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July 2009

Lunchtime Blogging

July 28, 2009   

Been crazy busy with work lately. Not so unusual, but it’s pretty exciting. I wish I had a couple of breathers to just sort of clean up all the messy corners and tighten up the loose bolts, but time is limited.

Sleeping badly lately too, probably far less than before getting pregnant. Hip joint and left shoulder hurts like a mofo. Hip joint pops every time I get up and hurts like a joint that shouldn’t pop.

Clearly have been tweeting too much, as I can only seem to write in fragmented sentences.

Looking forward to the new season of America’s Best Dance Crew. Woo!

The public areas of the house are starting to tidy up  and feel nice.

Trying to figure out when to have my mom come out to help with the baby.

Found out yesterday that my sister told my dad I was pregnant. It is nice to know he knows. I’m still reluctant to talk to him, for complicated reasons. I may write him a letter. He has a job as a security guard and is working. With my grandmother’s recent passing, I don’t want to have regrets about not reaching out to him later, but it is still really hard.

It kills me that even with all the money I make, I don’t make enough to  pay all the bills here, shore up our financial security, and still get my mom off food stamps. I breaks my heart that she’s still on food stamps. It just kills me.

I’ve finished the Sookie Stackhouse series (up to the most current one out) and started Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. She got me with her free Kindle book, Darkfever.

Looking forward to getting away to Hawaii in August. At the same time, I think about my dad in Korea and my mom and think, gah, is this really, really ok? Couldn’t I be helping them more? I know there are things I need to do for myself too but in the long run, what will make me happier?

A blogger I read regularly is getting divorced. It saddens me more than it should, given that he’s a stranger.

I’ve been cooking Korean food the last few days. Simple Korean food (not restaurant food) really feeds more than my body; making it and eating it calms me, makes me feel rooted, and other touchy-feely bs that kinda makes me want to hurl, but there it is, undeniably making me feel good. Truly, it is comfort food.

I feel tired. I feel restless. I feel like things are changing faster than I can really take in. I don’t feel like myself, but a wimpier, weaker, whinier version of myself. This too shall pass. I’m not used to it, but it’s not like it’s a permanent state.

I recently reread my NaNoWriMo project from 2 years ago. Or has it been three years already? It wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was. Oh well. It was a learning experience, and I think I can come up with something better.

I’d like to organize my photos. I wish I had more photos as a baby.

Seppo and I talked about how amazing it was that we are where we are in life right now. I was born in my grandmom’s house, lived in houses without running water or indoor plumbing or a modern stove (cooking was done over the fire), and now I live in the Bay Area, in a great neighborhood, living a comfortable life, calling some incredible people my friends, with access to all sorts of material and cultural goods and experiences. It’s crazy. Honestly, if I thought it was just through my own hard work and not also through a series of incredibly lucky events and helpful people, I’d be the most arrogant ass on Earth.

Life, despite all the little bumps and bruises, is great. The bumps and bruises are tiny, insignificant. Our child-to-be has every chance to live to great life, and I just have to make sure he doesn’t become an entitled person, but an appreciative one. πŸ™‚

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-26

July 26, 2009   
  • RT @Taxiball: Wanna be IN Taxiball? Check this out: #
  • Got stupidly upset at finding a network of stretchmarks on the bottom of my belly after several days of not being able to see that area. #
  • Dinner of roasted chicken, grilled asparagus, and a salad completed. Reading while waiting to see if I feel up for dessert. Good day. #
  • @MJ So sweet! in reply to MJ #
  • I can't find my True Blood Netflix dvd. GAR!!! It's definitely in the house somewhere, but where? #
  • @NBB1 Did you think I was talking about Twilight? Heh. in reply to NBB1 #
  • Black Harvard prof arrested for "breaking into" own house, even showed ID to cops. Stupid Cambridge cops. via @NBB1 #
  • Yay! @helava found our Netflix dvd. #
  • It's gonna be awesome! RT @Taxiball: Something new is coming soon. If you want to keep updated, follow @selfawaregames for more info… #
  • @AngryChad The problem I have with telling everyone everything I know is that I know too much. πŸ˜‰ in reply to AngryChad #
  • @NBB1 Who & what was it? I did a search to see if I could find the person who RTed you, but got nada. in reply to NBB1 #
  • Just switched my blog back from its temporary home at back to, combing my two blogs. #
  • Now I just have to remember all the different places I had the old url hooked up and replace all instances. Heh. #
  • Just downloaded Adium beta 1.4 which hooks up to twitter. So many social networking mashups! Some will be awesome for work. #
  • @scrapper101 Will someone please think of the #newsrag children? πŸ˜‰ in reply to scrapper101 #
  • Baby is definitely making biscuits in there. By that, I mean he's doing that thing cats do, not pooping. #
  • Still don't like Tyce's work in general, but that routine was stunningly choreographed and danced. Definitely moving. #sytycd #
  • Lately, I seem to cycle between two good days and two bad days, as for how I feel physically. My joints and swollen and feel bruised. #
  • Lately, I seem to cycle between two good days and two bad days, as for how I feel physically. My joints are swollen and feel bruised. #
  • I suddenly remembered that I used to think people were saying, "I'll be it" when they were actually saying, "albeit". #
  • @scrapper101 Awww thanks!!! in reply to scrapper101 #
  • I am shaking my fist at twitter for erroneously suspended accounts. Gar! #
  • @NBB1 T_T in reply to NBB1 #
  • @NBB1 I would have thought you could see my tears of despair from where you were sitting without the aid of the internets. in reply to NBB1 #
  • @so_yun My mom still calls all her 4 kids by the wrong name at times! πŸ˜€ in reply to so_yun #
  • I hope Julia & Julia is good! #
  • Making a grocery list, checking it twice. Lots of homemade Korean food coming in the next few days. Yum! #
  • Love the price of mushrooms @ the Korean store. 2 huge things of enoki for $1, 6 king oyster mushrooms for $2. #
  • Up far, far too early for a Sunday morning. #

