Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.

From planting a garden, to swimming at the lake, to camping and canoeing the Tahquamenon River, we have had a refreshing and relaxing summer, mostly.

Of course, I came home to make sure my mom was fed and kept on her meds while she recovered, but it wasn’t the only thing I did. Now that she is starting to get back on her feet again, I feel I have finally have enough time and energy to get to updating you on our life and a relatively mistake-free summer.

The Garden

We started our summer with getting some plants in the ground. The garden beds needed some TLC and Auburn was happy to help. She helped shovel in new soil, plant some vegetables, and put in this beautiful sunflower that is now standing taller than me!

_DSC3775

What We Grew

From tomatoes to kale, marigolds to other types of marigolds, the garden did quite well this summer. That is, except for the tomatoes. Why? Because we planted a few varieties with indeterminate growth and didn’t have a trellis system in place to support them. So what did we do? Improvised!

Gardening tomatoes, growing tomatoes
An old chair that I axed the seat out of to use as a support system for the tomatoes

Gardening is a learning process year-to-year. To me, it doesn’t matter if the garden looks professional, is well spaced out, or has an particular aesthetic to it. As I’m trying to learn in life and gardening: plant your seeds, care for them, and make due. If people want to judge you, oh well, that’s on them. Set your own standards and you won’t be flailing for reassurance from anyone else. The tomatoes will turn red either way, and they taste no less delicious.

Growing tomatoes, unconventional methods
An old guitar stand I used to prop up another tomato plant

If there’s on plant I can’t recommend enough to grow, it’s kale. It’s a delicious superfood that goes great in smoothies, salads, and steamed with butter. It grows quickly, has a a solid yield per plant and is also quite attractive on it’s own. Gardening with children helps them learn about where food comes from as well. You may find your own children are more likely to eat vegetables with them grow them themselves.

Kale, dew, gardening
Morning dew on the kale.
Tomates, gardening
Tomatoes growing

Marigolds are a great addition to any garden. They come in many varieties and colors and are incredibly easy to take care of. Give them water, and dead-head the dying flowers. At some point you might even be overwhelmed with how well they do. One of plants went from a tiny sprout to a flower plant nearly 2 feet in diameter with flowers sprouting from all over!

Marigolds, flowers
Marigolds: blooming and wanting to bloom.

Gardening with Children

Auburn has helped me create the garden at my Mom’s for several years now, but this was the first time she was actually helpful! Previously, she was keen to shovel out the soil I was shoveling in. This year however, she managed to fill several of plots all by herself and loved it! There’s nothing like watching a little kid get dirty and enjoy themselves, it makes me wish I was still a child sometimes. Aside from the fun they having gardening, there are numerous health benefits to it: fresh air, exercise, relaxation, and the microbes in the soil that get under your nails are beneficial to your immune system. Dig on, my child! And parents, try gardening with children and see how they do, it could be your next family activity 🙂

Gardening with children
Putting in work with her Auburn-sized shovel
end your travels early

Why should you end your travels early?

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure here.

There’s always good reasons to end your travels. Sometimes it’s because you’re broke, sometimes it’s because you’re having a horrible time in a new country. The number one reason to end your travels early, however, is because your family needs you. We are going to miss the Chinese family in Hong Kong, but the American family needs us right now.

family photo, Chinese family, smile
Auburn and her Chinese family, Grandpa, Grandma, and half-brother

Help Those In Need

This is the case for my daughter and me right now. My mother is relatively old, not in great shape, and has long-lasting injuries from a horrible car accident when I was 14-years-old. She was very lucky to survive, but the crash did damage that lingers, nay, worsens to this day. If your family is ever is need, I implore you to also end your travels early.

I flew to Asia in February this year, not sure of how long I would be staying. I knew I wanted my daughter to experience new countries, new people, new food, and she has. Even better, she’s gotten to spend a lot of time with her Chinese family over the past 6 weeks. I know they are always thrilled when we can come to Hong Kong and this certainly will not be the last time we are here. For now, with the difficult decision of which family member(s) need me and my daughter the most, we will be saying goodbye to the Chinese family about 30 hours.

Returning to Home Base

We are heading back to the home I lived in during high school, the home my mother has owned since 2002, squatted in the middle of the woods and nowhere near a city or outside entertainment. It’s never difficult to stay extended periods of time with your parents when you are my age and have your own child. The dynamics are annoying and I like to be alone 90% of the time (except for my daughter) so living with another person, even family, is always hard on me. This isn’t about me, though. It’s about making sure my mom recovers from a recent injury. She fell, broke some ribs, deflated a lung, and hit her head quite hard. She’s not doing well, but hopefully with my help and my daughter’s laughter in the house, she will be strong by the end of this summer.

So what does a wanderlusting man like me do when I’m home? I have some plans. I will put together my mother’s garden again, planning to build a floating dock for her pond, and will work on a few books that I am currently writing: one on how I make myself a better parent, and another on how I ended the ignorance/intolerance of my mind that I grew up in (no offense to my parents, they are just from another time and weren’t prepared to raise children through the age of the internet). I can’t imagine what it’s in store for me raising my daughter through whatever world-shattering technological advancement is next. I’m sure I will be wholly unprepared for it and Auburn will have to outgrow my ignorance of it someday as well.

