Saturday, December 11, 2010

《保庇》 Let the Greater Power Protect Us!

2010 已經接近尾聲。 在此希望所有的親朋好友能感受到神的保庇。 在此獻上王彩樺所唱的《保庇》 BOBEE! 好台喔!

Since 2010 is near the end, I would like to wish all the friends and loved ones a happy and prosperous new year! May the greater power protect us all. Enjoy BOBEE (a Taiwanese adapted Korean song) which reflects the spiritual aspects of the Taiwanese life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

公主與王子 Happily Ever After!

Has it been 30 years since Princess Diana's wedding?! I remember waking up hours before school to watch Princess Diana's wedding. Of course, Princess Diana did not live to see her sons grow up. When Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton this morning, I can't help but feeling happiness for him and his future bride. I will be up and early the day of their wedding so I can watch it on TV like billions of people around the world, wishing them the best to come.

今天一早起來就看到這則新聞。 英國的威廉王子及女友 Kate Middleton宣布訂婚,將在明年春夏舉行婚禮。 這將又是一場世紀婚禮。 準新娘漂亮、身材好、有學識、有氣質。 好像一出生就是準備要來當公主的。 將來,當她先生登基之後, 她就是女王了。 不知不覺的,我也跟著高興起來, 好像看到自己的兒子選到好伴侶的一樣高興。 回想三十年前, 我還特別早起,為了就是要收看威廉王子的母親黛安娜王妃婚禮的現場電視轉播。 雖然母親的婚姻不甚理想, 希望威廉王子能有個平實、幸福的婚姻。 祝福他們了!

Monday, November 15, 2010

台灣的查某人 Women of Taiwan

I grew up with the values expressed in this short docu-drama--selflessness, frugality, and unspoken love. Even though most of my female relatives never had to work like the women depicted in the film, they were discriminated nevertheless because they are women and/or because they only gave birth to daughters. My own grandmother's name is 罔市 which in Taiwanese sounds to mean "might as well feed her". She was the 4th daughter of a wealthy Taipei merchant. She grew up with servants, but my great-grandfather's obviously wanted a male heir very badly. I am sure that plagued my grandmother and her mother all their lives.

My own mother had 2 daughters and, to this day, she feels insecure about her position in the family (or that my father would have a legitimate excuse to have an affair) because she did not have a son. My mother is in her mid-70s and went to Taiwan University. Being a truly educated and modern working woman in the 1960s and 1970s did not change the way she thinks about the pre-defined roles of men and women in Taiwan. Just to set the record straight, my father remained a faithful husband without a son.

Even after we immigrated to Canada, my mother expected my sister and I to behave a certain way. Things didn't let up after we got married. When my mother found out I was expecting a baby girl, she told me I would need to have another baby, preferably a son, so my husband (and his family) would not have an excuse to divorce me. I told her if my marriage is based on me producing a son, then I would be the one divorcing my husband.

So getting back to this docu-drama, Director Wu's short docu-drama touched me in a different way. I think he was trying to examine the value system behind the role of a woman (or a mother) in a traditional (or even modern) Taiwanese family.

I would consider my own family fairly modern. We also live in the United States, thousands of miles away from Taiwan. But our value system remains the same. Children's needs always get priority. Of course, we no longer have to share a fish, but inevitably, the best part of the fish will be given to the children and the husband. Eating the tail part of a fish becomes second nature to me.

When I was single, I would not hesitate to spend NT$50,000 on a purse or an outfit. But now, I would think twice before buying a pair of US$50 shoes. No, my financial circumstance did not change, but I changed. The frugal aspect of my upbringing kicked in when I got married and became a mom.

Sure, many would criticize that Director Wu's docu-drama only represented a small segment of the Taiwanese population, but I believe the Taiwanese mentality have permeated all aspects of Taiwanese lives across the social-economic strata for over 400 years. Even those of us who have moved away from the island for over 35 years cannot get away from that so easily.

