Category Archives: Fatherhood

Time Out for Father’s Day!

DSC06278It’s turning out to be one of my favorite days of the year… Father’s Day!

Celebrating Fatherhood!  One of the most important titles I will ever bear in my lifetime, the title of Dad.  It’s awesome!  I am so thankful that I have gotten to spend all the time that I have with Malachy.  I know so many fathers don’t have that luxury or haven’t had that opportunity.  Even my own dad, growing up, he had to work 12-hour+ days, and we only really got to see him once a week.  The one day he would have at home, he usually had to take care of things around the house.  I remember my mom constantly asking me to help my dad, but I didn’t really know how.  Perhaps, he also didn’t have a whole lot of time to teach me, so I learned by watching him.  He taught me a lot, not so much through words but his actions.

With Malachy, I’ve had the benefit of speaking with him, modeling for him, and just being present and being a Dad.  It’s been one of the greatest joys I could ever ask for, along with spending time with Shien and with family.  I want to show him that he could do whatever he puts his mind to.  He’s inspired me to do more than I have thought possible from myself.  We are learning together…

Time Out for Bike Riding…

It’s one of those vivid ingrained memories in my head… learning how to ride the bicycle.  I remember it being a big deal the day the training wheels finally came off!   I don’t know how accurate my memory is, but I remember I was five and my cousin, Karmin (thanks, Karmin!) held on to my bicycle as he helped to teach me how to ride.  First, he held on to the handlebar on the side, as I went up and down the block in front of our apartment building in Brooklyn.  Eventually, he started holding on to the back seat of my bicycle, where he was out of my peripheral view.  I remember that really well, because at one point I thought he was holding on to my bicycle, and when I looked back, he was halfway up the block!  I was so shocked that I did it on my own that I went crashing onto the ground.  The thrill, and then the agony…

I learned to look forward and to trust myself.  I learned that fear and dwelling on the past (looking back) prevented me from enjoying the ride and looking forward.  I learned that life is sometimes about learning how to fall.  I remember using this story of learning how to ride the bicycle in my college essay to Columbia almost 25 years ago!

35 years after learning how to ride the bicycle, here I am trying to teach Malachy how to ride!  Amazing!  Wondering how (or if) he’ll remember these days.  I know my back will never forget these past 3 days! 🙂  It’s such a rush for him, though.  I thought by day 3, he wouldn’t want to go back outside and try again (at least not 3 days in a row), and I know I wouldn’t have minded if he had said, “Nah, I’m not in the mood, today.   Let’s take a break, Dad.”  But instead he said, “Dad, I really like it!  I want to try to ride by myself again!”  Love his attitude!

So, there we were again today.  Me yelling at him and telling him to focus and to concentrate, to balance, to stop leaning and turning and singing and cracking up.  I know we both cracked up when he was able to ride for a few split seconds on his own.  The thrill of getting it.  It really IS cool.  You don’t remember when you learn how to walk, but you can remember learning how to ride a bicycle.  It’s a bit different nowadays.  I didn’t have a helmet.  And I remember falling over a lot harder and getting scraped and bruised.  I get so tempted to just let Malachy go, but I don’t want him to fall down so hard that he’ll get too scared to try again.  So, I hold on…

Eventually, I know he’ll get it, and I’ll feel proud that he learned and happy in being there with him! 🙂

Time Out for Brainology!

