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Saturday
Feb012014

Chuc Mung Nam Moi

Happy Year of the Horse! This is my year! If you're at all familiar with the Chinese calendar, you'll quickly be able to figure out which birthday I'm celebrating this year. Yep, 24!

Has it legit been a MONTH since I last posted? Bad Vicky. 

Let's get caught up.

Still investigating: Despite the best efforts of overly paranoid public information officers who oddly, and despite their job titles, seem to be less interested in the "public" and "information" parts of their titles and much more hyperactive about the "officer" aspect. As in, they really want you to "respect my authoritaaaaa" instead of facilitating the free and open records process that the public is entitled to. That will continue to be a challenge in 2014. Let this be an invitation to all PIO's--let's get a coffee. Let's you and me talk about your goals, my goals, and the public service that is journalism. At the very least, you'll get a free cappucino out of this and perhaps you can also vent and tell me your journalist pet peeves and I will try not to commit said offenses.

Still parenting: Kindergarten is RIGHT around the corner. It's unbelievable. TB tests scheduled, tours completed, vice grip on Emmy not ready to loosen. Seeing the row of backpacks outside the classroom, the little heads bowed over worksheets, the bigger kids on the playground--I am not cool with this, people. There's way too much growing up happening way too quickly. What is the point of having kids if you can't just freeze the cuteness in a time capsule and slow it way down and control everything forever? #Iknowthisiscrazytalk

Suddenly awards mongering: Certain work people who shall remain unnamed have whipped me into an awards entering frenzy. As I've begun to understand, investigative reporters really pride themselves on winning things. Exposing wrongdoing, uncovering corruption, changing lives and laws is what they do, and really, it's more than enough and quite admirable. Two years into full time investigative reporting, I am energized, challenged, and still on a steep learning curve, working on my patience and surveillance and research skills. 2013 brought some amazing opportunities to do meaningful work and work with meaningful people. I am nowhere near feeling like an expert but I am proud enough of the team work that went into our reporting to submit it for consideration in a few national and regional awards contest. By a few I mean 8 million. It felt like most of my weekends and evenings for the first part of January were dedicated to writing cover letters, answering questionnaires, compressing video files, uploading YouTube links, burning DVDs, and collating binders full of articles. Apparently during awards season, some stations and networks actually hire professionals to do this work. I now see why. It is consuming. And stressful! The Good Doctor has had to listen to me ask about the odds of winning every which way. I think he just throws percentages out there to silence me. Can't say I blame him. There's a scale for levels of Annoying Vicky and Awards Vicky is full blown off the charts.

Deep breath. Only a couple more contests to enter and then Zen. I will effort to forget about everything until hopefully someone texts me with good news. That's really the best way to get an awards notification. Not via Outlook or Gmail Calendar reminders, but when your phone dings and someone sends you five "WTF" messages and finally says, "We won!" 

As you can see by the 17 names on each my entries, investigative journalism really takes a team of people and it's rewarding to celebrate together. Plus, a little luck never hurts. As Garvin says, you need good stuff to win, but good stuff doesn't always win. 

Deep exhale. Getting into the groove of 2014. Hope yours is full of health and happiness--the two awards that really matter in the contest of life.

Saturday
Dec212013

Memo to Odessa: 21.5 Months

Omessa,

You are growing cuter and smarter by the day. I feel so remiss for not updating this memo sooner. But I've been taking notes ma'am. You have this raspy little voice and adorable bashful grin that's somehow mischievous at the same time. 

You talk so much now. Lots of questions and phrases. "Hello Emmy/Tofu/Romeo." "What dat sound?" "What's his name?" "Where's Gramma?" "It smells good." It is seriously one of the best feelings of the parenthood experience when you hear your baby come up with her own questions and ideas. You still say Meema and Poopa but now you can say Gramma and Grampa. It doesn't matter what you call them, they answer to all your demands. 

You're smart. You know that when you climb over the makeshift ottoman/outdoor cushion barricade that we've propped up as a baby gate, you call for help by notifying Gramma that you've breached the security system. You don't hesitate in the face of danger but you always sound the alarm before things get too dangerous.

Your Vietnamese is excellent! You know so many words and phrases in both languages and you know who to use them with. Your Vietnamese is already way better than Daddy's. Good job Meema.

You play well by yourself and just this weekend, I watched you and Emmy play together where she directed you and you actually listened and there was no biting or hitting attempts involved. A preview into the future I hope. 

You can answer our questions about whether you napped or if you have to poop. This is major. Over the past 3 months, you've rarely pooped in a diaper. Hallelujah!

"I reading!" "I eating!" "I sleepy." "I 'wake!" "I boreddd." "I hungry." You've pretty much gotten the "me" and "you" concept. Except for when it comes to being picked up.

"Mommy carry you?" Emmy said this when she was your age too. Instead of saying, "Carry me," you've heard us say "You want me to carry you?" so much you've abbreviated it to just raising your arms and saying, "Carry you?" Or else it's just, "Gramma, gramma, gramma, gramma, gramma," Or, "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." Or, "Daddee, daddee, daaaadeeee." You're very persistent and other than how heavy you are, it's quite satisying to "carry you." You give big hugs and wrap your arms and legs around us. You lean your big noggin into my neck and I can just kiss your fat puffy cheeks and breathe in your wispy hair. Definitely worth the price of admission. 

