Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last-minute holiday cheer

So I've finally stopped being so Grinch-like about the holidays. Thanks to Nico, who helped me snap out of my Bah! Humbug!-ness with his cute, crafty holiday projects; my friend Bethany, who brought me a tiny Christmas tree to my office; and my pal Claire, who strongly advised me to have a martini (or three) at her holiday party last weekend, I am now officially feeling the Christmas spirit. Plus, I watched "Love Actually" a few times, one of my favorite sentimental holiday movies.

I'm still not finished wrapping gifts and have not yet mailed out our holiday cards, but at least I'm not feeling as overwhelmed and crabby about it all as I was a few weeks ago. I have to say that Nico's excitement about Christmas has been contagious. When we decorated the tree together, he was totally fun and lovable about it. So when he begged me to take cameraphone pics of him and Nolan wearing reindeer antlers and Santa caps, how could I resist?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?*


Nolan seems to have an uncanny way of channeling Arnold from the old TV show "Diff'rent Strokes".

Weird.

* My ever helpful husband informs me that it is not "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" but "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" Thanks, Vic! Would you like me to review your software code now? :)

California crybabies

Nico and I are crybabies. We hate saying goodbye to people and places we love.

We're back in Cleveland after a fun, but short, trip to San Francisco. Vic and I went there to attend his company's holiday party and we brought the boys out to spend some time with my sister, the fantastic Auntie Linda.

Even though we were only in town for a few days, we were able to see some old friends, which was really awesome. I would have loved to stay longer to visit some other pals, but there just wasn't enough time. Nico had a blast spending time with Linda and her girlfriend Joemy. Lin and Joemy babysat the boys and spoiled them with gifts and attention. Nico enjoyed his time with Linda so much he didn't want to come home. He wanted to stay with her and lobbied hard to move in with her. He complained that "Cleveland is stupid! It doesn't even have mountains or the Pacific Ocean." It was heartbreaking to see him crying after saying goodbye to his beloved aunt. He cried for a long time.

During our stay, as I did last year, I visited the hospital where Nico was born and the apartment complex we lived in when Nico was a baby. It's hard to believe that six years have passed since we lived out there. I remember the day Vic and I first brought him home from the hospital. Vic carried Nico, snuggled in an infant car seat, up the steps to our apartment, where my sister had taped a big, homemade "Welcome home, Nico!" sign on our front door.

Also, like last year, as the plane took off for Cleveland, tears welled up in my eyes. I'm not sure why I get so weepy thinking about the time we spent living in the Bay Area, but I think a lot of it has to do with the powerful emotions associated with first-time motherhood.

I think Nico and I both left our hearts in San Francisco on this trip.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's the most terrible time of the year


OK, now that my favorite holiday is over, the most stressful time of the year is here. Call me a Scrooge, but the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas really stress me out. I'm not alone either - I think my boys feel the same way. Last week, while my sister was in town, I tried to get a nice photo of her with the boys in front of our just decorated Christmas tree.

Nico looks like he's going to cry and I'm not sure what's going on with Nolan. He looks completely miserable - kinda like my friend Chris this football season.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cheers to Thanksgiving!

I'm still basking in post-Thanksgiving euphoria.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, as it brings back happy childhood memories of family, friends and food. For many years, when I was growing up, my parents, sister and I spent Thanksgiving with other Taiwanese American families in the area. Our multi-family Thanksgiving dinners were big festive potluck feasts featuring a mix of Asian and American dishes.

Even through college and grad school, every November, I looked forward to the annual Thanksgiving homecoming where all of us, scattered across the country (and world) returned to Cleveland. We'd talk about school, jobs, relationships, plans for the future - all while chowing down on turkey, stuffing, sushi and fried shrimp. I wrote about those childhood Thanksgiving meals in an essay published in an anthology last year. In the essay, I paid tribute to Judy's Special Salad, Maggie's Potato Mushroom Casserole and Jen and Lil's mom's Sticky Rice.

Over the years, the big feasts began to shrink as all of us moved away. The saddest Thanksgiving I ever had was the year that I, fresh out of grad school, moved to Los Angeles and was too broke to come home. I spent that Thanksgiving eating alone, but surrounded by European tourists, at a cheap restaurant in Santa Monica called Mama's Buffet.

I returned to Cleveland a few years ago, but everyone else is gone. The past few years, I've spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family and we have nice meals together too, but I still miss my Taiwanese American extended family.

So this year, I was lucky enough to have a mini-version of the big Thanksgiving events I grew up with. We didn't have all of the usual suspects at the table, but my sister Linda flew in from San Francisco, Jen from New York and Lil from Los Angeles. My mom roasted a turkey and made accompanying dishes for the potluck dinner, while Linda, Nico and I made pearl balls and flower dumplings.

After having an early Thanksgiving dinner at my father-in-law's house, Vic and I took the boys to Jen and Lil's parents house for a second Thanksgiving meal that included turkey, dressing, and yes, Jen and Lil's mom's Sticky Rice. For dessert, the options included pumpkin pie, apple pie, cupcakes (in honor of Jen's birthday) persimmons, honey melon, grapes and red bean ice cream.

Linda and I discussed, at length, various Taiwanese American Thanksgiving eating strategies. Some people prefer segregating the Asian and American foods, alternating between plates of solely American foods and plates of only Asian items. Lil chose to split her plate 50/50, with half the space dedicated to traditional American Thanksgiving components and the other half reserved for Asian foods.

For me, when I was younger, I only ate the American foods, since the Asian foods did not represent Thanksgiving to me. Over the years, though, I started accepting Asian foods as welcome additions to the Thanksgiving tradition. Now, I'll load my plate with everything, but making sure that cranberry sauce doesn't touch sushi and wasabi doesn't touch turkey. My dad just piles everything together. "It's all the same in your stomach," he says.

It was great sharing this special meal with old friends and introducing my sons to the idea of a multicultural Thanksgiving celebration. I hope they'll grow up to love this tradition as I do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cultural identity journeys

There are many reasons why I'm thrilled Barack Obama was elected the next president of the United States. One of them that's low on the list in terms of the country's priorities ranks rather high when it comes to my own personal life: Obama comes from a multicultural background.

