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Archive for January, 2013

Have you ever had a proud mama moment? Yesterday, Sunshine performed his first piano recital with flying colors. He was the opening act and played beautifully. He played two songs. Jingle Bells and Sing to Sleep. Right before the performance, I could tell he was a little nervous but he stepped up and really took charge. I was very proud. We were lucky so many friends and family could attend which made it a very special event for Sunshine.

Sunshine was nervous before the recital but I reassured him that  his teacher prepped him with how to walk to the stage, how to bow, how many people to expect, and what he should watch out for when he played. Moreover, he had been practicing every morning before school so I told him he should feel good about his upcoming performance. And, I reminded him that he was the one who wanted to perform because he liked the idea and at the same he was able to raise money for the needy. Recital ticket sales benefited a local school and he was quite proud that he was able to do that with his performance. He raised $130 for the students.

Sunshine at the piano.

Sunshine at the piano.

Many friends ask me when he started playing. When he was 5, we started with a group class for one semester and he liked it. After the group class, we began private lessons since he expressed interest and I felt private lessons gave Sunshine more attention which is needed when starting piano. It’s been 4 1/2 months and he still likes it. My philosophy is if he does not like it, then we stop. I want him to like playing piano and find joy in it. The teacher helps him find pieces that he enjoys which I think helps. He likes minor pieces which the teacher says has a lot of emotion which is so like him … more dramatic. Personally, I’m not into playing piano. I did for many years but to be honest don’t have much of an interest thus I know I’m not the tiger mom that will force Sunshine to do it. In fact, I’m the opposite. Of course, I’m glad that he likes it and know that it will serve him well. Piano provides discipline and responsibility. It gives him an appreciation for music and exposes him to a world outside of his love for building and playing sports. Most importantly, it gives him pride and a sense of joy and confidence. Piano provides a strong basis if he want to try other instruments. Personally, I think the guitar and drums are cool but this is up to him.

Should parents force there kids to play? I don’t have the answer but for now, Sunshine wants to play so we do. SF Gate has an interesting article on this subject. Do you kids play? Do you think it is important?

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Do you have a family dinner tradition? We do now thanks to my really good friend Jenny. Every night during dinner, we share our Roses and Thorns. As you might guess, Roses are for the good things that happened that day, the highs. Thorns are for those not so great or tough moments, the lows. Sunshine introduced the concept of passing on thorns which I love love. Isn’t it so great, he passes because he doesn’t have anything to complain about or feel bad about. When we first started, I would always have a Thorn but lately I’m trying Sunshine’s attitude and I like it.

roses-thorns

Roses and Thorns been a great way for to start the dinner conversation and to start sharing as family. It is sometimes surprising what is shared. I hope when Sunshine’s 16, Roses and Thorns will help us bridge those teenage years! I think it is important to eat together as a family. When we have friends over we have been sharing our traditions and everyone (kids and adults) sit together to eat together. It has been fun to do with our extended family.

When writing this post, I didn’t realize that we were in such good company. Did you know that Obama’s have the same tradition. Read about Kathleen’s views on Roses and Thorns.  I love this article in New York Times that talks about the New Family Dinner.

So, what family traditions, do have at the dinner table. Love to hear your ideas!

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I mentioned that the other day that I bought myself a new Public bike. This had been on my wishlist for almost a year. I’m so enjoying my new bike. Love love it. Such a great ride. It was my holiday gift to myself. I got a  great deal since it was an after Thanksgiving giving sale. Isn’t it a beauty? Style and design, totally my thing too. I love the Dutch style step thur bikes which makes it easier to get on and off and allows me to wear skirts.

My new ride!

My new ride!

I love how I can sit upright and bike away without having shoulder or lower back issues. Before,I was riding my mom’s bike which was two inches to short for me. Sunshine’s bike tires were the same as mine. Can you believe it? In fact, a bike employee asked when when we brought my old bike in for baskets if the bike was my teenage daughter’s. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or be mad. I’m not that old looking, am I? Right then, I knew I needed a real bike. It took almost almost a year for me to get this lovely bike. It was totally worth the investment.  I’m loving it. We have been riding to school almost everyday. It’s cold but it’s such a nice ride. We take the bikes to the supermarket, yoga, farmer’s markets, friend’s houses … everywhere we can bike, we do.

Special thanks to my friend Yang Sze for introducing it to me. She did tons of research and come up with Public bikes. This coming August 2013, she is coming out with her new book, Ghost Bride. If you have chance, please check out her website and her new book!

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Do you love New Year’s Resolutions? I do and don’t. I love the idea of focusing on a few things to work on during the year. Every year, I have thoughts what my resolutions might be and then the year just flies by. I must admit I didn’t quite accomplish last year’s goals. Reading lasted a few months then sizzled away. Treating myself with kindness come in bursts of energy. One goal did stick and that was biking. I even got a new bike (I’ll post on this later). So, this year, I’m trying to keep my resolutions simpler and more manageable.

happy new year 2013 on the beach

Sunshine and I talked about our resolutions and we came up with these. I hope we are both up for the challenge of maintaining our resolutions for 2013. This year, will be different!! Well, at least, we can try.

