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February 10, 2011 39 comments

I’m finding that as I get older, I have a tougher time remembering things.  I often forget where I leave my keys. My wife and I go to great lengths to pack the diaper bag only to forget it at home. I need to write things down to remember them. If my train of thought is interrupted, that train ain’t comin back. In fact, memories aren’t so much things that I have anymore; they’re things that I’m slowly losing.

And that’s why I need to get this down – while it’s still relatively fresh in my memory.

Three years ago, my life changed. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I love the number 5. Five+ years ago, I made a commitment to my wife, but three years ago, my life got flipped turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the dad of a girl called D1.

I still remember the anxiety I felt leading up to D1’s due date. “I’m gonna be a dad!….will I be a good dad?…will I ever get a full night’s rest again?…will I be a good dad?” Her due date came and went and I was more anxious than ever. Each night, I went to bed imagining waking up in the middle of the night when my wife finally went into labor. On the 3rd night at 3am, the contractions began. Like any first time dad, I immediately got into “Oh! It’s on like donkey kong!” mode.

What does that phrase even mean? Am I to light a fire in a barrel drum, grab my woman, climb a series of ladders and start throwing barrels down? But I digress.

My wife had to give me a quick, “Settle down,” and she labored for about 18 hours.

I still remember how windy and cold it was at the birth center that night. I remember thinking, “I really hope the power doesn’t go out.” And then the anxiety hit me again: “I’m gonna be a dad!….will I be a good dad?…will I ever get a full night’s rest again?…will I be a good dad?”

I still remember that she was nearly born on the toilet and my wife barely made it back to the bed. I still remember the time (8:38pm). I still remember the joy and relief I felt when I heard her cry. I remember the tears that fell when the midwife shouted, “It’s a girl!” I still remember how exhausted my wife was as they put D1 on her tummy. I still remember seeing that D1 had the same birthmark as my wife and telling my wife, “She has your mark!” I still remembered how incredible it was when she desperately made her way to the boob like someone looking for an oasis in the desert. I still remember when she latched on and wouldn’t let go.

I still remember when the midwife handed me the scissors and saying a prayer before cutting the cord.

I still remember calling my sister and telling her, “I’m a dad! I’m a dad!” and both of us began sobbing. I still remember looking over at my wife and feeling so proud of her. I still remember holding her for the first time – the only way I can describe what I felt at that moment is that my heart was full.

I still remember putting on her diaper for the first time and being corrected by the midwife that I need to fasten it tighter. I remember putting her in her carseat for the first time and being corrected by the midwife that I need to fasten it tighter.

I remember driving home at 10mph below the speed limit and silently cursing anyone who sped by us, “SLOW DOWN YOU MANIAC!”

I still remember getting home and telling D1 for the very first time: “We’re home…you’re home, D1. You’re home.”

I may forget a lot of things as I get older, and I may not even remember any of the details in this post without rereading it. But I’ll never forget how full my heart felt 3 years ago.

Happy birthday, D1. I am so proud to be your dad. Life hasn’t been the same since you entered my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you.

What about you? Are you losing your memory (or mind)? Do you remember your kid’s birth story?

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Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. Wait, I Hate Snow

January 13, 2011 38 comments

It snowed in the DMV the other day. Most people would consider the 1″-3″ we got a dusting. But in this region? It’s enough to cause shortages of bread, milk, and toilet paper at all area grocers. I stupidly decided to brave Sam’s Club because we actually needed milk, and it was a cluster. I could’ve sworn an old lady was about ready to beat another old lady down with her baguette over the last few jugs of milk. Traffic was absolutely terrible as there were numerous turds on the road who were driving way too slow and even more turds who were driving 10mph above the speed limit in their SUVs.

Scenes like this are why I grew to hate snow as an adult. I assumed that having kids would redeem snow days for me.

I imagined taking my kids sledding, making snowmen, and hanging them upside down like Bill Cosby did when Rudy said, “Daddy, I need to go pee,” shortly after dressing her in her snow gear.

