To Juju – A long overdue answer to your question.

I recently checked my hmongloveskorean@gmail.com inbox to discover an email request and question from April 2017.

The email from one Juju reads:  Is it possible to see a picture of you and your husband? Also, how and where did you and your husband met?

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There’s not much to look at regarding myself and my husband. Just ordinary people. Since the email did ask politely, I will oblige. There you are! Just another Asian couple.

Regarding our meeting, it would be such a long story which involved social parties, spirits, serendipity and a scene from “It Started with a Kiss”.

To this day, my sister and our friend always lay claim to getting us together. The short version of our meeting: The friend, who was her classmate at the time, invited her to a social party. She took her best friend and myself along and the rest is history.

 

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I am a refugee

I was born in Laos and was a refugee at the young age of 2 months old.
As a refugee, I find myself being sympathetic to the Syrian refugees and refugees in general. I’m sure I may get some heat for saying that I am sympathetic. I know that there is a lot of fear and hate out there against the refugees.
The Hmong went through the same thing. We were refugees during a time when Communism was the biggest world threat. My father said that in the Thai refugee camps, when they screened you to be approved for immigrating to the United States or other countries, you are subjected to a series of interrogation interviews to make sure you have no communist ties. He was afraid that just one wrong word would deny his family the chance to go to America.

The Hmong lived, were born, and died in the Thai refugee camps. My brother was born there. I almost lost my life there. It’s one of the “almost” tragic story that my parents tell me all the time. We lived in the refugee camps for three years before being approved to immigrate to the United States.
I don’t see the Syrian refugees as economic immigrants or terrorist. Back then, no one wanted the Hmong or millions of refugees fleeing Southeast Asia after the United States pulled out. Just as the present mirrors the past, there were Americans who feared that a communist spy would hide among us and threaten the security of the United States. For those who did not live through that time or do not remember, fear of communism was real!
Many refugees leave their homes as a last resort, risking their lives for a chance at surviving. Who wants their child to grow up, surrounded by death, a crumbling homeland, war and bombs? Who wants to put their child in danger, going on an arduous journey, one in which the parent risks losing their child and their own lives? Staying to die is worse than fleeing to die.
My parents had to make that tough decision for me and my older siblings when Laos fell to the communist Pathet Lao. They trekked through the jungles of Laos, with only sandals on their feet, a bag of rice, dragging three little ones for 2 months to reach Thailand during the monsoon season. My mother tells me that for some odd and merciful reason, I was a quiet baby even though I got wet from the rain. Many crying babies were either abandoned in the jungle or given opium to silence their cries since they were a security risk. My parents didn’t have to make that decision because I cooperated in keeping silent. My family was able to make the journey in secret without attracting the Pathet Lao solders until we reached the Mekong River. That is another story for another day, if anyone is interested.
Like the Syrian refugees, many Hmong died while fleeing persecution in Laos. What did the Hmong do to earn the wraith of the new government in power? We sided with the Lao royal family and one of the biggest superpower in the world, the United States, in their fight against communism in Southeast Asia. It is sad that most Americans do not know who the Hmong are and what they have done for the United States; not just the Hmong but awareness for the Laotians and other ethnic minorities in Laos who helped the United States. Even though the United States lost the war, it does not diminish the fact that the Hmong and other Southeast Asians gave their lives for the United States. Like so many things the CIA secretly did, our tale in the history books is left out and whoever controls the past, controls the present and future.
I can’t watch the current events about Syrian refugees and those who are still stuck in Aleppo without losing my composure. It brings forth too many feelings and memories about a sad history in my people’s past. I feel the Syrian people’s anguish, hopelessness, anger, and confusion. I may have been only 2 months old when I left as a refugee but it still marks me to this day. I grew up anxiously waiting for news of family who were approved to come to the United States, dreading the news of those, who I’ve never met, dying at the hands of Pathet Lao solders, and sadly hearing the passing of those who died of disease in the refugee camps. I saw the sorrow in my parents’ eyes when someone passed away. I also saw the joy when my parents meet family again at the airport after years apart. Only my father, three brothers, and three half-sisters survived the war out of the 23 siblings he had. (My grandfather had two wives since the Hmong practices polygamy.)
I look at my carefree boys and know that they will have to shoulder the painful past of both heritage, Hmong and Korean.

Cheese Roll

For all the variety of foods that my husband makes for the oldest, Leminkin, my son still sticks to noodles and rice with broth as his go to food. Leminkin is a picky baby and will instantly spit out food he doesn’t want to eat, especially if the taste is new and exotic for him.

Last night, Leminkin didn’t want to eat anything on his plate. He kept spitting it out. My husband tried giving him soup with rice, his favorite but Leminkin did not want leftover soup from lunch time. My husband decided to make miniature maki rolls made of rice and cheese, rolled in nori (toasted seaweed wrap). For me, it’s a strange combination  but then a maki roll (Korean sushi) is not a Hmong food so I can’t judge in that area.

Surprisingly, he enjoyed the mini rice and cheese maki roll and asked for more. I tried the maki roll and it tasted strangely good with the salty cheese mix.

My husband likes introducing Leminkin to new food because the worse thing that can happen is that Leminkin doesn’t like it. If we don’t give him the opportunity to try, we won’t know if he might like it.

