Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy Friday and First Day of School

Today my girls are back-to-school.

This morning went off without a hitch. I do not expect that kind of luck for the rest of the year. Why? I like to snooze. I don't like to get up before 7am, or 9am for that matter. Today, we made it, and it wasn't as bad as we expected.

In other news, if you're in the Sacramento region, check out my daughters and I on KCRA this Sunday, August 16th in the 8-9am hour. We're talking back-to-school. Hope you tune in!

Since it is Friday, I wanted to share this little bit of parenting fun. Last Saturday was my 20 year, high school reunion. I wasn't able to attend, but was able to see some of the pictures that were posted from the event. We were sitting in our favorite Italian restaurant in the region, Visconti's, when I decided to pass the iPhone over to my husband to look at the pictures. He was sitting next to our oldest, K.

Me: *passing my iPhone over to my husband* Ry, do I look as old as some of these people from high school?
K: NO way mom!
Me: Aww, Thank y...
K: You look MUCH older.
Me: *uncontrollable laughter*
Ry: Sweetie, stop. Just stop.
K: No, I mean, you have sun spots on your face, and your white hair is showing.
Me: *Snorting laughter*
Ry: Seriously, stop now.
K: No, I mean, they're wearing make up, and you aren't.
Ry: Quit, my dear.
K: They're all dressed up.
Ry: You're making it worse every time you open your mouth.
K: What? No, no no, I'm sorry, that's not what I meant.
Me: *can't breathe, laughing too hard*

It was so cute. I was dying of laughter, and when my oldest finally realized what was going on, she was heartbroken, but I still couldn't stop laughing. She's so literal, sincere, and honest. I love those things about her. Thank goodness for kids, they keep us humble, and laughing all the time.

Yes, my white hairs are banished once again, and my color is back. Phew! Thank you Jill and Angela at Hoshall's for fitting me in so I don't look too old for KCRA on Sunday. Saul has been, and is my guy since 2007; he's a color magician and his schedule fills up far in advance. So if you had to, like me, cancel a pre-booked appt to get an earlier one, don't worry, you're in good hands. Jill and Angela got your back. Yo!

Just thinking about this conversation still makes me giggle. It also reminded me of when I was in Boston with my friend and her family, over the summer. I was telling all the kids how we don't think of ourselves as old, but our kids think we are. My friend's son told us he didn't think I was old, but thought his mother was. So it goes for every parent, and their child. Our kids will always think of us as old. Which, I don't know about you, but I don't feel my age. Ha! I love kids. I love their guileless honesty, and their uncensored, unintentional humor.

Would you like to share any conversations you've had with your kids along this same thing? I'd love to giggle along with you.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Planet Rice Veggie Explosion

It's still summer, even if we have to go back-to-school. With the heat of August, it is still salad season. I love eating salad when it's warm outside. I don't know what it is about weather and me with food, but chilled foods just aren't appetizing to me when it's 32 degrees outside. Simply stay away from me if you're trying to shove ice cream in my face in winter. Forget about it.

Once the heat of summer hits, I'm all about veggie everything, give it to me ice cold. So, please, just shovel that Pralines and Cream ice cream right into my bowl now, thank you very much.

Have you ever added rice to a salad? Other than nuttiness in flavor, great texture, the kernels soaking up the dressing, and generally adding that bit of "mmm, mmm, good" to a salad; rice is a humble helper. Planet Rice recently provided me with samples of their products, and at first I figured, rice, is rice, is rice, right?

Not really.

Since 1921, Planet Rice has perfected farming rice in Sacramento, Calif. They use a proprietary process for sprouting non-GMO rice with a 99.9% germination rate. Dude. That's high. Through their sprouting process they grow rice that simply have more nutrients, and taste sweeter, and nuttier. Yum. Have I told you I love food?

Planet Rice provided a recipe for me to use and I loved it. I also, messed with it, changed things up to make it a version I knew my family would enjoy. I've included what I did below, so feel free to play, and add your own twist to it. I love food, because food is universal, and so easily personalized. Bon Appetit!

