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Last week I had the best week ever! All thanks to a wacky idea I dreamed up the week before.

Two weeks ago:

“I really miss when you guys were little! Living with teens is not nearly as fun.” me.

“Because we are not as cute as before?” the baby.

When they were still cute

“That is true! But it is not even that. You guys act all moody on me for no reason at all. ALL the time!” me, and continued with an angry passion, “you take your anger out on me, and I didn’t even do anything to you!! I don’t even know why you are mad!!!”

“Like what?” said my 15 year-old, with an air of being falsely accused.

“Exactly! I have no idea WHAT. You gave me the silent treatment when you are mad, and won’t tell me what is bothering you.” me.

“I do NOT!” teen.

“You do too.” the baby beat me to it.

“And you!” I pointed at the baby, “you are not even thirteen yet, you are already giving me teen attitude.”

“Like what?” said the 12 year-old, look innocent.

“You make ugly noises, and grunt at me for no season when you are in a bad mood.” me.

“I don’t do that!” the baby.

“Yeah you do!” 15 year-old shot right back at the little one.

“I don’t deserve any of this. And I am quite bored with your moodiness.” me.

“What do you mean bored?” teen.

“You guys are in bad moods a lot, so it is always the same every week. The same silent treatment, and the hollering.” me.

Then an idea popped into my head…

“Hey, how about we mix it up a little? If you guys want to use me as a punching bag, at least make it interesting for me.” me.

“Like how?” the kids.

“Next week, when you are mad,” pointed at the baby, “ you give me the silent treatment for a change.”

“And when you are mad,” pointed at the 15 year-old, “You holler and grunt for a change”

The kids exchanged a look with one another, and said, “Okay.”

One week ago:

When baby got mad, I reminded her of the silent treatment, then I went on like this:

1) No, no, too angry. You are to give the aura of anger, without displaying too much anger on your face.
2) No, no, not pouting. Pouting looks like you are just trying to have your way. It is not proper silent treatment. Flatten out those lips.
3) No, no, never direct eye contact with me. Direct eye contact looks like you are angry at me. Silent treatment is very vague. I just know that you are unhappy, but I am not sure why or with whom. Then I try to think really hard, and go crazy.
4) No, no, that is just not it. You go to your sister, and practice with her. She is really good at silent treatment.
5) No, no. Angrier. Angrier!!!

When the official teenager got mad, then I went on like this:

1) No, no, that just sound constipated.
2) No, okay, you don’t sound constipated anymore. You sound like you are succeeding at pooping.
3) No, not that kind of grunt. You sound like you’re in pain. We don’t want pain here, we want anger.
4) Louder!! It needs to sound more like a howler monkey. A very angry howler monkey!Hollering and showing off big sharp teeth!!!
5) No, no, the corners of your mouth are curving up. There can be no smiling here.

The kids failed miserably with their cross anger display. They quit trying, and were nice and pleasant with me for the rest of the week.

This week:

The kids came up to me, “Mom, this week, we decided that you and dad should switch roles.”

I considered it for a brief second.

“He can’t play me! I make all the food. Your dad can’t cook. He only knows how to use the microwave.” me.

“That’s okay. He can buy food.” the teen.

“He has very little to say. He can’t make talk to you guys all day, and for a whole week!” me.

“And you have to be quiet all week.” teen.

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Sometimes, there are perks that come with chronic diseases, like a membership to a very exclusive and impressive club.

Last weekend, my 12 year-old and I descended to Pasadena, CA to attend Celiac Disease Foundation’s National Conference and Gluten Free Expo.

Celiac Disease Foundation National Conference & Gluten Free Expo 2016

Upon checking in at the registration, in addition to our name badges, the smiling staff handed us two gigantic bags filled with gluten free treats. We were sad that we only had room to bring one bag home on our plane ride.

Free gluten free samples

The conference hall greeted us with wonderful displays of 100% gluten free breakfast buffet.

Gluten free breakfast and lunch at the Celiac Annual Conference

We cheered that the food options were not limited to protein and eggs. No! They had pancakes, donuts, bread, and bagels, too.

gluten free bread and bagels

My baby took a plate, walked from station to station, tried to figure out how to eat the most of everything, and regretted having only one stomach.

Celiac people (and their care takers) from all over the country congregated here to attend this conference.

The conference set up

It was very easy to socialize with other attendees. A certain flawed gene made us all close allies, and turned strangers into quick friends.

