How to Choose a Taiwanese Preschool

The other day, a reader brought to my attention that perhaps my post on How to Plan a Trip to Taiwan was not as helpful in the choosing a Taiwanese preschool department. So, in the spirit of being helpful, I wrote another post about specifically, finding a preschool for the 6 years and under set.

Here’s the thing: it’s really obvious.

I mean, so obvious, I feel dumb writing an entire post on the topic. Thus, be forewarned, this is a super short post and may seem bare bones.

I’m not trying to be difficult. It really is as you likely would have approached the task on your own.

You are not missing out. You are totally doing it correctly.

So. With that caveat out of the way, here’s how you choose a preschool in Taiwan:

1) Decide what you would like in a Taiwanese preschool. 

If your kids are already in preschool (or you have gone through this with previous children), you already have an idea of what you want in a preschool.

Do you want it to be more play based? More structured? More formally “educational” (like with learning characters, alphabet, zhuyin, etc.)? A particular educational philosophy?

However, be aware that just like in your home country, the more specific you are (and inflexible), the less likely you will find a preschool fitting your criteria.

Sometimes, beggars can’t be choosers.

So, in my case, I wanted a play-based Montessori-like environment. I didn’t really care if my kids learned any characters, etc. because we do enough of that at home, during the school year. (We homeschool as well as attend Chinese preschools.)

Unfortunately, because Glow Worm has many food allergies (ranging from severe to mild), most Taiwanese preschools refused to accommodate him. They cited a Taiwanese law that states only authorized medical personnel (ie: a DOCTOR) could administer shots. Even if it kills my kid in the process.

So, with all the schools refusing to accept Glow Worm out of fear in applying the Epipen, (always in their super polite, vague, passive aggressive manner), I had to go with any school that would accept him.

Thus, I had to really refine what I wanted, and that was (and is): to have my kids be taught by adults whose Chinese obviously surpassed my “kitchen Chinese” and be surrounded by kids who spoke (mostly) Chinese.

Hence, I settled on an international school because they were used to dealing with all sorts of food allergies, were willing to administer the Epipen if needed, and allowed me to provide all Glow Worm’s food and snacks.

So, although I preferred something less academic, I was satisfied with the school we attended because being alive at an academic place is better than not being alive at a play-based place.

2) Settle on a location and then Google (or ask friends/family) for preschools around the area.

I know. Thanks, Captain Obvious!

But seriously. Google is a thing. Use it.

Also? Local preschools will likely have websites and Facebook pages in Chinese only. For obvious reasons.

If you are like me and when you see a wall of Chinese text, respond with an internal, “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”, this will be the most difficult part of the process.

Thus, I prevailed upon friends and family and Facebook groups for their recommendations and experiences.

Sorry, internet readers. I will not be that friend.

For many reasons, but chiefly: I am not qualified to make recommendations to you, a stranger.

I’m sure you’re a very nice person and not at all creepy. This is nothing personal. Please do not ask me for specific preschool recommendations

I will ignore you if I’m feeling generous.

I will screenshot and publicly shame you if I’m feeling ornery (which is the norm because I have four children and though I love them to distraction, they also eat up all my minute reservoirs of patience).

3) Email/call the preschool directors and ask if they a) have a summer program, and b) the details of this summer program.

If they are local preschools, you will most likely have to communicate in Chinese. To expect them to accommodate you in English isn’t realistic or fair. After all, you don’t expect a preschool in America to communicate in Chinese (or any language other than possibly Spanish). Why would it be different in Taiwan?

Also, you will either have to pay in cash on the first day or have someone wire tuition via a Taiwanese bank account. This is NOT handy. (I always feel like a drug dealer when I carry around a fat packet of cash in my purse or on my person. Particularly since Taiwanese money has 1000NT bills!)

4) Choose. 

After which, I have not tried to reinvent the wheel every summer and just stick to what I know.

You cannot know the depths of my consternation when I realized Glow Worm could not attend the school I sent Cookie Monster and Gamera to back in 2014. There was much teeth gnashing and fist shaking and creative cursing.

Do not succumb to FOMO. Unless you had a mediocre or horrible experience, make life easier for yourself. Stick with what works.

Of course, this will fall on deaf ears for people who truly have FOMO. But for those of us who are lazier than we are fearful, this is my official Mandarin Mama seal of approval/permission to just do what you did last time already.

You’re welcome!

Ok. That’s it.

I told you the information was obvious.

There is no need to overthink the situation. You were going to do this anyway. Here is now the official article giving you confirmation bias.

You’re welcome, again!

I am just a font of benefits today. Happy Hunting!

