Entry is Hard

Ok. That sounds way more provocative than this post actually is. Also? That’s what she said!

I know. I’m twelve. But you all knew that already so really, it’s your own fault for not expecting it.

Anyhow, we made it to the Taiwan and are mostly settled into our apartment. It’s very spacious and modern and has all new amenities and I’m a big fan of the clean, modern look. Too bad my kids are going to ruin it but oh well. Them’s the breaks.

While prepping for the trip (as well as during the traveling portion), I kept hearing that I was so brave or whatever, but let me just set the record straight (as well as show you how I have utterly failed in the first 24 hours of our trip so far).

I am not brave. Just determined. And committed. (Because thousands of dollars have literally been paid at this point, so what else can I do even if I don’t want to do it?) And also incredibly deficient in the memory department.

Also? I have lots of help. Some solicited, some not so much. But all of it has been helpful! (Even when I have to grit my teeth and be thankful when I’m not.)

Anyhow, I guess what I mean is that I’m not Super Mom or Super Woman (but perhaps, Super Stupid) and here are just some of the thoughts and things that have happened in the past few days.

1) Even though I made this same trek two summers ago (and an easier version of it a year and a half ago), I was still apprehensive. I mean, I was certainly LESS frightened and terrified than I was in 2014.

But still, lots of new variables this year such as traveling alone with three kids while 5-6 months pregnant. (I know, I know. I still have no idea exactly how pregnant I am. Sorry!)

Plus, we were staying in a new area and going to new schools and camps and living by ourselves instead of with friends. Lots of new things despite me having done it before (which, don’t get me wrong, helped a LOT).

2) Gamera woke up the morning of the flight with a deep, yucky sounding cough. I was hoping it was just a minor thing, but it has now progressed from a nasty cough to a nasty cough with a fever. Poor baby girl.

My mom and aunt of course freaked out and for a brief moment, I worried she had strep throat. But thanks to Dr. Google and its accompanying images, I don’t think she does. If she’s still miserable after a few days, of course, I will take her to the doctor. That should also be an adventure. Sigh.

3) Our flight was delayed a little over an hour. Obviously, no one enjoys a flight delay – but people with small children REALLY do not enjoy flight delays. That’s just more time we have to occupy our kids and pray and hope that the waiting outside of the plane doesn’t eat up all the good behavior INSIDE of the plane.

4) At least United offered family boarding for families with kids aged 2 and under. And so we were the second people on the plane. We certainly needed every minute of it since Glow Worm refused to sit without me.

But because of the way the plane seats are arranged, there are three on each side and three in the middle. I booked three seats on the side and then an aisle seat in the middle right next to them. My original plan was to sit by myself in the aisle and have the three kids sit together.

Glow Worm was not having any of that shit. I begged Cookie Monster to sit in the lone seat and he absolutely refused, crying and about to throw a tantrum. I begged Gamera and she agreed reluctantly to sit by herself, a mere foot away from me. Turns out she got the better end of the deal because she did not end up having to share an iPad or have Glow Worm use her as a pillow and kick her in the face.

Incidentally, I always forget how small and vulnerable Glow Worm is because he’s such a rough and tumble kid. But he kept telling me he was scared and held onto my arm or hand for the first hour of the flight and periodically when there was turbulence and when we landed. I almost teared up. My baby boy!

5) Kids barely ate any of the food. Picky little shits. They ate some snacks but they quickly got sick of the snacks I brought, too. I tried to tell them it was their own fault they were hungry, but what can you do? They were hungry. Thank goodness they slept for a few hours.

6) Speaking of sleep, I am pleased with the flight timing. We left at 3:15pm (although it was supposed to be 2:15pm) and arrived around 7pm in Taipei. The ride to the apartment took about an hour and then we got settled in and ate and kids goofed off for a few hours.

Oh, what was I saying? Yes. Sleep on the plane.

Glow Worm slept the most on the plane at about 5-6 hours. Gamera kept coughing herself awake but got an intermittent 4-5 hours. Cookie Monster, in keeping with what I expected, slept at most 2-3 hours.

And yet, Cookie Monster was the LAST to sleep on our first night. I don’t think he went to bed until 2:30am. Glow Worm was once again, the first to conk out at around 12:30am (he put himself to sleep looking at YouTube on my phone) and Gamera fell asleep around 1:30am. She kept waking up periodically throughout the night and around 4:30am, she was up for good. (Plus, she had a fever.)

