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.