September 26, 2012

I wasn't taking this seriously enough!

As you may or may not realize, Brex turns one on Saturday. (What, you didn't highlight September 29th on your calendar! Your WHOLE world doesn't revolve around my baby? For shame!)

In Korean culture, this is a Big. Deal. I knew it in theory, but last night, I actually googled, "dol" which is the name for the ceremony.


Now I'm totally intimidated. Not so much because I have a thousand Korean peers I need to impress, but Mom K does and she is SO proud of this little baby. He's not going to remember it, we don't really care, but it is a tangible, significant way we can honor her (and give her photos to flaunt to her friends).

Just scroll through this page and you'll see what I mean:

I'm profoundly grateful that I have a Korean friend in the neighborhood. B-boy's dol was September 8th and she was relatively casual about it, but she did go nuts with handcrafts. She hot-glued two bean towers (you'll see them in the pictures on the link), one says Congratulations Birthday and the other has a bunny on it (2011: year of the rabbit), so both are reusable. Because of her I have paper chains, hanging stars and paper flowers to use for decor. She also did "happy birthday" so we can hang that behind the table. I'm making plant hangers from rafia. I've got some spider plant babies that I'm going to put in decorative glasses with water and hang those along the front of the deck. I've borrowed tunnels, a tyke mobile and a swing/slide for the back yard segment of the event.

Mom and I are heading back to H-mart (Korean mega grocery store) on Friday to get fruit, flowers and favors for the party. Then poor Jrex has to rush over there Saturday morning to get the 'dol cake'.

At 2 pm Saturday we're due to have 20+ adults and 7 kids arrive to see the Korean ceremony. Then we'll serve up Korean food and hang out in the backyard enjoying the new deck. A little bit high brow for Mom, a lot casual for us.
Our new addition: a 17 x 13 foot deck finished just in time for the party.

In other life ironies...

I hate pink. For girls, for decor, in general. It's a silly color and represents girls being told they need to fit a certain box. Studies show that a blue room is calming and a pink room is over-stimulating.  I'm sorry if you like the color, I just have strong feelings and I'm willing to take it outside if that's necessary (one of the phrases I love from my childhood, "What? You got something to say? You want to take it outside, fool?!").

So, Mom K went to Korea this spring and brought back two Korean outfits for Brex. Apparently androgyny is trendy in Korea... so, yes. My son gets to wear either a navy top with pink pants or a pink top with light blue pants. Either way, the little pope hat he wears is pink. Mom's known me now for how many years? I guess it just emphasizes that the part of the birthday ceremony that will happen in the dining room is all hers. Then we toss him in comfy clothes and let him crawl in the dirt with all the other toddlers.

September 25, 2012

Caring for your introvert

I saw this via FB a while ago. It helped clarify many things in our marriage. While in Minnesota, I chatted about it with a couple of my aunts, so this post is for them.

Our first fights as a married couple were around Issue 1: Privacy (closely related to Issue 2: embarrassment). My Mom had a bone-deep value around not having hidden secrets in the family. I'm sure she'd gone a little too far in the self-revelation direction, but I'd seen the power of not living with shame. If I did something embarrassing, turning it into a funny story meant that I no longer had to worry about someone 'finding out'. During college, I spent hours discussing every emotion with each of my close friends. How can you discuss emotions without describing circumstances? We all discussed our relationships including physical issues, emotional frustrations, etc.

After getting married, I continued to talk with my college friends and my sister in the same way I had before marriage. For Jrex, this felt like a violation. I felt like he was telling me I had to be bound by HIS embarrassment or shame or whatever and I REFUSED to live like that. Well, it took me a while to come around to realizing that even though his story and my story were now deeply intertwined, I could tell my story while trying to limit the details of his story. It's been a strange/frustrating dance for both of us. When I saw this list, it gave me an additional 'aha!' moment. It was ALSO an introvert vs extrovert issue. 

Issue 4 jumped out since within our conflicts I usually pushed him to respond. To TELL me what he was thinking. In my defense, half the time when I gave him time to formulate a response, he fell asleep! (Marriage during the PhD, Med School, Residency, Fellowship years meant he was ALWAYS tired).

We're currently working on #5. He will often have long pauses while he thinks of how to say what he's thinking. I jump in and try to finish the sentence. There's a little bit of the fun of a quiz show if I get it right, but it drives him crazy. I'm trying really hard to just sit on my quick words and wait. Sometimes I then have to remind him he was thinking of an answer... (since he's still tired).