So in December of 2009, we began to show D1 The Snowman – one of my wife’s favorite movies growing up. She loved it – probably by default since that’s the only thing we let her watch on TV at the time. She would ask me, “Appa! Can we make a snowman?!” I told her we could when it snowed.

So when they were forecasting, Snowpocalypse, I got really excited. I procured several sleds and got my daughter all kinds of winter gear. When the snow started falling, D1 and I probably spent a solid 20 minutes sitting at the window watching the snowfall. She was so excited.

When the snow stopped the next day, we got D1 bundled up – which every parent will tell you, is no small feat. She ran outside shouting, “SNOW!!! SNOW!!!” And then she stepped in it. She hated it. She had a hard time comprehending why she would fall in whenever she stepped in it. And then her glove fell off and she touched some snow with her bare hand.  She began to cry and wanted to go back in.

Wanting to make the most of the 20 minutes it took to dress her, I asked her if she wanted to go sledding. Nope. She just wanted to go back in.

Fast forward to this year. D1 was excited when it began snowing the other day. She was excited to make a snowman. Once the snow stopped, we got her dressed and we ran outside.

D1: Appa! I’m going to make a snowman!
Me: Ok, sweetheart!
D1: *touches the snow, remembers that it’s cold and that she hates it* Appa! You’re going to make a snowman!

So I proceed to make a snowman. And then she starts giving me requests. “Can you make Cinderella?” “How about Pororo?” Thankfully, she doesn’t care that Cinderella and Snow White both look the same as the regular snow man.

While snow days aren’t quite what I imagined (yet), we still have memories like this:

So I say, Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! And that last jug of milk is mine old lady.

What about you? What are your favorite snow day memories with your kids so far? Would you have used a baguette or a pork tenderloin as your weapon of choice?

Categories: Daughter #1 Tags: , , ,

HALP! My Daughter is a Girl!

November 18, 2010 35 comments

I know that title sounds obvious and you are now wondering if I rode the short bus or spent way too much time using rubber cement growing up, but I’m terrifyingly slowly realizing that D1 is, in fact, a girl. <– and that picture of a teenage girl? D1 best recognize she isn’t going outside in just a sports bra.

Sure, the midwife announced she was a girl and her pee can only go in one direction, but a few recent developments have reinforced the fact that she is a girl.

First, she likes to ask me, “Appa, do you like my shirt?” or “Appa, can you say, ‘I like your shirt?'” Not even three and she’s already fishing for compliments.

Second, she LOVES handbags and shoes. And not just any handbags or shoes, but pretty ones. I’m a guy–not to mention, Captain Obvious for the day–so “pretty” handbags or shoes/boots is anything on significant discount or something from DSW or a similar discount place (God bless them). Not D1, however. Once, I asked her to try on my shoes, which I got on discount from Amazon and needed to use SlickFillers to bring it up to $25 for FREE super saver shipping, and she replied, “I don’t like them.” She knows not to dig through mommy’s purses/handbags (apparently, there’s a difference?), but when other ladies come over, she immediately grabs their bag and walks around with it on her elbow.

Third, she loves shiny jewelry. Whenever she sees a piece, she’ll ask, “Appa, when I get older, can you buy me that?” Can any ladies out there tell me at what age the “Sure. I’ll get it for you when you’re older” excuse stops working? I’m also trying to convince her that the Tiffany color is a bad color.

Finally, and most troubling, the other night, she says, “Appa, when I get older, I’m going to marry a prince.” We seriously need to chill with the Disney books.

My daughter is a girl. Any advice? That doesn’t involve being a regular blood donor?

Categories: Daughter #1 Tags: , ,

Merciful Monday: Perspective

September 27, 2010 34 comments

It’s another Monday and it’s time for me to once again say, “Have Mercy!” in this third installment of Merciful Monday!

