This Week’s (Unpaid) Endorsements

1) T.J. Maxx. As shocking as it sounds, I have now become a person who wears workout clothes in order to WORK OUT! Will wonders never cease? Thanks to a great Groupon deal, I have started taking yoga classes for the very first time. During my first class, I could not understand how standing around and breathing constituted a workout. Then I was sore for two days straight and no longer doubted the benefits. The quiet, contemplative exercise seems to be a perfect complement to heart-pounding running. It is nice to slow down and be forced to be present in the moment in our fast-paced, immediate gratification, digital world.

With running and yoga classes, I decided that I needed some more workout clothes so as not to have to do laundry every other day or shorten others’ lives by re-wearing sweat-soaked, stinky apparel. I considered cashing in my sons’ college funds and going to Lululemon, but my practical side won out. I went to my dear T.J. Maxx’s, and like a loyal, faithful friend she did not let me down. I got both yoga crops, running crops, and a pair of sandals all for the price that one item would have costed me at Lulu’s. (Yes, it is necessary to get different crops. Running ones should be breathable enough to sustain buckets of sweat while yoga ones should be thick enough not to traumatize your neighboring yogis in bum-exposing poses.) I left that store feeling like the commercials screaming to random strangers why I was a Maxxinista for life. I LOVE T. J. MAXX!!

2) AAA. Our 10 year old Honda is actually the younger, more reliable car in our family. The other is my mom’s hand-me-down Nissan I affectionately call our hooptie. Whoever said what goes up must come down has never worked the windshield wipers on hooptie. We avoid opening the driver’s side window because it takes a couple magic tricks to get it all the way back up. However, despite the rattling at acceleration and the occasional vibrating glove compartment, it does get Mike to and from work in one piece and we do not even have any duct tape on it…yet. If any car is going to leave us stranded, I expected it to be hooptie. Turns out, it was the Honda.

The only problem we have had with it is that the driver’s side lock has to be manually pushed up/down or opened/closed with the key inserted into the hole. Today I dropped off my kids to school and then went to unlock the parked car as usual. The key would not go in all the way (like it had started to threaten to do over the past few days). When I finally got it in the hole, it felt forced and would not turn either way. I kept at it over and over trying to look as casually as possible while other parents passed me on the way back to their respective (working) cars. I guess I pull off the casual thing well because no one looked my way for a second even as I stood bent over my door for eternity. Finally I called AAA.

AAA operator: Hi, how can I help you?
Me: Uh, I can’t get my car door opened. My key goes in but doesn’t turn.
AAA: Ok, no problem. I can get assistance to you. Where are you located? What’s the address or cross streets?
Me: That church parking lot across from my kids’ school.
AAA: Uh, Ok…let’s start with city?

Working his magic, he not only told me the name of the church but also the correct address. I almost expected him to tell me what I was going to make for dinner since I did not know the answer to that either. Fortunately a friend had sent me a funny show to watch on Facebook that turned my cursing into laughing while I waited for the roadside assistance man. He quickly and efficiently showed me how easy and effortless it was to break into my car. Thanks…I think. And that was that. God bless AAA.

3) Miracle Gro soil. Last summer one of the prizes the boys got from the public library reading program was seed packets. At the time I could convince them it was not the season to plant. Now that it is spring, they could not be so easily thwarted. Do they not know that any plant that enters my house automatically enrolls into plant hospice? Do they not remember my track record for killing living greens (100%)?

I indulged them with a trip to Lowe’s where we picked up the cheapest pots (coffins) and a bag of Miracle Gro soil. I gave speeches to their excited little minds about how difficult it is to get seeds to grow and that they should not expect any sprouts. I said that if nothing happened for a couple weeks we could always go back to Lowe’s and buy plants that were already growing. Keeping those alive would be enough challenge already. I pretty much tried to lower their expectations based on my realistic history. Despite this crushing of all hope, they continued to check the pots daily and ask if I had watered them. Ethan would make sure the blinds by the pots were opened for appropriate sunlight. He would breathe like an obscene phone caller on the empty soil for carbon dioxide dosing. Then today, he noticed something and excitedly called me over. Lo and behold there were millimeter sprouts in each pot! No wonder they call it Miracle Gro. I think I could be like the chapel in Santa Fe with the miraculous staircase and start charging admission for people to see this obvious act of God.

Shocked by sprouts!

