December 21, 2006


It is a girl!

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Thursday, December 21, 2006
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December 14, 2006

Last week I bought a pair of gloves. Nice ones, genuine leather outside and cashmere inside. They fitted snugly and warmly. I was quite happy. I have been without gloves for years. Then two days later I lost them. Maybe on the train or on the street. Well, back to my glove-less days. On that note, I also lack any accessories, like scarf, hat, or jewelry, like earrings or necklace. Too much trouble, bound to be lost.

My father says I am not suitable to be a thief, because I always leave a trail of things, money, purse, keys, ... behind me. Always absentminded, I would forget that in my hand I am holding a purse. Very often I forget to close my backpack and things just spill over.

Emma seems to be like me. She forgets things all the time. I bought her hair clips, she lost them in two days; She loved her colorful necklaces, but soon enough they were nowhere to be seen. She wanted to be a big girl to have keys, just like we adults. So I gave her a key with a small key chain. Sure, the key disappeared. Maybe somewhere in the playground. Whenever she cannot find anything, she asks me: "Mommy, where is my ..."

So forgetful. Or maybe she is just too young.

So forgetful

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Last week I bought a pair of gloves. Nice ones, genuine leather outside and cashmere inside. They fitted snugly and warmly. I was quite happy. I have been without gloves for years. Then two days later I lost them. Maybe on the train or on the street. Well, back to my glove-less days. On that note, I also lack any accessories, like scarf, hat, or jewelry, like earrings or necklace. Too much trouble, bound to be lost.

My father says I am not suitable to be a thief, because I always leave a trail of things, money, purse, keys, ... behind me. Always absentminded, I would forget that in my hand I am holding a purse. Very often I forget to close my backpack and things just spill over.

Emma seems to be like me. She forgets things all the time. I bought her hair clips, she lost them in two days; She loved her colorful necklaces, but soon enough they were nowhere to be seen. She wanted to be a big girl to have keys, just like we adults. So I gave her a key with a small key chain. Sure, the key disappeared. Maybe somewhere in the playground. Whenever she cannot find anything, she asks me: "Mommy, where is my ..."

So forgetful. Or maybe she is just too young.

Thursday, December 14, 2006
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December 12, 2006

If you see it rains, thunders, snows, will you ask why, or wonder, or think for a second? No. I never. But Emma does. Her questions come often and natural, about nature, about animals, people, everything.

Yesterday, she asked "Why did it rain but not thunder?" I did not think of an appropriate answer, and did not want to cheat my way out, so I promised to look it up for her (today I googled it, found a lot of "rain, thunder, snow" music, video stuff. No one cares why it rains or thunders.)

Later, on our way home, Emma came up with her own answer. She said: "Oh, there are people, they drum, drum and drum, then there is thunder."

Very cute.

Her questions spring up when we read books, watch movies. They always remind me how utterly ignorant I am about the world.

Last night, we were reading an Eric Carle's book about Sea horse. Mommy sea horse lays eggs in the pouch of a daddy sea horse, then daddy swims away and mommy sea horse disappear from the book.

She asked me: "Where is the mommy?"

I said: "She leaves"

"Why?"

I had no idea. Still I said "She goes out to look for food." I was trying to mirror my answer from little penguins' behavior.

"Does mommy get tummy ache when she lay eggs, like you (having a baby)?"

Who knows?

Why it rains?

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If you see it rains, thunders, snows, will you ask why, or wonder, or think for a second? No. I never. But Emma does. Her questions come often and natural, about nature, about animals, people, everything.

Yesterday, she asked "Why did it rain but not thunder?" I did not think of an appropriate answer, and did not want to cheat my way out, so I promised to look it up for her (today I googled it, found a lot of "rain, thunder, snow" music, video stuff. No one cares why it rains or thunders.)

Later, on our way home, Emma came up with her own answer. She said: "Oh, there are people, they drum, drum and drum, then there is thunder."

Very cute.

Her questions spring up when we read books, watch movies. They always remind me how utterly ignorant I am about the world.

Last night, we were reading an Eric Carle's book about Sea horse. Mommy sea horse lays eggs in the pouch of a daddy sea horse, then daddy swims away and mommy sea horse disappear from the book.

She asked me: "Where is the mommy?"

I said: "She leaves"

"Why?"

I had no idea. Still I said "She goes out to look for food." I was trying to mirror my answer from little penguins' behavior.

"Does mommy get tummy ache when she lay eggs, like you (having a baby)?"

Who knows?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
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December 11, 2006

Emma is 3 years and 2 moths old. My sister said: "In China, when a child turns into 3, the parents would take care to send them to various programs, like art, music, dancing, sports, blah, blah ..."

I know. There are so many programs for preschoolers that are easily accessible and generally affordable. My nephew went to a few in a row after he turned 3 (he can draw a little bit, is good at basketball and football. However and unfortunately, he is incorrigibly obsessed with Video games. He is wild and unruly, a huge headache for his parents and grandparents. Well that is another topic). I, too, want Emma to receive some early exposure to arts, music and acrobatics too. Who knows? She might cultivate some lifetime passion because of that, or at least a hobby.

Easier said than done. As always, three obstacles: time, distance and money.

Time-wise, I work full time and she goes to school full time, while a lot of programs are offered on weekdays. For the few that have Saturdays as an option, some of them are set at afternoon time like 2 or 3pm. Bomber.

Then distance. This is such a car-for-granted nation. However, I do not have a car to use on Saturdays (the only days that work for me). And I dread riding train or bus, or using a combination of both and then walking another extra 5 blocks. Why I blindly chose to live on the northern edge of city?

Then money, money, money. There are cheap ones, the ones offered nearly free by city park district programs. But there are more likely expensive ones, private for profit ones. I do not know why in US, child care constantly causes monetary concerns, especially for one like me who is just dangling above the lowest ladder of middle class, not poor enough to be eligible for financial assistance, yet far from rich not to feel the burden of good child care. (Then next year, I will doubly burdened.)

How I want to send Emma to a Montessori school! Or freely relocate to a good place where good schools are guaranteed. No luck in at least 5 years, probably.

Read somewhere, someone says in a sense, you feel much more secure in China. True. Very True.

Three obstacles to a preschool program

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Emma is 3 years and 2 moths old. My sister said: "In China, when a child turns into 3, the parents would take care to send them to various programs, like art, music, dancing, sports, blah, blah ..."

I know. There are so many programs for preschoolers that are easily accessible and generally affordable. My nephew went to a few in a row after he turned 3 (he can draw a little bit, is good at basketball and football. However and unfortunately, he is incorrigibly obsessed with Video games. He is wild and unruly, a huge headache for his parents and grandparents. Well that is another topic). I, too, want Emma to receive some early exposure to arts, music and acrobatics too. Who knows? She might cultivate some lifetime passion because of that, or at least a hobby.

Easier said than done. As always, three obstacles: time, distance and money.

Time-wise, I work full time and she goes to school full time, while a lot of programs are offered on weekdays. For the few that have Saturdays as an option, some of them are set at afternoon time like 2 or 3pm. Bomber.

Then distance. This is such a car-for-granted nation. However, I do not have a car to use on Saturdays (the only days that work for me). And I dread riding train or bus, or using a combination of both and then walking another extra 5 blocks. Why I blindly chose to live on the northern edge of city?

Then money, money, money. There are cheap ones, the ones offered nearly free by city park district programs. But there are more likely expensive ones, private for profit ones. I do not know why in US, child care constantly causes monetary concerns, especially for one like me who is just dangling above the lowest ladder of middle class, not poor enough to be eligible for financial assistance, yet far from rich not to feel the burden of good child care. (Then next year, I will doubly burdened.)

How I want to send Emma to a Montessori school! Or freely relocate to a good place where good schools are guaranteed. No luck in at least 5 years, probably.

Read somewhere, someone says in a sense, you feel much more secure in China. True. Very True.

Monday, December 11, 2006
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December 04, 2006

December is coming. We got our first snow. So big, so heavy, it lasted so long. And it was so cold.

Saturday, Emma and I took a little shopping trip to the Dominick's about 4 blocks away. She loved it, the icy-cold air, the snowy trees and slippery sidewalk. Every two minutes, she stopped to see the snow-covered houses and trees, the hurriedly flying-away birds (she trid to chase them or running away from them). Winds blew over. Small icicles fell off the trees and landed on our shoulders, arms and heads. She was both scared and thrilled. She wanted more flurries of ice falling. Every two minutes, she stopped to crush off or kick away a block of ice, or she stamped stone-hard snow/ice trying to determine if it was ice or snow. She asked me, I did not know. Part of the sidewalk was still snow-covered, quite slippery. She walked gingerly over, screaming, complaining, while I stood 20 feet away, laughing and waiting for her.

Too bad, my camera is broken. And I have no idea when I would care enough to replace it.

Last night, after a cup of milk, I threw up everything I had taken that evening. Standing next to me on a little step stool, Emma gently patted me on the back. When I was finally done, she said: "Mommy, I will take care of you."

She has said this many times. In the beginning, I thought she was just parroting. But then I think she means it. Yesterday, looking at me earnestly, she said again, "Mommy, I will take care of you. I will not take care of daddy."

...

I take side too throughout the years I grew up, away from and then close to my parents again. Emma takes side, too, even when she was much younger. I never intended it, however, ...

Then Emma had more questions and comments, all in Chinese.

"Mommy, why you threw up?"

"I do not know. Maybe it was because of the baby in my tummy."

"Why the baby made you so?"

"Oh, maybe the baby did some somersault then made me sick. When you were in my tummy, I sometimes threw up too."

"Ah. Mommy, when I become a Mommy, I have a baby in my tummy, I will throw up too, because I do not want you to throw up."

I love her so.

Why it is so easy to love your child, but it is not so easy to love your spouse? Why? Because my child is just so good, so tender, so easy to love.

So easy to love

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December is coming. We got our first snow. So big, so heavy, it lasted so long. And it was so cold.

Saturday, Emma and I took a little shopping trip to the Dominick's about 4 blocks away. She loved it, the icy-cold air, the snowy trees and slippery sidewalk. Every two minutes, she stopped to see the snow-covered houses and trees, the hurriedly flying-away birds (she trid to chase them or running away from them). Winds blew over. Small icicles fell off the trees and landed on our shoulders, arms and heads. She was both scared and thrilled. She wanted more flurries of ice falling. Every two minutes, she stopped to crush off or kick away a block of ice, or she stamped stone-hard snow/ice trying to determine if it was ice or snow. She asked me, I did not know. Part of the sidewalk was still snow-covered, quite slippery. She walked gingerly over, screaming, complaining, while I stood 20 feet away, laughing and waiting for her.

Too bad, my camera is broken. And I have no idea when I would care enough to replace it.

Last night, after a cup of milk, I threw up everything I had taken that evening. Standing next to me on a little step stool, Emma gently patted me on the back. When I was finally done, she said: "Mommy, I will take care of you."

She has said this many times. In the beginning, I thought she was just parroting. But then I think she means it. Yesterday, looking at me earnestly, she said again, "Mommy, I will take care of you. I will not take care of daddy."

...

I take side too throughout the years I grew up, away from and then close to my parents again. Emma takes side, too, even when she was much younger. I never intended it, however, ...

Then Emma had more questions and comments, all in Chinese.

"Mommy, why you threw up?"

"I do not know. Maybe it was because of the baby in my tummy."

"Why the baby made you so?"

"Oh, maybe the baby did some somersault then made me sick. When you were in my tummy, I sometimes threw up too."

"Ah. Mommy, when I become a Mommy, I have a baby in my tummy, I will throw up too, because I do not want you to throw up."

I love her so.

Why it is so easy to love your child, but it is not so easy to love your spouse? Why? Because my child is just so good, so tender, so easy to love.

Monday, December 04, 2006
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November 28, 2006

Christmas is coming, twinkly trees with bright colorful glass balls are everywhere. Christmas is not my thing, but it is pleasant to look at the trees.

Christmas is coming, so is the season of present-shopping and giving. Emma is going to get some Christmas presents, certainly not through a big red sock though. What to give her? I decided to ask her.

"Emma, Christmas is coming. What do you want for a present?"

Here came the surprising and hilarious answer.

"Not candies, not M&Ms, not cookies, not chocolate, not ... (she named a list of things, but I forgot), but a chicken."

Ha, ha.

"Emma, you sure you want only chicken?"

"Yes. Chicken."

...

Yesterday Emma said something else funny. She patted my tommy, then asked:

"Mommy, you have a baby in your tommy?"

"Yes"

"Why is the baby in the tommy?"

I searched for an answer for this typical kid's question. All previous preparation on this topic gone blank. Luckily, she continued to ask:

"What is the baby's name?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

"Oh, name it ABC!"

Chicken for Christmas present

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Christmas is coming, twinkly trees with bright colorful glass balls are everywhere. Christmas is not my thing, but it is pleasant to look at the trees.

Christmas is coming, so is the season of present-shopping and giving. Emma is going to get some Christmas presents, certainly not through a big red sock though. What to give her? I decided to ask her.

"Emma, Christmas is coming. What do you want for a present?"

Here came the surprising and hilarious answer.

"Not candies, not M&Ms, not cookies, not chocolate, not ... (she named a list of things, but I forgot), but a chicken."

Ha, ha.

"Emma, you sure you want only chicken?"

"Yes. Chicken."

...

Yesterday Emma said something else funny. She patted my tommy, then asked:

"Mommy, you have a baby in your tommy?"

"Yes"

"Why is the baby in the tommy?"

I searched for an answer for this typical kid's question. All previous preparation on this topic gone blank. Luckily, she continued to ask:

"What is the baby's name?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

"Oh, name it ABC!"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
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November 27, 2006

When we were in grade school, on a bi-weekly basis, we were required to write about a particular day or week, certain events or people, or essays for or against something. A lot of times, we had no idea what or how to write, still to fill in the space, we wrote in a way like this:

"This morning I woke up at 8, had my breakfast at 8:30. I had some steam bread and milk. Then I went to school. I had math, chinese ..."

Or I read something funnier and more outrageous: "I played in the park with my dog bob. Bob ran away, I called
'bob'; he would not come back, so I called 'bob, bob, bob .....'"

With no exception, the teacher would mark this kind of writing failed and called it "a running ledger" (or something like that).

Well, right now I do not know what to write, so I decide to write a "running ledger" about the Thanksgiving Holiday we had.

Thursday:

Went to MB's around 11. We helped a little bit with the dishes. We played and played until the Li's family arrived around 2pm. We had our Thanksgiving lunch. Emma was a little fussy, then she fell asleep. We went home around 5pm.

Friday:

Got up around 8am. Had breakfast. Emma proposed to go to MB's. So we went. On the way, met a little girl Sonia and her mother. Later, Emma played Sonia, putting ornaments up in a tree with twinkling lights. Then they had lunch. The girls had fun. Then Sonia went home, Emma took a nap for about two hours. Around 5, went to see the movie "Happy Feet". It is a fun, cute and a silly movie. Emma liked it, on the way home and the next day, she kept talking about it.

Saturday:

I took Emma to the Children's museum. It has been a long time since I last took her. She was interested in every thing, new and old. She spent a lot of time playing in the Gingerbread fancy factory, however she refused to go to the "Skating ring" (basically a small area where all kids took off their socks and skid on the extra smooth floor). In every sports, she always sees danger and refuses to join in. We played till 5.

Sunday:

A quiet day. Laundry day. Shopping day. We played puzzles, we read some books, we napped, we doodled on paper and Emma's drawing board ...

Thanksgiving running ledger

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When we were in grade school, on a bi-weekly basis, we were required to write about a particular day or week, certain events or people, or essays for or against something. A lot of times, we had no idea what or how to write, still to fill in the space, we wrote in a way like this:

"This morning I woke up at 8, had my breakfast at 8:30. I had some steam bread and milk. Then I went to school. I had math, chinese ..."

Or I read something funnier and more outrageous: "I played in the park with my dog bob. Bob ran away, I called
'bob'; he would not come back, so I called 'bob, bob, bob .....'"

With no exception, the teacher would mark this kind of writing failed and called it "a running ledger" (or something like that).

Well, right now I do not know what to write, so I decide to write a "running ledger" about the Thanksgiving Holiday we had.

Thursday:

Went to MB's around 11. We helped a little bit with the dishes. We played and played until the Li's family arrived around 2pm. We had our Thanksgiving lunch. Emma was a little fussy, then she fell asleep. We went home around 5pm.

Friday:

Got up around 8am. Had breakfast. Emma proposed to go to MB's. So we went. On the way, met a little girl Sonia and her mother. Later, Emma played Sonia, putting ornaments up in a tree with twinkling lights. Then they had lunch. The girls had fun. Then Sonia went home, Emma took a nap for about two hours. Around 5, went to see the movie "Happy Feet". It is a fun, cute and a silly movie. Emma liked it, on the way home and the next day, she kept talking about it.

Saturday:

I took Emma to the Children's museum. It has been a long time since I last took her. She was interested in every thing, new and old. She spent a lot of time playing in the Gingerbread fancy factory, however she refused to go to the "Skating ring" (basically a small area where all kids took off their socks and skid on the extra smooth floor). In every sports, she always sees danger and refuses to join in. We played till 5.

Sunday:

A quiet day. Laundry day. Shopping day. We played puzzles, we read some books, we napped, we doodled on paper and Emma's drawing board ...

Monday, November 27, 2006
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November 20, 2006

So here is Holiday season. Again. And Thanksgiving. Again. And very soon, Christmas. They used to mean little to me, even after I came to US. I was always business as usual, uninterested and uncaring. Sometimes I got to go some people's dinners, sometimes I did not. The only disadvantage was that I had to struggle to come up with a cheerful response to a qustion like "hey, did you have a good Thanksgiving or whatever?"

So another year is almost gone. Is it a cause to worry or cheer? There are reasons for both. More to do with the baby that is to be born than anything else. A lot of things have to be changed. A new place, a new car. If possible, a new husband (woo, how unlikely, how sad!). That means a lot of new money. It is a mistery I really want a second baby despite all the insurmountable obstacles.

When a new year comes, I got a little older, but Emma is getting a little bigger. How I love to see her grow. Yet still so very tender and loving. Love to hear her say "Mommy, I want to take care of you." (She does not know the weight of taking care and she may take it back some day) And the kisses she gives me at night just fill me with joy. And with her, I have to cheer like everyone else. Have to go by her tradition to do all the holidays. So turkey and pumpkin pie and maybe mashed potatoes will be on.

Funny how traditions alway go down to food.

