Scatter Brain

As many long time readers know, my mind retains the dubious talent of going from A to Z in about half a second. As a result, my brain is always flitting from one thought to the next and sometimes all the incumbent possibilities of each idea. It is exhausting. 

Also, it makes it very difficult to write a focused opinion piece on a topic. At least, lately it has. The only time I have been able to write a long focused piece has been when I have a very specific topic (like my Chinese Immersion blog articles) because there is clear direction and mostly information versus open-ended opinion. (Alright, I do editorialize, but everyone knows that even “non-fiction” writing still is biased and presents an opinion.)

As a result, it has been near impossible for me to write anything remotely resembling honest or authentic. Add to that my recent feelings of being closed and invulnerable and everything I write comes off flat and meh. 

Unless, of course, I am delineating the chaotic thoughts of my overactive mind. 

Anyhow, this is just a long preamble to another one of my disparate posts. So, without further lead up, here we go:

1) How is it that it’s my third kid and I still have no idea how to potty train? I’m getting owned! 

Mostly, we pantsless potty train here so at least I get a lot of naked baby butt. Mmmmm. But that also means I get lots of poop surprises. Especially since I forget about Glow Worm and then go upstairs and come back to him desperately trying to show me his poop. He has even decorated his poop. I’m afraid I find it hilarious. And gross. But mostly hilarious. 

2) Gamera woke up yesterday morning and barfed all over Hapa Papa, herself, the bed, and Cookie Monster. She had even pooped in her pullup. She also had a slight fever. This never happens so clearly, she had a stomach bug. 

She also pretty much barfed up everything she ate yesterday (as well as multiple times in the car all over herself and the carseat). Needless to say, I have been doing a lot of laundry. 

3) In addition, Cookie Monster has been randomly breaking out in hives almost daily or every other day since mid/late-July. I finally took him to the allergist and it looks like Cookie Monster has chronic hives. The doctor says he has no idea why but about 25% of the population has it and I basically have to drug Cookie Monster for at least a month. And even then, he may still break out into hives. 

At least it isn’t food related (which is always a concern because Cookie Monster is allergic to peanuts). The doctor says if it’s food related, onset is always between 5-10 minutes after ingestion. 

4) Incidentally, Gamera is totally milking her sickness for all it’s worth. 

5) Also, no more caffeine for me. I’m shaking and my heart rate is elevated after having an Earl Grey iced tea. Clearly I am an amateur caffeinator. It’s been hours and I still feel shaky. Pathetic. 

6) I buy a lot of used clothes and toys for the kids so the kids are used to having things that are not brand new. I’ve never been worried about them feeling “poor” because they don’t have that concept. 

However if I were ever inclined to worry, I should be reassured by Gamera’s reaction to getting new to us clothes and toys from our friends.  She thinks it’s because they love her and sees them as reminders of her centrality to the universe. Who am I to disabuse her of that notion?

7) A few weekends ago, we went to Sacramento and visited one of Hapa Papa’s best friends, Psy. While we there, Cookie Monster asked Psy to help him in the bathroom because he had to poop. 

As Psy was waiting by the door, he kept asking Cookie Monster, “Are you done yet?” 

Every time, Cookie Monster would reply, “Not yet!” Psy would wait about five seconds and then ask again. 

Eventually, Cookie Monster had enough and yelled, “Stop asking me!” Of course, Psy waited a bit and then asked him again. And then Cookie Monster yelled back, “Yes!”

Nothing like exasperating almost six year olds. Heehee. 

Of course, guess who now nonstop asks if I’m done pooping? He even said he was being like Uncle Psy.

Well played, Psy. Well played. I WILL REMEMBER THIS. 

8) Sometimes, I feel as if my kids are in a food scarce world because I never have any nutritional food for them. I know it’s not the same so no need to lecture. I just mean that I never have any idea what to feed them. And they must be nutritionally bankrupt. I know this because as soon as I gave them a good multivitamin, they actually started growing. Yes, even Glow Worm

All right. That’s about all I am capable of writing today without becoming totally useless as a person. Happy Wednesday!

