The Napkin Hoarder

The Napkin Hoarder: One bunch of napkins at a time

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Could the Universe Be Talking to Me or Is It Just You, God?

Did you ever read that book, Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret? I was always amused by the title and I remember praying in my tween years, “Are you there God? It’s me, Phyllis.” It was unclear to me if God really heard me better when I started off with that.

I’m a believer in God - big time. However, I’m also a believer in karma, the universe, and that dreams can give you lots of insights and warnings in life. Maybe it is part of the fact that my grandparents and great grandmother were Buddhists and that they also come from a culture steeped in Shamanism. 

A few mornings ago, I got a text - I knew it was from Ninja. I knew it had something to do with the car. The night before, we ended up taking an impromptu trip to an auto center because the air in the front passenger tire was low. I had this feeling that there was a hole or something bigger than just not enough air in the tire. Ninja hates running these kinds of errands after work, but we’ve had more than our share of car accidents, tire blowouts, and other car difficulties, so I didn’t want to chance it.

Apparently, the tire rim is bent, which is causing a continued leak. The tire rim got bent the last time we went over a pothole and blew out the tire. We recently paid off the car and now we are paying for so much just to keep the car running. And I am left wondering what the universe is trying to tell me. Is the universe telling me that we really need to move closer to Ninja’s job? Is it saying that Ninja needs to find a new job? Is it saying we need a new car? Is it teaching me some sort of lesson? 

Whatever it is - I feel like I am not getting it. I’m trying hard to listen, but there seems to be no message - just a lot of bad luck. Or maybe God is trying to say something to me through all these series of events? I am also a believer that things happen for a reason - to be understood or revealed now or even many years down the line. However, I am impatient about all of this. I want to see the writing on the wall and the explanation immediately. I hate the not-knowing and the fact that I am not understanding what is going on. Maybe this is some sort of exercise in faith. I just want clarity. I just want some control.

For now, I am trying to listen and gain some insight while impatiently wondering what God or the universe is trying to tell me. It is always hard for me to feel out of control in situations and it is even more frustrating for me to not know what lies ahead or see the clear path. Just one step at a time, right?

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My poor neglected napkin hoarders…

…ugh. It has been an intensely terrible winter and I am so glad that spring is right around a corner. (Maybe I shouldn’t have said that out loud?)

Ninja put away some of his winter coats, but I am afraid that if we do, we will somehow jinx spring and winter will come back with a snow storm in mid-April. If that does happen, I think I will lay out in the snow and cry myself a river.

My napkin hoarding has definitely taken a strange and unwelcome hiatus. I had big plans in January, but now it is the beginning of April! When did the three months go by? What the hell happened and why was I so freakin’ busy? I see 15 posts sitting in my drafts - posts that were either too painful for me to publish, too tiring to complete, or just puttered out of ideas and as my 4 year old would say, “I lost my mind!” (Her version of saying that she lost her train of thought!)

I am still working on my word of the year: BRAVE. My friend and co-producer set it in stone for me - literally. Each day that I get up and get going, I remind myself of being brave - of taking that next step and facing the day. I look at my stone, touch it, and remind myself that I am facing 2014 with all the flaws embraced and my head held high. In my heart, I say to myself, “Today, I am going to be brave.”

It is easier to ignore the blog and to procrastinate writing, but part of my exercise in being brave is to push past all that and to do what’s hard, what’s inconvenient, and what I really want to be doing - writing, blogging, journeying together with you.

Every time I fail, I will just get back up rather than give up. It’s been a bumpy road in the short three months of 2014. It already feels like a year has passed, hasn’t it?

Filed under brave

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The Working-Stay-At-Home-Doing Laundry-Making-Dinner-Running-A-House-Do-It-All Mom

Let’s just stop all the nonsense about working moms vs stay-at-home moms. Let’s also just forget about the “leaning in” or “leaning back” or “sitting at the table” or whatever new catchphrase that will fire a storm next week.

I’m done with all that because the reality is that I’m doing all of those things ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that I haven’t really spent much real time with daughter. “Real time” meaning me being present and engaged - in the moment - and being able to focus on whatever it is that I am doing with her. What she sees is me on my phone or behind my computer and saying things like, “I have to work” or “Oh I can’t do that with you because I have to finish my work.” I’m always busy and running around. I’m always making things like laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, making lunches, etc. be my excuse for not being able to sit down to read the book, paint, listen to her story, help her build her cardboard house, and just to be able to look at her in the eyes and really listen to how her day at school was tough because her friend broke a promise.