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Brand spanking new

July 22, 2009   

I’ve not only moved my website back and combined it with the pregnancy/baby blog, I’ve also migrated to WordPress! I have become a big fan of WP for personal blogging. It is the *cough* shizzle, as I might say if I were someone else entirely.

I think there will be some kinks to work out in the next few days, but I love the millions of plugins WP makes available so easily.

To combine or not to combine…

July 21, 2009   

I can’t figure out if I should combine my regular blog (this one) and my “Made of Family” blog… That one is nominally supposed to be a shared blog between me & Seppo *cough* but it’s hard to really segregate out parts of my life from blog to blog, especially since I’ve been blogging less frequently in the last year.


I think I might also migrate this back to and to wordpress, because I love to overload myself with optional non-projects when I have a ton of real projects to do! Hahahah! Hahah. Ha.


While I’m here, I might as well do a short little update. Earlier in the month, I turned 33. Seppo, my little brother and I went out to Lake Chabot, armed with books and some bahn mi. Here is Seppo, who has fallen sleep in the sun. The sun makes him sleep. What a strange instinct. I’d like it to be known for all posterity that Seppo made his pregnant wife and her 15 year old brother row around in the heat while he slept.

On a rowboat at Lake Chabot. on Twitpic

Ok, he rowed us out and only fell asleep for a little bit, at which point my little brother and I acted silly by rowing ineffectually.

Thursday, I did a biggish release for my project, so I took some time on Friday to drive my little bro and my coworker out to Half Moon Bay. It was a fantastic day for a short jaunt to the beach. Here is a pic I took of the water and my ginormous belly:

Took a short break to hit the beach after a big release. Yes,... on Twitpic

On Saturday, we drove the little bro to the airport after downing some awesome xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings), then headed down to Laguna Seca, where Seppo went for a ride with our coworker. Here is Seppo before the ride:

At Laguna Seca, where @helava will be riding as passenger and... on Twitpic

Here is Seppo after the ride:

Here is @helava's "I'M SO EXCITED TO BE HERE!!!" face: on Twitpic

We stopped by Monterey Bay on the way back up and had an early dinner. Sorry, no pics. :p

Tiny packages in the mail

July 21, 2009   

My family sent us a couple of packages of baby clothes! There were tops, bottoms, onsies, socks, and even one really cute hat. Yay! Thanks so much!

On Being Bilingual

July 21, 2009   

Just this week, a friend shared this article on Google Reader, resparking thoughts on raising our child bilingually.

Being bilingual myself (although my Korean could use a LOT of work), I have always valued this trait. It’s helped me to understand (although not actually speak) other languages faster than average (or so I believe), having internalized the concept of grammar, context, and situational conjugation differences in languages and cultures, not to mention untranslatable colloquialisms, since early on.

Take a simple question like, “Do you feel up to going to the library, or do you feel like going home?” which is, almost verbatim, a question I overheard my second grade teacher asking my fellow student when she was feeling sick in class one day. To someone who was trying to literally translating the sentence, as I was in my first year of having immigrated to the US, that was a completely incomprehensible sentence to me.

These were the thoughts going through my head: “feel” means “to perceive by touching”. “Up” is the direction opposite to “down”, the direction of the sky above my head. “Like” means “enjoy” or something less than “love”. So the teacher’s question made no sense to me. What did the question have to do with the fact that the student looked like they were sick? Within a matter of months, if not weeks, of the incident, the secondary meanings and the combined phrases became second nature to me, and taught me a variety of flexible linguistic guidelines, the most important of which was that I needed to be open to new guidelines that I hadn’t yet encountered.

