Friday, September 18, 2009

Handy Daddy

A couple of months ago, we found chipped paint on the floor in the corner of the kids' bathroom. We had no idea where it came from. A little bit later, I saw that our bathroom mirror, a hulking 74" x 42" glass behemoth (yes, I just measured it right now with the tape measure), had come completely unattached from the wall, and was precariously kept from falling to the floor in a billion pieces by the medicine cabinet. So, being the handy woman that I am, I just pushed it back against the wall, and declared it fixed.

Then a short while later, we found the mirror decided to now push the bathroom counter off the wall, and slide down the wall, behind the cabinet. I asked my husband if he could fix it. "Nuh uh" was the response. I threatened to call a handyman and *gasp* spend money to get it fixed. "Knock yourself out" was the response. Okay! I felt like I was just given carte blanche. I went onto Facebook and asked if anybody knew of any handymans in the area, to fix our mirror. A friend quickly responded with a phone number, a website, and glowing reviews of how the guy was so friendly and professional. So I gave them a call on a Friday night, and left them a message. I figured that since it's a Friday night, I won't hear from them until Monday morning. I think I probably let a couple weeks pass before I called them again. They finally got a guy to come out for an estimate, and it took another week to get the estimate.

These guys wanted over $500 to fix the mirror.

Never mind. We'll try Plan B.

Problem is, what's Plan B? I didn't want to hop back onto Facebook and ask for a different reference since I'm sure my friend would ask what happened to the guy she so glowingly reviewed, so I just sat and twiddled my thumbs.

Just over a week ago, I was driving home from preschool when I saw a van on the freeway: Daddy and Daughter Handyman and Maintenance. There was a phone number on it, so I figured why not give them a call. So right there on the freeway, I pulled out my Bluetooth (stinkin' cell phone law!) and called them up. I thought I'd get a receptionist or a daughter or something, but nope, I got the Handy Daddy himself.

Two days later, he was standing in our kitchen (his daughter was playing with Abi and Eliz), giving us an estimate for not only the mirror itself (he quoted less than $200!), but also for
  • changing out our medicine cabinets (I've hated them because the shelves were unmovable),
  • changing out our wobbly toilet,
  • whacking away the vertical columns between my kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors (can't fit anything in my cabinets because of those stupid columns in the middle of the opening!),
  • straightening a kitchen drawer,
  • re-taping and painting the peeling ceiling, and
  • installing new blinds in Elizabeth's bedroom.
All the labor for significantly less than $500. Of course we'll pay for the new toilet, medicine cabinets, and blinds in addition to the labor costs, but what handyman out there would pay for those out of his own pocket?

Well, today, I'm happy to say that our bathroom mirror is now firmly reattached to the wall, we now have medicine cabinets that have movable shelves (and we can now fit taller bottles inside instead of laying stuff across the shelves!), our new, shiny low-flush toilet is now no longer wobbly, and Elizabeth's blinds no longer require my entire body weight to lift 18 inches. We expect to see him again on Tuesday to work on the cabinets, the drawer, and the ceiling.

If you need stuff done around the house, let me know. I'll send the Handy Daddy over. Sorry, I'm keeping my own husband though.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kimchi with the Kimchi Mamas

Growing up I felt somewhat lonely because there wasn't really a unified voice for People Like Me -- people who straddle the divide between two very different cultures, two very different languages, two very different cuisines. Growing up a Korean-American, in an area that wasn't Southern California, meant for me not really knowing what's Korean vs. what's the lifestyle that's just unique to my family, what's American vs. what's the lifestyles that are unique to my friends' families.

Anyways, probably over a year ago, I was surfing the Internet looking for a Korean recipe. It may have been for "gamja tang" (which I've still never cooked) or something else, who knows. Anyways, in my search for this elusive recipe, I stumbled upon this blog called Kimchi Mamas. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that these women who write to the blog are moms, writers, and Korean and/or married-to-Koreans.