It makes me feel like I am missing out on life and missing out on her growing up. I wish I could go back and redo the past two years.

There is still a pile of laundry that needs to be folded and there is a basket of folded laundry that is still waiting to be put away. Our place is a constant mess and I had to make an emergency run for toilet paper because we were down to the last two rolls. (If you know me, you would know that we never would’ve been down to the last two rolls.) No matter how organized I try to be and how hard I fight with myself to let things go, the feeling of being swallowed up by an overwhelming wave never seems to dissipate. 

Yes, I may be a working outside of the home mom, but my job doesn’t end when I leave my office. At 5 pm, I go to my other job of being a parent, running a household, and another part time job. When I was a stay-at-home parent, the task list was always endless and my job didn’t give me break when I left the house or if my kid wasn’t around. My life has become a 24/7 job. The work/life balance line is so blurry and has become a tricky juggling act.

To me, I just see a lot of hard working and sleep deprived women. (Not that the men aren’t hard working or sleep deprived…) They are doing it all and wearing so many different hats. It amazes me on a daily basis, but it also makes me feel extremely lonely. There are so many days that I feel like I am alone in the struggle and in feeling defeated and discouraged. My head knows that we are all walking this journey together and that we all have moments where we feel this way, but my heart tells a different story. It’s isolating.

So to all the moms out there who are working tirelessly and non-stop - I see you. You help me to keep going when I think that I can’t. And if you feel alone, I would love to walk with you because I sure could use a friend who can really understand what it’s like.

Filed under workathomemom stayathomemom

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Breaking Point

Today was the day that straw broke the camel’s back. Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick for the past two days; maybe it’s because all of our car repairs and the costs are making me anxious; maybe it’s because it’s a snow day; maybe it’s because I try too hard to hold it together.

The emotions have been piling and I could feel that they have been ready to leak out, but today, it came out as a rage. I threw the laundry basket down, slammed some doors, and stomped my feet. I shook in frustration, fear, and anger. Then, I sat down to fold up the laundry that was tossed about and I started to cry. It was a silent cry, at first, then it was a full on sob. It was the kind of ugly cry you hope no one will see or hear. I wailed, too. It just could not be contained.

For 10 minutes, I let myself cry and wail. And now, I am doing my best to stuff it back in because I have to carry on. Lunches have to be made, a little girl’s hair has to be brushed, and work needs to be done. The second load of laundry has to be folded and a new load started. The snow needs to be shoveled. Dinner has to get prepared later.

As I stuff the cries and tears back in, I wonder how parents of multiple children manage and how other wives seem to thrive in their marriages while working, managing the house, and being a mom. It bewilders me and it is something that I feel that I cannot ever grasp. Was it a class that I forgot to take? Perhaps it was a lack of training from growing up? My mother and grandmother somehow held it together until I grew up to reveal even small cracks of their weaknesses.

This balancing act is hard. It makes me want to scream, “My value is just as much as yours! My time is worth just as much as yours! My work is equally as important as yours!” I find myself trying to do everything and to do it all well. I cannot accept a lack because it seems like a failure on my part. I am washed in huge tides of feelings of being overwhelmed, paralyzed in fear of not being able to do it all and to do my best, and a sense of deep sorrow that somehow I am cheating myself and my little girl out of joy, happiness, and the giggles of childhood.

But for now, I am mired in my breaking point and wondering how I will be able to breathe to take the next steps or two - to get through the day. I keep pushing and pushing forward because I don’t know where else to go. Maybe I will go cry a little more.

