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FALLING INTO STEP WITH KOREAN ADOPTEES

AKA | SF hosted a warm reception to greet everyone to the weekend!

My flight instinct kicked in the moment I entered the room filled with Korean faces. It’s nothing against them, and all about me, because I came from Korea too. However, I didn’t grow up in Korea, nor with Korean culture. My rational mind reminded me that, most likely, neither did they. We represent a handful of 200,000 Korean adoptees (KAD) adopted away from our birth country since the 1950s. From my perspective, adoption positively impacted my life and I’m grateful for the path I’m on. As a writer, or maybe as an adoptee, I felt I couldn’t fully reconcile my current story without a full grasp of my backstory. So after 47 years, I stepped into the room to start my journey to unravel my first 8 months.

Visit IKAA.org for info on the next event!

Obviously, I didn’t just wander into San Francisco, happening to arrive at the annual IKAA* conference reception (this year hosted by the AKA|SF**). I’ll explain my “Why now?” later because the question peppered me regularly leading up to and throughout the weekend. I yearned to spend a weekend getting introduced to my Korean Adoptee clan. I hoped that a full weekend would encourage me to get past the surface amusement of familiar appearances to find deeper connections. I steeled myself to feel the emotion of adoptees’ various experiences, especially those brave enough to share less positive adoption stories.

During my first lap of the reception room, I fought to lower my guard. I thought the high concentration of people with shared history would comfort me as if we shared a silent language. Yet, it unsettled me knowing these KADs could feel my deepest self without having to show my most personal card, “I’m adopted.” That was usually the last card I’d play at a social gathering and I’d toss it playfully into conversation, watch it flutter, then fall out of the conversation.

My newest, fastest FUNtastic friends!

Somewhere during my second lap, the impact and protection of being surrounded by so many others sharing my history crumbled my guard. My heart swelled validating my disparities felt growing up, aligning me with my path and rewarding my timeline. I scanned the 200+ faces for the friendliest, which fortunately I found sitting down making it harder for her to turn to walk away. She took me in, made introductions and in no time it felt like she and I, and everyone else I met, were meant to cross paths.

The next day offered a full schedule of informative programs detailing different paths for KADs to take with their personal adoption story. Heartfelt testimonials from adoptees farther along their DNA searches or journeys home to Korea provided valuable information and perspective. Post-adoption support programs initiated conversations about the experiences unique to transnational adoptees, offering me a new level of comfort and some validation knowing we shared these internal conversations with fellow KADs. Many adoptees translated their internal conversations into beautiful, moving expressions of art.

The many sessions were so informative, it was tough to choose which ones to attend!

Between sessions, my mind wandered:

I wasn’t the oldest person here:
The significant number of 40-something year old first-time attendees pleasantly surprised me. The increasingly noticeable pull of the second half of my life now took an uphill turn as I started this new journey to peel back more personal layers.

KAD faces:
Before this weekend, I prided myself in my ability to recognize who “my people” were but there were so many variations of beautiful faces introduced to me that my heart split wide open wanting to study and greet them all, and collect them as long-lost keepsakes. I hope the intensity with which I admired our similarities and differences didn’t freak any other KADs out!

People’s stories:
Some adoptees have memories from Korea, others (like me) don’t. For some adoptees, the unsettling part of their journey did not end when placed with their adoptive homes. Both their strength to share their stories and their resilience to survive them were honored. Some adoptees shared stories of hope after clearing through their tangled backstory and shared reactions of the people now, unexpectedly or not, traveling this new trail with them.

The truth is out there:
What little history we know about ourselves from our adoption papers could be incomplete or fabricated. As I learn more about the Korean society and the poverty experienced after the war, adoption as a profitable business, and the status of single moms to this day in South Korea, it’s no surprise to learn that many mothers did not want to put their babies up for adoption but felt no other options – or someone forced their hand. This is not just optimistic me hoping for a fairy tale ending, (that is the long-lost Korean princess story echoing in my head). Now, as a mother myself, IF that were the case, I’d want to give that woman some closure. It all worked out well.

The beautiful variety of HAPA stories really spoke to my heart!

I fit in:
Being half-Korean brings with it it’s own special set of circumstances. Physically and culturally, we’ve straddled the line – not being Asian enough for our home country, and, in my case, not white enough for my adoptive country. Through DNA matches, I might encounter family with no prior knowledge of a Korean relative. The Conference offered specific discussions for us Hapa adoptees. We half-Koreans left feeling whole.

