The Napkin Hoarder

The Napkin Hoarder: One bunch of napkins at a time

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My beloved little ghost and fun-loving Ninjette had a major meltdown this morning and tonight before bedtime. I would expect such meltdown on a Monday since we’re usually coming back from a full weekend, but today is Tuesday! It threw me off my game. We barely made it to school on time.

Meltdowns always throw me off - to the point that I sometimes want to laugh as I see my kid screaming like a banshee and running back and forth in our small condo from the kitchen to her room. It’s not a ha-ha laugh, but it’s more of a nervous laugh.

My parents and grandmother don’t recall a time I flipped out, had a tantrum, or melted down. They remember me sneaking ice cream when I was supposed to be taking a nap. They remember me “making up stories” - basically lying for nearly one elementary school year. They remember me being a compliant, obedient child. My brother - he was the “wild” one. He was the kid who broke his harm and then was going around hitting everyone with his hard cast of an arm. He was the clinger.

It makes me wonder what I will remember of Ninjette’s childhood and what she will remember of her own childhood. Will she remember those times where she felt so frustrated that she just had to scream? Will she remember that I scolded her harshly for not going potty before we left for school and waiting til the last minute so that we had to change clothes? Will I remember the foot stomping and hot tears along with the out of control limbs flinging everywhere while we tried to hold her and get her to calm down?

After 15 minutes of hulking out, she was able to regain enough composure to talk to me. She wanted to talk about it before going to bed, so we sat down and talked it out. I told her that I feel frustrated when she doesn’t use her words to express to me what’s going on in her heart. I told her I was sorry for feeling so frustrated. Then, I asked her what was going on in her heart. What she said to me just broke my heart. She said, “I just had a really long day and I had to do so many new things today. I had so much trouble sleeping last night and it was really hard today.” 

I get that. I totally get that. I could not believe that she was able to articulate that to me tonight. I was reminded again that my Ninjette is just five. She just started this kindergarten gig in a brand new school with brand new friends and a brand new teacher. Everything is new and different. She had been sick for the past week and yesterday, she had to stay home because of a fever. Today, she jumped back in 110% and I expected her to be more than just a tired out five year old from a long day.

After lots of hugs, a prayer for good rest, extra cuddles and kisses, she drifted off to sleep without any tears. And today, I realized that every now and then, we all need a good scream and a cry. Then, some hugs, cuddles, and a good night’s rest.

What tips do you have for settling meltdowns and also for giving your kids space to regroup after a hard day?

Filed under ninjette fiveyearolds parenting

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Napkin Hoarder Approved: Curious About Me App Review

*Sponsored: This app was given to me for free by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for review. All opinions are my own.

Do you love Curious George? He’s curious, adorable, and a monkey who can do all sorts of cool things! We are definitely huge fans of all things Curious George, so I was pretty excited to try out the Curious About Me app that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently launched.

I’m always looking for new ways to engage my five year old in reading and writing activities, especially because she’s really eager to learn to read right now! The bonus of this app is that it’s Curious George!

I downloaded the app to our iPad and chose the settings we wanted - allowing access to photos, the microphone, etc. Then, I handed it off to Ninjette so that she could play around with it.


I loved that it was narrated so that kids of all reading levels could interact with the app easily. You can choose one of two stories to fill in with personalized details like pictures, family members, pets, and activities. Ninjette used some photos that were in our camera roll and she also drew some of our family members as well as a picture of our house. It also records her voice so she could say her name, her age, and even give a lifelike “Meow” to her imaginary pet cat! After filling in the various details, Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat do some magic and turn it into a video that you can save. Ninjette definitely loved watching the completed video and even went back to add more details to different parts of her story.

This app uses storytelling to interact with my kid and it gives her control of creating her own story - that’s definitely Napkin Hoarder approved! It’s the perfect foundation for literacy development and it’s a lot of fun. This app was something that she could definitely do on her own, but could also be done together with parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends!


Ninjette working hard at coloring her butterfly for one of her stories!

