Mishy jumping from bed to bed in our Toronto hotel.

I am sitting in a hotel room in Montreal while my husband and daughter are fast asleep. It is 1:13AM and I am thinking – what I am doing with my life? We’ve been in Canada, where my current citizenship is, for almost five days now. It feels like I have been on this trip for longer. We first stopped off in Toronto to see my family – my mother, father, oldest sister and her long time boyfriend. My father is going through a transition, having recently sold his business. He is in between jobs. Though he is past the age of retirement, he will never retire and has another job lined up. My sister, who is an actuary, told me most retirees get depressed after six months of retirement. My father will never get depressed. At least not from retiring. He has a need to keep the American Dream alive.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if we stayed in Korea. Of course, nothing is a better life without my daughter – yet, I do think about choices we make and choices we had no control over or say. My first memory is of me waking up in the middle of the night. It is our first night in Toronto and I cannot sleep. I remember my uncle’s brown sofa and how ugly I think it is. Where’s the color? I wake my oldest sister up because I want to go back home. She tells me we are home and it doesn’t make sense. I stare at the brown sofa for what feels like a long time while I hear my sister progressively breathing deeper. I just want to go back home. That was my first heartbreak. I don’t know if we ever get over our first heartbreak? Maybe through tears? Over and over again?

Mishy with my oldest sister, the actuary.

My sister and my daughter adore each other. My daughter couldn’t stop holding her hand or wanting my sister to carry her or kiss my sister or tell her to give her airplane rides or jump on the bed with my sister. We had two double beds in our hotel room in Toronto and my daughter instantly made up the game of jumping from one to another. They were spaced over two feet apart. My husband likes to call my daughter a dare-devil. To me, she’s a toddler. My daughter showed my sister how to jump from bed to bed – by balancing on one end and then jumping and rolling. My sister remarked how much weight my daughter must have on her head because of the way she rolled on the bed, while I was watching closely to make sure she was safe – the differences in observations an aunt makes as opposed to a mother. My sister doesn’t have any children of her own right now. She has already done her share in raising them – me and my middle sister. We live 3000 miles away. It’s hard for family to be so far apart. I know. I always wished for family – a large extended family who would relieve my mother’s burden of caring for three young children only 2.5 years apart.

In Montreal, I am not a part of my husband’s family. Despite being with him for 14 years, they do not know me and I do not know them. Maybe like family, we don’t really like each other. They put up with me because I married their son, grandson, nephew, cousin, etc. and now I am the mother of their great-granddaughter, granddaughter and I put up with them because they brought my husband into this world, or helped raise him, or grew up with him. While everyone talked, I was alone. There were 34 people at dinner and aside from playing with my daughter, I spent most of my time talking to a stranger I had just met, a family friend who was interested in finding a place to stay while she visited Santa Monica in the summer.

I wish I could give the gift of a larger family to my daughter for longer periods of time. I wish I could start trusting my mother-in-law again. Prior to me becoming pregnant, we were very close and then I became pregnant and things changed. After I gave birth, a lot of things were said and done and it made me believe the person I had known before was false and only befriended me because she was scared she was going to lose her son. A psychiatrist told me my mother-in-law has deep issues which will never be resolved because she does not want to investigate. A mediator told me she is in a place of pain and while forgiveness is not the answer, acceptance is. Do I accept my mother-in-law for all her faults and her inability to take any sort of responsibility? Clearly, I am not in an emotional place to accept right now. Maybe it’s because I have the thought in my head that she secretly wants to destroy my marriage so she can have her son back. She has a history of having family members take sides and during the first two years of my daughter’s life – she made it very clear she was on a focused desire to turn his family against me one by one. That is my opinion. To many times I remember coming home to my husband in a yelling match with yet another relative in the early months of our daughter’s life.

So here I am with a daughter I adore and a husband who loves me and an older sister who is loving to my daughter and whom my daughter adores. Perhaps that is what I will focus on and everything else will fall into place – including what am I doing with my life? Or maybe the question is – what will I do with my life? Now that my daughter is getting older and needs me less – needs me in the sense of the first three years when she needed me every second. Now, she plays by herself and motherhood has become, well, less exhausting. Maybe it’s time for me to return to my writing. My creative writing of plays and screenplays and make a mark for myself outside of motherhood. There – I am declaring it to the world – I am going to return to writing – not just writing on the blog – but writing to explore, to let go and live – in a different way that is so fun and freeing and sometimes so hard to start. Just begin. Just begin. Just begin.