At 8:30AM, the conference kicked off right on time. A string of keynote speakers from the medical profession, to scientists in research, to PhD’s in biotech, to nutrition specialists took the podium to deliver the latest findings in Celiac research, gluten free food, and the path to a cure.

Speaker on the podium

Why is Celiac disease a disease, and not an allergy? Celiac is in fact an autoimmune disease. When protein from wheat, barley, and rye entered into a celiac patient’s body, the patient’s immune system will attack it and cause damage to the patient’s small intestine, rendering it unable to absorb nutrients. There are currently no cure or medication for celiac disease, the only treatment is to follow a lifelong dietary restriction of eating gluten free.

So, it makes sense to host a gluten free expo next to the conference with the most ferocious gluten free eaters in the country.

Gluten free expo hall

The following day, the baby and I spent hours walking booth to booth to sample the various gluten free treats: cupcakes, brownies, pastas, bagels, donuts, pizza, pot stickers, bread, sausages, soup, gourmet sauces, and even ice cream.

“Mom, we got to do this again next year. This is the best gluten free buffet ever!” 12 year-old said with two thumbs up.

Having fun at the conference

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“Dinner is ready!” I shouted upstairs to the kids.

I heard them running down the stairs. My teen plopped down at her usual chair at the dining table, while the baby ran to the corner that contained all the diabetic medical devices.

“Carbs please.” 12 year-old.

I leaned over to the kitchen island, and looked over my notepad that detailed all her meals and carbohydrate information, and reported, “85.”

Daily carb count notepad

A few minutes later, the baby walked over with her insulin pump in hand. I could hear the very faint clicking sound the pump was making, indicating that it is delivering insulin into her body.

“What’s your number?” me.

“100.” baby.

“100! What a nice round number!” me.

It always hurts a little whenever my baby has to prick her finger to check her blood glucose level. The poor child has to do this several times a day.

An idea popped into my head, “Hey! How about I give you a dollar whenever your BG is exactly 100. That would be kind of fun, huh?”

“No. You should give me one hundred dollars when my BG is 100.” the baby.

So bloody greedy.

“If I give you one hundred dollars, then you will be spending hours doing math with your carbohydrate and insulin ratio counting to try to hit 100, you will go crazy.” me.

“Actually, if you give me $100 for a 100 BG reading, then I will spend hours doing complicated algebra, and eating a mad amount of carbs to reach ONE THOUSAND!” said the young genius.

I stared at my baby, speechless.

My 15 year-old chimed in, “Knowing how rude your disease is. After doing all that math and eating, you are more likely to end up with a BG of 999. You will get no money, except a helicopter ride to the nearest Emergency room.”

“I will take that dollar, mom.” the baby.

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“So, how was your workout this morning?” my teen.

What?! The kid never asks about my day. But this was not an ideal time for the teen to start maturing on me.

It was the first day of school in the new year. I made a huge production about me going to hit the gym, devoured a huge pastry for fuel, and shipped the kids off to school extra early in the morning in the drenching rain.

I had blabbered to them enthusiastically about how I was going to hit the stair climbing machine for 30 minutes, then the bike machine for 30 minutes.

So, there I was, on the stair machine.

ARGH!! Walking endlessly on the stair machine is not fun at all. Really tiring too. I constantly eye the uncooperative timer on the machine, cursing it for ticking away so slowly.

The constant stepping felt like forever, but the digital timer was only showing 18 minutes.

This stair climbing machine must not be for me, I eyed the bike machine. That machine has a seat!

I am NOT a hamster, I can stop when I want to. As soon as the stair machine hit 20 minutes, I hopped off of it.

I started to spin the wheels on the bike machine.

3 minutes into it, a thought came to me…My problem wasn’t with the stair machine. It was just my lazy behind.

I didn’t feel like biking either. As the timer ticked at 4 minutes and some seconds, I hopped off.

I am NOT a hamster, I can stop when I want to.

So, how is your New Year’s resolution going?

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No, I did not fall off the earth, just super swamped with the holiday fares on the business and the home front.

Christmas 2015

Christmas is only 2 days away, I hope you all have your presents under the trees, holiday meals and parties all under wrap. I sort of do.

I did carve out some time and hosted a Christmas party for my kids and their friends. We had lots of kids over, all teens and tweens.

They are old enough to entertain themselves. I just had to prepare food and order pizza. The only activity I provided was a gingerbread house competition.

