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!

Friday, August 13, 2010

開學篇 (第一篇: 課外活動篇) Back to School, Part One, Extracurricular Activities

I can't believe the summer is almost over. It's time to think about the kids going back to school. Back-to-School means that my life will be "back to normal" and becomes more structured, dictated by my kids' after-school schedules. Now that the kids are older, they have a clear sense of what they like and what they don't like, so they choose the after-school activities that they want to participate in. My 10 year-old daughter will continue with her dance classes and Girl Scout. She had bridged over to be a Girl Scout Cadette in June. My 8 year-old son will do AYSO soccer ( this fall and Little League Baseball in the spring. He will also do Cub Scouting. He will be a Bear Cub Scout this year. With both kids in Scouting, we will be selling lots of Boy Scout popcorn and Girl Scout cookies this upcoming school year.

I am making both kids do violin. I let them choose between piano or violin and they both chose violin. I think they chose violin because they perceived that playing violin is EASIER than playing piano. Neither of my kids have inherited the musical discipline (or talent) from their father, so they will never achieve the kind of success that many Asian kids have exhibited in music performance. But I want my kids to be exposed to playing music, reading music, and learning about music theory. Mostly, I want them to appreciate music and musical performance. When they go to a concert, whether pop or classic, they will realize how hard those musicians have to work to get to where they are today. Unfortunately for me, getting them to practice violin is like pulling teeth, so they'll likely end their violin career the day I don't feel like nagging them about practicing their violins.

時間也過得真快,八月中,快開學了。 開學後,我的生活也就能變得比較規律,可是會更忙碌。 我覺得除了要開車載小孩上下課之外,還要載小孩參加不同的課外活動行程。 當然還得弄便當及督導小孩的功課。 其實也沒什麼,有就學年齡小孩的父母都能瞭解我們現階段在做的事,也很清楚現階段該做些什麼事。

我十歲的女兒將要繼續她的舞蹈課程以及女童子軍( 的活動。 我八歲的兒子會以秋季足球(及春季少少棒( 為主,外加男童子軍(。

為了能讓我的小孩文武雙全(可能嗎?!?!),我強迫他們一定要學一樣樂器。 他倆都選擇小提琴。 我想他們大概是認為學小提琴比學鋼琴簡單。 其實要好好學任何樂器都很難。 除了要有興趣之外,還要有恆心、毅力、及耐心。 我的小孩是比不上在美國的許多亞裔青年,各各都能夠拉或彈一手好琴。 除非我逼他們練琴,他們是不會自動自發的去練琴的。 想當年我媽也逼我練琴,逼到最後母女的感情也搞壞了,琴也越練越糟。 我覺得那時是我的心態問題,也正是青少年反抗期, 只要是我媽說的話我都會討厭。 最後我媽發現她真的是在浪費錢才在我十一年級的時候終止我的學琴生涯。 現在回想起來當然是我不對,可是我的那一段學琴經驗真的是一趟不愉快的人生旅程。 三十年後的今天,人生的輪迴,我又要來逼我的小孩學琴,感覺好像不太對。 也因為我的過去,讓我對我的小孩學琴這件事想了好久。

我的老公很會拉小提琴。 從小沒人逼他學琴。 後來是因為我公婆無法開車載他去學琴而沒能繼續學琴。 跟我差好大喔! 他的想法是要讓小孩有學琴的經驗,讓他們對音樂有基本的瞭解。 因為練過琴才能體會音樂人的才華及辛苦。 學琴的出發點有了, 下一個步驟就是要如何激發(motivate)小孩的練琴意願,少讓我用“逼”的方式強迫他們練琴。 基本上沒什麼好方法,就是我得花時間陪小孩子拉琴。 不是練琴,而是陪小孩子一起拉琴。 想當年自己練琴的辛苦,原來就是用要來培育下一代!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

來美國玩一定要保險 The Importance of Travel/Medical Insurance

July is typically the month when many of our Taiwanese friends and families come to the United States for their summer vacation. Inevitably, they will drop by Los Angeles and visit us. I am sure most of us who live in the United States have similar experience when it comes to visitors from Taiwan.

