Kung Pao Turkey

November 28, 2008

Being raised in an Asian household can result in some interesting ‘holiday’ meals. However, yesterday I was thinking about my son going to daycare and being asked if he had lots of turkey for Thanksgiving. Not wanting him to feel left out or made fun of, I fibbed a bit and told him we were having turkey noodle for lunch.  This was only half a fib because we did have fried noodles for lunch, but instead of turkey, we had a mixture of Chinese sausage and SPAM.

Then, at dinner, I told my son we would be having Kung Pao Turkey, though in actually it was my father-in-law’s awesome recipe for Kung Pao Chicken.  With the exception of the requested Green Bean Casserole that I put together, the remaining dishes for Thanksgiving dinner were Asian stir-fry type dishes. This ranged from sweet and spicy cabbage to eggs and scallops, to sweet and sour marinated ribs, to shrimp chips.  It was a great meal and I didn’t miss the normal Thanksgiving dishes, though I wish we had some pumpkin pie to finish off the meal, but instead we had ice cream.

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Scary Mario

April 2, 2008

My son and father-in-law have been playing Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii together. It’s quite a funny and cute sight to see them sitting shoulder to shoulder in front of the TV playing a video game. At first, it was my son taking charge of the 2nd player to assist in stopping enemies and gathering stars. However, over time, he now wants to control the 1st player Wiimote . When this happens, his responsibility is to jump while my father-in-law controls the movement with the nunchuck analog stick.

Just recently, my son began getting quite scared and frightened with the influx of ‘bad monsters’ on the screen. He especially gets a bit stirred up during boss encounters.  Last night, it go so bad that my wife had to jump in and take over the 2nd player wiimote to assist in the boss battle.

The weird thing is that the whole ‘scariness’ aspect seems rather recent. For example, he used to never be scared of the dark but now he is. He used to never talk about monsters but now he does. At first we attributed it to conversations with classmates at daycare, but perhaps there’s something more. Maybe before he wasn’t really processing the data and making the connections, but now he is?

Grapevine and the Fox Trot

September 14, 2007

During our last dance class the instructor reintroduced the fox trot to us. After doing the tango and waltz for some time, the fox trot was quite easy to pick up. The basic pattern was slow-slow-quick-quick.

After getting down the basic pattern with tempo, we were introduced to the fox trot grapevine. This is a common step found in other fitness related activities, but the gist is basically moving sideways, while alternating stepping behind and in front of the supporting leg.

We were then given the task of nearly traversing the whole length of the room using the grapevine fox trot. This was much more difficult than it sounded as one of the requirements is to keep out shoulders square facing each other while our legs pointed the direction of movement. This really works on isolation of the hips and shoulders in movement (quite the opposite from taiji).

He then gave us a hint to think about the concept of ‘push and pull’ within dancing. After watching him demonstrate it again, I noticed that during the setup, there was a strong turning of the hips to the direction of motion. This results in having the ability to ‘step through’ with the leg instead of step around. Additionally, there was quite a bit of ‘pushing’ with the foundation leg in the movement. In order to truly push with good power, the hips have to really be squared up so that one can ‘push through’.  Can we clearly differentiate between pushing and pulling in our movement?

Also, he emphasized in dancing the importance of weight changes on the foot. You have to really be clear of which foot is weighted and which foot is not. Always move with the un-weighted foot. Are we able to clearly define the weighted foot? Are we able to clearly define the transfer of weight within the foot (from heel to toe)?

With these points in mind, we attempted it again. While the result was better, we were still unable to hit our mark. We only made it about 90% of the way down the room, but this gives up something to work on.

Two Choices

August 15, 2007

What would you do?….you make the choice. Don’t look for a punch line, there isn’t one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

Continue reading at Cook Ding’s Kitchen : Choices

Picking a Charity

April 6, 2007

Today was the third time I’ve received a call from the Childhood Leukemia foundation charity. Every time they have called, I told them I have not yet decided upon a charity for this year. This reminded me of a website stumbled upon a while back called Charity Navigator.

America’s premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of America’s largest charities.

So, based upon this, I checked out the ranking for the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. Needless to say, I was not happy when I saw 84% of the proceeds goes towards Fundraising Expenses!!  It was a bit more shocking to see the executive director of the charity bring in roughly $111,000 annually!

After being a bit distraught, I decided to check out March of Dimes. I often receive mailing addresses and little notepads from them in the mail. This was much better as 16.7% went towards fundraising and 7.1% went towards administrative expenses. I didn’t feel too badly about contributing to this charity after seeing the mix.

But I still was not set on my choice. My wife and I have often contributed to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) but I’m having second guesses now seeing that 17.4% goes towards Fundraising Expenses. Guess it shouldn’t really surprise me based on all the goodies I’ve received from them in the mail.

Ultimately, I decided to contribute to Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), working to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. Only 1.4% for Fundraising, 4.1% for Administrative and a whopping 94.5% of my proceeds goes towards Program expenses! I’ve found the first charity to receive my donation for the year.

Oh man.. this has to be one of the best headlines I’ve read in a while:

TuitionCoach: Tuition Planning Site Is Good Birth Control

I must admit there is some truth to this headline. I read somewhere that you need to save roughly $10,000 per year, per child to cover college expenses! That’s just nutty and totally crazy! What happened to the day of relying on scholarships and financial aid? Public Grants? From what I hear, competition is getting quite fierce and these approaches are going “the way of the Dodo”.

But to make things worst, even though I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, I can’t help but wonder if my own child may aspire to attend one of these schools. What am I to do, if he applies, gets accepted but can’t afford the tuition? Tough Luck to the little one? Easier said than done..

Drink Your Strawberry

December 9, 2006

With a feisty 2 yr old, the whole notion of taking meds can be quite daunting. When the little guy was younger, I would just hold him down and shoot the meds down his throat with a syringe. However, he’s a bit bigger, stronger, and knows how to spit now! There has to be another way.

Son came down with a minor ear infection and was prescribed Amoxocillin.  While it’s not horribly bad tasting, it’s not a favorite of his. So, I took the 7.5 ml dosage and mixed it with and equal amount of milk and added a dash of strawberry syrup. Shake shake shake.., “Hey dude.. drink your strawberry”.. and he was none the wiser. I do this in the mornings and evenings with little to no backtalk.  I’m a happy daddy and he’s a happy kiddy.