The night before the party, I put together 4 gingerbread houses, and loaded the table with all kinds of candies, sprinkles, and frosting in red, green, blue, and white.

These gingerbread houses are ready to decorate

In honor of my celiac child, these gingerbread houses are all gluten free!!

Gluten free!

The kids broke into teams of 3 or 4, and set to design and decorate their gingerbread house. They were creative and competitive, and came up with 4 uniquely designed delicious homes.

4 finished GF gingerbread houses.

As the parents came to pick up their children, they were invited into our home and got to judge these beautiful decorated edible houses.

Guess which of these is the winner?

Is this the winning gingerbread house?

This one?

Or this one?

Merry Christmas! Wish all of you a blessed 2016.

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I suffered an epic failure in a baking project recently and severely damaged my reputation in the kitchen.

See this puddle of sadness…

Nutella Tart soup

It was supposed to be a Nutella Tart! It’s main purpose wasn’t to be food, it was aiming to be my baby’s science project.

The science project was called “The Incredible Edible Cell,” where my 12 year-old was tasked to make a model of a cell using only things that can be eaten.

Since the baby has celiac disease, we decided that her edible cell must be gluten-free.

The Nutella Tart sounded like a winner, because it is the baby’s favorite food. But soon we discovered a flaw. This tart needed to be refrigerated. In just 90 minutes at room temperature, the tart turned into soup and allowed our cell particle representatives and toothpick labels to swim or drown in the liquid.

Last minute, we needed a plan B!!!

I found this in the pantry.

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix

Hmmm…what if I could use the entire package and bake it into one giant round cookie??

Yippee!! It came out of the oven beautifully; completely intact with not even a crack.

Our Big Big Cookie

I turned the big cookie over to the baby. It was her project, so she got to design and build the edible cell.

She took out the bag of gluten-free candies we bought earlier, along with colorful icings, and set to work.

Jaw Breaker for the nucleus & Gummy Snake body for the membrane

The kid had a blast!!!

Icing to glue the candies to the cookie

Who wouldn’t? This project was fun.

Go ahead, play with your food

Best of all, when she brought the project to school, after presenting the project, she got to eat it with her classmates and friends.

The Incredible Gluten-free Edible Cell

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Every day this week, I have suffered a sporadic sense of regret for having my hair cut too short.

Last Thursday, I went to a new salon to get a haircut. I have sported the same boring hair style for almost 20 years, when it grew long, I cut it shorter, always to about shoulder length. But my young stylist suggested to cut shorter, to the neck line. I carelessly said, “Yes.” Why not? It grows back!

My stylist cut and snipped at my hair very swiftly and confidently. I was impressed. She then spent a very generous amount of time to blow dry and style my hair. When they charge you a great deal of money just to cut your hair shorter, they always spend a lot of time brushing it to justify the cost.

I looked good! I beamed into the mirrors as she positioned me to look all around my head.

See, I never bother to blow dry my hair. It is not that I don’t care to look good, but that my laziness trumps my desire to look pretty on a daily basis.

That late afternoon, I went to pick up my 15 year-old from school.

“Wow! Your hair is so short.” teen.

“What do you think?” me, turning my head this way and that for her.

“I like it!” 15 year-old.

“Really?! I am so glad you like it. I was kind of worried. It is so short.” I said happily.

“You look VERY Asian.” the teen.

“What do you mean? I look very Asian everyday, even without this haircut.” me.

“Well. I usually see you as a white Asian, but today, you look like a F.O.B. Asian.” 15 year-old.

I was STUNNED!!! How could I ever be considered a white Asian?!! I am fluent in Chinese, versed in Chinese home cooking, I love stinky tofu, and for crying out loud, I own a business called!!

I glared at the teen, whose charm was taking a nose dive right before my eyes. I am even less happy to be called a F.O.B. Asian.

“What??” 15 year-old asked weakly, sensing maternal displeasure.

“I thought you said that you like my new hair cut!” me.

“I do. You look good, in a very Asian kind of way.” 15 year-old.

“You called me a F.O.B.!! It is generally considered an insult, in a name calling kind of way” me.

“I don’t mean it as an insult. You look like people in China, Taipei, Hong Kong.” 15 year-old.

“You never even been to Hong Kong!” me.

“I was in their airport once.” the teen.

I turned to stare her down.

My teen stared back at me, then broke into a big smile, “Now, if you just dye your hair reddish color and walk around wearing a mask, you would perfect that look.”

Reddish haired Asian woman wearing a face mask...

