What I Learned On My Girls’ Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, a few fellow mommies and I went to SF for a Girls’ Weekend out. We lolled about, walked without considering small children, ate a ton and drank in the day time! Heck, we even drank at night! Awesome! It was so enjoyable and relaxing and truly fun. Thanks, ladies and husbands!

Here are a few things I learned this weekend on my first weekend trip without the kids in two years.

1) I didn’t really miss my children. Not even the baby. But I did talk about them at least 65% of the time and checked in with Hapa Papa every few hours.

2) Hapa Papa did fantastic with all three kids – even without having lactating breasts! Clearly, this is a sign that I need to leave more often.

3) Getting to know new friends is really fun. I’ve slowly been getting to know some of the moms at Cookie Monster’s preschool better and it has been wonderful. I don’t know why I worried so much about getting along with the other mommies. It gives me great hope for the future when the kids start elementary school.

4) Finding out what the other moms did before becoming SAHMs was a revelation. In our group, we had two lawyers, one child psychologist/school counselor, a financial advisor, and a preschool teacher. I had the least amount of education out of them all. They were all slumming it!

5) There is such a thing as too much chocolate. We attended a chocolate festival at Fort Mason and by the end, I was a bit sick of chocolate. Also, turns out I prefer truffles over bars. The best thing that I put in my mouth this weekend.

6) Valet parking in SF is totally worth it.

7) After attending an Asian American Film Festival, I realized I might have to start putting my money where my mouth is. If I want to see more Asians in film, I need to support their work.

8) Even though I’ve had my pixie cut for at least a month, I’m still not used to my new look. I am constantly surprised when I see myself in pictures and reflective surfaces.

9) I still get carsick.

10) Things that I might’ve found titillating or risqué a few years ago are now boring and contrived. Not because I am jaded or inured to sex. I’m just older and wiser and find some of the more desperate actions really sad.

11) I can’t control myself in bookstores. Especially when it comes to books that feature Chinese or Japanese stories for the kids. I’m also a sucker for coffee table books with tons of art/pictures.

12) Staying up until 3am chatting is better than sleep.

13) After coming home, say, “Thank you” to Hapa Papa and try to curb the urge to point out everything you see that is wrong with the house. It makes Hapa Papa feel shitty and me seem like an ungrateful jerk. Which I was for a few moments. Sorry, Hapa Papa. You are an awesome dad and husband and I am so fortunate to have you.

Since all the husbands performed admirably (one hit it out of the park by taking his boys on a spur of the moment camping trip to Santa Cruz), we clearly can leave our children more often. Any suggestions of where to go and what to do next?

What I Miss About College

Late Sunday afternoon I got it in my head to get duck. Not just any duck, mind you. The best Peking Duck in the world. Hapa Papa said I could go after Glow Worm went down for the night so I tried valiantly to get together a small group of people for last minute duck. As you would expect, no one could make it.

Of course I am not surprised. I am friends with people who have children and spouses and actual lives. But I couldn’t help but think that I needed some more friends with zero obligations. (Not that they would be hanging around waiting for me to call randomly on a Sunday night…)

Anyhow, I decided to go by myself anyway. But while I was driving the 45 minutes to get to the duck place (Great China in Berkeley), I was thinking of all the things I missed about being young and carefree. Free to leave at the drop of a hat to go get duck.

So here, in no particular order, are things I miss about college.

1) Living in community

I miss having my friends live down the hall or around the block or like one year, all in the same apartment building. Lonely? Want to go do something? Catch a late night movie? Grab shaved ice at 1am? Drive to Vegas for a breakfast buffet? There is bound to be someone who is up for it.

On top of the silly stuff, I was lucky enough to be friends with folks in the same Christian fellowship and the people were super awesome and supportive for all the drama I entangled myself in. I miss these people.

2) Gads of free time

Sure, if you actually went to class or had a job or studied, you were a bit busier than most, but even with those things, there was a lot of free time. Time to sleep, eat, hang out, read, watch TV, whatever. It was beautiful.

3) Deep conversations

Just by virtue of being in a Christian fellowship as well as being around college people, there were bound to be conversations that delved deep into our lives. Instead of the mundane, we had time and opportunity and desire to discuss God, poverty, money, race, sex, love, whatever. Of course I could still have these conversations now, but it is far fewer and far between. In fact, my brain is usually too tired to talk about more than my children or my husband. Mostly, I talk about the food I want to eat. 

4) The sense of possibility

Yes, yes. I know I am not dead yet so clearly, there are lots of possibilities out there. But I am married. That automatically shuts out possibilities (in a good way, I might add). I have children (THREE), so there go a few more. I want to live a certain lifestyle and POOF! There go the rest! 

I am okay with this as I tend to be the type of person whose future is set and pretty much planned out. But still, every now and then, I miss the exciting sense of “anything could happen!”

5) The ability to eat ANYTHING and have very little consequence

Now, YMMV on this one. But my metabolism was AWESOME until I hit about twenty-five. After that, my cholesterol went up, my waistline let out a bit, and my body broke down. So of course, I took a bit better of myself. But man, I truly miss heading out to Norm’s (a 24-hour diner) for steak and eggs at 1am to “study.” Those were the times!

Ok. Your turn. What do you miss about college? 

