Feeling Like a Lame Duck

Guys, I’m feeling so meh lately.

I want to blame it on the weather but honestly, I think my brain is caught between the end of the year and anticipating the new year and feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I want to do so many things next year. SO MANY!

ALL THE THINGS!

And I just came off of a month where I had to write a lot. So I feel in limbo and spent and restless and uninspired and constipated and GAAAAAAAAAAH!

I’ll get over it. I know I just have to brain dump and get out of my own head and just DO SHIT already vs think and think and think and then freak out and —

DEEP BREATH.

I feel so behind. Both behind for homeschooling the kids and my own work. And I know there’s an easy way out of it. All I have to do is just start doing stuff.

It’s both that easy and that hard.

Sooooooo…

Here’s what I would like to do for December. I’m only telling you good people because how else can I keep myself accountable? It’s not like I’m an actual grown up and can do things without expecting praise and accolades.

I NEED ALL THE EXTERNAL REWARDS I CAN GET, OK?

I will check back in at the end of the month and see how well I did. (Separate from my Suck It Up posts.)

1) Get back to homeschooling my children.

In particular, adding science back in. I have been sooooooo lazy. I really need to just get over having the “perfect” curriculum and just do what I have already.

DO WHAT I HAVE ALREADY!!!

2) PURGE PURGE PURGE.

In anticipation of Christmas and all the shit I will end up buying despite saying that I will not give my children even more presents, I know I will mysteriously accumulate more annoying toys. (I still have Christmas presents I haven’t given them from last year and the year before.) I have to get ahead of this inevitable avalanche of evil and purge broken and annoying toys.

I ANGRY CLEANED the other day and it was so satisfying.

I am anticipating more angry cleaning.

3) WRITE WRITE WRITE

I have totally slacked in the writing department lately. My brain needed a break. How can I pitch sites for my writing if I’m not writing??

Also, how can I keep you good people interested in me if I don’t write? PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!

4) Plan for 2018.

I want to do so many things but without a plan, it’s just useless wishing. Some folks say I should just do things – but I’m anal retentive. I need a plan in order for it to become habit. But then I see the plan and get overwhelmed.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Ok. If I add any more things for me to do in December I will totally bury my head and not resurface until January and then I will have wasted this last month of the year.

Wish me luck! (And do you feel the same? Let me know in the comments.)

If Your Kids Know Chinese, Please Don’t Make the Rest of Us Feel Like Crap

Author’s Note: Yes, yes. I know I’m the super gungho Chinese lady. I mean, it’s in my blog name. But I am aware that not everyone is like me – and that is ok. Today’s Guest Post is by Tracey Gee, of Balance is Boring. I’ve known Tracey since my first year at UCLA and love her writing and style. She writes about food, design, parenting, leadership, and so much more!


We’ve been living in our current house for about 3 years which is like 10 minutes in my neighborhood because lots of folks have been here for decades. We’re still the new kids on the block. But we’ve really enjoyed meeting our neighbors who are genuinely kind and amazing people and have become friends with several families which I love.

So, I was really excited to finally meet the fellow mom that just moved in a few houses down. I had seen them working on the house and moving trucks going back and forth but we hadn’t had a chance to meet yet.

As we chatted, I realized our kids are about the same age and even at the same school. “Yay, another new friend!” I thought. That is, until she quizzed me on my Chinese language abilities, told me that I “should” be teaching my kids Chinese, and that her kids are really good at it within the span of our 7-minute conversation.

I honestly have so much respect for parents who teach their kids another language. My sister recently enrolled her kids in Chinese school and they love it. It works really well for their family.

It’s not like I wouldn’t love for my kids to be able to speak Chinese but it just hasn’t been something we’ve prioritized. Part of it is due to the fact that my husband and I are both limited in our abilities. I grew up speaking Mandarin and I still do with my folks. I can order in a restaurant. But I’m probably as fluent as a second grader. (That might be generous.) My husband is Cantonese and is at about the same level with that. We can’t really talk to each other so we speak to other in English at home.

Because of our limited abilities, our conversations with our kids quickly outpaced our Chinese skills. As a 4-year old, my eldest was asking me questions like – Do ants sleep? What happens if all the water on the earth dries up? How do they make glue? How do they make Jell-O? What sound does a panda make? And so on…

I found myself unable to really respond to him in Chinese or to have the level of conversation that I wanted to have. So, it felt more natural to speak in English. We still talked about different words in Chinese but by and large our conversations were in English.

Ultimately, this was probably the biggest barrier to really teaching them Chinese. Once I realized that, we tried a couple of Chinese school options and lessons but they didn’t feel like the best use of time, money, and energy for us. Both my motivation and theirs quickly dwindled to keep doing those things.

Sometimes when you talk to some people, it feels like there is a moral imperative to learn Chinese like “if you don’t speak the language are you even Chinese at all?” And I think there is the assumption that fluency in the language makes one “more Chinese.”

But to that I would say that there are a lot of ways to be connected to your heritage. With our kids, we talk about what it means that we are Chinese American. We discuss Chinese cultural values and what’s special about it. Their chopsticks technique is on point. They eat on-the-bone chicken clean leaving no meat, skin, or cartilage in a way that would make my Nai Nai proud. My 6-year old’s favorite food in the whole world is pig ears. My 10-year old eats entire orders of xiao long bao by himself. They definitely have the love of Chinese food down. We celebrate Lunar New Year.

And maybe most important to me is that we continually help them learn the stories of our family and their grandparents. So though they can’t speak the language, I feel like they have a healthy and hopefully growing sense of culture and legacy.

