Have I Ruined My Life?

A few weeks ago,  Dr. T commented that she felt that lately, I was more and more high strung than I had been in a really long time. Since I started seeing her back in November 2014, in fact.

I briefly acknowledged her point, but just chocked it to having a lot of shit to do and being stressed out about that. But it’s been at least a month since she’s mentioned it and I finally admitted this week that it’s true. I’m totally more high strung. I mean, I’m already a hair-trigger type of ragey person, but even MORE SO.

Terrifying, really.

I’m back to yelling at the kids. Especially at bed time. Mostly only at bed time. (How’s that for a bedtime routine?)

I’m working on it, but it’s slow going. I even hired a Mindfulness Coach to help with anger. (How hippy woo woo is this? WHO AM I?)

But I’m a bit worried because I’ll be in Taiwan this summer, mostly alone with all three kids for 4-6 weeks with some help, but not necessarily a lot of help. And then mid-late October, Baby4 will be making their appearance. So likely, that will cause me even more stress. (Plus, hormones are a bitch.)

And yes, I’ve had to plan a lot of things lately, (of which I will not bore you with the details of, but may list out because I like lists and feel the inexplicable need to up my post word count), and a lot of these things have to remain unresolved because such is life. And if you know anything about me at all, it’s that I NEED RESOLUTION. Even if it’s a shitty result, I MUST HAVE IT.

Anyhow, I have to be honest.

This will sound awful because I truly do love Baby4 and am happy we’re going to have another child in mid-October. We tried for about a year and half before we finally got pregnant again, and I was semi-resigned to having three children instead of my dreamed for four. (Not that three kids is a bad thing. And I know some folks have tried for years and not gotten or stayed pregnant or can’t get pregnant for health reasons so I realize that my frustration with not getting immediately pregnant with the fourth child is a lot of whining and asshole behavior. But, you know what I mean.)

But, this pregnancy has been really hard on me. Not because it’s been a difficult pregnancy. I have pretty easy pregnancies in general. But it really has kicked my ass. I’m constantly exhausted. I was initially feeling shitty all the time and having lots of contractions and diarrhea which then turned into constant constipation. (TMI? TOO BAD.)

I could barely function. I stopped homeschooling. I stopped doing anything that wasn’t laying down. I’m surprised the children are still alive and none the worse for wear. I stopped writing.

And I felt resentment.

Lots of resentment.

After all, this was supposed to be my year, right? My year of kicking ass and taking names! Risking! Submitting my work for publications! Writing! Putting my name out there! Taking myself seriously as a writer and pursuing those avenues. Living the dream (or at least shooting for it).

And then, BAM! I got pregnant. And everything stopped. I got wiped out.

Sure, there were some things I got rolling before I got pregnant and those panned out so that made me happy and it was very exciting. But after that? NADA.

And I was initially in huge denial over the fact that my life was changing (yet again – and shit, I ASKED FOR IT!) and when I finally surrendered to it, I fell off the face of the earth. I thought by the time my second trimester hit, I would have more energy, but I’m STILL tired (granted, less so than before).

Also, I got used to lying around on the couch and watching marathon sessions of DVR’d White Collar and Leverage episodes. (Man, I love a good con!)

And then, when I tried to get back into writing, my brain broke. Like, because I hadn’t tried to put two semi-coherent thoughts together in several months, everything I wrote sounded trite and stupid and I think Gamera can come up with better arguments. So then, I gave up and decided, shoot. I will just ENJOY watching TV all day while my children run around naked and beat the shit out of each other in my house. (I really, really wish I were exaggerating for comedic effect, but alas, No.)

But now, now I am finally realizing I am terrified I have ruined my life. I go through this in a much milder form each pregnancy – mostly because I’m a control freak and worry about how to do things and life with one, then two, then three, and now FOUR babies. It took me awhile just to get comfortable with three! And we just potty trained Glow Worm so we have no kids in diapers and WHAT AM I DOING?!

WHAT HAVE WE DONE?!

I know it will work out.

I know because after every baby and a few months of craziness, we find a new rhythm and way of being. And I know that even if we didn’t have another baby, things would still change and we’d find new rhythms out of different insanity making moments.

I know all these things. Somehow, I just have to convince my subconscious that we are not all going down in flames come mid-late October.

Wish me luck! And lots of help from family and friends!

Yup. Still Alive. 

I know. Shouldn’t I be out of my first trimester yet? Yes, yes, I am. But I’m still exhausted all the time. This 4th pregnancy is kicking my proverbial ass.

