onlies or siblings: my dilemma

Pregnancy and motherhood brought with them many unexpected thoughts and surprising ponderings, like choosing to keep the gender of our baby a surprise until the birth. I just wanted to keep every step as natural as possible; meaning minimal intervention and letting nature take its course. To me, finding  the gender from a medical device felt artificial and unromantic but I wasn’t confident I’d have the patience to wait 9 months either. Then my husband and I had a thoughtful conversation and I didn’t want to know anymore, I wanted to wait. He shared with me that he didn’t want to have any preconceived notions about the baby based on gender; that wasn’t fair to the baby. He wanted to have a clear slate, a fresh start from the moment he met him|her. I had never thought of it this way and this notion hit home hard. I didn’t want to prepare his|her room (not that we did much to the nursery), buy his|her clothes, and inadvertently, get attached to the idea of him|her I created in my mind. I, too, wanted to start completely fresh when I met him|her, so waiting wasn’t hard at all; I felt it was the only right thing to do. Plus, it was fun and kind of poetic to keep it a surprise.

Being the youngest of 3, I often imagined having 3 kids, too, but I knew that would be difficult in more ways than one; so as a convenient compromise, in my mind, I always wanted at least 2 kids.  This was before I had Mina. Now, I’m not so clear. A part of me wants another child, to experience one final time the phenomenal feeling of carrying another life in my womb, and most importantly for Mina to grow up with a sibling; but I’m realizing that it’s not that simple, it’s far more complicated a reality with layers of convoluted thoughts, desires, and doubts. At least for me. So I needed time to unravel and examine the intricate mess in my mind.

Before having Mina, all I had was my imaginary world, those hopes and dreams I’d carried for years. Simply an abstraction. After having Mina, everything is real, everything is consequential. Completely concrete. So there’s this other part of me that is all too aware of the difficulties, challenges, responsibilities, and risks that come with having another child. Some days, I feel adamant that Mina should have a sibling. Other days, I feel content with Mina being our only child. Then other days, I just feel really sad.

Then, I had an aha moment. It dawned on me that I need to stop forcing my desires from an imaginary context onto this current reality. My desire to have 2 or more children existed only in my mind, without any context, but I was free to dream in my mind. It’s different now. This is not a dream, we exist; and in this existence, there are certain truths I need to face and embrace.

Truth #1, our financial reality. I want to be able to offer Mina all that she needs (and some that she wants). I don’t think we’d be able to do that for Mina and another child. My heart aches just to imagine having to say no to something she wants to do like taking ballet or piano lessons. If we can’t live comfortably as a bigger family, if we have to struggle month to month, counting the pennies, then I don’t know…I don’t know if I could be truly happy.

Truth #2, my husband’s age. He’s in his early 50’s and with that comes higher risks for complications with his health and the health of our next baby. He’s also had 2 kids from his previous marriage (they’re both in college now) so Mina’s not the only child for him. Deep down, maybe he doesn’t want another child. Maybe it’s unfair for me to force this desire onto him. I also have to face the possibility of raising Mina and another child all on my own. This thought scares me.

Truth #3, my age. After 35, risks for genetic mutations increase exponentially (for both men and women). If I’m going to have another baby, I have to be ready to face this reality. It may be a very small percentage, but that possibility still exists and to disregard or ignore this elephant in the room would be irresponsible and unthoughtful. If it happens and I’m not ready or able to accept it, then who do I have to blame but myself?

Truth #4, my doubts about being as good a mother when raising not one but two kids. Honestly, I’m not confident I can be as patient and compassionate with 2 little ones (I already feel my patience being tested with Mina alone).

“Oh, everything will be just fine!” “Everything will work out, don’t worry!” So easy for people to say and I know they mean well but when everything is not fine or everything doesn’t work out, then what? We’re the ones living our own reality; nobody else. To think that everything will be ok and magically work out, I think is naive and irresponsible. I know this is a very personal decision, a decision I need to make together with my husband, and nobody else can make it for me. I just wanted to share.

In the end, I recognized that being stubbornly attached to my desires was not only immature but also probably unhealthy; unwilling to let go of the fictional future I longed for, created, and invested in over many years, I was simply fleeing from reality. This moment is all that truly exists, is all that I have. I needed to take a hard look at this context, my reality, and reassess what I really want for Mina, for me, and above all for us as a family, because our happiness depends on it. I know we can’t have it all. Everything is a give and take. If I want another child, I have to be willing to take risks, face challenges, and make sacrifices as well as compromises. How badly do I want a second child? Is it solely for Mina to have a sibling in her life when we’re gone? Then, aren’t her half-siblings not enough? What am I willing to give up for a second child?