Cloudy forecast:
While conference resources help KADs find clear answers to their questions, the knowledge still unravels mixed emotions on both sides. We come from a country still sorting their comfort level with their justification about our adoption story. While originally aiming to solve a post-war problem, for some, the feeling of exporting so many babies was seasoned with a sprinkling of shame. Now a slight curiosity exists regarding welcoming those of us raised in America back to Korea to see how this unique perspective and global upbringing might impact our birth country. The KADs recently started returning to our homeland, curious to learn their history, eager to embrace their roots, yet always with the knowledge that on some level, this country rejected them.

In the end, I left with clearer perspective and with tools to guide me down a newly revealed path. I felt energized sitting with 236 Adoptees from 26 states, representing 6 countries. Fellow KAD, film-maker Deanne Borshay Liem explained the experience perfectly that together we “Celebrated our future by honoring our past.” It is not taboo to go into our past to retrieve what may be forgotten.

This gathering welcomed KADs from the first group of adoptees in the 1950s to now! So grateful to be part of this group!

My next steps involve doing research on my past through various channels to retrace my brief time in Seoul. Largely present in my peripheral view, a visit to Seoul beckons to me. The government and various other agencies, now realizing the importance of introducing adoptees to their homeland, offer trips partially or fully funded through grants. My attention aims towards the Hapa Mosaic Tour that introduces KADs to Korea with itineraries specific to the half-Korean experience.

This eye-opening and heart-filled weekend went too fast. I still need to carve out time to process my next steps. The Mosaic Tour application (due Jan. 15) suggests a to-do list of things in the meanwhile to obtain the maximum information before taking such a large physical journey into my past. I also want to continue to simmer over everything that I experienced over one weekend and get together through other KAD gatherings. I am grateful for the people I met, the experience, information and camaraderie. I feel as though I’ve fallen into step with my sisters and brothers. I must sit still and figure out the shift that occurred. …but it is good.

Though we met in San Francisco, I look forward to keeping up with my fellow Angeleno KADs!

*International Korean Adoptee Association
**Association of Korean Adoptees | San Francisco

Korean Adoptees May get a FREE DNA test through 325Kamra.org

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All photos (except photo booth) courtesy of my new friend and fellow Korean Adoptee, Allen Majors.  Thank you!!

#AKASF20 #IKAA #yearofsayingyes #kad #hapa #ShiftHappens #bepresent #bestill #KoreanAdoptee #SeoulSearching #omaginsiders #yearofquestions #myhistoryisamystery #makesmewander

What about you?!

  • Are you adopted?
  • Are you actively researching your past?
  • Have you been successful with your search?
  • Where did you start?
  • Any helpful resources?
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IT’S NO OPRIL FOOLS – YOU & O ON A CRUISE!

JOKE’S UP – Now that we’ve made it almost all of the way through our second month as O Mag Insiders | The Inner Circle of O Magazine, I’m starting to settle in and believing that this was no Opril Fool’s joke, I’m really part of this dynamic group of individuals! Being that this is the Year of Adventure, I wanted to Share the Adventure!

O Magazine sent us an exciting and thoughtful welcome packet! Counting my blessings!

MY PURPOSE IN THE GROUP – How the heck did I get in here?! Everyone else on the team ooze upperclassmen confidence eons ahead of my own. They’ve followed their passions, mulched challenges, paved their paths, inspired others, and pay it forward! Their lessons resonate with the masses with such potential for positive change. I, on the other hand, feel like the perfect case study for Oprah and all her team!

MY IDEAL COHORTS – Like seriously, don’t you wish there’d been a Master Class in college on how to live your best life?! I’d have done summer school to learn how to budget with Suze, set boundaries with Martha, and clear away the clutter of our pasts with Peter. I’d have interned for Glennon’s momastery.com blog, for Elizabeth and Brené as writer’s assistants and begged Oprah to take me for Bring-Your-Insider-to-Work-Day so I could witness her switching from hat to hat with intelligence, creativity and grace.

SEMESTER AT SEA – If you haven’t heard, O, The Oprah Magazine and Holland America Line have teamed up this summer with Oprah and her magical unicorns for an amazing opportunity to cruise for a week, travel and reach the deepest parts of your heart while expanding your mind! For those of us folks who used to wind down at the end of the day sitting on the couch across from Oprah having a quality conversation with a girlfriend (What’s a few television waves and a few thousand miles?!), this will repair your heart that carried the weight of the missed connections of seeing her show in person.