The app sells for $2.99 and is geared for preschool aged children between 3-5 years old. It’s definitely worth it and a lot of fun plus you have a little keepsake video that you can save and see how it changes over time! Go download it now and let me know what you think!

Filed under sponsored appreview curiousgeorge

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Try New Things: Bringing Out My Inner Artist

***I was invited by my amazing friend, Jessica from Don’t Mind The Mess, to go to The Paint Bar for a free session. Many thanks to her and The Paint Bar for hosting us! All opinions and experiences written here are all my own!***


***I was invited by my amazing friend, Jessica from Don’t Mind The Mess, to go to The Paint Bar for a free session. Many thanks to her and The Paint Bar for hosting us! All opinions and experiences written here are all my own!***


The last time I really painted anything was when I was in elementary school. I did a watercolor of fall leaves and it actually was sold to a local McDonald’s chain! I don’t remember what happened to the proceeds, but for a brief moment, I was a paid artist. My brother had a lovely carrot painting, but luckily for us, it never sold and we got to bring it back home. I still think my parents have that painting somewhere.

I have to give a lot of credit to my parents for enrolling us in art class - so un-Asian of them because artists never make money, right? Plus, good Korean children grow up to be doctors, lawyers, and engineers. I remember doing pottery (I mean, REAL pottery with a wheel and kiln and everything!), watercolor, oil painting on canvas, and drawing. My brother and I were probably 6 or 7 at the time. It definitely wasn’t just a bunch of crafts, but an immersion in all mediums of art. It was glorious. It also didn’t last long because tennis, piano, and violin took over our afternoons and evenings.

I have never considered myself artistic in any way and I always feel like a fraud at art museums - actually, art anything. So, I had definite trepidation and skepticism when I walked in to the Paint Bar.

Well, as you can tell from the photos above, I clearly had a great time and ended up with a painting that is actually hanging in my home! We had the BEST teacher. Despite the fact that the painting looked quite difficult, the great step by step instructions allowed me to create a painting - from a blank canvas - that I could be proud of.

I loved loved loved being able to focus and exercise my artistic muscles (that never get exercised!) and try something new! It was a glorious way to spend 2.5 hours with a good friend and to walk away feeling accomplished.

The Paint Bar provides all materials (paint, brushes, canvas, aprons, etc) and also sells wine, beer, sodas, and snacks. You can choose the Newbury Street location or the one in Newton. The studio is bright, cozy, and inspirational. They also do some fun giveaways while you are painting!

If you go to The Paint Bar’s website, you can choose the date and time and also the painting you would like to do. Try them all! The really cool thing about The Paint Bar is they also do other fun projects like canvas bag painting, fall wreaths, and so forth. They also have family days and you can host kids parties there (for kids 8 and up)!

Go sign up, invite me along (I will go with you!), and try something new!

Filed under hosted thepaintbar trynewthings

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Embrace Your Inner Knight at King Richard’s Faire

*I was given free tickets for my family to King Richard’s Faire, but all opinions are my own.*

Did you know that Ninjette has been knighted? Yes, indeed she has! Last year, I ventured to a Renaissance festival with my in-laws. It was my first time at anything like that, so it was quite the adventure. We stumbled upon the jousting and afterwards, the Queen of the festival knighted the brave children of the day and Ninjette jumped at the chance. I mean, who doesn’t want to be knighted, right?

This year, I was given the opportunity to check out the King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA and since my child was already a knight, we had to go! Carver is about an hour south of Boston (not too far from Hingham - before or afterwards, you can go grab some of my favorite Wahlburgers!!!). Go in costume or rent one while you are there!

Find your shield and sword - they are so cool and made out of wood!

Then, be serenaded by minstrels and various musicians and performers. Let me know if you find the white dragon!

One of the cool things about the Faire is that everyone is in character and plays a part. You may run into the sheriff with his drinking cup on his head or the Queen - maybe even King Richard, himself! You are really getting immersed into the 16th century. No worries, though, because the privies (a.k.a. bathrooms) are fairly modern. All the rides are hand cranked - literally!