Prepping to Say Goodbye

For now, we are packing our bags, getting ready to give our last hugs, and spending as much time with the Chinese family as we can before we leave. It’s very difficult to leave Hong Kong and the love that I feel for Auburn from her Chinese family. Both her grandparents get huge smiles on their faces every time they see her. Her Aunt Toni is an incredible person who loves Auburn to no end and is one of the best people I know for keeping Auburn laughing and having fun. Sometimes I think Auburn loves her Aunt more than me! I guess I’m just not as silly and fun and she is.

Aunt and Auburn, family
Auburn and her Aunt swimming and playing

This has been the most rewarding time in Hong Kong for me yet, we had a blast in Thailand (Songkran Festival I hope to meet you again!), and I’m excited for what the future holds for us. The most important thing now, (and the number one reason you should end your travels early if you find yourself in a similar situation), is that we help my mother recover and get healthy in whatever way we can, even if it means ending our travels and returning to home base for as long as that takes.

Museums in Hong Kong, skyline

Guide to Visiting Hong Kong’s Museums

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure here.

One of greatest parts of visiting any big city is the access to museums and the wealth of knowledge you can gain from them. If you’re traveling to Hong Kong, the museums here are no different, and only a loser would pass them up. Did you know Hong Kong was occupied by Japan for nearly 4 years in the 1940’s, and that the Japanese enslaved not only Hong Kong people, but also the Brits? Ever heard of the Opium Wars? Did you know some people of Hong Kong almost never leave their boats? These are just a few of the things you can learn about in an interesting and fun way by visiting the museums in Hong Kong. If you’re looking to visit the museums of Hong Kong, this guide will provide you with an economical and simple way to do so. Your first step should be getting a coveted museum pass. Don’t make a mistake you’ll have to forgive yourself for later; don’t pass this one up.

Get a Hong Kong Museum Pass: What is it?

Hong Kong Museum Pass
My Museum Pass, hot off the press

This is by far my favorite part of Hong Kong. The museum pass allows you to enter the permanent and special exhibitions for free as many times as you’d like. The value that you get for purchasing a museum pass is bar none. Make sure you bring a form of identification with you to prove you are who you say you are when applying.

*There are ways to visit some museums for free on certain days, but I wouldn’t recommend going on those days; they get packed with people–including students’ field trips–and are much less enjoyable.

Museums in Hong Kong

There’s a lot of museums in Hong Kong. What Museums are included?

The museum pass grants access to the permanent and special exhibitions of the museums operated under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Here they are linked with the address to each in parentheses and their phones numbers in brackets.

Hong Kong Science Museum (2 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui East) [2732-3232]

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin) [2180-8188]

Hong Kong Museum of Art (10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui) [2721-0116]

Hong Kong Museum of History (100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui) [2724-9042]

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum (Kom Tong Hall, 7 Castle Rd, Central) [2367-6383]

Hong Kong Space Museum (10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui) [2721-0226]

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (175 Tung Hei Rd, Shau Kei Wan) [2569-1500]

Best Museum for Children in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Museum of Science is one of the coolest museums in Hong Kong to take your child. There’s got to be 100 different stations they can interact with. Everything from toying with electricity and magnets, manipulating puzzles of all types (some of them are difficult!), VR systems, video games, and my daughter’s personal favorite: the construction yard for smaller children (technically the child must be between 80-120cms tall, but they seem to be quite lenient on this).

Museum of Science Construction Yard
Moving blocks around in the construction yard

The children are given a construction vest and helmet and can proceed to build a building with foam blocks, move blocks around with carts on and off a track set, operate a crane and way station, and more! They are allowed to play for 15 minute intervals at which point a bell will go off and they will have to get back in line if they want to go again. Get a museum pass to go on any day you want because if you take your child on the ‘free day’ everyone else and their child will be there and the line can get quite long. Get there on a Monday or Tuesday morning and you’ll likely see just a few kids playing at a time. Your little one can get right back in if they want!

Museum of Science
Operating and the crane/way station

Cost of a Museum Pass

Family pass (up to 4 people)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..$100 HKD

Individual Pass……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….$50 HKD

Concessionary Pass (applies to full-time students, persons over 60, and disabled persons)………….$25 HKD

How Long is a Hong Kong Museum Pass Valid For?

1 year from date of purchase. They used to sell monthly and weekly passes, but those have been abolished.

It’s possible that the orders for passes may be backlogged and you will have to wait 2 weeks to pick up your official pass, but don’t worry! In the meantime, you can use the receipt for your purchase as you would the museum pass itself. Just don’t lose your receipt, you need it to get your pass once it’s ready!

And luckily, if you do ever lose your pass, you can get a replacement for $5-$10 HKD depending on the type of pass you have.

Where can I buy a Hong Kong Museum Pass?

You can buy your museum pass at the following museums in Hong Kong, address to each will be listed in parentheses, see above for links and contact information.

Hong Kong Museum of History (100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui)

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin)

Hong Kong Science Museum (2 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui East)

Hong Kong Space Museum (10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui)

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (175 Tung Hei Rd, Shau Kei Wan)

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum (Kom Tong Hall, 7 Castle Rd, Central)

Looking to Visit the Museums in Hong Kong for Free?

It can be done!

