Earlier in the pandemic, we had an incident with our kids. They had agreed to not do something, but then we found them doing it.

It wasn’t terrible (they were playing Minecraft in the evening without permission), but it really affected me.  It was the first time they had really broken a big promise to us.

We’re really close to our kids and for a long time we’ve been able to count on them to always keep their word. We have never restricted their access to their tablets, but had set guidelines around when they could use them. Now the agreed-upon guidelines had been broken, and it was a defining moment.

I thought long and hard about how to handle it, and then I summoned the kids.

I sat them down and told them how I felt.

“When I promise to you that I will do something, then I will always do it. That’s called trust. It means you can always trust me, and rely on what I say. If I promise you something, then my word will always be good.”

They agreed. Of course in a moment like that, kids will agree to anything.  I continued.

“Do you feel like you can trust me? That if I promise something, then you can rely on me to do what I say?”

Feverish nodding continued.

“It goes both ways,” I told them. “I want our family to be a high-trust family. That means that if I promise you something, then I will always come through. If I promise you something and I can’t deliver, then I will let you know as soon as possible. Keeping the trust between us is really important to me, and I will do anything to keep that.”

I explained what our family would look like if we didn’t trust each other.

“In a low-trust family, I won’t believe you when you tell me something. And if you promise me something, I have to assume that you’re not going to keep that promise. I don’t want to live like that, but it’s really up to you. It’s your decision whether or not you want to keep your promises, and build trust with us.”

I opened up a little to them. I told them about how my mom had trusted me for a long time. But then when I was 18, one of my siblings did something that broke that trust, and my parents never trusted any of the kids again. The experience really shattered our family, and affected all of us. Through that experience, I learned to be a realist about trust. Addiction and narcissism are curveballs in the world of trust, and sometimes you need to adjust and be realistic about what’s possible.

The whole experience made me think a lot about trust, and so I immediately bought Francis Fukuyama’s Trust when it came out.


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Olive’s Book Recommendations for Kids 8-12

For the most part, Charlie and Olive enjoy the same books, with a particular interest in fantasy and Greek mythology, but they will read just about anything. Olive really enjoys books with strong female protagonists, so I’m always on the lookout for them. I love that Charlie reads them too! Here are some books Olive recently read and recommends!


Ella Enchanted (1997) – I recommended this Newbery Honor winning book to Olive and when she makes a point to tell me that she loved the book, that means she really loved it. Ella Enchanted is a modern retelling of Cinderella with a host of magical supporting characters, but Ella is the one who ends up saving the prince. It reminds me of one of my favorite Cinderella-based movies, Ever After. Now we have to watch the movie versions of Ella Enchanted and Ever After!


Princess Academy (2015) – Olive loved Ella Enchanted so much, I was looking for something similar and came across Newbery Honor winning Princess Academy. Olive couldn’t put it down and read the entire 3 book series in 2 days! I wouldn’t have guessed from the title and cover that this coming of age tale actually focuses on the importance of educating girls.


The Two Princesses of Bamarre (2012) and The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre (2018) – Gail Carson Levine wrote The Two Princesses of Bamarre as Book 2 in the Ella Enchanted series. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre came six years later, and is meant to be a prequel to The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I just downloaded Fairest and Ever, which are books 3 and 4 in the Enchanted series. Gail Carson Levine’s books that combine strong female heroines and fantasy are a winning combination for Olive.

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A Simple Childhood.

After trick or treating on October 31, 2015, we headed straight to the airport for our flight from New York to the Philippines. At the time Olive had just turned 4, and Charlie was about to turn 6; now Olive is 10 and Charlie is turning 12 in December. Olive has spent 60% of her life in the Philippines, and Charlie has spent 50%. This is the childhood they will remember.

home sweet home

With our tourism-related business permanently closed due to the pandemic, we’re planning on moving back to the US to spend more time with my family. If it weren’t for wanting to be closer to family, I wouldn’t move back to the US at all; I’d move to a completely new country. Thinking about moving back to America is a bit terrifying to tell you the truth. I’m sure I’ll eventually settle into a busy American life again because I lived it for most of my life. But this simple island life that Charlie and Olive grew up with is all they know.