Don’t miss the various shows put on by the performers of the Faire. We loved the acrobat duo of Thunder and Star!

Of course, there is jousting - you definitely do not want to miss your chance to cheer on your favorite knight! Grab your turkey leg and get settled for some good old fashioned 16th century jousting and games.

Finally, here are five tips to make your trip to King Richard’s Faire awesome:

1. Bring cash - lots of it! You can purchase your tickets online, but if you want to buy at the gate, bring cash. There are ATMs near the entrance, but BRING CASH. All the rides and games cost around $2-3 each and they only accept cash. For food, drink, and adult beverages, you will need to purchase food tickets (in cash only) from the various booths. Each ticket is $1 and they sell it in $5 books. (No outside food or drink is allowed in the Faire and they will also do a bag check.)

2. Wear comfy shoes for walking around a forest. The Faire is nestled in a beautiful forest with great shading from all the trees. Everything is outdoors, so just be mindful of the weather when you are dressing up in that armor.

3. Practice your archery and cross bow. The games are a lot of fun and challenging!

4. Go around the grounds and explore what’s there. The Faire is set up in a circle, so you will hit everything, eventually, but you don’t want to blow all your cash on the torture dungeon (yes, there is a dungeon where you can see how the 16th century tortured their criminals - not good for kids). There is also Thai food near the pony rides/tiger show area - it’s away from the rest of the main food stands. You can always circle back!

5. If you are bringing kids, there is a kid’s cove area with various princesses, knights, and a cool little play area. All the games and rides are relatively kid friendly, but grown ups will probably need to help younger ones. Just don’t do the torture castle/dungeon with kids. (I made that mistake last year - oops!)

King Richard’s Faire is fun, family friendly, and a great way to escape to the 16th century for the weekend! If you are Game of Thrones fans, check out the Faire this weekend (Sept. 27th - rain date Sept. 28th) as they will have GoT trivia, costume contests, and themed prizes! King Richard’s Faire happens every weekend until October 19th. For more information and details, go to:

Fare thee well!

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Surviving the First Week of Kindergarten

We did it! We survived the first week of kindergarten! WHEW!

Ninjette talked a lot about being nervous and even had a meltdown about wearing uniforms over the weekend. On Sunday, I was a little nervous because Ninjette’s sleep has been off, I’ve never been so unprepared for the start of something, and frankly, I did not want Ninjette to go to kindergarten.

I have been desperately trying to stop time all summer, but somehow September still found me. I think my personal feelings about Ninjette starting kindergarten transferred to her because Ninjette frequently said to me, “Don’t worry, Mama. I will still love you even when I get older.”

Monday rolled around and there was definitely excitement in the air as we got dressed and started our walk to school. Our walk was filled with discussion about how nervous she felt and when I told her that I had felt nervous on my first day at school, she replied, “You were?! How long did it last? Did you get over it?” I think it gave her a little peace. She didn’t really want me to take a picture, but she allowed me to take this one and then she said I could take a picture when we got to school.

Ninjette put her brave face on and got in line for kindergarten. As soon as she started walking in, I kept waving to her until I couldn’t see her. Then, I cried. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the emotion, but there it was. Thank goodness for sunglasses!

After walking home, I curled up in a ball in her room and just cried the rest of the morning. Just kidding. Sort of. I have to tell you that Monday was the longest day of my life. I don’t even know what happened that day, but I do remember a lot of pacing around and checking the time.

Pick up time finally came around and Ninjette’s sum up of the day was: “Well, it started out great and then… it stayed like that forever!” The walk home was filled with lots of questions about staying in the same class forever, when does school end, does she get to stay in class even during the winter, and so on. I take this all as a good sign. One of her main goals for kindergarten, though, is learning to read. The other day, she said, “I can’t believe that I can’t read!”

The rest of this week was filled with all sorts of interesting requests including a note in her lunch with pictures because she can’t read. I did a mix of words and pictures and I guess she tried to ask one of the other kindergartners how to read it and they couldn’t either, so she was going to ask the teacher to teach more reading.

