. While the potatoes cool, make the seasoning and just add all the spices in a bowl (you may not use all of the seasoning — season to taste).

3. Cut your Brussels sprouts into quarters and set them aside.

4. Once your potatoes are cooler, peel them and dice them into similarly sized pieces. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on the potatoes and mix with your hands, then season to taste, mixing with your hands.

5. Put potatoes on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

6. While the potatoes are in the oven, heat a saute pan to medium, and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. When hot enough, add Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, and walnuts. Allow the sprouts to brown on each side (about 10-15 minutes)

7. After the potatoes are partially cooked, turn the oven to 450 degrees and broil for about 15 minutes or until they reach a golden-brown color.

8. Combine Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Serve hot!

The Sob Heard Around the World

I’ve been inspired by C. Jane Kendrick, a favorite blogger of mine, to write for 8 minutes based on prompts from writer Ann Dee Ellis. Today’s topic: Learning New Things.

The ultrasound tech asked us, very casually, if we wanted to know the gender of the baby. We had already decided yes. I was convinced it was a girl. G was convinced it was a boy.

It was a boy.

When I heard this news, I started crying, a low sob that made me embarrassed. How could I admit that I wanted a girl? The correct line is always, “I just want a healthy baby.” But I was so sad. Her name would be Eleanor Grace, named for my grandmother. I already had the name, way before the baby. 

And then the ultrasound tech said another thing and I stopped crying immediately. “I’m just going to get the doctor. I can’t see all four chambers of the heart.” 

This is when I was supposed to cry, when the medical professional tells you that something terrible is potentially wrong with your baby. But there were no more tears. 

The doctor arrived and soon located all four chambers of the baby’s heart. In fact, everything looked good. Our moment of panic was over. My husband was beaming: our first child was going to be a boy. 

After a particularly awful labor, that baby boy was immediately taken away to be suctioned and while he cried, while I was lying on the hospital bed and couldn’t move, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t a girl. All of the sudden, my whole world was there in that room, with my husband and crying son. 

Our second baby was also a boy. I didn’t cry when I learned the news. I simply said I wanted a healthy baby. 

Your Most Important Hair Moment

I’ve been inspired by C. Jane Kendrick, a favorite blogger of mine, to write for 8 minutes based on prompts from writer Ann Dee Ellis. Today’s topic: Important Hair Moments.

I have a dirty little secret: that hair you see in my wedding photos? It’s not my real hair color. Many years prior to my wedding, I started getting low-lights and highlights in my hair. I absolutely loved the way it looked, but about a year before the wedding, I stopped getting my hair colored because 1) it was expensive and 2) I really wanted my natural color to be on display for my wedding. My hair doesn’t grow very fast, so I had to decide if I wanted my stylist to dye my hair all over in a color that was close to my natural color, or figure out a hair style that covered the fact that I had four-inch roots. I dyed my hair. I really liked the color and I think I look pretty in wedding photos, but that’s not my hair color.

I am very vain about my hair color. I love it. I call it auburn. But I absolutely hate the texture of my hair. When I was 10 or 11, I had hair down to the middle of my back, and I begged and begged my mom to let me cut it. She finally gave in, and I distinctly remember the Chinese ladies in the hair salon in Hong Kong making audible gasps of horror as the barber chopped it off. I now had a big, poofy auburn-colored afro, and not in a good way. You see, I have thick hair that’s sometimes wavy, sometimes curly, and in the humidity of Hong Kong, it was extra big.

When I met my husband, I had those aforementioned low-lights and highlights, and he still asks me when I’m going to get those again. And then I tell him how much it costs to maintain and his jaw drops and he shakes his head, and then forgets and asks me a few months later. When we met, I also straightened my hair every day and in the dry heat of Eastern Washington, my hair was beautiful. In Utah, I had a cute bob and my hair thrived in that climate – never big, straight if I wanted, and I loved it.

And then I moved back to the PNW, but this time to the colder, rainier, more humid part of the PNW and my previously lovely hair curled again. I’ve tried to fight it, but now I have two kids, and I’ve given up trying to make my wavy hair straight. According to my hair dresser, hair changes due to hormones are very common, so not only did I move to a different climate, I had another child, and thanks to pregnancy hormones, I still have little sprouts of hair springing from my scalp that even long bangs don’t hide.

My youngest is blonde, just like I was as a baby. When my parents took the three of us to Korea when we were little, we were all blonde, and people repeatedly stroked our heads, marveling at these blonde foreigners. My hair is no longer a marvel, just another part of me that I try not to hate.



