How the Instant Pot Changed My Life (and How I Use It)

This year, one of my resolutions was to eat healthier – but that is so vague. So I said that I would cook 5 meals a week and limit eating out to once a week. We used to be at McDonald’s twice a week.

TWICE A WEEK.

I wasn’t exactly proud of turning my children’s blood into sludge. But it was hard and stressful to think of cooking twice a day for my shitty kids (we homeschool so I don’t get the option of a school lunch).

This year THUS FAR, since I started using the Instant Pot, we have been to McDonald’s twice and Burger King once. (I have eaten out a few more times, but not at these places. And definitely without the children.)

When I look at these numbers, I am astounded.

Let us pause here and give me the praise and adulation I need and crave (but not necessarily deserve).

Thank you.

Anyhow. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

1) I decided to make this change in our lifestyle and I set an easily attainable goal of cooking just five times a week.

Even though part of my goal was to NOT eat out (or nuggets/pizza/crackers), it is hard to track “negative space.” So instead, I tracked “positive space” and recorded in my ink+volt planner when I cooked.

And after awhile, it became easier and easier to cook and I added more and more until it was silly to track the times I cooked because quite frankly, that was now my default mode.

2) I knew that since I am inherently lazy, I needed to support my decision by setting myself up to succeed instead of fail.

So, I came up with some Instant Pot hacks as well as followed a basic formula because I hate recipes and meal planning.

These hacks and soup templates are boring but honestly, I’m not trying for creative here. I only want to make sure my family has reasonably tasty and nutritious food at least twice a day.

3) Cook. Eat what I cook.

Yes, I need to specify eating what I cook because I used to be notorious for not eating the food I made and thus, I would go out to eat a lot after the kids were in bed.

And that’s it. As a result, here is how my life has changed:

1) Thinking about what we are going to eat for lunch and dinner no longer plagues me throughout the day.

I am not exaggerating when I say the thoughts of what we were going to eat for lunch and dinner were so painful that I would avoid it entirely and then my kids would end up eating quesodillas or nuggets or pizza yet again.

And now that I no longer think about it, this psychic pain is gone and I am much more cheerful. Plus, the kids now have consistent meals and meal times and are much better about eating food.

2) My children eat.

This is another minor miracle.

Now that my children are used to eating what I cook, they eagerly (although sometimes, not so eagerly) ask what’s for lunch or dinner. They also like to help prepare the food and look at the soups and noodles.

Keep in mind, we went through a really rough two to three weeks where the kids absolutely refused to eat what I cooked. But after that ramping up/initiation period, my kids actually eat the food I put in front of them. I mean, they’re not perfect, but it’s still a million bjillion times better than it used to be.

Thus, another source of conflict and pain has been mostly removed.

3) I can now train my kids to put away their bowls into the dishwasher.

Now that the eating dilemma has been solved and I am no longer emotionally exhausted from trying to get them to eat their damn food already, I am training them to bring their used bowls/cups/utensils to the sink.

The older kids also rinse them off and I am training Cookie Monster to put his stuff in the dishwasher. In fact, they are at this weird stage where they want to wash dishes and put things away in the dishwasher or put things back where they belong.

So weird. But hey. Who am I to complain and deprive them of wanting to be more independent and responsible?

4) I spend less money on eating out and groceries.

Because I am now consistently cooking, I no longer throw away 100% of the produce I buy. Thus, I waste less food and spend less money on groceries. Now, I buy only what we need and resist the urge to “stock up.”

5) Eating out is no longer as appealing.

The food tastes different, too. Now, I sometimes try to see how long I can go without eating out.

WHO AM I?

6) I am much happier. 

First, because I no longer feel guilty about mealtimes – whether it be over not serving the kids any nutrition whatsoever or not eating with the children or yelling at them to eat their food already – I don’t have to deal with that pain of not being a good mother.

Second, I no longer feel the psychic pain of planning or procrastinating or figuring out what we will eat. It’s boring, but I don’t care. I follow my formula and perhaps make three or four other dishes that we rotate throughout the week. 

Third, I have much less pain involving my children eating. They are mostly used to the things I make now and will even eat the vegetables. 

Now, all the pain revolves around my kids fidgeting or playing instead of eating during meal times. But this is still considerably less painful than it was before. 

