Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 162 - Clapping

Thought of the day: I helped Jasmine's class make dumplings today.  It was a bit stressful to prepare, demonstrate, rush home to cook and then rush back to serve warm dumplings before the school was over.  The kids had lots of fun making dumplings and loved the tastes so it was well worth the effort.  I have noticed that if you are a Chinese, somehow everybody expects you to be an expert dumpling maker.  However, I have never made dumplings before coming to the US.  It is a northern China tradition and is just not done much in the south.  A friend's excellent recipe for making dumpling fillings and a few handy YouTube videos demonstrating dumpling wrapping and cooking techniques saved my day.  Yes, cultural stereotypes can surely be frustrating and sometimes self-fulfilling, but when it comes to dumplings, I really don't mind!

Photo of the day:

This kids adored their teacher!  And perhaps the dumplings gave them extra energy to be so enthusiastic at the end of a school day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 161 - Boys

Thought of the day: Today I re-discovered a shopping village in Boulder.  I had been to some of its stores, including a few well-known local stores, many times in the past but it was never on my short list of places to go if I had a few hours to spend.  After hanging out there for half a day today, it occurred to me that it's actually a perfect destination village.  With a coffee shop, lunch place, kids area, natural food market all within walking distance to each other, it's a good place to relax, meet friends, and entertain the kids.  Little villages like this one make a town a more friendly and livable place.  I love my home, but I'm also always looking for homes outside of the home, and I'm glad that I have found another one today.

Photo of the day:
Two boys riding in Lila's preschool in front of a colorful assortment of lunch boxes.  For these kids, this place is their home outside of the home as they spend so many happy hours there every week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 160 - Sisters

Thought of the day: Tonight I watched "Courage Under Fire" the n-th time.  It was a very well-made movie about a courageous female commander who was accused of being a coward by one of the soldiers.  She eventually had her name cleared and received the Medal of Honor posthumously.  Co-incidently, there was also a news segment on TV about the ongoing class action suit in the Supreme Court against Walmart for gender-based discrimination.  Even in this day and age, discrimination and abuse against women are still rampant around the globe.  According to statistics released by the Department of Labor, women in the US are suffering from unequal pay.  However, the discrimination here is often subtle as the law and public opinions are against it.  Subtle discrimination is hard to fight and can be very frustrating, but around the world, women suffer from far more blatant abuses that deprive them the right to work, to vote, to decide where to go, who to marry, among other things.  In some countries, the discrimination is sponsored, or at least condoned, by the government.  In others, it could be a cultural "thing" that has been going on for millenniums.  Unless something is actively being done against it, inequality won't just go away on its own as it's unlikely for anyone to give up power voluntarily to a disadvantaged group.  However, there is hope.  I heard that women in Northern Europe, especially in Sweden, enjoy more equal rights than their counterparts elsewhere.  I would be curious to find out what they did to get there.

Photo of the day:
Sisters playing on a toy truck - Lila adores her big sister.  I sure wish that they would not have to endure gender based inequality when they grow up.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 159 - Tunnel

Thought of the day: Today we drove home from Copper.  We drove in pretty heavy snow in the beginning and ended up in a sunny, snow free Boulder.  It was a short vacation but it was good to get away from town, even for just a little while.  People can not really get away from existing problems by getting away, but going on vacation is like hitting the snooze button on most, if not all, of your problems so you can get a much needed break.  Your perspective may also change during the break as the problems may seem less daunting and significant as the physical distance between you and the problems increases.  However, based on my own experience, this type of perspective changes tends to be short-living and can evaporate quickly after you get home.  Of course, if you are embarking on a journey seeking internal changes instead of seeking pleasure, the result may be different if you are successful as the internal changes tend to stay with you.  Very few of us make an effort or are lucky enough to make such a journey, though.

Photo of the day:

Driving through a tunnel on the way back from Copper.  In Colorado, driving through a tunnel can take you to an entirely different weather condition and landscape, so it's always exciting to find out what's at the other end.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 158 - Copper Morning

Thought of the day: It snowed most of the night and throughout the day in Copper.  There was a lot of fresh power on the mountain, especially in the trees.  Jasmine discovered her love for tree skiing when we were at Steamboat last month.  She and her friend skiied in the trees pretty much the whole time when I was with them this morning.  Tree runs are not my favorites - they are fun but can be more dangerous than groomed runs - but I will need to ski more in the trees otherwise I won't be able to keep up with the girls!