Turkey oh turkey

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So here is Holiday season. Again. And Thanksgiving. Again. And very soon, Christmas. They used to mean little to me, even after I came to US. I was always business as usual, uninterested and uncaring. Sometimes I got to go some people's dinners, sometimes I did not. The only disadvantage was that I had to struggle to come up with a cheerful response to a qustion like "hey, did you have a good Thanksgiving or whatever?"

So another year is almost gone. Is it a cause to worry or cheer? There are reasons for both. More to do with the baby that is to be born than anything else. A lot of things have to be changed. A new place, a new car. If possible, a new husband (woo, how unlikely, how sad!). That means a lot of new money. It is a mistery I really want a second baby despite all the insurmountable obstacles.

When a new year comes, I got a little older, but Emma is getting a little bigger. How I love to see her grow. Yet still so very tender and loving. Love to hear her say "Mommy, I want to take care of you." (She does not know the weight of taking care and she may take it back some day) And the kisses she gives me at night just fill me with joy. And with her, I have to cheer like everyone else. Have to go by her tradition to do all the holidays. So turkey and pumpkin pie and maybe mashed potatoes will be on.

Funny how traditions alway go down to food.

Monday, November 20, 2006
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November 09, 2006

Time and space do not make sense for little children, at least not for Emma. What is Monday, Tuesday or any other weekdays? It only takes meaning in the song "Monday string beans, Tuesday Roast beef ..."

She is so young she does not have a clue about the passing of months or years. Well, change of seasons is different, because in fall she gets to crunch or collect beautiful leaves and in winter she can go out to make a snow baby. Still, only the present occupies her. She forgets spring when it is summer and forgets winter when it's fall. And the concepts of four seasons are still very much muddled in her head. (She is a little muddle-headed. She juggles imaginary and real things. E.g., she had a little scratch in her arm. Asked her how, she said "a ladybug bit her")

What is yesterday? Yesterday is anything in the past. Emma uses the word "yesterday" frequently. She tells me that so-and-so gave her a high-five yesterday, while actually it happened half a year ago (we went to see a clown perform tricks, after he was done, he surveyed and walked around the audience, and he gave Emma a high-five). She would say "mommy bought me mittens and hats yesterday", but in fact I bought those in the morning. She does have a firm grasp of the concept "now". She would demand, I want to go out NOW. I want the cookies NOW.

What is space? Who knows? What is Chicago or China (the two places we sometimes mentioned to her)? She is totally clueless. She would say, Mommy, let's buy a donut in Chicago; Chicago is in China, or China is in Chicago; we will drive airplanes to China, we'll go home in China, etc., etc.

I wonder what a children's educator or psychologist like Jean Piaget would say about this kind of "little girl talk". But it is as interesting as "a typical Piaget dialogue".

Piaget: What makes the wind?
Julia: The trees.

P: How do you know?

J: I saw them waving their arms.

P: How does that make the wind?

J (waving her hand in front of his face): Like this. Only they are bigger. And there are lots of trees.

P: What makes the wind on the ocean?

J: It blows there from the land. No. It's the waves...

From thousands of such dialogues and interactions with young people, Piaget concluded that behind children's "cute and seemingly illogical utterances were thought processes that had their own kind of order and their own special logic." (Times)

That is why he is so great.

But I, even though I possess the basic adults logic and knowledge, I know Mondays and Tuesdays, I am clueless, probably more clueless than Emma, about the inner working of her brain, I have no idea about her logic and thinking. And I have long stopped growing.

Time and space make no sense

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Time and space do not make sense for little children, at least not for Emma. What is Monday, Tuesday or any other weekdays? It only takes meaning in the song "Monday string beans, Tuesday Roast beef ..."

She is so young she does not have a clue about the passing of months or years. Well, change of seasons is different, because in fall she gets to crunch or collect beautiful leaves and in winter she can go out to make a snow baby. Still, only the present occupies her. She forgets spring when it is summer and forgets winter when it's fall. And the concepts of four seasons are still very much muddled in her head. (She is a little muddle-headed. She juggles imaginary and real things. E.g., she had a little scratch in her arm. Asked her how, she said "a ladybug bit her")

What is yesterday? Yesterday is anything in the past. Emma uses the word "yesterday" frequently. She tells me that so-and-so gave her a high-five yesterday, while actually it happened half a year ago (we went to see a clown perform tricks, after he was done, he surveyed and walked around the audience, and he gave Emma a high-five). She would say "mommy bought me mittens and hats yesterday", but in fact I bought those in the morning. She does have a firm grasp of the concept "now". She would demand, I want to go out NOW. I want the cookies NOW.

What is space? Who knows? What is Chicago or China (the two places we sometimes mentioned to her)? She is totally clueless. She would say, Mommy, let's buy a donut in Chicago; Chicago is in China, or China is in Chicago; we will drive airplanes to China, we'll go home in China, etc., etc.

I wonder what a children's educator or psychologist like Jean Piaget would say about this kind of "little girl talk". But it is as interesting as "a typical Piaget dialogue".

Piaget: What makes the wind?
Julia: The trees.

P: How do you know?

J: I saw them waving their arms.

P: How does that make the wind?

J (waving her hand in front of his face): Like this. Only they are bigger. And there are lots of trees.

P: What makes the wind on the ocean?

J: It blows there from the land. No. It's the waves...

From thousands of such dialogues and interactions with young people, Piaget concluded that behind children's "cute and seemingly illogical utterances were thought processes that had their own kind of order and their own special logic." (Times)

That is why he is so great.

But I, even though I possess the basic adults logic and knowledge, I know Mondays and Tuesdays, I am clueless, probably more clueless than Emma, about the inner working of her brain, I have no idea about her logic and thinking. And I have long stopped growing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006
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November 02, 2006

Emma has been to her preschool for 4 months. The first 2 months, she was the little quiet observing smiling Chinese girl. She kept her silence, soaking in all the English conversations, words, phrases. She hardly uttered a word. Then in the third mouth, she started talking in English, everyone was amazed that the little mute girl now became the talkative bubbly bee.

Her English is quite good now. At home, she used a mixed language of Chinese and English. I version one day soon she will use exclusively English, and my parents will be so at loss as to communicating with their little girl. Or maybe not. I hope not. My friend's son Leo now is a fluent English speaker and uses English exclusively even at home with their Chinese speaking parents. Though he is quick in switch to Chinese when talking to a Chinese stranger.

In languages spoken, there maybe quite some hope for them to be bilingual. But to be literate in both languages? That is an uphill battle. Yes, it is possible to send Emma to a Chinese school, but it can be done only on weekends. Who can afford to turn the back to the mainstream culture, the culture you breathe day in and day out? Yes, it is possible to get books in Chinese to learn read and write, but how difficult it is? How committed can I be? I flinch at the thought of it. Not to say the scarcity of suitable resources.

Language aside, the culture is destined to loss in the second generation, except some traces and pieces, some cultural souvenirs we still have them hold on to. But American culture is the water we drink and air we breathe now. Emma is soaked in everything American, she is well on her way to be conversant with American children's classics, she loves Winnie the pooh, the three billy goats, she sings many Mother Goose songs. But she hardly know anything about Chinese classic poems and those icons and symbols we favored as a child. During the eight months she stayed in China, she could recite Chinese poems and rhythms like a brilliant little scholar. But now, all that memories are replaced by her running talks about teletubbies, froggies, squirrels. (Ha, in china, it would be hard to find anybody who see squirrels so often like they see sparrows.) Emma even likes western cuisine better, she loved cheese the moment she tasted, her favorite food is pasta (it keeps changing though). She often seems to lack appetite for the food I cook for her (my mom did a better job, but she had the advantage being in China.)

And people. We are the minority and we, like Emma, is Americanized a bit more everyday, but we adults are and will always be in essence stubbornly, incorrigibly Chinese. However for a young one, for Emma, for an ABC (America-born-Chinese), she will be much more American than Chinese. Who can compete with her classmates, her friends, the majority of people (Americans) she deals with everyday?

The only thing will definitely remain is her Chinese looks, which may be lost in her next generation.

I do not really mind. We lost and changed old culture anyway. Think of the once glorious old rotten culture of China.

I do mind, however, if Emma lost her Chinese language and understanding and therefore lost one invaluable opportunity to work in/for China (when everyone is vying for), if Emma lost her uniqueness and became only one of many vain and empty Americans.

Destined to lose

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

Emma has been to her preschool for 4 months. The first 2 months, she was the little quiet observing smiling Chinese girl. She kept her silence, soaking in all the English conversations, words, phrases. She hardly uttered a word. Then in the third mouth, she started talking in English, everyone was amazed that the little mute girl now became the talkative bubbly bee.

Her English is quite good now. At home, she used a mixed language of Chinese and English. I version one day soon she will use exclusively English, and my parents will be so at loss as to communicating with their little girl. Or maybe not. I hope not. My friend's son Leo now is a fluent English speaker and uses English exclusively even at home with their Chinese speaking parents. Though he is quick in switch to Chinese when talking to a Chinese stranger.

In languages spoken, there maybe quite some hope for them to be bilingual. But to be literate in both languages? That is an uphill battle. Yes, it is possible to send Emma to a Chinese school, but it can be done only on weekends. Who can afford to turn the back to the mainstream culture, the culture you breathe day in and day out? Yes, it is possible to get books in Chinese to learn read and write, but how difficult it is? How committed can I be? I flinch at the thought of it. Not to say the scarcity of suitable resources.

Language aside, the culture is destined to loss in the second generation, except some traces and pieces, some cultural souvenirs we still have them hold on to. But American culture is the water we drink and air we breathe now. Emma is soaked in everything American, she is well on her way to be conversant with American children's classics, she loves Winnie the pooh, the three billy goats, she sings many Mother Goose songs. But she hardly know anything about Chinese classic poems and those icons and symbols we favored as a child. During the eight months she stayed in China, she could recite Chinese poems and rhythms like a brilliant little scholar. But now, all that memories are replaced by her running talks about teletubbies, froggies, squirrels. (Ha, in china, it would be hard to find anybody who see squirrels so often like they see sparrows.) Emma even likes western cuisine better, she loved cheese the moment she tasted, her favorite food is pasta (it keeps changing though). She often seems to lack appetite for the food I cook for her (my mom did a better job, but she had the advantage being in China.)

And people. We are the minority and we, like Emma, is Americanized a bit more everyday, but we adults are and will always be in essence stubbornly, incorrigibly Chinese. However for a young one, for Emma, for an ABC (America-born-Chinese), she will be much more American than Chinese. Who can compete with her classmates, her friends, the majority of people (Americans) she deals with everyday?

The only thing will definitely remain is her Chinese looks, which may be lost in her next generation.

I do not really mind. We lost and changed old culture anyway. Think of the once glorious old rotten culture of China.

I do mind, however, if Emma lost her Chinese language and understanding and therefore lost one invaluable opportunity to work in/for China (when everyone is vying for), if Emma lost her uniqueness and became only one of many vain and empty Americans.

Thursday, November 02, 2006
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October 31, 2006

Have not updated my blog for a month, more than a month. It is so easy to just drop it, so easy to find a million excuses, just go to bed, curl up and drop dead, or half dead.

Sure, I am pregnant. But my life is never interesting anyway. It is because, I figure out, that I am never interesting. Born boring and bored. Born banal, blank, empty-headed. Isn't that true I was plagued by boredom when I was 4, or maybe 2 or 3? A small town kid who used to sit on a little stool by the wall, bored as hell? How many times I looked around, looked out, feeling as grey as the rain?

Read someone's blog. That woman writes how she could not help but blogging away, once or twice a day. I was instantly sent to a fit of jealousy and bitterness. But then, I got excuse. She is popular, look at the pages of comments she got.

Someone like her is one in a million.

Forget it. Forget the same news that is reported in a thousand ways and repeated over many days. Forget there are people who got charm, brain and looks.

Sleep again.

Bored

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

Have not updated my blog for a month, more than a month. It is so easy to just drop it, so easy to find a million excuses, just go to bed, curl up and drop dead, or half dead.

Sure, I am pregnant. But my life is never interesting anyway. It is because, I figure out, that I am never interesting. Born boring and bored. Born banal, blank, empty-headed. Isn't that true I was plagued by boredom when I was 4, or maybe 2 or 3? A small town kid who used to sit on a little stool by the wall, bored as hell? How many times I looked around, looked out, feeling as grey as the rain?

Read someone's blog. That woman writes how she could not help but blogging away, once or twice a day. I was instantly sent to a fit of jealousy and bitterness. But then, I got excuse. She is popular, look at the pages of comments she got.

Someone like her is one in a million.

Forget it. Forget the same news that is reported in a thousand ways and repeated over many days. Forget there are people who got charm, brain and looks.

Sleep again.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
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2 comments:

October 16, 2006


Birthday Girl

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Monday, October 16, 2006
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1 comments:

October 15, 2006




Apples, pumpkins and Moo-choo train

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Sunday, October 15, 2006
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October 03, 2006


I am pregnant and I am not feeling well, nauseated and tired all day. I stopped writing for my blog. I sleep whenever I can. I ignore that there is a mountain of laundry to be folded (Leo took them to laundry), dinner unprepared, dishes unwashed. I left everything for Leo to take care. I signed up for Emma for a dance class, however, I give up taking her to the class at all.

I am moody, gloomy all day and all night. I sometimes pick up fight with Leo, but mostly, I am too tired to talk. Sometimes, I look at my reflection on the sidewalk windows, my brows are deeply knotted into frowns.

However unlike sick people who tend to lost appetite, I eat more, even every food tastes bland or even bitter, as awful as never before. Worse, I think of food all the time, especially the foods I savored in my childhood, extra spicy and tasty and with three children fighting for every bite. How I am homesick.

I wonder what is the little devil that is rooted in my belly? I read those articles such as "pregnancy week by week", which is meager in description, overflowing in spirit, searching for the secret of the little creature that is growing and claiming more and more of my comfort zone, I could not find much info.

Gosh. Am I miserable.

I admire people with boundless energy and boundless commitments, and better, with boundless success. I marvel at those would-be moms who walk swiftly with big bellies and radiate pride. However, all I can manage is to lump into a couch or bed, doing nothing, feeling sick and sorry for myself.

I therefore think of future and, for the first time, shiver at the thought of aging, illness and disability. There are many people who live happily and richly despite getting old, my parents among them. Actually in my observation, they are happier. Their marriage stronger, their life more comfortable, their friends many, they are at peace with their past, present, future and proud of their children. However, I am afraid I could not be. I am afraid I would be dragged down by arthritis, near blind eyes, sore arms, legs and back, or even just headache. I am afraid I would be withdrawn, lonely, sour, and bitchy like the old fat lady next door.

Why am I so miserable?

Am I miserable?

Posted by Xun  |  5 comments


I am pregnant and I am not feeling well, nauseated and tired all day. I stopped writing for my blog. I sleep whenever I can. I ignore that there is a mountain of laundry to be folded (Leo took them to laundry), dinner unprepared, dishes unwashed. I left everything for Leo to take care. I signed up for Emma for a dance class, however, I give up taking her to the class at all.

I am moody, gloomy all day and all night. I sometimes pick up fight with Leo, but mostly, I am too tired to talk. Sometimes, I look at my reflection on the sidewalk windows, my brows are deeply knotted into frowns.

However unlike sick people who tend to lost appetite, I eat more, even every food tastes bland or even bitter, as awful as never before. Worse, I think of food all the time, especially the foods I savored in my childhood, extra spicy and tasty and with three children fighting for every bite. How I am homesick.

I wonder what is the little devil that is rooted in my belly? I read those articles such as "pregnancy week by week", which is meager in description, overflowing in spirit, searching for the secret of the little creature that is growing and claiming more and more of my comfort zone, I could not find much info.

Gosh. Am I miserable.

I admire people with boundless energy and boundless commitments, and better, with boundless success. I marvel at those would-be moms who walk swiftly with big bellies and radiate pride. However, all I can manage is to lump into a couch or bed, doing nothing, feeling sick and sorry for myself.

I therefore think of future and, for the first time, shiver at the thought of aging, illness and disability. There are many people who live happily and richly despite getting old, my parents among them. Actually in my observation, they are happier. Their marriage stronger, their life more comfortable, their friends many, they are at peace with their past, present, future and proud of their children. However, I am afraid I could not be. I am afraid I would be dragged down by arthritis, near blind eyes, sore arms, legs and back, or even just headache. I am afraid I would be withdrawn, lonely, sour, and bitchy like the old fat lady next door.

Why am I so miserable?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
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5 comments:

September 14, 2006

A parent is more busy before a child is two? Is that right?

Before Emma was two, I was constantly snapping pictures, doing mini-videos. I was constantly seeking milestone affirmations.

Does she smile by three weeks? Check.

Can she support her neck, raise her head by month 3? Check.
Can she roll over by month 4 or 5?
Can she sit up then?
Can she ba-ba-ba jabbering by 7 months?
Can she crawl by month 7? ...

The list just goes on and on. Of course, Emma reached all the milestones. She got bigger and more animated and active everyday.

However, after she became 2, now close to 3, I found I am more and more easing up, more and more enjoying that she is such a verbal, happy and healthy and good little girl. (Well, she is short compared to her peers, however, Leo and I are short, and we both hit puberty late and started growing late. )

I guess it is because little babies do so little, that I was a little impatient and under-confident, I was a little too eager to measure her development against textbooks.

Understandable, even doctors check on babies more than well-on-track little girls. They worry about little babies more.

But why we do not wield our camera everywhere? Maybe because I would rather spend time playing than take pictures. Ah, maybe it is easier to have babies strike a pose. You sit them on the grass, they smile, they look down at this strange slow moving ladybug. Click, one perfect picture. But with a three year old, you have to fight with them for cameras. So there, click, without even looking, Emma snapped of a picture of daddy's hand.

Busier then, easier now

Posted by Xun  |  3 comments

A parent is more busy before a child is two? Is that right?

Before Emma was two, I was constantly snapping pictures, doing mini-videos. I was constantly seeking milestone affirmations.

Does she smile by three weeks? Check.

Can she support her neck, raise her head by month 3? Check.
Can she roll over by month 4 or 5?
Can she sit up then?
Can she ba-ba-ba jabbering by 7 months?
Can she crawl by month 7? ...

The list just goes on and on. Of course, Emma reached all the milestones. She got bigger and more animated and active everyday.