We thought for a while that Brex was also an introvert. I'm not entirely sure anymore, but I've got this list in the back of my mind in case he is.

I also heard from a friend who was deeply trained in the Myers-Briggs personality test that the deepest conflicts in a relationship are between an introvert and an extrovert. The issue is that an introvert processes emotion internally and when speaking, states a conclusion. An extrovert process externally. Therefore, for an extrovert, there's a swirl of emotions and she doesn't know what's really bothering her until she talks it through with a friend or a counselor. There's a need for someone to ask a key question, or even to just hear the words out loud in order to have the 'aha!' moment when she can identify the THING that's at the center of the swirl. Thus, an extrovert states a premise and has NO idea what the conclusion will be. The introvert hears a conclusion and gets upset and defensive. Meanwhile, the extrovert has NO clue why there's a fight about something that isn't even the THING.

I'm not sure what the list for care for an extrovert would be. Any ideas? Obviously one would be to listen and ask questions to help them think out loud. Any others? Are there other things that should be added to the introvert? Anyone else married to their opposite on the intro/extro scale?

September 20, 2012

High Pain Threshold strikes again

So much for two weeks of lazing around. I feel better already!

The surgery was at 7:30 on Friday morning. Jrex and I snuck out of the house before the baby was awake, leaving Mom home in case he woke up. Jrex stayed with me through the check in process. Once they carted me off to surgery, he went home to get ready for work. Then he took the baby into day care (thus giving Mom some rest and the baby some normalcy).

I was home by 10:30 AM. Of course I ended up sleeping most of the day and then had trouble sleeping that night. It felt like the meds had caffeine in them, but I think I was just wired from oversleep. Saturday and Sunday I slept every time the baby slept and a few more times when he was awake. He seemed to do just fine with Halmoni. She's AMAZING with him: really loving and not TOO indulgent.

Since then I've needed less and less sleep and less and less pain meds. I really only took pills during the day Friday through Sunday. Frankly, the dreams are too weird and I don't like feeling like I'm waking up through a layer of molasses.

So much for a two week vacation! The problem now is that I keep wanting to pick up my kid, but I really can't yet. I let him stand next to me as I sit on the floor and he rests his head on my shoulder as I rub his back. He also crawls into my lap as I sit there. I miss feeding him and playing with him, but he's so active now that it's difficult to keep up when I'm limited in what I can do to intervene.

I'm grateful that we've found another fun interaction via a new 'toy'. After our trip to Minnesota I was really frustrated that it was impossible to get him to sleep without having a confining space to hold him. At home he usually cries in protest for 30 seconds when I put him down and then goes to sleep. Well, when I tried to lay him down on the floor at someone's house, he'd crawl to the door and wail until I came back. I found a used "Phil & Ted's Traveller" via and he's loving it. It folds up into a packable 7 lb size and functions as a crib big enough for a three-year old. We'll use it when we go to someone's house for dinner so he can go to sleep at his usual 7 pm. It also makes camping (car camping...) feel doable.

I set it up in the living room and we threw in a bunch of balls. He crawls into it on his own and then when we zip up the side, he flings himself around, laughing gleefully. There's an opening in the top so he can pull himself up and play "Where's Brex? THERE he is!" I can also kiss his hands when he shoves them against the mesh on the sides.
It's helped save our sanity a bit since it's functioning as a play yard. His discovery for the weekend was that he can climb the stairs to the second floor. He'll accept help coming down, but only help that lets him do it By.Himself. (I've ordered a gate for the bottom of the stairs. It arrives Monday. NOT soon enough.)

Poor Mom K has been patiently going up.and.down.the.stairs.over.and.over.and.over. She's definitely a saint!

So, for those of you who prayed for a speedy recovery, thanks! (mostly...)

September 13, 2012

Dallas Moments

During the pre-op phone call from the surgeon's office:

"Please don't use lotion on your extremities, or deodorant. We'd prefer you not wear makeup, but if you have to, well... we'll deal with it."



I have to budget 30% extra time with any contractor or service person for AFTER I've written the check. Apparently that's when it's time for the story swap.


Neighbor with a thick Texas drawl, "We met some folk from Boston, but they didn't talk like they were from there! I was so bummed cause I wanted to hear that accent."


On the radio, "It's time to start saving for college for all those little Texans..." Apparently Brex's first identity is supposed to be as a Texan, second is as an American, and MAYBE down the list as a world citizen. 