We used to pick wild mulberries in Brooklyn every summer in the city, and it’s one of my kids’ favorite memories. At the beginning of the pandemic we planted a bunch of mulberry trees and they’re already providing lots of fruit!

The pandemic life the world experienced for the past year and a half is similar to our regular life here — the kids spend most of their time at home with us and there are very few options for things to do. Living on a remote island, Charlie and Olive haven’t been exposed to social media, tv commercials, billboards, video games, and peer pressure because they’ve been homeschooled most of their time here. I love that they got to enjoy their childhood, without many of the stresses of the modern world. I think the greatest thing to come out of living on an island in the Philippines has been Charlie and Olive’s simple childhood spent immersed in abundant nature. They’ve had countless hours to daydream, read, draw, and explore their passions.

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What I’m Looking Forward to When Visiting the US

We leave for the US in one week, so we’re busy preparing for our departure since we’ll be gone for three months. Mr. Bee hasn’t left the Philippines since we moved here six years ago! So much has changed since then. The US has had three different presidents in that time, and of course there’s this whole pandemic thing. I’ve flown back to the US every year with the kids to visit my family (luckily just before the pandemic too), but I think Mr. Bee is in for some culture shock!

Whenever we would leave our town (population 46,000) and go to the island capital (population 307,000) five hours away, we would say, “Civilization!” The island capital has 2 McDonald’s, Coffee Bean, Seattle’s Best Coffee and 2 Shakey’s Pizza. I used to crave civilization when we first moved here, but I don’t miss it that much anymore. I do miss things like concerts and museums and cultural events, but these are some of the mundane things you might not think about that we always look forward to when visiting the US!

cobb salad via Natasha’s Kitchen

1) Food. I already have a checklist of foods I want to eat, mostly consisting of my mom’s Korean home cooking. But also on my list are big beautiful salads, sandwiches of all kinds, lobster rolls, raw oysters, dungeness crab, brunchy foods like eggs benedict, all the fast food, and all the ethnic foods, particularly Mexican, sushi, and pho. For the kids it’s mochi ice cream, berries, peaches, plums, bagels with cream cheese, smoothies, and Greek yogurt.

2) Baths. I actually don’t take baths, but the kids love them and take one every night. Bath tubs are very rare in the Philippines and are usually only found in 5 star hotels. I always go to Target and buy a big bottle of bubble bath when we arrive.

3) Target (and other big box stores). Target is one of the first places I go after we arrive to buy toiletries, makeup, snacks, clothes, etc. I love the Cat and Jack line for Olive, and we always need cold weather clothes coming from a tropical climate. My kids’ minds were also blown when I took them to Costco and they filled up on samples. They had never experienced the glory of Costco when we lived in New York, but my suburbanite parents go once a week.

4) Supermarkets. We only have an outdoor wet market and small grocery stores so the variety in American supermarkets is mind boggling. There are like 100 different breads and cereals to choose from! The sheer abundance is overwhelming. America literally has everything.

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Animal Rescue in the Philippines

When I was in fourth grade, I found a dirty stray dog that looked like a poodle hiding inside a bush. She had an injured leg but was friendly, so I found a cardboard box and carried her home. I dialed 411 (haha) to get the number of my local animal shelter, and they came to pick up the dog. I let them know that if they could not find someone to adopt her, I would take her in and to please not put her down. She was a cute dog, and I knew that some grooming would transform her. I called the shelter every day to inquire about the dog, and within a couple of days she had already been adopted. My entire life my dream has been to open a no-kill animal sanctuary one day.

I didn’t plan on becoming an animal rescuer when we first moved to the Philippines six years ago. It just happened as dogs that needed care moved in. Very soon we had 15 dogs, most abandoned by next door neighbors who moved and left them behind. During the pandemic I started doing rescue full-time because I was always home. I started taking on the most difficult cases, like dogs that were paralyzed, hacked with machetes, had flesh eaten away by maggots, and newborns that needed to be bottle-fed every two hours. It has been incredibly fulfilling, inspiring, heartbreaking, and exhausting all in one.

