Sunday, June 27, 2010

Help a Zambian child get off the streets and back into school

Every life matters.

In the summer of 2007, I had an extraordinary opportunity to do some work in Africa. I was part of a photography/journalism/film team and our assignment was to report on the AIDS crisis in Zambia. We spent two weeks meeting and interviewing aid workers, community leaders, pastors, teachers and government officials. We also spent a lot of time with orphans.

Many of these children-- part of some 1.5 million without parents-- find themselves in orphanages. These are the lucky ones. The others end up on the streets.

One night, our team visited a group of these street kids. It was like a chapter out of Dickens' Oliver Twist, but more harrowing. Little boys, between the ages of 6 and 12, huddled together around a makeshift fire, crackling embers and black smoke rising into the moonlit sky. These little souls, without mommies or daddies to tuck them in at night. They sang Christian hymns for comfort. They sniffed glue to keep warm. They were starving. High. Desperate.

I will never forget that night. It's burned in the recesses of my brain.

I told myself I could never return to America and not do something. Anything. When I got back home, I started raising money so some of these kids could get off the streets and back into school. Each year, we raise tuition for a kid named Chips. It costs $832. That's less than what you probably spend on all the venti chai lattes at Starbucks every year.

It's time to raise money again. And this time, I'm hoping we can send more kids to school. If everyone I'm friends with on my Facebook page donated $20 (that's 347 friends x $20), we could raise $6,940. That means eight kids off the streets and in the classroom.

Visit and help make a difference. And please, please pass the word!

*Thank you to Chad Lauterbach for the beautiful photos!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On being 35

Yeah, that's what they say. Who the "they" is, I'm not sure.

This morning, I woke up and discovered the "one or two" gray hairs at the crown of my head has now turned into a colony. DIS-GUST-ING. I'm usually excited to whip out the tweezers and get to work on those whitish-gray suckers (pluck, pluck, pluck--- so satisfying!). But today, I saw the horror of the bunch and my heart was anything but gleeful.

On most days, I embrace being 35. In fact, I've never really had a problem with telling people my age (some say it's rude to ask a woman her age, I say, "Go ahead, ask!"). Perhaps in the back of my mind, I know I have my genes as age insurance. The Asian DNA. I look at my 61-year-old Korean mother, with her luminous skin and bright eyes and beautiful smile, and I hope to God that I look that good in 26 years.

But the colony of tiny, silvery hairs has shaken my confidence. That, coupled with my soft, fleshy, post-partum body (read: blubbery, stretched out belly) and being tired all the time (I've got my 4-month-old to thank for that), makes me feel more like a frumpy hausfrau and less like the fabulous 30-something I strive to be.

For me, it's less about staying "young" and more about feeling beautiful and strong and empowered. To that, I say "Damn you, white hairs! I will fight you one tweeze at a time!"

(Until I have to start going to the colorist...)

Monday, June 21, 2010

The best dad in the world

I got real lucky twice: this guy is the best husband in the whole world AND the best father in the whole world.


Happy Father's Day.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Andres and his Oscar

This morning, my brother-in-law is basking in the glow of his new Academy Award.

Perhaps he's just waking up, curled up in his sheets and in the comforts of his swanky Hollywood hotel room, staring at the award sitting next to him on the nightstand. "Good morning," Oscar says. "Yes, you won me last night and I am still here."

We celebrated Andres' win last night at the 37th Annual Student Academy Awards in Beverly Hills. Andres' short film, "Lifeline," won bronze in the category of animation. It was a wonderful evening of inspiration and festivities with filmmakers from around the country being honored for their achievements.

Andres, I am SO PROUD of you! This is just the beginning of an amazing career...

Friday, June 11, 2010

You mean "The Kung Fu Kid?"

The Karate Kid starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, opens today. I'm curious if it will be as good as the original. All I know about it so far is that it's set in China and the "karate kid" (Smith) learns kung fu from maintenance man Mr. Han (Chan).

OK, was this a complete oversight by Hollywood, or is it me? But how can you call the film "The Karate Kid" when the main character is learning kung fu? Who on earth green-lighted the screenplay? Good grief.

Obviously, it's about money.

The Hollywood bean counters are tapping into nostalgia and hoping that it will equal digging into our pocketbooks. But as a child of the 80s, and as someone who spent years studying martial arts, I find this a bit offensive. First of all, they should stop making cheesy, half-assed 80s remakes and concentrate on original screenplays. Secondly, respect culture: karate and kung fu may be cousins, but they are hardly the same (one originated from Japan, the other China).

If you're saying karate is no different from kung fu, then you might as well say all Asians look alike...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

5 things every woman needs

What every woman needs in a husband:

*Someone who will be a good friend, lover and father
*Someone who has a great sense of humor and can make you laugh, especially when you're sad or stressed out
*Someone who works hard and works honest
*Someone who plays hard and plays honest
*Someone who loves God and honors Him through his life and how he treats others

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dying to your old life

My brother-in-law, Andres, and his girlfriend, Sunha, were baptized a few Sundays ago.

