Reading incentive

My kids love to read. So I don’t worry about them not reading or not reading enough. 

But I am concerned that they don’t read broadly enough. They read almost exclusively fiction. I am a nonfiction reader. 

I wanted to encourage them to read more nonfiction books, especially biographies. I think at this young age, they can learn a lot of important lessons and wisdom from other successful people. Through reading life stories of famous people, they learn how to overcome poverty and challenges, how to work hard in order to become successful and reach your dreams. 

Today I had an idea and announced it to my kids. 

Whoever reads 1000 pages of nonfiction books will get an ice cream at the library. 

I don’t uaually buy my kids treats, so an ice cream at the library is a nice treat and a big deal for them. They were both excited and motivated. They couldn’t wait to go to the library today. 

In the afternoon we went to the Washington County Library in Woodbury. They checked out a whole bag of books, about 40 biographies. All of my son’s books are about athletes. My daughter’s books are about artists, musicians, writers, etc. 

And they started reading intensely. 

In 2-3 hours, Andy has already finished 400 pages. I don’t know about Amy, she hasn’t tallied her totals yet. She is a fast reader. I won’t be surprised by her high number. 

Some of the juvenile books Andy read are really easy. The page numbers add up quickly. 

I was glad to hear a comment Andy made after he read about 10 books. He said he liked reading those biographies. 

Now I am getting concerned that I will owe them too many ice creams by next Sunday when we visit the library again. 

For sure, going to the library will be more exciting for them than it used to be.

Living food



Today I found in my basement two cabbages I bought at Farmer’s Market.

Back in October 2009, I bought quite a few of cabbages at Farmer’s Market when the produce was fresh and the price was unbeatable. These are the last two left.

As you can see from the pictures, the cabbages are still good. They have also grown.

Both have grown at the bottom. One has grown on the top as well, actually from inside out.

Can you imagine what the cabbage would look or smell like if it had been cooked and left out for three months?

It would be really gross.

Also imagine a raw potato alongside a cooked one, the raw potato will last for weeks and even sprout whereas the cooked potato will spoil in a few days.

Here lies the difference between living food and dead food.

It reminds me of what I read in Hallelujah Diet a few years ago.

To show the difference between a food that is DEAD and one that is ALIVE, the author Rev. George Malkmus suggests this little experiment.

Use 5 raw carrots. Place one in water and watch it grow. It will grow, because it is still in its living form.

It’s true. Sometimes I find the carrots left in the fridge for a while will grow roots.

Now take the remaining 4 raw carrots, and cook them. Cook one in boiling water. Cook the second carrot in a steamer. Cook the third carrot in the oven, and the fourth in a microwave.

Now take each of those cooked carrots and place them in the water as with the first raw carrot, and watch them grow.

Will these cooked carrots grow? Of course not! Why? Because the heat of cooking killed the life force (enzymes) within those carrots!

When we cook our food, we destroy all enzymatic activity, that is, the life within that carrot has been destroyed, along with a high percentage of its nutrients. 

Our body is comprised of trillions of living cells. These living cells are constantly in the process of dying and replacing themselves with new cells. The quality of the new cells is totally dependent on the building materials – the food we put into our body.

Dead (cooked) food cannot provide the proper building materials with which to build a new, healthy, vital, vibrant, living cell.

A healthy cell and a healthy body need living foods, foods which are still in their natural raw, living forms. Living foods are more nutritious because they still have all of their vitamins, minerals, and enzymes which will be destroyed in the cooking process.

People who eat living food are more alert, have more energy and need less sleep.

When I was growing up in China, I didn’t eat much raw food. Almost all vegetables were cooked. The only raw food I ate was probably cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, in addition to fruit.

Now I am trying to eat more living raw food.

I always like fruit. I eat different kinds of fruit every day.

In terms of vegetables, now I can also eat raw celeries, cabbages, etc. During the summer, I eat salad every day from my own garden.

I hardly eat meat any more. I still like seafood, but I am eating less of seafood too.

What dads and moms need to know

I recently read the book “What Dads Need to know about Daughters / What Moms Need to know about Sons” by John and Helen Burns.

The Burns are internationally known speakers on marriage, family, and relationships. They also pastor Relate Church, a thriving family church with three worship centres in the Vancouver area.