However, after she became 2, now close to 3, I found I am more and more easing up, more and more enjoying that she is such a verbal, happy and healthy and good little girl. (Well, she is short compared to her peers, however, Leo and I are short, and we both hit puberty late and started growing late. )

I guess it is because little babies do so little, that I was a little impatient and under-confident, I was a little too eager to measure her development against textbooks.

Understandable, even doctors check on babies more than well-on-track little girls. They worry about little babies more.

But why we do not wield our camera everywhere? Maybe because I would rather spend time playing than take pictures. Ah, maybe it is easier to have babies strike a pose. You sit them on the grass, they smile, they look down at this strange slow moving ladybug. Click, one perfect picture. But with a three year old, you have to fight with them for cameras. So there, click, without even looking, Emma snapped of a picture of daddy's hand.

Thursday, September 14, 2006
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3 comments:

September 13, 2006

Whenever Emma thinks something is funny, she giggles and says: "It is so bunny (funny)". She also mispronounce sandbox as handbox.

When she needs some help, she says: "Mommy, can I help me?" I say: "Emma, you should say Can you help me". She makes a ha-ha.

Sunday, we were going out, Leo and I accidentally forgot our keys inside. We asked our neighbor for help. Our neighbor asked: "Can you climb through your window?" Leo said no, it was too dangerous. Emma volutunteered: "I can".

I am pregnant, my belly is getting rounder and bigger. I told Emma serveral times: "Emma, I am gonna to have a new baby. You are gonna to be a big sister". Emma looked at me and nodded. Then again, I told her: "Emma, look, there is a baby inside my tommy." She responded: "I have a baby in my tommy."

It is so bunny

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Whenever Emma thinks something is funny, she giggles and says: "It is so bunny (funny)". She also mispronounce sandbox as handbox.

When she needs some help, she says: "Mommy, can I help me?" I say: "Emma, you should say Can you help me". She makes a ha-ha.

Sunday, we were going out, Leo and I accidentally forgot our keys inside. We asked our neighbor for help. Our neighbor asked: "Can you climb through your window?" Leo said no, it was too dangerous. Emma volutunteered: "I can".

I am pregnant, my belly is getting rounder and bigger. I told Emma serveral times: "Emma, I am gonna to have a new baby. You are gonna to be a big sister". Emma looked at me and nodded. Then again, I told her: "Emma, look, there is a baby inside my tommy." She responded: "I have a baby in my tommy."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
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September 07, 2006

My brain is awash, even after ten hours of sleep. Ten hours! What a shame! Martha Stewart and this celebrity chef Rachel Ray sleep only four hours a day. Anyway, my brain is awash, my vocabulary remains at this rudimentary level: Good, Ok, Bad, Sorry ... Emma talks better than I do. I wonder if it is a brain malfunction due to aging or pregnancy.

Probably both.

But even before pregnancy, before aging (getting into mid thirties), I was not much a thinker, much less a talker. I was always an avid reader. Being young, I fed myself tear-inducing extra sappy romantic novel; Western culture worshipping, I devoured volumes of Balzac and Tolstoy, and I was dismayed that no one read them here. One thing exceptional, being in a country of socialism and dire poverty, I never caught any frivolous fever about celebrities.

Anyway, all the reading never made me a good thinker. Never could jump from A to B. Never could made any theories nor argue for any. Writing assays is mind-wringing pain. I once was Assyriology major. I was always amazed that my professors and all the experts could make grand conclusions about city, state, war, religion, culture, royal succession, etc., etc., just by looking at a small mound of mud and a dubious looking collection of fragments of cuneiform tablets. But they were always right and rightly acclaimed for their genius. I was always at loss trying to summon up how Assyrian empire collapsed. I dropped out.

The same thing with tracking babies’ eye movement or watching they grab a spoon, then writing volumes after volumes about children development. But that is what Jean Piaget did. He spent his life listening to and watching children, especially his own four children, and gently experimenting with them, and he became the most influential expert on children development.

So is this Howard cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Spelke. She set up a “National Sippy cup Research Center”, tracking babies’ eye movement using a methodology called “preferential looking”, and challenging Jean Piaget’s notion that knowledge are constructed their knowledge through experience and interactions. Instead, she claims that babies are born with a set of core knowledge and capacities, such as concepts of numbers, and object permanence …

I read all this in the article “The Baby Lab” published by The New Yoker. The article also writes that, “To the layperson, there’s something faintly comic about looking-time studies (eye tracking). So much strenuous effort is made to engage the attention and record the fleeting stares of bobbled-headed babies … and so many lofty claims about human nature about being based on these odd little encounters”.

That is exactly how I, a layperson, feel. I am forever a layperson to all scientific, social, historical research. And I am forever in awe and bewilderment and disbelief of a lot of grand theories claimed by a lot of scientists. Or I am forever a layperson in the kingdom of reasoning, deduction, grand thinking and theory making. Or talking. Especially talking in public, I stutter, I get impatient, timid, and silent, then I venture out, then I slip and become incoherent …

I despair.

I wonder how people differ so much. In appearance, capacity, confidence, personality, in fortune, fame and luck, in possible shapes and forms, in all things tangible and intangible. Jean Piaget wrote and published an essay when he was 9; Adora Svitak published a book at 8. My friend’s son is smart, inquisitive, aggressive, and sometimes a little mean; Emma is sweet, compassionate, articulated, nonphysical, and sometimes a little shy; the 2-year-old son of an acquaintance is burly, assertive, loud and strong …

“One of the most contentious elements of Spelke’s thinking is her firm conviction that boys and girls are born with essentially the same cognitive tools”. My reaction to it is also a big no, NOT Possible. Boys and girls differ at the moment they are able to pick their toys, boys love trains, cars, and guns, while girls love dolls, stuff animals. Boys and girls differ just like individuals differ.

Leap to theory

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

My brain is awash, even after ten hours of sleep. Ten hours! What a shame! Martha Stewart and this celebrity chef Rachel Ray sleep only four hours a day. Anyway, my brain is awash, my vocabulary remains at this rudimentary level: Good, Ok, Bad, Sorry ... Emma talks better than I do. I wonder if it is a brain malfunction due to aging or pregnancy.

Probably both.

But even before pregnancy, before aging (getting into mid thirties), I was not much a thinker, much less a talker. I was always an avid reader. Being young, I fed myself tear-inducing extra sappy romantic novel; Western culture worshipping, I devoured volumes of Balzac and Tolstoy, and I was dismayed that no one read them here. One thing exceptional, being in a country of socialism and dire poverty, I never caught any frivolous fever about celebrities.

Anyway, all the reading never made me a good thinker. Never could jump from A to B. Never could made any theories nor argue for any. Writing assays is mind-wringing pain. I once was Assyriology major. I was always amazed that my professors and all the experts could make grand conclusions about city, state, war, religion, culture, royal succession, etc., etc., just by looking at a small mound of mud and a dubious looking collection of fragments of cuneiform tablets. But they were always right and rightly acclaimed for their genius. I was always at loss trying to summon up how Assyrian empire collapsed. I dropped out.

The same thing with tracking babies’ eye movement or watching they grab a spoon, then writing volumes after volumes about children development. But that is what Jean Piaget did. He spent his life listening to and watching children, especially his own four children, and gently experimenting with them, and he became the most influential expert on children development.

So is this Howard cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Spelke. She set up a “National Sippy cup Research Center”, tracking babies’ eye movement using a methodology called “preferential looking”, and challenging Jean Piaget’s notion that knowledge are constructed their knowledge through experience and interactions. Instead, she claims that babies are born with a set of core knowledge and capacities, such as concepts of numbers, and object permanence …

I read all this in the article “The Baby Lab” published by The New Yoker. The article also writes that, “To the layperson, there’s something faintly comic about looking-time studies (eye tracking). So much strenuous effort is made to engage the attention and record the fleeting stares of bobbled-headed babies … and so many lofty claims about human nature about being based on these odd little encounters”.

That is exactly how I, a layperson, feel. I am forever a layperson to all scientific, social, historical research. And I am forever in awe and bewilderment and disbelief of a lot of grand theories claimed by a lot of scientists. Or I am forever a layperson in the kingdom of reasoning, deduction, grand thinking and theory making. Or talking. Especially talking in public, I stutter, I get impatient, timid, and silent, then I venture out, then I slip and become incoherent …

I despair.

I wonder how people differ so much. In appearance, capacity, confidence, personality, in fortune, fame and luck, in possible shapes and forms, in all things tangible and intangible. Jean Piaget wrote and published an essay when he was 9; Adora Svitak published a book at 8. My friend’s son is smart, inquisitive, aggressive, and sometimes a little mean; Emma is sweet, compassionate, articulated, nonphysical, and sometimes a little shy; the 2-year-old son of an acquaintance is burly, assertive, loud and strong …

“One of the most contentious elements of Spelke’s thinking is her firm conviction that boys and girls are born with essentially the same cognitive tools”. My reaction to it is also a big no, NOT Possible. Boys and girls differ at the moment they are able to pick their toys, boys love trains, cars, and guns, while girls love dolls, stuff animals. Boys and girls differ just like individuals differ.

Thursday, September 07, 2006
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September 06, 2006

To have one child or two? I have been considering to have a second child for quite some time. However, never could make up my mind.

The plus and minus side weigh equally.

The plus side:

1. the image of a happy family of four is simply irresistable;

2. Emma can have a lifetime companion and friend;

3. It would be even better if she got a brother. I read that brothers and sisters are better equipped and more confident to take on the world, at least they would be more adept handling their oppsite sex; I heard a family consisting of a band of brothers soly, higher percentage of younger boys become gay ... Gay is not anything to feel bad about, still, a family of boys and girls sound more balanced.

4. More children means more grandchildren. How comforting it would be that when you get old, you can have more than one family to visit you ... I count on that all my children would love me dearly. Look at my parents, now they are the center of my two sisters.
...

The minus side:

1. Too big a financial burden. To have a larger family, I have get rid of my old car, old condo. Just thinking of selling and rebuying a place to live gives me headache, let alone that Leo and I have to come up with the money. Besides, I have to twice the tution, babysitting, college ...

2. It takes too much time, too much work. How am I to divide my sick days, vacation days, sick days, weekend, evening and morning hours among two kids, myself and Leo? Am I to go through the torture of sleep deprivation and the endless worries again?

3. Sibling rivalry. Will Emma get along with her little brother or sister? Will she feel that she is not as much loved as when she is the only child, only center of attention at home?

...

Well, no use thinking anymore now. I am pregnant. Like it or not. I will have two (beautiful) children.

To have one or two?

Posted by Xun  |  4 comments

To have one child or two? I have been considering to have a second child for quite some time. However, never could make up my mind.

The plus and minus side weigh equally.

The plus side:

1. the image of a happy family of four is simply irresistable;

2. Emma can have a lifetime companion and friend;

3. It would be even better if she got a brother. I read that brothers and sisters are better equipped and more confident to take on the world, at least they would be more adept handling their oppsite sex; I heard a family consisting of a band of brothers soly, higher percentage of younger boys become gay ... Gay is not anything to feel bad about, still, a family of boys and girls sound more balanced.

4. More children means more grandchildren. How comforting it would be that when you get old, you can have more than one family to visit you ... I count on that all my children would love me dearly. Look at my parents, now they are the center of my two sisters.
...

The minus side:

1. Too big a financial burden. To have a larger family, I have get rid of my old car, old condo. Just thinking of selling and rebuying a place to live gives me headache, let alone that Leo and I have to come up with the money. Besides, I have to twice the tution, babysitting, college ...

2. It takes too much time, too much work. How am I to divide my sick days, vacation days, sick days, weekend, evening and morning hours among two kids, myself and Leo? Am I to go through the torture of sleep deprivation and the endless worries again?

3. Sibling rivalry. Will Emma get along with her little brother or sister? Will she feel that she is not as much loved as when she is the only child, only center of attention at home?

...

Well, no use thinking anymore now. I am pregnant. Like it or not. I will have two (beautiful) children.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
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4 comments:

September 05, 2006

My holidays, however long, however fun, are always forgettable.

Back to work, facing the bland, familiar, habitual questions like: "Hey, how was your holiday?", I always cheerfully reply "Good. How about yours?". Yet, after the moment, I would pause, think hard, and wonder: "What did I do in the last four days?"
...

Holidays, like all days passed, are like miles and miles of highway driven past. You fold them up and push them into somewhere in your memory drawer.

However, somewhere, sometimes, some memories, especially those from my college years or childhood, would unexpectedly bubbled up. Like the trips we took to a nearby mountain in the dark of a night, scared and cold; like a family picnic; or some arguments I had with my parents ...

Wierd.

As I write, now I remember how I spent my four-day weekend. Friday I went to see a doc and I was officially pregnant. More on that later;Saturday, a busy painting day with Emma, and other kids and parents and mb; Sunday, shopping, shopping, painting with Emma; Monday, downtown touring, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Jazz Festival...

Holiday weekend

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

My holidays, however long, however fun, are always forgettable.

Back to work, facing the bland, familiar, habitual questions like: "Hey, how was your holiday?", I always cheerfully reply "Good. How about yours?". Yet, after the moment, I would pause, think hard, and wonder: "What did I do in the last four days?"
...

Holidays, like all days passed, are like miles and miles of highway driven past. You fold them up and push them into somewhere in your memory drawer.

However, somewhere, sometimes, some memories, especially those from my college years or childhood, would unexpectedly bubbled up. Like the trips we took to a nearby mountain in the dark of a night, scared and cold; like a family picnic; or some arguments I had with my parents ...

Wierd.

As I write, now I remember how I spent my four-day weekend. Friday I went to see a doc and I was officially pregnant. More on that later;Saturday, a busy painting day with Emma, and other kids and parents and mb; Sunday, shopping, shopping, painting with Emma; Monday, downtown touring, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Jazz Festival...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006
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August 24, 2006

There is a book called "Must love dogs", then there is a movie "Must love dogs" based on the novel.

To me this is a strange title. Of course I am from a dog-eating country, so it is normal to be slightly resisting this dog-loving culture.

To Americans, "Must love dogs" is an statement written in the air, or grass where I gingerly step away from dog shit with disgust, or dog beaches where dogs vigorously do their workout in water, or sidewalks where dogs dressed in red or blue saunter by gloriously ...

There are also numerous forms of dog love, dog parties, dog play group, Miss dog competition, dog therapy, dog 911 ... Of course, dog websites, dog books, dog clothes lines do not even merit a mention. Dog business is a lucrative business.

Americans have shown great love for dogs. In that horrible hurricane Katrina, they took pains rescuing dogs. One year later after that horrible Katrina, the only law they passed is a pet law.

I do not get it. It is sickening to me.

Nor could I ever fathom the depth of the love my neighbor, my colleague, my friends have for their dogs. I generally would refuse any opportunity offered to me to warm up to dogs, especially big ones. The best, the politest I can manage is holding my breath and not scream nor take a flight.

Ok, love your dogs to your heart's content. However, Americans dog-eating bashing smells to me highly hypercritical.

(I never eat or kill or hurt any dogs. Thank goodness. I do not have to go to dog tribunal. On the contrary, my aunt's thumb was bitten off by a vicious dog many years ago)

What is wrong with eating a few dogs? (They are delicious, I heard. (Muslim never criticize non-Muslims eating pigs, nor Indians criticize beef-eating savages) And really, what do you say about pigs, chicken, geese, cows, fish, sheep, lamb, ducks ... Why on earth, you slaughter so many pigs, yet you cringe at the sight of a dying dog? What is the big fuss about one in a million Chinese once in 10 years eat a dog?

By the way, I conciously or unconciously teach my daughter to fear dogs, since only a week ago, a boy was severely wounded by a "cute-looking" pit bull.

Must Love Dogs??

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There is a book called "Must love dogs", then there is a movie "Must love dogs" based on the novel.

To me this is a strange title. Of course I am from a dog-eating country, so it is normal to be slightly resisting this dog-loving culture.

To Americans, "Must love dogs" is an statement written in the air, or grass where I gingerly step away from dog shit with disgust, or dog beaches where dogs vigorously do their workout in water, or sidewalks where dogs dressed in red or blue saunter by gloriously ...

There are also numerous forms of dog love, dog parties, dog play group, Miss dog competition, dog therapy, dog 911 ... Of course, dog websites, dog books, dog clothes lines do not even merit a mention. Dog business is a lucrative business.

Americans have shown great love for dogs. In that horrible hurricane Katrina, they took pains rescuing dogs. One year later after that horrible Katrina, the only law they passed is a pet law.

I do not get it. It is sickening to me.

Nor could I ever fathom the depth of the love my neighbor, my colleague, my friends have for their dogs. I generally would refuse any opportunity offered to me to warm up to dogs, especially big ones. The best, the politest I can manage is holding my breath and not scream nor take a flight.

Ok, love your dogs to your heart's content. However, Americans dog-eating bashing smells to me highly hypercritical.

(I never eat or kill or hurt any dogs. Thank goodness. I do not have to go to dog tribunal. On the contrary, my aunt's thumb was bitten off by a vicious dog many years ago)

What is wrong with eating a few dogs? (They are delicious, I heard. (Muslim never criticize non-Muslims eating pigs, nor Indians criticize beef-eating savages) And really, what do you say about pigs, chicken, geese, cows, fish, sheep, lamb, ducks ... Why on earth, you slaughter so many pigs, yet you cringe at the sight of a dying dog? What is the big fuss about one in a million Chinese once in 10 years eat a dog?

By the way, I conciously or unconciously teach my daughter to fear dogs, since only a week ago, a boy was severely wounded by a "cute-looking" pit bull.

Thursday, August 24, 2006
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August 16, 2006


Every once in a few months, I would be burned by the fire and desire of being a good/educated parent. I would go out borrowing a bag full of parenting books and surfing online a whole day for parenting tips, educational theories, devouring lists of milestones for children's developments, plunging myself into worries, doubts, fear and daydreaming. At one time, I was contemplating of changing my career to become a preschool teacher.

That is me. Impulsive. That is my new-year-new-month-new-day resolutions. As all resolutions, they never last long. They are dismissed, re-resoluted, or forgotten.

But anyway, bits and pieces of information did spill into my scattered brain from my impulsive readings. one of the most offered tips is routines.

Routines. Children thrive on sameness and repetition. "Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident".

Easier said than done. I would thrive on a set of routines for Emma as well. 9pm to bed, 7am to rise. 6 pm dinner, 7:30pm reading.

Life would be a lot simpler.

However, who is that disruptor of routines? Emma. Doesn't she sometimes take over an hour to finish her dinner? Doesn't she ask for milk, then juice, then water, then brush her teeth, then ask for milk again? Doesn't she lie in bed, linger on and talk and talk for half an hour?

