Time Out for Disney!

I must admit, I went to Disney with the family feeling pretty unprepared. A week before going, I went on Facebook asking for advice from friends and family, and that made me feel even less prepared. I am so glad I asked for advice, because we received so many great recommendations on where to go, what to see, and where some of the yummy food was! πŸ˜‰ Turkey leg and pineapple floats! (Thanks to Jess and Christine! πŸ™‚ ) We hadn’t booked anything except for a rental car. We could have saved more if we had booked that even earlier. Luckily, Shien was able to get a couple of online reservations the night before we left at the Boma and Jiko in Animal Kingdom. (Thanks, Heidi! πŸ˜‰ )

We were also told that we were going during a very crazy time, and that we should have booked reservations for restaurants way in advance. Another ooops. I went on Amazon to shop for some kind of guide book, because I felt like there were more things I should know before visiting each of the Disney theme parks. So, I went ahead and bought The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011 (Unofficial Guides). It turned out to be a great purchase, as we did a mini-crash course each night before each theme park. I even purchase the WDW Line app through them, so we would know how long each ride’s waiting time was. Shien was awesome at packing, as always, and getting us ready for our big trip! She’s the best! πŸ˜‰

The plane ride there was smooth. The car rental thing went okay. They always try to push more options on you, so you always pay more than what the “sticker price” says. The one thing I tried to decline was the insurance, but they made it seem like you had to pick one, so I’m going to have to do hopefully work that out. We rented a bright yellow Chevy Aveo, which turned out to be a great choice, because it was so easy to find in the huge parking lots at Disney! πŸ˜‰

The timeshare was beautiful, thanks to Shien’s parents! (Thanks ChiouMa and ChiouBa! πŸ™‚ ) It’s so nice having a place with a kitchen, as Shien made great use of it. Thanks, Mommy! πŸ˜‰ It was only a ten minute ride to the parks from our residence, so we were able to come back from the parks a couple of times for dinner, and then go back! There was a Whole Foods nearby, so we were able to buy groceries. πŸ˜‰ It was great that I brought the GPS, too, as it helped us to get from place to place. The only thing we had to get used to was the “stinky” water, as Malachy’s sensitive nose was able to point out. We believe there is some sulfur in the water in Florida?

The Disney parks run like well-oiled machines! It amazed us how smoothly everything and everyone operates in terms of the parking, the lines, and how nice all the Disney “cast members” were! Shien noticed how they really focused on the kids, and when they talked to us, it was the kids they were really interested in. πŸ˜‰ On Day 3, we even had the chance to meet someone (Debby) from Shien’s hometown, who was interning at Animal Kingdom (AK) for over a month! We thought we might not see her, but we saw her at one of the last exhibits at AK. We liked AK so much, we decided to go there twice, instead of Magic Kingdom. For us, it was a really good choice.

Everything went pretty smoothly. Just a LONG wait for two things, but everything else was manageable. We waited over an hour for the Pooh ride, and now we can hardly remember what was on the actual ride itself! It went SO quickly! Malachy only had one meltdown, after watching the Finding Nemo Musical. It really stressed him out, as he was all worried about the shark. In the end, it was the jellyfish stinging Dory that really got to him. After some tears and some spitting up (YUCK), he felt much better, and the days 2, 3, and 4 went quite well! All the shows were great! Lion King (AK) was really impressive and so was the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor act (MK), The Flights of Wonder (AK), Turtle Talk with Crush (Epcot) and the Mickey’s PhilharMagic (MK). The Illuminations spectacle at Epcot and the fireworks at Magic Kingdom at night were both awesome. We didn’t do any rollercoasters this time around, but Malachy did get to go on all the “flying” rides. He liked being able to control those rides going up and down. πŸ˜‰

As we went to the airport on our final day, finding gas turned out to be a bit of a problem, as the first station we went to had no signs for the price. The reason? When we got to the pumps, it said $5.20 per gallon for regular!!! We had to drive a few more miles to find another gas station. That was just wrong. But, the car rentals will charge you over $7 a gallon, if you decide not to return it with a full tank!

