Our weekend in Wilmington was fantastic! And then of course, on the way home our only car broke down and we spent the next few weeks looking for a new car, which explains why I’ve been MIA. Our weekend in Wilmington happened over a month ago and posting these photos brought me so much joy after such a hectic and stressful month. I’m so grateful we have these images to remind us of what matters most.
I can still remember waking up really early during grade school so that my mom could give my brother and me to our nanny in order to catch a bus to the city (NYC). Or, I can still see my father standing on the foyer in his winter coat and cap, me in the kitchen preparing a sandwich, running down the stairs to hand off to him before he left for a night shift. Or, as we got older, how my mom and dad struggled every day to make it home after an hour plus commute to watch one of my track races, drive me to dance class, or watch one of my plays.
After commuting to-and-from work for a mere 30-45 minutes a day with a 2-year-old in my backseat, I ask myself this question nearly every day: “How did my parents do it?” Sometimes when I get home it takes me over an hour (yes, you read that right) to decompress before I return to my normal self. Some days I power through and have dinner on the table before 7 p.m. Other nights I curl my car around the fast food lane on the way home, thinking “This is it, I just don’t have the energy to cook, and there’s nothing wrong with fast food.”
It’s not just about how I am handling it. It’s about how are we handling it. My husband is a PhD student and I work full time. Fortunately my husband and I both partake in household responsibilities, but at times it can feel imbalanced. This past January, in the middle of my post-Christmas wintry blues, I found myself struggling, not just physically but mentally. And usually I’m good mentally. I mean, there isn’t anything a little shopping therapy can’t fix, right? Wrong. I needed help and set out to find it.
My husband and I changed a few things. First off, my husband started doing more pick-up and drop-off. Since my son’s daycare is close to my work, I just assumed that I would be doing it every day. I think one of the valuable lessons I learned is that with anything involving our son, my husband and I should talk it through. When I brought it up to my husband, we agreed that he would start taking Lucas to school up to two times a week (if Bill Gates can do it, so can you!). Even though it’s been only a few weeks, it’s made a big difference.
And I should stress my point about talking things through and being direct about it—things that I’m not very good at. I am slowly learning to open conversations, trying not to let my emotions overtake a conversation, and also trying to listen, really listen (I know that one is easy to say but hard to do).
I don’t know how my parents juggled everything, but I do know this—they did so much for my brother and me out of love, a love that is generous and faithful, a love that stands by in the midst of difficulty, a love that teaches strength and resilience.
I find myself trying to be there for my husband and son as my parents were for me. As we are working on balancing responsibilities, we are facing these questions: How can I love generously and faithfully? How can I love in the midst of difficulty? How can I love in order to build strength and resilience?
What are some of the questions you find yourself asking as a parent trying to balance responsibilities or childcare?
Bread, runny eggs, pastries. Whether you want salty or savory for brunch, La Farm Bakery has them both. This past weekend my husband and I drove to Cary to try this NC Blogger Network recommendation. La Farm is so successful that the line was out the door for most of the morning. My husband ordered the special, crab cake Benedict, and I ordered a croissant and eggs Florentine. The photos will do the talking…our selections were terrific, mine just needed a dash or two more of salt. While our carb-lover son missed out and napped the entire time, my husband and I were able eat at a normal pace and sip our cappuccino and latte like the good ole’ days. I’m not sure this is the best place to take your little one (we were lucky he was asleep in his stroller, which we squeezed between two tables). It’s the perfect place for a date with a friend or partner, and perhaps one or two more friends. Coming here makes me wonder what sitting in a bakery in France feels like…I can still dream, right?
With my husband away and the baby asleep last weekend, I started watching The One I Love starring Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss. Following their therapist’s recommendation, a married couple, Ethan (Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) spend a weekend away at a vacation house to ‘renew’ their relationship. The vacation house also includes a guest house, and it’s in this guest house where things get complicated. The guest house is where Ethan meets another woman who looks exactly like Sophie, but he knows it’s not her. Together Ethan and Sophie quickly discover that when they enter the guest house one at a time, they encounter another ‘version’ of the other person: Ethan discovers an agreeable, sugarcoated Sophie and Sophie discovers a hipper, more open Ethan.
So what happens to them? Does Ethan fall for the doppelganger of his wife and vice versa? I enjoyed watching Sophie each time she walked into the guest house to interact with Ethan’s doppelganger (Sophie and Ethan agreed to take turns going inside the guest house. They also came up with a set of ground rules). Ethan’s doppelganger says things Sophie wishes her Ethan could say. She becomes hooked and can’t get enough of Ethan’s mirror image. The guest house becomes a space where each person has positive interactions with his/her doppelganger, and of course that’s why Sophie falls hard for Ethan’s doppelganger. This is exactly what could happen in any marriage. We could be wishing instead of doing, imagining instead of realizing, damaging instead of renewing. We lead busy lives. Spouses or partners don’t carve out time for each other, and slowly the number of positive interactions decrease until it’s too late.