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As a young child, when I first learned about Martin Luther King, Jr., I was in awe of this man. He was inspiring, brave, and I felt he could understand how I felt. It deeply saddened me that anyone would want to harm him and I didn’t really come to understand the depth of hatred, racism, and the fear that gripped a country. I think it’s all still there, just not as blatant as it was during his time.
My parents didn’t talk much about race or racism. I think they just tried to keep their head down and work hard, but they did impart a few thoughts to me: 1) No matter how American you try to become, you will never be fully American (despite the fact that you were born in America) because of the way you look. You are not white, therefore, much like the Japanese internment during WWII, you also will be discriminated against; 2) Black people are scary - lock your doors; 3) You have to outshine everyone to make yourself acceptable in this white world, which is why you have to work hard and be the best in all that you do.
These thoughts - the only words really every said out loud in regards to this subject - created a constant uneasiness in my life. I was always fearful that people would not see me as an American and when people asked where I was from, I would always respond, “Chicago.” (It was the city of my birth, after all.) Of course, that answer was never satisfactory and the poking would continue until they finally got to where my parents were from or, in some cases, where my ancestors were from. (How far back do you want to go?)
I’m not sure how good a job I am doing for my own daughter in this discussion. She sees colors - of a uniform, a shirt, the hair, but never their skin. The skin color doesn’t make her friends different in her eyes, but their likes and dislikes, how they treat one another, and whether or not they know the words to “My Little Pony” songs. We do our best to explain to her that all people are equal, regardless of those things, and that because we are human beings, we care for one another - with grace and compassion.
We prepare her that there are times where people treat one another poorly because we are different and that it’s not okay to do that. It’s something worth standing up for and raising your voice about. It’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. tirelessly preached even unto his death.
For some of you, it may feel that the relevance of Martin Luther King, Jr. is only one of history, but I would heartily disagree. Until we truly do see that there are “no gradations in the image of God,” the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. is still not fully realized. 
Until then, I continue to hope - for myself and for my children as well as their children. I truly do hope that one day we will live as Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “…together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.”

As a young child, when I first learned about Martin Luther King, Jr., I was in awe of this man. He was inspiring, brave, and I felt he could understand how I felt. It deeply saddened me that anyone would want to harm him and I didn’t really come to understand the depth of hatred, racism, and the fear that gripped a country. I think it’s all still there, just not as blatant as it was during his time.

My parents didn’t talk much about race or racism. I think they just tried to keep their head down and work hard, but they did impart a few thoughts to me: 1) No matter how American you try to become, you will never be fully American (despite the fact that you were born in America) because of the way you look. You are not white, therefore, much like the Japanese internment during WWII, you also will be discriminated against; 2) Black people are scary - lock your doors; 3) You have to outshine everyone to make yourself acceptable in this white world, which is why you have to work hard and be the best in all that you do.

These thoughts - the only words really every said out loud in regards to this subject - created a constant uneasiness in my life. I was always fearful that people would not see me as an American and when people asked where I was from, I would always respond, “Chicago.” (It was the city of my birth, after all.) Of course, that answer was never satisfactory and the poking would continue until they finally got to where my parents were from or, in some cases, where my ancestors were from. (How far back do you want to go?)

I’m not sure how good a job I am doing for my own daughter in this discussion. She sees colors - of a uniform, a shirt, the hair, but never their skin. The skin color doesn’t make her friends different in her eyes, but their likes and dislikes, how they treat one another, and whether or not they know the words to “My Little Pony” songs. We do our best to explain to her that all people are equal, regardless of those things, and that because we are human beings, we care for one another - with grace and compassion.

We prepare her that there are times where people treat one another poorly because we are different and that it’s not okay to do that. It’s something worth standing up for and raising your voice about. It’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. tirelessly preached even unto his death.

For some of you, it may feel that the relevance of Martin Luther King, Jr. is only one of history, but I would heartily disagree. Until we truly do see that there are “no gradations in the image of God,” the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. is still not fully realized.

Until then, I continue to hope - for myself and for my children as well as their children. I truly do hope that one day we will live as Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “…together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.”

Filed under mlkday2014 race racism

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Extremes

The snow that started coming down today in Boston was worthy of national news attention. Later today, I got the email that school is going to be cancelled tomorrow. Honestly, I was a little sad that I was missing out on this snow storm. There is something about going through a crazy snow storm together with your fellow neighbors that bond you for life.

I actually complained for one minute that it was too hot and humid in Florida. It was 80, sunny, and thunderstorm-y. I tried to soak it in as much as I could, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to join in the cold I was missing out on and decided to pay $30 to be surrounded in ice. It was so worth it.