Preparing for the Pending Zombie Apocalypse

At least once a year, (more so if I happen upon a traumatic headline or read a book based on the Holocaust or something), I mentally freak out and start going down the Prepper rabbit hole and worry about the zombie apocalypse and completely go nuts Googling for random survivor gear.

I have posted about it at least once or twice before. And though I know that this irrational response to finding seed banks, buying shotguns, having a year’s supply of water, and purchasing survivor gear is merely my control freak’s way of coping with fear and uncertainty, I also know that it is important to be prepared given that we live in Earthquake country.

However, one thing my deep dive into the Prepper craziness has taught me is that all this stuff is completely overwhelming and that very overwhelmingness causes many of us to do nothing.

For instance, all I have is an Emergency supply kit for a family of four that I bought off of Costco.com. I also have some water purifying straws (affiliate link) that I broke down and bought when they were a lightning deal one day on Amazon. I also have some water supplies, but other than that, my stuff is all over the house in random places.

Plus, I am worried that I am buying redundant items and wasting money, but you know what? Sometimes, I think it’s good just to have it and buy it again, even knowing that it’s redundant.

So, I’m curious, dear readers.

1) How many of you have emergency kits/supplies for all family members?
2) Do you also have Bug Out Bags?
3) Do you have bare minimum of things or have you gone all Survivalist?
4) How often do you swap out your supplies?
5) Do you own a backup generator?
6) Where do you store your stuff?
7) Do you have comparable bags/supplies in your cars?

Many of you who are friends on Facebook will recognize the questions. But I would love to hear from you again (as well as if you’re interested in me posting a series on my findings).

I have decided that putting together everything all at once will overwhelm me entirely. (Although, really. When am I ever just whelmed?) So instead, I am going to make sure I do something emergency supply/kit related once a month. (See? I apply Dr. T’s advice!)

Would this be something that would interest you as a reader? And would it be helpful? (Since hopefully, it would also inspire/goad/provide an easily actionable item for you?)

Let me know what you think. (Yes, yes. Super short post today. But truthfully, if I get started down this road too long I will just panic.)

Top Financial Things You Should Do After Having a Baby

As some of you know, prior to my life as a glorious SAHM, I was miserable as a financial advisor. Now, despite me not enjoying the actual work of a financial advisor, it was incredibly practical and useful in terms of preparing for my own personal future. (Also, I met some awesome people who started off as clients and became my friends.)

One of the main reasons I took the job (other than desperation, fear, and general cluelessness) was because even though I knew I wouldn’t really like it, the knowledge gained about finances and money was invaluable.

And since we just had our fourth child, Sasquatch, I recently had to make a bunch of updates to our finances in order to ensure that in the event of our improbable demise, ALL my children (no matter how new), would be financially taken care of.

Incidentally, I wrote a similar piece in my Money Series three years ago after Glow Worm was born.

So, I thought since I just did a bunch of adulting and took care of this crap, here are some of my Top Financial Things You Should Do After Having a Baby.

Disclaimer: I am a former financial advisor and used to own a financial advising firm with my mother. I am not being compensated by any entity or company for the following information. I am ONLY explaining what I do for my own family. If you should so choose to take this advice, please realize that it is not customized nor tailored for your specific situation. I am not dispensing personalized advice for you or your family. I am not responsible in any way, shape, or form if your investments rise or fall due to market conditions. YMMV. You have been warned.

1) Update/Create a Living Trust or Will

I know. I’m a morbid sort. But believe me – your loved ones will appreciate the forethought and time you took to make sure your assets were titled correctly, as well as included all your progeny.

Wills detail where and who gets your stuff, but Living Trusts go a step further and bypass probate. Furthermore, they can detail who will assume guardianship of your children, who will be the trustee over your assets should you die before your children are legally able to manage their assets, as well as whole slew of other handy details that make your financial life easier.

Remember: probate can take at least 60-90 days and often times, much longer (not to mention, you have to pay probate taxes). Bypassing probate is super important when your children may need to access funds in order to cover their living expenses.

Make sure your will/trust include ALL your children. (Well, assuming that you want to include all your children. But since the majority of my readers have small/young children, chances are, you do.)

I may be a registered Democrat, but I started off as a Republican and certainly do not think the government can cure all and do all. As a result, I really do not want the government to decide who should take care of my kids, where my assets should go, or anything else related to my personal or financial life.

If you are like me in this regard, make sure you get a living trust or at the very least, have a will.

Also, make sure you actually title your assets in the name of your trust.

It makes zero sense to have a living trust but not have any of your assets in it. That just means you wasted your money on lawyer fees without any of the benefits of their lawyering.

2) Update your beneficiaries.

