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Family

Zero to six

This week has been jam packed with celebrations because my eldest daughter Ume turned six.  We held her birthday party at one of her favorite parks in Seattle, Jefferson Park.  It is a 50 + acre park with spray play area/playground, sports fields, and an adjoining golf course.  It got revamped in 2012, so everything is updated and nice.

It was a free play birthday party.  I had activities set up for the kids to do as they pleased.  The guests got to splash around in the spray park area and run around on the play structures.  Ume has never liked the attention of having people sing her happy birthday and blowing out the candles so we skipped that tradition and let our guests have cupcakes when they were ready.  I was happy that Ume played with all of her friends and had an absolute blast.

I did not expect much change in Ume in one day as she became a six year old, however I was pleasantly surprised. That night of her party when we were getting ready for bed, she casually stated that she needed a nightlight turned on because she will be sleeping by herself now that she is six years old.  Um…is this really happening?  When she was born we chose to co-sleep with her, and when she transitioned into sleeping in her own room she has always needed someone to help her go to sleep.  Brian and I have been prepping her and impatiently waiting for the day that she will be sleeping on her own and it finally came.

She had questions on what to do if she got itchy, thirsty, or had to use the bathroom.  I reassured her that she could always come into our room and we would help her with any of her needs.  Then every two minutes she needed one of those needs met until she went through the list.  The last thing she requested was to know what we would be dreaming about and then my little six year slept in her own room by herself like a real big kid!  Six is going to be a fantastic year.

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XO,

Mina

 

Family

Pitter Patter…no…Splitter Splatter

Lately I have been trying to find new fun things for Violet and I to do together while Ume is in school.  The most recent place we have been enjoying is West Seattle Art Nest.  It is an amazing art studio for kids and their grownups to get messy while being creative.  Violet loves the painting table and can spend a long time working on different projects.  They provide every imaginable art tool from glitter, to hot glue guns, to beads.

She loves going into the splatter room where you can throw paint around.  There is also an area with toys to play with when the little ones need a break from creating.  The employees are super chill and great with the kids as expected.  It has become a nice way to spend the afternoon and also a reprieve from the blazing sun.

I am starting to figure out more and more the kinds of activities that really make Violet happy.  She is our tactile child who loves to get messy and explore.  This is a great place for her to do all of that.  It is awesome to get to take the girls to different individual activities so they can each get that undivided parental attention that is so needed to develop their self esteem.  Ume has her ballet classes and Violet has her random outings with me 2-3 times a week.

I am a worrier parent, knowing that my influences on my children are going to last longer than these singular moments.  All the interactions I have with them will impact their personality in their future, the whole nature vs nurture debate.  Sure, there are days when I want to just relax at home and not engage in any educational activities for my kids but I try to get myself out of that head space.  To give them a fighting chance to be well rounded people.  Ume always confuses adult with person.  I have to remind her she is already a person but she consistently argues, “No I am not, I am a kid”.  Maybe she is right.  Her person is still developing and it is my job to make sure both of my kids have all the tools to become thriving people.

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XO,

Mina

 

Family Thoughts

My Mother

Mother’s Day is a great day to honor all the maternal figures who have touched my life but especially my own mother. After having children of my own I now can relate to her more.  I am able to look back into the memories of my life and her role as my mother with a new perspective.  It took me until my adult years to realize how amazing my mother truly is. When I was an adolescent she was the one who took the brunt of all my emotions; she was the one person that I could be my sorely awful self.  Yet she still loved me, heck probably still liked me too.  That is the love of a mother that she showed me.  However terrible I was to her she saw through it and dealt with my aggressions because she loved me unconditionally.

Some of my childhood difficulties stemmed from growing up in a different culture than my parents and trying to navigate between both views.  My parents never fully enculturated in the American culture but adapted enough to live here.  My father was strict and regimented where my mother was flexible and understanding.  She did not create a barrier between us by forcing a facade of hierarchical respect that is typically in the Korean culture. The kind of barrier where you did not share your true self with each other; an imaginary wall that valued persona higher than authenticity.  She allowed me to be me.