Two days ago I read an incredibly moving, honest, hilarious and poignant memoir The color of water by James McBride. In the book, the mother raised 12 children through poverty, total chaos by her sheer force. The 12 children including the author all grow up into high-achievers, professionals, etc.

Somewhere in the book, James McBride wrote, "Despite the orchestrated chaos of our home,we always ate meals at a certain time, always did homework at a certain time, and always went to bet at a certain time."

Wow. How did she manage that? 12 Children. I can manage to keep a resemblance of routine. And I have only one.

Resemblance of routine

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments


Every once in a few months, I would be burned by the fire and desire of being a good/educated parent. I would go out borrowing a bag full of parenting books and surfing online a whole day for parenting tips, educational theories, devouring lists of milestones for children's developments, plunging myself into worries, doubts, fear and daydreaming. At one time, I was contemplating of changing my career to become a preschool teacher.

That is me. Impulsive. That is my new-year-new-month-new-day resolutions. As all resolutions, they never last long. They are dismissed, re-resoluted, or forgotten.

But anyway, bits and pieces of information did spill into my scattered brain from my impulsive readings. one of the most offered tips is routines.

Routines. Children thrive on sameness and repetition. "Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident".

Easier said than done. I would thrive on a set of routines for Emma as well. 9pm to bed, 7am to rise. 6 pm dinner, 7:30pm reading.

Life would be a lot simpler.

However, who is that disruptor of routines? Emma. Doesn't she sometimes take over an hour to finish her dinner? Doesn't she ask for milk, then juice, then water, then brush her teeth, then ask for milk again? Doesn't she lie in bed, linger on and talk and talk for half an hour?

Two days ago I read an incredibly moving, honest, hilarious and poignant memoir The color of water by James McBride. In the book, the mother raised 12 children through poverty, total chaos by her sheer force. The 12 children including the author all grow up into high-achievers, professionals, etc.

Somewhere in the book, James McBride wrote, "Despite the orchestrated chaos of our home,we always ate meals at a certain time, always did homework at a certain time, and always went to bet at a certain time."

Wow. How did she manage that? 12 Children. I can manage to keep a resemblance of routine. And I have only one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
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August 11, 2006

I am still worried. Emma just seemed to have stopped growing. I mean her height.

Even she, as young as she is, she is talking about growing taller, taller than daddy, than mommy, than her teacher Toner, Noelle, and her friends Ben, Sally ... I swear I did not show any worries about her growth in front of her.

But secretly, I worried a lot. Secretly I watch her everyday, eye measuring her height, her clothes, desperately wanting to find the proof that she, indeed, has grown maybe one inch taller.

One inch, please.

Her classmates, about one year younger, are about her height. Her classmates of her age are towering over her.

I searched for growth problem again and again. Read the same thing again and again. Is it constitutional growth delay? Is it familiar short stature? But they all mention, it is no problem as long as kids are growing at their own NORMAL RATE.

I heard so many tales, I've known first hand too, that short kids suddenly spurt up into tall kids. But that does not stop me from worrying.

What am I supposed to do?

I am a statistics' believer. I believe and take comfort in that, if not excellent, at least I and the people I love would not fail to fall in the majority category.

Am I wrong this time?

Want to grow

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

I am still worried. Emma just seemed to have stopped growing. I mean her height.

Even she, as young as she is, she is talking about growing taller, taller than daddy, than mommy, than her teacher Toner, Noelle, and her friends Ben, Sally ... I swear I did not show any worries about her growth in front of her.

But secretly, I worried a lot. Secretly I watch her everyday, eye measuring her height, her clothes, desperately wanting to find the proof that she, indeed, has grown maybe one inch taller.

One inch, please.

Her classmates, about one year younger, are about her height. Her classmates of her age are towering over her.

I searched for growth problem again and again. Read the same thing again and again. Is it constitutional growth delay? Is it familiar short stature? But they all mention, it is no problem as long as kids are growing at their own NORMAL RATE.

I heard so many tales, I've known first hand too, that short kids suddenly spurt up into tall kids. But that does not stop me from worrying.

What am I supposed to do?

I am a statistics' believer. I believe and take comfort in that, if not excellent, at least I and the people I love would not fail to fall in the majority category.

Am I wrong this time?

Friday, August 11, 2006
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August 10, 2006


Today I read something that somebody reflected about to music chart top 40. I started thinking about mine.

I have always considered myself a music fan, even though we did not own a boom box until I was in high school. A fan of pop music, hot music, music hits. A fan at the level of Celion Dion and sound of music. I am never upgraded to the high class club of classic music. I can quite enjoy classic music now, however. When I was in college and graduate school, it was nothing but strange strident noise. My tolerance of it was zero. The same can be said about opera. The hysterical ear piercing twist of human sound.

But now I am shut out of even pop music. Understandable for a person who has been living in a foreign country for 9 years, who is in her 30s and deeply wrapped in the family life of a toddler and mortgage. Now seeing movie stars and music stars, the young and beautiful, is a depressing business. Age, once was a valid excuse of not achieving, now becomes a quick reminder of lost hope and stale reality.

I cannot hum any tunes of the currently hot songs now. Songs from earlier years, from legends like the Beatles, from the years when I was still young and in China, now made me nostalgic.

That is not all. Now what is humming in my head constantly is children's music, like Five little ducks, Bingo, A lot little pigs, a string of wee sing songs, a set of Mother Goose, ...

So that reflects my current music taste.

My music taste

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Today I read something that somebody reflected about to music chart top 40. I started thinking about mine.

I have always considered myself a music fan, even though we did not own a boom box until I was in high school. A fan of pop music, hot music, music hits. A fan at the level of Celion Dion and sound of music. I am never upgraded to the high class club of classic music. I can quite enjoy classic music now, however. When I was in college and graduate school, it was nothing but strange strident noise. My tolerance of it was zero. The same can be said about opera. The hysterical ear piercing twist of human sound.

But now I am shut out of even pop music. Understandable for a person who has been living in a foreign country for 9 years, who is in her 30s and deeply wrapped in the family life of a toddler and mortgage. Now seeing movie stars and music stars, the young and beautiful, is a depressing business. Age, once was a valid excuse of not achieving, now becomes a quick reminder of lost hope and stale reality.

I cannot hum any tunes of the currently hot songs now. Songs from earlier years, from legends like the Beatles, from the years when I was still young and in China, now made me nostalgic.

That is not all. Now what is humming in my head constantly is children's music, like Five little ducks, Bingo, A lot little pigs, a string of wee sing songs, a set of Mother Goose, ...

So that reflects my current music taste.

Thursday, August 10, 2006
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One day in August, two months since Emma went to Loyola preschool, Emma suddenly started talking. Really talking, not just bits of phrases and words here and there, not just singing, not just doing so playfully with us at home.

That day when I went to pick her up, her teacher Novelle was all smile and told me: "Emma has talked a lot today!" I was so amazed and greatly relieved.

How the barrier was suddenly down? What was the ice breaker? Why it is not a snowball kind of accumulation of bits and pieces?

I wonder if saying her first English word filled her with terror? I remember how I was terrified to utter a single word in a classroom, my face flared red, my heart pounding, my pulse quicked, my mouth dry ...

I also wonder, how she, talktive by nature, has managed to stay happy without her needs and thoughts being heard? Was she ever concerned that she could not say whatever she wanted to say?

Speaking English

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

One day in August, two months since Emma went to Loyola preschool, Emma suddenly started talking. Really talking, not just bits of phrases and words here and there, not just singing, not just doing so playfully with us at home.

That day when I went to pick her up, her teacher Novelle was all smile and told me: "Emma has talked a lot today!" I was so amazed and greatly relieved.

How the barrier was suddenly down? What was the ice breaker? Why it is not a snowball kind of accumulation of bits and pieces?

I wonder if saying her first English word filled her with terror? I remember how I was terrified to utter a single word in a classroom, my face flared red, my heart pounding, my pulse quicked, my mouth dry ...

I also wonder, how she, talktive by nature, has managed to stay happy without her needs and thoughts being heard? Was she ever concerned that she could not say whatever she wanted to say?

Thursday, August 10, 2006
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August 07, 2006

Reading food labels, checking on the percentages of vitamins, minerals, saturate fat, etc., is a new thing for me. Obviously, the trend of fitness, health and nutrition has captured me.

Baking cookies and cakes is a new thing for me too. Well, the wonder of oven, electric mixer, square or round baking pan, muffins pan, or whatever pan for whatever purpose, juicer, blender, food processor, peeler ... is pure American. You know you are definitely in a developed industrial world when you step in an American kitchen. My mom, a lifetime cook, was amazed, confused, daunted and rendered powerless by my small and messy collection of kitchen utensils.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to bake. To hurriedly mix flour, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, butter, walnuts, vanilla extract, chocolate, baking soda, a million things in a pot, then bake it up. Smells the delicious smell, then eat the cookies when they are still burning hot.

That is what I love about being in America. You are empowered, encouraged and equipped to do everything yourself. Here, every domestic man becomes a handyman, fixing basement, garden and bathroom; every woman tries to become a master cook. Well, we poor working class people have to be self-sufficient.

However to cook or bake anything, I have to shamelessly borrow and copy. So I borrowed a few books. After several successful batches of cookies, I started reading labels about them and paying attention to the ingredients.

Oh, bad. All cookies and cakes are evilly fattening and potentially harmful.

I wonder why no one has attacked wonderful cookies and cakes? If that "Super Size Me" guy (Morgan Spurlock) had his experiments on cookies instead, 3-month-long nothing but cookies, how much his waist line would swell, other health indices plummet? Why do we always have to celebrate birthday with birthday cakes, weddings with wedding cakes?

Sweet tradition of sweet treat.

Unhealthily Delicious

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Reading food labels, checking on the percentages of vitamins, minerals, saturate fat, etc., is a new thing for me. Obviously, the trend of fitness, health and nutrition has captured me.

Baking cookies and cakes is a new thing for me too. Well, the wonder of oven, electric mixer, square or round baking pan, muffins pan, or whatever pan for whatever purpose, juicer, blender, food processor, peeler ... is pure American. You know you are definitely in a developed industrial world when you step in an American kitchen. My mom, a lifetime cook, was amazed, confused, daunted and rendered powerless by my small and messy collection of kitchen utensils.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to bake. To hurriedly mix flour, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, butter, walnuts, vanilla extract, chocolate, baking soda, a million things in a pot, then bake it up. Smells the delicious smell, then eat the cookies when they are still burning hot.

That is what I love about being in America. You are empowered, encouraged and equipped to do everything yourself. Here, every domestic man becomes a handyman, fixing basement, garden and bathroom; every woman tries to become a master cook. Well, we poor working class people have to be self-sufficient.

However to cook or bake anything, I have to shamelessly borrow and copy. So I borrowed a few books. After several successful batches of cookies, I started reading labels about them and paying attention to the ingredients.

Oh, bad. All cookies and cakes are evilly fattening and potentially harmful.

I wonder why no one has attacked wonderful cookies and cakes? If that "Super Size Me" guy (Morgan Spurlock) had his experiments on cookies instead, 3-month-long nothing but cookies, how much his waist line would swell, other health indices plummet? Why do we always have to celebrate birthday with birthday cakes, weddings with wedding cakes?

Sweet tradition of sweet treat.

Monday, August 07, 2006
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August 03, 2006

Since when, people started to analyse everything from a multitude of point of view, psychological, physical, environmental, sexual, racial, social ... And so on and so forth.

One day I was talking to my colleagues about eating habits. They started the topic, I ventured to contribute my share. I said: "When I met something I like, I tend to lose control, eat and eat until I burst." It is true.

Immediately, my colleagues concluded: "Ah, stress!"

I was shocked and put down. I did not know my eating habit is a stress-related problem, though I know there is a term called "emotional hunger."

I do not know. If it was, I've had this problem since very little. I've had a string of overeating incidents. When I was six, one day in my kindergarten, I liked a kind of steamed buns with meat filling, I ate and ate and ate. I ate 7 of them, each was about 50g, I later passed out.

I would like to learn some kind of bulimia. However, so far, I can only manage pig eating.

Is that a psychological problem? I do not know. To me, it is probably more of a hopelessly predetermined thing. To me, many things (including cause and effect), personality, intelligence, physical appearance, success or failure are predetermined. Yes, nature and nurture play side by side. But nature first.

Luckily for me, I am not morbidly fat. May be just slightly on the side of overweight.

However, I do want to shed the extra five to 10 pounds. Have not been very successful. The extra pounds live in my body, by the tummy and thighs, reinforced from time to time by my habit of overeating.

Every time I eat beyond the threshold. Guilt washes over me. I eat more.

So it is psychological/emotional, after all.

The problem of overeating

Posted by Xun  |  5 comments

Since when, people started to analyse everything from a multitude of point of view, psychological, physical, environmental, sexual, racial, social ... And so on and so forth.

One day I was talking to my colleagues about eating habits. They started the topic, I ventured to contribute my share. I said: "When I met something I like, I tend to lose control, eat and eat until I burst." It is true.

Immediately, my colleagues concluded: "Ah, stress!"

I was shocked and put down. I did not know my eating habit is a stress-related problem, though I know there is a term called "emotional hunger."

I do not know. If it was, I've had this problem since very little. I've had a string of overeating incidents. When I was six, one day in my kindergarten, I liked a kind of steamed buns with meat filling, I ate and ate and ate. I ate 7 of them, each was about 50g, I later passed out.

I would like to learn some kind of bulimia. However, so far, I can only manage pig eating.

Is that a psychological problem? I do not know. To me, it is probably more of a hopelessly predetermined thing. To me, many things (including cause and effect), personality, intelligence, physical appearance, success or failure are predetermined. Yes, nature and nurture play side by side. But nature first.

Luckily for me, I am not morbidly fat. May be just slightly on the side of overweight.

However, I do want to shed the extra five to 10 pounds. Have not been very successful. The extra pounds live in my body, by the tummy and thighs, reinforced from time to time by my habit of overeating.

Every time I eat beyond the threshold. Guilt washes over me. I eat more.

So it is psychological/emotional, after all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006
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August 01, 2006




Summer Picnic

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006
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July 31, 2006

It was really hot Friday. But Who is afraid the heat? Emma's preschool had another picnic. With just a sandwich and a bottle of water, Leo and I and Emma went to the picnic.

It turned out to be quite fun and informative. Hiding my shyness and nevousness with any threat of conversation, I bravely approached and talked to Emma's teachers, Novell, Bev, Katie, Judy. (Never had the courage or time before. In the morning dropin, I am always in a hurry, in the afternoon pickup, the teachers are generally busy with the dozen of kids. )

The teachers are all fond of Emma. She is happy, sweet, good natured, easy going. She sings a lot. She is not even as quiet as I had been feared. Not able to use sentences, she talked in short bursts of words and phrases ...

Leo and I built a little pond by the lake, Emma ran around to fetch water and fed the ever thirsy pond, who absorbed all water in a blink of eyes. At least that is how Emma saw the problem. She said: "ah, you are so thirsty. I will give you water."

Picnic

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

It was really hot Friday. But Who is afraid the heat? Emma's preschool had another picnic. With just a sandwich and a bottle of water, Leo and I and Emma went to the picnic.

It turned out to be quite fun and informative. Hiding my shyness and nevousness with any threat of conversation, I bravely approached and talked to Emma's teachers, Novell, Bev, Katie, Judy. (Never had the courage or time before. In the morning dropin, I am always in a hurry, in the afternoon pickup, the teachers are generally busy with the dozen of kids. )

The teachers are all fond of Emma. She is happy, sweet, good natured, easy going. She sings a lot. She is not even as quiet as I had been feared. Not able to use sentences, she talked in short bursts of words and phrases ...

Leo and I built a little pond by the lake, Emma ran around to fetch water and fed the ever thirsy pond, who absorbed all water in a blink of eyes. At least that is how Emma saw the problem. She said: "ah, you are so thirsty. I will give you water."

Monday, July 31, 2006
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July 24, 2006

Before I left China in 1997, I was not a computer user, let alone a web user. Not many people were, Emails, Internet were not even set up in top universities. So you cannot blame me.

I became one after I came here, first a painfully ignorant one, then half-a-geek level Internet user. My favorite sites are every one's favorite: Google and Wikipedia. Then I have a few of my own: CNN, The New Yorker, Time.

(You would think the free and convenient web would save me a few dollars. But no, on the contrary, a year or so of reading The New Yorker online made me finally become a subscriber. Still love the feel and leisure and pleasure of reading it on the couch.)

Anyway.

China is now very remote for me. I do not see Chinese movies, read Chinese books, see Chinese movies, listen to Chinese music, or visit Chinese websites. Not much. Maybe 1%. Even compared to my Chinese peers who are overseas, I am poorly conversant in Chinese matters. The Chinese movies stars I know are international movie stars: Gong li and Zhiyi Zhang. I am equally fascinated by their gossips as well as their breathtaking movies, especially Zhiyi Zhang. Such a beauty. So fragile, vulnerable yet determined. But that is it.

Still, China and all things Chinese have irresistible pull on me. All things Chinese are intriguing, familiar and foreign.

I am most intrigued by Chinese blogs. It is said the blogging population in China has grown into a formidable force. The number one blog listed by Technorati is a blog by a Chinese 30-something actress-director-writer-beauty-in one.

I read her blog, laid back, smooth, self-deprecating, in a I-did-such-and-such style. It is not very special, I decided. But the comments by hundreds and thousands are truly amazing. Disturbing too.

I read another very popular one (it has to be popular, otherwise, it would not be possible for it to stumble into my way), this one is more opinionated, edgy, smart, sarcatic and quite fun. It is distinct of Chinese writing style. It is Chinese cool. Again the pages of comments stunned me.

I wonder about the webscape of China. So emails are commonplace, internet is ubiquitous, and blogging is thriving into a new land.

But ...

Does it have Wikepedia? Yes, how good is it? I have tried Google's equivalent Baidu. Quite powerful, however, comparatively slow. One line one pop up is annoying. I searched for Google/Yahoo Map sort of online mapping and direction tools, all I got was some very clumsy ones ... How is the online business that is of second nature in US going in China? Probably not very good, since credit cards for most people remain something rare and dubious.

What are top Chinese web sites?

What about government censoring?

Though I can read Chinese blogs, no one in China can read mine. Is it because of Chinese censorship? It simply blocks all oversea personal blogs.

Ignorant me. Home away from home.