Next to weddings, baptisms are my favorite occasions. The symbolism of saying farewell to your "old life" (an existence without Jesus Christ) and welcoming your "new life" (starting a lifelong adventure with said Messiah) has always been profound, beautiful and incredibly moving for me.

I've always believed baptism is the public declaration of one's love and allegiance to Jesus. Just like Christ died and resurrected, the immersion in water is like burying life as you once knew it and being raised with the ultimate hope, joy and my favorite-- eternal perspective.

Watching Andres make this commitment gave my heart such delight. I was overjoyed. I was thankful. I was so happy for him. And you know, Andres has experienced an amazing transformation. There's this peace about him. An inner-peace that's otherworldly.

We had given Andres and Sunha flowers to celebrate the event. It was blazing hot that day. Unfortunately, the flowers barely survived the heat and were nearly dead by the time they brought them home. Then the funniest thing happened. Thinking it would be a shame to throw them out, Sunha decided to put them in a vase with water.

You know what happened? They came back to life.

Now, how's that for symbolism? :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

My kids are cuter than your kids

OK, OK. So every mother thinks that her kids are the cutest... But seriously, this is pretty precious.

The dumbest thing for babies

Huggies has a new product out and it's the dumbest thing I've seen since those "leashes" for toddlers. The bright idea? Jean diapers. Really? Diapers that look like jeans?

And even more stupid is the commercial I saw yesterday. A toddler walking down the streets (probably Rodeo Drive or trendy Melrose Avenue) like he's a celebrity, hot women gawking at him and hot guys wishing they were like this cool cat. I was totally embarrassed just watching this ridiculousness. Who the heck would let their kid walk around in a white button-down shirt and jean diapers (without pants)?

The best (or should I say worst) is the voiceover dialogue in the commercial:

My diaper is full
Full of chic
When it's a number 2
I look like number 1
I poo in blue

The kid might think he has the coolest "jeans" in town, but at the end of the day it's just gonna be a poopy diaper.

Watch the Huggies commercial and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Sex and the City 2": 3 out of 4 martinis

I sat in a dark theater with some of my favorite gal pals this weekend and was whisked away into the world of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. "Sex and the City 2," the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2008 juggernaut, was everything it promised to be: a fantasy, an escapade, a good romp. And like a good martini (or for that matter, good sex), it was very satisfying.

SATC2 follows the fab four two years later: Carrie and Big are settling into marriage, Samantha is confronting every woman's hot-flash-of-a-nightmare: menopause, Charlotte is trying to be the perfect mother of two young children, and Miranda is struggling with balancing a career and motherhood. Life in the urban jungle is starting to get mundane and the girls realize they need a vacation far, far away. Cut to Abu Dhabi, where the foursome is transported to a decadent oasis complete with camel rides through the Arabian desert, Maybachs for each girl, and handsome manservants (er-- butlers).

What I loved about this movie is what it wanted to give the audience: a rip-roaring, good time. There isn't a moment during the 2 1/2 hours (yes, it was pretty long but worth every minute) where you're bored. In fact, it leaves you wanting more. More clothes! More shoes! More cocktails! I also appreciated what SATC2 accomplished: making what everyday women talk about really matter. Like marriage (how do you define it and how do you make it work?), motherhood (there are days when a mom feels like everything she does is a failure) and being a modern woman (it means something different for each of us). Set against the backdrop of the Middle East, and you've got the ingredients for an interesting conversation, especially about sex.

There were a few things I could have done without: a cheesy karaoke scene (the girls singing "I Am Woman" was super corny, not super chic) and a run-in with a group of Louis Vuitton-wearing Muslim women (I know the filmmakers were trying to make some kind of feminist statement, but it didn't work). And I wished New York had more face time (really, it should have been called "Sex and the Desert.")

Though the critics are tearing it apart ("Naturally, it's tougher to keep the veneer from cracking with the gal pals settling into their 40s and, in Samantha's case, very sweaty hot flash 50s. Everything about their lives has become so tame it takes a trip to Abu Dhabi for any of them to seem outrageous at all," says the LA Times), I think they've missed the point. The girls have evolved. They've moved on. They're not the same women we got to know from the HBO series, and thankfully, they've all "grown up."

What's amazing to me is that these women are pushing into midlife (Cattrall, at 53, is already there) and they are redefining "fabulous." The ingenue has got nothing on these women. They are truly showing the world that the 40s (and even 50s) are the new 20s and 30s.

Though it didn't top the first movie, I still highly recommend all you Cosmo-loving gals to see "Sex and the City 2."

My rating: 3 out of 4 martinis.