Here’s to cheese maki roll!  A winner for a picky baby.

2 Year Hiatus – What Happened!

When my husband and I married, we had this unspoken understanding that we didn’t have this urgent need to reproduce and have offsprings. I had a family history of females on my side having difficulty getting pregnant. After five years together, I came to the conclusion that I was barren. My husband gleefully didn’t care. He would be my man-child. I too didn’t really care. I had been taking care of baby cousins, nieces and nephews from a young age. The thought of not being able to say, “Go to your mom,” was frightening. I didn’t want to have that responsibility. I can’t even take care of a plant without it dying, how can I care for a helpless tiny human being.

The universe likes to play tricks on us. It gave us a son two years ago. It was a total shock and we were both unprepared for it mentally.  The universe humored us with another son 14 months later.

Leminkin is 20 months old and L.Bird is 6 months old. L&L for short.

Yes, they are cute and do the most adorable things but also throw the usual tantrums. I have not had any good sleep since three years ago. As a full-time working mom, I know no rest and it has aged me by 10 years in just three years. My night rest is usually interrupted by one of the babies wanting something, a bottle, a hug, a cuddle or reassurance that I’m there.

I appreciate that my husband does all the grocery shopping, meal planning, and food preparation. Even if he doesn’t take care of the kids when I get home, I’m glad that we are both carrying shared responsibilities.

My husband took to having kids harder than I did. Tantrums, excess crying, screaming, toys everywhere, broken man-toys, and the huge expenses of having kids. He’s warmed up to them, mainly Leminkin, now that he is somewhat independent and can communicate a little.

The next few blogs will be dedicated to the differences between our two cultures regarding pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and child rearing. Things I experienced in the past two years of my hiatus from blogging.

 

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L&L – Getting to know the love/hate relationships of having a sibling. Leminkin wanted to give L.Bird a hug and kiss on the head but L.Bird was having none of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korean husband’s comment on CD and Satellite Radio

My husband is sometimes old fashion. This is his take on CD and Satellite Radio.

A personalized CD is like a bento box.
You have all these great side dishes. When you make one later, it brings back memories.

Satellite radio is like a chinese buffet.
You stuff yourself until you are full but then its an overload. You leave feeling empty.

He got approved!

Just wanted to update that my dorky Korean husband finally got his permanent resident green card approved. He has 10 years to go before either renewing it or trying for citizenship.

Either way, he’s just happy that he doesn’t have to worry about us having to go back to South Korea if his green card didn’t get approved. I’m sure I could adapt to Seoul since there is a large Western international community of expats there already. He doesn’t want to go back because he has come to love the laid back atmosphere of the Midwest and its wide open spaces. He’s so American now!

🙂 This Hmong wife is happy. I hate moving!!!

Korean Husband & Hmong Wife: Missing everything you need outside your door

I wanted to see an aerial view of my in-law’s house from Google, but the quality was very low so my husband went on to Naver (the Korean “Google”). Not only did they have a high quality aerial view, they had street views too.

He shouldn’t have shown me the street views. Looking at the street views made me miss his parents and the neighborhood. I also miss the convenience of just stepping out and getting anything I needed on that small street full of tiny shops.

(All the pictures below are from Naver.)

Korean husband and Hmong wife: skin care shop outside parent's house

Skin care spa/store. This is literally across the street from his parents. The 2 times that I’ve been in Korea, I have not muster the courage to step in and get a facial or look at their skin care.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: hair salon and pizza parlor

A hair salon next to a pizza restaurant. Two doors down is a photo studio that is not in the picture.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: butcher store

Butcher store? I remember seeing meat in the window.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: seafood restaurant

Seafood store and restaurant. I think the picture was taken in the early morning. She usually has the tables out and the water tank filled with sea creatures by afternoon.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: mini stores

Miniature “staples” type store that sells stationary, pens, papers, office supplies, etc.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: convenience store

A -The 24 hour convenience store. That is my favorite place. Don’t need to pack any necessities (toothbrush, toothpaste, facial products, makeup, soap, etc.) when traveling to Korea. They sell necessities in “travel sizes”. Plus they have yummy food and drinks. We would stop there every morning and every night. You can also buy, cook, and eat your instant noodles there. B – Very tiny flower shop. C – Cafe shop. Cafes are very popular in Korea. In just that one block, there are three other cafes.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: more stores

A – The convenience store. B- Small grocery store. They have a fresh fruit/veggie stand outside.  C – Optical Store. Not shown – Across the street is a pharmacy, clinic, pool table hall, internet cafe, and barbecue restaurant in a multi-level building.

Korean husband and Hmong wife: bolo bakery store

My husband had to tell me to control myself at the Bolo Bakery, much to the dismay of the worker there. The quality of bakeries in Korea are unparalleled. The style is more European/French. I couldn’t get enough of the macaroons at the bakery…. *sigh 😦  They were soft, light, with just the right amount of filling. Where I live, its hard to find good macaroons.

 

In Korea, I love the convenience of stepping out of the house and two houses down, I can pick up dinner or relax at the corner cafe. I made stir-fry pork with bok choy for his parents one day and it took me less than 10 minutes to go to the local grocery store, get my food ingredients and come to their house. Prices were comparable to larger superstores. Plus, all the walking is exercise.

Miss that part of Korea.

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