Home away from home

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Before I left China in 1997, I was not a computer user, let alone a web user. Not many people were, Emails, Internet were not even set up in top universities. So you cannot blame me.

I became one after I came here, first a painfully ignorant one, then half-a-geek level Internet user. My favorite sites are every one's favorite: Google and Wikipedia. Then I have a few of my own: CNN, The New Yorker, Time.

(You would think the free and convenient web would save me a few dollars. But no, on the contrary, a year or so of reading The New Yorker online made me finally become a subscriber. Still love the feel and leisure and pleasure of reading it on the couch.)

Anyway.

China is now very remote for me. I do not see Chinese movies, read Chinese books, see Chinese movies, listen to Chinese music, or visit Chinese websites. Not much. Maybe 1%. Even compared to my Chinese peers who are overseas, I am poorly conversant in Chinese matters. The Chinese movies stars I know are international movie stars: Gong li and Zhiyi Zhang. I am equally fascinated by their gossips as well as their breathtaking movies, especially Zhiyi Zhang. Such a beauty. So fragile, vulnerable yet determined. But that is it.

Still, China and all things Chinese have irresistible pull on me. All things Chinese are intriguing, familiar and foreign.

I am most intrigued by Chinese blogs. It is said the blogging population in China has grown into a formidable force. The number one blog listed by Technorati is a blog by a Chinese 30-something actress-director-writer-beauty-in one.

I read her blog, laid back, smooth, self-deprecating, in a I-did-such-and-such style. It is not very special, I decided. But the comments by hundreds and thousands are truly amazing. Disturbing too.

I read another very popular one (it has to be popular, otherwise, it would not be possible for it to stumble into my way), this one is more opinionated, edgy, smart, sarcatic and quite fun. It is distinct of Chinese writing style. It is Chinese cool. Again the pages of comments stunned me.

I wonder about the webscape of China. So emails are commonplace, internet is ubiquitous, and blogging is thriving into a new land.

But ...

Does it have Wikepedia? Yes, how good is it? I have tried Google's equivalent Baidu. Quite powerful, however, comparatively slow. One line one pop up is annoying. I searched for Google/Yahoo Map sort of online mapping and direction tools, all I got was some very clumsy ones ... How is the online business that is of second nature in US going in China? Probably not very good, since credit cards for most people remain something rare and dubious.

What are top Chinese web sites?

What about government censoring?

Though I can read Chinese blogs, no one in China can read mine. Is it because of Chinese censorship? It simply blocks all oversea personal blogs.

Ignorant me. Home away from home.

Monday, July 24, 2006
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Observation 1: She is really good telling a story or pretending to tell a story using a book. Basically she makes up things as she turns pages.

Observation 2: The hair cut is really bad. Understandable but not excusable. It was my first hair cut. She moved too much.

Emma reads a book

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Observation 1: She is really good telling a story or pretending to tell a story using a book. Basically she makes up things as she turns pages.

Observation 2: The hair cut is really bad. Understandable but not excusable. It was my first hair cut. She moved too much.

Monday, July 24, 2006
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July 20, 2006

One and a half months passed, Emma hasn't talked in English yet. Not much, not at her preschool, at least. At home, English would be sprinkled in her conversation. Words, or one-or-two-word phrases. Like "ice cold", "stop it", "come here", blah, blah ... These words make us smile and happy.

She still cannot count well yet. She always pretends to count, one, two, three, ..., then I ask, Emma, how many ducks are there? She says, three (there are actually 5).

Somewhere, sometimes, in the back/front/center of my mind, I am a little concerned.

She has not grown much taller or bigger either. A lot of kids at her age is half a head taller. There seems to be growth lapse.

I am a little concerned.

She is always friendly, however, also appears a little fearful / or aloof around other kids. The teacher says, she is an observer, but I would more like to her to be in the center.

This fear/concern/worry has always been there, intangible, suppressible, in and out, never overwhelming, never gone either.

Is she, maybe, a little slow, maybe not as bright as other kids? Will she grow to at least more than 5'2'' (I am somewhere between 5'1'' and 5'2''). Will she be socially clumsy as Leo and I are?

I know I should not compare. I keep reminding myself. Growth comes in all rates and stages. My mom once suspected I was, maybe, a little retarded, because I kept wetting beds until I was in ... (I would be too embarrassed to say). But I am fine, at least intellectually.

By all standards, she is healthy, sunny, and bright. She passed the Chicago Development Screening when she barely could understood English. Yeah, she passed the tests on motor (jumping, turning ...), cognitive skills (reading, counting ...), eye tests ...

Still, every once in a while, my mind wonders, I am a little concerned. Not just about Emma, but also about me. But since I am not malleable, I worry more about her.

Why?

Does every parent experience the same fear, irational though?

Irrational fear

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One and a half months passed, Emma hasn't talked in English yet. Not much, not at her preschool, at least. At home, English would be sprinkled in her conversation. Words, or one-or-two-word phrases. Like "ice cold", "stop it", "come here", blah, blah ... These words make us smile and happy.

She still cannot count well yet. She always pretends to count, one, two, three, ..., then I ask, Emma, how many ducks are there? She says, three (there are actually 5).

Somewhere, sometimes, in the back/front/center of my mind, I am a little concerned.

She has not grown much taller or bigger either. A lot of kids at her age is half a head taller. There seems to be growth lapse.

I am a little concerned.

She is always friendly, however, also appears a little fearful / or aloof around other kids. The teacher says, she is an observer, but I would more like to her to be in the center.

This fear/concern/worry has always been there, intangible, suppressible, in and out, never overwhelming, never gone either.

Is she, maybe, a little slow, maybe not as bright as other kids? Will she grow to at least more than 5'2'' (I am somewhere between 5'1'' and 5'2''). Will she be socially clumsy as Leo and I are?

I know I should not compare. I keep reminding myself. Growth comes in all rates and stages. My mom once suspected I was, maybe, a little retarded, because I kept wetting beds until I was in ... (I would be too embarrassed to say). But I am fine, at least intellectually.

By all standards, she is healthy, sunny, and bright. She passed the Chicago Development Screening when she barely could understood English. Yeah, she passed the tests on motor (jumping, turning ...), cognitive skills (reading, counting ...), eye tests ...

Still, every once in a while, my mind wonders, I am a little concerned. Not just about Emma, but also about me. But since I am not malleable, I worry more about her.

Why?

Does every parent experience the same fear, irational though?

Thursday, July 20, 2006
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July 17, 2006

I spent more than a whole week without blogging. Suddenly busy. I even worked on Saturday and Sunday, which left a load of laudary unfolded, meals unprepared, shopping list unchecked ...

Surprisingly, I kind of missed the business of blogging. Ha! The business of blogging lonely and secretively hoping someone would drop me a comment or two. Somehow, blogging has become my at least twice-a-week-ly chore that I both love and hate to do. It is my mental workout. Like my 3-to-5-times-a-week-ly workout at Bally Fitness, it becomes one of my subroutines.

Seriously.

Miss Blogging

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

I spent more than a whole week without blogging. Suddenly busy. I even worked on Saturday and Sunday, which left a load of laudary unfolded, meals unprepared, shopping list unchecked ...

Surprisingly, I kind of missed the business of blogging. Ha! The business of blogging lonely and secretively hoping someone would drop me a comment or two. Somehow, blogging has become my at least twice-a-week-ly chore that I both love and hate to do. It is my mental workout. Like my 3-to-5-times-a-week-ly workout at Bally Fitness, it becomes one of my subroutines.

Seriously.

Monday, July 17, 2006
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July 08, 2006

Movies are the biggest sacrifice I made since Emma came back from China. I have seen only three movies so far (I know I am dumb). However I have gained a lot more sleep. Reading and singing to her definitely induces me to early sleep every night.

A few days ago I could not resist the temptation to scratch my itch for movies, I got myself a movie, "The Notebook". I got a movie for Emma too, "Winnie the Pooh".

Emma's Winnie DVD does not work (What a disappointment! I was more upset than Emma). Mine worked, yet the movie sucked: slow, silly, affecting, acted up. It is acclaimed as something like modern "Romeo and Juliet." Definitely not so.

And it is children inappropriate. All those frolicking!

However, Watching it with Emma made the bordom bearable even fun though, for Emma had fresh comments for everything stale. She had funny questions.

At one point, the female character Alice splashed ice cream onto the face of the male (what is his name?) then grabbed him and kissed him all over. Emma said: "Oh, she helped him eat the ice cream."

Ha. Ha.

Ha. Ha.

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

Movies are the biggest sacrifice I made since Emma came back from China. I have seen only three movies so far (I know I am dumb). However I have gained a lot more sleep. Reading and singing to her definitely induces me to early sleep every night.

A few days ago I could not resist the temptation to scratch my itch for movies, I got myself a movie, "The Notebook". I got a movie for Emma too, "Winnie the Pooh".

Emma's Winnie DVD does not work (What a disappointment! I was more upset than Emma). Mine worked, yet the movie sucked: slow, silly, affecting, acted up. It is acclaimed as something like modern "Romeo and Juliet." Definitely not so.

And it is children inappropriate. All those frolicking!

However, Watching it with Emma made the bordom bearable even fun though, for Emma had fresh comments for everything stale. She had funny questions.

At one point, the female character Alice splashed ice cream onto the face of the male (what is his name?) then grabbed him and kissed him all over. Emma said: "Oh, she helped him eat the ice cream."

Ha. Ha.

Saturday, July 08, 2006
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July 06, 2006

I do not know why I kept staring at the computer for over an hour and adamantly tried to put something into words and sentences and type them out?

I do not why people keep diaries in the old times? Why they even wanted to lock away their diaries to keep from other people's curious eyes? What? Do not we vie for people's attention? Do not we do everything to just be visited, read and talked about?

"My problem is that I do not have a reader." Some years ago, a Chinese poet wrote. He (or she) must have been widely read, though. For from then on, a million trivial voices sigh: "My problem is that I do not have a reader."

Maybe trivial minds think the same.

Anyway.

We passed long July 4th weekend in a swirl. It was a long, busy, fun and tiresome weekend. Then it is past. Now I am back to work, Emma back to school, my parents are back to China.

Why keep a diary?

Posted by Xun  |  3 comments

I do not know why I kept staring at the computer for over an hour and adamantly tried to put something into words and sentences and type them out?

I do not why people keep diaries in the old times? Why they even wanted to lock away their diaries to keep from other people's curious eyes? What? Do not we vie for people's attention? Do not we do everything to just be visited, read and talked about?

"My problem is that I do not have a reader." Some years ago, a Chinese poet wrote. He (or she) must have been widely read, though. For from then on, a million trivial voices sigh: "My problem is that I do not have a reader."

Maybe trivial minds think the same.

Anyway.

We passed long July 4th weekend in a swirl. It was a long, busy, fun and tiresome weekend. Then it is past. Now I am back to work, Emma back to school, my parents are back to China.

Thursday, July 06, 2006
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June 28, 2006


One of the daunting books in my childhood is "Ten Thousand Whys". It came in many many volumes. I probably have read a few entries. I know it has answers to questions like "Why people sweat?" or "Why it snows in winter?" I was very impressed even though I could not bear to read it at all (too many details to my muddled little brain).

I do not remember I have seen such books in America.

Now there is a website Dropping Knowledge (www.yourquestion.org) to let people ask questions, high-mind questions, questions "to find out what you would like to change about the world." I think with enough questions and answers collected, it would organically grow into a wikipedia typed ebook "Ten Thousand Whys".

This probably will not happen in the longest time, though. I browsed the site a little, found the navigation hard, questions few and monotonous, answers sparse.

Well, maybe next time when I come around to go to the site, it would have a different (busy, thriving) look.

Ten Thousand Whys?

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One of the daunting books in my childhood is "Ten Thousand Whys". It came in many many volumes. I probably have read a few entries. I know it has answers to questions like "Why people sweat?" or "Why it snows in winter?" I was very impressed even though I could not bear to read it at all (too many details to my muddled little brain).

I do not remember I have seen such books in America.

Now there is a website Dropping Knowledge (www.yourquestion.org) to let people ask questions, high-mind questions, questions "to find out what you would like to change about the world." I think with enough questions and answers collected, it would organically grow into a wikipedia typed ebook "Ten Thousand Whys".

This probably will not happen in the longest time, though. I browsed the site a little, found the navigation hard, questions few and monotonous, answers sparse.

Well, maybe next time when I come around to go to the site, it would have a different (busy, thriving) look.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
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One month into her exclusively English-speaking preschool, Emma is well settled on her journey to achieve the feat of being bilingual.

Sure, everyone knows babies in diapers are the best receivers and fastest learners in terms of languages. They are native speakers of all languages, as long as you feed them. They swallow, taste, digest words and sentences like cakes, then they split out words and sentences at a incremental rate after they reach 2.

As for Emma, in terms of English, not so fast though.

She is yet to speed up her English assembly and production belt. She only occasionally bursts out words. No sentences at all. However she has shown, through her daily interaction with her teachers and peers, that she already understands most of the preschool English.

Potty, pee, poo, eat, drink...

Oh, when it comes to food, her vocabulary is without bound, candy, ice cream, bread, strawberry, blueberry, water melon, cantaloupe, rice, pasta, juice...

She has a lot of animals words, cat, dog, butterfly, ladybug, monkeys ... On the bulletin board of her preschool, it was written that Emma' favorite bug is butterfly. How did they find that out?

I do not understand how brain functions? What makes children absorb languages so fast and effortless?





Bilingual Toddler

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One month into her exclusively English-speaking preschool, Emma is well settled on her journey to achieve the feat of being bilingual.

Sure, everyone knows babies in diapers are the best receivers and fastest learners in terms of languages. They are native speakers of all languages, as long as you feed them. They swallow, taste, digest words and sentences like cakes, then they split out words and sentences at a incremental rate after they reach 2.

As for Emma, in terms of English, not so fast though.

She is yet to speed up her English assembly and production belt. She only occasionally bursts out words. No sentences at all. However she has shown, through her daily interaction with her teachers and peers, that she already understands most of the preschool English.

Potty, pee, poo, eat, drink...

Oh, when it comes to food, her vocabulary is without bound, candy, ice cream, bread, strawberry, blueberry, water melon, cantaloupe, rice, pasta, juice...

She has a lot of animals words, cat, dog, butterfly, ladybug, monkeys ... On the bulletin board of her preschool, it was written that Emma' favorite bug is butterfly. How did they find that out?

I do not understand how brain functions? What makes children absorb languages so fast and effortless?





Wednesday, June 28, 2006
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June 26, 2006

This past weekend we spent quietly, not going anywhere, not doing much at all.

Emma was sick. She is still.

It probably started with our good-faithed attempt to alleviate her suffering from summer heat. She is allergic to heat. She sweats profusely day and night (especially night) from the onset of summer. Just a few nights into the summer, she has had heat rash around the nape of her neck. But, why? To me, the weather cannot be called hot yet.

Nevertheless, I had Leo turn on the air conditioner. The second morning she woke up with a little lightly runny noise. The third day her nose got a little stuffy and had some yellow discharge. The fifth day she started coughing. Last night she coughed quite seriously My bad, I always forgot to put her on extra clothes when she went to preschool, where temperature is always tuned from cool to cold (like every hall, every shop, every office in America. Why? Maybe they want everyone to be formally dressed everywhere and any time).

I googled the web a little bit under "children cold". I found that common colds last 10-15 days then resolve themselves. What? 10-15 days? Most children have on average 3 to 8 infections, with children in day care could have even more. What? 3 to 8 times? 3 times a year, 10 days each time amounts to 1 month sick time, 1 month withdrawal and retreat at home.

What kind of strain and pressure do that put on parents? How about the multiple unconditional vacation, in-service days of preschool?

It is good to be a stay-at-home mom. It is such a wonder even miracle other people manage to take care of 2, 3, 4, or even more children.

Not at all immune to cold, Emma is immune to worries. Throughout the cold days, Emma radiated energy, beaming smile, and kept me smiling and laughing and amused with her cute cute words.

She ate her medicines good, to my amazement, without any protest. Not only that, she asked me after finishing them, "Is there any more medicine I can eat?"

...

While she was eating her medicines, she said: "Mommy, when you have cold, I will feed you medicine. Ok?"

Thank you, my darling Emma.

Oops! A little cold

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This past weekend we spent quietly, not going anywhere, not doing much at all.

Emma was sick. She is still.

It probably started with our good-faithed attempt to alleviate her suffering from summer heat. She is allergic to heat. She sweats profusely day and night (especially night) from the onset of summer. Just a few nights into the summer, she has had heat rash around the nape of her neck. But, why? To me, the weather cannot be called hot yet.

Nevertheless, I had Leo turn on the air conditioner. The second morning she woke up with a little lightly runny noise. The third day her nose got a little stuffy and had some yellow discharge. The fifth day she started coughing. Last night she coughed quite seriously My bad, I always forgot to put her on extra clothes when she went to preschool, where temperature is always tuned from cool to cold (like every hall, every shop, every office in America. Why? Maybe they want everyone to be formally dressed everywhere and any time).

I googled the web a little bit under "children cold". I found that common colds last 10-15 days then resolve themselves. What? 10-15 days? Most children have on average 3 to 8 infections, with children in day care could have even more. What? 3 to 8 times? 3 times a year, 10 days each time amounts to 1 month sick time, 1 month withdrawal and retreat at home.

What kind of strain and pressure do that put on parents? How about the multiple unconditional vacation, in-service days of preschool?

It is good to be a stay-at-home mom. It is such a wonder even miracle other people manage to take care of 2, 3, 4, or even more children.

Not at all immune to cold, Emma is immune to worries. Throughout the cold days, Emma radiated energy, beaming smile, and kept me smiling and laughing and amused with her cute cute words.

She ate her medicines good, to my amazement, without any protest. Not only that, she asked me after finishing them, "Is there any more medicine I can eat?"

...

While she was eating her medicines, she said: "Mommy, when you have cold, I will feed you medicine. Ok?"

Thank you, my darling Emma.

Monday, June 26, 2006
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June 21, 2006

I am not a farm gal. I do not have a big backyard to attend flowers or grow vegetables. However, growing up in a small town, in an university called SiChuan University of Agriculture, I am not quite a stranger to farming. I've raised chicken, planted tomatoes, seen people thrashing wheat, helped making soy milk out of fresh soy beans. In summer, I hunted berries in thick bushes, picked extremely tart grapes yet to ripe, employed long sticks to smack down plums and cherries ...

Still there are many other things that are exotic to me. Like strawberries.

