diapers, budgets & paint

stay-at-home mommy by day
program manager by night
children's painter somewhere in between


One Day Blog Silence

the interview meme

sorry for the short hiatus, folks - the warmer weather has been keeping me super busy with emmy lately. i'm starting to forget how to play indoors; gosh i sure hope it never rains again! i was definitely an indoors child growing up, but i am amazed (and thrilled) by how easy it is to take emmy outside and explore for a good hour or two each day. she's currently obsessed with swings ("wheeee!"), "flauw-wers" and "durt." oh, and bubble blowing is pretty cool too.

anyhoo, i figured it was about time for another meme and voila! here's the interview meme, courtesy of my friend lien. this one's a little different: instead of being tagged, you ask to participate! tag yourself in the comments with the note, "i am an ego maniac," and i'll send you 5 one-of-a-kind, hand-picked questions to answer about yourself. lien sent me these questions a couple of days ago so here goes...

what is your most favorite work of art and why?

oh boy, what to pick, what to pick... i guess the piece that jumps out at me the most is a sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte by georges seurat. it's a terrific example of the brilliant colors / effects developed in the pointillism style; seurat painstakingly depicted precise contours, geometric shapes, proportions and distances with this piece. but that's part of what got my attention in art class: have you ever noticed how each face is a ridiculously perfect full, three-quarters or half view? and how they're all so darn... emotionless? critics speculate that the painting shows the middle class at leisure, or perhaps the social tensions between all of society's classes, gathered in the same space but not interacting in any way. i love the way that this presumably noisy, hectic space filled with families, children and pets is too organized, calculated, controlled... just too quiet and reserved to feel right. that contradiction has always amused me.

what do you enjoy most about being a part time sahm?
i love the fact that i am able to raise my daughter myself - there's no reliance on daycare, friends or family (not that we really have much of the latter in this area anyway). blair and i are very independent people and while i totally wish that my mom lived closer to help us out, i am thrilled to be the one that catches all of emmy's milestones, her ups and downs, her new words, everything. i am very selfish here; em's my baby and i can't imagine missing ANYTHING. my mom was always a full-time sahm to me so that's the "norm" in my head. you get many chances to try different jobs in your lifetime, but the window to be with your children while they are the most open, loving, teachable, attached, defenseless and innocent is so very, very small. and while life changes prevent me from becoming a full-time sahm right now, my current set-up is the next best thing.

btw, i do appreciate the fact that i have been able to find / create such a flexible work arrangement. i'm very impressed that my company has lived up to the claims that got it on the working mother's 100 best companies list.

has little emerson had any phases that you particularly enjoyed? what other phases are you looking forward to?
lol, how about all of them? it seems like every phase is just a little cooler than the one before it, but then i'll have days where i would give anything to hold her brand new teeny-tiny baby body once more. i am really enjoying our days right now - her vocabulary (both spoken and signed) is growing by leaps and bounds, her memory astounds me and i absolutely adore watching her pretend play. the one thing that i really look forward to is that big jump in vocabulary and comprehension that gives her the ability to speak in (mostly) full sentences. i can't wait to figure out what's going on in that little head of hers!

in your experience, what are the most positive and negative aspects of being someone who is mixed race?
positives: awesome food. exposure to a broader range of people, cultures and standards of living, leading to a more open mind and greater empathy for others. a reason to travel abroard in my childhood years. standing out in a crowd. the feeling of being connected to a family structure that's much larger than the average, and knowing there are people that span the globe who know and love you. that kinship / excited feeling i get when i spot another hapa. did i mention double the awesome food?
negatives: racist / uneducated people who ask ridiculous questions (i.e., "are you north korean?"). always getting the "what are you" question and being expected to disclose my family story at the drop of a hat. not fitting in with either culture completely. standing out in a crowd. second guessing other people's actions towards me (see carol's "decompression" post). knowing that there are still people out there in the world that treat me (and others) differently / poorly because of race. worrying how emmy will answer this question.

what 5 words would you use to describe yourself?
nurturing. artsy. dedicated. waiting. sleepy.
...or, as liz phair sang in extraordinary, i'm just your "average everyday sane psycho supergoddess." :)

and how convenient! that brings me to my next topic - nina's best songs ever meme! but i'll save that for this weekend's post... i have some more work to do on that one; it's quite the challenge!