 

You've also encountered your first major illness. Poor baby. "I barf. I barf." You had a terrible phlegmy cough and your coughing would sometimes get you so worked up you would throw up. Then you got better. Then Emmy got sick. Then you got PNEUMONIA. PNEUMONIA!!!!!!! Miserable, cranky, achy. Thankfully it is not contagious but we're downing the Costco bottles of Airborne anyway. Children are germ factories.

You've been mostly a trooper through the whole thing. You love to snuggle and listen to Daddy's lullabies. It's the most still you've been since you started walking. You walked around saying, "I need help. I need helllpppp," in a froggy voice. And "Boogers. Help. I have boogers." Pretty heartwrenching. Mostly you're OK with us using the greatest invention ever to suck your snot out. The satisfaction of getting a tubeful of mucus out of your child's nose is pretty unparalleled.

You're bouncing back now thanks to your antibiotics "yogurt."

Whenever we tell you to be careful or be gentle, you say, "I know. I know." Or "All right, all right." Lucky for you, those gapped front teeth and chubby cheeks still allow you to be adorable enough to be excused for your apparent disregard for authority.

You have little swatty hands and kicky feet that we still have to remind you to keep to yourself when you try to hit Emmy unprovoked. The pneumonia has you especially aggro. Which reminds me of a time when I told Daddy not to be so aggro and you repeated, "Daddy no aggro." Your comic timing is excellent for a not yet 2 year old.

In summary, we enjoy you and your little antics so much. You are a fearless sidekick with your "Oh la la" exclamations and your husky baritone "Hello" when you're doing the voice of a "boy" stuffed animal.

You're full of hijinks and always asking to see the Ylvis video. "What the fox say?" We love you little Dessy. 

Mama and Papa

Saturday
Dec212013

Merry Christmas 2013!

There was no way we could live up to last year's card, and to do a video card like this one would probably also require me to get a vasectomy and quit my job, so we present you with this year's holiday sparkler card:

As it says on the back:

The Good Doctor burned through about 25 sparklers getting each symbol exactly right, while family photographer Kiet Do again had to stretch his skills to figure out how to capture each sparkling emblem so it would have the right amount of flare. 

Then we all jumped in for a group photo, holding sparklers to light up our faces, so that Kiet could later connect our sparklers to the symbols with the magic of Photoshop. Romeo's concerned micro-face in the zero of the 2013 is pretty classic. He actually looks like he's staring through a ring of fire. 

Once again--no dogs were harmed in the making of this card. Only frozen for a short while before thawing in a nice hot car. 

Hope you have a wonderful holiday full of merry cheer and lots of love. I know we have a lot to be grateful for, including the amazing supporters who come to this site. Thank you for sharing your comments and for finding humor in our shared experiences.

Here's to a wonderful 2014!

Friday
Dec062013

Kumquat!

Emmy had to bring an item to school today that starts with "K." At last check, we don't have a kangaroo or koala.

Kindling seems unkid-friendly. We don't own a Kindle. Not that I would send that to class with a pre-schooler.
Then I think of other k things we don't own. Kiln, kleptomaniac, kelp.
Emmy's suggestion is to bring her giraffe named Katie. 

Now, I may be a lot of things but desperate is not one of them. I'm all for creative problem solving, however, let's not kut korners by bringing a giraffe on K day. 

So I'm racking my brain at breakfast (the racks are pretty empty at that hour in the morning) and Asian Grandpa goes, "Kumquat!"

And before I can say, "And where, pray tell, can we get one of those in the next 5 minutes?" Asian Grandma goes, "Oh yes! We can get one from our tree!"

We have a tree?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Apparently we do. In the backyard. Clearly not my domain. 

Voila, Emmy gets a beautiful freshly cut kumquat to bring to class for K day. 

Meanwhile, Odessa, keenly listening to the conversation while drinking her morning thermos of warmed milk, says, "Kitty!" 

I swear that kid is crazy smart. Never underestimate those little toddler brains. Or the feebleness of my brain. Kitty. Come on Vicky. Kkkkkkitty. No doy! 

But hey, then Emmy would have brought a boring kitty to class instead of this:
 

Asian Grandparents save the day. 
Wednesday
Dec042013

Miscarriages

Don't you just love when someone slows down their blogging and then when they do post, it's all about really happy things? Then you probably want to adjust your bookmarks because it's about to get reals.

I have been pregnant 6 times. I have two children to show for those 6 pregnancies. Those are pretty sorry odds for any tiny lives hoping to flourish in this body. I jokingly call it my hostile womb: 1) because humor helps me cope with the crappy things in life, and 2) because if I stopped to think too much about it, I'd be really sad. But the truth is, before Emmy, we had two miscarriages and before Odessa we had another one, and recently, the most recent one. And hopefully the last. Maybe for sure the last.

