The Weekend


This was the kind of weekend when we went from one place to another, or one thing to another. It was MM’s friend Maggie’s birthday party on Friday after the preschool. And all three of us went. It’s become given in our family that we’d go to places together and do things together. And so it was given for MM to wish Maggie a happy birthday with her Mom and Dad chatting with other parents, hanging around to help out with corralling up the kids from one activity to another, and pulling kids out of range of over zealous whacking of the Dora pinata.

And then we visited the Children’s Museum on Saturday, after MM declared that she’d like to visit Newburyport, Rockport, and Taiwan. She wasn’t disappointed with the much less exotic destination. And fortunately for us she was properly tired out for the dinner and bedtime routine when we got home.

This morning, then, continued the trend. We woke up to a bright and warm morning sun, went to church, and then a luncheon, where there were 2 kinds of chilli, cucumber and orange salad, and home-made whole wheat and Challah bread. The bread was made by the guest of honor, who came to the US from Switzerland two years ago with her family. MM met a new friend, a seven-year-old girl with poofy, curly pigtails, and they went around the house looking for flowers in the lawn and treasures under the bushes. The sun was still beaming when we got home, took out the no less than 30-year-old window AC that was probably letting in the Yellow Jackets through it’s worn accordion sides, did some weeding and trimming in the garden, showed MM the tiny robin’s nest with five blue eggs that I found in the Juniper bush, and then had a friend to come over and help M with fitting in a new deadbolt lock in the front door which had too small a hole for the modern lock.

It was the kind of weekend I like.


There are port and startboard, and then there are “Kadu” and “Judu”


I don’t think I ever got into naming things when I was growing up. I’m not even sure I named my dolls. My younger sister CY was a different story: not only she named her stuffed animals, she even named the left and right corners of her comforter. Well, it appears my daughter somehow took up the “thing-naming” genes, as she named her left foot “Kadu” [‘ka-doo] and the right foot “Judu” [‘jiu-doo]. There was never a confusion of “my right”, “your left” in our household, as the following example clearly illustrates:

(A large thumping sound indicating a fall in the family room, followed by a loud cry…we rushed into the room)
“Are you hurt? What happened?”
“I fell down when I was jumping!”
“Did you hurt you feet? Is it Kadu or Judu?”
“It’s Kadu……..”

To be fair, there are well-developed “thing-naming” genes on my husband’s side of family as well. His sister used to name the left foot the “American foot”, and the right foot the “Practice foot”…

Coming to a Science Museum near You…Harry Potter the Exhibition


From one of the brochures my daughter collected at the Boston Museum of Science:

Harry PotterTM: The exhibition offers fans the opportunity to experience the amazing craftsmanship of more than 200 authentic costumes and props from the Harry Potter films. These artifacts are displayed in settings inspired by the film sets — including the Great Hall, Hagrid’s Hut, and the GryffindorTM common room.

If the Harry Potter fans out there don’t mind me voicing one teeny tiny detail on the museum’s…umm…shall we say “artistic” direction — last time I checked, Harry Potter has nothing to do with science.

Oh sure, we aren’t talking about witchcrafts here. It’s the costumes and props that are in the exhibit! The special effects must use a lot of physics and chemistry, right? Right. But they aren’t showing the howtos of the special effects (not mentioned in the brochure anyway). I’m sure a lot of HP fans want to see the phoenix feather on Harry’s wand, the stitches on Dumbledore’s robe, the fat lady painting that served as the door to the Gryffindor common room, and the Nimbus 2000 broom. But they’re not science.

As for the pricing, well, of course it has to be appropriate for the magnitude of the event. Adult, 26 dollars; Senior, 24 dollars; Child (3-11), 23 dollars. Members: Call for special pricing! To get to see Harry’s scar, priceless! For everything else, just try as you can to tap some of that Harry Potter dough to raise money for the museum.

I guess there are a lot of mothers who stay home…


It seems only not so very long ago that I was making heart wrenching choices of choosing daycares, and suddenly I realize it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten for next fall. I find myself browsing our city’s public school website and gasping – the school only goes until when???!!!! Don’t other parents need to work too? What do they mean the the morning class switches with the afternoon class in the January? After-school program? Huh? She’s only going to be in kindergarten.

