Never Say Never

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Two summers ago, we went beach camping with our friends. They had 4 young kids at the time. I remembering thinking, I will never go camping or anywhere that I would have to lug all sorts of stuff. Boy, how our thinking changes after baby.

I love taking Mason places. I love seeing his expression. Actually, I wait for it. I wait for him to absorb his surrounding. I wait to see what he will do. I love to see the joy he feels, the wonder, the amazement. His emotions are so pure and upfront, he holds nothing back.

I admit, sometimes, it is such a pain to bring all his stuff. Like when we visited my brother in August. Traveling alone, with carseat, carseat base, stroller, etc. But the experience, and even the plane ride, it was fun to see the way people loved him, and the way he loved people. His expression as he pulls the small airplane window up and down.

Oh, and that beach trip with our friends, it turned out to be a lot of fun! And yes, we're going camping next summer!


Lan Su Chinese Garden

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This weekend, we went to the Mid-Autumn Festival at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland. While we were in line, a gentleman actually offered us a free ticket so we just had to pay for one, which was really nice. The garden was extremely peaceful despite the fact that it was right in Portland. The garden had a pond on the inside so that when you walked the perimeter, you always had a view of the water. I love the trees, shrubberies and flowers that they had in there. It really added to the ambiance of the garden. We also got to watch the lion show which was very cool!

There's a tea house, and a garden shop. Both were quite packed so we weren't able to explore. We can't wait to go back! Mason absolutely loved the fishes in the pond.


Jerusalem Cafe

Monday, September 28, 2015

On Friday night, we went out to dinner with the sister missionaries at Jerusalem Cafe in downtown Vancouver. Since we aren't living within our current ward boundaries, we've just gone out to eat with the sisters. I can't wait to actually be within the boundaries so I can just have the sister missionaries over. I really enjoy cooking so it's fun to try different dishes, and let others try it as well.

We love mediterranean food, and when the sisters told me that they like this place, I knew we had to try it. I ordered the Kofta Kabob which was absolutely delicious. However, the portions were smaller then I had hoped for. Brandon wasn't as impressed with his dish. I'm going to look up some recipes for some mediterranean dishes for us to try.


5 ankle booties for under $50!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Being so short, boots have to be either very low on my ankle, or just tall boots. Anything in between and I just look even shorter. I love ankle boots with skinny jeans because you get to show off the boots. All these boots are under $50 which is an extra plus!

What boots are you loving this fall?

what it's like to be a stay at home mom

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I was talking with a girlfriend today who is currently a working mom. This was the same friend that talked with me during my pregnancy, and championed my decision to have a natural birth. She had two of hers naturally. She gave me so many advices, and listened to all my questions, and complaints.  She is just one of those people that you just can't help but love. You automatically feel close to her, and then you become life-long friends.

While we were talking, she expressed some concerns on what she was missing out being a working mom. Mind you, I have only being doing this since March so I'm still learning about what it means to be a stay at home mom. And quite frankly, it's more complex then I ever imagined.

I consider myself a Type A personality so it was quite hard at first. Somedays you don't accomplish anything on your to-do list. There is no promotion, no good job. There is no thank you from Mason (at least not yet ;). There is no break to go chat with your cubicle friends. There is no going down to the cafe for a muffin. There is no annual reviews on how you are doing. You can't measure how "good" you are as a mom. And being Type A, that's what I needed.

Not to say that I don't enjoy being a stay at home mom. It's growing on me. I love being able to take a nap during the day after a bad night. I love seeing Mason's face as he sees a plane, and one index finger pointing to it, with that face of his, all lighted up. I love going in after his nap and wrapping my arms around him. I love going to story time with him at the library. I love seeing him pretending to read after I have stepped away from the room. I love snuggling when he's not feeling well. I love this sweet precious time that I have with him.

So, yes, you will miss things. But whatever it is you do, do something you love. Do something that you get up in the morning, and you are excited for. And remember that your kids are somewhere that they are cared for, loved, and stimulated.

I do believe some moms are better moms when they work outside of the home. But just as the seasons change, you can as well. If whatever you are doing is not working, then change it. If you want to go back to work, then figure out what you need to do, and work on changing that. If you want to be a stay at home mom, figure out what you and your family need to do in order to make it happen, and work on changing that.