Ever since our family went to the Brain Exhibit that was at the American Museum of Natural History, our whole family has been fascinated with the Brain. I even took an evening course called, The Wired Child back in the Fall at the Museum (where I was literally surrounded by stand-alone brains!). Recently, my Adult Development course got me right back into the brain and its plasticity, with some great readings, lectures, and conversations.
What amazes me the most is how much of an impact our environment has over our brains. It’s Nature vs. Nurture, and I think I used to be more like, “Well, you’ve got what you’ve got (in terms of your brain), and you can only do so much.” Now, I realize there is a WHOLE lot we can do to train and develop our brains and our children’s brain. It’s as much what we actively do or don’t do day-to-day that greatly affects our brains. And thus, Brainology!
I first learned about Brainology from an online Mind/Shift article titled, Discovering How to Learn Smarter by Annie Murphy Paul. Brainology is a program developed by Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck. It helps students develop a growth mindset, as opposed to having a fixed mindset. When I learned it was for middle school and high school students, I was a bit bummed out, because I wanted to get Malachy in on it right away. Lo and behold, someone from Brainology saw my blog (after an e-mail inquiry), and said Malachy might be a great candidate for a Brainology pilot! (Thanks so much, Cole!) How awesome is that?
So, now it feels like Malachy and I are taking a Brain Course together! (Thanks, Brainology!) He already wants to sit and go through all the levels in one sitting, but I told him that we need time to let things sink in (especially for me). The program is awesome because it offers a combination of multimedia videos, an e-journal for recording thoughts, an online Brain book, and other online tools that make it fun and easy to learn about the brain. I’m able to sit with him and type some of his responses in. He could type the responses, but he usually wants to get right back to the watching and learning. For me, it’s great to see how much he has learned so far, and we could have some conversations if something needs further explanation. So far, so great! 🙂

Here are some of Malachy’s thoughts on The Brain, after the Intro. and Level 1…
When you learn new things, your brain gets smarter and stronger.
When you touch things or do anything with your body, your brain detects it.
When you don’t have enough sleep, then you can’t think very well.
When you’re doing your homework, you shouldn’t do anything else, like watching cartoons or eat lunch or listening to your CDs.
When you’re reading, you can do writing or drawing to help you learn.

Time Out for Adulthood!

After my first classes yesterday, I was inspired to do another Malachy interview. In my Adult Development class, we had some great discussions, and one of the questions that was posed was what we thought it was like being an adult, when we were growing up. I immediately started wondering what Malachy thought of adulthood and how he viewed childhood versus adulthood. The great thing about asking him questions is never knowing what he’ll come up with. I think I could have kept going (but we were already at 9 minutes!), as he started introducing topics like marriage and money, but we can save that for another day…

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 Teamwork!


Back in 2009, I was looking online for a nice backpack for Shien, because her friend told us how important it was to have good back support when you’re carrying a heavy bag. A Google search helped me to find the best price for the North Face bag at O2 Gear Shop. I have been getting regular e-mails from them ever since buying the bag, and I recently “Liked” them on Facebook.

Yesterday, when I was checking Facebook, I saw that O2 had a contest to see who could think of the most creative way to represent “O2” using only hands and bodies, and post a picture on their wall. Winner would get a pair of their Marmot Glade gloves! They extended the deadline, so I was in luck!

I LOVE contests, because there’s always a chance to win, and you have to be “in it to win it,” right? Malachy has been my lucky charm, and it’s always been fun to have him participate with me in contests. Our biggest one so far was the Post-It contest that we entered before he was 2, where we were finalists, and we won a laptop!

By dinnertime, I was inspired to work up a design with Malachy. I knew the “2” would be the hardest part, and I wanted Malachy to be the “2” so I could make the “O.” With Shien’s and her dad’s help, we took a couple of pictures and posted one. I told Malachy it didn’t matter if we won, because it was cool to just do a project together. We high-fived.  Teamwork!

This morning, I got the awesome news that we were chosen! When I got home, I showed Malachy the Facebook page that announced the winner. I had him read it aloud, and he was so excited when he got to the part that said we had won. It was so cool because he didn’t ask what we won; he was just excited that we were chosen. Thanks to O2 Gear Shop for the inspirational win!

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 Summer Vacation!