Glow Worm woke up around 5:30am and Cookie Monster showed up around 6:45am. All in all, I got the least sleep out of everyone. I was pretty cranky.

In fact, I am trying really hard not to nap, right now. But I figure, if I fall asleep now, I will have a problem sleeping later. (At least I got to see Deadpool on the plane!)

My goal is to have the kids in bed around 7:30pm tonight since that’s about the time I will be wanting them in bed when camp/school starts. That would allow for enough time in the morning to eat and dress and spray down with bug spray and sunblock at a leisurely pace.

Anyhow, wish me luck tonight. Cookie Monster better get his shit together and fall asleep already.

7) Of course, this morning, we had no food. The only food being the snacks I had brought with me on the plane. My kids were not interested.

So eventually, around 8:30am, I lugged my three kids and myself to explore the area around our apartment and find some food as well as buy a few things to tide us over.

Total fail.

Went to the local 7/11 and bought some milk and orange juice but for some reason, didn’t buy any ACTUAL food for them to eat this morning. I think I figured we’d find a breakfast place open. Nope. Also, the ones that were open had no pictures on the menus and lots of eggs. (Glow Worm is allergic to eggs.)

I forgot that I can’t really read Chinese and that sometimes, I only end up doing well at least a week in. I was a little overwhelmed and indecisive (especially considering kids are picky and have food allergies) and managed to buy nothing of actual sustenance that we could immediately consume.

Cookie Monster kept whining that his OJ had “lines” in it. Turns out, it was pulp and both Cookie Monster and Gamera were like, FUCK PULP.

I bought two bottles of the orange juice, too. And they were heavy. I know because I had to carry them back to the apartment along with some milk and a bunch of random crap.

Of course, I still forgot to buy food. (Unless you count mini M&Ms and chocolate Pocky sticks as food.)

We did manage to hang out at a local playground for all of five minutes. My kids were like, FUCK THIS PARK. (Well, all except Glow Worm. Of course, he was sopping wet because of dew. Sigh.)

Did I mention that I forgot to slather my kids with sunscreen because I figured we would be in the shadow of large buildings? Nope.

Gamera wilted by 9:33am. She was like, “My legs hurt! I want to go back to the other Taiwan!”

Beats me what the other Taiwan is. I think she means our apartments.

But yeah, that was fun.

8) We hung out at the apartment for another few hours and then my cousin came by and we went to a local food court wherein my kids couldn’t eat because they didn’t know how to use chopsticks and I had to feed them and when I went and asked for forks, a worker told me in an extremely condescending voice that in Taiwan, they use chopsticks to eat. Thanks, you fucking asshat.

Also? I managed to spill a bowl of noodle soup all over my favorite dress. If it stains with oil or grease, I will be severely aggravated.

9) Went to the grocery store after and managed to actually buy food stuffs. But not sure if I actually bought anything useful. Sigh. I’m the worst with grocery shopping.

Still managed to forget shit.

10) Oh, did I mention that for about 30-45 minutes EARLY this morning, Glow Worm threw a huge tantrum because he wanted to eat two soy sauce packets and I wouldn’t let him? He threw his iPad on the floor. His hair was sopping wet from screaming. It was awesome.

 11) I realized that I forgot to pack the industrial strength bug spray Not Another DB MBA gave me. (Incidentally, she gave me two BOXES of bug spray because she’s both helpful and an ass. Love you!)

I just hope the essential oil blend I brought will work. Sigh. If not, then, well, essential oils can treat bug bites. Also, we will smell like dirt and trees. (That’s the smell of the blend.) And Irish Twins said her husband brought a ton of bug spray that I can take.

12) Sigh. Literally as I was writing this post, I realized that Gamera had been unusually silent and had been last seen looking for her stuffed doggy in her room and never reappeared. Sure enough, she was curled up and asleep in the bed. With no pull-up. Thank goodness she didn’t wet the bed!!

Anyhow, it was so sad. I woke her up and forced her to take a shower (which was heartbreaking). She kept shivering or saying the water was too hot. The girl hates hot water but for some reason, the temp in this apartment can’t stay at the fine line between cold and lukewarm so the water would turn freezing every minute or so.

But now, she is at least clean, in PJs, and a pullup, and watching TV. She hopefully can stay awake through dinner (we’re no longer going out and my cousin is bringing food). Just my luck, when it’s finally time for bed in 2.5 hours, she’ll be wide awake.

13) Kids are watching a TON of TV. I told them they could watch as much Chinese TV as possible. Their iPad time will be limited, but the TV can be on as long as the day is.