Anyhow, here are a few things that have been floating around in my brain.

1) Now, it should come as no surprised to my long time readers (or even, really, my new readers), that I am a somewhat hot-tempered person and tend to rant very easily because I take all things personally – even when things aren’t meant to be taken personally (eg: general stupidity).

I’ve attempted to change my daily life to try and not be so riled up and pissy.

The biggest change has been how I approach the Facebook groups I admin. I finally made a requirement, out of efficiency and an initial weeding out process, that if people want to join the group, they need to PM me first. No PM? No admission.

I used to be overly solicitous and ask people questions to screen them and make sure they’re a good fit for the group. But really, that’s way too much work. Once I changed the rule, it made my life a lot easier – except that I was super pissed off that people weren’t PMing me.

So, recently, I’ve decided to no longer get angry at people who don’t PM me. Instead, I thank them for making my life easier. For certain, it is much easier for me to “deny” someone from the group than it does for me to approve them and respond to their messages and welcome folks to the group.

Thanks, people who can’t read!

2) Glow Worm broke his arm six weeks ago falling off our tiny indoor slide. Mother of the Year here took a full hour or more to realize he was in a lot of pain and not acting like his normal self before calling the doctor and shuttling him around town.

Hapa Papa had to come home early from work because there was NO WAY I was going to inform my mother of the potential arm break and the subsequent fallout if I didn’t have to!

He’s finally out of a cast (if an adult had the same break, it would take at least three months to heal!) and he’s now in a removable splint for two weeks.

They have not changed how he approaches life in the slightest.

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3) I got super sick of my hair. So I chopped it all off. Now, I’ve had pixie cuts before (confer Summer 2014) and I don’t mind them. But I was not expecting my hair to be this short. However, I figure it will be at least 3-5 months before I will even have to comb my hair (or maybe even wash it!!) again so it works out. Plus, when I am in Taiwan this summer, it will be at my preferred length.

 

4) Technology has seriously advance since I was last pregnant. I mean, holy cow! I remember when I was pregnant with Cookie Monster in 2009 and I refused to even allow them to do 3D imaging because it was SO CREEPY. It was less so with Gamera and Glow Worm, but WOW! With Baby4, it looks like claymation!

Amazing!

5) Pregnancy is still kicking my ass. I pretty much do nothing except lay on the couch, watch TV, ignore my children, and go to sleep when they sleep. It’s an exciting life.

Ok. That’s it. I’ve had this post in the queue for at least a month and I am finally going to just not care and press publish (or schedule, as the case may be). Hopefully, I will get out of my lethargy soon.

Thanks for hanging in there, friends!

Election Fears

I cannot believe I have friends who are going to abstain from voting (Especially friends who are minorities.) You cannot fucking tell me that there is no difference between Trump and Clinton.

A vote for no one is a vote for Trump.

Because you can sure as fuck bet that the Trump supporters will be voting en masse.

I’m no big fan of Clinton, but how can you tell me Trump is on par? Worst case with Clinton? Business as usual. Worst case with Trump? Who knows?

But a man who has made it even more acceptable to insult women, minorities, and foment violence is patently horrible for our country and the people I love.

It makes me fear for my children and for myself. It makes me hesitate to speak Chinese in public or even BE out in public because I, as an Asian American, will always be viewed as foreign.

Do I have to bring my US birth certificate everywhere? Do I have to worry that I am visibly pregnant walking around with 3 small children so I must be dropping anchor babies and destroying America with my mixed kids (because their existence somehow is an attack on white people)?

I have never been afraid in my own country, but if Trump is elected, I start to consider that maybe I should be. And maybe I shouldn’t voice my opinions anymore.

So here’s something I have said before and will say again to my friends – especially those who are minorities.

YOU WILL NEVER BE WHITE ENOUGH.

You might not have been Japanese so you weren’t rounded up for the camps. You might not have been Jewish and forced to register and wear a gold star. You might not be Muslim or Sikh and be the current religious pariahs. You might not be black or brown and have to deal with all the shit being black or brown in America means you have to deal with.

But one day, you will be.

An encroachment on the least protected of us is an encroachment on us all. Under Trump (and to be honest, much of the GOP), our right to exist, to live, to be, to be considered human, is being questioned.

Denied. 

You think you will be somehow morally protected because you abstained from voting for either? Some hypothetical BS about voting for Hitler or Stalin?

Please. Save your moral acrobatics. Your false dichotomies.