Whether they be IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance, Transfer on Death accounts – WHATEVER. If it has a beneficiary, make sure your newest child is added to the beneficiaries.

The possibility that my children may think I purposely disinherited them from any of our accounts versus just being an idiot or procrastinator or just a forgetful human makes me so sad. No child should be cut out of their inheritance due to stupidity on the part of their parents.

It’s a pain in the ass, I know. Lots of forms to sign and social security numbers to look up. I get it.

Do it anyway.

As soon as possible. One never knows the future – and though morbid, better safe than sorry.

3) Open up a savings/brokerage account and/or a 529 college savings account for your child. 

Again, opening accounts is easy; funding them is harder. Fund the accounts, too.

Right after a child is born, I always deposit any gift cards or financial gifts in their account right away. (For gift cards, if someone gives my kid a $20 to Target, I will deposit $20 into their account and use the Target gift card however I want.)

I also transfer some “seed” money to get the account going as well as deposit any gifts they get throughout the year. I also set up their 529 plans with an automatic monthly investment. This way, I build in saving automatically and don’t have to remember to do it. (If I waited until I remembered, I would never save any money.)

I realize that not everyone has the luxury or benefit of people giving gifts or even having excess funds to save for their kids. Even so, I urge you to open up the accounts anyway. You never know when people are generous and kind during birthdays, graduations, and holidays. It is always better to be prepared. Plus, even if you can only sock away $10/month, that is still better than nothing.

4) Update your benefits.

If you have health insurance – ADD YOUR NEW BABY. Even if it is no longer your company’s open enrollment period, a new baby (whether through birth or adoption) is considered a life changing event and you usually have 30 days after birth/adoption to add your child to your health insurance.

If you don’t remember to add your child, then you will have to wait until your next open enrollment period before you can do so. Depending on when that is, you would have too pay for all the well-baby appointments and immunizations out of pocket and just pray your child doesn’t get sick or hurt the first year.

Save yourself the worry and the potential financial disaster. Enroll your child in your health benefits.

If you have other benefits at work that they qualify for, by all means, add them to those, too.

5) Get life insurance or make sure your life insurance is enough.

Look, I get it. I’m obsessed with untimely demises.

People always complain that life insurance is paying for something that won’t likely happen. But you know what? We pay for car insurance and hope to never use it. No one complains about that. (Well, that and it’s illegal to drive without car insurance. It’s thus far, not illegal to be alive without life insurance.)

Anyhow, my point is, if you are the primary breadwinner for your family and you die, how will your family provide for their living expenses? If you are one of the breadwinners, how will your family make up the difference in income? And if you are the SAHP, how will your family pay for the child care services you provide?

Even if you live modestly and have a lot of savings, how long will your savings last?

And right now, I really want to address the SAHP.

Look, I know you can always go out and get a job. I am obviously not commenting on our abilities to work and get well-paying jobs.

But to do so immediately after your spouse dies? While taking care of grieving kids and household stuff and paperwork and the business of the dead?

That is much harder.

And the last thing you want to think about after your spouse dies is how much of a hole you are burning through your savings while trying to find a job and sending out resumes and going on interviews while you and your children are grieving.

That sucks.

Furthermore, even if you, as the SAHP get a job, you will either have to accept a lower paying job in exchange of flexibility in your work schedule to take care of your children. Or, you have to pay for someone else to take care of your children. Either way, there is a monetary outlay that eats into your income.

Also, life insurance through your employer is great and all, but you need life insurance independent of your employer. 

Why? Because if your employment terminates, so does your life insurance. And then, when you re-apply for life insurance, you will only be older and more likely to be in worse health.

Oh, and if you get a large amount of life insurance, (eg: $1 million), get multiple policies. That way, if you have a financial difficulty or you no longer need quite as much life insurance because the kids are grown or your savings are much larger, you do not have to cancel the entire amount only to re-apply when you are older and likely to be in worse health and have higher premiums (after all, the older you are, the closer you are to dying).

So, if you wanted a total of $1 million coverage, get two $500,000 policies. That way, if your financial situation becomes more volatile or you no longer need that much life insurance, you just cancel one $500,000 policy and still have the other $500,000 policy.

All this talk of death when there is a new life in the family. Seems counterintuitive. But I firmly believe that once you bring a life into the world, you are responsible for providing for them. And children are never more vulnerable than after the death of a parent.

Thus, if behooves us to do all we can while we are alive to make sure that our children are protected and provided for when we are not.

Besides, the superstitious part of me feels as if you are just inviting trouble if you don’t get this stuff taken care of ASAP.

The practical part of me knows that life happens and that when you have a new baby, you’re totally sleep deprived and overwhelmed – but you also know that the baby is new and it’s a good reminder of doing this stuff before you completely forget or it’s too late.

