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Asian Children Don’t Have to Exaggerate


As the child of an Asian mother, strict in her ideas and notions, I often have to laugh at the things I hear. Failure to laugh could possibly manifest itself in other ways: depression, rage, substance abuse. Does anyone understand this? I’ve said this before, but if I were a stand-up comedienne, my mother would provide my material. But, she is not unique to her Asian thoughts and words. Case in point:

Earlier this week, I had the notion to stop off at Dillard’s during my lunch hour to look for some new work clothes. Struggling to find what I was looking for, I walked up to the nearest saleswoman, who happened to be an older Asian lady, and made my plea. The following is the result:

I asked the little Asian sales lady for wide-legged dress pants, “you know, like to wear to work.”

She asks “yess mam, wha sigh you nee?”

Smiling, I say I’m a size 4. She walks around the counter and zeroes right in on my hips and says “oh i see whya yu lika da why-leg pan,” she pats her hips and says “you hava some bigguh heah, mus haf why leg!”

I almost embraced her…”Momma?” I’m not sure why this is so funny to me. I’m also not sure why I follow her….

She proceeds to lead me around the store pulling out every pair of dress pants, looking at it, looking at my hips (through her reading glasses perched on the bridge of her nose) and says things like “No, thee ah nah foh you sweehar” and, “you wan to try sigh sick instead sigh foh?”

I feel a Facebook post coming on.

Then. THEN! She comes INTO the dressing room WITH ME and says “I cah see you hava da PROBREM right heah” and pats her hips again. She says “I hava da righ pan foh you, you wahn me get?” I feel so exposed. Oh wait. A strange Asian woman is in the dressing room with me, ‘exposed’ is an understatement.

At this point I am laughing, and many have asked why I even followed her after such insulting statements. My answer is simple: she DID call me ‘sweehar’ and she’s not MY mother.

Speaking of my mother, I thought I’d share a few of the statements I heard from my own dear mom in the last 4 days:

Thursday, I am working from home. She pops in on her way home from the store to bring me salad. Why salad, you ask? Her words, “I bring you sumting good for you, I know you only fee your kid the hoh dog.”

All I can think is “Three mom. I have three kids.” I am beyond arguing her theories on what I feed my kids.

Then she looks and my lovely burlap table runner from Pottery Barn. I love that thing. Burlap is all the rage in case you haven’t noticed from Pinterest this year. It’s subtle, it’s cool, it’s country, it’s adorable.

She picks it up with two fingers, like it’s sick with the Asian Bird Flu or West Nile Virus (both of which she thinks I will get, one because I’m Asian, the other because I don’t use OFF! liberally each time I open the front door).

I digress. Sorry. She picks it up with two fingers and says “Why you haf dis? It look so….POOR!”

Saturday evening, I’m headed out to have dinner with a couple of girlfriends and she pops in on her way home from church. I’m wearing a trendy yellow dress that I picked up from Charming Charlie’s a few months ago. She is wearing a royal purple pantsuit. I’m strangely reminded of Jack Nicholson in Batman.

Standing behind me she says “ZEE-na….why you wear that dress? It so tacky. Cannot belief you buy dat.”

This, my friends, is the epitome of being an American-born child of an Asian mother.

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First Day of School


It’s here…the day has arrived….

I woke up super early so I could make the first day of school request.  Biscuits, gravy, sausage, juice and eggs (the eggs were a Tanner only request).  Delaneigh tumbled out of bed first—excited.  Tanner and Connor wanted one more minute.  Tanner got up before the minute was
over.  *Note:  I love my kids.  But I am NOT one to wake up early to cook a huge breakfast, so I need some recognition here.

My kids ate very little. Tanner didn’t touch the eggs he had to have.  He said he changed his mind in the middle of the night.  Cute.  Except, I’m notsomuch into making eggs at the crack of dawn that go uneaten (see note above.  I did not get my recognition).  However, we did read Proverbs Chapter 22 this morning (the 22nd of August), and that’s a great way to start the day.

