6 Reasons Why My Life is Like The Lord of The Rings

It's been an eventful few weeks in our house. I keep telling myself I need to write a post but when I think about how things have been, the only thing that really comes to mind right now is The Lord of The Rings and the amazing parallels..

1) Because most days I wake up looking and feeling like Gollum.

2) Because my daughter eats like a hobbit. Here's the daily hobbit meal schedule:

7:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Second Breakfast
11:00am – Elevenses
1:00pm – Luncheon
4:00pm – Afternoon Tea
6:00pm – Dinner
8:00pm – Supper

So move everything up one hour and change that tea into orange juice and yep that's pretty much her schedule.

3) Pinterest and DIY mothers are like elves. They are other-worldly crafty creatures that make you all the more aware of your humanness. Pretty sure the rules of time and space do not apply to them. What I mean is... Can I be like you please??

4) Because I feel like my life is all about cleaning cheerios off the floor. The sight of it brings out a Sauron-like wrath in me!

5) Because everyday is like a daily trek to Mordor to get rid of or overcome the Ring, which is crayon marks and cheerios on the floor, toys scattered everywhere, a sink full of dishes, and a meal I need to prepare in 5 minutes lest my hobbit daughter has a Peregrin-Took-melt-down.

This is what my daughter looked like at 10am this morning...

My little hobbit eating egg whites and oranges... her second breakfast. She looks like she's ready to sing a verse.

6) Because at the end of the day the speech I say to myself is a lot like the speech Aragorn gives a the Black Gate (in the movie). His speech is a War Speech. My speech is an acceptance speech. So much of motherhood I feel like, is accepting the fact that things do not go the way you would like or according to plan but that's fine. Tomorrow is another day.

source http://cinetropolis.net/the-lord-of-the-rings-21-classic-moments/

His speech:
"Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship; but it is not this day! An hour of wolves, and shattered shields, when the Age of Men comes crashing down; but it is not this day! "

My speech

"Mother of Joey and Kaitlyn! I see in your eyes you are weary and you're sweating your heart out in this heat and humidity. A day may come when your house does not look like Gollums cave, when your furniture is not scribbled all over, when you make a dinner that everybody enjoys, and all the toys in the play room are organized, and everything you planned on getting done, is finished. An hour of rest and feeling accomplished, when everything doesn't seem like it's crashing down but it is not this day!!"….

There may come a day when things are easier and I'm not a harried mess but not today and that's ok….


Now unto Elvenses... I'm beginning to lose track...

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Dear Andy

Dear Andy,

It is a cool quiet night here in Hawaii. The kids are asleep and I have a few moments of peace before I head to bed. As if your impression is carried on the slight breeze coming through the room, your memory is evoked randomly, as is usually the case. I've become used to your memory showing up in my thoughts unexpectedly over the years, little things seem to conjure them up now and then and often.

I'll be listening to an awesome worship song and I'll wonder what you would think of it. I remember while you were working in the city you had Tower Records on speed dial and they would deliver whatever new Christian Contemporary songs or worship CD that came out to your office. I remember you telling me you would be on the phone with them "What's new? Polka?? ....ok... Bring it in!" You said you did that because we, as poor youth group students, wouldn't have the means to buy a whole bunch and sift through the best ones, so you would do that for us. When you found an amazing album you were the first to tout it to all of us. Your services wouldn't be needed anymore in this day and age when I can hear a sampling of any song I want on iTunes but this act of love and many others are what, till this day, cements your memory in my heart.

The fact you would dedicate whatever free time to hang out with immature, ungrateful youth group students continues to impact me. You would drive us back to our homes, be available to chat or IM anytime we needed it, and you also would not shy away from giving us a good dose of truth in love when we needed it.

You've left an indelible impression on my life and on the lives of many others.

As my thoughts whirl around my head each day I never know when your memory will be stirred up like tonight. For the past 12 years its been like this. Funny though, when I remember you it's not what you did, how you sacrificed, how you loved us that comes to mind, it's the little things, like your laugh. I remember your laugh was so deep and loud it seem to bellow through the room. I can still hear it like it was yesterday. The depth of your laughter was almost indicative of your ability to make others laugh. Laughter pervades almost every memory I have of you. I remember always learning something from you. You knew everything from pop culture to sports, to theology and that you had the perfect tension of being in the world but not of it. I remember you leading praise and being ushered so close to the presence of God it's as if I could feel His breath on the back of my neck.