The plane trip ride was a bit more adventurous, as we were delayed twice because of strong winds in New York, and we even had to “deplane” at one point. We were all set to go, but then the pilot was told JFK was shut down for a bit because of high winds. So, we had to exit the plane, but luckily were able to board again within an hour. All in all, it wasn’t so bad at all.

The weather there was AWESOME! 80s every day. The day we came back was crazy because we had the air conditioning in the car as we drove to the airport in Orlando, but when we were back in New York, my dad had the heat on in the car when he picked us up from the airport! It was over a 40-degree difference in temperature!

Malachy had a blast, and so did we. Couldn’t have asked for a better time, although Shien and I are so tired! πŸ˜‰ In the end, we were all ready to come home, although Malachy now claims he wants to move to Florida because it’s so nice there. πŸ˜‰

Time Out for Doing Battle with Tiger Mom…

Crossposted on RiceDaddies

Do We all have a bit of Tiger Mom within us?

So, I recently wrote a short book review on BookDads of Amy Chua’s, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.Β  I actually had my Mother-in-law read it, too, and initially, as she started read it, she was a bit infuriated with Amy Chua. As she continued reading it (because it’s hard to put down once you get started), the book definitely grew on her, and it made for lots of interesting conversation. πŸ™‚

Writing a book review is one thing. Doing battle with Tiger Mom is not something I was prepared for…

Malachy had his first little recital yesterday at school. Β  As performance day drew near, I discovered there was a bit of Tiger Mom inside me, and I didn’t like it at all.Β  I found myself saying ugly things, like:

  • Come on! You can do better!
  • If you don’t play it right, then I’ll…
  • If you don’t make any mistakes, then we’ll…
  • Stop looking at me every time you make a mistake!
  • Don’t rush!Β  Slow down!
  • You’re playing it too slow!Β  Hurry up!

Ai ya!Β  There I was judging and mocking Tiger Mom for being so harsh to her daughters, and here I was doing and saying things that should and could have been edited.Β  Do we all have a bit of Tiger Mom within us? What were my reasons for pushing him to practice? Was it for him? Was it for me? Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom, what do you say?

As Malachy practiced, I sensed that he was feeling the stress and pressure coming from within me.Β  I knew he wanted to please me.Β  When he made a mistake, he just stopped to check how I would react.Β  Sometimes I would get upset, and other times I just let it go.Β  At the end of the day, he always received praise and hugs from Mom and Dad.Β  Most importantly, he enjoys practicing and playing, and he definitely has more showmanship than his dad.Β  πŸ˜‰

The bottom line is that if you want to do something really well, you HAVE TO practice.Β  Once in a while, you can rely on raw talent, but 99.99% of the time, it’s about hard work.Β  For things like music and some schoolwork, it’s about repetition, repetition, repetition.Β  With the piano, if he didn’t practice, he wouldn’t have done as well.Β  The crazy thing is that after all the practicing, there was still the chance he would “mess up.”Β  Watching ice skating on television comes to mind…Β  So, what’s the reward?Β  I guess you feel accomplished when you do it right and do it well.Β  You prove to yourself that you can do it if you work hard.Β  Plus, you get to have all those around you cheering you on.Β  πŸ˜‰

After the recital, we could tell that he was pleased with performance.Β  Later on, he called PoPo and GongGong (who were at the airport) and told them he didn’t make any mistakes.Β  They were so proud, because I had posted it on YouTube, and they had already seen it on the iPhone minutes later.Β  Technology is amazing!Β  He thanked Gong Gong for the practice sessions he had with him when grandpa was in New York.

Gong Gong had him stop and start over every time he “messed up,” and Malachy never complained.Β  From the other room, we would hear him play, Father, I Adore You, again and again and again.Β  He only got a check mark from Gong Gong when he played it without any mistakes.Β  Gong Gong was tough, but never mean.Β  When Malachy came out of the room, he felt good about his practice session.Β  I learned from Gong Gong that Malachy didn’t mind some hard work.Β  πŸ˜‰

Here’s to more doing battle with Tiger Mom again and again and again… πŸ˜‰

Time Out for “Hurtness”


It’s amazing when kids invent their own words. Malachy’s latest new word… “hurtness.” He’ll say, “Mommy, please make the hurtness go away,” or “Daddy, how can we make the hurtness go away?” πŸ˜‰

