Let’s Hear It For the Boy

Every time anyone in our family does anything worth celebrating, my mom’s reaction is always, “We have to celebrate! Let’s celebrate!” while clapping her hands or raising them up in the air. When I say anything, I mean ANYTHING. A grandson aced a test? “We have to celebrate!” A grandson finally pooped in the potty? “Let’s celebrate!” A grandson got out of bed? I’m pretty sure if a grandson does ANYTHING, it is reason to celebrate. I learned that anytime our loved ones accomplish something in life that it is always worth celebrating. I learned to rejoice, to take note of the victories, to take the time to make sure precious ones know that you are proud of them, that they are loved, that their joys are your joys. My parents’ joy will even surpass our own when we share these reasons to celebrate. I will never forget when I first told them that Mike was finally feeling improvements in his health 4 long years ago that they held hands and jumped up and down like little kids while loudly verbalizing their sincere joy. Whatever we are happy about, their joy expands that happiness exponentially.

Maybe that is why when my low-key husband had something worth celebrating, he first emailed my dad. He simply said to me late one night right before bedtime, “I cc’d you on an email to your dad.” Through a short email, I found out that Mike had made it on a list of the world’s 300 leading IP (Intellectual Property) strategists. He was right in guessing my parents’ reaction. They were proud and emailed repeatedly from their trip in Europe to say so. Being their daughter, I am proud, too. I tell myself it is ok because even God bragged a little about His son. He could have kept His fatherly pride to Himself, but instead the heaven’s opened up, a dove descended, and He said in a booming voice, “This is my Son, Whom I love, WITH WHOM I AM WELL-PLEASED.” Drop the mic. (That’s in the NLB – New Leslie Beckett – version. If I get struck by lightning, you now know why.)

When I showed the kids the link above, I explained that their daddy made it on a list put out by IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) magazine.

Kids: Is that like Time (magazine)?
Me: Uh, no, not really. Not as many people read this one.
Kids: Billions?
Me: Uh, no, not at all. Probably just a few IP people.
Kids: Is daddy famous?
Me: Uh, no, definitely not. But isn’t it cool?
Kids: Cool. (run off to go play)

We will still celebrate because according to my parents (my mom already emailed asking if we had celebrated) everything is worth celebrating. Shout out to Deniece Williams for her Footloose gem of a song that I took the liberty of changing a little.

My baby, he don’t talk sweet, he ain’t got much to say,
But he emails, emails, emails, to say he made a list the other day.
And maybe he don’t dress fine, but I don’t really mind,
Cause he can kick some IP rear, that makes me wanna cheer:

Let’s hear it for the boy! Let’s give the boy a hand.
Let’s hear it for my baby. World’s leading 300 per IAM.
Oh, maybe he’s no Romeo, but his legal work is good to go!
Oh, whoa…let’s hear it for the boy!

 

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PSA From a Token Asian

You may not see many of us on a regular basis. Even if you do, you may not personally know any of us in a real relationship of true knowing. Having one of us do your nails or check you out during your medical visit is not the same thing as the type of relationship I mean. I mean the type where we will tell you our unfiltered, honest opinion on topics that some of us do not want to go into with you even if that means possibly chipping away at the ignorance. Since there may be countless out there in this category, this is a PSA to drop a little knowledge and hopefully chip away a tiny bit.

When you see an Asian person walking in the mall, minding her own business and obviously not wanting to be bothered as she refuses your kiosk sample while briskly going by, do NOT yell out greetings in any Asian language to her. She does not speak Chinese so do not yell out “nee hau!” She does not speak Japanese so do not follow up with a “konichiwah!” to cover your bases. You do not speak either of those languages either so why are you shouting out those greetings like a fool? Do you randomly shout out “bonjour!” and follow it with “g’day, mate!” to every white person that walks by you? No. That would be dumb. Same is true here. Do not assume that you know what language she speaks (it’s English) just by looking at her.

Even if you were lucky enough to guess the right language of her ancestry, yelling out one phrase that you know does NOT make her feel instantly bonded to you and now wanting to sample and purchase every item from your kiosk. Would you yell out, “HELLO!” to every white person who walks by you? No. Still dumb.

