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On Valentine’s day, I got a card from my 14 year-old with this nasty note written all over the envelope.

Un-Valentine message

I may have done something to deserve this wrath…

Earlier that day.

“Hey kids! You got Valentine’s day cards from Nai Nai.” I shouted out, as I drop the mail on the kitchen island.

14 year-old promptly walked over and tore open her card. A ten dollar bill fell to the floor.

“Ha! MONEY!!!” 14 year-old.

That got my 11 year-old’s attention. The baby dropped the book she was reading, and ran over excitedly.

My two children are always money hungry these days.

I eyed the baby, and said, “Just because Nai Nai give Thee ten dollars, doesn’t mean you will have ten dollars in your card too.”

The baby crossed her arms, and gave me that don’t be silly look.

14 year-old ran upstairs with her money.

11 year-old opened her card, and sure enough, she waved a ten dollar bill at me.

That’s when my head grew a pair of horns…

I took a clean twenty dollar bill out of my wallet, and swapped it with the baby’s ten dollar bill.

“Go upstairs, and wave this twenty dollar bill in one hand, and your card on the other hand at your sister.” I whispered.

A big mischievous smile appeared across the baby’s face. We were in cahoots.

Soon enough, the expected growling and gleaming voices were heard upstairs. The baby is good at acting!

I ran upstairs, pretending to investigate their little crisis.

“What’s going on?” me.

The baby showed me her twenty.

I took the bill into my hands, and gave it a good look.

“I thought you said you got a ten?” I said to my 14 year-old.

“I did get a ten!!” 14 year-old, looking slighted.

“But this is a TWENTY!” I said incredulously.

“Nai Nai gave you a ten, gave your sister a TWENTY?!!” sounding even more incredulously.

14 year-old nodding her head up and down, looking all sad.

“This can’t be right. I don’t believe this. You must have looked wrong. Nai Nai must have given you a twenty too.” me.

14 year-old ran back into her room, and came back with her ten dollar bill to show me.

“Wow, wow…” me.

The baby was conducting her happy dance all around us, waving the twenty.

“Well, Nai Nai is getting old, she must of made a mistake. I am sure she meant to gave you each a ten or each a twenty. I am sure she didn’t mean to give your sister twice more than you.” I tried not to laugh.

“I thought Nai Nai is my homie, but she is not…” 14 year-old pouted sullenly.

“Nai Nai likes me more than you.” 11 year-old was piling it on.

14 year-old looked even more crushed.

“Well, maybe because your sister has Celiac, and Nai Nai knows that her gluten free snacks cost twice as much as your snacks. So, she gets more money than you.” I offered a new theory.

14 year-old shook her head. She rejected my words of comfort.

After torturing my teen for a good 10 minutes, I had to come clean. I wouldn’t want Nai Nai to get into unearned trouble.

I took the ten dollar bill out of my pocket, and swapped it with the baby’s twenty.

“We got you!” I said, as my baby and I melted onto the floor laughing.

“THAT’S RUDE!!”, protested the teen.

Later that night, she handed me a Valentine’s card, it came with a nasty message all over the card envelope. Inside the card, under each word “LOVE”, she written “Bacon” under it. She was professing her love for bacon on my Valentine’s day card!

LOVE Bacon

That little pig.

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Our backyard

Yes, this is the sad state of our backyard…

The ground cover

Agreed. Our backyard could use a comb over.

Why is our yard in such a curious state?

We have this great big hill as our backyard. The top of the hill can look over our roof. We decided wisely that we needed a ground cover that is low maintenance. No one would enjoy mowing a lawn on such a slope.

We found the perfect ground cover known as the Red Apple (Aptenia cordifolia). In addition to being green year round, the red apple has these pretty little red flowers.

Pretty tiny red flowers

We quickly discovered a problem. These pretty flowers attracted bees in the summer. These bees put everyone on edge during our summer BBQs. We decided to take the red apple ground cover out.

We didn’t immediately take up rakes and shovels to get them out. Our laziness convinced us to just turn off the water and let the great California drought to take our plant out very slowly.