Now, get cracking!

Stuff I Reluctantly Learned from Homeschooling, Vol. 7

Wow. Has it really been 3+ months since my last post about what lessons I’ve learned from homeschooling?

Since most of it was a blur, I’m not sure how much I will have to say about 2016Q4. But since I’m a completist, I will give it a go. Here then, (with my shortest preamble yet!) are the lessons I reluctantly learned while Homeschooling for October – December 2016.

1) When the kids are having a hard time listening and following directions, it’s best for everyone to take a break. Even if the break lasts a month (or two).

(ie: Mommy needs a time out.)

You see, few things infuriate me as much as children who don’t listen or follow directions.

Also I hate sloppiness. And the fidgets.

And I particularly hate when they look at me instead of the zhuyin (Chinese phonetic system) when they are reading and aren’t sure if they are reading correctly.

I mean, do I look like I have zhuyin and can tell you how the word is pronounced?

Friends, pregnancy makes me really pissy. 

My poor, poor children.

I was so mean to them and so impatient and quick to anger and scream.

I cut short many a lesson due to me completely losing it and yelling at full blast on their every stumble or perceived imperfection.

Nothing encourages language retention and making mistakes and learning for fun like a mean dragon fire-breathing mommy.

I have since learned (and re-learned) to just take a break. And to repeatedly tell Cookie Monster and Gamera that it’s not their fault that Mommy feels awful and that they are wonderful and beautiful and smart and that the time out is for me and not because they are bad.

But mostly, I broke my children and tried to put them back together after they burst into tears because they couldn’t please their mean mommy.

Trust me when I say that everyone is glad that Sasquatch is out instead of in.

Apparently no longer being in constant pain makes me a much more pleasant person.

2) Accept help.

I am a control freak. Everyone knows this. But even us control freaks need to acknowledge their desperate need for help and assistance sometimes.

Thus, it was with great relief that on rare occasion, my mom would listen to the kids read in Chinese (I’m talking on ONE occurrence – but it was still appreciated!!), or Hapa Papa would have the kids do math.

It was especially easy because I wanted Cookie Monster to do repetitive drills/workbooks to make sure he not only understood the concept of addition/subtraction/multiplication/division but to do them so often they became automatic.

Gamera was a little more difficult since she can’t read and her Singapore Math books require a lot more reading than Cookie Monster’s rows and rows of math problems. So, that required more effort on the part of Hapa Papa but hey, it’s not like I had to do the work.

3) Outsourcing homeschooling is AWESOME.

I mean, this is really why most people do NOT homeschool and send their kids to either public or private school, right? Having someone else do the teaching is fantastic!

Of course, I prefer the flexibility homeschooling allows. But my willingness to also hire private tutors or have them attend small classes is a great way for my kids to make friends with other kids (albeit, few of them), as well as give me a break from at least some of my children.

4) Paying for things in advance is a great way to force your kids to persevere in classes.

My kids were less than enthused about attending outdoor education classes. But after me telling them they had no choice because we already paid for these classes and HFS they were expensive – my kids grumbled for weeks.

But they went and had a good time.

They had such a good time that after awhile, the real reason they hated going no longer was as much of an issue. It just became something they had to do. (They didn’t like the fact that we had to leave before 8am to get to class on time and drive a long time because it cut down on their morning iPad time. Spoiled little brats.)

Now, they very much enjoy class and even don’t mind going to class in the rain. (They’ve even been brainwashed because Cookie Monster told me that rainy days are the best because then Mother Earth gets her water. Also, he gets to jump in mud puddles.)

This even applied to my kids and their kungfu lessons. Since they took such a long break from kungfu in the summer, it was hard for them to get back in the swing of things. Their muscles were sore after classes and because they were more advanced than they used to be, the forms were harder and it required more effort.

So, of course, they complained.

They complained because since we missed so many weeks in the summer due to our Taiwan Trip, we had to make up the sessions and often went to kungfu 3-4 times a week. Apparently, that is too much for them.

Well, again, the fact that we had already pre-paid came in handy and I brooked no dissent. After awhile, they again got used to the new reality and their bodies adjusted and they are happy about kungfu again. (It helps that they just got their yellow-black belts and have upgraded to a more advanced class.)

5) Homeschooling is flexible enough to withstand a lot of disruption.

I briefly touched upon this in the previous points, but seriously. I was worried about how being miserably pregnant and then happily unpregnant but with a newborn was going to affect homeschooling.

I need not have worried.

Yes, yes. We skipped a lot of actual schooling at home because I had a baby and all. But you know what? They played a lot with each other, still had their other classes, and in general, we took things slowly.

