Archive for » February, 2011 «

I get all lovey-dovey whenever I see my baby wearing the XS ski helmet. Truth be told, this helmet is a tad too small for my 7 year old, so the two sides of the helmet put a squeeze on my baby’s face, and make the cheeks extra cheeky, reminding me of when the baby was a real baby. I have been talking about buying a new helmet since last winter, but I keep “forgetting” to do it. I am quite shameless when it comes to holding on to my baby.

Every February, the kids have the entire week of President’s day off. This week is simply called Ski Week. My husband and I have been dutifully taking the kids skiing/snowboarding for the last few years.

Both of our children started skiing at age 4, then switched to Snowboarding at age 7. So, this is the first season that all four of us are snowboarding.

My family on snowboard

Lake Tahoe is host to a number of world class ski resorts, and it is only 4 or 5 hours away by car. We have tried a number of ski resorts in Tahoe, and our favorite resort is Northstar-at-Tahoe. This is our 3rd straight year of having a family season pass there.

We like Northstar for a number of good reasons. For one, it is large resort that features runs that are very, very wide. This is important, because it is hard for a young new skier or boarder to maneuver on narrow and winding runs. At Northstar, all four of us can zig-zag and falling-leaf down the slopes side by side.

Wide trails

We also like Northstar for its FastPass feature. FastPass is just that, a line pass. That’s right…customers who don’t mind parting with even more of their money, can pay for the privilege to reach the lift chairs faster on a FastPass only lane. This feature was a godsend a few years back, when the kids were younger. After taking a tumble or two, and fighting the bitter cold, the kids would get unhappy about standing in line with all those long skies and huge boards inching and poking all around them. They often registered their displeasure with excessive whining and even genuine tears. So, we bought the line pass to defuse all that fuss. And now, we grew used to the privilege and kept on paying for it.

Northstar also has a great village at the base. The village has an ice rink as the centerpiece. Surrounding the rink are a number of coffee stands, bars, restaurants, shops, kids activities, and nice outdoor lounge chairs with huge fire pits. It is a nice place to just relax, grab some coffee or hot cocoa, and watch the kids play some more after a hard day on the mountain.

Northstar Base

Our ski days are always well planned out.

Day one: I got up at 8AM to make the family a hearty breakfast (8AM is the earliest that I like to get up on vacations). We loaded up on eggs, bacon, sausage, and bread and butter, served with coffee or milk.


This enabled us to keep playing hard on the mountains, only to stop for a snack at lunch time. A big breakfast helps with saving time and money during lunch. Then we board the rest of the afternoon, go home to snack, shower, then eat a huge guilt-free dinner.

Big Dinner

We end the night relaxing at our rented condo with more hot cocoa and hot tea.

Hot Cocoa and tea back at the condo.

Then next day, we go at it again.

Well, sometimes mother nature has plans of her own, which supersedes ours.

Day two: We woke up to heavy snow and strong wind.

Snow Storm

We are a family of brave souls, and nothing can stop us from having fun. We ate our big breakfast as usual, suited up, and walked out with our gear. In the parking lot, we were surprised by the sight of our car. Our SUV was almost entirely buried under the snow.


I was worried for a second, then realized that it must be hubby’s job to rescue our car.

We moved ahead to the ski trails, and found that there were very few skiers and boarders out on a day like this. The trails were groomed over night, but with heavy snow fall, the trails were thick with fresh powder. On a day like this, it is important to try to stay on paths blazed by other skiers, but the baby, who couldn’t control direction very well yet, would often get too far out to the side of the paths. Remember, Northstar has wide trails, so there were more “sides” than path. So, the baby would get stuck in the powder, then I have to board over to dig the kid out, and then wiggle and push the baby onto the path again. And then I would get stuck in the powder, so I had to unbind my board to crawl out, then get back on the board again, only to find the baby is once again stuck a little farther up front.

Baby stuck in powder

Fresh powder is great for cushioning crashes, but not that great for beginners, and the baby is a beginner snowboarder. The baby became quickly annoyed, and started to whining like a real baby. We decided to go back to our condo and wait the storm out.

We splurged on an one bedroom condo right by the ski trail this year.

Condos by the Trail

We can simply take our boards and walk right to the trail, or get back to the condo from the trail. In the past, we booked inexpensive hotel rooms at Reno, and would drive 40 minutes each way to and from Northstar to save money. We were glad that we had a nice cozy condo right by the trail this year. I am sure this will be a new luxury that we can’t live without next February. This is the problem with splurges…

We ate our lunch at the condo, but the storm did not die down. Finally by 3PM, I became restless and wanted to go out for more runs. The kids refused, so hubby and I went by ourselves to brave the snow and gusty wind.