Our patience was paying off. Sort of.

The left side of our yard has rid itself of the plant completely, but the red apple on the right side of our yard has survived its ordeal. It is rapidly making a comeback, aided by the start of our raining season.

I stared at my backyard often and shook my head in puzzlement.

The mystery was solved on a Sunday morning.

A loud sounding of gardening work woke me up on Sunday morning. I was annoyed at whichever inconsiderate neighbor. I peeked out the window, and saw that we were that inconsiderate neighbor. It was our gardeners making all that raucous mowing the lawn and blowing the leaves. Our gardener rarely showed up on the weekends, they usually do their yard work unseen on a Monday or Tuesday morning.

I decided to go down and get some coffee.

I looked out the kitchen window, and saw the boss gardener standing steady on our hill and spraying generous amounts of some liquid all over the condemned ground cover in a very systematic manner.

I ran out into the yard, and asked, “What are you doing?”

My gardener turned, and replied, “Fertilizer!”, then announced with a big smile,”Your plant was dying. I saved it for you!”

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Category: Humor, Parents  One Comment

When the kids were little, my first born had always served as a shining role model for my younger child.

Not anymore!!

My first born is now a sassy teen, and totally insane.

A couple of nights ago, I was putting dishes away, and heard the teen polluting my baby’s young mind again with this advice…

Teen, “You want to be popular at school? I know how you can get everyone to like you at school.”

My 11-year-old stared back at the teen beast all wide eyed.

Teen, “You take a picture of your butt, and post it on Instagram.”

My 11-year-old frowned back at the former role model.

Undeterred, the teen continued, “Everybody will like you, because everybody loves butts! That is why the people love Kim Kardashian!!!!!”

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There is an unpleasant place called “Mùdì (Mùdì=墓地=burial plot)” in Chinese, best pronounced as “Moo” by the likes of my 80 year-old father, and best heard as “Mall” by the likes of his 75 year-old Chinese friend visiting from New Zealand.

Auntie Tan had been a special visitor. She is not only the widower of my father’s best friend from China, she was also our neighbor when we lived in China over 30 years ago. Her second son was my classmate, and her daughter was my sister’s best friend in grade school. We go a long, long way back.

Auntie Tan lives in New Zealand with her daughter, and was here on a solo trip to fulfill her long cherished dream of seeing America.

Last Friday, I took a day off of work, and took Auntie Tan and my father to Monterey Bay for a day trip.

We had sat down in a fancy sea-view restaurant for lunch when my father left us briefly for the men’s room.

Our Sea-View restaurant.

I asked Auntie Tan if my dad took her anywhere interesting during her week long stay in Los Angeles.

“Ah! Only TOO interesting.” Auntie Tan, and proceeded to tell me about a most fascinating misadventure with my father.

A true story told by Auntie TanThe conversation was all in Chinese, with the exception of a few English words, such as “Mall”.

I was telling your father how after living in New Zealand for 12 years, I really consider New Zealand home now, and have decided to be buried in New Zealand after I die.

A few minutes later…

Your father said to me, “We have Moo here. My Moo is the world’s 5th largest!!”

I told your father, “I didn’t know you have the world’s 5th largest Mall here. My daughter didn’t tell me.”

Your dad said, “Your daughter wouldn’t know that!”

And then, he asked, “Do you want to go see it?!”

“Yes! I want to go see the big Mall.”

So, we got in the car to go see the Mall.

Along the way, I said, “Why is it that on the way to such big Mall, there are hardly any cars or people among us?”

Your father explained, “Today is not any holiday, you will see very few people there.”

I thought to myself, even in New Zealand, we always have people at the Mall.

Then an open lawn with beautiful huge garden came into view directly ahead.

I grew even more puzzled. “Shouldn’t there be tall buildings at the Mall.”

Your dad said, “Why would Moo have buildings?!! We don’t bury our dead people in the buildings, we bury them under the earth.”

Your dad gave me a tour of his American cemetery.

Ha, ha, ha, only someone like my father would think it fit to give his old friend a tour of his future eternal home.