It is tough to look back and know how much stress and anguish I must have put her through being an unruly Gemini.  I wasn’t a complete deviant but I definitely was not your ideal child in the eyes of Korean society.  Thankfully I did not shame my parents but I wish I could have been better.  I wish I could have shown more appreciation at an earlier age, grew up quicker, know what I know now.  These are not unique wishes but they are still mine.

The only thing to do is be better now.  To shower my mother with the appreciation that she deserves not just on Mother’s Day but every day.  Today I am reminded to show gratitude for my mother for all of the sacrifices she has made for my family.  To thank her for all the life support she has given me over the years.  I am truly grateful and only hope that my girls will be impacted by my love for them as I have been by my mother.

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XO,

Mina

 

Family

Off to the farm we go

Uemera learned a new concept at school, persuasion.  With learning this new word she is trying to persuade us to get her a bunny.  She comes home every day with different tactics to try to convince us to buy her a bunny.  I am not budging.  We already have a cat and a fish so we are tapped out in the pet department.  In our discussion of not getting a bunny I casually told her we can pet a bunny at a petting zoo.  Of course now going to the petting zoo is all she wants to do this weekend.  Brian is in Texas for a marketing conference for the next few days so it is a girls weekend for us!  In thinking of going to the zoo with both of the kids by myself and what that would entail I had to think of another plan.

Going to the farm sounded like a better plan.  Fox Hollow Farm is in Issaquah which is about 40 minutes away and is small enough to not be overwhelming, but also has a lot of fun activities for the kids to make it worth it.  I invited our framily (family + friends) Sandra and her two girls.  Her husband Jason is also in Texas with Brian so it was a perfect time for us ladies to get together for an impromptu play date.

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The farm is set up with lots of barn areas where you can pet and feed the animals.  There is this cute miniature farm house area where the kids can go inside, play house, and go down slides attached to the houses.  There is a mini train that you can ride, motorized jeeps to drive, and pony rides!  Also there is an inflatable bouncy house and a corn pit.  Violet especially loved the corn pit so we spent a lot of time in it. She ended up with corn kernels inside her onesie.

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Ume found bunnies to pet!

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Coincidentally, Brian rode an animal today too.  When in Texas you ride a longhorn bull.

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It was a great day at the farm and a great way for Uemera to learn about persuasion but more importantly compromise.  It was a win win day for everyone.  I hope this satisfied her desire to have a pet bunny.  We will see in the upcoming days what else she will try to persuade us into.

XO,

Mina

Family

My baby is no longer a baby

We made it!  Violet is two years old today and I am happy and a little sentimental because she is officially a toddler in my eyes.  Sure the technical term of toddler is when a baby begins to walk hence “toddle” around, but I always considered her a baby until now.  The next milestone is the terrible twos but I believe she already had the ornery ones, so things won’t be so different.  Hopefully it won’t get worse, but if it does we will deal with it the best we can knowing she will eventually grow out of this stage.

Violet is our spirited daredevil kid.  She is brave and brash but also very sweet and reserved at times.  She loves the songs, If You Are Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.  She has a blast dancing and already has a great sense of rhythm.  She does not like “Mommy and Me” classes; I don’t think she likes the structure of the classes and would rather explore independently. She is in a bashful stage so she doesn’t like people looking at her until she has warmed up to you.  If you have food she may warm up to you quicker.  She has a ferocious appetite and is a fun lunch date most of the time.  She loves to play with bark and really anything sensorial and tactile.  Getting messy and dirty is the best!

Our cat Juno imprinted on her, so they have a special relationship where he would never bat at her with his paws or scratch her on purpose.  At first we were nervous having her close to him because he has swatted at Ume, but he will let Violet pet him and grab him without any negative reaction.  It is actually very sweet to watch.  Juno was my first baby and with the addition of kids he has taken a back seat to them.  He has regained his position back into the family.

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For her birthday celebration we took the family to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA.  It is an indoor water park resort, so you have to stay the night or be a guest of someone staying the night to enjoy the water park.  We all had a blast playing in the water and eating dinner at The Lodge Wood Fired Grill.  Violet was so beat from a full day of splashing around that she fell asleep before we had the birthday cake.

