I was hoping to keep up with posting while in St. Louis, but am being thwarted by painfully slow WiFi. I’ll be back next week!
This is what I’ve been encountering every morning this week as I’ve tried to get to work.
I’m pretty sure the universe is trying to tell me something.
Fortunately, the weekend is finally here! I’m looking forward to the return of this little guy and his dad tonight:
And “O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful, wonderful” – my friend Janel is arriving tonight too! On Sunday I leave for a conference, so next week I’ll be checking in from St. Louis, Missouri.
Until then: have a wonderful weekend!
My husband is accompanying our son to his Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee this week. I’ve written before about my compulsion to chronicle everything in photographs. My sorrow that I can’t be the one to go with my son is matched only by my anxiety that there won’t be enough documentation of the event I’m missing. I pestered my husband by text all day to send photos. He finally obliged by emailing me this one:
…whereupon I immediately fired off the following:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t get any more photo updates for a few hours, but he finally relented and sent me these:
Destination Imagination is a non-profit program that promotes creativity and problem-solving skills in students from kindergarten through college level. This morning we said goodbye and good luck to our son, who is heading to Knoxville, Tennessee to compete with his Destination Imagination team at Global Finals. There will be over 15,000 people from 1,200 teams from 45 states, 7 Canadian provinces, and 13 countries competing against each other in various challenges.
Our daughter was sad that she couldn’t go too!
Good luck, DI’Ablos!
Sadly, our record-setting, unprecedented eight day streak of being on time for school finally, inevitably ended…
It was graduation weekend at the University of Virginia. At work we had our own graduation celebration and awards luncheon for international students. It was so inspiring to talk to the award recipients from all over the world. They will take away much from their experience here, but they will also have immeasurably enriched the life of this community in lasting ways.
Feeling invigorated, I headed to Helping Hands, the after school elementary service group where I work with a much younger set of future movers and shakers. One day these little ones might also set the world on fire. This session, we’ve been holding a supply and money drive for a wonderful organization in our community called Shelter for Help in Emergency or S.H.E. This agency provides services to and a safe house for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. (Find out how you can help S.H.E. here).
On this particular day, our kids just had fun making super easy bird feeders.
Directions: Make a hole in a rice cake and attach ribbon. Coat rice cake with peanut butter and dip in bird seed. Hang in a covered area…Voilà!
“Chef Tedduccini” whipped up a batch of pain au chocolat for breakfast. (Frozen Trader Joe’s brand…SCRUMPTIOUS)!
Our little renaissance man took a break from his labors to strum his ukulele:
Rained-out soccer games meant I finally had time to run a billion errands, starting with a long overdue trip to the blood bank. My daughter scored me a Hello Kitty bandage by telling the phlebotomist that I should get a pink ribbon to match the skirt she was wearing, but that her favorite color was actually red:
And…Happy reunions. Colin got back home just in time for bedtime hugs.
(Sure, he looks happy now, but just wait until I start meting out his punishment for having abandoned us for so long…)
Quick day trip to Arlington to see my family, including my brother who was visiting for the weekend.
People above rules.
When I was a child I would occasionally ride the bus in D.C. with my mother. She would always try to sit as close to the driver as possible. As I nervously eyed the big sign that clearly told passengers not to talk to the driver while the bus was moving, my mother would launch her irresistible charm offensive. In no time at all, stone-faced, surly drivers would fall under her sway. They would be laughing and sharing personal anecdotes like a couple of long lost BFFs. By the end of every ride, I swear the drivers would be ready to give up a kidney for her.
Her disregard, and indeed disdain for rules that hinder human interaction was never so clear as when she came to visit me when my son Nicholas was a baby. He was going through a phase when he would torture me by never ever sleeping more than an hour at a time. I was thoroughly exhausted and was trying to rectify the situation by “Ferberizing” him. The “Ferber Method” is a technique developed by Dr. Richard Ferber to train an infant to learn how to self-soothe and put himself back to sleep. Basically, it involves a training period during which you let your baby cry for longer and longer periods of time. Ultimately, the method is supposed to result in a baby, who doesn’t cry and who sleeps soundly through the night. When my mother came to visit me and realized that I wasn’t leaping to rush to my baby’s side when he cried, she was outraged. She snorted when I tried to explain the rationale. Whenever Nicholas so much as peeped, she would pick him up and hand him to me and demand that I whip it out to nurse him. As I did her bidding, she would stand there watching me with her arms crossed, shaking her head and muttering under her breath in a seamless blend of Korean and the Universal Language of Disgust the whole time, “Ay-goh!…’Ferber’ joah ha neh!…Tchuh!”
My mother has always been guided only by her own rule: to love and care for people with extravagant generosity. She is as warm and effervescent to gas station attendants as she is to her own children and grandchildren. At the same time, the truth of the matter is that she is a formidable, if benevolent force of nature, who always gets her way. The miracle of it all is that she manages to completely subjugate people with a weirdly hypnotic and bewitching despotism, which inspires only devotion and gratitude for her attentions.
“Don’t buy junks!” or: Spend money on people, not things.
Frugality is an Olympic sport for my mother. She wouldn’t dream of buying waxed paper. Why would she, when she can use the perfectly good, free waxed bags that come in cereal boxes? She has an elaborate tiered system of usage for paper towels, which makes one roll last an entire year. They can be used multiple times (by the same person) as napkins. When they’re too dirty to serve this purpose, they graduate to the next stage, at which point they go into an old oatmeal container to be on hand for soaking up excess pan grease. When there’s so little toothpaste left that it becomes difficult to squeeze out, she cuts open the tube with a pair of scissors so that every last bit can be scraped out.
We’ve been chastised by a cousin for letting our mother dress in shabby clothes. She made the vest she’s wearing in the photo out of an old duvet cover and leftover material about a million years ago. It’s been washed so many times, it’s disintegrating. We’ve all begged her to throw it away, and you can bet we’ve plied her with new ones to replace it. She finally conceded that it was time to give it the heave-ho, but the last time I visited her, I blinked my eyes in disbelief when I saw her still wearing it.
“Wait a minute? Are those patches on your vest?” I asked incredulously.
She proudly showed off the new patches she’d sewn onto the most raggedy bits and said, “Now I can wear it until I die!”
Every time she receives yet another new vest, or indeed any present we or anyone else ever buys for her, her eyes gleam as she imagines how happy it will make the next recipient she’s already planning to give it to.
When she was still living in Korea, my mother would visit me once a year in Virginia. The minute she recovered from jet lag, we’d make a pilgrimage to Sam’s Club, where she’d spend a small fortune on medicines that would literally fill an entire suitcase.
“You can’t possibly go through all that before you come back for another visit!” I once exclaimed.
She looked at me like I was crazy and explained that she was taking them all back to give away to people, who couldn’t afford them. On that same occasion, I learned that she also regularly gave scholarships to students.
“Hey, Moneybags,” we’ll say affectionately, when we see her giving away money yet again, “Been shaking that money tree in your back yard again?” But the fact is: we all know that money has been extracted out of toothpaste tubes, alchemized out of used and reused paper towels, and saved by never spending a penny on herself…