All the clothes were out and ironed.   Tanner asked Connor to wear the same shirt as him—surprisingly Connor said yes.  As a mom, this brought me immense joy.  He may never be cool again.

We walked them all in…said goodbye to Connor in the hallway.  He was going right.  We were going left.  No big deal.

Said goodbye to Delaneigh in her hallway.  She was done with us anyway once she saw her friend.  No big deal.

Turned to walk Tanner…and I thought of Connor wearing the same shirt for moral support for Tanner.  Thought of how we’d put this day off for a year and the day had come anyway.  How when he was born, there was a knot in his umbilical cord and had it been any tighter, he would’ve died.  Then Tanner said he could walk himself.  That was it.  I choked back tears.  I considered taking him and running…much like a kidnapper would.

Went to the doorway of his classroom and didn’t want to go in.  Was afraid I’d cry crossing the threshold like I did the night we met the teacher.  Made it in, and couldn’t say goodbye.  Couldn’t hug him because I was fixing to lose it.

Then left and looked and Courtney and started to cry.  That was it.  My baby was in Kindergarten.

Texted a good friend, Tiffany, to have her give me a report since they hadn’t dropped their daughter Alyssa off yet and because she is in the same class.  She told me she’d have Jonathan, her husband, give Tanner a hug.

Got a text from Jonathan that said:

“I told Tanner to come here.  I gave him a hug and said this is from your mom.  He said ‘uuugh!’  Then he smiled and walked back to his table.

Viva La Schoolyear!

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School Supply Shopping


In my world, simple school supply shopping (was this an alliteration?) sounds like fun.  Afterall, the word ‘shopping’ is part of it.  But there is a horrid reality to it.

It SHOULD be that we merrily go to the store with our spawn.  They happily stand behind us, single-file, hands behind their back, with smiles on their faces and no hair out of place.  We cruise down the empty aisle, list in hand.  All items are easily located, on sale, and in stock.  Occasionally, we will turn to our sweet children asking their opinions.  “Green? Or blue pencil box?”  To which they reply with a one word answer identifying which of the two they want.   This is shopping at its finest.

In reality, my kids beg me to drop them off anywhere–friends’ houses, their grandma’s house, the laundromat–ANYWHERE is better than going to the store for school supplies.  Of course, I take them though, because I want them to provide their input on such decisions as: the color of a folder that will get whisked off into a community pile of folders on the first day of school; and because I’m slightly nuts.

In comes one of two tactics: I either bribe them with a surprise at the store, or threaten to get notebooks for the boys with precious kittens licking their paws, and a GI JOE backpack for my daughter.  Suddenly, miraculously, they’re in the car.

By the time we get there MY hair is all out of place.  But we are here on a mission for the teachers ( http://instoresnow.walmart.com/article.aspx?Center=BackToSchool&id=99345).  We cruise down the aisle, crowded with people, shelves a mess, usually with a cart that veers to the right, I’ve lost the list.  Wait.  My daughter has the list and is marking things out.  Wait.  I can’t find the wide-ruled notebooks.  Wait.  Tanner just put a ball in the cart.  Wait.  Delaneigh just found the folders.  Wait.  Connor just knocked all the folders to the floor.  Wait.  Tanner just cried because I’m not buying Transformers pencils.  Wait.  No he’s crying because Connor just ran over his toe with the cart.  Wait.  Where’s the 9×12 package of manila paper that’s not $14.88?  Wait.  How many glue sticks?  Wait.  Where’s my straight line of ducklings with no hair out of place?  Wait.  Where’s Tanner? ” TANNER!?!!?  Wait.

But then there’s the crayons.  I love them.  Buying a new box of crayons is rewarding to me.  It’s nostalgic.  It’s cheerful.  It brings me joy.  I’ve got 7 boxes of them and I am in the mood to COLOR!

Then, “Excuse me strange person that I don’t know.  Why are you taking stuff out of my cart?”

