Archive for » May, 2011 «

Last Wednesday, the children and I were complaining about my husband together. He had promised the children a picnic lunch during their school’s family BBQ lunch day. Hubby was a no-show….he completely forgot about it.

As we debated on the most appropriate method of punishment for him, my 10-year-old came to his defense with this: “Whenever we ask Dad a question, he always gave us a serious and scientific answer. Whenever we ask you a question, you always give us a ridiculous and completely crazy answer.”

“WHAT?! No I don’t.” me.

“Yes, you do.” both kids attacking me now.

“Okay, give me an example.” me.

Both kids eying the ceiling, and tapping their temples with their fingers.

“Can’t think of one right now.” 10-year-old.

“Yeah.” 7-year-old gave up too.

“Okay, you can’t accuse me of something like that without a single example to back it up.” me.

“That’s totally unfair to me.” I am on the defense now.


“Mom?” 7-year-old.

“What?” me.

“Why do I always have a bloody nose?” 7-year-old.

This is true. My baby suffers from chronic nose bleed, and just had a bloody nose during swimming lesson the previous day.

“Hum…” I had no scientific answer to this, so I began to think….

“It is because you have a very small head.” me

“No!” the kids started to giggle.

“Yes. You always have bloody noses because your head is too small. Whenever you get too upset or excited, too much blood would come up into your head, and there is not enough room for all that blood, so it comes out of your nose.” me.

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“Mom, do we really have an enormous debt?” My 10-year-old leaned forward from the back seat of the car.

I was driving the kids to my favorite dentist’s office an hour and 20 minutes away and happened to have the radio tuned in to a local talk show, and the topic of the hour was on our national debt.

“Yes. We do” Me.

“But, I thought you said that we are a very wealthy country.” kid.

“Yes. We are.” me

“How can we have enormous debt and still be wealthy?” kid.

I thought the kids were busy in the back seat chatting and playing with their Nintendo DS, forgetting that my 10-year-old has a sharp ear, with an incessant curiosity. Luckily, I am blessed with the ability to answer my children’s big difficult questions quickly with simple, lighthearted, and sensible answers.

“A person can not be in debt and still be wealthy. A country can be both. Our government is poor. Our people are rich.” me.

“Why is our government poor?” kid

“They spend more money than they take in, so they go borrow more and more money from other countries.” me

Uncle Sam is Broke

“Why?!” kid

“Government spends tax payers’ money. It is very easy to spend other people’s money.” me.

Then I decided to play fair and add, “But the government does spend its money to help the people too. They build schools, roads, have policeman, fireman, and even give money and food to help the poor.” me

“How are the people rich?” kid

“We are rich compared to people from most other countries. Even our poor people are “rich” compared to many people of other countries. Only in America, poor people can have heat, AC, cable TV, video games, car…our poor people can even grow fat. The poor people from poor countries are all skinny, because they are starving.” me.

“We borrow a lot of money from the Chinese government these days.” I continued, “China is kind of the opposite of us. Their government is very rich, but the vast majority of their people are actually poor.”

No more questions came from the back, but that didn’t stop me from ranting on, “And if the Chinese government starts to spend their money to help their poor people, they will not be rich for very long, because China has a lot more poor people.”

“Can we listen to songs now?” 10-year-old.

“Sure. You don’t need to worry about our national debt right now…It will deal with you when you grow up.” I pushed a button and changed the radio station.

A previous related post: Explaining Headline News to Kids

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Category: Kids, Parents  One Comment

Last weekend, I left hubby at the mercy of the kids, flew down to Los Angeles with my sister to spend Mother’s day with our wheelchair-bound mom.

The main event of our Mother’s day weekend was the big dinner on Saturday night. My sister and I had invited our 96-year-old grandmother, all of our Aunts and Uncles, plus a couple of cousins, and my sister’s best friends. Fourteen people in all. Our Dad had made a 6PM reservation at a big famous Chinese restaurant.

We arrived at the restaurant just after 6PM. As the elevator door dinged opened, I was shocked by the sight of the jam-packed lobby full of people waiting to be seated. Thank goodness we have a reservation, I thought! We carefully pushed my mother’s wheelchair to the front of the hostess station, and were immediately rushed by family members who all came not to greet us, but to tell us that our table was not ready.

