The Last Day of School

Gracious, how are we already here? I could’ve sworn that it was just yesterday I had Hulked Out and was about to commit murder due to poor school communication and rabid American entitlement. Now, I am pleased with the school and considering coming back in two years. (Or one year if I don’t end up having Baby 4 before/around next summer.) The kids are no longer starving at school and seem to love their teachers and are learning a lot of songs and improving their Mandarin. I am very pleased.

With that said, the kids are very homesick. They keep asking to go home to their White Car House (to differentiate from the apartment in Taipei). And true to form, Cookie Monster is excited about seeing his favorite Fun Learning Mandarin preschool teacher (but specifically told me he didn’t want to go to his other class which is silly because he does like her very much and comes home singing new songs and playing new games).

I suppose I want to go home, too. But it’s hard to miss the “Real World” when I am still in holiday mode. Every day is a food orgy! Whoooo! I have to begrudgingly admit that if I extended this trip or lived in Taiwan full time, the shine would eventually rub off and this new life would then become Real Life.

Hmmm. Still think it would be awesome. Of course, this is really my stomach talking. (Now, I am already busy planning the next trip. I have two years to convince other mommies to come with!)

Anyhow, on to the updates!

1) Yesterday, on the way to school, Gamera started jumping as far as possible and kicking the sky. When asked what she was doing, she said, “I kick the sun!”

The poor sun.

2) There is a dance performance this afternoon to show us what the older kids have been working on this past session. We’ve already seen previews from the kids at home, but still haven’t managed to tape it. (To our immense chagrin.) I would tape it today, but I know my kid. Cookie Monster will just stand there and zone out or else he’ll run to me. Either way, he’s that kid who ruins an otherwise fun show for parents. Ah well. Every class needs one of those kids to make other parents feel superior. Glad to oblige, I guess.

3) Fleur and I have made a new friend! Or rather, this lovely woman befriended us! HK Mama Bear approached us last week or so and struck up a conversation and we’ve slowly started to chat more. Yesterday, we hung out all day stuffing food in our faces and shopping and it was awesome. My only regret is that we did not “meet” sooner. She is fantastic!

Plus, talk about small world. HK Mama Bear is originally from SF (she currently lives in HK and is in Taipei for the summer for the same reason we are) and her sister-in-law literally lives across the street from my mother. Like, my mom’s front door opens to her SIL’s front door. On top of that, HK Mama Bear’s SIL’s sister-in-law is a real estate attorney that my mother used a few years ago.

Since my mother lives in a rather small gated community in a town of 43,000 people, that is REALLY CRAZY.

I mean, seriously. MIND. BLOWN.

4) Just got added to the secret Facebook page of my kids’ preschool. So, on the one hand, thrilled to see all their pics for the last month. And also kinda glad I just found out because otherwise, my phone would be full of pics I saved from FB.

But dude, wth?!? It’s the last day of school. Thanks for the timely add.

Also, because I’ve been liking so many pictures of my kids (since 7/14), and FB’s new app update allows me to quick-scroll and hence, quick-like all the pics with my kids in them, Facebook thinks I’m a bot and suspended my ability to like. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO LIKE MY OWN KIDS’ PICS!

5) Gamera has taken to refusing breakfast this past week. Why? Because when she gets to school, she mows through snacks and toast with jam and lunch and all sorts of yumminess. I guess oatmeal with milk can’t compare. She was real smug about it, too.

6) Also, I am ashamed to say, I had a massive Google Fail this trip. And when I say massive, I mean OMG HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE GOOGLE YOU HAVE FAILED ME IN ALL THE WAYS!!

Before the trip, I was so excited to visit a Taiwan Costco. I had packed my Costco card for this express purpose. But when I got to Taipei and Googled for the nearest Costco, the only one I found was near TPE airport which was a $50 cab ride and an hour away. I love Costco (as my loyal readers know) but even I have my limits. Fleur and I were so bummed.

Well, thanks to our new friend, HK Mama Bear, we just found out yesterday that there is not only a Costco in Taipei, THERE ARE THREE.