I never thought I’d be in this position to decide between onlies or siblings. Before Mina, having an only child was out of the question for me, but as Pema Chödrön says, “This very moment is the perfect teacher,” so I need to listen, pay attention, take notes, and learn. I don’t have an answer yet; all I know is that I never want to regret this decision we’re going to make, so we’ll take our time, turn over every stone, ask questions, wander and wonder, until we can say we know what we want.

♥ happy 21 months ♥

Happy 21 months to my sweet Mina. She’s not a baby anymore; she is her own person! We love that she’s sharing more of herself with us through her humor, her wit, and even her tantrums. I’m so proud of her and so proud to be her Mama. I am above all so proud of us; this family is everything I dreamed of and more. This family is mine; I believed, fought hard, and always dreamed of us; I stayed true to the truth in my heart, even if it risked losing my family! (All I have to say is, What a journey! Life works in interesting ways…another story for another time!)

21 months= 639 days=15,336 hours=920,160 minutes=55,209,600 seconds since that life-changing moment of her birth at 9:14 AM! So empowering, feeling her travel through me. So magical, holding her close to my heart. So poignant, feeling her breath, her life. Beautiful beyond words. Days full of love, full of wonder. Learning and growing together, and sharing our aliveness with one another.

“We always find our own ways to live in truth and love with truth. Most of the time, in unconventional ways. I love that about us. We create our own rules…no, not rules actually; we create. We just Be. I love this place of me. Of us. Of a we with an amazing future. A life forever. This feeling, like a river, so fluid, so peace-full. I am finally able to flowglow in this fountain of love for me. For us. For a we to come. …I feel perfect in my imperfections. They are my scarred treasures, my gems. Sacred in its own crooked little beauty.” I wrote this in April 2008 about us before our marriage, before Mina’s birth. Serendipitous to read this today…

We’re perfect in our imperfections. I love the family that we are. I love us. Feeling the completeness of a full circle.

♪ ♪ [We] are so beautiful, [we] should be guarded by monkeys ♪ ♪

Aphorism of the day: Writ(be)ing in the moment, you never know where it will lead you. (Loving the surprises!)

To read the full post from April 2008: Tomorrow is my 31st birthday

bubbly toesies & hands

I love kissing Mina’s soft, bubbly toesies and hands! (Yes, like the children’s book, “The Kissing Hand.”)

Just seems like yesterday when Mina was born…and in a few short months, she will be 2…though her terrible twos has already begun…. Actually, I take that back. Humbling and challenging, yes, but not terrible at all. (What’s terrible is when I’m not as patient and compassionate as I’d like to be…worse yet, when I can’t make it all better…but every day is practice, every day I’m learning to be a better Mama to my Mina.) She’s just growing up, discovering the world in her own way, sharing more of herself, and wanting to “Mina do!” everything because she knows she can, because she’s secure, confident, and curious. We love that about her! She’s a wonder!!

Pema Chödrön’s quote comes to mind: “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”

excerpt: The Art of Loving by Fromm

In my previous post the art of loving: food, I recommended one of my favorite books of all time, “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm; so I had to share this excerpt so dear to us. So clear, so deep,  so true, so wise. First published in 1956, such a timeless piece! I’m forever moved and inspired by these words:

“An illusion must be mentioned here. The illusion, namely, that love means necessarily the absence of conflict. Just as it is customary for people to believe that pain and sadness should be avoided under all circumstances, they believe that love means the absence of any conflict. And they find good reasons for this idea in the fact that the struggles around them seem only to be destructive interchanges which bring no good to either one of those concerned. But the reason for this lies in the fact that the “conflicts” of most people are actually attempts to avoid the real conflicts. They are disagreements on minor or superficial matters which by their very nature do not lend themselves to clarification or solution. Real conflicts between two people, those which do not serve to cover up or to project, but which are experienced on the deep level of inner reality to which they belong, are not destructive. They lead to clarification, they produce a catharsis from which both persons emerge with more knowledge and more strength.

Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence. Only in this “central experience” is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together; whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, this is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are one with each other by being one with themselves, rather than by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized.”

Link to Google eBook: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

the art of loving: food

Gallery: Photos from April – October! Click on a photo for details or to enlarge and view as a slideshow.

As you can see, we love to cook! I love to cook for my family and friends. For me, it’s both an expression and a sharing of love. It brings me pure joy to spend time in the kitchen, labor over a dish or two, and then share them with loved ones. Seeing their faces light up with delight, I live for those moments of shared happiness. I can’t take credit for all these dishes. Some were made by my husband, and others were a joint effort. One of the many things we love to share. I love being in the kitchen with him, together preparing a special meal, a glass of wine in hand, wrapped in our world of aromas. Exchanging a dash of tenderness here, a pinch of love there. No longer a mundane chore, it’s our way of celebrating each other and our loved ones. In these moments, I feel love most intimately. The Art of Loving, indeed! Happy Loving!!!

