The pandemic is something none of us could have imagined. Well, I suppose people did imagine it and warn us, but most of us we not listening back then. But I digress.
I'm currently working on a project at work that helps people with their money issues in COVID times. Our marketing department is calling it, "Your Money, Your Future" and every day I answer viewer questions related to well, your money and your future.
Here's the playlist on YouTube:
I also started a blog to supplement some of the extra interviews and soundbites I pick up along the way. It's called Monetary Li Speaking, and it is done when my toddler is napping. I'm just doing what I can.
I want to be honest. I've been feeling extremely anxious about the mass shootings. I woke up this morning at 3:30 with a heavy heart while my mind kept showing me violent images involving my family. I'm not being dramatic. I am having a hard time thinking about going in public places where there might be crowds or people who don't like "race mixing" like the guy in El Paso.
At the same time, I'm not going to stop living, but I am dealing with the stress of the absurdity of our nation.
Are you feeling it too? If you're having a hard time, you're not alone. This is just a short discussion, but maybe this will help you, your friends or your family.
I love taking pictures, but after a while, I stopped because... it was just Jim, me or the dogs. But now I'm wondering, how often do families do family pictures? Is this a yearly thing? Occasional? What is the norm here?
We just had our pictures taken over the weekend with Melinda Burgess -- she is amazing! She was also our doula. When we picked her, she seemed like such a great advocate for us, and so it was quite a bonus when we found out she is a professional photographer!
Side note, Melinda took pictures of JJ's delivery. As a journalist, I thought, "why not?" And seriously, it was one of the best things I think I've ever done. Her first priority was helping us manage labor, but there were plenty of moments where she could snap a pic! I'll spare you some of the more graphic ones.
We met Melinda on Saturday at Wellington Hills Park in Woodinville. We had originally thought about going to Discovery Park in Seattle, but I thought there would be too much traffic with Seafair. I'm so glad we did Woodinville!
Getting there was so hard -- I mean, getting ready. My husband gets more stressed about these things because I think he's more concerned he doesn't have enough picture-worthy clothing. Plus he had to shave and iron his clothes. When we were walking out the door, my hair and makeup weren't done. Life as a mom, right?
You might think this is really vain or dumb, but one day I decided to keep a pair of fake eyelashes in my console (just an old pair), and I'm so glad I did! I needed those, and yet, I still had to run to the pharmacy to buy eyelash glue.
I bought JJ's outfit at Goodwill, and so I started there and worked backwards. I found a skirt (also bought used on Poshmark a few years ago) so I decided to wear it with a Navy sweater. I haven't bought very many new clothes for JJ yet, and I like that as a trend to be a more environmentally aware and thrifty family.
Anyway, we got a sneak peek at some of our pictures, so I thought I'd share! What a beautiful park to take some pics. I think it looks very PNWish!
You guys... I had a baby and suddenly I'm like OMG, it's been 8 months since I've really written anything! You know, no one tells you that having a baby means essentially two years of being under water! First pregnancy, then newborn haze.. I haven't even begun to think of what year 3 will bring in this cycle.
Anyway. A lot of you are asking why JJ has a helmet. It's a simple answer: he has a little flat spot that we want to help correct. Once corrected, he will be able to fit into a sports helmet (please oh please let it be baseball) when he gets older. Some people think that helmets are merely cosmetic, but there is a real health benefit to having a head that fits properly in a protective helmet. And some babies have more head to round out than others -- we are lucky JJ's is pretty slight, but nonetheless, it requires some help.
Here's what I've learned about the helmet:
1) It's hard on parents. There is a whole Facebook group for Moms of helmet babies, and I thoroughly use it as a resource. You have so many worries, concerns and questions through the whole journey, and it's nice to have a support network.
2) The helmet is heavier than what you might think it should be. I didn't realize it is slightly heavy! It's made of foam, so I thought it would be super light. NOPE. That's why when you first put it on your baby, it's so hard -- JJ's head was a little wobbly, and it made him very tired as well at first. At the same time, I felt like it made his neck stronger...
3) Your baby will sweat his head off. In the beginning, all you do is worry about your baby's head -- will he overheat? will he pass out? We went from long sleeve onesies and sleepsacks to short sleeve onesies and no sleepsack at night. JJ would wake up so flushed in the beginning, and it was really scary because he would also act kind of lethargic. And then the question -- how do we dress him for daycare?