We parked ourselves right by the hostess station, feeling sure she would have someone lead us to our table shortly.

A long time had passed, and I was still standing facing the hostess. It wasn’t boring from where I stood. The non-stop flow of exchanges between the pissed off customers and the hostess was entertaining. Unhappy customers who exercised restraint came to inquire about the waiting time, and to remind the hostess that they are still waiting. Unhappy customers without self-imposed restraint simply lashed out at the poor hostess for not letting them in to eat.

The small lobby was a chaotic mess. With two elevators continuously dinging open, more and more people came up, and far fewer people went down. Even worse was the constant loud noise, that only shut off for a very brief second when the hostess called a number into her hand-held microphone in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

By around 6:30PM, I was still quite and patient. I felt sorry for the soft-spoken young hostess. She got yelled at by everyone, but no one whose number finally got called up came to thank her.

One angry man came to bark at her–he was “special” because the language he used borderline profanity. To which, the soft-spoken hostess pointed at us, and said, “They have been waiting since 6 o’ clock too, and they even have a reservation.”

The man turned to look at me. I gave him a weak smile and nodded….that’s right…we are bigger losers than you are.

“It’s true. We have been waiting for over half-an-hour now. When do you think our table will be ready?” I finally asked the hostess.

“I don’t know…” the hostess said. WHAT?!! This squashed my hopeful “any minute now” thinking.
“What do you mean, ‘you don’t know’? We have been waiting here very patiently.” I said, pointing to my poor mom sitting in her wheelchair.

“Yeah, well, we have a wedding here tonight.” the hostess offered as her excuse.

This is true. The problem with big famous Chinese restaurants is that they cater to wedding banquets. A pair of geniuses decided to get married on Mother’s day weekend, and they took up half of the restaurant to celebrate their marriage.

I HATE lame excuses.

“Wedding banquets are booked months if not a year ahead of the time. So your restaurant already knew that you would be having this wedding when we called 2 weeks ago for this reservation. If you can’t accommodate us, you should not have taken our reservation. Then we would be eating somewhere else by now!” I was beginning to get upset.

I turned to find the faces of my family elders. My Aunts and Uncles all looked starved to death and unhappy. Except my 96 year old grandmother, who smiled and waved at me. She looked as serene as ever. Grandma can’t hear much, she is nearly deaf.

By 6:45PM, I felt a tug at my leg, I bent down to see what my mother needed. She asked me to just take her back home. My mother hated going out ever since she lost her ability to walk due to a stroke almost 2 years ago.

I spoke to the hostess again, with a great deal of urgency this time. I pointed at my 96 year old grandma, and at my mom sitting on a wheelchair, and at random old people in the crowd that represented my elderly Aunts and Uncles, and asked how could they make such an abused group wait nearly an hour…with a reservation in their book.

“I have a table of 8 ready for now. How about we split you into two tables? Just one table is ready though.” the hostess offered sympathetically.

“YES! We will take it.” me, while shouting at my sister to gather all the elders, and let them all sit and eat first.

My cousin and I wheeled my mother in, following the staff taking us to our table.

The restaurant was massive. It was jam packed, and the volume here was even louder than in the lobby we left behind.

We carefully pushed my mom’s wheelchair through the chaos, and finally lead into a separate room inside the restaurant. It was a good size room with its own entry and door, overly packed with tables surrounded by noisy patrons sitting in tightly-packed chairs.

The staff leading the way walked towards an empty table across from the door, as my cousin pushed my mom’s chair towards the table ahead of me. I stopped in my tracks…. and right there! to my right! was a large ready set empty table staring at me. EMPTY! HUGE! It can seat all of us!!!

“Wait, wait, wait!” I called out to the uniformed lady in front, pointed to the big empty table, and asked her, “Why can’t we just sit there? It can seat all 14 of us.”

“That one is reserved.” She replied quickly.

“Exactly! That’s us! We have a reservation for a table with 14 people.” I explained excitedly, they must of made some horribly mistake with all the drama going on everywhere.

“No, that one is reserved for someone else.” She insisted.

“We made a reservation for 6 o’clock. And now it is 7. We have been waiting for AN HOUR!!” I began to shout.

