“What is the big idea with the baby’s science project?!!” I stormed upstairs early in the morning, and rudely woke up my husband with my barking.

“What…” he flopped in our bed, then his eyes popped open.

I stood eying him with my arms crossed, “The science project?”.

“Oh…that….” clearly he was trying to gather his wits to confront my hostility. “Yeah…don’t worry, there is going to be science in her science project….probably it will have to do with energy…”

“So, the science project will qualify under physics?” me, sarcastically.

“YES! Physics.” hubby. He is shameless.

I rolled my eyes.

Two weeks ago, my 10-year-old came home all excited that our school’s annual science fair is back. It was taken away last year due to budget cuts.

I had handed off the baby’s science project to my hubby to manage, and paid very little attention to it.

Big mistake!

5th grade Science fair proposal


Early Monday morning, I happened to see the baby’s science project proposal laying on top of her backpack. I decided to take a peek, and saw that the project required a pumpkin, rubber bands, and protective goggles.

“Why do you need a pumpkin and protective goggles for your science project?” I asked the baby.

“We are going to explode a pumpkin with rubber bands!!” the baby announced with unrestrained excitement.

In the past, I had been the one that helped design the kids’ science fair projects. We have had many highly reputable projects, such as an earthquake project where we got permission from the Tech Museum to use their earthquake simulator to conduct experiments, and one year, we had built our own windmill model that powered real light bulbs.

I looked at the baby with a deep frown, and asked calmly, “What science are we supposed to learn from exploding a pumpkin?”

The baby gave me a blank stare, then finally said in a weak voice, “Science is fun…”

The science project proposal was due that day, so it was too late for me to intervene.

However, mother nature will intervene and insist that this project be modified.

My Einstein’s had not considered that there are no pumpkins at this time of the year.

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“Put that fish down!” a cashier shouted in Chinese at a poorly dressed old woman.

“One fish per customer!” the cashier walked in front of the buffet spread and pointed at a sign. The sign proclaimed this fish tray to be a new item, and special enough that you could only have one piece per customer.

The old woman dropped the fish back into its tray without looking up, and moved on to unrestricted dishes.

“Too much food for your box!! Next time don’t take so much.” the cashier yelled at the same old woman for over filling her container.

The old woman avoided eye contact again, paid with cash and walked away.

Every Monday, I go shopping at a big Chinese grocery store around lunch time, and would pick up a to go lunch at the grocery store’s hot deli.

Every time I see this thinly built tall cashier at the register, my heart would sink a little. She does not just take customers’ money like the rest of the cashiers. She makes it her business to police the amount of food people pile onto their to go boxes.

I pushed my tray in front of her cash register, and knew what was to come…

“You can get more food!” she barked.

Isn’t she awfully bossy!!

“You should go back and add more food.” bossy cashier, “Ah, you didn’t get the special fish. That’s good fish.”

“Oh, thank you. This is all I could eat.” me. I kept it to myself that I thought the new fish looked rather dry and unappetizing.

“Next time, you get the paper box. You can put all your food into our paper box, and I will be charging you half the price.” she instructed me helpfully.

The prices are clearly labeled on the different sized to go boxes. Only the large box has a flat bed with different sections, so I could somewhat separate the different items.

The rest of their to go boxes are tall rectangular shaped, which meant that with the different foods, all the flavors will blend into each other. I am of the opinion that even clumsily made food deserves some shred of dignity.

I faced her again this past Monday. I felt her watching me.

As I gathered the food, I was telling myself the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story in my head…

So I picked up more food than I could eat, plus one new fish onto my tray.

It was just right for her.

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Rice for Leprechauns

In honor of St. Patrick’s day, I surprised the kids with green steamed rice and green milk yesterday. They were super excited! My 13-year-old proclaimed me once again as a cool mom.

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My 13-year-old is now taller and bigger than me. But that does not stop me from tucking her in at night, accompanied by a fanfare of hugs and kisses. I am not so sure if this nightly ritual is still welcomed anymore. My 13-year-old often awarded this gesture of motherly love with a deliberate frown.

Even our bedtime chitchat is beginning to head downhill…

“So, what did you learn from that Confident Girls book?” 13-year-old.