That's the problem that led to this problem in the first place. Indecision and a bit of FOMO. FOMO, for those of you who don't have it, is Fear Of Missing Out. It is irrational and annoying, but sort of unavoidable, especially if you're like me and you have a bit of grassisgreeneritis. And no, that's not a campaign line for legalizing pot. It's another annoying syndrome, one that causes restlessness and self-questioning. They're all in the class of mental self-assessment, wherein you're constantly judging yourself and what you're doing and is it enough and should you be more and is there more and where is more. I try not to let myself get too carried away because, frankly, it's dumb. I have more things to be grateful for than I can possibly deserve and if I spent every moment being thankful it still wouldn't be thankful enough because I am really, really lucky to be so happy in this lifetime. 

But, we live here, in the Silicon Valley, surrounded by 23 year olds who turn down 3 billion dollars for an app they invented that doesn't even cure cancer. Or herpes, which could really benefit its teen audience. So sometimes you get caught up and wonder why you're not inventing the app that could stop herpes once and for all.

Back to FOMO. I had never really considered having three children. Three seems like a lot, especially when you already have two awesome ones. But more is more, right? More love, more fun, more family. Even though it's theoretically 1/3 the time and resources for each child per parent, aren't we giving them a whole 'nother person to love and be loved by? Another phone number to call if one sibling is unavailable? It was a conundrum because I also didn't want to be "copping out," like somehow I'm more of a warrior if I have a third. I mean, everyone's doing it these days and you get more street cred if you go above and beyond. Why stop at two when three is the real deal?

Dumb, I know. It was not well thought through on my part. Even though I had asked people about it for months. Every time I met a parent of three or a person from a three sibiling family, I gave them the third degree. No pun intended. Pros, cons? Does one of the three always become a loser? Do they all get along famously? Is someone a third wheel? How often do they talk? What happens when it's two against one? I mean, I grilled people like I was holding the powerful accountable for #WeInvestigate. And the responses were great anecdotes but they didn't strongly sway me one way or the other.

The decision was finally made with a bit of caution thrown to the wind, devil may care, just do it Nike-ism. The Good Doctor was fairly neutral in all of this. I won't speak for him (isn't that a first) but let me say he was completely supportive of staying with two or going for three. Essentially, he was zero help.

For me, making a decision, even if it ends up being the wrong decision, is better than being a state of limbo. I hate analysis paralysis. 

But the instant the test came back positive, I was conflicted. Happy, worried, incredulous, concerned. There were all these extra feelings associated with this test that I hadn't experienced when we were trying for our first and second babies. 

The third one felt like I had stepped up to the edge, and slipped over. Intentional and uncertain at the same time.

Then when the nausea and fatigue kicked in, the "What have I done?" feelings intensified. Not to the point of any serious regret, but having those doubts at all was totally odd. I never had doubts about Emmy or Dessy. I was always certain about two. But three was here and I was not fully committed. Which seems horrible to say and there's a tiny part of me that wonders if that emotional state caused any of the physical issues that led to this baby being a non-baby.

It was a mixed bag of feelings. Like of course we would be excited to meet a new person. The two we have are just so funny and perfect and amazing. Why wouldn't the next one just add gobs more fun? But when I'm barfing and crabby and feeling guilty for not playing with the two I have, while Asian Grandma makes dinner and I'm immobile on the couch, the doubts set in about just how much this person would add versus subtract. 

I have never said it doesn't take a village to raise children and I've never been in the running for a Mom of the Day, let alone Year award. Plus I think I'm a 38 on a scale of 1-10 of Parents Who Worry About How Their Children Will Turn Out. So now I'm exponentially increasing the level at which I need to perform to be a Mother of Three. I'm barely a Mother of Two. More college savings, more music/dance/soccer/math/keeping up with the Lees lessons, more all around chaos. I know some people say a third just falls into the mix, but I'm not so much a mixer as I am a careful and meticulous positioner.

Turns out, all my worries were for naught. But it was a crappy ride to get here.

This was the first non baby that actually had a heartbeat in the early viability scan. All my other miscarriages were declared very early on, and no one even developed a heartbeat. But this one had a heartarte of 80 beats per minute at 10 weeks. Very low, and the doctor even warned me that I wasn't "out of the woods yet" and to try not to "get too attached." She meant well. And she was right. Two weeks later, there was no more development and no more heartbeat. It was declared.

The whole process of it after that is just very procedural, and maybe a blog post for another time. For now, that's it. It's an empty feeling after being so fraught with emotions. There's sadness for sure, disappointment, anger that this has happened yet another time with no tangible medical information for exactly why. But there's also a tiny feeling of relief. Maybe this just wasn't meant to be. Maybe we're just supposed to be four, a manageable, easy, complete family with two parents and two sisters and...that's all. And that's enough. More than enough. Plenty. It's a miracle and blessing and so, so much to be grateful for. It seems so idiotic to have to go through all of this to reach such a simple conclusion. But that's where I am. Feeling a little dumb for going on such a parabolic journey to get someplace I should have already been.