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You know what I hate the most at the beginning of the new school year? It is the other drivers, specifically the drivers at my children’s schools. Just a handful of the drivers who feel that rules do not apply to them can make those drop off and pick up times dreadful. The beginning of the school year is already hectic enough without their help.

A dad backed into my car during drop off. We both got out of the car, it was a minor bump, no damages. So, he didn’t feel the need to apologize. He flatly told me that he did not see me. We were in the middle of the drop off loop in our school’s parking lot!! Every car was sandwiched between two other cars, with the line backed up all the way onto the streets.

In the afternoon, a mom in this red convertible will bypass two lines of waiting cars that will eventually merge into one pick up line, and will pull to the front, then blinker and wave her arms with a big sassy show to try and cut into the front of the pick up line. Now, once or maybe even twice I could understand, perhaps she is new to the school, or has a real emergency, but every freaking day?!! Clearly, I am not the only parent not falling under this witch’s spells. At least on two occasions, no one yield to let her in. So, she pulled way into the front of the line, and parked at the red zone next to the red cones marked for Fire Lane. Hey, if you don’t mind being obnoxious to everybody every day, why not go all the way.

Then there are the walkers, who neglect to teach their children the importance of looking both sides, disregard the clearly marked walkway. Sometimes, they will even talk on the phone or worse, they text or update their Facebook status. Well, if I had to describe every single offense in detail, this blog will turn into a book.

Pick up and drop off at my 14-year-old’s new High School is significantly more orderly, mostly thanks to the school’s security personal directing traffic at every major high traffic junction. However, on my way to pick up my high schooler, I happened to have to pass an elementary school and a middle school, and I will often sit in their traffic and watch their dramas unfold.

All this is making me MAD and short-tempered. Every tiny infractions other drivers or walkers commit will have me huffing and puffing in the car, and turning me into an ugly fire breathing dragon with big sharp teeth.

This morning, I was transformed into a threatening beast in my car again, and even produced loud hideous sound effect to go with it.

Mad driver

“Mom?” a small voice from the back seat.

“WHAT?!” I growled.

“You are only 5′ 2”.” the baby.

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“Ma-Meey!” my 13 year-old rushed into the family room, with the baby trailing closely behind. They both held a piece of paper in their hands.

I looked up at the kids and eyed them with deliberate suspicion.

Whenever my teen calls me “Ma-Meey (her version of mommy)”, I instinctively knew that she wanted something from me. And that something is going to cost a good deal of money.

“What do you want?” me, defiant to the teen’s attempt at endearment.

“Umm…” recognizing her failed charm, she pointed at the 10-year-old and whispered, “YOU tell her.”

The baby shook her head, and repeatedly pointed back at the ring leader.

How bad is this going to be?!!

“What is it? Spit it out.” I ordered.

“We have decided to be Elsa and Anna for Halloween this year. And we are going to make our own costumes this year.” 13-year-old stated.

I do not know my children well. I have no idea why they would be thinking about Halloween just after 4th of July!

“Okay….” me, “Frozen is so popular this year, I am sure around Halloween time, there will be lots of Elsa and Anna costumes.”

“But we want to make our own. And we need you to give us money to buy stuff.” teen. The baby was nodding wildly with a big purposeful smile.

“How much money do you want?” me.

“We need a LOT of money.” teen, pointing to the baby again, and trying to get her to chime in on the pitch.

“Well, how much??” me.

Teen to the baby, “You tell her. And give her your puppy eye look. You are good at that.”

Baby shook her head again.

Teen gave up on her useless little sister, and turned to me, “How much do you think it would cost?”

“Well, I can buy a nice Halloween costume for around $30 dollars. Since you will make your own, it should be much cheaper. But I will still give you $30.” me.

“We need $150 dollars.” teen gave this outrageous budget with a straight face, then quickly add, “Per person! We need $150 per person.”

“Here is our budget.” both kids handed me their pieces of paper.

Elsa and Anna budget list

Ha, ha, ha, I had a good laugh. This pair of Elsa and Anna was crazy.

