Friday, September 28, 2012

Thoughts On Having Another Child

cinemagraphs by Jamie Beck

What a long week this was. I still have many things left to do but procrastination continues to hover over me. I've gotten so lazy in the past few months as a stay-at-home-mom that I have very little motivation to get back in school and work mode. Sometimes I look at my mommy friends who are pregnant and with newborns and think maybe this is a good time to have another child. After all, I'm not getting any younger and I finally have some alone time while the children are in school.

I've always wanted three children. Two girls, one boy; my ideal family. I can jump at this chance to fulfill my wish but something stops me. It's a hint of fear and anxiety about the unknown as well as the things I know too well...

Like a whole year without my favorite foods like wine & sushi, gaining weight, letting go of beauty treatments like deep tissue massage, hair color & gel polish, feeling stuck in my pregnant body, lacking sleep, backaches and dull headaches, random breakouts, uncontrollable hormones, the heaviness in my chest, the shortness of breath....but mainly about no longer feeling like a woman and being entirely consumed by motherhood for another 2-3 years.

Some of my friends do this with so much ease and grace that I wonder if something is wrong with me. Pregnancy and raising newborn are the most difficult time of a woman's life but ironically, the most fruitful and memorable.

Perhaps I'm ready to start all over again, perhaps I remember that feeling all too clearly---that feeling of meeting my child for the first time, drawing her pink body to my chest and truly understanding the beauty & depth of maternal love.

I miss that feeling. But first, my life asks to be lived and enjoyed. Looking forward to tonight's dinner with girlfriends and catching up over bubblies.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wedge Sneakers: Bringing back the 80's

My style has always been eclectic, a little off and contradictory. I like feminine, lacy & flowy things but simultaneously love a little androgynous edge like studs, black leather and S&M inspired accessories like cuffs, spikes and killer heels (hence my love for Valentino). And of course the typical tomboy-ish attire like denim, oversized top, cut off shorts & high top sneakers.

I think growing up with my brother had a lot to do with it, as I enjoyed riding my huffy bike around the neighborhood and mastering video games from its early days of Pacman onto days of Tetris, Original Super Mario Bros, Zelda and later Gears of War and World of Warcraft. I was a true nerd- an avid reader & female video gamer.

I was reserved and girly in that I enjoyed sitting alone in my room and read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (Oh how I always dreamed of having curls like Beth) but was still boyish and sporty in that I watched every episode of Power Rangers (The OG Japanese version because we were cool like that- ;) and was obsessed with shows like Astro Boy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Come to think of it, my eclectic style today is largely influenced by my childhood so it's no wonder I became obsessed with the wedge sneaker trend influenced by Isabel Marant.

These are sold out virtually everywhere and come with a hefty price tag of over $800. You can still find other versions at sites like net-a-porter  but cute color combinations with hightop design that celebrities have been rocking are difficult to find.  And honestly, I don't know if I can ever spend this kind of money on sneakers today.  If you can afford them, you're incredibly lucky! But as for me, I'd rather put it aside for new boots or heels for fall.

Even as I knew I wasn't going to purchase Isabel Marants I couldn't stop thinking about them and lusting after them. I still don't understand why some bloggers say this is a love/hate trend because I don't see anything wrong with them. Comfortable, boyish high top sneakers with hidden platform? That's not an oxymoron- IT'S THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS!

They totally remind me of these awesome LA Gear sneakers I had in 4th grade with bright neon shoelaces in contrasting colors. I used to wear sneakers all the time in grade school and mix & match my shoelaces. I remember I had these bright blue shoelace on one time and was told by a teacher to remove it because it resembled 'gang colors.' I was disgruntled but still rocked my LA Gears proudly & blissfully.

LA gear in neon from late 80's

I think that gives me enough street cred to be an OG sneaker lover. For me, this hightop wedge sneakers trend is more than a fashion statement; it's a piece of childhood that I love & greatly miss.

So after some research I decided to try these wedge sneakers by Ash in distressed black leather. These were the most affordable ones I can find without being cheap quality and knock off versions. There are various versions like Bowie, Cool and their latest Bea but I went with the original Cool version with thicker sole since I wanted a style that resembled my original sneakers from the 80's & 90's.  However the updated versions are more modern, more feminine and just as cute as the cool line.

You can't really tell from my iphone pictures (I really need the iphone 5!!) but the leather and bottom sole are distressed for a worn-out look, not perfectly black & white like it looks in the picture.

Ash 'Cool Ter' Wedge sneakers $295 

Sometimes all it takes is one pair of shoes to bring back childhood memories and lift the spirits after a long week.