Planet Rice Veggie Explosion Recipe 
  • 1 cup uncooked Quinoa + Sprouted Rice PowerBlend (totally random, but I threw in some Planet Rice - Brown and Blonde rice too - sorrynotsorry, I'm always improvising)
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped thin
  • 1/2-1 cup asparagus, blanched, and diced
  • 1-2 Aidells Spice Mango with Jalapeño sausages, diced (optional, or use your favorite sausage)
Peanut Dressing
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter**
  • 1-2 tsp ground ginger (you can use fresh if you have it handy)
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2-3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced

Cook the Quinoa + Sprouted Rice PowerBlend according to the package directions. Toss into a large mixing bowl. While it cools, prepare all the veggies, and toss into the bowl with the quinoa mixture, as you go. For the peanut dressing, combine the peanut butter, ground ginger, soy sauce and honey in a bowl. Microwave until the mixture is easily mixed. Add in the rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil, and the lime juice. You can add more lime juice if the mixture is too thick. Adjust it to how you like it, and how it tastes to you. Toss the dressing into the large bowl and mix well. If you like the salad slightly lukewarm, serve immediately. If you want to have it chilled, put it in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes and serve.
Planet Rice provided me with samples for Sprouted California Brown Rice, Sprouted California Blonde Rice, and the Quinoa + Sprouted Rice PowerBlend. They provided a recipe and I merely expanded upon it with my own flair. All opinions are my own.
*A little note, I made enough of this salad to feed my family of four, and have enough to share with two of my friends' families (a family of four, and a family of six). So, the portions, and measurements, are my best guesses. I actually used more of everything, but I'm an eyeball-it kind of cook. Also, there are so many other veggies you can include, and swap out, the possibilities are endless. If you make this tag me on Instagram, or Twitter, I'd love to see it all. Good luck!
**IF you have peanut allergies, do not use peanut butter. Please don't. xoxo

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back-to-School 2015 #AsianMomBloggers

We just returned from two months based in the Boston area. It was an epic summer exploring the East Coast for us West Side peeps. Ry had to work, while we played. More about that later.

For now, those of you that have known me for a while, know... this is my least favorite time of the year. Well, other than... Nope. There is no other than. This is the least favorite. For sure, by one million, billion, gajillion percent.


I know. 

It's back-to-school.

I know not everyone wishes for endless, summer days, but man, we love our FREEDOM. We treasure the chance to create our own schedules, and determine our days. So a regimented school day, specific schedules, and other assaults on our time isn't terribly appreciated.

With all that angst, we do find ways to cope with, and ease the burden.

As I was combing through past back-to-school posts, I realized I never wrote one for last year. Which, is frustrating for me, because my brain has a difficult time recalling in detail, things that happened in the past, unless I write it down, which is why I'm a writer. (Hi, my name is Dory) It's always a treat for me to go through old photos and posts, because it helps me remember; it transports me right back to events, feelings, and thoughts. Last year was the year I went through the crazy blood clot, so I'll give myself a break, but man, not writing things down leaves a big old blank spot in my mind.

This back-to-school 2015-2016 year, I'm selecting a series of three Dr. Seuss quotes that I believe will aide my girls as they plow through another year of schooling. I even played on the computer to create some graphics for the girls to hang up in their room, and around the house to remind them of our themes.

2015-2016 Back-to-School Empowerment Theme

Does your family have a theme? What is it?

We did this theme for the 2013-2014 year. I do remember that the theme for 2014-2015 year was "Be Strong and of Good Courage," because that was the year they started a new school, with a new method of learning, specifically, Montessori. This year it's about empowerment. I want them to know they hold destiny, and their paths in their hands. I want my girls to know they are strong, and can make their own wise decisions. In fact, I remember another year it was all about making glorious mistakes. I wanted my girls to know that we all make mistakes, and mistakes are no big deal. We have to make them, as we learn. The less we fear mistakes, the more we're willing to try, and the more we try, the more we succeed.

Aside from our back-to-school theme, Ry gives the girls each a father's blessing the night before school. It's a nice way to give them a little more spiritual oomph as they step into a new season of their lives. I've always loved receiving father's blessings, and also love our family prayers we say together each evening, holding hands, kneeling in a circle.