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GETTING GROUNDED – Meanwhile, back on land, my membership to this dynamic group requires me to stay present and become mindful. Already, with the many contributions posted by my fellow O Mag Insiders, I’ve pondered while wandering – my strengths, my procrastinations. I’m peeling back the layers of me and asking to learn my history while making a difference.

WISH YOU WERE HERE – So far, my journey feels so much more introspective than the widely impactful passion projects of my peers. My inspiration comes from the hope of connecting with others. Whether through one shared experience or that whatever I’ve learned may simplify their journey. I’m living through crazy, eventually humorous, times as a single mom of tween and teen, an international adoptee, an unrealized novelist rushing recklessly towards middle age. This kind of crazy settles into fun with someone else on your side!

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TRAVEL BUDDIES – I also plan to continue down the path of self-discovery with my life-reflecting journey through the PJ Wilderness and show that, not only, is it never too late to change directions, to go back and find out where you fell off the path of your authentic self but that you are worth the time that it’ll take to get you there!

PACK WELL – I know that part of me hasn’t felt most like my authentic self since 1985. Those years shopping at colorful Contemporary Casuals, wearing bold patterns, large earrings and accessories. I would buy for deals, but for unique styles, cuts, etc. if I were lucky enough to find myself sailing with Oprah, I’d book a personal consultation with Adam!

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UNPACKING THE BAGGAGE – It’s less about my outward appearance and more about taking back pieces of myself from boyfriends that didn’t love me attracting too much attention and for whom I foolishly muted myself. It’s about finding practical multi-use pieces for single working moms. I know Adam will find clothes that are quality, fast to coordinate and reasonable. Lastly about finding cute but decent quality shoes for older women because I’ve learned that a mis-aligned foot causes all sorts of knee problems and my kids insist that the super Comfy Relaxed Outdoor Colorful plastic shoes with spongy insoles aren’t cool (though my kids may believe Drew Barrymore).

BON VOYAGE – Whether it’s the cruise or some other far off destination, where do you sail away to to get closer to your center?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  • You going on the cruise?
  • Which of Oprah’s columnists are you most eager to see
  • Did you ever see Oprah’s show tape while still in Chicago?
  • What was your favorite clothing item from ‘85?
  • Do you read O Magazine?
  • What’s the last thing you did just for you?
  • Did you wear uniforms or street clothes in school?

All Cruise photos and art are (C)Holland America Line and (C) Oprah

#OMagInsiders #HollandAmericaLine #Cruise #Alaska #LiveYourBestLife #YearOfAdventure #OMagonHAL

WHAT NOW?!

Recently I got some Big News and at first curiosity bubbled over as I wondered “What now?!” Part of me itched to hurry and tell somebody because the news was too big not to share! Part of me craved to be still, sit and simmer on the information to allow me to maintain control of the situation and to figure out what purpose it serves me. I’ll admit, I followed my curiosity down the online rabbit hole snooping some but also to help shape my idea of “What this all means!”

My original motive for taking a DNA test was to figure out what my other ½ was since I didn’t have that information when I was adopted. When that can of worms opened, family spilled out – as I knew they would.  Right away the database paired me with a few 2nd – 4th cousins.  While that sounds really close, (2nd is almost as good as 1st, right?) realistically 2nd means that, if we’re lucky, we share great-grandparents. So you can guess how distant 4th cousins feel. Exhilarated, I snooped some close matches online searching for any obvious commonalities on their online profiles.  I’ll admit, too, I sat staring at the little envelope button (below the red arrow) and continued to simmer on the whys and what ifs. How would this be received by the recipient?

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The reason I’d never really considered looking for biological parents growing up was because I simply believed it was an impossibility. In my mind I’d painted a tale of a military guy on a weekend furlough looking for fun in the country he was stationed in that wound up having a side consequence he never knew of. Whether this is part of the script they tell us to help us “cut ties” with our home country or something I made up to protect myself from potential disappointment, I’m not sure. Since my exposure to other adoptees was super limited and nobody else offered a different picture – I just sat within this reality.

Since then, I’ve read a few books and joined a few online Korean Adoptee groups that paint a very different possibility and changed my perspective enough to be open to communication with a relative if they reached out to me or if were a direct match. I would love to let Korean relatives know that their selfless decision to let me go turned out well. I don’t aim to blow anyone’s vision of what their family unit looks like with a surprise relative from a far land.

ancestry-test-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

While contemplating this new branch of my family tree and how to prune it, I took another DNA test. While attending a blogging conference this past summer, Ancestry.com was there and when they heard I had a 2nd – 4th cousin match on my first round of matches, they said “Here, take this test, our database is one of the largest, maybe we’ll get even closer!”

ancestry-matches-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

They brought forth a different cousin – but a 2nd or 3rd!  After the usual online snooping, I wasn’t any further to finding any information on this new person. Also, the closest people from the first database didn’t overlap this new sprinkling of relatives.

