Stuff I Reluctantly Learned from Homeschooling, Vol. 7

Wow. Has it really been 3+ months since my last post about what lessons I’ve learned from homeschooling?

Since most of it was a blur, I’m not sure how much I will have to say about 2016Q4. But since I’m a completist, I will give it a go. Here then, (with my shortest preamble yet!) are the lessons I reluctantly learned while Homeschooling for October – December 2016.

1) When the kids are having a hard time listening and following directions, it’s best for everyone to take a break. Even if the break lasts a month (or two).

(ie: Mommy needs a time out.)

You see, few things infuriate me as much as children who don’t listen or follow directions.

Also I hate sloppiness. And the fidgets.

And I particularly hate when they look at me instead of the zhuyin (Chinese phonetic system) when they are reading and aren’t sure if they are reading correctly.

I mean, do I look like I have zhuyin and can tell you how the word is pronounced?

Friends, pregnancy makes me really pissy. 

My poor, poor children.

I was so mean to them and so impatient and quick to anger and scream.

I cut short many a lesson due to me completely losing it and yelling at full blast on their every stumble or perceived imperfection.

Nothing encourages language retention and making mistakes and learning for fun like a mean dragon fire-breathing mommy.

I have since learned (and re-learned) to just take a break. And to repeatedly tell Cookie Monster and Gamera that it’s not their fault that Mommy feels awful and that they are wonderful and beautiful and smart and that the time out is for me and not because they are bad.

But mostly, I broke my children and tried to put them back together after they burst into tears because they couldn’t please their mean mommy.

Trust me when I say that everyone is glad that Sasquatch is out instead of in.

Apparently no longer being in constant pain makes me a much more pleasant person.

2) Accept help.

I am a control freak. Everyone knows this. But even us control freaks need to acknowledge their desperate need for help and assistance sometimes.

Thus, it was with great relief that on rare occasion, my mom would listen to the kids read in Chinese (I’m talking on ONE occurrence – but it was still appreciated!!), or Hapa Papa would have the kids do math.

It was especially easy because I wanted Cookie Monster to do repetitive drills/workbooks to make sure he not only understood the concept of addition/subtraction/multiplication/division but to do them so often they became automatic.

Gamera was a little more difficult since she can’t read and her Singapore Math books require a lot more reading than Cookie Monster’s rows and rows of math problems. So, that required more effort on the part of Hapa Papa but hey, it’s not like I had to do the work.

3) Outsourcing homeschooling is AWESOME.

I mean, this is really why most people do NOT homeschool and send their kids to either public or private school, right? Having someone else do the teaching is fantastic!

Of course, I prefer the flexibility homeschooling allows. But my willingness to also hire private tutors or have them attend small classes is a great way for my kids to make friends with other kids (albeit, few of them), as well as give me a break from at least some of my children.

4) Paying for things in advance is a great way to force your kids to persevere in classes.

My kids were less than enthused about attending outdoor education classes. But after me telling them they had no choice because we already paid for these classes and HFS they were expensive – my kids grumbled for weeks.

But they went and had a good time.

They had such a good time that after awhile, the real reason they hated going no longer was as much of an issue. It just became something they had to do. (They didn’t like the fact that we had to leave before 8am to get to class on time and drive a long time because it cut down on their morning iPad time. Spoiled little brats.)

Now, they very much enjoy class and even don’t mind going to class in the rain. (They’ve even been brainwashed because Cookie Monster told me that rainy days are the best because then Mother Earth gets her water. Also, he gets to jump in mud puddles.)

This even applied to my kids and their kungfu lessons. Since they took such a long break from kungfu in the summer, it was hard for them to get back in the swing of things. Their muscles were sore after classes and because they were more advanced than they used to be, the forms were harder and it required more effort.

So, of course, they complained.

They complained because since we missed so many weeks in the summer due to our Taiwan Trip, we had to make up the sessions and often went to kungfu 3-4 times a week. Apparently, that is too much for them.

Well, again, the fact that we had already pre-paid came in handy and I brooked no dissent. After awhile, they again got used to the new reality and their bodies adjusted and they are happy about kungfu again. (It helps that they just got their yellow-black belts and have upgraded to a more advanced class.)

5) Homeschooling is flexible enough to withstand a lot of disruption.

I briefly touched upon this in the previous points, but seriously. I was worried about how being miserably pregnant and then happily unpregnant but with a newborn was going to affect homeschooling.

I need not have worried.

Yes, yes. We skipped a lot of actual schooling at home because I had a baby and all. But you know what? They played a lot with each other, still had their other classes, and in general, we took things slowly.

And because we adjusted our rhythm and tempo, my kids did not suffer really and since they’re pretty far ahead on math and yes, even Chinese reading, I wasn’t really worried.

Also, despite the fact that I still had to shuttle them to a lot of classes, it was STILL a lot easier than shuttling the kids to and from “regular” school. The thought of dealing with pick up/drop off and the traffic and rush in the early mornings hurts me.

Our laid back lifestyle was MUCH better and much preferred.

Plus, kids learned a lot about babies, helping with cooking, and home responsibilities. That is also learning. 

Alright. I think that’s the gist of the last three months. Here’s to another month of homeschooling! Happy 2017!

Things I Didn’t Realize I Needed to Teach My Children


I have had quite a day full of mishaps with my children. I swear, they are smart kids, but also extremely dumb. If we were early on in the evolutionary chain, humankind would have died out.

Our branch would have come to an immediate and abrupt end. And it would be deserved. Utterly and totally deserved.

Is it sad to say that my kids would win the Darwin Awards? Or some other awful kids do the darndest things awards?

Here then, are some of the things it never occurred to me to tell my kids NOT to do.

Clearly, the fault is all mine.

1) Don’t stick your finger in your butthole and then put your finger into your mouth.

2) Don’t push your sibling off a five foot retaining wall.