This year, our first day starts this Friday. So I'm in the midst of planning our night before school dinner. I also need to write my notes I like to have them read at breakfast on our first day. The girls still need to decide on their first day outfits, and we have our parent orientation tonight, to learn what supplies and other details for the next school year. Whew! Is it me, or does everything feel like it's coming a bit too fast?

Back-to-School Tips and Tricks

Part of going back-to-school is utilizing tips and tricks to help the early morning rush, and after school activity managed. My friend Kirsten who is an organizing guru, gave us some tips a few years ago, which I have used ever since. Since I have girls, hair is a last minute thing we do after breakfast, as we're rushing out the door. It has saved us so much time, having a drawer in the kitchen devoted to a brush, hair bands, bobby pins, etc., easily accessible. Just make sure you keep it full. If you have girls, you know how that stuff ends up all over the place. So sometimes, during the week, I'll tell my girls to go collect them, and replenish the hair drawer.

One of the things that drives me crazy is the sheer amount of dead trees coming in my door. From junk mail, bills, classwork, flyers, etc. For the kids, Kirsten gave me another tip. Get these boxes from Ikea, pick your size, and keep them in the laundry room, or wherever you come in from, and the kids can put their work they want to keep inside. Then, at the end of the year, just move it into their closet, and voila. You are done with the papers. I like to make them review all the stuff over the summer, to make sure they really want everything inside.

If you follow me on Instagram you'll see how much I love making lunches. I make lunch for my kids every morning, in addition to hot breakfasts. Why? Necessity. My girls hate cold cereal in the morning. They want warm food, eggs, pancakes, soup, etc., and I want them to eat a healthy breakfast so they can have a good morning of learning. Food and service are my love languages, so creating a colorful, healthy lunch is right up my alley. It makes me feel better, more relaxed and worry-free knowing that they will refuel with food that'll help them through the afternoon.

I've loved using bento-style lunch boxes, and have tried several over the years. Then I discovered PlanetBox a couple years ago, and I've gotten rid of the old plastic ones I've used. I love PlanetBox. I say this as someone who has never worked with them, or received any incentives. Our family loves the convenience, the design, and ease of use. I love that we are green without even really trying. I find that using PlanetBox helps me create more colorful, more healthy lunches. How do you stay motivated making lunches? What foods do your kids love to eat?

Back-to-School Parenting

So yes, I'm an Asian mom, but I was raised in the U.S. as a first generation immigrant. So I straddle both worlds. I've found, that for me, I feel lucky to know both cultures, so that I get the advantage of picking the best things I like, to utilize in my life, and discard those things I don't want. This means that my daughters are expected to focus on school work, that that is their "job." I work hard to parent positively, meaning that instead of getting on their case for things they struggle with, I try to work as a coach should, and motivate them to want to improve on their own, or with my help. I also want them to pursue the things they are talented, and/or passionate about. I want to facilitate and grow their gifts, and interests. I feel strongly that their pursuits should be theirs, not mine. They are not versions 2.0 of me. I often feel like my role is to support, and provide opportunities, and then get the hell out of their way. I want to make sure my daughters know that no matter what successes, failures, fears, and triumphs they have, they are wholly, unconditionally loved, accepted and embraced in my heart, and in our home. I will fight for them in school and church, if they feel threatened, if they have teachers or classmates that are disturbing, dangerous, or disastrous. I will commit 100% to any teacher or classroom that is nurturing, and supportive, innovative, and creative.

Every school year I'm reminded, and I pay homage to that first kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kelly Estes, my oldest had. God bless the teachers with the mother hearts who teach their students so much more than knowledge. May each child be blessed with a teacher like her, and may each teacher like her, have parents who appreciate her.