Interestingly, each year as I go through different life stages, your memories stay the same, but they reverberate differently as time goes on. I remember when I first started working full time and feeling absolutely spent, and then remembering how you worked full time but put in every effort for those around you and for ministry. So many times my fatigue and excuses become diminished and petty when I remember you. And so many times, even today, I find myself peeling off my bed, picking up a late phone call, putting in one more ounce of effort, because you taught me that effort, the interactions, and sacrifice mean something. Your memory reminds me that maybe my efforts could one day mean something to somebody the way your efforts and heart impacted my life and many others.

I don't know why it had to be you in the north tower on September 11, 2001. I don't know why someone that was capable of loving so much and giving so selflessly had to be taken from us that day, someone we all knew and loved as a brother. Maybe because your passions were too deep for the shallowness of this world, maybe because your laughter could not be held in a fleeting shadow (Job 8:9), and your ability to lead others in worship was fit... only for heaven. I look forward to the day we'll all worship together again.




Really random picture of Andy at the BYG Retreat at the Streamside cafeteria circa 1996... I think.

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Postpartum Drepression: My Story

Postpartum Depression is isolation, fear, loneliness, and sadness.

Now that I'm pregnant with our 3rd child I've been pondering upon my postpartum experiences with both my children. Since time has passed, I'm able to look back and get a clearer picture of what I was going through. When I gave birth to my son in 2010 the subsequent months were a dark and lonely time in my memory. When I think about how I felt and the way I acted, it's almost like I'm looking at another person. The person I became is so unlike the person I normally am, I can't help but think, "Was I really like that? Was that really me?" what gives it away is the tight knot that forms in my stomach whenever I think about it.

The thing is, I thought I was prepared to be a mother. I read numerous books, watched a million YouTube videos on child birth and nursing. We had the nursery all ready to go and every baby product that was necessary. But nothing prepares you to be depressed. A few months before giving birth I remember reading about Postpartum Depression and talking to people about it. I remember people saying "Some women get so depressed they want to abandon or hurt their baby." It's funny how when we talk about Postpartum Depression or read about it, people always equate it with its most extreme dark form, when those cases are a miniscule percentage compared to the massive numbers of women who deeply love their baby but are depressed after giving birth. When we attach PPD with only its worst form, we don't talk about it for what it is. All we do is stigmatize the people suffering from it. Now I know, you can still love your baby more than life itself and try to be the best mom you can be, and still suffer from it. In reading its harrowing descriptions I quickly dismissed it thinking, "That will not be me."

But, I don't know if its a combination of being up all night when the rest of the world is sleeping, or being sleep deprived, or the hormone changes, or the stress and the burden of being a new mom, maybe it was all those things, but after my son was born I found myself deeply depressed.

I remember staying up at night clutching Joey and suddenly my heart would palpitate and I would get so scared. I thought I saw things and heard things, that (I know now) were not there. I remember crying hysterically for absolutely no reason. I remember listening to David Archuleta songs and crying thinking "He really understands! These songs are so deep!" I still have his songs on my iPhone and every time they play, I laugh at how ridiculous those thoughts were.  I remember watching 50 First Dates on Netflix one night, and weeping when Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore broke up. I remember every time I nursed my son I felt like every last drop of epinephrin or Oxycontin or whenever hormone makes you normal and happy, would get drained from my body. I tried looking up information on it, but couldn't find any information online about being depressed after nursing. I remember pinning after my old life, when I was free, and my husband and I had time to ourselves. I lamented the end of date nights and romance. I bemoaned the end of my youth. I felt the toxic cocktail of all the the above mixed with a deep sense of inadequacy as a mother. I remember my husband grabbing my shoulders and looking at me with eyes filled with concern and saying "It's going to be okay. I need you. Your son needs you. We need you." Tears fell down my cheeks. I heard him but I wasn't listening. I felt like I was drowning and he was calling after me. His words were inaudible as I was sinking deeper and deeper into sadness and despair. Everyday I thought "My life is over.." I mourned the end of my life as I knew it and had no picture of the immense and immeasurable joy that was to be mine, living the life of a mother.