我是台灣出生的查某人。 雖然我大半輩子都是在國外生活, 可是卻逃離不了台灣女人的宿命。 結婚生子是人生必經之路。 可是在我二十八歲那一年,我的 “真命天使” 還未出現,在台灣工作的我面臨了我一生當中最大的挑戰。 之後,我花了五年的時間不停的相親。 一方面安撫父母親的焦慮, 一方面我也試著在調整自己的價值觀及信念問題。 一位有高學歷、高薪、及良好生活機能的三十歲女人需要因為社會的壓力而結婚嗎? 我不知道我去過多少廟抽過多少簽。 每個簽都說我沒有尼姑命! 叫我要晚婚。 所以我是相信命運的。 時間到了,緣份到了,也就嫁了。

婚後,定居美國,所以沒有台灣女人的枷鎖及負擔。 公婆是台灣人, 可是很開明, 我完全不用伺候他們。 他們只要我們小倆口高興快樂就好。 可是當人妻人母之後, 在那氛圍之下, 很自然的就知道要相夫教子、孝順公婆、省吃撿用。 我看到很多從臺灣嫁到美國來的媳婦, 每一位都是 "刻苦耐勞" (服語言障礙、容忍離鄉背井的、 很心的學習美國生活的一切一切、以及很操的做司機和台傭)。 所以住在美國的每一位台裔媽媽都秉持著台灣查某人的特質及毅力。 台美媽媽們加油囉!

Friday, October 22, 2010

超爆笑! LOL!!!

2010【第45屆電視金鐘獎】 三大難高音: 高凌風、吳宗憲、康康
I haven't seen anything this funny on Taiwanese Television for a while. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Silly Bandz!!! 今年美國最夯的玩具!

The hottest toy this year is Silly Bandz. If you ask any kids between the ages of 5 to 16 what their favorite play thing this year, they will all tell you "Silly Bandz" ( Silly Bandz are a brand of silicone rubber bands formed into shapes including animals, objects, and letters. They are normally worn as bracelets. Essentially, they are colorful rubber bands in various shapes. The company that markets this product is laughing all the way to the bank. They are usually sold in a pack of 24 Bandz (6 shapes, 4 per shape) that will allow the kids to collect and trade. I looked up the internet and they are being sold from $5.99 to $2.50 for a pack of 24. As in any popular items, there are now hundreds of imitations in the marketplace. Most are just colorful rubber bands that will likely melt together in heat or pressure. As Silly Bandz are made of silicone, these bands can withstand heat and maintain the shapes really well.

I was resisting buying these Silly Bandz for my kids because I was not going to pay over $5 for 24 rubber bands, but reality hit last Friday when my 8 year-old son came home with many of these Bands around his wrist. He said a classmate gave them to him--he went through a long story of why this girl would give him so many Bandz. But now I have a dilemma. My 10 year-old daughter has been asking to buy these Bandz for weeks. I kept telling her no because it's a waste of money. But now that her brother has them, she felt life is a bit "unfair" to her. I did my research on-line and found out that there are so many different kinds of colorful rubber bands out there, but the quality of these bands vary. I decided that if I were to buy any for my kids, I might as well stick with the silicone kind.

Anyways, to make a long story short, I went to Toys R Us yesterday and bought 3 packs of Silly Bandz. They only have two kinds of Silly Bandz available at the store--the Princess pack and the Dinosaur pack. It's not like we have a lot of choices, but they were on sale for $4.99 per pack and the promotion was buy 2 get 1 free. I'll probably go to another Toys R Us and see if I can exchange the extra dinosaur pack for a different theme pack. Both kids now think they have the best parents in the world!!!

真的沒想到, 美國今年最夯的玩具是 Silly Bandz, 一種彩色橡皮圈手環! 這個東西真的是從幼稚園夯到高中! Silly Bandz 只是一家最先在美國販賣這種彩色橡皮圈的公司品牌。 因為賣得太好, 所以已經有上百種其它品牌流竄在玩具巿場上。 巿面上及網路市場到處在賣類似的彩色橡皮圈。比較便宜的彩色橡皮圈是橡膠做的。 天熱時, 這種橡皮圈都會黏在一起。 品質好的彩色橡皮圈手環是矽膠做的, 所以耐熱也耐壓, 可是就賣得比較貴。 Silly Bandz 這家公司(賣的彩色橡皮圈就是矽膠做的, 但是一包(24枚裝)就要賣 $5.95。 當然我們都是要等到減價時才買。 這星期 Silly Bandz 在 Toys R Us 有在減價。 雖然貨色不多(只剩兩種),可是一包(24枚裝)才賣 $4.99, 然後買兩包再送一包。 這樣子的價錢我還能接受。 不過話又說回來, 這只是有色橡皮筋, 竟然可以賣到這種價錢! 業者真的是賺翻天了! 我想今年的聖誕節禮物少不了這個玩藝。 還有,如果近期內要去找親朋好友, 而那親朋好友有五歲至十六歲的小孩,這Silly Bandz 可是最好的伴手禮喔!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

台美僑胞有口福了! 好吃的豬肉乾! Yummy Pork Jerky!