Firstly, some permanent exhibits have been opened for good. Secondly, the museums in Hong Kong without permanent displays open for free have free days you can visit. As stated before, this isn’t ideal because the museums get jammed with folks, but if you’re looking for free, be ready to join the hoards who are doing the same.

Which Hong Kong Museums are free?

Free Entry to Museums
Free? Get outta my way!

The permanent exhibits of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, and the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum are all open for free. The free entry does not include entrance to any special exhibits. That’s what the museum pass is for!

If you’re a full-time student, the Hong Kong Museum of Science and the Hong Kong Space Museum are also open for free to you.

Free Days for Hong Kong Museums

The Hong Kong Museum of Science is free to the public on Wednesdays. Beware, lots of field trips on this day, so come early if you want to beat the army of children that will be running and screaming throughout.

Other Perks of the Museum Pass

10% discount on souvenirs and publications purchased at the museums

Special offers at the catering outlets within the museums

10% discount on museum extension activities

Special offers on the Annual Pass to Ocean Park and the Magic Access of Disneyland

Conclusion

Hong Kong traffic
Museums are a great way to escape the congestion of the city

Visiting the museums in Hong Kong can be entertaining, enlightening, and an all around lovely morning or afternoon. I would highly recommend the museum pass if you plan on visiting multiple museums to see special exhibits, or if you plan on returning to the same museum more than once. I love to take my daughter to the Hong Kong Museum of Science at least a couple of times per week and the value of the museum pass paid for itself in the first few days.

Michigan Camping

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.

Whether you’re looking for rustic or modern campsites, there are a gazillion options for camping in Michigan. Looking for something near a touristy town? Check. A quiet, rustic site away from all things human? Double check. Lower Peninsula Michigan camping? Got it. Upper Peninsula Michigan camping? How much time do you have? You can never have too much for camping in the beautiful state of Michigan.  Don’t make mistakes like me, share the love (or don’t) and go camping in Michigan!

Camping in Michigan, So Many Choices

While my daughter and I spend lots of time abroad. I’m looking forward to returning home this summer and during my stay I will certainly be going camping for at least a week, possibly two.

I’ve been camping in Michigan quite a few times, and I often feel overwhelmed planning my trips so I’ve developed a way to make it easier on myself that I’d like to share with all of you.

The first thing you should know about camping in Michigan, is that it is always better for you if you reserve your site early. I can hear you asking: just how early should I reserve a camp site in Michigan? Depends on the site you are going to, but if you’re going to visit a very popular one, like Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula, then you better be looking to book your site about 1-2 months in advance, even sooner if you want a larger pick of sites.

Other, less popular places can be booked same day, but if you’re like me, you’re looking for some amazing campsites to see the best parts of Michigan.

Camping in Michigan
Some campgrounds have firepits, others do not, check the resources before you go!

So how do you decide where to camp? Here’s the top 6 websites I use:

Resourceful Websites For Camping in Michigan

(1) UP Travel

UP Travel is great for locating campsites in my favorite part of Michigan, the Upper Peninsula! A quick tap on the campground will give you the address, phone number, and many have a website linked to it as well to give you more information or the ability to reserve online.

(2) Exploring the North

Exploring the North gives a run down of each camp site they cover, a small description, and lets you know about nearby attractions. A fantastic resource to check out before you book your site.

(3) Pure Michigan

The Pure Michigan website has its own section devoted to Campgrounds and RV parks. It’s not as inclusive as a resource for campgrounds as the first two I mentioned, but it’s still a wonderful resource for planning your camping trip in Michigan because you can filter out results by amenities, attractions, region, city, recreation, and many more.

(4) Michigan DNR

This is my favorite resource for camping in Michigan. Why? Not just because it’s ran by the DNR, but this is where you can reserve all of the preferred campsites online. It’s easy to see first identify the region in Michigan where you want to camp. From there you can use the interactive map to choose a specific location. Then you can view individual campsites, see what days they are available, how big they are, the surface of the campsite, if it has electricity or not, and a lot of other useful information about camping there.

(5) Michigan Campgrounds

This website is probably better for people who are camping in Michigan with an RV. I don’t use one so this isn’t my favorite site, but it’s pretty useful at locating some nice campgrounds.

(6) Camping in Michigan

This is another resourceful list of campgrounds in Michigan. A great aspect of this site is that they also festivals where you can camp at. Bonus!

Other hints to camping in Michigan?

Helpful Hints For Camping

Make sure you have a recreational sticker on your car to grant you access to the parks. Stop by the Secretary of State to get one before you head out, easiest to do this when you renew your plates each year. They are annual passes so you only need one each year.

There are animals in Michigan, keep your site clean or they might pay you a hungry visit. The squirrels are cute, so are the bears, but the bears might eat your face.

Bug spray. You know what it’s for, just don’t forget it. Some mosquitoes are the size of your right ear.

Firewood is usually available at the campgrounds, but it will be limited. Stop at someone’s house that has wood for sale nearby and save yourself a headache and support local wood chopping people! Then, save the trees by making sure you burn all your wood you bring with you! Firewood brings in pests to parks so make sure to scorch them before you leave 🙂 RIP little bugs

Got your fishing pole? Got your fishing license? You better!