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And not only that (which would have been awesome enough), THERE IS A TWO STORY ONE.

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Fleur and I are SO SAD that we are only finding out about this just now.

FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL!!!

So today, we are going with HK Mama Bear to the two story Costco because I care for you, Dear Reader. Research must be done in order to properly evaluate Costco in its current native iteration. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

I am so excited.

Also, I’m sure that is a sad editorial on my life but you know what? I DON’T CARE. STOP JUDGING ME. I LOVE YOU COSTCO FOREVER.

Ok. That is all for today because we are leaving tomorrow and quite frankly, I should pack. But instead of packing, I will be going to Costco because REASONS and also GREAT PLANNING. Also, I have to squeeze in at least several shaved ices.

Our flight is at 11:30pm on Saturday and we will arrive at SFO three hours before we leave here. TIME TRAVEL IS REAL. I AM COMING FROM THE FUTURE.

Ok. Seriously? This post has quite the injudicious usage of ALLCAPS but I find myself hilarious. (Clearly, I have been on too many CAPSLOCK fan sites.)

But I do have to find activities to run my kids ragged before they are stuck on a plane for eleven hours. I will also need to somehow find room for packing an entire toy, DVD, and book store.

Wish me luck! (And see you soon in Cali!)

How to Throw an Easter Egg Hunt

A few readers have asked for some more details on how to throw our Easter egg hunt and I thought, sure! Why not? But in addition, since I’m a giver, I’ll even throw in my general party plan as a bonus! (Don’t say I never give you anything.)

So without further ado (ado, ado, ado!), here is the basic outline of what I do for a party.

1) Costco for everything.

This includes food, drinks, plates, cups, fruit, EVERYTHING. I buy most of the items pre-made (the freezer section is the best!) but I also make a few of my own things, too. Here is a general idea of what I tend to buy. (As most of the attendees at my parties can attest, this is usually the food I provide.)

– Fruit (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes)
– Cheese (either the pre-cut cheese platter, or I go for the Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar – DELISH)
– Salami
– Azuma seaweed salad
– San Pelligrino lemon and orange sodas
– Crackers/chips/kettlecorn
– Guacamole/Salsa/hummus
– Sandwiches (either the party platter or I make my own)
– Salad (usually one that I make)
– Dessert

Two really easy sandwiches (recipes totally stolen from my friends who put on great parties)

a) Chicken Salad Sandwich

– Costco Torta bread or croissants
– Costco rotisserie chicken salad
– lettuce (if you’re feeling fancy)
– cut in half

b) Pesto/Salami Sandwich

– Costco Torta bread or croissants
– pesto sauce
– salami
– cheese
– cut in half

2) Make it a potluck. (Unless it’s a birthday party. That would be rude.)

3) Turn the garage into a play area for the kids. Seriously, the best idea I ever had in terms of space. (This comes in particularly handy during the cold and wet winter months when the kids can’t play outside in our backyard.) I lay out some foam floor tiles (affiliate link) and old bed sheets that I duct tape to the floor. That way, kids don’t have to put their shoes on and keep their socks relatively clean.

I group together a bunch of small tables (I have even used 18-gallon storage bins) and kid chairs and set up several activity stations. I usually have a play dough station with assorted play dough toys, a sticker and coloring station, and a bead and necklace station. They’re easy to set up and gives the kids something to take home.

4) Invite people over and let the kids run amok. 

That’s it. I mean, of course, Hapa Papa tidies up and we try not to look like we normally do (which is somewhat a disaster), but in general this is what we do. Pro tip: Ask guests to take off their shoes. Makes it a lot less messy!

As for the actual Egg hunt, here’s How to Throw an Easter Egg Hunt:

1) Choose a location. This depends on the weather, how many people you invite, and how big your house is. I usually choose a not overly popular park on a Sunday. (I’m hoping there will be fewer soccer/baseball games and that people are at church.)

2) Make it a potluck!

3) Have attendees bring 20 eggs per participating child. (ie: If you have 2 kids participating in the hunt, bring 40 eggs.)