Alright, friends. I think that is the last of my love letters to the Instant Pot. If you have an Instant Pot, are you as enamored as I am? Let me know in the comments. 

Suck It Up, March


How is March mostly over?

WTH, 2017? How is a quarter of the year over? I do not understand.

Anyhow, here is my monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

You guys. I am rocking this shit.

I have stopped tracking what days I cook and how often because I pretty much cook every day, twice a day. It’s now easier to track which days I eat out (which is at most, once a week).

I am SO PLEASED.

Plus, I know I mentioned it last month, but my kids are actually eating vegetables and food without much complaint. In fact, Cookie Monster has turned into a little food critic. He’ll beg to check out the food, smell it, taste it, and then say, “Oh, this tastes pretty good.” or “It’s not bad.”

It’s hilarious.

My kids clearly watch too many judged cooking shows.

Also also? Since January, we have only been to McDonald’s once and Burger King once. 

We used to go to one of these places (mostly McDonald’s) at LEAST once a week. And now, down to maybe once a month. Yay!

b) Be active once a week.

So, I let the two Groupons I bought expire. I just couldn’t muster up the energy to go and I was worried that I would injure myself. I am one stupid move from re-injuring my shoulder and since Hapa Papa is working so much, I can’t afford to get hurt.

Thus, we said goodbye to our monies. It doesn’t matter if I can still use the funds at the businesses at a later date. It’s not gonna happen.

However, now that the sun is back out again, we have been meeting up with friends to go to the park almost every weekday. We’ve also gone back out to hike paved trails. And since I have to lug around my hefty Sasquatch in the Ergo the whole time, I figure that’s enough for physical activity.

I’m doing pretty well in this, considering.

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Yeah. It’s best not to mention this anymore. But for the interest of consistency, I’m including it. But yeah. No good.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

I’m still remembering to take these most days. I consider it a win.

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

Nope. I’ve sucked major donkey balls at this.

The problem isn’t so much that I’m not sleeping when the kids are sleeping. The problem is that I wake up after sleeping for three hours and then can’t fall back asleep.

This is the same problem I had in Taiwan last summer. It’s like self-induced jet lag.

I’m a consummate idiot.

f) No texting while driving.

I did better this month. Not as cold turkey as January – but not as horrible as February. So,  um, maybe lukewarm turkey.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

I owned it this month. But mostly because I realized I had to hand in my tax documents to my CPA by March 18 in order to file on time so it took me 4-5 hours to gather all of it. I also finally changed our life insurance beneficiaries. (Turns out only Cookie Monster was a contingent beneficiary. FAIL.)

Also, finally opened a 529 account for Sasquatch as well as another living trust account for me to hide money from myself. I even finally rolled over Hapa Papa’s SIMPLE IRA from his previous company to an IRA Rollover. Now, to transfer it to our Schwab accounts. (I hate you, Fidelity, for making this entire process so cumbersome.)

I also submitted my health insurance claims and FSA claims for Hapa Papa’s old insurance.

I even submitted claims for our NEW insurance. (Because the out of pocket expenses before receiving the new insurance cards were high and painful.)

People, it was painful but it was done.

BOW BEFORE MY ADULTING.

3) Write.

I have barely written this month. Any of the posts that posted this month were written last month. (Well, I suppose except this post.)

I’m tired. I keep saying this, but it bears repeating.

I’m really tired.

So, I’ve shoved writing to the back burner for now because LIFE.

Alright. That’s it for this month. How did you do for March? Are you even still tracking with your goals? If not, there’s no time like the present to start up again.

Suck It Up, February


How is February mostly over?

2017 is 1/6th of the way done and I feel like all I did was blink and stare blankly at the page.

Anyhow, here is my monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

Still going on strong! I now cook almost every single day and have trained my children to if not like, at least mostly eat, the food I make. I am hoping this will lead to good dividends when we head back to Taiwan this summer.

My kids currently love any and all vegetables that taste like “nothing” once I cook them in my Instant Pot. (Nothing in the sense that the veggies end up mushy and soak up the flavor of soup. We are working on them eating veggies prepared in stir fry.)

I am also now very reluctant to order out. Why? Not because of any health reasons. But mostly because it isn’t any faster than me cooking at home. In fact, it often takes even longer and then I stress out about finding foods my kids can and will eat.

b) Be active once a week.

I have improved. This month, I went a few times with the kids and friends on hikes at local regional parks.