Also, I have a hard time understanding children’s programming in Chinese. That’s sad. I know it’s just a matter of time for my brain to switch to registering Chinese as the dominant language here, but sheesh. That’s SAD.

Alright, I suppose I have to get back to my children. (There have already been injuries and furniture re-arranging – not all voluntary.) Until the next post!

The Hardest Part of Raising Your Kids Bilingual

hardest part of raising kids bilingual*A/N: This piece is part of an on-going series. You can find the rest under the So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese tag or in the Main Menu.

Alright folks, super short post today. At least for me. Especially in regards to Chinese language learning.

But truthfully, there isn’t much to say on the subject. (Other than perhaps a “No duh” from you to me about it. I understand. I promise not to be offended if you do. After all, I am pretty much telling you that I’m expecting that exact reaction.)

As parents who are trying to teach our children to be bilingual in Chinese and English, (with the bulk of our emphasis on Chinese acquisition and retention), we are constantly worried about making sure we are using our time wisely and of course, with the “best” materials.

We research whether we should choose Simplified or Traditional characters; pinyin and/or zhuyin; Mandarin Immersion or Saturday Schools or homeschooling; summer trips and then whether local or overseas programs; au pairs; types of curricula; philosophies and approaches; etc., etc., etc.

This, of course, doesn’t include all the time we spend forming/attending/searching for Mandarin playgroups; schools; Mommy and Me programs; really, ANYTHING in Chinese to help bridge the gap and teach our kids vocabulary and everyday usage they might not otherwise receive.

We do all these things because we know that we and our children have limited hours in the day/week/month/year and before we know it, the “easiest” times for our kids to “effortlessly” absorb and spit out Chinese will have passed and then all we have is a kid with a calcified brain that can no longer pick up new languages and tones with ease.

Some of these are easier than others to set up or decide depending on our own language/ethnic/family backgrounds; physical locations; resources; and our Chinese language goals for our children. (After all, if you just want your kid to speak and understand Chinese at a basic level, then your work is a little bit easier than someone who wants their kids to be a fluent speaker as well as read and write at a high functioning level.)

But regardless of all this work (and it is work!) we put in, that is nowhere near the hardest part about raising bilingual kids.

Why?

Because although what we choose to use with our kids surely has a major impact, it is the how and really, the how often that is just as – if not more important.

We spend all this time and effort and resources on finding a solution to our kids magically speaking Chinese – when really, if we just consistently applied what we already knew or were doing (or knew that we should be doing), that would take care of the majority of our problem as it is. 

But it’s really, really hard to be consistent.

I mean, seriously, all of parenting is really to be consistent – be it discipline, mealtimes, cleaning up, homework, bedtime routines, stability, etc.

It’s just that it’s really, really hard.

For instance, I am horribly inconsistent when it comes to discipline and bedtimes. Is it any wonder that my children are terrors and don’t go to bed at a reasonable time to promote optimal growth?

Also, my kids are speaking more and more English. I know why and how to solve it (drastically reduce their English media consumption and replace with Chinese media consumption), but I am honestly too lazy to enforce it.

I have lots of reasons why it would be hard or difficult for me to properly enforce, but ultimately, it’s because I’m inconsistent.

I know Cookie Monster (6.5) and Gamera (4.5) are capable of reading many Chinese books (especially with the presence of zhuyin), but that would require consistently sitting with my children as they struggle through blending tones or recalling some of the characters. I mean, even just applying fifteen minutes a day per kid (for a max of thirty minutes), would make a huge difference.

I know for a fact that their Chinese speaking and reading would vastly improve with just these two changes because my good friend, Fleur, IS consistent with her eldest daughter, Bebe. (Ok, in all fairness, she is disgustingly consistent with all THREE of her daughters. I can’t believe we’re still friends.)

Bebe is about nine months older than Cookie Monster and she learned zhuyin at approximately the same time as Cookie Monster. But because Fleur makes a monthly trek all around the Bay Area, hitting every single Chinese library within a fifty minute radius of her home to borrow a bjillion (actual number) of Chinese library books for Bebe to read, Bebe’s Chinese reading comprehension and ability far supersedes Cookie Monster’s. (How she keeps track of which books come from which library and when they’re due is beyond my limited brain capacity.)

Bebe consistently reads the books almost every day and pretty much always has her nose in a Chinese book. It is fantastic. (Keep in mind, the kids have incredibly full schedules due to attending a Mandarin Immersion school about an hour away from their home and have rare down time.)