I learned something important this year. Two unfortunate events happened to my family and another friend's family within a day of each other. On July 5 (a long weekend Monday), I found out that the friend's father-in-law passed away from a heart attack while visiting a city about an hour away from home. Her father-in-law came to the U. S. often, so they were on one of their family outings. I didn't ask her what happened afterward, but it's safe to say that many things financial and emotional would need to be addressed after the passing of her father-in-law.

On July 6, a family friend visiting us had a stroke. He survived, but he was burdened with an astronomical medical bill. The ambulance trip between his son's house and the hospital (a total distance of 3 miles) cost more than US$1,600. The first day of emergency and ICU care cost more than US$65,000. Any doctor who visited the patient while he stayed at the U. S. hospital would be charged the doctor's regular hourly rate (at least US$350 per hour). Without medical insurance, the medical bill will continue to increase until this patient is stable enough to be air-lifted back to Taiwan for further medical treatment. This Taiwanese friend did buy travel insurance before he left for Taiwan, but most are accidental coverage for death and dismemberment, and not for catastrophic nor emergency illnesses. He had a NT$50,000 coverage for catastrophic illness. That's not nearly enough to even cover 1 day's worth of doctor's fees.

So a word of advice. If you or your family wants to travel to the United States from Taiwan, please make sure that enough medical insurance is purchased to cover serious illness such as heart attack and stroke for your friend or family. I would recommend travel insurance that include medical care for serious illnesses for people 50 and over. The medical coverage should be around US$300,000 or more. The medical insurance should also include the expenses of air-lifting the patient back to Taiwan for further care.

暑假是台灣親朋好友來美國旅遊的季節。今年也不例外。 可是今年七月卻讓我體會到旅遊醫療保險(重大疾病)的重要。 好朋友的公公來美國住不到幾天就因心臟病發作而過世。 我是沒有問好朋友如何辦妥她公公的後事,可是如果她公公有在臺灣買好旅遊保險,那肯定保險公司將會協助我朋友處理一些相關事物。

在我朋友公公出事的第二天,我的一位親戚也在來美的三天後中風。 因為沒有醫療保險, 第一天的住院費用就高達六萬美金!!! 就連救護車的帳單也要美金一千六(醫院和他兒子家的距離只有三英哩)。 所以奉勸大家--如果你將有親朋好友到美國來探親或觀光,一定要叮嚀親朋好友(尤其是年紀較大的人)來美國之前在臺灣買好至少有三十萬美金的重大疾病旅遊醫療保險。 這旅遊醫療保險最好是也有包括把病人從美國運輸回台灣的費用。 當初林志玲在中國受傷時也是用專機運輸回台灣的,她或她的經紀公司肯定有買這一方面的保險。

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 U. S.Census 美國人口普查

If you are of Taiwanese origin, when you fill out the 2010 U. S. Census, please don't forget to check off "Other Asians" and WRITE IN "Taiwanese" on Question 9. Please forward this information to all your Taiwanese friends and family living in the U. S. The deadline for mailing in the 2010 U. S. Census is April 1, 2010.

美國的居民應該在這兩、三個星期內會收到2010年美國人口普查的問卷。 請大家不要忘記在第九題勾起“Other Asians", 並填寫 “TAIWANESE”。您這動作應該會讓美國政府瞭解台灣人在美國也佔一席之地!

Monday, March 1, 2010

珍奧斯汀的男人Jane Austen's men

Jane Austen is my favorite author. When I read her as a teenager, many of the nuances of adult relationships kind of went through me without registering much empathy. The focus was always the romance part of her stories. But now that I am in my 40s, Jane Austen's brilliance--in her ability to observe human relationships (not just the male-female ones) and to write them down with such an insight never cease to amaze me.

So I was delighted to see PBS' Masterpiece Theater broadcasting TV adaptation of Jane Austen's novels--Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion for the last 4 weeks. It was a nice diversion from the hustle and bustle of watching the Winter Olympic games.
I actually found the TV adaptation of Emma slightly off. The book was better than the TV production, mostly because they focused too much TV time on the first half of the book and not enough with the second half.

