Posted by: MySlantedView | August 19, 2013

The Mailbox

I remember growing up on a street where we knew everyone’s name.  We would wave to our neighbors, run to friend’s houses, and all the parents would look after the kids.  I love Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Wait Till Next Year” because it depicted a great neighborhood with strong friendships.  

As I grew older, my family moved two more times and each neighborhood was slightly less friendly than the last.  There would always be at least two reliable neighbors but the rest?  We just kept our distance or would refer to them as the boat neighbors, the multi-car neighbors, the elderly couple, etc.

It didn’t help that the houses my parents purchased were in the middle of the block.  It wasn’t a typical block and we didn’t see our neighbors as often.  From time to time, we would exchange pleasantries while we were out for a walk but otherwise we kept to ourselves.  It was the start of the silo process.

I married a man who lives in the suburbs and his first home was surrounded by rental properties and apartments.  Tenants came and went frequently and most of them also kept to themselves.  He knew a couple of the neighbors but he also was a homebody and not a huge conversationalist.

Fast forward a few years — we moved into a home that started off pretty much the same way — everyone keeping to themselves.  We had two neighbors that would come over and introduce themselves.  In fact, one of them had us over for dinner.  

One thing we originally didn’t like about our neighborhood was the fact that it had a locked mailbox at the end of the street.  This meant, we couldn’t grab our mail outside our door but had to “trek” to the mailbox instead.  Who knew that a mailbox would play such a pivotal role in our neighborhood?  We would bump into neighbors, say hello, exchange pleasantries, and soon it morphed into great conversation.  

I have to admit that I am a nosy neighbor.  I am a stay at home Mom and I will scrutinize anything “unusual” on our block.  I will also strike up a conversation with anyone and next thing you know — I’m co-block captain for our neighborhood watch.

Now we know everyone on our block.  Does it means we’re all bosom buddies?  No.  However, we have had more than one neighbor over for dinner.  My son will have play dates with the other neighbor kids and the feel of a neighborhood is coming together.

It all started with the mailbox.  I’m happy for my son’s sake that our street has such a friendly tone.  I’m happy that potentially crime will be thwarted by having a block watch.  I am happy that I have my entire street’s contact numbers (a first for me) to make sure no one messes with our neighborhood.  I’m happy that we are living the American Dream of having a home, a brown fence (sorry, we didn’t opt to have a white one), more than one multi-racial couple on our block, and friendships that will (hopefully) last a lifetime.

It might not be Doris Kearns Goodwin’s childhood street but hopefully we are getting back to that point very soon.

Posted by: MySlantedView | July 16, 2013

Learning to Relax

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Easygoing, laid back, carefree — these are words that you will not hear when a friend, family member, or colleague describes me.  I am definitely an A type personality when it comes to schedules and I have a tendency to take on more than I can handle.  This is obvious in the way I appear stressed out to my husband and now my 3 year old son is seeing it too.  

I need to stop and change my appearance and attitude about accomplishing tasks, getting onto the next project, and trying to get everything done.  One of my friends on Facebook shared a link and it had a strong impact on me.  It’s a blog titled, “Hands Free Mama” (www.handsfreemama.com) and it was as if today’s blogpost was written for me.  My day is very chaotic and 80% of that craziness is self imposed.  

Each day I pick up my son and rush him to the vehicle so that we can pick up my husband at the nearby train station.  If the weather is hot or raining, I am rushing my son to hurry up and sit down so that I can buckle him into the carseat.  It is easy to say, “hurry up” or “let’s get moving” or “we’re going to be late” or “I don’t want Daddy to wait.” — it’s harder to let my son enjoy the afternoon — let him take his time getting seated or just relish in the conversation between me and my son who is growing up way too fast.  There are days when he will make me feel terrible by saying, “Mommy, you’re being grumpy.”  I am quickly ashamed of my reaction but still feel rushed — I will apologize and keep trucking along.

I need to remove distractions — internet, iPhone, television — focus on the two most important people in my life — my husband and my son.

I look forward to the day when someone will use the word easygoing, laid back, and carefree to describe me.  We went camping this past weekend and the above photo was taken at Dosewallips State Park in Washington State.  It was easy to relax and take in the beauty of our surroundings…I need to look at photos like that and remember that life is too short to worry about a “to do” list.

Posted by: MySlantedView | June 4, 2013

Really?

Really?

