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Friday, March 6, 2020

Flashback Friday: Shopping with Kids

Reading at Costco Brotherly Love
E (3) and O (17 months)
5 years ago on March 7, 2015


I don't accomplish many of my goals that I set, but two years ago I wanted to start reading more. One book led to two, which made me aim for reading one book per month. Twelve a year seems feasible, even with a slow reader like myself. Around the same time, E was discovering chapter books and gaining confidence in reading on his own. I wanted to set a good example for him, and two years later we share our favorite books with each other. As a kid, I was not a book worm by any means. My parents didn't give me the resources, and my reading was limited to borrowing books from the school library. I have been making up for my lacking childhood and living vicariously through my own children. I have become passionate about children's book, carefully curating a library for E & O. I hope that I have been able to provide them with a love for books and learning.

Bedtime Books

I've had a slow start this year, and honestly I haven't finished a single book yet. I'm currently reading two books and taking lots of breaks. For every book that I have read, there are probably one or two more that I couldn't get into. 

So here's a glimpse into the books I read last year. Let's hope that this visual accomplishment will give me the motivation to finish a few books this year.

Books Read in 2019

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
All That You Leave Behind: A Memoir by Erin Lee Carr
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
Becoming by Michelle Obama

Books Read in 20193-41C7-AD11-97D5EC91A2CC

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort
The Night of the Gun by David Carr
I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan by Khalida Brohi
Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Calypso by David Sedaris

Books Read in 2019 

Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey by GB Tran
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
Cribsheet by Emily Oster
The Shanghai Free Taxi by Frank Langfitt
The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation by Jodie Patterson
Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir by Jayson Greene

Books Read in 2019

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmare (A Memoir) by Aarti Namdev Shahani
Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self Love by Jonathan Van Ness
When I Was White: A Memoir by Sarah Valentine
Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

There's a theme of memoirs, coping with grief, non-fiction, graphic novels, and minority American authors. I get a lot of recommendations from NPR, especially listening to interviews with Terry Gross from Fresh Air.

When was the last time you read a book?

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Random Thoughts on Thursdays

Some random thoughts that are less depressing but still on my mind:
  • I'm enjoying this stage of learning and growth in both of my kids and so amazed by these little humans.
  • Solo parenting is f*cking hard.
  • I finally wrote a to do list, which I haven't done in the past few weeks. Hoping it gives me motivation to get sh*t done.
  • Someone recently asked what I do all day while the kids are in school. It made me feel crappy, and I haven't stopped thinking about that question.
  • I teach my kids some weird stuff -- how white authors financially benefit from telling stories or analyzing people of color, the maternal mortality rate among black mothers, warning them of possible bullying and racism in relation to the coronavirus, definition of being spoiled and how it results in many flawed character traits (I may have used real people as examples)
  • Wondering how I can deal with toxic people and not letting them bother me (No, I can't get rid of them. Boo.)
  • I have been on and off with keeping up with the election. In the end, we just all want someone who will beat Trump, right?
  • Reflecting on some of my favorite books by Asian American authors that I've read in the past 2 years
  • Currently reading Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Accepting my Depression

originally written on January 7, 2020 in my personal journal

Welcome to 2020. It's a new year, a new decade. It's time to complete the next partially written, unfinished notebook. Let's reflect on how this notebook started in 2012, almost 8 years ago. I was a mother to a one year old, recently lost #2, and completely lost in my new role in life. It is still complicated, but I have an additional kid and the goal I've looked forward to has been finally reached (two kids in school full time). I am still just as lost as ever.

I ended the decade with a much need and well deserved two night getaway with hubby to Chicago. It was the trip that I needed to solve all of my problems and reset. Those few days away felt great. I was happy and carefree. I ate, and it gave me joy. I experienced a new city, and I loved it. Anxiety didn't go away, and the depression was waiting for me back at home. It was an amazing getaway, but it wasn't the solution to my problems. I realized that I can't reset or escape. It didn't change me mentally. My life resumed as soon as I came home, and it was just a dream.