The Things We Do

I don’t know how parents of kids with special needs or severe illnesses do it. For the last few weeks, I’ve been driving Glow Worm about 1.5 hours away to see a famous Chinese medicine doctor for his eczema. (Glow Worm kept breaking out no matter what I ate and was scratching his head so bloody that his sheets looked like the site of a massacre.) On top of that, I’ve taken him to Western doctors for steroid/cortisone creams and have so many unguents and creams and ointments, I should open my own store!

Obviously, Glow Worm doesn’t have anything seriously wrong with him. (Although, I would say the boils and pus-filled blisters, bloody scars, and general discomfort were getting to be very serious.) But all these appointments and trips to the special doctor take time and energy and money. Incidentally, I also have Cookie Monster and Gamera to take care of. Thank goodness Hapa Papa has a pretend job where he can watch the kids or take them out to fun places. Hapa Papa’s out on vacation next week in NYC so I am going to be juggling a lot of kids and doctor appointments. It should be interesting.

Now, Glow Worm is much better thanks to a combination of my diet changes (I call it my Extreme Love and Sadness Diet) and the steroid/cortisone ointments and creams. I feel as if I haven’t seen my older kids in weeks. Also, I’m exhausted. (Did I mention that I’ve been fighting off a pretty bad cold?) Hapa Papa is exhausted, too. We are all exhausted.

I am also incredibly hungry. The Chinese doctor said I can’t process proteins very well so I am passing all these unprocessed proteins to Glow Worm in my breastmilk and his poor system was so overwhelmed that he started to react to everything I ate. So, I got put on a cleanse of sorts and my diet is pretty restricted. I am also undergoing a lot of acupuncture, acupressure, and dietary therapy. I have to avoid dairy, gluten, fatty and/or fried foods, eggs, soy milk, seafood (fish is ok), and an assortment of other random things.

I am SO HUNGRY.

Hence, the Extreme Love and Sadness Diet. Extreme because, HOLY SHIT WTF CAN I ACTUALLY EAT? Love, because, I do this out of love. Sadness because, well, I also love food and these dietary restrictions make me full of The Sads. And now, I am full of The Hungers. But Glow Worm is much improved so I will keep this up. (Pretty much until he’s weaned. SIGH.) The only other plus side is that I’ve dropped a lot of weight in a very short period of time. So, you know, if you ever want to drop weight, all you have to do is STOP EATING EVERYTHING.

It is totally not worth it if it’s just for weight loss. I was pretty cranky the first few weeks.

Also, did I mention that I AM SO HUNGRY?!

Anyhow, this is all just a long, rambling post to say that I have so much respect for parents of children with actual, serious situations/illnesses/problems. I don’t know how they do it (other than they HAVE to so they DO). I don’t know how their other children do it. (Again, they HAVE to so they DO.)

All I know is that I kinda miss Cookie Monster and Gamera. But then they have insane nights like tonight (they were both exhausted but refusing to sleep and Gamera basically went ballistic) and I think, “I don’t really miss that. Have fun, Hapa Papa. I’m outta here.”

Comfort Food

Now that it’s cold (pity us Northern Californians – it’s been in the 30s at night and the 40s during the day – GAH!!), I find myself craving congee/jook (a Chinese rice porridge) a LOT. When I was younger, I only had the plain rice porridge with condiments such as pickled cucumbers, spicy bamboo slices, mien jing (some glutenous thing), to fu roo (some spicy soy paste), salted duck egg, thousand year old egg, and maybe some pork sung (dried pork bits and pieces).

Then, I discovered flavored congee – the kind you get in the middle of the night at a Hong Kong cafe. Mmmm… delish.

I mean, plain rice porridge is still delicious (especially when I’m feeling sick) and super easy to make. 1 cup rice to 3-4 cups water. Boil. (Or if you have a rice cooker with settings, follow those water levels.) However, now that I know how easy it is to make congee, WELL THEN. Why go back?

Thanks to the internet, I found a great recipe that I followed religiously the first time I made congee. Now, I just wing it and follow the recipe loosely. I’ve been making it once a week lately. It never gets old. Of course, you can also eat this congee with the condiments I mentioned before. It’s not like there are rules. Do whatever makes your stomach happy.

This week, I used turkey bones from Thanksgiving that I froze. But I have used Costco rotisserie chicken bones, too. I use cooking scissors and cut up the carcass and throw it in the pot. The key is ginger! Here are the things I add (that may or may not be in the recipe above). Most everything is to taste.

1) 2 quarts of chicken broth
2) water
3) kosher salt to taste
4) garlic powder
5) white pepper
6) sesame oil
7) ginger (a LOT but really to taste)
8) 2 cups of rice
9) bones (turkey/chicken/pork shortribs/whatever)
10) whatever else you want!

I basically just dump everything into a pot and boil on high for awhile then I lower the heat. (But if you want the fancy directions, the link is good for that.) It takes about an hour to get creamy. I don’t bother with removing the chicken and shredding and then putting it back into the pot as the recipe suggests. I leave it all in. If it gets more congealy because the rice has sucked out all the soup, just add some water and reboil.

Sometimes, if I’m really lazy and I get to the dregs of the congee and then I make a pot of soup with the “leftovers.” That is also delicious.

What are some of your go-to winter comfort foods?