Sunday, December 28, 2008


I went to see the Nutcracker today with Abby, my sister-in-law, her daughter, and my parents-in-law (Grandpa's treat!). Abby is only 2 and a half, but today she was a mature little lady going to the ballet for the first time in her life. She wore her fancy silk Christmas dress from Grandma, and wore her hair in curls, styled by her auntie. I was sure she would fall asleep and be scared by the big talking toys. But she was surprisingly very interested in what was going on. For the whole two hours! Not many adults can keep interested for that long at the ballet.

She kept asking questions about what was happening, so I had to whisper a narration to her the whole time. I tried using phrases and concepts that she would understand, so at one point I told her that the naughty boy who took the girl's toy had to get a time-out.

If you're familiar with the Nutcracker, the first act is all about a Christmas party where the children receive presents from under the Christmas tree. There is a lot going on onstage, with people dancing, children playing, and general merrymaking going on... It's hard to just focus on one thing that is happening. However, Abby decided to focus on the Boy Who Got Time Out. In fact, she became fixated on it, constantly asking questions about the time-out. Maybe because she could relate to the girl whose toy was being taken away (she and her cousin Matthew have had some toy-sharing issues this past week while we're staying at his house), but whatever it was, the whole two hours was dotted with questions about the brief time-out session that the naughty boy had in Act 1 Scene 1.

Abby (whispering furiously): Mommy, is he all DONE with time OUT?
Me: Yes, he's all done.
Abby: But Mommy, did he GET time OUT?
Me: Yes, remember he took the toy away from the girl? He was naughty so he got a time out. But it's over now. (Let's move on!!!)

A couple of minutes later, some random character comes sailing in from stage left...

Abby: Did HE go to time OUT? And now he came out?
Me (regretting telling her of this supposed time-out in order to help her understand what's going on): No Abby, that's another character. The boy in the beginning had time out. Now nobody has time out.
Abby (still whispering furiously and nodding her head in understanding): Because he already got a time out. Yeah.

These are just samples of how our conversations went throughout the performance. I can't remember verbatim what she said, and what I said, but you get the gist. I could see that her 2-year-old mind was really trying to make sense of what was happening in the scenes in terms of what she knew from her experiences. It was fascinating to watch.

Anyways, all in all, a successful outing. It was complete with a money shot of her and her cousin with their grandparents in front of a lighted Christmas tree, and a toy nutcracker bought as a memento of the experience. When the final dance was danced, and everyone started to clap, she heartily joined in the clapping. The lights came on, and she turned to me and said, "This was fun!"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Falling Apart at 30

Starting off a new year with a new age hasn't been all that pleasant. I just feel like everything is falling apart, physically. I found a white hair! Which means that I now need to color my hair out of necessity and not for fun. I just found out today that my tooth had cracked, thus allowing food to enter, thus creating a cavity, thus affecting my nerves, thus needing to get a root canal with a full crown. My teeth have never cracked before! What gives? My bones are extra creaky, things are saggy and jiggly everywhere, and it's just all-around unpleasant. As a joke, some friends gave me a multi-vitamin as part of their birthday present to me: Central-Vite Senior Formula "For Mature Adults." I laughed - it's still in its packaging. Now I'm looking at it with new wonder and hopefulness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I was talking to a friend the other day about life. She said something so interesting that I've been thinking about it for a couple of days now. The comment was that our Korean Christian parents' generation pushed us into becoming doctors and lawyers (or enter any other professional title that makes 6 figures), but didn't necessarily know what kind of lifestyle they were pushing us to embrace. In their minds, the salary, prestige, and the notion of making a difference to others was the aim. Getting straight As was the expectation in high school, so that you can go to a good college, so that you can go to a good law/med school (etc.), so that you can make lots of money, so that you can settle nicely and be comfortable.