Then, “Strange person that I don’t know, I don’t care if they are out of those 70 page wide-ruled notebooks in assorted colors (not black) on the shelf and I took the last one, you can’t take them out of my cart!”

Finally we get home.  Exhausted but yet somehow empowered.  I’m a winner.  Wait.  This is the wrong list.

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Vacation Day 2: Wake UP People!


Day 2: Well, just thought you should know it’s day 2 of vacation for me. It’s 7:15. The plan is to leave at 8:30. We’ve packed nothing. Zip. Zero. I mean nothing.

Why, you ask?

BECAUSE I HATE PACKING!

No one is awake. I still have a lingering couple of loads of laundry which may or may not get folded. We have to feed the horse before we leave, my daughter will likely have a meltdown about what she will wear, and I am so stressed out by the thought of all of this, I think I’ll let them sleep a little more while I enjoy (a tad gleefully) just one cup of coffee.

Oh yeah, and here’s the kicker: once we do decide to get in the car–we’re not sure where we are going.

I want A/C and no crowds–cabin on the lake, suite on the beach, bathroom at the mall, padded white room–I’m not that picky.

The kids want giant whales splashing freezing saltwater that causes chafing later in the day–don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. They want to feed stinky fish to otherwise unfriendly dolphins, buy Dippin’ Dots for $6.50 a cup, look at ferocious–but yet sedated–crocodiles.

I bet the kids will win. It’s not that bad. Really, I’ll enjoy it once I have some coffee. I will love the family time and making memories with my kids, and it really is all about them.

Viva La Sea World!

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Vacation Day 1: The Dirty Truth


Today, I’m starting official vacation. Here’s how it went down:

I said to my boss–okay, really I emailed him–his office is two doors down, and normally I yell at him, but I felt as though this deserved an email. Anyway, I emailed my boss, “Boss, I know you’ve scheduled a couple of meetings for the end of this week, how important are they, because I was hoping to take some vacation.” He replied with, “Have fun.”

That went well. It then led to a live conversation about how I’d like to only work 4 days a week and keep ‘bankers’ hours’, but that’s another blog.

So today = day 1 of my vacation.

This is the gist of it: My kids spent the night at their Aunt Sonja’s house (hooray for Aunt Sonja!), and the thought of being alone in the house for a few minutes this morning was hard to contain. I tried not to be over-anxious when I sent my husband, Courtney, off to work at 6:00. I might’ve inadvertently kicked him awake this morning. I prefer the word ‘nudged’. I nudged him. There.

Let’s just say, I couldn’t wait for him to spring to a vertical position at the crack of dawn and work for 10 hours on a hot roof in 105* weather. Poor guy. I do feel sorry for him. I wouldn’t do what he does. I thought of this for approximately 3.2 minutes after he left, but then I went back to sleep until I woke up (7:40). And it was silent! I laid there for 20 minutes listening to silence with a silly smile of pure glee on my face.

Then I started laundry, took a shower, logged in to do some work, continued laundry, ran to the store, got my kids, and then came home for more laundry and to log in again to get some more work done. Yes. Work. What is wrong with me? I’ve stopped. I think I’ve got it under control. I don’t know what came over me. It’s so unlike me (see above reference to 4 days a week and bankers hours).

If only I could have the laundry under control. If I posted pictures of my laundry room, you would all feel better about yourselves.

The rest of today will be spent cleaning house, packing, and doing something about the laundry.

Instead of boring piles of laundry, I thought I’d share some pics I took a few months ago of our horse, Cookie. Cookie’s foot is hurt right now and we may never get to ride her again. But we love her. And we love the country.

I know. It’s JUST a saddlehorn.

I know. It’s JUST barbed wire.

I know. It’s JUST Courtney’s boot in a stirrup.

This is beloved Cookie. She is feeling sympathy for me and my laundry. Maybe she needs a vacation.

