Friday, May 29, 2015

big trees, cousins, barf, and new car

That pretty much sums up our Memorial Day. We headed down to Fresno on Friday night after Little Miss J's t-ball game. We thought that the kids would sleep the whole way down. Little Miss J, who was beyond excited to be going on a trip, promptly fell asleep. J2 fell asleep shortly thereafter, but then cough, cough, cough, BARF. So disgusting. He was cleaned off, much to his dismay and mine, in a Taco Bell bathroom next to a Kmart (the first Kmart I think I have seen in CA) where I seriously considered patronizing to buy new car seat, rather than clean off the gigantic chunks. I may or may not have thrown up a little in my mouth just writing this. After the incident, J2 remained awake the rest of the way and didn't fall asleep until about 10:00 p.m. Talk about your ultimate backfire.

We got up early on Saturday and headed to Mariposa Grove of Trees to see the giant sequoias. It was so beautiful. The trees were BIG!

big tree
bigger tree
chunglunds in a tree
We took this action shot to help us get energized for the last 0.3 miles up to the Fallen Tunnel Tree.

I hiked 2.5 miles up for this?
J2 had a luxurious ride both up and back in the carrier. So comfortable that he managed a little nap on the way down.

hiking is hard

On Sunday we headed over to my cousin's house where we brunched and lounged in the sun. These four nice adults (my cousins' kids) played endless rounds of Uno with Little Miss J and helped keep J2 entertained.



more cousins
Finally, on Monday, armed with a list of every SUV that has third row seating, we started making the rounds to the car dealerships. I drove many cars, listened to many salespeople (who were in fact all salesmen), and after a beer with lunch we bought a new car! Bye bye hybrid that got 40 mpg. *tear*

And that was Memorial Day weekend Chunglund style. Bring on summer!

Friday, May 22, 2015

a life that's good

I've been binge watching Nashville, in case you couldn't tell from the title of this post.

Mother's Day. It was a good day. I joked that I wanted ALL the things for Mother's Day - a day off from parenting, sleeping in, etc. and maybe something sparkly. But really, all I want is to spend time with my family. Those two kids that drive me crazy one minute are the two people that fill my heart with joy and love the next.

We went to church. 

We got some takeout brunch from Ettore's because no sane person wants to take J2 to a restaurant these days. 

Gus's parents came over for brunch. I tried that thing floating around in Pinterest where you put the hashbrowns in the waffle iron. It wasn't an epic fail, but I wouldn't say it was wildly successful. It took forever for if to cook, but once it was finally cooked it was pretty tasty.

Then we took the kids to Funderland where I took one for the Chunglund team, since moms got a free wristband, and rode ALL the rides, including teacups.

This was the first time J2 has gotten to ride anything by himself. To say he liked it would be an understatement of epic proportion. 

"fishy, one more!"
And that was Mother's Day. Aside from the fruit tart from Ettore's, it felt largely like any other day, which as it turns out I'm more than OK with. Maybe I didn't get breakfast in bed, but on any given Saturday, it's Gus and not me, making the entire family breakfast in the morning. It's actually not uncommon that by Sunday afternoon I'm exhausted and Gus will entertain the kids for an hour so I can nap. Maybe I didn't get a card on Mother's Day or something sparkly, but if my Mother's Day was any ordinary day, then I have a life that's good.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

we love you coachie

My friend, Beth, texted me with the news yesterday morning. Mr. Rodby, our beloved, high school swim coach had passed away. I have to admit, it certainly made me sadder than I would have expected. I grew up in Eveleth and all my favorite high school moments happened there. When I graduated and left, time just stopped there. The little town where I grew up, where if you were Asian you were probably adopted and had white parents, is forever in my mind exactly the same as when I left it. I don't get back often enough for my paradigm to shift. In that world, Coach Rodby is the head swimming coach in perpetuity.

When you are in junior high and high school, your teachers are kind of just "old" to you already so it's hard to imagine that they actually get older. This is evidenced by the fact that when I see former teachers, they still look the same way that I remember them. Any former teachers reading this will have to take that for what it's worth - it is, of course, meant to be a compliment. But, time marches on. Kids grow up and have kids. People get older. Things change. These days my first elementary school crush coaches the hockey games I used to cheerlead at and one of my very first "Gilbert" friends refs the swim meets I used to swim at. Losing Coach Rodby definitely puts a tiny crack in the image that Eveleth has been frozen in time just as I left it. 

