Category Archives: Family

Time Out for H20!

What an awesome day it was yesterday!  Thanks to NYC H20, who organized the event, we got the opportunity to go canoeing on the Pepacton Reservoir and learn something about the water that we drink everyday.  Could hardly feel my shoulders afterwards, but it was worth it.

It’s mind-blowing being able to canoe on the very water that comes to our faucets from 100 miles away!  They do add some chlorine, fluoride, orthophosphate, and sodium hydroxide to our water, but it’s UNFILTERED!  Over 90% of our water comes to us in NYC through gravity, as it travels from the watershed in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley through reservoirs, aqueducts, pipes, and tunnels.  More than 1.1 billion gallons of water to about 9 million people in NYC every day! Pretty incredible, eh?  It was nice to share this learning experience with the family.

from NYC DEP

Another big lesson we learned was from the canoe itself.  Initially, Shien was rowing in the front, and I was rowing and steering in the back.  After lunch, we decided to switch, since I thought I could powerhouse it in the front.  Boy, was I wrong!  Being heavier in the front, I used more energy than ever, and Shien was having difficulty navigating in the back.  We were going nowhere fast.  We decided to make a switch in the water, where I had to lie flat on my back in the canoe, and slide to the back, while Shien climbed over, and Malachy stayed steady in the middle.  Teamwork!  After that, it was so much better!  I learned that just because you are working really really hard, doesn’t mean you’re always doing a good job.  You need to make sure you are navigating properly, or you’ll never reach your destination, wherever that might be. 😉

 

 

Time Out for Giving Thanks!

Thankful.

Grateful.  I feel truly blessed.  Hurricane Sandy seems so long ago, but what an adventure it was for the three of us.  It was like that TV show, The Amazing Race.  With no electricity, water, or heat, we had to make do with what we had for a few days.  Luckily, there was gas, and we had a lighter, so Shien was still able to make delicious food for us by lighting the stove.  Toasted bagels never tasted so good!

Amazingly, we didn’t even miss Halloween, as my dad was able to get the car to us.  It took him about 4+ hours to get to us (usually a 20-minute drive), and we were able to go to Staten Island to do some trick-or-treating, see some of our family, eat a nice meal at my Aunt Amy’s, charge up our devices, and take a nice hot shower!  Things we daily take for granted were much appreciated.

When you’re in this kind of “survival” mode, and all you want to do is take care of your family, it truly puts things into perspective.  On that Friday, I was able to get up and bike to work (even though it was relocated to the Upper West Side), get some yummy packed lunch from Zabar’s, ride back home, and make the drive to Virginia so that we could attend a baptism, where Shien would be a Godmother to one of her dearest of friends’ son. 🙂 There was some worry that we wouldn’t be able to get gas, but two hours into the drive, and we got filled up, and all was good.  The whole weekend was amazing, and the drive back was great, too.  Going to work the next day without a complaint, knowing how fortunate we were.  Giving thanks…

Time Out for Mom…


Remembering Mom...

Sunday was the anniversary of my mom’s passing 14 years ago. We weren’t able to go up to the cemetery, so I decided we would go out on Saturday to buy some incense and a small container to hold them in. I remember paying respects to my grandfather when I was a kid, and I thought it would be nice for Malachy to remember and pay respects to my mother. I never met my grandpa and Malachy never met my mom. Sometimes, I feel my mom is teaching me through Malachy. I appreciated her growing up, but even more so now than ever. She really showed me what it means to live for others, and it’s what I hope Malachy learns from me. Not through words, but through my actions. Rest in Peace, Mom. We all miss you so much.

Time Out for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. No need to worry about gift giving. If you can’t cook, you can just eat. Getting together with family and just being able to appreciate what we have. It seems with every Thanksgiving, I have more and more to be thankful for.

One of Malachy’s homework assignments was to write and draw what he was thankful for. After filling out two pages, he asked me to make another sheet for him. He really got into it, and that was awesome to see all that he was thankful for. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, ELECTRICITY was the first thing he wrote! With all the technology that surrounds us, I guess he sees how important it is in our daily lives. And without it… no iPad, no Kinect, no computers, no TV… Hmmmmm… Is that a good thing or bad thing? 🙂

Things Malachy is Thankful for (Part I)...
Things Malachy is Thankful For (Part II)...
Things Malachy is Thankful For (Part III)...
Things Malachy is Thankful For (Part IV)...

After writing about it, I decided to ask him about it. Just let the tape roll, and this is what he came up with. Priceless…

Time Out for After School Thoughts…

A Childhood...
GOT PLAYTIME?

I was the first to line up in front of Malachy’s school to make sure he got a spot for an after school program, the day after Labor Day (before the sun was up and in the rain).   After only one day (plus an orientation), we quit the program. It would have been FREE (thanks to Uncle Sam) every day from 3:00PM to 5:30PM. How could we give up such a coveted spot?

Just looking at Shien during the orientation pretty much made up my mind.  There was so much talk about getting “points” for good behavior or getting suspended for bad behavior.  For snack, they got some juice and graham crackers after school.  (Sugar and more sugar.)  And no, you couldn’t supplement with your own snack because all the other kids would want some.  Your child had to have a book at all times because there would be many times when he would have to wait for the next transition.  (Before the orientation started [right after the program ended], all the kindergartners and first graders were sent to another table and told to be quiet.  That didn’t happen.)  We had to sign papers and were told to go over the rules with our children when we got home, because they also had to sign the “contract” tomorrow.