Let's face it, not everyone parents the same. That's something I struggle with. It's even difficult for my kids, because they are taught to be polite, and well-mannered. We teach them to look out for those that are lonely, and to be kind and unselfish. We focus on making sure we are respectful, we don't stick our noses in other people's business, and we don't go out of our way to be rude. So when other kids are disrespectful, or go out of their way to be annoying, obnoxious or mean to fellow classmates, and/or my daughters, my girls are absolutely baffled and frustrated. They often return home asking me, "Why?" I don't have any good answers, except to remind them, that we choose not to act that way, and we can learn from that bad behavior by never doing it because of how it makes us feel, and thus we don't want to act like that to make others feel that way. How do you deal with these issues? How do you discuss them with your kids? What do you do when your kids encounter these kinds of behaviors and you know the parents? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts as you deal with the transition back-to-school. There's such a wealth of information and experience that we can utilize to improve ourselves, and to help each other. Thank you for stopping by, and please, do share your wisdom. I know I am grateful for nuggets of advice, and I'm sure there will be someone who sees your comment and feels less alone.

Good luck, and good wishes to each of us as we strive to survive another school year!


Check out my fellow #AsianMomBloggers' back to school traditions, tips, and resources:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Beepi #Giveaway Sacramento Republic FC Family Fun Four Pack of Tickets

Happy First Day of Summer Vacation!

Well, it is the first day of summer vacation for my kids, and it feels so good. All my alarms are off, and there is nothing planned. I feel light as a bird.

I'm really excited to offer this giveaway to my readers and friends, I feel like we're friends. You get the chance to win Sacramento Republic FC home tickets for a family of four, for this Saturday, June 6 game against the Austin Aztex! I'm also really excited because my family of four is going to the same game. Yipee!

 K, my oldest

My daughters have played soccer for the last two years, and my oldest loves it. The girl may be slight, but she is fast, and determined, leaves it all on the field. I am inspired by her grit. My youngest has power. She just motors in there, and bam. I love watching and screaming encouragement, like a crazy fan. We've told the girls we'd do our best to make it to a Sacramento Republic FC game, and hadn't even had a chance to look into it this season when Beepi approached me.

M, my youngest

For those of you that find car buying and selling a bit of a headache, Beepi is opening in Sacramento, and they offer an easier alternative to doing it yourself. Beepi's excited to offer their services to the Sacramento area, and want to celebrate it by offering you a chance to cheer on our Sacramento Republic FC soccer team. Sweet! I know.

What is Beepi? I love that on their website they talk about how all the changes tech and the Internet have brought to our lives, car buying and selling as stayed, stagnant, and "sleepi" but now there's Beepi. It's pretty genius. They take all the hassle, and torture that is car buying and selling, and make it straightforward. If you're a buyer, you can do it all online, and have the car delivered to your doorstep - with a bow; I gotta see this one day. In addition, the buyer has a 10-day money back guarantee. That's pretty awesome. Part of the awkwardness in car buying are the negotiations in person, and Beepi takes that awkwardness out. Yes! For sellers, Beepi makes sure each car passes their 185-point inspection, and if your car isn't sold in 30 days, they buy it from you. Win, win.

I know, you're wondering, where is this giveaway?

Fútbol lovers UNITE! Sacramento Republic FC GAME DAY this Saturday June 6th.
Giveaway begins today, Monday June 1 and ends Wed June 3 at 12pm PST. Winner will be notified after the giveaway and must respond by 12am June 4th PST or another winner will be notified. Tickets will be held at will call.

GAME day/time: Saturday, June 6 at 8pm
Where: Bonney Field, 1600 Exposition Boulevard, Sacramento, CA
Opposing Team: Austin Aztex
Tickets: Four stadium tickets

Thank you Beepi! You can follow Beepi on twitter, Facebook and online.

4 TIX to Sacramento Republic FC Home Game 6/6/15 8pm Sponsored by Beepi


Beepi is offering four tickets to a reader, and four tickets for my family. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shoki Ramen Restaurant Review #AFamilyLivesHere

Comfort food means many things to different people. For me, savory is usually my first pick for something that makes me happy and relaxed. One of my favorite comfort foods is ramen. Not the ramen we used to eat in college that tasted of MSG. Oh, no. True ramen is a magnificent play of umami. The key is the broth. If the broth has no flavor, you've failed in making a great bowl of ramen.

My brother introduced me to some fabulous ramen in Orange County, and since then, I've been on a mission to find a place in Sacramento that offered something similar, or spectacular. I found it at Shoki Ramen. It was kind of a fluke. I had been released from the hospital last year, after my blood clot surgery, and was craving something comforting. I yelped and found Shoki near the hospital. My husband and I went and fell in love.