4) Provide extra eggs. There is nothing sadder (at an egg hunt, anyway) than running out of eggs. I usually provide several hundred for my egg hunts, but that doesn’t mean you need to be that extreme. However, should you go the crazy route, I highly recommend going to Oriental Trading Company (pardon the somewhat sketchy name). They sell 144 eggs for $8. $8!!! That’s RIDICULOUS.

5) If you have it at a park, bring anything you would normally have at a BBQ. Pop-up tents, easy ups, blankets, etc. Those make life much easier – especially if the weather is hot and the park doesn’t have a lot of shade.

6) Have a stated start time and stick to it. I had the party start at 10:30am, but the egg hunt didn’t start until 11:30 because I knew people would be late. However, I warned people in the invite that we would start the egg hunt on time (to respect all the people who are punctual) and I asked participating parents to bring their eggs by 11:15 so we would have time to “hide” the eggs (aka: throw them all on the lawn).

7) Mix up the eggs! Otherwise, your kids end up getting all the same stuff. While that might make the kid who managed to get all candy in their eggs really happy, that might make the other kids who only got stickers sad.

8) Here are some great suggestions (which I got from the person who organized the first egg hunt I attended with Cookie Monster) for things to put in your eggs that don’t involve candy (of course use your best judgment and avoid things that are chocking hazards):

– Money, coins, fake
– Marbles
– Stickers
– Small toy cars
– Dice
– Small Tops
– Decorative shoelaces
– Hairclips
– Beaded safety pin
– Beads
– Finger puppets
– Squeeze ball
– Fun coupons
– Seashells
– Polished rocks
– Doll clothes
– Crayons
– Lip gloss
– Erasers
– Whistle
– Nail polish
– Keychain
– Jewelry
– Pencil grips
– Temporary tattoos
– Video game memory card
– Small action figure
– Small note pad
– Plastic links
– Coin purse
– Pedometer
– Small plastic animals
– Bookmark
– Rubber stamps
– Makeup
– Playdough
– Silly Putty
– Socks
– Bandanna
– Earphones
– Charms
– Lanyard
– Small stuffed animal
– Mini bottle of bubbles
– Body glitter
– Superball
– Fortune teller
– Fidget toy
– Wristband
– Confetti

That’s it! Well, ok. Not really. I usually send out an Evite and ask people to tell me what food item they are bringing in the comments. Now, that’s it. Everyone seemed to think that the party was difficult, but it really wasn’t. All I did really was set a time and place and tell people to come. I only provided the idea and some food and eggs. That’s why it’s my favorite event – so little work yet SO MUCH FUN!

Anyhow, I realize this was a very specific post, so it might not have held much interest for the non-Easter Egg Hunt planners. But hey, if you ever do, this would be the post to reference!

Things I Inexplicably Suck At

I am good at many of the mundane things in life: doing dishes, tidying the house (for the most part), making sure my children are fed and alive, buying groceries, breathing. You know, the important stuff of every day life. But somehow, I utterly fail out other things. No excuses. Just complete sucktitude. Here they are in no particular order.

1) Paying medical bills. Seriously, why can’t there just be an autopay option? Stop sending me bills. Start auto-billing my credit card.

2) Playing with my children. I don’t know if I was always terrible at it or that I started being terrible the instant I gave Cookie Monster a playmate, but dude. I really don’t enjoy playing with my kids. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I constantly feel as if they should play by themselves and with each other and leave me out of the equation entirely.

3) Brushing teeth. (But flossing, I’m good.) Both for myself and for my kids. I don’t know why.

4) Bath/Bed time routines. Yeah, my kids are cute in the bath but really, I find myself especially short-tempered at night. I feel as if it’s the home stretch and FFS WHY ARE MY KIDS STALLING IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE JUST BATHE AND SLEEP ALREADY!! GAH!!!

5) Remembering things. I originally started thinking about this post while trying to put the kids to sleep. I know I had another item on this list but I just can’t think of it. It’s been at most ten minutes since I first thought about this subject and then started typing.

6) Getting out of Costco and spending under $100. Impossible. In my entire lifetime, I think it’s only happened once.

