MicroblogMondays: Okra

Okra is a quirky little boy.  He is smart and determined and focused.  He sometimes makes some funny remarks that make me chuckle.  Two examples:

Bob: Are you Chinese or Indian, Bunny?
Bunny: I’m Chinese.
Me: What about you, Okra? Are you Chinese or Indian?
Okra: (Thought for a couple of seconds with a matter-of-fact look on his face) I’m an elephant.
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Conversation with Okra last evening before bedtime:
Me: Okra, don’t pretend to be a dog after you wash your hands (because I don’t want him to be crawling on the floor anymore)
Okra (pretending to be a dog): I change back to a person?
Me: Yup that’s right.
Okra (thinking for a moment): No, I now change back to a dog that stands up on two legs.
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He also has the best curly hair lol:

MicroblogMondays: Voting

There are so many things I can write about, such as an update on my fibroid/adenomyosis situation on the back of my uterus, or the first real Halloween for the kids.  The time change makes me tired so I am just going to write about this one thing that I found beautiful.  Sunday night after the kids went to sleep, my husband and I sat at our dining room table and each filled out our ballots for the election on Tuesday.  This isn’t the first time that my husband voted.  He became a citizen the year the twins were born and had voted a few times since then.  We never really sat down to vote together before.  This year’s election is so important to me that I found it so unifying for the two of us to be able to sit down together and marked our own ballots, and for us to be voting for the same candidates for one of the most critical elections in my life.  We are doing this for our future and more importantly, our children’s future.  This morning, I will take the kids with me to drop off the ballots at our City Hall so that they can witness ballots being turned in for the first time.  Tuesday can’t come quickly enough.

MicroblogMondays: Mama, What is Jealous?

My 3-year-old daughter asks me many questions.  The other day she was listening to When You Feel Jealous by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in the car and asked me what jealous means.  I tried my best to explain it to her, saying that it is when you feel sad or unhappy when someone has what you don’t have.  She asked me several more times the following week.  Fast forward to this past weekend.  After learning about this ranch about 30 minutes away that offered Halloween activities and a pumpkin patch, we decided to take the kids there trusting that we would be safe enough with the COVID measures that were implemented.  There were quite a few activities there.  When we were waiting in line for the petting zoo, the lady behind me was pregnant with a kid that looked about three years old.  She was probably 7 or 8 months pregnant.  I started noticing her and telling Bob that there was a pregnant lady behind us.  He said, “Yeah I saw a few of them, and was trying to tell you that there was one in front of us at the entrance but you didn’t pay attention to me.”  I was too busy with what I was doing and didn’t even pay attention.  Even when I do pay attention, I find that I don’t feel anything about the pregnant ladies.  In the past, I would have noticed how many kids they already have, how far along they might have been, and felt a little sorry for myself that they were working on their number two or three or four and I was still trying to have the first baby.  It is no longer the case. I make a mental note of pregnant ladies just like how I make mental note of everything else around me.  I don’t pay particular attention to them anymore.  Just like that, they have what I also have, and that feeing of jealous, or the negative feeling that you have when someone possesses something that you don’t have, is not there anymore even when I know that I didn’t get to carry my kids.  I know that some of my friends who have been trying for a baby for a long time definitely feel jealous of people around them who are pregnant or have kids.  It is hard to watch them go through a difficult time after trying for so long.  Sometimes I just hope for a resolution for them so they don’t have to feel jealous anymore.  I am sure that my 3-year-old will feel jealous about many things in her life in the future, but I sincerely hope that she (and her brother) will never experience the kind of jealousy one has when everyone else around him/her can make a baby easily except for her.

Here are my kids at the petting zoo:

MicroblogMondays: Such Great News

I have these former coworkers that I have been friends with for 23 plus years.  From my 20s to my 30s, these ladies were an integral part of my life.  They were the ones that celebrated my birthday year after year after year when I was single.  We had so many great memories together.  There were also some fallouts between a few of us.  We drifted apart in our late 30s when life circumstances changed, but they continue to be near and dear to my heart.  One of them moved away to another state the year we got married.  Every time she is in town we’d get together.  Otherwise we would very occasionally talk to one another or get together.  When COVID hit, this group of friends started to video chat once a week.  The pandemic is a horrible thing but its existence has helped to bring this group of friends together closer than any other time in the past ten years.  We now know how everybody is doing. We commiserate about the state of our country and share about our lives.  When one of them lost her mother, we were able to be there for her for emotional support.  Four of us are married with kids, and one of them is single.  She is my age and has been dating on and off but has not found a life partner yet.  She happens to also be quiet and often sits back to listen to others and rarely volunteers information.  I wasn’t the closest to her throughout the years but I have grown very fond of her in the last few years.  Ever since COVID hits, I have made sure that I spend some time to talk to her since she lives alone.  A couple of weeks ago, everybody appeared to be quite busy so the video chat was short.  I made sure I stayed behind to chat with my single friend.  I asked her how she was doing and what was new.  To my surprise, instead of talking about her work or her dad, she paused a little and then told me that she was in love!  OH MY!  I was so surprised!  Of course I tried to get as many details as possible.  She met this guy online.  After dating for a couple of months, she decided to welcome him into her pod and they have been dating in person for a couple of months.  She really really really likes him, which makes me so happy for her!  I couldn’t believe that she had kept it a secret from all of us for so long, and chose not to disclose to others during our group chat.  I am so proud of her for putting herself out there during a pandemic and met someone and was brave enough to embark on a new dating relationship.  It takes so much courage to do that.  And she is happy and in love!  I can go on and on about it as I have been so excited for her.  I couldn’t wait for her to tell the others the following week.  Then the next week came, and I got on the call a little late.  At the end of the call, I asked if single friend had given others an update.  I gave her a smile and a knowing look.  She started laughing saying that Isabelle was trying to give me a hint to tell you all what has been going on.  So she again told our other friends that she was in love.  Everybody was so so so psyched for her!  In these dark times, the news of a dear friend falling in love just brings so much joy in my life.  You cannot underestimate the power of positive news.  There is hope that this relationship will come to fruition and my dear friend gets to spend the rest of her life with someone that she loves.  Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing that comes out of a horrible pandemic?

MicroblogMondays: Dosa and Daal

Last week, I borrowed a couple of books from the library with representation of characters that look like my kids.  One of them is called Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas and the other is called Bilal Cooks Daal.  They are such fun books to read.  A bonus is that they talk about things that my kids are familiar with.  The first one talks about dosas, which is a thin crepe like pancake that is a staple in South Indian cuisine often eaten with sambar, a lentil stew.  Since Bob is South Indian, the kids are familiar with dosa.  It is definitely fun for them to see a food item they are familiar with as the central theme of the book.  In Bilal Cooks Daal, the main character cooks daal with his dad and his friends.  When we got to the part when the book’s characters chose which lentils to use and what spices to add, both my kids exclaimed in delight.  The book mentioned about turmeric, cumin, chili.  These are all spices that we frequently use in our dishes.  Since the kids help me cook every single day, and get to add these spices and other seasoning such as salt, pepper, and garlic powder to our dishes, they were so pleased to see all these things they have hands on experience with get mentioned in a book they read.  Both books include recipes at the end of the book for making the dishes that are mentioned in the book.  My daughter has been asking me daily to try these recipes. One weekend we are going to do that!  I feel so grateful that these books exist so that my kids get to see someone that looks like them being represented in books they read.  Diversity and representation in children’s literature are so important.  I highly recommend these books!

MicroblogMondays: Hair Cut

No.. I didn’t get a haircut.  My hair is long and layered so I usually only get one haircut every 6 to 8 months.  During this pandemic, my hair hasn’t started to bother me yet.

It is a different story for my husband.  He would usually get one haircut every two months or so.  His last haircut pre-pandemic was in February around his birthday.  Ever since the sheltering in place started, he has been working from home and does not usually go out of the house except for taking a walk or going for a run.  I take care of all the shopping needs while he takes care of bringing home the bacon.  In those few months, his hair grew longer and longer and longer.  Honestly, in the 11 years that we have been together, I had never seen his hair so long and unruly.  I now am very certain where Okra’s super curly hair comes from.  I joked about seeing rays of sunshine on Bob’s head every single day.  Bob was so so bothered by his hair.  Towards the end of the 5th month not having a haircut, he was literally pulling his hair with both hands day and night in frustration.  I could only imagine how bothersome longer hair could be for a guy who is so used to having a neat and short hair style.  His usual hair salon was/is still closed in San Francisco.  His hair was bugging him so much that he was willing to let me cut his hair if I was willing to take a stab at it.  Well, I wasn’t.  I just don’t have enough confidence to even know how to begin to do that.  So when my friend/fellow twin mom/neighbor who lives on the next block told me that her next door neighbor is a hair stylist and started giving haircuts in her backyard, I got super excited.  Bob was at first apprehensive when he learned about this new opportunity.  After some consideration, apparently the benefits outweighed the risks.  The hairstylist would be masked.  Bob would be masked.  She would allot enough time to sanitize the area before his appointment time.  So on the day of the appointment, he walked a few minutes to that house and came back within half an hour with a huge smile on his face.  The difference between the before and the after was shocking.  A haircut does a person good on so many levels.  Even Bob’s gait looked different.  There was an air of confidence and lightness when he was walking home.  His smile told it all.  Who would have known that a simple act of getting a haircut would be so much appreciated when a pandemic hit?  This teaches us not to take anything for granted, even an everyday thing such as a haircut.  As for me?  I am holding out on my hair for as long as possible.  Now that Okra has an opinion about his own hair (which is No when I ask him if he wants a haircut), it will be very hard for him to let a stranger touch his hair.  We are probably looking at boy/girl twins who have never had a haircut on their third birthday.  And I am okay with that.  Bob probably doesn’t care since he now knows where he can go to keep his hair short and neat.