The flavors are fabulous, the broth is rich and has depth. I also love that the creators of Shoki Ramen care about the quality of food they provide. You won't find MSG here. You'll find grass-fed beef, locally sourced ingredients that are fresh, and natural.

When I visit, because I visit often, my ramen dish is an extra spicy, medium Tan Tan Men with thin noodles and a Tamago (organic, seasoned, half-boiled egg). I finish the entire bowl in one sitting, bursting at the seams and in ramen heaven. I have been known to order extra noodles, and extra minced, grass-fed beef because I love my ramen.

A little tip, if you go at lunch, try to go early or late, the place is always packed. I've only been to the location on R Street in Sacramento, and it's a small restaurant that's big on flavor. I've gone on the weekend, and if you do that, you'll likely run into a wait. Be sure to write your name on the list inside the door, and they'll call you right in, once a table is ready. Check the menu online before you go, and you'll be all set to order and enjoy.

Have you tried real, authentic ramen? What is your favorite? How do you take yours? If you haven't had ramen yet, do it, it will change your world.

A little thank you to my friends Anita and Kirsten for indulging my cravings. Anita also helped me film the short video above.


ps. This is not a sponsored post. I just enjoy sharing places I have tried, continue to visit, and love. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to catch future restaurant reviews. If you liked what you read here today, please share it with your social networks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Five Costco Finds Episode 1 #AFamilyLivesHere

One of my favorite places to shop, is Costco.

I've since lost the love of travailing through a million different stores to get things I don't need or want, and wasting my time and energy on finding nothing worth buying.

When it comes to Costco - I have a deep love for the warehouse. I love finding new things, or treats and sharing them with my friends. I have a friend that always comments, "how do you find all these unique things, I never would've found without you?"

It's because I bore easily, and I love trying new things. Also I can easily spend a few hours browsing every aisle at Costco.

Without further adieu, enjoy Five Costco Finds Episode 1. What are your favorite items at Costco?

Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel? If not, I'll adore you when you do. xoxo


ps. This is not a sponsored post. It's just me, sharing like I do in real life, but on the YouTube.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stories That Unite Us #APAHeritage

May is Asian Pacific American Month. Today I am pleased to share with you one of my own stories, and stories of friends and people I admire. I am honored to host their stories. One of my favorite pastimes is to ask people about their childhood, their experiences, and then listen. I love soaking it all in. We all have stories, we all have lessons, experiences, worth sharing, and remembering. These stories are often so personal, so sacred, that to hear them means we've been blessed.

Recently my friend Pia told me about HBO's East of Main Street, you can find the episodes on YouTube. They're a fresh take on Asian Pacific Americans, done interview style. They are fascinating, and powerful to watch. My kids loved the East of Main Street: Small Talk episode where they asked young children their opinions and thoughts. It's absolutely darling.

If you're looking for a good movie to celebrate #APAHeritage this month, my friend Lakshmi suggested The Hundred-Foot Journey with Helen Mirren. It is a visual feast for the entire family. I highly recommend this gorgeous movie. It made me laugh, ponder, and it made me dead hungry. My daughters thoroughly enjoyed it. The messages they took away were priceless.

Without further adieu, grab a cup of tea, a comfortable seat, and enjoy. 


Darjeeling Dreams 
by Lakshmi Jagannathan

Lakshmi is a writer/blogger from the Northwest. She is a sassy, savvy angel connector helping entrepreneurs acquire a mindset for success. She is a board member of the non-profit TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Oregon. She likes to walk in Eucalyptus groves, watching monarch butterflies, biking on Saturday mornings and traveling the world meeting animals of every kind. You can read more of Lakshmi's writings here, here and here. You can follow Lakshmi on twitter @BeavertonWriter.

It’s 4 am and we are on a jeep corkscrewing its way up Tiger Hill. It’s cold and my parents, my brother and I snuggle in the back as the driver regales us with tales of his bit part in a Bollywood movie. With its scenic vistas, Darjeeling is a favorite with movie directors. He also promises us to show us the home of Tenzing Norgay, the Tibetan Sherpa guide and mountaineer, who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first to scale Mount Everest. We reach the top and it feels like we are on the roof of the world and if we only reached up our hand we could touch the sky. 