7) Bringing in the mail. I’m excellent at bringing in my Amazon packages. Utterly pathetic at bringing in the mail.

8) Filing taxes on time. In my entire lifetime of filing for taxes, I have never filed by April 15. EVER.

9) Using everything we buy. Especially produce. I am really bad at remembering to cook real food. I throw away a lot of stuff. *sigh*

10) Doing anything that requires a phone call. (I finally remembered the item!) Scheduling doctor appointments? Calling customer service? Disputing something? Bah! Why can’t everything be done via email/text/online forums? WHY MUST I SPEAK WITH A HUMAN? For some reason, the phone becomes an 800 lb gorilla when I have to use it for anything that is not ordering take out. (Even then, I am annoyed I can’t order online.) It’s 2014. GET WITH IT, EVERYONE.

Welp, there you have it. A non-exhaustive list of the stupid things I’m terrible at. Am I utterly alone in this? Tell me in the comments.

My Genius Business Idea

You know what we need more of? Drive thrus. It doesn’t matter for what. We just need more of them. You would think that in my suburb of soccer moms and mini-vans, some clever shopping plaza owner would’ve built one long drive thru with multiple entry and exit points down the back of a building. I don’t care what that place is selling – I would go there and buy it. Drive thru pie in the face? YES, PLEASE.

Before I had children, let alone THREE of them, I appreciated a drive-thru (especially the drive-thru pharmacy), but I didn’t see the need for most of them. How hard could it be to get out of your car and WALK somewhere? How lazy a nation were we? Drive thru Starbucks? Ridiculous.

I knew absolutely nothing.

How was I to know of the perilous drive in the afternoon with a tired kid who is talking and screaming and hey-mommying non-stop until the second you pull into a parking spot to wherever you were planning to go and you turn around and WTF they are totally passed out? Then, you go through the no-win inner dialogue every parent in this situation has agonized over: Do you wake the kid up or go home?

If you wake the kid up, you run the risk of them being super cranky while you’re in the store running your errand and then they won’t nap at their normal napping time (or maybe this IS their normal napping time and you were just an idiot for hoping this wouldn’t happen). But if you go home, you don’t get your thing done – and wouldn’t you know it as soon as you pull in the garage and close it, blissfully anticipating a baby-free hour or two for your own little nap, your damn kid opens their eyes and wants you to play with them.

And that drive-thru Starbucks? I have friends who are willing to drive to a town half an hour away just so they can get a Starbucks without having to schlep their kids out of the car, wait in line, get their order, somehow carry both their drink and kid back to the car without spilling everything on the ground, shoving their kid back into that stupid car seat, and go home. A five minute endeavor turns into at least a half hour excursion (usually punctuated with pleading, swearing, and weeping – in that order).  That’s probably why McDonald’s coffee is becoming more popular – they have a drive thru.

In the town next to mine, they have a drive-thru dairy where you can pick up eggs, milk, and some groceries. Sure, you may have to pay more, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. I have yet to avail myself of this because I am infinitely lazy and just DELIVER MY GROCERIES ALREADY, COSTCO!!! Safeway will deliver groceries over $50, but I feel too much shame to attempt it. As if I don’t get enough boxes on my front porch from Amazon. Now, I’m so indolent, I can’t make it to Safeway? It’s really only the neighbors judging me that prevents me from doing this. If I lived in the boonies with no one to see or know, you bet your bottom dollar I’d be best friends with the Safeway delivery guy.

Oooh, even better. Star Trek replicator technology. Let’s get to work on that, shall we? 3D printing is close, but not quite there yet. In the meantime, a drive thru is far less difficult and certainly not rocket science. Get to it, people.

Why I Buy Used: Money Series Pt 2

Now, everyone knows I do my fair share to stimulate the economy. I can be quite the profligate spender – especially when it comes to buying fruit from Costco. I have often come back from a trip to Costco after throwing down a ton of money only to be asked by Hapa Papa, “Where is the food?” Because all he can see are piles and piles of fruit. What can I say? I’m Chinese. We eat fruit. Lots of it.

