Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting: Newtown, Connecticut

I woke up this morning, a half a world away, to learn about news of a tragedy that happened back home. To anyone with a heart, this news is unimaginable. To me, as a mother, it was unspeakable.

I cried, and continue to cry, for those babies. Imagining the fear they had in their last moments on this earth. 

I imagined my own son, Braden, crying for me, and my not being able to save him.

I don't know these children, but I can see each of their faces in front of me. I hope they didn't suffer, felt the love their parents had for them, and left this earth peacefully.

My thoughts and prayers go out to their families. I don't know how life goes on after such a tragedy.


Friday, July 6, 2012

A Car-free Life

Having lived in Boston for the better part of my adult life, I got used to not driving.  With the hassles of limited parking, worrying about which day was street cleaning, the enormous task of shoveling your car out after a blizzard, and countless parking tickets, being car-free was easy.  It helped that Boston has great mass transit and is pedestrian-friendly.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I knew my car-free days were over.  Although most of my days were spent in a car, I walked as often as I could, often times confronted by the bewilderment of friends who would ask, “You walked here?  Why?”   For me, it wasn’t about the environmental, physical or health benefits.  I simply enjoyed walking!  Actually, come to think of it, I think I just dislike driving more.
Especially in a large city, walking allows you to get know your neighborhood.  Walking forces you to stay close to home and use the resources around you.  You shop locally, support local store owners and meet people in your community.   You become more intimately aware of your neighborhood; and, if you’re lucky, you may even discover a hidden treasure you would never find driving past in your car.  Eventually, the large city, doesn’t feel so overwhelming anymore.
My husband and I have fond memories of when our son, Braden started walking.  Our early evening walks could take hours just to get to the end of the street (I did mention I didn’t walk for the physical benefits, right?)  Eventually we’d make it to the corner and finally around the block before it was time to head home.  Our son, now 4 is a walker.  He enjoys walking around the neighborhood, to the park and especially to Starbucks.   He resists the car and will ask if we can walk instead. 
When my husband and I considered moving from Los Angeles to Seoul, Korea, one of my first thoughts was, “I won’t have to drive anymore!”   The thought of giving up my car made me feel giddy.
Seoul, like Boston, is accessible.  The subway system is easy to navigate and quite sophisticated.  You can live in Seoul your entire life without needing a car.  Braden and I have had the opportunity to explore Seoul in ways that many Seoulites haven’t.   Perhaps it’s the adventurous side of us, our desire to explore and see new things, but there have been countless times we simply look at a subway map and point to where we want to go; and that’s where we end up for the day.
We’ve also gotten to know many of the local shop owners in our neighborhood.  Being one of the few foreigners, helps, but it’s nice when you’re walking down the street and a shop owner stops to wave hello as you pass by.
I won’t say we’ll never have a car again, but for now, we’re enjoying a car-free life.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Superbowl Sunday... actually it was Monday morning for us.

My Jersey as Mrs. Carlson in '07
I'm not totally disappointed that the Patriots lost the Superbowl today.  Okay, that might not be totally true, but the sting hurts a little less when I think about the wonderful morning I spent with my son.  Today was Superbowl Monday Morning here for us in Korea.  My husband, son, and I awoke before dawn to get on base to catch the game.  Die hard fans, if you ask me; either that, or crazy.  Braden didn’t seem to mind, even though we made our way to the subway station in the dark, and emerged forty minutes later in that milky paleness of the early morning.  Even he noticed the quite of the streets as we made our way through town.

Braden did watch the Superbowl last year.  Although the Patriots weren't playing, he spent most of the game rooting for the Jets.  No, they weren't playing either, but they did play the Patriots during the playoffs, and Braden got a kick out of the "Let's go Jets!" chant, their green jerseys (green is his favorite color), and the fact that his chanting seemed to push my buttons.  So, for all those reasons, at every football (basketball, baseball, and hockey) game from that point forward, he took it upon himself to root for the Jets, even when they weren't playing. 

This year, as the Patriots were getting closer to the Superbowl, we talked a lot about "OUR favorite" team and rooting for them during the Superbowl.  Nevertheless, I caught myself holding my breath several times imagining he'd suddenly remember the old chant and begin taunting me with it.  Fortunately, he didn't, and we proudly rooted for the Patriots!

Since he's older now and more into sports, the game was a lot more fun to watch through his eyes.  Yes, as a typical three year-old, he spent most of the game asking questions; lots of them:  "When is football starting?" (as the announcers talked during the pre-game),  "What are they doing?" (as they huddled together for the coin toss), "Why are they running?"  (as they began to play the game), "Why did they knock them down?" (as the teams tackled one another), "Why didn't he catch the ball?" (as the receivers fumbled and dropped the ball on one too many occasions), "Why do they have numbers?"  (as he noticed Tom Brady's #12 on the jersey I had just won – YAY!) and so on.

As the game progressed, he seemed to understand more and more of what was happening, and gradually, the questions lessened.  He was hooked!  He was a football fan!  He was watching football! 

Watching from the sidelines, I was amazed at how his mind captured each play, mimicked what he saw, and how he was transforming into a real fan; not because his Mom or Dad told him who to root for, but because he understood the game and wanted to see how it played out.

As we arrived home, my son announced that he wanted to be a football player when he "gets bigger" and that his number will be 80 - 20.  When I told him he could only have a two-digit number, he settled on 97.  So look out for Carlson #97 playing for the Patriots during Superbowl LXVIII.

Mom and Dad will definitely be on the sidelines cheering as we remember Superbowl XLVI and how you fell in love with the game.

Go Pats!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

When in Rome... or Korea, in this case...

In Korea, the 100th day after a child's birth (baek il) marks a milestone and is cause for celebration.  The number 100 means maturity and perfection, fullness and completion; therefore, a baby who reaches this benchmark has fully matured into a human being.   Making it past the first 100 days was a sign that the baby had survived.  Historically, many newborns didn't make it to their first 100 days because of poverty, lack of medical aid, or a weak immune system.  So, when a baby survives the first 100 days, you celebrate!

Today, marks Braden and my 100th day in Korea.  We too have matured and survived.  We have done more than survive.  We have jumped into the deep end with no life preservers to save us.  It's either sink or swim, and I have chosen to swim; if not for me, for the sake of Braden and the experiences he will gain from our living abroad.   It hasn't been easy, there were definitely days I wanted to pack up and move home.  Heck, even as I write this I fantasize of home; but when I think about what I have done in such a short time, I am reminded of the many milestones newborns make so early in life.

I'm going a little insane.
My greatest satisfactions are:  being together as a family, the amazing friends we have made and who have made life in Korea more bearable, and the experiences I have given to Braden.  When it gets tough; really, really tough and I want to throw in the towel, I think about what Braden said to me not so long ago when I asked him, "Are you glad we moved to Korea?"  Without hesitation and with complete honesty, he said, "Well, yes!  Because when I lived in New York I missed Daddy and cried sometimes."

So with that, I take the good and the bad and do what I can to continue to survive; continue to make this an experience of a lifetime; continue to stay sane, in this ever so insane world we find ourselves in.  I will not only survive my first 100 days, but the next 100 years, if I have have to.  God willing, we won't have to. {smile}  Happy Baek Il Day!