We had a BLAST!! Wow, boarding without the kids is so much fun!!! We didn’t have to constantly stop to watch them, to wait for them, to help them, to carry their boards, bind their boots, unbind their boots, wipe their noses. Wow!! We were free, and became kids ourselves. All the chairs were pretty much still running, but with very few skiers or boarders. We had the mountains to ourselves, and we conquered it like crazy…for about an hour, the lifts closed at 4PM.

Snowboarding without the kids!!

Day 3: Mother nature brought back the sun. We went about our day just like day one.

I am teaching my baby toe turn and toe stop on a sunny day

And hubby spent at least an hour digging our car out of the snow. That evening, the kids tried ice skating for the first time, they love it, and want to do it again.

Day 4: This is Sunday, so we ate our big breakfast as usual, cleaned out of our condo, and hit the trails again. Around 1PM, we got back to our snow-free car for the long drive home. We feel very smart about leaving at 1PM, as we predicted the traffic jam will start in a few more hours, when everybody has to drive home to meet the obligations of their work or school the next day.

We are home now, feeling happy and content with another strenuous, fun-filled, and happy winter holiday.

P.S. My Crash Pads 2200 is awesome!! I love it. Read my previous post about snowboarding.

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My baby’s 2nd grade class has a weekly spelling list of 15 words, and part of their weekly homework routine evolves around these spelling words.

On Mondays, they write each word 3 times. On Tuesdays, they put the words in alphabetical order. On Wednesday, they do “7 sentences.” On Thursdays, a family member gets invited to provide a practice spelling test. It is mostly a probably necessary, but not so exciting part of the 2nd grade homework assignments. Except for the 7 sentences.

I love Wednesday’s 7 sentences! That’s when the kids select 7 of the 15 words, and incorporate the chosen words into sentences. My baby never wastes time or energy on boring, plain vanilla sentences. My baby’s sentences are always full of imagination and childish emotions, and often are down right humorous. I just had a good chuckle when I was entertained by this week’s 7 sentences, particularly the last sentence, for which the spelling word was simply “Once.”

Here is what the baby wrote: “7. Why do you think you are smarter? Once I wrote a paper full of Algebra!”

My 2nd grader's 7 Sentences

Ha ha, my baby hasn’t learned a thing about Algebra yet. But even a 7 year old knows that boasting and truth don’t have to be on good terms with each other.

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Last weekend, the four of us made our annual pilgrimage to my parents’ home for the Chinese New Year celebration. We drove the 6 hours down to Southern California on Friday evening, and spent the entire Saturday eating in a non-stop frenzy, exchanging red envelops, and greeting and meeting all of my family elders in the area. Then we drove the 6 hours back home on Sunday.

My parents are in their 70’s, and my father has the coolest retirement hobby that is uniquely his. One of the first things that we do upon entering their home is to run to the backyard and visit his retirement project. Over the years, slowly and surely, he has built a miniature Chinese Garden in his backyard. His garden features bridges, gazebos, Pagodas, unique rocks, water features, and it is forever expanding with new inspirations (usually from his trips back to China).

My Dad in his miniature Chinese Garden Backyard

Every time we come to visit, he always has a new exhibit to show us. This time, the new addition is this miniature rock formation, with Chinese characters he carefully carved and painted in red on it.

New rock formation with Chinese characters carvings.

Here are close ups of some of his work.

Budda's Temple


Chinese building

Chinese Miniature Garden

Here are two other posts about my parents:
1) For Sure…I guarantee it!
2) The Genuine Superior Chinese Parents

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Category: Parents  One Comment

My 10 year old is really smart these days, not just book smart, the kid is becoming street smart too.

Yesterday, soon after the kids got home from school, my 10 year old came to interrupt my intense preoccupation with my laptop.

“Mom, please don’t yell at me. I have something to tell you.” 10-year-old.

I will admit that I can be quick tempered, but I am not a habitual yeller. Definitely not.

Sensing some kind of trap, I hesitated, then lamely replied, “I will yell at you, if you deserve to be yelled at. But, I will try not to.”

“Mom, I got a 95% on my math test.” 10-year-old.

Okay, despite what you might have read or heard about us Chinese mothers, a 95% always brought me obvious satisfaction.

Sensing an even bigger trap, I squinted my eyes at the smart one, and said in a low voice, “W-H-Y would I want to yell at you for that?”

“I forgot to do problem number 18”, 10-year-old.

“…huh?..” me

“I just skipped over it and FORGOT to give problem number 18 an answer.” kid. Then quickly added, “I know how to do it!”

Problem #18 is missing an answer!

Oh…improper foolishness! Instinctively, I would have barked out, “That’s so stupid!” But having been prepped how not to react ahead of the time, I rolled the words back from the tip of my tongue.

I quickly re-organized my thoughts, then asked with a big grin, “And how do you feel about that?”

“I feel stupid.” the smart one.

“Ha, ha, you are off the hook then.” me.

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Category: Humor, Kids  One Comment