The major theme in any of Jane Austen's novel is for her heroines to marry well. Back in those days, women had no means of supporting themselves. Their financial well-being relied much on the inheritance that they will receive and who they marry. Life for women today is not so different from their counterparts 300 years ago. For a woman to have a successful work/career life, if she chooses to have children and family life, she cannot do it alone. The choice of a husband can make or break a woman's life--who needs to go through divorces?!

The photo above is the famous Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), portrayed by Colin Firth.
For years, Mr. Darcy was by far my favorite male character in Jane Austen's novels, but after watching the portrayal of Captain Wentworth by Rupert Penry-Jones in Persuasion, Captain Wentworth (photo below) is now my new favorite Jane Austen man. Men who inherit wealth and men who made their own wealth are different breeds of men. I prefer the latter. Also the fact that Captain Wentworth kept his feeling for Anne Elliot for 7 years even after she rejected him is worth the price of admission. I love a man who is reserved, disciplined, and controlled, but underneath it all, he is as passionate as they come. What woman wouldn't want that in a romantic fiction?!

If you are a Jane Austen fan, go to, you can vote for your favorite Jane Austen men. There is a little write up on each man. It's a lot of fun!

最近這四個星期天的晚上, 美國的公共電視台 (PBS) 連接著播出了由珍奧斯汀的小說所改編的電視劇--Emma, Northanger Abbey 及 Persuasion。 這三部小說雖然沒有比傲慢與偏見 有名, 可是劇情提材出自於珍奧斯汀, 因此可看度很高。 尤其是對從小就很崇拜珍奧斯汀的我來講, 能看到珍奧斯汀的人物顯現在電視的螢光幕上,這真是一件很開心的事。 當然每個珍奧斯汀的男主人翁都酷和帥到不行! 大家有機會可以上網去投票給妳最心儀的珍奧斯汀男主角! 。

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sale at Hollister 大拍賣!

The last few days have been cold and damp in Los Angeles. My daughter needs a jacket she can wear to school (without worrying about loosing it). I bought her a ski/snowboard Burton jacket a while back, but I think it's too fancy for school. So today, I went to the mall to look for a jacket she can wear to school. I started at Gymboree, then to Crazy 8, Children's Place, and GAP. I don't think these stores stock jacket for cold weather in Los Angeles, so I didn't find anything that was thick enough for my daughter to wear on cold days like today. My daughter's favorite clothing brand is Abercombie and Fitch, but the mall I went to didn't have A&F, so I went to the Hollister store ( A&F actually owns the Hollister brand. There are so many similarities between the 2 brands that I think they are interchangeable, aside from the logo.

To my surprise, a lot of stuff at Hollister was marked down. Moreover, there was a sale on whereby everything that was marked down already is reduced further by 50%. I found several wintery jackets for $25 (regular price $125-$149). Hollister hoodies were going for $20 each. I was surprised at the size of the inventory. I guess people haven't been to the mall lately because of the recent downpours. I quickly grabbed 6 items and lined up. I waited 1/2 hour before I got to the cashier. They didn't have bags big enough to fit all 6 items. They were going to bag it one item per one small bag. I told them not to bother, I easily draped 4 jackets over my arm and carried the other 2 in bags.

Unfortunately, my daughter did not like any of the 6 jackets I brought home. I think stylistically, Hollister is still a bit old for my daughter. Once the weather clears up, I would have to return all 6 items. It's too bad that I have to return those jackets because they were really good deals. But I guess my fashion sense isn't on the same wavelength as my 10-year old daughter. She said she still likes A&F better!

UPDATE: I returned all the items I bought for my daughter. Luckily my friend gave me some of her daughters' hand-me-down jackets a few days after my shopping trip at Hollister. My daughter loves her semi-new jackets!