Her beloved Bear Bear has been going to school with her every day, sitting in her backpack, and giving her boosts of bravery. There was a time where she wouldn’t go anywhere without her blankie, but now blankie stays home. Every day, she is growing up and evolving into this big kid. She sheds her younger ways little by little and it makes me sad. It also makes me excited for the new adventures we will have as she gets older.

So I leave you with my five tips for surviving the first week of kindergarten:

1. Schedule something awesome for yourself after drop off. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but maybe it is a splurge on that special coffee drink on the way to work or back home. Maybe it’s a lunch with a good friend. Just something so you don’t wallow in the trauma by yourself!

2. Pick out the next day’s outfit and have things packed the night before. It creates a bit of excitement for the next day, but also helps to alleviate the craziness of the next morning. It also helps to settle into a nice routine.

3. Schedule something fun at the end of the week for the whole family. It’s a fun way to celebrate a milestone for the family. Also, if there were some tough times in the week, it will help to have something to look forward to.

4. Don’t over-schedule the first week or two. We did that on Monday and it was a disaster for Tuesday! Also, the whole family just needed time to readjust to the new schedule and clearly, Ninjette needed an extra hour of sleep and downtime every day this week.

5. Give lots of grace all around. It’s a new routine, new experience, new school - a lot of new things. Give yourself a lot of grace and to all those around you.

Congratulations to all my fellow kindergarten-starting friends! You did it! WE did it! Let the good times roll for the rest of the year!!!

Filed under kindergarten ninjette parenting

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September 11

13 years ago, I had been living in Manhattan for a whole two months. The sky was actually flawless that morning as I walked to work. As I walked towards the elevators to go up to my cubicle, I heard someone talking about a plane running into a building. I remember thinking how ridiculous his statement was.

But in the split second that I was on that elevator, my world changed in a way that I didn’t think would even be possible.

It was the day that we all became more suspicious of one another. It was also the day that heroes emerged within us. It was the day that changed everything.

So many lives were lost on that day. So many brave men and women who rushed in to save lives and to help…some of them got out and some did not.

It is still a day that is wrought with tears and sadness. We will never forget.

Filed under 9/11

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In His Shoes

In the midst of mourning for Mike Brown, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Robin Williams. So many thoughts have been running through my head, but this Robin Williams quote kept coming back to me: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” So Captain! My Captain! I write…

I know those voices really well. I used to hear them much more often than I do now. These days, it’s just once in a while. Most of the time, I can switch them off and I replace them with the healthy tape that I’ve been working on for years. The shock and pain in my heart, though, never decreases when I hear about a suicide or an attempted suicide. I can almost feel that pain in my own heart and in the pit of my stomach.

But after that, I feel anger. Anger that no one was there to help. Anger that there may have been someone there to help, but couldn’t. Anger that he thought himself so worthless. Anger that the world would be better off without him. Anger that he believed the lies that depression was telling him. I’m not sure why I feel anger. Maybe it’s the anger that I have for myself because I have been in his shoes. 

I’ve been to that point of desperation - utter despair and darkness - that is seemingly unending. I distinctly remember each of the times that I had tried to take my own life. I remember the voice inside that was telling me that I was worthless, better off dead, and that I really didn’t matter. I also remember feeling that death would somehow bring me relief from the darkness, the pain, and the deep sadness.

I don’t know exactly what Robin Williams was feeling this morning or this past few months or even these past few years, but what I do know is that I have been in his shoes. I have been mired in the darkness and have outwardly shown a smile and a laugh - trying hard to keep it all together.

Depression is a terrible illness - one that never really leaves you and always tricks you with its lies.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please know that you are not alone. Please call 911 or you can call here to get help: 1-800-273-8255 or go to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website to chat with someone if you are in crisis.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Filed under depression robinwilliams

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BlogHer ‘14 Recap: The Mirror That Changed Me

I just got back from my second BlogHer conference and it was…validating, empowering, fun, amazing, and rejuvenating.