But even with Hapa Papa being my personal money train, we do still live off of one income (albeit, very generous) and have a mortgage and preschool and utilities so at some point, there is a limit to my spending. One time, in despair, Hapa Papa asked, “Why don’t you love me? Do you want me to work until I die?” After that, I started to watch my spending as a way to love him. He asks for so little, you know. The least I could do was throw him a bone.

Anyhow, even though Amazon and Costco are kept in business almost single-handedly by me, I do try to limit my spending without hampering my desire to hoard and get stuff. What I do, however, is buy used.

For those of you who have had the dubious honor of coming to my house, you know that it is a giant toy store. I own pretty much every toy known to man and the beauty of it is that around 80% of them were purchased used. I’m sure my kids think my day job is a drug dealer because I constantly go to people’s houses, give them cash and get something in return. People also come to my house to buy things I sell. I don’t think Cookie Monster or Gamera realize that we can go to stores to buy toys. They think toys come from other people’s houses.

It has actually come to the point where I no longer troll craigslist or the various Facebook virtual garage sale pages because I OWN EVERYTHING. (This helps a lot because now, I don’t really buy anything anymore.) When I go to real garage sales, I go for fun and rarely spend more than $20 because again, I OWN EVERYTHING. (Of course, my house is crammed full of toys, so you know, there are downsides to owning everything.) I justify having so many toys because I will have so many children they are bound to be used.

For clothes, I often buy used to supplement clothes I buy on clearance and clothes swap with friends. I think Cookie Monster’s baby clothes have gone through at least five (soon to be six) babies so far. The majority of them have held up just fine because babies grow so quickly, they really don’t wear them long enough to do enough damage.

I buy ahead for the next year or two when clothes go on clearance at the end of each season because why pay full price for clothes if I don’t have to? Who’s going to know they were purchased on clearance? Do kids’ clothes really go out of style? (Not the clothes I’m buying.) Plus, as the kids get older, the clothes wear out more quickly because they are more actively running, jumping, climbing, and therefore falling. I have bought many an iron on patch! Also, Cookie Monster grows so quickly that he is sometimes in between sizes in the spring – but I know he will be out of them by fall or winter. Why buy brand new pants if he’s going to be wearing them only for a few months?

Here’s my secret to buying used things: go to the super-nice, rich neighborhoods. People often have a glut of barely worn, brand name clothes that they want to get rid of quickly. I have purchased a bag of clothes for $25 that contained nine pairs of pants/shorts, ten shirts, and a sweater or two thrown in for good measure. When you consider that often, a pair of jeans from Old Navy is $15, that’s a really good deal.

The same goes for toys. Usually, used toys start at 50% retail (and are sometimes lower). You will get better deals on toys at garage sales, but if you want something specific, you’ll have to wait a long time. If you don’t want to wait, craigslist or the Facebook pages will be a better bet (although a little more costly). Sadly, I know the going rate of almost any used toy (as well as their retail price). Why is my brain so full of useless minutiae? My family will HATE me for all this useless information in the coming zombie apocalypse.

As for books, I usually buy them when the local library has their book sales. Children’s books are usually $0.50-$1 and I also get to support my local library. Incidentally, I use the library a TON for my personal use as well as for my kids. I read at least 100-150 books a year and if I bought them all new or even used, that would be thousands of dollars. Instead, I am willing to wait for new releases and get pretty much all my books for free. That allows me to pay for the occasional new book in order to support an author or a series that I really appreciate and enjoy. Plus, I already paid taxes for my library access – why shouldn’t I use it?

This also keeps my house from accumulating hundreds of books every year. Between my brother and I, we had hundreds of books that I no longer had room for. I gave several boxes to the local library and sold at least twenty boxes back to various used book stores for either cash or credit. Nothing is sadder than an unread or no longer read book sitting on a dusty shelf, waiting to be noticed. Why not send it somewhere it can be loved or put to good use?

I also buy used furniture – but usually, I buy things that are made of wood because the thought of a used mattress or couch I find squicky. I know. I’m a snob. But all my dining tables have been used – and they were great deals! I once got a dining set with six chairs for $100. The guy even lent us his truck to move it! Hapa Papa was very sad when I sold the same set three years later for the same $100.