3) Stop shoving your finger into your butthole and finish your bath.

4) Don’t draw all over the piano keys. Oh, and the bookshelf. And the books on the bookshelf. And the wall. And the carpet. And the window sill.

In fact, please only draw on paper. BLANK PAPER. No, not your homework.

No, not your siblings’ homework, either.

5) Don’t dump Elmer’s glue all over the carpet.

6) Don’t jump from the couch to the rocking chair. For God’s sake, please stop jumping onto the rocking chair.

7) Don’t climb the toy kitchen. It will topple over. In fact, please stop climbing everything in the house. I don’t feel as if I should have to bolt down every item in my house.

8) Don’t crawl into the washing machine.

9) Don’t sit on my face with your naked butt. Sit on Papa’s face instead.

10) Don’t poke holes into a brand new Amazon box with pencils. Especially when the box is full of air/heater filters.

Hmmm… after reviewing this list, I realize that the main one I didn’t expect to say was the first one. After that, I get it. My kids are just kids. Stupid and not really good at figuring out natural consequences from their actions. But the first point? THAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS.

Scattershot

My mind is totally everywhere right now and while I’m sure each individual thought is snowflake-esque and definitely brilliant material enough to generate a post of its own because I am a font of hilarity, alas, it is not to be.

And so you, Dear Reader, are forced to read only half germinated thoughts and be satisfied with being genius adjacent versus actual witnesses.

Anyway…

Here then is another one of my lists of random thoughts. You’re welcome.

1) I have been super cranky with the kids lately. So much so that even Hapa Papa thinks I’ve gone a bit nuts. (He particularly thinks it’s bad that I’ve stopped caring about swearing in front of the kids. My thinking is, that ship has long sailed away.)

2) I’m really enjoying my “looser” schedule for this homeschooling year. Still a lot of crap and driving – but much easier than last year and I better remember to keep all that “empty” space open. Easier to homeschool when there is actually time to do so.

3) I’m about 6 weeks out from Induction Wednesday.

I thought it was going to be Induction Tuesday. I am beyond sad that Induction Day has been pushed back an entire 24 hours.

Look. Obviously, I know that babies are better growing on the inside of my uterus. No lectures about any prenatal health, etc. This is my FOURTH kid. Keep your scintillating knowledge to yourself. I likely have read it at least a hundred million times.

HOWEVER.

I’m at that point where I really no longer wish to be pregnant.

I am constantly in a state of discomfort. (In fact, I think I’ve been uncomfortable almost every single day of this pregnancy.) And truthfully, I have had a very easy and uneventful pregnancy (as were my other three).

Obviously, super grateful for healthy babies and pregnancies and all this healthy stuff.

AND STILL.

I look like I swallowed a basketball.

Everything hurts.

I am ALWAYS uncomfortable.

I want to be unpregnant.

4) Of course, then I remember that to be unpregnant, I will have a newly minted NEWBORN in my life again. Which, although lovely and wonderful and yay for new baby smell and potential new fat baby snarfing, OMG WHAT HAVE WE DONE WE ARE THE STUPIDEST OF HUMANS WE HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING.

I mean, um, YAY BABIES!

5) Seriously. WTF HAVE WE DONE?

6) Oh, and remember when I mentioned that my vagina constantly feels like it has something stuck in it? According to my OB/GYN, that is totally normal because my vaginal tissues are swollen and full of blood because of this pregnancy – and each pregnancy increases the swelling. So, the reason my vagina feels full? IT IS. FULL OF THE BLOODS.

You’re welcome for that fun factoid.

7) When my mom comes by and takes all three kids out to dinner and they come back fed and happy and tired and slightly wired from froyo?

AWESOME.

8) Even better when I’m not home when they come back and Hapa Papa bathes them and puts them into bed and I come home after consuming unholy amounts of boba and beef stroganoff (I was on a mission today to get some and get some I did) and hanging out with a friend and all I have to do is look at their angelic sleeping faces.

That is the only time they are still, angelic, or silent.

9) Baby4 better be an extrovert or they’re going to have a rough go in this family. Because for realz, there is NEVER silence. They will NEVER be alone. It seems cruel to bring an introvert into the house.

10) Speaking of boba, I was at my local boba place and clearly, I wandered back in time to when every single asshole Asian dude I remember hating in college was in the parking lot showing off their shitty sports cars.

Sorry. Just because your Kia Rio has fancy lights on the outside does not make it cool. Or hot. Or sexy. It makes you sad.

11) That said, I suppose it’s rude to judge people by their outward appearances. And prejudiced. And really, why can’t I let them live? Who cares if they like to show off sub-par cars or the cars their parents bought them? What’s it to me?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

But I still judge. Because FFS.

12) I take an inordinate amount of pleasure in denying people membership to Facebook groups when they do not follow the very simple and specific directions I post as an admin.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before.

It bears repeating.

I know. I’m petty. No one is surprised.

13) I’ve been MIA from blogging because I have been busy working on my ebook that I want to get out before Baby4 shows up (at which point, everything will grind to a halt). I’m at the 90% point but definitely at the point where all the low hanging fruit has been picked and everything left is either hard or tedious.

I WILL FINISH THIS OR DIE TRYING.

14) Ok. Maybe not die.

15) When I start online shopping, I shop like I’m trying to win an award or something for most things purchased in short order and without much consideration.

I really should stop doing that.

16) My awesome Black & Decker handheld vacuum that I got for $25 years and years ago died today. I felt my soul cry. Then I had a soul cry that I had a soul cry about it.

17) What’s that you say? Just replace it?

I am. But it is no longer $25. It is considerably more.

This just compounds the soul cry.

18) Ever since I’ve cut down on my kids’ screen time, they play together a lot more and play with our toys a lot more. I know it’s obvious but why do I always forget?

19) I am always thirsty.

20) Corollary: I am always peeing.

