Link Roundup – January 13, 2022

We have exactly three weeks left before we return to the Philippines, and we’re trying to stay as careful as possible because of the logistics involved with international air travel. My mom’s friend came from Korea to attend her niece’s wedding in the US, but she caught covid before the wedding so she couldn’t attend. The rest of her family returned to Korea after the wedding — she was the only one who tested positive — while she is still currently in quarantine in the US. Once she returns to Korea, she has to complete another 2 week quarantine. Traveling in the time of covid is no joke! If any of us caught covid before our flight, that would mean rescheduling rt-pcr tests for our entire family, as well as rescheduling our international flight, our quarantine hotel, and our domestic flight to our island. I don’t want to travel again via air for a long time!

Corrine Tan, the new Chinese-American American Girl doll

Here are some interesting links from around the web this week!


The Long-Haul Breastfeeders of COVID via Slate

Parents of the youngest kids are not OK right now via CNN

A pediatrician’s advice to parents of kids under 5 on omicron, travel and day care via NPR

COVID-19 vaccination rates for children are low. Experts say parents are ‘taking an enormous risk’ via PBS

No Way to Grow Up. For the past two years, Americans have accepted more harm to children in exchange for less harm to adults. via New York Times


Lawsuit Says 16 Elite Colleges Are Part of Price-Fixing Cartel via New York Times

Go back to school and ditch weekly testing: The advice from one children’s hospital via NPR

We Talked to the NYC Student Whose Post About High School Life Under Omicron Went Viral via Slate

A High School Principal on Why, Even With Omicron, Remote Classes Aren’t Coming Back via Slate

America doesn’t have enough teachers to keep schools open. The problem started way before omicron. via Vox


A guide to parenting fat kids via Today’s Parent

Here’s what’s behind the Wordle c-r-a-z-e via NPR

The great population growth slowdown via Vox

Look Back at the Top 10 Pioneer Woman Recipes of 2021 via Pioneer Woman

Why Making Friends in Midlife Is So Hard via The Atlantic

A Patriarchal Tradition That Just Won’t Budge via The Atlantic

Why More American Children Are Dying by Gunfire via New York Times

Why Isn’t Biden’s Expanded Child Tax Credit More Popular? via New York Times

American Girl Debuts Chinese American Doll in Response to Anti-Asian Sentiment via New York Times

The New Urgency for Work-Life Balance: Why Women Are Quitting Their Jobs and Redesigning Their Lives via Real Simple


After I posted about the tweenager issues we’ve seen recently with our daughter, I got a message from a friend who had been through something similar.

She told me what had worked for her and wow, it was such a relief to hear that there was hope! She had a long list of advice, but here were the three most crucial tips:

1) Never ever criticize your child in front of anyone, even family.
2) Never scold or threaten them in any way.
3) Be a lot more physically affectionate. Try to give 10 hugs a day!

The focus on criticism reminded me of a book I’d heard about before in passing: The Highly Sensitive Child. I mentioned this in my last post, but my daughter can be quite sensitive. After I say something I think is quite tame, she will ignore what I said and lament, “Why do you have to be so mean??”

Because of that, my friend’s first tip really hit home: “Never ever criticize your child in front of anyone, even family.”


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Hero Mighty Patch

I was shopping at Target yesterday when these Hero pimple patches caught my eye. I had a big red pimple on my chin and decided to give them a try. I didn’t read any reviews so I didn’t have any expectations. You simply apply a patch on your pimple for 6 hours, then reapply another one if you’d like.


To say I was impressed with the results is an understatement! After one application my pimple completely shrunk and was no longer red. It’s the best and fastest pimple treatment I’ve ever used! Have you tried it?

The Two Biggest Challenges with Living on a Remote Island Abroad

Many people dream of living on a tropical island like we have for the past six years. But like everything in life, there are pros and cons. The biggest pros of living on an island for us is the simplicity of our lives and being so close to nature. The biggest cons are lack of access to good education and healthcare, which are undoubtedly very important factors when considering where to live.

There aren’t many kids Charlie and Olive’s age in our town because families with older kids often move away due to lack of access to good education. Some opt to homeschool, which is the route we’ve chosen, and luckily the pandemic opened up even more online education possibilities.


But there’s not much we can do about lack of access to good healthcare. We actually know very few people who got covid on our island because of strict entry requirements, and most everything is outdoors with open air flow. But recently several acquaintances died of covid on our island. One person in his 30s’s posted that he couldn’t afford oxygen on his social media and then passed away that afternoon. Patients that cannot afford specialty medical care will not get it on our island and even basic things like oxygen are in short supply. Even if you can afford it, the intensive interventions available in the US are just not available. After a decade of living on our island, a good friend recently made the difficult decision to move back to the United States due to lack of access to good healthcare. She misses it terribly, but doesn’t regret her decision.

I know there are flaws with the American healthcare system, but when I visit from the Philippines, I feel so lucky to have access to American healthcare. The kids were able to get covid vaccines. We were able to get boosters and free covid tests. Olive has a crippling phobia of doctors (largely due to an experience in the Philippines), but the bedside manner of our doctor when she broke her finger a couple years ago was beyond incredible. Yesterday my 79-year-old aunt, whom I am extremely close to, had emergency brain surgery in the midst of a raging covid surge, and she is ok. We are all in good health (knock on wood), but if any one of us had any serious healthcare issues, we would undoubtedly leave our island. Life everywhere has its pros and cons.

