Tag Archives: Malachy

Time Out for Secrets, Stories, and Surprises!

Here’s a question. Which one is the most powerful – a secret, a story, or a surprise?

I’m not sure about the answer but this past month was super exhausting, because I had all three things in my possession at once. It was The Story of Gong Gong, narrated by Malachy. The story was born on June 22nd, finished on July 5th, and we had to keep it a secret from Gong Gong until August 4th, the day of his surprise party.

I found the artist, Graham Ogilvie, from Scotland back in May. How awesome the internet can be! I was working on an article about digital footprints, and “Google Imaged” it. I wanted to look for a picture that could capture the importance of taking care of your digital footprint. This is what I found…

I contacted him about permission rights, and he was so helpful about it. It was commissioned to someone else, who I e-mailed, and it turned out to be publicly commissioned, so anyone could use it.
Graham also gave me the link to his website, and I really enjoyed his work. I mentioned that maybe one day I might be able to hire him. Who knew? A month later, Gong Gong e-mailed his son a YouTube link to a creative storyboard drawing done by someone else, and that’s when I thought we should give it a shot with Graham. Within a couple of weeks, Shien formulated the story, and Malachy had a couple of practice readings. After some recording and sound editing, it was sent out for some sketches, and within a week after that, it was completed! I was really proud of Malachy and how he read it so naturally. So cool. It was hard to keep it all a secret (and at least we were able to show the video to others), but in the end, it was such a delight to see Gong Gong’s reaction that evening and the days after it. He absolutely LOVED it. Whew!

Time Out for Math!

'Tis Math...

For some reason or another, Malachy has started to really get into numbers again.  Oddly enough, he’s also been loving the idea of winning.  We had tried one lesson with the abacus last summer, but because I wasn’t comfortable enough with teaching and practicing with him, we let it slide… 🙁

So, how did I feed his latest “ambition?”  I found out through Twitter that McGraw-Hill was giving away their Math apps for free from April 13-17 via iTunes, because it was the week of the National Council of Teachers Mathematics conference.  One of the apps he really liked was the Everyday Mathematics Baseball Multiplication 1-6 Facts: Multiplication game.  Of course, I had to immediately tell him that multiplying was not the same as addition, but in order to solve the problems, he could use his adding skills (using his fingers 😉 ) to figure out the problems.  So, when he saw 3×2, I told him it meant 3 groups of 2 or 2 groups of 3.  He would then use his fingers, starting with 2 fingers, adding 2, and adding 2 more, or starting with 3 fingers and adding another group of 3 fingers.  “Is it 6?” he asked.  “Yup,” I would reply.  I told him anything times two just meant doubling the number.  Of course, when it was 6×8, I spared him from using his fingers and toes and just gave him the answer… for now. 😉

It was amazing watching him trying to figure out 3×4, or 4×4, etc.  Somehow, he taught himself that when he went over 10 fingers, putting the additional fingers would give him 11, 12, etc.  Then again, it might have been my brother-in-law, his fiancee, Shien, my dad, or my in-laws.  I’m going to have to verify with them.  All I know is that it wasn’t me! 😉  The more he played and practice, the easier it became for him, although he would try to verify with me every time before submitting his answer, except for the ones he knew for sure.

Tonight, I decided to do a little experiment, just to see what he would do.  It was one of those, “I WISH I RECORDED IT!” moments, right after.  Arghhh.  I divided the paper in half, and wrote the doubles on one side and the two-times tables on the other side.  Then, I handed it over to him and asked him to complete it.  As he started it, he said things like, “Dad, both sides are the same!” and “Dad, it’s just counting by 2s!”  In no time, he completed both sides, sometimes going across, and sometimes going down.  When he got to 7+7, he thought a moment, and then realized it would be just 2 more from 6+6.  WOW!!!  I don’t think I figured this stuff out until the third grade, because that’s when I was first introduced to Multiplication!  That’s THE TRUTH!

This just proves that if we take our kids from where they’re at, and let them play and practice with things they are passionate and excited about, the sky is the limit. 😉

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 Jokes…

Malachy LOVES jokes, but lately, it seems like the joke is often on me. I remember watching the TV show as a kid, starring Bill Cosby, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Now, I’m living it! 😉

I posted some of these on Facebook, but needed to share them here…

Today, on the way to school…
On many an occasion, Malachy’s been asking people when they are going to have a baby, so I tried to put an end to it once and for all…
Me: Malachy, not every couple who gets married has a baby.
MAL: Oh, you mean not all Moms have babies?
Me: (Pause) No, all Mommies have babies, but not all married couples have babies or might not want to have a baby.
MAL: Oh, I get it. Not all woman have PMS, right?

Guess where he first learned about PMS? Over a year ago, from Katy Perry’s song, “HOT N COLD.” UNBELIEVABLE…

One evening, after dinner…
MAL: So, Mommy, do you think you can make an exception today? Can I have some Hexagon Doze later, after dinner?
ME: Some what??? (PAUSE) Ohhhh, I got it! You mean, Häagen-Dazs.
MAL: Oh, yeah. That’s it!!!