Michiganders and the people who visit the camp sites in the Michigan are friendly people, just be aware of where you are. Don’t bring a loud music system, you’re being rude making your neighbors listen to your crappy music. Likely there are rules against them in the campground, but even if there isn’t, people still don’t want to listen to your horrible taste in tunes.

I hope this has helped you. Let me know in the comments if I forgot anything or if there are other helpful resources out there for people looking to go camping in Michigan!

single parent parenting blog

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure here.

Determining when our first time abroad was, isn’t easy. That’s because my daughter and I were born in different countries. The birth of my daughter was in Hong Kong, so for her, traveling to the USA was her first time abroad. So, let me clarify that I will be speaking about our experience from my perspective.

Not a newborn, but a chunk-chunk baby during dim-sum breakfast!

The Birth of My Daughter

Our first time abroad, then, was the first moment I saw her. Hair sprouting first, a mangled net of gooey fuzz. Happy tears were pouring from my eyes as the rest of her started to emerge. Her squashed face, wrinkly body, and trailing umbilical cord, all covered in purplish amniotic fluid. I’d never seen anyone more beautiful.


The doctors and nurses kept asking her Mom if I was okay because apparently, they don’t see many grown men weep harder than the newborns. I don’t care, seeing the birth of my daughter was borderline overwhelming, like someone was pouring love onto me like an overbearing syrup. I could feel it running down my neck, sticking inside my ears, and gluing me to that moment in time. I’ll never forget it.

The Cord Chop

I waited a couple of minutes before cutting the umbilical cord, letting the last juices being transferred to her make it to where they need to be. So, she laid on the table, squirming, not really crying, an amniotic fluid bubble formed around her lips, expanded, then popped. I couldn’t help but laugh, despite its unique weirdness.

No major health problems yet, just a healthy child 😀

Finally, I chopped through the cord with a pair of surgical scissors, she was wiped clean by a nurse, wrapped up, and passed to me. She looked nothing like me. Dark brown hair, the beautiful curved eyes of her Chinese mother, puffy cheeks (also her mother’s), and a button nose (also her mother’s). Her chocolate brown eyes locked mine, she stared at me, maybe not yet knowing who I was, but I know she could feel my love as I rocked her in my arms. My crying stopped and I had the adrenaline pump you get when you beat death. Like surviving a bungee jump, or escaping a Chinese cobra in the jungle (I’ll give you that story another time).

My first time holding the little squashball

The Riddle of Time

After the birth of my daughter, I spoke to her with a shaky voice, though I can’t remember what I said, and she listened better than anyone ever has. I don’t know if I held her for two minutes or an hour. There’s just no way to decipher a time frame in such an emotional moment. How long did your car skid out of control for? How long did your first fist-fight last? How long was your grandmother’s funeral? How long was the first time you made love? Okay, that one’s easier to answer, right around 2 minutes.

Unfortunately, the doctors had some health concerns for her due to some prenatal problems, so she had to be taken to the ICU for monitoring. I remember thinking, “she’s beautiful, she’s healthy, she doesn’t need this.” But I was impressionable and took the doctor’s word for it, so off she went, scheduled for an extra for 3 days of care and monitoring.

Sleeping in the ICU

The ICU

The next two days I was allowed to spend time with her in very distinct and short periods. Something like 10-11 and 3-4:30. Each moment I spent with her, I would have her lay on my chest and her tiny fingers would grip my chest hair like a baby monkey afraid to fall. But she had nothing to worry about. Her little head fit perfectly in my right hand, her squishy butt made for a perfect grip with my left. After day one, I was super annoyed she was being kept in that glass box, not being allowed to have her bonding time with her parents.

The walk home

On day two, a nurse tried to tell me I shouldn’t pick her up because she was sleeping, so I pretended I didn’t speak English and did it anyway. Back onto my chest, clutching my chest hair. After day two, I was pissed I couldn’t have more time with her. I knew she was healthy, her mother agreed, so we signed a form saying we take responsibility for removing her from the ICU early, wrapped her up, and walked her home. She slept the entire walk home through Hong Kong, cars honking, sirens blaring in the distance, people talking over each other in Chinese. She didn’t care.

Our First Night Together

Some people never co-sleep with their children for fear of smashing them, or fear of judgment. I co-slept with her in fear of not being able to snuggle her. Luckily, we were already abroad, and Chinese people don’t judge you for co-sleeping. And when she woke me up several times in the middle of the night to breastfeed with her Mom, I had never been so happy to have beautiful dreams interrupted.

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.

I’ve failed repeatedly, disappointed family, pissed off and lost best friends, broken the law, stolen, cheated, lied, and hurt people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve murdered innocent animals, propagated torture, condoned the killing of humans, threatened, punched, cussed at, and made fun of other people. I’m a huge loser and probably always will be, not even seeking forgiveness.

Quit judging fool!

If you’re already looking down on me, you might as well be looking in a mirror. If you haven’t done the awful things I’ve done, or similarly awful things, then you must be Jesus or Mohammed or the Dalai Lama or whatever other person who you think is the holiest of the holy.

dalai-lama-2244829_1920.jpg
Not a picture of you, so you’re a loser

But you aren’t, so guess what, you’re a loser, too.