Someone Get Me An Adult

People, people, people. I just can’t get my shit together.

Seriously. I think I’ve somehow landed myself in a minor depression again. I care about stuff, but not enough to do anything about it. I kept telling myself I’d get it together after our LA/SD Trip. Now, I tell myself I have to get certain stuff done before our DC Trip. (But only the stuff that has actual deadlines.) But really, I’m telling myself to get to it after school starts.

My kingdom for a “wife”! (That’s probably what Hapa Papa thought he was getting, but too bad, Sucker!)

I will settle for someone to just follow me around and nag me until I do things. (Better yet, I would prefer someone to just do things for me.)

Why is adulting so hard? Why is life so hard? (Cue sad violins and people giving zero fucks at my privileged, pampered life.)

know I’m being a whiny asshat. I know it’s sad and pathetic and whatever other invectives I hurl at myself. But here I am all blech-like.

To quote Fat Bastard from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, ” I can’t stop eating. I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Substitute eating with whatever (well, also, the eating) and there you have me in a nutshell.

I want to say a lot of my paralysis is because I’m conflicted of what I want and why I want it. But that only covers some of the problems like parenting/disciplining/interacting with my children or homeschooling. I know all I have to do is just fucking shut up already, sit down, and think about what I want. I just choose not to do it because then once I know, I have no excuse not to do it and then I have to do it!

Which then, brings those problems into the column that is the most problematic: life.

How is it that I am so incapable at life? I know if I just got off my ass, my bathrooms would be cleaned, my laundry folded, my carpets vacuumed, my home decluttered, my bills paid, etc. I know because I’ve done them before. At least a million times before. And I think lately, that is the problem. What is the point? Why bother doing anything at all? I WILL JUST HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN TOMORROW.

Or depending on what it is, in about ten minutes.

I mean, seriously. I do at least three loads of diapers a week (not including regular laundry). After I spent half an hour mopping the kitchen floor, one of my kids spilled their milk. And thought about eating a cookie so immediately, my floor was covered in crumbs. I vacuumed my crunchy carpet and almost instantly, my children chose the crumbliest, flakiest food to consume and then promptly walked all over my family room.

I used to care about things (back in the days before Gamera and Glow Worm were born) but each successive child has sucked the will to do anything out of my body. I am now the opposite type of parent I thought I would be. Just a sad, deflated, screaming mom completely run over by her irregular children.

I think I need an accountability partner. Someone to check in with and make sure I get stupid shit done. Maybe I don’t need a wife after all. I NEED A MOM. Just not a mom like me.

Have I Become a Cliché?

Lately, when I wake up in the morning, I feel as if I’m gearing up for combat and my enemies are my children and my life. I feel as if I am a cliché, existing in some hack writer’s mediocre opus to the banalities of being a cosseted, American housewife. My default state of being is annoyed. And wouldn’t you be annoyed if your entire day seemed structured to frustrate your every plan?

Children who refuse to sleep in, refuse to get dressed, refuse to eat breakfast, refuse to eat lunch, refuse to eat dinner, refuse to take a bath, refuse to brush teeth, refuse to get in pajamas, refuse to sleep. Children who have minds of their own – minds who do not magically, beautifully, fantastically, sync with your hive mind and do what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and when.

I feel myself bristling, constantly on edge, spoiling for a fight. If I’m lucky, I can recognize it and identify these feelings in myself before I do too much damage. I try to remind myself that my children are so small, so tiny, so fragile. That it is hard to be small. To constantly be told what to do, how to do it, and when.

It must be hard to be so small. To constantly have to ask for help. To have such little autonomy.

I think of my friend’s moving article on being a more compassionate mother, reminding myself to remember what it was like to be one, three, or five years old.

