Being Grateful: Star Wars and Beaches

This past week I have been cranky. Usually I start out on the weekend on full steam and then by midweek I run on empty. I'm pretty sure it all boils down to lack of sleep. I am normally a pretty even keeled person, usually I have a happy disposition, but when I lack sleep, I slowly creep over to the dark side. I am but a lightsaber swing away from "giving in to my anger" and joining Palpatine and the Death Star (Sorry for the random star wars reference I never know where my caffeine rush will take me).

Is it just me or did every Korean kid growing up in the 80's watch Star Wars, Rambo, and Rocky with their parents?

 Everything gets on my nerves. I slowly start seeing the world through Darth Vadar's mask (ok last one). Luckily my husband is extremely patient with me. Like the gravitational push and pull of the moon on the tide, our five years of marriage has eventually brought us to a decent balance of our daily responsibilities. He does a lot for me and our kids. When I am cranky I have no one to blame but myself =T

This past week we took a mid week break. We broke out of our normal routine and went out for dinner and had dessert (We Never. Ever. Buy dessert at a restaurant). Then we went to the beach and played in the sand, didn't worry too much when Kaitlyn started to consume the sand, and danced with our kids with the ocean as our audience. It was absolutely delightful. I've come to see how great it is to take a step back and see how big the world is and how small I am.

To remember God as a creator and not as my personal self help couch.

To remember how blessed we are and how much we take for granted.

To remember to be thankful for all His gifts and the chance to live a life of gratitude.

From here Kaitlyn begins to eat sand...

Check out Daechoong Mama's Facebook page for the rest of the pics!

Epic Meltdowns: Mother and Child

For all the experienced (post terrible 2-3's) mothers out there, I have a question for you. What is up with all the epic meltdowns? How much longer does this phase last? Some advice as to how to deal would be great.

I know I am one post short of renaming this blog "Trials of Raising a 3 Year Old Boy," but this is certainly what has been consuming my mommy days. This past week wasn't too bad but the last few weeks have been meltdown-tantrum central at our house.

I know what the root of the problem for the most part, lack of sleep. My son on many occasions will wake up at 6am, will be bouncing off the walls all day with boundless energy, and sans a nap will still not sleep until 10pm! O and we try. Some days we throw the book at him, everything from corporal punishment to bribery and manipulation. In the end, my son is still wide awake and we are exhausted. Then after 3PM he starts his meltdowns. Everything from the weather, to the sound of his sister's voice will tip the scales. Screaming, crying, whining. It doesn't matter if we are in public either.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to take him to a "happy place" like the Hawaii Children's Discover Center. We have a membership there and my son loves it, I often take him hoping to tire him out for a nap. The only thing is, the place closes at 3PM on Saturdays, the "Danger Zone". When we are about to leave he pulls out all the stops. The Children's Museum, the happy place, complete with balloons and rainbows becomes an ironic backdrop to this screeching meltdown. This  time he had his meltdown right in front of the entrance. It was so ridiculous I took pictures.

Look at people ignoring the crying boy, it is a happy place afterall...

Lets just say everyone saw me drag a kicking crying screaming child, with one arm, while carrying my one year old daughter with the other, out the door.

This happens at pretty much any place he finds amusing. By afternoon, right around nap time, we will try to leave and there he goes again. I think my son purposely picks the most visible and highly populated places  to start his meltdown show. Maybe he thinks that I will crumble under the embarrassment. Don't be fooled, 3 year old's are smart.

Like this time for example. He had his meltdown right between Ala Moana Mall (the largest outdoor mall in the country) and Nordstrom.

As you can see, I'm not the only one amused.

Refusing to budge even though I say that I'm leaving.

 While carrying my daughter I had to drag a crying boy at the mall, through the parking lot

Honestly, these meltdowns alone don't bother me much. I find them funny sometimes and often think it's cute. I am usually able to remember that they are only this young for a short time. However I'm starting to realize what my buttons are, and I'm realizing that I am just as prone to meltdowns myself. My meltdowns are when, days go by of him waking up early and sleeping late without a nap. Over the course of a few days of this, exhaustion sets in, and I am ready for meltdown central myself. 

