Archive for » February, 2012 «

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Last week was our school’s Ski Week Holiday. Despite the fact that this winter had been unseasonably warm and dry and Lake Tahoe is suffering from a lack of fresh, powdery snow, we took the kids to our annual snowboarding trip anyway. And as always, we had a blast.

We went to Squaw Valley this year. This was our family’s first trip to Squaw. I have skied there during college, which felt like forever ago.

Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Five decades later, the base of the mountain still has a vibrant and fresh-looking village that features numerous restaurants, shops, bars, coffee shops, and upscale condos.

Even with the worst snow conditions in recent memory, as you sit on the lift chair and take in the surroundings, you can’t fail to notice that Squaw is a great mountain.

Squaw Valley Run with the Lake Tahoe in view

Squaw is huge. The base has many lift chairs, a gondola, and an aerial tram that will transport you to their many mountaintops and several peaks with impressive views.

View from one of the peaks

Each of the peaks offers a wide range of terrains that cascade down to the base, the anxiety-inducing narrow ridges,

The ridge run at one of the peaks

their famous deep bowls,

Early morning run at the base of a bowl

and wide downhill slopes.

Wide down hill

New to this mountain, we played cautiously on the first day, avoiding the peaks, and mapped out trails with harmless-sounding names, such as Easy Street, Sunnyside, Home Run, and Lake View.

We grew a little bolder each day, then on our last day, we became down right daring, and first thing in the morning, we headed for their Aerial Tram that took us to their High Camp at 8200 feet, then took another connecting lift straight to one of their major peaks. Big mistake!

We disembarked at the lift, and found ourselves alone at the peak. The summit greeted us with howling wind, and a bone chilling cold that pierced through my trusted triple fat goose ski jacket.

From this peak area, a narrow ridge leads to a steep down hill slope further down. The view is breathtaking; you can see the Lake Tahoe. But we needed to get down this hill quickly.

I was happy to see a knee high snow embankment off the side of the ridge not far from the lift, I liked to sit on the snow as I bind my boot to the board. I skated to the “snow bench” quickly and sat down on it. OUCH! This so-called snow was frozen solid. It was like sitting down hard on uneven concrete. I was sure that my poor behind had split into 88 pieces. Ouch, ouch.

We carefully eased our way from the ridge to the top of the steep slope. This slope was not icy as I feared, no, it was frozen solid! We could see clear sheets of ice from under a thin layer of hard snow.

“Kids, don’t worry about going down gracefully.” me.

I instructed my 11-year-old to just “falling leaf” down this hill slowly and carefully, and told the baby to play “Follow the Leader” with my 11-year old down. I decided to sit on the top of the hill, in case they needed my help. It is easier to slide down to them, because climbing up was impossible on this hill.

Hubby barely managed on his own. While he is a much better skier than me, I am the better snowboarder.


My 11-year-old got up on the board, and began the slow descend down, making that loud crunchy sound as the board glided down on hard ice. My 8-year-old baby dutifully copied the same movements down. It looked good for a while.

Follow the leader down

Then to my horror, my 11-year-old slipped and fall backwards, and began this uncontrollable downhill crash sitting on her butt. Then from the corner of my eye, my baby also sat down, and now both of them were going down fast on their butts.

The hill was so icy, there was no powder that could slowed or stopped their fall. I stood at the top of the hill and watched helplessly while holding my breath. Finally, at the bottom of the slope, they made their stop together.

I carefully made my way down to them (standing on my board).

Butt down ride

“I didn’t mean to do that! That was an accident.” 11-year-old.

We both looked at the baby.

The baby gave us a mischievous smile, then two gloved thumbs up, approving this butt down technique.

We learned our lesson, and stayed away from the peaks for the rest of the day.

Mid mountain trails

Related post: Big Butts Are Sexy!

A Family Winter Holiday

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I was tidying up the house earlier this week, and came across what appeared to be my 11-year-old’s journal. I decided to take a peek, aided by the opinion that 11-year-olds have no rights to privacy from their mothers.

It turned out to be a picture journal.

The drawings were mostly childish “brainstorm” non-sense sessions, but six illustrations titled “Reflective Activity Art” captivated my attention.

Picture 1:Child received a C- at school…yikes!!

Kid gets a C- at school.

Picture 2: Child arrived home, and hesitated before a huge heavy door.

Kid comes home from school.

Picture 3: Child showed Mom the C- paper, and Mom instantly freaked out.

Kid Shows C- paper to mom.

Picture 4: Mom was about to initiate a yelling session, but the child ran away. (See the three lines…that’s the dust from the child running away quickly)

Kid runs away from angry mom.

Picture 5: Angry mom stomped upstairs to go after the child.

