Monday, December 29, 2014


I'm in New York this week, visiting my sister and Paul in Brooklyn with my parents, and so far it's been a precious time. Part of the reason I love road trips so much is because of the way our family used to spend time on the road together - talking, joking, reading, listening to our favorite music, napping, stopping at numerous rest stops (a car with four girls, it's inevitable) and just being with each other - and I got to have a little slice of that again on the way up here with my parents. It was nice to have uninterrupted time with them, to catch up and have no other pressing agenda than to arrive somewhere together.

Ken and Sloane are holding down the fort at home with the help of Ken's mom, and I miss them. But it's so rare that I get to get away these days, like I used to, that I'm going to try to really take advantage of these few days, before I have to get back in the grind again. I'm already dreading it, but trying not to let it overshadow a single thing. 

One way I'm trying to take advantage of this time is by making sure to reflect, starting at the place of not taking anything for granted and then getting to the place of wonderment. Letting all the faces of pleasure and connectedness and even fatigue, just be what they are, and measuring all my moments with care, precious as they are.

These photos were taken on our way to Christmas dinner; me trying to measure a moment of us gathering together for a meal.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


and FINALLY. we got to christmas.

wednesday was a flurry of events. my parents flew in from korea, my cousin lois flew in from atlanta, my other cousin joe flew in from chicago, my sister and paul drove down from new york, my other sister eunice and val made their way from d.c.  ken, sloane and i likewise packed up all the things - our luggage for two days, presents, snacks, and sticky buns from dal-kohm - and headed north to maryland.

here are the snippets i was able to capture with my phones. i'll be posting a few more photos i took with my big camera, a little later.

we met at northwest community church in d.c. for a candlelight service, and it was such a lovely experience. my heart was buoyed by the intimate church setting, the earnest christmas hymns, the adorable telling of the christmas story by australian kids, and the pastor's reflections on christmas using music to illustrate the story in a new way.

 it also felt marvelous, greeting each of my family members as they came in, amazed to find us all together, sitting in two pews. we made it! to the end of the year, to the holidays, to one location.

afterwards, we walked over to my sister's apartment and took this picture to commemorate. eleven of us! all together!

christmas eve also happened to be the last night of hanukkah, and paul said a prayer and we had a moment of lighting the candles. it was beautiful.

it felt so good, piling up on our parent's bed, like we were kids again.

christmas morning breakfasting!

we have been doing a secret santa christmas exchange with our family the past couple of years, but this year was special because sloane was old enough to be excited about the presents, and about helping hand them out to everyone.  i was so proud of how happy she was for everyone else.

there she is, delivering presents.

i am always so thankful that these two travel all the way from korea to spend time with us. 

we elected to have christmas day dinner at a family-style italian restaurant called buca di beppo. the food and the electic decor made the night feel cozy and festive. 

i'm so glad i got to spend the past few days with this bunch.  hope you all had a wonderful holiday, too! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


And here we are, at Christmas Eve!

We celebrated Christmas with Ken's family a couple of weeks ago when they came up to visit, and we are going to celebrate with my family tomorrow, but last weekend, we took an evening to celebrate with just our little family.

Sloane and I started off the night by making a gingerbread house together and I was surprised by how diligent and focused she was about the whole thing. She was delighted with the process, decorated with the deliberation of an artist and was thrilled about the outcome. We both enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

Afterwards, all went out to dinner at a local diner for burgers, and then came back home to drink hot chocolate and open the presents we got for each other. I really want Sloane's excitement about gifts at Christmas to be about giving gifts, rather than getting them, so I've been putting a big emphasis on her picking presents out for other people, and she has loved it so far.  Sloane picked out a water bottle for Ken (for his workouts) and got me a pair of gloves, along with a bag of goldfish. When I opened the goldfish, which was wrapped, she told me with a very solemn expression that I needed to share that with her.

I didn't take photos of the rest of the night, but here are a whole bunch of photos from our gingerbread house making process. It was way too adorable not to document. I hope this becomes a tradition we can do each year together!


I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and holidays! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Before we get into anything, I just have to say, because it just happened, that while Sloane is napping, I just finished reading the last page of the book, "Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay", in a series by Elena Ferrante. I read it immediately following the first two, "My Brilliant Friend" and "The Story of a New Name" and ran through these at breakneck speed, consuming them as if I had a ravenous hunger. It's still rattling and reverberating around in my head now, and I'm reeling from the cliffhanger endings these books have and had in this last one, because I thought the third book was the last in the series, but it turns out that there is a fourth coming and it's not coming until September 2015 (!). The skill with which these novels are written - compelling story lines and characters, fluid prose and an exploration of theme of female friendships and identity - held me captive throughout three books.  I'm still processing the effects and maybe I'll come back to write down some more reflection, but I wanted to share here that if you're looking for something to read, these books might be worth your time.  My soul feels full at the satisfaction of having finished some great books; my mind feels burdened with all the thoughts that I want to think about in regards to what I just read. 

A nap seems like just the thing right now, but instead I'm going to write some words here, because there are things to be said and things to share, and if not now, it won't ever happen, so here we go!

On Friday, our friends the Agabas and Robinsons threw a Christmas party for loads and loads of people and in they came, some in twos, some in fours, some in nines...filling up the house with drinks and snacks and kids and babies, and in between the treats and hugs, there was singing.  I love singing Christmas songs together in a big group - it cements the existence of this holiday season deep within my icy heart, and makes me feel festive and part of something, good. Everyone got in a big circle of sorts and we sang Christmas carols and hymns, with the kids joining in too, and the babies looking either joyful or bewildered and all in all, it was a beautiful time.

Up there is family photo at that party, and then next to that is a picture of Ken and myself right before we went out to his work Christmas party, third year in a row, in pretty much the same outfits each year, except that this year, Sloane danced around me as I got ready, her eyes shiny as she looked at me try on several dresses. "This one, mommy!" "Twirl, mama!" "Where's my necklace?" "Try on anther one?" I felt like someone important, with a tiny admirer flitting about me with excitement and making everything feel more special. She knew how to help me zip up my dress and I turned that moment into a little treasure that I tucked away in my mind's box of such treasures.

I've been trying my best. I'm trying my best to keep going, to finish my to-do lists and my sentences, to have fun at work parties and celebrate the season.  But some days, my best is completely overwhelmed and I wonder if the strain of trying my best is appearing in the form of cracks across my face. I've made it through some of the tougher days and I attribute that to anything from providence to the good ol' responsibility gene that lives inside me. Sometimes though, the lifeline comes in the form of some of the best shrimp and grits I've ever had, delivered to me at work by a saintly friend. That bowl of shrimp and grits (from The Dog and Pig Show) served me like a hug that lasted all day... and that card!

Another sort of lifeline is the kind of workout that kicks your butt but gets your heart pumping in just the right way and reminds you that you are alive and capable, and really capable of sweating and surviving.  I did a "12 days of Christmas" workout at my Crossfit box on Saturday morning (with people in respective Christmas gear) and even though I had to drag my butt over to work immediately after that, the workout and doing it with all these people, put me in a great mood.

Finally, to end, here are some things I think are worth sharing. These things have also been helpful in getting me through the workday, and getting me closer to Christmas. 

1. Best songs of 2014 from NPR: It's a massive list of over 300 of NPR's favorite songs of 2014, and you can stream them all right here. 

2. 25 best podcast episodes from Slate: I've heard some of them already, but I've been making my way slowly through the ones I haven't. 

3. Speaking of podcasts, have you been listening to Serial?  I laughed aloud watching this video and found this article about what the innocence project is looking at in regards to this case really interesting. 

4 more days until Christmas!