4) Your baby will have to wear different clothes. JJ now wears short sleeve onesies and long shorts and socks to daycare. I got 12 month old shorts for him because they were long enough to cover his knees (I don't want him to get rug burn at school), and then I put socks on him because I don't want his feet to get dirty. BUT that being said, it's still too hot for him, and sometimes his daycare workers take off his helmet for the rest of the day. At home, he wears nothing but his little onesie and bare feet.
5) We take it off more than we should. I hate this about myself because sometimes I think I'm a weak parent, but then I remind myself... I know my baby. We take it off for about an hour in the morning, and we take it off a little bit before bath until it's time for bed. So we don't quite hit 23 hours. I do this because his head is so sweaty, and it gives us time to clean the helmet well (did you know it ends up stinking?!) and after bath, he needs time for his hair to dry. Also, if we are out in the summer, it comes off -- we went to a baseball game, and it was a hard no on the helmet. And that was the right decision for JJ -- it was super hot!
6) If you're reading this and need a helmet, know you have to clean the helmet. Jim said that he was told to clean it with the shampoo we use for JJ. I've also read you can use alcohol wipes (70% alcohol) that are easy to buy on Amazon. I bought the wipes, and Jim still washes it out with shampoo, so I guess the wipes will be used for something else.
Anyway, long story short -- it's hard to make decisions for your baby. Jim knew that he wanted JJ to get the helmet, and then after we got it, we realized it was a lot harder to follow through on -- we just had a reality check. To make it more fun, there are people who paint helmets, and you can get fun decals... I bought a STL Cardinals decal for JJ, but then it was way too big for his helmet... so I need another plan. I think you have to get smaller decals and then Modge Podge it on -- too much work for this mama right now. I may get to it eventually!
If there are three things that have taken me away from writing, it's pregnancy, postpartum and becoming a working mom--all three of which are freaking hard. However, after a recent trip to my doctor, it was either take Zoloft (which is not off the table) or journal or both. I'm starting with the latter.
There are so many things people don't tell you about pregnancy, postpartum, and becoming a working mom. They tell you it's hard, but they don't tell you why. I suppose that's because it's a different experience for everyone. Or maybe it's because you (as a non-parent) think they're a little dramatic.
Ok, so joke's on me. I now believe moms when they say it's hard. And I have a new respect for moms who get to work on time and actually leave their homes on the weekend. âAnd I believe single moms are the most incredible women on the planet.
Having the baby
First of all, my labor sucked. I didn't know it at the time, so that's the silver lining. I was so uninformed that I didn't really know it sucked until I started talking to people and saw their reaction. The short version is this -- had to be induced because of preeclampsia, went from a 0-9 cm in 3.5 hours with no meds, had to use a vacuum, hemorrhaged, placenta got stuck, baby had to be in the NICU, I passed out from blood loss, and then I had to be on magnesium, which basically makes you feel like you've got the flu.
First nights at home
âYou'll hear people say, The car ride home from the hospital is the scariest thing. I didn't think it was scary at all because I was prepared to be scared. What I wasn't prepared for were those first nights at home. They were terrifying. I had so much dread about the overnights. I had no idea the baby would essentially keep me up at all hours wanting to nurse, when I had no milk to give. People say things like, I was just worried about keeping the baby alive! But you just think they're being dramatic. Well, another joke on me.
It seems like a really f*cked up way to ring in parenthood. Here you are with this little six pound stranger who's only method of survival basically breaks your spirit. Even "easy" babies are hard AF. And to top it off, you are leaking in every single place that can leak. Your body is ripped and sore. You're afraid to poop. I had to take iron pills for the anemia I earned from hemorrhaging, and I was very afraid to poop. I thought I was going to give birth again and die at the same time because my body just wouldn't let me go. Also, it's funny how poop poop poop is so easy to talk about once you have a baby.
I had no idea I would be so hormonal and in fear that my ignorance in newborn care would lead to negligence or tragedy. I mean, I was truly afraid I would accidentally do something stupid to the detriment of my child.
And even though doctors give you a lot of information about postpartum, I still missed the memo that postpartum could come in many forms -- not just depression, but anxiety and rage. I had a little of all three at first, but I think anxiety really manifested several weeks after birth.