My favorite memory of childhood in Taiwan was going on a school field trip. It was never about where we went but what snacks my mother would put in my backpack for our annual school field trip. Back then, snacks were not prevalent and were not sold individually packaged like they do today. Guai Guai were one of my favorites and I remembered they were NT$2. But what I wanted most in my snack bag wast those sweet and savory pork jerkies. I am sure many of us who grew up in Taiwan have fond memories of those square pieces of the pork jerkies.

Over the years, when I visited Taiwan, I would look for pork jerkies to buy. But rumors of bad sources (or unknown sources) of pork made buying pork jerky a "risky" business. One summer I discovered a specialty pork jerky store on Chung Hsiao East Road (near Taipei University), but the pork jerky sold there cost more than a piece of rib eye steak oz per oz. I did buy some to let my kids try, but it wasn't something I can buy in bulk.

Jump to September 2010. Last week while visiting a friend of mine, she excitedly showed me a bag of pork jerky. She said she bought it at Costco!!! She pulled out a piece and let me tried it. We let out a scream!!! It tasted the same as the flavor we had become accustomed to. My friend said another friend saw it at a Costco in Hawaii and bought 4 packages. So when she saw it at a Costco in Hacienda Heights, she had to buy some. She only bought 2 packages though because she wanted to make sure it has that Taiwanese taste before buying more. Well, it tasted exactly as we know it. So when my friend saw it at our local Costco, she had to let all her Taiwanese friends know about it. I had wanted to buy some all week. Today, I finally found the time to make the trip to our local Costco.

So if you have a Costco near you, make the trip to Costco and buy those pork jerkies and re-live your childhood memories. I looked at the package carefully. This product is made in USA. So we don't have to worry about the source of pork. It also does not contain MSG. I can't say it doesn't contain preservatives, but I think it's within FDA standard, so unless one over-indulges, one should not worry about that. At $9.79 (14.5 oz), it's not expensive at all. If your local Costco doesn't carry this product, request it. Happy eating!!!

上星期到朋友家去串門子, 她急著拿出一樣東西要給我看。 她說, “妳吃吃看, 這是在 Costco 買的。“ 我一吃, 不得了。 我倆大聲一叫,“哪有可能 在 Costco 買到臺灣味的豬肉乾!?!?” 我仔細一看,包裝上寫的是 Product of USA 和 No MSG! 我以前都不太敢買豬肉乾, 雖然愛吃,可是怕買到來路不明的豬肉乾, 所以已經有好久沒買了。 這下子我可高興了, Costco 在賣豬肉乾,我隨時都可以吃到物美價廉的豬肉乾 (US$9.79, 14.5 oz)。 今天特別跑了Costco 一趟, 買了兩包豬肉乾。 反正我們幾乎每個禮拜都會去 Costco 買東西, 吃完到時候再買。我準備明天給小孩帶一些豬肉乾到學校去當點心吃。 好幸福的小朋友喔! 我很高興我的小孩也願意跟我一起分享好吃的豬肉乾! 想當年我小學遠足時最常攜帶的零食就是豬肉乾! 如果你們家附近的 Costco 沒有賣豬肉乾, 你們可以要求 Costco 進貨。

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

開學篇 (第二篇: 初中篇) Back to School, Part Two, Middle School

My 10 year-old daughter will enter middle school this fall. She is so looking forward to going to her new school. She does not want to miss any part of what middle school has to offer. If you ask her what she is most looking forward to in middle school. She will say LOCKERS. Go figure. I guess having her own locker at school makes her feel grown up. I remembered the locker I had in high school--it was like my home away from home. It was filled with shoes, clothes, PE stuff, books, papers, etc... It took 2-3 shopping bags to empty out my locker on the last day of school.

One of those consistent nightmares I would have in my youth was to forget my locker combinations. Back then, I had to buy my own combination lock to put on my locker. The smart thing would be to write down my lock combinations somewhere. But the nightmare would go a step further--I would forget where I had written down the lock combinations. It had never occurred to me to just tell my mom what my locker combinations are and she could have helped me remember.

That was then, this is now. I don't think my daughter will have the same kind of nightmares I had when I was in middle school. The lock to her locker is built-in the locker. Her school keeps each locker's lock combinations in the office. If a student forgets his/her combinations, all he/she needs to do is to go to the office and ask about it.

