Category Archives: Celebrations

Time Out for a Flashback and a Father’s Day Giveaway!

 

Oh, how I’ve missed you!

UPDATE: THANKS SO MUCH TO EVERYONE FOR PARTICIPATING IN MY FIRST GIVEAWAY.  MALACHY AND I USED RANDOM.ORG TO PICK THE WINNER.  THE WINNER IS MATTHEW! (Comment #24)  CONGRATULATIONS!

This is pretty cool, because thanks to Dad Central Consulting and Lands’ End, I get to host my first giveaway!

Drum roll please…  Introducing the new mesh polo shirt by Lands’ End!  A winner will be announced on Father’s Day, June 19, 2011!

Flashback

When I showed my wife my awesome Lavender Ice polo shirt for review, she said, “Wow, you haven’t worn one of those in a LONG time!”

This shirt brought back memories.  Once upon a time, before Malachy was born (almost five years ago), this city boy would go play golf with his buddies almost every single weekend.  The game taught me a lot about life and myself.  Patience.  Enjoy the moment.  Stop and think before you shoot.  Look forward.  Stay positive.  I can’t wait to share these lessons and more with Malachy, when we hit the links one day…  I’ll be saving this polo to wear on Father’s Day 2011. 🙂

During that decade or so of playing golf every weekend, I went through dozens and dozens of polo shirts made by various designers such as Polo, Ashworth, Greg Norman, Ping, Nike, Izod, and more.  Whenever there was a big sale, I’d buy one or two or three or more, depending on how big the sale was.  After several washings, many of these shirts just simply couldn’t handle the repeated washings.  Some always felt stiff and never got soft, some got very wrinkly, some took forever to dry, some of the buttons on them would break in half or completely come off, and some of the collars on them would start curling.

My Review

Looking at this new 100% cotton mesh polo shirt, it looks like Lands’ End did their homework to find out what guys like me needed in a nice golf polo shirt.  It doesn’t feel stiff; it’s strong yet soft.  It has strong etched buttons that are cross-stitched, and a collar that didn’t curl after being put through the wash.  It also wasn’t overly wrinkly coming out of the dryer.  One thing this shirt has that none of my other golf shirts had is a “jersey-taped seam” on the neck and shoulder.  The other thing that makes it really cool is a “half-moon knit yoke (that’s the heather blue part in the photo),” which really does “feel softer on your skin.”  That’s especially important when wearing it in hot weather.  The Lands’ End site provides even more details about the shirts.  I had to ask my wife what kind of blue that was.  🙂  They have a great 100% satisfaction guarantee for their customers.  Very cool!

The Giveaway!

Thanks to Dad Central Consulting and Lands’ End, one lucky reader of this post will win one of these polos shipped directly from Lands’ End!  All you have to do is leave a comment below and say why you would like to win a Lands’ End polo. My son and I will choose the winner on Father’s Day, June 19th, using random.org.  I will then e-mail the chosen winner to ask for their desired shirt size.

Deadline to enter a comment is 12PM (EST) on Father’s Day.  Winner will be notified soon after that.  Good luck, everyone! 🙂

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Lands’ End and received a polo shirt to facilitate my review, one to giveaway, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Time Out for Poetry!

Recently, I entered a little poetry contest at Edutopia.org. The contest was to write a poem, in Haiku format, on how to improve education. So far, I’m in the lead by a few votes… 😉

The first thing I had Malachy do today when he came home after school (after washing his hands, of course), was his homework. I wanted it to be done before dinner, so he could relax later on. For the most part, he hasn’t resisted doing his homework this year. WHEW!  I thought today’s assignment was simple enough. The sheet, although a bit cut off, asked him to think of words that remind him of spring and to use the words to complete the form. I just put the sheet down on the table, asked him to do his homework, and when it was dinner time, I asked him to put it away in his folder. I didn’t get to look at it until he had gone to bed. Expecting to just see a word in each blank, I saw that he composed quite the poem! 🙂

He writes,

Spring is…

Spring is A time where plants grow
Spring is After Winter has begun
Spring is A time that snow has all melted
But most of all
Spring is Fun!

