Hola!

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Hello friends, it’s been a while!

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We took off and headed south this winter to Cancun Mexico for eight days.

Our first annual family vacation was a success: the boys wanted to stay another week; I, on the other hand, could stay there forever.

I was extremly pleased with my husband’s choice of the new Paradisus resort. (Formally Gran Melia Hotel.) The hotel is enormous and beautifully designed with lavish architecture of the five majestic pyramids. Hanging vines as high as 70 feet surrounds the interior. Tropical plants, Koi fish-filled ponds and scented candles decorate this 5-star, 4-diamond luxurious resort paradise.

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But, it was the ocean view that sent me straight to Heaven. I’m glad we spent the extra bucks, it was worth every penny!

The beach was also incredible with warm, crystal clear water and soft white sand, as advertised.

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I highly recommend family concierge service if you’re traveling with children. Professional butlers and concierges will take care of your every need (on a provided mobile phone): dinner reservations, Bali/cabana beds, excursions, transportation, meals, you name it!

There are nightly entertainments for family and daily Kids zone/activities for children. Parents can also enjoy the night alone with a babysitter available at any time.

The food options are huge, with seven different restaurants to choose from. Tempo is by far the highest quality dining experience we’ve ever had, with a menu by Martine Berasategui from Spain. (one of the world’s finest restaurants!)

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It was nice to return to a relatively mild winter.

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Preserving our Heritage

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At a family gathering the other night, I was complimented on my Vietnamese speaking skills. I was flatted, as it came from a Vietnamese citizen who is recently studying in Canada on a student visa.

Thuy noticed that in North America, many Asian youth of my generation speak Vietnamese with an accent.

While it pleases me to know that I’m fluent in my native language, I fear the same could not be said of my children.

It’s our fault the boys don’t feel comfortable communicating in the mother tongue: My husband and I use more English when speaking to our friends and even to each other. We speak mostly in English to our children. It’s so much easier because they’re already well adapted to this culture and its language, as are we.

But much like everything we learn, without practice we will eventually forget. And I don’t want them to lose their identity, or the connection to our culture.

It’s our responsibility as parents to pass on the things we’ve learnt, to teach our children the family history and help them maintain their heritage.

For my resolution this year, I vow to teach the boys on becoming bilingual speakers, at the same time deepening my own roots.

This isn’t an easy task, as it is never easy to break a habit.

We’ll have to challenge ourselves, push out of our comfort zone, resist the urge, and make a conscious effort to choose the difficult choice.

It is a long-term commitment with a slow progress. But as long as there is progress, there is hope.

So, here’s to making progress in 2013!

My experience with racism

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mean-girls

I was at Shoppers the other day getting whipping cream for a dessert recipe I had planned on making that afternoon.  It was my third attempt that morning. Sold out. Who knew whipping cream was in such high demand?

As I head toward the exit doors, I walked pass the 50% after-Christmas clearance aisle.  Very tempting displays. Well, I have found some good deals in the pass. The retailers’ tactic at keeping me in their store worked.

The selections were small. As I browsed through the rolls of decorative papers, a woman in her mid-40’s mumbled something under her breath, as if talking to herself. She was two feet away and must have been looking at the gift wraps as well. My brain was slow to process, it wasn`t till a full two seconds later that it hit me. Hold on. Wait a minute. Did she just– No.  Could I’ve heard “I wish you people would go back to your country”? I can’t be sure, but I definitely heard the last four words of that sentence.

Disturbed by the possibility of a racist attack I immediately looked over at her, but unable to meet her eyes. Instead, I spotted an Asian lady within the same distance from that woman, who apparently have not heard a thing.

The woman then turned abruptly and walked away, all the while I was still trying to process what had just happened: retracting the steps leading up to that moment.

I was more confused than upset; wanting to understand what possessed her to say such an ignorant thing. And could I have possibly provoked it?

Sandwiched between two Asians must have made her very uncomfortable.

I quickly decided that she was no more than a miserable soul, who is more harmful to herself than others. I refuse to be poisoned by her. Plus, I was having way too good of a day (despite my failed grocery attempt) to let this unhappy person dragged me down. I will not give her that satisfaction.

There will always be prejudice in the world. We just have to remember and remind ourselves and our children that it’s just an irrational way of thinking, that often times have no reflection on us.