Clinton isn’t close to either Hitler or Stalin. But Trump could be.

I know.

I sound sensationalist. Like some crazy person. Or some conspiracy theorist.

I know.

But you know what? I hope I am. 

Because the alternative is terrifying.

Why Non-Speaker/Speaker Chinese Playdates Are Probably Not Going to Work

I read a lot of articles on language and helping kids become bilingual. And over and over again, I see the same advice telling non-Chinese speaking parents to set up playdates with Chinese speaking parents and their kids.

I get why.

It seems to make sense. Want your kids exposed to Chinese? Let’s play with kids who speak Chinese! Win!

Except, no. Not really.

Here are six reasons why as nice as it sounds on paper, non-speaker/speaker Chinese playdates probably are NOT going to happen. (Oh, and it perhaps helps if you pretend I’m not an angry ranting person on the interwebs and more so like a constantly grumpy older sister giving advice.)

1) No Chinese speaking parent who wants their kids to speak Chinese fluently is going to want their kids to play with your non-speaking Chinese kids. At least, not for the purpose of a Chinese playdate.

What’s the point, really? Your kids won’t speak Chinese – not through lack of desire, perhaps, but definitely due to lack of ability and range.

So then, if my kids are just going to speak English to your kids, and I want to maximize my kids’ playdates with people who actually speak Chinese, let’s be real. I am not going to accept a playdate with you.

Truthfully, this has also likely happened to me from recent immigrants or fellow Chinese emphasis parents who don’t want their kids to play with my kids because my kids’ Chinese aren’t good enough for their standards. I don’t know. But I’m sure it has happened.

Is that mean? Maybe. But you know what? This brings me to the next reason.

2) If the only reason you want a playdate with my kids is so your kids can practice their Chinese at the expense of mine, you’re rude. And quite possibly racist.

Using people for their language and what they can do for you is awful. And assumes the fact that your mere presence is doing me a favor or is good enough recompense for my kids teaching your kids Chinese.

I mean, it might. But probably not.

3) As I mentioned before, the kids will most likely play in English anyway. Why? Because your kids can’t speak Chinese. Oh. And because even when Chinese speaking kids play together, they usually speak English.

Now, that’s not always the case, but often, when Chinese speaking kids play together in Chinese, it is only because every kid’s Chinese is at a similar level. This will not be the case if even one Chinese speaking child feels as if their Chinese isn’t up to snuff and doesn’t want to use it. As soon as a kid starts speaking English, they’ll all switch (either out of ease of communication or politeness).

Getting Chinese speaking kids to play together in Chinese often takes constant nagging and reminding from either a really obedient kid or annoyed parents.

4) If I, as an ABC/T who actually speaks and understands Chinese, already have a hard enough time getting recent immigrants to relate to me and my children and invite us over to become good friends and playmates, good luck with you on your endeavor. (Or it says a lot about me, which is totally possible. But that doesn’t mean they will also like you.) At least, for the purposes of a Chinese playdate, anyway.

5) Most recent immigrants want their kids to maximize their English. In general, I have found that though they want their kids to speak Chinese, they are really afraid their kids’ English will behind due to them not speaking English at native level. And because of how America treats people who don’t speak native-level English (or at least, non-European accented English), it is a totally legitimate concern.

So, on the chance that recent immigrants would like to have a playdate with you, it’s more than likely because they want to use your children for their English abilities. And if they do happen to want their kids’ Chinese to improve, they certainly would not want a Chinese playdate with your children (confer Reason 1).

6) And finally, just because people look Chinese, doesn’t mean they speak Chinese.

To assume so is racist and rude and all sorts of things.

Why do I include this?

Because if you’re a non-speaker, likely most Chinese speaking people will not reveal themselves to you. There is still a stigma in the US for speaking any language other than English. (I mean, FFS, people are killed for not speaking in English here. I cannot tell you how often recently I feel somewhat worried when I speak to my children in Chinese in public. That makes me incredibly angry.)

Thus, I’m not sure how you would go about finding families with children who speak Chinese to have playdates with your children unless you go about purposely finding people to do so.

And often, people go about this in an incredibly bumbling, horrible, and unintentionally (but still incredibly) racist way by assuming people who look Chinese speak Chinese and then asking a whole slew of likely friendly intending (but really, again, horribly racist) questions and thereby ruining these innocent people’s day and perhaps inspiring rants on blogs and twitter.

