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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5 comments:

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
Read more

1 comments:

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