Shocked by sprouts!

In closing, discount stores rock, get a AAA membership, and have Ethan breathe on your most hopeless projects. I’m taking him and the rest of the Miracle Gro soil to buy some lottery tickets. :)

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A Work in Progress

My boys have been faithfully praying for little Ava just as I wrote in my last post. However, there are times when I ask myself, how can my sweet prayer warriors turn into such cold-hearted meanies?! Just keeping it real, people. Following the most recent incident, I had them each pick out two of their best performing stuffed animals for a post-dinner play entitled “Love Your Neighbor.” The title elicited tragic groans from my older son who can sniff out my ABC Afterschool Special attempts like a bloodhound. After handing me the thespian fur balls, the boys sat on the couch with their Pepero sticks dessert ready for the show.

Poor Perry the bald eagle got beaten up and robbed. Ribbit the tree frog knew Perry from high school, was his Facebook friend and knew his family but rushed on by the roadkill-looking eagle. Gator the alligator went to Copper Pointe Church with Perry but had to rush by poor Perry to get to Bible study on time. Finally, Orcky the orca whale saw Perry from a distance. Despite having to leave his comfortable home in the ocean, the friendly killer (friendly killer?) whale went out of his way to help what he would usually want to consume for dinner. Even though they were rivals like the Packers and Bears, Orcky spent a lot of whale money to put Perry in a hotel. He asked the manager to make sure Perry got great medical care again paid for by hard-earned whale money. (This was before Obamacare.)

The audience was able to debrief Act 1 fairly well. They knew Orcky was best at loving his neighbor and why. They were even moved to share some of their Pepero sticks with me at intermission. Then came Act 2. I tried to be like Nathan who confronted David of his wrongdoing with such a powerful analogy that David was moved to righteous anger about his own acts and then to rightful repentance before God. I reenacted one of their bad behaviors that cut my mommy heart in two. In the end, I would like to say that the boys were moved to tears, vowing never to be mean again. I would like to say that their fleshly nature eroded so that only angelic holiness was left as a result of my fine puppetry. Truth be told, Ethan covered his head with the blanket and followed all my debriefing questions with silly answers like “2 times 3 is 6″ when I was looking for something more along the lines of a Golden Rule recitation.

Before they could escape the mommy torture chamber, I was able to have a moment of serious conversation. We did talk about the treating others like we would want to be treated. I did say that I know they can be heart-smart because I see it when they pray for others or when they share their beloved Pepero sticks. But when they say things that hurt people or hoard things that are meant to be shared, they make me and God sad. Their mama and their God love it when they make heart-smart decisions. For once, there was not a single groan and that to me was like a standing ovation.

I do not know if the dreaded mom talks sink into the depths of their forming character. In those moments of trying, I have to believe that they have some seedling effect even if I am unable to see any fruit for now. After all, I remember groaning when my mom tried to have family devotionals in my childhood. In fact, being responsible for the majority of her gray hairs makes me think my kids’ whining, bad attitudes, and selfish actions are well-deserved pay back.

Of course it makes my heart happy when the boys display genuinely sweet behavior. Yet even in the pain of witnessing their human nature at its worst, I still see them with love that knows no bounds. That love never changes even in the most defiant moments. That love propels me to poorly performed puppet plays and mom talks that I know will be greeted with groans. What comforts me in my own shortcomings of living as I should is the realization of His divine unconditional love that surpasses my earthly mother’s heart. Love keeps working and believing. It may seem (very) hard at times to see, but I do see future boys who will love with abundant empathy that reflects the Father. They may forever struggle with living beyond their own wants and desires and continually toil with the difficult task of loving others. Yet there will be more and more times when they overcome and feel the truth that every selfless moment is worth it. When that happens, every stinking gray hair on my head will have been more than worth it.

Practice makes perfect with both chopsticks and loving others

Practice makes perfect with both chopsticks and loving others

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Expanding Our Hearts

This week an adorable 5 year old girl named Ava captured my heart and has become a household name in our family despite the fact that we have never met. Through different mutual friends, I was directed to the blog chronicling her recent diagnosis of a rare form of leukemia. When her mother writes an entry, I inevitably feel my own mother’s heart shattering into a million little pieces. Like with this one. Or this one. One morning I cried my eyes out reading through their family’s short but tumultuous journey with cancer. On that day’s run, the strong winds and physical torture were not the cause of tears like usual, but Ava’s taking her place in my heart had them cascading down my sweaty face.