It’s dark and since this was at a time before hordes of tourists clicked madly on cell phones, only a handful of people are there. As dawn’s early light breaks through indigo skies, we see golden rays lighting up a shadow in the sky – Mount Everest - the highest peak on earth.  Another mountain – the Kanchenjunga - stands like a cloud that has organized itself into a painting. The guide points out the Khyber and Bolan passes - an important part of the Silk Road.  An Indo-European group, from the Steppes of Central Asia, entered India around 1500  b.c.e  through these passes. According to some historians, parts of the ancient Hindu scriptures – The Vedas - were composed during that journey.    

The Himalayas (meaning Abode of Snow) were created when the plate that was India pushed itself against the Eurasian plate, joining up and becoming forever part of the continent of Asia. They were once a under an ancient sea and, apparently, fossils of starfish have been found on the ground.  They are relatively young (hence often called Young-Fold Mountains) and the sad reality, as we have seen from the recent earthquakes in Nepal, is that they are still pushing through. They have had a huge influence on the climate – keeping India much warmer than other regions in the same latitude by protecting it from dry cold winds from the North. They also prevent monsoon winds from going northwards resulting in heavy rainfall in parts of India, but dry deserts in Central Asia. 

My Dad was an Officer of the Indian Railways, so crisscrossing the country by train was a part of my childhood. People always say the British left India many gifts – The parliamentary form of Government, the English language and the Railways to name a few. I am grateful for this legacy. Another aspect of the British presence in India was the “hill-station”. Summers were so hot and fierce that the families of the English would escape to the hills. Here they created replicas of little English towns – quaint cottages, clubs and “The Mall” a promenade where people walked and socialized with each other.

An annual ritual for my family was visiting these towns.  We escaped the heat and dust of the plains. And since I loved British authors (Enid Blyton in the early days and Jane Austen and the like later), for a brief time, I became an English Girl. The Himalayan foothills were my favorite and our trip to Darjeeling was easily one of the highlights of my childhood. In Darjeeling we stayed at the Railway guest house with the impressive name of Craig Mont, a red tiled  roof and gabled windows. I rode a pony on a trail filled with rhododendrons and alpine trees I had never seen in the tropical parts of India and made friends with a Tibetan girl called Binny who was the guide. Later, she helped me buy her national dress – a brocaded purple gown with a pink blouse and sash. It

Darjeeling is synonymous with tea, so no visit is complete without a tour of a plantation. We took a gondola ride overlooking a beautiful estate where tea pickers had collection baskets draped on their backs. At the Keventers farm we saw pigs that were named after Hollywood actors. Edward Keventer was a dairy specialist who had been appointed to supply food to British soldiers in 1890. He established a network of dairy farms and plants that have now become an agricultural business. 

At the Ghum Buddhist monastery we turned prayer wheels and asked for blessings. I remember someone saying that a racecourse we visited – Lebong – was the highest in the world. At the mountaineering institute we saw equipment used by climbers and, much to our surprise, ran into the great man – Tenzing himself – who greeted us with a Namaste – the traditional Indian bow. 

After the trip, much to our chagrin, we discovered that our camera had malfunctioned – so there were no pictures. And this was in the days before video cameras and YouTube, so all I have are sepia memories – just a few fragments that I can link up in my head to make a story. My father passed away a few years later when I was only twelve years old, so I am grateful for holidays like this we had with him. I think of that region now as I see news flashes about Kathmandu. I pray for the people of the Himalayas – the Nepalis, the Tibetans, the Indians and I wish for the earth to be at peace. And hope I can go back there again someday.


The Language of Baseball
by Eugene Hung

Eugene Hung serves as the lead organizer in Greater L.A. for Man Up Campaign, which mobilizes youth worldwide to stop violence against women and to advocate for gender equality. He also writes the #RaisingAsianAmericanDaughters blog for Asiance Magazine. As a father of two dancing daughters, neither of whom cares for baseball, he began taking tap classes last month. You can follow Eugene on Twitter at @EugHung.

