The Things We Do for Soon Doo Boo

So the kids are finally asleep (it's 1am NJ time, but 8PM Hawaii Time but hey I'll take it) so I get some alone time to chronicle my gluttonous antics for the past week. 

I would say if there was one dish I could not /would not ever leave NJ without having, it is soon doo boo (spicy tofu soup). So I know you can get soon doo boo in other places but no place does it right like So Gong Dong by my parents house in Palisades Park NJ. The brand is a landmark around here and it's quite famous. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations etc.

In Hawaii they have soon doo boo as well and places that are called So Gong Dong but the taste is not the same. Don't get me wrong, Hawaii is good with food, I've learned when it comes to certain foods (ie sushi, ramen, Japanese, Udon, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese.. SPAM, shrimp and many more noms) Hawaii is a food Mecca. But I can't explain it, every time I have soon doo boo anywhere else but So Gong Dong it just doesn't taste right. It's something, like many things, I took for granted when I lived down the street from the stuff. But now that I live a continent and an ocean away, many days go by when I yearn for the hot-scorching-spicy-msg-infested-tongue-tickling-taste of So Gong Dong soon doo boo. When the stuff hits my palate it transports me back to my High School days when I'd venture to Bergen County to have the stuff, when I was so carefree and life was just over the horizon. It evokes memories of my single days after I had graduated college and I was trying to make my way in the world and we had just moved to Palisades Park where the soft tofu was a comfort on love lorn days, always a great compliment with a good time with good friends. It's food that reminds me of the person I was before I became a mother and a wife. Food that reminds me to be grateful for the many steps and people and instances it took to make me who I am.

Well the other day, after a major snow storm, the snow piled high around our house, and our neighborhood. The cold was getting to us. My husband, who loves the stuff too, and I decided we HAD to have some. We had my parents watch the kids and made the trek through the snow, in freezing cold weather, to have a taste of the good stuff. 

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That is a picture I snapped from my window. Notice there is not much of a sidewalk? Yep we cray.

Well I'll just stop typing and let the pictures do the rest.

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This is after it cooled down a bit it came out sizzling! Another thing I loooove about Song Gong Dong is the fact that they give their rice in Dol Sot (stone pot) bowls!

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I look like a kid in a candy store~! When it comes out you crack a raw egg inside and wait till it cooks abit. How long do I wait? Till my egg is cooked and the yolk is slighty runny.

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It's chow time!

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You definitely need some sweet LA Kalbi to offset the spicy salty pot of heat!

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So after you're done you wash all the flavorful stuff you had (salty/spicy/sweet) with nurumjee (the slightly burnt leftover rice from the stone pot, with water poured over it). The rich smooth subtle taste of the burnt slightly crispy rice makes it all go down. 

We were sooo cold when we got there but sooo warm leaving. We trekked in the snow back to my parent's house. I think I was still high on the msg and I slipped on some ice, fell flat on my back walking back. Ouch!  My tail bone! My husband helped me up, I got to my senses, dusted off the snow and smiled all the way back home in the freezing cold, trudging through the tundra.

Was so worth it.

The things we doo for soon doo boo =)

Is It Worth It?

So I've been MIA lately because our household is under the spell of disease. My daughter somehow contracted Hand Foot Mouth Disease and she has been utterly miserable and I have been miserable with her. I've seen my fair share of illnesses. I have a 3 year old boy that goes to preschool. I thought I saw it all, high fevers, viruses, bronchitis, colds, flu etc. but nothing prepared me for Coxsackie ( a form of HFM). My poor daughter's mouth has broken out into canker sores. Her gums are completely inflamed and bleeding, so she can hardly eat or drink anything. This past week she has been subsisting on ice cream. So choosing between diabetes and rotten teeth or starvation and dehydration I chose the lesser evil. My normally fun loving, light hearted daughter, that eats anything and sleeps well, has been replaced with a cantankerous, grouchy, girl who throws and screams at any food I try to give her.  She is usually pretty independent and plays well by herself but now she demands to be held 24/7. So its been a tough week.

 

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I almost feel like I'm going through postpartum where I am teetering between two realities, one where I tell myself that its all a phase, its a part of life and to take it in stride, and the other, where I let the sleeplessness, anxiety and stress get the best of me. Sometimes I wonder in these one- crying- toddler- meltdown- away- from- collapsing "is it worth it?" I get into these moments where I think fondly of my pre-children days. Those days where I felt like a woman and not like a human wet-rag.

I reminisce and I remember when all I had to do was take care of myself, where I had the time and the means to look and dress well, when there were actually times when I liked what I saw in the mirror. That's another thing, the mirror used to be my friend. It made sure I didn't have food in my teeth, told me to add some more powder to my nose,  occasionally told me how nice I looked in my new dress. Now the mirror glowers at me, showing me how dark the bags are under my eyes, how far my gut is sticks out pass my chest, how uneven my skin tone is becoming. It's as if in giving birth and breathing new life into my babies, youth and beauty left in the same breath.

