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Monday, December 29, 2014

"We're not Chinese kids we're English!"

Twelve years of my childhood were invested in weekly Saturday Chinese School lessons. I missed all the Saturday morning cartoons and whatever normal kids do on a Saturday morning - sleep in. At age 17 at the height of my maximum knowledge of written Chinese vocabulary, I could read the newspaper in Chinese (very slowly), read the Bible and write a lengthy note or birthday greeting to my Grandma and maybe even a short story or essay with some clever puns. Two years after that, I think I still retained most of the reading but the writing was fading fast. Gradually after 10 years, I can still sing the hymns at church, read the menu at a Chinese Restuarant and write out the order, as in copy the words by hand, write a christmas card, birthday card and thank you note in Chinese. But today, 20 years later, it shocked me that I had to think really hard about writing my own name in Chinese!! Do I want the same fate for my children?

My son doesn't quite believe that he is a Chinese person (though made in Canada eh?) and would call himself English or French. In fact, when I speak to him in Chinese he usually responds in French.  We have alot of languages in our household given that my husband and I are both fluent at the same level in Cantonese and English, but he is officially bilingual in French and English to federal standards. The kids go to a full time French School and I have to admit that while my daughter reads in both language, I'm sensing that French is the more dominant phonics when it comes to reading and writing.

We inadvertently decided it would be more important for them to be completely bilingual in French and English, that I almost let Chinese completely slip away. But miraculously, it has not. They can watch the Disney, Barbie and Batman movies in Chinese (official editions on DVD or VCD).  As well, then can ask for food and drinks and things related to cooking and transportation, or even how the moon goes around the earth, and the earth around the sun - in Chinese. However when it comes to matters of the heart or more complex scientific explanation or math, we slowly shift to English. I'm ok with that!

Today I had a proud moment though, when little Lincoln saw me writing a Christmas card in Chinese  that he started making some individual squarish spiny fishbone sketches and boasted that he was writing Chinese!!  He even asked me to teach him! I showed him how to write man or person, and he drew... you guessed it, Elsa in a dress. Well it's the same basic shape! Alot of my friends who are just like me, born and raised in Canada, who may or may not have attended Chinese school have sent their kids to Chinese school on Saturdays too! One friend's son the same age as Lincoln can recognize about 70 Chinese characters even though he only knows about 7 alphabets!! That just blows my mind, but it is indeed true that kids are capable of absorbing and retaining so much information if you teach them.

I also believe that they can also choose to learn to read and write Chinese at the university level in a three or four years' time just as easy as the other university students who might choose Chinese for a foreign language course or art credit. I've see this with my own eyes, a Westerner writing an essay or short answers on a Final Exam. I suppose it is the same way I learned Beginners and Intermediant Russian as a non-Science credit during my Engineering studies.

But most importantly I just want my kids to know that they are Chinese. A few years ago, when kids at a McDonald's play place approached Maggie and AJ to point out that they're Chinese, Maggie was furious! All night she kept telling me, "We're not Chinese kids, we're English! Someone should tell them that ok?"

In a way it's good that "race" is not an issue to them. Lincoln (he's four) just pointed out to me the other day that my hair is too black so I'm not like Elsa.... regardless, I just want them to know about being Chinese and be comfortable enough about being Chinese and Canadian at the same time.  I bought him the book published by Usborne Books "100 First Words in Chinese" Can't wait to read that with him.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Our Top Stories in 2014

Just a recap on the big things that happened this year, and to say "Merry Christmas 2014"

1. Indoor Snowball Fight
One of the "Reindeer Games" we played at Mary's birthday party.  12 kids lobbed giant-marshmallows through two Christmas wreathes. Highest record was 26 marshmallows, lowest number was 3. Kids got hit in the face but nobody cried. 30 giant marshmallows were consumed within 5 minutes of the game completion.

2. Blade number one
Daddy came back from work one day with a shocking new haircut, bald to the bone which shocked the kids so much that Lincoln had to ask, "You're still the same daddy right?" While the older kids pointed and laughed, Mary ran away screaming in terror and fear.

