Archive for » March, 2012 «

I write like how I do most things in my life; fast, but lacking perfection. So, I like to have someone proofread my writing to correct misspellings and bad grammar.

My 11-year-old is an excellent writer. So, for the past few months, I have hired my own child to be the editor of my blog on

I pay five bucks per blog. And since I blabber on my blog about once a week, my 11-year-old has accumulated a nice stack of five-dollar bills. This is upsetting my 8-year-old.

“I want to make $5 too!” 8-year-old demanded one afternoon.

“You are just not ready to proofread my blog yet. You are only a 3rd grader.” me.

The baby gave me a very sad face…so sad.

“I am sure when you are a 6th grader, you will make a fine editor too.” I comforted the child.

“But I want to make $5 NOW!” baby.

11-year-old watched us in amusement.

Then an idea came to me, “Actually, I have a job that you can do.”

“You can wash our dirty shoes! I have been wanting to clean them, especially both of your muddy tennis shoes. I will also pay you $5 a pair, but you will have to use a brush and soap to clean them.” me.

My 8-year-old clapped with pleasure. The baby loves money.

That was perfect, and everybody was happy. But my brain started cranking…and notified me of a teachable moment.

“Kids. I have always told you how important it is to be educated, and this is a good example of it.” me.

I pointed at my 11-year-old, and said, “When you get to use your brain to make money, you get to have a fancy title, like the Editor of, and all you have to do is to read a blog to earn five dollars. Some of my blogs are so short.”

“And you!” I pointed to my baby now, “you don’t have enough education to use your brain to make money, you will have to use your muscles to make money.” Pausing for a more dramatic effect on my lecture, I continued, “You have to get a stool in front of the large sink in our laundry room, step on it, roll up your sleeves, and wash stinky shoes to earn your five dollars.”

“You kids better go to college.” I delivered my obvious punch line.

The baby’s beaming face turned into an unhappy frown.

“I don’t want to clean stinky shoes anymore!” 8-year-old.

“What, wait…you get five dollars.” me.

“No!” baby’s face turned away from me, with arms crossed.

Oh no. This teachable moment backfired on me.

“Hold on, kids. There is no shame in hard work. Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do.” me.

“I have worked lots of jobs since high school. And in college, I had a job cleaning dorm rooms.” me,

Silence from the kids.

“I cleaned other college kids’ dorm rooms and their bathrooms to make extra money. There is no shame in hard work. You can clean the shoes, your own shoes!”

“No!” baby.

Apparently, I need a new lesson plan on work ethics for these two. And I could really use a shoe cleaner around here.

Lots of shoes

Related post: Teaching Green

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Category: Humor, Kids  2 Comments

I went to Peet’s Coffee & Tea last Saturday to buy coffee beans. As it turns out, Peet’s was celebrating their Founder’s Day that day. They had a table set up, offering not only fresh-brewed samples in tiny paper cups for customers to enjoy immediately, but also packaged samples customers could take home. With my purchases, I received a free coffee card and a $5 Peet’s gift card, an extra reward for coming in on Founder’s Day.

Peet’s enjoys a cult-like fan base among coffee drinkers, and I count myself as one of them. I am a complete simpleton when it comes to my few passions. When I go to the restaurants that I frequent, they can count on me to always order the exact same dish. This is no different with my coffee habit. For years now, I have been a die-hard fan of their Major Dickason blend.

That Saturday I decided to branch out. I wanted to try a different blend to honor their founder, and I asked for help.

A thin young Peet’s barista sporting sideburns answered my questions with much enthusiasm and very high energy, aided by probably too many cups of coffee that morning.

After a lengthy lecture on their various exotic beans, the American, the African &Arabian, Sumatran…, I settled on the French Roast. Boring! Hey, I love bold, strong coffee.

If he was disappointed with my choice, he didn’t show it. He congratulated me, and said that the French Roast is their darkest roast. Bless his heart!

Old habits are hard to kick, and I picked up a bag of Major Dickason just in case. I headed to my car feeling happy.

Peet's Coffee Beans, plus free sample, and free coffee cards

As I drove home, all this coffee talk reminded me of my favorite memory of coffee.

When my family came to America in the early 1980’s, it took months before we were able to move out of my uncle’s two-bedroom apartment and into a gloomy one-bedroom apartment right on a busy and wide boulevard in East Los Angeles. Family friends came and gave us gifts to help us get settled.

One family friend stopped by and gave us a bag of whole-bean coffee.

Only my father was excited by that bag of coffee. He drank green tea every day, and now that he was living in America, he wanted to attempt this American rival to green tea.

The bag of coffee beans was an inconsiderate, if not downright, horrible gift. We had no coffee machine, and certainly not the fancy extras of a bean grinder. Even worse, we didn’t know that a machine was even needed to make the coffee.

The coffee beans sat on our table for a few days, as my father debated with himself on what to do with them. Then he arrived at a decision.

“Coffee and tea are kind of similar…I want to use the same method to treat the coffee!” Dad.

“You want to pour hot water on it, and just soak it?” me. Then added, “I don’t think that’s going to succeed.”

“Hem….you might be right. Those beans are much tougher than tea leaves. I am going to use water to cook them.” dad.

“That might work.” me.

He got out a pot, poured water into it, dumped a bunch of beans into the water, and then turned on the stove.

He gave the beans one heck of a cooking.

“Still not done cooking?” me.

“They are just not turning black!” dad.

I always find myself chuckling when I think about my dad’s cooking of the coffee. He has never developed a taste for coffee since. I, on the other hand, despite such a humble beginning, have managed to turn into a coffee snob.

Related post: The world’s worst husband-to-wife Christmas gift EVER

We are home!

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Just after dinner the other night, I was rinsing the dishes at the kitchen sink and putting them into the dishwasher. This was a mindless chore I performed just about every night, as I have yet assigned this duty to the kids. They would take too long, and I have little patience.

I chanced to look up at the kitchen window, and was taken aback at what I saw!

A flower on our cactus plant!

“Hey! Our cactus grew a flower!” I gasped.

The kids run over to have a look, and we marveled at this often ignored plant that sat quietly at the kitchen window.

I bought this cactus plant for my 11-year-old’s first grade science project about five years ago. It helped my child earn a ribbon, then retired to the kitchen window ever since. It lived this long, only because it is a cactus! I am an awful gardener, most of my plants die within just a few months. This cactus had survived my unstructured watering schedule for years. And now I am glad.

Upon closer examination, its flower was extraordinarily beautiful. The lone flower was light orange, with multiple layers of thin and long pedals, and a lump of purple in the middle. We came to visit the cactus and her flower many times that night, and took photos.

As suddenly as it appeared, by late next day, the flower wilted. It folded into a light orange lump, then fell off the end of the cactus.

Our cactus is back to its normal self again. But now, I have developed a certain respect for this surprising plant. When I do dishes now, I always make a point to peek at it on purpose, hoping to see its beauty blossom again.

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