Saturday, January 5, 2019

International Travel Tips

I have travel abroad by myself to Switzerland in 2017 and I learned some great tips that can be helpful for those who haven’t travel internationally before or for those who want to learn new tips.. It can be such an exciting and nervous time. My perspective is an American traveling internationally but many of these tips can be used for those from a different country.

  • passport. This is a very important document. If you don’t have one, make sure you get it in plenty of time before your trip. If your passport is expired or close to expiring , renew it in enough time.
  • Visa. Some countries require a visa to get into the country. Make sure to get one in enough time.
  • Do some research about the place/places you are visiting. Try to learn customs( for example is it acceptable to handshake or give hugs), the currency, a little bit of the history. It is good to show respect to the places that you visit.
  • Make sure to keep a little bit of currency from your home country with you while you are traveling so when you return to your home country, you can buy some food if there is a delay at the airport. Some people like to exchange currency or carry a card ( with the card you have to discuss with your bank at least in the USA. I am not sure if other countries offer these type of cards) or do both. It really depends where you are going since not all places take card. On my trip, I exchanged money into the currency of the country I visited.
  • I looked up a map of the airports that I flew into. This was helpful so I had an idea of where I was going. Many airports are really big and some require to take a train to get to other terminals.
  • Make sure you have a plug adapter for the country/ countries you are visiting. Plug adapter allows you to plug something into the plugs in other country since the shape of the plug outlet can vary.  Here is an article that lists what plug type and voltage that countries use plug type, voltage   You may need a voltage converter Voltage is the amount of electricity that goes into what you just plugged in. Some countries have a higher voltage power. Some devices are dual voltage that don't require a voltage converter. Here is a great article that explains this all in detailed voltage converter info.  I'm not an expert in this area and I would make sure to research or discuss with someone who understands this. I only brought an iPhone charger and it only required an plug adapter. I didn't bring any other devices such as a computer or hair blow dryer since I was staying with a friend and she let me use her things. If I was studying abroad, I would have brought my own computer.
I hope these tips help with your future travels. Do any of you guys have travel plans for 2019? Let me know in the comments below. 
Have a great weekend

~Liu Miao~

Friday, December 21, 2018

Gift Guide: Dog owners

Hello Readers! I hope all is well and you are enjoying the Christmas season. I am happy to have a break from school and relax a bit. Christmas is a fun time of giving and spending time with loved ones. This gift guide is to help you shop for the Dog Owners in your life. Please remember that this list is just suggestions and it is not an inclusive list. The products mentioned in this post are not sponsored by the company and are my own opinions.

  • Kong products: I personally use these products and love them for my dog. These products last a long time and great for heavy chewers.  Kong Classic Dog Toy- Treat Dispensing is my favorite product. This toy challenges dogs to work for treats. I put peanut butter inside the toy. The tug-a-war toy is also a great option since it is a great toy for fetch. Kong products are expensive but they are great quality. PetSmart often has these products on sale.
  • Milk bone products: This is another product that is great. I use the Milk bone: original biscuits. They come in different sizes of biscuits and different quantity sizes ( a big box of bones or a medium size box of bones depending on how many bones that you give your dog).
  • Grreat Choice Toys: I use the Spike ball squeaker toy, and Spike bone squeaker toy. The spike squeaker toys come in other shapes. They are good quality and last for a while. They are also very affordable compared to Kong brand.
  • Dog Sweaters: I buy dog sweaters at Walmart because it is usually really affordable. The sizing is not always accurate but Walmart has great Christmas sweaters for dogs. They also have none- christmas sweaters too.
  • Gift cards: This is a great option for dog owners since this allows them to pick what they want. PetSmart, Petco, Walmart, and Target are great places to get dog products. Buying a gift card from a local dog shop is also a great option.

I hope this helps give you ideas and that you have a great weekend! Please follow the blog on Instagram @awordwithlm to receive updates about the blog and a peek into my daily life.