如果您家裏有 13歲 至 18歲的小孩, 趕快去 Hollister 買衣服 (。 Hollister 是美國青少年喜愛的名牌。 平常它的服飾價位訂得很高, 但是只要有減價就很划得來。 Hollister 現在正在打折。 折價後的產品再打五折!!! 一些原價要 $125至$149 的冬天外套只要 $25。 本來幫女兒買了六件不同樣式、顏色的外套, 只可惜她沒有一件喜歡。 再過幾天等到天氣轉晴後,再去店裏辦退貨。 真是麻煩! 女兒說她還是比較喜歡 Abercombie & Fitch 的衣服。 Abercombie & Fitch 是一家服飾上市公司(NYSE: ANF)。 其實 Hollister 的東家就是 Abercombie & Fitch。 這兩家店賣的服飾還非常類似,只是品牌標識不一樣而已。

說真的,我覺得只要衣服的品質好、價錢公道, 買名牌服飾給小孩穿是 OK 的。 最主要還是希望小朋友能融入美國人的社會。 在美國長大的小女生很辛苦、壓力也大, 就連穿的衣服也不能太奇怪! 在女兒的五年級班上, Abercombie & Fitch 的服飾就好像是女孩們的制服喔! 當我發現這學生潮流時,我就先告知女兒 Abercombie & Fitch 牌的衣服我一定會買給她的,只是不會馬上買。我會等減價再買給她。我給女兒訂的原則是上衣、褲子、裙子不能超過十元,外套、洋裝不能超過二十元。 這樣就保證不會給小孩子買到太昂貴的名牌服飾了。
白忙一場! 搞半天我女兒一件 Hollister 的夾克也不喜歡! 好在我的一位住在附近的老朋友在一星期後送了一大包她女兒穿不下的衣服給我。 其中有一伴夾克大衣我女兒好喜歡! 剛好派上用場!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Little League Tryouts 少少棒選拔賽

Now that my son is 8, with 2 years of Little League experience, he is qualified to enter the minors team in his little league. But the caveat is that he has to try out for the team. Parents received flyers for baseball camps before the winter break and because we were going on a cruise, I couldn't sign my son up for it. The boy hasn't played baseball since May, he was a bit rusty at the try out today. Both my husband and I thought our son is a borderline kid--meaning he may or may not make the minor team. He can hit and catch, but he's weak in throwing the ball. One thing going for him is that he is a fast runner between the bases. Like I said he is a borderline kid. If the try outs are for coaches to select the best players, he will make the minors if they need more players to form the teams. So we were keeping our fingers crossed.

The morning started at 9:45AM with his first winter soccer game. There were 2 other boys on the team who were also going to the baseball tryout, so we all left the soccer game early at 10:15AM. They changed into their baseball uniform, then we drove 15 minutes to the Little League field. There were many kids and families roaming the area, either watching, socializing, or practicing. They have sign in first and get a number. Unbeknownst to us, the number did not mean the order in which you will be trying out. The boys were suppose to line up near the home base when it's time for your age group to try out (10:45AM). My son was walking around and watching (I think he was nervous) and didn't know to line up. When I told him to line up, he was near the end of the line. He didn't get to try out until past noon. It was a long wait. Had I known about this system, we would not have left the soccer game early.

At the tryout, each boy gets pitched a ball to hit. He gets 3 tries. Once he hits the ball, he runs the bases. Then after 5 boys have done the hitting, they line up to catch a ground ball, then throws the ball to first base. Once the 5 boys did that, they line up again to try out pitching. Then the next 5 boys is up at bat.

While waiting for my son to finish the try out, I talked to a few moms and realized that the try out wasn't aimed at weeding out the less skilled boys. The coaches from all the teams rate each boy so they can make the teams more balanced. They are trying to avoid putting all the best players in one team.

I think my son did the best he could at the tryout. He was worried that he wouldn't make the minor team. I said he will make it, but the minor teams are harder than farm teams because the boys will be hitting balls pitched by another boy, not by a pitching machine. The chance of getting hit by a fast ball while at bat is very common.

For a boy, growing up in America, playing team sports is a major part of his life. It is where all his social life begins.