“What Confident Girls book?” me.

“That book I found on the floor next to your bed.” 13-year-old.

100 Tips for Raising Confident Girls


“Oh! That 100 tips to raise confident girls book!” me.

“Yes. That one. Now, what are some of the tips you learned from it to raise me to be confident?” 13-year-old.

“Hmm….” me. The truth is that book has been sitting next to my bed collecting dust for a number of years now. My kids were toddlers the last time I touched it. But I wasn’t going to come clean to my 13-year-old that I can’t remember a thing from reading that book.

I thought really hard.

I got one!

“Well, one of the tips said that when you do something good. Instead of telling you that I am proud of you, I should hold your shoulders in my hands, look you in the eye, and say ‘Aren’t you proud of yourself?’” me grinning, rather pleased with myself.

“OH! So that’s why you never tell me that you’re proud of me.” 13-year-old.

Bloody murder.

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26
Feb

“Mom, do you have a band-aid?” 13-year-old.

“No. Why? What happened?” me, all concerned in that proper motherly way.

“Oh, I scraped my knee FALLLLing for you.” 13-year-old declared with a wide cheesy smile, and open arms.

I had to laugh.

Encouraged, she asked, “Hey, is your name wifi?”

“What?!” me.

“Because I’m feeling a connection.” displaying yet another winning and cheesy smile.

“Did some boy use these cheesy lines with you today?” me, laughing.

“No. I am practicing with you. Because I plan to try these lines on some poor boys tomorrow.” 13-year-old.

“……” me, “I liked you much better when you were a toddler.”

When my teen was still cute

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11
Feb

“Mom, could you not write me the letter?” baby, with a worrisome frown.

“Of course I have to write you the letter!” me, “It is the only homework your teacher assigned to me this whole school year. How could I not do it?!”

My 10-year-old was the Star Student of the week last week. That involved a big “All About Me” poster, and daily special classroom Star treatment. Thursdays are the parent to Star Student letters day, where we are to write something special and encouraging to our child, which will be read aloud to the entire class.

The baby has been fretting for days to my 13-year-old’s empathetic ears, but always within my earshot, that I was going to write about her chubby cheeks, about loving her to pieces, and about her being an absolutely splendid amazing kid. She predicted that my letter will be utterly embarrassing, that she will have to hide under her desk.

The baby at 9 months


So, I pen-ed her the following letter that was read to her entire 5th grade class:

Dear Tasterbach,

I know you have been dreading this letter, fearing I might say embarrassing mushy and lovey things that will send you diving under your desk.

I don’t want you to hide under your desk. There will be nothing loving in this letter. Instead, I will tell you about a few rotten things you have done to me.

Right from the beginning, you came out bigger than I would have liked. You did not arrive willingly either. You were quite unaware that you have overstayed your welcome, and I had to conspire with my doctor to evict you.

You came out furious. And staged a spectacular protest on the nurse’s weighting station. I asked the doctor if we could send you back. She told me it was too late.

When you finally learn to communicate, your favorite word was “No!” That made you an extremely uncooperative toddler. Even worse, you thought that you had exclusive rights to the word “No”, and would threw a monstrous fit when I applied the “No” against you.

You were especially rotten on an unforgettable Mother’s day.

Your Pre-Kindergarten class invited all the mothers to a Mother’s Day cupcake party. All you had to do was to follow simple instructions and do what the other nice children did, which were to introduce your mom, and show off a couple of pictures you drew for Mother’s Day.

You decided to go off script. You pointed at me, and announced to the class, “This is my mom,” and then deliberately, “She is a drinker.”

Bloody HELL…

The air was immediately sucked out of the room, the grown-ups in the classroom were shooting awkward glances at each other in every direction.

You were oblivious to the eerily silent classroom and my trauma, and had more to say, “She drinks black coffee ALL of the morning,” gave pause, then continued, “and she drinks green tea ALL of the afternoon. That’s my mom!”

Whew…The air was released back in the room, the moms and teachers exploded into laughter and everyone clapped mighty hard.

You beamed with pride with your awesome Mother’s Day speech.