~Liu Miao~

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gift Guide:Spoonies

Hello readers! I hope all is well. I recently finished my semester and so excited to be on break. Christmas is a great time because it involves giving gifts, family, friends and good food. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to buy for people. This gift guide to help you shop for the Spoonies in your life. Please remember that this list is only suggestions and is not an inclusive list.

  • Cozy things: There are many times where Spoonies need to rest at home due to having a chronic illness. Fuzzy socks, comfortable pillows, and really soft blankets can be great options. Having these things can make resting at home a little more comfortable and make a person feel a little better.
  • Fun things to do while sitting/ relaxing in bed: Movies are a great option for something fun to do while resting. Coloring/ drawing is another great option. Books can be a good option since this activity is low key on the physical activity. Audio books are great if one doesn't like reading physical book or for those who may not be able to focus on a book when they are having a bad heath day but they still enjoy reading. Also Audio books don't require as much room as physical books.
  • Food: Some Spoonies have to be on special diets due to their health and it can be hard to find foods/desserts that fit those restrictions. If you can find foods/desserts that fit their health restrictions, it can be a great gift idea since you took the time to find the special foods/desserts. A personalized water bottle or lunch bag are great options too since it is important to stay hydrated especially for Spoonies. A lunch bag is great for those who like to bring their own food due to health restrictions and a cute/personalized bag makes it more fun.
  • Technology accessories: Extra long charging chords are a Spoonie's best friend. Many times technology give Spoonies entertainment when they can't go out and those extra long chords are very helpful for those long hours in bed. Five below, Target, and Walmart have great inexpensive extra long charging chords. Headphones/earbuds are a great option too. A fun personalized phone case or tablet case would be a great option.

I hope this gift guide helps you with your shopping. Have a great weekend. Follow the blog on Instagram @awordwithlm to see updates about the blog and a peek into my daily life.

~Liu Miao~

Friday, December 14, 2018

Gift Guide: College Students

Hello readers! How is everyone? I recently finished my semester and so happy to have a break from school. I can't believe it's almost Christmas. Has everyone finished their gift shopping? If not, this gift guide can help give you ideas to shop for your college classmate or family member who is in college. This gift guide can be applied for those who are college age. Please remember that this list is only suggestions and is not an inclusive gift guide.
  • Gift cards: This can be a great gift especially if you are not sure what someone likes. Also restaurant gift cards are nice since young adults don't always have extra money to eat out #brokecollegestudent. Target, Walmart, and Visa gift cards are great options. If you know a specific place a friend likes to shop, then maybe a gift card there would be a great gift. Gift cards allow the person to pick something they want and ensure that they really like the gift. If you have to travel for Christmas, gift cards are travel friendly.
  • Technology accessories: Personalized phone cases or tablet cases can make christmas gifts. Headphones/earbuds, charging cords, and screen protectors are also great options. It never hurts to have extras of these since many times they get lost. Five Below and target has inexpensive technology accessories.
  • Homemade goodie basket: Many times college students don't have the time to make homemade food. It would be nice to make a gift basket of homemade foods/ desserts that they like.
  • Relaxing things: Buy a gift that is relaxing for college age students. Movies, face masks, bath salts, games, books ( fun reading),  fuzzy socks, and music are things that can be relaxing for college age people. College students are often stressed and it is so important to relax.
I hope that this gift guide helps you with your shopping for college age friends and family. Have a great weekend. Please follow the blog on Instagram @awordwithlm to receive updates about the blog and see a glimpse into my daily life.

~Liu Miao~

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Where are you from?

Happy National Adoption Month:  To promote awareness for children in foster care in the United States. It began  as National Adoption Week in 1976 by Governor Michael Dukakis and it was declared by President Reagan in 1984. Then it was expanded to a whole month by President Clinton. 

The Adoption Series will feature those in the adoption triad: The Birth Family, Adoptee, Adoptive Family. There may be differing opinions among those in the adoption community and that is ok. It is important to respect other's opinions and sometimes one can learn from someone's different opinions. 