It is hard. Both being big and being small.

That’s all for today. Be gentle with yourselves, my friends.

Eating Elephants and Other Unappetizing Things

One of the hardest things about being a Stay At Home Mom, for me, anyway, is that I seem to do a lot but get nowhere fast. I don’t mean that I procrastinate a lot and pass that off as working. (Although, there is that, too.) It’s just that, no matter what I do, it seems as if I have made zero progress. Or if I do make any progress, it is quickly eclipsed and things either go back to the way they were, or worse. (Also, I am sure working moms and parents can equally relate – it’s just that I feel they have a better excuse for the house being a mess or laundry not being done. After all – they’re out working. I’m at home most of the day so shouldn’t I be able to get more done?)

Even though this summer was a lot of fun with our Taiwan Trip, Disneyland, and my Atlanta trip, it threw me off my schedule (okokok, it’s not like I was amazing with keeping this schedule anyway, but it was still passable) and as a result, my house was a disaster. All the detritus from daily living, school, art projects, junk mail, medical bills, etc. would make the flow from outside to our kitchen table to a bag/box swept into the laundry room or hall closet and forgotten about.

Then there was actually cleaning the house so that the bathrooms didn’t resemble a science experiment, the floors and carpets weren’t gravelly from food and crumbs, and the kitchen was not a biohazard waste site. On top of that, apparently my children have to eat and excrete multiple times a day, bathe, and wear reasonably clean clothes. (And what the heck, man? Not only are there diapers to wash, a family of five can generate loads of laundry in a matter of minutes. And then, the laundry does naughty things and spawns babies. Totally irresponsible.)

Then, there are the things that I would like to accomplish outside of maintaining a home. You know, blog, read, be someone other than a professional caretaker to three tyrannical children. Oh, and perhaps Hapa Papa would like some time to be a human, too. (Oh, who are we kidding? We all know the poor man never gets any time to himself unless he’s “on vacation.” Which he is. Right now. Until late tomorrow night. Lucky bastard.)

Yes, yes. There are things I can do to make my life easier. For instance, I could hire help with either the house cleaning or my children. Unfortunately, I used to have a house cleaner and I realized that I hated it. I turned hyper critical and would find fault in everything. Not to the cleaners’ faces. But after they left, I would be annoyed and the smell of all their cleaning products would permeate the house. Even if I gave them organic cleaning materials, I was never sure they used it correctly or at all. Plus, just trying to work everything into my schedules with the kids’ school and classes – AGH. Perhaps it was that particular cleaner, but needless to say, I was much happier when we stopped. Now if something is not to my satisfaction, I only have myself to blame. Plus, it saves me money.

As for hiring someone to watch my children, that seems ridiculous since I’m the one staying at home. After all, that was the whole point of me no longer working. (And truthfully, I don’t want to work anyway so we can save that particular joy for Hapa Papa.) And yes, I know this is totally a first world problem but again, it is still my problem.

Anyhow, my whole point with this rambling post is that at the end of the day, even though I have cooked, cleaned, and kept three small humans alive, it feels as if I’m just treading water. Barely keeping my place and most likely, losing ground.

Last week, I spent at least three or four hours finally digging out my kitchen table from under three feet of stuff. Then I spent a few more hours clearing out my hall closet and laundry room. It has been less than a week. My kitchen table is already half buried again. My laundry room and hall closet are still holding steady, but I don’t expect it to last. Why? I have guests coming over tomorrow and a birthday party at my house Saturday. Everything that is currently on my table will make a quick escape to the laundry room. I would be more bummed, but why get sad over the inevitable?

It is times like these that I am particularly comforted by the book, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen Norris. I have mentioned this book many times in the past, but it bears repeating.

I am reminded that the daily drudgery of cooking, cleaning, and caring for people is a holy endeavor. That I am not merely Sisyphus, continually rolling a boulder up a mountain only to have it tumble back down before it reaches the peak. That I am actually performing acts of prayer, worship, and transformative love. That what seems dreary and horrible is life-giving and beautiful.