Feelin' youthful, tomboy-ish and very grateful!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wine tasting, Temecula CA

Briar Rose Winery, Temecula CA

Mister and I had a rare opportunity to spend our Saturday afternoon without the kids so he suggested we go wine tasting in Temecula. An afternoon of drinking good wine and eating gourmet cheese- yes please. Without giving it much thought we spontaneously headed to Temecula where we yelped a few different wineries with decent ratings.  

These days I find myself yearning for smaller, intimate experience with less crowd and my goal was to find a hidden gem in Temecula- the one less traveled but with more personality & flavor.  

We arrived at Briar Rose (I was sold on the name) and upon coming across its fairytale like cottage, I knew I had come to the right place. This is a boutique winery- small, private with personal service and great wine selection. I tried their premium wine list and their Estate cabernet was my absolute favorite. 

This was my favorite winery out of the three we tried for its intimate, private experience with good personalized service. Briar Rose is better for couples than larger crowds. 

Doffo Winery, Temecula CA

For our second stop we chose Doffo, another boutique winery located in a historic landmark schoolhouse. It was larger than Briar Rose hence more people and less personalized service. The sommelier simply filled our glasses and walked off to the next person with minimal explanation. The facility is clean, cozy & historic but I wasn't too impressed with their wine tasting selection. Nothing here really wow'd me like the ones at Briar Rose and I didn't like how the flavors were mixed from light, full-bodied back to lighter intensity.

Our third stop was Miramonte, a much larger winery with spacious patio and amazing view. This would be a perfect winery for wedding reception and private parties. After two rounds of wine tasting I couldn't do another so I opted for a sangria instead.

By 5:30 I was done with wine and ready to see the kiddos again. Marriage with two school aged children can get hectic and mundane for the parents- one works hard, the other takes care of the home. As always it's nice to get away with my husband and spend some time to wind down, catch up on stories and recommit ourselves to another crazy week ahead.

On Sunday we were invited to a BBQ at a neighbor's house which consisted another full day of eating ribs and drinking wine. I thought hangovers would be over once I stopped partying but nope...hangovers simply take a different form in your 30's. ;)

Time for detox. I think I'll finally put my vitamix to use.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Give a girl the right pair of shoes, she will conquer the world

Valentino noir rockstud slingbacks- patent black leather

Last Friday I headed out to Fashion Island in Newport to purchase the new iphone 5 and came home with a new pair of shoes instead. I do this all the time. My outdated iphone 4 still lacks Siri and a satisfactory camera but sometimes a girl has to re-prioritize her needs.

I'm usually quite practical and enjoy shopping sales & bargains but for some reason, this practical side of me disappears when it comes to shoes. I don't think it's an addiction or obsession, it's simply a priority over anything else in my closet...or so I tell myself.

You know that moment when you mindlessly try on a shoe and it feels so right on your feet like Cinderella's glass slipper? That moment when you're possessed by something beyond yourself and feel like your life can no longer be complete unless you take her home?

I felt this feeling as soon as I laid my eyes on this pair of Valentinos, feminine with edge, classic yet covered in dark studs that resemble rose thorns. It reminded me too much of myself that I couldn't resist bringing her home.

One very beautiful and famous woman once said give a girl the right shoes and she will conquer the world. I feel like she belongs to me and am anxious to see where she takes me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stranger in my room

Soft rose on the book by Andreka

Sometimes when I have a ton of emotions weighing down my chest, yet find myself at loss of words, I walk over to my bookcase, say a little prayer, randomly grab a book and let it speak to me. Sometimes I give them life, other times they give me voice.

Perhaps this is why as a young girl, I preferred to sit in my room in solitude and let books take me to places I can never go. I knew even at a young age, that I was only a limited soul in middle of a vast world full of things I didn't understand and things I couldn't see.

I couldn't wait until that one day when I'd be an adult, free to explore the world on my own..find true love and discover meanings embedded in feelings like happiness, delight, loss and longing.

Today I find myself yearning for something entirely different and was at complete loss of words...until now.
I would never be part of anything. I would never really belong anywhere, and I knew it, and all my life would be the same, trying to belong, and failing. Always something would go wrong. I am a stranger and I always will be, and after all I didn’t really care. 
Jean Rhys- Smile PleaseAn Unfinished Biography
Sometimes I wish I belong nowhere, belong to no one and be a stranger to everyone and everything.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Life is stranger than fiction

Candied Threads by Andreka

Another busy weekend passed by; one friend turned 33 and another friend's son just celebrated his first birthday. Life keeps bringing me around in circles as I run into old faces and meet new lives.