Of course, buy “hike,” I mean walk on paved paths. I’m not wandering through the wilderness or anything. Let’s not get crazy.

Plus, on occasion, we have walked to local parks to meet up with these same homeschooling friends. Cookie Monster actually really enjoys walking and hiking so I expect this to continue.

Of course, I still haven’t redeemed my groupon to Krav Maga. I think I like the idea of being a badass more than the work it takes to become one. I have until March 10.

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Same as before. I think I will just have to adjust and say that I will brush my teeth and floss ONCE at night.

I’m sure it’s gross but TOO BAD.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

For the most part, I have been good about taking my vitamins. I hate taking so many. (Seriously, the doTerra vitamin regimen has me taking approximately 15 pills a day.)

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

Although doing slightly better, I have been staying up later and later because I just want some time to myself. In silence.

Beautiful, beautiful, blissful silence.

f) No texting while driving.

Sob.

was doing so well. Then February hit and I slid back into my naughty ways. FOMO reared its ugly head with a vengeance. I found that my need to respond right away to texts returned.

So, here’s my reminder to kick my own ass and say, “Hey! My friends don’t need to me to respond, ‘HAHAHAHAHAHA!’ right away to their comments. They can wait the 15-20 minutes it takes to get to where I’m getting to.”

Also? LIKING SOMEONE’S STATUS ON FACEBOOK CAN WAIT.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

Although I’m pretty certain I’ve still been adulting, I don’t think it stood out as much this month. Possibly because we didn’t visit the doctor much in January so I didn’t have to take care of any medical bills (and we all know that’s what ultimately kills me).

However, since we went several times in February, I guess I get a chance to apply this again in March.

Also? I think I forgot to do my receipts for homeschooling. So, um, whoops. I still have a day or so left in February.

Oh crap. Just remembered I still haven’t opened up additional accounts or changed my life insurance beneficiaries. Blargh.

I CAN DO IT.

I AM A GROWN UP FOR REALZ.

3) Write.

Due to Hapa Papa’s new job and him needing a lot of time on the weekends, as well as the craziness of our weekends this past month, I did not write much.

Truthfully, I also did not feel like it. Although, I did start a quick and easy new series, the 5 Minute Book Reviews. Those have made me happy because they’re quick and dirty to put out, I don’t feel pressure on having to have in depth and perfect reviews, and I am experimenting with posting videos of my children reading excerpts.

Why is that important?

Mostly because I have been semi-reluctant to post their reading videos up in case they’re not as good as I think they are and have people secretly judge me for their perhaps not as stellar as I think Chinese.

I worry because we all know that I am totally judging other kids’ Chinese. Which is stupid because as long as I can understand a kid, that’s the ultimate goal of learning language, right?

Also? What does another child’s success/failure with Chinese have to do with my own children’s abilities?

ABSOLUTELY  NOTHING.

Anyhow, I didn’t really have any new posts for about two weeks and I feel sucky about it.

Also also, I just realized that I set myself a goal of finally finishing my ebook by the end of Q1. Which is in a month.

What the hell, self?

However, I am proud of myself for two things I did writing-wise this month (in addition to the 5 Minute Book Reviews).

One: I submitted a speaker proposal to a conference I am attending this spring. I don’t think I will get it, but hey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Two: I started some pitches that I want to do for my blog. I have since done NOTHING (such as submitting these pitches). but whatever. I DID a tiny bit of SOMETHING.

Alright. Thus ends my monthly check in. It was not as awesome as I had hoped, but at least my cooking is hitting it out the ballpark. If 2017 only had this to show for it, I would still be reasonably happy.

How are you doing on your 2017? Let me know in the comments.

Suck It Up, January

How is January mostly over?

Somehow, I have a feeling this is how I’m going to feel at the end of every single month. In fact, I might just decide to start with that sentence variation every time because stupid things like this amuse me.

Anyhow, I thought I’d take a page from Wil Wheaton’s Life Reboot Series and do a monthly check in. After all, what’s the point in having a yearly theme if I don’t follow up on it?

So, without further ado, here is my first official check in (even though I’ve been actively trying to change my lifestyle since December 2016 when I came up with the theme).

