A New City To Call Home

I grew up half an hour north of the iconic Golden Gate bridge. I spent my undergraduate years in the urban sprawl of Berkeley, where the dorms and halls are interspersed throughout the city blending campus and city life seamlessly. I worked in San Francisco, commuting via BART and MUNI, which routes I learned like the wrinkles in my palm. Sometimes I would take the ferry from my hometown into the city, and the symbolic Bay Bridge span would peek through a blanket of mist to greet me on the other side. The Bay Area is, and always will be, the place I call home. But as much as my heart resides there, I didn’t expect myself to stay in the Bay Area forever.

On the other hand, I was always bias against our southern counterpart, Los Angeles. When I think of L.A., I think of traffic congestion, smog, terrible parking, and Hollywood types toting around their designer dogs. Granted, I have never extensively spent time in L.A., or Southern California for that matter, but I never had the desire to. Mickey and Minnie Mouse drew our family in once when I was five, but we were deterred from ever going back again because of the heavy crowds.


L.A. is probably one of the last places I thought I’d relocate. Heck, the United States is far down my list of countries to live in my 20’s. Then again, a baby is one of the last things I wanted in my 20’s too. But now I’ve got Jojo, and she makes me ooze of happiness. And while Chris and I still dream of living and working in Istanbul (and we will – just wait!) developing stability in ourselves, enough for Jojo to grow in a healthy and loving environment, is our most important shared responsibility. For us, that means staying put for a couple of years while we not only make strides in our professional paths, but provide Jojo with great care and attention.

So, out of tremendous generosity from our family, circumstance and strategic planning, Chris, Jo and I are calling the city of angels our home for the next 2 years. A new city, a new home, a new family – it is the perfect recipe for adventure. In the few months our family has been down here, we’ve had the privilege of spending quality time with family and taking strolls through notable places like Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach. There are still many more hikes, restaurants, sporting events, concert venues, beaches… the possibilities are almost endless here. The world is very much our oyster. The Bay Area is a short plane ride away, but I’ve come to realize the notion of ‘home’ has kind of transformed itself to wherever my family is near to enjoy life with, and adventure starts with us. 

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Like Father, Like Daughter Pt. 1

Hats, Pacifiers, props, beards – doesn’t matter what it is, Chris will go out of his way to find it (or grow it) for what he thinks is the perfect picture with Jojo. In her 5 months of life, we’ve managed to collect a series of photos that reflect Chris’s goofy nature and Jojo’s infant ignorant bliss. (Who knows what she’ll think 16 years from now.) We’re admittedly those parents who chronically take pictures of their baby doing things like suck their toes and post it. Some people actually like it, and those people have given Chris a shameless photo taking hobby.

I’ve asked Chris to share the best of the best and even title them, so here’s what we’ve come up with:

Baby Moose
Lunch
Father With Baby at Hip (taken on UCLA’s campus)
Keep The Mustache Fashionable
Chess
Santa and His Elf

You can be rest assured that these pictures will not cease. To get a real time update of Chris’s fatherly photo shenanigans, follow him on Instagram at handle @jo__daddy, and/or me at @getlo_ree. Thanks for humoring us, until the next batch of photos!

I Haven’t Worn Jeans In Over 9 Months

Exactly one year ago, I walked into a Topshop store in Manila and walked out with a new, high-waisted  pair of skinny corduroys that fit perfectly on my petite frame. Coming back from a summer full of hiking and running miles in sauna-like weather (a.k.a. Houston in July) along with my newly adapted Korean diet of fish and greens, I was enjoying what I felt to be the best shape I’d been since early high school. About 10 weeks pregnant at the time, I knew I only had a small window of time to enjoy those corduroys.

A few months later I found myself trying to squeeze into those corduroys by using a hairtie to loop through the hole and around the button. It worked for a bit, but sure enough my belly protruded beyond the limits of the poor hairtie. It finally snapped. I had to face the reality of the growing person in my belly and put the pants aside for the time being. 

Today, the green corduroys sit in a vacuum sealed bag in the closet waiting patiently for a comeback. As I look at these pants, I muse – I haven’t worn a pair of jeans in over 9 months since I left work in Korea. Jojo is going to be 5 months old next week, and while many moms by this time might fit snugly in their pre-pregnancy clothing or might altogether have a new wardrobe (I wish!), I cycle between my maternity jeggings and elastic band sweats. They’re just so dang comfy. 

But I like those green cords so much that I’ve made it a personal goal to fit back into them by spring time. Now as I think about this goal I’ve set, I look at the silver lines across my belly, the pouch that emerges when I sit down, and the extra curve on my hips. I sorely miss the unmarked body I had just a year ago, and the doubt seeps in. 

Then I remind myself that this new body of mine bears badges of motherhood of which I should be proud. My tiny 4’11” frame gained a healthy 30 lbs that I waddled around with the entire summer, and Jojo popped out nice and healthy right on her due date. But there were times at 8 months pregnant where all of my energy was consumed in kicking up my feet and trying really hard not to sweat in uncomfortable places. Growing life and bringing it into this world is no easy task. It’s actually Pretty. Freaking. Hard. I don’t think it’s necessary to illustrate what happens in the delivery room, but you can use your imagination. I applaud the female body for being able to do what it does. As gross and heavy and dreadful it may be, both before and after birth, it really is spectacular to look at your child and know that you played an integral role in his/her existence.

So if I, both mentally and physically, could grow and push out a little person, I surely can and will hike mountains and run miles again. I may or may not fit into those high-waisted skinny green corduroys, but I might treat myself and buy a new pair of jeans altogether. Regardless, I feel good about my new body and all it’s been through and all it will go through, stretchmarks and hips and everything. 

The "Short and Sweet" 2013 Wrap Up

I entered 2013 knowing it was going to be the most transformative year of my young life. Chris and I had to put our wanderlust shoes aside for the time being and focus on the new life we’d be ushering into this crazy world. As difficult as it was for me, resigning from my teaching position in South Korea and moving back home was actually the easy part. The hard part would come in a 6 lb, 14 oz package attached to an umbilical cord on the evening of August 15.

Nothing anyone can tell you can truly prepare you for the challenges parenthood will bring. I thought I knew about the sleep deprivation and the crying and the never having time for anything, but once I was in the midst of things, I felt a little insane
. Still kind of do. By the same token, no one can truly describe to you the deep sense of fulfillment and joy that comes with making your baby giggle for the first time. My heart never melted the way it did when Jo laughed at my peek-a-boo attempts.


Enter 2014 – our lives are quite different, and will keep changing as our 4-month-old grows out of infancy and becomes a toddler, then a kid, then a teenager (Lord, be with us…) and so on. I am confident that one day, maybe soon, we’ll get to dust off our wanderlust shoes and put them on again – 
this time with a smaller pair for the little one.

Here’s to 2014, more blog posts and adventures ~ Cheers!