The Problem with Time

It’s cliché by now. All those more experienced mommies wagging their figurative fingers at you, telling you to enjoy every moment because after all, “The days are long but the years are short.”

And it’s totally true. IT TOTALLY IS.

(But it doesn’t make you feel better when you’ve already experienced a year’s worth of annoying child-caring and it’s only 9am.)

Anyhow, I blinked and my baby, (not the current baby, but my baby for the last four years), Glow Worm, is now four years old.

FOUR YEARS OLD.

I remember when Cookie Monster (7.5) was four and I thought he was SO BIG. After all, compared to the newborn Glow Worm, he was huge. As for Gamera, I don’t recall her ever being four.

I mean, obviously, she was four. (And come to think of it, it was a lot of crying. I mean, 5.75 is a lot of crying, but 4 was even MORE crying. OMG IT WAS EVEN MORE CRYING.) But for some reason, Gamera always seemed older than her actual age and I constantly thought she and Cookie Monster were the same.

But Glow Worm.

Glow Worm has been my baby for the past four years and even though it seems as if he all of a sudden became a big boy over the summer, it still has caught me completely by surprise.

And now that he is four (OMG, HE IS FOUR!), I still find him so very small.

In my mind, he’s still a baby. At least, that’s the excuse I give Gamera and Cookie Monster when they complain that I’m not being fair and letting Glow Worm get away with shit they couldn’t even dream of getting away with.

Part of it is because Glow Worm was such a late talker that he only started being intelligible (and still, half the time we’re not sure if he’s babbling away in Chinese or English when actually it’s CHINGLISH) and he’s also short for his age. And part of it is because compared to his older siblings, he really IS a baby.

But mostly, it’s because I’m in rampant denial.

HOW CAN HE BE FOUR?

He was always such an independent baby, and now that he is four, he is even MORE independent.

This summer, he was in full time school in Taiwan just like last year. But because this year, we had Sasquatch (9 mos), I did not get to spend much time with him after school. We had the hour between his pick up and the older kids’ pick up time, but once Hapa Papa joined us in Taiwan, he took over that pick up.

I didn’t even realize how much I missed that time with Glow Worm until the week was over.

In fact, it took me awhile to even realize that I had barely talked to or spoke to Glow Worm until the week was almost over.

I know.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL!!

Now that we’re back home and he is starting up preschool again (and for more days than last year), I am missing him a lot. For some reason, he has switched to Hapa Papa being his favorite so Glow Worm no longer fights to sleep with me at night, so I don’t even get to snuggle with him in the evening or at night. (He just informed me today that he loves Papa when I asked him to kiss me. Like he would be cheating on Papa if he kissed me. Hmph.)

Joni Mitchell is totally right. (To be cliché yet again.) I did not know what I had until it was gone.

I mean, Glow Worm now will occasionally still seek me out in the morning and snuggle with me for about five minutes, but then he’s off and running and has no time for me except when it is most inconvenient. (Like when I’m trying to appease Sasquatch and Glow Worm MUST sit and squirm in my lap because OF COURSE.)

It’s not only with Glow Worm, of course.

I know that though I spend a lot of my time with all my kids because I’m their primary caretaker, it’s not focused or necessarily quality time bonding. (To be honest, it’s a lot of reading Chinese and English and nagging.)

However, Gamera and Cookie Monster fight to sleep with me at night (they now have to take turns and the loser gets Hapa Papa as consolation prize). But even then, it’s hardly quality time because they want to spend time and talk to me but I’m trying to put Sasquatch down.

Incidentally, Sasquatch has been a punk lately and refuses to sleep at the boob because he now likes to ROLL AROUND WHILE NURSING and now I have to rock him to sleep in the rocking chair and yes, I know I should sleep train but FFS I just broke down (and sold) the crib because he’s never in it and since he can now walk – OMG HE CAN WALK UNASSISTED – it’s not safe to have him put himself to sleep in my bed.

So as a result, I’m mostly annoyed at Gamera or Cookie Monster for not being quiet and wanting to actually have a conversation with me and they’re sad because I’m mean and as Cookie Monster says (to guilt me on purpose), “I just want to spend time with you, Mama.”

And then I feel like a giant asshole. Because HE WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH ME. BECAUSE HE LOVES ME.

Whereas I am done with being hugged and kissed and only want some uninterrupted alone time.