So find an evening with The One You Love and make that positive interaction happen!
And, if you want to make some love bites, try baking some almond mini cupcakes!
As I waited for my friend in Dashi’s izakaya, a Japanese pub, I scanned the room and saw that most of the bar stools and seats were taken. My friend, Julie, arrived in the next minute and we had a great time checking out the cocktail menu while strategizing which seats to grab (we’re Northerners, we can’t help but hover). I ordered the ‘Apple Blossom’ drink since it had a little ginger in it and I was still recovering from a cold. Upon first sip I knew it was going to be a good night. After we sat down, our trendy waitress poured some water and handed us the pub menu. We ordered our first round of small plates: tripe stew, pickle dish, and popcorn. After an hour of catching up, we ordered a second round: sashimi and bacon-wrapped mochi. I enjoyed both the company of my friend and the amazing dishes that night, and I have been recommending it to friends every since! Can’t wait to go back!
Drink: Apple Blossom (divine!)
Food: tripe stew (must-try), popcorn, pickle dish, sashimi (probably the least favorite), pickle dish, bacon-wrapped mochi
Prepare yourself for a sugar overload, another donut competitor is gaining a popular fanbase in North Carolina! With the closing of Krispy Kreme donuts on East Franklin Street in 2015, the opening of Rise Biscuits & Donuts in Carrboro will be received with open arms and appetites. If you want to taste this rising tide of calorie-laden confections, you can visit their current locations in Morrisville, Raleigh, and Durham. The two flavors that seem to be popular with folks are Maple Bacon Bar and Apple Fritter. During our last visit before Christmas, there was a large steel bowl of donut holes for customers to munch on while they wait for their orders. My son loved this extra treat while playing with the toy kitchen!
Monuts, which serves donuts, bagels, biscuits, salads, and craft beer, is a trendy donut restaurant shop in Durham. I’ve relished creative flavors like Peach Bourbon and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt. And they continue to come up with new flavors regularly, like Chai Latte Buttercream or Brown Butter Banana Cardamom! The only small critique of Monuts is that their supply of donuts does not meet the demand. I arrived at 3 PM one day and they told me they were all out! They erase donuts that have been sold out off their blackboard throughout the day. So if you’re planning to drive from Raleigh or Chapel Hill, I recommend you get there in the morning!
Seoul Garden in Raleigh is a great place for Korean barbecue (bulgogi) and even soups. If you haven’t tried Korean bbq yet you’re in for the experience, too. They come out with the meat raw and you cook the meat on a grill right in front of you! (If you ever go to Los Angeles, definitely try the bbq there, it is by far one of the best places to eat this heavenly food). My husband and I went here on a Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t too busy.
Vit Goal Tofu in Durham is known for its Korean tofu (sundubu). This tofu soup is made from kimchi and hot pepper flakes, so only come if you’re prepared to eat spicy! Their dumplings for appetizer are also delicious and they offer a lunch special Mon-Fri.
Lucha Tigre in Chapel Hill serves up a fusion of Latin and Asian flavors and has a bar with fantastic seasonal drinks. The atmosphere is fun and the staff is friendly. Try their salsa sampler or three-taco plate. For an entree you can choose from an array of eclectic dishes: lamb guisado, spicy bulgogi bowl, or hoisin-glazed duck breast. (I need to return to try their kimchi fried rice). For dessert you can’t go wrong with their tres leches cake or churros.
Buku in Raleigh was a nice night out with some girlfriends for a bridal shower. The bride-to-be and her sister selected this restaurant because it serves some Filipino flavors such as lumpia and adobo. Oh but man the prices! Because of time and money, I’d probably only return here for an anniversary date or if a Filipino friend was in town.
Akai Hana in Carrboro has a small, intimate feel and serves some good sushi. I remember liking their green tea the best.
Spicy 9 in Chapel Hill quickly became a local favorite and you’ll often see a group of people waiting to be seated at the door. Sushi is decent and even their Pad Thai passes the test!
Shiki Sushi in Durham is also a very popular place for sushi. It’s a large restaurant so it’s noisy with a crowd. For sushi just as good but with a dining area on a smaller scale, you can go to Sake Bomb which is also in Durham.
Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe and Sage Vegetarian in Chapel Hill are both restaurants whose owners are rooted in the community and are committed to serving some of the best locally sourced food in the area.