To go all in, I also downloaded the raw data and threw it into a Korean adoptee specific database (but truly have no idea how to navigate it).

What now?  

  • I know that I want to go to Seoul, South Korea.  I know it’s super far and if I’m going to go, I’d want it to be a meaningful trip, not just a tourist trip.
  • It could be cool to trace some lineage to answer “behavior or biological” questions.  
  • As an INFJ, I’m not seeking to have a pile of “relatives” to flood my inbox since I can barely keep up with my own family!

One of the folks in an adoptee group I joined explained it perfectly that we adoptees have blind spots that exist and that we wind up richer by allowing ourselves the curiosity and tenderness towards our own past to let it grow and flourish, thereby overtaking the shadows that have followed us, knowingly or not.

heart-shadow-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

Perfect picture from Pixabay

What about you?
Have you taken a DNA test?

Were you adopted or just researching ancestry?
Any surprises?
What’d you do next?

 

 

 

TOP 10 VIDEOS TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD (for the next Star Wars film!)

With tangible anticipation, the seduction tickles each of our 5 senses pulling us closer.  Whether we go full-body all in, or pulled in inch by inch, we feverishly mark the date on the calendar and before it’s upon us, already hope for multiple experiences. I’m not talking about the next 50 Shades of Grey,  I’m talking  

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At first I thought I was heading full-blown into a midlife crisis when I started buying t-shirts, light saber earrings, and my stomach was aching for the release date of the last film!  Then once we saw the film, Star Wars fever exploded upon us as we went to our first Convention (details to come soon). We’ve already purchased our tickets to go see the next film at El Capitan Theatre!

I never really realized how big a Star Wars fan lived inside me, but here’s why:

  1. As a writer, the fact that George Lucas started this whole thing out of his mind and created films, tv series, comic strips, etc. Just amazes me.  He and JK Rowling are my creative idols for what they’ve accomplished.
  2. Star Wars was something that I shared with and handed down to my kids. I still remember seeing the original in the theatre as a (ahem!) young girl!  To be able to share this world that still carries such weight and wonder in this generation warms my heart.
  3. In this instant gratification generation, this keeps them longing for more, anticipating something to come.  I loved to that the films inspired reading and now my teenage son could teach a college class in. He tests me before allowing me to move forward through each episode!  
  4. It’s something my two kids share in common – one of the few things. I love what makes them individual, but I love that they respect each other’s knowledge and affection for the franchise.
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WTF (Wow, they’re FUZZY!)           Get your own robe! thinkgeek.com

Almost as much as I love the films, I love the fan video snippets that are inspired by the film. With another film on the near horizon from that galaxy far, far away. Here are the Top 10 videos we love to help us get in the mood (in no particular order)!

I’ll NEVER JOIN YOU
Improv Everywhere shows just as much creativity and finesse as George Lucas to be able to pull off a live Star Wars scene on the New York Subway. I only wish I’d seen this live!


THAT BOY IS OUR LAST HOPE
You know how they say setting things to music helps you learn them? Weird Al’s song helped me learn about Anakin Skywalker’s branch of the Star Wars family tree.  He’s done a few Star Wars songs, but this is our favorite.


AREN’T YOU A LITTLE SHORT FOR A STORMTROOPER?

This projects my mind for the world to see. While I didn’t make this video, it’s exactly how I envision stormtrooper street dance crews battling. They’re the only crews I hope to see twerking ever again.
BONUS: I’m sure they opened the way for this Britain’s Got talent act.


LAUGH IT UP, FUZZBALL
Seriously, what is cuter than jedi kittens yielding light sabers?! 


YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS TO IMPRESS ME
With a chance to not be outdone by the kittens, the dogs come in with the song that gives me chills every time I hear it, with any lyrical style.


THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Since 1977 I’ve hoped that when I grew up that every house would come with it’s own R2 unit.  This parakeet budgie may be the best option until that day.


I HAVE YOU NOW!

In a great example of Star Wars coming to life, it’s easy to imagine how thrilling it’d be during the middle of your daily routine, to find yourself armed with a light saber and drawn into battle!