I should clarify. They DID fight to sleep with me at night. But now that we finally re-arranged their room so that it’s truly their room with a twin over full bunk and trundle bed, plus moved all their clothes from the family closet to THEIR room in their own dresser, THEY ALSO WANT TO SLEEP IN THEIR ROOM WITH HAPA PAPA.

OMG. Did I mention that the reason Gamera no longer wants to sleep with me is because we moved all her clothes into her room AND SHE DOES NOT WANT TO WALK?!?

Dr. T says I should consider spending a little bit of quality time with the kids every day. Like, play games with them or draw with them or read with them or SOMETHING that is NOT homeschool. And that even though I constantly say I birthed siblings for a reason, that perhaps my kids would stop being assholes and trying to get my attention in negative ways if I actually paid them ANY attention at all during the day.

And then perhaps also, bed time would go a bit easier.

I know Dr. T is right.

I also sense my time with the kids slipping away and soon I will be old and my kids won’t want me at all and I should be grateful that they love me despite my being a crotchety dick because after all, I’m the only mother they have and they still want love and affection THOSE BASTARDS —

SO.

So.

So, Hapa Papa and I have decided to take turns taking a kid out for a date each week. (My mother already does this and it’s a big hit with them. They LOVE being the only person with a beloved adult.) I also am trying to make sure I spend quality time with the kids each day (although perhaps not individually).

I suppose that won’t actually kill me.

I might also enjoy myself and feel better as a parent and human being.

Thus far, I have spent time playing a board game with the kids one day, and playing my beloved (but ignored) logic games with them another day. I even spent quality time with Glow Worm.

I guess it was enjoyable and my heart might have become slightly less Grinchy.

Anyhow, am I the only one who doesn’t spend quality time with my children because I spend such a massive QUANTITY of time with them? How do you ensure that you get meaningful moments with your children? Let me know in the comments.

小胖小 Book Review

Like my reviews? Want more tips and advice on how to teach your kids Chinese? Want someone to just give you an Action Plan that you can follow? Check out my book (affiliate link), So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.

Title: 小胖小 (xiao3 pang4 xiao3)/Small Fat Small (nursery rhymes)

ISBN: 9789861614861

Author: 潘人木

Publisher: 信誼

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: A collection of a few silly nursery rhymes for kids.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: It’s not that the book is bad, per se. It’s okay for what it is. But neither Gamera (5.75) nor Cookie Monster (6.5 at time of reading) liked the book much when they read it.

The main difficulty is that because these are super short nursery rhymes, there really isn’t a plot to follow. Because of that, it’s hard for the kids to guess or predict what the words will be because it’s not enough for context to give any hints of what will come next.

Of course, if you’re an adult, it is much easier because we understand rhyme schemes and know there are only so many words they would be able to use in that context.

This book is good for teaching about rhymes and rhyming sounds.

Otherwise, the illustrations are alright and cute enough (though not nearly as engaging as the illustrations in other books).

Here is a quick video of Gamera reading an excerpt of this book.

Sometimes Self Care is Really Just Adulting

I used to think that my environment did not affect me. I thought I was easy-going; a roll with punches type of person. You know, “low-maintenance.”

By now, any person who knows me in real life is dying of laughter because it is so obvious to anyone who spends more than five minutes with me that I am not remotely any of these things.

Talk about a disconnect from reality.

In true fact, I am a very particular sort of person. Particular being a euphemism for anal retentive in the extreme. Also, I have very low noise and mess tolerances.

Of course, having four children and a husband (and being in relationship with people in general) makes it super impossible to have my life run exactly the way I would like it, when I would like it.

As a result, I want to bomb my entire house, scream at my children for not being obedient automatons, and war with my twin desires of FOMO Hoarder and Strict Minimalist Where Everything has Its Place.

Guess which side “wins”?

Then, because I am constantly behind on doing stuff (like purging, putting things away, finally USING things I’ve put away, or all the projects I have in my queue), I procrastinate because FFS there is no way I will ever get to anything or make a dent so I might as well read a romance novel or watch Project Runway or let’s be real, FRITTER AWAY MY LIMITED FREE TIME ON FACEBOOK.

This all builds up and annoys me and soon, I am swearing at my kids for being a smidge too loud or for doing whatever squirrelly thing they’re doing. And then I go on a brief and short-lived Angry Cleaning Purge and I am placated for about half a day before we rinse and repeat.