This week in The Adoption Series: The Adoptee. The following post was written by an Adoptee. 

Please Remember that this post doesn't represent the opinions or experiences of all adoptees. This post only represents this adoptee's thoughts and opinions.

     “Where are you from?” This has always been a loaded question for me, as an adoptee. People always assume that I have Chinese parents, and was born in China. If I do not know them well, I don’t like to divulge such personal information that I am in fact adopted. I don’t want them to think they can invalidate my identity once they hear that I was torn from my roots. When I was at a small liberal arts college, everyone thought I was an international student, as 99% of the Chinese students came from Shanghai. I went along with this storyline, expanding to include an imaginary dad who owned a computer business. I knew I was playing into stereotypes, but I took solace in the make believe. In addition, I usually look towards dealing with racial assumptions through humor rather than be on the defense. “Where are you from?” An ‘innocent’ accusation revealing you are stuck in between, neither fully American, nor fully Chinese.

     Will you ever be enough? After college, I finally realized I didn’t need anyone to validate my identity. Despite coming to America at the young age of 3, I consider myself to be Chinese first, American second. Many people have questioned the validity in this identity, but it is how I claim myself to be. Where am I from? I am from China, and that is all you (a stranger) are privy to know. Do not push me further, or I may lead you down an endless path leading to nowhere. It is fine to be curious, but be aware that words as well as actions can have consequences whether it be for better or for worse. To ask me where I am from puts me on the defense. I feel like I do not truly fit in, because my appearance or behavior is constantly in question. I have enough inner turmoil that I do not need to take upon the stress that your question produces. It is enough to be adopted, and to be in a constant state of figuring things out. 
     So next time, think before you ask. Maybe find a better way to ask about someone’s background than to ask them where they are from, or where they are really from. Where are you from?

Please follow A Word with Liu Miao on Instagram at awordwithlm to receive updates about new posts on the blog and to see a glimpse of my life.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Happy National Adoption Month:  To promote awareness for children in foster care in the United States. It began  as National Adoption Week in 1976 by Governor Michael Dukakis and it was declared by President Reagan in 1984. Then it was expanded to a whole month by President Clinton. 

The Adoption Series will feature those in the adoption triad: The Birth Family, Adoptee, Adoptive Family. There may be differing opinions among those in the adoption community and that is ok. It is important to respect other's opinions and sometimes one can learn from someone's different opinions.

This week in The Adoption Series: The Adoptive Family.

 Lanaya and her husband have the privilege of parenting two beautiful girls who joined their family through international adoption. Adoption makes their family a whole lot more beautiful, and brings unique challenges to the table. This has driven her in her pursuit of adoption education, particularly from adoptee and birthparent voices, which she seeks to elevate in the adoption community. She believes passionately in the value of every human life and the incredible grace of God. She loves to read and learn, especially on the topic of adoption. She and her family live in Alberta, Canada. Connect with Lanaya on Instagram lanaya graham, and through her blog found at lanayagraham

Please Remember that this post doesn't represent the opinions or experiences of all Adoptive Families. This post only represents the thoughts and experiences of Lanaya and her family.

Have you ever been in a situation that just made you feel icky? Have you ever felt like you were just an object to be used for someone else’s entertainment or gain? Maybe you were a kid on the playground that somehow knew you were the butt of a joke but didn’t get it. Maybe you were walking down the street and had a stranger cat call then snicker with a buddy. Maybe you took a stand for an injustice and had someone laugh in your face. 

I bet at one time or another we’ve all felt this way. Maybe we’ve even been the one to make the jab. It just feels gross to be objectified like that. It feels awkward and leaves us unsure of our footing. Maybe we are mad, maybe we are sad. Undoubtedly we are hurt.