Photo of the day:
Morning in Copper - from our condo, we could see ski tracks and tire marks on fresh snow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 157 - Burning Stones

Thought of the day: We ate dinner at a grill and bar in Copper Mountain Resort tonight.  The interior of the restaurant was a large open area illuminated by lots of different kinds of lights.  And there must be more than a dozen large flat screen TVs running different programs all at the same time.  The sounds and flashing images were so overwhelming that all the kids wanted to do was to run around wild instead of sitting still at the table. I am glad that we don't take our kids to such places often, otherwise there's a risk of having their growing brains permanently mis-wired by all these stimulants, perhaps in the same way that we get our adult brains constantly rewired by smart phones, twitter, facebook, and the like.

Photo of the day:
Skiers spending some quiet time at night next to the fire at Copper Mountain's Burning Stones Plaza.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 156 - Jasmine

Thought of the day: My in-laws left today.  The house felt big and empty with them gone.  I am already missing their warm and calm presence.  Jasmine took it even harder.  As adults, we have a lot of practice saying good-byes and embracing life's many changes.  We accept things as they come as we know that they are inevitable.  Not so for the kids.  I am sure she will get over it, but it had been a tough day for her.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine in the central park.  We had a nice lunch in Dushanbe Teahouse with the grandparents before they left today.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 155 - Lila

Thought of the day: When I was watching the girls play in a part of the house filled with the late afternoon sun today, it struck me how much the effect of light had on my mood.  The places I love the best invariably have lots of sunny days - Arizona, Colorado, Tibet, Ticino.  I remembered what impressed me the most when I first walked out of the plane in Tibet was the intensity and clarity of the light.  I took an instant liking to that place right there right then.  Bright and cheery light can put me in a good mood.  It works better and more reliably than a shot of espresso. Apparently the light is also a healthier mood booster than caffeine, as it makes you feel better by increasing the serotonin level instead of the adrenaline level in your body.  That's probably why people feel more alive and are generally in a happier mood out in the sun, instead of feeling all revved up and overexcited when they are cooped up and heavily caffeinated in a dark place.  Yes, perhaps it's time for me to trade in those coffee house visits for more outdoor adventures under the bright Coloradan sun.

Photo of the day:
Lila playing with her sister.  Pools of lights dotted the floor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 154 - Jasmine

Thought of the day: I had a good conversation with Jasmine tonight.  We were walking home from dinner in the dark.  It was chillier than expected so we cheered each other up with stories.  She retold the story of Stone Soup, which she learned in preschool. When I asked her what she learned from the story, she said "Sharing makes people happy."  Indeed, fearing your neighbors and, in general, being too self-defensive can make your life bleak and miserable.  On the other hand, opening up your heart and sharing with your community can make your life richer and happier.  Sharing may even save your life during an emergency, as manifested by Japanese villagers who were trapped and isolated from the outside world in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.  Apparently people in the trapped communities promptly organized themselves, shared their supplies and duties, bended together and survived until they were rescued.  In a way, in the face of the emergency, an entire village came together to make a big pot of stone soup so everybody can share and stay alive.  These real life stories warmed my heart and made me admire the human spirit and gave me hope for our collective future.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine on the way to dinner, with grandma, daddy and Lila in the background.  It's another sunny, beautiful spring day in Boulder.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 153 - Light and Shadow

Thought of the day: I can't recall the last time when I had a completely blank page on the calendar, but today was one of those days.  It was great.  Towards the end of the day, I felt more relaxed than I had been for a while.  So, no activity is a good activity for me.

Photo of the day:
A painting of the French Riviera basking in the late afternoon sun.  It was relaxing, almost meditative, to watch the light and shadow shifting, dancing on the wall.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 152 - Toy and Book

Thought of the day: This morning I went to the Mandarin Playgroup with Lila.  She hadn't heard so much Mandarin since we left grandparents' house.  It takes a lot of effort for a child to learn and keep up with a second language.  As I last heard, in order for a child to become an active speaker of a language, she needs to be spoken to in that language exclusively for at least 20% of the time.  Considering the amount of time a child would often spend in a day care, preschool and such, 20% is a lot unless both parents speak the same second language at home.  In addition, a child absorbs a language better in a multimodal environment through activities like reading, playing games and interacting with adults and other children in that language. With the lack of a natural learning environment in a monolingual society, we as parents have to create one for them just like putting together a big puzzle.  The playgroup is an important piece in the puzzle and I'm glad that it's now in place.

Photo of the day:
Usually Jasmine would go the playgroup with us if she doesn't have school.  Unfortunately she was sick today so she had to stay home.  She snugged up on a couch much of the day with her favorite stuff animals and books.