Cowboy Festival Giveaway

April 18, 2011

The Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is once again coming to Melody Ranch™ Motion Picture Studio and other venues throughout Santa Clarita. Saddle up and step back to a simpler time of chaps, saddles and old-time saloons. This year’s festival will include a mix of new attractions and returning favorites, including dutch oven peach cobbler, trick ropers, authentic gear and a show stopping musical talent lineup.

Festival guests can expect to see some of the Cowboy Festival’s most beloved returningperformers. Grammy nominated singer-guitarist Don Edwards will hit the stage, as well as Hot Club of Cowtown and Wylie and the Wild West. The Sons of the San Joaquin will also head back to the Cowboy Festival in 2011, entertaining guests with their fantastic Western harmonies.

In addition to the list of musical performances, guests can expect the full Cowboy Festival experience. Fun activities are set to take place for guests of all ages, including living history exhibits and leatherworking for children. Multicultural entertainment will also make its return to the Cowboy Festival. Enjoy North American Indian performances by the Eagle Sprit Dancers, accurate portrayals of Civil War era music by The Band of the California Battalion, and authentic Hispanic cultural performances.

As always, the Cowboy Festival will feature the best in Western gear, food, clothing, and living history exhibits.

*Natural Traveling Momma is excited to be giving away 4 all day passes to attend The Cowboy Festival on your date of choice – either Saturday, April 30th or Sunday, May 1st, 2011. These four tickets have a total retail value of $120. To enter, please comment below. For an additional entry, click on the link about The Cowboy Festival and make an additional comment on this blog page. The giveaway ends on April 25th, 2011 at 5PM. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Lori! You’ve won the four tickets to attend the Cowboy Festival!

Cowboy Festival

http://www.cowboyfestival.org/

I was recently given a copy of Scholastic Book Treasures, Tikki Tikki Tembo and More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage, to review in anticipation of celebrating Asian Heritage Month, which is in May. I was especially interested in watching these stories with my daughter, who is half Asian. While both my daughter and I have consistently enjoyed viewing  Scholastic Book Treasures DVD collection for their entertainment and educational qualities, I was surprisingly touched by this collection.

Here is a summary of our favorite stories in this collection.

The Journey Of My Grandfather, written and illustrated by Allen Say, reminded me of my journey of identity in the two worlds I had considered “home” during my formative years. I came to Canada when I was 2.5 years old and when I was 19 years old, I visited Korea for the first time since my immigration. In Korean, little things fit – the juices and snacks came in smaller containers, and of course, the clothes fit. Yet, everywhere I went, Korean shop owners asked me if I was Japanese. They said while I looked Korean, there was something different about me. And when I returned back “home” to Canada, I still continued to feel something was missing. In Korea, I was homesick for the country I left and in Canada, I was not completely at home. The Journey Of My Grandfather is a much more uplifting story than mine – it simply tells a story of how a man and subsequent generations of his family find their home.

My daughter has enjoyed The Stonecutter, written and illustrated by Gerald McDermott for a couple of years. This version features the same illustrations and bold adaptation of this Japanese folk tale about a stonecutter’s wish to become more powerful. Mishy was fascinated to see the story re-told.

After we first played Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China, my daughter wanted me to play it again and again. She loved the story of the three sisters who out-wit a wolf while their mother goes to visit their grandmother. Since I am the youngest of three daughters, it reminded me of the many times my oldest sister was left in charge while my parents were away.

Tikki Tikki Tembo and More More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage features stories by Allen Say, Karen Chinn, Gerald McDermott, Katherine Paterson, Ed Young, and Arlene Mosel with work by illustrators, Allen Say, Gerald Mc Dermott, Ed Young, Blair Lent, Leo & Diane Dillo, Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. The stores are narrated by Ming-Na Wen and B.B. Wong.

*Natural Traveling Momma is excited to giveaway one copy to a lucky reader of Tikki Tikki Tembo and More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage. To enter, please comment below. For an additional entry, please click on the link below and once again comment below. This giveaway ends on April 30th, 2011 at 5PM. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Sarvi!

Details:

Tikki Tikki Tembo and More Stories to Celebrate Asian Heritage

http://www.newkideo.com/scholastic/tikki-tikki-tembo-and-more-favorite-tales/