Top 5 Lessons Learned (so far) in my journey into parenthood

5. Forget meaningless categories like service, quality, Happy Hour menu.  I now evaluate restaurants purely on one criterion: diaper changing area.

For my mother-in-law’s birthday, my wife and I took her out to a nice (read: EXPENSIVE) hotel restaurant to celebrate.  Halfway through our meal (which was very delicious, by the way) babEnam decided to grace our table with a little pupu platter of her own making.  With my diaper changing pad in one hand and my dookied-up daughter in the other, I went out looking for the nearest bathroom.

Excuse me, do you have a diaper changing table in your bathoom I asked the hostess.  Uh…sorry, the women’s bathroom doesn’t have one so I doubt the men’s room would have one.

HARUMPH! was my incredulous response (in my head, of course.)  Outwardly, I said, Ok, thank you!” and went on my way.

The men’s restroom had no changing table.  I didn’t care.  I spread out the diaper changing pad over the bathroom sink area and went to work.  It took all my coordination and mental alertness to keep babEnam from falling off the counter or slipping into the bathroom sink.  Flustered and exhausted became I.

Again, the food was pretty good, & the service was excellent, but I will never again choose to go to that restaurant.  Just because of this experience.

And it’s not just nice restaurants that lack diaper changing tables.  Wife and I went to a Korean BBQ joint on Kapiolani Blvd and they, too, lacked changing tables.  But not all restaurants are spawned from the prince of darkness.  Below is a short-list of public places/restaurants where we have been pleasantly surprised:

Macaroni Grill (Ala Moana)  While changing your baby, you can listen to Italian language lessons being given over the house system.  What makes this changing table awesome is that it is removed from the sink and door area, affording the dad some much-needed privacy to change squirmy baby and, if need be, shed a tear or two because he may have doo doo stuck in his fingernails for the duration of the meal.

Windward Shopping Mall Food Court (bathroom right next to Hot Dog on a Stick, which my wife loves!)  Windward Shopping Mall receives my prestigious HIGH FIVE award.  why?  They have a separate FAMILY BATHROOM, which is essentially a private, single-person bathroom.  Glory.

Waikele Shopping Center – Clean and easily accessible but warning: the changing table is situated right at the entrance where the door is always propped open.  Be wary of perverts and nosy tourists.

Christ United Methodist Church (oh yeah, baby.  Both men’s and women’s restrooms on both the 1st and 2nd floors.)

If you have one of these bad boys in your bathroom, you will have my undying loyalty.
If you have one of these bad boys in your bathroom, you will have my undying loyalty.

4. I feel personally responsible for shrinking landfills and global warming.

We live in a high-rise condo building in Honolulu.  One of the cool features of buildings like ours is the trash chute.  Instead of taking your trash out to a dumpster or other outside location, all you need to do is take your trash to the chute and voila!  Before Elizabeth came into the world, I made the walk to this trash chute twice, at most three times, a week.  Since we became a family of three, I take the trash out once, sometimes twice, a day.  Ridiculous.  We have a 13-gallon trash can so these aren’t exactly small amounts of waste we’re talking about here.  What is the reason for our growth in garbage?  babEnam and her Winnie-the-POOH diapers.

To date, babEnam has gone through six large boxes of diapers – all given to us at a baby shower held one month before Liz was born.  We still have a couple boxes remaining but they are bigger in size.  So today, we bought our first box of diapers for babEnam.  Costco.  212 Size 2 Huggies.   This box will last us about 17 days, maybe 3 weeks if we really stretch it and make babEnam sit in her shee-shee longer than she cares for.

This is approximately 1 week's worth of babEnam diaper usage.
This is approximately 1 week’s worth of babEnam diaper usage.

3. Clothing made for Little Humans – you may look, ooh & ahh but never, ever buy.

Future first-time parents, beware: babies grow.  FAST.   A few tips:

  • Don’t even bother with the “newborn” size.  That’s a joke.
  • Onesies are awesome.  i keep clean onesies all around our apartment because you never know when babEnam will need an emergency change.  Carter’s makes some of the softest onesies out there.  We have several brands but Carter’s feels the best to us.  How does Liz feel about them?  I don’t know. She can’t talk.
  • No need pants.  especially during diaper changes, b/c that’s another layer you need to work through just to get at the pot of stinky gold.
  • I guess what I’m trying to say is: buy clothing that is functional first, functional second, and functional third.  If you meet the first three criteria, then you may consider whether the outfit would be cute or not.   Too often, parents will see clothing (a cardigan sweater, summer dress, pink socks with ruffles, etc.) and squeal with delight at how adorable their little child would look in that getup.  Dress your baby up like a baby, and not like a miniature you.
Irrelevant picture, you say?  I google image searched "baby clothing is a racket" and this is what came up.  You decide.
Irrelevant picture, you say? I google image searched “baby clothing is a racket” and this is what came up. You decide.

2. Mom blogs are awesome.  Where are all the daddy blogs at, though?

Seriously, I subscribe to at least half a dozen mom blogs and I love them all.   I love reading up on tips, stories, recommendations, etc.  However, I don’t see too many fathers out there giving the same type of advice.  Or maybe I’m not looking hard enough.  Or maybe dads don’t blog.  Some of my favorite blogs:

1. A Perfect Lily – I never cry, but when I do, I seem to be reading reflections and sharings from this momma.

2. Momastery – I don’t necessarily agree with all her thoughts, but I respect her.  Moreover, I enjoy her insights and writing style.

3. Deliciously Organic – I wish I had the time and the knowhow to fix up deliciously organic meals for my family.  But at least I can dream with the help of this website.

4. Little World Organics – Similar to #3

5. Daechoong Mama – A good friend and former colleague of mine writes on this blog.  If you are Korean-American, you.  will.  relate.

6. Konglish Kids – You won’t find product recommendations or reviews here; instead, you can use the interweb to see two beautiful children grow up under the care of two awesome parents.

my precocious daughter
my precocious daughter

1. A live-in grandma (mom, mother-in-law, doesn’t matter) should be included with every newborn.

Elizabeth Ha-El Nam was born on October 22, 2013 at 8:18am.  My mother-in-law has been with us since October 24, 2013.  She is slated to leave back to Korea on January 20.  My mother-in-law is divine intervention personified.  I have always loved her dearly but my level of respect for her has shot off the charts in the past few months.  In addition to pulling most of the graveyard shifts when it comes to caring for babEnam, grandma (she is 외할머니 or maternal grandmother ) has cooked, cleaned, and done everything in between for us.  I am grateful for 외할머니.  If Minhee and I have more children, a live-in grandma – even if it’s only for the maximum 90 days as permitted by current U.S. travel visa rules – is a non-negotiable.

My mother-in-law and babEnam, together with the footsteps of Jesus.
My mother-in-law and babEnam, together with the footsteps of Jesus in the shadows of angels.


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