And because we adjusted our rhythm and tempo, my kids did not suffer really and since they’re pretty far ahead on math and yes, even Chinese reading, I wasn’t really worried.

Also, despite the fact that I still had to shuttle them to a lot of classes, it was STILL a lot easier than shuttling the kids to and from “regular” school. The thought of dealing with pick up/drop off and the traffic and rush in the early mornings hurts me.

Our laid back lifestyle was MUCH better and much preferred.

Plus, kids learned a lot about babies, helping with cooking, and home responsibilities. That is also learning. 

Alright. I think that’s the gist of the last three months. Here’s to another month of homeschooling! Happy 2017!

How Things are Different with the 4th Baby

Everyone knows that your parenting changes from the first baby to the last baby. Even if it’s not worn out as a topic on HuffPo Parents or ScaryMommy, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about more and more.

I’ve been very lucky.

Not only did I have relatively easy, healthy pregnancies for all four children, I had relatively easy, healthy babies.

I realize that not everyone has these set of conditions and so though I complain, please know that I am grateful that my life as a parent has been mostly pain-free and easy.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been hard. Because really, the hardest part of parenting isn’t so much the children (all things considered), but more of your character being refined while parenting said children.

People: my character clearly was in great need of reformation.

Therapy is helping.

It’s sad how I need to pay $150 a week to a professional just so I can force myself to pay medical bills on time or to be more aware of my body so I don’t explode at my children – but hey. We all have our issues.

The point is: therapy works. (If you’re willing to put in the work.)

Oh yes, tangent.

Look, by now you are all long-time readers. We all know I have to tangent and meander for at least a few hundred words before I ever get to the point. It’s in the contract.

Anyhow, parenting Sasquatch has been a markedly different experience than parenting Cookie Monster.

Well, of course, I have a ton more experience because I’ve done this three times prior. But surprisingly, it’s because he’s the last.

After all, I have had a lot of experience with my own babies, but only this baby is the last baby.

I have to admit, a lot of the finer details of parenting Gamera and Glow Worm as newborns have been lost to the haze of memory. And when I had more trouble than I previously had with conceiving Sasquatch, I was unprepared because I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for Glow Worm to be the last and I was afraid that he might be.

It was hard to realize that I should have been actively treasuring my moments and firsts with Glow Worm because he was possibly my last baby.

I wasn’t prepared.

But then, thankfully, I got pregnant with Sasquatch and now can be more mindful about all his firsts because he is truly my last. (Well, barring an act of God and quite frankly, immaculate conception – which is also an act of God.)

So then, here now is my list of things that are different with my fourth vs with my first three.

1) I don’t mind carrying Sasquatch everywhere and all the time.

I know he could probably do more tummy time or swing time or not sitting on a human time, but you know what?

LAST BABY.

Ima hold that baby as long as I want.

2) I have no problem handing him off to people – even if I just met them.

Well, within reason, I suppose. When I did hand him to someone I just met, they were a good friend of one of my good friends so it’s ok.

3) I know the importance of pumping milk. Because pumped milk equals freedom.

When Cookie Monster was born, I didn’t leave my house for four months. I rarely got out of pajamas. As a result, I rarely needed to pump milk (although I still did). I also didn’t really want to leave him behind.

Now? Now, the only limiting factors to me leaving Sasquatch with Hapa Papa are the availability of pumped milk and lingering guilt about leaving Hapa Papa with four small children.

Alright. Full disclosure. There is only one limiting factor. I just didn’t want to seem like an asshole.

4) I have no problem co-sleeping until Sasquatch is a tween.

With Cookie Monster, I didn’t really know any better and he wasn’t a good sleeper because I had no idea what I was doing. So he slept on me or poorly throughout the night until I sleep trained him at nine months.

Sasquatch has been co-sleeping with us since day one and really, he’s a good little sleeper and if he ever stirs at night, I just shove a boob in his mouth and he dream feeds and maybe, I change him once around 3 or 4am and then he goes right back to bed.

With Gamera and Glow Worm, they were sleeping in their cribs by two months and mostly through the night. Sasquatch has slept in his crib once. For maybe twenty minutes.

Mostly, he sleeps in my bed next to me with a boob at the ready or he is sleeping on a human. I have started to put him on the couch when he’s napping and he’s slept for hours that way just fine. But I have been too lazy to put him in his crib because WHY?

The silence would probably wake him up. He prefers to sleep deeply to the screams and rabble-rousing of his siblings.

5) If possible, I kiss him even MORE than I kissed all the other babies. Mostly because um, BABY. Also? LAST BABY.