PPD went on for a few months. I remember when my son was 1 and 1/2 months, waking up in the middle of the night because he was crying. I was grabbing his diaper while holding him, half awake, I glanced his way and he was looking at me and smiling for the first time, a full bright smile, brimming with love and innocence. I'll never forget that face. For the first time I sensed he knew me, he recognized me and was happy I was there for him. I felt like someone took a pickaxe and chipped a hole in the concrete emotional prison I was in. The first piercing beam of light that was my son's smile became the first of many. Day by day his smiles, his recognition in who I was was, his interactiveness, slowly chipped away at the depression. By his 100th day it was nothing but a distant memory and the indescribable joy of motherhood took over. I realized I can take him places! Everyday was like a play date with me and my chubby beautiful baby. I realized that I alone, as his mother, was given unlimited access in discovering his unique personality. I got to experience the world through his eyes and nurture him each day and each day I fell more and more in love with him. I think about that time period when he was 3 months to 2 years old, and it was an absolute dream. I have nothing but happy memories of that time.

I look back and I realize at the time I didn't identify what I was going through. I just thought "Of course I'm sad, I'm sleep deprived!" I kept my struggles deeply hidden, not only from the outside world but also to myself. I couldn't be going through PPD, because I felt that would mean I don't love my baby, it would mean I was a bad mother. Now I know nothing was further from the truth.

I think about how, after I gave birth to my daughter, I didn't go through the same depression. The funny thing is my postpartum was much harder with Kaitlyn. It took longer for my body to recover, she didn't sleep through the night until 6 months as opposed to 2 months with Joey. Also nursing Joey was cake compared to Kaitlyn. Nursing Kaitlyn was an absolute horror show the details are not for the weak of heart or stomach so I'll spare you.

Was I tired? Yes. Was I in physical pain? Yes. Was I depressed? NO.

It could be because I was so preoccupied with my son's adjustment to the new baby, or maybe it's because I made more of an effort to be around people, but if I had to pin point it I'd say it's because I knew the prize was well worth the struggle.

I look back and I strongly believe there is a spiritual aspect to why women go through PPD. Why is it that when we as women are tasked with the most important job God has placed before us, that we feel the most scared, alone, and vulnerable? If you know of someone that just gave birth offer your support in the form of company, a hot meal, an encouraging word, but most importantly offer your prayers. Pray that she'll be reassured, strengthened, and protected.

Part of me wishes I knew back then what I know now. If I could go back I would say this to myself and to any new mother out there struggling:

It's hard and painful but that is not your fault. This time period, as stressful as it can be, is no indication of how amazing your life will be as a mother. Like the yellow brick road littered with jewels, motherhood will give you access to an indescribable experience, where the journey itself is a gift. You are not alone, do not be scared, you are a great mother, you are amazing, just take it one feeding and one sleepless night at a time.  Slowly you'll see the bright colors and the sparkling jewels in discovering how unique and amazing God created your baby. As Robert Frost says "The only way out is through." You will make it through, better, stronger, and in love.

Pregnancy Update: Lysteria Hysteria and Hurricanes

So I'd have to say this is the most eventual pregnancy so far. Pregnancy events that unfolded thus far:

First Trimester

I had terrible morning sickness. I'm 16 weeks now and in a couple weeks I go in for my ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby. If I had to bet on it, I would say it's a boy. The extent of the morning sickness was very similar to when I was pregnant with my son. I think morning sickness, like labor, is one of those things about child birth that God allows you to graciously forget like some sort of vague distant memory (lest the earth never populate) ...until you experience it again. Every morning I woke up feeling like "O there you are again my old enemy, morning sickness!!"

2nd Trimester so far..

Lysteria Poisoning:

So after the morning sickness was over with and I entered into the grand "golden" 2nd Trimester, I was so happy to not loath the smell of onions and garlic and get my appetite back. I remember going to Costco with my family to do some shopping and have dinner. The next morning I devoured one of the peaches we had bought at Costco. Then a couple hours later I felt terribly sick. I was throwing up, I felt dizzy and I had a fever. I couldn't hold anything down. It was a strange combination of food poisoning symptoms mixed with the flu. I kept trying to figure out what I had eaten that no one else had eaten... and I couldn't figure it out. I thought I must of had some bad gelato at Costco or something. Then a week later I had the same exact symptoms again. I couldn't digest food and I was feeling miserable. Then I get a voicemail on my cell phone from Costco. It was an automated message stating that the peaches we had bought were likely infected with Listeria. It really never occurred to me that the peaches I had been yummily consuming consistently for over a week, could be the cause of my symptoms. I looked up the symptoms for Listeria and it was exactly spot on. I called my doctor and at first he sounded blase about it.

He said "Well if your baby was infected, the fetus would have miscarried... so you should be ok."

"Ok... So I have nothing to worry about?"

"No you should be fine."

So I was relieved. Then the next day my Dr. called again and I heard panic in his voice. "I changed my mind you need to be treated for Listeria..."