Take last Tuesday for example. Just another day after a few consecutive days of him waking up early and refusing to nap. 10+ times he came out of his room refusing to nap. Suffice it to say I was tired. I started to say childish things like "Joey, why do you do this to mommy? You only think about yourself!" As if a 3 year old could possibly empathize with his 31 year old mother. Then, in the afternoon we had a major plumbing problem. The bathrooms were flooded with toilet water, and our sink was clogged. My husband and the plumber were running around the property trying to figure out the problem. I decided to take our kids to the playground. While holding our daughter, my son was playfully running around, then I noticed he started to wobble. O no... don't tell me.

He pooped in his pants.

Not just any poop, an epic poop, to the point where itwas running down his legs and collected in his Crocs. So here I am, holding my one year old, no plumbing in our house, and a 3 year old laden with poop. 

I literally wanted to drop kick him.

Don't get me wrong. I love him more than life, but exhaustion plus this scenario was a recipe for a mother meltdown of rage. However God, in His divine wisdom, intervened. I firmly believe, He divinely appointed our next door neighbors, a loving middle aged Hawaiian couple, to be at the playground at the same time. The wife saw what happened and tenderly touched my shoulder.  The creases around her bright eyes gave away a full happy life, as oppose to old age.   Her concern and empathy made evident through her comforting smile, "I'm sorry mom, we've all been there." She took Kaitlyn into her arms so I could tend to my son. I got a hold of myself, grabbed my son and pretty much gave him a bath at the park bathroom and washed his clothes, underwear and Crocs. We still had to stay at the playground because the plumbing situation was not yet resolved. Luckily no one looked twice at my son running around in his underwear. I heart the country. 

Afterwards the couple walked us back to our house. She said she had 6 kids and now has 22 grandchildren. "Its tough sometimes, just can do what you can do." She said. 

We got home, had dinner at Zippys, then my son finally passed out at 10PM. Watching him sleeping I was reminded. Thankfully I evaded a major meltdown.  I realized in many ways, as an adult, I'm just as childish. I learned that I see so much of myself in him, in the same way I see so much of my mother in me. Do I have a right to go nuts on him when I'm just as prone to do the same thing as an adult? Hopefully I can keep it all in perspective for the next time around and avoid another epic meltdown.

on a happier note. Other highlights from last week:

Evenings at the Park!


Nice sunsets

1 child vs. 2

I've noticed recently that a lot of people that I know are either having their 2nd baby or starting to plan on having #2. Its certainly not an easy transition. I remember when Kaitlyn was about 1 week old, going though the whole... you know, postpartum thing, and realizing that my mom was going to leave the next day. I broke down. I had a "What did I get myself into!?!?" moment. Now Kaitlyn is 10 months old and each day is an amazing gift, but it's still far from easy. I look back and see a clear difference between having one child vs two.

Basically before you have you first child you get the notion that there's a "right" way to do it. Goodness forbid that you are one of "those" parents that get it wrong. So when you get the news you are expecting, you go out and read all the books on raising kids, sleep training, nursing, what to buy, and of course, you read up on all the safety tips etc. After that slowly, every aspect of you life changes to prepare for the arrival of the baby. You go and paint/decorate the nursery, you might change the layout of your house. You also spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on all the furnishings and supplies. When your bundle of joy arrives he or she "is the sun and you are the moon". Your schedule, your body, sleep, everything is sacrificed to some degree and life revolves around the baby.

Then baby #2 arrives and its completely different.

Instead of having everything catered to baby #2 its more like, "Hey baby! Welcome to our family, take a seat. This is how we do things, if you don't like it... sorry." Since your set structure is already in place, baby pretty much just joins in on what is already being done. And forget about the whole "right" way of doing things... the new rule is whatever works!

Here are some categories in which my experience raising Joey vs Kaitlyn are completely different and certainly aid in illustrating my point:

1) Safety

With Joey we put out all the stops to make sure our precious son was always safe.  We went out and spent a pretty penny on child safety supplies and child safety gates.  We pretty much caged in our son like a zoo animal for... year and half. As you can see we set the cage so he could not access the TV cords etc.

Joey at 14 months

Joey at 14 months. Having so much fun in captivity haha.

VS. Child # 2 

Kaitlyn 10 months

There's no need for a fence! If she starts crawling out the door or the patio... we just bring her back in.  There's nothing wrong with her playing with TV cords.. just another toy!