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

Surprisingly, I’ve been doing quite well in this area. I have been cooking a lot more in the Instant Pot (affiliate link) – not recipes because quite frankly, I am not a fan of following recipes on a regular basis. I much prefer to dump a bunch of stuff in the Instant Pot and set it to soup or stew. I either add pasta or pour it over rice.

A corollary to this goal is to limit my eating out to at most, once a week. (As well as to limit my boba purchases because my teeth are rotting and who needs empty calories, I guess.)

Incidentally, what I define as cooking is to make something that is not prepackaged. (Dumplings or pasta count as cooking.) I am more trying to avoid having kids eat nuggets or frozen pizza or quesodillas or dried cereal as much as possible.

b) Be active once a week.

Uh, utter fail.

I bought a Krav Maga groupon at a local studio so eventually, I will make it there on a weekly basis.

I may just have to remove this goal because I’m not really into it. And I know that if I’m not into it, and that it’s just a token add, that I will not do it.

But maybe I will love Krav and then fork over the ridiculous amounts of money to go. (I doubt it, but I want to kickass and you can’t do that sitting on your ass, afraid to look foolish in order pick up a new skill.)

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Um… 50% for effort?

I still can’t manage to do this in the morning. I’m sorry. I just want to maximize my in bed time.

However, I have much improved into doing so at night. YAY! (Also, I think I really do have several cavities that need to be taken care of.)

Also, I have been much relieved to hear from many of you dear readers that you, too, have difficulty remembering to brush and floss and wash your face.

Is it any surprise that you are all SAHMs?

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

I am a little more consistent at it. I think there is a good reason Sasquatch was my largest and fattest child and that my body has recovered faster than my previous pregnancies and births. It is all due to the supplements I have been taking. And the iron pills. And the calcium.

Here’s to hoping that my bones are not nearly as hollow as they were after having Glow Worm. I think he was the smallest (though fattest at the time) for a reason – I did not take good care of my body and four years of back to back pregnancies and breastfeeding did a number on me.

Even though Sasquatch is my last baby, I need to make sure that I take my health seriously. After all, when Mama’s down and out, Hapa Papa has to pick up the slack (like he did the back half of my pregnancy).

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

FAIL! UTTER FAIL!

I was doing pretty good about this in December, but ever since Sasquatch has been sleeping through the night, I have failed. FAILED.

Also, I blame adulting.

I have been doing very well in the adulting department. But as such, my “free” time during the day is now taken up by cooking, cleaning, bills, etc. instead of whatever mindless activity I am now doing at night.

No. It is not all playing Two Dots. Sometimes, I’m playing its sequel, Dots & Co.

I kid. I kid.

I’m not really clear as to what I’m doing late at night, but it involves food and reading (either on a screen or in a book), and sometimes, it also involves Two Dots.

To solve this for February, I have been trying to ease the kids into sleeping 30-60 minutes earlier. That way, even if I stay up a few hours after their bedtime, it is STILL early enough that it won’t kill me on lack of sleep the next day.

f) No texting while driving.

I’m doing AWESOME on this one.

Seriously. I never thought I’d get rid of FOMO enough to do this. But it turns out, I can receive (and skim) texts while they come in (my phone is on a stand on the dash) and NOT respond. I can also NOT READ them!

AMAZING.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

You guys, you guys!! I HAVE BEEN ADULTING ON A REGULAR BASIS.

It’s sad that this makes me feel so proud, but I do something at least once a day! I’ve kept on top of bills and mail and doing things that are due on a more immediate basis vs letting it procrastinate and pile up and make me feel like crap due to guilt.

Dr. T is totally right.

For me, self-care equals taking care of my adult responsibilities instead of hiding from them and acting like my middle child, Gamera.

Also, HuffPo agrees.

Of course, this does cut into my ME time, but ultimately, I feel a LOT better about myself.

3) Write.

I didn’t write much in December, but I am slowly getting back into the swing of things in January.

Because I usually write at night or on weekends, I was limited by Sasquatch’s feeding schedule. But now that I am pumping consistently and Sasquatch is a little easier, Hapa Papa is cool with me leaving for about three hours at a time so I can write.

I have to be much smarter about my time as I write, but I think this is a good thing. Procrastinating will literally kill what little time I have to write so I am better about putting away distractions.

Incidentally, the side benefit of me sucking it up thus far is that I am far more conscientious of Hapa Papa, his feelings, his desires and needs (HE ACTUALLY HAS THEM??), and making sure that I am not taking advantage of him.