So he put me on a round of antibiotics. I think it's because he got wind of all the news reports and realized this was really a big deal. Not long afterwards I saw he wrote a post on his blog about peaches and Listeria.

So I started on the medication but my body was still not at 100%. Sadly I have not had a single peach since the incident.


So almost immediately after I finished my meds and started feeling normal again Hawaii was on high alert over two hurricanes that were set to hit landfall on Oahu. The first hurricane, Iselle was set to hit Oahu on August 7. So earlier that week I had a tight knot in my stomach. I think I watched too many videos of Hurricane Iniki hitting Kauai in 1992.  We stocked up and filled every kimchi/ pickle jar with filtered water, which all had a slight kimchi flavor. I kept thinking I would wake up on Friday to see that the roof of our house blown off.

The whole thing blew over, literally. Hurricane Iselle quickly dispelled before it hit Oahu and Hurricane Julio, fortunately completely missed us. I am so glad that we were not without power or water as a result. Considering my daughter loves to put food in her hair and that I need to give my daughter a shower after every meal, the thought of going without water sent chills down my spine. As we were checking the news and seeing if the hurricane would hit, my daughter was doing her usual eating-all-day. I took some pics of her eating a bagel with cream cheese and turned them into hurricane memes.


Since then I've realized that between my two kids and all the things to do each day this pregnancy is is completely devoid of any romanticized feelings. I remember when I was first pregnant with my son, I rubbed my belly all day, and at times listened to soothing classical music hoping that all the good feels would be making its way via osmosis. I took numerous baby bump selfies and  cherished each kick and flutter till the final day came. Now with baby number 3 I hardly even remember that I'm pregnant. Its kinda like "Baby number 3, I'll just see you when you're ready!" I've been feeling guilty about it. Hopefully I'll be just as ready and joyous when the final day does come, and now it won't be just me and Joe welcoming the bundle of joy, but a big brother and sister too. That's the last couple months so far, this pregnancy has been unsentimental but not uneventful!

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The X Factor: Some Thoughts On Having 3 kids...

I'm now 15 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child. In some cases when I told people, they've raised their brows in a "Oh wow you are brave" type fashion. One waitress at a restaurant saw me with my two kids and asked me if I was pregnant. My immediate reaction (in my head) was "Great! I'm only 14 weeks and showing!!" When I told her that her observation was correct, she clapped her hands and gave me a big hug and said "I get so happy when I see women like you." Her congratulations was well received and I know she meant well, but that made me wonder "What does she mean women like me??"

This made me more aware of the fact that we as a society come to conclusions about people based on the number of kids they have. It made me wonder, "What if I had 4 or 5 kids? How much more would that be the case, if I'm getting reactions from just having 3?" Long gone are the days when you would pop out as many kids as possible, raise the first kid right and have each child raise each subsequent child (Today my daughter ran into the wall with a shopping bag over her head and my son just jumped off the couch b/c he thought he could fly...so they're not ready). Through this pregnancy at times I feel overwhelmed with anxiety.

My concerns can be boiled down to 3 categories.

1) Money

My husband is a pastor, I'm a stay at home mom. The unbelievably high cost of living in Hawaii for food/ gas/ household items etc, compounded by the fact that USA Today projected college tuition to be $44,000 per year for PUBLIC SCHOOLS by 2030 makes me think that we just might have to win the lottery to raise 3 kids.

2) Fatigue

I think about how tired I am stretching myself between two kids, I don't know how much more stretched I can be before I snap.

3) Feeling Insufficient

When I told my parents, they were happy for us but you could also tell there was clear concern for me. I could tell they were worried, considering they only had two kids (my brother and I) and yet had to work so hard to provide for us. I also think about my mom. She raised two kids and I know I don't have half the resolve, strength, and determination that she has.

All these thoughts and concerns plague me at times. If I were to count the reasons, the dollars, while looking at my own abilities and if I were to only see what I had in my hands...the odds are glaringly against me... but I'm reminded there's an X factor that throws out the whole equation and tips the scales.


Ultimately I have to put my faith in God and His provision. I don't know how we'll make it through but my husband and I are 1 month away from celebrating our 6 year anniversary and if there's one thing that God has taught us the last 6 years is that he is always faithful in His provision. There have been times in our marriage where things were tight, spaghetti and peanut butter sandwiches were our main fare. There were times when there were things we needed but couldn't afford and He provided so graciously and abundantly, our doubt and worry was made petty and shameful.