Now, Bebe is a bright and talented girl, but there is no reason to think that her potential vastly outstrips that of Cookie Monster. The key difference is all the consistent hard work and effort on both Fleur and Bebe’s part (and the utter lack of it on mine and Cookie Monster’s).

And to compare Fleur and my Chinese learning philosophies, they’re pretty similar. Again, the main difference (and the most important) is that Fleur consistently applies our philosophy.

What is my point with all this folderol? (And also, ~950 words in! Whoo! Sorry, I guess I totally misled you on the super short post part.)

My hope is that you find both freedom from “perfection” as well as a challenge to be more mindful of what you are currently doing.

Odds are, you embarked on this Chinese/English bilingual journey after much research and consideration of all the stuff I stated at the start of this post. And those are all important things, to be sure.

But now that you are done, or mostly done, making “decisions” (which, incidentally, you can change your mind on and do something else), just do it already. And do it a lot on a consistent, steady basis.

To paraphrase my old boss, “A mediocre plan brilliantly executed will usually outperform a brilliant plan executed with mediocrity.”

Meaning, of course, that even if you don’t have the latest research or perfect curriculum or teaching method or whatever, as long as you execute your plan well (and usually, that means being consistent), you will do far better than the parent with the most brilliant and up-to-date language acquisition plan that fails to consistently apply it.

Whew. That is one long, run-on sentence.

The “Duh” part of this post, of course, comes when figuring out how to be consistent. And unfortunately, the only way to be consistent is to actually be consistent.

And as every parent knows, that’s the hardest part. I mean, if it were that easy to be consistent, then my children would be amazingly obedient and I would never yell and my kids would always know what to expect from me versus being somewhat unsure which mommy is going to show up at the moment.

The beauty of it though is that you can start any time. All you have to do is start. And the more you build whatever it is you want to do into a habit, the less mindful of it you will have to be, and the more and more “natural” it will become.

Fake it til you make it, friends. Fake it til you’re no longer faking it and it’s exactly what you want it to be. (And when that works, please let me know so I feel better!)

Have a great weekend!

 

Where’s My “Women’s Work” Medal?

women's workThere should be a special kind of swagger after you complete a shit ton of housework. Or a badge of honor. Whatever it is, it should be obvious, huge, and awesome.

After all, I just spent two entire days doing several loads of laundry, folding it, and actually putting it away. (We all know that it’s the folding and then the putting away that is the most difficult. And for some, remembering to move from the washer to the dryer without having to run the cycle again because you forgot and the wet laundry got mildewy. I confess: this has only happened to me once. I consider myself lucky and fortunate. We are in a drought.)

That alone took awhile, but the bulk of these past two days has been finally stripping beds of long overdue sheets, as well as washing the months worth of sheets that have been piled up in my upstairs hallway for who knows how long? We have a lot of beds. And I hadn’t washed my sheets or blankets or sheet protectors for at least two seasons and cycles (this is where having multiple sets of sheets and sheet protectors is handy for procrastinating).

I am not kidding when I say there were close to ten loads run just these last two days. There goes that drought thing.

And sheesh. Have you ever folded sheets and duvets and fitted sheets? Especially for queens and king sized beds? EXHAUSTING.

This past weekend, I deep cleaned my bathtub and shower. (Last time I did this, I was pregnant with Glow Worm.) I even cleaned the jets/pipes for our tub. That wasted a lot of water. I also cleaned our sink area and the bathroom.

I was sore for days. I’ve only recently been able to sit down without holding onto a wall. Scrubbing a bathtub is a really good butt workout, apparently. No wonder I avoid it.

Did I mention that I also vacuumed most of the upstairs?

Have I just spent approximately three hundred words telling you about how I cleaned my house and did laundry and did the stuff that millions of women and caretakers do every fucking day?

Yes. Yes, I have.

I don’t care that this is the stuff that doesn’t seem important and amazing. It IS important and amazing.

I know. I wrote about this already and often refer back to the book that changed my life: The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work,” by Kathleen Norris (Amazon affiliate link).

But truly, it bears repeating.

Why shouldn’t we celebrate doing “women’s work”? The menial tasks of life that are looked down upon but make a life of meaning possible.

Yes, I did just say that.

The shit work we do makes a life of meaning possible for ourselves, our partners, and our children.

It is a noble task whether I am like some of my friends who are always cleaning their homes or like me, slovenly and meh about it.

So, I know this post is shorter than my norm by about 65%, but I’m exhausted from all that laundering I did these past two days (as well as purging the house, taking the kids to their camps, and prepping for our trips).