21) According to Hapa PapaGlow Worm has seen lots of zombie related videos because he is often pretending to be a zombie. He also pretends to EAT YOUR INTESTINES.

Glow Worm is three.

We win at parenting.

22) When I was showering with Gamera the other day, she pointed to my nipples and asked why they were like the nipples on the goats they milked the other day. She said mine were the same color just not as long.

I blathered something about mammals and milk.

I tried not to laugh and despair simultaneously.

23) Then, Glow Worm decided he wanted milk from my breasts. I thought he would nurse so I said, go ahead. He said he was scared. I told him there was nothing to be scared about.

He came to me and squeezed really hard on my breast. Then, he said, “Not working!” when no milk came out.

He nursed for over 2.5 years and clearly has no memory whatsoever of the experience.

Apparently mammary glands (mine, specifically) were the educational topic of the day. Homeschooling WIN.

24) I really want to see every Daniel Wu movie ever made because he is so hot and even more so now that he is in his 40s.

Oh, who am I kidding? I rarely watch films because I am so lazy. (You have to be a special type of lazy to be too lazy to WATCH a MOVIE.)

I will just stare at pics of him on the internetz instead.

25) I currently sound like a person who smokes two packs a day. I’ve been fighting a sore throat on and off for about a week. Nothing terrible and the essential oils have been helping. But I still sound like Selma on The Simpsons.

26) I always have the most fun with these types of posts because I indulge in pretty much every non sequitur comment that passes through my brain because I find it funny.

Yeah, I said it. I’m my own biggest fan.

Alright. I think I have burbled on enough and will let you lovely people carry on with your Mondays. Have a great day.

Tips for Your Taiwan Trip (With Kids)

Taiwan with KidsAlright. Now that we only have 5 eating days left in Taiwan, I’ve been thinking about what I wish I had known (or remembered) prior to coming. (Seriously, I count down eating days because I do not care about touristy or sight-seeing things. I just want to shove as much yummy Taiwanese food in my fat belly as possible without squeezing the baby out.)

So, here are some of my tips for traveling to Taiwan with kids (and some even pertain to the actual camp/schooling process or bilingual support). Here they are in no discernible order:

1) Pack an extra huge, empty suitcase. 

If you’re like me and buy a lot of heavy books/dvds/stuff, you will need an extra suitcase. Or you will be comfortable in packing huge boxes and carrying those to the airport as luggage. It helps that I have so many people in my family that I can have 10 free checked in luggage.

Otherwise, you can always buy a cheapo suitcase at a local market.

2) Bring cereal. Or snacks you know your kids will eat.

American cereal is around $10 a box. I shit you not. I laughed at Guavarama when she suggested it to me in the States. Why would I do that when I can buy cereal or do without it?

Ah, karma. Always biting me in the ass.

I wish my kids weren’t culture shocked and food assholes, but they are and they were. So, I ended up buying $10/box fruity Cheerios because that’s what they wanted to eat.

3) The supermarkets in the fancy department stores are expensive.

If you are lazy, or an expat, or just like clean, bright and shiny supermarkets like they have in the US, you are welcome to go to your local Jason’s or City Super or whatever. But just know that you will pay $50USD for like four things.

I think that’s where half my money went. Buying at expensive supers because it was extra convenient and bright and shiny and I can see things I’m familiar with and not guess as much about ingredients.

But there is a price for all that shiny.

Go to local supers like Carrefour or Wellcome market. Even better, go to the super local markets off Alley 216 (Zhong Xiao Dun Hua MRT) or similar side alley markets that look sketchy but are way cheaper.

4) In fact, go to Costco the first week you’re there.

Obviously, this won’t work as well if you don’t have a Costco membership, but if you do, then know that your membership also works in Taiwan.

Irish Twins went to all FOUR Costcos within the Taipei area (Zhonghe, Neihu, Xizhi, and Beitou) and she says the Beitou one has the most books and DVD sets available.

Costco is a great option to buy a ton of book sets (just like in the US) for a reasonably cheap price (not the cheapest, but not shabby, either) as well as stock up on essentials your family might go through super fast.

For example: apples. For some reason (like importing), apples in Taiwan are mealy and yucky and if you want to pay about $360NT for TWO Fuji apples at the fancy expat supermarket, you should go to the Costco because for that SAME price, you can get 8 apples. I might not be a math genius but 8 >> 2.

In general, you’ll find that prices match US prices. So, if it cost $12USD to buy a product, it will cost $12USD in Taiwan. It’s not that great a deal in a Taiwanese sense, but it is a price that I’m willing to pay because it’s usually for stuff that would cost double elsewhere due to the product being imported.

Bulgogi bake

Bulgogi bake

The best part of Costco in Taiwan is that they have a Bulgogi Bake. It is delicious. I don’t know why they don’t have it in the US. It is YUM. They also have mango/lime smoothies (I think) and they are light and delicious. Also, they have mango shaved ice.

And, if you’re feeling a wee bit homesick, they have a hotdog for a smidge more than $1.50USD.

In fact, walking into Costco during our 3rd or 4th week here felt like walking into the US. A bit of home.

So comforting.

Oh, what was my point? Yes. Stock up on staples because otherwise, you will overspend on things at the local markets.

Of course, it will be a pricey trip because even if you took the bus or MRT to the Costco, you’ll likely need to cab back from the Costco.

5) If you want to buy books, don’t go to Eslite.

Well, GO to Eslite to riffle through all their books. (For some reason, all the bookstores – not just Eslite – like to shrink wrap individual books. I find it environmentally horrible. But they are good sports about opening the packaging for you. If you’re at Costco, just do it yourself.)

But don’t buy there. Eslite is hugely marked up. If you aren’t in a hurry or leaving right away, you can buy books from Kingstone or books.com.tw. If you don’t want to pay an exchange rate or they won’t take your US credit card, you can always have them deliver to your local 7-11 or Family Mart and pay COD. You’ll get a text message when your packages arrive and have about a week to pick up and pay.