Ok, this post ended up much longer than I originally anticipated. To sum up in nice bullet-points, here are some reasons I buy used:

1) It saves money – sometimes at least 50%.

2) Helps the environment – reduce, reuse, recycle and all that. (But it seriously is not a very important reason for me, personally.)

3) I can get more for less money – therefore, it frees up more money for things I really want but cannot get at reduced price. (It’s the same basic premise as #1.)

4) I feel smug/brilliant every time I see something go “on sale” new and it’s STILL more expensive than I spent on a used item. Even better when I can’t tell the difference between the new and used item due to the previous owner’s awesomeness.

5) My kids end up turning new toys into “used” toys almost immediately. Why not just save myself the trouble? It pains me less when they batter something I bought used than when they batter something I bought brand new. Although, sometimes I get even more upset because WHEN WILL I EVER GET WEDGE-ITS FOR LESS THAN $1 EVER AGAIN?!

6) My kids don’t really know any better – they are just happy they get toys (and lots of them). Bonus: they don’t realize you can buy the toys at the store – so they never ask me for anything they see in a store.

7) DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH LEGOS COST BRAND NEW? OMG – it’s the biggest racket EVER. Even used, they are pricey. But let’s just say that I’ve spent about $200 in total on both the BIG and small Legos – and I guarantee for the same price, I would’ve come away with two, small, sad regular Lego sets. (Perhaps a slight exaggeration – but not by much!)

8) In addition, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THOMAS TRAINS COST BRAND NEW??? It’s almost as big a racket as the Lego Conspiracy! I’ve spent about $8-900 used on various train related things since Cookie Monster started to like trains. This same stuff would have cost me several thousand if I purchased brand new. Yes, I realize $900 is A LOT of money already (not all at the same time, thank goodness), but for the same haul brand new? At least $3-4,000. This only makes me feel slightly better.

9) When my children finally are done with the toys and I start selling them, I can most likely sell them at the same price at which I purchased them – and possibly, even more. Granted, that’s likely another ten years down the line, but then I can claim “vintage” status so I can charge even MORE. It won’t hurt nearly as much as if I bought them brand new and I think to myself, “I’m selling these things at 50% off! GAH!! All my MONIES!!!”

Ok. I think you get my point. I buy used to save money and as a nice after thought, to save the environment. Either way, I’m a HERO. A SAVVY HERO!!!

What about you? Do you buy used? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments. 😀

The Next Best Thing to Sleep: New Baby Series Pt 2

Of course, if you can get extra sleep with a new baby, I’m sure it’s awesome!! However, I’m more thinking along the lines of baby products. With Cookie Monster, because he was my first baby, I got a ton of brand new stuff. In retrospect, I wish I had just gotten gift cards or cash and gone straight to craigslist. When I see what people are selling their super-expensive baby items (that I, too, own) for dirt cheap, a little part of my soul dies. I just think to myself, “I could’ve put all the money I would’ve saved into a savings account for Cookie Monster’s college fund.” (Hey, with 3+ kids, I’ll need all the help I can get. But that is a different post for another day.)

Anyhow, last Monday, I posted about What You Really Need for a New Baby. This week, it’s all about what is nice but not vital.

Disclaimers: Of course, the usual YMMV et al as well as my using copious Amazon Affiliate links. Do what you see fit.

Now, without further ado, what is NICE to have:

1) Baby swing – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. You only end up using this 3-4 months (until the baby is too big/heavy for it). They are really expensive new – and only about $40-75 used on Craigslist. Just wash the washable part and you’re golden. One caveat: don’t make the mistake I did. Get a swing that can go both back and forth as well as left to right. You never know what way your kid will like. Furthermore, your kid could hate it. Another reason to borrow/buy used.

2) Exersaucer – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. And I would get Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station instead of the regular kind because then your kid can practice walking and not go anywhere! I’ve seen these at Costco for $70 and used for $30-50. I am convinced this is the reason why Cookie Monster and Gamera both started walking so early. When they no longer need the walking part of the exersaucer, you can take the seat off. My kids STILL play with the table almost every day. (Mostly drive by playing, but it’s still used.)