While washing up before dinner…
So, I was going over the importance of washing your hands after using the bathroom. I was telling him that he could get himself or others sick if he doesn’t wash his hands.
MAL: Oh, you’re right, Dad. We wouldn’t want to give the computer a virus, right?

After we received a Science Experiment Kit from Amazon… (http://amzn.to/fbUIaT)…
On the box, in small print, it reads, “Packed with Hair-Raising Experiments!”
After reading the box to himself…
MAL: What is this? Are we going to grow hair or something?

After picking him up from school…
I pack up his folder and I see a note written from him, to me and Shien…
MAL: Read it, Dad! 🙂


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 “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?” 😉

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. 🙂

So, it’s more wait and see for now…

Time Out for X-Rays…


Last Sunday, we had guests over, so Malachy decided it would be fun to start jumping off the couch.  You can say he was excited.  And, when you have guests over sometimes, you’ll let your child get away with more things, and Malachy being Malachy, must have picked up on that.  Anyways, of course, I told him to stop and that he would get hurt if he didn’t stop.  Did he stop?  Nope.  Did he get hurt?  Yup.
When he got hurt, it was an “I told you so moment.”  Didn’t help.  He winced, he whined, and I didn’t think of much.  He usually is able to shake things off, and this time, he kept saying his foot hurt.  We tried an ice pack.  He was tearing here and there and obviously in some pain and discomfort.  Since he was able to walk and periodically forgot about the pain, I figured he was fine.  Shien was more worried.  She said there are so many little bones in our feet.  She also heard stories from friends, whose children hurt their foot and didn’t even know it was broken.  THAT started getting me worried.

Throughout the night, he would bring up the pain in his foot.  After shower, he limped.  I just prayed he would wake up and everything would be okay.  When he was asleep, I even got a flashlight out to examine his foot.  Not much swelling and no discoloration.  When he got up, he said it still hurt, and he was still limping.  Ai ya.  We decided he would be okay going to school.  It wasn’t like he was in constant pain, and I wasn’t sure how much of it was just drama.  I called the doctor later in the day to see if Shien made an appointment.  She did.  I had a meeting after school, so I met them at the doctor’s.  The doctor thought he was fine, but recommended he get X-Rays just to make sure.  That would alleviate our worries, too.  Luckily, the X-Ray Imaging Center was right around the corner from the doctor’s.  This is one of the great benefits/conveniences of living in the city. 🙂  Malachy was great about it.  He had to lie down, and they put those heavy lead jackets on him.  Then they wedged his foot with these foam wedges and the technician asked him not to move his foot, while we had to quickly exit the room, while they took the x-ray.  The first time, he moved, but after that, x-ray after x-ray, he was very good about it.  The doctor took a look at the x-rays and proclaimed him fine.  WHEW!!!  🙂

All these years, the only X-Rays I’ve had were for my teeth!  It’s crazy how one thing can just turn your life upside down.  We were SO grateful.  Nothing broken, but it could have so easily been another scenario.  It could have played out VERY differently…

I also thought about how lucky we were to have insurance.  What if we weren’t insured?  I thought about all the parents out there with no insurance, and how they wouldn’t have that luxury of going to the doctor’s and getting their children immediate medical attention.  How stressful and painful that must be for those parents and children.  Our worries were alleviated pretty quickly.  We were so fortunate.  The pain went away for Malachy after a couple of days.  The memories will last a lifetime.

Time Out for Cooking!

C is for Cooking...

Malachy and I had Veteran’s Day off, so Shien said, “Why don’t you guys cook together?” 😉 Shien had evening class, so it was just me and Malachy. We typically order out, but we decided on taking on the adventure.

I had bought this book for Malachy and Shien, and on the first night, he wanted to read it cover to cover for bedtime! A few mornings he would study it, and he would ask if they could make things together. They made a couple of things from it, and now, it was my turn! 😉

So, I decided that we were going to make 3 dishes together: Grover’s Chinese Meatballs with Sesame Rice, Big Bird’s Sesame Green Beans, and Cookie Monster’s “Me-Stuffed” Potatoes. Malachy was really good about going ingredient shopping with me.  Shien actually toasted sesame seeds for me the evening before, so I didn’t have to go buy them.

It took us a few stores to find Sesame Oil, but in the end, we got everything. Instead of cooking the bacon from scratch, because I didn’t want to make a big mess, I ordered a side from Cafe Petisco. 😉 Everything else, Malachy and I made together.  Of course, it was mostly me trying to cook all three things at once, but in the end, it was quite a success. I went off script a little when baking potatoes.  I actually went on to http://howtobakeapotato.com/ and they were perfect!  After baking them, I had to cut the top off each one, scrape out the potatoes and restuff them!  We even had my brother-in-law and his fiancee come over, and they were impressed. 😉

The other night, I was so inspired, I decided to surprise Shien with another dinner. It feels good to be able to prepare something for her every once in a blue moon, and it really really makes me appreciate all the cooking she has done for me and Malachy. Our tummies are so blessed! 😉

My Sous Chef!
Cookie Monster's "Me-Stuffed" Potato
Cookie Monster's "Me-Stuffed" Potatoes

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.