Whatever it is that ends up happening, know that it is not forever. And remember that you are the boss of your own life. You decide what happens. Whether that is working inside the home, or outside of the home, things will work out.


Mason Lately

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I won't even sugarcoat it. I baby my baby. He's growing up so, so fast.

He's taken a few steps, but doesn't rely on it entirely. When he needs to move fast, he resorts to his one legged crawl. It's a bit trippy watching him crawl like that. But it works for him and he can get away pretty fast. I admit that I don't work with him a lot on this, and I should. Our apartment is approximately 400 feet, 200 feet for the bathroom + bedroom and 200 feet for the kitchen + living room, so there is not a lot of room for him to do much crawling or walking. He is getting heavier each day, and grocery store trips aren't so fun, me trying to carry him and the groceries in.

I recently put him in a swim class. I know, I know. It may seem a little ridiculous, but we are just around so much water, and I know next summer, we will be out and about with a lot of water activities. I want to get him exposed to the water in a more controlled environment before he has to get into a free roaming environment. There are usually between 4 and 5 babies/kids there. The class is for children between 6 months up to 3 or so. Each parent is with their baby, and following the instructor's direction, we do different things with our baby. We've gone around the lazy river with the mats, blew bubbles, dunk the babies in the water (gently), teach them to get into the pool from the edge of the pool, etc. After this class, I'm considering a more serious class that will teach him to actually swim. I wanted this class first since I wanted him to be more comfortable in the pool first.

Mason is not a snuggler. Every once in a while, he may put his head down on your chest, but that happens rarely (I don't remember the last time this happened to me). The other night, we were hanging out with family, and he did that to his cousin. For about 30 seconds, he did that. So cute. And then off he goes again. He is so, so active. He loves to climb. Stairs, coffee tables, bins, bathtubs, couches, whatever he can reach with his little legs. If it's remotely possible, he'll stick his legs up to the side and try to push himself up.

I sure love him. More and more each and everyday.


the cute boyfriend vs. the nice boyfriend

Sunday, September 20, 2015

This post isn't actually about boyfriends. It's about houses.

We thought we had decided. Our cute boyfriend was no longer available. He was literally off the market. We never even had a chance to be honest. He was perfect in almost every way. Almost. There were a few imperfections, but because he was so cute, we overlooked those things.

Well, our cute boyfriend came knocking late on Friday night. All of a sudden, he was available for our taking. We could have him if we wanted! It threw us into a frenzy. All of a sudden we started doubting that our decision to go with the nice boyfriend was a mistake. I mean, the cute boyfriend is cute! We went backed and looked at all the pictures of our cute boyfriend, and oh boy, he was so very cute. Every angle was perfection. And then we looked at our nice boyfriend, and we knew he was perfect on the inside, but we weren't sure if that will make our love for him grow.

If we went with the nice boyfriend, would we spend our nights thinking about our cute boyfriend? We didn't want to.

We were so confused, we scheduled to see both boyfriends on Saturday. One last time to walk with each one, and see how we felt inside.

We saw the cute boyfriend first, and oh boy, he was as perfect as we remembered. He was so very, very nice to look at. Absolutely stunning. And when we stepped inside, he was as we remembered. And for a minute, we forgot all his imperfections. We were blown away, and still so confused.

We later saw the nice boyfriend. He wasn't as cute as our cute boyfriend. But when we opened the door, he was as comfortable as we remembered. It felt right. We walked upstairs, and explored the other facets of him, and tried to not let our lingering memories of our cute boyfriend distract us. The nice boyfriend wasn't as cute, but we knew he would love us the way we wanted to be loved, and he would have the same visions as we did.

And so, we picked the nice boyfriend.

Yes, this post isn't about boyfriends, but it is about houses.


House Update

Friday, September 18, 2015

One thing led to another, and well, we got out of the new house. We have made three offers of which two fell through. The housing market here is fierce, and it moves fast. You think you have time, but you really don't. You see it, you want it, you make an offer. No dill-dallying around here.

We learned this the hard way. And after seeing at least 100 houses now, we got really confused by what it is that we wanted. Is it really the big yard that we want? Do we really want 3 bedrooms? Or do we prefer 4 bedrooms? Do we want a formal dining area? And two sitting areas? Can we update it ourselves, or do we want it to be already updated? Are we getting a good deal?

All these questions have been flying around in my head.

