“Ma-Meey!” my 13 year-old rushed into the family room, with the baby trailing closely behind. They both held a piece of paper in their hands.

I looked up at the kids and eyed them with deliberate suspicion.

Whenever my teen calls me “Ma-Meey (her version of mommy)”, I instinctively knew that she wanted something from me. And that something is going to cost a good deal of money.

“What do you want?” me, defiant to the teen’s attempt at endearment.

“Umm…” recognizing her failed charm, she pointed at the 10-year-old and whispered, “YOU tell her.”

The baby shook her head, and repeatedly pointed back at the ring leader.

How bad is this going to be?!!

“What is it? Spit it out.” I ordered.

“We have decided to be Elsa and Anna for Halloween this year. And we are going to make our own costumes this year.” 13-year-old stated.

I do not know my children well. I have no idea why they would be thinking about Halloween just after 4th of July!

“Okay….” me, “Frozen is so popular this year, I am sure around Halloween time, there will be lots of Elsa and Anna costumes.”

“But we want to make our own. And we need you to give us money to buy stuff.” teen. The baby was nodding wildly with a big purposeful smile.

“How much money do you want?” me.

“We need a LOT of money.” teen, pointing to the baby again, and trying to get her to chime in on the pitch.

“Well, how much??” me.

Teen to the baby, “You tell her. And give her your puppy eye look. You are good at that.”

Baby shook her head again.

Teen gave up on her useless little sister, and turned to me, “How much do you think it would cost?”

“Well, I can buy a nice Halloween costume for around $30 dollars. Since you will make your own, it should be much cheaper. But I will still give you $30.” me.

“We need $150 dollars.” teen gave this outrageous budget with a straight face, then quickly add, “Per person! We need $150 per person.”

“Here is our budget.” both kids handed me their pieces of paper.

Elsa and Anna budget list

Ha, ha, ha, I had a good laugh. This pair of Elsa and Anna was crazy.

“How about you just wait until Oct. I will buy you nice Elsa and Anna costumes. It will save you a lot of trouble, and save me a whole bunch of money.” me, trying not to keep laughing.

Hubby sat between us this whole time, and wisely kept to himself.

“No! The Elsa and Anna costumes we wanted online cost $2,000! So, we decided to make our own.” teen.

“Are guys getting married in these costumes?! $2,000 dollars. I am not going to give you $150 a piece. You don’t even know how to sew. I will give you each $30 a piece for your project. If you need more, you will have to use your own piggy bank money!” me.

The kids appeared shocked and saddened by my final verdict.

Well, that late afternoon, the kids came home with their dad from a local fabric store with this.

Elsa - fabric

Da-deey came to their rescue.

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Summer is best enjoyed with fun and sun. On Monday, I took the kids to the Santa Cruz Board Walk to commence the beginning of our summer.

Santa Cruz Board Walk on the Beach

Upon arrival, we walked up and down the board walk, trying to decide what to eat.

Lots of food vendors along the board walk

Our lunch was junk food galore! The kids were smiling ear to ear enjoying a rare meal that is completely out of the boundary of a healthy meal.

After lunch, the kids went straight for the stomach turning rides. I was impressed with they did not end up experiencing their meal in reverse.

The Cyclone right after lunch

More rides!

In just 2 to 3 hours, they have used up the handful of ride tickets I gave them. So, I lead them onto the sand towards the beach. The beach is free.

Santa Cruz Beach

“Hey! We didn’t bring our bathing suits. Try to stay out of the water, so you don’t get wet.” me.

The kids run towards the water and met the approaching waves. They were soon wet and gleaning with laughter.

I joined them. It’s the summer. Let’s have fun.

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Parents! If you have babies at home, hold them tight, and savor every second! Because these tiny creatures grow up really fast.

In the blink of an eye, my firstborn now stands taller than me, and will be graduating from middle school later this week. Sometimes I don’t recall how this all happened so quickly.

Also, let yourselves be warned that big kids have high dreams.

A couple of weeks ago, we were resting on top of the Nevada Falls during our day hike at Yosemite National Park. My 13-year-old hit me with a new inspiration.

“Mom!” kid.

“Hum?” me.

“Can I go Hang Gliding?” kid paused monetarily just for the request to sink in, then summoned her cutesy look and continued, “You know how I always wished that I could fly.”

Hand Glider over Yosemite

Yes, the kid has wanted to fly since her toddler years. I hate to crush any child’s dreams.

I thought for a while, and came up with an excuse that sounded plausible.

“They don’t allow kids to fly on these things. You will have to wait until you are an adult.” me.

“So, when I am an adult, can I go hang gliding?” kid, still excited and dreamy.

“Well, when you are an adult, you don’t need my permission anymore.” I stated dryly.