On the days that I go write, I try to make sure that I give Hapa Papa an almost equal (I am, after all, still myself so I am still more selfish than the average person) amount of time for himself to either spend on work, watch football, read sports, or do whatever it is that he does when he has alone time.

Also, I know it bothers Hapa Papa that we have freezers (yes, plural) full of “food” and yet I keep buying more stuff every week at Costco. So, in an effort to reduce spending (because I single-handedly keep Costco and Amazon in business), as well as cook more, I have resolved to follow in the footsteps of my friend, Fleur.

Instead of buying more stuff at Costco (other than the weekly barrage of fruit I purchase), we will be “shopping” in our freezer. I have already begun to use up the items in our refrigerator’s freezer. When we eat through that (I went crazy the other day and reorganized the whole thing so I could actually see what we have), we will start eating through our chest freezer in the garage.

I have a feeling we will be eating stuff that I bought 2-3 years ago.

It’s a deep freezer. It should be fine. (Likely, it is full of the green part of the watermelon rind because I used to keep those parts to put in juice. I know. I’m weird. I dedicate lots of freezer space to random bits of veggies and fruit that I will eventually put into smoothies. It has been YEARS.)

Also, since Hapa Papa bears the sole burden of providing financially for our family while I bear the sole burden of spending financially (and saving and planning and EVERYTHING ELSE), I am actually listening to his request to save more.

Now, we are already saving 20-25% of our income, so that’s not too shabby. But since I made the mistake of telling him that a friend’s family saves 50-60% of their income (seriously?? WTH, people??), he wants to save an extra 5% this year.

This would totally be doable if I weren’t addicted to doTerra essential oils and their supplements. However, as it is, I have trick myself into saving because I am used to seeing the cash level in our main account at a certain level. And I work really hard to spend our cash until I hit that level. (The sacrifices I make, people.)

So, I am opening up another account into which I will siphon off a set amount each month. Because I am an infant playing Peek-a-boo, if I don’t see it, it isn’t there. (And thusly, won’t spend it. I know. I am an ass.)

I would report on this monthly except that it isn’t anything I am actively doing. Once I open the account and set up the monthly transfer, I will never have to think about this ever again. (Except when trotting out the account at the end of the year as evidence that I do, occasionally, take Hapa Papa’s feelings and thoughts into consideration. I try not to make it a habit.)

Also, Hapa Papa has picked up a side gig consulting at another company and once I pay our property taxes and fund our IRAs (SAHMs, you especially need to fund your IRAs), I will put all his consulting money into this side account, too. (I swear, if you’re lazy like I am, the key to financial stability is to marry a workhorse.)

Anyhow, looks like Suck It Up 2017 is off to a great start. How are you doing on your goals for the year?

What I’ve Been Doing Instead of Writing

Happy New Year, friends!

Ok, ok. The new year started nine days ago. I’m a little late to the game. But you know what? Technically, a new year starts every single second so there.

I decided to give myself a break from writing what with a two month old and the holidays and what not. But at some point, a break can become a state of being so I forced myself to take time to actually write.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. But it is a muscle that has taken a good 3-5 month break because let’s be real, I haven’t written much in the back quarter of the year.

I couldn’t even get it together for the typical 2016 round up posts like my top posts of the year, my top Chinese posts of the year, my top books, etc.

So, what have I been doing instead of writing both to relieve stress, exercise my brain, as well as entertain you lovely people?

Here then, is a handy list:

1) Munching on Sasquatch.

Look. He’s two months and change and fat. SO DELICIOUSLY FAT.

He’s my last baby so dammit, I am his sole source of nourishment and he’s gotta be 15+ pounds by now and I MADE THAT so you know what?

I GET TO EAT HIM.

2) Playing Two Dots and its sequel, Dots & Co.

Instead of doing something productive like reading or writing or parenting, I play this mindless game. I’ve even thrown money at it. I’m not too proud to admit that.

I even got my brother, my sister-in-law, Cookie Monster, and some friends addicted.

I’ve done my duty to society. You’re welcome.

3) Read.

I finally got off my ass and started reading again. Ok, I guess I haven’t really stopped reading so much as took a month or so break from reading fantasy novels that really are a huge time investment.

It has been glorious.

I will be doing a book post soon so I will expound on those books then.