At least that’s what society would make us believe, if you aren’t a winner, you’re a loser. I grew up in the golden era of the American feel-goodery machine. “You’re special.” “You can be anything you want to be.” “I’ll love you no matter what.” “Here’s a trophy for showing up.” I literally got a trophy in the 7th grade for being the basketball team’s ‘Assist Leader’ for the season and was super proud of it. Forget the crazy number of turnovers, the low shooting percentage, and average assists per game being less than 3. I deserved a trophy damnit and I got one! And I’m not sharing it!

Trash Trophies and Other Places Self-validation Should Go

Fast forward a pair of decades and that trophy is likely buried underneath a mound of other people’s garbage they didn’t want, or simply no longer needed. Not only was that trophy a waste of physical product, its wastefulness extended to its intrinsic value. Sure, it made me feel good at the time. But it also made me think I was good at basketball. So, a big smack in the face came when the 8th grade team cut me and I had to resort to wrestling for a season, which I would eventually quit because, well, wrestling sucks. And quitting made me feel like a loser, which I was, even before that.

cup-1010909_1920.jpg
You’re the best at being the best, what to go, you amazing, best person

Before I was 14, I had already committed at least half of the transgressions I confessed at the beginning of this post. Now that I’m 30, I realize it doesn’t matter. Mostly because we are all losers, but also because we can’t escape being losers. Sure, we can do these things personally that make us more of a loser, but we’re trapped in a system that demands we be losers. You don’t want to condone murder and torture of innocent humans? Too bad, you pay your taxes that are used to bomb civilians. Don’t want to lie, cheat, or steal? Better not become part of any American system of wealth building, because that’s the only way to grow. Your making money always comes at the expense of another, or at the growth of something worse than yourself. Don’t want to be responsible for the extinction of species, or the crushing of humans under unsecure buildings? Better not buy any new clothes, ever. Every major brand in the US employs people to work for a penance with tactics that damage the environment. You’re a loser, maybe you just didn’t know it.

Just Figuring Out You’re a Loser? Erm, this is awkward.

You didn’t know it because the American system constantly tells you to feel good about yourself. “Forget about the mass extinction event we’re undergoing and buy more stuff!” Your monstrous carbon footprint due solely to your lifestyle of using American transportation, eating an American diet, and consuming American media is destroying the world. You can’t avoid it, sorry. You’re a loser, just like me.

boy-732495_1920.jpg
Nope, you’re still a loser.

This is partly why I find it so important to take my daughter traveling around the world, and no, it’s not because it’s inherently healthier for the planet (it’s not, airplane travel is a killer, too). It’s to relatively shield her from the outlandish and image-obsessed culture of the USA, but also to show her that there are different ways to live and that people across the world actually exist, not just Americans and their worldly desires and ignorance of people around the world. So, if you’re one of the Brian Williams types (look how beautiful our bombs are!), remember that bombs killing people is terrorism. You can’t beat terrorists with terrorism. I digress.

We’re all losers, hooray!

Back to it: I’m a loser, you’re a loser, let’s all scream for being losers. But traveling helps. It teaches you to be comfortable with ignorance, impatience, discomfort, and different. It helps you notice that the shoes you wear aren’t nearly as important as the words you say. That the $300 or $3,000 watch on your wrist might tell you the time, but it doesn’t tell you the story of the child who put it together in Bangladesh for mere pennies. Your clothes might accurately represent who you want to be as a person, but they don’t post the number of river habitats that were destroyed making that shirt on the tag. But the dye by-product has to go somewhere, and if it’s a bird’s nesting grounds, or a crocodile’s favorite hunting spot, they’re going to ingest it. So guess what? Your shirt? Makes you a loser. Your watch? Makes you a loser. Your taxes? Makes you a murderer and a torturer. Now you might say, ‘that’s not fair my taxes also go to blablabla…’ That’s true. But if a man had a $1000 and he gave half of it to subsidize the death of a random person, and the other half to save a random person. Is he a good person? Or is he still, like all of us, a loser?

_DSC1237
My daughters playing with some underprivileged children in Ho Tram, Vietnam

Traveling helps me teach my daughter what is important. Our food choices, how we interact with people, the environment and we treat it, these are just some of them. And I don’t have time for that in the States. I’m too busy working 2-3 jobs, spending an hour at least commuting, then buying fast food or eating something upsetting because I don’t have to time to take life seriously. It’s buy, buy, buy, earn, earn, earn, then die, die, die. I don’t mean to make you feel bad for being as much of a loser as me. It actually feels good to know it and let it out. Doing so helps me remember that my choices matter. So join me, fellow losers, travel, see things that change your perspective. It doesn’t matter who you voted for this time around, how much money you make, or how many people you can sleep with because you’re a Tinder master. What matters is what you leave behind.

But can we be winners?

_DSC1057
Oranges are for winners, however. They’re just so juicy and delicious. Sairee Beach, Thailand

What I hope to leave behind is an intelligent daughter who takes time to consider her actions, thinks holistically in her approach, and challenges the status quo. Because the status quo, like me, is a loser.

single parent blog, parenting blog, single parent travel

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.

Two Healing Words

After a day of rain drumming on the bungalow’s tin roof, my 3-year-old would say two words that would help me in forgiving myself. The strength, the clarity, the confidence that she showed me through those two words helped me understand that the strongest amongst us are missing something when we punish ourselves for making mistakes. We focus on the wrong like it’s a stain on our only shirt, thinking everyone will see only that and judge us accordingly. My daughter’s two words help me realize something we all need to understand, ‘it’s okay.’ Failing isn’t nearly as important as what we do after we fail.