6) I never fully realized just how much oxytocin is amazing.

Seriously, every time I nurse Sasquatch (especially at night in bed), I get a rush of butterflies and love and cozy and happy chocolate chip cookie feelings.

I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.

I’m not really a tender sort of person (I know, collective gasps of disbelief). But this baby boy makes me all squishy inside.

He’s my last shot of squishy.

7) Corollary: I will probably be nursing Sasquatch until he’s ten.

I mean, Glow Worm started nursing again, so it’s not like I’m not okay with it.

8) I have ZERO desire to make new mommy friends.

In fact, I am completely relieved that one of my good friends had a baby right after I had Sasquatch. Our other kids are already good frenemies so I see no reason why our last kids can’t continue on in this grand tradition.

Truthfully, I was more open to making new friends when Glow Worm came along because I knew that he wouldn’t have any friends his age. So, I gamely had weekly Mandarin playgroups at my house and tried.

tried, people.

And I do like and enjoy these mommies, but their kids were their first and not to discount their experiences, but they were different concerns than mine and it was a little harder to relate.

I enjoy them just fine as people and hanging out with them occasionally, but I never got super close. It’s totally my own fault because they were super friendly and inviting. I just was lazy and anti-social.

(Ok, so maybe I didn’t try as hard as I thought I did.)

For Sasquatch, I really am not even going to bother. I mean, if I happen to accidentally make friends with people, I’m not going to stop it from happening. But between homeschooling the other kids and schlepping them to their classes, I don’t see a lot of time for playdates focusing on babies.

My older kids would ruin everything and likely terrify these first time mothers.

9) Instead of eagerly (and gleefully) spending gobs of money buying useless baby stuff, I am eagerly (and gleefully) getting RID of baby stuff.

Thus far, I have happily given away all of Gamera’s clothes and shoes from 6 months to 4T.

I have another person lined up for all my boy/gender neutral baby clothes as soon as Sasquatch grows out of them (he’s already in 6 month clothing).

This same person is also getting my baby swing (which I got from another friend who said I can do whatever I want with the swing as long as I don’t give it back), bouncer, and exersaucer and towels and shoes and blankets and pretty much EVERY THING I CAN FOIST UPON THIS UNSUSPECTING PERSON.

Too bad she doesn’t want my stroller. Anyone want a free stroller?

I am passing along my cloth diaper prefolds and covers to another friend because Fatty Baby here pees a ridiculous amount and I have already upped him to toddler sized prefolds because MY GOD THE PEE.

The only thing I had to buy another one of is cloth diaper covers because apparently, 7 year old cloth diaper covers lose their elasticity and are too loose and I HATE LEAKS DAMMIT so um, yeah.

Also, I have gotten rid of all baby toys like rattles, teethers, etc. because quite frankly, even Cookie Monster didn’t use them as a baby and I DON’T WANT IT IN MY HOUSE ANYMORE.

10) Beyond getting rid of massive amounts of baby things (seriously, I have zero sentimentality about it), I also travel much lighter. With Cookie Monster, I think I packed everything possible in that diaper bag and when I had Gamera, I had a huge weekender sized diaper bag that packed even MORE of everything.

When Glow Worm came along, I had jettisoned most of that stuff and just had a bare bones wet bag for diapers and clothes that I could just shove into my purse.

Same thing for Sasquatch. In fact, I’m lucky if I remember to pack wipes. I am much more whatever about things than I used to be.

In fact, for both Glow Worm and Sasquatch, I don’t even bother with a stroller. (Again – anyone want a stroller?)

I ergo these kids everywhere because it’s much easier to walk around with a baby strapped to me than to deal with taking out a stroller, shoving said baby into the stroller, and then keeping track of three other kids while both of my hands are occupied with steering said stroller.

And with Sasquatch, I didn’t even bother buying a new infant car seat. I hated detaching those suckers and carrying the 25lb seat with a 15lb baby in it is completely UNAPPEALING let alone doing so with three other children.

Plus, I was pretty sure he was going to be a fatty and outgrow the weigh limits ASAP so why bother spending the money?

11) The one thing I didn’t anticipate was how often I would split up with Hapa Papa and go out with just Sasquatch. I arrogantly told Irish Twins when she offered me a free car seat to shut her damn mouth and take that filth away from me and um, oops.

Since I was not nearly has homebound as I thought I would be, I ended up buying the cheapest highly rated car seat possible. I’m not spending $200+ on a backup car seat. $50 is just fine, thanks.

12) I no longer give two snaps about who sees my breasts when I breastfeed. I used to bring covers with Cookie Monster or nursed in other rooms in case people were uncomfortable.

Nope.

