Sagebooks Challenge

I’m so excited!

I finally get to announce that Sagebooks HK and I are working together for the next four months.

If you have been reading me for a long time, you’ll know that I’m a super fan of Sagebooks HK and that I think they are without a doubt, the most effective way to teach Chinese characters for children in Chinese speaking families.

I have dreamed of partnering with them on anything for at least several years. And now, at the start of 2018, my dream has finally come true.


Enough preamble. Here’s what’s coming to Mandarin Mama and the Sagebooks HK Blog.

Sagebooks Challenge

Starting Monday, February 5, 2018, I will be featuring a weekly series called The Sagebooks Challenge.

Every week, I will be chronicling Glow Worm (4) and I going through the Sagebooks HK Basic Chinese 500 series and their Treasure BoxesWe’ll go over our objectives, our challenges, our wins, and pretty much anything I think will be helpful to someone going through Sagebooks for the first time. (This will be my third time through – I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!) I will also include photos and videos for people wanting to check out the sets before they purchase.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sagebooks, it is a series of 5 sets of 5 books that teach your children how to read the top 500 high frequency characters in children’s books. The books come in both Traditional and Simplified characters, with pinyin and an English translation at the bottom. Each chapter builds on the previous chapter so that your child acquires new vocabulary and character knowledge in a trackable, systematic way.

They also have a set of Treasure Boxes of 5 books per set for a total of 25 Treasure Box books which are readers that ONLY contain the characters they have learned up until that point (with maybe an additional new character or two).

Sagebooks Basic Chinese 500 Set and Treasure Boxes

Sagebooks Basic Chinese 500 Set, Treasure Box Sets 1-5, Idioms 1-5, Antonyms 1-2, Bunny Comics

I will be coming back to this post and updating it with links to the ongoing series.

Sagebooks HK Parent Support Group

In partnership with Sagebooks HK, I will be managing the new Sagebooks HK Parent Support Facebook Group. If you are thinking of buying this series or already own the series, join us!

We all know how hard it is to do something alone – let alone the prospect of teaching our children how to read Chinese! Join the group and meet other parents who are teaching their kids Sagebooks Basic Chinese 500 at all different ages and levels.

We just opened up the group and would love to have you!

This group provides a space for you to have accountability, ask and answer questions, exchange ideas, and have partners as you go through the sets. The more your participate, the more you will receive.

Plus, I’ll be doing weekly Facebook Live videos on how to use Sagebooks Basic Chinese 500, the Treasure Boxes, and other special announcements!

One note: Please remember to answer the membership questions. All requests without answers will be deleted.

Sagebooks HK Blog

In addition, every Tuesday morning, I will be on the Sagebooks HK Blog providing a time tested tip from our more seasoned parents as well as a fun and easy activity/game to help your kids remember the characters in a way that doesn’t involve a book or flashcards.

The more ways we can make learning Chinese characters fun, the better!

I am super excited.

In case you can’t tell, I am ecstatic about working with Sagebooks HK. I’m a little bit terrified, too (but don’t tell them that).

I hope you will join me on the Sagebooks Challenge with me and Glow Worm and either follow along with us or, if you’ve already started, to continue ahead of us. Then, check out the Sagebooks HK Blog and finally, tell us what worked, what didn’t, what you need help with at the Sagebooks HK Parent Support Facebook Group.

Have you tried Sagebooks before? Let me know in the comments.

My Word of the Year 2018

If your newsfeeds are anything like mine, you’ve likely been inundated with posts about choosing your Word of the Year (WotY), what was your WotY, what is your new WotY, etc. for at least since Thanksgiving.

I think it’s great because I LOVE the WotY trend and in case you can’t tell, I’m super into it. However, since I’m me, I tend more towards Phrase of the Year (PotY) because I can’t be brief for the life of me. I partner it with very specific goals for my year because I have found that for myself, if I do not lay down SMART goals, I might as well save myself the time and do nothing.

Last year, my PotY was, “Suck It Up” and I checked in every month on my goals and how I was doing with the phrase. They’re not my more popular posts, but I find it helpful for myself because throughout the month, I will think, “Uh oh. I have to check in with my readers so I better get my shit together!”

I found this to be a lot more useful than when I merely wrote about my phrases and goals occasionally like I did in 2016. I mean, I accomplished more than I would have than if I didn’t have a PotY, but it was not as amazing as I had hoped to be.

Anyhow, all this preamble just to say, I’m going to continue my 2017 habit of monthly posts and I invite you all to join me in keeping ourselves accountable and on track for what we wish to accomplish in 2018.

Soooooo… my 2018 Phrase of the Year is: Just Go!

It was originally going to be Continue, but I was called out on it saying that Continue was too safe. Especially after Sucking It Up and Risking Dangerously! I thought about it some more and decided my friend and coach, Brandi Riley, was right.

Thus: Just Go!

Why did I choose this and what does it mean for me?

I am an overthinker extraordinaire.

My brain rushes from zero to eleventy-million in half a second and I have the super powerful ability to turn any simple task with one step into a super complicated PROJECT with 193 steps, 3,287 sub-steps, project management software, a Powerpoint presentation, and a wallaby.