Reminds me of the time Lincoln's hair got shaved during a heated discussion between two parents about which blade to use, caught on video "Well it's too late now!"

3. Star Wars Duet
Finally recorded live in front of a captive audience (baby sister), AJ and I played the Star Wars theme as a duet on two pianos. We've played it for months since the summer, flawlessly but it was the first ever recorded. I've always dreamed of playing a duet with my kids

5. To Walk in Fields of Lavender...
A great navigational feat for me, to find my way through wine country and sandy beaches without GPS (I have onboard GPS but no map data in this whole region). We also discovered the largest annual gathering of asians outside of Toronto, at the annual Lavendar Festival in Prince Edward County. (This is a noteworthy fact to me because it is not often that I see too many asians here if any) The kids loved running free in fields of purple, while seeing infinity in a wildflower... o wait here's the real quote

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

5. All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth
Maggie finally lost her fourth tooth shortly after Halloween. The weather got too foggy for two nights it seems, for the Tooth Fairy (to remember) to come to collect it. Good thing she never lost faith in the magic of the Tooth Fairy. The third tooth was lost right before school photos, while fishing at the docks of Rice Lake (or while chewing a BLT sandwich). The first two teeth were lost months earlier around Valentines day. However, the first tooth was actually lost down the drain while brushing her teeth, but was recovered quickly by Daddy taking apart the sink!

6. Great Wolf Lodge

A most memorable and action packed 24 hours of campfire stories, wave pool, arcade games, bowling, and bunk beds. The kids got to view Niagara Falls right at the side of the falls but not being able to see it... because of nippy cold frost and ice in April.
Other "big" trips this year include - four days in NYC, another overnight shopping trip to Syracuse and my own three day business trip to Montreal kid free!

7. Two Wheelin' 
In June, both Maggie and AJ successfully learned to ride their two wheeler bikes in under 20 minutes first time trying. I understand they are much older than the other kids learning to ride, but it is still a noteworthy childhood milestone and accomplishment. They've been biking non-stop since that day. Oddly ever since the big snowfall last month (before it melted away) they've been playing outside in the snow for much longer than any other day this summer.

8. Pleased with Cheese
It took nearly 7 years but Maggie finally started eating cheese! You know in the baby books, when they talk about introducing a new food and sometimes needing to offer it 22 before they'll even try it? Try 2000 times! Probably it's a bit of peer pressure, seeing little Mary tear part those cheese strings!

9. Superman Drawings
Lincoln draws about a hundred Elsa's, Ana's, mermaids and fairies a day or quite possibly per hour! I especially like the drawings in colour with eyelashes or extra makeup on the girls. This is an amazing feat considering at the start of the school year, I actually asked his kindergarten teacher if that is a problem that my son can trace mazes, but does not draw or write anything!. She told me not to worry because they would be starting "Handwriting without tears" Then, just weeks in he started drawing Elsa with her ice-powers and splti in her blue dress, or Ana with a cape, and Olaf made with a high stack of snowballs. After nearly 2,000 Elsas, he finally drew one Superman and Green Lantern for once, which made me very happy.

10. Double Double
During the entire month of March I gave up coffee, treats, gluten, dairy, soy etc lost over 5 pounds and many inches as part of the detox bootcamp and clean eating program with my company. That was the same month I also (got) promoted to the first level of management in my home business. From May till October I doubled the size of my team, including independent consultants and preferred clients

I've cut down from three or four cups of "double-double" to one Fizz Tab energy drink per day. I've been so energized that I decided to launch a second home business to promote reading and French books for my kids, and to fuel my own personal addiction to books!

11. Magic of Christmas
The legend of the Elf on the Shelf lives on despite the skeptism and "truth" revealed by the other kids at school who probably don't have an Elf on the Shelf. Each morning at breakfast, the kids discuss if the Elf is real or not; every night they warn me not to sleep too late so that the Elf can leave on time to get to the North Pole and back.

They met Mrs Claus at Conon Nurseries and were very convinced she was the real deal. They've been writing to Santa Claus and Maggie just received her letter from H0H 0H0 yesterday!