(If you’re not familiar with this title, “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm, I urge everyone to pick this up today and start reading! Life-changing, amazing read; timeless piece of writing! ENJOY :))

P.S. If you’d like a recipe for any of the dishes, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do a post!  I’ve provided links to online recipes when available; just click on the photo for details.

big girl, big stuff

Mina’s always been eager to do things on her own, even as a baby! Only a few months old, her first favorite play was to hold on to Papa’s index fingers and pull herself up to a standing position (a 9-pound baby, she was big and strong from the day she was born)! She’d have a BIG smile, and look so proud of herself. She figured out that if she could communicate with us, she’d get what she wanted. So, she learned the sign for “milk” and “more,” and to roll over and scoot from very early on. She’s definitely ahead of her game! And now, she’s constantly telling us, “Mina do!” She sure thinks she’s big stuff 🙂 !!

garden girl

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We love our garden and so does our Mina! She loves helping Papa tend the garden, and taste a few sweet cherry tomatoes while she’s at it! 🙂 One of her first words were ‘outside’ and ‘pretty’!

♪ ♪ Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say, It’s all right… ♪ ♪

Family dinner menu on Oct 12

My husband and I both LOVE to cook (one of the lovely things we share!). Last week, with work being hectic AND adjusting back to Cali time (from Tokyo time, a 16-hour difference), he cooked all our dinners…and yes, I was feeling bad and very guilty, so here’s my I’m-making-it-up-to-you-guys dinner menu:

Zuppa di Cavolfiori | Cauliflower Soup

Photo: Soup simmering on the stovetop (love our le creuset!!)

Veal Scallopine Piccata | Veal Scallopine in Lemon-Caper Sauce

My husband loved both these new recipes; he’s a big fan of olives (me not so much…the things you do for love!); these are a keeper!

Mina loved it, too, especially, the cauliflower soup; she even had seconds! The soup is super healthy with onions, carrots, lentils, and of course, cauliflower!

Happy Cooking! Happy Eating!! Happy Loving!!!

Recipes are from Lidia’s Italy:

Zuppa di Cavolfiori:

Veal Scallopine Piccata

meals, desserts, and snacks for Mina

Gallery: Photos of meals I made for Mina this year from May – October! Click on a photo for details or to enlarge and view as a slideshow.

I love food. I love to eat, to cook, even to watch cooking shows or browse our cookbooks for hours on end! I owe this to my mom, or Mama as I call her. She’s the best cook I know and she does it so effortlessly (wish and aspire to be as great a cook as she)! Thanks to her, I love vegetables and fruits just as much as anything else (I don’t understand the concept of not liking vegetables; they’re so delicious!). So when I got pregnant, it was very important to me|us to offer our baby a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of flavors. I read and believed that what I eat not only nourishes the baby, but also shapes their palate and food memories while in the womb. What I ate affected the flavor and scent of the amniotic fluid. I didn’t change my diet during my pregnancy as we’re healthy eaters to begin with, but I was conscious to eat and expose my baby to a wide variety of flavors that I love. I’m a third-generation Korean, born and raised in Japan, and have lived in the States since college (quite complicated to say the least!), so I made sure to expose her not only to Japanese and Korean flavors (yes, even spicy! only when she was in my womb) but also to American, Greek, Italian, Indian, Persian and other flavors. Once Mina was about 5 months, we started solids because she was staring and moving her mouth during our meals! Inspired by Mama, I did my best to make fresh foods for her every day. Fresh vegetable and fruit purees. I have to note that the Beaba Babycook was amazing (it’s a small food processor-blender-steamer in one) and I still use it to this day for smoothies!! She was, and still is, a great eater! She loves food just like Mama!

My love for food has been the bestest gift from Mama. I, too, want to give this gift to Mina. So I do my best…but I hate to admit, I don’t do it every day; I’d like to think I do most days.

Happy Cooking! Happy Eating!! Happy Sharing!!!

P.S. If you’d like a recipe for any of the meals, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do a post (if I can remember how I made it 🙂 haha)!

Today is the day!

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” ~ Dalai Lama

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. That’s not to say that I read into things, but more that I do my very best to appreciate, welcome, and embrace everything. I try to be mindful and aware. To me, this means to be open, pay attention, and take it all in. Like this quote, for instance. A friend on Facebook posted it, I read it, was moved by it, shared it on my wall, and now, it’s inspired me to do today what I’ve been putting off for months. Serendipitous. The right nudge I needed to take the first step but I know, this is only the beginning, just the birth.

Aphorism of the day: Life exists in the minutest details.