But needless to say, reading has been awesome. The authors are really stepping up their game.

However, this does cut into my sleep so I am tired. A lot. And this also does not help with the writing thing.

4) Stalked and overshared on Facebook.

Ok, that really isn’t any sort of new behavior. But it certainly has taken up a lot of my time.

5) Adulting.

Yes, yes. I have gotten a head start on my goals for 2017 and actually started to pay medical bills on time. (Seriously – this is the first time out of the four babies I have actually paid for the birth bills within six months of the baby appearing.)

I also submitted insurance claims and opened brokerage accounts and transferred money and added beneficiaries and made sure that if Hapa Papa and I were to both die that Sasquatch would get his fair share of our loot.

Priorities, people.

6) Avoided reading the newspaper.

Even though I have a digital subscription to the NYT and used to also read HuffPo religiously, I have completely stopped reading articles unless they are posted on Facebook.

I think I got burned out on the news during the election.

I know I should go back to reading because being informed during the Trump Presidency will be key to making sure our rights aren’t eroded and stolen out from under us.

But still. I needed a break.

7) Using my Instant Pot.

Okokokokok. I don’t want to overstate my actual usage. But I’ve used it 5-6 times since my friend came over and made me dinner so I consider it a win.

It doesn’t really take up that much time. I just wanted to brag.

8) Texting.

Again. Not a new thing. But I want to be honest.

Now that I list things out, I feel a little embarrassed. After all, you can’t call yourself a writer if you’re not writing.

(Although, really. Is it a constant state of writing that makes you a writer? Or you have to write a certain percentage of time? I mean, if you’re not actively seeing patients, you’re still a doctor, right? So how come you can only call yourself a writer if you write? Sorry. Tangent.)

Anyhow, this is just a pre-emptive pronouncement that there are BIG THINGS coming down the pipeline. And by BIG THINGS, I mean, just the usual. I just wanted to hype myself up to get excited about writing again.

Mostly, I just need to get back in the habit of writing and re-learning the fact that I can no longer dedicate huge swaths of time to writing (among other things) and need to figure out how to work productively in short spurts of time.

You know, be an actual grown up.

Alright. That’s it for today. What have you been up to during the holidays? Let me know in the comments.

Adventures in Christmas Decorating

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Welp, it’s that wonderful time of year again. You know, Christmas and holidays and trees and presents and magic. Which is great to witness in movies, but a PITA to experience.

Ok. Fine. I have a somewhat squelchy heart made of coal. (How can coal squelch? Wouldn’t that require more soggy material? Clearly mixed a metaphor or two back there. I digress.)

Anyhow. The only reason I even care about Christmas is because I want to create traditions for my children. (Ok, not the ONLY reason since I do believe Christ’s birth and its incumbent scandal is worthy of remembering and celebrating.)

I don’t particularly care for decorating and all of that stuff but my kids LOVE it and actually are old enough to remember doing things in previous years. So, because I love them, I force myself to go through with all this folderol.

Also, I am a sucker for making memories. I know. I am just overflowing with Christmas Spirit.

And since we don’t do Santa (I personally don’t like connecting an old white dude who lives in the North and knows if you are naughty or nice and rewards good kids and punishes bad kids with Jesus’s birthday because it sounds suspiciously like a draconian god and when kids find out Santa isn’t real, why would God and Jesus be real and OMG I AM THE WORST BUT MY KIDS ARE STUCK WITH ME SO TOO BAD FOR THEM), nor do I give the kids individual presents (we do communal presents from Hapa Papa and I but they get presents from family and teachers) —

breathe —

So pretty much the only thing we do is buy and decorate a tree and our bannister with a bunch of crappy shatterproof ornaments from Target, cute crafty ornaments made from their hand and footprints when Cookie Monster and Gamera were very little, and make new ornaments and crafts for the tree this year.

I quite enjoy seeing the old ornaments come out even though some are falling apart already. I guess my heart isn’t entirely ossified. (Don’t tell anyone.)

Anyhow, this is all just to say that the tree and decorating it are THE THING WE DO AT CHRISTMAS TIME in the Mandarin Mama household so even if it’s a royal PITA, I suck it up and do it because this is all we do.

Geez. I really am a kill joy. But I tell you what: I am never stressed out at Christmastime and I don’t have to find presents for the kids or anyone else other than my nephews and my mother and my kids’ teachers.