Broken...

The thing was, we wouldn’t be able to pick him up early EVER. To be fair, you’re given three days out of the 180+, if you had a valid reason. I understood that it would be disruptive to pick your child up early, but to not have that luxury of picking him up when we wanted to or needed to was too much. Just today, seeing him break down much more easily than usual showed me how tired he was and how long a day it was for him. Multiply that by 180+ days, and I saw little good that could come out of that.

KID WANTED

I know that for so many parents, it’s not a choice, and that’s what greatly disturbed me today. Back in the day, my mom picked my sister and I up every day after school. We got to go home and have whatever snack my mom prepared. We did homework at HOME. We got downtime at home.  After we were done with our homework, we got to play, either inside or outside.

For too many kids and parents, it’s so so hard now. Some kids as early as age 3 are going to school from 8:30am to 5:30pm! That doesn’t even include travel time! It’s no wonder so many of our kids are burnt out and bouncing off the walls. What has happened to play time? What has happened to childhood? Our children deserve better…

As for the next child in line on the wait list that takes Malachy’s spot, I really really hope it works out for that child and the family…

Time Out for Dining Out!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Bunny for winning the $45 Outback Steakhouse Dinner with Dad certificate! Thanks to everyone for participating! Happy Fourth of July to all!


Soon after my first giveaway, I was invited to host another! This one’s for a $45 Outback Steakhouse Dinner with Dad certificate! (Thanks, Outback!) We will announce the winner on the Fourth of July, Malachy’s birthday! It will be awesome for him to give away something on his birthday! 😉

I was asked to blog about dining with Malachy, and I thought that was a great idea. I’ve actually blogged about breaking bread together in the past. Malachy and I are blessed to have the best chef right at home… Mommy! So, we basically get to eat well together all the time at home, and that means so much. Watching Jamie Oliver’s, Food Revolution recently, with the single dad with two sons was quite touching. They showed how hard it was for him to feed his boys because he didn’t know how to cook and he felt like there wasn’t enough time. They wound up ordering out all the time and he felt like they were never really eating as a family. The ate for the sake of eating. Dining together is not just about eating together, but sharing together and spending quality time together.

When Shien has evening classes, it’s just me and Malachy. Once in a blue moon, we’ll open the kitchen and make something, but most of the time, we get to order Ming’s and share a meal together. We call it a “date night” and though we miss Mommy’s cooking during those evenings, we manage to make the most of it. In the beginning, that meant ordering way too much because I always thought we should have variety. Lately, I’ve scaled back and have to keep reminding myself that just because Mommy’s not around, it doesn’t mean we get to eat super unhealthy. That would be a bad signal to send to Malachy. The important thing is that we dine together and get to do some Daddy-Son bonding.

As for dining out, it’s always special because we don’t do it often. We do go to our local cafe almost every Sunday for brunch, but unless we’re on vacation, we seldom venture out. We do enjoy the occasional family gatherings at restaurants, and I can’t wait to share a meal with Malachy when we use our certificate for Outback. I have one great memory of eating at Outback Steakhouse. It was a Bachelor’s dinner where I was treated by my buddies, after playing a round of golf together. There’s nothing like playing golf and then having a nice piece of steak! 🙂 I look forward to sharing those moments with Malachy, and maybe he’ll start blogging about his Dinner with Dad experiences soon. I might even have him write about our Outback Steakhouse dinner after we venture out. To be continued… 🙂

So, how do you get a chance to win a $45 certificate to Outback Steakhouse? Just comment and share how you would use the Outback Steakhouse Dinner With Dad $45 certificate. DEADLINE: July 4th, 12PM EST. This certificate can not be used for tax, gratuity, or alcohol. It can be used to enjoy their signature grilled rib-eye, Kookaburra Wings, fall off the bone baby back ribs or anything else you crave from their menu. Getting hungry? 😉 Good luck, everyone!

To find out about more promotions from Outback, you can follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook!

Disclosure: I was moderately compensated with a Certificate from Outback Steakhouse in order to offer this promotion.

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 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.  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. 🙂

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.   As performance day drew near, I discovered there was a bit of Tiger Mom inside me, and I didn’t like it at all.  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!  Slow down!
  • You’re playing it too slow!  Hurry up!

Ai ya!  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.  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.  I knew he wanted to please me.  When he made a mistake, he just stopped to check how I would react.  Sometimes I would get upset, and other times I just let it go.  At the end of the day, he always received praise and hugs from Mom and Dad.  Most importantly, he enjoys practicing and playing, and he definitely has more showmanship than his dad.  😉

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

After the recital, we could tell that he was pleased with performance.  Later on, he called PoPo and GongGong (who were at the airport) and told them he didn’t make any mistakes.  They were so proud, because I had posted it on YouTube, and they had already seen it on the iPhone minutes later.  Technology is amazing!  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.  From the other room, we would hear him play, Father, I Adore You, again and again and again.  He only got a check mark from Gong Gong when he played it without any mistakes.  Gong Gong was tough, but never mean.  When Malachy came out of the room, he felt good about his practice session.  I learned from Gong Gong that Malachy didn’t mind some hard work.  😉

Here’s to more doing battle with Tiger Mom again and again and again… 😉

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! 😉