Sure I have eaten them many times. I take them for granted. But I have no idea how they grow, what kind of plants bear these beautiful heart-shaped red flavorful little things.

So Sunday I, we, were all excited. We got to pick strawberries. And we all had a good time.

The weather was cool and fresh, still damp with the passing morning rain. The nice little farm called "Susie's Garden Patch" in Garden Prairie is friendly (especially kids friendly) and self-sufficient and country. It has a little sand park with all the equipment, horse-drawn cart, and pony riding activities. It even has people performing country music.

Of course, the best fun was picking strawberries. Rows and rows of strawberry plants lay low on the ground, light green leaves moist with the morning rain. You push the leaves slightly aside, there, cluster of red strawberries lied below. They were not as big, as red, as perfectly shaped as those seen on the market, lovely, delightful nonetheless.

So excited were we and so eager were we to cut our teeth through the succulent strawberries. And, boy, they were sweet. We all commented that they tasted more strawberry than those on the market.

Emma had another reason to be extra happy. She met a big friend, a six-year-old boy John, my friends' son. The boy is big, tall, dark and handsome. He is passionate about trains. He is very fond of Emma. He held her hand gently, he took her everywhere. He said: "Emma, come here. Come here." "Emma, pick this strawberry". "Emma, put your strawberry here."...

Emma giggled frequently.

Damn, we forgot to take a camera with us.

Pick Strawberries

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I am not a farm gal. I do not have a big backyard to attend flowers or grow vegetables. However, growing up in a small town, in an university called SiChuan University of Agriculture, I am not quite a stranger to farming. I've raised chicken, planted tomatoes, seen people thrashing wheat, helped making soy milk out of fresh soy beans. In summer, I hunted berries in thick bushes, picked extremely tart grapes yet to ripe, employed long sticks to smack down plums and cherries ...

Still there are many other things that are exotic to me. Like strawberries.

Sure I have eaten them many times. I take them for granted. But I have no idea how they grow, what kind of plants bear these beautiful heart-shaped red flavorful little things.

So Sunday I, we, were all excited. We got to pick strawberries. And we all had a good time.

The weather was cool and fresh, still damp with the passing morning rain. The nice little farm called "Susie's Garden Patch" in Garden Prairie is friendly (especially kids friendly) and self-sufficient and country. It has a little sand park with all the equipment, horse-drawn cart, and pony riding activities. It even has people performing country music.

Of course, the best fun was picking strawberries. Rows and rows of strawberry plants lay low on the ground, light green leaves moist with the morning rain. You push the leaves slightly aside, there, cluster of red strawberries lied below. They were not as big, as red, as perfectly shaped as those seen on the market, lovely, delightful nonetheless.

So excited were we and so eager were we to cut our teeth through the succulent strawberries. And, boy, they were sweet. We all commented that they tasted more strawberry than those on the market.

Emma had another reason to be extra happy. She met a big friend, a six-year-old boy John, my friends' son. The boy is big, tall, dark and handsome. He is passionate about trains. He is very fond of Emma. He held her hand gently, he took her everywhere. He said: "Emma, come here. Come here." "Emma, pick this strawberry". "Emma, put your strawberry here."...

Emma giggled frequently.

Damn, we forgot to take a camera with us.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
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June 14, 2006

I heard and read quite a lot about terrible twos. While I was celebrating Emma's second birthday, I was kindly warned about "Terrible twos".

So far I have not found anything terrible about a two-year-old.

On the other hand, looking back, I think the first few months are truly anxiety-inducing.

First there was feeding problem, gravely written on the summary report by her doctor during our first well-child visit. Oh, yeah, Emma was like 5 ounces lighter than her birth weight. So I stayed in bed with her for two weeks, baring my breasts to feed her in about every 5 minutes (at least feel that way), squeezing my nipples every 10 minutes to check if I got a serious milk supply problem. Leo and I even took a trip for special breast-feeding instructions. We bought a ridiculous looking feeding pillow.

Then there were skin problems. Sometimes the skin looked too dry and scaly, so we were introduced to Eucerin. Quite a few times Emma got big hives, so we rushed to hospital once and again. Then for over a month, Emma's check was plagued by who-knows-what, all red and pimples, then somewhere near her left ear, it got broken (yellowish thing oozing). So we got this lotion and that, finally we started on Ellidel and put her rashes, baby acnes, whatever dermatitis at bay.

Of course sleep problem was the persistent classic universal headache, as exasperating as hell. Yeah, think about it, 3 hours a night, 50 attempts trying to get back to sleep, then spring to action every half an hour after.

Then there was food allergy problem. Allergic to milk, allergic to peanut, maybe.

Always, always there was so much uncertainty. "Should I pick her up if she cries?" I did, believing that you can never spoil your baby. "Can I feed her this?" "Are baby food full of dangerous chemicals?"

Also there was so much fussing you over from my roommate. "Gosh, you have to wash the baby clothes using only this detergent." "Come on, you have to wash them with a cycle, then rinse them in another cycle, then dry them another cycle." "Xun, look at this, you have to eat this and that to have good milk, otherwise she will be depraved of this and that." "Take her out, out, 24 hours a day. Give her sun." "Are you trying to kill her? Look at this dust ball."

And there was probably horomone inbalance on my part. Postpartum syndrom loomed large.

And on her part, she was not responsive in the beginning. It was not even possible to hold her gaze until she was almost 4 mos old.

...

What's so terrible about being one?

Posted by Xun  |  5 comments

I heard and read quite a lot about terrible twos. While I was celebrating Emma's second birthday, I was kindly warned about "Terrible twos".

So far I have not found anything terrible about a two-year-old.

On the other hand, looking back, I think the first few months are truly anxiety-inducing.

First there was feeding problem, gravely written on the summary report by her doctor during our first well-child visit. Oh, yeah, Emma was like 5 ounces lighter than her birth weight. So I stayed in bed with her for two weeks, baring my breasts to feed her in about every 5 minutes (at least feel that way), squeezing my nipples every 10 minutes to check if I got a serious milk supply problem. Leo and I even took a trip for special breast-feeding instructions. We bought a ridiculous looking feeding pillow.

Then there were skin problems. Sometimes the skin looked too dry and scaly, so we were introduced to Eucerin. Quite a few times Emma got big hives, so we rushed to hospital once and again. Then for over a month, Emma's check was plagued by who-knows-what, all red and pimples, then somewhere near her left ear, it got broken (yellowish thing oozing). So we got this lotion and that, finally we started on Ellidel and put her rashes, baby acnes, whatever dermatitis at bay.

Of course sleep problem was the persistent classic universal headache, as exasperating as hell. Yeah, think about it, 3 hours a night, 50 attempts trying to get back to sleep, then spring to action every half an hour after.

Then there was food allergy problem. Allergic to milk, allergic to peanut, maybe.

Always, always there was so much uncertainty. "Should I pick her up if she cries?" I did, believing that you can never spoil your baby. "Can I feed her this?" "Are baby food full of dangerous chemicals?"

Also there was so much fussing you over from my roommate. "Gosh, you have to wash the baby clothes using only this detergent." "Come on, you have to wash them with a cycle, then rinse them in another cycle, then dry them another cycle." "Xun, look at this, you have to eat this and that to have good milk, otherwise she will be depraved of this and that." "Take her out, out, 24 hours a day. Give her sun." "Are you trying to kill her? Look at this dust ball."

And there was probably horomone inbalance on my part. Postpartum syndrom loomed large.

And on her part, she was not responsive in the beginning. It was not even possible to hold her gaze until she was almost 4 mos old.

...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
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June 13, 2006

"The bears drank so much water that ...", Emma looked at me playfully and expectantly. She loved the stories of two adventurous and greedy bears, and she has asked the same questions again and again.

"Ei-yo-yoooo..." Frown hard, bent down, hands covering my stomach, I groan loudly. "Ei-yo, ei-yo, my tommy hurts so-oo much". I re-acted this part again and again, each time louder and more dramatic.

"My tommy hurts more than you." That is Emma. She knew the story too well. She shouted in excitement.

Emma loves stories, especially the parts when the little guys in the stories got hurt or cried. She would become very curious and concerned, and she ask about and retell those plots again and again.

She lavishes her attention on crying babies or moaning bunnies. A lot of times, when she sees a baby cry, she would ask "Why does the baby cry?" I would say "maybe she is hungry or tired". She would think about it and make a story like this:

"The baby cried. She missed mommy. Later, mommy came back, she stopped crying."

She must have told me the story a dozen times.

The crying little things must make her very empathic, and maybe they also make her feel useful and important.
Whenever we are sick or hurt ourselves, she is always gentle and attentive. She would always offer to blow or massage gently. That is her way of making you feel better.

She often expands a story by adding that a happy ending. I read her a story titled something like "why crows' feathers are black?", where a crow got burned in winter and therefore her pretty feathers turned black. Emma thought about the story and said,

"The little crow got burned. She was hurt. So she went to her mommy and cried. She cried and cried. So mommy comforted her and said 'don't worry. But next spring new pretty feathers will grow out. Then the crow will become white'"

(Maybe I added the "next spring" opportunity. I could not remember.) But it became the our version of crow's story, that the crow's feather will become white again in the spring.

But I do not know what made her come up with this new ending?

Why did the baby cry?

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"The bears drank so much water that ...", Emma looked at me playfully and expectantly. She loved the stories of two adventurous and greedy bears, and she has asked the same questions again and again.

"Ei-yo-yoooo..." Frown hard, bent down, hands covering my stomach, I groan loudly. "Ei-yo, ei-yo, my tommy hurts so-oo much". I re-acted this part again and again, each time louder and more dramatic.

"My tommy hurts more than you." That is Emma. She knew the story too well. She shouted in excitement.

Emma loves stories, especially the parts when the little guys in the stories got hurt or cried. She would become very curious and concerned, and she ask about and retell those plots again and again.

She lavishes her attention on crying babies or moaning bunnies. A lot of times, when she sees a baby cry, she would ask "Why does the baby cry?" I would say "maybe she is hungry or tired". She would think about it and make a story like this:

"The baby cried. She missed mommy. Later, mommy came back, she stopped crying."

She must have told me the story a dozen times.

The crying little things must make her very empathic, and maybe they also make her feel useful and important.
Whenever we are sick or hurt ourselves, she is always gentle and attentive. She would always offer to blow or massage gently. That is her way of making you feel better.

She often expands a story by adding that a happy ending. I read her a story titled something like "why crows' feathers are black?", where a crow got burned in winter and therefore her pretty feathers turned black. Emma thought about the story and said,

"The little crow got burned. She was hurt. So she went to her mommy and cried. She cried and cried. So mommy comforted her and said 'don't worry. But next spring new pretty feathers will grow out. Then the crow will become white'"

(Maybe I added the "next spring" opportunity. I could not remember.) But it became the our version of crow's story, that the crow's feather will become white again in the spring.

But I do not know what made her come up with this new ending?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
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June 12, 2006

"The little Leo I played with is Daddy."
--My friend has a son whose name is Leo, which is exactly the same as daddy's name. So Emma is very much confused.

"Why? This big ball is such a mess!"
--Recently Leo has put up an image of earth as his laptop's wallpaper. It has all shades of whites for land and little greens for forests, and blocks of blues for oceans.

Funny quotes of the week

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"The little Leo I played with is Daddy."
--My friend has a son whose name is Leo, which is exactly the same as daddy's name. So Emma is very much confused.

"Why? This big ball is such a mess!"
--Recently Leo has put up an image of earth as his laptop's wallpaper. It has all shades of whites for land and little greens for forests, and blocks of blues for oceans.

Monday, June 12, 2006
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June 09, 2006

At work, I am not always loaded with a lot of work, sometimes I have a lot of time to squander (of course I have to be careful not to appear that way, I have to try hard to look as busy as the weavers of the Emperor's new clothes.)

With the time, I managed to read some paperback books or listen to
audios books. Among them, I really like:


Ann Pachette's Truth and Beauty - a sometimes hilarious, sometimes
hearbreaking, always beautiful and moving recount of long-lasting
friendship between two women writers. I wish I could read more of the books by Ann Pachette and her friend Luch Grealey.


As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway - "A mesmerizing labyrinth of
art, magic, and cryptic love sparks the imagination in this arresting first novel about a young man's quest to unravel the puzzle his missing girlfriend may (or may not) have left behind." But I feel deeply unsatisfying even cheated when the story ends as cluelessly as the way it begins: the web of puzzles, codes and ominous signals still hangs frustratingly over, tangled and gray.


I have been reading Jane Fonda's autobiogrphy "My life so far" What a life she has had sofar! One million of my petty life cannot add up to 1/3 of her life. Love her vivid description of Ted Turner.

Truth & Beauty, etc.

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

At work, I am not always loaded with a lot of work, sometimes I have a lot of time to squander (of course I have to be careful not to appear that way, I have to try hard to look as busy as the weavers of the Emperor's new clothes.)

With the time, I managed to read some paperback books or listen to
audios books. Among them, I really like:


Ann Pachette's Truth and Beauty - a sometimes hilarious, sometimes
hearbreaking, always beautiful and moving recount of long-lasting
friendship between two women writers. I wish I could read more of the books by Ann Pachette and her friend Luch Grealey.


As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway - "A mesmerizing labyrinth of
art, magic, and cryptic love sparks the imagination in this arresting first novel about a young man's quest to unravel the puzzle his missing girlfriend may (or may not) have left behind." But I feel deeply unsatisfying even cheated when the story ends as cluelessly as the way it begins: the web of puzzles, codes and ominous signals still hangs frustratingly over, tangled and gray.


I have been reading Jane Fonda's autobiogrphy "My life so far" What a life she has had sofar! One million of my petty life cannot add up to 1/3 of her life. Love her vivid description of Ted Turner.

Friday, June 09, 2006
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June 08, 2006

It has been four days since Emma first went to exclusively-English-speaking preschool. Everyday, Emma would bring back some new words and phrases in English.

The first day, she said "Come out", while watching me walk out the bathroom with great satisfaction.

The second day, "Good job!". The teacher must have praised her emphatically at school. So I gladly repeated after her, "Good job!"

The third day, "Clean up!". And then, "One, two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten". She said rhythmically, with such joy and force, I almost could picture her shout with other kids again and again, "One, two ...", their feet thumping.

The fourth day, "Be careful". Then, "Mommy be careful", "Daddy be careful", "Emma be careful".

Of course, now the names of her playmates and teachers are all over her conversation, perfectly accented and pleasantly sounded.

It is just like that. Easy!

I want to go back to be a preschooler, so I do not fret with my tongue and my faltered confidence while I am speaking my faulted English.

Speaking English

Posted by Xun  |  4 comments

It has been four days since Emma first went to exclusively-English-speaking preschool. Everyday, Emma would bring back some new words and phrases in English.

The first day, she said "Come out", while watching me walk out the bathroom with great satisfaction.

The second day, "Good job!". The teacher must have praised her emphatically at school. So I gladly repeated after her, "Good job!"

The third day, "Clean up!". And then, "One, two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten". She said rhythmically, with such joy and force, I almost could picture her shout with other kids again and again, "One, two ...", their feet thumping.

The fourth day, "Be careful". Then, "Mommy be careful", "Daddy be careful", "Emma be careful".

Of course, now the names of her playmates and teachers are all over her conversation, perfectly accented and pleasantly sounded.

It is just like that. Easy!

I want to go back to be a preschooler, so I do not fret with my tongue and my faltered confidence while I am speaking my faulted English.

Thursday, June 08, 2006
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June 07, 2006

I could not bring myself to blog yesterday, even though I was not particularly busy. So steal an email from myself and post it up.

The email started from the conversation between a friend and me about a child prodigy (Adora Svitak) who published a book at age of 8, then I digressed to (who else?) Emma.
http://www.adorasvitak.com/Main.html
---

Thanks. It is so incredible, one in a million. The way she (Adora Svitak) talks and writes is more intelligent than 70% of adults, include all of us. I read her blog also. She probably has an IQ of above 200. She is a complete genius in a child's body.

What can we say? She is so rare and brilliant and so high in the sky, while we can only sink still deep on the earth, not even dare to emulate or aspire.

On a bright note, your Leo is unusually bright too, in math and
language. And he is so cute, active and assertive. Emma probably will excel in language and singing. She always cheerfully brushes aside my attempt of teaching her math. To her, the best talk is a song about ducks/kittens, or a story about birdies/bunnies.

Thanks for letting the little guys play together. I am not very good
at making friends, Emma is also a timid one. But I think I can at
least try to have them bond. You cannot imagine how happy I was
yesterday to see Leo and Emma hold hand in hand.

Adora Svitak

Posted by Xun  |  3 comments

I could not bring myself to blog yesterday, even though I was not particularly busy. So steal an email from myself and post it up.

The email started from the conversation between a friend and me about a child prodigy (Adora Svitak) who published a book at age of 8, then I digressed to (who else?) Emma.
http://www.adorasvitak.com/Main.html
---

Thanks. It is so incredible, one in a million. The way she (Adora Svitak) talks and writes is more intelligent than 70% of adults, include all of us. I read her blog also. She probably has an IQ of above 200. She is a complete genius in a child's body.

What can we say? She is so rare and brilliant and so high in the sky, while we can only sink still deep on the earth, not even dare to emulate or aspire.

On a bright note, your Leo is unusually bright too, in math and
language. And he is so cute, active and assertive. Emma probably will excel in language and singing. She always cheerfully brushes aside my attempt of teaching her math. To her, the best talk is a song about ducks/kittens, or a story about birdies/bunnies.

Thanks for letting the little guys play together. I am not very good
at making friends, Emma is also a timid one. But I think I can at
least try to have them bond. You cannot imagine how happy I was
yesterday to see Leo and Emma hold hand in hand.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006
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June 06, 2006

Emma and I are frequent visitors of libraries and bookstores. Saturday the theme of Evanston Public library is about immigrants. There are a few books by Chinese immigrants. I picked out one: Leaving Deep Water, curious about what the message would be.

I simply flipped through the book, impatient with what I think is very stereotypical and stale characterization of Chinese people. It reads like the long grey robes Chinese men wore in the old, very old times, when they also wore long ponytails. I found myself defensive and almost resent the book.

What is Chinese to me?

I refuse any characterization. I think no nation, no race is characterizable. I think all human beings are the same deep inside, all bound and limited by need for food and shelter, fear and hope. I have read Malcolm Gladwell's The Danger of Profiling. Just when you think you nailed it, a million of exceptions screaming angrily at you.