I spent most of my junior high and high school career smelling like chlorine. I grew up in that tiny 20 yard pool with girls, who to this day, are some of my closest friends. One of whom is even the godmother of my daughter. I walked into that tiny pool a few weeks into 7th grade, a bit confused about having to swim a 5-length 100 and dive off the wall for the relay, but eager to swim nonetheless. That eagerness never left me. I have always loved swimming. Not just the act itself, but the friendships and camaraderie that develops from morning practices, long bus rides, secret swimmers and weekends spent together at swim meets. We kicked butt, hauled some ass, got disqualified, cried, or set a PR and cheered. Each of us had a nemesis from a rival team, and while I will refrain from naming names to protect all parties involved - those of you who know, KNOW what I'm talking about. We each had our own psych song and you could often hear "Eye of the Tiger" blaring from our yellow school bus. I will always have a special place in my heart for these women, with whom I've shared at least a pool-ful of tears from both happiness and sadness.

the last supper
Rach imparting words of wisdom
to the underclassmen
Cocah Rodby was special to us, in a way that makes us think we were a greatest generation of sorts. We can't imagine there was a group of swimmers better than us. But we were just girls, who swam and dove and eventually graduated to move onto to other things. There were girls before us and after us. Coach probably had faster, tougher and less obnoxious girls than us. Records we set have since been broken - although we may go down in history for the skinny dipping incident. We were just a splash in his long and successful coaching and teaching career. I am grateful for being one of his swimmers. I am grateful for all the opportunities Coach Rodby gave me to succeed, to love a sport that will last me a lifetime (and a skill that will save me from drowning!), and to have been able to share it with some incredible people. 

Coach Rodby, you were many things to many people and will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know you! You were truly a saint for putting up with all the teenage girl drama, the long bus rides, the singing, and the early early mornings. We love you coachie! 

Friday, May 8, 2015


I posted those pictures of my mom yesterday because I simply didn't have words. I tried, but all I really had was a red blotchy face ugly cry. Today I realized that it will be 14 years this October since we lost my mom. I say "we" because this was a woman who was not only my favorite mom, but a favorite aunt, favorite friend, favorite wife, and favorite grandma. She was truly special to everyone who knew her. In October 2001, I was only 22 years old, grown but not a grown up. Then it dawned on me that at some point the number of years without her is going to surpass the number of years I had with her, and that was a heartbreaking thought.

I really hate to think about a life without her, but over the past 14 years my life has marched right along. Milestones have come and gone without her being there. She wasn't there to see me graduate from law school. She wasn't there to see me marry Gus. To be fair, no one was there. We got married at the drive-thru chapel in Las Vegas. Well, I guess the Lerouxs were in Las Vegas at the time, but that was purely coincidence and they weren't all squished up in the backseat of the car as witnesses. She didn't get to see my beautiful, funny, little munchkins, which is the one thing that leaves me the most heartsick. There are few people I know that loved a chubby Asian baby more than my mom. 

I guess I feel almost panicked that my life will become so full and so big that it will somehow overshadow the time that we had together. In a few years I will be 40 and it will mean that I only had a mom for a little over half of my lifetime, and that number will continue to dwindle as I age. I realize this isn't a completely rational thought, but I imagine you don't read this blog for my well-reasoned and deductive thought process. 

I'd like to tell you that it gets better, but I'm not altogether certain that it does. Remembering her provides a certain level of solace, but also an immeasurable sadness because you just want something that there is no way you can have, no matter how hard you try. It's not a matter of working harder, reading up on it, or learning more. It's just not going to happen, and when the gravity of that hits you again sometimes you just need a good ugly cry. 

I know the importance of her in my life is not measured by the time we spent together. She continues to have impact on my life every single day. She continues to be my role model as the best mom I have ever known. I make a point of doing certain things with my daughter, like piano lessons, baking cookies, mommy-daughter outings, things that I fondly remember doing with my own mom. A picture of my mom and me from my college graduation sits on my dresser, and as Little Miss J so aptly (and helpfully) points out, "That's your mom, she's dead."

Although sometimes, Little Miss J will say, "That's Grandma Jean. She would have really loved me, right?" Yes, my dear sweet girl. Grandma Jean would have loved you and your brother to pieces.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015