2) Sleep

With Joey we set down some pretty solid ground rules regarding sleep training. Even this daechoong mama read 3 books regarding the subject. We had a set bedtime, no co-sleeping, and we let him cry it out! By 8 weeks we had a baby sleeping through the night. During his nap time we made sure he had all the peace and quiet needed.

Joey at 6 months

vs. Kaitlyn's nap times (the other day)

 He climbs up and opens the closet door...

This. Kid. He tries to get in his sisters crib. Kaitlyn is like,"Yay! Please come join me!"

Nap time is more like playtime for Kaitlyn.

 3) Food

I think I'm going to dedicate a post about this in the near future. When Joey started eating solids I wasted so much time and money on making organic pureed baby food. Then fed him each spoonful with love and care.
Joey at 7 months

vs. Kaitlyn... 
feeding herself.
Kaitlyn 10 months

Eating strawberries!

O the carnage...her shirt is messy? No worries!

4) Playtime
Joey had pretty controlled playtime. The toys were in order and he only got to play with one toy at a time.
Joey at 14 months

Joey at 18 months

vs. Joey and Kaitlyn Playtime...
No more control. our living room looks like toys r us exploded

Nap time!

As you can see there are many differences. Kaitlyn entering into our lives she brought a whole new dimension and dynamic to our family. Maybe when she gets older and looks at pictures she'll be like "why am I naked in all my feeding pics!?!?" but shes such a happy baby and in many ways, shes an even happier baby than Joey was because she has an older brother to share every moment.

When Joey was a baby, every time he reached a milestone (ie. turning over, eating solids, crawling, walking, talking), it brought on a wave of anxiety. When he started to turn over, we were worried he would fall off wherever we put him, when he crawled we baby proofed our place in fear he would get hurt, when he ate solids I went crazy pureeing vegetables in fear he wouldn't be healthy. With each step I feared that I would do something wrong to mess it up. Now he's three. Those precious milestone moments, when I should have celebrated... are gone. With Kaitlyn, I let go of my fear of not doing it the right way. I learned from Joey that I need to cherish every stage of this precious fleeting time. I celebrate every milestone. Each day I soak in the joy it is to be her mother. With your first baby you focus so much on yourself and what you are doing right or wrong... with your second you learn just to focus on them and enjoy each moment.

Featured on!

After I had wrote a few posts I got an unexpected email from someone who runs She wanted to feature my blog and interview me! The post went up today! Here is a link to the interview.

Siblings: Love > Guilt

There's the perennial discussion... is it better to be the oldest or the youngest sibling? There are obviously pros and cons to both and it also depends on each individual family, but I think, and my opinion is obviously bias, the older siblings definitely have one thing on the younger siblings. 

Older siblings have to live with Older Sibling Guilt (OSG).

Being an older sibling myself in all my years of talking to other older siblings, there is not one, NOT ONE, older sibling that does not feel guilty, deeply guilty about something or... many things they have done to their younger sibling. In our my-young-brother/sister-gets-away-with-anything angst, at one point or another, we have certainly taken advantage of our poor credulous annoying younger brothers or sisters. I've been thinking about this lately looking at my own kids.

Now that Kaitlyn is 10 months old she and and Joey, my 3 year old son, are starting to interact more and more. As each day goes by I see they have an interesting dynamic. There are times when they play well together but often times he is rough with her. When we scold him sometimes he'll turn around and scold Kaitlyn, "That's not okay Kaitlyn!" When I see this, I warn him, "Joey be nice to Kaitlyn or else you will regret it later." He looks at me with the what-the-heck-are-you-talking-about look. O you will see...

There are several things I have done to my brother that till this day make me feel so guilty. Things that he doesn't even remember and does not hold against me at all. But I still know what I did...So heres my bag of OSG:

When my brother and I were in elementary school we were latchkey kids, meaning my parents were never home when my brother and I got home from school. Unfortunately for my brother, it was my domain when my parents weren't home.  This is when I would "cook" for my brother. I would open the fridge and just pull out whatever looked old. My mom was busy and in her daechoongness wouldn't clear out things in the fridge on a regular basis so there would be some gross finds. I would throw in all different kinds of banchan (korean side dishes) like meolchi (anchovies), kimchi, chunks of meat, old pasta sauce, and ranch dressing and mix it together in a large bowl. I would bring it in front of my brother expecting him to eat it, and he did.