Remembering how we felt when we were objectified is the best way to gain empathy when we are listening to the stories of adoptees who feel objectified within their adoption stores. We need to try and imagine how they feel when they speak, even if haven’t had the same experience or feelings about a similar experience. One way in which I have tried really hard to honouradoptees’ feelings is by changing the language I use when I talk about my children and about adoption in general.

From intentionally listening to adoptees, I have heard over and over that the phrase “gotcha day” makes many of them feel objectified, less than and commoditized. Like they were something to be purchased or owned. I stop and think about the connotation of that word, it makes perfect sense! When we play tag and call out “gotcha!” as we tag someone, we are claiming a victory. We become the winner, and someone else the looser. When we use “gotcha” at the end of a prank, we are lording our prowess over the person who is now the butt of the joke. We gain the upper hand, while someone else is left feeling powerless and resentful. I might use this phrase if I snag the last jug of milk at the grocery store, when I catch a pest in my home, or when I find a long lost t-shirt behind my freezer. 

I know there are adoptees who are not offended by this phrase just like there are people of every minority who still use older terms to refer to themselves. However, I believe this is a simple, easy change that I can make- even if not all adoptees are offended by it. In my mind, even if only a few people are offended by this phrase, it is worth it to me to find another. 

My husband and I have a few very special days in our hearts as the parents of children who joined our family via adoption, rather than biology. Right now we choose to call these days “family days” and try to do something special for and with the child who we are celebrating. But I say this cautiously because we hold these traditions VERY loosely. I know my children have complex feelings about adoption. All their thoughts and emotions are valid as they change, shift and grow. If there comes a point when my child feels that their “family day” is more of a funeral than a birthday party, we shall mark the day as they see fit. Or not mark it at all. Or call it something different. Or do something else to acknowledge their grief. These days mark a lot of change. And it’s not all win-win. There is way too much loss to make it simple, or to deny adoptees the right to choose how they wish to remember the significant days on the calendar. 

If you are reading this and struggle with the change, or feel frustrated with keeping up with PC language. Here are a few questions: If your child likes this phrase, might it be because they’ve never been given an option to think of this day differently? If you use this phrase, is your tradition more important than adoptees who have been hurt by this language? Is there an area of your life where you have felt frustrated by someone refusing to acknowledge your pain because they have never experienced it?

As parents by adoption, let’s press into adoptee driven education. Let’s not be quick to dismiss their experiences. When they share their thoughts, they risk great criticism and rejection, so let’s not let their vulnerability be in vain.

Whats In My Spoonie Survival Kit

I am happy to welcome another blogger to the #SpoonieSeries , Juliette. I love having other fellow Spoonies to contribute to this series because we can learn and be encouraged by other Spoonie's Stories.  Juliette Sebock is the founder of lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste. She is a poet and writer as well as a full-time blogger and influencer. In addition to the blog, she has created content for Her Campus and The Mighty and has poems and other creative pieces in a variety of outlets.  She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Mistakes Were Made. You can find Juliette at For the Sake of Good Taste or on social media.

I live with an assortment of chronic illnesses, both physical and psychological. Some are diagnosed, while others remain a mystery as of now.  Diagnosed or not, though, I've had to learn how to manage my various conditions;  I've talked about this a bit on The Mighty and my own blog (like in this post, featuring tips for managing chronic pain).  One of the most beneficial things I've done in the process of figuring this out is create a "flare kit," which I affectionately refer to as my "spoonie survival kit."  With these items close at hand,  the worst of my flare days become just a little bit easier.
For me, personally, I don't always have these in a literal kit.  I have some items in multiples, scattered throughout my apartment and my purses, and I keep others in a central location so it's always on hand.

Not all of these items will apply to everyone, but they've made a huge difference for me!

Muscle Rub

I especially like Absorbine Jr.'s products, so I usually keep something of theirs or a generic muscle rub in a few different places throughout my apartment and in various purses and bags.


This is one that will especially vary, but, for me, it usually includes a few different types of ibuprofen (Advil's original, migraine, and PM being the most common), something for menstrual pain relief, allergy pills, motion sickness medication, lavender capsules, and Pepto Bismol.