Life is pretty amazing I must say, and I had an epiphany as I was being introduced to babies and little juniors who look just like their parents, people from my past.

It was yet another opportunity to rethink ideas like destiny & fate...and destiny seems to work in funny ways. Old lovers break up and marry their close friends, acquaintances become husband and wife, one marries his friend's ex-girlfriend, and his ex-girlfriend marries her ex-boyfriend. As complicated and dramatic as these examples sound, these events really took place and this is only one person's life- mine.

If destiny wasn't invisible but took form in visible threads, it would look pretty damn complicated and knotty, and we wouldn't know how to untangle them ourselves.

I guess this is where God steps in. I guess this is why destiny is beyond our control.

So I was sitting there in this large room filled with these people from my past, some present friends, others from my distant past thinking how funny life works, how funny love plays out-- finally realizing that life really is stranger than fiction sometimes...

You really never know, this funny thing called life.

Occasionally I come across a song that I become obsessed with, one that I can't help but to play over and over again. It parallels my life and brings out emotions I never knew existed. A mere coincidence-- or another funny joke played by this funny thing called life.

I'm currently trapped in this obsession, thinking how fast life is passing by before me. Time flies by yet feelings remain trapped in these songs, packed into these words. I wish there's something I can do to make these feelings pass like time.

Why won't they go away. And why can't I stop playing this tune inside my head.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Love languages

By Gemma Correll I like you

I wish I knew about love languages when I was younger. Today I realize how important it is for lovers to speak the same love language, or at the very least be willing to speak the other person's love language.

I do enjoy finer things in life but I know these are things I can live without. I don't need diamonds, flowers and expensive dinners.

But I do need to feel loved by you. As long as I know you love me in ways that work for me, and as long as you're willing to learn what makes me feel loved, I'm happy.

Note: that's different than you telling me you love me. I know you love me. I sometimes need to feel this, especially when I'm feeling sentimental or in need of reassurance. Sometimes I just feel lonely and nostalgic, for no apparent reason.

Sometimes I feel this...just because.

Not every feeling comes with a logical explanation. Feelings are feelings. One cannot explain every feeling because feelings operate on a deeper level and sits in your heart or deep down your gut. Once it passes through the head, it sits there- deep down inside.

Sometimes it leaves, sometimes it claims its home.

Women are usually more expressive of their needs. Men on the other hand, deny or repress- or when asked, shy away from answering the very important question, "when do you feel loved?" or "what can I do to make you feel loved?"

They say women are too complex- that sometimes they just need to be forthright and literal. Same goes for men. Sometimes I need you to hold me silently. Other times, you simply need to tell me. But we do have to speak the same love language.

So tell me, what is your love language?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Birthday weekend


It was hard to part with my twenties. In a way I was glad to begin a new decade since it marked another fresh start, but in the back of my mind I was sad that I was getting older. I can no longer claim being a 'young mom'- as I was now in middle of the child rearing age- and life seemed to offer less and less chances to let loose, have fun and be carefree.

This past weekend I got to celebrate another birthday with close friends and it was another reminder of how blessed I am to be surrounded by so much love. We had dinner at The Little Door, an adorable restaurant tucked away in middle of West LA that resembles a secret garden. You walk through the discreet wooden door and are invited into a fairytale-like courtyard with twinkling lights, candles & soft music. It's ambiance is romantic & elegant; the perfect restaurant for date nights and special occasions.

Food was decent although having dinner with a group of girls is less about the food but more about the ambiance, conversations and of course, good bubblies. This year we had a bottle of Moët & Chandon Nectarine Rosé to start the night. By far, this has to be my favorite rosé yet. We had mussels, mediterranean appetizer dish, black cod, fillet and chicken but I need to return to get a better idea about their food. We were too busy catching up, reminiscing about old memories, and congratulating new pregnancies so food was the last thing on my mind.

I'm incredibly blessed with wonderful girlfriends all of whom I've known for well over 10 years. Some of them are close friends from HS who I practically lived and breathed with everyday of my HS life and one of them is a roommate from college who I've been through all kinds of up's and down's with. Some of them I danced with, some of them I laughed & cried with and some of them I pulled all nighters with.

We slept on each other's hair and fought over stupid misunderstandings. We shared embarrassing drunken moments and secrets. We cried together over breakups and took long drives back home after all night of partying. In the end though, our friendship remains and becomes that much more valuable each year like vintage wine, but priceless and more flavorful. Seeing my girlfriends growing into beautiful mothers, wives & women is such a blessing and I'm incredibly blessed to have such genuine, long lasting friendships.