Just on Sunday, Seppo’s lifelong friend E and his lovely wife J were in town from the east coast and dropped by to hang out with us and a couple of other friends. E’s family is fluent in French and J also speaks a fair amount of French, so they are raising their two kids bilingually, by having E speak at home exclusively in French and having J speak a combination of English and French.

I would love to do this, except with Korean, obviously, since that is the language I have the most emotional and cultural ties to, outside of English. The big challenge is that my Korean is pretty weak. My comprehension of the grammar is near perfect, but my vocabulary comprehension is horrific. My ability to speak grammatically correct is atrocious. I wish my family lived near by so that our future kid(s) could have access to people who speak pretty much perfect Korean as a natural part of their lives.

I’ve gotten in touch with an Oakland Korean American Mom & Pop group that meets nearby, because I’d love to have our child grow up with other Korean Americans around them, not just me. It’s not that I value our future child’s Korean American-ness more than his Japanese & Finnish American heritages more, but that it’s the part of his heritage that I can do the most to help define. A part of this desire is a linguistic connection that goes back millenia; a part of it is wanting my own mother and my older relatives to be able to communicate meaningfully with him; a part of it is wanting him not to reject them as strange and foreign; a part of it is wanting him to grow up with a sense of global community and not just a nationalistic sense of self.

Within my own extended family, there is a huge linguistic gulf between the first and second generation, where children and parents can’t communicate at all, not just from the growing pains of adolescence and beyond, but from the inability to form the sentences that would adequately express themselves to the other generation. There are so many things I can’t say to my parents, and that I don’t understand when they speak to me, and I’m one of the luckier ones in the family who learned & retained more Korean from actually living in Korea.

Recently, my grandmother passed away. I think about all the things I couldn’t tell her when I saw her last. I think about how when my little brother met my grandmothers in Korea for the first time, he had nothing to say to them, both because he saw them so rarely and because he didn’t have the language skills to reach across the divide, nor any motivation to try, and it makes me so sad. My relationship with them meant so much to me, but he didn’t and doesn’t have that, not that he feels the loss. You can’t miss something you never had.

But that’s the thing. I don’t want our kid to grow up never missing what he didn’t have, in terms of being around family, being around people in touch with his cultural heritages (all of them), being able to grow up with the internalized knowledge of other languages and customs. If he didn’t have them, I’m sure he wouldn’t miss them, at least until he was well into his twenties or even thirties, if ever. But I would know what he was missing out on, and I want these things for him.

I really need to learn more Korean!

In memory of my grandmother

July 14, 2009   

Dear Halmoni,

Although people will say, “She lived a long, good life,” I wish you were still here. I wish I had been able to see you one more time, hold your hand, and tell you what a wonderful childhood you helped give me.

We used to go to your house in the summers and winters. I often tell people that my time visiting you and my other grandmothers were like an idealized world of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, with farm life and clean, clear streams you could drink from, and kids running around, getting into the kind of good, clean fun that ends up in cuts, scrapes, dirty clothes, and memories to last a lifetime.

I remember still, after three decades, sitting in your lap and making you clap. I remember all the pictures of us you had posted on your wall. I remember the treats you had tucked away in the back of your lower drawer and in your pockets every time we came to visit. I remember your paper-thin skin and marveling at how fragile it looked. I couldn’t wait until I was your age and had all the dignity and fragile beauty that only age and hard-fought wisdom could bring.

You raised your kids — my father, my uncles, and my aunts — and fostered several family-less children over the decades, all on your own, a strong matriarch, a strong business woman, a kind grandmother. I know that despite all the differences my father and his siblings may have had over the years with each other(and what big family doesn’t?), they were 100% united in their love and devotion to you.

I remember playing in your front yard. I thought it was the biggest and coolest garden ever. My mom still has a picture of my sister and me playing around one of the trees in the front. I remember it well. I remember finding some secret corners of the garden that I thought no one else would ever know. I remember the feeling of being surrounded by beautiful nature, being alone yet fully a part of the world around me. I associate all these feelings with you.

I remember your outhouse! I thought it was the scariest place on earth, especially at night, with no lights on! πŸ˜€

I remember you calling us your little puppies. There were so many of us kids during the summers! Undoubtedly, we yipped around and bothered you, but you were always so patient with us. If I close my eyes now, I can almost perfectly picture your face, your home, your hands. I’ll always remember your hands.

I only wish that things had been really patched up between you and my dad in the recent years… But there is no helping that and no use regretting it. There were years of good memories between you two and I know my dad is broken with grief over your passing.

I also wish that I was sure that I was able to pass on the news that I am pregnant. I told various family members, but I never knew if you had heard. I should have called directly. What a fool I am sometimes. Sometimes, I think there is all the time in the world to pass on news, to tell people I love I love them.