Not every Asian would stop well after they passed you, take the time to turn around, retrace her steps in the opposite direction of where she wanted to go, and walk directly to you to tell you these things. Not everyone would say to you that you should not yell out those words to Asians because it is racist. Your face responds to that word because no one really WANTS to be racist. No one says they hope they do something racist today. Your face says that you believe you are a nice person and for this little (crazy) Asian lady to tell you that you are being racist is pretty far-fetched.

Ok, fine, but admit it that it would not have had the same affect to say to you, “don’t do that because it is a microaggression.” After all, microagression is a cousin to racist. They may not be the same thing, but they are totally related and come from the same family tree. So let’s just help you NOT go all the way to your cousin’s level and help you detach from that genealogy by not committing that microagression again in the future. You have been told to your face that it is not cool. You seemed receptive and actually thanked the crazy lady, but ultimately you are responsible for what you do in the future with that chipping away of your ignorance. Like the lady said, you may have had no bad intentions, but now you KNOW. And knowing is half the battle (G.I. JOE)!

When I (obviously the crazy confrontational lady) retold this part of my day at the dinner table, my older son said that he would NOT have done that (gone back to talk to the dude). He said he would have just ignored it and kept walking. My younger son asked, “What’s nee hau?” I could not just give him the definition. Being who I am, I had to add in a few lines reiterating why the guy should not just yell that out and “if anyone says that to you…” That is when my older son then tries to stop me in a way by covering his ears and giving an annoyed sound of some sort. I look at him and wonder how he is my offspring. But later when my friend reminded me that his responses are totally understandable because of course he just wants to blend in. He just wants to live a “normal” life despite my telling him that he can’t, that he will face things like this in his life and he might as well know how to respond. But my friend’s more understanding reaction to him transported me back to when I was his age. I was EXACTLY the same. I so desperately wanted to blend in, never talk about, let alone BE Korean. He is normal even if his life won’t totally be. Maybe in 3 decades he WILL be turning around and telling the kiosk guy what isn’t cool. Maybe. I can hope so.

Again, no one wants to be a racist. No one wants to raise up racists. But racism is not born overnight. It is similar to thoughts I have been having about the Stanford rapist. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about the absurd 6-month sentence for this star athlete who was convicted of rape. He and his parents seem to be in denial that he raped his victim. It is easy for them to say it is just some silly darn mistake made when you get too drunk. Although a jury unanimously convicted him of 3 counts of sexual assault and the outrage of a nation is reacting against his sentence, they still are having a hard time believing that he is a rapist. There is no personal responsibility. I make my kids tell me what they did wrong when they fight like WWIII. They have to spell it out without blaming their sibling or other circumstances. They have to tell me what they could have done differently so the next situation can have different results.

But they live a good life and are already spoiled in some ways. My older son acted like I was putting him out when I had him fix his own English muffin for breakfast this morning. He really, REALLY wanted me to do it for him. No, I am not your maid. You get your own muffin, toast it, put it on a plate, and butter it yourself. These are small parts of the day, but they add up. Just like a lifetime of privilege, wealth, whiteness, entitlement, education, class, and social circles can all seep into your being unnoticed to bring you to the point that you are defending your son’s sexual assault on an unconscious victim. I have crossed into some of those factors of privilege enough to see how they could combine in so many subtleties that inadvertently breed an unnatural outcome worthy of the world’s contempt. So do not tell me that yelling “nee hau!” is totally harmless. It can combine with many other factors that may have you one day questioning a judge’s ability to be impartial because of his ethnic heritage or thinking it is ok to yell the n-word at someone while you cowardly drive past. I hope that my boys are surrounded by crazy ladies who confront them when they are stepping across a thin line because maybe it will disrupt the complex formula that could result in unwanted behaviors and attitudes. Please give them your PSA’s and thanks for reading mine.

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Home

We are in a season of transition again, but I do believe that having been in this season less than four years ago makes this time a bit easier. Still, we are new and facing many scenarios where our comfort is disrupted and the boys feel nervous. It is good to be uncomfortable, and I am remembering the value of it. It is harder for the boys to recognize such value right now, but hopefully in time they will.