Inside the Gaylord Palms, there are beautiful twinkling lights, a 54-foot Christmas tree, and alligators. In addition to the beautiful atrium that houses all of this, there is also this exhibit called ICE!. It is over two million pounds of ice carving sculptures including ice slides (pictured above). There is even a section where you can see an ice sculptor doing their sculpting thing. It’s pretty amazing to see and experience! I am still thawing out from it (9 degrees is brrrrr cold!).

Ninjette didn’t seem bothered by the cold at all and ended up going down the ice slide about 5 times in a row. Even my mom decided to go down the ice slide!

For about 20 minutes today, I felt like I was back home and it was well worth it. As much as I complain about the snow and winters of Boston, there is a part of me that misses it when I’m in warm weather at the beginning of January.

Stay safe and warm Boston. I will be back soon to help you continue dig out!

Filed under 2014 jan2014 iheartflorida orlando florida gaylordpalms ice! imissboston

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it? My napkin hoarding always tends to spiral out of control from November to the end of the year. The past two months have even more wild than in years past. Maybe because I am getting older or maybe I just decided to take on way more than I should have on top of lots of family circumstances that have been difficult. I just couldn’t wait for 2013 to be over. 

So here I am. I am thankful that I had a moment to catch my breath today. I am also thankful for awesome brakes on my aunt’s car because we would’ve been in a terrible car collision today without them. (Do you think that means I will be extremely lucky for 2014 or I used up all my luck for the year already?) I am also thankful for all of you and for walking in this journey with me. 2013 had many lows, but it also had some noteworthy highs. I hope we, as a nation and as a world, will continue to progress in justice, equity, and loving one another and our planet more than ever. 

But for today, I leave you with this hot steaming bowl of rice cake soup. It is a traditional Korean meal always eaten on the first day of the new year. This bowl was even more special to me because my mom and her sisters made it together with laughter and love. May your 2014 be full of laughter and love in large healing bowls that will keep you warm and full throughout the entire year.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? My napkin hoarding always tends to spiral out of control from November to the end of the year. The past two months have even more wild than in years past. Maybe because I am getting older or maybe I just decided to take on way more than I should have on top of lots of family circumstances that have been difficult. I just couldn’t wait for 2013 to be over.

So here I am. I am thankful that I had a moment to catch my breath today. I am also thankful for awesome brakes on my aunt’s car because we would’ve been in a terrible car collision today without them. (Do you think that means I will be extremely lucky for 2014 or I used up all my luck for the year already?) I am also thankful for all of you and for walking in this journey with me. 2013 had many lows, but it also had some noteworthy highs. I hope we, as a nation and as a world, will continue to progress in justice, equity, and loving one another and our planet more than ever.

But for today, I leave you with this hot steaming bowl of rice cake soup. It is a traditional Korean meal always eaten on the first day of the new year. This bowl was even more special to me because my mom and her sisters made it together with laughter and love. May your 2014 be full of laughter and love in large healing bowls that will keep you warm and full throughout the entire year.

Filed under 2014 happynewyear

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Try New Things (TNT) Thursdays: HauteApp

Do you love shopping? I definitely enjoy shopping, especially online shopping. More than the actual shopping, I love “window shopping.” The internet has made window shopping an amazing experience for me because I can window shop all over the world. I am also a sucker for new products, designs, and fashion. Now I can find the latest and newest stuff from all over the world and it can be done all in my pajamas! Can this be considered a hobby? I hope so, because it’s definitely a regularly activity during my leisure time (or when I’m hiding out in the bathroom from my kid).

Since becoming a parent, I have relied more and more on online shopping than ever before. It amazes me that I can purchase daily life necessities, gifts for a kid’s birthday, and that beautiful pair of shiny black heels all from my smartphone or iPad. It’s like this modern day drive through without the whole having to get in your car and actually drive through part. Sure, you don’t always get the instant purchase of goods in your hand at the moment of purchase, but you can get pretty close! This is perfect for Boston winters because I hate going out when it’s dark and cold!

However, the most frustrating thing about shopping is not being able to find what you are looking for. This always happens to me when I’m looking for something specific. I already have an idea in my mind of what I want it to be and what I imagine the cost to be. If it’s not just right, I usually end up quite annoyed during my shopping - whether online or in person. Plus, with young kids, it’s really hard to even concentrate on shopping.