That's why there never is cultural shock to me. Only day-to-day living through, slowly adapt, slowly assimilate.

However, I also found myself do have some opinions about the differences between Chinese and Americans, at least externally.

Foods are different. Almost no Chinese eat salad, not in China. Chinese cuisine and American cuisine are as different as day and night. After so many years, I still use Chinese condiments and am so so so confused and ignorant of westerner's a million sources in cute little bottles. That is an exotic thing.

Dress codes are different. Chinese, probably all Asians (isn't Japanese always in stiff suit), dress formally for public, while Americans are just the opposite, T-shirt, always T-shirt, in a seasons, in most occasions, for most people. I love that. And gradually I lost my appetite in new dresses and shopping at all.

Maybe statistically, Americans are more extroverted. Boy, aren't they talkative? Aren't they all are equipped with oratorical power? I always always listen and watch in astonishment, in awe and in envy they talk, talk and talk, while silently pondering "what is that and this?” My ability to talk is in the lower range even among my Chinese people. Well, at least I can hide behind of the excuse of language barrier.

(My parents said I used to be a very talkative girl when I was little. How did I lost the ability along the way of growing up and settling down in America?)

Sure, we Chinese (Asians) are deadly serious about education. We definitely value high the prospect education can lead us. There is a Chinese proverb that is carved deep in every Chinese's head: "Everything is low, only education is high." So parents are always anxious and zealous with regard to their children's academic performance. Sure, our thinking is practical. We want a good career following years’ of education. I, for one, am totally serious about education. A good school and academic competence are must (And of course I will let my child have all the fun and creative outlets in the world that I never had, of course, I want Emma to be above all, happy and wholesome).

I do not want to apologize. Aren't all sensible parents all over the world want the best for and out of their children? Aren't all American parents, whenever they can, gravitate towards suburbs and crave for the best possible schools?

Funny then I read another book Top of the Class - How Asian Parents raise high achievers and how you can too.

So there is nothing to apologize.

Being Chinese

Posted by Xun  |  5 comments

Emma and I are frequent visitors of libraries and bookstores. Saturday the theme of Evanston Public library is about immigrants. There are a few books by Chinese immigrants. I picked out one: Leaving Deep Water, curious about what the message would be.

I simply flipped through the book, impatient with what I think is very stereotypical and stale characterization of Chinese people. It reads like the long grey robes Chinese men wore in the old, very old times, when they also wore long ponytails. I found myself defensive and almost resent the book.

What is Chinese to me?

I refuse any characterization. I think no nation, no race is characterizable. I think all human beings are the same deep inside, all bound and limited by need for food and shelter, fear and hope. I have read Malcolm Gladwell's The Danger of Profiling. Just when you think you nailed it, a million of exceptions screaming angrily at you.

That's why there never is cultural shock to me. Only day-to-day living through, slowly adapt, slowly assimilate.

However, I also found myself do have some opinions about the differences between Chinese and Americans, at least externally.

Foods are different. Almost no Chinese eat salad, not in China. Chinese cuisine and American cuisine are as different as day and night. After so many years, I still use Chinese condiments and am so so so confused and ignorant of westerner's a million sources in cute little bottles. That is an exotic thing.

Dress codes are different. Chinese, probably all Asians (isn't Japanese always in stiff suit), dress formally for public, while Americans are just the opposite, T-shirt, always T-shirt, in a seasons, in most occasions, for most people. I love that. And gradually I lost my appetite in new dresses and shopping at all.

Maybe statistically, Americans are more extroverted. Boy, aren't they talkative? Aren't they all are equipped with oratorical power? I always always listen and watch in astonishment, in awe and in envy they talk, talk and talk, while silently pondering "what is that and this?” My ability to talk is in the lower range even among my Chinese people. Well, at least I can hide behind of the excuse of language barrier.

(My parents said I used to be a very talkative girl when I was little. How did I lost the ability along the way of growing up and settling down in America?)

Sure, we Chinese (Asians) are deadly serious about education. We definitely value high the prospect education can lead us. There is a Chinese proverb that is carved deep in every Chinese's head: "Everything is low, only education is high." So parents are always anxious and zealous with regard to their children's academic performance. Sure, our thinking is practical. We want a good career following years’ of education. I, for one, am totally serious about education. A good school and academic competence are must (And of course I will let my child have all the fun and creative outlets in the world that I never had, of course, I want Emma to be above all, happy and wholesome).

I do not want to apologize. Aren't all sensible parents all over the world want the best for and out of their children? Aren't all American parents, whenever they can, gravitate towards suburbs and crave for the best possible schools?

Funny then I read another book Top of the Class - How Asian Parents raise high achievers and how you can too.

So there is nothing to apologize.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006
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June 05, 2006

June 1st was Emma's first preschool day.

On May 30th and 31st, I accompanied her to the school and stayed with her throughout the mornings.

By all accounts, she did great on the first day. She was calm and content as long as I was nearby. Very often she asked me to play with her. So I did. She went with other kids to the gym, holding a belt with a string of color rings. She even held hands with other kids playing "Ring around the roses".

All through the activities, I watched her. And I watched the teachers interact, sing, dance and read to the little ones. I especially like the Teacher Tona, who always smiles and is very kind, gentle, energetic and fun. She is the one who sings and swings and jumps and fingers dances. I think Emma was mesmerized by her singing.

The second day Emma and I went again. However, this time all fear broke loose. Emma panicked. Emma became terribly whiny and clingy. She froze. She cried (Mommy, Mommy, I want Mommy). She refused to hold on to the ringlet while going out unless I held her hand ...

Was she playing cool the first day? Was she deploying the usual tactics as we adults to get by whenever we are intimidated and unsure and nervous? But I could not manage to do as well as she did.

I do not know. Anyway, I took Emma home. In the evening, I read her a book "My First Preschool". I gave her a very serious talk. Emma do not be afraid in the school. It is fun. Teachers are kind. They love you. Mommy loves you. If you miss mommy, you can look at mommy's picture and mommy will be right back to pick you up...

Promise me, Emma.

She looked at me gravely. But then we did Five and we hooked our baby fingers together as a ritual of promise.

So the clock ticked to June 1st, the official first day for preschool for Emma. Leo and I dropped her off, kissed her goodbye.

Emma did just fine as she promised me. She cried a little. Then she stood quietly, holding her little bunny and watching.

She is above all an observer. Whenever she is in an unfamiliar situation, she observes. She sizes up people and surroundings. Her intuition is always perfect. With complete strangers, she is tense. With friendly relatives, she is fast to relax. With only encounter, she would know who is genuinely fond of her and who is fun to be with and who is just another indifferent adult doing their greeting job.

How did she develop this miraculous radar? How does she read the behavioral and facial cues?

So the first school day successfully (or uneventfully) she spent. The teachers and I were all relieved and glad.

I picked her up. She was bubbling with excitement and endless insightful comments and observations.

"What did you eat?"

"I ate gold fish cookies and watermelons"

"Did you miss mommy?"
"I missed mommy. I wanted mommy"

...

"Branda and Mandy played together. Branda cried. Branda fell."

"Is Tona good? Did she sing"
"Yes, she did. Mommy, how to sing 'Clean up'?"

"Do Tona and Novell like you?"
"No." (???)
(Later she changed her story saying Tona and Novell like her. Then she changed again. She is reserved as for the teachers.)

""
The second day she went to the school with tears streaming down her cheeks. But she stopped crying five minutes after I said goodbye. And she started playing the toys, alone though.

(I think Emma is a loner by choice. Like I am.)

So started Emma's preschool life. She is still a reluctant preschooler. She still plays alone. She still does not understand 99% percent of the conversation in school. But she manages to get by. And words and phrases in English are started trickling out from her mouth.

I don't pray. But if I do, I would pray, head over heels, that she be happy, be granted all the right opportunities and challenges, love and acceptance that afford her to grow up happy, strong, loving and capable.

First preschool days

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

June 1st was Emma's first preschool day.

On May 30th and 31st, I accompanied her to the school and stayed with her throughout the mornings.

By all accounts, she did great on the first day. She was calm and content as long as I was nearby. Very often she asked me to play with her. So I did. She went with other kids to the gym, holding a belt with a string of color rings. She even held hands with other kids playing "Ring around the roses".

All through the activities, I watched her. And I watched the teachers interact, sing, dance and read to the little ones. I especially like the Teacher Tona, who always smiles and is very kind, gentle, energetic and fun. She is the one who sings and swings and jumps and fingers dances. I think Emma was mesmerized by her singing.

The second day Emma and I went again. However, this time all fear broke loose. Emma panicked. Emma became terribly whiny and clingy. She froze. She cried (Mommy, Mommy, I want Mommy). She refused to hold on to the ringlet while going out unless I held her hand ...

Was she playing cool the first day? Was she deploying the usual tactics as we adults to get by whenever we are intimidated and unsure and nervous? But I could not manage to do as well as she did.

I do not know. Anyway, I took Emma home. In the evening, I read her a book "My First Preschool". I gave her a very serious talk. Emma do not be afraid in the school. It is fun. Teachers are kind. They love you. Mommy loves you. If you miss mommy, you can look at mommy's picture and mommy will be right back to pick you up...

Promise me, Emma.

She looked at me gravely. But then we did Five and we hooked our baby fingers together as a ritual of promise.

So the clock ticked to June 1st, the official first day for preschool for Emma. Leo and I dropped her off, kissed her goodbye.

Emma did just fine as she promised me. She cried a little. Then she stood quietly, holding her little bunny and watching.

She is above all an observer. Whenever she is in an unfamiliar situation, she observes. She sizes up people and surroundings. Her intuition is always perfect. With complete strangers, she is tense. With friendly relatives, she is fast to relax. With only encounter, she would know who is genuinely fond of her and who is fun to be with and who is just another indifferent adult doing their greeting job.

How did she develop this miraculous radar? How does she read the behavioral and facial cues?

So the first school day successfully (or uneventfully) she spent. The teachers and I were all relieved and glad.

I picked her up. She was bubbling with excitement and endless insightful comments and observations.

"What did you eat?"

"I ate gold fish cookies and watermelons"

"Did you miss mommy?"
"I missed mommy. I wanted mommy"

...

"Branda and Mandy played together. Branda cried. Branda fell."

"Is Tona good? Did she sing"
"Yes, she did. Mommy, how to sing 'Clean up'?"

"Do Tona and Novell like you?"
"No." (???)
(Later she changed her story saying Tona and Novell like her. Then she changed again. She is reserved as for the teachers.)

""
The second day she went to the school with tears streaming down her cheeks. But she stopped crying five minutes after I said goodbye. And she started playing the toys, alone though.

(I think Emma is a loner by choice. Like I am.)

So started Emma's preschool life. She is still a reluctant preschooler. She still plays alone. She still does not understand 99% percent of the conversation in school. But she manages to get by. And words and phrases in English are started trickling out from her mouth.

I don't pray. But if I do, I would pray, head over heels, that she be happy, be granted all the right opportunities and challenges, love and acceptance that afford her to grow up happy, strong, loving and capable.

Monday, June 05, 2006
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May 29, 2006


At the Children's Garden

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Monday, May 29, 2006
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May 25, 2006


I used to have a sea of time to burn, to torch. Lost in time, bored to tears and death, knowing not what to do. Now time, especially after-work and before-work time is a valuable commodity for me.

I have to fight for every Emma-is-waking minute. Always a lost battle. On weekdays, with 8 solid hours at work and almost two hours commuting, all I get is a tiny one hour (6:30 to 7:30) in the morning, a miserable two hours (5:30-9:00) in the evening.

As ever, dressing up, washing up and eating take up the chunk of the morning time. Everytime I say good-bye, Emma loops over her arms around me not wanting me to go.

Next week, Emma would be going to preschool. I wonder what kind of finely-tuned cajoling skills and delicate balance I need to get her dressed, washed and ready for school, while still have some morning fun time with her. She has just learned to dress herself head to toe. But how slowly! She needs an audience (bunny, me, sometimes daddy, bear...) to watch her and applaud for her. She stops in the middle of putting up her undies to talk to her little bunny for minutes. Still I do not want to rush her or just dress for her. It won't work anyway.

As always, in the evening, we have to do so many important things, eating super, washing up, maybe a short walk out, reading and talking, brushing teeth, then maybe more milk or cookies (she always ask for it before bed), then I sing while she gradually falls asleep.


She sleeps hopelessly late. I know. Babies are supposed to sleep at 7, at least no later than 8. But How? You get home at 5:30 and it takes an hour to finish super (ignore the cooking time, right now my mom cooks)? And how do you squeeze the reading time?

Some iron-clad rules, some structure. Maybe. However, will you take the child's plate away if the half-hour dinner time is up but she is only half full?

Any good intelligent moms out there?

Mind the time

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment


I used to have a sea of time to burn, to torch. Lost in time, bored to tears and death, knowing not what to do. Now time, especially after-work and before-work time is a valuable commodity for me.

I have to fight for every Emma-is-waking minute. Always a lost battle. On weekdays, with 8 solid hours at work and almost two hours commuting, all I get is a tiny one hour (6:30 to 7:30) in the morning, a miserable two hours (5:30-9:00) in the evening.

As ever, dressing up, washing up and eating take up the chunk of the morning time. Everytime I say good-bye, Emma loops over her arms around me not wanting me to go.

Next week, Emma would be going to preschool. I wonder what kind of finely-tuned cajoling skills and delicate balance I need to get her dressed, washed and ready for school, while still have some morning fun time with her. She has just learned to dress herself head to toe. But how slowly! She needs an audience (bunny, me, sometimes daddy, bear...) to watch her and applaud for her. She stops in the middle of putting up her undies to talk to her little bunny for minutes. Still I do not want to rush her or just dress for her. It won't work anyway.

As always, in the evening, we have to do so many important things, eating super, washing up, maybe a short walk out, reading and talking, brushing teeth, then maybe more milk or cookies (she always ask for it before bed), then I sing while she gradually falls asleep.


She sleeps hopelessly late. I know. Babies are supposed to sleep at 7, at least no later than 8. But How? You get home at 5:30 and it takes an hour to finish super (ignore the cooking time, right now my mom cooks)? And how do you squeeze the reading time?

Some iron-clad rules, some structure. Maybe. However, will you take the child's plate away if the half-hour dinner time is up but she is only half full?

Any good intelligent moms out there?

Thursday, May 25, 2006
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May 23, 2006

Friday, I took Emma to her doctor's office for a physical examination (to get ready for preschool). She got As in all growth categories (She is active, happy, very verbal. She even gained a pound in just two months).

However, I feel unsatisfied with her height. Right now, Emma stands just about 2' 10'' (88cm). The first time, the nurse Luz measured her using the regular toddler scale. 2' 10'', she announced and left. And We sauntered around the room to wait for the doctor, Dr. Terrizzi.

Emma's pediatrician is small, friendly and has a way with children. Whenever children are cranky, he would turn off light and use his flashlights to project bright moons on the wall. He would also whistle high fast tunes like birds. These tricks generally make children quiet and cooperative.

About 10 minutes also, Dr, Terrizzi showed up. Looking at the chart, he said: "This is not right. She cannot be shorter". Indeed, she regressed on the chart. So we measured Emma one more time, lying her down on a baby scale, fussy about whether her head has touched headboard perfectly. The result did not fare very much better. After 2 tries, Emma became officially 88cm tall, in the 25 percentile range.

Ouch. My heart sank a little. Will she be as short as I am, or even shorter?

"She will be taller than you." Dr. Terrizzi said as-a-matter-of-fact-ly.

Easy to say. And what does he know?

However, there is really nothing I can do. Even Google search would not turn up much helpful information. Maybe it is simply growth delay. Maybe she will grow faster when she hits puberty. But whatever, tt is n your genes.

Still, dream for a miracle. All my children be pretty and tall, talented and lovable.

A miracle, please!

Posted by Xun  |  2 comments

Friday, I took Emma to her doctor's office for a physical examination (to get ready for preschool). She got As in all growth categories (She is active, happy, very verbal. She even gained a pound in just two months).

However, I feel unsatisfied with her height. Right now, Emma stands just about 2' 10'' (88cm). The first time, the nurse Luz measured her using the regular toddler scale. 2' 10'', she announced and left. And We sauntered around the room to wait for the doctor, Dr. Terrizzi.

Emma's pediatrician is small, friendly and has a way with children. Whenever children are cranky, he would turn off light and use his flashlights to project bright moons on the wall. He would also whistle high fast tunes like birds. These tricks generally make children quiet and cooperative.

About 10 minutes also, Dr, Terrizzi showed up. Looking at the chart, he said: "This is not right. She cannot be shorter". Indeed, she regressed on the chart. So we measured Emma one more time, lying her down on a baby scale, fussy about whether her head has touched headboard perfectly. The result did not fare very much better. After 2 tries, Emma became officially 88cm tall, in the 25 percentile range.

Ouch. My heart sank a little. Will she be as short as I am, or even shorter?

"She will be taller than you." Dr. Terrizzi said as-a-matter-of-fact-ly.

Easy to say. And what does he know?

However, there is really nothing I can do. Even Google search would not turn up much helpful information. Maybe it is simply growth delay. Maybe she will grow faster when she hits puberty. But whatever, tt is n your genes.

Still, dream for a miracle. All my children be pretty and tall, talented and lovable.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
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May 22, 2006

The fun touch of MOCKED fame

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Monday, May 22, 2006
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May 18, 2006


On Saturday, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Except the multitude of very busy, noisy family activities on the first floor, ANDY WARHOL's exhibition "SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters",
was the only thing I remembered, cared and thought about.

I could not understand his works. All seemed boring, chaotic, perfunctory, and repetitious. I later learned all the work was mass produced in his so-called "factory", with slight variation applied later so each version had a slightly different look. I found it disturbing to see the grid of dark-colored, shaded, wide-opened mouths of Marilyn Monroe, a series of grainy reproduction of Jackie Kennedy's snap-shots, juxtaposed in grid, like a bad old yellowish newspaper. The famed "Campbell's soup" seemed outdated and molded and silly, like a stereotyped old movie.

With the little time I had, I leafed through the few books by or about Andy Warhol scattered around the museum hall, especially "The philosophy of Andy Warhol". I was puzzled, mystified and intrigued.

Later I searched Andy Warhol on the Internet. There are pages and pages of his works, Marilyn Monroe, Elisabeth Taylor, just as I have seen in the museum. However, while in my mind all the images have faded tired look, the reprints on the web were hilariously cheerfully bright (eg. the Mao's portrait).