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I am excited to see what this next year in Violet’s life will be like, how much she will grow and change. Just like every parent watching their children grow, normal developmental changes are an amazing feat and the best things to observe.  The awe and the magic of it all does not seize.

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XO,

Mina

Family

I was scary mommy today

Today was one of THOSE days.  Actually it has been one of THOSE weeks.  The kind of days when I have to turn in my super hero cape and realize my parenting sometimes sucks.  You ever have a day when you are out of sync, the littlest things set you off, PMS is kicking in and it only takes one more annoyance before you are really set off?  Imagine having all of that and then dealing with two kids having their own emotional meltdowns.  The end result is not pretty.

I was in my funk and the baby was in her funk, then Ume added her funk.  I was screaming inside and using my authoritative mommy tone a little too much in one day.  It gets Ume to stand a little straighter but is she really learning?  I try to have this deep conversation with her about how she needs to listen better, how I don’t want to have to tell her multiple times before she actually listens to me and her eyes just well up and the waterworks begin.  This day it was asking her to get a book to read, she drags, stays on her iPad, messes with Violet; I ask her again to get a book to read, she grabs a drink, plays with her Shopkins, continues to drag.  After the third time of asking, I really blow up.

Granted this has become a pattern of having to ask her multiple times before she gets things done, but the tasks are very minimal in importance.  Collectively the underlining theme is that she doesn’t listen.  How important is that to me?  Do I really need her to jump when I say jump and drop what she is doing when I call on her.  That just serves my purpose but then I am not valuing her purpose.

Yesterday when I picked her up from school she wanted to play on the playground.  I said yes and she ran off.  The playground is always chaotic after school with all the students there at once, so it takes me a while to scan the structure to locate her.  I can’t find her so I broaden my search and I find her by the school building messing with her teachers.  That really made me upset because I have already let her know that if we are in public and she is playing in one area, she needs to ask me if she can go to another area so I don’t lose her.

I remind her to let me know if she is leaving the playground so I always know where she is.  I let her play again in the playground.  Sure enough I am watching her like a hawk, she goes off the playground again and is back by the school building.  This time “scary mommy” kicks in.  I grab her attention and let her know that she did not listen to me and that we are now leaving.  I continue to lecture her on the importance of letting me know at all times where she is and the safety issue it presents.

In this case Ume not listening was an important issue.  The idea of not knowing where she is or losing her in public freaks me out.  It is an experience that I don’t want to have and I really try to make my message clear to her.  She ultimately cries and tells me “mommy you are making me cry”.  I do not feel bad for this. Okay Ume you are having an emotion because I scolded you, but this is an important lesson.  You will live.

This is an ongoing battle that I have with her that I am pretty sure is not rare.  As she gets older I am sure we will have some epic arguments where she will be calling me a “nag” or a terrible expletive.  I hope by then we can figure out how to communicate with each other so I won’t be the mom who drives herself crazy by hounding her kids every day.  I wish every day I can have the patience to guide my children to be the best of themselves.  Reality sets in.  You can’t be the best YOU all the time and that is okay.  Today was just the type of day when I needed her to listen to me and do what I needed her to do without any negotiation or back talk.  Alas, I look at the time and realize that the day is ending soon.  It is comforting to know that the trauma from today can be washed away and we can start fresh again tomorrow.

XO,

Mina

 

 

Family Food

Jelly beans are the Easter Bunny’s poop

Easter Sunday is a magical day, a day we get to tell our children about the Easter Bunny.  How just like Santa, if they are good children they may get a nice gift surprise in the form of a basket filled with goodies. Ridiculous I know, but the joy it gives my children is worth the little white lie.  It shapes a world that is filled with sparkle and shine; more goodness than gloom.  I want my kids to have the opportunity to see the world this way, knowing that as they grow up their perspective will change.

The day began with a nice brunch made by my sister-in-law and myself.  I made a simple sausage, egg, and hash brown casserole, a variation of my recipe is here.  Chrisann made the fluffiest banana pancakes with a strawberry topping.  Violet discovered bacon for the first time and ate only bacon and strawberries. Our bellies and hearts were filled up and then we all enjoyed watching the girls hunt for eggs.