I first came across this video because my brother-in-law and friend “liked” this video on Facebook.  Then I came across an article on NPR (http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/06/01/187568851/if-this-cute-cheerios-ad-causes-drama-what-wont) that shared how Cheerios had to disable the comment option because of the backlash this video received.

I am an Asian woman whose parents are both Asian.  As a young girl, I always imagined that I too would marry an Asian man and have Asian children…not because of anything racial — I just thought I would grow up like my parents.  I dated one Asian man and it was on a blind date — needless to say, neither of us were interested in pursuing it further but it was the only “date” that truly excited my parents.  Communicating with another Korean family would have been easier for my parents and not having to always explain the customs we abide by.

I ended up falling in love with a blonde, blue eyed, Heinz 57 mix blue collar working man.  Most of the time, I don’t even realize that we are an inter-racial couple until I crave Seoul food, speak Korean, or visit a town where I am literally the only minority figure.  I don’t see a lot of multi-racial families on TV, commercials, nor magazines.  There’s more and more — usually on “House Hunters” where a multi-racial couple try to find a home.  Does it bother me?  No.  Do I want to see more of it?  Honestly, I’m indifferent.  

When I saw the Cheerios video — I just thought it was cute and yes — I immediately noticed the little girl saying “Mommy” to a Caucasian woman but it didn’t conjure up any feelings other than — the Dad must be African-American.  If anything, I just thought what a cute little girl and how sweet that she was thinking of her Daddy’s heart health.

As our light brown haired, blue-eyed (yes…I said blue eyed) toddler grows — I wonder what reaction his friends/teachers will have when they meet his Mom who is obviously Korean.  Will they be shocked, surprised, indifferent, etc?  As long as they treat me like a human and with respect…I honestly don’t care.

In a world where multi-racial families are growing, I was surprised at the sensitivity of the audience seeing this video.  We might have come a long way but it shows that we still have a long way to go.

I look forward to the day when race is used in terms of a track meet and not in terms of color…then Martin Luther King Jr’s dream might come true.

Posted by: MySlantedView | May 5, 2013

Box

I am the first to admit it — I have the propensity to see issues in absolute terms.  Gray is a color that I do not care for at all.  Yet when it comes to defining me as an individual — I HATE boxes.  Now, I try not to use the word “hate” — I can hear my Mom telling me that I should substitute the phrase, “I don’t care for” in lieu of “hate” but I HATE boxes.  

First, there is the age box.  Marking this box only reminds me that I am getting older.  It’s as if the aches and pains in my body along with the white hairs on my head fail to get the point across.  Then there is the race box.  To my knowledge, I am 100% Korean.  So, the “Asian” box works just fine.  I am now married to a “Caucasian” male and our son doesn’t quite fit into the neat “box” options.  I guess there’s “other” but that almost suggests that he isn’t a recognizable individual.  I guess he’ll mark “Asian” or “Caucasian” as it benefits the situation.  Then there is the marital status box.  Another reminder to those who are single, widowed, divorced, or separated that they are alone and probably would prefer the alternative.  Finally, there is the income box — thank you for reminding me that I make peanuts.

Why are we defining our society within the limits of a box?  I’m sure for polling, etc — these factors are important.  After all, they talk about the women and Latino vote along with certain age groups.  It’s just that I feel we should be embracing our individuality and using the box method as little as possible.  With so many interracial couples and self employed individuals — it is becoming harder to define people within such lines.

Maybe I should just keep my mouth quiet and select the “I hate boxes” option or “grumpy” as which Snow White dwarf I most identify with when it comes to boxes.  

I just want my son to be known for his character — not his race, age, salary, or creed.

Posted by: MySlantedView | April 27, 2013

Leaning In or Out?

There has been a lot of conversation regarding women in the workforce lately.  Whether it is the Gabrielle Reece interview on “Rock Center” or Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In:  Women, Work, And the Will to Lead.”  — the same conversation that has been taking place for decades is receiving additional attention.  

I grew up in a traditional household where my Dad worked and my Mom became a stay-at-home wife once they became married.  My Mom was always home for us three girls and how she did it…I will never know.  I grew up wanting the same type of lifestyle for me — grow up, get married, stay home, and have babies…in that order.  While I was single, dating, or shortly after I became married — I had a strong drive to move up the ranks for more money, prestige, and responsibility.  I had no problem stepping on toes, berating someone down, or putting in tons of extra hours to get noticed in a positive way.  ALL of that changed the day I became pregnant.  

