Mina’s First Day @ Tiny Tots

I’m realizing it’s been 1 year, 5 months, and 10 days since Mina’s first day at Friends & Me: Big girl, Mina @ Friends & Me

17 months…528 days…12,672 hours…760,320 minutes. Wow.

But these numbers don’t carry any meaning other than the obvious and inevitable passing of time.

What carries meaning is Mina and her moving, growing, changing self.

Mina graduated Friends & Me on March 13, 2014. Since then, we’ve explored swimming and art classes; our first long road trip from NorCal to Jackson Hole, about a 14-hour drive across 3 days, involving Mina’s first hotel stays (she loved loved the Nevada hotels, especially the swimming pools and endless fun of jumping on beds); her first sightings of bison, antelope, ground squirrels, deer, and countless stunning birds; and her first sleepover at her cousin’s.

She’s growing up to be quite an individual with wit, whimsy, and spunk. And a whole lot of sweet.

One of my favorite moments from this summer: On August 3rd, we make a toast to us and our “moving, growing, working together” kind of love, “Happy Anniversary.”

And Mina celebrates, “We’re all married now!!!”

In that instant, we laugh and melt because she is so us. We feel and live love; love breathes and smiles in every exchange, and she’s already learned to share these tender gestures of love with us. A sweet peck on our foreheads, soothing strokes of her small hand on our shoulders, and even a silly swoon after our kisses (my favorite!) 🙂

Thank you, Miss Mina, for your sweet spunk. You surprise us, inspire us daily with your curious mind and mindful eye. You remind us to pay attention and notice the wonders around us. I am ever grateful and honored to be given this chance to be your Mama, to be part of this family I only dreamed of.

3 years flew by but with such force to bring out the best in me, in us. What a ride, what a rush of magical moments after another, and we’re now “firmly plantedandgrowing” as this family that’s just perfect for me.

We are such a gift, such a wonder to me.

Big girl, Mina @ Friends & Me

Wednesday, March 20, 2013.  Mina’s first class of Friends & Me.  Two complete hours away from Mama, Mom, Mommy! Yup, sometimes that’s how she calls me, exactly in that order!

As we enter the classroom at 9:15 am, she jumps right in, exploring the different tables of fun activities: drawing, stamps, and floam as they call it (looked like flowery foam).  Her body language is excitement, curious, and free.  She pays no mind to the other kids, just so focused to check it all out, without missing a thing!  When a bigger boy starts to cry emphatically for “Mommy,” Mina looks concerned.  I worry that this would set her off, too, but I really  had nothing to worry about.

“Bye-bye, Mama will come back, ok?” I say, and she repeats, “Mama come back,” with a smile.

9:40 am.  Some quiet time at Starbucks with a hot vanilla latte in one hand and Joan Didion’s book in another; I’m a happy mom.

10:37 am.  An hour has never felt so long, so stretched beyond reach.  This time away from Mina, the world seems to crawl when any other time, it seems to sprint.  A girl close to Mina’s age on a date with her Mom, giggling as she makes different animal sounds.  Makes me smile and I can’t help but miss my Mina.  I wonder what she is doing right now.  Busy-busy Mina, I can just see her exploring every activity, every toy, observing the teachers and kids, taking mental notes of every detail.  She really doesn’t miss a thing!  I can picture her goofy smile, her tender eyes, her sweet gesture of “share-share/junban-ban ne.”

I feel like the best part of me is missing, or at least, far away.  Yet, I know she is learning and laughing to her heart’s content.  Today is my first baby step of learning to let go.

Letting go.  This busy girl deserves all the space and freedom to explore this world of hers she so adores and loves, even if it means a fall or two.  I need to accept and embrace the fact that I cannot protect her all the time, I cannot catch her every time.  She needs to be able to do that for herself.  I need to let her.  I need to toughen up and not be so afraid for her.  I’m not doing Mina any favors or service by being overprotective or overbearing. Note to self: So sometimes, I need to keep my distance.

Sipping my latte, I start Didion’s Blue Nights.  But my mind is wandering and wondering, distracted with thoughts and pictures of Mina.  I can’t concentrate…not fully present…disrespectful to Didion to say the least.

I also feel the urge to write.  Record these thoughts and feelings pouring out of me.  So the lure of a quiet date with my book and latte quickly wears off and I know I have to go find something to write on.  The backside of those Google maps lying around in my car would be perfect.  And here I am spilling it all out.

10:57 am.  Perfect time to head over to pick her up.  I can’t wait to feel her small hands gently tap my back when she hugs me.  A tender “I love you and I knew you’d be back” hug.

I still have time to learn to let go.  Not just yet but one baby step at a time.

♥ 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

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)!