That’s one more thing for me to bring, get dirty, and possibly lose so NOPE.

You don’t want to see my breasts? DON’T LOOK.

Amazing!

I mean, I still try to wear clothing so that drapes and provides cover while baby is eating, but quite frankly, I don’t care.

By the time you have your fourth kid, so many people have seen your under bits and pieces that modesty just goes out the window.

And again. People don’t want to see boobies? Use your gorram orbital muscles and LOOK AWAY.

13) Crying doesn’t bother me. At all. Not in the slightest.

Which is useful because apparently, Sasquatch, like his siblings before him, hates the car and will likely hate the car for another 3-4 months.

14) The best part of the last baby, though, is that I already know what’s coming. I know about when they will teethe, sit up, crawl, vocalize, whatever.

So, I don’t have to worry about when things will happen and just enjoy them for what they’re worth. Every thing, both good and bad (and I guess neutral), has its season and fades away.

I am trying to be slightly more mindful of them and cherish the moments of Sasquatch being a fatty baby with a gummy smile and silly newborn sounds. (His angry nursing grumbles and panicked squeaks are hilarious.)

I’m sure there will be more things to add to this list as my last baby gets bigger and bigger. Bittersweet, but I’m glad for the beginning of the end of this season and happy to see what lies ahead.

What I’ve Been Doing Instead of Writing

Happy New Year, friends!

Ok, ok. The new year started nine days ago. I’m a little late to the game. But you know what? Technically, a new year starts every single second so there.

I decided to give myself a break from writing what with a two month old and the holidays and what not. But at some point, a break can become a state of being so I forced myself to take time to actually write.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. But it is a muscle that has taken a good 3-5 month break because let’s be real, I haven’t written much in the back quarter of the year.

I couldn’t even get it together for the typical 2016 round up posts like my top posts of the year, my top Chinese posts of the year, my top books, etc.

So, what have I been doing instead of writing both to relieve stress, exercise my brain, as well as entertain you lovely people?

Here then, is a handy list:

1) Munching on Sasquatch.

Look. He’s two months and change and fat. SO DELICIOUSLY FAT.

He’s my last baby so dammit, I am his sole source of nourishment and he’s gotta be 15+ pounds by now and I MADE THAT so you know what?

I GET TO EAT HIM.

2) Playing Two Dots and its sequel, Dots & Co.

Instead of doing something productive like reading or writing or parenting, I play this mindless game. I’ve even thrown money at it. I’m not too proud to admit that.

I even got my brother, my sister-in-law, Cookie Monster, and some friends addicted.

I’ve done my duty to society. You’re welcome.

3) Read.

I finally got off my ass and started reading again. Ok, I guess I haven’t really stopped reading so much as took a month or so break from reading fantasy novels that really are a huge time investment.

It has been glorious.

I will be doing a book post soon so I will expound on those books then.

But needless to say, reading has been awesome. The authors are really stepping up their game.

However, this does cut into my sleep so I am tired. A lot. And this also does not help with the writing thing.

4) Stalked and overshared on Facebook.

Ok, that really isn’t any sort of new behavior. But it certainly has taken up a lot of my time.

5) Adulting.

Yes, yes. I have gotten a head start on my goals for 2017 and actually started to pay medical bills on time. (Seriously – this is the first time out of the four babies I have actually paid for the birth bills within six months of the baby appearing.)

I also submitted insurance claims and opened brokerage accounts and transferred money and added beneficiaries and made sure that if Hapa Papa and I were to both die that Sasquatch would get his fair share of our loot.

Priorities, people.

6) Avoided reading the newspaper.

Even though I have a digital subscription to the NYT and used to also read HuffPo religiously, I have completely stopped reading articles unless they are posted on Facebook.

I think I got burned out on the news during the election.

I know I should go back to reading because being informed during the Trump Presidency will be key to making sure our rights aren’t eroded and stolen out from under us.

But still. I needed a break.

7) Using my Instant Pot.

Okokokokok. I don’t want to overstate my actual usage. But I’ve used it 5-6 times since my friend came over and made me dinner so I consider it a win.

It doesn’t really take up that much time. I just wanted to brag.

8) Texting.

Again. Not a new thing. But I want to be honest.

Now that I list things out, I feel a little embarrassed. After all, you can’t call yourself a writer if you’re not writing.

(Although, really. Is it a constant state of writing that makes you a writer? Or you have to write a certain percentage of time? I mean, if you’re not actively seeing patients, you’re still a doctor, right? So how come you can only call yourself a writer if you write? Sorry. Tangent.)

Anyhow, this is just a pre-emptive pronouncement that there are BIG THINGS coming down the pipeline. And by BIG THINGS, I mean, just the usual. I just wanted to hype myself up to get excited about writing again.