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hokie hope

Governor Timothy M. Kaine has declared Friday, April 20, 2007 a statewide day of mourning for the victims of Monday’s tragedy at Virginia Tech.
according to the va tech website, today is "hokie hope," an alumni-led declaration of a national "orange and maroon effect" day. everyone, whether they have a tie to the school or not, has been invited to wear the school's colors in a show of support. this request has been all over the news here; my company even sent out two emails stating that we could wear any va tech t-shirts, etc. to work today, regardless of the standard dress code.

this morning, i put on a maroon shirt. emmy got to wear her favorite orange cat shirt. and then we went to music class.

seriously, does everyone around here live in a cave? the teacher kept making comments about how all those people (meaning like, three of us) wearing red and orange are all sitting near each other, ha ha ha, and how she's declaring next friday's class to be blue and green day. at the end of class, a couple of us had to explain what today is supposed to be. the teacher - and some of the other moms still hanging around - were so surprised! *sigh* i guess i also figured that more of the morning newscasters would be dressed in maroon and orange, but i suppose most people probably don't have an orange business suit, eh? regardless, i'm proud to support all of the students, families, faculty, alumni and especially victims of va tech today, and i hope you're doing the same, wherever you are.

17 things you should stop doing

i just heard about this on the radio today...

This is a list of 17 things you shouldn't be doing any more because they waste time. Old habits die hard and it can be difficult to shift yourself from an old familiar way of doing something to a new better way. Take a look at the list and see if there is anything you can change to help make you more productive.
  1. Manually Depositing a Paycheck -- That is what direct deposit is for. If you spend 15 minutes every two weeks dealing with depositing your paycheck that is 65 hours over the next 10 years. Put this time to better use.
  2. Writing Checks for Bills -- That is what the bill pay service from your bank is for. Use this time for something worthwhile.
  3. Partially Filling Up with Gas -- Yes it might go down 3 cents next week, but how much is your time really worth.
  4. Looking for your Keys or Cellphone -- Always put them in the same place (hook by the door, etc).
  5. Unpacking your Laptop Power Adaptor -- If you go from work to home with your laptop, get an extra adaptor for each work area so you don't have to unpack and crawl under the desk each time.
  6. Check Multiple Email Boxes -- Get a program that will show you all your email in one place or filter by individual accounts. Apple Mail and several other products do this.
  7. Watching Commercials -- Use Tivo to skip them. Use Netflix and just skip television all together. Buy the shows you want to watch off iTunes. If you had a friend who spent 20% to 30% of your time trying to sell you things you didn't really need, would you put up with it? (If you have a friend in network marketing, you may have already experienced this.)
  8. Losing Telephone Numbers -- Your cell phone should sync with your computer. We are past the days where a phone only held 25 numbers. If someone calls, take the few seconds to record their name in your phone, so it will be transfered next time you sync your computer.
  9. Commuting to College -- Take your classes online. Spend your commute time studying instead of driving.
  10. Commuting Through Heavy Traffic -- Talk to your boss about working from home--even for just a few days a week. Shift your schedule to miss rush hour.
  11. Dialing into Voice Mail -- Get your voicemail setup to send you messages as email attachments that way you only have to check one mailbox.
  12. Backing Up to CDs or Disks -- Get an external hard drive. It will be fast enough that maybe you'll go ahead and backup more often. Plus if you do it right, you can create a working version of your entire computer on the hard drive. If you laptop is stolen you can start working from your last backup with all your programs and settings just as they were. (Here are some more tips about relying on technology.)
  13. Visiting Lots of Blogs -- Use a news reader like Google Reader or NewsFire. Most people don't realize how much time they waste looking at the same sites over and over again to see if there is anything new. With a newsreader you'll know whenever something new is posted.
  14. Removing Spyware -- Use a computer or web browser that doesn't get infected.
  15. Wasting Time in the Car -- Subscribe to podcasts and get a connector for your MP3 player in your car. Spend your time learning instead of just sitting there driving.
  16. Getting Lost in the Car -- If you spend a lot of time driving to unfamiliar areas, go ahead and invest in a GPS with routing capabilities. That way you can spend your time focusing on your work instead of honing your navigation skills.
  17. Clubbing Baby Seals -- Just in case this applies to you, this would be a good thing to stop as well.