I’ve been inspired by C. Jane Kendrick, a favorite blogger of mine, to write for 8 minutes based on prompts from writer Ann Dee Ellis. Today’s topic: Decisions.  

What do you share on social media? Only the beautiful but not the mundane?

When I started this blog, I was in law school, separated from most of my friends and family by thousands of miles and two time zones. I moved to the D.C.-area so I could live near my fiance while he worked his dream job on the Hill and went to graduate school.

I shared both the beautiful and the mundane – early readers will remember the stories of life in D.C., everything from the squirrel who made his home in our attic; the time the power went out on the 4th of July; and the terrible neighbors who routinely came home drunk and screaming at 2 in the morning.

I’ve blogged for years, off and on in regularity, because I love to write. I decided to continue this blog even when most of my friends – IRL or online – stopped because it’s a public journal and the details matter to me, details that don’t make it into Facebook or Twitter posts. I know, of course, that I could have a private version of this blog and simply write there, but the community that comes through blogging has proved invaluable to me.

I’m glad I decided to keep blogging, even though it’s not the trendy thing to do anymore. It wasn’t a hard decision for me.

What’s for dinner? Now that’s a hard decision.

Losing Things

I’ve been inspired by C. Jane Kendrick, a favorite blogger of mine, to write for 8 minutes based on prompts from writer Ann Dee Ellis. Today’s topic: Losing Things.  

My son’s room is an absolute disaster, which is a surprise because since he started Kindergarten two weeks ago, he’s hardly ever home. But when he is home, he’s always looking for something. Last night it was his “first Bible book.” I had no idea what he was talking about. He knew exactly what he meant, and after about a half hour of looking, he found the book…in the living room. Meanwhile, his room literally looks like a tornado has been through it. I am not pleased.

My husband loses his wallet and keys on a semi-regular basis. When he does, he is absolutely positive they are gone forever and he’ll have to cancel our credit cards, get a new license, make new keys, etc. Except they always turn up, maybe in unexpected places, but there it is, the wallet in the center console of the car, or the keys in a suit pocket that’s lying on the stroller in the garage.

Me, I don’t lose things very often, but lately I’ve felt the absence of friendship. I went to dinner with a new friend and lamented that because of life – job, kids, husband, commute, laziness – I feel like some of my long-time friendships are changing, dissolving, getting lost in the shuffle. It’s no one’s fault; it’s everyone’s fault. That’s why I have to hold back tears whenever I hear Adele’s “When We Were Young.” I want to shake my 20-year old self and tell her to hold on, hold on tight to those women who made such an impact on my life. If only I was better at picking up the phone for a long chat, if only I was better at checking in with long-beloved friends; I blame Facebook for my laziness – who needs a phone call when I’m up to date with their lives?

But let’s face it: Facebook is not the true picture of real life. It’s a mere snapshot. I felt this most keenly when a friend got married and I didn’t even know she was engaged until a photo of her bridal shower popped up on Facebook. It wasn’t a wedding I could have attended but I would have liked an invitation. I was at a loss for words for a while and then I found them: “Congratulations. Miss you.” Because it’s true: I do miss her, but apparently not enough to pick up the phone to say it.

Mom Code

Yesterday I was out for an early birthday lunch and while standing with my co-worker waiting for our food, I noticed a mom with two little boys. They were adorable and I felt a pang of guilt as I waited for my food, kid-free and not harried. I felt guilty that I wasn’t home with my own kids. 

The oldest little boy was around 2 and somehow kicked off his Snoopy shoe. Without even thinking twice, I ran over to help him. His mom was carrying the other boy on her chest and I remember far too well how impossible it is to lean down to help your other child while wearing a baby. I told the little boy to sit down and then put his shoe back on. The mother thanked me and I went back to waiting for my food.

The whole thing took less than 30 seconds but my co-worker was surprised at my actions. “Is that some sort of mom code?” he asked. “I saw the little boy lose his shoe but it never would have dawned on me to help.” 

And it never would have dawned on me not to. 

I’ve never thought of it that way – that there’s a mom code and in helping each other, even strangers, we are acknowledging that we’re all in it together. It makes me wish there were other invisible signals we could send each other – to the depressed person, the grieving person, the anxious person, the nervous person – that would say “please help me today. I don’t know how to say it out loud, but I could really use a hand.”

Just like mom code, but for other things, too. 

So if you’re reading this and need help today, I’m here. Send me a signal, whatever signal you’d like.