The thing is, sometimes, I think the only way I can get a bead on all this shit in my mental queue is to send my entire family away for at least a year so I can finally get something done.

Even then, I’m sure I’ll procrastinate and save it all for the last week before they’re due back.

I realize that this is the curse of human existence and being temporal beings. But this seems far more like a bug than a feature in my unasked for opinion.

Now, I know I have mentioned before that I am so mediocre that it took paying my therapist $150 (now $160) a week for her to tell me to just do 15 minutes of stuff a day and see how that helps.

It did.

I have improved drastically at paying medical bills on time (because those are the only bastards that are not on auto-pay). My kitchen table takes an extra week to look like an utter disaster area. And I am making more of an effort to do the shitty stuff first.

And STILL, it does not move. Or at best, it gets shifted from room to room.

For the longest time, my therapist, Dr. T, would ask me about self-care and I would be annoyed because I have lots of free time and Hapa Papa has no problem with me having weekly MNOs or going out for massages and pedicures and the like.

But those things always left me MORE stressed out because after doing these activities, I would come home to an even MESSIER house and even LESS time to do the things I needed to do.

Like seriously, when I see my entire house’s contents dumped onto the floor, the sink stacked with dishes, along with the normal REGULAR piles of shit all over my house, I go apoplectic. (And this is not to say that these are Hapa Papa’s fault. I just notice it more when I leave my house for a longer period of time and then return. Kinda like you don’t notice how your house smells until you leave for a few days.)

Anyhow, after years of debate with my therapist, we finally struck on something that has resonated with me. For me, self-care looks like adulting.

For me, self-care is removing the things that stress me out – and unfortunately, that requires me being a grown up and doing the grown up things that I should have been doing all along.

Now, this is not to deny that for many people, self-care is legitimately getting pampered, resting, or taking breaks from Facebook or the internet or whatever. That’s likely because these lovely people are actual productive members of society (unlike myself). And because they are actual productive members of society, they NEED these things because they adult all day and every day and what they need is a break.

Me, however. I have an easy life.

I’m serious.

This is not to discount the real difficulties of being a parent of four small children (as well as homeschooling them) or invalidating my role as a mother. Those are absolutely true and real.

But in general, I have a very privileged life.

We are financially secure, financially stable, healthy, highly educated, and short of us being not-white (and me being a woman), we have no other areas in which we are oppressed or othered.

Again, this is not to deny that my difficulties and struggles are worthless or whatever. After all, this is still the life I have and my difficulties are still mine to deal with. I just acknowledge and understand that other people may see self-care differently.

So, now that I have improved at the low-hanging fruits of self-care (eg: getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, paying bills, etc.), it’s time to step it up a bit.

Not sure how yet since I am now realizing that self-care requires a lot of mindfulness, too.

Can I just insert how much I hate that stupid word? But it’s all true. My life would be markedly improved if I were only more mindful of my mental and physical state.

SO. Because I’m an extrovert and assume everyone wants to know the nitty gritty of my life and thoughts, NO MATTER HOW BANAL, I will now list a bunch of things that would be self-care for me. (I mean, I think it might help some of you to have real life examples of someone like you.)

1) Take care of my physical health by:

a) Going to sleep with the kids.

b) Taking vitamins/supplements.

c) Eating nutritious and healthy food.

2) Write consistently.

3) Pay bills/sort mail/daily adulting tasks.

4) WEEKLY PURGING.

5) Do at least 15 minutes daily on my PROJECT QUEUE (eg: sorting clothes, rearranging rooms, finish photobooks, etc.).

I’m sure there is more – but the more I add, the more stressed I become. I mean really, self-care is just taking care of the shit on my SUPER LONG To-Do List.

Gah. Is self-care supposed to stress me out? I think that means I’m doing it wrong.

And really, a lot of the self-care items are from my Suck It Up 2017 resolutions for this year. (I have a feeling next year will also be the same theme. I need lots of help.)

So I am already doing most of this. I just want to add the purging and the project queuing. Sigh. I like how I have to give myself a pep talk before I have even started.

ADULTING IS HARD.

But I am really sick and tired of yelling at my kids and feeling like an abject failure every day. Who’s with me?