This is especially relevant to me right now, as it seems that Nico, my multicultural six-year-old son, is undergoing a cultural identity crisis. There are some days when he isn't sure what he is, and other days when he wishes he were something else. Recently, he told me, "I hate my skin color. I don't want to be tan. I want to be black." Other days, he says he wants to be white, like his brother. Actually, Nolan is not white - he's more like Baby Pink. More disturbing to me is when Nico says, "Nolan looks like a Chinese boy!" Well, that's because he is Chinese (Taiwanese, to be specific), I tell Nico. And so are you, I remind him. The boys are half Taiwanese, a quarter Italian, and the rest a mix of English and American Indian.

For a while, Nico was irritated by all of this. Whenever Vic and I tried to explain his cultural roots to him, he'd dismiss us: "I just want to be an American flag guy." You can, we told him, but you should still understand all the cultures that shape you. This past summer, between kindergarten and first grade, Nico was teased by someone at day camp. He was ridiculed for being Chinese. So I decided it was time to send Nico to Chinese School.

In a few weeks, I'll be giving a social studies presentation to Nico's first grade class about Taiwan. I was happy when his teacher called to ask me if I'd be willing to consider the idea. Nico said he'd like to help me. I hope this will help him feel more connected to his Asian heritage. I do understand his desire to fit in - it reminds me of my own longing to assimilate when I was his age - but understanding it doesn't make it sting any less.

When I was Nico's age, I used to be terribly embarrassed when my mother would speak Taiwanese to me in public places or when she would take off her shoes at people's homes. My parents were immigrants, so we learned about Canadian and American culture together. Halloween, for instance, was something that took us a little while to figure out. My mom took me, dressed as a princess, trick or treating for the first time when I was in preschool. That year, my dad prepared elaborate little paper bags filled with goodies for trick-or-treaters. Even though we lived in a high-rise apartment building, he wanted to make sure we were ready. To this day, he considers Halloween an important social occasion. I do too.

For Nico and Nolan, I admit I feel a bit unprepared for the cultural identity issues they will encounter growing up. Since they are half Asian, I don't know if they will be confronted with a different set of issues than I faced.

It's going to be a journey for all of us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We did it!


I cannot believe it! Barack Obama will be the new president of the United States!

This is an amazing historic moment and it is hard for me not to be emotional about it. Yesterday, there was so much anticipation about the election results - I was antsy all day long. I went to vote at my polling location in the morning and was surprised to walk right in, with no wait. Afterward, I chatted with a few of the parents running a PTA bake sale. All of us were energized and excited - but nervous too - about the election. After that, I walked to work in a happy mood. I love going to the polls, voting alongside my neighbors and sensing a strong sense of community.

Beyond my immediate community, I communicated with friends from faraway places too. During the day, Vic and a friend in Nigeria had an IM conversation about the election. Another friend in England left a comment on my Facebook wall: "I trust your fellow Americans will not let the rest of us down this time!" Last week, during our trip to Toronto, a family friend told us he supported Obama. "American needs a big change," he said. It was amazing to see that it was not just Americans paying attention to this election - the world was watching.

Vic and I watched the election results on TV with a Pakistani American buddy. He turned to me when Barack Obama took the stage and said, "Lisa, we just elected our first black president! Now the door is open for people like us too. Maybe there will be an Asian American president some day." When the rest of the family came to join Obama on stage, Zaid noted the multicultural representation and said, "This is America."

I called my friend Claire several times during the evening. She had been volunteering as a poll observer all day long and was just driving home when I called to tell her that Ohio chose Obama. We couldn't believe it. I stayed up through McCain's wonderful, inspiring concession speech and Obama's eloquent speech and then went to sleep emotionally exhausted.

This morning, Vic woke up Nico to tell him the news. Nico was thrilled. After all, he was the one who advocated getting an Obama Biden sign for our yard. (Despite Vic's initial resistance, he eventually relented, especially after Nico argued, "I want it waaaaaay more than you DON'T want it!") When my mom came over to take care of Nolan for the day, Nico said to her, "Ama! I am super happy! Barack Obama is our first black president! I am so happy!" Nico watched some of the coverage on TV and Vic had to explain to him why some people were crying.

On my walk to work, I called my friend Audrey. She and I had a happy, tearful conversation: "We did it! I can't believe it!" Although she was born and raised in Cleveland - in fact, she was my first American friend when we moved here from Canada more than 30 years ago - she lives in Chicago now. She was my first black friend and is an inspiration to me for her strength, determination and focus. She attended the Grant Park rally last night, as I had expected, and described it as "electrifying".

At work today, there was a wonderful, palpable feeling of optimism. In person, through emails and via Facebook wall posts, my friends and I celebrated the ushering in of a new era. For Zaid, a Pakistani American, Gina, an African American, me, a Taiwanese American, and my children, a mix of several glorious cultures, we are ecstatic that our country has shattered a wall, leaving behind a long, painful past of oppression and injustice. Although this election will not erase racism and discrimination, it is a great start.

We are all proud Americans today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obamarama!


Nolan and I went to the Obama rally in downtown Cleveland on Sunday. (Check out the photo of him sporting a "Kids for Obama" button.)

We were there for five hours, standing in line for two. The line was unbelievably long, starting at the Quicken Loans Arena (the "Q") and snaking its way to Malls A, B and C near Browns Stadium.

It was awesome to see so many people, of all ages and from varying backgrounds, all gathered to support Obama. News reports estimated around 80,000 people in attendance. To see the streets of downtown Cleveland filled with so many people was surreal - it felt more like being in New York.

Originally, I wasn't even planning on going. Our family was supposed to go to a birthday party that afternoon, but my friend, Claire, convinced me otherwise. An Obama Mama from the very beginning, she talked me into going to the rally to support an inspiring presidential candidate during a historic campaign. "This is it, dude," she said. "This is it!" A few of my friends from work were going too, so I gave in. Nico was very disappointed that he couldn't attend too - "What? You're going to see Barack Obama? In REAL LIFE?" - but he had to keep his commitment to his friend's party. So Vic took Nico to the party; I took Nolan to the rally.

Even though the line was so long, there was some entertainment to keep us from getting too bored. Along Ontario, there was some giant Obama Puppet Guy on stilts. Also, throughout the wait, vendors sold t-shirts and buttons, food and beverages.