Of course, they can also deliver straight to your home, but I don’t think they offer the COD option then.

6) There are also local bookstores from which you can buy.

You can go to Mollie for used books (they also have a location for used DVDs and CDs) and once again, you run into the problem of books being individually shrink wrapped. They will even deliver the books to your address the next day for $70NT (~$2USD).

Here’s my problem with going to any bookstore or CD/DVD store in Taipei: everything is in Chinese.

I mean, no fucking shit. Of course, everything is in Chinese. We’re fucking in Taiwan.

But as a functionally illiterate person in Taiwan, my brain just blanks and hits the overwhelmed button and all I see is that ALL CHINESE BOOKS LOOK THE SAME.

I think I wandered shell-shocked in the Mollie for about 2 hours while frantically texting Guavarama as she was on her two week camping/road trip adventure with Fleur and their combined 5 kids eight years old and under.

She told me to just sit down and look through all the titles and books and see what I liked. I was not about to open up hundreds of hermetically sealed books just to see if they looked interesting.

I felt ill.

I felt FOMO and fear of Buyer’s Remorse and all sorts of shit. Until finally, I gave up and just sat on the floor looking dejected.

(Incidentally, I have a few posts on Taiwanese bookstores so you can either look them up on Google for the addresses and hours – which obviously, they are more accurate – or you can search by my book categories or tags. Here’s the post where I mention a few of the bookstores I mention in this post.)

Eventually, I sacked up and looked at a few more books and ended up buying a set that came with audio CDs. I felt marginally better (that I didn’t end up wasting the whole trip), but it ultimately was very unsatisfying.

Obviously, YMMV. I’m a wuss and hate uncertainty. That’s why I make Guavarama buy everything for me. I just throw money at her. Everyone needs a Guavarama.

We also went to some local bookstores that Tiger Woo’s MIL and another of my friends recommended. They ended up at about 26% from retail price – which according to Guavarama is a really good deal since bookstores barely make a profit at that price point. (I think they break even around 60-70% retail.)

南門書局 (nan2 men2 shu ju2/Southern Gate Bookstore)
Physical Location: 台北市中正區羅斯福路一段南門書局

釆繪星球 (bian4 hui4 xing qiu2/Bookstar)
Physical Location: 
臺北市南昌路一段59巷7號1樓

Again, same problem of OMG IT HURTS US EVERYTHING IS IN FUCKING CHINESE BLERGH and my brain just shuts off.

But at least in these smaller bookstores, most of the stuff isn’t shrink wrapped, it’s super small businessy, and the staff are very friendly and can recommend a bunch of books.

Also, at Bookstar, they had lots of games for kids (and I bought a ton).

But FOMO and Buyer’s Remorse and lack of Guavarama on speed-text are still anxiety producing factors.

Perhaps that is just me.

7) Next year, I’m shortening our trip.

I think I forgot to take into account just how lazy I am in general. I hate doing touristy stuff – why would I think that being in a foreign country where navigating train websites, site websites, and everything being in CHINESE FFS – in addition to being 28 weeks pregnant and towing along three assholish children would change that at all?

I had lofty plans for this last week.

I was going to take the kids to see the crayon factory. Or to Tamsui. Or JiuFen. Or just take them to all sorts of play spaces.

I did not factor in the fact that Cookie Monster (and to a lesser extent, Glow Worm and Gamera) only wanted to get the fuck out of Dodge and would rather veg out in front of the iPad all day instead of leave the apartment.

We have gone to a few silly places for them to eat or do crafts, but for the most part, Hapa Papa has stayed in with the kids (because they are also REALLY FUCKING DONE WITH THE SUN) and I go out to meet Irish Twins and her 2 year old (while ditching my children – because other people’s children are always preferable to dealing with one’s own because you don’t have to keep them and there is a limited duration of suffering) to eat or shop or just be out of the house.

Wow. That sentence is nigh-incomprehensible.

I have no plans to fix it.

Anyhow, my point being, that you really should take an honest stock of who you are as a person before you pay for an extra week of Airbnb housing prices in Taipei.

Next year, (especially since I will have an 8 month old baby strapped to my sweaty chest and belly), I will likely still come about a week early for the kids to get used to the time change as well as play a little.

However, after school/camp ends, I will let them relax the weekend and do some last minute shopping, and then we will likely leave on Monday or Tuesday and go back home.

My kids will likely be just like me and not give a fuck about touristy shit and just go home. If ONLY they enjoyed food to a greater degree. Sigh.

8) I should have anticipated the kids getting a lot of stuff to take back.

I really don’t know why I didn’t expect the kids to bring back a ton of shit from school and camps. After all, two years ago, they brought back a lot of paper crafts and I took a few pics, kept a few items and then tossed the rest.

Call me an unsentimental bitch. Whatever.

This year, the stuff that they’re coming back with are actually interesting. Like fired and glazed pottery thingies or cool robots they made out of Kinex like thingies (I’m really killing the technical terms today) and honestly, they’re kinda keep-worthy.

Also, I paid for a lot of shitty and expensive crafts and I should really take those home, too.

9) Craft activities at the fancy department stores are really expensive.

The majority of these crafts seem awesome. Make super cool playdoh sculptures or shiny glittery boxes and jewelry boxes. They all seem awesome until you realize they’re like $50. EACH.

So, here’s how it works. Depending on the type of craft you want to make, the cost varies. The more complicated, obviously, the more expensive.

Each finished craft is displayed on a shelf and either has a sticker telling you how many 點 (dian3/points) it costs or it’s on a shelf with a sign telling you how many it costs. Then there is a chart that tells you how much each “point” costs.

The majority of places will cost around $500NT per point. (That’s ~$15USD.) Of course, the more you buy, the more you “save” and it’s tempting until you realize that somehow, you’re paying $50USD for a craft you could buy and do yourself at Michael’s for $5 in the US.