In a few short weeks Ava has already undergone some chemotherapy and may require a bone marrow transplant in the future. If you are not registered as a bone marrow donor, please consider doing so. The process is quick and easy. Once a member of the registry, you may be called upon if matched with someone in need of a transplant. You could save a life. You could save Ava. The nature of the disease is often genetic and shared ancestry helps with finding a match. The more diverse their pool the better chances there are for matches. If there are no donor drives in your area, you can simply join online with Be the Match. She and others like her are worth it.

Ava

Ava

My heart hurts. I would rather it not. Yet with each ache I know that it is working as it was meant to do. Exercise makes the physical heart stronger and bigger. Lack of such can make it out of shape and weak. Loving people is our human exercise for the heart. Otherwise it can grow hard and weak in its inward focus. We are meant to connect. We are meant to relate. We are meant to love. We know without those things not just we but the world suffers. Isolation, lack of connection, and poor or nonexistent relationships can result in the most horrific of consequences. Yet there are so many challenges to allowing ourselves to overcome the barriers to do what we were meant to do. We are naturally self-absorbed. Our tendency to insulate is protective in nature. We can allow the most meager differences to divide us to an extreme. We do not have the cognitive energy or generosity to see past Democrat or Republican or other categories we adhere to with fierce rigidity. We rage against those “others” or worse we just do not care. This happens even within the narrow subgroups in which we find ourselves. Just look at the number of denominations in the Christian faith or even the sub-denominations five layers deep within each. (On that note, I highly recommend a book I have just started but love already by Christena Cleveland, Disunity in Christ. Great read so far!)

It may seem strange that these complete strangers are now a part of our lives. My boys say Ava’s name in their nightly prayers with faith that I know can move mountains. It means so much to me that they are expanding their hearts to make room for her not because they are related or good friends but simply because she needs them now. They do not focus on the fact that she likes pink and they don’t or that she has painted nails and they do not. They are learning what it means to be like the One to whom they pray. They reach across the divide to care and faithfully love. If they can, so can we all. The more we expand our hearts, the more our hearts become like His. The more we connect the more we can live beyond our little lives and allow others to occupy our stronger, bigger hearts. This heart expansion may be through donating bone marrow and saving a life.

I see it happening in so many other ways as well. I see it when someone wakes up early on a Saturday to go feed the homeless at the park. I see it when someone babysits all weekend for free so a single mom can try to pay more unpaid bills. I see it when someone thinks to invite a friend to lunch. I see it when another carpools a load of kids to school every day. I see it when a card is handwritten and sent snail mail (yes, it still happens) to let a friend know they are thought of on occasion. I see it every time there is a sacrifice of money or time or energy or thought for the sake of blessing another. Yet despite knowing this truth and the various forms of acting it out, I also know my own tendency to withdraw, allow my own life and the life of my family to crowd out everyone else, and pursue the less significant. But thankfully, there is Ava and she is teaching my heart to overcome those tendencies and love like I was meant to do.

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Keeping Up Our Fun Fridays

It has been a year and a half of Fun Friday’s for Mike and me. That’s a lot of dates, and we are eating our way through Albuquerque.

Valentine's lunch @ Mas Tapas Y Vino

Valentine’s Day lunch @ Mas Tapas Y Vino

2 weeks ago @ Sushi Hana

2 weeks ago @ Sushi Hana

Two weeks ago, we visited the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History for the first time. There were many parts of the day that reminded me that we were still Chicagoans in Albuquerque. I searched for the free days that most museums offer because this is routine when going to Chicago museums unless I wanted to go broke or leave a child or two outside to afford it. Unfortunately, Albuquerque Museum’s free days were never going to be on a Friday. I debated if we should go or not until I discovered that regular admission was only $3 per person. THREE BUCKS!! You can’t even park for 30 minutes on the limited street in Chicago for $3. Yet here, we parked for FREE on the street directly in front of the museum. FREE!! I (expertly, I might add) squeezed into a relatively tight parallel spot and wondered if the locals would think me rude for only leaving them three feet between us. While love taps from bumper to bumper are routine in Chi-town, I wondered if someone would call the cops were I to do it in the ABQ.