Mom goes after child.

Picture 6: Mom tracked down the child in a room, shut the door behind her, then barked furiously at the child to protest the C-.

Mom barks at child for getting a C-.

Wow…I found myself reflecting deeply on these drawings for quite some time. I learned so much about myself through my child’s eyes from these six simple pictures.

And I hope my children also learned to never bring home another C-!!!

Other related post:

A+ Hug

Mom, please don’t yell…

Losing Face at Chinese School

Chinese School vs School School

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Category: Humor, Kids, Parents  3 Comments

I love fluffy white rice. I think this fact alone makes me a proper Chinese woman. Rice is the heavily favored carb that frequents our dinner table. But my white rice came under assault a little over a month ago.

As with most foods, if you like it, it isn’t that good for you. What ill can innocent-looking rice bring to you? According to my children’s pediatrician, I am not feeding my family enough whole-grain foods. White rice is just empty carbs, and does not measure up to whole grain.

She suggested brown rice instead. I gave her a funny look…No Chinese families or Chinese restaurants that I know of serve brown rice! Brown rice shakes the foundation of my heritage!

Luckily, our pediatrician had a plan for us. She suggested for me to mix the brown rice with white rice. Start with just little bit of brown rice first, once the kids grow used to the taste, then gradually increase the amount of brown rice, until it is half white rice and half brown rice. Apparently half and half is the set goal to achieve whole-grain goodness.

Brown and white rice mix

We like our pediatrician. I immediately brought premium-quality brown rice, and dutifully put her suggestion into practice.

I had no problem achieving half white and half brown within a month. No one complained.

“How do you like our rice” me.

“Fine.” kids and hubby.

“You don’t mind the brown rice in it?” me.

“No.” Kids and hubby.

How could this be fine! Every time you introduce this awful rice to your mouth, it tastes like your rice has been invaded by foreigners. I can’t stand this rice!

Brown rice invades

I am totally put off by their complacent attitude toward our new rice. They are supposed to complain, so I can quit the brown rice.

I can’t be the one to complain. I often preach to them to quit eating too much butter and sweets, while urging them to eat more green-leafy vegetables and fruits. I have to maintain my reputation as the healthy champion of the family.

My kids are notoriously picky eaters, and the one time I counted on them to protest, they failed me.

Kids eat brown rice!

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Category: Parents  Leave a Comment

“Jenny! You are right! My dad is a dragon,” my cousin yelled from across the table.

“That means he can’t be turning 70. He is 72!” I beamed like an idiot.

I have a special talent for broadcasting other people’s frivolous blunders at the most inopportune moments. We had just sat down at my uncle’s 70th birthday party banquet.

My sister and I flew down to Los Angles last weekend to celebrate the tail end of Chinese New Year with our parents, and our cousin flew from New York to host her father’s 70th birthday party that same weekend. It was an awesome affair to see all our extended family that concentrated in Southern California.

My mind wandered off from the festivity and went on to do simple math instead. My uncle is one of the three dragons in our family. Since this is dragon year, he can not be 70. There are twelve signs, so your sign comes around every twelve years. His age has to be in multiple of 12 during his own Chinese zodiac sign.

I have spent many afternoons this past few years helping my children with grade school math. I have become extremely good at simple math. He has to be turning 72 at his 70th birthday banquet.

My cousin’s grand gesture as a good daughter frazzled…her party is tardy by two years.

Luckily, we are a family of good humored people. We laughed, and ordered our elders Tsingtao Beer.

It was a fine banquet. My usually stern faced uncle looked visibility happy. He said that he had never celebrated his birthdays before. He was just happy to have a party. Candles that displayed the wrong numbers did not tamper with his high spirits.

70th Birthday Banquet

That night, my sister and I crawled into bed well after midnight. We usually share a bed when we visit our parents together, just like when we were little. I was very sleepy, but we fell into a deep philosophical conversation about age and birthdays.

“Our uncle said that he never celebrated his birthdays before. Could this really be true?” me.

“Probably. Maybe he can’t remember. Because all the cool birthdays happen early in life.” sister.

“Like our kids’ birthdays?”me.

“No. I mean, you look forward to turning 16. Because you can get your student driver license.” sister.

“True.” me.

“Then 18. Because you get to be an adult.” Sister.

“But then you realize that 18 is not quite it. What you really need is to be 21.” sister.

“Yeah! 21!” me, alert briefly.

“But then, they won’t rent you a car until you are 25. So, you WANT to be 25.” sister.

“After 25, there is no more good age to look forward to.” sister.

“You are such a downer.” me…..“You are forgetting senior discounts.”

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Category: Humor, Parents  One Comment