Week 18+

You may have noticed that I have stopped writing about the weekly "deed".  It's very challenging to do something every week that would make a meaningful difference in somebody's life.  I am sure we all occasionally do something helpful, but will it really make a meaningful, long lasting difference?  Probably not.  In addition, I found it awkward to write about what I did.  And I also found it awkward to do something when I know that I may have to write about it.  So, in the future, even though I'll still try to do something every week, I won't write about it unless writing it serves a purpose.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 151 - Socks

Thought of the day: Sunday is a great day to relax, take a break, and enjoy the family time.  And that's exactly what we did today.

Photo of the day:
Socks for Japan - somebody in Japan is collecting socks to distribute to people affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  It seems like a legitimate operation.  We bought some socks and attached a note to each of them - a Japanese friend kindly translated the message for us - and will send them off tomorrow through a volunteer at CU. Some people may consider it a folly to send something as insignificant as a pair of socks when lives and entire livelihoods have been lost.  However, this is the only way I know of to send some words of comfort directly to the victims.  If it reaches but a single person and warms his body and heart, it would already be worth the effort.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 150 - Fridge Door

Thought of the day: Today I took some videos for a family.  It was an interesting experience as I had not taken many videos before.  I learned a number of things for sure.  For example, I found out, to my surprise, that the real life could go through some subtle transformations when they were transported onto the screen.  The same scene or dialogue could appear more or less beautiful, more or less poignant, depending on how you record it.  By changing the lighting, the composition, and the surroundings, you could change the mood of the video.  Editing could make a difference too, by using different background music, cutting out different footage, and doing sequencing differently.  So taking videos is pretty similar to taking photos, in the sense that you can make the recording reflect your view of the reality.  Just like what a photographer can do with photos, a videographer can record beyond what the naked eyes can see.  He can cut through the surface and record the essence of reality as seen by the eyes of the heart and mind.  That definitely makes video taking interesting for me.

Photo of the day:

Friend's fridge door - random but precious snapshots of everyday life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 149 - Open Gym

Thought of the day: We woke up to snow covered landscape.  By noon, all the snow had dissipated and it looked and felt like a spring day again.  This is Colorado for you.

Photo of the day:
Lila in South Boulder Rec Center's open gym.  This was the last open gym day for this winter.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 148 - Copper

Thought of the day: After returning from a good day of skiing, I read and watched news for a short time but it was just long enough to get me depressed: house vote to ban public funding for NPR, situation in Libya, and worst of all: more bad news from Japan - it's hard to believe that the unimaginable human tragedy can get even worse.  So many bad news, tragedies and senseless acts in the past few years from all around the world - why?  Has it always been like that and I just haven't paid attention?  I can't help but wonder how much longer we can be cocooned in our comfortable life.  I can't help but fear when the tide of events will catch us.  I can't help but wonder where we are heading as a race.  Yes, I'm sure a lot of doubts and fears will dissipate by tomorrow morning when the sun rises and I have had a good night of rest, but will anything have changed fundamentally?  Probably not.  Looking at it in a positive light, perhaps all these doubts and fears are what it takes to keep us grounded, no matter where we are, no matter what we do.

Photo of the day:

Ski day at Copper: windy day, icy bumps, slushy runs - they desperately needed snow!  However, my recently adjusted boots were more comfortable and I had great company, so I had another fun winter day in the mountains. (Cell phone photo)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 147 - Expert Share

Thought of the day: Jasmine did her last "expert share" presentation in her elementary school today.  In "expert share", a student is supposed to make herself an expert on a subject that she is passionate about, and then share her knowledge and observations with the rest of the class in three mini-presentations, each ending with a Q&A session.  Jasmine skipped the first step and jumped right into sharing - OK, she did spend an hour each night before a presentation to read some facts on the internet and make a poster for the next day.  It was partly my fault - I forgot to inform her that her expert share was coming up until the last minute. But in any case, I think she still got a lot out of this.  There are a number of interesting activities like this in school, for example, the Science Fair and Destination Imagination.  These activities can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time and are great for young minds that are developing rapidly both intellectually and emotionally.  Literacy and math are certainly important, but I wouldn't be surprised if these optional enrichment activities could have a broader and deeper impact on their development than the required curriculum.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine doing her "expert share" on Star, her darling betta fish, which I brought into the classroom today.  She was holding the poster on the right and her teacher was holding it on the left.  The topic of this third and last sharing was "how to maintain the tank".  Jasmine took care of Star all by herself so, in a way, she is an expert, despite the fact that she hasn't done much research or reading on betta fish.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 146 - Biscotti

Thought of the day: It's so good to have grandparents around.  You may not end up doing a lot less work, but there's suddenly an additional level of flexibility in your schedule that you could only dream of before.  I envy people with their parents near by, as much as Jasmine envies her friend with grandparents living next door.