I was afraid to walk in my kitchen with the baby because I could see knives on the counter. I was worried about taking my baby to the grocery store because of the flu. I didn't want to get in the car because I was concerned we'd be sideswiped. I was afraid of touching my child's head because I might push the soft spot. I didn't want visitors because I was worried about their germs. For the record, all of these things still give me anxiety, but there have been times it has been debilitating.
Going back to work
Another cruel joke is maternity leave. I thought I was going to get so much done in 12 weeks, but there were days I barely made it off the couch. The baby would get into a cluster feeding situation, and I remember thinking -- wait, did I drink any water? When did I eat?
The baby doesn't even get to be remotely fun until 8 weeks. And then you start to see why people say maternity leave in the US sucks. If I had a chance to do it all over again, I would really try to take leave for six months. It also makes you reconsider where you work -- I know a lot of people who work at tech companies who give them half a year or more for maternity and paternity leave.
I don't work at a tech company, but I was so grateful that everyone in the newsroom was so encouraging, and they helped me through that first week. I cried. A lot. I didn't think I would be a crier. However, having a baby has made me cry more than I ever have before.
And though everyone has been wonderful about me coming back to work, I'd say there is a grace period for new moms. For me, it was about two months, which is about 40 workdays. It takes just a few weeks for everyone to forget that you're struggling with a newborn-ish, and they put up less with your baby brain. It's not like people are being cold, I'm assuming they forget you're feeling vulnerable. And honestly, sometimes I think moms are less forgiving because they've been there, and they've forgotten how hard it is to be newly exposed to this working mom world. Men seem to tip toe around women, but women can, at times, be fierce.
And that is where I am today.
I love my work, but it's hard to embrace this new working mom title. My husband is also going through an adjustment. âI have three standing appointments each week for physical therapy with my spine... my baby has physical therapy and regular checkups. He's also going to have a surgery in month for an issue he was born with. No one tells you how much trauma your body endures with the beauty of motherhood. We are finding that the struggle is real, but we are still grateful for the journey.
Everyone is crazy drunk on "Crazy Rich Asians", including me.
There's a lot to say about the movie "Crazy Rich Asians". The movie opened August 15 and Asian Americans (and friends) have gone absolutely nuts -- buying out theaters hoping to get a gold open at the box office to prove to Hollywood that yes, Asian Americans matter and they will spend the money.
Why is it such a big deal? Maybe because Asian Americans have mostly been portrayed in media as foreigners, geeks and martial artists... and never (or rarely) romantic leads, sexy, smart, or funny.
But the Crazies say... not today Satan!
Crazy Rich Asians is the first movie in two decades to have an all Asian or Asian-American cast since "The Joy Luck Club" (which is also one of my all-time favorite movies.) It is a fun, romantic-comedy that can relate to anyone.
And Constance Wu is my queen.
A couple of weeks ago, a special screening was held in Seattle -- apparently the city appeals to the filmmakers because of its large literary crowd (the movie was written by Houston native Kevin Kwan) and because of its large Asian community.
I dragged my pregnant butt out for a late night--]not only to watch the movie but then hang out at Ethan Stowell's restaurant Cortina for pizza, appetizers and a meet and greet with the director Jon Chu and one of the stars, Henry Golding.
Henry was so nice. His friend (or handler) told him that my husband and I had been trying to have a baby for 9 years and goes, "Henry, you have to listen to this! This is the best story of the night!"
Henry was so kind and gave me a hug. We took this picture and he reminded me that Henry is a nice name for a boy. Henry is also hapa, so I can't help but think, oh, I hope my son is as handsome as he.
Also, on a side note, some people have criticized Henry for not being Asian enough. I hate this criticism so much, but he did address it in a recent story from Jim Dever of Evening Magazine.
This movie is exciting for Asian Americans who didn't grow up with strong Asian role models. This is for our children who should grow up with confidence and validation. I know it's a lot of pressure to put on a romantic comedy, but so far it's holding up to the task. I've already seen the movie, but I'm going to financially support it again, in hopes of sending a message that yes, we matter--all of us do!
Sometimes I don't even realize my brain is storing a list of things I'd like to do. Some of it seems impossible (like move abroad for a few years) while others seem fairly attainable. When I think of some of the things I'd like to accomplish, it really comes down to regaining the confidence and carelessness I had when I was a young person. Where did that person go?