Heating pad

A heated blanket or hot water bottle will work to! I have a "normal" heating pad, a microwaveable sock filled with beans and essential oils, an electric blanket. and a hot water bottle, myself because heat seems to especially help me.  

Ice pack

Of course, I keep this one in the freezer, rather than in various spots around the house!  Sometimes I need ice, not heat for a symptom and an ice pack is the perfect way to get it.

Rubber jar grip

For me, one of the worst things when a flare hits is that my hands don't work very well. This sort of rubbery grip is perfect for opening my pill containers, water bottle, or whatever won't open.


I have a variety of braces, for almost every body part at this point!  If I don't have an appropriate brace, an ACE bandage is the perfect substitute.

Ear plugs/headphones

Especially when I was living at school, noise has always been a particularly unavoidable trigger.  Ear plugs are great if I'm able to rest in bed, or I'll put in headphones and play some calming music or videos if I'm out and about.


This is another one that will vary.  I previously had a pregnancy pillow that was the best thing for my chronic joint pain.  Lately, I've been using a standard body pillow to "cuddle" with my the joint pain, a small pillow under my hips while lying down, and a sciatica pillow while sitting for a while.  


For me, my emotional support cat, Fitz, is a huge help.  In the future, I plan to have a service dog (my friend Lauren of Lauren's Journey has a great post on distinguishing between ESAs and psychiatric service animals).  Not able to have a pet? A stuffed animal won't have exactly the same effect, but it can be a great comfort nevertheless!

Eye mask

Light is another major trigger of mine, and my bed is extremely close to a window.  For that reason, an eye mask is helpful!


Similarly to the eye mask, sunglasses are a huge help when I'm out and about.  I might get some strange looks when I'm wearing sunglasses at night ("so I can, so I can. . . ."), but it's worth it.  

Water bottle

I'm a huge proponent of staying hydrated, and this is especially true when a flare hits.  I try to avoid using excessive plastic, so I'll keep a reusable bottle on me. 

If you struggle with drinking enough water, check out my post on ways to stay hydrated!

Fuzzy socks

Even on good days, my feet get outrageously cold.  A pair of fuzzy socks are a must-have. 

Games or puzzles

A mindless phone game or distracting puzzle can be a great way to think about anything but a flare.  I use the app "Virtual Hope Box," which features a Sudoku game and other puzzles, which inspired me to try this sort of thing more often.  I keep these sorts of apps on hand, plus puzzle books featuring more Sudoku, crosswords, and more!


I'm a fan of tea at any point, but it's especially beneficial during flares. Yogi tea is particularly helpful--I like their stress relief, joint comfort, and woman's raspberry leaf varieties, myself.


My bullet journal is a sort of lifeline any day, but it's especially helpful during a flare.  "Brain fog" is very real, so a to do list is absolutely crucial if I can't avoid being somewhat productive.

Want to start a "bujo" of our own?  Check out our posts on bullet journalling on For the Sake of Good Taste!

Mobility aid

While I don't use it often, my cane, "Viktor" is a saving grace when my joints or dizziness are particularly bothersome.  

Compression products

My hands are some of my most frequent issues, so compression gloves are one of my go-to items.  I'm looking into trying some compression socks, too!

Tablet or cell phone

I've found that my full-fledged computer screen is a bit much when I'm not feeling well, so I turn to my tablet or cell phone to stay connected.  Sometimes it's still too much, but when I can manage it, it's a nice alternative, especially with a "warm" or sleep setting on the screen. 

A snack

Some crisps, crackers, basic cookies, or a protein bar are a good alternative when I can't eat "normal" food.  I like some mashed potatoes or pudding if I need even less effort in terms of chewing. 

Please follow A Word with Liu Miao on Instagram at awordwithlm to receive updates about new posts on the blog and to see a glimpse of my life.