Look. I know I talk about race a lot. But quite frankly, race matters. And it matters in learning Chinese because the Chinese language does not exist in a vacuum. It is connected to a people, many of whom speak it and live in the US and are US citizens.

Anyhow, as a bonus, I will also give you GuavaRama’s excellent take on the situation. Perhaps her reasoning will be more appealing.

It’s been my experience that from a language perspective it works as follows:

1) When you can’t speak [Chinese] you need a native speaker who can only speak the language and will not switch. Usually this means adult.

2) When you can understand but can’t speak it due to rustiness you need a native speaker who will not switch. That also usually means an adult unless you have a well trained child.

3) When you have bilingual kids, then you have to find kids who are at same level of speaking and who are trained not to switch.

All of this means finding a Chinese speaking child who will only speak Chinese to your low Chinese level speaking child. That requires their Chinese to be so strong. But then why would someone play with someone else who can’t speak the language?

Alright. I’m amazed I wrote anything and we can thank the internets for annoying me so much that I had to write something. YAY! Have a great day.

Now That I’ve Lost My Mind

So, I have been MIA these past two weeks because I am utterly exhausted. I have been going to bed with the kids and waking up with the kids. And since I usually write when they are sleeping, I haven’t been writing.

During the day, I am also tired. And though I used to go out on weekends to write (especially in the evenings), I haven’t been going out because I am sleeping.

The reason for all this exhaustion? Turns out I am forming another human being in my uterus and am 8 weeks pregnant.

We have lost our damn minds.

I am reluctant to post about this pregnancy so early, but then I figured if I did lose the baby, I would definitely talk about it so there really is no reason not to talk about it. Especially since I have not been shy about telling my friends in real life.

I am not cut out for a life of secrecy, people. For real.

Truthfully, I have been somewhat in denial. Not of being pregnant. Moreso denial of my body’s changing needs while being pregnant.

I have been feeling utterly betrayed by my body.

How can I possibly be this tired? I have only been awake two hours.

I need to nap constantly.

I am always feeling slightly nauseous or slightly hungry. I couldn’t really figure it out. I have finally settled on slightly hungry.

I already don’t fit into my pants. Nor do I fit in the after pregnancy pants (you know, the ones that are several bigger sizes but aren’t maternity pants anymore). I have to wear maternity pants because even though I’m only 2 months in, since it’s my 4th pregnancy, I’m thicker already.

I can’t wear the bras I used to be able to wear while 9 months pregnant because I can’t breathe in them. If I use the bra extenders, my breasts fall out from under the bras. I’m back to nursing bras even though I finally weaned Glow Worm.

I am incredibly irritable. Like, hair trigger kaboom. I mean, not that general idiocy by humans on the internet (and Earth) have ever been my favorite (or rare), but lately, my threshold for tolerating asshattery is at a minimum. One needs only to scroll through my Facebook feed to see the evidence.

I already have carpal tunnel syndrome.

My stomach feels okay at the beginning of the day, but by the end, I can barely breathe because I feel as if my skin is not big enough to hold my stomach. It hurts.

I have been having cramps and contractions a lot earlier but no sharp pains so that’s good. (This happened with my third pregnancy, too.)

I already have round ligament pain. WTF.

All I want to do in my spare time is sleep, watch TV, or read.

It took me at least a month to finally come to terms with the new state of being and just accepting the fact that yes, I am worn out simply by the act of being awake.

And as much as I hate not meeting a schedule for writing, I hate screaming at the kids because I am cranky even more.

Hence the MIA.

So this is fair warning that posting on the blog may be erratic until I can string more than a sentence or two together -or stay awake later than my 2.5 year old.

In the meantime, even though I mentioned it on Facebook and The Twitter, I totally forgot to put it on the blog.

LTYM SF 2016 Cast; image courtesy of Tarja Parssinen of The Flying Chalupa

I GOT CAST IN LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SF 2016!

So if you are missing my ramblings, might I direct you to the LTYM rabbithole on YouTube? Bring a tissue (or 5,000) and prepare to watch some amazing women (and a few men) share their stories.

Our cast had our first rehearsal today and I pretty much alternated between sobbing my brains out and laughing my ass off.

I have to tell myself I deserve to be there and am not just the token Asian. Of course, Hapa Papa, ever the helpful one, suggested that I was token when I expressed my insecurities. Bastard.

Oh, and this is not meant to be a fishing expedition for compliments. Merely me in awe of the other women who are in the show with me. I’m really excited.