My brother was such a kind sweet hearted boy and pretty much did anything I asked of him. He would look hesitantly at the bowl but would pick up his fork and eat it.

When I asked him what he thought would nervously say, "Its good!" Now, on occasion he would say things like, "Um.. its a little salty" (probably from the spoonful of sea salt I put in it).

My response, "How could you not like it after I went through so much trouble to 'cook' this for you!!!"

"Sorry" he would say and finish the last bite. For a drink I would take our squeeze bottle of pancake syrup and pour it into a cup... and he would drink it!

For dessert I remember digging through the fridge which was more like an archeological mission because my mom barely cleaned out the fridge. I remember finding a year old pint of chocolate ice cream, gross curdled crusty frost covered ice cream. I spooned it out and noticed it looked more like a brown sponge. So I put the scoops in a bowl of milk and presented it to my brother as....Ta da Brownies! "Yay" he would say nervously, "brownies.." He ate it all.

Ahhh! I feel terrible just thinking about it! Moving on..

One time when we were really young we lived in an apartment complex with a large parking lot. I was about six and my brother was about three. One time when I got mad at my parents I dramatically told my brother I was running away from home. He starts crying and telling me not to go. I want to see how far I can take this, so I continue in my dramatic play on how I can no longer live with our parents, they are driving me crazy (I was only six). My brother starts begging me not to leave. Then I  start getting out my barbie doll clothes and I start folding them and putting them into a plastic basket (I thought I was Dorothy or something). My brother, sees that I'm packing clothes and starts really crying. I head out to the parking lot and hes following me saying "Noona (older sister)! Don't go!" crying and crying. I get to the end of the large parking lot, about to hit the main road. I turn around and think "okie thats enough" and I say "Nevermind..." my brother is ecstatic because he thinks he changed my mind....My poor brother!!..Next...

My brother believed everything I told him. When he was in second grade I thought I'd play a joke. I told him that our family was actually incredibly rich. I told him that our father got in trouble with the law and the government detained all our parent's money for the time being. I said that we are one of few families on earth that owned flying cars. Then I said when 3 years pass the government will forgive all grievences and give us back our flying cars...

Kid you not! 3 years later my brother asks, "Joy when are we getting our flying cars?" at first I have no idea what he's talking about. "Huh??"... and then I remember. "Wow I just said that to mess around with you!" Laughing. My brother looks completely crushed. "Really? I've been waiting for 3 years for my flying car..." looks sad...

Okie so those are just some of my OSG moments, there are many others that I did not mention but you get the picture. When I think of these moments my OSG fills my heart and I feel so bad!

Surprisingly, by the grace of God, despite these moments my brother and I had a really close relationship. Many of my friends and people around us have said that they've never seen a closer brother/sister relationship. I think we were close because no one could relate with me the way my brother could. We were both Korean Americans in an all caucasian school. We both knew what it was like to struggle with our identity as Asian Americans and struggle with the dichotomy between American and Korean culture.  Even if I found other KA's that struggled like I did, only my brother knew the frustrations of my mom's daechoongness and my dad's sternness. In a time when we felt alone and confused we always had each other. When I faced racism at school and my self esteem was at an all time low, as soon as I got home, all was forgotten, because I was safe, I had my brother. I could talk to my brother about anything and all the stress from peers and parents would melt away. Not only that, my brother made me laugh. His wife disagrees, but till this day I am fully convinced he is the funniest guy ever. No one can make me laugh like my brother. As I said at his wedding rehearsal dinner speech "God gave me my parents to give me my name, He gave me my brother to help me live it out." Good thing my love > than my guilt =)

Me and my brother

Joey and Kaitlyn

Does not want to play with her unless that means....

 Throwing the blanket on her...

 Shes ok.

And he rolls over her...

Climbs on her. 

Kaitlyn loving every minute of it!

These past few days it has been very glaringly clear, we live in a dark cruel unpredictable world. I know they will have their share of hardships and struggles. When the world doesn't make sense I hope they will love, protect and be there for each other the way my brother was there for me.