To Stink Bugs: Have Mercy! So I’ve seen a lot of you around these parts this summer, but apparently, it’s going to get worse. Much worse. A few weeks ago, I found a strange-looking bug and squashed it with a paper towel. My wife asks, “Are you sure that wasn’t a stink bug?” So I *sniff* and YUP. Stink bug. And apparently, the scent you release acts like some smelly feet scented SOS signal, attracting more and more stink bugs. In the Washington Post article, Mike Raupp, a University of Maryland entomologist and extension specialist said, “I think this is going to be biblical this year.” Biblical? Have mercy stink bugs! I’ll let your people go! Just don’t invade my home!

To D1: Have Mercy! You are my firstborn and you’ll always hold a special place in my heart. As I wrote before, mommy and I had some difficulty conceiving you, but through that experience, every time I look at you, I see my very great reward. You brought so much joy and laughter into our lives. At times, parenting was really difficult and sometimes, I wish you came with a return policy or at least an instruction manual, but through it all, I grew more and more in love with you.

The last few weeks, however, I’ve lost perspective. You see, you are a remarkable child – and while every parent thinks that of their kids, you really are (again, most parents will say that). By age 1 you were talking. We bought a baby signing DVD but we didn’t need it because you could communicate everything you wanted. Shortly thereafter, you knew most people’s names at church and could say their name when we pointed to them. By 14 months, you would record voice messages singing happy birthday to people from church. You were speaking full sentences by 18 months and knew cause & effect shortly thereafter, e.g., you would say, “Appa. It’s raining, so we need an umbrella.” You memorized many, many songs, impressing anyone who heard. You fooled many into thinking that you could read because you had all of your books memorized. Many would marvel at how well you spoke and most called you genius baby. You figured out how to unlock my iPhone–unremarkable in this day and age–and could put in and play your own CDs and tapes. And most would attribute how fast your brain was developing to the fact that both of your parents were engineering majors.

Yet, this remarkable gift you have is a blessing and a curse. Because you are so advanced mentally, I find I tend to expect a lot of you and that often leaves me frustrated. Prior to D2 being born, I spoke with you regularly and you seemed to understand what was going to happen. You seemed genuinely excited about having a baby sister, even memorizing several books about welcoming a new baby. So when you reacted to D2 the way you did, I was surprised–yes, it was stupid of me to expect so much emotionally of such a young child. Lately, when we are driving in the car and D2 makes a sound, you shout very loudly at her, which causes her to cry and then you to shout louder. This would be perfectly acceptable for most 2.5 year olds, but once again, because of your advanced mental capabilities, I expected more and this left me flustered and frustrated with you.

When you began going up to our children’s church, we thought you’d have few issues. We were wrong. Your grandmother watches you, so we made efforts to take you to public places and on play dates so that you’d begin to learn social norms. While the other kids your age were relatively happy playing amongst themselves, you tried to play with the older kids, and as expected, you were often left out. Frankly, it made me sad when the other kids would plot against you saying, “Oh NO! D1 is coming! Let’s run away,” or “Let’s hide this so that D1 can’t play with it too,” but I didn’t want to step in at every conflict. Lately, you’re fighting back. You’ve perfected the snatch-and-run and I often find the older kids telling on you, complaining that you’re not sharing and such. I think because I’m an Asian parent who wants a well-behaved child and I don’t want to be that parent that sits idly by while their child misbehaves, I would take you aside and discipline you for inappropriate behavior every time something like this occurred. The other kids usually got off scot-free, not because their parents didn’t care, but because older kids are better at hiding potential misdeeds. Trust me – I got away with a lot of stuff while your aunt used to get punished.

And the last few weeks, you’ve been really whiny and difficult to deal with. Compound this with the fact that we’ve been tired, our schedules hectic, and your mother and I rarely have time to sit down and reflect, and you’ve got a lot of crying and a lot of disciplining. Rather than being patient with you and understanding how difficult it has been for you to adapt to no longer being the center of attention at home and adjusting to social norms among older kids who often don’t want to play with you, I’ve made life harder on you. I’ve lost perspective.