Time Out for a Vacation!
You would think summer vacation means lots of time off to relax and do your own thing. Not for this Dad. On the contrary. For the past two summers, I decided to take on the role of Camp Dad, while Shien finishes her course work. That means Malachy waking me up when he wakes up (i.e., no sleeping in) and planning activities for the day. I could easily just sit him in front of the television and give him the iPad, and he could probably be content the whole day, while I sit in front of the computer and try to get some work done, but that just wouldn’t be good for either of us.

So instead, we get some outdoor time, shop for food (lots of soup), play games like Yahtzee (with real dice or cards), jacks, and pick-up sticks, do some science experiments, give him some time to read and write on his own, take daily naps when we can, and of course, some tech time. I love Planet Fassa’s mantra of Opening Minds, Nourishing Hearts, and Strengthening Bodies. I remind Malachy that we have to exercise our body, mind, and soul. 🙂

When he goes to bed, then it’s time to work on my writing, planning presentations and webinars, reading, and some Bejeweled Blitz… 😉

What an awesome summer so far!

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


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 a Chopstick!

The Mighty Chopstick!

Who would have thought one chopstick could inflict so much damage.  I’m tempted to call it, “CHOPSTICKGATE!”  So, it started out as a fun night for me and Malachy.  Shien had evening class, so Malachy and I ordered Chinese food from Ming’s.  Everything tasted yummy.  After dinner, I had Malachy work on his homework while I did the dishes.  Towards the end of my dishwashing, I noticed that the drain was getting clogged.  The water simply wasn’t going down the drain.  In fact, some water seemed to be coming back up from the drain, and it was dark and not smelling so nice.  What I did next started the avalanche of events that was to unfold.  I took a chopstick and thought I could try to unclog the drain with it.  No harm, right?  A few seconds later, I heard a sound and noticed water coming out of the cabinet, below the sink!

Chopstick + SInk Drain Pipe = DISASTER!!!

I opened the cabinet and saw water gushing out from the pipe!  The chopsitck pierced a hole in the pipe!!!  I immediately found a vase under the sink to catch some of the water.  PANIC!  I then used my thumb to plug the hole.  I yelled out for Malachy’s help, as I tried to think of more things to use to catch the water.  More vases, metal bowls, pots, ai ya!  I told him to hurry up and get me a towel from the bathroom.  He asked which one.  I’m like, “Get MINE!”  He ran and brought over his towel.  I was like, “NO, GET MINE!”  I didn’t want to use his towel to wipe this yucky water up.  He finally got my towel.  I was left wiping one-handed since I was still plugging the hole with the thumb of my other hand.

I tried to get Malachy to get me some bowls, after opening another cabinet, but there were ceramic bowls on top of the aluminum bowls.  Last thing I needed was for Malachy to break a bunch of bowls, so I ordered him to go back and finish his homework, after I thanked him for helping. 😉

It was crazy!  I reached out for more bowls, while knocking over bowls that I had already filled with water.  At the same time, I was trying to get everything out from underneath the sink.  What a mess!  After all the water finally emptied from the sink, I had 3 or 4 bowls and a pot filled with water.  I got a bucket, poured all the water into it, and flushed that down the toilet.  Then, I grabbed 3 or 4 more towels and wiped everything down underneath the sink, while emptying all the stuff that was down there.

The broken pipe removed.
The broken pipe.

It was getting later, so I needed to shower Malachy and get him ready for bed.  Before that, I checked online to see all the Home Depot hours, and I thought I might have to rent a car after Shien got home.  I then had a better idea.  I called my dad and asked if he could help me out by coming into the city and bringing me some tools and then driving with me to Home Depot to get some supplies.  Thank God he was available! 🙂

Malachy was really cooperative the whole time.  He finished his homework on his own.  I explained to him how I would have to go to Home Depot in order to fix the damage that I had caused.  He wanted to go, too, but knew he had to rest up for his trip to the circus with Mom the next day.  I let him play a while longer, as I gathered my tools and removed the broken pipe.  It was pretty nasty inside the pipe.  I think there was an old chopstick in there, but it was almost unrecognizable since it was so decomposed.  I took the pipe to the bathroom sink to clean it out.  I used the plunger that I had in the bathroom to make sure the gunk didn’t clog the bathroom sink.  Another mistake!  Malachy called out from the living room that he could hear more leaking water!  Believe it or not, the bathroom pipes were somehow connected to the kitchen pipes!  For the past few nights, the bathroom drain was a bit clogged, so I had used a mini-plunger to unclog it.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that, by using the plunger in the bathroom sink, I was actually clogging the kitchen pipes!