Then, I take a look at the wallaby and become completely overwhelmed and either get further mired in details and never start because I will never bulletproof every possible catastrophe and be an immediate expert, or I start the project and then stop.

If I manage to actually finish something, then I freak out and hold off pushing “publish” because WHAT IF I MADE A MISTAKE?

Gracious, it’s a minor miracle that I have ever finished anything at all in my entire life.

Here’s what has transformed my mindset: the idea of just doing something and finishing it even if it’s not perfect.

Launch it broken; fix it live.

That is my new mantra and I’m going to use it to support Just Go! (Incidentally, the exclamation point is totally vital to my phrase.)

If I wait until I know everything or have everything perfect, it will never happen. Plus, I’m starting to realize that not everyone is hanging on my every single word, move, or post. (I am personally offended by this, but I accept that this fact will lead me to take better risks and be bolder with my actions.)

This has already translated into me trying Instagram and even finally Tweeting on the Twitter. I even participated in a Twitter party and did not die.


I felt foolish. Stupid. Unbearably slow. But I lived.

And now, for the part that fascinates only my super fans (which sadly, does not include Hapa Papa) and is useful only to myself, I will now delineate my Goals for 2018.

1) Take family and self-care seriously and Adult.

I want to do this because when I don’t “adult,” it allows all my triggers to build up and get extra twitchy. When that happens, I yell at my kids and swear and throw tantrums and am a general asshole.

So, this means:

  • Taking daily vitamins so I am caring for my health.
  • Getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep so I’m not grumpy.
  • Eating on a regular schedule so I don’t get hangry.
  • Taking care of my skin because I’m vain and when I look good, I feel good.
  • Keeping my kitchen table 85% clear every day because when it’s cluttered, I get cranky.
  • Not buying more stuff (including toys) because clutter in my house makes me apoplectic. Also, I want to save more money.
  • Doing the household/life maintenance work because when it builds up, I get stressed out and procrastinate and that makes me feel bad.


I have huge (for me) goals that I want to accomplish for my business this year. It feels odd to call myself a business, but I need to treat my work as a business that is in the business of making money so that I make money.

I’m reading (affiliate link) You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero and I’m sick of getting in my own way.

So, here are my work goals for 2018:

  • Make enough money to cover business expenses associated with my blog and related events (eg: conferences, CPA, etc.).
  • Stretch goal: to also make enough to cover all my monthly mortgage expenses for the year.
  • Pitch 3-5 times a week.
  • Submit to other publications at least once a month.
  • Write weekly LinkedIn posts.
  • Write a book.
  • Weekly FB Lives.
  • Revamp/rehaul site.
  • Daily interaction/activity on LI/IG/P/Tw.

If I think about it too much, I am going to freak out and become overwhelmed. After all, this is a lot of shit – and doesn’t even include my homeschooling the kids and taking care of them on a day to day basis.

But I’m going to take a tip from my Phrase of the Year and Just Go!

I am going to launch it broken; fix it live. I’m going to continue building on what I’ve done the last two years, and 2018 is going to be the best year yet.

Let me know if you do the WotY/PotY and tell me your goals in the comments. We can do it together.

My Official Throat Clearing Post of 2018

Happy New Year, friends!!

I know. I’ve been a little scarce around these parts lately. The irony of me trying to get more writing work is that now I have more writing work, but less time to write for myself.


It’s silly because the reason I think people want to work with me or read my blog is because I write for myself. I’m going to figure out how to balance all this different type of writing so I thank you all in advance while I likely go through some growing pains.

Hilarious Kermit The Frog GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Anyhow, it’s been awhile since I had one of my mental flotsam posts, so you’re in luck! I have a lot of inchoate thoughts flitting about in my withered brain so here we go! The official throat clearing of 2018 post!

1) I’m freaking out a little bit. I’m not going to lie.

I went after the things I wanted and I got some of them. And now, I have to make good on the promise to write a lot of content for people because that’s what I’m getting paid to do.

It’s like the instant I declared I was going to write and pursue opportunities, the Universe heard me and threw a bunch in my way and now HOLY FUCKING SHIT I am being paid to write but now I have to write and all these insecurities and fears and self-sabotage are trying to sneak into my noggin when I’m looking the other direction —


I don’t really normally go for the woo woo stuff, but in this sense, I do think I am more open to possibilities and because I have been preparing for it, I can now capitalize on them. So, DEEP BREATHS.

I can do this.

2) One person or another has been sick in my house since Thanksgiving. (Most of the time, it has been me.) Several of the kids have gotten sick multiple times, I have been permanently producing snot of the lime green variety since time out of mind, and I am NOT having it.

In fact, turns out Gamera (6) and Sasquatch (1) had pneumonia. How did I figure it out? I spent New Year’s Eve Day and New Year Day in the hospital because Sasquatch was having severe shortness of breath and lower oxygen levels. We first went into the ER (which was crowded with folks with the flu) and they ended up admitting us into the ICU. (It wasn’t that serious. That’s just the only secure wing for kids.)

This was particularly fun because exactly a week before, on Christmas Eve Night, I spent it in the ER with Glow Worm (4) because he had a bad allergic reaction to something and I had to Epipen him.