JUDGE ME BY MY SIZE, DO YOU?
For a brief return to the Cute Side, check out a day in the life if your Star Wars fantasies came true and instead of cats, people had AT-ATs!


…BORING CONVERSATION ANYWAY. LUKE! WE’RE GONNA HAVE COMPANY!
Ever wonder what you would have these characters say if you were the word wizard? Bad Lip Reading cracks me up!!  ALERT: Some language will (hopefully) go over the heads of the young ones, some might not. You’ve been warned.


DIFFICULT TO SEE. ALWAYS IN MOTION IS THE FUTURE
Close your eyes and picture the motion of the ocean with this tune.  Remember, the original Star Wars film came from decades a long, long time agowhen Disco was King! 

ALWAYS PASS ON WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED!
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

What about you?
Do you have any favorite Star Wars snippets that get you excited?  Share links below!
Do you know what characters really said the above QUOTES?
What’s your favorite Star Wars film?
Or were you more of the Star Trek fan?
Is it possible to be both?
Which Star Wars character are you most like?
Do you already have your tickets for the next film?
Dark Side or Rebellion?

 

#StarWars #TheForce #RogueOne #R2D2 #Luke #Jedi #DarthVader #Skywalker #DeathStar #GeorgeLucas #WeirdAl #ImproveEverywhere #BadLipReading #Disco #StormTrooper #LightSaber #EpisodeI #EpisodeII #EpisodeIII #EpisodeIV #EpisodeV #EpisodeVI #EpisodeVII #EpisodeVII #Cat #Kitten #Twerk #Disney #rogueoneastarwarsstory
(C) DISNEY

NOW WHAT? REMEMBER WHAT YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR…

I’m late with my post for Tuesday 11/8/16 for #NaBloPoMo. I’ll admit that I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV even after the election results were known.  This morning, now that the political  campaign circus has come to a conclusion and we’re all waiting to see where this goes, it’s time to focus inward and find center again.  Remember who you are and the good that you possess and what you can offer the world.  Also, be grateful for the gifts that you have.  It’s the little things that matter most and will help restore joy.

I love the exercise of focusing on gratitude in November – not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!  Since I missed the first few days, I will go back and reflect, then move forward from there through November. Feel free to share one thing you are grateful for in the comments or feel free to copy the list for yourself!

Day 1: What smell are you grateful for today?

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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow flowers. One of the greatest gifts from an apartment I used to live in was that somebody in the neighborhood grew these plants. At the end of any day, when the witching hour (after dinner, homework, procrastination, laundry, cleaning time) was upon us, a quick smell of their fragrance wafting by instantly sidetracked me to pause and wander with wonder.

Day 2: What technology are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the technology that helps people quickly detect large medical problems whether it’s full-body scans for early detection or DNA decoding to educate people how best to care for themselves based on what they learn could be present in their genetic background. When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Day 3: What color are you grateful for?
RED! Usually the rest of my wardrobe tends towards black or white but I feel more energetic and powerful when wearing this color. As simple as a red flower in my hair to a bold red bag helps me shine internally! I also love editing with a red pen.

Day 4: What food are you most grateful for?

 

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Pioneer Woman’s – Roasted Garlic MMM, you won’t regret it!

Garlic makes me grateful because it provides such a wonderful layer of flavor to almost every meal as well as providing health benefits. It’s become a comfort food for my family and no matter how simple or fancy our meals are, we pour on garlic! It’s a bucket list item to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival one year.

Day 5: What sound are you grateful for today?

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My kids voices. I am grateful that they still get excited to share things about their day with me. I’m less excited about the voices they use to bicker – but to restore overall balance, there are the remarkable moments where they team up and share inside jokes that Mom would never get.

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

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Coast lines. I always pause to reflect that standing with my feet in the sand with the waves crashing on my toes means I’m on the western most point of that chunk of the US.  I also turn my sights towards the horizon wondering if this will be the one time I can actually see all the way to Hawaii.

Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?
How in the world do I pick just one when on a daily basis I’m adding so many more to the memory bank?  I am grateful for my grandparents’ houses because, depending on which one I was visiting, there was a surplus of unconditional love, closets or shelves with treasures just for the grandkids, music pouring from the walls, and outside hideouts that we lit with lightning bugs.  I am grateful that as the oldest child, I remember them and not just the stories of them.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

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Right now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Where the rest of my mind tells me to make practical choices, this book gives me permission and renewed drive to be creative! It’s one I return to frequently.