For the most part, people were energized and happy, although there were times the the long wait made some of us crabby and tired. Ultimately, after waiting for two hours, Claire and I decided to ditch the line and just go to the open mall area where we joined hundreds of other people.

Not all of the people in the area were Obama supporters. Particularly after the Browns game was over, there were some tense moments. The Browns played miserably against our arch rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. So once the game let out, a throng of unhappy Browns fans poured onto the mall. One especially drunk, red-faced guy came up to me and Nolan and, taking note of our Obama buttons, shouted, "Get your welfare checks here! Get your welfare checks here!" I'm not sure if that was supposed to be some sort of derogatory insinuation that Obama is a socialist, but if anyone was likely to need welfare or some sort of government assistance, chances are it would be this crazy guy.

Nolan was great - only acting up a little bit during the five hours we were there. At one point, I had to change his diaper on the lawn - it stunk bad and he was pretty upset about it. I murmured apologies to the people around us as he fussed and cried through the prayer and national anthem, but everyone was understanding and empathetic. "Don't worry about it. I've got two kids at home," one guy said.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. While I was in line, at one point, I stood behind a group of young musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra. One of them told me it was great that I brought Nolan to the rally and that some day, he will be grateful that he was part of this day. Behind me, a young couple must have shared the same idea - they brought their daughter, only three months old.

We don't often get opportunities to take part in historic moments like this.

Now I just need to vote!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween - with muscles


This year, for Halloween, Nico went as Iron Man. His costume, sent to him by his beloved Auntie Linda, was very nice. It fit perfectly and came with built-in padded muscles. Nico's buddy at school also went as Iron Man, but alas, his costume came sans muscles. Nico was quite pleased to be Well-Muscled Iron Man.

It looks like Halloween costume technology has come a long way since I was a kid. I'm talkin' the old school costumes, if you're old enough to remember them. One year, my sister (now known as Auntie Linda) had one of those horrible store-bought costume kits that included a cheap plastic Fred Flintstone mask and a set of shapeless vinyl t-shirt and pants. Vic wore a similar costume in grade school, but his version was Captain Kirk. There were several super hero versions that were popular back then, and even one of Jaws.

As for Nolan, this year, he inherited his brother's old giraffe costume, but sadly, Nolan was a crawling giraffe - still no walking.

During the day, I went to Nico's school to catch their annual Halloween parade, where the entire school paraded around the neighborhood in costume. It was wonderful! Afterward, I stuck around to help out with the class party, which was fun too.

Trick-or-treating went smoothly. I love handing out treats! There's no other time when you get to see so many children walking around the neighborhood having a fun time. Nico had a great time and Nolan was happy to stroll along for the ride.

On Saturday, my parents and I took the boys to Halloween at the Farm, an annual Case Western Reserve University tradition, where there's a giant bonfire, a live band, marshmallow roasting, pumpkin carving, a costume contest, face painting and free food (hot dogs, pumpkin pie, apple cider, etc.).

We all had a fun Halloween. Next year, Nico wants to be Darth Vader.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Motherhood Movement

I'm back from Toronto, where I attended and presented at the annual Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) conference at York University. The conference was really energizing and I met some amazing women there.

In the "Mothering, Gender, Peace and Violence" session of the conference, I presented a personal essay recounting my experience as a pregnant journalist covering the memorial service of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. My presentation went well and the discussion that followed was rich and revealing. One woman said my piece resonated with her because she was pregnant during the September 11 attacks. Another woman went into labor that day. Yet another was pregnant during the Tiananmen Square protests. It was a powerful moment realizing that all of us had experienced first-time motherhood during turbulent times.

After my presentation, I had lunch with Amy Hudock, founder and co-editor of Literary Mama. I had been hoping to meet her at the conference, so being able to spend an hour with her talking about motherhood, writing, career paths and other topics was simply awesome. She's definitely an inspiration.

Although the theme of the conference was "Mothering, Violence, Militarism, War and Social Justice", the embedded "Motherhood Movement" conference included dynamic keynote panels I really enjoyed. One of my favorites was one that was featured Andrea O'Reilly, founder and director of ARM.

Another favorite was the "Creativity, Expression, and Agency" keynote panel. All of the panelists were wonderful - smart, funny, engaging, etc. - but it was rather disappointing that there wasn't more diversity represented. It would have been great to include at least one woman of color, for instance. Still, it was a strong panel and I was happy to meet Jennifer Niesslein, co-founder of Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers, afterward.

I also met Joy Rose, president and founder of Mamapalooza. I recognized her from the ARM/Mamapalooza conference "Performing Feminist Motherhood: Outlaw Mothers in Music, Media, Arts and Cultural Expression" in May. (She had attended my talk, "Moms On- and Offline," and contributed to a lively discussion about how much personal information to share on the Internet.)

All in all, it was invigorating being immersed in a community of smart, talented women from all over the world who are passionate about what they do. I'm so glad I was part of it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

O Canada


O Canada!

This past weekend, I returned to my country of birth to attend a conference. We turned it into a family road trip, with my parents driving separately. All of us stayed with family friends in Toronto.

It was a fun trip. On the way there, we visited Niagara Falls. Nico and Nolan had never been there before and it was exciting, as always, to be just a few feet away from the powerful Horseshoe Falls. It was not so good when the wind suddenly turned, spraying mist all over us. Nolan was particularly unhappy. (I'll try to post a photo if I get a chance. His face covered with rain droplets was both sad and hilarious.)

I hadn't been to Toronto in a long time so I wasn't sure how much things had changed. One thing I couldn't get over was the fact that there were huge construction cranes everywhere. Sadly, Cleveland doesn't have much new construction going on. The only cranes I've seen are by the ever-expanding Cleveland Clinic.

One thing I love about Toronto is the cultural diversity. Even though we were in town for a short time, I was able to sample delicious Greek, Persian, Chinese and Japanese food. No hand-pulled noodles this time, though. Darn!

The trip was short, so I'm hoping we can stay longer next time we visit. Maybe this summer?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Motherhood and journalism


Tonight, I'm heading to the 12th annual Association for Research on Mothering conference at York University in Toronto. I'm looking forward to returning to Canada, my homeland! York is where my dad did his postdoctoral work and I have happy preschool memories of sitting on our apartment floor scribbling on York University examination booklets.