We have chosen not to spend the time and money on teaching our kids Chinese. Instead, our family priorities have been:

  • School
  • Family meals
  • Reading
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Friends
  • Faith
  • Free time – last but not least, we also value giving them time to be self-directed and to not be in anything structured so they can play and just be. I love watching them get lost in an imaginary world of their own creation.

I find that when we spend time in these ways, we feel like our family is thriving.

Instead of the conversation we had, I wish that my neighbor had asked me more questions or demonstrated more curiosity. I wouldn’t have been offended if she’d asked me if I had ever considered having my kids learn Chinese.

I wish that she had asked if that was something I wanted rather than assuming that everyone, of course, should. I wish that she hadn’t taken her kids’ language learning as a blanket badge of superiority but rather understood that there are great (and not so great) things about everyone.

I wish that she had demonstrated some understanding that what works great for one family may not work for another. And that’s perfectly okay.

In the end, we all have to decide what works best for our family. And I know that mentally. But, I still second guess myself at times and feel like a crappy parent for failing to teach them.

So, after I had that conversation with my neighbor I texted my husband, “Met new neighbor. Shamed me for our kids not speaking Chinese. Guess we’re not gonna be friends.”

You know, I guess it boils down to the fact that I already feel bad about it so if you want me make me feel bad too, it’s not going to work out. No hard feelings but I just don’t think we’re going to hang out. Too bad because I host a mean playdate.  

Suck It Up, November

How is November over?

No, seriously. I blinked and Thanksgiving happened and now it’s almost December. It’s been a blur.

Anyhow, the penultimate month of sucking it up. Can’t wait to write what I’m going to do for 2018.

So, what was I up to this month? Here’s how I did on my goals:

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week.

Yes. Still doing well on this. I am particularly pleased because when we visited my brother during Thanksgiving, my kids actually ate foods they don’t normally eat and were minimally assholish about food. This made it much easier for me to relax and enjoy the time spent with my brother’s family.

I firmly believe that me cooking so much and training them to eat food even if they think it’s gross has helped. The other contributing factor is my mother continuing to take my kids out on a weekly basis to eat lunch. She has done all the hard work of civilizing my feral children and I have reaped all the rewards.

b) Be active once a week.

Did I walk this month? I must have. But our preschool was on break so I think I did not walk as often as I used to. Plus, it’s finally gotten cold and dreary. No, thanks.

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Still pretty regularly washing my face in the morning and slathering on the sunscreen but again, failing on the night time routine. My skin has stopped being as soft and glowy.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

Despite buying a pill box (Amazon affiliate link) on Amazon, I have not used it. So, I have totally failed this month with the pills. It’s really because I cannot stand the smell of the omega oils pills. It smells like the prenatals I used to take and it totally makes me gag.

Suck it up, Self. This is supposed to make my bones un-hollow.

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

I have not done well with this sleep thing this month. Between staying up late several weeks in a row for writing deadlines and then staying up late to read because stupidity, I failed failed failed.

But I got in a lot of important stuff!

f) No texting while driving.

FINALLY! A win! I give myself a B+. I don’t know why I was better. Possibly because I didn’t drive for a week when I visited my brother. But also, for some reason, my FOMO didn’t act up.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

It took me 90 minutes to fold 4-5 loads of laundry the other day. It made me sad. But it likely would not have taken so long if I had just folded it right away in the first place.

I hired my handyman again to fix a lot of random stuff (my kids keep providing this man so much business). I also actually cleared my house so the housecleaners could deep clean parts of my house. So, I consider that winning.

I FINALLY filled out the forms to get reimbursed from our homeschooling charter school. It’s about $2500 total between the older two kids for this semester so I’ve been an idiot for procrastinating.

Also, also? I WAS NOT A DICK WHEN VISITING MY BROTHER.

We all know that I’m usually an asshole so I am very pleased that I was not. I was a decent human being.

Therapy works.

I think I may go out and buy a lottery ticket. Oh, wait. Therapy has not yet made me lose all sense of math.

Oh, and I even remembered to buy Christmas presents for my kids’ teachers ahead of time this year instead of during their last class before break. WIN!

3) Write.

I did awesome again this month. Now, it may not seem so because I didn’t actually post that much, but I did do a lot of writing. As I mentioned last month, I booked several paid gigs so I wrote those.

I also submitted speaker proposals to two conferences and got TWO speaking gigs at Type A 2018! I am moderating a panel on How to be a Dope Facebook Group Admin with Brittany Minor of Clumps of Mascara and Michelle D. Johnson Garrett of Divas with a Purpose. Then, I am also speaking on How to Unleash Your Creativity Through the Delicate Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Now, I just have to combat Impostor Syndrome and tell myself that I deserve these things and I am qualified to be there! I will find out from the second conference this week to see if I got those.

Truthfully, though I am beyond excited to get the speaker gigs, I am MOST pleased about actually applying. I was nervous but then I decided that if I don’t ask, the answer will always be, “No.”

I want more YES in my life.

I also worked and edited my first paid piece in the online magazine, Hold the Line. I actually received the nicest REJECTION letter from their editor. Well, I suppose it technically it was not a rejection because she suggested I rework the piece until it was less sucky, but I could have taken it as a rejection and stopped, versus putting in the work to make it better.

I am grateful to Dots, who helped me IMMEASURABLY with the second draft. I am also amazed at how much a professional editor can change a word or two to make me sound intelligent! It is so cool!

I can’t wait to tell you guys when it publishes. It’s a paid magazine, but it’s so worth it. That way, they can pay their writers which is quite a rarity in the online space. Especially for a new magazine.

I am super excited to tell you folks about my next year’s goals so look out for it soon. How have you been doing for your new year resolutions? Still going strong? One more month to go! Don’t write off 2017 just yet. There is still time.

Let me know in the comments.