Recently I had been wanting a new couch really really bad. The only "couch" we had was a 6 year old futon that has seen better days. It was uncomfortable to sit on and slowly becoming more like a bench than a futon. My dream couch was a La-Z-Boy full reclining sofa but I would have gladly settled for anything that didn't made my back kill every time I sat on it. A new couch would have been way too expensive so I did my Craigslist search but found nothing. Apparently there are a lot of people out there that think people will pay money to buy a couch that looks like it was shared with a family of raccoons. Then my friend texted me randomly acouple weeks ago asking if I wanted a couch. He sent me pictures and it seemed nice, clean and comfortable. My husband went to pick it up and lo and behold. It reclined! It was clean! It was a full size and sooo comfortable. I looked at the side lever and on it was the La-Z-Boy logo. It was the full reclining couch of my dreams, the one that I had wanted but lacked the faith to ask for.

The moment I saw it, I knew again God was telling me and reassuring me, that he provided in the past, provides today and will continue to provide for us  in the future. I know if faith weren't a factor I don't think I would want more than two kids. I think all my concerns would be overwhelming and I would need things to add up.  Faith allows me to get on board to start an adventure I wouldn't normally agree to and my only task is just to be faithful with what He has given me. In the many ways I lack as a mother and as a person I also need to have faith that God can come through in my weakness, that He'll provide a community and grace to fill up all the areas that I lack. How are things going to work out with 3 kids exactly? I don't know, but I feel all the assurance I need because of the X-Factor =)


I've been terrible with taking pictures. All I have to show are my instagram pictures. Follow me @daechoongmama!

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Children and Food

I consider myself a reasonable and generally mild mannered person, most of the time. I love my kids and I love being a mother, but there are moments in the day that make me question everything I think I know about myself. The major pitfalls are bath time and every meal.

Before I was a parent I thought I would be real hard core when it came to meals. You don't want to eat it?? WELL TOUGH!!! STARVE!!!!!... yea right. I'm so emotionally drained from the tug and war of it, I'm the complete opposite. Everyday I try to plan my meals based on foods I think they'll like. I try to incorporate some type of vegetable, a starch, and protein each time. Usually I'll comprise my list based on foods I've seen them eat and like in the past, but that by no means means they'll like it and eat it today. Why do kids change their food preferences like the wind? This gets especially tricky when it comes to vegetables. I try to put veggies in every meal but the veggies they'll eat are limited and whether they'll like it on that particular day is a toss up. And when I say "they" I actually mean my son, my daughter usually will eat anything.

The Meal Routine

With each meal my son will quickly eat whatever is on the plate that he likes. If it's shrimp and noodles, he'll eat all the shrimp first. If it's Tofu fried rice, he'll gobble up all the tofu etc. The first 10 minutes goes by and in this phase I start singing hymns and reciting verses to prepare myself.

Udon, broccoli and shrimp... I know it doesn't make sense but I thought he would eat it.

Udon, broccoli and shrimp... I know it doesn't make sense but I thought he would eat it.

(Humming in my head)

I need thee, oh, I need thee;

Ev'ry hour I need thee!

Oh, bless me now, my Savior;

I come to thee!

"Joey don't just eat the shrimp eat the broccoli too!"

"I will I will" as he picks up his fork and takes a miniscule bite and nibbles on it begrudgingly.

(30 minutes later....Everyone is done eating and I'm wiping the table)


By this point he's just shifting around his food, playing with it making a mess.

"Mommy, I'm going to throw up.." (His usual deterrent)

"You only ate shrimp!!!!!!!! You need to finish the rest or else you'll be hungry in an hour!!!!

Swing low sweet chariot

Coming forth carry me home...

Another 20 minutes and it's a Mount Vesuvius eruption

JOEY. EAT. YOUR. FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By this point there's yelling, threats, sometimes a spanking etc. Then to get the last finish line, I have to spoon feed him each bite lest he finishes his food... never.

I can't tell how frustrating this routine is. There are no words. I start to sweat, my heart starts to palpitate, I feel my blood pressure rise. Seriously, it's a good thing I have low blood pressure, or else I'd be dead. For the last couple months each time (or whenever I would remember) I made a meal met with his abject ambivalence, I snapped a picture.

Lo and Behold the gallery of rejected food:

Portuguese sausage fried rice and egg.

He ate some of it but not without making a complete mess! I notice he'll only eat the egg if I cut it into the shape of a pizza.

Scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions, garlic and kale... yea I was reaching for the stars on this one.