Link Roundup – January 4, 2022

Happy New Year! We had a smaller than planned New Year’s Day celebration with just my immediate family and my parents due to covid. Every year on New Year’s Day, my family observes a Korean tradition called Jesa, which is a memorial ceremony for deceased ancestors. There are traditional foods, fruit, wine, and rice cakes that are prepared as offerings, and then we perform ritual bows. Traditionally the male descendants were the only ones to bow, but customs have changed in modern times and our family has all the females bow as well. Most of my Korean American friends no longer keep up with this tradition, but I love that my parents have maintained this tradition every year on New Year’s Day and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), even though it’s been over 40 years since they moved to the US.


Here are some interesting links from around the web this week!


10 Lessons We’ve Learned About Eating Well via New York Times

F.D.A. Will Permanently Allow Abortion Pills by Mail via New York Times

Covid vaccines rarely lead to problems in younger children, according to two C.D.C. reports. via New York Times

When They Warn of Rare Disorders, These Prenatal Tests Are Usually Wrong via New York Times


Omicron Upends Return to School in U.S. via New York Times

Universities Are Shunning Their Responsibility to Democracy via The Atlantic

The White House will freeze federal student loan repayments until May 1. via New York Times

What parents should know about sending kids back to school during Omicron via CNN


The ‘cannamoms’ parenting with cannabis via BBC

The 135 Coolest Names For Babies in 2022 via Popsugar

Our 12 Most Popular Comfort Food Recipes of 2021 via The Kitchn

The 15 Most Popular Recipes of 2021 via Natasha’s Kitchen

American motherhood vs. the American work ethic via Vox

The Movies You Shouldn’t Watch With Your Kids via Esquire

How we built new traditions during the pandemic via PBS

‘A Blessing and a Relief’: How Four Families Used the Child Tax Credit via New York Times

Mom in viral video explains why she doesn’t allow sleepovers via Today

Here’s how to win at Monopoly, according to math experts via TED

Kids need to see themselves reflected in media. Here are some recommendations via NPR

I grew up living with my grandparents — here are 10 important life lessons they taught me via Insider

The Good Dad: I was obsessed with doing things “right” with our new son. It nearly broke us the first night he came home. via Slate


I recently told my 10-year-old daughter, “I love you”… and she just kept reading her book.

“Did you hear me?” I asked. “I said, ‘I love you!’ She didn’t look up but simply said, “Meow.”

She is turning into a teenager! She used to drop “I Love Yous” on us all the time, but lately has been much more withdrawn and distant.  Sometimes it feels like she is a completely different person.

I’ve been studying the situation, and here’s what I’ve noticed:


1) She can be extra sensitive.

For example, she often ignores me when I ask her to do something. If I get annoyed and ask again a touch more loudly, she will say, “You don’t have to so mean about it!”

Recently we were picking up things in the room and she just wasn’t helping. When I asked her to please help, she left the room.  A little while later, I found her in the bathroom crying. She said that I had yelled at her, and it made her sad.

I hadn’t yelled – but it made me realize that she is perceiving my actions through a strong filter. Even the smallest bit of annoyance feels like an emotional attack to her. Since then I’ve tried to be much more neutral in tone, but it is not easy. Sometimes it feels like if I breathe too close to her, she feels attacked.

2) She feels like she is constantly under attack.

It’s not just me. She told me a while ago that her brother is mean to her, so I’ve been watching very closely. Yes all siblings can be annoying at times, but mostly he gets frustrated over their chore split. He always walks the dog as agreed… but she rarely does the dishes. I overheard him asking her why she didn’t do the dishes, and she reacted to him the same way she reacts to me.

3) She has gotten less helpful around the house.

She was super helpful around the house when she was younger, but that little helper disappeared a few years ago. I googled it and apparently this happens to many kids around this age. I even have to cajole her into showering. Apparently this is also very common around this age. But it just feels like a nightly battle, and I’m exhausted.

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Tween Skincare Routine

A couple months ago, Charlie got his first small pimple on his chin. Recently he’s had another pimple on his chin along with some small bumps on his forehead, most likely from always resting his glasses on his forehead when he’s reading or doing online homeschool. There’s no doubt that he’s grown a drastic amount in 2021; his face, height, weight, and voice have all changed in his 11th year of life, and his body will continue to change even more in the coming years. He doesn’t have any major skin problems yet, but it was definitely time to start him on a good skincare routine.

The same two brands kept coming up over and over again in tween skincare recommendations online – Cerave and Cetaphil. Both lines are gentle on tween, teen and even adult skin. Cerave’s products are notable for their moisturizing properties while Cetaphil is great for sensitive skin. Both brands have been around forever and I’m pretty sure Cetaphil was my first cleanser when I was around Charlie’s age!

I opted to get the Cerave Hydrating Foam to Cream Cleanser because I personally like when face washes foam, so I never really liked Cetaphil’s popular Gentle Cleanser.


For lotion I chose Cetaphil’s Daily Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer with SPF 35 so that he also has sun protection.


We’ve talked to Charlie about the importance of taking care of your skin, including washing and moisturizing twice a day, not touching your face, and regularly cleaning his glasses. These late tween years really caught me by surprise because our life was largely at a standstill during the pandemic, and I hadn’t given much thought to things like skincare. But there is no stopping kids from growing up!

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