Well, this Friday, we had to deal with some “hurtness.” It was a grueling and mentally exhausting week because we were waiting all week to see if Malachy made it into one of the city’s more “prestigious” elementary schools. It was crazy how many dreams I had about it. He had made it to the top 290 from around 1400 kids, but didn’t make it into their top 50. For me, the biggest “carrot” for this school, was that if you got in, you didn’t have to worry about having to make any decisions or worry about any city/state exams from elementary to high school! We wouldn’t have had to worry in that department until college! We wouldn’t have had to deal with any “hurtness” in terms of having to try to make it into a “good” middle school or “good” high school. That makes me cringe, because shouldn’t ALL schools be “GOOD?”

We are in a society where we can start “prepping” our kids in one way or another if we want to increase their chances of getting into a “good” school or a “gifted” class in the city. How is it that we have such a range in terms of public education (starting at age 4 or 5) in a democratic society? Everyone is entitled to a good education but not everyone gets one. We are already separating and dividing our students at age 4! Is there not enough good education to go around for every child in America? What is up with that?

The one thing I have to remember is that we as parents are our children’s first teachers, and we can continue to play a key role in their education. No matter where Malachy winds up, we have to remember to stay involved and know that there is a lot of learning and teaching that comes from us. πŸ™‚

So, it’s more wait and see for now…

Time Out for a HAPPY Birthday SURPRISE! (Return of the Rings!)


So, I turned 40 today! So many reasons to be happy! πŸ˜‰ Nothing beats celebrating with loved ones. The day started with Malachy waking me up and reminding me that it was my birthday. He made me a great card, which I’ll have to scan. I cooked him some “eggy fan fan” (Chinglish for egg with rice), while Shien got to sleep in just a little longer. What a happy daddy I am! πŸ˜‰

Tonight, we went out to dinner in Chinatown with Shien’s family and my family. Shien bought a yummy Chinatown Ice Cream Factory Cake. As she was packing up the cake, I was telling Malachy he did a great job of keeping Mommy’s secret. She went out to get the cake while I was napping, and Malachy said Mom had to go out for something, but it was a secret. I figured it out, and he was like, “But, you weren’t supposed to know.” I told him it was okay, and that it was good that he didn’t tell me. πŸ˜‰

Then I told him, “I have a secret surprise for you to give to Mommy!” He was excited. I gave him the box with the replacement wedding band I got for Shien. I was going to wait for her birthday tomorrow, but I figured, “Why not?” Malachy gave it to her when she sat down. She opened it and we all cheered. Just earlier today, Shien’s mom had asked to see “the ring.” The last time she was in town, I was all ready to get a more expensive ring, but it fell through. Shien told her she didn’t want something so expensive and just wanted something from Chinatown… (That is where we got her previous bands. After all, platinum is platinum… I think.)

As we were cheering about the surprise and the new ring, my dad said across the table, “Hey, Shien has two rings in the car.” We said, “WHAT?!?!” We couldn’t believe it!!! We were like, “What do you mean?” He told us that he had forgotten to tell us that he had found them in the car a while ago, when he was looking for something. It was by the side of the armrest. I couldn’t believe he hadn’t told us, but then again, I had never told him about Shien’s lost rings. It seemed like everyone knew, and I guess he was never told. WOW!

What we thought was lost and gone forever was FOUND! Shien and her mom called it a birthday miracle, as their birthdays are tomorrow. It was a bit surreal. Shien’s mom e-mailed a few weeks ago and said that she had a vivid dream that Shien had found her rings and asked if it was real. I replied back that it was wishful thinking. I thought they were in some landfill, because we thought Shien must have lost them in the disposable gloves she was wearing when cooking at her internship. We’re still not 100% sure how they fell out in the car, but we suspect Shien may have taken them off to put on hand lotion on Thanksgiving Day, as we were driving to Staten Island. Unbelievable!!!

Shien said we should return this new ring, but I was like, “No way!” This one has a story behind it. I’ll call it, “Return of the Rings!” πŸ˜‰ I’m thinking I want to engrave, “LOST WITHOUT YOU, SHIEN!” on them. (The jeweler told me to make sure she fit it before engraving.) Plus, it’s so shiny and new! πŸ˜‰