Photo of the day:
Biscottis in Brewing Market - I got a taste of these today during Jasmine's music lesson when Lila was being watched by her grandparents at home.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 145 - Bug Hunt

Thought of the day: I never feel comfortable in my ski boots.  I have been through several pairs but none of them seem to fit well.  So after having been told a millionth time by different people to see Larry the bootfitter, I finally made an appointment to see him.  Considering his reputation of being one of the best bootfitters in the country, his store front in downtown Boulder was very low-key and unassuming - I thought I was at a wrong place until a woman, another client, called me in.  The store also had a laid back atmosphere inside and his assistants were very polite and patient in hearing about whatever complaints you had of the boots.  They frequently shuffled the boots back and forth between the clients and the backroom, where Larry apparently situated himself.  Boots were magically "fixed" by the invisible master when they came out of the backroom.  It was a strange yet interesting experience.  Larry is among the lucky ones who possess special skills and knowledge and put them to use every day.  He must feel pretty good about what he is doing, knowing that his clients will appreciate him every day when they are on the slope.  I can't wait to try out the adjusted boots this week and join his legion of happy clients.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine (and Lila) participated in a special field trip today with a small group of friends.  They learned about bugs and looked for them in a marsh.  Even though it's winter, there are still a variety of bugs to be found, if you try hard enough.  After spending over an hour inside Larry's Bootfitting watching ski videos, I was glad to spend some time outside with the kids.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 144 - Jumping

Thought of the day: One thing we learned today was that Sunday was not a good day to take a bus to Pearl Street.  The bus ran less frequently and we waited for quite a while to get on a return bus. We were in a hurry because it was late for the kids to go to bed and tomorrow was another school day.  In addition, it was getting a bit chilly.  The upside of all that was - we must have set a new record by running most of the way home after we got off the bus.

Photo of the day:
This morning, a group of kids came for breakfast, watched a movie, and then rehearsed for a show.  They were running and jumping and I was glad that the house didn't just explode with so much energy inside.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 143 - Rolling

Thought of the day: My in-laws are here to visit for a month.  They come twice a year and we always have a good time together.  They have the vitality and open-mindedness that are enviable traits for people of any age.  And they are completely comfortable with who they are, wherever they are.  I recently read on a book called "Geography of Bliss" that the Swiss people are among the happiest on the earth.  It has less to do with their material wealth - Americans are not poor in comparison but Americans are not among the happiest in the world - and has more to do with their connection to the earth, the nature, and the community.  My father-in-law hikes a couple of hours every day regardless of the weather.  The public transportation in Switzerland is superb and it takes them to visit many beautiful areas whenever they want to.  They live in the same community for many years and have developed friendships that last for a life time.  The majority of their relatives also live close by or are within a train hop or two. What's a better place for people to retire and grow old than in their own well-beloved close-knit community? Another reason for the Swiss to be happy may be that they are less obsessed in fame, money, or any other worldly possessions.  For them, it's a lot less important to have a bigger car, bigger house, bigger yacht, bigger plane than to have a happier family and a happier life.  All these factors combined make them a more grounded, and thus, happier people.  Perhaps for similar reasons, I feel more grounded and happier in Boulder too than in the Silicon Valley.  The valley is great for ambitious people as one can practically feel the vibe and creative synergy in the air which make the valley an extraordinary place but at the same time also make one feel restless, unfulfilled and a constant need to "do" something.  In Boulder, I feel comfortable just to "be" who I am and enjoy day-to-day life and my family.  At the end, it's probably just a matter of balance between the "do" and "be".  If you don't let your drive to succeed overrun your pursuit of happiness, you will much more likely to be a happy person.  My in-laws are good examples of that.  I admire them for who they are, I am happy for them, and I am happy that they are staying with us.