3) Bouncer – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. You only end up using this about 6 months because once your kid can sit up, it’s dangerous! They have all sorts, from super cheap to super tricked out. But you really don’t get your money’s worth.

4) Activity gym/playmat – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. Although, if you do buy it, you do use it more about 9 months, but YMMV.

5) Sophie – Teething giraffe. Splurge and get this! Super cute – don’t get the weird alien kind. That one looks phallic and most babies I know prefer the Sophie. Keep in mind though, that if your car or the temperature is super cold, let the thing warm up before you put it in your kid’s mouth. Otherwise, someone, say Cookie Monster, might bite off a big chunk of the ear and choke (he didn’t). Also, it can get pretty gooey on the snout and ears (with sticky stuff because I think the rubber gets a little degraded and soft and warm and attracts lint).

6) Covered Baby Food Ice cube trays – Nice to have if you’re making your own food. Yes, you can just use a regular ice tray, but then those aren’t covered. I find that squicky.

7) Mother’s Milk Tea – tastes kinda bland (like chamomile) but SO HELPFUL in making milk. Whenever I stopped, my milk supply dropped.

8) Boppy or My Brest Friend – Both are good. The Boppy can be used not only for nursing though. It’s a good baby support to help the kiddo sit up before they know how. I preferred the My Brest Friend for Cookie Monster – it was firmer and easier to use at first. But I preferred the Boppy for Gamera because it was easier to get in and out of. (There is no belt buckle in the back.) If you end up getting two (one upstairs, one downstairs), I would get the second one used.

9) Aqueduck – It’s a faucet extender and everyone always wants to know where I got it. You can see my review here.

10) Swaddle-MesI totally sucked at swaddling. These were helpful so I didn’t have to figure out how to do it. However, honestly, I only ended up swaddling the babies for the first month or so. After that, I got lazy and they were just fine.

11) Food mat – Great for eating out and you don’t want your kid to eat off the table – or break plates. I’ve seen people use the kind where you tape a plastic mat onto the table, but I just find that wasteful. This one you can use again and again. Although, I must say that I used this more for Cookie Monster and didn’t bother at all with Gamera. Not sure whether it was because I had given up on eating out with two toddlers or if I just stopped caring about hygiene or other people’s plates.

Ok. That was my list of NICE to haves. What do you think? What are yours?

Why Are We So Afraid to Grow Old?

After all, people do know that the alternative to growing old is to die young, right? Personally, I’d prefer OLD, OLD, OLD to DEAD, DEAD, DEAD any day of the week.

Now, of course, most people don’t object to being alive – it’s a host of old-related problems that we’re worried about: health, money, our physical attributes and abilities deteriorating, mental acuity fading, etc. No one wants to be SICK and old or FRAIL and old, or what have you. However, in general, I don’t think anyone wants to be sick or frail at any age – it’s just that we associate these infirmities mostly with the elderly.

It might also be that I’m not really old yet. I’m turning thirty-five in a few weeks and then, I will be able to run for any office in the US. (Thanks, parents, for having the foresight to have me in the US! Sorry to everyone else should I ever go temporarily insane and run for public office.) Plus, I’m in a new age demographic! Go, me! My thirties have been awesome so far, so I don’t really expect the latter half of this decade to be any different. Nor do I expect any of the upcoming decades to be so bad, either.

It’s weird to be at an age you distinctly recall your parents being. It’s also weird being at an age where ten years ago, I would’ve considered middle-aged! (I certainly don’t consider myself middle-aged. After all, who wants to die at 70? Middle-aged should be 45-50, right? We’re all gonna live til we’re 100!)

But you know what’s not weird? Being older than I was before.

I pity people who mock me or tease me about being “old” (because they are young, foolish, and have LITTLE TO NO INDEPENDENT INCOME). I LOVE being the age that I am. What did I know when I was a teenager? Or when I was in my twenties? (Come to think of it, I will likely look back in a few years and think, “What did I know when I was in my thirties? I was such a baby!”)