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I hope you all had a great Easter Sunday however you celebrated!

XO,

Mina

 

Family

Rub a dub dub

Bath time.  It has become my 15 minute break away from the kids.  We have followed this routine where Brian takes on the lead to give the kids a bath and it is glorious.  I get a few minutes to sit on the couch in peace or go on my computer/ipad/iphone and zone out.  I take it as my government issued break; a parental right to take a mommy time out.

Brian took the initiative to give them baths when Violet was a baby.  I think he wanted to create a specific caregiving duty that he can do because I had all this time to bond with her while breastfeeding.  I’m sure I would have gladly given up diaper changes, nail clipping, or napping the kids, but I am happy he took this on.  He is actually pretty good at changing diapers and will never say no if I ask him to do it.

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I never knew that having 15 minutes alone time would make such a difference.  In any job that you do, that 15 minute break to log off, step outside, decompress is so needed for your sanity and believe me folks motherhood is a job.  A beautiful extremely rewarding job, but it takes a lot of work.  In 15 minutes I can actually eat a cookie without grubby hands taking it way from me; I can listen to my Spotify loud and add more to my playlists; I can finish writing my blog posts and actually stay focused within my thoughts.

The break is needed for fathers as well.  I have much respect to the men who take care of their kids and who are great parenting partners.  It is a balancing and juggling act to read off your partner and know when to tap in and get in the ring with the kids.  If you don’t feel like you are getting enough help from your partner, then just ask!  If you stay quiet then you will make yourself miserable and it will create a bigger problem.

There you have it, my two cents as I take my 15 minute break.  It is a short time to be alone and it can get interrupted by paying attention to the commentary in the bathroom, but sometimes when you have one of those days when being an adult is difficult and modeling appropriate behavior is just tough, 15 minutes is all you need to untwist your head around and become normal again.

XO,

Mina

Family

Rain rain come and stay

Living in Seattle, you definitely get used to rainy weather.  I don’t really mind the rain.  It makes Washington green and lush with vegetation, and it cleans the air.  Of course being outside in the rain is not ideal, especially with little ones.  It can make us a little stir crazy being cooped up at home.  Here are my top five places to take my toddler on a rainy day during the week.

  1.   Toddler gyms at the Community Center: Seattle Parks & Recreation transform their community center gyms in different neighborhoods into a toddler play area.  They have bouncy houses, toys, balls, trikes and push bikes to play with for a $3 entry fee.  These are geared toward kids five years old and younger and are usually opened for 3 hours at various times and days in the week. Violet has a lot of fun at these toddler gyms and we love having play dates there with other mommy friends.
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    Jefferson Community Center

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  2. Lunch at kid friendly restaurants:  This is nice to do in any weather but if you can find a restaurant that has a kid play area, that is a score during a rainy day.  I like taking Violet to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe in West Seattle.  It is a vegan restaurant and although I am not vegan I do like taking breaks from eating animal products.  All of the food there is scrumptious from amazing smoothies, baked goods, to yummy sandwiches and veggie/protein bowls. There is a small play area with a train table, chalkboard, building blocks, and books.  It can be expensive because the food is organic, but I rationalize the cost due to the quality of the food and the use of the play area.  FullSizeRender IMG_6865
  3. Children’s museums:  The kids and I like the Seattle Children’s Museum and the KidsQuest Museum.  The Seattle Children’s Museum is great because there are a lot of different hands-on exhibits to learn and play.  It is a huge museum where they can explore a mountain, go shopping at a grocery store, and learn about different cultures.  It is a fun place for both my toddler and my kindergartener.  After exploring all the exhibits, the kids like to make messy projects in the art studio. Then we go upstairs to the Center House now called The Armory, and grab lunch at either Mod Pizza or Skillet.  The KidsQuest Museum in Factoria Mall is also great, although smaller of the two museums. There are a lot of exciting and educational exhibits there, that are different from the Seattle Children’s Museum. They have an awesome water works area, a tree house to climb in, and a spacious toddler fun zone.  Also being in Factory Mall I have access to many different restaurants, plus I can shop at Target or Nordstrom Rack.  Both of my kids love it here too.