i can't give up checking all of email addresses (force of habit, yeah, yeah) but i did just set up my google reader. perhaps i'll even be convinced to pay ALL of my bills online. and as much as i want tivo and gps, i can't justify the expense right now. but working from home? check! but alas, poor blair... he will be following #12 very, very carefully - his hard drive just went kaput this past week. fortunately, he does back up all of his data. unfortunately, he hadn't backed up since january 1. oops!

hmmm, looks like the productivity501 site has other good ideas too. i'll add it to my google reader right now! muahahaha...


a little bit o' sunshine

time to brighten things up over here...

first of all, a hearty congratulations to one of my absolute favorite cousins in the world and his wife on the birth of their beautiful little boy, yong han. i haven't seen cousin yong dae since about 1993; my last trip to korea was right after i started high school, but he and i tried to be pen pals for several years after. he was definitely a super cool guy that i always looked up to... who was also cool with the idea of having his hapa cousin follow him around all summer. welcome to parenthood, yong dae!

and in more local news...

looks like it's time to go shopping again - need anything?

chillin' with my peeps at miss shelley's crib

btw, have you seen this will ferrell short? go get your drink on and enjoy!


for more thoughts on the va tech massacre, check out the recent discussions over at the kimchi mamas site

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too close to home

why i'm glued to the va tech coverage:
- the gunman, identified as 23 year-old senior cho seung-hui, is korean
- his home is in centreville... just 15 minutes from here
- a civil and environmental engineering professor was killed, among other engineering faculty (my major!)
- quotes like "there wasn't a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them" and that it was "brutal" and "amazing"


i'll be taking the afternoon off to take emmy to the zoo. oh, and it's ben & jerry's free cone day too. remember to spend lots of time with your loved ones - gosh knows what each new day may bring.

another day, another tragedy

sending our deepest sympathy and warm wishes to the folks at virginia tech today... (didn't i just write something like this?) it's so hard to believe that something so horribly tragic could happen at such an idyllic little (well, big) campus. i’m anxious to see if i recognize any of the people affected, but then again i think all of my friends would have left that area ages ago. even so, it seems like everyone here in northern virginia has some tie to that school... tech was actually my "safety" school; my parents insisted i apply to an in-state engineering program, thinking that it would be the most affordable alternative. by senior year, however, i just wanted to get far, far away from everyone and give independent living a shot. for me, the idea of being trapped in the middle of nowhere with the kids i'd known since elementary school held zero appeal. thank goodness for the financial aid wizards at cornell, whew! anyway, i'll be following this story for quite some time, i bet.

update: a local friend and va tech alum just told me that the gunman was a korean guy. i wonder if that's true? i'm dying to read the official story / motive / profile in the coming days...

moment of silence

sending our deepest sympathy and warm wishes to snickollet today... i can't even fathom what she's going through. cancer's a bitch and all i want to do is hug my family tighter.

easter weekend in review

hmmm... now what did i do all weekend?

oh yeah, we went to that farm museum place again. horses rock!
(and i got to milk the cow again - moo!)

easter was fun but it was too cold to dress up or go outside.
check out all my loot from our living room egg hunt.

still eating...
i *heart* m&m's!

geez, where are my manners? want one?

mmm, what a tasty day!
i'm still drooling over all that choc-o-laty goodness!

now back to work - it's tax time.


getting ready for easter

dude, where are my bunny ears?


mommy wars

although i rarely go into the office anymore, i made a special trip recently for a work / life balance brown bag session. many of the topics have been pretty so-so but this one was great: leslie morgan steiner gave a terrific presentation of her book, mommy wars, and led a general discussion about the whole mommy conundrum (to work or not to work, and why can't we all just get along?). rachel recently mentioned this book on her blog so i was intrigued to hear the editor talk, and she was the first to admit that some of the essays in the book frustrated her to no end. nevertheless, she wanted to include as many perspectives as possible, from stay-at-homes to working moms and all the hybrids in between, so we can all gain a better perspective on why there is no right answer - it's more of an answer that fits you right now. and sometimes it's good to be reminded that whatever you do right now doesn't necessarily have to be your role 5 years from now, or heck, 5 months from now.

during the talk, leslie pointed out a few things to keep in mind...
  • whenever you're doubting yourself or having a rough day, ask yourself, "would you want to be your child?" chances are, your kids are clean, safe, dressed, fed, and surrounded by more stuff than they could shake a stick at. we're our own worst critics but we're also doing a pretty decent job at this whole parenthood thing - let's not forget that.