Taiwan Trip 2017 Post Mortem

Now that we’re back from our Taiwan Trip, it’s time for the post mortem. (Note, I did not call it a vacation because let’s face it. No trip with small children is a vacation.)

I totally thought I would have written more on this trip. I mean, last year, I seemed to be writing a lot! But then, I remembered that I had Sasquatch strapped to me and that I was out almost all day and by the time the kids were in bed, my brain was mush.

I did a lot of FB Live videos, though!

But honestly, I felt silly blogging about my trip this year because quite frankly, it was remarkably similar to last year. I mean, the kids were in pretty much the same camps and schools, the routes I took were the same. I ate, hung out with friends, and took care of kids at night.

Oh, don’t worry. I will probably do at least one more Taiwan related post unless I really get off my ass and turn some of my FB Live videos into blog posts. I will do a financial write up of the trip and maybe a Chinese update/summary/camp thingy. But otherwise, my brain has moved onto the new homeschooling school year.

Sorry, folks.

I see no need for guilt about posts I should have written to hang over me.

HOWEVER. Here are some random, disparate thoughts/mental flotsam nougats to hold you over until the more substantial posts. (Just thinking about writing those is exhausting.)

1) Being in Taiwan with three young kids and a nine month old baby strapped to me is SO MUCH BETTER THAN being in Taiwan with three young kids and pregnant.

OMG I CANNOT ADEQUATELY EXPRESS HOW MUCH BETTER IT IS.

Most of you long time readers know this, but last year was just one long, 40 week shitty mood. As soon as the baby was born though, it was great!

I totally thought that Taiwan with four kids would be worse than Taiwan with three kids. IT WAS NOT. Apparently babies are easy. Pregnancies are NOT.

2) It also helped that my kids are older this year. Plus, I already knew what I was doing – everything was familiar. The apartment was the same. The driver was the same. Our schools and camps were the same. And not only that, I built on last year’s knowledge and added NEW knowledge of bus routes, etc.

My mother was there for the first 10 days and I was so sorry she left. She didn’t sit with us on the plane, but she was super helpful in the apartment at bedtime! A lot of my friends were in Taiwan at the same time with their kids (some of them at the same camps) and my cousin’s kid was also at the same camp.

3) This year, I realized early on that though I liked food, what I really wanted to eat was shaved ice. So really, I just spent most of every day eating shaved ice. Food was consumed, but not nearly with as much fervor as Taiwanese shaved ice.

4) I am more than pretty sure that there will be a Taiwan Trip 2018 because I am a glutton for punishment and I am incredibly stupid – but it will be even better because it will be the THIRD year at the same schools and camps and hopefully, apartments.

5) I don’t really think my kids’ Chinese improved that much this time around. I think because this year, despite being in the Chinese environment, Cookie Monster (7.5) resisted speaking Chinese and thus, so did Gamera (5.5). Glow Worm (~4) was in school though, so his Chinese improved a lot. Their vocabulary still expanded so I guess that is still a good thing.

This is a lot of the reason I want to go back again next year. I worry if I skip even one year, the chance to catch Cookie Monster up or stem the inevitable English slide will not be in time.

Actually, come to think of it, Cookie Monster and Gamera’s Chinese did improve, but it was in super specific areas pertaining to their camps. I really would NEVER encounter these new words because I am never going to talk about science, water rockets, ripsticks, or even the random games they played.

So, I guess the only way to know whether their Chinese improved is if they all of a sudden start speaking incomprehensible Chinese words to me.

Incidentally, I never knew 營 (ying2/camp) was a word you could use by itself. Like, “This week, we are doing blah blah blah 營.”

Looks like Cookie Monster learned something after all!

6) Back in 2014, Cookie Monster only ate white rice the first four weeks and didn’t venture to try beef noodle soup until the last week we were there. Gamera was a tiny bit more adventurous, but still mostly ate white rice. Only Glow Worm ate everything set in front of him, but since he was 11 months old, I didn’t think it would last.

Terrible.

Last year, they expanded their food repertoire and ate a lot of fried rice, a variety of noodles, potstickers, and 小籠包 (xiao3 long2 bao/soup dumplings). Glow Worm again ate everything set in front of him – including a bunch of fruit.

This year, they were even more improved! (I firmly believe it’s because I have been so good about cooking with the Instant Pot and making them eat things they don’t necessary like.)