Chicago 2019 
enjoying a much needed getaway, hoping it would solve my problems

Winter break was long, and I am glad to be back to our usual routine. There's just that part of me that I don't want to return, and it has returned in full force. I don't want to leave the house. I spend most of my morning falling back asleep. I get little accomplished with the kids in school. I have no social life. I have no interests or hobbies. The days get more depressing.

I keep telling myself that "not today, maybe tomorrow." I have no motivation, no inspiration. Everyday is the same "let me hibernate and sleep through the problem." It's become part of the routine, and it's easier to continue my path of possible destruction than to figure out how to step out of it.

Sure, tomorrow is a new day, but it won't change me. Nothing about tomorrow will convince me to face my fears. It's easier to accept the decline than to work on overcoming it.

I tend to write differently in my journal. I don't censor my thoughts, and it is cathartic to jot it down. I can either go on and continue hiding or just admit that I suffer with depression. There is no way to nicely sugar coat it. Mrs. Bee's post about her depression is so relatable and outlines a lot of similar telltale signs that I experience daily. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Skeleton in the Closet

Two years ago I lost my dad. He passed away, and my mental health took a huge decline. To this day I haven't come to terms with my loss. As humans we are expected to grieve and move on after the process is over. But this is my dad. I lost someone who is really special to me, and I spent years refusing to accept the decline of his health. Once it all happened, I couldn't process it. I had no outlet to express how I was feeling. I felt like I was flawed and needed to hide my emotional state.

After the first year I decided to get help. I went to therapy for the first time, and I stopped after two sessions. It wasn't the right fit, and I didn't know how I could find the right fit either because navigating through it is fucking hard. It was difficult figuring out how flawed the healthcare system is, and I didn't value my own mental health as a financial priority.
Now another year has passed, and I'm continuing my grieving process. I get triggered by news of dementia and people suffering from Alzheimer's. I get really sad on Father's Day and seeing others spend time with their dads. I think about how fun of a grandfather my dad would have been to my kids and cherish the few memories I have of him with them. Even my kids' birthday parties don't feel the same anymore because he's not there. I still feel a part of myself that's missing, and writing this post is fucking hard.

I still miss my dad. I still think about him often. It's strange to say, but I sometimes enjoy the days when I'm not reminded of him. It feels like I can move on during those days. It feels like I can live without anything holding me back. It feels like I have control over my mental health.

So there's the skeleton in the closet that has been haunting my blog for the past two years. It's one of the things that have prevented me from writing and has taken over my mental health.

  Yin & Dad

Monday, March 2, 2020

Two and Through

E is turning 9 next month, and O is 6 years old. I remember the newborn days when I would daydream about the day when the kids are both in school. Now that it's here, I'm trying to hold onto this phase in our lives. I look back fondly on memories of their childhood, and I'm happy where we are right now.

BUT... I get asked constantly if I want another baby. It's less of "Do you want another child?" and more of "Why don't you have a girl next?" As each year passes, I am more firm in my decision that we are a two and through family of four. No, I do not want a girl. No, I do not like it when others question my satisfaction with having two boys.

I'll let you in on a secret. I always wanted to have boys. Growing up in a family with 4 sisters, I can tell you that the drama never ends. I hated my teenage years when hormones were fluctuating, and I was always in the state of rebellion. It's already bad enough being a minority in this country, and adding another layer of complexity being a girl just didn't help me. Before I was pregnant, I would have been happy with any gender, but I didn't have a preference. I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment by favoring one over another, but I did lean more towards wanting a boy. Everyone just expects a mother to want to have a mini version of herself out there, but that wasn't me. When I was pregnant was O, I knew that I would be happy with another boy, but I also knew that it would lead to disappointment for everyone else who expected a girl. It's easier for people to stop pestering you about kids when you have one of each gender.

