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??

Posted by Xun  |  1 comment

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

Posted by Xun  |  No comments


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

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

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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