I reminisce and remember going out and having fun with others, something called a "social life" which has become such a foreign concept it might as well be the moon for now. I've barely left the house the past couple weeks. I think how hard it is raising kids without family to help. It's something I don't notice until illness plagues my household. I see other people with kids, able to go out and have fun, because their parents can watch their kids for a night. I never seemed to get a break and I feel like I'm drowning to get air.

So this is how I have been feeling. I feel ashamed to even be asking myself this. How could I not love and appreciate the amazing gift of motherhood every moment of every day? If I were to go back in time would I do things differently? Would I trade it all for independence, freedom, youth, fun.... Is it worth it?

As these thoughts started filling my heart and mind, last night I took a walk outside. I've been confined indoors in fear that I am somehow carrying the virus my daughter has.  The sky was so bright and the full moon shined like an elegant light fixture in the sky.  The clouds seemed to radiate the light of the moon and as I gazed above, looking at how bright it all was, I realized you never appreciate how beautiful and bright a moon could be unless you accustomed to seeing darkness. It reminded me of the little moments as a mother that make me forget the hardship: lost beauty, lost youth, a social life forever gone, sleeplessness, etc... moments when my daughter hugs me and leans her head on my shoulders, where I know I am her only comfort but at the same time she is holding me up as much as I am holding her. Or like last night when she sensed my stress and tried giving my kisses on the cheek despite the fact it hurts to move her mouth. In every hardship as a mother like labor, post partum, the pain of nursing, the terrible twos and even more terrible threes, and sickness, when you feel the darkness about to envelope you, those moments, like the radiant shine of a full moon, get you through. Would we ever be able to survive motherhood without them? Moments that help you remember the joy of it all, moments that make it all worth it.

5 Reasons Why I Am Glad Christmas is Over...

1) The first one I'll express in poem:

We had a rule in our house to celebrate a merry way

"No opening presents until Christmas Day!"

For I wanted the morning to be an experience to remember

But Alas the first gifts came on the 10th of December

making my poor boy complain and resent

Asking every 10 minutes "Can I open the present!?"

Next year all will appear suddenly on Christmas Day

To save my sanity and keep my innner Grinch at bay...

___

2) The Mall

Having a 3 year old and a 1 and 1/2 year old and going to the mall during Christmas time is a soul draining experience. With my son running around weaving in and out of mall traffic, causing kids, the elderly, and the faint-hearted to trip over. My daughter got a kick out of grabbing things from every store we entered and making a run for it, like she was re-enacting a scene from Oliver Twist.

3) Glitter

I know I'm starting to start like the Grinch for real but as a mother, I HATE GLITTER. The stuff never leaves the house once entered, it's like the holiday bed bugs. If someone gives you a bag or a ribbon filled with glitter months will pass where glitter will randomly show up on your sons face or on a banana, a blanket, a towel and you constantly think "I THOUGHT I GOT ALL OF IT!!"

4) Ornament Control

My daughter the 1 and 1/2 year old loves grabbing the ornaments off the tree. Some of them were shatter proof and some of them were not. We were playing 24/7 ornament control in our house, I felt a tinge of anxiety every time my daughter so much as looked at our tree.

5) Opening Children's Toys

Long gone are the days of opening the box and taking out the present. As a kid I don't remember every extremity of my Rainbow Bright being attached to a box. Toys are now attached to the plastic or cardboard casing  by being bolted and/or wired, and don't forget those fun nylon cable wires strapped on for additional support. I don't understand why opening gifts now a days has to be a 12 step process. Did the packing department at Fisher Price merge with the CIA or something? I tried to open a plastic toy cash register. The actual register was screwed into its cardboard box. So to open the gift I had to get out my tool box and find the right bit on my battery screwdriver to open the gift. Then there was the whole unraveling all those wire ties. There is no simple easy way to do it aside from unraveling each wire, which drove my daechoong side crazy!

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On the flip side it was amazing experiencing Christmas again through the eyes of a child. When I was young waking up Christmas morning was a magical experience in some ways. I woke up with a sense of Joy that it was Jesus' birthday and I would be able to celebrate with my family. As i got older the day seemed to lose its magic every year. The day slowly became mundane and obligatory. I remember when I was in high school waking up Christmas morning and realizing that it felt like any other day.

My son is now almost four and I feel like its our first Christmas where he is fully aware of the holiday and he is certainly fully aware of presents and Santa and the whole holiday season whirlwind. This year to see him understand that meaning behind Christmas and watch the joy light up on his face when he opened his gifts made all of the annoying things I ranted above, absolutely worth it.

 

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Notice how there are no ornaments on the bottom of the tree?

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I think my daughter had more fun with the wrapping paper than the actual gifts...

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"There's no more wrapping paper?"

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