Walking away is the right choice; it doesn’t mean we are weak or powerless. We’re simply more intelligent.

P.S. I did find a full stock of whipping cream at Safeway after that.

Rushing through the holidays

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holiday_stress-225x300Christmas season is exciting, yet also one of the most exhausting time of the year.

We stress over the pressure and expectations which is created by none other than ourselves.

We hustle through the holidays with a million things on our mind.

As the days draw close we experience anxiety of the last minute shopping, still trying to find the right gifts, selecting that perfect cocktail dress, completing the grocery list while preparing our home for family gatherings.

The extensive busyness and fast pace of this annual Christmas celebration leaves not a moment to ourselves, to think, to recuperate.

With all the distraction, we forget what Christmas is about, and what we are really celebrating.

So, take a moment to pause this holiday season to reflect on YOU, your life, your family and the world around you.

Identify your vision – prepare to apply the necessary changes in the New Year!

Happy Holidays everyone. Enjoy time with your family and stay safe.

Cheers!

Long “distance” relationship

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about my mother, and our relationship (or lack thereof).

My mother has a great heart; she’s generous, brave, hardworking, and a hell of a fighter. Unfortunately, she is emotionally and (for the most part) physically unavailable.

I don’t like to portray her negatively, but the truth is her absence has crippled our relationship, leaving more pain than comfort and pleasure.

Mom was merely a child when she took on the role of a parent. Maybe she had a terrible life; perhaps she, too, failed to receive affection as a child, which is completely understandable seeing as though many Asian cultures do not display affections, as least not directly.

For years, I longed for a connection, to know my mom, to be acknowledged, and as corny as it sounds I longed for love, like any normal child.

These days, I’m no longer occupied with thoughts of her.

I’m learning to expect the void, the distances, the empty shell of a person that I will never completely know.

After all, it wouldn’t be fair to ask someone to share something they have not yet experienced.

Still, it sucks.

BUT all is not lost. Though I do not have my mother, I have gained valuable knowledge and perspectives through my experience.

The bond I have with my children is stronger than steel. But, I guess it also helps when you have the right partner.

The fact is Moms are flawed. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can start creating our own story.

Material Girl

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CBL3Photo credit: Carrie Bradshaw lied

My not-so-proud moment happened last week. As we rushed out of MYC (music) class, I noticed one of the moms wearing a stunning black Balenciaga Giant City bag with the silver hardware, which she perfectly paired with an Alexander McQueen signature skull print silk-chiffon scarf!

I see this woman once a week for an hour for the past four months, and for the first time I was interested in her. I was surprised and impressed with her impeccable taste. She sit five feet away from me since the beginning of September and yet I have no idea what her name was. Although, it’s really quite typical for moms to remember a child’s name and not their parent’s, and so she will remain as Eldon’s mom.

As I reflect on my behaviour that evening, I can’t help but feel superficial and somewhat shallow. After a self-evaluation I discovered that I’ve fallen victim to materialism.

The truth is we all use and enjoys material goods.  To one extent or another, we are all materialistic.  And that’s fine, as long as we don’t let it control our actions.

Sadly, my morals have been compromised by the blind support of consumerism.

Our desire for possessions distracts us from focusing on our values and what’s truly important; to see people for who they are and not who they wear.

In a society driven by consumption, it can be rather hard to escape the trap of materialism.

Too often we want and buy things we don’t need or even afford, and as quick as our obsessions we dismiss it once within our grasp.

Here’s a tip when trying to break the habit: Write the item you want on a list and date it. You can’t buy it for 30 days. After the 30 days have passed and you still want it, then go ahead and scan that card, but chances are your urges will die down, if not gone away completely.

But i think a better solution is to remind ourselves that these material goods are only a quick fix to our problems.

Get involve parents!

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Education is the key to your child’s future AND life. Getting actively involved is one of the most significant ways you can help.

Not sure what to do? Start by joining the PAC at your child/children’s school. PAC, which stands for Parent Advisory Council is a parent volunteer group working together with the common goal of supporting and creating a better education in your school district. Meetings take place once every couple of months, about an hour long. All parents are welcome to attend.

By showing up you get to voice your concerns and give inputs, connect with other parents and become knowledgeable in all school activities and events. From there you can see how you fit into the school and volunteer as your interest suits.