Animal rescue is challenging here where we have limited vet care, and lack of access to necessities like diagnostic tests and medicines. There are very few rescuers – less than a handful throughout our entire island — and a massive stray problem without any government programs other than free rabies vaccines. The most difficult aspect is perhaps financial, because there is so much need, but we get very few donations locally. So I pay for most expenses myself, but I have absolutely no regrets.

What does animal rescue have to do with parenting? Well, a lot actually! I love that my kids get to see me so passionate about something. Animal rescue is a calling for me and I want my kids to find something they’re just as passionate about too. I’ve rescued hundreds of animals, prevented hundreds of thousands of stray births through spay and neuter, and run a Facebook group to inspire more rescue and educate people on proper animal care. Animal rescue requires giving time, money, and most of all your heart. My kids have helped me every step of the way on this journey and have learned invaluable life lessons. They’ve seen unspeakable acts of cruelty at the hands of humans; unbreakable spirits; inspiring recoveries; unconditional love; heartbreak and loss. Through it all they’ve learned to think about the needs of others, the importance of giving back to the community, and living a compassionate life. And we were able to save a lot of cool animals along the way. Animal rescue has forever changed them, as it has changed me. You can read about some of our recent rescues here.

What are some of your passions in life? Do you share them with your kids?

chili wolf
Two recent bottle baby rescues, Chili Bean (rescued at 3-weeks-old last month) and Wolfie (rescued at birth earlier this year).

Link Roundup – October 15, 2021

It’s been a week. We had a big typhoon that caused our wifi to go down for three days and the power to go out for almost 24 hours. Then we had one day without rain, and I found an abandoned 8-week-old kitten by the cemetery — I’ve rescued many puppies and kittens from the nearby cemetery because people often abandon them to die there. The kitten was sick and required round the clock care, so I didn’t have time to write a post yesterday. Animal rescue is a full-time job for me here, and I have many high needs active rescues right now. Then this morning we got hit with another storm and our children’s library flooded again. We’re looking at another 2-3 days of rain. There is widespread flooding and landslides throughout the town so we’re all on high alert.

I hope you’re having a better week! Here are some interesting parenting links from around the web this week!


You have to read the latest 11 part Humans of New York story.


Covid and Age via New York Times

How Instagram led to two teens’ eating disorders via CNN

Giving Birth in the End Times via The Cut

I Study Pathogens and Pregnancy. Here’s What I Know About Covid-19. via New York Times

Los Angeles will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor establishments via NPR

There’s no evidence COVID-19 vaccines hurt fertility. Here’s what’s fueling the myth via PBS


NYC to eliminate gifted and talented school program that opponents say segregated students via CNN

Stress and Short Tempers: Schools Struggle with Behavior as Students Return via KQED


How Other Nations Pay for Child Care. The U.S. Is an Outlier. via New York Times

The problem with America’s semi-rich: America’s upper-middle class works more, optimizes their kids, and is miserable. via Vox

Supply chain havoc is getting worse — just in time for holiday shopping via Vox

My 16-year-old had to make medical decisions on his own. I was shocked. via Motherwell

How to Build a Paid Family Leave Plan That Doesn’t Backfire via New York Times

Which of These 4 Family Policies Deserves Top Priority? via New York Times

Masks are Changing How Kids Interact via The Atlantic

I Was Constantly Arguing With My Child. Then I Learned the “TEAM” Method of Calmer Parenting via Time

How reading aloud can help you bond with your kids and make them better readers via NPR

Typhoon Maring

Due to a typhoon here in the Philippines, our internet has been down the past two days. There has been widespread flooding and landslides and it’s a miracle we’ve only had 2 short brownouts. A part of our roof flew away and a portion of our front gate was destroyed, so we have to start work on it tomorrow when the rain and wind subside. Our roads are flooded so we are stuck at home…. with no wifi. Luckily our island is the least prone to natural disasters out of the over 7000+ islands in the Philippines due to our location, so we don’t get earthquakes or volcanoes and typhoons aren’t as severe here.

That means no posts today, but the weather is supposed to clear up some time tomorrow. We’ll be back soon!

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