PIcture Opp Before Dance
Me as a preteen wearing a bra that is 3 sizes too big, a dress that I borrowed from my sister's closet, and I have no clue where those shoes came from... I was very awkward & being a girl was not easy

I'm still young. I'm probably capable of having many more kids, but it's my body. It's my family. It's my decision. Now everyone, please back off and respect my decision to be two and through.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Lost Connections & Reintroducing Myself to Social Media

Over 8 years ago, I decided to quit Facebook. I was a new mom, and I was frustrated with constantly comparing myself to everyone on social media (back when social media was limited to Facebook and Twitter). With that, I lost connections to old friends. I figured that if people wanted to reach out to me, then they would find a way. My email and phone number remained the same. As time went on, I became more isolated. I focused on my family. I could have kept in touch with friends from high school and college, but I didn't. Life got in the way. Years have passed, and my circle of friends have narrowed down to B and family members.

Now I'm going out on a limb and being present in the Internet world of social media. While I've created a new Facebook account to be up to date in school news, I'm finally adding friends. Logged onto my Twitter account and seeing if it's viable to start that back up again. Maybe I'll even put in effort to use my Instagram account. Baby steps. 

If I put myself out there, maybe it'll help me be more social, reach out to people I haven't heard from in years. If you're out there reading this post and want to get in touch with me, feel free to send me an email or text. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

No Cure

originally written on august 14, 2019

I assumed that H would return, and normalcy would also return. Extra human contact would bring back sanity. While the evening hours have improved, it has not taken away my mental health issues that haunt me in the mornings and afternoons.

It's never easy to describe how I'm feeling or why it's happening. My attempts at describing leave me feeling frustrated, like my words aren't completely valid and that it's all common (that others can handle it differently, better). When I leave it alone without an outlet, I feel worse and question myself more. No win win for me.

Maybe all I need is time alone without responsibility. Will [the kids returning to] school make it easier on me? I hope so.

5 months later...

No, it will not make it easier. There are less reasons for me to leave the house, less reasons to get some fresh air. No motivation to face my challenges and tackle those hurdles preventing me from overcoming my worst fears.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Taking Care of Myself

Continuing with my reflection of the past decade, I've spent most of it caring for others. My focus is on raising my children, nurturing my relationship with my husband, and making sure the basic chores around the house are taken care of. While the emphasis on self care has been brought into the spotlight, I shy away from applying it in my own life. It's far easier to take care of everyone else and worry about their needs instead of my own.

It almost feels selfish to dedicate time to myself and take care of myself. I can find every excuse as to why I don't have the time, money, or resources. I like to be alone, but too much time alone also makes me feel extremely lonely. I want to give myself experiences, but I also want to share them with H or the kids. Every now and then, I notice the need to focus on myself. I make lofty goals, and I consistently fail at following through with any of them.

Community Day
being a mother is natural to me, but caring for myself is much harder

How do I change? How do I reframe my mindset so that I can balance caring for others and myself? How do I prioritize me without the feeling of selfishness? I haven't figured it out. I'm searching for the answers.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2010 vs 2020

I was a different person 10 years ago, and it is crazy to think about everything that has happened in the last decade of my adult life.

In 2010 I was planning a wedding on a budget, while being stressed and worried about expectations. Everything felt last minute, and I was a kid navigating through the process. H and I had recently moved into our first home, and it was all happening so quickly. This was adulting in my early 20's.


Since then, we started our family. E is now 8, and O recently turned 6. Shortly after E was born, I became an aunt. Now I have three nieces, and surprisingly my sisters and I actually get along. I have witnessed love with the marriage of H's cousins, my SIL, and many friends. I have experienced loss with the death of both of H's grandparents, my uncle, and my dad. I have grown and matured in ways that I sometimes wasn't ready for. There have been many adventures and many challenges along the way.

Then there are things that haven't changed much in the past decade. My reliable car is still chugging along with 200k+ miles. I still live in the same city I grew up in. My best friend has remained steady by my side through all of the ups and downs, supporting me along the way. H and I have been together for almost 15 years and married for almost 10 with a lifetime remaining.

Try On

10 years ago I couldn't imagine where I would be in 2020. It seemed so far away. Now I'm in my 30's, the same age that I thought was so old on my sisters. Hoping that the next decade will bring more adventures and growth. I want to face my fears head on. I want to grow into my skin and be happy with myself. Cheers to 2020! Let's do this!