Our council tackles fundraising events which raise money for playground and school equipment, classroom allotments, partner in reading program, books for the library, fieldtrips, and so much more! Parent’s involvement is hugely important to our school and its students and our community. In fact, you’ll likely find a PAC member at almost every school event.

Becoming a PAC member allows me to be a part of the school and a bigger part in my son’s life. My son and nephew LOVE seeing me around their school and classroom; it really makes them feel special. I get to know all their friends and see how they interact in a different environment. The best part is knowing that I’m making a difference.

There’s always a position for parent volunteers. We’re really one of the most efficient unpaid organizations!

Get involve and help secure a successful future for your children!

“Love ’em or hate ’em, leggings are here to stay.”

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Are leggings the best invention ever or what ladies?! It’s one of the most versatile pieces of garment in a woman’s closet.  Not only is it super comfortable but goes with EVERYTHING. Whether dressed up or casually leggings will fit any occasion.

These form fitting pants are a necessity for fall and winter wardrobe. I practically live in them, usually paired with a go-to knitted sweater.

A couple of my absolute favourite tights are bought from Lululemon.  Having always appreciated the good quality and fit from this company, I was thrilled to discover the Lululemon Cross Town Pant.

While thick and fitted, these pants are also moveable thanks to luon, Lululemon’s signature fabric with its four way stretch properties. I love the denim look with the Lulu logo engraved buttons. It’s designed for yoga or simply to strut around town in, either way it’s an overall fab pants!

I prefer to be hairy

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Before becoming a mother, I was more adventurous. I liked experimenting with my hair especially. I had it colored every possible shades under the rainbow and tried various lengths from short and spiky, to an asymmetrical Bob to long layers.  It was kept short mostly as I had no patience for the between stage; it’s that length that’s too long to style but not long enough to tie in a ponytail. Not only that, but I inherited my father’s fine strands so when it grew out, my hair was limp and lifeless.

BUT, thanks to a boost of estrogen hormone during pregnancy my hair received a permanent luxuriant growth: increased thickness and added curls. It’s one of the few maternity perks. Oh wait!  My vision also improved with each pregnancy; a whole digit! It’s absolutely crazy. Although it did cost me lower my prescription.

Anyway, I’ve been growing my hair since. I love it long. In many culture long hair is considered a sign of femininity and forbidden to cut short.  I do feel girly and more attractive in comparison to the previous dos.

It’s getting too long now to the point that it’s disturbing my sleep. My husband keeps lying on it. Every time i go to turn my head my hair gets pulled. It’s becoming unmanageable.

So, first thing this morning I had five inches chopped off! I get a regular trim every couple of months, but I haven’t had a real hair cut in long time and I actually really like it.

This might just be the change i need.

Chopsticks: traditional utensils for asian cuisine.

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The other day, while eating at a local sushi restaurant, my four years old son showed a sudden interest in chopsticks and asked if he could use them. I spent a few minutes showing Christopher as we waited for our orders.  He was even more impatient then his older brother and it quickly became very frustrating for both of us.  But literally less than 10 minutes he was able to work these sticks and was using them the entire time we were there. Our son has always been a keen learner but my husband and I were completely flabbergasted.  If you’ve ever tried using these tapered sticks you’ll know it requires a lot of coordination: the proper technique is to hold the base in a stationary position while the top is held like a pencil.

If your child hasn’t quite comprehended this concept, you can always resort to training chopsticks, which are connected at the top and has loops for their tiny fingers to secure.

No training chopsticks? No worries, watch this video to make your own.

Chopsticks are used in many countries in Asia including Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan, but it was believed to have originated in ancient China.

In Japan, the chopsticks are more pointed and in Vietnam or China they are blunt at the tip.

These traditional eating utensils are most commonly made of wood/bamboo, plastic or metal. I prefer the wooden ones as they seem to have better grip. One could also use it for cooking and they’re usually inexpensive. Unfortunately, these deteriorate faster than the other materials. Metal chopsticks are often used by wealthy family, they’re durable and easy to clean but are slightly slippery.

Here are some main things you need to know about Chopstick etiquettes.

  • Do not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice as it look like incense sticks used in a funeral and death in general.
  • Do not dig or search through a bowl of food.
  • Do not use chopsticks to point, as it is rude in any culture to point.
  • Do not pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks.
  • Do not shovel food directly from your rice bowl into your mouth.