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What My Mom Calls Me


Many of you know this…but I feel the need to elaborate and frankly, to get this out of the way:

My mom is Vietnamese.  If I were a comedienne, she would be my stand-up routine.  She is…ahem… eccentric and quirky.  She has a Vietnamese accent that I find necessary to imitate when retelling my conversations with her.

To a therapist.

Okay, there’s no therapist, but if I had one, we’d discuss her.

Once, on one of my first dates with my husband, he came to the door to pick me up, and she yelled at him, “YOU no haf SEC with my DAUGH-tuh!”

Think about it.

You can laugh.  It’s ok.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love her and she loves me, but we are an interesting clash of cultures.  I am an American girl, raised by a non-American, typical ‘Tiger’ mom.  And a slightly redneck dad.  A GENIUS redneck.  Oh the irony in my life.

If you’ve never heard the term ‘Tiger’ mom, please see here:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  This is an excellent book I just read by Amy Chua about the way Asian cultures raise their children.

If you’ve never heard the term ‘Redneck’… you’re not from here.

These are the facts:

My mom named me Gina.  I don’t know why she named me this, because she can’t pronounce the letter ‘G’; so she calls me ‘ZEE-nah’ or Xena.  I am now the warrior princess.  Incidentally, my older brother is named Paul.  And she doesn’t say the letter ‘L’ very well either, so we are ‘Paw’ and ‘Zeenah’.

Great.  My brother wears false teeth and overalls, and drives a covered wagon; I carry a sword and wear a stupid armored swimsuit.  And we all know how I feel about swimsuits.

Anyway, glad I could clear up the name, because when people hear me being called this around town, they think I am tough and ninja-like.  I can be, but prefer to exercise this quality when I do things like give birth or play volleyball.   I’m just sayin’.

Now that you know WHAT my mom calls me, one of these days, I can share WHY and WHEN my mom calls me.

Enjoy your day!

Xena

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The 13 Other Things I Said Before the Crash


Many of you know I was in a car accident the day before yesterday.  This is not intended to downplay how serious the accident could have been as the other driver very nearly hit both a car and an 18-wheeler head-on before being aimed head-on at me.  The damage is negligible since we both walked away free from harm.  And for that, the other driver and I, and our families are very thankful.

Let me also preface this by saying that my own wonderful Rancher/Genius Software Analyst Daddy died in a car accident several years ago, and because of this, car accidents of any sort cause my soft heart to twinge unimaginably.

What I DID say was “Oh my God! Oh my God! …. OH MY GOD!”

Then crash.

Then I said a couple of expletives.  (Very weak expletives in comparison to the range of possible expletives that one could say when they think they are fixing to die suddenly and expletives seem to just release themselves before they can be restrained from the atmosphere.)

Nonetheless, THESE are The 13 Other Things I said Before the Crash:

1.  I love my family!

2.  I hope the life insurance is enough for the kids’ college, in case I have to ‘follow the light’.

3.  If this does or doesn’t hurt, I’m SOOOO not cooking dinner tonight!

4.  I wonder what the kids will major in when they get to college.

5.  I hope the other driver has insurance.

6.  I hope the rental car has Bluetooth.

7.  Do my underthings match?

8.  I hope they don’t rip my clothes off to make a tourniquet.

9.  I so wish I had thrown out that McDonald’s bag that’s flying around my car.

10.  I might cry.

11.  Good decision buying the waterproof mascara v. the lengthening formula at Walgreen’s yesterday.

12.  Isn’t this supposed to be the moment where Waylon Jennings pauses the scene and says something like, “Well folks, I hope Gina wasn’t fishing the day they passed out good luck…”?

13.  If I survive this, I will never smoke again!

14.  Wait.  I don’t smoke.

15.  I’m not doing laundry tonight either!

16.  My brother-in-law is on the fire department, someone tell him if he has to make the choice to give me CPR, just leave me here because that is icky.

Okay, maybe that was 16 things, but when one has only a few split seconds to think, I’m sure one does not have a lot of control over what, or how much, goes through one’s mind.

Be safe!