Halmoni, I don’t want to spend time kicking myself. I want to spend time thinking about the lives you touched and the impact you had on my life. I never doubted that women can be strong, independent leaders because I had women like you, my other grandmothers, and my own mother to look to. I didn’t need the words that said, “You can do anything!” because it was so obvious to me from my own family. I didn’t need the words that said, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and just suck it up!” because it was so obvious from seeing all the stuff you’d gone through, seeing what my own parents had gone through in life. I didn’t need the words that said, “Don’t fear growing old,” which a lot of people seem to do, fighting it tooth and nail, because I always knew it was a part of life and that life didn’t end when you were an older person, because you were so involved in life, community, church, and business. And again, you were always so good to us kids.

I heard that when you passed, you listened for the tolling of the church bells in the morning and passed gently, with your family around you. I am so glad.

Good test results

July 10, 2009   

I was always a good test-taker. :p Just kidding. I got a call from my doctor’s office on Friday. My gestational diabetes screening test came back negative for gestational diabetes, which is positive news. πŸ™‚ My 1-hour blood draw resulted in a blood sugar level of 119 mg/dL, which is well below the 130 cutoff which would have triggered a 3-hour test. In addition, I am also not anemic. Nice!

Does this mean I should stop my no-carb, all-beef diet? πŸ˜‰ I’m totally kidding.

My stomach is huge! Huge! I need to take more pics and sort some of the pics I have on my camera by date so I can post an album of the pregnancy progress.

Have I mentioned that we’re in our third trimester now? :O

Sexism & babies

July 8, 2009   

Most people we interact with now know we are having a boy. I am excited to know but that largely has to do with being able to more concretely think of names and such. The biggest concern for me is health.

The thing that disturbs me is that even before the baby is out in the world, the world seems to greet him with its sexist notions. So many people have voiced the assumption that Seppo must be happy and that I must be bummed. Several others have said I must be glad we “don’t have to worry since [we] are getting a son out of the way with the first child,” as though there is less value in a girl or we would have kept trying until there was a boy.

Don’t get me wrong; I know most people are just trying to find something nice to say, and are fumbling for something positive and boy-specific to say in regards to the news. But it doesn’t stop the feelings of dismay from filling me up. It’s these subtle sexist notions and “innocent” comments that help prop up institutionalized sexism, and it sucks that it’s starting already.

Personal finance

July 1, 2009   

We bought a car! I have the pic in my camera, but haven’t uploaded it yet. I shall soon. We went with the Mazda3. It’s quite beautiful and I definitely love the bluetooth integration of modern cars. Heh. It has enough space for the baby (obviously) in the backseat and Mobi in the hatch, which was our biggest concern in picking out a car for our growing family, aside from the presence of air conditioning.

We sold our Civic! I took a final drive but I need to get a final picture of the car that’s served us so well for the last 7 years. *hug* We need to get it smogged and then we’ll be ready to pass it on to the new owner, who is our coworker. It is the cleanest and best maintained it’s ever been (new tires last year, 2nd 90k tuneup this year, fan fixed, rebuilt transmission last year, etc.) and I know it’ll treat the new owner well for years to come. If it weren’t for the lack of air conditioning and 4 doors, we could have kept this for another 10 years.

We are refinancing the house to a significantly lower rate, which will lower the total paid interest and potentially cut several years off the total lifetime of the loan (depending on which strategy we decide to go with)!

We still have to decide if we’ll be able to fix the upstairs bathroom before the baby arrives or not. If not, we can always wash the baby in the kitchen sink for several years. That sink is hugenormous, after all, and at a much better height for easy baby-washing, with a spray head even. πŸ™‚ The issue with fixing is both money and time. Obviously, we need to save money to be able to take time off after the baby is born, but we also need money for daycare going past that, and for various baby-related costs.

And on top of everything, the Hawaii trip is a go! You’d think we were nuts but we know this will be the last vacation we’ll be able to take in a long time. And given that in our 11 year relationship history that we’ve only really gone on two other vacations (honeymoon in 2006 and Tulum in 2007), we really wanted to make one more trip for just the two of us. Plus, the tickets only cost $10 due to years of saved up frequent flyer miles. πŸ™‚ We’ll need to book lodgings and a rental car, but it’s so nice to have the tickets for just about free.

Because I am such a skinflint, all this money spending is making my head spin and my palms sweat profusely. But I know we’ve managed to do all this very economically and with plenty of slush in our various savings accounts for emergencies, long-term savings, and planned spendings (like the car, which we’d been saving for for a while now), so I know I need to just unclench a little and breathe. Plus, the refinance actually saves us money in both the long term and on a monthly basis, so it’s the right thing to do, even with a little cash out of pocket.