Archive for » April, 2011 «

On Easter Sunday night, we made it out to dinner much later than usual. Our kids were visibility tired as the hostess seated us.

“Oh, did you have too much fun today?” the friendly hostess asked our children.

The kids stared at her with a blank look.

“You know…Easter egg hunt, egg coloring?” the hostess suggested highly plausible reasons why they might be tired.

“We went to Church.” my 7-year-old stated dryly. (Hubby and I arrived Church late, and we missed the Easter Egg hunt.)

“Oh!” the hostess gave us an awkward smile, with an hint of embarrassment for suggesting that Easter was all for fun and games to customers wearing imaginary halos.

Actually, she mistook our subdued looks with saintliness. Church hardly exhausts us…we are known to our pastor as the CEO Christians. Christmas Easter Only Christians.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark
Category: Kids, Parents  One Comment

We were invited to a college friend’s home for dinner last Saturday. After a wonderful home-cooked meal, the four children all settled into the kids’ room full of toys to play Wii. The six adults settled down in the living room with coffee and dessert anticipating an evening of poker.

Between two pairs of parents, a sixth grade teacher, and a junior high math teacher, the poker game was foiled when the conversation turned to education.

In California, right about now is the time for all the public school students to take the Star or the CST tests, which are the standardize tests. This is a particularly stressful time for the schools and teachers, as this test measures how well the schools have taught their students, and how well the teachers have taught their classes. So, the two teachers in our group had a great deal to talk about how important this is.

As a parent, Star testing week is not particular stressful time for me, or my children, as the Star test score has no bearing on the children’s grades. I am not a fan of these tests. I feel that the test is taking away precious classroom learning time. This standardized test is administered over 3 to 5 days. And it seems that all teachers worry over this test, and take additional classroom time to prepare the children to do well on these tests.

My children attend an excellent public elementary school, with API scores consistently in the 950’s. We have a great principal, excellent teachers, and a very strong PTA. There is never a shortage of parent volunteers for each classroom, and for every PTA hosted event. Our PTA has several fund raising events a year, from See’s candy and Christmas wrapping paper, to a Walk-A-Thon, to a live-auction dinner event that generates tens of thousands of dollars for the benefit of our school.

Anytime that you walk into our elementary school, you will not fail to see parent volunteers in there making copies for our teachers, correcting papers, reading to a small group of children outside of the classroom, or busy decorating the hallway wall with the children’s art projects. Our proud PTA is largely credited by our school principal for having helped our school earned the California Distinguished School honor.

Both of my teacher friends teach at public schools that required school uniforms. This is to avoid having the children wearing red and blue colors to school. They are gang colors.

Andy, the 6th grade teacher’s school had to adopt a new math book a few years ago. The new textbook aims to simplify the teaching of math, with less word problems. Because so many kids at his school are English as a second language learners. They had trouble teaching the kids their old math textbooks, because the children don’t have the language-arts skills to solve the math problems.

Claire, who teaches math at a Jr. High school, echoed similar frustrations that so many children enter her classroom who simply haven’t mastered the basic math skills necessary to comprehend her Geometry and Algebra lessons. She has kids that don’t know the multiplication tables, so they have to look up the multiplication table every time they have to multiply.

For Claire, as the kids are a just little older in Jr. High, there is the additional problem of dealing with belligerent students. From not caring about school, to being disrespectful, to kids not being afraid of having nasty attitudes, she sees all types. A few of her students were bad enough to be expelled, but these children simply got recycled into another school in the district. Claire dreads new kids entering her school in the middle of the year, because they could be expelled kids from other schools.

I cringe every time I see or hear in the news when people and politicians lay all the blame of poor performing schools on the teachers. That’s why so many government intervention programs have failed, because they all aim to rely solely on the teachers to make improvements to our schools.

I always thought the quality of the students makes a bigger difference, and that’s on the parents.

I tell my children often that it is their teacher’s job to teach, but it is my job as a parent to send them to schools everyday ready and interested to learn, and it is their job to sit in their classrooms and learn.

The parent, the teacher, and even the child all bare responsibility in producing a successful student. This is an ancient old Confucius’ teaching. It still works for me.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Without the benefit of my alarm clock, I woke up blissfully at 10:34 on Saturday morning. Mmm…I smelled Waffles.

I quickly got ready and went downstairs. And sure enough, a large half waffle was waiting for me. But a green waffle?

Green Waffle

As I stood over the un-natural looking waffle at the kitchen island, the kids yelled over their Wii game, “We made you spinach waffle!”

I gave it a good sniff, and tore up a small bite. Ha! No funky spinach flavor in my waffle. They must have gotten creative with the left over food coloring I had purchased for my 10-year-old’s science project.

My children are seasoned young chefs. I love cooking, and believe that cooking skills are a necessity for fine daily living. Almost every Sunday, we have “kids in the kitchen,” where they get to choose the dinner menu, and participate in food preparation. But this waffle business is entirely to the credit of my husband. He loves waffles–not just any waffles–Belgian waffles.

Since I am the one who wakes up early to get the kids ready for school Monday through Friday, my husband gets the pleasure of getting up early on weekends to entertain the kids, so I can sleep in. Frequently, the three of them will storm into my kitchen and make waffles together.

Now at the ripe old ages of 10 and 7, the kids can make the waffles by themselves! Yes, they can follow the instructions, measure the right amount of waffle mix, beat the eggs, add the oil, and water, and cook the batter in our waffle maker.

Waffle maker

In the earlier days, I used to dread their unsupervised breakfast making, because when I came downstairs, I was greeted with a kitchen left in a disastrous state. It looked like my kitchen suffered a series of food fights.

Well, those Saturday morning Kitchen clean-up days are now over! The children now can make me a “Spinach” waffle, and clean up their mess. Such useful kids!

Here is a previous post about Kids in the Kitchen.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark
Category: Kids  Leave a Comment

Homemade GuacamoleI can make a mean guacamole. I love guacamole–just thinking about it makes my mouth water. The only way I used to get fresh guacamole is by ordering it at a restaurant. Not only is it usually pricey, but it is almost always presented in pitiful portions, leaving me and my eating companions to immediately take up arms with the chips and fight over it.

So, I started to make it myself. It is actually very easy; it just requires lots of chopping.


1)Three large ripe avocados.
2)Two medium sized tomatoes.
3)About a third of white or red onion.
4)About a quarter cup of cilantro.
6)Salt & Pepper

Optional ingredients:

1)About a half cup of cucumber– I like to add the cucumber because it adds to the crunchiness of my guacamole, but unlike celery, the cucumber does not have a strong flavor of its own, and will not invade the taste of the avocados.
2)Jalapeño-My family can not handle spicy food, but if yours does, then chop up a Jalapeño and spice up your guacamole.


Finely chop the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and cucumber (peel off the skin first). Tip! When you chop the tomatoes, remove all the liquid and seeds inside first. If not, if will leave your guacamole with a layer of liquid on top. The liquid does not have much of an effect on the taste, but gives your guacamole an amateur appearance.

Tomatoes minus the pulp

Halve the avocados, remove the pits, and then use a spoon or just a knife to remove the avocado flesh from the skins into a bowl. Mix in all the finely chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and cucumber (and jalapeno), and mash it all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then squeeze in about half of a lime. It adds a citrus taste, and also helps prevent the guacamole from browning easily.


Serve it with some tortilla chips or pita chips and enjoy.

Guacamole and chips

  • Share/Save/Bookmark
Category: Parents  3 Comments