 He wouldn't touch it, except for the bacon of course!

My daughter on the other hand gobbled it up, with her hands like a savage.

Below: Miyuk gook (seaweed soup) and fried rice. A meal he usually eats but today he decided he just wanted to stir his soup.

Mandoo soup, she loved it and was licking her fingers. Her brother took forever to eat it and wouldn't touch the spinach!!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup... wouldn't touch it.

Whole wheat french toast.

... he ate the bacon and after 40 mins of threats he ate one strip of toast. He kept drinking his juice to delay eating his food. He does it all the time and it's maddening.

Chicken soup with rice, made from scratch in the crock pot...

"MOMMY IT'S HURTING ME!!!" gag gag gag.....

Kalbi Jjim... this is always a toss up.

After a couple hours of torturous force feeding and mixing it around, this is what his plate looked like. He hated it! The rest of my family gobbled it up!

This is one of those ghettos meals, tofu miso soup with broccoli, fried mandoo and rice with kkim (nori).

"Mommy I'm done..." he says after only eating the tofu in his soup.

My daughter on the other hand... yea I got to get her to start using her utensils more..

30 minutes later everyone is done but him!!! What is he doing?? Stirring his soup for the umteenth time!!

Korean Chicken stew... with noodles instead of rice. I thought that would help him eat it, but no he just picked at forever.

Another ghetto meal: fried rice with tofu, broccoli, carrots, onions and garlic. With rib eye and seafood pancakes (not in picture).

30 minutes later... everyone is done... except him.

"I have one finger.."

"You're killing me Joey. YOU'RE KILLING ME!!!"

Foods my son will eat:


"Mommy can I have another slice??"

Why can't he be like that with his dinner?? Kaitlyn loves it too! But then again she eats anything.

Look at him eating so well! That's because I didn't make it!

Because the whole meal time thing is so emotionally and physically draining, once a week or so we'll go out for pizza. It's not only a night off from cooking but it's also a night off from trying to get him to eat. He'll just eat the pizza, no yelling, prompting, bribery. I think the one thing that limits our pizza outings is the fact that the pizzeria owner treats us like royalty because we've been there so often. It's embarrassing.

The funny thing is, he used to eat so well. Now he only eats well at school and when he's around other people. But home is a different story. I've heard that when they need to eat more they will. I'm still waiting for that day...


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Children and Schedules

UPDATE: Hello! It's been awhile! I haven't updated because the last month and 1/2 I've been either hugging my pillow or the toilet seat, going through round 3 of morning sickness! Now that my first trimester is coming to an end I'm feeling more and more like myself.

Though I've haven't been feeling well we've still been quite busy. Ever have one of those days where you've got the day planned out down to the 1/2 hour and then your child does something and it throws your whole schedule into the crapper??

Well a couple weeks ago we had one of those days planned out. My parents were heading on a plane that night to go back to NJ, so we had a fun day of beach, shopping, and dinner planned out. Just after breakfast there was an ominous silence in the house. Whenever we can't see or hear our daughter for a period of time that usually is a bad sign. I thought "Where's Kaitlyn??" I started looking around the house. I opened our bedroom door and she walks out like it's nobody's business.

Well... turns out she put a whole jar of Vaseline in her HAIR!!!!!!!!!!

In a panic I rush her to the bathroom to shampoo it out and it was utterly futile as the shampoo just seemed to spread the petroleum jelly evenly through the hair without getting rid of any of it! I felt like I was trying to save a bird from an oil spill. Afterwards I tried to comb it out and that didn't do anything except make her look like a greaser.

Seeing as I was only making the situation worse, I went to my go-to-motherhood-guru... Google.

It shows up right away! I was partly relieved there was a solution but also because that meant my child was not the only crazy one to do something like this. Most of the sites were saying you have to cover the hair in either corn starch or baby powder. Since we had a huge thing of baby powder we never use, I went that route.

I felt like I was inducting her into some sort of indigenous tribe. Of course she screamed and cried throughout the whole thing.

She's like "What is this stuff??"

She's like "What is this stuff??"

To which I responded "aww poor baby do you not like that??"


It worked really well! But it didn't get everything out. Each strand of hair still seemed to have a life of its own and could still be shaped and bent to any form.

The baby powder worked for the most part. For a few days her hair looked beach dry, you know when you go to the beach and your hair dries but is still heavy from the salt water. Since we live in Hawaii no one looked twice. She looked like she's from a family that goes to the beach a lot, instead of a family of questionable hygiene.