“OH!” kid’s eyes popped open really large, “YES! When I am an adult, I can do whatever I want! I don’t need you anymore. HA.”

I got to roll my eyes at the teen.

“Well. Yes. When you turn 18, you won’t need my permission to do things. But you will have a different problem.” me.

“What’s that?” kid.

“You get to do things on your own, when you become an adult. But you will get to pay for them too!” me, “I bet that Hang Gliding is expensive.”

“What?! NO! When I grow up, I want to do whatever I want, but I still want you to pay for them!!!”

“Ha, ha, that is not how it is going to work, kid.” me, laughing.

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Six months ago, on Dec 4th, 2013, an annual doctor checkup landed us in the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Room.

We had been very healthy, and were unprepared by the sight of the ER. It was packed with miserable-looking sick people, waiting to be seen. I feared that we would be stuck there all night, and we were going to miss our dinner.

“Don’t worry. You won’t be waiting here long. You will be seen shortly.” the nurse that checked us in told me plainly.

She was right. We were expedited thanks to our primary doctor who had called us in and made arrangements for us. We were a real emergency.

A hospital staff escorted us to another area of the hospital.

It was their pediatrics’s ER room. I vaguely remembered a colorful room decorated to please young children, with cartoonish posters hung on pastel colored walls, and toys on the tables. The room had very comfortable couch for the parents to sit in.

We sat there with one other family. Their toddler was playing with one of the wooden toys. The mood in the room was grim. Various smiling nurses and ER physicians came in to greet us and tried to calm our nerves.

Soon, we were lead into a room that had just been prepared for us. It had a hospital bed, with a nice flat screen TV hanging from the ceiling. Also in the room was a desk and chair. My 13-year-old promptly plopped down there, and proceeded to do her homework.

The kind nurse told us that there were many cartoons and Disney movies to choose from. But before we started any movies, she helped my 10-year-old into a hospital gown, and settled my baby onto the bed.

My baby.

As soon as a Disney movie was started, physicians and nurses started to come in and out to check the baby’s vitals, and drew blood.

They started an I.V. for the baby to provide for the nutrient for her missing dinner, and to make drawing additional blood work easier. I wasn’t hungry for my dinner. I had long lost my appetite.

They threatened to keep us overnight.

Around 10PM, an ER doctor entered the room and introduced himself.

“We won’t have the blood test results until tomorrow. But we are fairly certain that your child has Type 1 Diabetes.” said the young doctor. Clearly, he was used to giving people terrible news all day long.

DIABETES??! How could this be? Isn’t this a disease for old people, and people who tend to be a little rounder than the general population…I looked down at my baby, who looked thin, who had lost a lot of weight recently. Who was intently watching her Disney movie.

“We can discharge you, and let you all go home tonight. But you must promise to bring her back to our hospital first thing tomorrow morning.” said the doctor.

His discharge offer sounded as if we still had time to just run away from the disease.

Early the next morning, we arrived at the hospital’s pediatrics’s endocrinology clinic. They were expecting us, and after filling out a few forms, we were conducted into a room with a table and some chairs.

We were warmly greeted by 2 or 3 doctors, and two diabetes educators. They introduced themselves as our diabetes team.

The disease comes with its own team? This wasn’t comforting.

We spent most of the day with Barry.

Barry had a warm smile and kind eyes. He spoke with a certain clarity and directness. His mild mannered sense of humor was a god send. These qualities enabled him to effectively articulate all the horrors of living with Type 1 Diabetes while curbing mothers from submitting into uncontrollable sobbing.

“Two things first.” Barry.

“First. I want you to forget all that you have heard or know about Diabetes.” Barry, waving his hands no wildly.

Lucky! I already knew almost nothing to nothing about Diabetes. It doesn’t run in our families.

“Most of what you heard, or what’s out there about Diabetes is for Type 2 Diabetes.” Barry paused, then continued:

“Type 1 Diabetes is nothing like Type 2 Diabetes. They are entirely different.”

We nodded.

“Type 1 Diabetes represents about 5% of diabetic population. It mostly struck young children. That is why it used to be called Juvenile Diabetes. But we do have young adults being diagnosed with it also, so we call it Type 1 Diabetes now. It is the second most common chronic childhood disease after asthma.” Barry.

“T1D is an autoimmune disease. For unknown reasons, the patient’s own immune system starts to mistakenly attacks its body’s own cells. Specifically, the beta cells in the pancreas responsible for making the hormone insulin. With these beta cells destroyed, the body no longer makes insulin, which cause blood sugar level to rise. The child develops Type 1 Diabetes and becomes insulin dependent.” Barry, our educator.

“How is Type 2 different?” me.