The book provides advices on how to raise sons and daughters to become healthy, mature, and loving adults.

One of the ideas talked about in the book is to have a regualr parent-child date to foster a close relationship and friendship. I knew that and read about it many times. But I haven’t put it into practice yet.

I know I should. It is a great idea.

Intentional Living & Valentine contest

I don’t watch TV, but I like to listen to talk shows on radio.

My favorite radio station is KTIS AM 900 Faith Radio in Twin Cities. My radio at home, in my office or in my car is set to this station all the time.

One of my favorite talk shows is Intentional Living by Dr. Randy Carlson at 3:06 pm on weekdays and 10:06 am on Saturdays.

The program used to be called Parent Talk On Call With Dr. Randy Carlson. In the last couple of years it was changed to Intentional Living.

I enjoy listening to Dr. Randy’s biblical teaching on parenting, marriages, relationships and intentional living. His advices and comments are practical and common sense, with insight and wisdom.

Dr. Randy is the author of several books, including:

  • The Power of One Thing: How to Intentionally Change Your Life
  • Starved for Affection
  • Unlocking The Secrets Of Your Childhood Memories
  • Father Memories: How to Discover the Unique Powerful and Lasting Impact Your Father Has on Your Adult Life and Relationships

Today I heard about the Intentional Valentine Contest on his radio. You can go to his Intentional Living website and enter to win the grand prize of a trip for two to the Intentional Living Marriage & Parenting Conference – with free roundtrip airfare, lodging and admission to the conference.

Plus you can enter to win Dr. Randy’s books. Two of his latest books will be given away each day starting February 1 through February 11.

You might not win anything if you enter the contest, but if you check out his website and listen to his radio program on KTIS AM 900, I think you will learn something.

Mindfulness in practice

Every night after I say "Good night. I love you!" to my kids, I usually hurry to the computer room to do my stuff, i. e., emailing, reading and writing.

But last night, after my son Andy went to bed and I said "Good night. I love you!" I stayed and sat down next to him in the dark bedroom for a few minutes. 

Without my saying anything, my son started to share something happened to him at school. 

A classmate, a bully and a trouble maker, scratched Andy’s neck with his fingernails. He reported the incident to the teacher. Later the assistant principal came to talk to the student. 

I said: "Andy, you did the right thing. I am proud of you."

Then I also told him: "It’s not good to bully other kids and make troubles. That kid is a bully and a trouble maker. But let’s have some sympathy and compassion for him. He must have experienced some troubles and difficulties in life. If he had grown up in a nice family with loving parents, he won’t have become a troubled kid and a trouble maker in the first place. This kid doesn’t get the love and attention he needs at home. So he makes troubles at school to get attention. He is not a bad kid, he is just a victim of a troubled family. So try to be nice to him. OK?"

Andy responded: "OK." 

I left the room, with a sense of satisfaction, because I just practiced mindful living. 

Had I hurried to leave and go do my own things, I would have missed the conversation and moment of sharing with my son. 

We talked for only a few minutes, but it was a meaningful moment. 

I realized I need to slow down and practice more mindful living, so I won’t miss important moments like this in life.


Mindfulness is a topic that has always interested me.

Today I had a chance to participate in a brief presentation by Judith Lies from Seeds of Mindfulness on mindfulness-based stress reduction.

Mindfulness is being in the present moment, having our mind and body in the same place at the same time.

The Chinese character "nian" for mindfulness is composed of "jin" (now) and "xin" (heart, mind). It means to "reflect, think; to study, learn by heart, remember; recite, read" – to live in the now, with heart and mind.

When we are engaged in a hobby, when we are focused on doing something we really like, we often forget the time. That’s when we are practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness means our mind is focused on the present, not on the past or the future. We live in the present without judgment and expectation, without being in the fight or flight, reactive mode which causes stress in life.

During the presentation we spent a few minutes on meditation. It resulted in a relaxed and peaceful feeling.

I wish I could spend some time every day practicing mindfulness meditation. That will be really good for my body, mind and spirit.

Making photo magnets

My kids are doing basketball this school year. Recently they got their basketball photos back. I bought them a package that includes a team picture, a couple of individual pictures and a bottom.