Anyhow, today’s post is to give you, my dear friends, a place to brag about the shit you got done today (or recently). I don’t care if it’s as simple as making lunch for your kids or doing the dishes. There are few things I hate as much as providing three meals a day for my children. It sucks. I hate it. But for some reason, they get hungry and stuff.

Ok. Have at it. Tell me how awesome you have been! No task too small. Be shamelessly braggy. I look forward to reading and celebrating how fucking fantastic you are.

Joyfully Saying No and Goodbye

goodbyeEvery two years or in this case, three, my house gets purged from top to bottom and cleaned before each new baby appears. (It’s pretty much the ONLY time my house gets cleaned so yes, we pretty much live in filth or half-assed “cleaning” the rest of the time.) I don’t know what’s going to happen when we stop having babies after Baby4 makes their appearance, but I guess I have to figure out a new plan.

I have become a different person.

Ok. Not different than who I really am, deep inside (a Failed Type-A), but different than how I have been since I got pregnant.

I got my first glimpse of who I can be (and who I used to be and who I become again during portions of my pregnancies) back in mid-May when Hapa Papa’s hotel room got broken into and his wallet was stolen while he was traveling.

Hapa Papa woke me up with a call at 6:30am and I had to get immediately moving on canceling credit cards, ordering new insurance cards, finding out how he was going to be able to make his flights and check into hotels without ID, and finding him short term housing because it turns out TSA will let you through but Hilton won’t let you check in without ID even if you’re a Platinum Member and have a police report stating that your wallet with all your ID was stolen.

(Thanks to all my ATL friends who considered and offered housing to Hapa Papa that night and a SPECIAL shout out to Hotelier who DID open her home to my poor husband who all accounts told, had a super shitty day.)

Anyhow, this super long preamble is just to say that recently, I have begun the Manic Phase of my pregnancy (which thankfully coincides with preparing for our Taiwan Trip) and now, I am a woman on a mission.

And lists.

Lots and lots and lots of lists. That cross-reference each other and may or may not also have sub-lists. (Because like I said in my last post, that’s how you know you’re an expert list maker: when your lists cross-reference other lists.)

After all, without lists, how will I know how I’m failing?

But the best thing about my lists is that I have been really good about executing them! And even better – many of my lists have inadvertently had the side benefit of getting rid of shit in my house.

Funny aside (as if my posts aren’t entirely composed of asides), a college buddy of mine recently texted me saying that he and his wife were expecting their first child a few weeks before Baby4 is due. I asked if they were registered and he, being polite, also asked me if I were registered.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

I told him that at this point, I want to get rid of shit – not get new shit.

In fact, I’m thinking that for subsequent babies, instead of people bringing gifts, they really should come to my house and take shit away.

Anyhow, what has really been different this round of Manic Pregnancy Phase is that I made a life-changing decision: I was going to get rid of any toy or book or thing that made me angry.

It’s kind of different than Kondo because I’m not necessarily keeping only the things that give me joy because quite frankly, few things give me joy and if I did that, I would be living in an empty house with no people in it. (But goodness, it would be pristine!!)

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has made even a brief acquaintance with my person, but lots of things get me angry – and toys with lots of parts and pieces are high on the list of pissing me off.

But I always felt guilty about hating toys like stacking rings, puzzles, or educational toys with lots of moving parts because aren’t these good things? Good toys? And aren’t I having more babies? Shouldn’t I keep baby toys?

Welp, not this time!

First, I gathered all the flotsam toys – you know the type. The Happy Meal rejects and party favor crap and random shit your kids get in their dentist goody bags. Miscellaneous toys that are all collected in a junk box that your kids don’t play with but when they do, they toss out every single fucking thing all over the floor and then when you try to get rid of it, they beg and plead and say it’s the funnest stuff ever.

This time, I started as I normally did. I sorted. But then, half way through sorting, I realized, I don’t want this shit in my house.

So, I got a plastic bag and dumped the entire box into the plastic bag.

It was amazing.

After that, the bandaid was pulled off so to speak and I began to throw away or give away things with abandon.

Those educational toys that I bought used and in bulk but never took out because there were too many parts and who am I kidding anyway I don’t educate my kids? I put them in the donate pile.

Those toys I never cared for or my kids never played with – even if they were educational or if whenever I took the toys out to be purged my kids would all of a sudden LOVE the toys finally and play with them and weep and cry and thus convince me to keep them but then they never touched the toys ever again until the next time I took them out to be purged? I got fooled a few times (to the tune of several years delay) but this time, I was onto them.