As an avid fan of Chicago’s Art Institute, I held off visiting Albuquerque’s art museum for fear of grave disappointment. Mike and I figured it would only take us a short while to view it in its entirety. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. We leisurely strolled through most of the exhibits but did not have enough time allotted to see everything. I had to skip parts and was disappointed to miss them. One gallery featured black and white photos by Robert Christensen of New Mexican architecture. It was vastly different from the impressive skyscrapers and rich architecture of the Windy City. However, it was beautiful in its stark simplicity, and I appreciated the timelessness of the images.

This painting seems to capture our current state. We are loving all there is to love about Albuquerque and New Mexico but are still acutely aware of the differences that newcomers experience especially coming from such a place of contrast. While we relish and embrace the vibrant sunsets, we are not without the plant’s imposed awkwardness.

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We have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city we now call home, but it is getting to the point that we are having a harder time finding what to do on these dates together. While researching for this week, I ran across Trip Advisor’s Things to do in Albuquerque and discovered we had already done 20 of the top 25. So today’s adventure brought us to the City of Albuquerque’s Open Space Visitor’s Center. Did you know that Albuquerque has the largest per capita of open space? We didn’t either until today. The 29,000 acres are open to the public (like the trail on my running route) and dedicated to conservation efforts. I found online that there was an exhibit housed here called, Revived: An Upcycle Art Show. I guessed it might take us longer to drive there then visit, but it seemed worth the exploration.

“Upcycling is perhaps a hallmark of what is known as a ‘circular economy,’ a concept for an industrial economy that is, by design or intention, restorative in nature.”

"Earth Day"

“Earth Day”

Origami ball made from security envelopes. Mike's favorite but didn't want to spend $300 on it. :)

Origami ball made from security envelopes. It was Mike’s favorite, but he didn’t want to spend $300 on it. :)

This piece was made by discarded canvases found in a dumpster outside a NYC art school. My favorite.

My favorite was made by discarded canvases found in a dumpster outside a NYC art school.

The belief is that waste is a resource and all the works utilized this principle. It reminded me of a great catalog, Uncommon Goods, that sells unique gifts some of which also use this guideline. (Another bonus with the catalog is that with every purchase you make, they will donate $1 to one of four charities.)

After the Visitor Center, we lunched on French food at Le Cafe Miche. Then we ran an errand at Target since most Fun Friday’s include at least one or two such necessary tasks. We were conveniently close to the Chocolate Cartel, so we stopped and got some housemade gelato. This chocolate shop focuses mostly on wholesale to businesses like Whole Foods or (where I first heard of them) the Farm Shop at Los Poblanos Organic Farm (they partnered with the farm’s lavender to make lavender chocolate). So we ate in the car, but it was delicious!

Caramel mocha and salted caramel

Caramel mocha and salted caramel

Mike having every other Friday off for these Fun dates makes it difficult for us to imagine being anywhere else. This is how Sandia becomes the black hole! As long as we are here, we will take advantage of all this city has to offer. The fact that I managed to get Mike to three art venues alone gives me hope that I may be dragging him to an opera in the future. Until then, where to go next time for Fun Friday….????

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Celebrating 10 Years!

Today is Mike and my 10th wedding anniversary! We will celebrate this momentous occasion officially in a couple months, but for now we will be happy with (what else but) a dinner out with the kids. In lieu of a card, I made this slideshow. It is no easy task pulling out pictures from ten years of marriage, but I tried anyways as incomplete as it may be. It is a small collection of life thus far (which means our family both given and chosen, some travel and a good deal of eating).

At first I thought I would use the song, “Still Into You” by Paramore because after all these years, I am still into Mike. However, the song our friends Anna and Kenny sang during our wedding ceremony still rings true in meaning after a decade of marriage. All 10 years of much exhilarating joy and some despairing pain are truly about Him and for Him. We will continue on this adventure together singing these words of dedication. Thanks for being the perfect match for me, Mike Beckett. All my love, Leslie.

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Reasons to Run in the Rain…in Albuquerque

1) You can pretend that you are soaking wet because of the rain NOT because you have overactive sweat glands that scare the wildlife.

2) You do not have to wear sunscreen FOR ONCE since the sky is completely covered with dark clouds.

3) When you pass the ONLY other runner braving the weather, your usual nod of acknowledgement has an added respect: “You’re a bada$$, too.” Of course, despite the cloudy rain, it is still in the balmy 50′s aka beach weather in Chicago.