Along with being a sucker for new products, I’m also always on the lookout for new apps that will help me shop. Store apps, shopping apps, flash sale apps - all sorts of apps. Some of them are great, but most still leave something more to be desired. However, I may have discovered a pretty cool shopping app called the HauteApp. I had the awesome opportunity to chat with the CEO and creator of the Haute. Here is my interview with Mark - hope you all will give it a try!

NH: What is HauteApp?

Mark: HauteApp is a self-curated and intuitive mobile shopping experience. Simply, we’re making shopping more intuitive to each and every consumer, as individuals built for mobile devices.

NH: Why did you create Haute?

Mark: I was unable to shop on a national department stores website on my iPad.

NH: What’s one thing that makes Haute different from other shopping apps?

Mark: It’s completely self curating and intuitive. What does that mean? Each and every user downloads the same app but get an experience relative to their own experience.

NH: What’s your favorite store to shop at? Or brand?

Mark: I am going to cheat. Favorite store is Ted Baker. Favorite brand is Nudie Jeans.

NH: Your latest shopping purchase?

Mark: Reebok Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey, see you at the Winter Classic!

NH: Target or Wal-mart?

Mark: Target, being on the West Coast it’s more accessible for my household needs.

NH: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one thing you would want to have with you? (Besides Haute App, of course!)

Mark: A new iPad Mini Retina, so I could access Haute to ensure I remain trendy.

NH: The best shopping advice you ever got?

Mark: Ensure your wardrobe is evenly mixed with various brands, just like Haute does!

Stay updated on Haute and get beta access by going to: http://signup.hauteapp.co/


Filed under tntthursdays hauteapp shopping

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Truth Tuesday: I’m addicted to TV

On any given night, if you were to sneak into my house or were a fly on my wall, you would see me sitting on the couch watching television. I have an abnormal capacity for television watching and streaming tv has made increased this capacity even more. I have to admit that television is one of my vices. 

After I graduated college, my best friend and I budgeted the best cable package we could find with all the premium channels. We watered down our juice, ate less, but we had the best tv channels money could buy. It’s silly, right? But it was the best tv watching ever.

I try hard to keep up with all the different shows that are out there. It’s a great conversation starter and also helps me to stay in the know with all the goings on of my celebrity “friends.”

I’ve been considering the reasons why I’m so addicted to tv and I think it has to do with not being able to watch it when I was younger. My grandfather, who would pick my brother and I up from elementary school, would always watch Price is Right and some other Korean shows. I wanted to watch our afternoon cartoons, but couldn’t really do that so we ended up watching either Korean dramas and shows or a lot of Price Is Right. When we were a bit older, we were what they used to call “latch-key” kids. However, all good Asian parents wouldn’t let their children just come home and watch tv all afternoon. We were supposed to do homework, practice violin and piano, and then read books. But as all children must do, we didn’t always follow our supposed to’s and watched tv. We made sure to turn off the tv in time for it to cool down - no evidence of tv watching for parents to find. (Sorry mom!)

I have an early childhood memory of my parents watching Dynasty after we were supposed to be in bed. From that moment on, tv became something utterly fascinating and a bit forbidden. Now that I am an adult, I’m still fascinated by it, but it’s no longer a forbidden. And now, I have to catch up for all those years of not being able to really watch tv.

The television has also been a way that Ninja and I could connect. He’s introduced me to the likes of Dr. Who, Freaks and Geeks, Battlestar Galactica, and I’ve turned him on to a little bit of Downton Abbey and the wonderful world of reality tv. It’s been a way for us to bond and have something in common.

Since I’m such a tv fiend, I try hard not to make my child one. I try not to be too restrictive, but to teach her some moderation since I don’t want her to spend her adult life in front of the tv.

It’s my way of unwinding and escaping from the day. It’s also my way to fill the silence when I’m by myself. That part of it, I don’t really like and am trying to break that habit, but it’s hard.

Whatever you may think of the tv, I love it. It still continues to fascinate me to this day. I have many favorites and am always looking for more interesting shows out there if you have any recommendations. Let me know what your favorite shows are, too!

Til then, I’m tuning in - tonight it’s Orphan Black.

Filed under TruthTuesday tv