Olive’s Art Themed 7th Birthday Balloon Bash

The 7th birthday is one of the biggest birthday celebrations in the Philippines, with many parents renting out banquet halls in hotels and having wedding-sized affairs. The 7th year is considered especially important because that’s when children here start first grade, when they are old enough to be held accountable for their actions, and when they leave behind early childhood. Olive was turning 7 and all her friends were having big 7th birthday bashes. While birthdays in El Nido were very simple affairs, once we moved to the island capital and had access to many more options, I decided to throw her a 7th birthday/housewarming party. She asked for an art-themed party, and I missed throwing a good party too!

The biggest difference between parties here and in the US is that hiring vendors is much, much more affordable, so even children’s parties have planners, caterers, magicians, etc. I actually had two party planners quit on me because I just wanted help executing a couple diy projects and some help the day of, but they typically oversaw every aspect of big events. I ended up hiring a balloon artist who was able to do all the DIY projects I wanted to do while I did the rest, and we really had a lovely celebration!

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Chores for Kids

Growing up I didn’t do many chores because moms pretty much do everything for you in Korean culture. Mr. Bee, on the other hand, grew up doing chores of all kinds, and I am all aboard that train when it comes to our kids! We haven’t been successful setting up a chore routine so far because in the US we were busy with just school, homework, activities, eating, bathing… managing chores was another chore! I’ve tried, and failed, a couple of times at setting up a chore routine over the years. But now that I’m living alone with the kids and need all the help I can get, chores have become a part of our daily routine. Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps they are just old enough now (6 and 8) to really want to help. But they have been doing daily chores for awhile now, and for the most part, enjoy doing them!


These are chores Charlie and Olive are responsible for:

1) Water mulberries twice a day. One of Charlie and Olive’s favorite New York memories was picking and eating wild mulberries off the trees in Brooklyn every summer. I recently found someone locally on Facebook that was selling mulberry cuttings from the US. We planted 25 cuttings and within one week we saw berries starting to flower! Charlie waters them every morning and Olive waters them every evening. They love watching the mulberries grow and can’t wait until they can eat them!

2) Feed guppies twice a day. I’d been wanting to get the kids fish for years because they’re such an easy pet. Recently they asked for guppies, so we bought 10 — 3 males and 7 females. Apparently males stress females out so you should never have more than 1 male to 2 females. Charlie feeds them in the morning after watering the mulberries, and Olive does the same in the evening. They don’t have as much interest in feeding our dogs and cats though!

3) Change aquarium water once a week. They see this as something fun and not a chore.

4) Clean up toys after playing. They will almost never do this unless I remind them to, but they do a good job of putting everything away now, including all the playdoh crumbs!

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25 Ways to Avoid Raising a Picky Eater

I originally wrote this post on avoiding raising picky eaters 6 years ago, and I think it’s still relevant today.

Charlie and Olive are now very nearly 7 and 9. They still aren’t big eaters and have days where they eat like birds and days where I wonder how they fit so much into their tummies, although the former is much more common. When I see some of their friends gobble down salads with raw onion, entire pizzas in one sitting, I wonder if it’s a failure in my parenting that my kids don’t do the same! Whether or not it is, it doesn’t bother me much anymore like it used to. The only times I stress about how much my kids eat is when family members comment on it. In Korean culture, asking if you ate is a customary way to say hello, and being a good eater is seen as a very positive thing!

Charlie has definitely gotten much more adventurous about trying new things as he’s gotten older. He will usually try something at least once — like jalapenos because he knows I love to eat everything spicy and is curious about tasting the things I love so much.  A picky eater today is not necessarily a picky eater years down the line. He used to refuse to eat hamburgers and now they top his favorite foods. It seems like most everything is a stage when it comes to parenting.


Do you worry about how much or how little your kids eat?

Oral Immunotherapy – The First Appointment

Hi Hive! It’s been awhile, but we did go to our first in-person appointment at SoCal Food Allergy back on June 11th, 2018.  The first appointment was all about data collection, and was a 3-4 hour appointment just like they said.

They start by asking you a food intake questionnaire.  We did this in person, but it looks like they’ve now streamlined it so you get an email asking you to fill out the questionnaire in a Google Doc before you even go into your first appointment.  They just continue to find ways to be more efficient, and are going through the waitlist at an incredible pace!

Anyway, this food questionnaire is for them to get a historical look at what kinds of foods your child has eaten, how frequent, and if there were any allergic responses to foods in the past.


Next, they’ll have your child do a skin test.  The skin test does not actually prick the skin.  It is superficial, so they simply press a small amount of each allergen topically onto the skin. Some of the different allergens they press into the skin are in the picture on the left below.  On the right is my daughter’s skin reacting to the allergens they pressed onto her skin.

