Category Archives: Nature

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 Flowers!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations, Wynne! Thanks so much to everyone for entering. Happy Valentine’s to all!

So, reached out to me to offer my readers a chance to win a $100 1-800-Flowers gift card! AWESOME! Click here for a fun Valentine’s trailer they sponsored for Hot in Cleveland, starring Betty White.

Over the years, I’ve spent thousands on flowers. Worth it? As Malachy would say, “OF COURSE, DAD!” It’s cool that he’s growing up knowing that romance is alive and well. With Shien’s birthday and Valentine’s within a week’s span, we get to splurge on Mommy with flowers and jewelry! 🙂

According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, they found that 62% of girlfriends and wives reported to be unsatisfied with last year’s Valentine’s Day gifts. I love getting my wife technology gifts, but I’ve learned that if I’m going to give some practical tech gifts, I better accompany it with some flowers, jewelry, or something sweet. With electronics, she’ll usually say, I don’t really need that. The one electronic gift that she has enjoyed the most and used the most is her Kindle. I think for many guys (and some girls, too) flowers seem like a waste of money, because they don’t last. But, there’s something about nature’s beauty, and flowers really do brighten up any room and brings some romance, love, or appreciation, back into the relationship. Plus, the University of South Brittany study found that women are 30% more likely to accept an admirer’s advances when flowers are involved. There’s definitely a Flower Effect to many relationships.  Surprises are good!

Romance is definitely NOT about being practical.  I wrote a little more about it on Prime Parents Club’s site. It’s about appreciating beauty and equating your loved one with that beauty.  Your loved one deserves to be spoiled, right? 😉

HOW TO WIN: First, check out’s Facebook page, by clicking here, and check out their new products, along with their Platinum Collection. You could order straight from their Facebook page!  Then come back to this page, and leave a comment about what products you liked, and how you’ll spoil your loved one this Valentine’s! I will select a winner on Sunday, February 12th, at around 12PM EST, using the random number generator (Each commenter is assigned one number).  I will then forward the winner’s information (I’ll e-mail you) to, and they will get you your $100 gift card. That’s it.  Cool, eh?

Good luck, everyone!

Time Out for Apples!

I NEVER would have imagined how inspiring apples can be! 😉

Although I love living in the City, it’s always nice to get away for a day or a weekend trip Upstate. It’s really nice to take Malachy out of the City too, and let him enjoy the outdoors. 😉 It’s amazing how you can drive north for about an hour or so (when there’s no traffic), and you’re “away!” No more city lights. No more city sounds. No more city air. It’s crispy Upstate in the Fall! 😉 I love driving up there and seeing all of the foliage changing.

Before Malachy was born, I would often plan a Bed and Breakfast for me and Shien, once a year. We enjoyed walking trails, eating lots of yummy food, and just getting away for a bit. We were so grateful when the host of Sugar Loaf Bed and Breakfast, Maxine Charles, accommodated the three of us in 2008! That was an awesome weekend! 😉

It’s so nice to bring Malachy into this tradition, and so far (except for when he was less than one), it looks like he’s really enjoying himself! 😉

Time Out for Social Homework!

This past Saturday, I attended the first Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC 2010) at New Milford High School in New Jersey. I found out about it from Lisa Nielsen, who did an awesome job as the Keynote Speaker. She is the author of The Innovative Educator blog and also the Technology Innovation Manager for the Office of Educational Technology at the New York City Department of Education. The conference was great. Most of the workshops demonstrated the “power of technology” in the classrooms and all the wonderful ways that technology can be integrated into instruction and professional development. There was also a whole lot of buzz about Social Media and its role in education. It’s all about connecting, collaborating, creating, and communicating with others. It made me think a whole lot about technology and its role in education.

Technology is often said to be a tool. Whereas most tools have a clear and defined purpose, technology doesn’t. I could be playing video games, and I could say I’m using technology, but is it meaningful? In education, we have to keep asking ourselves if technology is being used in a meaningful way. I feel when we think of technology in education, we picture the computers, interactive whiteboards, projectors, and all the other tech gadgets that are used in schools. Yet, it’s much harder for us to explain exactly HOW the technology is being used or WHY it is being used in classrooms.

