So this past summer we had an incedent where we woke up in the morning to find beer bottles strewn around our back yard. Like all around the yard. And we have a pretty big yard. And that's not counting our two-story barn. Anyway, we hadn't had a party in weeks, and we don't have any beer-soaked bashes that would result in bottles discarded like party favors all over our property. Casually I asked our neighbors to the north   (not Canada, but the Pena's) if they had seen any bottles flying into our yard and they shook their heads, "No, we didn't, but if the bottles are Rolling Rock, it's Jim, a renter in the house behind you. He and his buddies live on that beer." Well, we reported it to the police because if Jim and his buddies are lobbing green glass projectiles over our fence -- where our children play -- then Jim needs a visit from The Long Arm of the Law. Turns out, the whole neighborhood has complained about Jim's dangerous and threatening


In the year that I've had  Socrates with me as my daughter (no, I'm not counting the excruciating period of time that she was ours but still in foster care in Taiwan) I have had the deep pleasure of getting to know her. Sure, there is so much that I can't even imagine about her that is yet to be revealed, but one of the things I admire about her most is her strong spirit. I've thought of her as my Little Lion ever since the first afternoon we had custody of her we were playing with Socks in a pool in Kaohsiung. In the pool she'd gotten splashed by her sister Ducky and had puffed up her chest and roared, "Wo shuo bu yao!" Which basically means something along the lines of, "I said I don't like that!" And she'd made her point perfectly clear to not only her sister, but every single person within earshot of the serene pool in which we paddled. Even the seemingly deaf old man dozing on the chaise lounge over by the solarium windows. Well


(written for Cowbird Daily) The process of adopting our daughters, two sisters from Taiwan, went smoothly.  Their situation in Taiwan was far from optimal, and they were separated frequently for long periods of time in foster care before we reunited them. Upon meeting our girls, their differences were stark: Socrates was a pocket-sized dynamo of energy, strength and opinions. Ducky was frail, listless and sullen. If displeased, the Socrates would make herself heard, while Ducky would silently tear up. They've been home with us in Los Angeles for 9 months now. And while Socrates, our 9-year-old is eating up her new country with a great appetite; 11-year-old Ducky is less hungry for America. We are a global-minded household without any ‘US vs. Them’ politics, so no “You must love America the best!” messages are being considered, let alone voiced to our daughters. In the wake of her adoption, it is natural that Ducks would feel a lot of complex emotions. And while she voi

THE BIG 11 and 10

Yesterday we celebrated Ducks' 11th birthday. Plus we celebrated her 10th. Last year in foster care they didn't celebrate birthdays so we sang to her twice and had 2 small cakes. She got 2 cards from lots of people and while not overdoing it, she got the feeling that even though we couldn't make up for her disappointment last year -- we acknowledged that last birthday now. As for me, I haven't planned many parties in my life -- what with my underdeveloped social skills and all -- so jumping right in with an 11th birthday party was daunting. Kids are tough critics. And after attending only 1 birthday party as a mother, (I did reconnoissance at one for Ducky's school chum recently), I learned that most 11-year-olds are awkward socially.  So I completely 'got them'. That school friend's party consisted of an unnecesarily  long night at Chuck E. Cheese. As far as I could tell, the plan was simple: Lone girls running from game to game, clutching sweaty f


After school on Mondays and Wednesdays Ducky, Socs and I head straight to the Chinatown Branch of the LA Public Library. We wrestle their English, Math and Mandarin homework and pin it to the proverbial education mat. Next we cruise the grade school aisles for reading enjoyment, and then log-on to the computers to play games before heading across the street to their Shaolin Jin Wu Kung Fu classes. I don't think I'll ever tire of seizing every opportunity to learn about my daughters. And a trip to the library is fertile ground for Ducky and Socs revelations. At other library branches we've literally had to step over men who've passed out drunk across the sidewalk. Last week Ducky was getting out of the car as a man stopped walking, just even with her on the sidewalk, and lost his liquid lunch in a stream onto his shoes. Today, this is the patron we sat next to in the children's reading section of the library. He was about 6 feet 5  and this image was snappe


Kids find anything related to the potty hilarious. It's a universal child fact. Ask any parent, they'll tell you. It's vaguely off-putting to be having a pleasantly mature conversation with your child (OK, for me it's a mature mishmash of Chinglish) and be speaking to them as an adult when all of a sudden Ducky blurts "Wait! I poo poo!" and jumps up to fart away from me. Giggling she gleefully sprint-dances to her chosen spot and loudly passes gas. Then she practically has to hold herself up against the nearest wall as she manages to say, "Excuse me" around her giggles. Yes, we've explained that poo poo is different than farting, but neither of our girls is interested in changing their use of the words "poo poo". Oh, they don't miss an opportunity to tell on each other for passing gas and stinking up the bathroom before the other one has to take a bath. "Fah-dah! Jieh Jieh go poo poo (giggle) when I bend down for my bru


I'm scarred from my morning drive! And I'm sensing a disturbing trend on morning radio. Yesterday while driving my daughters to school a DJ was interviewing the writer of the book SHITTY MOM. The author and callers bantered back and forth about all of the ways that most of us are bad mothers. I casually glanced in the rear-view mirror at Ducky and Socrates, and felt relatively comfortable with the content because, hey, their English is coming along, but their comprehension isn't 'witty banter' quick yet so it's cool for me to stay tuned in. As I drove I eagerly awaited the author's voice to come over the airwaves into my car and give me crucial knowledge of behavior that I must avoid lest I be judged a shitty mom. Listening intently I made mental notes: Don't yell, lose my temper, ridicule or physically abuse my kids. Check. Gotcha.  I'm happy to say that I'm not a yeller, I don't hit the girls and I'm a firm believer in building up