Mostly, I just need to get back in the habit of writing and re-learning the fact that I can no longer dedicate huge swaths of time to writing (among other things) and need to figure out how to work productively in short spurts of time.

You know, be an actual grown up.

Alright. That’s it for today. What have you been up to during the holidays? Let me know in the comments.

Random Thoughts

Friends, I am a little tipsy on fatigue and a day full of drinking prosecco at Cookie Monster’s birthday party. So, if today’s post is particularly punchy and random, blame the baby. Being tired hurts my brain cells more than the prosecco.

Seriously, you need to check out my friend, Miranda Wicker’s, Wine Shop at Home site and order this prosecco. I am not a fan of wine at all. I smell wine and fall over drunk. Quite frankly, I don’t see the appeal.

However, I am a fan of sparkling wine (which I recently learned is just champagne from areas other than Champagne, France). In fact – I particularly enjoy prosecco during the day (there is something delightfully naughty about drinking in the day time for me). So because I love my friend, Miranda, I wanted to support her business and bought two bottles of their Le Cadeaux Semi-Seco.

Dude, the shipping was $18 because they have to pay by weight and use a fancy bottle cushioner thingy to make sure your wine bottles arrive unbroken (IMPORTANT). But other than that, the wine arrived in 2 days.

TWO DAYS. (It might have even be less than two days – I can’t remember because I am a horrible reviewer of things but you’re stuck with me so I’M NOT SORRY.)

Anyhow, I originally was considering ordering a case on Black Friday for $240 but Hapa Papa put his foot down and ruined all things (he claims I don’t drink enough but you know what? I could and I could start now. Talk about a lack of imagination on his part. Lame.)

I meant to immediately start drinking the moment I received the package but since I was by myself, I didn’t want to waste it and risk it losing all its bubbly because I can’t kill a bottle by myself. I even bought special bottle stoppers for bubblies because otherwise it will lose its fizz and I was not about to ruin $22 bottle wine. (Affiliate link.)

But it turns out I needn’t have bothered with the wine stopper because it’s all gone gone gone. Down my gullet and my friends. YUM. Not too sweet and not too dry. Just the way I like it.

Ok. That was a pretty boozy preamble for a non-drinker. But now onto my other thoughts.

1) I finally convinced my mother that Hapa Papa and I don’t want Christmas presents and I would rather spend time with her watching a movie or eating so we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them tonight.

Since I exclusively breastfeed, I had to start pumping milk this week so I would have enough milk for Sasquatch during the three hours I would be out.

It was hard because I haven’t been pumping and I was starving when trying to ramp up production. Making milk is hard work. Also? I lost sleep because instead of sleeping, I was pumping milk.

Sasquatch ate 10 ounces in the three hours I was gone and when I got home, he was still hungry. This was after I fed him before I left.

People, this means I will need to pump milk for months before I will have enough for baby boy when I go off to Type A Parent West 2017 in Denver this coming April.

I am going to be very hungry and cranky.

2) Incidentally, because I so rarely watch movies now, all the previews seem amazing. I teared up inappropriately at all the movies. Every movie looked amazing.

3) My mom seemed really happy to watch a movie. She loves movies but doesn’t have anyone to watch with. I don’t know why we haven’t gone to see more movies together.

In 2017, I am going to make more of an effort to watch movies with my mom. Easy peasy.

4) I have been listening to The Weeknd on Spotify lately after reading a review in the New York Times of his latest album.

I never realized just how filthy The Weeknd is.

Also? His cover of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana is amazing. If I could sex a song I would have sex with this song. It is so good.

Maybe I just don’t listen enough to music. I don’t know.

5) I am starving.

6) My friend’s husband was so appalled that I’ve owned the Instant Pot (affiliate link) since July but I still hadn’t brought it out of the box to use it; he decided to make us dinner with my Instant Pot.

People – this is how you friend, ok? Everyone else? STEP UP YOUR GAME.

He kept trying to tell me how awesome the Instant Pot is by describing all the things I could make and I just kept laughing at him. Me make tacos? Pulled pork? Braised pork shoulders?

I don’t make these things. I eat these things.

I am chuckling just thinking about it.

7) Geez, people. I really am ravenous. But Sasquatch is on me and I am in bed.

Sigh.

8) Oh, and I know I mentioned it last week, but HFS, I have been adulting af this week.

I AM MADE OF WIN.

I don’t know how long this will last. I am deeply suspicious of myself.

And with that note, I should sleep. (I will lost likely squeeze in a few more games of Two Dots though because I can only make so many wise decisions without maxing them out.)

Happy Monday!