Currently we are living in a temporary apartment. The boys have settled into a little routine of breakfast, workbooks, and daily journal time before they can play on their iPads. This morning I checked their journals. Connor had written this entry a couple days ago, but because of the content I thought maybe it was from school days in Albuquerque since I had him using a leftover notebook. No, it was definitely after we moved to Tucson and were living in this transitional housing:

Home is were I live. I sleep, read, and eat in it. Home is were my family is. Harper, my dog, looks cute in it. I love my home.

As a parent, I obviously need to teach him how to spell “where” correctly. But as my child, he taught me something much more significant: the definition of home.

My husband bought a house before I saw it. My first impressions were good but not great. I was not in love with it, and my list of critiques popped up automatically. I do want to hurry up and move in so we can be settled into our new place and get this transition closer to finished. After reading my wise 8-year-old’s entry, I am reminded that home is where my family is. Those critiques dissipate. The hurry to settle subsides. And I can repeat with my son, “I love my home.”

And for comic relief, here is one of Ethan’s entries about a recent mishap:

Crash. Connor broke a apartment lamp!

As a parent, I need to teach him to use the article “an” before a word starting with a vowel. As my child, he taught me not to overreact and look like evil incarnate when things get broken. A close up of my apparent reaction:

Nervous feelings and evil faces combined, I really do love my home.

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New Mexico TRUE Spring Break

In the time since we have called New Mexico home, our family has explored much of the unique sites this area has to offer. For Spring Break, we took my visiting parents to the southern mountain town of Ruidoso for a couple nights.

Road trips with my dad are awesome because he is a great storyteller. He wanted to share with my boys his personal history from birth to when he was their age. His stories as a refugee child during the Korean War and its immediate aftermath made time pass quickly. His memory is so sharp that we could imagine ourselves in every scene: hearing distant bombs explode followed by nearby machine gun staccato when North Koreans invaded his hometown and told a frightened crowd that had gathered in the local school that their “brethren had come to liberate them” from the South, hiding with his family behind shipments of ginseng in the back of a cargo train to escape the occupied town into safer Seoul, and weeping when his 10-year-old crushed spirit found the popsicles he wanted to sell for needed money for his struggling family had all melted in the summer heat leaving nothing but naked sticks in his simple box.

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After realizing my mom had been quiet during these recollections, I curiously asked what she remembered of the war. In sharp contrast to the detailed descriptions of my dad, she simply said, “All I remember is at one point we had to beg house to house for things like soy sauce and rice. I thought it was really fun! People thought I was so cute.” And that was it. Meanwhile my dad was giving us specific dates, what people said, the gravity of how he felt, background information, and in fact, figuring out through what little she said that my mom would have been 6 or 7 for her single vague memory. We laughed at the difference between them.

After lunch in Socorro, we ventured out to the Very Large Array (VLA). The VLA is a set of 27 92-feet high and 82-feet wide satellites arranged in Y formation that together perform as one humongous radio telescope. They are able to take pictures of galaxies millions of light years away. Their images are used by astronomers around the world, and their location in the middle of New Mexico is ideal for the type of conditions needed to maximize this amazing technology. It was an educational trip for my little scientists who liked the black hole images the best.

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The powerful winds prevented us from fully taking advantage of the walking tour. We pretty much took a few steps and sought the refuge of the car once the winds threatened to blow us over. Ethan wanted to show how it was hard to stand in the 40mph gusts.

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Even if you never get to see these remarkable antenna in person, the informative film is available online here.

The next morning we headed out to White Sands National Monument. We had been there before a couple years ago but wanted my parents to be able to see the miles of white gypsum sand. Again the winds were pretty strong. After a few minutes outside, the grains covered us like a second skin. Of course, the boys did not care and welcomed the sand in their pants as they buried each other and rolled around. Even now, after a couple car washes, there are probably still sand grains in the back seat. But nature provided the best playground for the boys who had so much fun in such a beautiful setting.