*You’ll see some affiliate links here, check out this link for a full-break down of what that means. Hint: my links cost you nothing!

_DSC1491
Auburn doesn’t care if she fails, the first time she did this the seat knocked her forehead

Why Do We hurt?

In today’s social media atmosphere where we are constantly bombarded with images of the exceptional, it’s easy to feel inferior. The companies who advertise on social media know I am a traveling Dad, so the advertisements I see are about top-notch parents who never fail, travelers who make five figures a month working just 2 hours a week, and images of people working on hilltops, swinging in a hammock, or (most unbelievably) working right on the beach! What a bunch of crap.

Even if everything I am seeing is real, those images are denoting the .01% of people who are actually involved in any of those activities. Every parent repeatedly fails, travelers travel because it’s cheaper than staying in one place, and digital nomads like myself work at a desk. Can you imagine having your computer out at the beach for 8 hours? If you can, then you should also imagine the next computer you’re going to need because the sand, water, light, and elements are going to destroy your gear.

_DSC0566
This is not a work place, Nang Yuan Island, Thailand

So It’s all BS?

Marketing is all BS. They show the outliers, the freaks-of-nature, the rare runes. When you see these outstanding people every day, all the time, how can you not compare yourself to them? Your average life, your average job, your average face. This isn’t crap you can easily change, so when you can’t be extraordinary, you feel like shit, because you’re just average, and you’re a failure. Mark Manson touches extensively on this in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

Those Two Words

When my daughter stirred that night, at first just uncomfortable because her blanket was off her, I heard her whimper in the darkness. Once, then twice, a soft, third time. ‘What’s wrong honey?’ I asked her. Her little voice sniffled out, ‘I miss Mommy.’ I was instantly back to hating myself again, forgetting how hard I’m trying to love myself. My mind jumps to all my mistakes, what I’ve done to put Auburn in this position, a series of events leading up to her waking up and crying at 11 pm because she doesn’t have a ‘Mom.’

She crawls over to me and falls into my arm, I feel her tears drip onto the inside of my bicep. I squeeze her lightly, ‘I know sweetie, you got your Daddy here.’ A tear of mine drips unnoticed on her hair, ‘You’ve got lots of people who love you, Aubi,’ a few more whimpers from her. Her hand moves up across my neck, she stops crying, smiles, kisses me on the curve between my nose and cheek, ‘I know Daddy, it’s okay.’

_DSC1616
Sometimes she sleep with undies on her head

It’s Okay

You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be the outlier, the extreme example, the super-parent, the model, or the charming one. Like Mark Manson says in his book, ‘What is objectively true about your situation is not as important as how your come to see the situation.’ I’m an average parent and person, I constantly fail. But my little girl looks at me with the strength of a General, smiles, and says ‘it’s okay.’ It’s okay to be normal, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to occasionally hate yourself for the things you’ve done. Failing, and feeling like a failure are a part of what makes us strong people.

If our minds couldn’t adapt to failure, we wouldn’t have evolved and spread across the world battling Smilodon, direwolves, and eating giant furry elephants. You think our ancestors had an easy time dealing with seeing their children shredded by a 400 pound cat? Or having dental work done with rocks? Or living only to the ripe old age of 36? No, we were all bred to be strong. Our strength runs in our DNA, that is our average. Our average is a lineage of survivors who failed all the time, and succeeded because of it. It’s okay to be average, to fail repeatedly, as long as you learn from it. That’s the best lesson our diseased and ill-fated ancestors can teach us. It’s okay to be human, to fail, and love yourself regardless. Sometimes it just takes a 3-year-old whispering it to you at night to understand that.

_DSC1399
3-year-olds know it will be okay

*You’ll see some affiliate links in here to the books I mention, I only link up to things I find truly valuable to the reader.

Single Dad Nomad

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.

Accepting Responsibility To Set An Example For My Daughter

I had to read a few books, talk to several loved ones, and spend a few moments in a restaurant or coffee shop crying as I realized how awful my values were. Midway through a cappuccino, and typing this post, I had to remind myself again that I’m still working to improve  and forgive myself. Mark Manson talks about the layers you have to peel off in order to find your true values. It’s a lot harder than people think, and it’s a bit like picking at scabs. It hurts, you’ll bleed, but the relief of letting that wound breathe is all worth it in the end. Taking responsibility for my mistakes has been critical in getting me to reevaluate who I am as a person and parent.


It’s easy to pretend like we know what our true values are: be a good person, have good relationships, be charitable. But the ambiguity in such vaguely set values is a representation of our lack of true understanding of our value systems. I thought my value was ‘be a good person’, but if that was my true value, I wouldn’t have cheated. Instead, I realize my value was ‘protect your ego.’ What my value should have been was ‘treat people with respect.’

The difference in these values is astronomical. If I wanted to ‘be a good person’, I could have justified cheating because I could say to myself something like this: our relationship wasn’t working, it’s better that I do this now and just end it this way than continue to have all of us be unhappy. With the value system ‘be a good person’, I could’ve easily adjusted my thought process to protect that value and continue being a shitty person whose real value was ‘protect your ego.’
The important thing we can do with our value systems, I believe, is accepting responsibility for them. I could easily continue to delude myself into thinking I’m a good person when I actually possess a horrible set of values. That isn’t hard to do and it’s why so many of us are so good at it and probably don’t even realize it.