“How about you just wait until Oct. I will buy you nice Elsa and Anna costumes. It will save you a lot of trouble, and save me a whole bunch of money.” me, trying not to keep laughing.

Hubby sat between us this whole time, and wisely kept to himself.

“No! The Elsa and Anna costumes we wanted online cost $2,000! So, we decided to make our own.” teen.

“Are guys getting married in these costumes?! $2,000 dollars. I am not going to give you $150 a piece. You don’t even know how to sew. I will give you each $30 a piece for your project. If you need more, you will have to use your own piggy bank money!” me.

The kids appeared shocked and saddened by my final verdict.

Well, that late afternoon, the kids came home with their dad from a local fabric store with this.

Elsa - fabric

Da-deey came to their rescue.

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Parents! If you have babies at home, hold them tight, and savor every second! Because these tiny creatures grow up really fast.

In the blink of an eye, my firstborn now stands taller than me, and will be graduating from middle school later this week. Sometimes I don’t recall how this all happened so quickly.

Also, let yourselves be warned that big kids have high dreams.

A couple of weeks ago, we were resting on top of the Nevada Falls during our day hike at Yosemite National Park. My 13-year-old hit me with a new inspiration.

“Mom!” kid.

“Hum?” me.

“Can I go Hang Gliding?” kid paused monetarily just for the request to sink in, then summoned her cutesy look and continued, “You know how I always wished that I could fly.”

Hand Glider over Yosemite

Yes, the kid has wanted to fly since her toddler years. I hate to crush any child’s dreams.

I thought for a while, and came up with an excuse that sounded plausible.

“They don’t allow kids to fly on these things. You will have to wait until you are an adult.” me.

“So, when I am an adult, can I go hang gliding?” kid, still excited and dreamy.

“Well, when you are an adult, you don’t need my permission anymore.” I stated dryly.

“OH!” kid’s eyes popped open really large, “YES! When I am an adult, I can do whatever I want! I don’t need you anymore. HA.”

I got to roll my eyes at the teen.

“Well. Yes. When you turn 18, you won’t need my permission to do things. But you will have a different problem.” me.

“What’s that?” kid.

“You get to do things on your own, when you become an adult. But you will get to pay for them too!” me, “I bet that Hang Gliding is expensive.”

“What?! NO! When I grow up, I want to do whatever I want, but I still want you to pay for them!!!”

“Ha, ha, that is not how it is going to work, kid.” me, laughing.

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On an early and crisp morning last week, I pulled the car out of the driveway, and proceeded to take my 13-year-old to school.

I hit the button to turn on the radio… a loud and obnoxious rap music busted into my ears.

Who listens to such music so early in the morning?! My thoughts were screaming inside my head.

“Ooh…this is my favorite song!” 13-year-old beamed and started to move with the music on my passenger seat.

“Talk Dirty to me!” 13-year-old singing/rapping along with the radio. The radio was playing the Talk Dirty song by Jason Derulo.

I threw her a quick and deeply concerned look, and observed that she started to wave her arms up in the air and wriggled her hips.

“Talk Dirty to me!” 13-year-old, with deliberate cheesy smiles, acted totally unfazed by my deeply concerned looks.

This 13-year-old was getting fresh with me, and I realized sadly that there was no turning back…to the good old days.

My teen doing the Hula dance at five

Luckily, I am experienced in practicing if you can’t beat them, join them.

“Talk Dirty to me!” I rapped right back at her, showing off my own dance moves in the driver’s seat.

I got a surprised look back.

“TALK DIRTY TO ME!!!” I pointed at my 13-year-old.

“Okay….MUD! Dust, sewage, trash.” 13-year-old.

WHAT?!! Ha, ha, ha.

In the past few days, We have been going around the house, and randomly shouted, “Talk Dirty to me!”

Dirty talks would be shouted back.

Even my 10-year has learned to talk dirty.

“Talk Dirty to me!” me.

“MUD! Toilet plunger, germs, viruses.” 10-year-old.