Thinking back, I really was blessed. I started going to kindergarten at three. In Taiwan, the kindergarten had the “small” class, the “middle” class, and the “big” class. The names of the classes had nothing to do with the size of the classes, but the age of the children (as I sadly found out one morning after my mother had told me that I was old enough to go to the “big” class). So, instead of going to preschools for 2 years, and then kindergarten for 1 year, as in the US, the preschool and the kindergarten were combined into “kindergarten”. Every morning the bus would pick me up from the gate of the elementary school where both my parents taught, and then in the afternoon the bus would drop me off at the same spot. After drop off, I would simply go inside to my mother’s or my father’s class, and went home with them.

My two younger sisters didn’t go to kindergarten at all. That’s where my grandmas came in. Each of my amahs took care of one of my sisters, and neither of my sisters went to any kind of school until first grade. I never thought about this before, but now I wonder what other parents did. Certainly not everyone was as lucky as my parents to have a job where the kids can go hang out at their work. Although, I think there were an abundance of amahs who were more than willing, eager even, to take care of their grandkids. I think this child care model is akin to the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child”. As a year 2009 mom living in a first world country, I really don’t see a “village”. I see a society that has more wealth than ever, and yet even a basic need such as child care is a challenge to be “worked out”.

When I Bring Out the Scare Tactics…


“Let me wipe off that purple stain on your lips.”

“No, I want to see it in the mirror first.”

“You know, Sweetie, you could learn to be more cooperative when Mommy or Daddy tries to help you, rather than always being so opinionated.”

“I want to see it in the mirror first.”

“…that means sometimes you could just do what Mommy or Daddy says when Mommy or Daddy tries to help you.”

“What if I am in a hole in the ground?”

“Excellent example.  Say if you’re in a hole in the ground and Mommy drops down a rope and asks you to hold on to the rope, so Mommy can pull you out, and you say, ‘No, I don’t like holding on to a rope!’  That wouldn’t be very helpful, would it?”

“Maybe you should find a ladder instead.”

“Umm…no, a ladder wouldn’t work because it would take too long to find one, and if a big bear comes and tries to eat you up that wouldn’t be very good.”

The Foreign World in Hollywood Pictures


Some time ago we watched “The Painted Veil”.  It was a good movie.  Edward Norton is a very admirable actor.  But it really bugs me when people don’t do research when they portray foreign cultures.  For example, in one scene, the doctor E. N. portrayed went to the river bank to look at the water source, and then was frustrated when he saw a hand sticking out of the dirt, implying people were ruining their water source by burying their dead right next to the river.  Hello, people, have you ever heard of Fong Shui?  Chinese people care a lot about the after lives of their dead, because the Fong Shui of your ancestors’ burial places directly affect yours and your offsprings’ prosperity.  (Not that I believe it, but back then everybody believes it.  Even nowadays people may not really believe it, it’s still a tradition, and it’s part of a sentiment that making sure their dead can be in a well-prepared place is the least and the only thing you can do for them now.  BTW, FongShui in many ways is just good common sense.  For example, you wouldn’t like living in a damp place would you?  A place that’s prone to flooding wouldn’t have good FongShui.)  And burying right next to the river where it’s damp and the dead bodies can be easily wash off into the river, least of all without a coffin, is unthinkable.  Even very poor people give their dead a coffin, even if it has to be one made with cheap thin wooden boards.

Oh, and the scene where their housekeeper bring out a bowl of salad greens…  Chinese don’t eat salad.  Not traditionally anyway.  Definitely not in that time period.

At this time and age, Hollywood is still presenting foreign cultures in stereotypes.

Being 16 Tired


It was half-past bed time and the soon-to-be 4-year-old is still bargaining with us…

“It’s time for bath…now.”

“But Mommy I’m 16 tired.”

“16 tired?  On a scale of 1 to 16, you’re 16 tired?”

“Yes, and I can’t walk.  I want you to carry me.”

“Sweetie, you’re too big for Mommy to carry you upstairs.”

“But Mommy I’m 16 tired…I’m so so so tired.”

Yeah, just wait until you’re 40-with-a-preschooler-and-the-kid’s-birthday party-is-this-Saturday-and-I-haven’t-done-a-thing tired.