The theme of the conference is "Mothering, Violence, Militarism, War and Social Justice". I'm very excited about it as the conference program includes researchers, activists and mothers from all over the world.

My presentation, "Mighty Hearts, Mighty Wombs: Relating to Mariane Pearl from the Perspective of a Journalist/Mother-to-Be" describes my experience as a freelance journalist covering the memorial service of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter captured and brutally killed in Pakistan six years ago. Representing People Magazine, I was four months pregnant then. In the essay, I examine my own emotional response to the situation and relate to Pearl’s then pregnant widow, Mariane.

The essay questions the notion of objectivity in journalism. Is objectivity a realistic goal for journalists linked by universal experiences – life, death, joy, tragedy? Is emotion a liability? Where does the female experience, or the mothering experience, belong in journalism?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Procrastination

Great. I've done it again.

I'm presenting at a conference next Friday and my article is not yet finished. I wish there were more hours in the day. I wish there were more days in the week. I wish ... I wish I hadn't put off writing this piece for so long!

Rrr. When will I learn?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Notes from a six-year-old

Nico has come a long way in learning how to deal with his emotions.

When he was an infant and toddler, before he could talk, whenever he was frustrated he would shriek, throw himself on the ground and log roll across the floor. These days, he has found more socially acceptable ways to handle his feelings.

I am particularly pleased to see that Nico has gotten very good at expressing himself through words, even if I am sometimes the target of his anger. Last week, I gave Nico a small notebook and encouraged him to write down his observations and feelings. He then proceeded to write a series of notes to his family members.

The first one, after Vic took him for a drive, said:
Dear Dady
Thanks For The fun ride In down town.
Love Nico

The second one, to his brother, said:
Dear Nolan:
I love win you Do Your stinky face. You are so cute And Funny.
....Love Nico

His note to me, after we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch, said:
Dear Lisa: [I'm not sure why he addressed me by my first name]
Thanks For Leting me Go to Dim Sum.
Love Nico

Then, in a particularly gracious mood, after a shopping trip, he wrote a note to the entire family:
Dear Lisa Vic and Nolan:
Thank you For Leting Me Have the Alarm Clock.
Love Nico

The next two notes took a political turn. Perhaps because we live between one neighbor who has an Obama sign in his front yard and a family with a McCain sign in their yard, Nico was interested in his dad's take on things, being an Independent and all:
Dear dady:
Who Are You Going to vote??? Obama or Mcain?

Then, it looks like he got impatient because the next note said:
Dear dady:
I Relly Want to Know.
Love Nico

I was quite proud of Nico's sophistication and interest in the presidential election, but alas, his next three notes followed his latest Captain Underpants obsession:
Please Dont fart in a Diper!!!
Please Dont Poop in a Diaper!
Please Oh Please Dont Pee in a Diaper too!!! Okay?!!!? Rerember!

Then, tonight, Nico somehow got his foot jammed in his brother's bedroom door. Nico screamed in pain and doubled over, holding his injured foot. When he finally stood up again, he started hitting the door with both fists. If there were a cartoon bubble above his head, it would have said something like "@#$%!# #@#$@%". Eventually, Nico settled down - without me telling him to - and he went to his bedroom. He emerged a few minutes later to hand me a note.

It read:
Dear Mommy:
I hate the door. Its a teribol dork.
Love, Nico

I told Nico I agreed with him that the door was quite terrible, and Nico repeated, "And it's a DORK." He told me to read the other side of his note.

The other side said:
Stupid
Door.

It was so amusing to me that Nico sat down at his desk to compose his note and that even in his frustrated state, he signed his note with "Love, Nico". It reminded me of a story my mother-in-law told me about Vic when he was Nico's age. She had punished Vic for misbehaving and ordered him to sit still in a chair in the middle of the room. After he was allowed to leave his post, Vic wrote a note to his mom that read: "Dear Mommy, I don't like you very much right now. Love, Victor".

Six-year-old boys are so lovable!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bye Bye Baby

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that my baby, most likely my last baby, is growing up. (Cue the music.)

Last night, our friends Rob and Valerie came over so we could give them some of our baby things - clothes, toys, gear, etc. I had organized and packaged the clothes: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc. Vic set up a staging area in the living room for the baby bathub, car seat, diaper changing pad, etc.

I was giddy when Rob and Val arrived and was super happy to pass on our baby items to them. They are expecting twin boys, so we gave them bags and bags of Nico and Nolan's baby clothes. It was great to know that our friends would put them to good use in a happy home. It felt liberating too, to purge things we no longer needed. I didn't think too much of it until today.

My mom was completely floored this morning when she came over to take care of Nolan while I was at work. She got very emotional when she saw that the clothes were gone. Even though we had talked about us giving everything away for quite a while, I think it was hard for her to see emptiness where there once were lots of tiny, cute baby things. She has had such a major role in raising both boys and I really underestimated how difficult it would be for her to part ways with that stuff. She was really upset about it, and only now in thinking about her feeling like that, I'm sad too.

I'm so happy that my friends, who will soon be first-time parents, will enjoy the clothes and other baby items, but it does make me wistful realizing that the babies grow up so fast. Even though Nolan is only a year old, I already miss some of the babyness about him. I think that in being so happy thinking about my friends' impending parenthood, I pushed away my own feelings about leaving a part of my life behind. It's just socks and onesies that I'm giving away, really, but for some reason, there's a deep emotional connection that's just hitting me now because of my mom this morning.

I don't know what I'll do when the boys go off to college, leaving me and Vic with an empty nest.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Incredibly Irritating Invasion of Captain Underpants


Captain Underpants has invaded our home.

Nico first discovered the Dav Pilkey series of "epic novels" one day when browsing at Mac's Backs. He was immediately hooked. He can read these books for hours at a stretch and is now even making his own abridged versions of these comic books.

One of my friends, a grade school teacher, detests these stories. I wasn't sure what the big deal was until I actually read one. Nico is constantly spouting nonsense about wedgies, talking toilets, poop and diapers.

*sigh*

I wonder how long this phase will last.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wedding and work anniversaries

What a week of milestones!

In addition to Nolan and Vic's birthdays, I just celebrated both my wedding and work anniversaries. Vic and I have been married for seven years now, and I've been working at Case Western Reserve University for five years.

