Archive for » April, 2014 «

“AI-YA!! You old, confused man. How can you think of such a thing for them to do??” My mother woke up from her afternoon nap, looked out to the backyard and observed my two children engaged in the most unnatural employment.

“This is good fun.” my dad replied easily.

Over Spring Break last week, I had driven 6 hours with my kids to Southern California to visit my parents. The kids were spending a lot of time on their iPad and iPhone while at my parent’s house. One afternoon, my dad called the kids out to work on a project.

In the past, a project typically involves a complicated puzzle, colorful pencils or markers, or a glittering arts and craft kit. They were not prepared for my dad’s wicked project.

An ancient cooking method

Yes, he got out this odd and ancient looking oven thing, and had my 13-year-old build a fire in it. A real fire!

Along with a miserable looking fan, and a once fashionable ripped jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch, my children were cast with perfection into the roles of some poor homeless orphans in China.

Did you see the fan my 13-year-old is holding?? Apparently my dad had inherited the fan that had once belonged to Ji Gong, the legendary drunken monk.

After a nice fire got going, my dad put a wok on it with some food for my kids to cook.

Cooking like the old days

The kids had banished all thoughts of their iPad and iPhone, and spent the afternoon back in old China, likely on a farm, and cooked themselves a simple meal.

The kids carefully nursed their fire, adding more wood, fanning the flame, and waited for their food to cook.

Nursing their stove with care

“What are you guys cooking?” I asked.

“Earth melon.” 10-year-old.

Ahh…earth melon, of course.

Yams are ready

I had a good laugh. What a splendid idea to cook the yam in this manner! It was one of my favorite childhood foods.

The kids loved their yams. Their previous experience with the yam was limited to the mashed type served as a side dish with Thanksgiving dinners, and the mashed type covered under a blanket of marshmallows at Boston Market.

“Mom, when we go home, you need to make us yams like this. This is so good.” 13-year-old.

“You should ask Wai-Gong to let us take that oven home!” 10-year-old.

The ancient oven

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“What is the big idea with the baby’s science project?!!” I stormed upstairs early in the morning, and rudely woke up my husband with my barking.

“What…” he flopped in our bed, then his eyes popped open.

I stood eying him with my arms crossed, “The science project?”.

“Oh…that….” clearly he was trying to gather his wits to confront my hostility. “Yeah…don’t worry, there is going to be science in her science project….probably it will have to do with energy…”

“So, the science project will qualify under physics?” me, sarcastically.

“YES! Physics.” hubby. He is shameless.

I rolled my eyes.

Two weeks ago, my 10-year-old came home all excited that our school’s annual science fair is back. It was taken away last year due to budget cuts.

I had handed off the baby’s science project to my hubby to manage, and paid very little attention to it.

Big mistake!

5th grade Science fair proposal

Early Monday morning, I happened to see the baby’s science project proposal laying on top of her backpack. I decided to take a peek, and saw that the project required a pumpkin, rubber bands, and protective goggles.

“Why do you need a pumpkin and protective goggles for your science project?” I asked the baby.

“We are going to explode a pumpkin with rubber bands!!” the baby announced with unrestrained excitement.

In the past, I had been the one that helped design the kids’ science fair projects. We have had many highly reputable projects, such as an earthquake project where we got permission from the Tech Museum to use their earthquake simulator to conduct experiments, and one year, we had built our own windmill model that powered real light bulbs.

I looked at the baby with a deep frown, and asked calmly, “What science are we supposed to learn from exploding a pumpkin?”

The baby gave me a blank stare, then finally said in a weak voice, “Science is fun…”

The science project proposal was due that day, so it was too late for me to intervene.

However, mother nature will intervene and insist that this project be modified.

My Einstein’s had not considered that there are no pumpkins at this time of the year.

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“Put that fish down!” a cashier shouted in Chinese at a poorly dressed old woman.

“One fish per customer!” the cashier walked in front of the buffet spread and pointed at a sign. The sign proclaimed this fish tray to be a new item, and special enough that you could only have one piece per customer.

The old woman dropped the fish back into its tray without looking up, and moved on to unrestricted dishes.

“Too much food for your box!! Next time don’t take so much.” the cashier yelled at the same old woman for over filling her container.

The old woman avoided eye contact again, paid with cash and walked away.

Every Monday, I go shopping at a big Chinese grocery store around lunch time, and would pick up a to go lunch at the grocery store’s hot deli.

Every time I see this thinly built tall cashier at the register, my heart would sink a little. She does not just take customers’ money like the rest of the cashiers. She makes it her business to police the amount of food people pile onto their to go boxes.

I pushed my tray in front of her cash register, and knew what was to come…

“You can get more food!” she barked.

Isn’t she awfully bossy!!

“You should go back and add more food.” bossy cashier, “Ah, you didn’t get the special fish. That’s good fish.”

“Oh, thank you. This is all I could eat.” me. I kept it to myself that I thought the new fish looked rather dry and unappetizing.

“Next time, you get the paper box. You can put all your food into our paper box, and I will be charging you half the price.” she instructed me helpfully.

The prices are clearly labeled on the different sized to go boxes. Only the large box has a flat bed with different sections, so I could somewhat separate the different items.

The rest of their to go boxes are tall rectangular shaped, which meant that with the different foods, all the flavors will blend into each other. I am of the opinion that even clumsily made food deserves some shred of dignity.

I faced her again this past Monday. I felt her watching me.

As I gathered the food, I was telling myself the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story in my head…

So I picked up more food than I could eat, plus one new fish onto my tray.

It was just right for her.

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