WOW!  He’s a poet and doesn’t even know it!  Every day, he manages to do something that amazes me.  So cool! 😉

A Poet, and he doesn't even know it! 😉

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! 😉 Turkey leg and pineapple floats! (Thanks to Jess and Christine! 🙂 ) 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! 😉 )

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! 😉

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! 😉

The timeshare was beautiful, thanks to Shien’s parents! (Thanks ChiouMa and ChiouBa! 🙂 ) It’s so nice having a place with a kitchen, as Shien made great use of it. Thanks, Mommy! 😉 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. 😉 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. 😉 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. 😉

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! 😉 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. 😉

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

FOUND!

So, I turned 40 today! So many reasons to be happy! 😉 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! 😉

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. 😉

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!” 😉 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! 😉

Time Out for Halloween!

As a kid, who doesn’t LOVE Halloween?  As an adult, I started dreading it…  until Malachy came along. 😉  This Halloween, I found the perfect costume online… Chinese Take Out!  The giant chopsticks weren’t included. 😉 Found them in Chinatown for $1.50! For the past year, whenever Shien has class in the evening, Malachy and I have ordered Ming’s for take out!  Malachy and I call it date night.  😉  They are really nice there and the food is pretty good for Chinese food.  We usually get some kind of appetizer like dumplings or spring rolls, some Beef Chow Fun, a small soup, and some vegetable dish with rice.  Malachy also always asks for a cold beverage, like Lychee or Longan or Chocolate slushies.  They add little pieces of gelatin to it too, so it’s quite yummy.

Malachy was SO excited ALL weekend, as Halloween was on a Sunday.  For us, it started on Friday.  Malachy’s school had a Halloween celebration, and I volunteered to read.  I read and sang with EIGHT classes in a row! 😉  I was able to “play guitar” with my Droid X attached to a Mic, and then the class played some Musical Chairs, while I played music from an iPod touch.   I think it was the first time for some of the kids.  Very cool!  Malachy’s Po Po and Gong Gong came to visit just for this occasion.  They made New York into a pit stop before traveling overseas.  Malachy and I quickly made his Po Po a costume on Friday morning, since she was going to march in the school parade with him.  I found some of the recycled brown paper wrapping that comes with deliveries, and we made a big bandage with it! 😉

On Saturday, we got to take a little break, but then on Sunday, all the festivities started up again, as our community has an annual HUGE Halloween blast with lots of activities.  The activity that exhausted me was the bouncy inflatable slides that they rented.  The problem was that they were SO vertical and Malachy couldn’t climb up to the top by himself.  So, I had to get in there and attempt to get him to the top.  It was so tall, that I had to climb and push, and he wasn’t helping me one bit. 😉  He kept cracking up, as I tried to hurl him to the top.  I slid back down with him a few times (failed attempts), and kept trying to climb and throw him up at the same time.  My back was sore for a few days, but it’s all good now.  WHEW! 🙂

In terms of the candy, his FAVORITE part, of course.  It lasts us for the year and we wind up not even eating it all! 😉  After a week or so, we put it out of sight and revisit it every now and then.  This year Malachy dubbed the candy bucket he got from his Po Po, a BOOket, since it looks like a ghost and glows in the dark.

Time Out for a Golden Birthday!

Golden Birthday!

Not until Malachy turned 3 did we hear about the term Golden Birthday. Someone had told us that the following year would be his Golden Birthday. We were like, “Huh?” We found out it meant that you turn the age of the date you were born on. So, Malachy turned 4 on the 4th this year. You only get one! 😉

When your child has a birthday, it’s like a birthday for everyone in that there is so much preparation and anticipation. He was showered with gifts, but it also came with promises. About a month ago, Malachy and his classmate shared a vision together, and that vision was a Chocolate River.

Chocolate River!

Once again, it was something we were determined to make a reality. At least, that’s what Shien was determined to do. I actually Googled it, and Rachel Ray, one of Malachy’s favorite chefs, created one! His was going to be different, because it had to have carrot sticks! 😉 Shien and him created it, and the cake tasted OH SO YUMMY! 😉 One of the things about being a parent is that you’re always trying to make your child’s wishes come true! Certainly not required, but definitely a plus! 😉

Another gift that I HAD to get him was this pen that I saw at a staff development meeting. It’s called the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, and it was just too cool to pass up. It actually records what one is writing in a notebook, as well as audio! I had it for a while but we decided to save it for his birthday. It’s a way of now being able to record some of his writing, stroke by stroke, as well as him talking live while writing. Very geeky. Very cool. 🙂

Malachy’s ABCs
brought to you by Livescribe

Finally, we ended the evening with a great view of the most amazing fireworks! As PoPo said, they were especially for him… 😉 It is really nice to be able to share a birthday with your country! 🙂 (America is 230 years older! 😉 )

Time Out for CAMP!