When I started working at the university, I thought it would be funny to choose my wedding anniversary as my start date. Little did I know how prophetic that would be - the work-life balance has been a constant challenge for me. I've blurred my home and work lives completely.

On the bright side, Vic and I went on a very nice date to celebrate - we went to Lola for dinner, a restaurant we had been meaning to check out, especially ever since Chef Michael Symon won the competition to become the latest Iron Chef. It was great!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Birthday weekend

Nolan and Vic celebrated their birthdays this past weekend. It was Nolan's first!

It's hard to believe that Nolan has only been a part of our lives for one year. His birth was such a special day, as he was surrounded by so many people who love him. A year later, he was again surrounded by family and friends. He is - and we are - so lucky.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wait 'til next year


Wait 'til next year
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Nolan isn't even a year old, yet he is wise beyond his months. Check out his amused expression in this photo as he models his first (and last?) Browns outfit. He seems to be saying, "You expect me to wear this with a straight face? I think not."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feasting at festivals

August in Cleveland means two of my favorite festivals - the Feast of the Assumption and the Greek Festival. (Festivals with food? I'm there!)

This year, we strolled Nolan (Nico rode his bike) down to Little Italy for the Feast. We chowed down on cavatelli and pizza and rode the carnival rides all afternoon. Nico was really into it, as you can see by the photo of him wearing a red, white and green "Italia" headband.

The following weekend, we went to a wonderful Greek Festival in our neighborhood. We met up with friends and enjoyed another Mediterranean feast. We aren't a religious family, but Nico asked us if this is our church since he has attended three Greek Festivals and two christenings there.

We had to explain to Nico that he is not Greek Orthodox, but this cultural confusion thing is really starting to concern me. I think it's time for Chinese School.

Aside from the delicious food, I'm glad the boys are getting exposed to different cultures. Nico is curious and eager to learn, so we're making a very conscious effort to educate him about his heritage and others'.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflecting on my high school reunion


Last night, Vic and I attended our 20-year high school reunion. We had a really good time, despite the fact that we arrived an hour late to the dinner dance (due to bad time management on my part).

I wasn't very excited about going, especially after finding out that some of our closest friends weren't planning to attend. It would be like going to a wedding where you don't know anyone, I thought. Plus, Vic and I have been so consumed with home and work responsibilities lately that we haven't really been focusing on us - our relationship, our history, our past, present, future. I had been kinda grumpy about it for the past few weeks and asked Vic if he was looking forward to the reunion at all.

"Sure!" He smiled. "I mean, the 10-year worked out pretty well for me." I was a little surprised he was so cheerful about it, but happy he remembered the last reunion as an important turning point for us. After all, that was when we had started dating again. We had been together our senior year of high school for a brief period, but it was at our 10-year reunion that we really got together. After that event was over, we spent the next several hours catching up on everything we had been up to since high school. Following that, we maintained a long-distance relationship - Cleveland/Los Angeles - for several months and then moved to San Francisco together.

Ten years later, we are married with two young boys. We've moved back to Cleveland and we're building a life together that is crazily overstuffed. It seems that this has been the case for many of our fellow high school classmates. In reading my classmates' bios in our reunion memory book, it was plain to see that we have traveled similar emotional journeys. Along the way, we've lived through joy, disappointment, births, deaths, marriages and divorces.

Last night, I reconnected with a number of old friends and acquaintances. We talked about our growing kids, our ailing parents, our jobs, our hobbies. I talked to a few women about the classic push-pull of being a working mom.

Today, thinking about my conversations from the night before, I was reminded of something I read in college in a creative writing class I took with Mary Grimm. The novella, The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley, stuck with me over the years. Even though it moved me then, it didn't seem nearly as relevant as it does now. This part, in particular, resonates with me:

I am thirty-five years old, and it seems to me that I have arrived at the age of grief. Others arrive there sooner. Almost no one arrives much later. I don't think it is years themselves, or the disintegration of the body. Most of our bodies are better taken care of and better-looking than ever. What it is, is what we know, now that in spite of ourselves we have stopped to think about it. It is not only that we know that love ends, children are stolen, parents die feeling that their lives have been meaningless. It is not only that, by this time, a lot of acquaintances and friends have died and all the others are getting ready to sooner or later. It is more that the barriers between the circumstances of oneself and of the rest of the world have broken down, after all -- after all that schooling, all that care. Lord, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me. But when you are thirty-three, or thirty-five, the cup must come around, cannot pass from you, and it is the same cup of pain that every mortal drinks from.

I'm not feeling defeated and fatalistic about things, but I am feeling a bit melancholy. At one point during the reunion dinner dance, Vic turned to me and said, "Wow, when did we become middle-aged?"

For a banquet hall full of middle-aged people, I think we all looked pretty good, overall. We're older, of course, and some of us are grayer, balder, heavier. But it seems like we've weathered the years pretty well. It was fun to reconnect with people who shared a common set of experiences.

Later in the evening, Vic and I danced to Billy Joel's "This Is the Time", which had been the theme of our Prom(see below) and Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." It really brought me back to 1988, reminding me of the emotions I felt as a high school senior.

Anyhow, it was a wonderful evening and the organizers did a superb job putting the reunion weekend together. Despite my initial reservations about going, I'm looking forward to the 30-year event!

(Writer/Editor's Note: Vic and I were supposed to have gone to Prom together, but *someone* dragged his feet getting his tux and our tickets, so the other person decided to find another date. It is still a sore subject we don't like to talk about.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nolan rocks at Rock Band - well, not quite

Now that Vic and Nico have both become Rock Band junkies, it is time to get Nolan involved in the new family obsession.

Check out this video of Vic enouraging Nolan to get into percussion:




Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vic rocks at Rock Band

I may have created a monster. Or monsters.

Vic and Nico have both become Rock Band junkies. Nico, it turns out, has inherited some perfectionist traits from his nutty parents and is now obsessing over Rock Band like it's his job. He insists on listening to Rock Band songs at bed time, particularly Deep Purple's "Highway Star".

Anyhow, Vic and Nico spend about half an hour each day rocking out. Check out this video of the two of them performing Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun":



And here is a great acoustic version of Chris Cornell performing it solo - I luuuuurve Chris Cornell. He is dreamy.