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Arriving home yesterday, I had a good laugh when I found a brand new Yellow Page phone book sitting on our porch.

A new Yellow Pages arrived at our door

I contemplated taking it directly to our recycle bin… What a waste!

I decided to offer it as a history lesson to my kids, like I did a few months ago when we found a lonesome phone booth.

“Hey kids, check this out. Someone left it outside of our door for us.” I dropped the heavy book onto our kitchen island.

“What is it?” kids. The kids eyed the free book suspiciously.

“Open it and see for yourself.” me.

They opened the book and flipped to a few random sections of it. Clearly, pages after pages of perfectly serious lists of phone numbers had them puzzled.

Just names and phone numbers

“Look, it says plumbers here. It has all their names and phone numbers. What is it for?” 12 year-old.

“Wow, it’s just a list of people’s phone numbers. Is this a phone book?” teen.

“Right. This is the Yellow Pages, a phone book of local businesses. So if you ever need a plumber you can call one of them.” me.

“How do you know which one to call? And where is the review?” teen.

“No reviews! You just pick a name and a number to call when you need service or a product.” me.

“You had no idea and just had to make a call?” teen, frowning.

“The old days were tough on us.” me, sad faced. “Although, miraculously, when we needed a plumber and called someone off of that book, you could expect a plumber to show up and fix your pipe.”

That’s right, I used to get my plumbing fixed without learning how my plumber had previously replaced a family’s old water-heater with superhero speed, or how this same plumber had previously liberated a minor water leak into an all out flood.

I asked my children what we should do with our Yellow Pages. They told me to recycle it. We have Google and Yelp now.

I felt bad for the brand new book, and especially for the poor tree that had to be sacrificed for such a needless purpose. I guess it’s better to recycle it, so it can reincarnate quickly into a more useful existence.

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A Blast to the Past

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Do you just not feel like making dinner on some days?

I do! I did not feel like making dinner yesterday.

I had a 3 course meal all planned out in my head, then by the early afternoon, a sudden wave of laziness washed over me. I threw the defrosted meats back into the freezer.

I was going to pull my VISA card trick for takeout.

Except, it is not that easy to be me these days… My baby can’t eat gluten. You may not know this, but gluten and fast food are best friends, and they don’t like to be separated.

It is every parent’s duty to feed their offspring, right?

So, by 6PM, I found myself looking frantically into the refrigerator and seeing what could be put together for my celiac child.

That fresh loaf of gluten free bread I made on Sunday came in handy when I found butter and cheese.

Homemade gluten free bread

I can make a mean gluten free grilled cheese sandwich, assisted by two thin slices of low fat, low sodium spam.

Buttered GF bread with cheese and ham

The key is to generously butter the bread on both sides, lightly toast both sides of the bread, add high quality cheese, add spam or ham, and toast the sandwich on both sides on low heat until the cheese melts in the center.

Pan grilled on low heat

Dinner is served!

Gluten free grill cheese sandwich with a side of fruit and milk

The baby clapped her hands approvingly at the sight of her dinner.

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Four tickets to a football game at the Levi’s Stadium!!! Woohoo!

Levi Stadium Tickets

No, it is not the 9ers game, and it is so not the NFL! It is to watch my teen’s high school’s varsity football game!!!

That’s right, our high school football team got to play at the 49ers new stadium. What a splendid opportunity to go see the much talked about new stadium without all the crowd and their notorious game day traffic. Inexpensive tickets, too!

Even though the stadium was only half full, the food services were still open. So, we loaded up on unhealthy football food.

Garlic Fries

My dinner

Families were out in school gears and cheered for their teams. It was a fun night.

Cheering fans

So the final score really wasn’t important.

Since we had the late game that started at 8PM, we did not get home until around midnight.

Did I get to sleep in on my weekend morning? NO! My alarm clock jolted my eyes wide open at 7AM on Saturday morning.

I had to take my 15-year-old to her Water Polo tournament on Saturday. She had two games that day, but of course, one had to be an early morning game, and the second one in the mid afternoon. Who needs a whole Saturday anyway.

Water Polo game

On a positive note, Water Polo is a fast paced, thrilling, and fun game to watch. I am surprised that it isn’t more popular in the US. It is way more exciting than soccer or baseball.

On Sunday, I got to watch my 12-year-old play Volleyball for 2 hours.

2 hours of Volleyball on Sunday

I watched a lot of games this past weekend, and it really tired me out.

Thank goodness for Mondays!

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