話說兒子的少少棒選拔賽,聽起來好像很隆重,可是事實上只是讓所有球隊教練有機會觀察所有小朋友打棒球的能力,好讓教練可以依照小朋友的能力平均分配球員到每個球隊。這樣每個球隊比賽時,輸贏不會差太多。 這也是我後來跟其他比較有經驗的媽媽聊天後才知道的。

兒子已經參加了兩年的少少棒,從 T-Ball隊 到 Farm隊, 今年他8歲,所以要參加 Minor隊。 在 Minor隊 發表隊員名單之前,每個希望加入 Minor隊 的小男孩都要參與年初舉辨的少少棒選拔賽。 知道兒子必需要經過選拔賽的考驗其實我和老公也蠻緊張的。 我們兒子的運動神經還算不錯,可是棒球這種東西還是平常得練習。 兒子是從五月的棒球季節結束後就沒有再碰棒球了。 寒假之前,學校發了一些有關冬令營的資訊, 其中一項就是少少棒冬令營。 很多小男生趁放寒假的時間參加少少棒冬令營,一方面在放寒假時有地方去,另一方面可以在少少棒選拔賽之前有所準備。我們利用寒假期間去玩(坐了一趟遊輪),所以無法參加任何冬令營。因此一月開學後,我們對於這少少棒選拔賽也有趨之若鶩的感覺。

今天一早九點就出門。兒子的冬季足球賽今天是第一場。同隊的有其他兩位小男生也要去參加少少棒選拔賽。 所以我們 10:15AM 就提前離開足球場,開車前往少棒棒球場。 兒子在車上換制服。到了棒球場拿了號碼就等上場。 因為這是我們第一次參加少少棒選拔賽,不知道要到本壘後面排隊。快十一點才輪到 Minor隊 的球員上陣, 可是兒子因為排在最後, 輪到他時已經中午了。早知道是用排隊上陣的方式, 我們也不用那麼早就離開足球賽了。 兒子就一邊排隊一邊看別人怎麼打。 我也在一旁跟其他家長聊天。 那時才知道這少少棒選拔賽事實上只是讓教練評估每位小朋友的能力。 基本上每位來參加這次 Minor隊 “Tryout” 的小朋友都會被分配到 Minor隊。 知道後, 我們做家長的就不用那麼緊張了,可是我並沒有把這情報告訴兒子。 我想讓他盡力的表現自己。

選拔賽一開始就每五個小孩一組。 教練投手投球讓小朋友打。 擊不中有三次機會。 打中後往一壘跑, 一直跑回本壘。 五個小朋友都跑完後,輪流在二壘後面接滾地球,接到後要丟給一壘手。 最後一項就是做投手,把球丟給在本壘的補手。 這一組的五個小孩都評估完後就歸下一組人馬。 兒子也很順利的完成這三項比賽。


Thursday, January 7, 2010


哇! 1410 坪耶! 就算只住一層也有 470 坪! 在台灣,貧富的差距真的很大! 大部份的臺灣人如果有四十坪的房子可以住就要偷笑了! 當然有錢人可以花自己辛苦賺來的錢, 不過低調一點不是比較好嗎?

One of the richest man in Taiwan, Gou Tai-Ming (, just bought the top 3 floors of a residential highrise (yet to be built) in the Tamshui area of Taiwan. Each floor is about 470 ping (or 16694.825 sq. ft.). That's almost the size of an official NHL ice skating rink. The average Taiwanese people live in apartments that are about 30 pings. It's hard to imagine the mindset of a multi-billionaire. I always thought rich people would want to be low key. It's not like Mr. Gou doesn't have beautiful homes already. This significant real estate purchase sounds like his ego speaking. To each his own.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

KOST 103.5

I have been a faithful listener to KOST 103.5 for a long time. Now, when I drive my kids to school, they also enjoy listening to Mark & Kristin's Morning Show. One drawback about listening to these radio shows is that my kids would constantly try to tell me to call-in to win whatever prizes are offered. It's hard to drive and call a radio station these days, especially in areas where radio reception is extremely bad. Over the last 10 years, it's not from my lack of trying, but I've never succeeded in winning anything from calling in. I was never at the right place at the right time.

