Good Bye Ashland Street

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Today, we closed the sale of our first home. It was a fantastic 9 years in the Houston Heights. I’ve gone through the home selling experience with mixed emotions. I’ve been wavering between some excitement for the new house and mostly mourning the end of a really great chapter of my life. It didn’t really hit me that my Heights historic home was no longer mine until Friday when I was packing the master bathroom. There was only enough stuff on the counter top for one night and one morning.  We were just transients for one more night in a home that was no longer ours.

9 years ago, my mom and I stumbled across the Ashland house on accident. She was my proxy real estate agent and we were going from one open house to another. We had gotten lost and as fate would have it, we saw the Open House sign in front and thought, “Sure. Why not!” We walked in and immediately were taken away by the high ceilings which are rare in a 1920s cottage. And next thing I know, I’m moving into a 1017 sq ft house with original hard wood floors and having my family come over to help with painting over the purple ceiling.

Fast forward and a lot of great and not so great things happened within the walls of that house. Richard proposed to me in the living room after cooking a 3 course meal. The church where I completed my sacraments was down the street. My (then) recently deceased grandfather’s spirit, I’m pretty sure, knocked on my headboard when I had slept in on the morning of a big meeting at work. My extended family stapled wedding programs on the kitchen floor. I put my wedding dress on here. We hosted a few rowdy crawfish boils. Grace spent many nights here especially when we went out Thurs-Sun. It was a central location for Richard to have some sort of normal life while I went to b-school in the evenings and we did a major remodel. I peed on so many sticks only for them to scream NEGATIVE for 2 years before getting a wonderful positive for our Kara. Then 16 months later a surprise positive with Ray. Our babies came home and cuddled in our arms here.

Thinking through those life moments, it’s clear that the house is a pneumonic for young adulthood. These were the carefree days where I could be really fluid with my time and money (obviously, not too careless). Maybe it’s a sort of wistfulness that’s making me sad to say goodbye to my first home.

Could we have stayed longer in the Heights? Sure. But the writing on the wall was that public school wasn’t going to work for us from where we were. And the reality was that our daily routines of dinner, baths, and early bedtime dictated our weekday evenings leaving little time to  optimize our urban living experience.

Now we’ve looked forward and moved westward. We are less than 10 minutes away from my parents which is key since my mom keeps the kids during the day. That means my kids will have an even better relationship with their amazing grandparents. We are also now zoned to exceptional public schools at all 3 levels. In fact, we can walk our kids to school until the 5th grade. And, our commutes are only about 20-25 minutes (versus 10-15 for me). The past decade’s theme was individual freedom and fun. The upcoming decade’s theme appears to be upbringing and establishing roots for our little family.

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As we settle in and unpack boxes, I’m excited and anticipating the joy and love that we will experience as a family in the next chapter within this new home!

Cheers, Ashland Street. You’ve been good to us.



8 things not to say to someone of another race

It’s here. The inception of this post was after I was at the nail salon back in May and a non-Asian patron walked in. She asked me where she could get a pedicure without realizing that I was also a fellow patron. I was waiting for my nails to dry. This incident triggered a litany of emotions and recollections of sh!t people to say when they make generalizations based on the color of someone’s skin.

I thought I could address the most common innocent-yet-ignorant things people say without much harm, but I quickly learned from my Caucasian friends that this is a sore topic, especially given all the recent media craze around race. On Houston Moms Blog, I’ve had to take a gentler approach to inspire diversity fluency. Go ahead. Click on through. 🙂

8 things not to say to someone of another race

Growing up as a minority, it’s the conundrum of :: I’m proud of my heritage yet I’m also proud of being an American… but I’m not like everyone else in either category! I am me. It’s important that we do not wipe individuals of their heritage. We need to celebrate diversity while recognizing that there is no “right” definition of an American. At the same time, we don’t know how far removed or how close someone is to their heritage based on the tone of their skin, the texture of their hair, and/or the shape of their eyes. We don’t know unless we ask. And in true American form, we like to be politically correct.

Taking a break from my fast-tracked career

My new boss is very insightful and told me that I need to stop being so hard on myself. I thought I could be the outlier and manage my career-building and childbearing years exceptionally well. What I’ve learned is what other women have said before, I can have it all, but not all at once. I get it now. I’ll eventually reach my career goals. I just have a few more variables to work with and may not do it by 40 as I thought I would.

More on Houston Moms Blog!

Overcoming Infertility

While I don’t have all the answers or a medical degree, I do have critical thinking skills and did extensive research before making any decision. My goal is to share my experience so that others battling PCOS and infertility know that there are different treatment options and this is one of them. It is NOT my goal to be heralded for the path we chose nor preach that my way is THE BEST.

… more on Houston Mom’s Blog!

My daughter, the next-generation Texan

Kara sporting an áo dài, which she will most likely outgrow by next week
Kara sporting an áo dài, which she will most likely outgrow by next week

Kara and I were in a children’s resale shop the other day, and a cute blonde-haired ~6 year-old girl approached us.

Goldilocks: Aww she’s so cute.

Calm Me: Aww thank you so much. Say hi, Kara!

Goldilocks: She looks like she’s from Japan!

Keep-your-cool-she’s-just-a-kid Me: Actually, she’s born here just like you were!


Then, I realized that my daughter just had her first run-in with racial identity at just 6 months old.

Six months old. Wait… Okay. She won’t remember this, but what? I thought that Houston’s racial and ethnic diversity has significantly increased the last 20 years?! I thought this would be a non-issue by now. We even have the 3rd largest Vietnamese population in the United States. Why else do you think fish sauce creeps its way onto trendy menus? (*ahem* those amazing Uchi brussel sprouts!)

But you know what? All of that does not matter. No matter where I raise my daughter, she will have to find her own identity.

It broke my heart a little because I sometimes forget how confusing the journey can be to establish a secure sense of heritage balanced with individuality. Like that time I realized, “OH. Not everybody eats their spaghetti with chopsticks?!” But at the same time, there are some very powerful clarifying moments that made me walk a little taller. Like that time I learned that my mother escaped Vietnam the day after Saigon fell in 1975 via 13 foot fishing boat with her parents, 8 brothers & sisters, and 2 nieces.

Kara receives her birth announcement letter from President Obama at 4 months old
Kara receives her birth announcement letter from President and First Lady Obama at 4 months old

Racially, my daughter is half Chinese and half Vietnamese. Culturally, she is 3rd generation Asian American who will most likely identify herself as a Houstonian, a Texan, an American. (Yes, in that order.) That’s quite the matrix and it’s my responsibility to simplify things so she understands her roots, yet, at the same time, avoid oversimplification in order to protect the integrity of our families’ legacies.

Wow. That’s a tall order.

But you know what? A close friend and mentor has this motto, “Think Big. Act Fast. Start Small.” I think I will adopt that motto for my parenting style. Big picture: a person confident with her identity. Acting fast and starting small: well, let’s just take it one day at a time.

One small thing we’re doing is celebrating the Lunar New Year from February 19-21 at home. We will dress her up in a hand-me-down áo dài (traditional Vietnamese dress… if she still fits it then!), and also give her lì xì/hong bao/red envelopes filled with money. Some day, we will make it out to the huge Lunar New Year celebration at Viet Hoa Center. But for now, our activities are dictated by the cadence of naps every 2 hours. Remember, start small!

Kara hasn't quite figured out the purpose of the lì xì/hong bao/red envelope
Kara hasn’t quite figured out the purpose of the lì xì/hong bao/red envelope