I’m having trouble ending posts lately. We’ll just leave it at that. Be blessed, friends.

Separation Anxiety

Today is the first official day of Type A Con, a blogging conference for parents. I feel like it’s the first day of school and I’m the new girl. Thank goodness I am rooming with a blogging rock star, Lizz Porter of Am I A Funny Girl.

I know I briefly wrote about this a few posts ago, but it bears repeating. I have never been away from my children for so long. (Five days!) Just thinking about it makes me cry.

Also, it will sound mean but I am more worried about Glow Worm than Cookie Monster or Gamera. After all, they are big kids, in school half the day, and play with each other and barely pay attention to me (or I to them) unless they are in trouble or eating. But Glow Worm, he’s still a baby!! Okay, a thirteen month old baby. But still!! MY BABY.

I worry he will miss me and not know why I am gone and be sad. (OMG, I am sad just thinking about it. I have to stop myself or I will burst into tears.) I worry he will no longer want to nurse when I come back. (I have pumped a lot of milk for him just for this trip.)

Also, I am pretty tired because like an idiot (who can’t do math or account for traffic – why can’t Californians drive when it sprinkles just a little bit of rain?!), I missed my 9am flight yesterday and basically wasted the whole day at SFO and didn’t get into ATL until 11:40pm and by the time I ate (Thank God Lizz ordered me a bunch of room service so it arrived right when I did!!) and pumped milk it was 3am. Of course I was up again at 7am.

It’s been a full day but good and my face hurts from smiling. I am going to bed.

Oh, and I almost cried when I FaceTimed with the babies today. Especially watching and chatting with Glow Worm. My littlest boy!!!

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And with that, I bid you good weekend.

De-accumulating Pains

So we had our first multi-family garage sale this past Saturday and it was an okay success. I mean, we got some money for some of our stuff. So that’s good. But really, it was a lot of work for little return. It will likely be a long time before I do one on our own again.

Here then are some thoughts I had about the process:

1) If your neighborhood ever has neighborhood garage sales where someone else (usually a realtor) does all the advertising, signage, and organizing, do that instead. Prepping and advertising a garage sale is a real pain in the ass. Plus, you will likely have a lot more foot traffic.

2) Don’t wait until the night before to price your stuff and make signs. That just means you will pull an all-nighter (I did) and ensures you will take all of Sunday to recover. (Hapa Papa is a saint.) I know this is obvious and we all knew it going in and yet we STILL procrastinated. So painful.

3) Don’t price your stuff too high. We fell into this trap thinking people would haggle. People did not. A lot of people just walked away. Some money is still better than no money.

4) Good signage is KEY! We had very good signs. (I am biased since they took me several hours.) Letter sizing should be 3-5inches tall in dark, thick ink. Ours were on bright poster board and I included huge arrows.

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I was super anal retentive and drew down lines so the letters would be the same size. Also, I first wrote in pencil so I wouldn’t have one of these situations:

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On the front, I also numbered each sign and had it correspond to a number on a map that detailed each intersection and direction the arrow should be pointing. The back of each sign also had that same number as well as the cross streets and a small map giving the approximate location.

I know. Perhaps I spent too long on the signs. But without good signage, how can people find your house? My crowning achievement was multiple compliments on the signage. It’s the little things, people.

5) Make a pact with your friends (or yourself) to immediately donate your leftover garage sale items. Don’t bring them back to your house. You will feel better.

6) Have a cooler with drinks and maybe some snacks on the side. People will buy them. We didn’t intend to sell food and drinks, but we did anyway.

7) Be prepared to possibly have more stuff at your house than you started with. Especially if your house is where the garage sale is held. That’s because some big pieces or random flotsam will be left at your house until people have time to pick it up. Also, you will inevitably swap stuff with your friends.