I understand that each individual reacts differently to pregnancy and motherhood but from the first ultrasound to my first sight of our son — I knew I wanted to be home with him.  It is our reality that we are a two income family but my office is relocating in a few months and we are reevaluating whether I can add 20 miles to my commute one way.  Thankfully, my husband understands that I never wanted to be a working mother and we are hoping that I can stay home until my son goes to school.

Don’t get me wrong, the additional money is great and it affords us additional luxuries.  Is all that worth giving up 10 hours of my day while my son is at daycare?  There hasn’t been one minute that I haven’t regretting dropping my son off and trusting his well being and education to literal strangers.  

Once our son starts 1st grade, I hope to find a part time job to supplement my husband’s income but right now — I am only looking forward to the day when it’s me and my little buddy.

Leaning In or Out?  I leaned in as long as I could and I’m ready to lean out.  Leaning towards my son and family are the most important things in my life — no job, no title is more elegant than that of wife and mother.

Posted by: MySlantedView | April 4, 2013

Time for Church

As a young girl, I remember attending Sunday School regularly and then worship service as a family.  We attended Awana and Vacation Bible School as kids and enjoyed it a lot.  I fell away from the church during my high school and college years only to find myself returning once I met my then-boyfriend and now-husband.  

I credit my husband for putting me on the spot when I shared that my faith was important to me.  He asked how was it important since I wasn’t attending church regularly.  To be clear, he attended church just as often as I did (Christmas and Easter) but I am thankful that he asked the question because it prompted us to talk about our faith and our desire for the future.

Once we became serious in our relationship, we church shopped until we found one that we felt comfortable attending.  It happened to be the one my husband went to as a child and his parents were and are still active members of the congregation.  Our attendance was regular and it became the exception versus the norm for us to be there each Sunday and during the mid-week Lenten services too.

Our son will be turning 3 soon and he started Sunday School this past fall for the first time.  As he continues to grow, I hear/watch other parents talk about juggling home and school.  I watch them struggle to make family time while involving their children in extra curricular activities that encourage their interest whether it is recreational or school related.  I also see fewer and fewer children coming to Sunday School and attend worship service.  As a parent, I am reminded of our son’s baptismal vow to encourage him to walk in God’s way, learn His word, and helping him grow in his Christian faith.  It’s easy for us to do it now — he’s only 2 and has no other activities minus a birthday celebration here or there (by the way, we do not attend birthday parties that conflict with church).  My concern is how will I choose which activity he will attend as he gets older?  His Wednesday communion lesson at church vs school activities — what if he becomes involved in sports?  There will be the occasional exception when we will miss church but I don’t want church to move from the front burner to the back burner.  

Perhaps I am concerning myself TOO much about things that aren’t an issue but that is my nature — worry, worry, and worry some more.  I know it is a sin to worry and I pray about it…until then — any suggestions?  Encouraging words?  Anyone?

 

Posted by: MySlantedView | March 21, 2013

A Huge Expense

There are a lot of books preparing you for conception, pregnancy, even the first few years of your child’s life but nothing tells you that the price of daycare will cost you an arm and a leg.  Seriously, there are times when I feel like I’m supposed to bend over and just take it when I’m writing the check.

I was really surprised how many of our friends use their parents to care for their children versus a daycare facility.  Many use nannies, home daycares, and family while we use a traditional daycare center.  Using a daycare was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made — I never wanted to be a working Mom while my child was an infant/toddler.  I imagined re-entering the workforce once the kids entered school.  

We started paying about $1200 a month when our son was an infant and we are now paying about $1050 as a toddler.  My friends who live 30 minutes away but in the most populous county are paying about $1400 a month.  How anyone can afford to have more than one child is beyond me.  I want the facility and employees to be paid and the grounds to be maintained; however, this is our second biggest expense only behind our house mortgage.  

As an Asian American, culturally the grandmothers or mothers would watch the children versus the use of a daycare resource.  The families that pay nannies or family — how much cheaper is it and is there truly a benefit of home daycare versus a class that is full of other toddlers the same age?  Are there repercussions regarding social and language development for these children?

Every once in a while, I will become speechless when I have to write out the daycare checks.  How I long for the day when I can be a stay-at-home Mom and lose that expense…then again, I would also be losing a second income.  Choices, choices, choices…no book warned me about this.