Of course, since the classes are taught in Chinese, and the kids were bored and I really wanted to make the kids happy, I told them they could choose only the crafts that cost 1 point.

They were happy enough. So in the end, over a period of a few days, I spent $3000NT (~$90USD) on six stupid crafts. But all my kids seemed happy about it so I guess it’s a win.

Here is a slideshow of the various crafts my kids did:

10) If you are used to living in a space larger than where you are renting in Taiwan, you WILL get on each other’s nerves.

I mean, it could be just that I’m an asshole and have bred asshole-ish children. But quite frankly, we are at the point where my kids are cooped up all day because they refuse to leave the house and I want to murder them all by dinner time.

I know. It’s not that different than when we are in the States.

But the problem is that there are just far fewer things for them to do in our Taiwan apartment – and SO MANY PEOPLE who can hear me yell at my shitty kids and cussing them out.

For instance, just now, I coldly told Cookie Monster to stop being an asshole. And in case he didn’t understand what that is since he is only 6.5 years old, I explained that an asshole is a butthole. And I really would like him to stop being something poo poo comes out of.

Win.

11) Essential oils are great but NOT FOR INSECT REPELLENT.

Hey. I love essential oils. In fact, they came in very handy for much of the barfing and coughing and heat rashes and heat strokes and mosquito bites. But what they were TERRIBLE at were actually PREVENTING bug bites.

Maybe they work great in the US.

But these Taiwanese mosquitoes are NOT fucking around.

I was eaten alive.

Use the insect repellent with as much DEET as possible without giving you or your children or your unborn fetus birth defects.

Hapa Papa's shoulder looking like raw meat after I gua sha'd. That's what happens when you walk over 50,000 steps in two days during the hottest parts of the day.

Hapa Papa’s shoulder looking like raw meat after I gua sha’d. That’s what happens when you walk over 50,000 steps in two days during the hottest parts of the day.

12) I will need to 刮痧 (gua sha) my kids almost every day or every other day next time.

I am very susceptible to heat stroke and heat rash. Apparently, so are my children.

In fact, almost Glow Worm’s entire body is covered in heat rash. It’s so sad. He also had an unexplained fever that would disappear and reappear for a period of 4-5 days. As soon as I used gua sha, his fever stopped.

So, I tried it on my other kids, and sure enough, the telltale signs of prickly heat showed up and I regret not using it earlier. Also, all my kids like it and find it comfy.

But definitely bring stuff for heat rash. Pretty much every single member of my household has some form of heat rash (with Glow Worm being the most serious).

This does not contribute to my kids enjoying Taiwan.

13) However much Benadryl I think I need, I should double it.

Due to everything being in Chinese and the fact that in Taiwan, people are not as familiar with food allergies and “forget” ingredients in food all the time, pretty much every child of mine, (even the kid with no known allergies whatsoever) has broken out in hives at least once.

But again, poor Glow Worm has suffered the most. He has pretty much needed to take Benadryl at least once or twice a week. First for food allergy reactions and then for the unbearable itchiness of heat rash.

14) I really need to pay attention to my limits.

I know I am stubborn. I know I am a ridiculous planner and want all these lofty things. But I really need to know my limits and pay attention to how I’m doing.

It’s tempting to think I’m invincible or to stick through something just to prove my mom or other people wrong or whatever.

But really, there is no prize for stupidity and or stubbornness. (Or at least, I don’t think there is.)

So, there really is no award for never taking a taxi (even if it would be physically better for me) or for forcing the kids on death marches (even if it kills me).

There is no prize for purposely choosing a more difficult path.

15) Eat only foods that make me happy.

Corollary: Do NOT waste a meal (or calories) in Taiwan.

So: kids didn’t finish their McDonald’s chicken nuggets? Fuck the nuggets. Go eat something you want like more shaved ice.

Leftover udon from a food court restaurant that you feel guilty leaving because hey it was not cheap? Fuck it. Your kids are not going to eat it again and it just takes up space in the fridge and then you have to figure out how to dispose of its rotting remains in a place that does not have garbage disposals.

Rotting food in the garbage smells about as appetizing as it sounds.

Already have shaved ice today? WHO CARES? Have it again.

Like something a lot? EAT MORE. Preferably soon.

If you don’t want a real meal and only want to eat dessert? DO IT. For instance: instead of having lunch today at Modern Toilet with the kids, I watched them eat mediocre fries and nuggets and then I had almond tofu shaved ice at Yu’s Almond Tofu and fried mochi (one dipped in black sesame sauce and one dipped in chocolate) at Okinawa Japanese Grilled Mochi.

Tonight, instead of having dinner, I am likely going to go buy these fried sesame balls with salty gooey egg yolk in the center from Kitchen Pucci and then have another shaved ice.

Why? Because I now have only FOUR eating days left in Taiwan and my kids are utter shits and I want them to go home ahead of me and if Cookie Monster pisses me (or Hapa Papa) off one more time today I swear he is not going to make it back home in one entire piece.

16) If you need to go to the bathroom in a public space, the cleanest bathrooms are in the MRT station.

I mean, sure you could use a restaurant bathroom or a mall bathroom. They’re not always horrible. But they are not always great, either (even if it’s a fancy place).

So, when in doubt and you can make it to the MRT station? USE THAT ONE.

This holds especially true at the Taipei Main Station. Are you in the HSR/train/bus station? Those bathrooms are disgusting. They’re not dirty or in disarray, but they FEEL gross. If you’re heading to the MRT station anyway, HOLD IT. Wait. Your entire body will thank you.

17) If you use a taxi to frequent a particular route, PAY ATTENTION if a driver happens to be WAY faster than other drivers.

Then ask him how he did it. Memorize it. Then from then on, TELL the other taxi drivers how to do it.

It will save you a lot of time and money.