In fact, we managed to NOT eat at McDonald’s the entire trip except for the last weekend – and even then, it was only because I had the flu and Hapa Papa needed to take them somewhere easy for him to order.

You guys. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW AMAZING THAT IS?

I consider it a WIN.

Oh. AND THEY EVEN ATE ON THE PLANE.

7) Kids were much better about going to their camps this time around. Glow Worm only cried the second day when he realized that school was a permanent situation. But then we had a conversation, he no longer cried and RAN to his teachers and barely glanced at me when I dropped him off. He was such a big boy.

Oh, and THIS year, he actually participated (and with great enthusiasm) in all the session end performances. HE WAS ADORABLE.

Gamera was much happier this year because she was with Cookie Monster and not bored out of her mind learning characters she already knew. They took Chinese yo-yo, Ripstick, and games sessions. Gamera also took a sewing class and Cookie Monster took a science class.

They LOVED the courses. Surprisingly, Cookie Monster liked the science class the most! Gamera liked the sewing class the best. They both complained that they wanted to take a cooking class – so I told them I would try to sign them up for it next year.

8) If we go next year, (which we probably will), I will likely keep it at the 4.5 week mark. Both the kids and I are sick of Taiwan by then – and I think it’s better to leave wanting more vs. staying until you are sick of a place.

I might stay a few extra days at the end because the kids complained that we didn’t play enough, but truthfully, by the end of each stay, they are so sick of the heat that they never want to leave the apartment.

9) Because I had the flu, Hapa Papa took Gamera to buy breakfast and she did all the ordering and paid. I think she was a little shy about it, but she did a good job.

10) Of course, my kids loved all the DIY crafts. I resisted though and we managed not to go completely bankrupt. I suppose I should just consider it one on one paid Chinese arts and crafts instruction.

11) Oh, and people wanted to know how it was traveling around Taipei with a fat 8-9 month old baby on my person. Just like 2014, it was hot and my entire front would be dripping wet. Sasquatch would also be dripping wet from my sweat. But ultimately, it was pretty easy.

Because I am his food and tend to nurse him in the Ergo, it was such a gross mix of fluids. There was my boob sweat, my hand sweat, his head sweat, his saliva, and my milk. Mmmmm… slippery.

But mostly, since he only just started cruising and is otherwise, non-mobile, it was very easy. Just slippery with sweat. People are endlessly kind and always offering seats on MRTs and buses (which I refused because like all my babies, Sasquatch insisted on me standing).

Since I hate strollers, I really didn’t have to make much of an accommodation to Sasquatch’s presence. And once I realized I needed to be home for part of the day to allow him a nice long, uninterrupted nap, he was much happier. It was easy peasy.

Alright. I think that’s it for now. Hopefully, I will not burn out on the Taiwan Trip topic and you will not be bored too terribly to have to read more about it. And again, if I am feeling really on top of things, I will turn my FB lives into posts.

Thanks for reading! I’m so happy to be back home.

Suck It Up, June and July

How did June and July pass by without me noticing?

OVER HALF OF 2017 IS OVER.

This is terrifying in the sense that I swear it just started and yet, it’s almost over and I haven’t done nearly as much as I thought I would. Or is it that I did more than I thought I would?

Whatever it is, it’s that time again. (You thought I forgot since I skipped June, right? Well, I WAS IN THE TAIWAN. And um, I forgot.)

So, lucky you, here is my 2 for 1 monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week.
I did pretty well in this category in June even though I was getting super sick of what I was making. I realized it’s because I didn’t prep well enough with the different types of veggies (I stopped peeling and cutting carrots and other minor prep work so we were down to like two types of vegetables.)

And of course, we were in Taiwan for all of July so ZERO cooking because WHY?????

b) Be active once a week.

June was more of the same inactivity.

But July! July was awesome because sweating gallons of liquid totally counts as activity! And since I was in Taiwan, I walked everywhere and took the bus and MRT and yes, I did manage to lose weight after a month of nonstop eating in Taiwan simply because I carried a fat baby of 23 pounds while walking everywhere.

Did I mention that this is in addition to carrying a diaper bag/purse, my purchases, and often, my kids’ belongings because it was super heavy for small humans?

I rocked July. But don’t worry. I will be back to my inanimate self now that it is August.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

I remembered to take these MOST days. I’m making it a goal to focus on this more in August.

