Have you heard of Meetup?

I read an article about them in the LA Times weekend magazine a few months ago – but it was in context of singles meeting other singles, so I clipped the article and sent it to a friend, and didn’t think more of it. Meetup.com is a website that creates a forum where people of like interests can connect and then meet in REAL LIFE.

Well, a week or so ago, I posted a freecycle ad for Assorted Gift Bags and Tissue Paper and met a very nice woman named Kris. Turned out that she was Chinese but raised in Korea and it happened that her parents had owned a restaurant while she was growing up. Why am I telling you all this? Because there is a special dish of black bean paste and noodles called Ja Jang Myun, which can only be found at the intersection of Chinese and Korean culture – and it happens to be one of my favorite dishes. (It can be found at Chinese restaurants owned by Koreans or vice versa – bur strangely nowhere else…)

Needless to say, I invited her right on in and started grilling her for restaurant and Asian market information in south Orange County. She was happy to oblige. We talked about carpooling to Garden Grove to shop for Korean ingredients.

Then this week she emailed me to ask if I wanted some homemade Ja Jang sauce since her mother had just made some! I consider that a good trade: assorted gift bags for dinner. The sauce was good – unfortunately her kids are too young/old to hang with my kids and she also works – so we’ll see if we ever end up spending more time together in the future.

She is also the mother of two half-Asian kids and so she passed along information about two different mothering groups that she’s enjoyed over the years.

1. One’s a free mothering Q & A that meets in Mission Viejo called Mommy Matters run by the Family Resource Center @ 27700 Medical Center Rd, Mission Viejo, CA 92691 Phone: (949) 364-1770. I haven’t checked it out yet.

2. The other is group called Melting Pot Moms that sounded interesting. Just a minimal $10/year fee to join a multicultural group of moms who plan activities year-round. When I followed the link she sent me, it turned out to be a Meetup group – and there are a stroller walk planned for the Aliso Woods Canyons Wilderness Trail yesterday, which happens to be just around the corner from the house. I noted too, that there were no less than 79 different parenting Meetup groups in Orange County, one of which was called the Attachment Parenting group. (That’s the group I’m going to check out next. Topics include: homeschooling, co-sleeping, cloth diapering…)

I went to the stroller walk yesterday, but I was late and i didn’t run into any moms with strollers. I did see a small group of women pushing strollers across the street in the park – but they all looked so fit and well-heeled – that I didn’t even feel like waving them down. On the other hand, I spent a beautiful two hours walking with Christian in the “woods” by myself. Orange County has enough green space to not feel too citified, but it was lovely to stroll along wild meadows and see the bunnies lying in the shade and lizards scampering across the path. There was a nice breeze blowing, with the tiniest edge of coolness to it, so we were accompanied by the sound of rustling leaves and many kinds of birds whistling and chirping. There was also the low rhythmic summertime drone of cicadas and the mesmerizing waves rippling through the fields of dry wild mustard plants.

We got to a fork in the path and sat and nursed a bit at the picnic table there. Christian gazed up at the dappled patterns of tree leaves against the sky and I thought, This is so much cooler than looking at a crib mobile.

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