I was mercilessly unsentimental.

I tossed stuffed animals my father and mother had given ME when I was a kid, but I never played with them and they just gathered dust and my kids never played with them and it just filled my house with stuffed animals that got in my way and other visiting kids would throw all over my house and piss me off.

I tossed baby toys that despite my expecting Baby4 in the fall, I got rid of anyway because they piss me off.

Yes. Stacking rings piss me off.

Why? BECAUSE THE RINGS ARE NEVER STACKED AND ARE ALWAYS ALL OVER MY HOUSE AND I’M A COMPLETIST AND THAT DRIVES ME FUCKING CRAZY.

deep breaths

In fact, I got rid of lots of toys that despite being educational and useful, the sheer number of parts that were never collected and therefore wont to go missing or showing up in random places (like conveniently under couches, behind furniture, under dining tables, under beds, and/or in every fucking corner).

I got rid of toys because I remembered that even though I might have paid a lot of money for them, or they would be age-appropriate for Baby4, neither Gamera  or Glow Worm ever played with the toys because they only wanted to play with the toys Cookie Monster played with and they sure as fuck weren’t baby toys.

I threw away all the bath toys that grossed me out but I never tossed them because I didn’t want to waste the money I had spent on them in the first place. (That meant I threw away most of the squeezy ones that can suck in water and squish water out. Can we say mildew and mold breeding grounds that my kids then soaked in and played in? Ew.)

I tossed two garbage bags full of maternity clothes that I inherited because I was never going to wear them because I hated them or they fit weird or I felt guilty for hating free clothes but fuck it, this is my last pregnancy and all my friends are done being human incubators and I was the last stop so BYE BYE clothes that took up space and made me sad to look at and wear!

And soon, I will be purging baby/toddler clothes with glee.

I got a lot of clothes as hand me downs that I always felt guilty about giving away, but quite frankly, even though a lot of the clothes were cute and adorable, I hated putting my kids in them because they were too much effort. FFS, my kids lived in PJs the first 3-6 months of their lives. Babies do NOT need socks or shoes. EVER. Unless they can actually walk and by then, they’re not babies anymore.

And now, because this is my last baby, as soon as Baby4 passes a developmental stage or clothing stage, I will be donating ALL OF THE THINGS.

I did mention that I’m not a romantic or sentimental in any way, right?

I can’t wait.

And then, Friday night, I made a startling jump in my thinking.

I had been stressing out about Cookie Monster and Gamera’s homeschooling classes and schedules for Fall 2016 because that’s what I do: I plan and I worry and like things tied up neatly in a bow ASAP even when it’s implausible.

But as I was driving home after sending out a bunch of emails trying to get a bunch of different classes to fit and worrying about all the sports Cookie Monster enjoys and also squeezing ballet in for Gamera, and then squeezing in some music and calligraphy classes for them both, I suddenly had a thought.

My kids don’t have to take these classes.

And the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me.

After all, I’M HAVING A BABY MID-FALL.

WTF AM I DOING signing up my kids for all these classes that they enjoy but don’t necessarily love or need or want?

WHY am I doing this to myself?

So I said, “No.”

I emailed the teachers and told them I changed my mind and I felt as if a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders.

Now, I still have my kids in a bunch of classes, but it is considerably less than I have this year (even though I have one more kid in school). And now, I have time to work on things individually with Cookie Monster and Gamera.

I am ecstatic.

And actually looking forward to the new school year. (Yes, I realize that summer vacation just started. But I did mention that I’m anal retentive, right?)

So, this is all just to say, that the lesson I learned from homeschooling in February finally sank its way into my brain and I actually applied it to my life.

May you, too, experience the joy of jettisoning the things, whether real or hypothetical. Have a fantastic Monday!

How I Prep for a Long Trip

I can’t believe I am leaving for Taiwan in less than two weeks! It’s getting down to crunch time. Of course, Hapa Papa doesn’t understand why I’m stressed (I say I’m not stressed about it but that’s because I’m LYING) because he thinks that going on a trip just means to pack a few days of clothes and toiletries and go.

Sigh.

I love him, but it’s so obvious to me that he’s an idiot in this case.

Packing clothes and toiletries is the LEAST you can do – and NEVER enough.

So then, here is what I do to prep for a long trip (or any trip, really). Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Also, please tell Hapa Papa that he is wrong. Like, super duper embarrassingly wrong.