Nico rocks at Rock Band

So for Father's Day, I gave my husband, my darling Guitar Hero, a new game: Rock Band.

The game comes with a drum kit, so it was much harder to hide from Nico. With Guitar Hero 3, we would just wait until he fell asleep before busting out the game guitar. Then, when we were done, we'd simply stash the guitar in a closet. We got away with this for months. Nolan was part of the conspiracy too. As his big bro snored away, Nolan either sat next to us on the sofa or bounced along as we Baby Bjorned him while rocking out.

Because the Rock Band drum kit is not easy to stuff into a closet, we decided to let Nico in on the family secret that we have XBox 360. Now Nico is a hard rockin' fool. He isn't very good at the guitar or drums, so he puts all his energy into singing. Check out this video of Nico's first foray at Rock Band. He's singing Radiohead's "Creep".




Nico didn't really know the lyrics so he was mainly trying to read along. He was stunned, though, when the crowd turned on him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A year ago today


It's hard to believe that one year ago today, Nolan wasn't born yet. Vic and I were, in fact, quite worried about the pregnancy then. Today, Nolan is a robust little boy with four hippo teeth!

Last summer at this time, I was anxious and having a tough time dealing with the modified bed rest order. This year, thankfully, our family of four has been having a busy, active summer. We've been spending a lot of time outdoors with friends, walking to the library and to various neighborhood restaurants, playing catch in the back yard (Nico has improved a lot!), going on rides at a number of church festivals and splashing around in the community pool. I haven't been riding my bike, though; these days, I'm mostly pushing around Nolan in his jogging stroller.

We've come a long way and we are so lucky that all of us are healthy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Child's play

I recently had the opportunity to work with some great people on a fun project - a Web resource for parents and caregivers, focusing on children and play. Creativeplayplus.com is a partnership between Step2, a local toy manufacturing company, Optiem, an interactive marketing agency, and the Schubert Center for Child Studies, which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences (where I work) at Case Western Reserve University.

One of the most fun parts about launching this resource was spreading the word about it. Kim Wheeler, an anchor and education reporter for WKYC, did a great story about it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Asian drivers ... ROCK!


OK, so I realized after I posted the entry about Whirlyball that I neglected to address an obvious question: How did I do in my first foray at it?

Well, while it is true that one might expect me, an Asian American woman, to fare poorly at Whirlyball, a recreational activity that requires some driving skills, I assure you that I did much better than you might think. I even scored a few points! True, I did get stuck in the corner a few times, but I eventually figured out how to free myself.

Granted, I am not the best driver in the world. I hate to reinforce stereotypes, but I'm afraid I fit the bill when it comes to the idea of Asian women being bad drivers. This issue was raised recently, after I noticed how torn up our tree lawn was. There were tire tracks and deep mud grooves where there should have been nice grass (carefully planted and cared for by my lovely husband). Standing on our driveway with hands on my hips, I had decided enough was enough. "That's IT!" I declared. "I've had enough of these random people tearing up our lawn! Let's dissuade these randoms from using our driveway. Let's put ROCKS on the sides of the driveway. Big ROCKS!"

"Uh, are you sure about that?" Vic asked.

"Yeah, why not? Let's put big rocks there so these randoms will pick someone else's driveway to plow over."

"Rocks? You sure?"

"YES! BIG ROCKS!"

I talked to our neighbor about the plan. He was amenable and followed our lead in putting a big rock on his side of the driveway. Vic asked me one more time if I was sure I wanted to go through with this plan. Annoyed by his reluctance, I asked him what his problem was.

"YOU are the one who keeps tearing up the tree lawn! You and your dad!" Vic finally blurted out.

Since it was my own plan, I didn't want to abort the mission. I also needed to prove that I could navigate our car between the rocks. So the rocks went down, according to plan.

Then I noticed how narrow our driveway apron was. It's abnormally narrow! I don't even know how regular cars fit on it. We have a compact car even - I can't imagine how one would drive an SUV on it. I asked Vic if maybe we should remove the rocks and hire a contractor to expand the apron. Vic responded with a sound that was half-growl, half-guffaw.

My dad has been complaining about the rocks too. I don't know about him, but I've run over the rocks only once.

So far.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day to a lovely man


Happy Father's Day
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Nico made a very sweet Father's Day card for Vic.

The cover had a rocket ship heading into space ("because Daddy likes outer space") with a countdown of "5 4 3 2 1 0!!!!" I love that Nico used four exclamation points. I generally think one exclamation point is enough to convey a message, but I think it's OK for kids to use more if they want.

The inside of the card had a cute drawing of the family. All of us have orange faces. Interestingly, I am the tallest and have two pink hearts above my head. Nico said they are earrings. Vic appears only slightly taller than Nico. Also, I seem to have an abundance of black hair, whereas Vic, Nico and Nolan have none.

The best part was the message Nico wrote all by himself:
Dear Daddy
I love you so much as I wish.
You are so lovely.
You are the best dad!
Love Nico

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Whirlyball after work


IMG_0006 1.JPG
Originally uploaded by gravity0069
I played Whirlyball for the first time on Friday night - Friday the 13th, in fact.

I joined my former colleagues in University Marketing and Communications at Case Western Reserve University for the fun activitiy. I hadn't seen many of them since my goodbye party, so it was nice to hang out with them outside of work. Whirlyball is hilarious! How can you not love an activity that combines bumper cars with lacrosse, basketball and a good amount of trash-talking?

Heidi Cool captured the experience on video - that's me at the very end. I'm not sure if I scored that time. I probably didn't.

Here's another Whirlyball video Heidi took. Were we really shrieking like that the entire time? Yes, apparently.

Anyhow, it was a really fun time and I hope to do it again some time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day


Mother's Day
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
I had a wonderful Mother's Day.

Nico woke me up by entering my bedroom saying, "Happy Mother's Day, Mama! I hope you have a beautiful, wonderful day!" His arms were full, carrying a large envelope and a wrapped gift on top of it.

The gift was a bright red and yellow handprint magnet Nico made in school. "Red is my favorite color!" I told Nico. "I know," he replied. "But I made it red and yellow to look like Iron Man."