Here's wishing you all a very happy Merry Christmas and the best for the holiday season; good times with your family and friends.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A New Chapter

I was first introduced to the amazing Arbonne products by a new friend in the Summer of 2013. When I hosted my first Spa Party, I realized how fun and simple it was to run my own home business and work alongside some amazing women!  The biggest push for me was knowing that Arbonne operates in four countries worldwide - Canada, US, Australia and the UK and soon Poland and Taiwan! I have to admit that I took a slower start than most people. However when the seasons changed and I put my heart into it, I recruited a few business partners who really motivated me and helped me see the possibilities that my leaders were telling me all along. I reached my promotion to District Manager in early 2014 and I'm still learning as I go! A big thank you to my friends, customers and Preferred Clients who have made this possible.
The whole reason I got into beauty and cosmetics is that being so busy in my life with the four kids, I needed something more in my life. Something that even my very supportive husband and lovely children could not give me.  I had already achieved a measure of financial success and independence when I was a working mom with a full time job as an Engineer. However we decided as a family that I would not return to work after the fourth kid for an indeterminant length of time.  Yet I needed something to take care of myself and have high quality Swiss vitamins and skinare products. I don't have bags under my eyes yet, but it's never too early to start thinking about anti-aging! Arbonne has the BEST vegan-certified, swiss formulated, botanically based products, made in the USA and sold exclusively by passionate Independent Consultants. We have what people are looking for with over 450 items in our catalog from skincare, bath and body, baby care to vegan protein shakes and vitamins and even shaving products for men! I LOVE to tell people about Arbonne because we are pure, safe and beneficial - no parabens, no SLS and no mineral oil.  Feel great and look great when you join my team! 

I'm an Engineer with a Masters Degree in Physics and a music background, but I am a woman and I choose to buy the best and most prestigious products for myself and my kids. Sometimes people take a double take, like wow you're a rocket scientist, so why are you selling lipstick? Well that's exactly it, I DECIDED to take time away from my work regular work to be with my family and this is the perfect home business I can do on my own terms. It's like bring your kids to work day everyday!

The perks, wow imagine a job where I can claim my beauty products as business expenses and get a good discount. I also do mobile spa presentations, trade shows, online sales, deliveries and business meetings and recruitment interviews. 
About The Industry
My kids love the products too. They know that food coloring and food dye is bad. They only want to use Arbonne products! Change your life one body care product at a time. Make smart choices and start shopping today at

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Photo Book

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly offers exclusive photobook layouts so you can make your book just the way you want.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Yummy Summer Printable Worksheets

My kids LOVE doing homework, though I'm guessing they've become motivated by collecting the a prize from the "tenth math prize" bin for every tenth page of homework. I had to upsize the requirement to a "twenthieth" but that just meant more worksheet or workbooks to purchase. As well, my oldest two just keep making it a competition, go figure. However, this guy in the photo our #3 has given up on homework altogether and prefers to spend the after school hours belting out the Frozen tunes and spinning around the room with a hooded towel acting out storylines from the movie, but I digress..

My friend recommended this free writing printable site, which will get them away from Math for a while, and think more about delicious food while practising their  writing skills!

Looking for a daily worksheet to expand vocabulary while thinking about healthy food? Try this Nourish Interactive website, amazing finds!

And to create your own, try

Friday, March 14, 2014

March Break Mission Clues from McDonald's

Little Detective AJ loves a good puzzle or mystery to solve. Two Happy Meals this spring break at McDonald's from Dr Brainy's chemistry lab and I finally clued in that the clues for the Red Lab Book and red Crayola crayon, are posted throughout the McDonald's Restaurant's walls! I didn't want to go back with all the kids for a third Happy Meal, so I did what a reasonable momma would do and went to McDonald's for a decaf coffee black, and took photos of the clues to bring home for my son!

Posting them here in my blog so he can see them in one click of a mouse. If you are looking for a red lab book, I have an extra one I could send you. Enjoy!

McDonald's March Break Mission Clue #1

McDonald's March Break Mission Clue #2

McDonald's March Break Mission Clue #3

McDonald's March Break Mission Clue #4

Here is a scan of the red note book, all created by McDonald's. Enjoy your March Break Mission. I imagine today Friday is the last day!