Thank goodness that you are so darn cute all the time. Otherwise, I might have acted on the occasional temptations to wrap you back up, and ship you back to the hospital where you came from.

Love,

Mom.

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Band-aids for the face!!


“HAAaa, ha, ha….you look CRAZY, cuckoo!” me, holding on to my stomach, and can’t stop laughing.

We were at a Chinese New Year fair down in Los Angeles, and my father visited a booth that turned old people into loonies.

“Okay. Why do you let these people put these ridiculous looking Band-aids all over your face?” I finally calmed down a bit so I could post this question to my dad.

“They will make my eyes see better!” my father said with his eyes popping wildly.

“Better than 20 20 vision?!” me.

“No. I have Cataract in my eye. These stickers will make the blurry vision go away.” dad.

“How do you know they will work?” me.

“Because these people advertise these circle Band-aides EVERYWHERE!” dad.

“That doesn’t mean it works!” me, continue laughing.

“Too bad it is so expensive. They want $40 for 2 week supply! If they were cheap, I will definitely buy them” dad.

“I think I would prefer blurry vision over walking around with Band-aides all over my face.” me

“No, you only have to wear them for 2 months. Then you are all good.” dad.

I took another good look at him, and laughed more.

“$160 dollars…just for wearing these crazy looking band-aides for 2 months, and you will be cured of Cataract!” me, shouting on the street, “Look, if you could find just one person who needs Cataract surgery, and after 2 months wearing these things, his eye doctor declare him free of Cataract, and no longer need the surgery, then I will pay for these stickers for you.”

“You are almost 80 years old, why are you still so gullible!” me.

“I think it is working.” dad.

“Why?!” me.

“I feel this tinkling around my eyes already” dad.

I looked at my father, and began to feel uneasy about my genetic inheritance.

My mind flashed back to a fancy cosmetic store, where the friendly sales clerk had me try an ultra expensive anti-wrinkle eye care cream. I distinctively remembered how I affirmed that the cream had indeed caused the expected tinkling sensation around my eye. Or the other times, when I walked around the house wearing my facial mask that persistently startled my poor husband and children.

I had spent thousands of dollars on these products to combat lines that creep up on my face, and undoubtedly are on the hook to spend thousands more. Yet, I am keenly aware that the lines have held their positions, and even slowly gaining grounds.

So, I said to my father, “Dad, I will buy these circle band-aides for your eyes. At least we know of one solid benefit of them.”

“What’s that?” dad.

“Non-stop laughter for me.” me, still laughing.

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“Hey, how are you?” I greeted our favorite waitress at a local Chinese restaurant that we frequent.

“Oh, not so good. I have been worrying over my daughter these days.” she lamented.

I remembered that she has a daughter about my 13-year-old’s age.

“Why? What’s going on with her?” me, anticipating typical teenage issues.

“Her study. My daughter’s English is not so good, she has trouble with comprehension.” waitress.

“Oh. So, she is struggling with English.” me.

“No. SAT.” waitress.

“S.A.T??” me, with a blank look on my face.

“Yes, SAT. The big test for college. I bought her a big book to help her study for it.” waitress.

“Your kid is in high school already?” me.

“No, 8th grade. Same as your older one.” waitress, pointing to my 13-year-old.

“What do you make her study the SAT for?? They don’t start taking that test until their junior or senior year in high school.” me, “Of course she is not ready for the SAT. She is in middle school. SAT is like 3 years away.

“Her English is not good. I want to give her a head start…” waitress.

Before I could lecture her further on her obvious faulty mothering skills, she got called away to another table.

So, I turned my energy onto my family.

“Can you believe this? She makes her 13-year-old practice SAT 3 years too early, then she worries herself over it!” me, “and she’s putting unreasonable stress on the poor kid.”

“You kids are lucky that I don’t cause you stress like that.” me, feeling self-righteous.

My 13-year-old gave me that eye roll.

“WHAT?!” me. “I don’t give you kids stress.” I insisted on my behalf.

“Yes you do!” 13-year-old.

“Okay. But not too often.” me.

Eye roll…

“Once a week or two, maybe?” me.