The envelope was decorated with a crayon drawing of me standing next to flowers and - a bit strange for this time of year - a Christmas tree. Inside the envelope was a booklet entitled, "My Mom is the Most Wonderful Mom in the World!" It was awesome. This is what the pages said, with Nico's answers in red (you know, to be like Iron Man).

My mom's name is Lisa.
My mom has black hair and brown eyes.
She is 8 feet tall and weighs 80 pounds.

My mom likes to eat salad.
My mom is happy when I clean the house.
But I know she is really angry when I hurt her feelings.

My mom's favorite TV show is the Animal Planet Channel.
My mom is smart! She knows all about nursing.
If my mom could have one wish come true, it would be to have flowers.

I love my mom because she loves me and I love her.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Nolan at Adelbert Hall


Nolan at Adelbert Hall
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
In cleaning out my office and preparing for my new job on campus, I took Nolan to work on Sunday to pack up some of my things. Nolan enjoyed accompanying me on the errand. Like his brother, he seems to enjoy going to work with me. I snapped a photo of Nolan on the stone wall of the porch facing the Case quad. It goes with the one I took of Nico last year.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

May the Force be with you, UMC!


Chiubacca cake
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
WARRRRRGH!

(That's the sound a Wookie makes when s/he says goodbye.)

Today, at work, my friends and colleagues in University Marketing and Communications threw a goodbye lunch for me, complete with a Chewbacca cake! It was really nice. The cake, in particular, was incredible. You probably can't tell by my cameraphone photo, but the bangs on Chewbacca are really well done!

I have one minor flaw to point out, though: Shouldn't the first set of quotation marks be right before "Chiubacca" instead of "We'll"? I guess it could be worse - the quotes could have been around "miss", i.e. "We'll 'Miss' You".

Even though I'll be sad to leave my UMC pals, especially the media relations team, I'm looking forward to my new role at the university - heading up marketing and communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, my undergraduate alma mater.

Monday, April 14, 2008

We heart soccer!

It's soccer time!

This spring, Nico is playing in a different league from the one he had been in the past two seasons in the fall. We started Nico in soccer probably much earlier than we should have. At age four, he really didn't do much but run around in circles a lot. Most of the time, we had to yell, "Turn around! Turn AROUND!" One time, when he was goalkeeper, he lifted up his shirt and actually gazed at his belly button.

Anyhow, Nico is five (and a half!) now, so we expect he will be much better this time around. The weather was kinda bad for the first game this past Saturday, so I stayed home with Nolan, while Vic and Nico headed out. I felt bad for missing the first game, but luckily, my friend Chris captured the essence of the experience on camera. In the photo, Nico is the guy on the sidelines, hands pulled into his sleeves, looking absolutely miserable.

Yay, soccer!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nasty cupcakes


"Cupcake"
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Over the weekend, I celebrated my birthday.

For weeks, Nico had been planning the festivities, which were meant to be a big SECRET and SURPRISE! "Your birthday is almost here," Nico would remind me, "and maybe you will get flowers! It will be a SECRET!" Then later, he would tell me, "Soon it will be your birthday! And maybe you will get CUPCAKES! It will be a SURPRISE!"

Sure enough, as part of my birthday celebration, Vic and Nico baked cupcakes for me. Nico had, apparently, picked out exactly what kind of cupcakes he wanted me to have. He chose a recipe from Disney The Magic Kitchen Cookbook. The cupcakes were supposed to be angel food cake, but somewhere, something went seriously awry.

When it was time to taste the freshly baked creations, I noticed that the cupcakes looked a little misshapen. Then I took a bite. Trying my best not to insult Vic nor crush Nico's spirit, I tried to temper my comments.

Here's a transcript:
Me: [gently] Did you bake these?
Vic: Yes, of course.
Me: I mean, did you cook them?
Vic: Yes. What do you mean?
Me: I mean, did you BAKE them?
Vic: I said yes.
Me: I mean ... did you turn on the oven?
Vic: annoyed] YES!
Me: [checks oven to see if it is warm] Hmm. OK. So, I'm not sure what happened here.
Vic: Well, this is angel food cake. It's not like regular cake.
Me: But this doesn't resemble angel food cake. Do you know what angel food cake looks like? I mean, like the texture and stuff?
Vic: Well, yes, these came out kinda dense. I know. They are dense cupcakes.
Me: They're not just dense... they don't really resemble cake in any way whatsoever. But thank you! Thanks for making them.
Vic: Yeah, they kinda remind me of some Asian pastries I've had before.
Me: No, no. They don't remind me of anything remotely similar to a pastry. But thank you!
Vic: They're dense.
Me: They're not just dense.

At some point during this exchange, Nico had left the room. Later, I found out that he had eaten one cupcake and then abruptly left the table. Vic had offered him another cupcake and Nico responded, "No, thank you!" That should have given Vic a sign that something was wrong. Nico does not turn down cupcakes - normal ones, that is.

When Vic was out of earshot, I tracked down Nico and asked him what he thought of the cupcakes. "They tasted yucky," Nico whispered. "No, they weren't yucky," he corrected himself. "They were NASTY! He shook his head. "They tasted EMBARASSING!" He punctuated that last comment with a vigorous two thumbs down gesture.

For a long time, I couldn't find the words to describe the "dense" cupcakes. Finally, I put one in a Ziploc bag to show my friend Bethany. A dutiful friend, she examined the contents of the bag. "I don't understand," she said. "Walk me through this." I explained what I thought happened and Bethany poked and prodded the cupcake. "I've got it," she said, finally. "It has the shape and consistency of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, only it's white, covered with a bit of whipped topping, with some shaved coconut on top."

Bethany theorized that not enough air was stirred into the mix and that the batter was not whipped into stiff peaks before it was baked. Thus, the batter collapsed and coagulated into a semi-solid state that resulted in an end product that was almost the exact opposite of the desired outcome of a light, airy angel food cake.

The next morning, as Vic was helping Nico get ready for school, I heard Nico say, "Daddy? Let's never, ever make cupcakes again."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Boy colds


Sick boys
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Q: What is worse than having one husband with a man cold?
A: Having two sons with boy colds.

The whole family is sick.