But sometimes there's such a huge class difference once you make a ton of money. At times, it can clash with your own parents. They might still expect you to go to church regularly, get married and have 2.5 kids by age 30, cook every night, clean your newly bought house by yourself, and be available during the holidays. There are certain social and economic changes one might go through when entering a higher socio-economic class. You work long hours. You hire people to do things for you. You don't have time to have kids, or even get married. You can't always get to church on a Sunday morning. You might have to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may enjoy fine dining instead of sub-par Japanese restaurants like your parents. You may become a little more shee-shee-fu-fu. But is this a good thing?

One of the effects of becoming shee-shee-fu-fu is that your standards are so high for certain things that you can't help but look down at other people. I see this in my own life sometimes. For example, I am appalled when people don't grate their own parmesan cheese. I grew up with American single sliced cheese (and I still love that, btw). I ate it with everything. I thought it was the ultimate CHEESE. But then I discovered other cheeses as I became more shee-shee-fu-fu. I went wine-tasting. I took cooking classes on how to eat and store different kinds of cheeses. I'm at a point now where I stick my nose up in the air at the powdery grated cheese stuff you buy in a container to sprinkle over pasta. I need to at least grate my own parmesan cheese. You might think this is a silly example, but it's nevertheless an example of changing my ways as a result of entering into a different class.

I don't know what I think about all this. I know that money is the root of all kinds of evil. I know this to be true. And perhaps that is the temptation I must overcome every day. To not give in to the "all kinds of evil" that wealth opens up. Perhaps some of you know what I'm talking about, and know it better than I do. And perhaps some of you don't know what I'm talking about, but want to know. In any case, I'm grateful that my parents didn't push me to pursue a profession that makes a lot of money. Perhaps they knew I wasn't smart enough anyway. haha. j/k. Maybe it's because I don't know yet the meaning of being "settled," but I don't mind struggling month to month in the Bay Area. And it's not even struggling in the sense of making ends meet. It's struggling to save, really, when it comes down to it.

Do I want to be rich? Do I want to be poor? I wish I could stay a happy medium.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blabby Abby

The other day, Abby woke up saying a succession of names:

1. Mommy (mah-mee)

2. Daddy (da-da)

3. Halmuni (ah-mu-na)

4. Blair (beh - I think it included Melissa in her mind.)

These are all people that have recently taken care of her for a long period of time. She now has memories of people and fun activities. For example, when she says "Blair," she immediately says "agua." This means that she's remembering how fun it was playing in the water when Blair and Melissa were over to babysit.

She and Halmuni got along really well when Halmuni visited from SoCal. But when Halmuni left, Abby woke up the next morning looking for her. She said her name multiple times and went to check in the guest room to see if she was still there. I told her that Halmuni is gone, that she doesn't live here, but that she lives in LA. (actually OC, but LA is easier to say for her) So now, whenever she asks or remembers Halmuni, I say "Oh, you miss Halmuni? Where is she? She lives in..."

And Abby responds, "LA (eh-A)," with a knowing smile.

And sometimes throughout the day she'll randomly say "dada" with a real urgency. Then I have to remind her that Daddy is at...

And she says, "wok," again with that oh-yeah-I-get-it-now smile.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Let me tell you about philosophy.


I got nothin for you. I know not, therefore I'm not. That's the extent of my philosophical musings. I don't care much to know more, really. Philosophy to me is too much abstract thinking, and I'd rather watch TV, thankyouverymuch.

But my husband. He and philosophy are one. It makes sense to him, in a sense. He is passionate about thinking. He is passionate about thinking ABOUT thinking. One of the things I admire about him the most is his ability to synthesize information in a tangible way for the common man. Even I can read some of his entries on philosophy and come away with a sense of understanding that I'm not supposed to understand, which is what I hear philosophy is supposed to be, at its core.

So when he brought up the idea on taking a course on Philosophy, I said WHY NOT? Sign up today! Along with encouraging comments from philosophical friends responding to his latest blog entry, and the gentle supportive prodding from his wife, Danny has signed up for a continuing studies class in some kind of a philosophy of the West class!!!