Feels like whenever I start to feel at home here, there'll be a little moment when I realize it's still a foreign country!

September 11, 2012

My vacation is almost here!

Friday morning, 7:30 AM, I go 'off duty'. This happened the last time I had hernia surgery, it mostly felt like I got permission to catch up on sleep and reading while 'recovering'.

In the same spot as my last hernia, I developed another one within 3 months of the previous surgery. I couldn't figure out a good time to be off-duty for two weeks (the time span in which I can't lift anything, like a baby, that's over 20 pounds). The doctor didn't use mesh the last time since it wasn't a big hernia and I'm not a big person. Unfortunately, it seems like the mesh is necessary! Ah well...

Mom K arrives Thursday afternoon. We'll go and pick up Brex from daycare on the way home. Then on Friday, Jrex will drop me and Mom off for the surgery, take Brex to daycare, work for a while, pick us up, pick up the baby, etc. He'll be running around like crazy while I just SLEEP.

In an unusual turn of events, I'm looking forward to Mom K being here. Since having Brex, I've lost any fear of her opinion so that's a wonderful freedom. Second, I can't imagine anyone else, including Jrex, who will be as attentive to Brex as I would be. In fact, I know she'll be way MORE attentive. The beauty is that I'll be lounging in bed reading with earplugs in my ears. She can do whatever she wants, spoil him, love him, let him do whatever his pudgy little heart desires and I don't have to care.

I'm a little nervous for Brex's sake. I know babies are resilient and he won't remember anything from this next couple of weeks, but he's definitely in his "Mommy" phase and it'll be hard to not be able to pick him up. Given how much he wiggles at this point, I won't even be able to hold him in my lap; I think I can have him sit next to me, but not on me.

Here's the real beauty of my plan: Mom K would have been here for this time period anyway. The 17th is the anniversary of Dad K's death and the 29th is the boy's first birthday. There's no way I could have kept her away! Yet this way, I'm not being a bad daughter-in-law if I'm lazing in bed.

Is it wrong that I feel so excited about my nefarious plot?

Brex's first tomato.

September 5, 2012

What's not to love?

Brex and I just returned from attending my cousin's wedding in Minneapolis. As I've mentioned before, my Mom was the oldest of 10 kids. After her there was an uncle, whose family I've never met, a childless aunt who died in a car accident, and then seven more aunts who all had children. That adds up to 27 first cousins, many who've now had kids of their own.

When Brex and I arrived on Friday, we went straight from the airport and car rental to the house that Aunt Gemstone had rented for the weekend. On the day of the wedding, a bunch of us met at a park/farmer's market in the morning. The day after the wedding, we all assembled at another house rented by the other aunts. That's a lot of family time! Yet all of it was fun and relaxing.

I kept realizing how much I enjoy our family. Here are some of the reasons why:
  1. Fun. When the music starts ALL of my aunts got up to dance. Just having all of them in the same room means the party will be fun.
  2. Relaxed. Despite having an open bar all night, nothing bad happened. No embarrassing moments, no fights, no hidden ugliness. It's amazing to have a family this large and not have any dread about a family gathering.
  3. Introverts/Extroverts. While most of the uncles seem to be non-dancing introverts, many of my male cousins were out on the dance floor having a great time. It gives me hope that no matter what Jrex does, our kid(s?) can join me on the dance floor!
  4. Caretaking. There was always someone wanting to hold Brex. He often preferred Mom to anyone else, but that's normal for his age. When I put him down to explore, there were always cousins around to keep an eye on him and play with him. After being loved by so many new people, by the time we arrived at the airport to fly home, he was crawling up to strangers and expecting they would be delighted to see him.

  5. My kind of fun. When we gathered no one watched television. Rather, people talked, played games, ate food and just hung out with each other.
  6. Laughter. Most of us have similar enough senses of humor that there are always quips flying around. Conversation is fast and interesting.
  7. Diversity. You'd think that us getting along would be because we have similar points of view, but it's not true. Opinions on the political spectrum seem to run from tea party to liberal, and we occasionally mentioned politics, but no one wanted to argue about it. It helps me remember that as much as the media wants to showcase a divided country, individuals  are willing to be kind to each other no matter what their point of view.
  8. Warmth. Come as you are, quirks are welcome. We all tend toward foot-in-mouth disease, so if it happens, we shrug and move on.