I felt nervous about being there, but was excited to have two roommates waiting for me at the hotel. I am seemingly extroverted, but am terrible at meeting new people and small talk. I was so thankful for Cheryl and Kimberly!

The first day, my mind was preoccupied with two things: meeting Flourish in Progress and reading my post for VOTY later that night. I felt like I was holding my breath through the keynotes and sessions - even though they were all incredible and I absolutely loved Tig Notaro! I also got to hug LTYM creator, Ann, and the most wonderful New Cities Mentor for LTYM, Melisa. On top of all the meeting people in real life, I also got to meet some new folks. Little did I know that they would become my tribe by the end of the conference.

But let me get to my personal highlight for the first night. This was my view during VOTY:

Before VOTY started.

After VOTY… WOW, right? WOW!

Then, this happened:

Flourish in Progress was one of my inspirations to keep on blogging! It was pretty amazing to meet her in real life and to just talk with her and spend some time with her. She is authentic, beautiful, and a rock star. Thank you so much for being out there and for your words…

It was strange to give voice to my post and to actually say the words, “I wish I was white,” out loud - in front of people. It was heartbreaking, empowering, and cathartic. I am so thankful to BlogHer for giving my voice a chance to be heard.

I was completely floored by all the readers. I had so many moments where I was wondering, “How did I even get chosen to be up here?” backstage. When I looked out at the audience, though, I said, “Wow,” because each and every one of them - they were a mirror reflecting back at me. I was worthy because they are all worthy. I could speak my words because they have already been speaking their words. I was up there because of them. Because of YOU.

The next day, was equally as amazing because I just got to meet more amazing people and to also feel a bit like a rock star because of all the “me, too” moments that people were sharing with me. I felt bonded, united, and blessed to be there.

I was so excited to hear Kerry Washington and was definitely pleasantly surprised by Kara Swisher, but was also so grateful for ALL the 10x10 speakers on both days. I also decided to spend some time in the Expo Hall before the closing party and I was glad to have one of my roommates join me. We decided to stop by The Mrs. Band booth where they had this huge mirror. Our hotel room mirror had these clings on them that read, “I’m enough” and it was quite inspiring - it was a little promo thing that The Mrs. Band had for BlogHer attendees. Here’s my selfie:

(Before you continue, take a second to go watch their video and hear their single: Enough)

So, the mirror in the Expo Hall was something similar, except it had headphones. We waited in line and I wasn’t sure what to expect. After putting the headphones on, I heard a women talking to me and I just talked back to the mirror. She asked me if I was a writer and she asked me to do a little dance - I did. Then, she asked me to look in the mirror. So I looked. After a moment, she said, “What do you see?” I looked at that mirror and myself again and I just cried. The first things that came into my head when she asked that were terrible, ugly thoughts of myself. When I couldn’t really say anything, she said to me, “Do you know what I see? I see a strong, amazing, beautiful woman.” And she continued to affirm me while I just cried. I cried because a complete stranger was speaking truths about myself to me - truths that I could not even say to myself. It changed me.

That night, Rev Run was at the closing party and I danced like a 13 year old girl. I felt confident. I felt powerful. I felt beautiful. I felt like I belonged.

I looked around and I saw my village. Within this beautiful village, I found my tribe:

(Kimberly, Danielle, Melissa, Cheryl, Me, & Lisa)

As I reflected on my BlogHer experience for the past two days, I came to realize something. BlogHer ‘14 was the mirror that changed me. BlogHer, you reflected back to me every brave heart, every authentic voice, and every beautiful soul that is within each and everyone of us. You are the writers that I aspire to be. You are the role model that I have been looking for. You are the voice that needs to be heard. You are the mirror that has changed me, empowered me, and made me see ME for who I really am.

And for all these things, I am forever grateful.

Filed under blogher14

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Today, my little baby turned 5. I’m still reeling from it. I don’t think I will accept it until the day she turns 6.

When did my baby grow up?