Female friendships are difficult to maintain, especially old friends. I too, had my share of backstabbing & jealous friends who smiled in my face and secretly wished for me to fall. In high school, I ended my first long term relationship because of a close friend who got between us. I was heartbroken for years after that. One of my bridesmaids tried to date my ex-boyfriend as soon as I got married. Another relationship down the drain with bad memories. Ahh the drama of broken hearts & broken friendships. Today I look back and laugh, as these stories remain as life lessons that make me more appreciative of my girlfriends today.

I had mixed feelings about turning 30, but today I'm glad to be at this place in my life. Twenties was so uncertain, unstable & drama-filled as I was still trying to find myself as a woman, wife & woman.  Turning 32 on the other hand, feels like a milestone because I now feel so much more grounded and happy in my own skin.

After our lovely dinner we headed out to a K-town club where we partied like we were 21 again. I walked in feeling awkward and old in midst of all the young 20-somethings but walked out totally lifted & carefree. Hours of singing karaoke, dancing & rocking to house music worked like a charm and I had so much fun -- too much fun that by the time I got home it was 6 am, another first in many years. :P

All my recent blog posts have been about family & children. Today I'm beyond grateful for my girlfriends- friends who have been by my side through thick & thin, friends who knew me long before marriage & kids, friends who I can grow old with. Even through wrinkles & gray hair, we will always be the same carefree girls we once were.

I remember watching Sex and the City as a college student and wishing I too, had friendships like them in my 30's. I remember wishing I aged gracefully & happily without forgetting how to belly laugh and dance all night with my girls. Today I realize I have all that and more and can't wait to see what the 30's have in store for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear

Life is but a dream by Beverly LeFevre

These days everything around me makes me nostalgic. Movies, TV shows, songs and old books; everything around me carries some kind of hidden meaning, often in the form of fond memories. I guess this is what happens with age, as we are no longer simply creating new memories but recreating and retrieving old ones.

I'm bored and lazily flipping through TV channels from my bed. I come across an old episode of Friends. I'm amazed at how old the entire thing looks: the apartment, their outfit choices, their hairstyles. And I can't believe how young Jennifer Aniston & Courtney Cox look. Did they always look that young?

No one can withstand time, not even Hollywood A-listers, not even me.

Suddenly I remember an old friend whom I haven't thought about in years-- I mean in years. I don't remember his voice or last name but for some odd reason, I remember his favorite show was Friends. 

(People are funny beings. We remember the most random details.)

I was a first year college student. He was a few years older than me. We volunteered as camp counselors for a church youth camp and were assigned to the same group. We spent many Sunday afternoons together preparing for the camp and by the time the weekend came, we all seemed to know each other quite well.

He was cute in a preppy Ivy league college boy kind of way; tall, fit and tanned. For some reason he seemed to be beyond his years. The entire weekend he wore this funny backpack that reminded me of a tortoise shell. I often wondered what he kept in there. He was obviously the outdoorsy type with good exercise routine and few ex-girlfriends. He was older but seemed innocent, different than the sweet-talking womanizers I was used to seeing around my college campus. He was clearly different than most.

I liked his preppy college boy look and modest demeanor. He didn't seem to worry about looking or acting cool in front of women. He had this distinct style, far from trendy but it worked for him. He seemed comfortable and confident in his own skin, even with his funny looking backpack. He radiated an aura that was natural, dependable and genuine.

We organized different games and activities for kids. We built campfires. We hiked through the woods. At one point I remember sitting on stairs under the stars, just him and me, talking. I don't remember what we talked about but I remember certain feelings inside. It wasn't love or lust. Instead, it was a feeling of comfort, the kind you feel next to someone more grounded than yourself.

We never discussed anything beyond the usual and the ordinary but I think there were certain feelings that were mutually experienced and shared. We continued to keep in touch and hung out a few times after the camp. I remember having dinner with him at some restaurant in Costa Mesa. I remember being invited to a BBQ at his place and meeting his friends.

There I remember meeting a nice girl with a cute baby face. He introduced her as an old friend. I remember her being friendly, almost too friendly that it seemed forced and unnatural. She looked at me from time to time with nervousness and suspicion. Women can feel these things.

She was wearing blue jeans and a plain college t-shirt. I was wearing shorts with a baby tee. And wedges, I think. We were obviously different types and can tell after 10 seconds (as most women can) that we were never going to be close friends.