“Type 2 diabetics have working beta cells in their pancreas, and produce insulin. But their bodies grow insensitive to insulin, and do not respond to the hormone, causing their blood sugar to rise. They are not insulin dependent. So, they often prescribed with strict dietary restrictions, and heavy exercise. Sometimes, they are given medication to help their body more sensitive to insulin.” Barry.

“Here is my second point to make.” Barry.

I looked at him wide eyed.

He pointed at my baby, and said, “It isn’t your fault that you have Type 1 Diabetes.”

He then pointed at me, and said, “And it isn’t your fault that you child has Type 1 Diabetes.”

“Oh, bless your heart.” I said to him weakly, and may have shed a tear there.

Barry smiled, and explained further to the baby, “You didn’t get your diabetes from eating too much candy, or if you like sugary cereal for breakfast, or maybe you had an extra muffin one day.”

He then bend low to face the baby and grinned, “So, the good thing about Type 1 Diabetes is that there is no dietary restrictions for you at all. You can continue to eat as you please.”

The baby was smiling big. She was probably relieved that she is not doomed to eat boiled vegetables. I was gravely misinformed, and may have warned her that people with diabetes can only eat boiled vegetables and not much else.

“Another great thing about T1D is that with good management, you can continue to live a healthy long life, and you can do anything you want with you life.” Barry.

Then he turned on us, and gave us a long list of the bad things about T1D. It hit us like a ton of bricks.

T1D comes with an evil treatment plan.

T1D Supplies

MDI, it stands for multiple daily injections. We must inject our 10-year-old with insulin whenever she eats meals or snacks with carbohydrates.

“For how long?” I asked.

“Well, there is no cure, remember?” Barry sounded sorry.

“Forever!” me. I tried really hard to not cry. I didn’t want to freak out the baby.

We spent the rest of the day practicing pricking our fingers to check for blood sugar, learning about food and their carbohydrates, and gave ourselves shots filled with saline solution.

Admirably, the baby did everything with great stride, not a single tear, and even with smiles.

After an exhausting 9 hours of T1D crash course, and feeling quite qualified to become a nurse, we were given a nice blue backpack filled with a huge binder with all the information. A starter supply of insulin, syringes, glucose meter, a phone number to check in with them daily, and Rufus, a teddy bear with T1D.

Rufus-our T1D bear from JDRF

We thanked Barry, and took our T1D home with us.

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Over Memorial Day weekend, the four of us drove the 4 hours and arrived at Yosemite National Park.

Half Dome - Yosemite

We came here for a highly anticipated day hike. We plotted to hike the 2.5 mile Mist Trail over two huge waterfalls, with an elevation gain of 3000 feet. Then we would take the longer but flatter 4.2 miles John Muir Trail back.

We got up at 6:20AM Sunday morning, ate a big meal, parked our car at the Curry Village, and took the shuttle to the start of the trail.

As soon as we got off the bus, the kids couldn’t contain their excitement, and run towards the trail head.

Kids running towards the trail head

“Kids! Save your energy for the uphill hike.” I shouted after them.

Soon, we were ascending on a flight of 600 steep and huge granite stairs alongside the Vernal Fall.

Vernal Fall

This trail is called the Mist Trail for a very good reason. The section of the trail that lay next to the fall is soaking wet from the fall’s powerful mist. And guess what else the mist makes when splashed against the sunlight?

The brightest rainbows you will ever see!

Mist Trail Rainbow

Soon, we reached the top of the fall.

Top of the Vernal Fall

A roaring emerald hued rushing stream that drains into the Vernal Fall quickly reminded us that there is still an even bigger Nevada Fall further up waiting for us to conquer.

Yosemite Stream

Soon we embarked on an even steeper path towards the Nevada Fall.

Rocky path towards the Nevada Fall

Did I mention the Mist Trail is 2.5 miles going up and up?

Hike up alongside the Nevada Fall on the Mist Trail

Finally, just after 12PM, we arrived at the top of the Nevada Fall. And we took in the powerful Yosemite Granite cliff views from the top.

Top of Nevada Fall-Yosemite

After a much necessary and unapptizing lunch, we rested a while on the top, and started to head down towards the valley on the John Muir trail.

The John Muir trail is quite a bit longer, but much flatter than the Mist Trail, and it offers a different view of the falls and the surrounding Yosemite National Park.

Nevada Fall from the John Muir trail

After a 2.5 mile steep ascend, hiking down on the John Muir, it felt as if my knees were about to buckle. But my baby was still bursting with energy. The kid practically danced and bounced her way down.

Kids doing the day hike with ease

We got back down to the Valley by 2:30PM. We still had half an afternoon to spare!

A hot shower and a nap sounded about right.

The beautiful Yosemite

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“I WON!! I won my classroom Science Fair Project!” the baby screaming into my ear, and instantly filling the car with excitement.

“WHAT?!” me, shocked, disbelieving.

“I WON. HA!” the baby waved a fist across her chest, and gave me a triumphed look.