Slowly but surely, I'm finding time to find me. That's one reason I took an adult tap class!
My friend and colleague Mimi Jung inspired me to take a dance class a while back... and her recommendations led to a couple of classes before finally signing up at Barclay Shelton in Edmonds.
For the last few months (basically a school year), I have been taking an adult tap class once a week. However, I was quite surprised when I learned we would have a number in the school's dance recital! I nearly panicked! But at the end of our show(s), I felt as if I had accomplished something special. The women I met in class became such comforting faces and friends, and I can't wait to see them again when we start class in the fall. It is such an awesome group!
Right now I only have this grainy cell phone video, but you get the idea! I did this at five months pregnant and am in the first row on the right. I was so nervous the first two nights, but by the third afternoon I was just having fun! This is video of our first night...
We talked about it on Take 5 (our new show...which I realize I haven't talked about on this blog yet... sorry, pregnancy brain.) But, my question is... what's something you've always wanted to do? How do you follow your heart?
It felt so good to do something like this, and I got messages from viewers saying they felt inspired to do something new. The challenge of re-learning a skill (I took dance up until I was a teen) and performing on stage helped me realize that life can be a lot more fun when you lean in, make some friends and put yourself out there! You're never too old or out of touch to start!
If you haven't ever been to the Walk For Rice, I encourage you to check it out! It's an easy 2.5 walk/run around Seward Park and raises money for the only food bank in Washington that continually provides food for Asian families, thanks to the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. And for the second year in a row, I got to emcee with Derek Wing!
You might say to yourself, "Why do Asians need special food?" It's not that they need special food, but many of the standard food banks don't continually support the needs of communities of color.
For example, did you know most Asian people are lactose intolerant? Also, many rely on rice and noodles and don't know what to do with bread, milk or cheese.
The ACRS' food bank provides fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, noodles, and many other Asian staples. Since it's in the Chinatown International District, volunteers and workers serve many homeless people in the area with hot emergency meals. And even though the food bank serves primarily Asian children and seniors, it's open to EVERYONE.
When my sister moved here from Korea, the ACRS was the very first place I took her for guidance. They provide so many resources on topics like citizenship, jobs, and education.
I am proud to help this wonderful organization. Together the community helped raise more than $140,000 for the food bank and nutritional programs -- that is a lot of rice!
I just had the chance to be a judge at a meatball contest and it did not suck.
My gal pal Amity Addrisi and I served as a judge for the Jet City Meatball contest by Charles Smith and Kick Ass Wines. So many restaurants competed, but only one would be crowned KING and take home $5,000 for their charity.
In the end, Artusi took home the crown. We took home stomach aches. But also we met some really cool people, including Rachel Hart, a Wisconsinite from Madison Magazine, my former workplace.
Anyway, great times! I’m ready to go back and would love to take some friends.
Lunar New Year is in full swing so that means it's time to bust out your red and wish someone a prosperous year.
The Asian American Journalists Association of Seattle just held its yearly Lunar New Year dinner! My partner in crime, Patranya Bhoolsuwan, helped co-host the event since we're the VP of Events for the group.
This year we hosted the event at House of Hong in the Chinatown-International District. Patranya did a great job finding the venue... and we had so many wonderful performers thanks to all of our talented friends int he community!
I love our board so much. We are all busy with our journalistic responsibilities, but we somehow manage to find the extra time to raise money forstudents of color and help out with professional development for our members.
And I also love the fact that it brings together so many of us from other stations. KOMO, KIRO and KING are all represented well at these events... and we are all friends!
One thing I love is that we do a dessert dash at the event. If you don't know how that works, tables have to collect money at their table... and the winning table gets to pick out the first dessert. We had an array of awesome desserts to choose from, including these uniquely delicious ube-custard donuts made with from Nate Daep from Big Boys Filipino Truck in Kent.
We had wonderful performances by the Morning Star Korean Cultural Center, Evan Yanagida, and Justin Young!
We had so much fun, and I just want to thank everyone for their continued support of AAJA. It takes a lot of work to serve on a board, but many hands do little work! It is special to have so many caring and supportive journalists and friends helping each other in this community!
And also thanks to my husband Jim for supporting us, too! He's not in any of these pictures, but we were there together!