Think of it this way, is it easier to continue what you’ve been doing for 30 years, or admit you’ve been a piece of shit for three decades and take responsibility for your actions? Now you don’t have to come out publicly like this and possibly cause more problems for yourself down the road by confessing to any future mate that you previously cheated on your best friend.

But owning up to what I’ve done has helped me better understand who I am, who I want to be. As I walked down the beach yesterday, kicking rocks, and I looked up to see my daughter in front me, kicking shells, I wondered what kind of example I want to set for her.


Us Millennials are frequently described by the media as lazy, whiney, and entitled. I whole-heartedly disagree for a plethora of reasons. The one part I might agree with? We are entitled. But it’s not just Millennials, it’s generation X, Y, Z, the whole alphabet. Americans are entitled. I grew up in an America that encourages you to always be happy, always be outgoing and smiling and clean and friendly and be grateful that you get to grow up in the greatest country in the world!

Besides the annoying, nationalistic propaganda you cannot escape, what a bunch of crap it is to pretend like we should always be happy! If you spend your whole life pretending you’re happy and comparing your happiness to others’ in a consumer society, it becomes exceedingly simple to ignore your value system and rely on those vague, stock-photo values. If you can’t accept that sometimes life sucks, and that sometimes you are wrong because you are convinced you always have to be happy, then what chance do you have of asking yourself serious, introspective questions of what is driving your happiness and character?
We all write our own stories, as the narrator and main character. So, it becomes difficult to truly dissect our story. This is why taking responsibility is so important. I could have brushed off what I did and narrated my story in way that would’ve kept me from admitting I did a crappy thing. Instead, I’ve taken responsibility, and just by doing that I’ve been able to see that I put my ego before compassion and deeply hurt someone who I cared about greatly, something I am terribly ashamed of. But I’ve picked that scab, it’s bled a lot, and now it’s breathing. It’s healing. And if it scabs up again, the scab will be smaller, and easier to pick. I might end up scarring myself, but at the end of my life, I’d rather be covered by 30 deep scars than a 1,000 bleeding scabs.


Auburn is such a good person and little explorer. I’ve thought a lot to myself: how is she going to view me as a person? Would I be proud if she did the same things I’ve done? What will her value system look like due to the impression I leave? And these thoughts have terrified me. Maybe this is why people get more conservative as they grow up because we remember what we were like as kids, how many scabs we opened up, and we want to try to protect the next generation from those mistakes. However, I think this is a mistake in itself.

I find myself wondering, will my daughter be a better person if I act more conservatively and protect her from the liberalism of my upbringing? My answer is no. She will become who she will become, and the best thing I can do is show her how to take responsibility for that person. In this way, I think my scars can teach her more than my scabs. So here I am, picking at them, ripping back the dead flesh of my shitty values. Reading Mark Manson and taking time process myself helped me understand that I was giving too many f*cks about my own ego, and not enough about finding inner happiness through living by better values.
The critical thing here is that my values are going to wear off on my daughter. Not all of them, maybe not even half of them, but if any of them do, I want them to be the ones I respect about myself. So I’m taking responsibility for the awful things I’ve done, accepting that I haven’t always been the good person I lead myself to believe, and working to change that, which isn’t easy. My goal isn’t to have an easy life, or to constantly pretend I’m happy, it’s to set a good example for this laughing face right here, the one that finds happiness in a dead piece of wood.

f

single parent parenting blog

Affiliate link disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this blog post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.

Pride, Fear, and Self-Admonishment

Let me be the first to say it: I fucked up. If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be starting a blog called ‘The Single Dad Nomad’ and I wouldn’t be writing this from inside a ‘bathroom’ that has a toilet I have to manually flush with a bucket.
Living in this bathroom, there’s at least three different ant species: one ubiquitous, larger, black species that’s likely eating my bungalow from the inside-out, a smaller black species that seems to find dirty spots the most attractive, and a red species whose enforcers have an insidious looking set of pincers protruding from their faces. When I turn on the faucet, they burst out of the sink.
I think the geckos eat them, and there’s a lot of geckos in here. The big one is the size of my forearm.
thailand animals
Massive gecko in my bungalow.
The millipedes are longer than my fingers. The mosquitoes can easily fly through the unfettered gaps in the walls. The mirror looks like someone had once or twice set it on fire; I haven’t clearly seen my face in a month. The water never gets hot, the air never gets cold, and a week ago I spent 10 hours painting my bathroom with vomit as I battled a nasty case of Thai-Tummy. My sandals broke the first day I arrived on this island, and I’ve been barefoot now for 5 weeks. So yeah, it sometimes sucks here and the misery can be exhausting, but at least I choose this misery and that makes it a little more bearable. So why am I sitting in the bathroom? Because there’s nowhere more comfortable in this bungalow then on this tile step.

After destroying a few relationships in fantastic fashion, I found myself living in limbo, and pain, with no real direction to go in life. My self-entitled attitude had finally come back to bite me in the ass and my righteous sense of victimhood finally made me a victim, which makes me feel shitty about myself even more for thinking I’m again a victim.

