Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

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 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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Hey Friends,

It’s been a long time since my last post. We had a busy summer then start of school and all its madness. Now, things are settling down and I’m back with lots of updates.

The last few months has been full of Sunshine’s firsts including his first camping trip. It was soooo much fun.

During our morning hike, the kids had a blast exploring this cool tree.  They kept saying, “let’ go back to the HOME tree.”

I grew up camping but had never camped with kids. It was a little more work but worthwhile. Some tips for the next one. These are not your typical checklists. i.e. firewood, tent, cooking utentils. Instead, these are practical tips that I wish I knew before we went.

1) If you using a new tent, pitch it the day before so you know how the poles go in.  It didn’t dawn on me till I was struggling in the dark to find directions and telling the kids, “PLEASE Don’t play with the tent sticks! We need those.” Yeah, big lesson.

2) Headlights are essentials. You will not look like a geek. Instead you will be grateful. Those are the best inventions on earth. It is worth getting the more expensive ones as they are brighter and in the dark woods, the brightness comes in handy. REI and Amazon have them. They are great for emergencies i.e. Earthquakes.

3) Ikea blue bags are great for lugging all your gear. They are big and waterproof. Sleeping bags, tents, clothes, etc all can fit into 2-3 of those big plastic bags. A friend suggested them instead of getting an expensive duffel bag and boy was she right.

4) Camping chairs are on my shopping list. Growing up, we didn’t have them but with kids, they are nice to have. We were able to huddle around roasting marshmallows and listening to our friend play the guitar.

Thank goodness that Uncle Andy was a pro at starting the fire. Don’t the kids look cute with their headlights?

5) Put all the kids on one tent. More fun with the kids and the adults get more sleep. Hmm, not sure it will really work but worth trying.

6) Hoodies for the kids. Everyone slept with hats but I quickly realize that the hat kept slipping off so I spent part of the night checking if Sunshine’s hat was on. So, in the morning, I was a tiny bit tired. A hoodie would be perfect for the night, no slipping off.

7) Keep food simple. Best to precook dinner if arriving late. Keep breakfast easy. I was too ambitious and griddle 30+ buttermilk pancakes after our first night. Next time, bacon and eggs. Much simpler.
8) Lantern is a good thing. I thought the headlights would be enough but soon realize that the lantern are good with kids. It serves as a homebase in the darkness. So, this is on my camping wishlist!

Some memorable memories from this trip. As we were pitching our tents, raccoons invade our friend’s car and opened a candy wrappers and left a trail of paw prints. Yeah, yuck! Then as we were enjoying the fire, more raccoons snatched our Safeway shopping bags full of smore ingredients. Seriously, it was crazy to watch these little raccoons stealing our desserts. The kids and adults were yelling and running after them. It was comical. Even with these crazy raccoons, we still plan to go camping again. It was fun for the kids to just run around in the woods and enjoy nature. Can’t wait till our next trip.

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Growing up, I had fond memories of things my family did together. Those memories often were things we did often i.e. camping during the summers and having pancakes on Sundays.

Traditions are fun for the family especially the kids. Traditions allow you to spend time with your child and thus wonderful memories are created. They create and provide stability, something that is familiar and has routine. It is nice to start traditions when children are young because they are so eager and interested in spending time with you. When they are teenagers, they start having their own lives and sometimes this time can be a very confusing time for them. If you have traditions of talking at dinner or before bedtime, you may have an easier time getting them to talk to you about their problems because they have a habit of already sharing with you.

Some of the things we already do can be considered a tradition. For example, at our house, we eat dinner together and read books and say gratitude (what we are thankful) before going to bed. For fun, every year, we spend time together planning his birthday party. We talk about the theme, what activities we will have, what will the goody bags will have inside, and how we might decorate. It is something that we both enjoy and it is fun to talk about together. Last year, we had a Lego theme.

A new tradition, we started is having upside day. Have you done this? We have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. We invited Sunshine’s school friends over for dinner and they loved it. It was so American, they said! If you are interested, this pancake is delicious. We took it one step further so he started having breakfast for lunch. Fun, right??

Breakfast for lunch! Yummy.

If you are interested in creating your own traditions, read what DocJennifer has to say about traditions. Feel Connected’s recommends the book Got Traditions. And, Enough Time Moms gives lots of good advice on how to create traditions.

What traditions do you have with your kids? Love to hear what you do.

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Our friend Jenny took us to Tilden Park for an afternoon train ride. I remember going there as a kid and it was fun to relive the memories with Sunshine.  We had a great time with our friends and recommend going if you have a chance. The park is beautiful and there are numerous trails to explore. On the ride to and from Tilden Park, we saw the most beautiful clouds hovering the Berkeley mountains.

Sunshine loved ringing the bell on the steam train.

Beautiful day for a train ride. They kids had the best seat in the house.

The kids look so cute covering their ears when the steam train let out steam.

Quick. Quick. Cover your ears!!

If you have a chance, check out A Nature’s Mom post about the Botanic Garden at Tilden Park. And, at Natural History Wanderings, you can see what flowers are in bloom. I think next time, we are going to the hike Trail Hiker took.

Can’t wait to go back again.

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