Rather than seeing you as a gift from God that I am charged with caring for, loving, and molding for the early part of your life, I became frustrated. Rather than praising you for your unique abilities, I harped on what you lacked. Rather than being an understanding parent, I ruled with a judgmental, iron fist. I’ve lost perspective.

But the nice thing about perspective is that you can get it back if you want. So last night, as your mother and I were in bed discussing your behavior as of late and finally taking time to reflect, we realized we have been in the wrong. We so wanted you to be perfect, all along failing to see that you are a perfect gift from God. Both your mother and I are firstborns in Korean homes and a lot was expected of us and we unwittingly put that same pressure on you. And as if on cue, it began to rain. A lot. As I wrote before, rain reminds me that Jesus’ blood washes away all my sins. I lost perspective but I’ve gotten it back.

You’ll probably never read this but this is a reminder to me to never lose perspective on the wonderful gift you are. I love you.

A Letter to My Daughter: Time to Build

May 18, 2010 6 comments

Once again, the following is a letter to my daughter, mostly of things that have been on my mind as of late pertaining to christianity. Not important enough to be strewn all over the front page, but if you’re inclined to read, click below.

Read more…

A Letter to My Daughter: A Good Name

March 10, 2010 11 comments

The following is a letter to my daughter, mostly of things that have been on my mind as of late pertaining to christianity. Not important enough to be strewn all over the front page, but if you’re inclined to read, click below.

Read more…

Pop’s Delight

March 2, 2010 1 comment

Yesterday, my men’s small group was over and we had a time to pray for one another.  We meet every two weeks and it’s always a time of refreshing and encouragement.

As one of the brothers was praying for me, he said, “And we see the way his face lights up when he sees his daughter; the joy that he has…”

I’ve been told I have a very neutral face. Combined with my poor vision which causes me to squint, it looks like I’m pretty unhappy all the time. So for my face to light up, it takes some work.

When the brother prayed that, I imagined what I look like when I see my daughter, and I saw how she makes me smile. I saw myself chuckling at the little things she does, like saying, “No…I’m good,” when she’s not hungry. I remembered how even if I’ve had the worst day at work or when the stresses of ministry weigh me down, simply being on the drive home to see her made my heart race with anticipation.

While I feel joy and anticipation when I’m about to see my wife, the feeling towards my daughter is different. For my wife, it’s love, joy, and of course gratitude that she loves me despite all the ridiculous things I do. For my daughter, it’s delight. It’s, “mmmmmmmmm, so good” vs. “squeeeeeeeee!”

While I’m still learning how to be a good dad, I’m reminded that I have a perfect Father. The latter part of Zephaniah 3:17 says, “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” That same squeeeee I feel towards my daughter, my heavenly Father feels towards me.

And while the 2+ years she’s been alive haven’t been easy, I’ve found my delight in her doesn’t change. Yes, she can aggravate or endear herself to me with the things she does, but I’ve found that delight is fundamentally based on the fact that she is my daughter. This gives me such great hope: knowing that despite what I do or don’t do, while God may rebuke or encourage me to help me be who He made me to be, His delight in me never changes.

My Pastor often speaks from Mark 1:11 during baptisms – “And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.'” At this point, Jesus hadn’t started His ministry; He was simply a carpenter’s son. And yet, God is well pleased in His Son. He found delight in His Son’s identity, not His ability.

Now that’s good news.

So how does my daughter respond to my delight?

For one thing, she does what I ask with joy. We’re in the habit now where she throws away her own diapers and she never does it begrudgingly, but she RUNS, laughing and giggling the whole way. We don’t reward her w/ candy or treats, but we simply give her a high five or a hug and tell her she did a good job. You wouldn’t believe how her face lights up when she hears that.