Posted by: MySlantedView | March 17, 2013

From Race to Gender

There have been a lot of articles in the news lately surrounding same sex marriage, allowing same sex couples to adopt children, and extending privileges that are currently enjoyed by heterosexual couples to same sex couples.  When did discrimination shift from race to gender?  There appears to be a big surge in reviewing and discussing their rights.  Are people tired of discussing race or are they just looking for a new issue to tackle?

There are many issues that require our attention and need changing. As a conservative individual, I’m just not positive that same sex issues should be that topic. The economy, healthcare, and foreign issues (in my humble opinion) bear greater weight than discussing gays/lesbians.

I know that my slanted view isn’t popular and may result in some unkind thoughts about me but one of the things I love about this country is our ability to have an independent opinion. All individuals regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation are entitled to basic rights — I just don’t believe that marriage and the ability to adopt children are among them.

Posted by: MySlantedView | March 6, 2013

Success

Recently I had coffee with a friend and we swapped first time Mom stories with one another.  My friend became serious when she shared that her 20 month old recently visited a speech therapist.  She was obviously concerned about her son’s development and although I tried to reassure her that her son was too young to measure his vocabulary, she could not be persuaded.  That night, I shared our conversation with my husband over dinner.  He brought up a interesting question — how do we define success?

Our son is learning two languages — I’m not fluent in my native tongue but he is picking up a lot of words.  His speech (in my opinion) is not as well developed as that of his buddies in daycare.  I often blame it on the fact that he is hearing things said in two different way or that he is a boy or that he was born early.  When I pick my son up from daycare, I can hear his friends speaking in complete sentences while my little guy toggles between fragment land and full sentences.  As a first time parent, I am constantly comparing him to other children.  Though I know this is completely unfair, I cannot help it.  

My husband said that my friend should enjoy being a first time Mom and not be too concerned with her perceived lack of development.  He continued to share that our society judges in terms of quantity and forgets that perhaps we should just enjoy life.  The example he used was comparing salaries.  Our society will say that a man making $100,000 is more successful than someone making $60,000.  But the question is —  who is happier?  If the man making less is happier then maybe he is the more successful person.  Perhaps instead of judging how much one makes, we should judge how much he saves…401K?  Savings?  CDs?  We often read articles how someone has no debt and is able to live comfortably on $45,000 — they seem quite a bit happier than the one who makes $100,000 and is paying a mortgage, car, and student loan payment.

This made me think about how I value success — how much work I get accomplished or the quality of work completed?  How much time I spend with my son versus the average parent or what we accomplish during that time instead?  The number of social events on the calendar or the number of true friends in my corner?

Food for thought…how do you measure success?

Posted by: MySlantedView | February 22, 2013

“Thy Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor”

It’s hard not to compare myself with my sisters, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even strangers.  I am constantly comparing things such as my engagement ring, our newly acquired vehicle, my husband’s looks, our adorable son, and even as something as materialistic as my purse.  

I have been quite satisfied and content with my life.  I am blessed to have the love of a good man, the cutest son in the world, a good job, health benefits, no debt (outside of our mortgage), and an amazing support group between our family and friends.  Of course there are things I would love to have or modify things in my life (i.e. my weight) but the Bible verse regarding coveting thy neighbor has come up a lot lately.

You see, I’m going to be 38 and our son will be 3 in 4 months.  It seems like everyone and their sister is pregnant and I have been struggling to get pregnant since the birth of our son.  I would love for our son to have a sibling.  Someone to be his friend throughout life, someone to support him when my husband and I have passed, someone to commiserate about how Mom was crazy about this and Dad was silly about that, and a lifelong playmate.  

I’m ashamed that I am not grateful for my many blessings and I should be praying for my pregnant friends for their unborn child’s safe journey to its due date.  

Why is it that we are never satisfied with what we have in our life?  If we won $100, we gripe that it should have been more.  If I get a raise, instead of being happy with what I received, I feel that I should have received more.  If I lose a pound, I curse myself for not losing two.  We want the closest parking spot, best price, best seat, and first dibs on anything.  Our selfish society have carried over into our private and professional lives where all we do is want, want, and want.

I need to pray for myself and ask God for forgiveness — thank him for blessing me with so many wonderful things.  I will also ask God to help me change my selfish ways and to be happy for those with different possessions/blessings.

Won’t you pray for me too?

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