And the last task is the help Dr Brainy finish the drawing of his pie-making machine. And a big thank you to McDonald's for putting this together. I suppose I could print clues and hide them on the walls around the  house too!
Art inspired by Dr Brainy

Like Plants vs Zombies??

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tips for Picky Eaters and Tasty Textures

Before Little Mary grew her chompers, she was a good eater. I couldn't keep enough baby cereal in stock, nor could I have enough home made pureed food ready or defrosted so I would have to run out and buy jars of baby food to keep up with the consumption!

However at Mary's one year doctor's appointment, the weight and height measurements seemed to indicate she had fallen off the growth chart to 0% and the doctor had to explain to me the diagnosis she gave for "failure to thrive". She reassured me that it was a medical terminology but she was not having trouble breathing or anything like that. I almost cried (but I didn't) just cuz it sounded so bad. She referred us to a pediatrician but the appointment would be weeks away.

Then shortly before Christmas, Mary was already one years old with four or five teeth, but the next two were coming in and she didn't eat for days, just surviving on breast and cheerios for sure. From that point, I noticed the food strikes with a day of good eating here and there. At the start of February Mary caught an ear infection and a chest cold and around the same time she stopped eating too, except for cheerios and junk crackers and sometimes raisin bread and fruit smoothies with goji berries and kale. And we offered any  Finally the appointment with the Pediatrician came up. Mary was evaluated but there were no physical or developmental issues for her lack of interest in eating. The doctor referred Mary to a Dietician at the hospital who observed my notes on Mary's diet over five days. She analyzed the volume of formula Mary was taking (20 to 24 oz) and all the junk calories I was giving her and she explained to me it was about the food texture!

The babies have teeth to chew but it is only an up and down motion so the rotary chewing has not fully developed so whatever they can't chew well enough to swallow- apple slices, thick bread, meat they will spit out. As well because of the transition period of infant cereal and bottled formula to table foods there is a time of weaning when  it will appear they are not eating. She suggested foods of uniform texture and cutting out the junk calories that come from goldfish crackers.

1. Foods with Uniform Texture
- salmon patties
- french toast
- pancakes
- hamburger patties but not extra lean ground beef; add more egg and bread crumbs for a smoother texture
- shredded cheese

2. Offer a new food up to 15 times

3. Let them explore the food and and get messy

4. Offer foods with richer calories
Cheese, high fat yoghurt like the Liberte 6% or 9%

5. Establish good eating habits, sit at the table
Try to keep a schedule to avoid random snacking  in between meals

The period of transition being tough for the baby brings up an interesting tidbit I read on National Geographic about the analysis of teeth and bone skeletons of early humans that the impact of the lower nutritional intake at the time of weaning was observable in the teeth.

I just want her to eat more and grow taller

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mundane Disturbances on the Homefront as War Rages On Overseas

Taking a moment to reflect on the past and present struggles of being a military spouse of a deployed member and months later, the return of the deployed spouse. It's been in the news lately, the more serious topic of PTSD. People change when they return home from the war; as well the people at home change too. Here are some things that I never expected to happen to us, but taking a lighter approach as I analyze what's happened between us.

TOP 5 THINGS I never expected as a military wife

1) Reunion Stress.

I read about this in the brochures from the military family resource center but I didn't really grasp the gravity of the scenarios that some people go through. Fortunately it was not too bad for me, really. Considering us being apart for 10 months; daddy overseas and momma at home with a toddler and newborn (with the help of a super-nanny mind you). I never cried once that I missed him, though I know I did miss him lots. I never felt sad that Valentines Day and my birthday day we were apart, because he mailed me lots of letters and handmade cards (free blank ones created by Stampin' Up consultants).  Not even missing the wedding anniversary bothered me. It was the first week he came home and it was like... man what I do cook for dinner? I haven't cooked seriously for 10 months! Sharing the bed again with someone other than a toddler and a baby!