Anyhow, with that preamble out of the way, here is how our yearly tradition went this year.

1) Bought a Christmas tree with all four kids. BY MYSELF.

Seriously. This is one yearly solo with kids tradition I could do without. I hate it. Hapa Papa hates it. I may or may not have passive aggressively texted my dismay to Hapa Papa.

Good man that he is, he cleaned the house and prepped the corner for the tree and brought out all the Christmas stuff from the garage as an apology. (He also washed the cloth diapers.)

Apology accepted.

2) Had to use clippers and hand cut off more branches because I forgot to tell the Home Depot guy to trim 1.5′ off the bottom instead of the usual 8″ they do.

I have a deep stand, ok?

Try not to make that sound too dirty.

3) Put up Christmas tree and had to go out and buy new lights because I forgot that I threw out all the lights last year.

Bought lots of chocolate as a reward. Kids stole half my chocolate.

4) Put up new lights.

Realized I didn’t have the heart to toss the star last year because it is pretty but should have because I forgot it is broken and doesn’t light up so now I have to go out again and get a new star because Cookie Monster insists.

5) Successfully did not yell at kids for their help decorating the tree. After all, nothing makes warm Christmas memories quite like Mommy yelling because you aren’t decorating right.

6) Listened to Christmas music because it is Hapa Papa’s favorite part of Christmastime. I think. Either way, he is a big fan of Christmas music.

7) Last year, Glow Worm’s favorite thing at Christmas time was to take ornaments off the tree and throw them. This year is no exception.

8) My kids can make even Christmas decorating a dangerous sport.

9) Glow Worm also thinks the ornaments are toys (same as last year) and uses them as balls, food, whatever. He has been driving them around in his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe (which he also) did last year. Glad to see that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

10) And despite my alleged dislike for all the effort it requires, seeing the tree and bannister lit up every time I pass by makes me feel happy.

11) Of course, my entire house is littered with scattered ornaments and the little green hooks from which they hang.

These will conspire to trip me as our tree gets barer and barer and our floor gets more and more treacherous.

I could pick them up and put them back on the tree but then Glow Worm wins.

12) I must have succeeded in hiding my actual feelings because Cookie Monster kept commenting how I must love Christmas (or something to that effect). So yay, me!

Anyhow. May your holiday traditions be in full swing and full of joy for you and your families. Happy Wednesday!

Adulting Like a Boss

People. I have been wearing my Big Girl Panties lately. Heck. It’s really only been a week but come on! We take our wins when we can get them.

And because I am twelve, I am hereby listing the things that I adulted even though technically, I don’t need to start until January 1, 2017. 

1) Spent most of a day sorting (and opening) all the mail from the last half year. I usually toss spam right away so pretty much the only things left are outstanding medical bills. 

2) Paid off all the outstanding medical bills. I also had a few random insurance related things to pay off, too. 

3) Paid first chunk of property taxes. 

4) Made dinner a few nights in a row. Bonus because kids ate it. 

5) Paid DMV car registrations. Transferred a car title. Smog checked two vehicles. With a newborn in tow! And occasional siblings who had to poop mid-transaction at AAA! Thank goodness for the DMV desk at AAA. Worth the cost of membership alone. 

6) Got the mail in a timely manner and actually OPENED the mail and PAID medical bills (new ones thanks to The New One aka Sasquatch) the SAME DAY. 

A minor miracle. 

7) Took all four kids to see Dr. T because Hapa Papa was in San Diego for “vacation.” I bet Dr. T was NOT expecting to take a 5 year old to the potty when she went into work that day. 

8) After that, took all four kids to kungfu class. 

9) After that, took all four kids to our city’s tree lighting. BY MYSELF. #kneelbeforezod #imafuckingrockstar

10) Have been attempting to brush my hair in the morning, brush my teeth and floss at the end of the day, and wash my face at the end of the day. Occasionally I remember to take vitamins. 

This is a step up, friends. A major step up. 

11) Somewhere in between this nonsense, I went to Costco with the younger two kiddos and was in and out under an hour. 

Applaud me. 

Alright. This seems to be enough bragging about stuff normal people do and do well without expecting adulation. Anymore and my bravado will turn into weeping because ffs. People do this thanklessly everyday. 

May your Monday be full of adulting and perhaps some adult beverages.