Now I look back and I can laugh at the whole experience, remembering my screaming and going crazy and Kaitlyn crying when I put the baby powder on her, and her hair looking like Medusa afterwards... good times. To really appreciate each moment in raising kids I think you need time and perspective, which is something you never have at the present moment. I guess it's always something to remember for next time my kids throw my day's schedule into a vaseline-baby-powder-catestrophe.

On another note, time with the grandparents was amazing and I didn't want it to end. We got a great deal for one night at Aulani the Disney Resort. My husband and I were blown away at how amazing this place was. Yay for Kama'aina discounts!!

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Children and Sleep

I noticed in parenting some of the most mundane everyday things become the difference between life and death... or more like sanity and insanity. In parenting you try to create a structure and a rhythm in doing things that's similar to a well oiled machine. But the littlest missteps can throw a wrench in the whole thing, causing the machine to come to a crashing halt. I would say the most important thing in keeping the machine going and the catastrophic derailments at bay is sleep.


So simple right? It's what every human does every night. You'd think if kids were tired, like normal human beings, they would sleep right? WRONG. My kids were never good sleepers. Joey is bouncing off the walls with energy all day with no nap. Then if we try to put him to sleep at 8:00 PM, he won't actually fall asleep till 9:30ish. Then as soon as the sun is up (around 6AM)... he's up. Unfortunately the sun is never late, and never sleeps in, so neither do we. Kaitlyn is the same way. Even nights when they go to sleep really late like 10PM, it does not equal extra sleep time in the morning at all. Both are bouncing out of their beds as soon as the first piercing rays of Hawaii sunshine hit their room.

This is all very strange to me because I love sleep. Literally the sun could be shining right on my face and I'll sleep like a baby. I can sleep on airplanes, floors, buses, just give me some uninterrupted time to myself and I'll gladly stretch out anywhere to catch some zzz's. So where do my kids get this boundless energy and strange synchronization to the sun?? I don't know, maybe dad.

Lately my kids haven't been sleeping well and it's been leading to some very entertaining meltdowns. For my son the only thing that tranquilizes the craziness is the very thing causing the meltdown, sleep! So to deal with our son's late afternoon crankiness we'll take him for a drive and that will be the only way to knock him out. Unfortunately gas in Hawaii is like $4.30 a gallon now, so that's been assigned to the desperate measures category. The thing is, when my kids have good sleep, they are heavenly. They are so fun to be around, laughter is never ending, the kisses are a flowing, and the cuteness is overwhelming... When they don't get enough sleep they are all those things, except the complete opposite!  Here are some quick snap shots I took on one of our recent drives, on a day when both kids were in serious need of sleep:

Then it was her turn:

When my daughter doesn't get enough sleep, days at home are very interesting as every little thing sets her off. This really happened last week:

Only two things can appease her lack of sleep...

sleep and food.

This is why I don't go anywhere without a tangerine, some crackers, or some fruits snacks. They come in handy to tame the beast. The other day she only had 6 hours of sleep at night because it was humid. My daughter cannot stand humidity and heat, unfortunately we live in Hawaii in the MOST HUMID place on the entire island...so she decided to scream and roll around in her crib making my husband and I want to bang our heads against the wall... to knock out and be rendered unconscious, so as not to hear her shrieks... it was a rough night. Then the next morning we were at the beach! At one point she was screaming crying and shaking her fists at the sky, when I pulled out some slices of tangerines. Lo and behold she was fine!

Someone's a happy camper now!

Someone's a happy camper now!

This week she was really cranky after her nap, especially because it was super humid in her room. So while she was wailing and having a meltdown I placed her in her high chair and put tangerines in front of her... again works like a charm!

And.... just another day at the Daechoong Mama house. I've heard people say before "You love your kids through the words you speak and the schedule you keep." This is so true, but the very wise person who wrote this quote probably didn't have kids that hated humidity and all things related to sleep. I hate pithy sayings that underline my parenting inadequacies. Seriously though, aside from these quick snap shots, on a day to day basis parenting I would say is a lot of fun! The laughter and the joys of it all certainly outweighs the meltdowns and the fatigue. There's never a dull moment I'll say. Here is another pic from yesterday:

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Mother's Day and Mackerel

Happy Mother's Day everyone! Strangely when I think about Mother's Day, what comes to mind is not overpriced flowers or chocolate or hallmark cards, I think of mackerel, the smelly oily fish that was the household staple of my youth. Why would Mother's Day correlate with this pungent seafood? I've been thinking that myself.