18) Explore the smaller alleys and streets. 

Now, I’m totally not the type of person to wander small alleys and streets. I am definitely the person who sticks to major thoroughfares (the better to find my way back) as well as go to either places I have been before or a place that has been recommended and is locatable on Google Maps.

I HATE wandering aimlessly on side alleys. Especially with kids and in the heat.

But, if you can manage to set aside some time to do so at the beginning, you will find a lot of small hole in the wall places that likely, you’d enjoy very much.

Alright. This post turned out much longer than I anticipated. Whoops. But I hope I find it helpful next year when I’m remembering how to do this travel in Taiwan thing with the kids and a baby in an ergo.

Have a great day!

Entry is Hard

Ok. That sounds way more provocative than this post actually is. Also? That’s what she said!

I know. I’m twelve. But you all knew that already so really, it’s your own fault for not expecting it.

Anyhow, we made it to the Taiwan and are mostly settled into our apartment. It’s very spacious and modern and has all new amenities and I’m a big fan of the clean, modern look. Too bad my kids are going to ruin it but oh well. Them’s the breaks.

While prepping for the trip (as well as during the traveling portion), I kept hearing that I was so brave or whatever, but let me just set the record straight (as well as show you how I have utterly failed in the first 24 hours of our trip so far).

I am not brave. Just determined. And committed. (Because thousands of dollars have literally been paid at this point, so what else can I do even if I don’t want to do it?) And also incredibly deficient in the memory department.

Also? I have lots of help. Some solicited, some not so much. But all of it has been helpful! (Even when I have to grit my teeth and be thankful when I’m not.)

Anyhow, I guess what I mean is that I’m not Super Mom or Super Woman (but perhaps, Super Stupid) and here are just some of the thoughts and things that have happened in the past few days.

1) Even though I made this same trek two summers ago (and an easier version of it a year and a half ago), I was still apprehensive. I mean, I was certainly LESS frightened and terrified than I was in 2014.

But still, lots of new variables this year such as traveling alone with three kids while 5-6 months pregnant. (I know, I know. I still have no idea exactly how pregnant I am. Sorry!)

Plus, we were staying in a new area and going to new schools and camps and living by ourselves instead of with friends. Lots of new things despite me having done it before (which, don’t get me wrong, helped a LOT).

2) Gamera woke up the morning of the flight with a deep, yucky sounding cough. I was hoping it was just a minor thing, but it has now progressed from a nasty cough to a nasty cough with a fever. Poor baby girl.

My mom and aunt of course freaked out and for a brief moment, I worried she had strep throat. But thanks to Dr. Google and its accompanying images, I don’t think she does. If she’s still miserable after a few days, of course, I will take her to the doctor. That should also be an adventure. Sigh.

3) Our flight was delayed a little over an hour. Obviously, no one enjoys a flight delay – but people with small children REALLY do not enjoy flight delays. That’s just more time we have to occupy our kids and pray and hope that the waiting outside of the plane doesn’t eat up all the good behavior INSIDE of the plane.

4) At least United offered family boarding for families with kids aged 2 and under. And so we were the second people on the plane. We certainly needed every minute of it since Glow Worm refused to sit without me.

But because of the way the plane seats are arranged, there are three on each side and three in the middle. I booked three seats on the side and then an aisle seat in the middle right next to them. My original plan was to sit by myself in the aisle and have the three kids sit together.

Glow Worm was not having any of that shit. I begged Cookie Monster to sit in the lone seat and he absolutely refused, crying and about to throw a tantrum. I begged Gamera and she agreed reluctantly to sit by herself, a mere foot away from me. Turns out she got the better end of the deal because she did not end up having to share an iPad or have Glow Worm use her as a pillow and kick her in the face.

Incidentally, I always forget how small and vulnerable Glow Worm is because he’s such a rough and tumble kid. But he kept telling me he was scared and held onto my arm or hand for the first hour of the flight and periodically when there was turbulence and when we landed. I almost teared up. My baby boy!

5) Kids barely ate any of the food. Picky little shits. They ate some snacks but they quickly got sick of the snacks I brought, too. I tried to tell them it was their own fault they were hungry, but what can you do? They were hungry. Thank goodness they slept for a few hours.

6) Speaking of sleep, I am pleased with the flight timing. We left at 3:15pm (although it was supposed to be 2:15pm) and arrived around 7pm in Taipei. The ride to the apartment took about an hour and then we got settled in and ate and kids goofed off for a few hours.

Oh, what was I saying? Yes. Sleep on the plane.

Glow Worm slept the most on the plane at about 5-6 hours. Gamera kept coughing herself awake but got an intermittent 4-5 hours. Cookie Monster, in keeping with what I expected, slept at most 2-3 hours.

And yet, Cookie Monster was the LAST to sleep on our first night. I don’t think he went to bed until 2:30am. Glow Worm was once again, the first to conk out at around 12:30am (he put himself to sleep looking at YouTube on my phone) and Gamera fell asleep around 1:30am. She kept waking up periodically throughout the night and around 4:30am, she was up for good. (Plus, she had a fever.)

Glow Worm woke up around 5:30am and Cookie Monster showed up around 6:45am. All in all, I got the least sleep out of everyone. I was pretty cranky.

In fact, I am trying really hard not to nap, right now. But I figure, if I fall asleep now, I will have a problem sleeping later. (At least I got to see Deadpool on the plane!)

My goal is to have the kids in bed around 7:30pm tonight since that’s about the time I will be wanting them in bed when camp/school starts. That would allow for enough time in the morning to eat and dress and spray down with bug spray and sunblock at a leisurely pace.

Anyhow, wish me luck tonight. Cookie Monster better get his shit together and fall asleep already.

7) Of course, this morning, we had no food. The only food being the snacks I had brought with me on the plane. My kids were not interested.

So eventually, around 8:30am, I lugged my three kids and myself to explore the area around our apartment and find some food as well as buy a few things to tide us over.