Kids looked at me with their death stare.

“2 or 3 times a week?” me.

Hubby chimed in, “You don’t give them unreasonable stress, you give our kids reasonable stress.”

“Yes! Some stress is necessary in life. It is my job to teach you kids how to handle stress.” me.

Finally, I had to know, “Just how often do I cause you stress?”

“…..”silence.

“Every other day?…. every day?” me, prompting for an answer.

“Mom, there are many seconds in the day where you aren’t giving us stress.” 10-year-old piped in.

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I was in my early twenties the first time I cooked a live lobster. It was a total disaster.

That experience left a poor lobster badly dismembered, a kitchen that smelled like the seafood area of an Asian grocery store for days, and left me completely traumatized. DO NOT attempt to hack a live and stubborn lobster to pieces in your own kitchen!!

It was well over ten years before I tried my hand at cooking live lobsters again. Now that I am much smarter and a seasoned cook, I can eat lobsters at home with a snap of my fingers, like a genie.

Oven roasted lobster


It is very easy to cook lobsters. I promise, just follow these 7 simple steps.

1. Fill a large pot with water, drop a couple of slices of ginger in it, and bring it to a boil.

2. Drop the lobster into the boiling water head first, and do not bother to cut off the rubber bands that tie the big claws. (Make sure you do not put too much water in the pot, that overfills when you drop the lobster into water)

3. Boil for 2 minutes, then take the lobster out.

A-ha! That did the trick. Kill the heavy armored sea beast first! The first time I took the steaming, pink, and dead lobster out of the pot, I felt like a triumphant merciful lioness.

4. Use kitchen scissors or a strong knife to cut the lobster into halves lengthwise. Wrap the big claws with a paper towel, and break the big claws in several places with the back of a knife.

5. Place the lobster into a roast pan.

6. Season the lobster with a squeeze of lime, salt and pepper, finely chopped cilantro, and spread pieces of butter on top of the lobster meat.

7. Put into the oven at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.

Wah-lah.

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Christmas had come and gone. I hope you enjoyed the holiday as much as we did.

As I look forward to the big New Year’s celebration, it didn’t seemed right to not write a blog to pay tribute to my favorite time of the year.

So, here is a picture blog of our Christmas merry making…

On Christmas Eve, we feverishly ate, ate, and ate…

Cheese Tray

Home made Veg Tray

Kids tray

Surf & Turf Christmas Eve dinner

After dinner, the kids got busy with making cookies for Santa just before we left to go to church for the Christmas Eve service.

Home made cookies for Santa!

Christmas Eve service at our church


We got home well past midnight, and got cookies and milk for Santa.

Cookies are baked!


Then promptly went to bed, so Santa could tip toe into our home.

Slient night

The next day, the kids tore open their many, many gifts, and spent hours test driving their new toys.

New rolling toys to ride on


Then we got right back into the business of feasting.

Fondue and Tri-tip


Oh, did I say that Christmas had come and GONE?! Silly me. That would be incorrect. Because there are twelve days of Christmas!!

On the second day of Christmas, we visited Christmas in the Park, in downtown San Jose. This is a family tradition of ours. We liked going there to watch professional Christmas decorations and eat the best Churros from our favorite event vendor there.

Annual Christmas in the Park tradition


On the fifth day of Christmas, we went to the beach.

Monterey Bay


I know much of the rest of the country made front page news with their subzero temperatures and unforgiving winter storms that knocked out power for its residents during Christmas, but here in California, we are enjoying beautiful sunny weather. The temperature in Monterey Bay were in the 70’s.

Beautiful sunny day on Dec 29th by the sea

Monterey Coastline


We unleashed our kids and let them skate away on their new skate boards all along the glorious Monterey Bay Coastline. Lots of people had the same idea.

Skating along a coastal path

Sea bird dining on fresh sashimi (he caught a whole fish!)

Kids on top of sea cliff

Monterey Bay was popular with tourists and locals that day. We found this sandy beach packed with people, some were braving the cold water without wetsuits, swimming and boogie boarding.

Beach day in December!


Enjoy the rest of your Christmas, and Happy 2014 to all of you.

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