Speaking of Middle School. In California, elementary schools begin in kindergarten and end in grade 5. Middle Schools include grade 6 through 8. High schools are grade 9 through Grade 12. My sister who still lives in Vancouver tells me that British Columbia no longer has Junior High Schools. My Canadian nieces will only have to attend Elementary School (kindergarten to Grade 7) and High School (Grade 8 to Grade 12). Junior High Schools (or Middle Schools) no longer exist in Vancouver.

Way back in June, before the 5th grade Culmination (a small-scale elementary school "graduation"), all 5th grade parents received information about what we would need to prepare and buy for our new 6th graders. One of the biggest item we need to purchase is a three-inch zipper binder which will contain all the notes from the 6 classes a 6th grader will need to take in Middle School. One day in July, I took my daughter to Target, Staples, and Office Depot to look for one. Some were too small (1" or 2" zipper binder) or too big. Most were flimsily made. I did not want to pay over $20 for a poorly-made zipper binder that may only last a month. We didn't end up buying anything from the stores. We decided to go home and look for a suitable binder on-line. To my surprise, most of the reviews of the zipper binders on Amazon talked about how these binders were not sturdy enough to last a whole semester.

Two weeks ago, at Costco, I found the exact zipper binder that my daughter and I have been looking for. Costco did not have this product in July. The greatest part about it was the price--$12.99!!! Not sure how sturdy this zipper binder is, so I bought 2 just in case one doesn't last a whole semester. Right next to the zipper binders were these Casio Scientific calculators. These scientific calculators were selling for $12.99 each. It was the last item on my daughter's 6th grade school supplies list that I have yet to buy for her. Initially, I was not sure how good a scientific calculator I need to get for her (at what price level?!) But $12.99, I wouldn't feel too bad if she lost it at school. Basically, she's all set for 6th grade.

我那十歲的女兒暑假過後,就要上初中了。 在加州,小學是從大班上到五年級。 初中是六年級到八年級, 而高中是九年級到十二年級。所以在美國是有十三年的義務教育。 有的家長選擇讓小孩晚讀一年的話,還可以上二年的大班(等於是十四年的義務教育)。

上初中對我女兒來講是件令她很興奮也很期待的大事。 如果問她對上初中最響往的事是什麼, 她會說 “在學校有自己的鐵櫃櫥 (locker) ”。 好像有自己的學校 locker 就代表自己長大了! 想當年我讀高中時也把我比較重要的家當放在學校的 locker 裏。 誰會笨到把自己的日記放在家裏?!?! 我媽不讓我穿的高跟鞋以及不准我用的化妝品也都是放在我學校的 locker 裏。 學期結束時,我還得在家裏找個地方藏這些私密的東西。 誰會想得到一個小小 locker 對少女的成長過程會有如此的影響力!

女兒的新學校已經在學校的官網 po了下學期學生要用的文具用品。 最重要的一樣東西是一個有拉鍊的三寸活頁夾。 我帶女兒去了三、四家文具用品店都沒有找到適當的活頁夾。 不是太小就是看起來不是很堅固。 有些還要二十幾塊。我覺得太貴了。 小孩子用的東西不應該那麼貴。 反正離開學還要一個多月,我就告訴女兒我們再等等看,搞不好再一陣子我們要買的東西就會減價。

八月初,她在 Children's Place
看到一個漂亮(耐看可是好像不太耐用) 1" 大的活頁夾,只要 $7.99。 我二話不說先把它買下來想說女兒一開學也還不需要用上三寸活頁夾。 結果後來再去Costco時, 竟然看到女兒正需要的三寸活頁夾, 才 $12.99。 我一口氣買了兩個 (怕不耐用)。女兒選了銀色及籃色的活頁夾,高興得不得了 (one step closer to Middle School)! Costco 也蠻應景的, 八月份也開始賣 back-to-school 的文具用品。 我還順便買了個科學用的計算機給女兒, Casio 牌的才$12.99。 反正科學用的計算機也是在她學校的文具用品清單上, 所以早晚也是得買。Costco 賣的產品絕對比別的地方賣得便宜, 所以不買以後一定會後悔。 女兒好喜歡她的銀色活頁夾,看樣子有空我得去把她在 Children's Place 買的 1" 活頁夾拿去還。

再兩星期就要開學了。 今年暑假過得還真快!