I remember this nice girl being so eager to cook, clean and be right by his side during the BBQ. I remember thinking what the heck is wrong with her? I remember wondering if she liked the guy.

And that's where my memory ends. I think we gradually drifted apart without apparent reason. Perhaps I was too busy going out with my girlfriends while he was watching old episodes of Friends and preparing for life after college. Perhaps I didn't like the way his 'friend' looked at me. Who knows. Either way I wasn't ready to do whatever she was doing.

The next time I heard about him he was in a relationship with that same baby-faced girl. She was the plain jane, sunday school teacher type, probably more his type than me. I was the girl who always lost the battle between saturday night partying and sunday morning mass. I'm sure she made a better girlfriend than me as I was too self-absorbed and juvenile at the time to cook or clean a guy's apartment. Sad but true.

Many years later, I ran into him during Christmas mass when I was pregnant with my first child. I walked into the kids section and there he was, sitting in the pew in front of us. And next to him was a young woman, not his girlfriend but his younger sister....his special needs younger sister. I vaguely remember hearing about his sister.

At that moment something occurred to me. I think I was finally ready to learn something new about myself. He probably didn't feel comfortable sharing his deeper life with me as his girlfriend. During that time I was immature, self-absorbed and proud- too proud to make myself vulnerable, too weak to share my feelings and too self-absorbed to make sacrifices for other people. He was probably much more mature, wise and experienced with real life, especially by loving and taking care of his handicapped sister.

I, on the other hand, was living in my sheltered world with petty worries, oblivious to real life problems and difficulties.

My intuition about him was right-- he probably was (and is) the natural, dependable and genuine guy I thought he was.

My intuition is rarely wrong.

I didn't have the courage to say hello or even smile his way. I should've been mature enough to say hello, but being uncomfortable in my pregnant body and standing next to my husband wasn't the best scenario for extending warm greetings to an old male friend. Plus I felt a hint of shame- shame of who I was and my past inability to share genuine feelings with a genuine person due to my flaws & weaknesses.

I did however, pray for him and his sister during mass. I prayed for his happiness and for his sister's health & well-being. I also told God thank you for this moment because somehow, in some way, I was moved by the presence of him and his sister sitting side by side.

Whatever I was feeling I think he felt too, because he smiled at me reassuringly as I was gathering up my belongings when mass was over. I returned his smile briefly and left the room hoping that he got a glimpse of who I really am inside, even if it was for one short moment on the stairs that night.

A month or so later I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful little girl- who I would later find out, has special needs.

Life has a funny way of teaching us important life lessons through certain people, experiences and events. Sometimes this lesson isn't truly realized until years later, when one is finally ready to learn.

Today through my own story, I'm learning the value of age- the value of wisdom & maturity that comes with age. By remembering who I was ten years ago and comparing that girl to who I am today, I realize how much I've grown and how far I've come.

As much as I miss my youth, I'm grateful for the things I know today.

I'm still learning and growing into a full woman. What's fascinating about life though, is that I'm not only learning from people and events of today but from stories and remnants of the past.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear - buddhist proverb

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good-bye summer

Labor Day weekend just passed, which officially marks the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Being a fall baby, autumn is my favorite season of the year: a time of abundance, harvest and gathering of families.

We spent a wonderful summer with weekend getaways to Laguna beach, Palm Desert & Rancho Mirage where we swam, ate & lounged around the water for endless fun under the sun. As a result the whole family had a nice healthy glow the entire summer and got to enjoy summer to its fullest, two of many perks of living in Southern California.

All good things must come to an end however; after a full month of lazy mornings, flexible meal time & building a fortress in middle of our living room the kids are back in school. Thankfully both girls were eager to return which lessens my anxiety and guilt- anxiety of letting teachers & friends replace my presence and guilt of feeling in need of more quiet time.

My children give me so many reasons to be thankful for my life. I don't believe our future can ever be definite but at least it's now more constant, hopeful & full of love.

Good-bye summer. Good-bye ducks by the pond and tiny kicking feet under water. Good-bye wet kisses after morning swim and margaritas by the pool. Good-bye desert sun and elongated palm trees. Good-bye breezy summer dresses, cut-off denim shorts & flip flops. You will greatly be missed until you return next year.

For now though, I'm ready for fall. I'm sad to part with a season that brings me so much laughter & fun yet this sadness is soon replaced by the anticipation of new season with its own beauty & charm.

This seems to be life's funny pattern, a recursive cycle of good-bye's & hello's.

Renaissance Esmeralda, Indian Wells. Palm Springs CA