Archive for » December, 2010 «

My kids are in the midst of their two-week winter break. Our home is filled with the happy noises children make when they are not burdened with homework and their many after-school activities.

Last night, after dinner, my baby, the precious 7-year-old, promptly started the Wii Mario Kart Racing game. So, myself and my 10-year-old quickly sat down in front of the TV to play spectators and cheering fans.

wii wheel

My baby is rather good at this game, and was soon racing away, blowing past other racers along the way. I was cheering and enjoying the fast passing scenery on TV. Then all of a sudden, another kart came from behind and bumped into my baby’s kart, sending my baby’s kart into several tail spins.

“Oh, No!”, my 10-year-old and I said simultaneously. While at the same time, we knew the baby would recover and catch up.

As the child’s kart straighted, it started moving fast ahead again, except, we quickly noted, the kid was driving the wrong way!

“Wrong way!” 10-year-old.

“Turn around! Turn around!!” me.

My 10-year-old and I were yelling while waving our arms and hands at the baby. The Wii console was also helping our cause by flashing an U-turn sign on the TV. We were all demanding for the baby to turn the kart around.

Undaunted, the baby kept the kart racing intently in the opposite direction. Finally, with all the distractions, the baby missed a turn, and the kart fall off the cliff.

We stopped yelling and waving, as the Wii was working its way to rescue the kart back up.

The baby finally turned to look at us, and plainly said, “I know I was driving the other way. I WANTED to go home!”

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Category: Humor, Kids  Leave a Comment

I bought the Nook Color today for my 10-year-old for Christmas. This Nook is how I short change my child for the much, much desired iPad. My Christmas spirit came with a budget, and it won’t budge.

Nook Color

As I sat wrapping the Nook by our Christmas tree, I marveled at how technology is so rapidly changing the world before my eyes. This Nook makes my own childhood feel so remote, so ancient, as if I came from several lifetimes ago.

Growing up in China in the 70’s, I loved books when I was little. I remember that I owned very few books. This was fine, because right by the street corner where I lived, an old man often showed up on sunny afternoons with a scant selection of old books for people to read for a fee. He had one small shelf of children’s books for rent. Although you were not allowed to take his books with you, that was fine too, because he came with a few small wooden stools, and his customers could sit on his stools and read.

Whenever I spotted him at his usual street corner, I would run to my parents or other grown-ups in the family to ask, plead, or beg for pennies to rent books. The old street vendor charged 2 pennies per book, but if I only had one penny with me, he always took it with a smile, and motioned for me to select a book and sit down on one of his stools to read. I was his persistent regular customer. I went running to him with just one penny frequently, I think my parents often handed me a penny just to shoo me away. That was how my parents satisfied me back then without breaking the bank, just as I hope to do with the relatively inexpensive Nook vs. the costly iPad. The Nook is hardly a shabby gift…satisfying…without costing a fortune. BRILLIANT!

My favorite street vendor had a collection of perhaps 2 dozen or so old children’s books. I have read every one of them. Luckily, children’s books are meant to be enjoyed over and over again. I never had trouble selecting a book that suited my fancy with my pennies.

I did have a few books to call my own. June 1st is the children’s day in China, and every year on June 1st, my father would buy me a new book. He would take me and my sister to the only bookstore in our small city, and let us each select a book.

The Chinese children’s books of my childhood were in black and white only. That’s right, they weren’t printed in color, or at least I never owned a colored picture book. That was fine too, because I had a habit of taking my colored pencils, and sitting there for hours at a time and carefully coloring each page of the books myself. Against the trend of my times, I always thought that children’s books should have color. That’s why I had to buy the Nook COLOR instead of some of the even lower cost black-and-white alternatives.

Both of my children are total book worms. I claim credit and take full pride for having raised them to love reading. I now wonder if the Nook will be a new addition to feed my child’s reading habit along with real books, or if it will completely spoil my child’s enormous appetite for trips to Barnes & Noble or Borders’ or their school book fairs. I also wonder if I will be enticed to go out and buy a Nook for myself. For now, I am firmly in the old-school camp. I still prefer hugging a real book, and turning a real page.

A Library of real Books

Here is my previous post about my 10-year-old wanting an iPad for Christmas.

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Category: Kids, Parents  3 Comments

I hope your holiday spirit is in full swing. We finally got our Christmas tree last night. We bought an eight foot Grand Fir just after dark, hauled the tree home, then my husband and I promptly began our annual ritual of struggling with the tree outside of our front yard. It has never been easy to get the massive tree into the base upright and straight.

Family Christmas Tree

Our tree is now standing tall and grand in our living room, decking the whole house with an air of Christmas cheer. I love the scent of pine tree in the house. Especially, early in the morning, when I first open my bedroom door, and get a strong whiff of the fresh pine tree standing downstairs. It fills my senses with happiness. I just love the smell of Christmas.

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Category: Parents  One Comment

When we first learned that my 10 year old got placed into Mrs. U’s 5th grade class at the beginning of the school year, I felt a bit queasy. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with her, but evidently she earned herself the reputation of being a mean teacher, a really MEAN teacher. Kids and even some parents wanted to stay clear of her classroom. Mrs. U….even the name promised terror.

Mrs. U. is very loud. Her speech is clear and direct. These are natural qualities of a good teacher. I noted to myself as I sat staring at her during the school’s Back to School night for the parents. Mrs. U. is a sturdy and healthy looking mid-aged woman. She has strong lips, striking transcending blue eyes , thick arched eye brows, and shoulder length dark brown curly hair with a fussy outline. She even has the kind of look that promised terror. Except when she laughed–her thundering laughter produced a calming effect on me that night. I left her classroom feeling that my 10 year old will survive 5th grade.

Mrs. U. is ruthless! She is ruthless when it comes to her classroom rules, high expectations, and particularly, her grading standards. Ouch!! After a few bruises and trauma, my 10 year old is learning to tread in her classroom a lot more diligently than in the previous grades.

Despite her semi-deserving reputation, Mrs. U. is good at teaching. She is a passionate and caring teacher, who sometimes get carried away, and will yell at kids displaying dumb behavior. And underneath that mean facade, deep, deep down, she does have a soft spot for her hard working students. I also discovered that she has a great sense of humor. I like funny people, I like Mrs. U. That’s– until last Friday.

I picked up my two children from school on Friday afternoon, and immediately, my 10 year old reached to my ear and whispered: “I have a secret to tell you!”.

“Oh, what’s the secret?” me

“Tell you in the car.” 10-year-old.

As soon as the doors shut, my 10 year old told me that Mrs. U. broke the school rule, and brought home-baked cookies and brownies to the class for a surprise party. Apparently, Mrs. U. is ruthless when it comes to her own rules, but disregards other people’s rules. And she is expecting a classroom full of 10 year olds to keep this a secret for her.

My 10 year old went on and on about what a great baker Mrs. U. is. Particularly her brownies, they were made from scratch, they were the yummiest brownies my 10 year old ever had. I felt slighted. I baked yummy brownies for my children.

Yummy brownies

“All the cookies she made were so good…oh! did I mention she didn’t buy the box mix, she made her own brownie mix! That’s why they are so, so, so delicious…..”, the child’s random and rapid praises circulated in the car.

I decided to interrupt this fanfare by evoking my special mommy privileges with this foolish question, “Are HER brownies better than the ones I baked for you?”

And I got SLAPPED with, “When did you make us brownies?”

Ungrateful child!…. then my thoughts grew horns, as I pondered the idea of reporting Mrs. U. to our school principal.

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