This week, like any other week, Malachy got his Pre-K homework. It’s usually given on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays and due the following school day. This Monday, he was given a more unique assignment that’s due at the end of the week. It’s a worksheet from Scholastic, but instead of the typical circling, coloring, cutting, or filling out something, the assignment was to go on a Nature Walk. The instructions were to, “Go for a walk outside. Look for the things on this page. If you see one, circle it. It’s OK if you don’t see them all!” The rain finally gave way, so today, we were able to do the assignment! 😉

At first, it was just Malachy and me. I brought a camera because I wanted to document our homework and make it even more interactive. (Extra credit! 😉 ) After a few minutes of looking around and searching for the objects, two other kids asked what we were doing and asked if they could help us! They wanted in on this homework and wanted to help Malachy complete his assignment. So, we all walked around our building’s playground/park area, looking for the items. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t find a snail. Also, since there were no pine trees or oak trees in the area, the pine cone and acorn weren’t going to happen either. (Malachy and I did find an acorn later on. Or was it? 😉 ) What an awesome assignment this turned out to be!

Malachy’s homework “forced” us to interact with nature and with each other. We didn’t plan on getting outside help (networking!), but how cool was that to have others join in on the fun? This was a light bulb moment for me. To me, this assignment was like a microcosm of Social Media! It involved making connections, communicating, collaborating, and creating a meaningful experience.

It got me thinking about homework and technology and education. Homework shouldn’t be just between the student and a book or piece of paper. Technology shouldn’t be just between the user and a computer or other tech gadget. The goal should be about interacting and connecting with the outside world and with others and creating a meaningful experience. We should have more “nature walk” assignments for students, parents, and communities to work on together. When we learn together, we connect. Social Homework! 😉 That’s what it’s all about! 😉

This is part of the Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC) Blogger Café Contest sponsored by edSocialMedia. TSETC is brought to you by Schoology.

Time Out from the City…

We’ve been at Shien’s parents’ house in Illinois for ten days now, and it’s good to get away from the City for a bit.  Life is SO different out here!  😉  There is so much SPACE here for Malachy to run around.  It’s great having a backyard for him to run around and play in, and a golf course to boot… 😉  Almost every evening, after eating a delicious dinner prepared by Shien’s mom and Shien, we all go to the golf course.  We usually get quite a few mosquito bites, but this summer it’s been so hot that even the mosquitoes are too hot to fly! 😉  Shien’s dad and I play 3 or 6 or 9 holes with one club.  Malachy will tag along for a couple of holes.  Right now, he’s much more in tune with nature than with golf… 😉

It’s great fellowship golfing with Shien’s dad.  It’s hard to believe that he introduced me to the game 17 years ago!  Golfing used to be in my blood (before Malachy 😉 ), and not playing well used to upset me so much.  Not anymore. I’ve realized playing calm yields a lot more crisp shots.  Just being able to play for an hour after dinner feels really good.  Makes it feel a little bit less guilty eating dessert.  😉  Lots of great peach pie with ice cream, thanks to Shien and the neighbor’s! (Thanks, Paula!)  😉

Time really slows down out here.  Shien’s mom has always allowed us to really take it easy out here (Thanks, Chiou Ma! 🙂 )  There’s more time for reading and less time watching television for me.  I’m really grateful all the times we’ve had out here through the years.  After two weeks, though, I’m ready to head back to the City again. 😉

Time Out for a Tree…

Watering the Tree...

Malachy was so excited when he found out that we adopted a tree. Our community got dozens of new young trees as part of a green initiative and offered everyone the opportunity to adopt one. This was another “if it wasn’t for Malachy thing.” He has brought so much to our lives, and now, A TREE in the city! When we asked him to name it, he said, “Tree.” We were like, “Can you be a little more specific?” He said, “Uh… Red Tree.” Our friend, Sibyl, suggested as a nickname, “R.T.” Still not sure where he got the “Red” from… There’s actually a bird’s nest on it already!

Malachy’s excitement can be so infectious, so today, after dinner, when I said we needed to go water the tree, he was SO happy and ready. 😉

Another great “because of Malachy thing” is the fact that I’m putting to use things that I had stored away and hadn’t used in years. Now, I can put some of these things to use again. I had bought this hand pump water sprayer years ago for cleaning my car that I kept in the city. Never would have imagined that we would be using it to water a tree! 😉 Malachy LOVED it!  The spray bottle and watering can was fun, but for him, THIS was AWESOME!  Feel so blessed to have so many cool surprises and shared learning experiences as a family. 🙂