Here is the full list of Gratitude prompts inspiring me that I found on textmyjournal.com.. Even if you don’t commit to the whole month – what is something you’re grateful for RIGHT NOW?

gratitude journal prompts

 

#Healing #Gratitude #Journal #November

HOW’D I WIND UP LIVING IN ONE OF THE 10 BEST PLACES IN CA?

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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone or housing prices will continue to skyrocket, but [whisper] my city was voted one of the 10 Best Places to Live in California! Upon hearing this announcement, (you can call it a midlife or nostalgia) I wanted to retrace our journey that directed us to Redondo Beach.

On my first visit to the area, 15 years prior to setting down roots here, it wasn’t the sunshine that drew me in, but the taste of the salty air and sound of the waves crashing against the pier pilings. Running between the hot spots, lost in the woody maze of the pier, the texture felt familiar. It was reminiscent of the boardwalk edging the east coast of my childhood. That night, I was there for one fun time and didn’t realize that the sites and sounds would seep into my being (and eventually dictate the feel of my blog).

Later, when I found myself rewriting my 5-year plan (divorcing, starting over), I felt going home to San Diego would be giving up, but I knew I couldn’t stay put either as my time was up. Initially, upon moving to the coast, I didn’t recall having been there before. Plus, I didn’t know how long I’d stay. 

Our lives were a bunch of moving parts: Me going through a divorce and starting a new job, my oldest child entering kindergarten, and the youngest at her most active age of 2. I was falling fast, flailing my arms to pull together loose ends and create a new normal.  I’d chosen the area for the following 3 reasons: 1) Great schools; 2) Closer to family; 3) I felt I could just slip right in unnoticed.  Part of me was led by a romantic notion that the sea air and sunsets would heal my uprooted spirit.

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At first, I felt I was nothing but noticeable (in my own head) as the divorced mom in a field of adorable married couples. But that big D on my shirt got less noticeable as I focused on helping my kids build their new community as quickly as possible by joining teams! Through my son’s soccer, daughter’s t-ball, and my Team In Training, we met amazing people and slowly started tipping the scales as our happiness grew and life experiences became richer.  

We met other parents who helped me set the kids on a positive and hopefully long, windy path of discovery about themselves.  Growing up, I’d moved a lot and lived places for on average 4 years. I started a lot of things, then left many of them undone. I never did a drastic mid-school year move or anything, but as soon as I’d get to know people, or be introduced to something fun, we’d move, and do something different. So when it came time to choose where we’d move, it was a significant decision that I didn’t take lightly.

I love that our city that feels larger than some of its neighbors, but occupies a small footstep within our county. It is anchored with main streets with entertainment, food and shopping, yet at the same time, the horizon is wide open with opportunity and possibility. I love that we’ve actively worked to become a Blue Zone – I’ll explain in the next few weeks – which increases the strength and health of a community!

10 years is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I laugh as I ponder that to newcomers, I’m a local! While I never hope to repeat the circumstances that brought us here, I’m certainly glad for where we landed and grew roots.

MY KIDS’ COMFORT FOOD – 3 WAYS

I’m warning you, it’s gonna get messy. These recipes were created or re-created from my mind. (WTF: Wait – three flavors?!) All  recipes were adapted by and from many cultures. Now that my delicious disclaimers are done, let’s get cooking!

MY KID’S CRAB PASTA


Their dad first made this for my college roommate and me (first and last time he cooked for me). I modified the recipe and wing it every time but my kids want it weekly.

Need:
1 box pasta
1 packet artificial crab (or real)
Garlic, chopped or powdered
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)/Butter
Optional:
Seafood seasoning
Wine

Instructions:
Put pasta in salted water at a rolling boil. Lower heat.

Put enough Olive Oil/Butter to keep crab from sticking (I use both to keep either from burning). Over low heat add crab and garlic (and optional seafood seasoning). Warm it up. If it’s sticking, pour in a swig of wine (whatever is open) and cover it.

Cool, Kids, the crab turns purplish when red whine is used


Drain pasta and pour into pan with crab. If needed, drizzle more EVOO so pasta won’t stick (though I rarely do). Serve!
Variations: Use shrimp. Add red bell pepper.

BETTER WITH BACON PASTA


I ate this a lot when training for long-distance races because it’s loaded with carbs, some Lo-fat protein, and some higher-fat protein. This is the only dish I don’t add garlic to but feel free to. This was adapted from my Nana’s Hungarian cooking.