Alright, it’s already way past my bedtime so unless I want to be screaming at the current babies, I’m going to sleep.

See you Wednesday.

I Was Interviewed on Moms and Biz

It’s been a crazy week. Two of my friends, Daphne LeBlanc and Danielle Faust, who I met on the Type-A Blogging conferences asked me if I would be interested in talking on their Blab show this week. They are both interested in homeschooling and were curious about bilingual homeschooling, too.

Of course I said, “Yes.”

After all, there are few subjects I like to talk about more than myself.

You can catch the replay here.

How Teaching My Kids Chinese Completely Derailed My Life

teaching chineseIf you told me seven years ago that I would be a Chinese homeschooling mom of three, that all our activities would be evaluated on the basis of whether or not it promoted Chinese fluency (and if it didn’t, whether it was worth it or not), that I would be spending ridiculous amounts of money on Chinese books that I don’t know if I can even read, and that 90% of all my friends and interactions would be with people of similar mind, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I would have thought you were crazy.

I mean, come on. Chinese is important. I get it. But to revolve our lives around it? To become a homeschooling mom? To spend that much of my time, energy, and resources on it?

That seemed a bit excessive.

I don’t know what I thought, exactly, other than I wanted my kids to be at least as bilingual in Chinese as I am. I just assumed I would speak to my kids in Chinese (like my parents did to me), have my kids go to Chinese school (like I had to), and then call it a day. Maybe throw in a few trips to Taiwan if I was feeling fancy.

I wasn’t going to go out of my way too much. I didn’t expect to go to a Chinese speaking church (like I did) or have only Chinese speaking friends (like my parents did). I thought about it, but it wasn’t that interesting to me.

I don’t know that I thought too deeply about the mechanics of learning Chinese or the inherent difficulties therein. All I knew was that I wanted my kids to be able to speak Chinese and I would probably try to find a Chinese preschool or something since all things Chinese were popping up in my area and getting a little more mainstream.

It wasn’t until I started seeing that other people were like me, and were expecting their kids to be literate as well, and that I joined the Raising Bilingual Kids in Chinese/English Facebook Group that I even saw that maybe, my children’s Chinese could surpass mine that I kicked it into high gear.

And now? Now, I find myself somewhat unrecognizable.

Here then, are some ways teaching my kids Chinese has completely derailed my life:

1) I am homeschooling. In Chinese.

2) Any classes and activities the kids can take, I always look for a Chinese option first.

3) Even though I believe fully in using the library and do NOT believe in buying books, I have spent thousands of dollars on Chinese books, DVDs, CDs, and classes. THOUSANDS. (Mostly because I am too lazy to go all over the Bay Area and borrow books from multiple libraries.)

4) My free time is spent hanging out with people who love Chinese and brainstorming and thinking about Chinese language acquisition. And that is all I ever talk about.

5) My social circle has narrowed down to families who have Chinese speaking children because I want my kids to play with other kids in Chinese (although usually, it is at best, half/half).

6) I listen to endless loops of Chinese stories and songs in the car.

7) I have been roped into creating and/or admin-ing several Facebook groups.

8) I hate traveling and dealing with people (especially in different languages and cultures), but now I take my children to Taiwan for weeks at a time, enroll them in local schools, and deal with a foreign language and culture and caring for my children by myself.

I know I seem super intense to some of you who are also wanting your kids to learn Chinese. Perhaps even crazy intense – even to fellow ABC/Ts.

I get it.

I know my path is not for everyone. Nor do I think that it is necessary for everyone. (After all, it depends on your goals and even if our goals are the same, there are many ways to get to where we’re going.)

So I thought that I would start a series on other families that are doing the Chinese thing with their kids. Once a month or so, I will feature a family and delve into why their kids are learning Chinese, to what levels, and what they are doing to achieve their goals.

It is my hope that from these varying families and goals and abilities, we can each glean ideas we can use for ourselves. (Or be forewarned about stuff we should look out for.)

While I do believe that kids who successfully master Chinese have parents who employed common methods, I don’t necessarily think that there is only way to be fluent. Again, success is dependent on each individual family’s goals and what they have in mind.

Also, many of us are at the beginning stages of our journeys. Guavarama mentioned to me how so many blogs about parents teaching their kids Chinese peter out and end. It makes sense because as kids get older, Chinese retention gets harder. Hopefully, I will find more families with older children and farther along this Chinese journey. 

Anyhow, short post today. I will likely start the series with myself as a reference point (and because it is easier than interviewing someone). Happy Friday!