I remember when I was in 3rd grade watching the girls around me in envy as they opened up their Wonderbread sandwiches and each took a moment to read the little folded heart shaped notes their mothers made them. I was disgruntled that my mother never packed me a lunch but hastily threw a couple dollars on the dresser every morning so I can buy it. I remember enviously seeing class mothers come in and participate in class and help set up events. I remember, seeing kids bringing their amazing science projects and presentations to school. It was obvious that their parents toiled away and created immaculate presentations, while their child held the glue stick. Whenever I brought home a project assignment, it was in danger of being held together with rice. When school was over I remember seeing all the class moms set up the snacks for the Girl Scout Brownies. I so wished my mom was one of them, each mom looking enthusiastic and prim. When I got home from school I would want to unwind with episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but when my mom got home from work, she would have the audacity to turn off the TV so we can do homework. Of course, unprompted she took the liberty  to oversee every aspect of this. Sometimes she was frustrated because she didn't know how to pronounce some of my spelling words, or knew what they meant. "Why your teacher give your this word??" she would say annoyed. Either way, I had to spell each word, solve each math problem, and read every book to the level of her satisfaction. Then dinner came along and what I wanted more than anything was American food, like I saw on TV. I wanted mashed potatoes and gravy with meatloaf in the form of one of those microwavable TV dinners, but many nights my heart and my stomach sank as I heard the loud angry sizzle and crackle of the frying pan. I knew what was for dinner...


That smelly oily fish never went silently into the night (or the iron skillet) without spraying around every particle of its oily existence, creating a thin malodorous layer of grease. By the time the fish was fried every surface of our kitchen was laminated with the stuff. This smell of mackerel grease combined with the aroma of kimchi and garlic that ever permeated our house, was like a type of olfactory napalm. We tried to dissuade her, but my mother was impervious to our mackerel protests. Hungry and tired when I was ready to finally partake of the meal, I had to exert effort in picking out all the big pieces of fish bone that were interlaced through the meat. The small pieces had to be chewed heartily lest they get lodged in your throat. I have not-so-fond memories of that happening, only to be relieved by swallowing whole spoonfuls of rice. Mackerel, rice, side dishes, and kimchi was the routine in our house. After every dinner I was peeved that my food never left me, as the smell had become one with my shirt.

Now ironically, mackerel is one of my favorite foods. I love to order it when I go to Korean Restaurants. Now, I crave the crispy salty oily goodness of it. When placed sizzling before me, I readily dig in, separating the big bones and gulping down each savory bite with rice.   I would cook it more often if my husband didn't protest against the odor so much. He would look at me in puzzlement as to why would I order mackerel at a Korean restaurant, a food that was so pedestrian and unfavored in my youth?  For one, my adult palate realizes now that it's absolutely delicious and healthy. It's packed with nutrients that boost your immune system, brain and nerve development, while fighting cancer agents in your cells not to mention it's high in calcium. Each mackerel is a humble package for all those benefits. In the same way, it reminds me of my mother.  She was a wife and a mother of two kids, working full time and often taking classes and faithfully volunteered at church. She could have easily resorted to a microwavable dinner now and then, but she took the time to cook mackerel. Now each crispy bite reminds me that she always wanted to give her best despite her weariness. It reminds me of her unending patience towards our complaining and griping. It reminds me of long nights where she took the time to go through our homework not allowing her English deficiencies get in the way. Like the small calcium-rich fish bones that needed extra chewing and weeding through, my mother didn't mind being inconvenienced and putting in effort, if it yielded worthwhile results. Though I never got Wonderbread sandwiches for lunch, or heart shapes notes, or immaculate science projects, or microwavable foods (thank goodness), what I did receive was far more valuable. She taught me to never give up, that limited skills and time is no excuse to not give life your best shot, and lastly remember to be faithful to God and be grateful for the life you've been given... and if you need to be daechoong here and there to get by, don't sweat it.

As a mother I can only hope to emulate her willingness to sacrifice, to give of herself, and to teach. Though I didn't realize at the time those mundane mackerel dinners taught me something. I hope this Mother's Day you are able to show your mother some love, I know I am so grateful for mine.  What are some of the everyday mundane things about your childhood that remind you of your mother?

Throwback: My mom and I 2008. Do you see the resemblance?

Throwback: My mom and I 2008. Do you see the resemblance?

Some pictures from Waikiki, I'm so blessed to be a mother to these munchkins=)

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