1) About a month or two before the trip, make a long list of all the things that we will need – sometimes down to detailing clothes and accessories. This includes things we do not currently own but may need for the trip.

The longer the trip, the longer out I make the list because the longer you are gone, the more things you will need to anticipate.

2) Constantly add to the list and then freak out that there is so much shit to buy. Why do I not have this shit already??

3) Make a separate To Buy/Borrow list.

4) After resting on the list for a few days/weeks, around a month out, I start buying items. I don’t buy them all at once because some things need to be researched (eg: bug spray, shoes, allergy bracelets, fanny packs, diapers, weather appropriate clothing, extra Epipens, gifts for friends and family, etc.).

Praise Jesus for Amazon Prime so I don’t ever have to physically set foot in a store because that is a fate worse than death.

5) Make a list of all the errands I need to do before we go (eg: renew passports, get notarized travel documents, pay bills, hold mail, prepare stuff we would need to get done while on the trip like enroll Gamera for TK and have all documents ready when the charter school FINALLY acknowledges her registration but by then I WILL BE IN TAIWAN FFS).

Of course, this list includes the list of To Buy/Borrow as well as other lists that I will make. Cross-referencing lists is a sign of expertise.

6) List out all the things I need to clean before we leave for Taiwan so I can feel guilty about not cleaning them before I go. I like to itemize guilt.

Subsets of this list include: doing laundry (because how can you pack your clothes IF THEY ARE ALL DIRTY?), taking out the garbage (because six weeks of rotting garbage is gross), and cleaning out the fridge (because six weeks of rotting food is gross).

My friends are telling me to not bother cleaning because cleaning on top of packing just sucks major donkey balls. But it’s really for my own peace of mind.

I hate coming back to a dirty house. It’s one thing when I am living in filth. It’s another to actually come BACK to it.

I agree with Not Another DB MBA. The only realistic solution is to move.

7) People keep asking me if I am worried about the long plane ride to and from Taipei. I reassure them all. I have been training my children (for years, actually – appreciate my foresight!!) to watch an iPad for hours.

I am not kidding when I tell you they are quite talented at iPadding for 4-5 hours at a time. Yes. Even Glow Worm. I’m sure they’ll be up to the challenge of even MORE hours.

Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

8) Do stuff on lists. (This is really difficult. The lists judge me and keep me awake at night.)

9) Pack half-assedly for a few days in the attempt to seem on top of it and prepared.

10) Do anything except pack. Like cleaning stuff off the To Clean list that I’ve been ignoring because that’s the best way to get something done.

11) Just say, “Fuck it. Taiwan has stores and accepts all forms of legal Taiwanese tender. If I forget something, I will just buy it.”

12) Actually pack but in the process, not clean anything at all.

Welp, there you go! My official and trademarked method of prepping for a long trip. Make sure to follow everything to a T or procrastinate everything because quite frankly, what’s the point of having lists except to remind you of all your failures?

Wish me luck!

Stuff I Reluctantly Learned from Homeschooling, Vol. 4

Okie dokes! It’s another edition of my reluctantly learned lessons and quite frankly, even though these were mostly for the month of March 2016, since I did nothing for April  and May 2016, they get lumped into this group as well. Yay for efficiency!

So, because I’m on a rare brevity roll, let’s get straight to it!

1) Homeschooling can withstand a LOT of “nothing.”

Ever since I got pregnant in February, the life energy just got sucked out of me and all I did for the first trimester was lay on the couch and not move much except change the channel on the TV.

This, of course, rightly concerned Hapa Papa, but honestly, I wasn’t too worried. Cookie Monster was up to 3rd grade math. He knew all his letters and I wasn’t going to teach him to read in English this year anyway. And he finished Sagebooks earlier than I anticipated and I was OK with coasting.

So, we coasted. For months. It has worked out just fine.

2) Classes help when you feel awful.

It’s fantastic that I am a lazy sort of person in general and outsourced most of our homeschooling anyway with classes. Thus, even when I dropped off the face of the earth, it’s not as if I were teaching a ton of subjects at home to Cookie Monster, anyway.

So, I continued shuttling him to all his classes and he still learned math, science, Chinese, Chinese calligraphy, art, kungfu, soccer, and basketball. This child was NOT deprived. I’m pretty sure he still ended up learning stuff.

3) Cutting screen time increased play time.

This seems so obvious once you type it out, but I am amazed at how often I have to re-learn this tidbit. Yes, yes. We all hear how screen time is the devil incarnate and we should cut it out. Blah, blah, blah.