When I think back to myself in my late teens and early twenties, all I want to do is go back in time and punch myself in the throat. Why? Because I was such an asshat. So full of self-righteous indignation, trembling in my sincerity to “do good” but having no means or skills with which to do anything, and thinking that being young, smart, and full of potential was enough. That “passion” was more important than money or stability or pretty much, anything.

BAH!! Get off my lawn, you stupid kid! It’s easy to have the luxury of such thinking when your parents subsidize your educational and living expenses.

Don’t get me wrong. I think passion is important. Doing good, also, important. But you know what? Money is a lot more important than I ever realized. (This will be a post for another day, but truly, only a person who was coddled, spoiled, rich and wealthy and super-privileged such as myself would ever think that money was NOT important.) Stability and practicality – also vital!

Ok, I suppose I’m being rather harsh with my younger self. After all, if I didn’t go through what I did, I wouldn’t be the Me that I am today. (Which is awesome.) And if anything had changed – likely, I would not be married to Hapa Papa with my awesome kids. I’d have a different set of awesome kids, perhaps – but just thinking about that and how time travel would affect my current timeline and perhaps erase my current beautiful life and children nearly reduces me to tears so it’s just as well that time travel is impossible (that we know of for NOW – dun dun dun!!!) because nothing’s sadder than a huge, pregnant lady crying about fictional things that are currently not possible and as of yet, have not happened – and if it did, WOULD NEVER KNOW.

Sorry. Tangent.

What was this post supposed to be about? Right. Growing OLD.

Truthfully, I suspect that I will always think that the age at which I am currently is the norm and not OLD. Surely, that is a moniker reserved for OTHER people. Not people such as myself! And when I am truly, actually old (like 70 or 80 or 90+), then really, the problem will be that everyone else is simply far too YOUNG.

Also, from here on out, I declare that we use the “er” method that Hapa Papa often employs to get out of trouble. Instead of telling me I’m “stupid,” he says, I’m getting “stupider.” Good thing I find this hilarious so he usually skirts out of trouble this way. So, really, we’re not all getting old. We’re getting older – which is totally and absolutely fact without judgment or baggage.

Anyhow, I meant this post to actually celebrate being older. I don’t know how I diverged into ranting. (Though truth be told, is anyone surprised that I started ranting?) So, in no particular order, not all-inclusive, (and obviously, YMMV since not everyone is me, nor in my privileged state), why I love getting older:

– Greater purchasing power
– Being more sure of myself, who I am, and what I am doing
– Wisdom (accumulated through lots of failure)
– Not being afraid to speak my mind (still working on this, but for the most part, pretty good)
– Savings
– Security
– Stability (in both life circumstances as well as emotional maturity)
– Freedom from following fads and trends
– Long time friends
– Making new friends
– Pursuing things that actually interest me vs. pursuing things that I think should interest me
– COSTCO (I thought I liked Costco when I was younger, but truly, now that I’m older, it is MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE BESIDES MY OWN HOME)
– Freedom to stay at home
– Freedom to NOT drink (being constantly pregnant and breastfeeding also helps)
– Watching my friends grow into who they are
– Realizing that I can watch most things without consequence (I don’t really ever have to think about ratings or whatever as long as my kids aren’t involved)
– Actually enjoying being informed (vs glorying in my total ignorance and being proud of that fact when I was younger)
– Not driving around for hours just to find free parking
– Being able to afford luxuries such as concert tickets, massages, pedicures, etc without thinking overly much about it
– Being in a good place (emotionally, financially, and physically) to raise children
– Minivans are awesome and it’s ok
– Not having to ask permission (but often, having to ask for forgiveness – I guess humility is good, too)
– Learning to let things go and be more flexible
– Freedom to be a curmudgeon and blame it on age

I’m sure there are scads more in benefits, but even while making the list, I realize that I presume a lot about aging – that it brings more financial security and freedom. Obviously, that is not the case for many people (or even most people). So clearly, my list reflects that bias. Since I have no adequate response for that, I will just leave you with my favorite line from Fried Green Tomatoes. “Face it, girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.”