The first house that we made an offer on would have been perfect. It's in a cul de sac, and has 3 bedrooms and backs up to a rock quarry. It has a cute backyard that has a lot of potential.

The second house had a humongous backyards where we could plant trees, play volleyball, barbecue, it was going to be perfection.

They had their high points, and their low points.

Isn't this house stuff supposed to be fun? It's given me a lot more anxiety then fun.

Our last offer is in, and the seller has accepted. We scheduled an inspection, and pray that all is well. This house has so much that we want, and has the bones for what we want it to be. I'm already imagining white cabinets, open shelves, and persimmon trees out back.


Why I'll Never Feel "American" Enough

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

These thoughts aren't spontaneous. I've actually been milking it for awhile. It's like a stew with potatoes, carrots, an assortment of beans, tomatoes, and many other things. Some are deeper shades, and some are more dense. 

Most of the time when I'm put in a situation like this, I usually laugh along or just brush it under the table. I'm not for scenes or calling people out. But the stews done, and I just have to let this all out. So excuse me if I do end up calling you out, I promise you it's between you and I. 

Growing up, I definitely noticed that I wasn't like my classmates. I had a couple of AP classes and none of the other Hmong kids (except for one) were in them. I got to know my classmates and made some really good friends. However at lunch, I still sat with my Hmong friends. I definitely didn't want to be labeled as someone who thought she was better, but I definitely did enjoy their company as well. I always felt divided, like I had to choose. I couldn't hang out with my white friends completely, or my Hmong friends completely. The situation dictated who I was going to sit with or talk to. 

I went to a very diverse college, which I enjoyed. As a minority, I felt comfortable among all people of color. I liked learning about other people, and their cultures, and what they liked to do. There was more than meets the eye, and I know I'll never fully understand, but I try.

When I started working, my outward appearance was never really on my mind. Most people treated me as me. To be honest, I often forget that I'm "Asian" or "Hmong" or "Oriental" or whatever others see. I'm just me, Kaolee. I love the beach, I love the feel of hardwood floors, I love shopping, I hate when my teeth feels dirty, I hate when my hair feels greasy. 

I had a particular coworker who was always very careful when he wanted to know more about my beliefs or my culture. I think that in all my life, he is probably the only person that has asked me about my culture/beliefs in the right way. He was never looking to offend, but always looking to know more, and that I really really appreciated.

The most offensive things that I have heard are actually things said by members of my church. And no, this doesn't mean that I will leave my church. My relationship with God is unconditional, and is between me and Him.

I had a good friend said to me that when she first saw me, she thought I didn't speak English, and that she thought Brandon translated for me. It was an honest mistake, but I think the thing that sticks out most to me is the fact that an assumption was made based on my outward appearance. I felt like all my years in college stood for nothing, and here I looked like someone who couldn't speak English. It hurts because I have always felt like I was an educated person. I don't think she was thinking that, but just that one comment does make me feel all sorts of way.

Not too long ago, someone was asking me about my background. As often is the case, when someone ask me where I'm from, it's really, what country are you originally from. It's a fair question as I wasn't born in the United States. I was born in Thailand. When I do get asked where I'm from, my first thought is North Carolina. I was there from 5th grade through 11th grade. It's where I'm from. I played soccer in high school there. I got my license there. I made the city spelling bee there. It's where I grew up.

I was complimented on how well my English was. This is always a nice compliment I suppose. I rarely see it as a compliment though. I guess it would be like complimenting any white person that their English was good. For me, my English is a given. I don't think twice about it. It is what it is, and I speak it pretty darn well, and understand it pretty darn well.

Someone asked me if that was how I pronounced my name in Hmong. I think this one really bothers me because I would never question another person on how their name is pronounced. Maybe that person thinks I'm a liar? Or not, but nonetheless, that is how I feel.

I hear justification for comments all the time. Oh, well I'm saying a good thing about asians, so it's not racist. One reason or another. Just as I wouldn't fully understand the feelings behind #BlackLivesMatter, how could another race dictate to me what is considered racist or not about my own race? 

These thoughts aren't for you to be afraid to ask me about me. These thoughts have been floating, basking in my brain for a very long time now. Stop making assumptions. 

I'm more than Asian. I'm more than Hmong. Don't mold me into what you know, or assume you know. 

