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On Child Device Addiction

We’ve got just about one of every iDevice one could own (the mister is in the industry, let’s just say), which is both a blessing and a curse.

Blessing =

* the ability to convert 1/4 cup to milliliters in a snap

* having a pretty bitchin camera at our fingertips [all the time] to catch the moments in between

* being able to skype with family half way around the world in a myriad of ways

* surviving an hour and a half immigration line with 2 sleep deprived, hungry children, thanks to Sesame Street.

Curse =

* the toddler monster becoming addicted to giver of said blessings and waking up at 6am, finding your phone, and saying/asking, “my phone?”.

* being TOOOOOOOO connected to things that can’t be touched

* forgetting that real books exist

* using them as a crutch/pacifier when the going gets tough and your kid needs a reset button.

EVERYTHING IN MODERATION, right?  Just as long as we can remember what constitutes moderation.  Some days I convince myself that I will adopt the Waldorf philosophy of keeping my kids away from computer (and its derivatives) stimulation and others, I’m grateful that Endless ABC’s just got me 30 minutes of writing time (it’s a pretty great app, go check it out – user beware – addiction may ensue).

Sick Kids in China Equals Very Itchy Travel Feet

One would think that nightly coughing fits that have your palms sweaty they’re so scary, would make you want to nest and hunker down for the long winter.  As it turns out, this is NOT the case when said coughing fits are experienced while looking out one’s window at very hazy, polluted skies.  All I see are chronic lung problems and dead bronchial cilia.  Both children have had run-in’s with icky respiratory viruses over the last few weeks (croup and the like), but the smaller one, who came to China with a cough, continues the bronchial battle with a cough that resembles something like whooping cough (though I’m 99% sure it’s not).  Each night, he has a cough attack and I assure myself that should it continue, to the hospital we’ll go.  And then I’m reminded of what that will mean.  Surely either steroids or antibiotics, neither of which may totally address the problem and both of which could contribute to chronic problems.  And then I look outside and I’m like, crap, but how are his lungs ever going to heal?  To which my oh-so-rational [irrational] mind starts dreaming up grand places where the air is fresh and the water is clean/at least not full of all sorts of heavy metals.

My 3am, kid-cough inspired travel aspirations, began with rational trips like Hainan (the Hawaii of China) and the beaches of southern Thailand and then morphed into grand visions of climbing Mount Everest (or at least a clean, lush, green hill somewhere far, far away).

And so, I would like to share with you, MY current travel DREAMS:

1)  Taking the Lhasa Express from Chendu, China to Lhasa, Tibet.  AND THEN, traveling from Tibet to Nepal on the Friendship Highway.

2) Trekking around the Yunnan Plateau and somehow crossing over into Burma by land (which is quite difficult).

3)  The Trans-Siberian Railway, from Beijing, China to somewhere in Germany (a not so new dream).

All three are slightly daunting journey’s that would require meticulous planning for adult travelers, now throw a couple of young grommits into the mix and meticulous will turn into leave-no-stone-unturned planning.  Challenging, but possible.  Just like any travel with children; 30% more difficult, but also 30% more rewarding.

Here’s to making these dreams a reality over the next few years, cheers!


The Freedom of Being Illiterate

Now I know what you’re thinking, illiteracy is no joking matter.  And you’re absolutely right, I mean that.  HOWEVER, taken out of the context of one’s own language and put into the context of a foreign tongue… let me enlighten you (or at the very least, explain to you).

As mentioned in my post yesterday, the art of communicating in a language you no next to nothing of, is quite infuriating and quite humbling (I may have left that part out, but it’s true).  This extends to most every form of communication (reading road signs, shop signs, and directions included)… with the exception of reading food labels.  I’m an AVID food label reader.  I like to know what I’m getting/choosing not to get myself into.  ALL THE TIME.  Well, guess what folks?  I can’t read Chinese characters (nor do I aspire to, ever) and as such, I’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT INGREDIENTS GO INTO ANYTHING PACKAGED (in China).  SO, you’d think the obvious answer would be to just boycott anything packaged, right?  Wrong. The answer is actually: pretend there ISN’T any partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, MSG (and a myriad of other things dreamed up in a lab), FREE YOURSELF!  Leave worrying about what potentially harmful consequences are lurking within your cells after consuming packaged snacks bought at the convenient store.

…right?  Maybe I got that wrong; that outlook is only excusable for so long (and in certain situations*, see below).

I’m here to tell you that this philosophy works well when you’re traveling and know that your time in that particular place is temporary, so sure, what harm is a package of local flavored Doritos really going to do (you don’t fully know a place until you know what flavored Doritos are offered there, winky face)?  And for the first few weeks here in China, it was sorta, kinda my outlook.  And then I was like, wait, I’M LIVING HERE NOW, this behavior MUST STOP.  But then I was like, come on, what about the children, the children!  This is the asterisk: the hardest part is having kids whose bodies tell them they should/could survive off of packaged crackers, candy, and cookies and when you’ve been dragging them around all day and they turn up starving (and all your normal go-to’s have been consumed) and your only option is a food kiosk where said packaged foods are the only convenient form of sustenance, you FOLD.  You buy the funny looking cracker sticks, flavor unknown, and pretend they’re not full of shit.

So, I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the end of consuming foods that could contain arsenic for all I know (I’m a realist), BUT THEY DON’T because what universe would do that to me when I’m illiterate?  Have some sympathy, for fuck’s sake.  I’m also going to pretend that feeling illiterate equals freedom, what other choice do I have?

And just in case a Chinese reader comes across this and calls me out on it, yes, I know the photo is of a bag of goji berries and as such, the label probably doesn’t have any other ingredients.  I had to make due with what I had in the house, and that was only healthy crap.  Don’t hold it against me… thanks.