I fell in love with baseball when I was six years old. It was the first sport I ever loved, and the Houston Astros, my hometown team, were the first team of any kind I ever loved.

My grandpa on my dad's side also loved baseball. When he visited Houston from overseas, my dad and I took him to Astros games. When I visited him in Japan (where he taught for many years as a literature prof before he retired back to Taiwan), he took me to see his favorite team, the Yomiuri Giants, and his favorite player, second baseman Toshio Shinozuka - his favorite because he reminded him of me.

But baseball was more than just something we both enjoyed. Because of his limited English and my limited Chinese, baseball became a common language for us. It took a lot of time, and some translation help from my dad, to explain ourselves to each other on most topics. But not when it came to baseball. Baseball was our lingua franca.

When the Houston Astros FINALLY made it to the World Series in 2005 - a moment I had waited for nearly my entire life - my dad was the first to call me, just minutes after the final out. Then my college roommate called.

And then, from across the ocean, my grandpa called. He had been watching the Astros clinch the National League on ESPN International. He knew what a big moment it was for me as a longtime, long-suffering Astros fan. We rejoiced together.

And after we hung up, I started bawling. I was deeply moved by my grandpa's love for me, expressed in his keen interest in what I was interested in, a love for me so strong that unbeknownst to me, he was watching the same game and cheering the same plays that I was, half a world away.

My grandpa died a bit more than three years ago. Not surprisingly, many of my memories of him still center on baseball. And even after he died, baseball continued to serve as a bridge between us. I came across a book on the history of baseball in Taiwan, and lo and behold, there was Grandpa's name! He was mentioned as someone who played a small but significant part in the birth of Taiwanese professional baseball.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. Some day, when the Astros finally win (and not just advance to) the World Series, I know you'll be elated, too.


Strength From Tragedy
by Anu Venkateswaran

You can follow Anu on Twitter @RockThePurple1 and on Instagram as @Vardhinivenkat.

When I look in the mirror these days, I increasingly see my mother even though she is thousands of miles away. Just thinking of her makes me feel comforted and protected.
She left her village in the 1950s and came to Chennai to study and pursue Nursing as a career. It was uncommon for young women to live away from family in India in those days and I try to think how hard it must have been for her to take the first steps. 

My mother has helped lots of people, women especially, in her service at five different hospitals, but she always loved helping the women who would drop by for advice at our home. They would always leave feeling better, whether the problem was a physical ailment or something more obtuse. She was the one gently nudging me at the various forks in my road to consider the scarier option. She firmly believed that Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength, and lives exemplifying that. 

Lastly she was also a health activist from way back then, before it was cool. I will be frank and say, I wasn't too keen about drinking the bitter-melon juices and banana-flower broths. 
            Thank you Mom, you are awesome!
What Do You Mean?
By John Chan

A small town boy from a big city. 

When I was 12, my family immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong. It was 1973. The hardest thing for me to overcome as an immigrant was the language barrier. I'd had some basic English classes when I was in school back in Hong Kong, mainly learning the alphabet and some basic grammar, but nothing prepared me for the complexity and the nuances that native English speakers grew up with.

One incident I still remember was within a few months after joining the local elementary school in the small California town we'd immigrated to. I broke a toy that belonged to a classmate. I don't remember why or how I broke it, but I do remember the teacher asking me did I mean it. The only translation I knew of the word "mean" was what is the definition of something. I just stood and stared at the teacher blankly, not knowing how to answer the question. Looking up the word "mean" on just now, there are eight different meanings for the word. 

My son is now learning Mandarin in high school. He thinks it's hard. I told him he has it easy. He doesn't have to use it to communicate everyday.


Want A Happy Life? Eat Chinese Food
by Stephanie Huang Porter

On my first birthday, 1978 in Taipei, Taiwan with my parents, and paternal grandparents.

Stephanie is a food lover, joyful mother, travel addict, irreverent friend and writer. She's really glad you visited today, even though she feels funny writing in the third person. She knows you won't make it awkward. She's all over social media and would would kiss you, full on both cheeks if you would subscribe to her YouTube channel, like her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter, and Instagram. xoxo.