Vic and I took both boys to the doctor last week and yes, both Nico and Nolan have ear infections. Nolan also has a wheezing problem that means we need to have him on a nebulizer three times a day. He might have asthma. I'm hoping the wheezing goes away. We did spend a lot of time around cats last weekend, so maybe he's just allergic to them like I am.

Vic and I are sick too, and both of us are exhausted from taking care of the boys. My mom has caught the bug too, so she is also tired.

Check out this pic of the boys at the doctor's office. Nico looks half-conscious and Nolan is crying.

Yep, that pretty much sums up how this week has been.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

High Fives


Brothers
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Nico, age five, and Nolan, age five months, have a very cute relationship, for the most part. Despite the fact that Nico is constantly squeezing Nolan's head and shouting crazy things at his little bro ("YEAH! This is my rock! My rock! Yeah, I love this rock head! Transform, you rock!"), Nolan absolutely adores his big brother.

The first thing Nico likes to do when he wakes up is find his brother, snuggle up next to him and say, "Hi Angel Face! Hi! Hi! Hi Baby Angel Face! Hi Strong Baby!" Nico's face totally softens when he looks at his brother.

Nolan, in turn, beams at his big brother and even when Nico is tormenting him, tends to put up with quite a bit of his shenanigans before protesting.

The smiles they give each other just melt my heart. It's so adorable!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Note from Nico to Mama

Nico spent a few hours with me at work on Friday, when his after school program was canceled due to the snowstorm.

He was surprisingly well behaved and drew pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to pass the time. Then, he wrote a nice message on my white board. It almost makes up for the note he wrote the night before, proclaiming "We Hate Mommy Day".



Kindergartners are so much fun!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Wednesday is We Hate Mommy Day

The other night, after dinner, Nico announced that he wanted to make a book for Nolan. I praised him for being so thoughtful and kind to his baby brother. We set up crayons and paper and Nico got to work. He started writing a letter: "Dear Noli Poli, today is We-".

It went downhill from there.

Here's a transcript:
Nico: How do you spell Wednesday?
Me: [pauses and decides not to throw him off with the "d"] How do you think it's spelled?
Nico:I don't know. Why don't you tell me?
Me: How about if you sound it out?
Nico: [impatiently] No. How about you just tell me?
Me: Sound it out. Wennnnnnsday. Wennnnnnnnnsday.
Nico: [enraged] JUST TELL ME!
Me: Just try to sound it out.
Nico: FINE! FINE! STUPID!
[one minute of silence]
Nico: [smiling sweetly] Want to read my letter?
Me: Okay.
Nico: I'll read it to you: Dear Noli Poli. Today is We Hate Mommy Day!

For emphasis, Nico made "Hate", "Mommy" and "Day" three different colors, with the exclamation point elaborately decorated in four colors - black, red, yellow and green. Then he circled "Hate" - just in case I missed it.

I would have posted a photo of the drawing, but he scribbled black crayon over the entire paper.

Note to self: Hang on to this drawing so when he's a teenager asking for money, I can whip this out and say, "I don't think so."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Note from Nico to Nolan


Note from Nico to Nolan
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Nico is interested in writing letters these days. He wrote one to Nolan that was touching and funny: "I still love you even win [sic] you scratch me and win [sic] you cry!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nico earns a white belt


White belt
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
On Monday, Nico was awarded a white belt in his kuk sool won class. He was so proud!

Since getting his uniform, Nico has been taking his martial arts class a lot more seriously. Before we bought him the uniform, he would goof off in class and get distracted easily.

Now that Nico has earned a white belt, he has been setting his sights on getting a black belt. He has also been practicing his moves a lot. He is especially fond of doing "knife hands" on me.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vic and Nolan RAWK out at Rock Party


Vic and Nolan RAWK out!
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Our friends Bethany and Jeff threw a super fun rock 'n' roll party that featured karaoke, dancing and Guitar Hero. If you knew my friend Bethany, you'd know that she is an impossibly creative person who goes ALL OUT when she throws a party. This was her best party yet!

This party was for adults only, except for Nolan, who was allowed to come. In the invitation, we were instructed to fill out tech riders that outlined our backstage needs. I demanded a number of items from Whole Foods, along with precise room temperature guidelines and a specific brand of toilet paper for the bathrooms.

When we got to the party, a bouncer checked our IDs and made sure we were on "the list". Apparently, Nolan was on the VIP list. Then, we were given all-access passes to wear around our necks. Nolan even had his own miniature-sized pass, attached to a pacifier holder.

A green room featured all the items from the guests' tech riders. These included Twizzlers, M&Ms (minus the blue ones), chicken wings, Cheetos, Cool Ranch Doritos, beer, Coke, diet Coke, caffeine-free diet Coke, caffeine-free Coke, fresh veggies, fresh berries, hummus and pita chips. The food was adorned with fresh red flowers (as I specified in my tech rider).

The living room was transformed into a karaoke parlor, with an actual stage. The dining room was made into a dance floor, with a strobe light. The guest room became a Guitar Hero haven, where Vic and Nolan rocked out.

Everyone came dressed as a rock star, including Nolan, who wore a baby Harley Davidson t-shirt.

We had a ton of fun. I don't know how Bethany and Jeff will top this one next year.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Soul Food Dinner and Multicultural Night


Nico and kindergarten pals
Originally uploaded by Chiubacca
Nico's school had a Soul Food Dinner/Multicultural Night event tonight that was a lot of fun. It was a combined event that featured soul food dishes in the lunch room and cultural displays throughout the hallways.

The event drew a lot of families. Nico was delighted to see his kindergarten teacher there, along with some of his classmates.

Vic and I set up a booth that honored our cultural roots. Since it was the last day of the Lunar New Year celebration, I set up a display of red envelopes, along with some almond cookies and moon cakes. My mom also gave me an abacus and some artifacts from Taiwan to decorate the table. We also displayed an Italian flag and gave away coloring book pages from an Italian coloring book.

Nico had a great time hanging out with his kindergarten pals. I had fun too. One of the best things about Nico's school is that it is so rich in its cultural diversity and tonight's event highlighted that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nolan rolls over!



Nolan surprised himself last night by rolling from his back to his stomach. At first, Vic and I thought it might have been a fluke move, but Nolan has been doing it over and over. He is delighted with his new mobility. It's just a matter of time now before he starts crawling. I guess we should start babyproofing the house.