But now that we’re finally on the upswing thanks to the miracle of antibiotics, health insurance, and amazing health care professionals, I am determined to keep us all healthy.

I am now religiously shoveling doTerra supplements down my craw, my children’s mouths, and diffusing oils in all our rooms. I have half a mind to burn sage in my home to cleanse us from the pneumococcal demons and whatever lingering negativity leftover from 2017.

OMG. I swear I’m not down with the woo. But I’m OPEN to the woo if it keeps me NOT SICK. Incidentally, can we do a sage smudging in the White House? Is that considered advocating for impeachment?

I digress.

Wait. This whole post is a digression.

3) I’m kind of bummed I read half as many books as I used to last year. But then again, I emphasized more writing and I added a child to our household, so I guess that’s an acceptable reason.

I also racked up $17.50 in library fines last week.

But I have to accept that I cannot have everything I want all at the same time. I have the same 24 hours as everyone else. So, knowing that I need minimum of six hours sleep to be functional – but really, I require 8-10 hours because I love my children, that requires me to be ruthless with my free time.

I still have to figure this one out. But I’m sure I will find some sort of new normal.

4) I will just continue fantasizing about a week of doing nothing but reading, eating, watching TV, sleeping, and writing.

5) Sasquatch lost three pounds and is no longer a fatty baby. Stupid pneumonia. Stupid, stupid pneumonia.

6) I have all these germs of post ideas inside me. I just need the space to let them sprout.

7) I am much happier now that I’ve gotten a rid of more toys. Also, now that the Christmas Tree (aka: the fire hazard) is out of my house, I now have that space back. Instead of putting whatever was there back in that corner, I am now parking their ride on toys and slide and that makes me feel better.

I am deluding myself that these things will stay there and no longer clutter my hallways. Let me keep up this delusion.

8) I am constantly astonished at how I equate verbal children with comprehension and intelligence.

I constantly underestimated Glow Worm when he was a baby and toddler and preschooler because he didn’t really start talking until he was 2.5 – and even then, we didn’t really understand what he was saying until he was 3.5.

And now, Sasquatch is the same. He makes noises and points, but I always forget that he is actually very clever and understands how things work. Some examples of his geniosity:

a) At the hospital, he kept pointing in the direction of a chair and I finally figured out that he wanted the purse. I picked up the purse for him and then he pointed to the door. Turns out, he knew that I needed to take my purse before I could leave and he was telling Mommy that we needed to GTFO of the hospital.

I tested him by putting the purse down and he went ballistic. He was so mad.

When Hapa Papa came to visit, Sasquatch pointed at Hapa Papa’s backpack and the door. You know, because his mom was too stupid to exercise his desires.

b) When I put something intentionally out of his reach, Sasquatch will now go and get a stool, pick up the stool, and move it to where I have put something and then climb on the stool to try and reach the item.

c) When I put him down for a nap and he is not. having. it. He will point to the white noise machine for me to turn it off. Then he will point to my glasses for me to put them on. Then he will point to the door. If I put my glasses back on or turn the noise machine on again, he goes straight for all my soft fleshy bits of my face and tries to gouge out my eyes for my disobedience.

Baby boy clearly knows how things work in the house and has broken them down in steps that must be followed. CLEARLY HE UNDERSTANDS SYSTEMS. A child after my own heart.

9) It occurred to me that perhaps Glow Worm and Sasquatch would have spoken earlier had I done half the things I did with Cookie Monster (8) and Gamera. You know, read to them. Talked to them. Played games and pointed things out to them. Actively taught them vocabulary.

Whatever. Who needs their kids to be early talkers? That just means I have to tell them to STFU at a younger age.


10) It’s so sad now when Glow Worm gets in trouble. He will look down, frown, and then his chin will QUIVER.

It’s SO SAD.

I feel like such an asshole. But I’m onto him. I refuse to feel bad.

11) Ok. I do feel bad. Hapa Papa told me a few weeks ago that it has gotten to the point that it’s no longer, “Mommy is mad so she is mad and yelling” but now “That’s just who Mommy is.”

The truth hurts, folks.

I blame the pneumonia and the non-stop being sick since Thanksgiving.

But also, I need to make sure I get back on track of not yelling at the kids. It’s better than I used to be, but by no means great. The Angry Toy Purges have helped IMMENSELY.

12) I didn’t understand Instagram but now that I have signed up and started posting, I really like it. It doesn’t mean I understand it – but I do like it.

Are you following me on there?

I have two feeds:

a) @TheMandarinMama is basically my catch all feed. I post pics about my life, homeschooling, and the daily circus that is my household. Plus, lots of cute baby pics of Sasquatch. In fact, he’s the reason I got included on a list of accounts making Instagram Great Again by my friend, Brandi Riley.

b) @TeachKidsChinese posts tips and pics of what I’m doing to teach my kids Chinese. I promise I’m not too preachy or sanctimonious! But follow me there if you like to know what Chinese books my kids are reading or if they’re procrastinating doing their Chinese homework.

Ok. I think I’m done for now. I have a LOT of things I want to say this year. Thanks for listening.