MicroblogMondays: 46

I wonder what I would have done instead if my birthday didn’t happen during a pandemic this year.

I turned 46 on Friday.  Because of the pandemic, we stayed in for most of the day.  In the morning the kids and I just hung out and had a great time.  The kids were playing when I asked them to sing me a birthday song.  They at first were willing to sing.  When I put my phone camera up to record them, it took a lot of coaxing, then Bunny started singing.  Okra continued to play with his toys.  I asked him to sing to me, and he said, “Mommy I am very busy.”  I was laughing out loud.  Last year they needed my help singing the whole birthday song.  This year they could sing it all on their own but apparently life is too busy for him to sing to me.  My mom treated me to a delicious dim sum lunch.  We went to pick up the take out with the kids.  My kids love dim sum so I thought for sure we would have a good time enjoying the food.  Unfortunately, my son had other ideas.  When I was washing his hands prior to lunch, he said to me, “I won’t let grandma eat dim sum”.  I responded by telling him that we treat everybody kindly and with respect, especially grandma.  He then told me not to talk.  Telling mommy not to talk is not permitted in this house.  When I told him that, he threw a huge tantrum that lasted a long time.  Needless to say, lunch wasn’t very enjoyable even when the food was excellent.  This reminds me of my birthday last year.  My kids were both very pleasant throughout the day, but threw a tantrum all day long the day after.  At least this time Okra only threw one huge one (that was big enough for Bunny’s share) and didn’t do it again the rest of the day.  But let’s talk about the highlights.  My niece wrote me a few days prior and asked if she could make me a birthday cake.  I asked for a mochi cake that she is so good at making.  In the afternoon, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew showed up with the cake that was made into a heart shape!  With one candle on the cake, the whole family sang me a birthday song outside our window.  It was truly lovely and heart warming.  Then the adults spent the next 30 minutes drawing kids pictures on the window, as if it was the kids’ birthday rather than mine, haha.  Dinner was takeout from this lobster restaurant that I had always wanted to try.  I went to college in New England and had the joy of eating unlimited lobster tails at a lobster festival put together by my school.  I had been craving good lobsters and Bob was kind enough to make it happen.  The kids had lobster roll for the first time and seemed to enjoy the brioche bread the most.  They did like the butter and finally dipped the lobster meat in there.  I had two lobster tails, some shrimp cocktail, a bowl of lobster chowder, and coleslaw.  It was a fantastic dinner that everybody enjoyed.  All in all, it was a low key but wonderful celebration.

Back to my question in the beginning of this post.  What would I have done if it wasn’t for COVID-19?  I think we would have gone to the zoo, or on a short trip, or Bob and I would have picked a nice restaurant for dinner just by ourselves.  Instead, I got to spend all day with the kids (Bob was working).  Even though we didn’t go anywhere special, and despite that one huge tantrum by Okra, being with my family would have been all I wanted.  And that was exactly what we did.  So in a sense, COVID not COVID, it makes no difference as long as I am with my loved ones.

Four more years before I turn 50.  I can’t even fathom that.  But it is also time for me to embrace my age.

MicroblogMondays: Pandemic Family Love

My kids haven’t seen my brother, my sister-in-law, and my niece and nephew ever since the shelter-in-place started.  In the beginning, I did suggest to my brother to come drop off stuff for us when the kids are awake but he feels that seeing the kids through the window is going to make the kids more upset than not.  So they come whenever the kids are down for the day already or napping.  My kids’ favorite person is my sister-in-law, who they call “Kau Mo”, which means their mother’s brother’s wife.  Pre-pandemic, they would see her and the rest of the family at least once a week if not more often.  My SIL sometimes meets up with us at the indoor gym to play with the kids.  We sometimes head over to her place to play with her toys.  The very last time the kids saw her was the Friday prior to shelter-in-place order.  She came to Golden Gate Park with us for a walk.  Kids and she were drawing pictures in the dirt, picking up leaves, playing hide-and-seek, and basically just having a grand time hanging out.  In the beginning of the stay-at-home order, the kids would FaceTime with my SIL once in a while.  A few weeks later, we had a Zoom meeting during Easter dinner with the rest of my SIL’s family.  The kids stayed on the call with Kau Mo for a bit longer.  Ever since then, Kau Mo has been on a Zoom call with the kids once a week, usually on a Saturday morning.  As an experienced teacher who is very creative, she knows how to capture the kids’ attention.  She prepares books, toys, drawings, drumming to keep the kids entertained for over an hour.  Sometimes the sessions last for an hour and 15 minutes.  During that time, I could usually do chores like folding laundry, preparing for lunch, etc.  Last weekend during the Zoom call, Bob was sitting there assisting the kids, and I dusted, vacuumed, and mopped our master bedroom, bathrooms, and the kids’ room.  Kau Mo is the best babysitter ever.  I always joke that she should make this into a business because the kids really have a lot of fun with new activities every week with her.  We are so blessed to have her as an auntie to the kids.  And my brother has been a great brother too.  He has come numerous times to drop off stuff for us.  One time I asked where he got his toilet paper.  Instead of letting me go shopping somewhere myself, he helped me order some toilet paper from Amazon Fresh (since we signed up but haven’t been allowed to shop yet).  He received the toilet paper the same day and delivered it to us (by walking 15 minutes from his house) that evening.  We didn’t even have to leave the house to get those toilet paper rolls.  Even though we haven’t been able to really spend time with them physically, we can see and feel the love from our family in so many ways.  We hope that the kids will be able to finally touch them and hug them some time soon.  When they ask to go to Kau Mo’s house one day, I hope that I can tell them yes instead of saying that it is “closed”.