But I always worry that the kids won’t know what to do with themselves. And always, it’s a baseless worry.

Here’s what my kids did with less screen time: they played.

A lot.

With toys. With each other. With Minecraft swords and light sabers. With dolls. With sand and play dough. With art. And stickers. With friends. With dress up. With fighting. With whining. With books. With pillows and couch cushions (to my never-ending dismay). With the outside. With chalk. With blocks. With Magnatiles. With cars. With trains. With EVERYTHING they ignored for years.

It was beautiful.

I just took away the screens and gave them zero options and they would come back and forth to the kitchen to graze on fruit or snacks I left out. They would whine. And then they would proceed to beat the crap out of each other.

They are really into beating the crap out of each other.

Then they would play some made up game they learned from watching Minecraft or YouTube videos and all three of them would alternate between screaming at each other in frustration and then joy.

It was awesome.

4) Use real life circumstances as teachable moments.

Truly, I hate the term, “teachable moments.” It’s so trite and stupid. However, it is useful so I guess I’m using it.

Anyhow, once I told the kids I was pregnant, they were very curious how the baby could grow and live in my tummy. So, I found YouTube videos that show the baby growing from conception to birth. The kids were fascinated and still remember. And now they know how babies grow.

Yay, internet!

Alright. I will likely take a break from this series until we start up again in August/September. This time, with Gamera officially starting TK homeschooling! Whoooo!

If You REALLY Wanted to Protect Your Daughters

img_8149Around the end of May, I was seeing a lot of hysteria on my FB feed from my religious friends (not all of them, mind you – nor even the majority of them – but ENOUGH of them) going out of their proverbial minds because OMG WE MUST PROTECT OUR DAUGHTERS FROM MEN WHO WILL PRETEND TO DRESS UP LIKE WOMEN JUST TO RAPE OUR DAUGHTERS OH NOEZ!

And really, I want to just go off on these normally nice people because FFS, you fucking hypocrites.

You say you want to “protect” our daughters? So you choose this ridiculous straw man to oppress people who just want to be left alone and pee and shit in peace without fear of assault? Because guess who has actual reason to fear assault in a bathroom (or really, ANYWHERE)?

That’s right. LGBT folks.

Not your daughter. (Unless, of course, your daughter is LGBT.)

To date, ZERO people have been raped or assaulted in a public restroom by a transgendered person. As for all the other people who have assaulted folks in a public restroom, THAT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL.

I’m pissed off because if you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would care about equal rights, reproductive rights, consent, and dismantling patriarchy.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would be very careful about who your children (because let’s face it, our sons are also potential victims) hang around – especially since 93% of juvenile victims knew their perpetrator – of which 34% were family members.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would be terrified of white men over 30 (instead of any black male) because 57% of perpetrators are white and 50% are older than 30.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would teach your sons about consent and not give them a “pass” because boys are just being boys.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would not find it cute or tell the lie that if a boy hits a girl or annoys her or in anyway refuses to acknowledge her “No” on the playground that it’s because he likes her or he must find her pretty.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would demand that victims of rape are not asked about what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, or any aspect of their sexuality or character during a rape trial. Because THEY ARE NOT THE PERSON ON TRIAL. The RAPIST is.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would tell the fashion police at school to STFU because your daughter is not responsible for how your son thinks.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would teach your boys and girls not to slut shame.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would support Planned Parenthood for being one of the nation’s leading providers of low cost health care (reproductive or otherwise) and information to millions of women and men.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would believe your daughters when they tell you they were raped or sexually abused or assaulted. You would believe them even if their abusers were famous, rich, powerful, in politics, or in their faith community (particularly a leader).

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would believe Amber Heard, Ke$ha, Dylan Farrow, and the 57 women who came forward after decades.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would support sex education and none of this abstinence only shit. Girls and boys deserve to know how their bodies work and function.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would arrest the johns and not the sex workers.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would make sure that entitled white athletes convicted of rape and sexual assault didn’t get 6 months for their convicted crime because they no longer can eat steak.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would do a lot more to defend and provide for the poor in terms of welfare and SNAP because the majority of people they provide for are children – and many of them are daughters.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would fight for equal pay for equal work.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would fight to end the “Second Shift.”

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would value traditionally “women’s work” such as child-rearing, care-giving, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would stop it with the body shaming and allow your daughters to have the body that they have because it’s beautiful.

If you REALLY wanted to “protect” our daughters, you would do all these things and more.

But what you wouldn’t ever need to do, is worry about whether a transgendered person was using the “right” bathroom.