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

I did a pretty good job of this – even in Taiwan. Last year when I was in Taiwan, I was up most of every night. But this year, carrying fat baby around all day was too exhausting so I would usually go to sleep by 10pm. So, technically later than the kids, but still earlier than I would have left to my own devices.

I honestly don’t remember what happened in June. But I presume it was much the same as May.

f) No texting while driving.

June was bad because I think I got a ticket while texting in the car. Or was that May? Either way, it was bad. July was easy simply because hey! I WAS NOT DRIVING.

I was AWESOME about this in July.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

Pretty sure I did adulting in June. Not sure. But I must have. After all, I packed and got ready for Taiwan in July, right?

As for July, yes. I did a lot of adulting – especially single parenting in Taiwan with four kids for several weeks. I did a LOT of adulting. But only stuff related to Taiwan. I didn’t do much else that was not related to Taiwan.

3) Write.

I did very little writing in June though I did go to a writing workshop. And I did no writing at all in July when I was in Taiwan. So, mostly fail at this. LOTS OF FAIL.

HOWEVER. I did do a lot of Facebook Lives – and while that is NOT writing, it is content production of a different sort.

But again. Not writing. So not the same.

Ok. This was kind of a depressing post. But you know, it was still good to check in and see how I did. And a good reminder to get my ass in gear for August.

After all, every day is a potential new year, so really, it’s ok to fall off the wagon as long as we get back on.

Here’s to getting back on.

How did you do? Are you even still keeping track of your New Year Resolutions? Let me know in the comments.

奇先生妙小姐 (Mr. Men and Little Miss) CD and Book Review

Like my reviews? Want more tips and advice on how to teach your kids Chinese? Want someone to just give you an Action Plan that you can follow? Check out my book (affiliate link), So You Want Your Kid to Learn Chinese.

Title: 奇先生妙小姐 (qi2 xian sheng miao4 xiao3 jie3)/Mr. Men and Little Miss Stories

ISBN: 4712834275481, 4712834275498, 4712834275528, 9789865984465, 4712834275504, 4712834275511

Author/Illustrator: Roger Hargreaves

Publisher: 鴻仁文教

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction

Summary: There are 6 sets of 4 CDs, each with 4 stories for a total of 96 stories. These are supremely high production value CDs with background music, sound effects, narrators, and consistent voice actors.

There are also 96 thin books that are translated from Roger Hargreaves Mr. Men and Little Miss series in English.

Sample Pages:

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Review: If I could give a million stars for this product, I would. My kids (3, 5, 7) LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE these stories.

They love listening to the CDs over and over and over again. Thank goodness there are 96 stories because otherwise, I would have thrown them out the window because we listen to them SO MUCH.

I rotate 6 CDs (24 stories) in the CD player of my minivan every 4-5 weeks. We aren’t even finished with listening to all the CDs, there are so many.

Seriously, if the amount of money I paid included ONLY the CDs, I would have considered it worth every penny. As it is, there are also books with pictures.

The stories themselves are funny, the characters are silly, and truly, there are some problems with it in terms of actual morals or emotions or whatever. But my kids have learned SO MANY new words, phrases, idioms, emotions, adjectives, descriptions – YOU NAME IT, they’ve learned it. (Oh, who am I kidding? I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH.)

They request specific stories, characters, and beg to listen to the CDs as soon as we enter the car. It has gotten to the point where I ask them to please let mommy listen to the radio for 5-10 minutes before I have to listen to any more of the Mr. Men and Little Miss.

They love it so much that they VOLUNTARILY read the books – and because they have heard the stories, they can immediately identify which character is which based on the pictures alone. And of course, they are reading it, too.

I know Guavarama has mentioned a few times that the actual reading level is more difficult because there are so many words, but because my kids have heard each story at least a bjillion times, they have no problem reading them.

My kids even try to draw all their favorite characters and will spend hours re-drawing plot lines and illustrations they find in the books. They love it so much that I actually bought a book with stencils and instructions on how to draw these characters.

The best part is, the narrators and characters speak in all types of Chinese accents so my kids are also getting used to hearing Mandarin in the many different forms it comes in.

The only downside is that since we’re listening in the car, I often have to stop and look up terms because I don’t always understand what they’re saying. However, since we listen to each story many many many times, my kids will ask new clarification questions each time so their understanding deepens (as does mine).