  • leslie has talked with many, many little ones over the years and it turns out that they don't really care whether we go to work or not! imagine that - they care more about what's for lunch or when they're going to hit the playground than us?! however, there are two key things that kids DO care about: 1) whether mommy is happy and 2) whether their family is stable. kids pick up on a lot around them (body language, interactions, etc.) and when momma's happy, everyone's happy. and a happy, stable family gives little kids the predictability and comfort that they need to become happy, self-assured big kids. so whether you choose to get dressed up with a briefcase each morning, or roll around on the floor while watching the wonder pets intro for the 27th time, do it with a smile and let your kids know that you're happy and proud to be where you are.

  • as we have all seen, women have this knee-jerk way of segregating ourselves into sahm versus working mom camps. we may say we're cool with your choice at first, but inevitably someone will make some underhanded comment like "oh, i could never leave my child at daycare" or "you must get soooo bored at home" and all bets are off. the decision to stay at home or continue working is such a big one nowadays, as it directly impacts how we see ourselves, our place in society's hierarchy, what we can afford, how we live and so on. in many cases, we continue to want to justify our decision to ourselves; hearing why women have made the opposite decision can either reinforce or chip away at our resolve. this can be especially hard when you're comparing lives against a female that you have looked up to and respect (like a close former coworker or boss) who's now taken the opposite path. and whenever you make that snide comment about her paycheck, or lack thereof, you're reflecting your own insecurities and desires. let's all take a break and look inward for a moment to reassess whether WE are truly happy with our decision - not whether we're keeping up with the joneses.
another contributor to the book, the washington post's carolyn hax, wrote "i am old enough now to have known enough people making enough bizarre arrangements work (and making textbook arrangements fail) to persuade me that anyone who thinks she can judge what's best for other people's kids is either arrogant, psychic or high." whether you work split shifts with your spouse so that someone can be home with the kid(s), OR work the typical 9-5 schedule with the support of a trusted daycare provider, OR you're a stay at home mom, OR you've found another flexible schedule that works, give yourself a giant pat on the back. we, as moms, hardly ever say "wow, you're a great mom - i love the way you..." yet we compliment each other on new dresses and hairstyles with ease. let's get serious and cut the cocktail party banter / crap - what we need is support! working moms rely on sahms to help volunteer at schools, to be their back-ups when running late from work and to provide childcare continuity in their own neighborhoods. sahms should applaud working moms as they contribute to the community / economy and show girls that they can have great professional careers when they grow up too. see, we CAN be friends!

towards the end of the presentation, leslie challenged us to compliment at least one mom a day for a week. she insisted that it would be hard to do but i have to disagree. i've been lucky enough to find a great network of supportive moms, both in my local mommy group and here online, that support, encourage and accept me. these ladies have been wonderful resources to me, a first-timer, and i respect them and their parenting styles / discussions immensely! so to tracy, leah, stephanie, beth, daniela, sarah, carol, rachel, (super)nina, lien, mama nabi, halfmama, angela, snick and so many others (hi becky!), i thank you for your many words of wisdom, your pick-me-ups when i need it, and for making me think - you gals rock!


btw, for those of you that don't know, i'm still working a 16-hour/week part-time schedule in addition to being a full-time sahm to emmy. while attending the "mommy wars" brown bag, i got the following remarks:
"wow, can you DO any work in 16 hours?"
"they LET you work 16 hours?"
"don't you CARE about your promotability?"
thanks, fellow mommies, it's good to see you too. and the best interactions actually came from other part-time moms who didn't understand why i don't have free time. while they may only work 20 hours or so, they all use full-time daycare! or have nannies! or live-in family! thanks but no thanks - i actually like spending my days with emmy. sheesh!


leslie morgan steiner also has a daily blog, "on balance", on the washingtonpost.com site - check it out for some interesting work / life discussions.


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