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Thanks to Yelp which has revolutionized our vacation dining, we found JAM-ing Hot Dogs & More for lunch in Alamogordo. After hearing the options, Connor knew immediately that he wanted a hot dog for lunch. Ethan said to the uncertain others, “Well, at least it has 5 stars!” Besides friendly local owners, they also had Chicago-style dogs. Yes, please! It was good enough for Ethan to write his own 5-star Yelp review.

Did you know that the world’s largest pistachio is in New Mexico? Ethan did. It was mentioned in Dan Gutman’s Genius Files book series that he read, so it was particularly cool for him to see in person. McGinn’s Country Store sells a large variety of flavored pistachios which are grown right next to it on their Pistacioland Tree Ranch. The boys thought we should buy their daddy the bacon ranch kind, and I could not resist the spicy green chile ones. Am I New Mexican or what? My mom also got some of their delicious pecan and pistachio brittle.

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Back in Ruidoso, it struck me how the scene around our cabin might not be what one would think is typical of New Mexico. But it is another aspect of the outdoor beauty of this state. There was a wildfire that jeopardized our check in and caused schools and roads to close. Luckily the fire was contained, and we were able to enjoy this view in safety.

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On our drive back to Albuquerque, we stopped by the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. 127 square miles of rock formed when lava flowed from vents (not a volcanic eruption). It is one of the youngest lava flows in the country having formed about 1,500-5,000 years ago. There was a nicely paved nature trail with markers corresponding to a brochure our tour guide Ethan read to us.

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This short but sweet trip epitomizes much of New Mexico to me: a wide variety of unique landscapes, friendly small towns with locally owned eats and flavors, and hidden treasures that provide an educational and fun experience unlike anywhere else. It is memories like these that will stay with us and always make New Mexico dear to our hearts.

 

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For Spoken For

Confession: I have not been ENTIRELY off social media during Lent. I have only 6 days left till I can officially waste my life on Facebook again, but there have been times that I have gotten on my 3 forbidden sites for one thing, and one thing only: Spoken For. One of the many things that I will truly miss about living here in Albuquerque is being involved with this volunteer-based non-profit. Its mission is to help combat human trafficking here in the state of New Mexico.

Spoken For provides a hope and a future to human trafficking victims through advocacy, outreach, short-term resources, education and awareness.

The people who lead and serve this organization are genuine, caring, passionate, fun, and just outstanding folks to be around, and I will miss them!

In 3 short weeks, their one big fundraiser, Run Against Traffick 5K, will take place on Saturday, April 9th. You can RUN it, you can WALK it, or you can VOLUNTEER at it. Whatever you do, you will be actively participating in supporting an organization that is making a difference for the better. Whether we are exposed to it or not, there is real hatred, pain, coercion, abuse, slavery, and violence not just in the world but in our very own communities. Last year in New Mexico, there were 90 calls reporting human trafficking. There were almost 30 confirmed cases in our little unpopulated state alone, and 11 of those involved minors. Spoken For exists to help end all of that evil and injustice.

If you are in or around Albuquerque, please consider signing up for it by clicking here. If you would like to volunteer at the race, please email info@spokenfornm.com. If you know of anyone in the area, please spread the word, share the event, share this post! If you are still stuck on the fact that I have been technically breaking my fast for this group, please read about Jesus healing on the Sabbath.:) I’d like to think that this social media time (like inviting my local Facebook friends to the run event just now) is similar to David and his posse eating the consecrated bread. We are in the midst of a battle and this is life-giving stuff which is way more important than my personal self-denial. See you at the RUN!

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It Ain’t Easy Being E

(So there’s some big news in this entry. I’m still not on Facebook till Easter even though the blog automatically posts to it, so if you have a question or comment that you want me to see, you’ll have to do it directly on the blog.)

My kids are pretty opposite when it comes to their personalities. For the most part, Connor is easy-going, laid-back, and goes with the flow. Ethan, my dear firstborn E, is not. For the past couple months, there has been talk of Tucson in our home because of a potential job for my husband. From the first moment he heard of it, Ethan reacted strongly. He was adamantly against any such idea from the beginning. Every single night for 2 months straight, he asked God not to let his daddy get the job in Tucson. He is persistently conscientious in his bedtime prayers. While this is sweet when he prays for someone’s healing or comfort, it can start to grate on a dad who is in the process of seeking a new job opportunity.