MicroblogMondays: Hair

My son Okra has long curly hair.  My husband and I agreed to get him his first haircut when he turned two.  After his second birthday, my husband had second thoughts about it and asked to extend the haircut to when Okra turned 2 years 3 months.  When that time rolled around in December, he again couldn’t bring himself to saying yes to cutting Okra’s hair.  Once again, we talked about cutting Okra’s hair when he turns 2 1/2.  Well, little did we know that the world suddenly changed and going out for a haircut is no longer an easy thing.  Okra’s hair remains long and he continues to be called a girl when we are out or even when we get on Zoom calls.  People on the street (when we take our walks) or strangers on Zoom (story time put on by some mom’s group) would say “Hi girls!” to my twins.  I actually do not mind people calling Okra a girl.  I have stopped a little while ago to correct people about that.  However, tying his hair up for a man bun is a chore every single morning.  The struggle is real.  This would be the biggest reason why I would want to get him a hair cut.  You may ask, why don’t YOU cut his hair?  I dare not touch anyone’s hair in my house.  I mean, I can braid and tie a man bun or ponytail.  But cutting hair?  It’s way out of my league.  Even Bob asked me to cut his hair as it is getting long as well, and my answer is No.  Look at Okra’s hair:

This was his hair after a bath with the front part of his hair pulled back.  I know curly hair is extremely hard to cut.  So I am not going to tempt fate and take things into my own hands.  Even when shelter in place is lifted in the future, I don’t think I’d want to take him anywhere unnecessary, haircut included.  A friend of mine is fascinated with his hair.  She keeps on telling me that I am never going to cut that hair because I will deprive him of becoming a teenage heartthrob one day. She said that he is going to get all the girls (or maybe boys) with those curls.  Hahaha.  I guess I will have to continue my battle with him (and sometimes Bunny) each morning until the world is a safe place for a haircut one day.

MicroblogMondays: Baking

I bought a used learning tower about eight months ago so that the kids could cook and bake with me.  We had used it a couple of times for pizza making but not much else.  I think the infrequent use is mainly due to my lack of confidence in controlling the mess.  With one child, I might feel a bit more comfortable with preventing the little sticky hands from flinging ingredients all over the place.  With two kids the same age, the chances of chaos were too great for me to make the experience worthwhile.  Plus we had activities every morning even on rainy days so it made it hard for me to plan for baking with them.  Now that the kids are 2 1/2 years old and we are home all day long, I have been looking for ways to kill time with the both of them.  I feel that they are mature enough for me to trust them with dumping ingredients in a bowl for baking.  So the other day I invited them over to climb on the learning tower to make some muffins.  They were so excited!  They first put silicone liners in the muffin tin.  I let them take turns pouring both wet ingredients and dry ingredients in the bowl.  They got to learn the names of all the things we put in the muffins.  I am quite pleased with how well they followed directions.  They took turns pouring each ingredient and didn’t fight over it.  They also helped me mix the batter together.  Mess was totally minimal.  They watched me patiently as I portioned the batter in the muffin cups.

They drew and colored while waiting for the muffins to be done.  At one point they were impatiently sitting in front of the oven to wait for the muffins to finish cooking.

I gave them each a freshly baked muffin for snack that morning.

They both looked so proud of themselves.  Since then, Bunny has been telling me “I am a chef!” and was pretending to cook with baking powder in her toy kitchen.  She even threw a tantrum the next day when I gave her a muffin for snack because she thought we were going to bake muffins instead.  I hope that this has planted a seed for them for their love of cooking and baking in their lives.  And now that I know they have enough self-control, we will experiment baking different things in the future.