Since I had the summer off, I decided to start a one-man Summer Camp for Malachy.  He dubbed me “Camp Dad,” and he dubbed himself, “Camp Son.”  Instead of spending over a grand and putting him in a summer program, I thought to myself, “Wait, I CAN DO THIS!”  We would have more flexibility in schedule.  We could go on a Family trip and do other fun things together.  Malachy LOVED the idea. 😉

His first request was to have a campfire and roasted marshmallows.  I don’t know what possessed me to promise him one.  As July drew near, he got more and more excited about the idea of a campfire and marshmallows.   I started to fret, and thought to myself, “How are we going to do this in the City?”  A few days before our Camp was supposed to take off, I actually did a Google Search for Campfire in Manhattan, Camfire in NYC.  Guess what?  I found one!  I found something that said, “Beach Campfire!”  It was going to happen on July 2 at Jacob Riis Park, from 7:30pm-9:30pm.  I asked Shien and she said, “Sure!”  Still, I thought, maybe it was going to be a big fire, and we wouldn’t be able to toast marshmallows.  We kept telling Malachy that if it didn’t happen at the beach, we  would toast it at home by candlelight.

At the Beach with PoPo

I called a couple of days in advance just to make sure it was for real.  I got the car from Staten Island, and we went after dinner.  As usual, I relied too heavily on GPS.  It took us through local traffic, and I was so confused because it said it was in Queens online, and we were driving through local traffic in Brooklyn.  I thought it was going to take us to the wrong place.  Anyways, when we got there, NO CAMPFIRE!  I kept figuring it was the July 4th weekend, and that they just decided to cancel it.  There were a few people around, and we walked around the beach for a little bit and decided to stay just a short while and then go home… 🙁

"There's A Hole in the Beach!"

I tried calling the number a couple of times that I had called 2 days earlier.  No answer.  I kept looking far off in the distance, and saw a group of people.  I decided I had to check it out to see if that could possibly be it.  IT WAS!  I couldn’t run back to tell them, because it’s SO HARD to walk fast in the sand.  I called PoPo, and told her the great news.  Malachy was SO excited! 🙂  He got to have his roasted marshmallows and even a hot dog!  There was some even some campfire singing; the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  Unbelievable!  Another thing I could never have imagined.  A campfire in NYC, at the beach!  SO COOL! 😉

Toasting Marshmallows at the Beach!
First Beach Campfire EVER for all of us!

Time Out for Amuse Bouche!

Our most expensive night out EVER! 😉

Malachy got to spend the night at PoPo’s, so Shien and I were able to go out for an early anniversary dinner! 😉  It’s always awesome to know that Malachy is okay with us going on a date. 🙂  Originally the only reservation Shien could get at Wylie Dufresne’s, WD-50, was 10:30pm!  I called at around 3 to see if anything opened up.  At first, the Maitre D told me she had something at 10pm, but then she said there was an opening at 7pm!  That was AWESOME, because we didn’t want to start a 12-course meal at 10:30pm.

Besides being the most expensive meal (FOUR Franklins! 😉 ) we ever had, it was definitely the most entertaining.  Shien said it was like going to an amusement park.  Every dish that came out was another adventure into the unknown, and they all could be eaten in one or two bites!  It was like eating someone’s science experiments.

The one that was the most fun was the Everything bagel, smoked salmons threads, and crispy cream cheese. When it came, it looked like a baby miniature everything bagel!  It was actually made out of ice cream with sesame and poppy seeds spread on top!  On the side was salmon that was dried to an almost powder-like consistency and the cream cheese was like a cold thin film!  When you put everything together, it indeed tasted like an everything bagel!  YUMMY!  Two of my other favorites were the scrambled egg ravioli and the cold fried chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, tabasco and caviar. I wasn’t a huge fan of the caviar, but everything else was really tasty!  All of the dessert was really tasty.  I actually wasn’t close to full until I had all of the desserts! 😉

When we got home, we watched Sherlock Holmes, but I kept nodding off.  Still, it was a great night out!  Married for 8 years and together for 17 years to the most amazing woman!  WOW!  I am truly truly blessed! 🙂