Need:
1 box pasta
1 small container cottage cheese
As much chopped bacon as you want without feeling guilty
Optional:
Fresh parsley

Instructions:
If you need to cook the bacon, follow packages instructions and set aside. Consider oven-cooking it – requires less attention

Put pasta in salted water at a rolling boil. Lower heat.

Drain pasta, add all cottage cheese and bacon.

This time I used up a bag of bacon bits left over from another recipe.


Stir! Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
Variations: Use non-fat cottage cheese and really crispy turkey bacon for healthier version. Add chopped poultry or replace bacon with cubed leftover ham.

KREATIVE KAPOSZTA PASTA

Love the flavor the next afternoon, reheated at work!


This one I made with my Hungarian grandmother though I was confused because it used American ingredients. This one can be vegetarian, or not, and is great for slipping veggies to your kids. Sometimes, presenting veggies in a different shape than they’ll see in the wild confuses kids into eating them.

Need:
One box pasta
1 container broccoli or cole slaw (no dressing)
Either red pepper oil or Sriracha
Garlic, chopped or powdered
EVOO


Instructions:
Swirl a few circles of oil in fry pan on medium high heat.
Add garlic and slaw. Swirl another circle or two of EVOO.
I add coarse pepper and Sriracha (not necessary if you used spicy pepper oil).
Sauté slaw, stirring frequently.


Between stirs, put pasta in yadda yadda rolling boil, yadda yadda, lower heat.
Drain pasta and pour into pan with slaw. Serve!
Variations: Add sausage (not breakfast links). If cooking cole slaw consider using egg noodles, they’re softer.

Let’s eat!

What are your quick and easy comfort foods?
With pasta or something better?
Have any ideas to make a fancier version of these recipes “for when company comes over”
Have any ideas of a main entree to go with these if you want to downsize it to a side dish?

#Sriracha #Pasta #Seafood #Bacon #Coleslaw #Recipes #EasyRecipes #WeeknightRecipes #ComfortFood #MarathonTraining #CarboLoad

DREAM COME TRUE: CAVALIA ODYSSEO

Think back to the days when we read magical tales that filled our hearts with hope and adventure.  Swift, elegant horses, dashing, brave heroes and heroines were the ingredients mixed into myriads of stories.  These stories extended our world beyond our backyard. With our eyes closed, our creative imagination transported us to other worlds! Now, my kids, my niece and I have the opportunity to travel to a mystical world with our eyes open!  My family and I are so excited to attend the premiere event of Cavalia Odysseo on February 6th!

1-16-16 Odysseo head shot

You don’t have to wait – shows are open now through Feb. 26!

From the very first glimpse, this show promises to hold something unforgettably magical for everyone in my family.  I grew up with horses, wholeheartedly believe in fairy tales and am the last person on this Earth who has never seen a Cirque du Soleil show.  This newest and largest $30 million production of Cavalia Odysseo, created by Cirque co-founder, Normand Latourelle, promises to stimulate our senses on so many levels.

1-16-16 Odysseo death-defying

I predict that my son will be blown away by the death-defying acrobats, my niece will want to take all 65 horses home with her and my daughter will hum the tunes for weeks. I look forward to hearing their excitement over unexpected surprises that they’ll never forget.

1-16-16 Odysseo Merrygoround

This show is double the size of the 2007 tour boasting 48 riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians in a soulful and touching journey around the globe, showcasing at its heart, the mysterious relationship between men and horses.  I’m trying to imagine the sheer size of the production as the video clearly shows a lake and mountains – all under the big white tent!

1-16-16 Odysseo grand scope stage

For me, it’s also dream come true to be able to share this news with you before it happens rather than say “Look what we did, wish you were there!”  Wander along with us on this magical escape from our everyday lives!  Visit www.cavalia.net and book your tickets now!  The show premieres February 3rd with matinee and evening shows running through Valentine’s Day (what a great gift idea!). Some special pricing available.

See you in Irvine under the big white tent! What are you looking forward to the most?!

#OdysseoOC

 

Wander back soon and check my Wanderful Events page regularly for more exciting events!

 

YOU’RE HOT THEN YOU’RE COLD

With school starting up again soon, we’re desperately holding onto the summer with every part of our being. From days at the beach, to back-to-back play dates that stretch after dinner we’re maximizing every minute.  I don’t vary my menu much from season-to-season but if I don’t have at least one big pot of Gazpacho to help me sweat to cool off in the summer, it’s as though summer was never here at all.