Well, I was driving to work today and I heard someone on the radio announcing a 4-pack tickets to Disneyland offered to the 20th caller. What the heck, I will give it a try. I called KOST 3 times and I either got a busy signal or a not-in-service signal. The 4th time, the phone got connected and when someone pick up on the other end, I had to say hello several times, but no one said anything on the other end. I finally said, "am I the 20th caller?" The person on the other end said, "have you won anything from us in the last 60 days?" I said, "NO!" The person then said, "you are the 20th caller! Congratulations, you won the Disney 2for tickets!" I said, "I DID?" The person said, "YES, can I have your telephone number?" I gave him my number and he said, "can you stay on the line?" I stayed on the line and heard Kristin talk a bit and she even mentioned my name, but before I know it music was playing on the station again and the person got back on the phone and took down my address and telephone number. He said their promotional department will be in touch with me shortly about the tickets. I mentioned something about how excited my kids will be when they find out about the Disneyland tickets. Although I didn't get interviewed by Kristin, I was still very happy that I won these tickets.

On a side note, someone from the radio station called me in the afternoon and said that they don't have the tickets yet, but when they have the tickets, they will contact me again. I put this person's name and telephone number on my Outlook Agenda for the next 30 days. I will call her in 30 days if KOST doesn't contact me by then.

I told the kids at dinner that I have something great to tell them. They eagerly waited for me to sit down. But my husband spoiled the fun and said it's about the radio station. My daughter immediately guessed that I must have won something from the radio station. The kids continued to guess what I might have won. They were really excited when they found out we got Disneyland tickets.

My son wants to go to Disneyland next weekend. I had to tell him that I don't have the tickets yet and if we go, it would probably be closer to the Spring Break. At least now we will have some place fun to go to for Spring Break.

我最常聽的廣播電台是 KOST 103.5 (FM)。 我只要開車就一定會聽這電台。 現在連我的小孩也跟我一起聽。 雖然他們還是比較喜歡聽 Radio Disney, 可是 AM 的收訊不如 FM, 所以我們常聽 KOST。 小孩子大了, 當然也聽得懂廣播內客,尤其是可以得獎的活動。 例如,只要是第二十個打電話進去的聽眾就可以贏某種獎品。 今天一早開車上班,因為有點感冒,所以上班的意願不高, 可是還是得去。 在途中, 聽到 KOST 早晨節目的主持人宣佈第二十個打電話進去給她們的聽眾就可以贏四張迪士尼樂園的門票。 心血來潮就開始撥電話。 KOST 的電話號碼早就已經儲存在我的電話裏了。撥了三次電話都沒接通,本來想放棄, 可是又撥了一次。 這次電話通了....

我 "Hello"
KOST (電話是通了,可是沒人在線上。) "....."
我 "Hello"
KOST "......Hello..."
我 "我是第二十位打通電話的人嗎?"
KOST "妳在這六十天之前有在我們這電台贏過任何獎品嗎?"
我 "沒有!"
KOST "那妳就是第二十位打通電話的人!恭喜妳,妳贏了四張迪士尼樂園的門票!"
我 "真的?!?!"
KOST "是的。 請妳給我妳的連絡電話。 麻煩妳繼續留在線上。"

這是我生平第一次贏到這麼好的獎品。 回家後告訴小孩, 他們也興奮不已! 只是現在還無法敲定什麼時候去迪士尼樂園, 因為 KOST 也還沒有拿到迪士尼樂園的門票。 他們說票收到後會再通知我! 反正今年迪士尼樂園是去定了!

我認為沒有偏財運的我,在自己開工的第一天贏了這些票, 是個新年好兆頭!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Target Christmas 90% Off Clearance 聖誕節後大減價!

If you can't be at Target when it opens at 8AM the day when they markdown seasonal items to 90% off, basically, you will miss out on all the good deals. I had a feeling the 90% off markdown happened yesterday and because of my car trouble, I had blocked Target out of my mind. Since I don't have to work today, I did 3 loads of laundry, got gas, returned some stuff at Sam's Club, and then I decided to go to Target anyway knowing full well that there may not be any Christmas clearance stuff left, at 90% off.