4) Because the usual traffic on paths and trails is gone, you get the thrill of wondering if that older white man SLOWLY walking up the trail with his dark rain coat pulled tightly around his head is a serial killer who finds this empty desert the perfect backdrop for his next victim before he finally gets exposed on 20/20. Had you passed him on a normal (sunny, warm, clear) day, you would just think he is the cutest grandfather in the world. However, like film producers know, the dark and stormy weather changes all that really quickly. Then you pass by and he waves and you realize your overactive imagination was silly and one should never prejudge. Shame on you for forgetting Macauley Culkin’s lesson learned on Home Alone that just because the old dude with the shovel LOOKS like a murderer does not mean that he is.

5) YOU WILL NOT MELT! Precipitation is rare here, and it can scare folks away. However the feel of wet drops on your legs is actually a nice tickle. Of course, when the light tickle picks up its momentum as the rain gets heavier, you do wonder if this is what acupuncture feels like. Then you reason that even the needle pricks on your face are better than during the hot summer when those tiny attacks are actually gnats who splatter themselves all over you and add to your protein intake. You make a note to yourself to carry your husband’s vial of truffle salt on your runs this summer to at least make those pesky pests more appetizing as they enter your heavy-breathing open-mouth.

This on anything makes it better...even gnats?

This on anything makes it better…even gnats?

6) The water from the sky tames the juniper! All allergy sufferers can run without prophylactic Claritin and then later overdosing on Benadryl. Your nose remains undisturbed and does not have to be rubbed red and raw.

7) As a creature of habit, you run the same route almost every time. It is similar to how you and your spouse sit in the same area at church every Sunday. You felt like the biggest rebel venturing into another section one week when he was out of town. Simmer down, James Dean; others only WISH they were as reckless. Although you still did not stray from your usual route, the weather changes made it feel a little less like Groundhog Day. It just goes to show how rare it is NOT to have a sunny, nice day. The clouds, the drops on the concrete, the darkened horizon were all faking you out with newness on your regular run.

Same mountains but clouds instead of sun

Same mountains but clouds instead of sun

Beautiful light layer of precipitous clouds starting to caress the mountains

Beautiful light layer of precipitous clouds starting to caress the mountains

Light layer evolved into full-on heavy cover

Light layer evolved into full-on heavy cover

What does it say about you that you saw the clouds and mountains as nature’s lovers? Each snapped picture came with a soundtrack. It went from “All By Myself” to “Reunited (and it feels so good)” and finally “Let’s Get It On.” You almost screamed to the heavy cloud cover, “Get a room!” Did I mention your overactive imagination? At least it kept you entertained throughout the painful acupuncture.

8) Rain or shine, you are trying to keep up preparations for this year’s Run Against Traffick. Last year’s race was your very first 5K ever. You not only survived without going into cardiac arrest, but also discovered that paying to run was NOT absolutely ludicrous especially when the proceeds go to a great cause. It sparked an illustrious career of racing. Ok, not really. This will be your second race and perhaps the only one you do regularly. But it is worth it to help victims of human trafficking in the state of New Mexico. Locals, do sign up here: Run Against Traffick.

9) Your love for running is consistent regardless of the weather. Wait…did I just say LOVE for running? You have crossed over from the old self of “running is completely torturous” to the sadistic “running is completely torturous, but I love it anyways.”

10) Lastly, the endorphins from your runner’s high may be needed on a day that is cloudy and rainy in the ABQ. When abundant sunshine is your norm, a WHOLE day of cloudiness could send you into serious clinical depression. Your 24-hours of seasonal affective disorder requires either the illegal purchase of antidepressant medication or the safer, more accessible natural high that comes after persevering through the torture.

Case closed. Next time it rains (4 months from now), get out there and run!

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A Month of Motherland Mondays

Since I first introduced Motherland Mondays, I have cooked Korean cuisine and familiarized my boys with the smells and tastes of the homeland a handful of times. Over the last month, I have added Arirang Oriental Market to my regular grocery store stops. (Note: Oriental is appropriate to describe food and rugs, but generally not people anymore unless you are my 70 year old mother who has earned the right to use whatever politically incorrect terminology she wants about herself.)