I searched for his biography, wishing maybe I could read a bit more "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol". None. There is closed to nothing. The closest I could find is a page dryly running through the laundry list of his works (paintings, films, books...), a bit of his background, and the "Factory".

On the knowing-all, all-encompassing Wikipedia, I only found this one sentence:

"Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American painter, filmmaker, publisher, actor, and a major figure in the Pop Art movement", followed by a long long list of Andy Warhol's quotes.

(Today I went back, the entry has been modified on May 17th. It has added lengthy details on his paintings and films. Still not very much more from what I have gleaned from the web)

His quotes are much more interesting than his art, simple, insightful, honest and funny. The two quotes of his about "15-minute-fame" is already a cliche. His quote "I am a deeply superficial person" struck me as very true.

I wish I had said the same about myself. Actually I did, many times. Only his superficial-ness plus his genius makes him interesting, mine plus my nothing-less makes me boring.

Andy Warhol

Posted by Xun  |  No comments


On Saturday, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Except the multitude of very busy, noisy family activities on the first floor, ANDY WARHOL's exhibition "SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters",
was the only thing I remembered, cared and thought about.

I could not understand his works. All seemed boring, chaotic, perfunctory, and repetitious. I later learned all the work was mass produced in his so-called "factory", with slight variation applied later so each version had a slightly different look. I found it disturbing to see the grid of dark-colored, shaded, wide-opened mouths of Marilyn Monroe, a series of grainy reproduction of Jackie Kennedy's snap-shots, juxtaposed in grid, like a bad old yellowish newspaper. The famed "Campbell's soup" seemed outdated and molded and silly, like a stereotyped old movie.

With the little time I had, I leafed through the few books by or about Andy Warhol scattered around the museum hall, especially "The philosophy of Andy Warhol". I was puzzled, mystified and intrigued.

Later I searched Andy Warhol on the Internet. There are pages and pages of his works, Marilyn Monroe, Elisabeth Taylor, just as I have seen in the museum. However, while in my mind all the images have faded tired look, the reprints on the web were hilariously cheerfully bright (eg. the Mao's portrait).

I searched for his biography, wishing maybe I could read a bit more "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol". None. There is closed to nothing. The closest I could find is a page dryly running through the laundry list of his works (paintings, films, books...), a bit of his background, and the "Factory".

On the knowing-all, all-encompassing Wikipedia, I only found this one sentence:

"Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American painter, filmmaker, publisher, actor, and a major figure in the Pop Art movement", followed by a long long list of Andy Warhol's quotes.

(Today I went back, the entry has been modified on May 17th. It has added lengthy details on his paintings and films. Still not very much more from what I have gleaned from the web)

His quotes are much more interesting than his art, simple, insightful, honest and funny. The two quotes of his about "15-minute-fame" is already a cliche. His quote "I am a deeply superficial person" struck me as very true.

I wish I had said the same about myself. Actually I did, many times. Only his superficial-ness plus his genius makes him interesting, mine plus my nothing-less makes me boring.

Thursday, May 18, 2006
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May 15, 2006



Just when we planned our get-away weekend, the temperature dropped. My parents were forced to put on their warm wool coat. Not wanting to just stay home, watching the gray sky and wind blowing the tree branches (sometimes violently), we opted for a nearby nature center in Skokie.

I thought it would be a indoor nature center, with birds, flowers and exotic trees. No, it is a big woods with a small lake on the side, and paved and wood chipped trails running through.

We got there in the morning. Cold, quiet, very quiet and what a lovely expanse of deep green. We loved it. The small playground has slide, merry-go-around, climber, walking bridge, all the regular things, but it also has SEE-SAW, and a sand box with SAND DIGGERS (not very often seen in other playgrounds). Still cold and wet with the last rain. We rode the see-saw, Emma took turns sitting in our arms. She loved it.

The stars in our small outing were the two mother geese and four little baby geese sauntering around, absolutely at ease with our stare. Later, we saw the mother geese gracefully led the four baby geese swimming away, as if they were gliding along the surface.

Emma was fascinated and I missed no opportunity snapping away.

Gee, Geese!

Posted by Xun  |  No comments



Just when we planned our get-away weekend, the temperature dropped. My parents were forced to put on their warm wool coat. Not wanting to just stay home, watching the gray sky and wind blowing the tree branches (sometimes violently), we opted for a nearby nature center in Skokie.

I thought it would be a indoor nature center, with birds, flowers and exotic trees. No, it is a big woods with a small lake on the side, and paved and wood chipped trails running through.

We got there in the morning. Cold, quiet, very quiet and what a lovely expanse of deep green. We loved it. The small playground has slide, merry-go-around, climber, walking bridge, all the regular things, but it also has SEE-SAW, and a sand box with SAND DIGGERS (not very often seen in other playgrounds). Still cold and wet with the last rain. We rode the see-saw, Emma took turns sitting in our arms. She loved it.

The stars in our small outing were the two mother geese and four little baby geese sauntering around, absolutely at ease with our stare. Later, we saw the mother geese gracefully led the four baby geese swimming away, as if they were gliding along the surface.

Emma was fascinated and I missed no opportunity snapping away.

Monday, May 15, 2006
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May 12, 2006

The organic grocery stores The Whole Foods, or "Wild Oats" (previously "People's Market") are the places I rarely set my feet in. For the few times I did, I liked the high mounds of oranges, or peaches, the little dishes of chips for free sampling, or the exquisite display of very delicate table wares. However, the price always makes me acutely aware of my shallow pocket and conscious of the big price gap between these organic hand-picked whatever and their commercial twins sitting in Jewel just a few feet away.

Price aside, I do not really have anything for or against organic food. All through my life in China, every bit of food is probably completely organic. In the very early years, in my small town, I sometimes even saw peasants hoisted up and then shouldered away pails of fece for manure. Of course, the stench was unbearable. My mom often took me shopping for grocers in a place similar to the Maxwell market in Chicago. There, in the sun or rain, or snow, in all weathers, farmers squatted on both sides of a designated street, behind their miserable display of a small variety of vegetables. Everything was so organic and minimally processed, you still see the dirt on your spinach or carrots.

It was a miserable life for a lot of people. Before sunrise, farmers carried their very limited produces and walked miles to the little town, then after dawn, they pocketed their pennies or dimes and walked long way back home. In my family, we never worried about the organic-ity of our foods, we only worried the inadequacy of foods. Chicken was a luxury, so was pork, sometimes, even rice was rationed. Looking back, I cannot see how the organic foods have in any way make me healthier, or how I have savored the much lauded idyllly-produced organic foods.

Now a lot was vastly improved (though peasants in China are still struggling terribly). Even my mom would complain that nowadays chicken (she called "foreign" chicken") taste much less tender and lack of "flavor of chicken".

I do not know. To me, chicken is chicken, tomatoes are tomatoes, organic or otherwise, although a hefty price tag maybe sometime have made my taste buds feel a little pampered (like the way a very expensive suit makes you feel).

I have been aware of the disdain or anger and dire warnings some people have about "conventional commerially raised chicken" and the unrestrained enthusiasm towards organic food. I always try to brush aside them, knowing that my family and I could not afford the organic lifestyle anyway. However, with Emma in mind, by and by, I buy more pork than chicken. By and by, when I buy chicken, I would look for something that says "natural" or "free-ranged", or I would just buy them however not without a tidbit sense of guilt (are there horomone, estrogen, antibiotics or many tiny invisible chemicals lurking to do harm to her?)

Now I read an article "Big Organic", that says the following:

According to Samuel Fromartz, ninety per cent of "frequent" organic buyers think they're buying better "health and nutrition." They may be right. If, for any reason, you don't want the slightest pesticide residue in your salad, or you want to insure that there are no traces of recombinant bovine somatotropin hormone (rbST) in your children's milk, you're better off spending the extra money for organically produced food. But scientific evidence for the risks of such residues is iffy, as it is, too, for the benefits of the micro-nutrients that are said to be more plentiful in an organic carrot than in its conventional equivalent.

Other people are buying taste, but there's little you can say about other people's taste in carrots and not much more you can intelligibly articulate about your own. The taste of an heirloom carrot bought five years ago from the Chino family farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California, sticks indelibly in my memory, though at the time I hadnÂ’t any idea whether artificial fertilizers or pesticides had been applied to it. (I later learned that they had not.) For many fruits and vegetables, freshness, weed control, and the variety grown may be far more important to taste than whether the soil in which they were grown was dosed with ammonium nitrate. Pollan did his own taste test by shopping at Whole Foods for an all-organic meal: everything was pretty good, except for the six-dollar bunch of organic asparagus, which had been grown in Argentina, air-freighted six thousand miles to the States, and immured for a week in the distribution chain. Pollan shouldn't have been surprised that it tasted like "cardboard."


???

Organic or Not?

Posted by Xun  |  4 comments

The organic grocery stores The Whole Foods, or "Wild Oats" (previously "People's Market") are the places I rarely set my feet in. For the few times I did, I liked the high mounds of oranges, or peaches, the little dishes of chips for free sampling, or the exquisite display of very delicate table wares. However, the price always makes me acutely aware of my shallow pocket and conscious of the big price gap between these organic hand-picked whatever and their commercial twins sitting in Jewel just a few feet away.

Price aside, I do not really have anything for or against organic food. All through my life in China, every bit of food is probably completely organic. In the very early years, in my small town, I sometimes even saw peasants hoisted up and then shouldered away pails of fece for manure. Of course, the stench was unbearable. My mom often took me shopping for grocers in a place similar to the Maxwell market in Chicago. There, in the sun or rain, or snow, in all weathers, farmers squatted on both sides of a designated street, behind their miserable display of a small variety of vegetables. Everything was so organic and minimally processed, you still see the dirt on your spinach or carrots.

It was a miserable life for a lot of people. Before sunrise, farmers carried their very limited produces and walked miles to the little town, then after dawn, they pocketed their pennies or dimes and walked long way back home. In my family, we never worried about the organic-ity of our foods, we only worried the inadequacy of foods. Chicken was a luxury, so was pork, sometimes, even rice was rationed. Looking back, I cannot see how the organic foods have in any way make me healthier, or how I have savored the much lauded idyllly-produced organic foods.

Now a lot was vastly improved (though peasants in China are still struggling terribly). Even my mom would complain that nowadays chicken (she called "foreign" chicken") taste much less tender and lack of "flavor of chicken".

I do not know. To me, chicken is chicken, tomatoes are tomatoes, organic or otherwise, although a hefty price tag maybe sometime have made my taste buds feel a little pampered (like the way a very expensive suit makes you feel).

I have been aware of the disdain or anger and dire warnings some people have about "conventional commerially raised chicken" and the unrestrained enthusiasm towards organic food. I always try to brush aside them, knowing that my family and I could not afford the organic lifestyle anyway. However, with Emma in mind, by and by, I buy more pork than chicken. By and by, when I buy chicken, I would look for something that says "natural" or "free-ranged", or I would just buy them however not without a tidbit sense of guilt (are there horomone, estrogen, antibiotics or many tiny invisible chemicals lurking to do harm to her?)

Now I read an article "Big Organic", that says the following:

According to Samuel Fromartz, ninety per cent of "frequent" organic buyers think they're buying better "health and nutrition." They may be right. If, for any reason, you don't want the slightest pesticide residue in your salad, or you want to insure that there are no traces of recombinant bovine somatotropin hormone (rbST) in your children's milk, you're better off spending the extra money for organically produced food. But scientific evidence for the risks of such residues is iffy, as it is, too, for the benefits of the micro-nutrients that are said to be more plentiful in an organic carrot than in its conventional equivalent.

Other people are buying taste, but there's little you can say about other people's taste in carrots and not much more you can intelligibly articulate about your own. The taste of an heirloom carrot bought five years ago from the Chino family farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California, sticks indelibly in my memory, though at the time I hadnÂ’t any idea whether artificial fertilizers or pesticides had been applied to it. (I later learned that they had not.) For many fruits and vegetables, freshness, weed control, and the variety grown may be far more important to taste than whether the soil in which they were grown was dosed with ammonium nitrate. Pollan did his own taste test by shopping at Whole Foods for an all-organic meal: everything was pretty good, except for the six-dollar bunch of organic asparagus, which had been grown in Argentina, air-freighted six thousand miles to the States, and immured for a week in the distribution chain. Pollan shouldn't have been surprised that it tasted like "cardboard."


???

Friday, May 12, 2006
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May 06, 2006


When Emma is surrounded by family (mom, dad, grandma-and-pa), in a familiar environment, e.g., home, or even in a welcoming relative's home, she is happy, active, talkative, running and singing a lot and frequently making remarks that are sometimes incorrect, but funny or observant or sweet, or all of them.

For example, if she see you cough, she would say to you in a very concerning tone, "You have a cold? You need to drink water, eat your medicine." She often us: "I am your sweet baby. I am so good."

My dad has a habit of walking after dinner. When he came back today, Emma said, "Grandpa, where have you gone? Did you go to school or out for a walk?"

Leo today had a super-short hair cut. When Emma saw him in his new look, she was kindly confused, so said she: "Are you DADDY???"

...

(I think Emma is advanced in terms of her language skills. Often read that toddlers at this age can make 3-to-5-word sentences, but she can make complex sentences, using a lot of "if", "because...", etc., inserting new words everyday.)

She is a brainy child, however, she is not physical. She is not rough and tough. She would fuss over a small cut for days, demanding to cover it with a band aid with a pudgy Winnie face.

She is small. Small frame, small roundish face, small oval-shaped black eyes, low nose bridge, small up-turned nose, small plump lips. Everything about her is small, cute, lovable, fragile like a China porcelain doll.

She is not a sport type, probably never will be. She loves music, books, arts, crafts, stuff animals, and other "intellectual" quiet play-alone games. Yeah, she does not like to play with other kids. She loves swing, but that probably is the only outdoor "sports" thing. She is timid with sliding. Took us quite some persuading and her quite some trying that she started tentatively stiff sliding down. She quickly learned to bike her tricycle, but she quickly lost interest in it. I bet she would never speed like crazy as other kids do.

She is always cautious, not adventurous. While other kids would jump, run, climb all over, and slide down bed or every other thing slidable, Emma would always check out carefully, holding on things tightly, daring out let go, e.g., the bed sheet she is holds on while trying to get off the bed. She would cry, "Mommy, I will fall. ..."

She is always very polite, sweet and affectionate towards older people, however, she seems to be weary or afraid of or cautious about her peers. So far, a lot of times, when other little toddlers approaches her, she would kind of freeze, watching, not saying or doing anything. She is always easily taken advantage of and pushed around by other kids.

One day, at the children's museum, I took her to slide. When she climbed up to the top and was ready to swing, then some other kids came close to her, she immediately retreated and told me: "There are other kids." I said, "Emma, it is ok. It's your turn. They can wait". But she exited anyway. A few times, other kids rushed over and took over her brush and went ahead painting, Emma simply looked upon them.

It hurts me whenever I see her retreat without a fight, withdraw without a protest. It pains me to think that when she is older she would be bullied by other kids, or she would always on the fringe, watching, unable to stand up for herself and make the best for herself. I wish her stronger. I wonder how much the withdrawing, non aggressive, introverted, shy side ( and everything that cages you) of Leo and me is passed on to her. I wonder how much she can fight her genes, how much I can help her, myself quiet, socially awkward, always prefer to stay alone, have only few friends, suffering fits of self-pity, self-blame because of the opportunities and time passed by, because of all the things I would never be

...

Everything about my child

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment


When Emma is surrounded by family (mom, dad, grandma-and-pa), in a familiar environment, e.g., home, or even in a welcoming relative's home, she is happy, active, talkative, running and singing a lot and frequently making remarks that are sometimes incorrect, but funny or observant or sweet, or all of them.

For example, if she see you cough, she would say to you in a very concerning tone, "You have a cold? You need to drink water, eat your medicine." She often us: "I am your sweet baby. I am so good."

My dad has a habit of walking after dinner. When he came back today, Emma said, "Grandpa, where have you gone? Did you go to school or out for a walk?"

Leo today had a super-short hair cut. When Emma saw him in his new look, she was kindly confused, so said she: "Are you DADDY???"

...

(I think Emma is advanced in terms of her language skills. Often read that toddlers at this age can make 3-to-5-word sentences, but she can make complex sentences, using a lot of "if", "because...", etc., inserting new words everyday.)

She is a brainy child, however, she is not physical. She is not rough and tough. She would fuss over a small cut for days, demanding to cover it with a band aid with a pudgy Winnie face.

She is small. Small frame, small roundish face, small oval-shaped black eyes, low nose bridge, small up-turned nose, small plump lips. Everything about her is small, cute, lovable, fragile like a China porcelain doll.

She is not a sport type, probably never will be. She loves music, books, arts, crafts, stuff animals, and other "intellectual" quiet play-alone games. Yeah, she does not like to play with other kids. She loves swing, but that probably is the only outdoor "sports" thing. She is timid with sliding. Took us quite some persuading and her quite some trying that she started tentatively stiff sliding down. She quickly learned to bike her tricycle, but she quickly lost interest in it. I bet she would never speed like crazy as other kids do.

She is always cautious, not adventurous. While other kids would jump, run, climb all over, and slide down bed or every other thing slidable, Emma would always check out carefully, holding on things tightly, daring out let go, e.g., the bed sheet she is holds on while trying to get off the bed. She would cry, "Mommy, I will fall. ..."

She is always very polite, sweet and affectionate towards older people, however, she seems to be weary or afraid of or cautious about her peers. So far, a lot of times, when other little toddlers approaches her, she would kind of freeze, watching, not saying or doing anything. She is always easily taken advantage of and pushed around by other kids.

One day, at the children's museum, I took her to slide. When she climbed up to the top and was ready to swing, then some other kids came close to her, she immediately retreated and told me: "There are other kids." I said, "Emma, it is ok. It's your turn. They can wait". But she exited anyway. A few times, other kids rushed over and took over her brush and went ahead painting, Emma simply looked upon them.

It hurts me whenever I see her retreat without a fight, withdraw without a protest. It pains me to think that when she is older she would be bullied by other kids, or she would always on the fringe, watching, unable to stand up for herself and make the best for herself. I wish her stronger. I wonder how much the withdrawing, non aggressive, introverted, shy side ( and everything that cages you) of Leo and me is passed on to her. I wonder how much she can fight her genes, how much I can help her, myself quiet, socially awkward, always prefer to stay alone, have only few friends, suffering fits of self-pity, self-blame because of the opportunities and time passed by, because of all the things I would never be

...

Saturday, May 06, 2006
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