On the flip side, I can only think about what it must be like for him. Imagine being on high alert for months,and having huge operational responsibilities all day at work, making life and death calls.... and suddenly having to come home and your baby cries alot, your wife talks too much, or the children quarrel over pieces of Lego... how annoying would that be for the man!

2) Some men don`t take Parental Leave

Nope, not this one. Not even a single day! Whereas I have taken the full year and more for each of the four kids. Pretty sweet deal for me! But the greatest sacrifice I never expected to make was to leave my Engineering career of 12 years (well I suppose four of those on mat leave LOL) and move the family. But not counting what I lost, I count only what I have gained, more time with my children. Hence the reason I suppose he never took any parental leave... time away from the annoying kids!

3) Learning to Iron and Sew

What did I learn in high school Home Ec class? O whatever. I am very lucky I married a military man who felt that it was his own pleasant duty to manage his own uniform upkeep and ironing. Thank God, because I don't iron my own shirts and I send my own work clothes and shirts to be dry cleaned just for the purpose of the free pressing.

He decided, long before we got married that he would like to iron his own shirts and pants cuz that was what he did throughout all the years before he met me He even said, "One man one kit" but he would still often agree to iron my shirts for me if I had them on hangers along with his. Wow, sweet deal for me!  HOWEVER on that note, I have a friend who is on the opposite end with the excellent Home Ec skills. She bought a top notch sewing machine and learned to hem pants.. all of the military uniform pants and non-uniform pants for her husband.

Well I guess I'm pretty good at keeping the combats' colours sharp. Either way, I know as a woman, standing beside our man in uniform, everything we have to do, to keep that uniform looking sharp and safe; not over faded in the dryer or the sun. And no two-toning for the combat shirt and pants.

4) I break it, I fix it

I never knew that I could break down my front door with my own two shoulders! The story goes, I was supposed to stay home and watch the the baby and the toddler (only two kids at the time) while my husband went to Home Depot to pick up some mechanical parts to fix the lock mechanism for the front door lock that was catching. He had just returned home from Afghanistan on his first HLTA, and that was among the first task of things to fix around the house. For whatever reason, I decided it would be OK to sneak outside of my house and leave the two babies inside while I walked 100m to the end of the street to get the mail!

I had done this many times while he was away cuz why would I drag two kids out into the street with me just to get the mail? For all the hundred times I had been doing that, nothing bad ever happened until this time and I got locked out! My house (at the time) is an impenetrable fortress because we are the middle unit in a row of five townhomes. There is only a front entrance and a back patio entrance, no windows to climb through. O wait, there is a third entrance through the garage which can be opened by a remote control garage door opener, which was of course was in the car with my husband at Home Depot.

I locked myself out on this cold day.  I knocked frantically but there was just no way a two year old was ready to open the childproof lock on the front door. I banged my fists on the window, she banged her fists on the door. She cried and cried, and eventually gave up and ran back up to the living room and fell asleep on her play mat beside her blanket. Her little baby brother cried himself to sleep too, it wasn't that long really but it felt like I was crying for along time too. As soon as she moved away from the door, I knew I had to make that door open no matter what. I hit the door with my right shoulder as if I were king kong knocking down a ton of bricks, probably did that like 10 times; the door did not budge. I sat down the porch and cried some more. I switched sides and the door with my other shoulder about 20 times. I could feel something cracking; the latch plate on the door was coming undone and my front door was just about to swing open... when I heard the sound of the garage door opening and my husband's car approaching...

I had a lot of explaining to do, especially why I couldn't just wait for him to be back before leaving the house in the first place. He even told me it would've been easier to fix to just throw a rock in the window than to fix the whole crack in the door frame. Well now I know, this momma bear can indeed kick down a front door to reach her two sleeping babies who were already perfectly safe. doh!

5) Retirement Planning

The earliest age he can retire is age 39 but I really hope he is definitely planning for something alot later. I just don't think I could handle coming home from work and dinner is all cooked and the house is all cleaned; or how about having the kids all back from their after school activities. That would really freak me out. I would rather have us both retire at 65 I think. I've dedicated a whole rant on that subject of daddy daycare.