Gazpacho comes from Spain – I sell it to my son as salsa soup, although it’s crisper and heartier than that. American’s don’t do a lot of cold soups that I’m aware of, but when you’re glistening in the summer sun, this brings relief.

There are many varieties, but this recipe is our sentimental favorite. With any great recipe passed down, I improvise and adjust things to my liking.  I’ll give you the basics, but in the photo captions, I’ll tell you where I experiment.

I had a variety of pepper colors, but green is great too! My addiction, my family doesn’t touch these

I had a variety of pepper colors, but green is great too!
Serrano chile: my addiction, my family doesn’t go there*

Ingredients:

46 ounces of V8
1 green bell pepper 
1 small white onion 
1 small red onion 
1 cucumber
2 green chiles chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco or 1tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 small jar pimentos

I choose spicy V8 but first time you may want regular

I choose spicy V8 but first time you may want regular

Also, you need olive oil, red vinegar and black ground pepper.

Toss in, blend - repeat!

Toss in, blend – repeat!

I personally pre-cube the veggies to approximately golf ball size.  Then load the blender with equal parts of all veggies, a splash of V8, some pimentos, and Pulse Blend until like a really smooth salsa.  Pour into large pot and repeat.  Repeat until all ingredients are blended.

To the large pot I add 1T olive oil, 3T Red Vinegar, 1 ½ tsp Tabasco (original), pepper to taste (I like lots). I don’t use salt – V8 already has it.

2 Bowls a day - I love this soup!

WTF – Wow, the FLAVORS!

Stir it then stick it in the fridge.   So hard to wait, but this soup tastes better chilled and after it sits to let the flavors blend!

I grew up topping it with crusty bread or croutons, but now, I add artificial crab (real even better) and chopped avocado instead!  If I’m feeling spicy, I splash on Sriracha!

Practically zero calories - only whatever the garnishes have!

Practically zero calories – only what the garnishes have!

Share your favorite gazpacho recipes or adaptations of this recipe in comments so I may try them!

¡Salud!  

*Be careful when de-seeding and chopping these to not touch your eyes! Even later in the day, the oils stay on the skin – trust me!

DEVIL INSIDE – LYRICALLY SPEAKING

6th grade sleepover, my friend and I hunched over the record player, using our finger to rotate Ozzy’s Crazy Train album backwards at 33 1/3 rpm to hear hidden satanic messages. It’s what all “good girls” did at slumber parties.  We played it faster, slower, louder, and finally gave up for fear of waking her parents or because Poltergeist was on – again.

Hidden Messages?

Hidden Messages?

That was the age when everything became an inside dirty joke. Thinking how intelligent I must be, I read into every song for hidden meanings.  Many songs are written with double entendre, but I laugh that my lyrics were often worse than the true hidden meaning. Truly, I usually couldn’t understand a word!

Eminem - WTF: Way to Flow

Eminem – WTF: Way to Flow

Fast-forward, my kids have turned the tables on me and are now this age.  In their rush to grow up, my son raps Eminem’s Lose Yourself while Lauren sings along with Katy Perry.  On a lunch hour whim, unfazed by parental advisory stickers, I bought Katy’s album. I sang along – excited to surprise the kids with the album.  When the 5th song came on I danced with this upbeat song – previously unheard from the radio! “I wanna see your peacock – cock – cock!”

WTF: We talking feathers?

WTF: We talking feathers?

In a panic, I told the kids my “truth” “The CD is scratched from song 5 on, bummer!” Don’t look at me like that, what would you do? Even the songs they sing with their friends off the radio cause me to panic anticipating questions that I am not ready to answer. But as chauffer, I felt I’d somewhat restored my musical control.

On a joyous 3D adventure to see Part of (Her), Katy and her dancers grabbed feathers and danced to a familiar beat!  It’s the jaw-dropping, eye-popping, head-turning, body-shocking, heart-throbbing, ground-shaking, show-stopping, amazing song that the kids won’t get out of their heads.

High 5, Katy!  I personally dig this song!

High 5, Katy! I personally dig this song!

I cringed as they sang it – waiting for Carson to figure it out. Lauren asked him, “What’s it about?”

“It’s all about big p…”

“OK! Radio time!” I yelled, sweating profusely.

“Big, colorful personalities. Be proud of yours!”

What a good big brother!  I still don’t know if he was running interference or truly didn’t understand. For now, part of us remains unscathed.

8/12/13 – To thank you for wandering by, here is Katy Perry’s video for her new single ROAR! Did I mention the emoticons RULE!?!

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