Sunshine’s New Year Resolutions: During meal time, eat more cleanly. He’s not too excited about this one!

My New Year Resolutions: Travel more and spend more time free playing with Sunshine. I’m dying to go to Mongolia, Yunan, and Korea. And, I want to revisit the cities in France, Vietnam, Philippines, and Hawaii. Anyone up for going with me to any of these place?

So, have you thought your resolutions? Any good ones? I love hearing about people’s new year resolutions.

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Our good friend invited us to the Discovery Museum in Reno, Nevada. It was really nice place to visit. Unique exhibits and cool interactive things for kids to do. I liked the history of mining of gold in Nevada. It was interesting and a good way to introduce history to the kids.

The museum was not too large or overwhelming. The museum is well laid out and easy to get through in a few hours. We packed lunch and ate in their cafeteria which was nice when you have kids.

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Climbing the clouds. What an awesome view from the top for the kids!

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So want this for my house! Love this magnetic wall for building.

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The kids spent a while playing with this water feature that circled the Cloud structure they kids had climbed.

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Sunshine had an awesome time making power from the wind devices. He was curious about how biking and sun could power things. It was a cool exhibit which even allowed him to jump and make his own earthquakes. Cool, right?

 

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Do you have a favorite store? I do. I love biking to my local Anthropologie store. The window and in store displays and merchandising are creative, fun, and whimsical. The clothes and accessories have a vintage feel that I totally love.

When I was in grad school in Philly, I had a chance to meet and have dinner with the Founder and CEO of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitter, Richard Hayne. It was a fascinating meeting where I learned how he and his ex-wife started the business and what they did to make it succeed. Moreover, he gives a lot of control to his employees. For example, the store managers of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitter have quite a bit of say in terms of store merchandising and design. Since that day, I have always had a soft spot for Anthropologie.

Here are some things I’m just dreaming for. A girl can dream, right? What are you wishing for?

Think I have to get this!

Think I have to get this!

So cute!

So cute!

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Have been eying these since last year. I might have to get them ….

Would look so cute in my room!

Would look so cute in my room!

Isn't this a fun chair?

Isn’t this a fun chair?

Love these colors!

Love these colors!

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This holiday break, we headed to Tahoe for Sunshine’s first ski vacation. It was an awesome trip. The mountains were blanketed in white. It was a winter wonderland. The family we stayed with was super fun and easy going. It was a magical 7 days filled with skiing, sledding, good food, and company.

Sunshine took 1 1/2 days of private lessons with his friends. Then on another day, I took him for half a morning. That morning, we started with green runs then he kept begging me to take him on the blue runs. I was very hesitant. To be honest, I was worried that he might have a fall and/or difficult time which could lead him to not like skiing. After asking me a few times,  I caved in. I figured we could do it for our last run. If it failed, we could just head home. He surprised me. He took the blue run and just went for it. We did two more blue runs afterwards. He later told his buddy at dinner, “I was scared because when I looked over the mountain cliff, I couldn’t see anything.” I was proud but at the same time a little amazed. This kid has some guts! I asked him what it felt like to go down. He said, “I just went down. I liked it and wanted to do it again.” Just as I heard his words, I realized this kid loves skiing. It is in his blood.  Skiing is not only about having good balance but it is also about controlling your fear. It was amazing to me that Sunshine at such a young age could be so fearless.

Sunshine hitting the slopes of Tahoe Donner. Look at that precious smile.

Sunshine hitting the slopes of Tahoe Donner. Look at that precious smile.

first ski lesson

They kids on their first ski lesson. Putting on their skis to go on the fun magic carpet.

Aren't the kids looking cool with their teacher.

The kids looking cool with their teacher.

The kids checking the ski map to prepare for their first green run, the mile run (yup, it's a mile). They had just come up on their first chair lift. So many fun firsts.

The kids checking the ski map to prepare for their first green run, the mile run (yup, it’s a mile). They had just come up on their first chair lift. So many fun firsts.

This trip wasn’t only great for Sunshine. It was a confident booster for the both of us. On this trip, I conquered my fear of getting back onto skis after a 10 year hiatus. I almost chickened out but pushed myself. I’m so glad that I did. It felt liberating to do so. I remembered why I loved skiing and I was able to confidently take Sunshine on the slopes. Have you taken any chances lately? It’s normal to get into your regular routine and lose sight of trying new things. We take heart in Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “Do one thing every day that scares you” and Jimmy Carter’s quote “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

In case you are wondering, the ski runs are categorized by bunny, green, blue, black diamonds, then double blacks. The main difference is the steepness of the mountains. We stayed in Truckee and skied at Tahoe Donner which was family friendly and pretty inexpensive. I bought Sunshine’s skis and boots at Ann Mountain because they have a great trade-in program and we don’t need to wait in the rental lines. Ski clothes were from Lands Ends. Some must – hat, gloves, hand & foot warmers, and helmet. Everyone had a helmet. 10 years ago, no one did. If you need more tips on how to go skiing, leave a comment.

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