My son was not so happy because I didn’t buy the package with a photo magnet.  

Why should I? I can make one so easily myself.

So today, since my kids have no school and I have the day off, we made some photo magnets together.

I asked my kids to select any birthday or school pictures they like and want to make them into photo magnets for fridge. 

I am one of those people who saves everything for reuse and recycle. I have saved a lot of magnets that businesses give away at conferences and events. I use them mainly to make photo magnets.

First I select the appropriate size of magnet for the photo. Next, I peel off the business card from the magnet. If there is enough adhesive left and the surface is still sticky, I can simply put the photo directly on the magnet. If the surface is not sticky, then I use a glue stick to glue the photo on the magnet.  

It takes less than five minutes to make one. It’s really simple and easy.   

Now my kids are happy that their basketball pictures are on the fridge, along with some of their other photos. 

As you can see from the following photo, our fridge is very cluttered with photo magnets. But it looks nice. The photos make a pleasurable display on our fridge. Guests to our house are always attracted to that fridge area to look at the pictures.


Keep organized with three ring binders

I love three ring binders. They are a life saver for me. I use them to keep my life organized. I also use them to keep my kids’ life organized.

I use three ring binders and sheet protectors to keep related items together. For examples:

• My published articles in newspapers or magazines

• All the appliance manuals

• Retirement and financial statements

• Recipes

For each of my two children, I gave them a three ring binder with plastic sleeves when they were born. I have been building a portfolio for each of them.

Each binder contains important documents from the birth to present – birth certificate, graduation certificate, school report cards, test results, yearbooks, awards, letters from teachers, etc.

My son‘s first binder was full when he finished 5th grade at age 11. So when he started 6th grade at Lake Middle School last year, I gave him a new binder. The transition from elementary to middle school was the perfect time to start a new binder.

I have a few binders that contain all their birthday or school pictures.

Another binder for frequent use contains all current information about their after school activities, practice and game schedules for sport. The binder keeps all papers in one place and is handy when I need to know quickly when and what about their activities.

When my kids grow up and leave home, each will have a portfolio to take with them, their life summarized in a few binders, neatly and orderly.

Lost, but not found

Last Saturday morning my son had basketball game at Cottage Grove Middle School. After the game he left the gym quickly to make room for the next game. Some how he forgot his pair of basketball shoes in the gym or in the hall outside of the gym.

He found he lost his shoes the following Tuesday when he needed it for practice and the shoes were not in his gym bag.

I wasn’t worried about it. I was confident that we would be able to find the shoes in the lost and found area at school.

Today we went back for another game at the same location. We searched the lost and found, looked inside and outside of the two big bins, but to our disappointment, the shoes were no where to be found.

It was a new pair of shoes my son bought less than a month ago. He wore it only a few times indoors during basketball playing. So it was still like new.

We were both disappointed.

I was disappointed, not only because the lost shoes cost $40, but also by the fact that someone would take it.

Hopefully it was taken unintentionally.

The top 10 things children really want

An article posted online at Lifehack on December 29, 2009 titled: 
"The Top 10 Things Children Really Want Their Parents to Do With Them" is worthing sharing here.

Many moms today feel as if they are not good mothers unless they are racing around, shuttling their children from lessons to practices, and back to lessons again. What do you think matters most to your children? You driving them to lessons and practices? Or the smile and hug you greet them with after school?

If you guessed the latter, you are correct.

Here is a list of the top 10 things students around the world said they desire most from their mothers.

  1. Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in and sing me a song. Also tell me stories about when you were little.
  2. Give me hugs and kisses and sit and talk with me privately.
  3. Spend quality time just with me, not with my brothers and sisters around.
  4. Give me nutritious food so I can grow up healthy.
  5. At dinner talk about what we could do together on the weekend.
  6. At night talk to me about anything: love, school, family etc.
  7. Let me play outside a lot.
  8. Cuddle under a blanket and watch our favorite TV show together.
  9. Discipline me. It makes me feel like you care.
  10. Leave special messages in my desk or lunch bag.

Children are incredibly wise and tend to see the world more simply than we do. Perhaps it is time we start taking their advice.  

Maybe we would all feel a little less stressed and be satisfied with the fact that doing little things really is… good enough.