This series is worth every single penny. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

For a more detailed review, I direct you to Guavarama’s excellent breakdown (it also includes links to where you can buy the set).

Re-entry is Hard


I know. I know.

You thought I had abandoned this blog for the ease and instant gratification of Facebook Live Videos.

As tempting as that is, I just can’t be that unedited and unscripted on a regular basis. If I produced live videos on the same schedule as I write, no one would be seeing anything live because I write deep into the dark night or on Saturday mornings. The rest of you would be busy sleeping or living your life.

Also? I think I’m funnier on screen vs in person. Apologies to all my real life friends.

Anyhow, we have been back in the Americas for twelve days. TWELVE DAYS. And other than one Costco trip (I still need to go for this week) and some unpacking (but not ALL) and finally getting over jet lag, I have done a fat load of NOTHING.

OKOKOKOK. Not entirely true. I took the kids to parks and playdates. (My kids climbed a 30-40′ tree to the very top and I tried not to die of fear and trembling on the spot.) I actually cooked. (I MISS YOU, TAIWAN!!) And did a bjillion loads of laundry and all the random crap of life.

Still have yet to make it back to kungfu though.

And I have tried to ease the kids back into homeschooling with daily reading. We officially start Monday 8/14. It is hard, people. HARD.

The summer brain drain is real. My impatience is real.

YOU GUYS, I NO LONGER HAVE OTHER PEOPLE COOKING FOR ME 24/7!!

That is the REAL kicker. That is the part of Taiwan that I always miss the most. It makes me so sad. So so so so sad.

But I am so glad we are back at our house – despite it’s cluttered mess (exacerbated by my lack of finished unpacking). I am so glad for the space we have (triple that of our apartment in Taiwan). I’m so grateful my older kids can run around and be loud and jerks but the baby will be fine upstairs asleep.

SO HAPPY TO BE IN THE LAND OF REASONABLE WEATHER AND PARKS.

But I have been slumming it.

Hapa Papa started a new job but I haven’t yet enrolled us for benefits. Because of stupidity. I WILL SOON THOUGH. (Please don’t judge me!!)

I have been binge re-reading a favorite Regency romance spy series. (I bought her new book so OF COURSE I had to re-read all the previous books in the series. OF COURSE.)

I have been catching up with all the dance shows we missed. And now, Project Runway has started up again – which is AWESOME!!

Now that I’m in the land of expensive bubble tea, I want it all the time. (It’s a mystery to me why I never want bubble tea when I’m in Taiwan – but whatever.)

I know I should write for the blog but after over a month off, (because let’s face it, I wasn’t really writing much in June), I barely can string together coherent sentences – let alone INTERESTING sentences.

OMG SO MUCH BLATHERING TODAY.

I will consider this post (and most likely, the next few weeks’ worth of posts) to be the blah you have to get out of your system before you can actually write anything worth reading.

LUCKY YOU FOR READING FIRST PRINT BLAHS.

Ohohohoh. And because I spent all this money lasering my face, (that’s a post for another day, folks – but I LASERED MY FACE), I finally started up my skincare routine again. Like after at least a year and a half of NOT DOING A DAMN THING.

And now, even after just 4-5 days of semi-consistent face care (like washing it and moisturizing and SPFing it), my face is SOFT.

My poor, moisture and care starving face.

Also also, I know that this post is just a random amalgam of thoughts loosely correlating to how mediocre of a human I am with returning to the land of the English language and all, but I AM SO GLAD TO BE SURROUNDED BY ENGLISH.

ESPECIALLY ENGLISH WORDS.

I am no longer an idiot. (Well, I suppose YMMV on that opinion.)

Anyhow. Thank you for reading the random firings of my gasping brain. It is always hard to go back to reality after any trip – but especially hard when you go from a place that took care of a lot of the worst parts of parenting (providing FOOD) to a place that you are now back to adulting.

I am terrible at adulting. But I love to write and the only way to be a writer is to write. And the only way to make it through life semi-successfully is to adult because there is no one else to do it for you.

Did I mention that I had the flu the last few days in Taiwan so it was miserable and our whole family has been rotating who is sick and that it was a really rough week or two (that included the LOOOOOONG flight home)?

Ok. I am getting sick of myself and my nonsense.

But this is my official shingle saying that I’m back! I’M BACK AND I’M NOT SORRY!!