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    Seattle Children’s Museum

  4. Indoor playgrounds:  There are numerous indoor playgrounds that are a 20-30min drive away.  I usually go to Playdate Sea which has a great large play structure and attached cafe.  Violet is too young to play on her own but I don’t mind going through the play structure with her.  She loves going down the big slides with me.  The cafe has pizza and sandwiches, snacks, lattes, and even beer/wine. Lately I have also been taking Violet to Funtastic Playtorium in Factoria Mall.  It is a newer play area next to the museum that in addition to a play structure, there is an exclusive toddler area. Fancy huh? Violet likes having her own area to not be toppled by the big kids.
  5. Bookstores and libraries:  We love going to our local Barnes and Noble in Westwood Village.  In the Children’s book area there is a train table to play with and a nice seating area to look at books together.  There is also a Starbucks cafe inside to sit down and enjoy a treat.  At our local library there are toddler story times usually in the morning to attend and listen to a great book together and with other kiddos.  Plus it is free!

These are the five places we go to when we need to get out of the house on a rainy day.  Some are more convenient than others; either due to location, cost, and considering the length of time we have.  I try to mix it up so we don’t get bored.

XO,

Mina

Family Thoughts

He said she said

Last week I volunteered at Ume’s school in the afternoon and I was told by the office assistant that there had been an incident at school with Ume and another classmate.  She had my attention; she explained that she stepped in when she saw a commotion between the students and Ume was really upset and crying. When asked what had happened, a few students said that Ume punched another student in the stomach. My eyes got huge, this did not sound like my child.  The adult did not see this happen, just the aftermath of the disruption.  After Ume was able to settle down and stop crying, she explained that her classmate was tickling her and she told her to stop many times.  Then Ume was spinning and spinning, got dizzy, and fell into the other student by accident.  The other student didn’t agree or disagree to either allegations.  The adult had them both say sorry to each other, which took a while to get the other student to say it loud enough for them to hear it.  She explained to the kids that the school has a hands off policy so that both students should apologize and then move on with their day.  Ume knew I was coming to school to volunteer, so she asked the adult to tell me about the situation.

I was instantly shocked at the allegation from the other students, because for sure Ume did not punch the kid.  Brian and I try to work with her on protecting herself from Violet all the time.  Violet will go after her with a toy hammer and hit her with it; Ume would sit there and let Violet hit her and just cry.  We are trying to teach her to protect herself, take the weapon away from Violet, and/or move away and call us for help.  Her reasoning is that she doesn’t want Violet to cry.  That is my kid.  Super sensitive and emotional. A true Cancer.

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Ume letting Violet step all over her.

This made me think about situations that happen in every day life where people don’t have all the facts, but they make assumptions that lead to accusations.  This then perpetuates rumors and false information to be spread.  We are all guilty of doing it at some time in our lives.  It is really interesting seeing it from a kids’ perspective, no one has clear facts but they tell a story even if they didn’t see it.  Surely the other students did not see Ume punch the other kid but what made them say that?  Ume spins around all the time because she loves to be dizzy, so I can see that happening.  It can make a kid look like a bully who isn’t or a kid get in trouble without any true reason.  Thank goodness teachers and adults who work with children are used to this behavior and have the skills to mediate these types of situations.

When I showed up in class, Ume looked happy like nothing abnormal happened that day.  I did my duties as the math volunteer and when I went around to stations.  One of Ume’s classmates asked if she wanted her to tell me what happened earlier.  Ume said no, but the student proceeded to tell me “Ume punched someone in the stomach”.  I kindly let her know that I knew what had happened and that we will talk about it later.  Then Ume’s friend chimed in and said, “That is not what happened, it was an accident”.  I refocused the students and we finished with the task at hand.

On the ride home from school, I asked Ume what had happened and at first she said she didn’t want to talk about it.  After a little more coaxing, she opened up and explained it from her side.  It was not a big deal for her and she moved on to tell me about the rest of her day.  I am happy she has the resilience to move on and hold no grudges.  It was the first of many more situations to occur when there is conflict and she may need an an adult to intervene.  We are learning how to do this together.

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XO,

Mina