Category Archives: Family

Making Bread


I’ve been making bread with the breadmaker my mother sent me.
Parents…they work through you like a spoonful of yeast…
Until you’re shaped as the pan they put you in.


The Night Before Thanksgiving


This is what having a child does to you. When the child is little, you’re tied down to the kid’s nap and bedtime schedules. And you don’t take as many long trips. Then when the child is older, you can’t even take a trip to Europe for Thanksgiving without hearing some sighs and complaints because your daughter is used to having you visit and cook a scrumptious holiday meal for her. And, that is why on this Thanksgiving eve the only non-microwave dinner in our house is for our 19-month-old, and I’m sitting in front of the computer complaining about my parents deciding to take a trip to Italy at this time of the year.

Tomorrow we’re going to see our former-metal-band-musicians-turned-normal-parents-and-productive-working-adults friends and their kids. Should be fun. We can pick out a pumpkin pie from a grocery store on the way – just in case there weren’t enough pumpkin pies at the party. Besides, the pumpkin filling makes the pumpkin pie a far better *veggie* choice than a Boston cream pie.



Wandering into the living room…



“Were you reading the New York Times online?”

“No. I was surfing other sites.”


“Oh, I have to show you this really cool art blog I found on New York Times.”

“I thought you said you weren’t looking at New York Times.”

“Well, not right before you asked me the question.”

“In that case, I did not eat five burritos and watch back-to-back CSI.”

“You ate all the burritos!”

“No. Not right before you came in.”

Left Out of the Dollhouses


Researchers at Yale Child Study Center reported that preschoolers (ages 3 and 4) have a more than 3 times higher expulsion rate than their K-12 elders. (Note: Direct transfer to other schools or programs didn’t count as an expulsion in the study.) I had no idea preschools institute expulsions. Somewhere between training the kids to use a potty to teaching them the words to Lamb Chop’s Sing-Alongs, the teachers had gone bald from tearing her hair out and had to tell the parents, “I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Smith, your child is out of control, and we can’t have him in this school anymore for other children’s sake.”

“Is there any other school who would have the resources to deal with free spirits like our Bobalah?”

“Ha, good luck! Er…maybe at a school where the teachers have access to a child psychologist down the hall whom the teachers can send the child to instead of having to come up with creative and effective disciplinary techniques without spanking the kid.”

Not that I have any reason to worry about my daughter M, whose defiance and tantrums are all well within socially acceptable limits. But coming from a family of teachers and with both my parents being elementary school teachers at one point, I’m quite familiar with the antics a child can raise, and of which the parents invariably begged my parents, the teachers, “Please, teacher, do some parenting for us.”

“What do you do when your child break rules at home?”

“We send him to his room.”

“And what does he do in his room?

“He plays his Professional Wrestling Tournament video game.”

“Have you tried taking his video game away?”

“Oh, but he wouldn’t like it. He kicks and screams until we put it back where it was.”

“So, how can I help you?”

“Discipline. Hard core, tough love discipline. We beg you, teacher. We’re relying on you to help him to grow up into a law-abiding citizen.”

See here for the actual text of the paper published by the researchers.

Jingle Bells! You know…Ho Ho Ho and Presents for Pretty Girls!


My husband’s birthday is coming up. And since my own birthday is in the same month and following his, I have to make his extra special so he has a proper model to follow in preparing for MY birthday. He already told me that it’s very cheesy to give him the 4 DVDs that we have to buy by the end of this month in order to fullfill our DVD club obligations. And for the cake, dare I repeat the once a year tradition of making THE JOY of COOKING German chocolate cake with a 1 1/2 -year-old who’s ready to dip her hands into the incredibly gooey mix that Mommy is stirring? Oh, yes, she’d want to hold the mixer, too. And to get a better view of it all, climbing onto a chair and standing up with hands in the air like a trapeze artist is a must. What’s more she’ll add some colorful seasonings to it, such as a tiny piece of paper torn from the glossy Bed And Bath catalog that she pulled from the recycling bin, Cheerios, block toys, bib…she’s great at improvising.

And since December follows right after November, it’s also time to organize a list of all the people worthy of receiving our greeting cards, and all the people worthy of presents in addition to greeting cards. And if I want to re-gift something from the past years, I have to make sure:

(1) The gift in question wasn’t given by that person; and

(2) The gift wouldn’t be seen by the original giver either during or after giving; and

(3) The original giver won’t expect to see it when he/she visits our house.

But first…a trip to the Cheesecake Factory is in order. The re-gift list will have to wait.

A Slice of My Life


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Anita who?

Anita Vacation. (I need a vacation.)

Had only a couple of gulps of coffee before I left for work this morning because of course I was pressing for time again and my travel mug was still in the garage. The after-Labor-Day traffic has been quite ugly. Normally on the way to work I’d be content with being surrounded by serene classical music in the car, but today I needed something different, something to swallow me up and make me feel like I was driving to Malibu rather than work.

The drive home was just as horrendous. Parents were all hurrying home so they could take their kids out for trick-or-treating. It was still daylight when I left the office, but during half-way I turned on the headlights. By the time M and I arrived home it was already dark out.

As with the past two years, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters. Our street is too dark after nightfall. Every tiny bit of light seems to be swallowed by the shadow of the trees. It also didn’t help that our yard light was broken and had not been replaced (there were about 4 wasps flying in there in the summer when my husband tried to change the light bulb.) I was fine with not having to travel between the front door and the kitchen counter – it was challenging enough for me to try to come up with a nutritious meal that I could feed my daughter without feeling like an inadequate mother.  Correction…I do feel like an inadequate mother.  Anyway, an 18-month-old toddler who constantly wants to climb onto chairs and put anything except real food in her mouth provides plenty of distractions.

That 6-lbs. bag of candy bars sitting in the pantry is going to be my downfall.

Our Routine


Every morning my 18-month-old’s half-talking and half-singing in English/Chinese/Spanish combo gibberish accompanied her as she tossed her body on our bedrock-like bodies.  She’d roll over us on her back, pressing one of her cheeks on my face, playfully biting us the way frisky kittens do and finally … starting to slide off our bed – the most powerful tact to get us jump out of the covers in case she’d fall and hurt herself.  And then while we quickly grab a diaper, she dashed toward the door with glee, arms in the air.

Thus we started our mornings, her face bright-eyed with an ear-to-ear grin, with an ongoing happy chatters, and ours trying to shake off the grogginess and doting on as we poured ourselves the strong coffee required in this household.

The bye-byes were unhappy occasions, until we instituted the “one-kiss” ceremony.  After I pecked Daddy’s and her lips, she would then be content to watch me leave for work.

Her time at the daycare has largely been a black box for us.  We were relieved when we were able to transfer her from the daycare with the most impressive facility and aloof staff (who’d call me in midmorning telling me that they’d given her the last bottle) to the small family daycare.  However, we’d never gotten more information than: “She’s fine.  She ate the lunch.”  In comparison though, it’s not much different from the “She had a great day!” note (despite the tear streaks still on her face when I picked her up) we got from the previous daycare.  This constitutes part of my anguish as a working mother. 

And then finally we came home from our separate days.  For a couple of hours before dinner we played the tupperware covers, bright yellow stickies,  old infant shoes, slippers, daddy’s socks and retired cellphones, leaving the legitimate toys to collect dust on their shelves.  Then daddy had to bribe the little one to other rooms, so I can scour the faint memories in my brain as to what nutritious meals I can make for my family with every member’s taste in consideration.

After dinner was the bath time.  By the time the little one was breathing evenly in the land of dreams, my brain was skipping tracks like an old vinyl record.  And once again, we lived another 24 hours.