Somedays I feel "American." But sometimes, I will hear something that reminds me that at the end of the day, I'm not. I'm still considered an outsider. Sometimes I don't belong. 


A Mother's Intuition

Monday, September 7, 2015

When Mason was only a few weeks old, I came across a shared story on Facebook regarding a string getting caught around a baby's toe, and consequently, the child suffered horrifying injuries to the toe. That same night when I woke up around 2am or 3am to change Mason's diaper and feed him, I remembered that story, and thought, hmmmm, let me just see. I took off the little sock that covered his left foot, and peered down at each little toes, and examined each one carefully. While going through them, I saw that one of my hair strand had gotten wrapped around one little toe. I carefully took that strand off, and put his sock back. 

Not too long ago, I felt impressed to check the bottom of Mason's feet. It was just during the middle of the day while we were home, and he was watching television. It wasn't as though we had gone anywhere or he had played anywhere that I was concerned about. He wasn't in pain. He was playing around as he normally did. When I checked the bottom of his right foot, I saw that he had a visible splinter, and as I ran my finger on the bottom of his feet, I felt another splinter that was very tiny. I was able to get those splinters out, and I felt so bad for my little guy as splinters are the worst!!!

After these two incidents, I really do feel that a mother's intuition is so real. When I think about that hair strand, and those splinters, it makes me feel so bad for him, but for whatever reason, I did look and I am so glad that I did. I truly believe that moms have a gift and a connection with their children. I am so grateful to be Mason's mom, and I love my little guy so so much.


It's been a long time coming

Friday, September 4, 2015

Brandon and I've been married for quite some time now. And he has been working so hard to learn my language. He's ordered books, CDs, and apps to help him learn, and yet he has been struggling because of the lack of materials out there. 

Our church stresses the importance of teaching gospel principles in the home, and I think this applies to many many other things as well. Throughout Brandon's self-learning process, I've been out of the formula. I've blamed it on work, but as someone else pointed out, it is my fault that he has not been able to learn my language. I speak Hmong, and yet I have not helped my husband learn my language. He's gone out on his own, and have tried so so hard, and I have just sat on the sideline. 

This week, I finally decided, I am going to help him as much as I can. I've put up labels around the house, and have created flashcards so that we can practice each evening. I've also been more conscientious in speaking Hmong around him and Mason. I want Mason to know how to speak Hmong and without Brandon knowing, it would be hard. I see kids whose parents are both Hmong struggle, so yes it will be a challenge if I'm the only one speaking Hmong to him. 

I'm excited, and I know that with my extra effort, Brandon and Mason will be able to speak Hmong as well. 


Cooking With: Eggplants

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I love Thai food. Like, love love love it. No words to describe it enough. There's something comforting about a plate of rice with warm curry on top.

I had bought some eggplants at the farmer's market, and I decided to use them in my curry. Growing up, my mom used eggplants a lot and I learned to really love it. One side note, it has the tendency to soak up sauce and oil, but I love that about eggplants since the eggplants get really tasty!

One can of panang curry
One can of coconut milk
Cut up chicken
Two cut up eggplants
Vegetable oil

Heat up the oil, and add in the panang curry. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently so the curry does not burn. Add the one half of the can of coconut milk. Add in the chicken until cooked. Add in the other half of the coconut milk. Add in the eggplants. Stir, and cover. Check every so often so that the curry does not burn. Once the eggplants are soft, your eggplant panang curry is done.



Wisconsin Dells

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

On one of our days out in Wisconsin, we made it out to the Wisconsin Dells. The weather wasn't as warm as we liked it to be, but it was an off day for my brother, so off we went. I had only heard about the Dells, oh the Dells. So I was excited to finally see what it's all about!

We got a great deal on tickets to Mt. Olympus, which is a super rad water park & resort. The clouds came & went. We so loved loved it!


I am not a big fan of roller coasters or rides such as this, but I wanted to capture a picture of it! Even the kid's version of this scares me. Haha!

Despite the cooler temperatures, Mason enjoyed being in the water, and splashing around. Good thing since we have swim lessons coming up soon for him!

This was such a nice area for smaller kids and babies. There was plenty of room for him to have fun in.

My brother took him down a baby slide. So cute!

My sweet brother took him on some little rides. 

The upside down White House

We walked around the Strip where the streets were filled to the brim with t-shirt stores. Mason slept for most of the walk, but it was nice to be all touristy.

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