Anyways, when I went to check out the kitchen, it was GROSS!  When I plunged the bathroom sink, I pushed all this water and nasty stuff out of the kitchen pipe!  Another mini-flood.  The kitchen pipe was exposed because I took out the broken pipe and never covered it!  AI YA!  More towels, more wiping, and a nasty smell, similar to that of bad eggs. (nitrogen?)  🙁

My dad arrived after I had cleaned things up as best I could, throwing the soaked dirty towels into the bath tub and trying to clean them.  I also had to wipe down the kitchen cabinet underneath the sink with paper towels and cleaning solution.  I was able to then read to Malachy and get him ready for bed, while we waited for Shien to get back home.

When Shien got home, my dad and I said goodnight to Malachy and I told him I would tell him all about Home Depot the following day.  We got to Home Depot around 10 ‘ish.  I LOVE Home Depot and any hardware store for that matter.  We got a pipe, a pipe cutter (recommended by a worker), a plunger, some toxic drain cleaner that didn’t harm pipes, and some new kitchen mats since the other ones got soaked from the flooding.

After Home Depot, my dad dropped me off, and I told him I’d be fine.  NOPE!  I was able to cut the pipe, but when I was installing it, I noticed the other pipe (the elbow) was cracked at the seam!  Well, it was past midnight, so all the Home Depots were now closed.  They used to be opened 24 hours, but no longer.  So, I did some laundry, washing all the dirty stinky towels.  I tried plugging the drain in the kitchen, while trying to unclog the bathroom drain with the heavy duty drain opener.  I had Shien look up the chemical, because it said it didn’t damage pipes yet claimed to cut grease and disintegrate hair!  Plus, it was supposed to be toxic and could cause burning of the skin!  Turn out it contains potassium hydroxide.  It’s not an acid, so it must be a base.  Anyways,  I poured it in, prayed that it wouldn’t come out of the kitchen, and waited a half hour.  I turned the water on SLOWLY.  First Shien said she heard some dripping from the kitchen.  I stopped.  Tried a little again, and then, all of a sudden, I thought I heard the drain clear in the bathroom and the kitchen!  IT WORKED!  I turned on the water a little higher.  Shien said she didn’t hear anything in the kitchen.  Full Blast.  Nada!  The bathroom sink hasn’t drained so good in years!  😉

So, today I bought some pipes and some more plumbing tape.  I came home and thought it shouldn’t be so bad.  IT WAS.  The pipe I bought was more flimsy than the Home Depot one, so as I tried to cut it, it was crushing and denting the pipe all over.  I wound up cutting it too short.  Now what?  I ran out to another hardware store nearby.  This time, I paid an extra dollar for them to cut it.  I couldn’t afford to ruin another pipe!  They used a hacksaw and a grinder, which worked so much better than my 20 dollar recommended tool.  I ran home, and after a while, IT WAS FIXED! 🙂  We ran some water through it, and no leaks!  Shien cheered.  😉  Later on, when she was out, I full blasted it again, and there were two leaks.  After some more tweaking, all the leaks were fixed.  I also unclogged the kitchen sink and the bathtub with the heavy duty drain opener!  WHAT A SAGA!  Shien did point out that perhaps it was better that my chopstick broke the pipe it just giving way down the line, which could have been even more disastrous.  True.

FIXED! I hope...