That was the science project that I had made fun of before.

When I first found out that the plot of the project was to explode pumpkins, I condemned it with a strong dose of bad attitude. Then I had told these dimwits (hubby and the baby) that there were no pumpkins this time of the year.

Undeterred, hubby came home with comprises. Soon our kitchen was filled with watermelons, cantaloupes, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and unfamiliar squashes.

Melons and Squashes

Then hubby and the baby spent three good weekend afternoons, counting and wrapping rubber bands onto their victims, and strangle them with snail speed to their uncommon demise.

Exploding the squashes with rubber bands!

split in half!

Every time a squash or melon split apart, rubber bands, squash parts, and their messy guts flew, and they would cheer gleefully.


I would shake my head, and yell out to the backyard, “You guys better clean this stuff up!”

As it turned out, they did have a scientific hypotheses for all their trouble, and it was confirmed by the experiment.

The Winning Project

It even won. The teacher liked it, because she thought it was creative. The kids liked it, because they wish they had thought of it, and got to spend their afternoons torturing squashes.

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On an early and crisp morning last week, I pulled the car out of the driveway, and proceeded to take my 13-year-old to school.

I hit the button to turn on the radio… a loud and obnoxious rap music busted into my ears.

Who listens to such music so early in the morning?! My thoughts were screaming inside my head.

“Ooh…this is my favorite song!” 13-year-old beamed and started to move with the music on my passenger seat.

“Talk Dirty to me!” 13-year-old singing/rapping along with the radio. The radio was playing the Talk Dirty song by Jason Derulo.

I threw her a quick and deeply concerned look, and observed that she started to wave her arms up in the air and wriggled her hips.

“Talk Dirty to me!” 13-year-old, with deliberate cheesy smiles, acted totally unfazed by my deeply concerned looks.

This 13-year-old was getting fresh with me, and I realized sadly that there was no turning back…to the good old days.

My teen doing the Hula dance at five

Luckily, I am experienced in practicing if you can’t beat them, join them.

“Talk Dirty to me!” I rapped right back at her, showing off my own dance moves in the driver’s seat.

I got a surprised look back.

“TALK DIRTY TO ME!!!” I pointed at my 13-year-old.

“Okay….MUD! Dust, sewage, trash.” 13-year-old.

WHAT?!! Ha, ha, ha.

In the past few days, We have been going around the house, and randomly shouted, “Talk Dirty to me!”

Dirty talks would be shouted back.

Even my 10-year has learned to talk dirty.

“Talk Dirty to me!” me.

“MUD! Toilet plunger, germs, viruses.” 10-year-old.

Today, I discovered that I have new trouble at hand. Jason Derulo has a new song out, and it promises to be my children’s new favorite. The song goes something like this:

“What you gonna do with that big fat butt?
Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle”

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“AI-YA!! You old, confused man. How can you think of such a thing for them to do??” My mother woke up from her afternoon nap, looked out to the backyard and observed my two children engaged in the most unnatural employment.

“This is good fun.” my dad replied easily.

Over Spring Break last week, I had driven 6 hours with my kids to Southern California to visit my parents. The kids were spending a lot of time on their iPad and iPhone while at my parent’s house. One afternoon, my dad called the kids out to work on a project.

In the past, a project typically involves a complicated puzzle, colorful pencils or markers, or a glittering arts and craft kit. They were not prepared for my dad’s wicked project.

An ancient cooking method

Yes, he got out this odd and ancient looking oven thing, and had my 13-year-old build a fire in it. A real fire!

Along with a miserable looking fan, and a once fashionable ripped jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch, my children were cast with perfection into the roles of some poor homeless orphans in China.

Did you see the fan my 13-year-old is holding?? Apparently my dad had inherited the fan that had once belonged to Ji Gong, the legendary drunken monk.

After a nice fire got going, my dad put a wok on it with some food for my kids to cook.

Cooking like the old days

The kids had banished all thoughts of their iPad and iPhone, and spent the afternoon back in old China, likely on a farm, and cooked themselves a simple meal.

The kids carefully nursed their fire, adding more wood, fanning the flame, and waited for their food to cook.

Nursing their stove with care

“What are you guys cooking?” I asked.

“Earth melon.” 10-year-old.

Ahh…earth melon, of course.

Yams are ready

I had a good laugh. What a splendid idea to cook the yam in this manner! It was one of my favorite childhood foods.

The kids loved their yams. Their previous experience with the yam was limited to the mashed type served as a side dish with Thanksgiving dinners, and the mashed type covered under a blanket of marshmallows at Boston Market.

“Mom, when we go home, you need to make us yams like this. This is so good.” 13-year-old.

“You should ask Wai-Gong to let us take that oven home!” 10-year-old.

The ancient oven

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“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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