Instead of buying the small 5 pound bags of rice, my last restock had me getting the 20-lb bags of both brown and white. Although I miss the restaurants in Chicago where the food was authentic and the banchan (side dishes) plentiful, being in Albuquerque has encouraged me to produce the goods in my own kitchen in a way having readily available restaurants did not do. I am still far better off than my mother who has to drive 2-3 hours to get to the nearest Korean grocery store. Going to a restaurant for Korean food is not an option at all for her. At least here I have a store (limited as it may be) 15 minutes away. I also have a couple of restaurants (even though there are children serving me no banchan but soondooboo that was more like kimchi jigae).

The best has been watching the kids gobble down each dish. My favorite change is that the heat-adverse Ethan has even started eating kimchi! Normally, he avoids anything with even a hint of spice, including just a tad too much garlic or black pepper let alone hot peppers. However, over the course of several Motherland Mondays, I have seen him slowly join his brother in requesting kimchi with his rice. Of course, the kimchi for them has to be washed in water and cut into microscopic pieces but it still counts. I have about four months to figure out a way to prevent my dad (proud grandfather) from paying them hard cold cash for their kimchi consumption.

Week 1: Curry rice kicked started our adventure.

Week 2: Kimchi bokumbap (fried rice) for Mike and me where I sent Mike to buy Spam and felt like I was sending him to buy tampons. I was too ashamed to do it. It may have been the Top Chef episode in Hawaii featuring the canned meat that opened my mind to the purchase. Although Koreans love their Spam (even the New York Times wrote an article about it), I can definitely live without it. I made regular fried rice for the kids.

Korean holy trinity: rice, kimchi & Spam

Korean holy trinity: rice, kimchi & Spam

Week 3: Sam-gye-tang (chicken & sweet rice soup) was inspired by a ready-made packet I found at Arirang. It came with the sweet rice, ginseng, dates and chestnuts. All I had to get was the cornish hen (or chicken since Trader Joe’s did not have any hens). I did not take a picture but a short video clip on Instagram. The worst part is my horrible pronunciation; the best part is Connor’s salute when I say “Motherland Monday!”

Click to access: Sahm-gye-tang video

Week 4: Miyukguk (seaweed soup) is traditionally given to mothers to aid in their recovery after childbirth as well as milk production for the newborn. Because it is all one’s mother eats for days and weeks after bringing a child into the world, it is also served at birthdays to commemorate the time. I recall my mom coming into my hospital room for the first time with my stainless steel Starbucks commuter mug full of miyukguk. I have clear memories of her stir-frying the seaweed for batch after batch in our little downtown condo.

Post-partum was a blur except for this distinct act of my mother: frying the softened seaweed.

Post-partum was a blur except for this distinct act of my mom: stir-frying the softened seaweed.

When I would feed Ethan in the middle of the night, I would hear the microwave oven heating up a bowl of it that she would insist I eat when all I wanted to do was sleep. She was the ultimate miyukguk pusher. I am thankful that she sacrificed her own comforts and sleep for me those brutal first weeks.

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All the boys in my little family love mussels so I made a batch with Prince Edward Island mussels from Whole Foods. Ethan loved watching them open up as they cooked.

Sous Chef Ethan whose mom ate countless bowlfuls after his birth.

Sous Chef Ethan whose mom ate countless bowlfuls after his birth adds the mussels.

I also made a batch with beef, the other common protein. I should have made beef broth for more flavorful soup but used a quick version from this blog of Korean food recipes a dear friend referred to me: Korean Bapsang. The beef was for a fellow Korean American sister who had just given birth a few weeks before. Unfortunately one of the containers chose to saturate the floor pad of Mike’s car so she only got one container.

With beef to go

With beef to go

Week 5: Japchae (noodles) was on the menu for tonight. Like most of these other dishes, I have made this before but usually only once or twice a year. It was worth the work. Since I got the beef for it at Trader Joe’s, I resorted to strip steak. I used half for the japchae and the other half we ate as bulgogi.

Thinly sliced strip steak in bulgogi marinade overnight

Thinly sliced strip steak in bulgogi marinade overnight

Japchae

Japchae

Going from once in a blue moon to weekly has been a smoother transition than I anticipated. I hope I can keep this up. I hope the boys crave these tastes and smells in years to come. I hope these same tastes and smells transport them to their Mama’s kitchen and their childhood in comforting ways wherever they may be whether minutes or hours from the nearest seller of kimchi. Here’s to the motherland!

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