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ADHD Executive Age

Mr. Bee sent me this chart about the average adjusted executive functioning age for children with ADHD, and it blew my mind. Charlie is 8, but according to this chart, he has an executive functioning age of 5.33, which is younger than Olive!


It really made sense to me because when Charlie and Olive have a disagreement, I always ask Olive to give in, despite her being two years younger. ADHD often causes problems with executive function, which is your brain’s ability to regulate things like impulsivity, flexibility, behavior, and emotions — all things that Olive is much better with managing than Charlie. Knowing this has greatly affected how I parent because I would often get frustrated with Charlie’s behavior, but now I can see how a lot of it is beyond his control and I am much more understanding. That’s not to say I don’t get mad at all – I’m only human!

These are some of the things that has helped Charlie’s ADHD:

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Books for My Kids

Finding new books is one of my favorite things to do. Books were my escape as a child from the lonely solitude of my house, and I love how my children enjoy reading as much as I do. As long as I can, I always hope to fill their lives with new words, adventures, and ideas through the magic of books. With their birthdays all coming in the next few months, it’s time to add to our library. Here are the ones I’m eyeing for each kid.

Drake (age 7 soon to be 8) – Drake is a voracious reader and has moved onto chapter books for the last year or two now. He loves a few series and we slowly add books to his collection throughout the year because he goes through them so fast. He really enjoys them and at times will even pick reading over screen time.  I love that he likes his series but when his birthday rolls around, I tend to pick out a few picture books to let him see the lovely illustrations and perhaps inspire his own artistic dreams.


Off and Away – We love Cale Atkinson’s books and have them all.  I gave Drake To the Sea a few years ago for his birthday and Explorers of the Wild for Christmas. Where Oliver Fits is one of my favorite books of all the time and Drake picked it to read to his class for his birthday. I can’t wait to see what this new one is going to be about.


The Big Book of Blue – Drake got The Big Book of Beasts last year for his birthday and it was a big hit. I could never stomach buying The Big Book of Bugs for him though because of my fear of them. So when I saw they had a new book in the same style about the ocean, it was perfect. These are great informative books with beautiful illustrations.

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Life Update

After Mr. Bee’s mom died, my first instinct was to leave the Philippines immediately. I didn’t feel safe and I had kids to protect. We got 24-hour a day armed guards. I researched moving to Korea because we still had many business affairs to settles in the Philippines, and the US is on the other side of the world. We had no choice but to continue working though, and the days soon turned into months. It seemed impossible to leave any time soon unless we walked away from everything we had worked so hard to build. Somehow life became somewhat normal again because Mr. Bee is the toughest person I know, and he wanted to stay and persevere.

Three months ago I moved to the island capital 5 hours away with the kids while Mr. Bee stayed behind. Part of the reason for the move was because there was absolutely nothing for the kids in our remote island town, and I was really starting to worry about their education. They read all day long and did workbooks, but hadn’t had consistent schooling for over a year. We were busy just trying to survive. Then a series of difficult work events earlier this year caused me to spiral into a severe depression with daily thoughts of suicide. At the time I quit my antidepressants cold turkey because they’re not available anywhere on the island, and I was too busy to travel to the country capital to get a refill. I told Mr. Bee I had to leave or I would die and he agreed.

Charlie, Olive, 4 baby kittens I was fostering and I moved into a small furnished apartment of a friend of a friend. Those first couple weeks were terrifying. I was in a new city, alone with the kids, and I felt like a target. I didn’t even want to buy anything because I was afraid we would be robbed.

But then things started to get better because I had a couple of friends who really helped me settle in. They invited me out frequently so I didn’t get lonely. They introduced me to a retired American psychiatrist who gave me an entire bottle of Lexapro for free because he had received it for free from the pharmaceutical company. We moved to a gated apartment complex where I felt much safer. I enrolled Olive in an awesome small private school that is just perfect for her. Through her school, I met a community of like-minded parents that I hadn’t had since moving to the Philippines. And there is just so much more for kids here, they love it. I never imagined I would solo parent, but we’ve gotten into a good routine now.

The trial is taking place in this city, so it’s good that I’ve been here to meet with our attorney and attend court hearings. We have to stay here to make sure justice is served. But I definitely want to leave the Philippines. Right now we’re trying to get our business to the point where it can run without us, then Mr. Bee can spend most of his time with us in the island capital. He comes to visit us and we go to visit him as often as we can, but of course it’s difficult to be apart.

It has been the craziest year of our lives. But I think we are starting to pick up the pieces.

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