8) Clothes aren’t usually a big seller. I say next time, just donate it first.

9) Have lower expectations about how much money you will make. This is NOT Clean Sweep. That being said, our combined loot was around $4-500. Some folks made more than others.

If you have the time and energy, perhaps multi-day sales are a way to go. But in general, I don’t think the ROI is there.

10) Combine garage sales with your friends. You’ll have a lot more loot and a lot more fun. Even if you don’t sell much, you are at least still hanging out with your friends.

Look at all our loot:

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11) At the cashier, you should have at least two people. One person to tally the total of the sale. One person to tally how much goes to each person. To cut down on adding, I made a grid with our names and various prices. That way, I could just mark off a price versus add for a person. In other words, if Fleur had three items purchased, one at $0.25, one at $1, and one at $10, I would make a hash at $0.25, $1, and at $10 versus adding up $11.25.

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Ok. That’s all I could come up with. Those of you with more experience, let me know what I missed.

What Liam Neeson and Hapa Papa Have in Common

Okokok. So perhaps this title is a bit misleading. But stick with me for a few more seconds.

You see, lately, it’s become ever more apparent that Hapa Papa and I are totally failing at our respective roles. We are totally half-assing things and while amusing for the short haul, it is somewhat alarming (in a climate change-y kinda way) for the long run. Because Hapa Papa is fortunate enough to work from home most days (unless he’s “on vacation”), our kids have no concept of what it means to work (and work hard). I think they vaguely think that work means to be on the computer, go to airports, and stay in hotels. (Cookie Monster demands a Facetime tour of every hotel room Hapa Papa stays in. He particularly likes seeing the bathrooms. He’s a weird kid.)

Anyhow, Hapa Papa is always marveling that he used to work hard but now he has completely lost that ability. In fact, it has gotten so bad that work tasks that used to be easy can occasionally be stumbling blocks.

When I expressed concern over his job security, Hapa Papa responded, “Don’t worry. It’s like Liam Neeson in that movie, Taken. I don’t work hard, but what I do have is a very particular skill set.”

Here’s a clip of that scene for reference. You know, because I’m helpful like that.

Also, should I be offended that Hapa Papa includes me on the Mediocrity Train? Because when he is home, I cede all parenting duties to him and go out with my friends? (To be fair, it was my birthday.) And then when he has the nerve to actually go into work, I have  no idea what to do with my kids when they’re not in school or napping.

I really don’t know why people think I have a hard job. Yes, yes. I have three children. But seriously, short of making sure they are fed, wiping their bottoms, and occasionally separating them from all out brawls, I don’t really do much. No, I’m not underselling what I do. Please believe me when I say, I had multiple children for a reason. So they can play with each other and I can ignore them. Yes, even Glow Worm, the baby. He is very independent.

I can’t help sometimes feeling like I’m failing as a mother, though. Or if not failing, precisely, that I am quite mediocre because I am not making them do flash cards or whatever. It’s because I’m extremely lazy. That’s why I bought all those educational toys. They can learn while they play, right? Playdough and coloring are good, right? Spacial awareness and art and stuff? Tactile and fine motor skills? It’s also why I bought all those Chinese DVDs! They’re not zombie-ing out. They are LEARNING MANDARIN.

But then, I think back to my childhood and you know what? My parents didn’t play with me. I had piano lessons and Chinese school, but other than that, my days were filled with school, homework, hours and hours of TV and books. I went to a good school and turned out fine. (Hapa Papa occasionally likes to mock me and say that I went to a better school than he did but I don’t get paid. Then, I throw back that I don’t have to work and spend all my time buying stuff on Amazon and Costco and hanging out with my kids. Who’s smarter now? He usually concedes the argument at that point.)

Anyhow, not sure what my point is today except that um, yes. I’m a mediocre parent and I’m okay with that. Have a wonderful long weekend!