This is what having shitty values does to you. You fuck up, then torch yourself for fucking up, then torch yourself for torching yourself, and so on and so on until you implode and decide to book one-way tickets for you and your daughter to the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.

Thus begins The Single Dad Nomad. I packed up a wheeled-backpack I got at Goodwill for $10 and off we strolled to the train station when I realized I forgot my daughter’s stroller. With no opportunity to return to retrieve it, I lugged my wheeled backpack, and a 3-year-old munchkin who thinks it’s funny to pretend burp in my face, through a 5-hour train ride, a 14-hour flight, a 5-hour flight, a 6-hour bus and a 2-hour boat ride. Things aren’t always peaches, but I’m the one who taught her to burp so that one is on me.

My daughter’s name is Auburn and I’ve hurt her in a way that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive myself, I forced away the woman she called ‘Mom.’ This wasn’t her ‘real’ Mom, but to Auburn, it was her Mom–a sweet girl I have known for over seven years and had previously dated–who came into Auburn’s life not long after I first got custody of her at 18-months-old. This girl eventually took on a massive role in Auburn’s life, and I forced her away last winter.

Auburn’s birth-mom and I separated right before Auburn turned 1, she was a breastfeed baby and stayed with her mom when we separated. I left Hong Kong and went back to the States and didn’t get to see Auburn for 6 months. I cried every day for the first 3. Then a little less thereafter, but I still missed her so much all the time. My body would have a physiological reaction to other kids crying, a boost of adrenaline that would overwhelm me with sadness. You can imagine how elated I was to get custody of her at 18-months! But can you imagine how unhappy Auburn was to be losing her mom and primary source of food?

She wouldn’t eat enough formula, so she couldn’t sleep, and her heavy bond with her birth-Mom at that point was a devastating loss for her emotionally, psychologically, and physically. She could only sleep on my chest, the same way she napped as a baby on the weekends when I didn’t have to work. Every single night she would wake up every hour to remind me how much she was hurting by crying relentlessly and screaming for her Mom in a language I couldn’t understand (hint: her birth-Mom had spoke to her in Cantonese for the last six months).

By the end of the first week, I was a zombie. After 3 months, a ghost. She was sleeping 2-3 hours at a time and crying for an hour or 2 in between at night. After 6 months, Auburn didn’t remember why she was hurting anymore, but she was still waking up crying every few hours, every night. The only thing that helped her sleep again was picking her up, pacing, and singing to her and rubbing her back. She was usually inconsolable for at least an hour, but different methods worked at different times. At first it was having to let her sleep in my chest and stomach. After a few months I could slowly roll her on to the bed, but dare not leave it. A few months later, I could creep out of the bed, but not every time. A few months after that, I could get her to sleep by reading her books and often sneak out of the bed without waking her, but she would eventually always wake up and cry. A few months later I could get her to sleep in her own bed, but she would still wake up 2-5 times a night crying. If you want to time travel, don’t sleep for awhile. Because when you wake up, it’s two years later.

Two years from getting custody and my sleep schedule is not the 9-10 hours I was getting in college, but the 4-10 hours I’m likely to get as a parent. Auburn rarely suffers night terrors which are difficult to deal with. She doesn’t always get to bed when she is supposed to, and she grinds her little teeth which worries me. But sometimes she giggles when she’s dreaming and my eyes get watery and I giggle right along with her.

Two years from getting custody and I’m finally starting a blog, alone in a sheet-metal bathroom, next to a sink that literally just drains right out the wall and into the nearest bush. Why? Partly because a part of me has always wanted to share Auburn’s story but I’ve been too afraid to. But mostly because my values were so trashed that I thought it was a better idea to cheat on my now-ex-girlfriend, rather than talk to her honestly about what was upsetting me. My pride became more important than my sense of dignity. I hurt her greatly, and I left my daughter without the female role-model who had been her Mom for the past year.

Now my daughter cries for her, she tells me how she misses her and talks about things she remembers doing with her. I say the only thing I can, ‘I miss her, too.’ I do my best to remind her it’s okay to miss people and that not every family has a Mommy and Daddy all the time and some have neither and some have two of each and some have probably more than that. It’s a truth about society that helps me keep her from thinking she is a victim. God forbid my trashed values wear off on her this young. So, I’m doing what I can now to reevaluate my values and improve my relationship with my daughter. She’s the most important thing to me and I want to raise her to be a strong and open-minded person.

Occasionally traveling outside of the United States is how I see best fit to do that. I’ve traveled with her before, but never solo. Removing myself from the judgment and social pressures of American values isn’t always easy. It forces me to live in a shitty bungalow, to have to dodge ants when I take a piss, watch where I walk so I don’t cut my bare feet on glass, and occasionally projectile vomit because I eat some rancid meat off some nose-picker’s charred BBQ grill.

It’s worth it because I’m getting more time than ever with my daughter. In just over a month we’ve become closer than ever, she misses her ‘Mommy’ less, and as a massive bonus, she’s been sleeping through the night regularly! Curious about how she does that here? Yes, we live in a shitty bungalow, with one bed, so yes, we co-sleep, and no, I don’t care what your opinion is on the subject, co-sleeping with my toddler is awesome. She’s snuggly and I love her to pieces and if she sleeps well then I’m good. And I know where to draw the line, I don’t let her use me as an all-night footrest, not always.