I'm so excited! I'm looking forward to reading his essays and murmuring mmhmm while completely not understanding what he's written, but knowing that it's good stuff. Go Danny!

Monday, August 27, 2007


So, like, I'm totally buggin'! This is a line from one of my favorite movies: Clueless. "Buggin'" means "stressed out," for those of you who don't know the lingo.

I admit it. I'm a stressed out person. Most people see the calm, collected, "Capricorn" Jieun. And it's not that I fake people out; it's just that the stress is all inside. I expect Danny to match how I'm feeling. When I'm excited about something, I need him to be as excited.

WHAT!? You found out your customer's Mary Kay foundation color is Beige 304? That's with a pink undertone, right? WOWZERS!

When I feel stressed, I need him to feel stressed as well. But it seems that my husband doesn't stress out in exactly the same way that I do in exactly the same situations. For example, when we need to get ready to go out, say to church on Sunday morning, I feel stressed. I need to pack the baby's bag with snack, lunch, diapers, a change of clothing, a favorite toy, water, and milk. I need to change, put my makeup on, and pack my own stuff. Abby needs to get fed, read to, loved, and sometimes bribed into getting into the carseat. I start by brushing my teeth, reading to Abby, packing a healthy snack, and then I look at the clock. It's 9:00am. Oh, I think. Plenty of time since we don't have to get to church until 10:10am. That's like one hour. Plenty of time!! WRONG.

Fifteen minutes later, Abby is only diaper-clad but well-fed, I'm still in my pajamas, and I'm starting to get into panic mode because I realize that if we need to get to church by 10:10am, then we have to get out of the driveway by 9:50am. That means leave the house by 9:40am. That means have everything packed and ready to go by 9:30. And it's already 9:15!! Fifteen minutes. During these next fifteen minutes, craziness ensues in my head. I'm running around frantically trying to put my contacts in so that I can start putting my makeup on, pulling a dress over Abby, who is screaming in protest, and praying that I don't forget to pack the milk.

Enter Danny. He takes literally 2 minutes to get ready, on a non-shower morning. On a shower day, it's 3 minutes. Puts on his uniform: jeans and a t-shirt, brushes his teeth, and slaps on some water on his face. I'm ready, he proclaims. Gr. He sees that I need help with Abby so he asks, what can I do? I give him two tasks: get the milk ready and make sure Abby has a change of clothing.

He goes off on his mission. I'm still freaking out, thinking why are we always late?? We have to show up early to help out at church, and everyone's going to be mad that we're late, AGAIN. And as I'm applying my mascara, I hear faint noises coming from the living room. I open our bedroom door.... it's the piano! Danny is playing Invention No. 8 by Bach - a lively and catchy tune. But I'm standing there in disbelief. Why is he playing the piano at a time like this!!! We have two minutes until we're officially on our way to being late for church. So I march out there and demand to know if he's accomplished his tasks. He has. Oh. OK then.

He just doesn't feel the stress of getting to places on time. I feel it ever so acutely, and yet I feel so powerless to change the situation. Danny just gets ready faster than I do. He helps out with what he can with Abby's stuff. Then he's done. Nuff said. Done deal. GGeut. But I spend so much time stressing out that maybe that's the reason why I'm late all the time. Plus, I procrastinate and I'm lazy sometimes. I want to be able to get to the point where I just get ready without all the stress, and then have a couple minutes left over to play a round of Invention No. 8. Teach me, O wise one.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I made lasagna for the second time in my life. I used already-cooked lasagna strips. Very interesting! It was a huge time-saver. And, one lasagna dish can last you FOREVER! It's like my curry rice dish that lasts for two weeks in the Chai household. I'm definitely adding lasagna to my cooking rotation. Thanks Melissa for the ingredients advice!!