A few weeks ago, Northern Californian Kimchi Mama meetup was organized, and we finally got together on Saturday, at Sahn Maru in Oakland, right across the street from Koryo SootBoolJip. Afterwards, we went to a noraebang. It was determined that for this inaugural get-together it'd be just us moms, without kids or husbands in tow. Of course the thought of meeting a group of complete strangers is always a little scary (especially in Oakland!), but I figured since it's in a brightly lit Korean restaurant, it shouldn't be that bad. Anyways, it was great fun and great food.

Figuring that I'm going to be meeting a bunch of Korean women, I'd better make sure that I'm wearing something a little different from my favorite uniform of shorts and t-shirt. I mean, Korean women get dolled up to just go to the grocery store! Okay, not so much me, but still. So anyways, I was getting ready to go out that afternoon, and feeling pretty good about myself -- my hair was neat, my clothes were non-wrinkly, and I had a touch of eyeliner on. For those who've seen me more than a handful of times, you should know that this is a big deal. I even knew exactly what shoes I was going to wear, too -- some cute black and gold sandals. Anyways, I got ready, jumped into the car, and drove off, just in time to arrive right at 6:01pm. As I got on the freeway, I felt something... rubbery... between my toes.

Operating on autopilot, I'd thrown on my $1 Old Navy blue flipflops. The ones that I wear in the shower at the gym. The ones that I wear when I go out to check the mail or pull weeds.

The meetup time is at 6pm, and I'm already a minute late as it is. Should I turn around and change my shoes and be incredibly late, or should I keep my flipflops on, arrive on time, and be incredibly mismatched?

I opted for keeping the flipflops on. I figure, why start the act now? Let's keep it real. I rarely get dressed up, I rarely put on makeup, I rarely have all my clothes match with all my accessories. Heck, I hardly ever even wear accessories. So, braving the potentially judgmental stares of the Korean women I'm about to meet, I confidently walked into the restaurant, right on time (enough for me) at 6:01pm.

Like I said before, it was great fun and great food. And they didn't say anything about my flipflops. These Kimchi Mamas, they keep it real. Yes, they dressed well, and they even wore accessories and makeup, but we all had a good chuckle about "those Korean women who get dolled up just to go to the grocery store." And I'm looking forward to the next meetup. Who knows, maybe I'll even wear matching shoes this time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Last day of kindergarten

I'm proud to announce that Elizabeth has graduated from kindergarten after just two weeks.

Okay, not really. Turns out that a spot opened up in first grade, and Mrs. D, her kindergarten teacher, called me and said that she thinks first grade will be a better fit for Eliz than kindergarten. So after finishing up one last day in kindergarten, we told her after school that we're going to meet her new first-grade teacher across the hall. She was surprised and it took some time for her to process it, but she seems like she's happy about it.

I'm excited for her because I know it's a much better fit for her, but I'm just a little nervous about it. Her school day will no longer end at 12:10 with the kindergartners; she'll stay in school until 2:50. I now have to pack her lunch every single day. I'm HORRIBLE at that! Because her classmates will have been together as a unit for two weeks already, she'll already be pegged not only as "the young kid that came from kindergarten" but also as "the new kid." Hopefully this won't cause instant ostracization from the other kids. Thankfully she's probably only a month or two younger than the next-youngest kid in her class, so she isn't *that* young. I hope she makes some good friends. I'm also a little sad that she won't continue to be in Mrs. D's classroom. She's a mover and a shaker in the school, serves on the school's leadership team, has been with the school since its inception, is the kindergarten lead teacher, and brings 17 years of teaching experience to her classroom. I've heard only sparklingly wonderful things about her, and despite my high expectations, she's met all of them. I'm sure her new teacher is good, but I just don't know much about her yet. She seems nice, so that's a good start, I guess.

Her school provides weekly classes with five different specialists every day to their students beginning with first grade (but not kindergarten!), so now she'll have, on a weekly basis, PE, Spanish, art, music, and science.

Anyways, I'm glad the school isn't as inflexible as I originally thought. And I'm glad that the school is proactive about identifying, investigating, and dealing with "different" kids. Not that she's *that* different...