Total fail.

Went to the local 7/11 and bought some milk and orange juice but for some reason, didn’t buy any ACTUAL food for them to eat this morning. I think I figured we’d find a breakfast place open. Nope. Also, the ones that were open had no pictures on the menus and lots of eggs. (Glow Worm is allergic to eggs.)

I forgot that I can’t really read Chinese and that sometimes, I only end up doing well at least a week in. I was a little overwhelmed and indecisive (especially considering kids are picky and have food allergies) and managed to buy nothing of actual sustenance that we could immediately consume.

Cookie Monster kept whining that his OJ had “lines” in it. Turns out, it was pulp and both Cookie Monster and Gamera were like, FUCK PULP.

I bought two bottles of the orange juice, too. And they were heavy. I know because I had to carry them back to the apartment along with some milk and a bunch of random crap.

Of course, I still forgot to buy food. (Unless you count mini M&Ms and chocolate Pocky sticks as food.)

We did manage to hang out at a local playground for all of five minutes. My kids were like, FUCK THIS PARK. (Well, all except Glow Worm. Of course, he was sopping wet because of dew. Sigh.)

Did I mention that I forgot to slather my kids with sunscreen because I figured we would be in the shadow of large buildings? Nope.

Gamera wilted by 9:33am. She was like, “My legs hurt! I want to go back to the other Taiwan!”

Beats me what the other Taiwan is. I think she means our apartments.

But yeah, that was fun.

8) We hung out at the apartment for another few hours and then my cousin came by and we went to a local food court wherein my kids couldn’t eat because they didn’t know how to use chopsticks and I had to feed them and when I went and asked for forks, a worker told me in an extremely condescending voice that in Taiwan, they use chopsticks to eat. Thanks, you fucking asshat.

Also? I managed to spill a bowl of noodle soup all over my favorite dress. If it stains with oil or grease, I will be severely aggravated.

9) Went to the grocery store after and managed to actually buy food stuffs. But not sure if I actually bought anything useful. Sigh. I’m the worst with grocery shopping.

Still managed to forget shit.

10) Oh, did I mention that for about 30-45 minutes EARLY this morning, Glow Worm threw a huge tantrum because he wanted to eat two soy sauce packets and I wouldn’t let him? He threw his iPad on the floor. His hair was sopping wet from screaming. It was awesome.

 11) I realized that I forgot to pack the industrial strength bug spray Not Another DB MBA gave me. (Incidentally, she gave me two BOXES of bug spray because she’s both helpful and an ass. Love you!)

I just hope the essential oil blend I brought will work. Sigh. If not, then, well, essential oils can treat bug bites. Also, we will smell like dirt and trees. (That’s the smell of the blend.) And Irish Twins said her husband brought a ton of bug spray that I can take.

12) Sigh. Literally as I was writing this post, I realized that Gamera had been unusually silent and had been last seen looking for her stuffed doggy in her room and never reappeared. Sure enough, she was curled up and asleep in the bed. With no pull-up. Thank goodness she didn’t wet the bed!!

Anyhow, it was so sad. I woke her up and forced her to take a shower (which was heartbreaking). She kept shivering or saying the water was too hot. The girl hates hot water but for some reason, the temp in this apartment can’t stay at the fine line between cold and lukewarm so the water would turn freezing every minute or so.

But now, she is at least clean, in PJs, and a pullup, and watching TV. She hopefully can stay awake through dinner (we’re no longer going out and my cousin is bringing food). Just my luck, when it’s finally time for bed in 2.5 hours, she’ll be wide awake.

13) Kids are watching a TON of TV. I told them they could watch as much Chinese TV as possible. Their iPad time will be limited, but the TV can be on as long as the day is.

Also, I have a hard time understanding children’s programming in Chinese. That’s sad. I know it’s just a matter of time for my brain to switch to registering Chinese as the dominant language here, but sheesh. That’s SAD.

Alright, I suppose I have to get back to my children. (There have already been injuries and furniture re-arranging – not all voluntary.) Until the next post!

Top 20 Reasons Why I Actually Live in a Frat House

If we’re friends on Facebook and in Real Life, you’ll likely notice a common theme regarding posts about my children. They’re a pack of wild animals.

No exaggeration.

It’s my fault, really. I don’t particularly care if the kids beat the shit out of each other as long as they don’t do it in public (I don’t want to look like a bad parent) or beat up other people’s children (because again, I don’t want to look like a bad parent).

I mean, I used to make half-hearted attempts to stop them. After all, isn’t their taking kung fu supposed to teach them discipline and proper shit kicking etiquette, et al.? And again, aren’t I supposed to care that my three children are often mostly naked and all I hear are their little fists pounding against each other’s flesh?

But then I realized that I don’t actually care and trying to tear apart my barbarians only pisses me off. I yell and try to enforce rules about not hurting each other only to get kicked in the face or whatever and quite frankly, it’s not worth it to me. If they wan’t to punch and kick each other, they are welcome to it.

In fact, I’ve gotten to the point where I tell them that if they hurt each other in the course of their actions, to not come to me and cry about it because I will just tell them it’s their own fault and that’s what happens when you beat the shit out of each other. It hurts.

They are a pack of vicious dogs.

Also? The keyword for this post really should be, “Beat the shit out of each other.” Seems to be a recurrent phrase.

So, in light of my children being a horde of uncivilized assholes, I submit to you the Top 20 Reasons Why I Actually Live in a Fraternity House:

1) To steal from Irish Twins, my life is full of genitals and injuries. If that’s not frat life, I don’t know what is.

2) My house smells a lot like farts and dirty socks. And rotting food. Especially in the couch area. Not sure why. And I may never discover the true reason (other than my children have sieves for mouths).

3) The floor is crunchy. And sticky.