There's this saying that my father has repeated to me, translated into English it says, "To have a happy wife, live in an American house, marry a Japanese wife, and eat Chinese food." All growing up, it was rare to find my mother willing to try other cuisines. She only wanted Chinese food. However, if we had to eat American food, it better be a buffet, or more value for what we paid.

I've met people who have told me they love Chinese food. I've also met people who refuse to eat it. In most cases, sometimes for both sides of the coin, they've never had authentic Chinese food, they've had a hackneyed, American watered-down version of what they imagine Chinese food is.

Growing up my father was the Chef de cuisine, my mother was his Sous chef, and the four of us kids were extras, but required to help out with family meals. My father would return from home, and start yanking things out of the fridge. He'd pull out the most random things, like bok choy, and mustard, or ketchup and carrots. I remember thinking, this is going to be weird and gross. After my mother chopped up all the vegetables, according to the right shape, size and sorted them for my father, he'd work up some alchemy and voila, creations I would gobble up, thrilled by the flavors, and convinced he might have been pulling out things to mess with our minds. 

The requirement to help out in the home, especially the kitchen, taught me techniques, and nudged to my lifelong love of truly good food. The kitchen is my favorite place in my home. I get excited each time my daughters come up to me and beg to help me, as I prepare meals for them.

There are so many dishes we had growing up that are lost to the void of memory, or rather, the lack of memory. You see, my parents never cooked with recipes. It was always a source of intense frustration to me. I wanted to replicate dishes I loved, but there wasn't a guideline; just ingredients and a mouth-watering end product.

To me, this style of cooking is simply the immigrant way. Each new citizen of America comes with whatever skills, talents, dreams they have, they're thrown into varied, and challenging scenarios, and without guidance, without explanation, they make something of themselves. By and large, immigrants succeed in creating something magnificent out of nothing.

I'm admire those that have come before me. I'm grateful for their strength, endurance, sacrifice, and determination. These are character traits I work hard to teach my children, just as they were instilled in me. 

My frustration that I can't replicate recipes my parents made together has since fizzled. Why? When it comes to cooking Chinese food in my own home, I eyeball it. Sorry, kids. 



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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Morning Wake Up Moment

Mornings are hard.

Especially when I like to stay up in the wee hours of the evening, so I can enjoy some alone time.

Mornings, my bed is just too well-formed, and warm for my body, and my eyes are too heavy to open. My iPhone alarm that wakes me is always garishly loud, even though I have the volume quite low. When I need to use the porcelain throne, I can nearly convince myself to wait a smidge longer, just to linger in bed.

Once I'm finally up and moving, the first place I visit is the guest bedroom.

That's where my daughters have decided to sleep. They've abandoned their separate rooms, and instead snuggle together. We've had this happen multiple times in their young lives. I love that they not only love each other, they like each other, most of the time.

All the torture of getting up in the morning is erased when I snuggle between my girls to ease them out of the comforting, blissful throes of dreamland, and into the stark, bright light of reality.

The truth is, I love these quiet moments. I love that each day we can begin again. I've loved Anne from Anne of Green Gables since I was a child, and quotes from L.M. Montgomery's lovely novels have always resonated in my head, nearly all my life.

Below is my little YouTube video for you on this lovely Wednesday.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day Gift


I've figured it out.

What moms really *need* for everyday.

Mothers don't want dead flowers for Mother's Day.

They don't need more chocolate they can get any old day.

Do you know what moms really want?

I do.

Well, I know what I want for Mother's Day, besides a nap.

What do you want for Mother's Day?


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Leaving Paradise is Painful

I have so much to catch up on.

Our family was in Maui for about 10 days, really, more like 8-9 days due to travel. It just never seems enough time. I think the ideal time for a trip to Hawaii is closer to two weeks. That would be perfect.

In the meantime, I get to deal with continuing Mac issues (don't get me started). I've found the best way for me to cope is to avoid by being busy, and then hoping I can psych myself up to facing all the frustrating, panic-inducing issues.

While I get back into reality mode, here's a video of our favorite places to stay, eat and play on Maui. You'll want to pop some popcorn. Mahalo!