Finally, Mike had enough and had to tell Ethan to stop reciting the usual, “Please don’t let Daddy get the job in Tucson, and please don’t let us move from Albuquerque.” He protested loudly, “BUT I DON’T WANT TO MOVE!” I gently explained to him that he was hurting Daddy’s feelings by praying those words every night since this potential position was exciting for Mike. I also told him that if God wanted us to move then we could trust that plan. I said the most important thing was that we would be all together as a family. Ethan honored his father’s request but only after making it clear that he could still pray those prayers on his own. I have no doubt that he continued those exact words SILENTLY with great diligence.

One Sunday morning, the boys found out that the likelihood went from 50% to 90%. Sitting next to him in the car, I saw Ethan jerk his head back perhaps to curse the sky. It was not until we arrived at church that I noticed his eyes were watery and red. It hurt my heart to know how hard this was on him. When Mike texted me the afternoon he got an offer, I told the boys who were eating their after-school snack. Later I found Ethan in my room, lying on my bed with his head buried in the pillows, once again with watery eyes. I joined him, and we lay there silently for a moment. Then I commiserated with his feelings because I, too, was going to have to start over, make new friends, adjust to big changes, and leave things that I loved.

That night in his usual turn at the bunk bed prayer session, Ethan added new words. He asked God that IF we were going to move to Tucson, to help him be OK with it. That was huge coming from E. I felt that swell that grows in a mother’s heart when their child has come a long way. He was where his brother has been all along, but his path was rockier and full of fight. While having Connor (who was quickly satisfied with the mere possibility of a swimming pool) can make life so much easier, having Ethan (who protests and complains emphatically) can make life much more difficult. But when he comes through it, it is such a beautiful thing.

Often, he learns the hard way. Last fall when he found out that I had signed him up for basketball, Ethan almost cried in anger. Unlike Connor, he does not enjoy playing sports. He would much rather watch them and keep stats. Since Connor wanted to play and I wanted Ethan to be active, I signed them both up. By the end of the season, Ethan loved it. It became his favorite sport. Don’t get me wrong; it is still unenjoyable for him. He would still rather watch or keep stats. But he had a great team and coaches who allowed him the opportunity to learn the fundamentals and actually score baskets. It took an entire period of the coaches and teammates making sure Ethan got the ball at every opportunity until one of his attempts gloriously made it through the net. The whole gym cheered. We cheer anytime anyone scores. However, when someone not as athletic, someone who it doesn’t come naturally to but has to work at it with effort, when that someone scores, it brings the house down. We know the journey matters, the process is what is important, and we hold on to those lessons learned to guide us to the next place requiring the same tough work.

His honest journey has helped my own process. Together, we will get through this even if it does not come easy for us, and we will value the lessons learned. We know that what we meet with tears can often bring us great joy in the end. Bring on the pain of moving and the transitions involved with relocation. We may fight and yell some, but we know we will grow from it, and hopefully make God’s heart swell.

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E-dawg now prays that all will go well in Tucson.

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When One Mom’s Heart Tears

My kids and I have been praying for little Ava for the past 2 years. Her mom Esther writes a blog that keeps us updated on this precious little girl’s fight against cancer. This morning I read her latest post in my email inbox unprepared for the weeping that would follow. With eloquent transparency, Esther writes about the struggles and joys that accompany being a mom whose daughter is fighting for her life. So many times her words wrap themselves around my own mother’s heart and give me a tiny glimpse of the myriad of emotions and thoughts she has had to face in all of this.

For seven years I have made choices for her about what she ate, what she wore, what schools, what shows, what shoes, what activities and each of these choices were made with love to see her thrive. How then can you ask me to choose how she will die?

Please take a moment to read her full post here. Posts like these make me fall on my knees, and I hope that you will join me there at the foot of the throne lifting up Ava, lifting up Esther, lifting up their whole family.

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