4) The house is in complete disrepair. I’m missing blind slats, the carpet is for shit, there is not a surface that has not been urinated on (or hasn’t touched a naked bottom), floor tiles are loose, a toilet seat has been cracked for years, certain bathtubs have a permanently loose hot water handle that keeps falling off, and there are random “imperfections” in our walls.

5) I’m not sure what we eat, but I think it’s a lot of nuggets, pizza, and fries.

6) Did I mention that we have a lot of injuries?

7) And exposed genitals??

8) There are countless hours of HaloMinecraft, and YouTube being played.

9) I am always finding random socks shoved in weird places. But always only one sock. Never a pair.

10) My children know what a trash can is for. And yet, this knowledge somehow doesn’t translate into using it.

11) There are armies and armies of empty plastic cups laying around on flat surfaces.

12) Conversations are basically one long fart, poop, or pee joke.

13) Someone is always being wrestled, sat upon, punched, kicked, yelled at, or light-sabered.

14) No one goes to sleep at a reasonable hour.

15) The backyard is full of debris from destroyed plastic toys and disintegrated chalk and sand and rocks and miscellaneous crap.

16) Someone is always climbing or jumping or falling off of a chair/bannister/couch/random hangy thingy.

17) We are always out of food.

18) There is rarely any homework or “learning” going on. Did I mention that I homeschool?

19) Not a day goes by without at least one mention of penis, “gagina,” or butthole.

20) And finally, there are a lot of “fucks” thrown around (though to be fair, that is mostly from me).

So there you have it. Please tell me I’m not the only one?

Also, I’m pretty sure none of my friends will ever consent to come over ever again. Not unless I steam clean and/or bleach every possible surface area of my house. (And even with that, they will have to come over immediately after this deep steam occurs because otherwise, my house will revert to its base state of grossness.)

Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day. See you soon!

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

What is it about life that it just piles and piles and piles on top of everything and everywhere?

I mean, I realize that entropy is the default state of being and the Second Law of Thermodynamics so why fight against The Universe?

And yet.

No matter how much (or let’s be real, little) I do, it’s never enough. I always feel behind the 8-ball.

Is this a Woman Thing? Or a Mom Thing?

I mean, I don’t really hear Hapa Papa bitching and moaning about the state of the house (although, lately, it seems to be pressing on even him) or feeling as if he’s always behind or never caught up on shit.

However, now that I think about it – and I mean this in no way to diminish what Hapa Papa does because he is quite the involved father and provides pretty much all monetary support for our family – he really only has two major areas of responsibility: providing monetarily for the family and being an involved father.

Everything else is on me. Now, usually I don’t mind because quite frankly, I’m a control freak and I rather enjoy having everything be what I want it to be (or think it should be). But then, when things aren’t quite right, it’s all on me.

Hapa Papa is an easy-going guy and a good sport, so other than a few things, he really doesn’t have a particular opinion on whatever new parenting philosophy I’m trying this month or homeschooling or sports (wait, he does have an opinion on sports) or food or household chores or whatever. As long as it doesn’t particularly bother him, Hapa Papa mostly just gets out of my way and lets me do my thing and tries to support me as much as he can.

He is a good man.

But just like I (God-willing) will never have to feel that singular burden of providing financially for our household, he will never have to feel that singular burden of everything else. The staggering amounts of minutiae in the daily lives of five living and growing human beings.

I am overwhelmed.

(Although, I can’t say I have ever felt whelmed.)

It doesn’t seem as if it’s that much. I mean, I am a competent person of above-average intelligence and ability, right? Right?

So why do I feel so shitty? And so dissatisfied?

And now that I think about all the stuff that is within my purview, it really is a lot! I mean, I am not exaggerating when I say that Hapa Papa only needs to think about (and do) his career/making money and being a good father/husband. (And to clarify, Hapa Papa does a ton more than the “average” husband – so please know that I definitely appreciate him!)

Here’s just some stuff off the top my head that I have to take care of on a regular basis:

– Follow up with Car Rental Company to make sure they submit the missing paperwork to our credit card company re: a claim
– Follow up with Health Insurance Company re: multiple claims/missing money
– Submit FSA receipts
– Take care of all benefits
– Physicals and dental appointments for the whole family
– Saving/Investing
– Paying everyone and every institution that we need to pay
– Enrolling/Scheduling kids and their classes and paying on a monthly/quarterly basis
– Shuttling kids to all their activities
– Feeding/Bathing/Clothing/Maintaining/Keeping Alive/Disciplining children (and self and Hapa Papa)
– Keeping track of extended family birthdays/special events/visits/illnesses/etc.
– Keeping in touch with family friends
– Scheduling car maintenances
– Insurance (life/health/car/home/flood/umbrella WHATEVER)
– Shopping (food/clothes/home/educational/etc.)
– Cooking
– Cleaning/Laundry/Dishes/Garbage
– Mail (absolutely my LEAST favorite)
– Diapers
– Potty Training
– Parenting
– Taking out the garbage
– Compost
– Returning library books
– Sleep training
– Homeschooling
– Ovulation/Fertility Tracking (if we are still trying for a fourth)
– Taxes
– Anything that requires a phone call or a live human

Look. I know this shit is what life is made of. And again, it’s not like Hapa Papa doesn’t contribute in terms of housework (I am always elated when he unloads the dishwasher – one of my LEAST favorite activities even though it is incredibly simple). Furthermore, Hapa Papa is amazing at giving me space to decompress and disappear from the family. He gives me entire WEEKENDS (on a regular basis!) so I know I have it good.

But if I have it so good and am still feeling crushed, how the fuck are other people doing this?

Is everyone else just better at faking it?

(Ok. I do know some people who are terrible at faking it and when I look at them, I judge. I know. I’m a hypocrite. But seriously. Come on, people. Get your shit together.)

What do you think? Are we all just sucking at “adulting”? Did our parents have these problems, too? They must have, right? Let me know in the comments.