The staff lady walked over to me to speak, I think to avoid yelling over the other customers, “This customer already picked out his dishes, and prepaid for their dinner.”

I hate LAME excuses!

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR RESTAURANT!!!!!” if I were a cartoon character, this is when my face would turn completely red, and the top of my head would blow up.

“LOOK! My mother is sitting in a wheelchair, and my grandmother is 96 year old, and we have a reservation at 6PM. You made us wait in that mess of a lobby of yours for an hour, when you have a table sitting here empty for god knows how long.” I am now roaring at the top of my lungs.

“I don’t care if you have customers that came and already paid for their dinner. Are you afraid that if we all sit down, we won’t be ordering food, and when we are done eating, we won’t be paying you?! WHERE IS YOUR MANAGER?!!” me shouting.

The whole room’s eating frenzy paused, and all eyes are looking at us now. Angry people are usually very entertaining… if you are not the one angry.

A guy wearing a suit with a name tag ran in quickly, waving at the lady, and pointing to the big table, while yelling, “Just seat them, just seat them.”

We all sat down at the table, completely exhausted. I quickly borrowed a pen, got a piece of paper, and ordered all the dishes by myself. We needed no more drama that night, and 14 people negotiating the right kind of dishes to order can easily lead to drama.

The restaurant made up all that wait time by delivering our dishes to our table with rocket speed. As soon as the appetizer was laid down, the giant soup bowl arrived. As soon as our waiter scooped the soup into 14 bowls, the kitchen maids arrived in tow, and handed the dishes to our waiter one by one, who placed them on our big table.

All our dishes were served in record setting time, leaving us with a spoon in one hand, chopsticks in the other, and our eyes on the lazy Susan, sizing up the dishes we definitely didn’t want to miss out on.

This room was so loud, and our table so big, I had to withhold my customary inquiry into grandma and all the elders’ health. I was happy that they delivered the food quickly. We just ate, and ate quickly. The restaurant needed us to clear their table quickly to make room for their next batch of angry customers.

Downstairs, out of the elevator, we scattered out to the walkway of the outdoor shopping center. The cool evening air was crisp. By the parking lot, we finally greeted each other. They all thanked my sister and I for the dinner, and we apologized to all of them for the headache-inducing meal. We said our goodbyes, and headed toward our cars. Then I remembered…”Wait!” I called out. They all turned…..

“Happy Mother’s Day!!”

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My kids had a staycation for spring break last week. Every day, I tried to find something meaningful for them to do, so they wouldn’t spend all their time wasting away on the couch or playing Wii.

I do most of my work from home, but last Thursday, I had to drag the kids to the warehouse with me. I had quite a bit of work to do there that day. Even though they had brought books to read, they grew restless quickly, and kept asking when we could leave. So, I took one of the Electricity kits off the shelf and handed it to them to play.


Wow! They loved it. Who knew that playing with electricity could be so much fun and so safe. This kit is designed for children age 5 to 10, so my kids had no problem reading and following the simple directions to build their experiments. They required zero help from me, as they built their electricity generator for the light bulb, the motor that spins the colorful disk and pinwheel, an on-and-off switch, and even a buzzer to send SOS message in Morse Code. Best of all, this kit made the concept of electricity so easy that even my 7-year-old baby could explain to me the science behind each successful experiment.

Electricity Kit

Pinwheel with on and off switch

As they walked around the warehouse with their alligator clips and light bulb powered by a D sized battery looking for things to conduct or insulate electricity, they happily proclaimed this kit to be the best toy they ever had… until they saw the big and shiny Electronic Snap Circuits-300 on one of the shelves. An electricity kit with 300 experiments?! They had to have it.

When the kids brought the kit home, my husband who is an Electrical Engineer got recruited to join them. And the three of them played nearly all day on Sunday.

Electronic Snap Circuits 300

It was fun watching the three of them building one experiment after another using the detailed experiment guide and discussing what electrical magic is happening behind the scenes.

Snap 300

Currently, they are only on experiment number 19, but I already heard the kids discussing wanting one of our Physics kits to play with next. That’s the problem with bringing these kids to’s warehouse: they can see all the toys.

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