Indeed, the 90% markdown of the Christmas items happened yesterday because by the time I got to Target at 1PM, only 1 endcap worth of Christmas items were left. Things go fast when it's only 10% of the original price. I had wanted to buy some Christmas t-shirts for my son, Christmas cards, and ribbons, but they were all gone. Here are what I ended up buying:

1. A clear plastic oval serving plate ($0.39)
2. 2 infant boys (sizes 12M & 18M) short-sleeved PJ set ($0.89). I would prefer it to be 100% cotton, but it's 100% polyester. Apparently, it's law that children's PJ cannot be 100% cotton anymore because it's a fire-hazard.
3. 1 roll of green ribbon ($0.19)
4. 1 adult-size (size XS) Christmas t-shirt ($0.99) Perfect for my daughter to wear next year.
5. $5 black legging. It's on sale (reg. $6.99), but not on clearance. It flares out at the end so it's perfect as my daughter's jazz pants. Most jazz pants in dance store would cost $20+.

Although my total Christmas clearance purchase was insignificant this year, I still managed to get $3.35 worth of Christmas clearance items. I just had to get that clearance bug out of me.

每年一月初(通常是一月三、四或五日), Target 會把聖誕節的產品減到一折。 其實聖誕節一過, Target 就會從減半價開始, 慢慢的減到一折(五折、二五折、然後一折)。 重點是我們一定要在八點開門之前趕到搶“頭香”, 要不然可能八點半以後,一折的東西就被搶購得差不多, 東西也所無己了! 昨天因為車子出點問題,而且還要送爸媽去機場, 我沒有心情去 Target 搶買聖誕節的產品。 今天剛好不用上班, 就忍不住得跑去 Target 看了一下。 一折的聖誕節產品只剩下三個小架子那麼多。 我還是找到東西可以買。 一折後的清單如下:

1. 一卷包裝用的綠色緞帶 ($0.19)
2. 二套小男孩(12M & 18M)的睡衣 ($0.89)
3. 大人(小號)聖誕圖型的T卹 ($0.99)
4. 橢圓形的透明塑膠盤 ($0.39)

我又順便買了一條黑色的 legging 褲子給女兒,做她跳爵士舞時穿的褲子(100% 綿褲)。 因為這星期特價才賣五塊錢 (平常價格是 $6.99)。 如果是到舞蹈專賣店去買爵士舞褲子, 那一條褲子最少也要賣美金二十元以上。

我對我今年 Target 聖誕節後大減價的收穫還算滿意!

Friday, January 1, 2010

新年快樂!!! Happy New Year!!!

I haven't blogged much lately. My new year's resolution is to blog more. But my real wish is to de-clutter my house and really make it nice.

I thought the stores are not open today, so I stayed home. Well, Target is open, but I can't go there everyday. I am waiting for it to markdown its Christmas merchandise to 90% off. I have a feeling the markdown will happen tomorrow morning. Hopefully, someone on the Mycoupons forum will post something about it.

January 1 has been a quiet day for me. The winter holiday is winding down to this weekend. All the visiting relatives will be gone and the kids will be back to school. Everything will be back to normal until the next holiday.

Happy New Year everyone!

今年的新年新希望是....把自己的房子整理好。 我想把囤積在家裏的東西都處理掉! 可是真的是很難割捨自己買的東西。 我曾經看過一篇教導主婦如何整理房子的指南。 基本上,任何東面只要在妳購買後兩年之內都沒有被用過,妳就應該把那東西扔了。 要我把好好的東西丟掉真的是好難喔! 以前的新年新希望都是圍繞著減肥計劃。 我也不知道什麼時候變得比較實際。 不管是減肥計劃還是整頓房子,對我來講,一樣都是高難度的願望。

今天是一月一日, 我本來以為商店都沒開, 結果發現只有我常光顧的 Trader Joe's, Costco, 及 Sam's Club 沒有開。 我本來想去 Target 逛逛, 可是想想再過一、兩天 Target 的聖誕節產品就要被減價到一折了, 到那時候再去逛 Target。

我會再向大家報告到 Target 血拼的結果。