Today, I discovered that I have new trouble at hand. Jason Derulo has a new song out, and it promises to be my children’s new favorite. The song goes something like this:

“What you gonna do with that big fat butt?
Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle”

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My 13-year-old is now taller and bigger than me. But that does not stop me from tucking her in at night, accompanied by a fanfare of hugs and kisses. I am not so sure if this nightly ritual is still welcomed anymore. My 13-year-old often awarded this gesture of motherly love with a deliberate frown.

Even our bedtime chitchat is beginning to head downhill…

“So, what did you learn from that Confident Girls book?” 13-year-old.

“What Confident Girls book?” me.

“That book I found on the floor next to your bed.” 13-year-old.

100 Tips for Raising Confident Girls

“Oh! That 100 tips to raise confident girls book!” me.

“Yes. That one. Now, what are some of the tips you learned from it to raise me to be confident?” 13-year-old.

“Hmm….” me. The truth is that book has been sitting next to my bed collecting dust for a number of years now. My kids were toddlers the last time I touched it. But I wasn’t going to come clean to my 13-year-old that I can’t remember a thing from reading that book.

I thought really hard.

I got one!

“Well, one of the tips said that when you do something good. Instead of telling you that I am proud of you, I should hold your shoulders in my hands, look you in the eye, and say ‘Aren’t you proud of yourself?’” me grinning, rather pleased with myself.

“OH! So that’s why you never tell me that you’re proud of me.” 13-year-old.

Bloody murder.

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“Mom, could you not write me the letter?” baby, with a worrisome frown.

“Of course I have to write you the letter!” me, “It is the only homework your teacher assigned to me this whole school year. How could I not do it?!”

My 10-year-old was the Star Student of the week last week. That involved a big “All About Me” poster, and daily special classroom Star treatment. Thursdays are the parent to Star Student letters day, where we are to write something special and encouraging to our child, which will be read aloud to the entire class.

The baby has been fretting for days to my 13-year-old’s empathetic ears, but always within my earshot, that I was going to write about her chubby cheeks, about loving her to pieces, and about her being an absolutely splendid amazing kid. She predicted that my letter will be utterly embarrassing, that she will have to hide under her desk.

The baby at 9 months

So, I pen-ed her the following letter that was read to her entire 5th grade class:

Dear Tasterbach,

I know you have been dreading this letter, fearing I might say embarrassing mushy and lovey things that will send you diving under your desk.

I don’t want you to hide under your desk. There will be nothing loving in this letter. Instead, I will tell you about a few rotten things you have done to me.

Right from the beginning, you came out bigger than I would have liked. You did not arrive willingly either. You were quite unaware that you have overstayed your welcome, and I had to conspire with my doctor to evict you.

You came out furious. And staged a spectacular protest on the nurse’s weighting station. I asked the doctor if we could send you back. She told me it was too late.

When you finally learn to communicate, your favorite word was “No!” That made you an extremely uncooperative toddler. Even worse, you thought that you had exclusive rights to the word “No”, and would threw a monstrous fit when I applied the “No” against you.

You were especially rotten on an unforgettable Mother’s day.

Your Pre-Kindergarten class invited all the mothers to a Mother’s Day cupcake party. All you had to do was to follow simple instructions and do what the other nice children did, which were to introduce your mom, and show off a couple of pictures you drew for Mother’s Day.

You decided to go off script. You pointed at me, and announced to the class, “This is my mom,” and then deliberately, “She is a drinker.”

Bloody HELL…

The air was immediately sucked out of the room, the grown-ups in the classroom were shooting awkward glances at each other in every direction.

You were oblivious to the eerily silent classroom and my trauma, and had more to say, “She drinks black coffee ALL of the morning,” gave pause, then continued, “and she drinks green tea ALL of the afternoon. That’s my mom!”

Whew…The air was released back in the room, the moms and teachers exploded into laughter and everyone clapped mighty hard.

You beamed with pride with your awesome Mother’s Day speech.

Thank goodness that you are so darn cute all the time. Otherwise, I might have acted on the occasional temptations to wrap you back up, and ship you back to the hospital where you came from.



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