Photo of the day:
Lila playing inside a tube.  She was rolling around all over the floor and was as happy as happy can be.  I can't help thinking that the little beings are more connected to the secret source of happiness than the rest of us.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 142 - America

Thought of the day:  It's a day of disasters and scares.  Before I boarded the flight this morning, I heard and read about the 8.9 earthquake in Japan and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear emergency.  It was, is, a terrible disaster indeed.  And then a few minutes prior to landing, it looked as if our plane was engulfed in smoke that came out of nowhere.  It was eerie and I had never experienced anything like that before on my frequent flights.  The ride in our small plane got bumpy soon afterwards. Some passengers screamed. I was a little scared too but there was nothing I could do other than holding Lila's hand tightly. Luck for us - it was just a scare.  The smoke came from an ongoing Lefthand Canyon fire in Boulder - the third major fire near Boulder in just a few short months - and not from the aircraft. After going through a bit of clear air turbulence, the aircraft proceeded to land smoothly.  I was, needless to say, quite relieved when we landed.  At the same time, I couldn't help thinking how powerless we are over so many things - earthquake, tsunami, fire, plane crash, to name a few.  Yes, the chance of any of these happening to us is very small, but it's still a miracle that we survive every day.  Not only our life is a miracle, every single day of our life is a miracle too.

Photo of the day:
Passengers taking interest in the huge "America - Why I Love You" map displays in Denver International Airport.  Everything in DIA looked beautiful to me today after the flight experience.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 141 - Path

Thought of the day: It was our last day in the bay area.  There had been so much going on throughout the day that I don't even know what to write about.  But the main thing is everybody I met or spent time with today was happy and that made it a very good day indeed.  I will miss the bay area.

Photo of the day:

Lila walked with grandpa on the path.  Happy day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 140 - Sandy Hands

Thought of the day: We went to a beach at Half Moon Bay today.  As it was a workday, we had the beach pretty much all to ourselves.  We had a picnic while enjoying the sound of the ocean and the company of seagulls and many other birds.  It was a little windy and a little chilly, as often is the case on that beach, so we didn't stay for very long.  We occasionally see seagulls in Palo Alto, but there's nothing like a trip like this to remind us how close we are to the Pacific Ocean.  On the way home, I made a mental note to visit the ocean more often in the future.  Coming to the bay area and do not visit the beach is like going to Colorado and do not pay tribute to the Rockies, the trip would have been incomplete.

Photo of the day:
Lila showing me her sandy hands after playing on the beach.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 139 - Car Light

Thought of the day: Doing this blog gives me a challenge, and pleasure, of finding and capturing the beauties of life every day.  On lucky days, a beautiful scene would just present itself at an opportune moment and I can just grab the camera and shoot.  On other days, I need to go out of the way to look for something interesting to shoot.  Today was one of those "other" days.  There were actually quite a few memorable moments throughout the day - horses on an idyllic pasture, a brightly dressed child on a misty, green meadow, stunning sunset silhouette of cottonwoods - but unfortunately I could only capture them with my eyes but not the camera for practical reasons.  So, when it was getting late and I still didn't have a single photo on my camera, I decided to go for a jog and shoot in the dark - a challenging task for me as the light was the biggest source of inspiration for my photos.  But luckily, even with the natural lights gone, we humans created enough artificial lights to keep ourselves safe and comfy at night that I was able to accomplish my task for the day.

Photo of the day:

Cars, street, and trees with blossoms of early Spring.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 138 - Dessert

Thought of the day: Today I biked with my dad to their old townhouse which was for sale.  The realtor did quite a bit of work before putting it on market.  We were surprised when we entered the door - it felt as if we had just stepped into an Ethan Allen showroom.  It even used my favorite color palette.  But it didn't feel like home any more and it made me really miss the simplicity and familiarity of their old home.  Moving can be difficult because you will inevitably leave a part of your history, and a part of you, behind.  It's hard to reckon with the fact that some things that you have gotten so used to and taken for granted are not yours any more.  It could be a tree that you climbed on, a pool that your kids swam in or the view from a window there was special to you.  It's even harder to move when you grow older.  Luckily for my parents, they didn't have to move very far this time and their old friends could still visit them in their new home.  But I know that they are not interested in moving again any time soon.

Photo of the day:
Lila got a special treat after eating dinner well tonight.  She really, really, I mean really, enjoyed the apple strudel from Ester's German Bakery and devoured it within a minute.  She demonstrated to us the reason why we humans came equipped with ten fingers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 137 - Jasmine and Bunnies

Thought of the day: The grand plan when we flew down to the bay area this time was to get some chickens to live in my parents' yard.  Jasmine was all excited and giddy.  Unfortunately it turned out that Palo Alto required a "chicken permit" and it was not even easy to obtain.  The "chicken permit" lady requested to inspect the coop first to make sure that it's "humane and up to standard".  And then we needed a signed letter from our next door neighbor, who's currently out of the country, to give us permission as the coop was within 25 feet of the property line.  In addition, only hens were allowed in the city and the chicks we could get were only about "96% female", which meant that there's a 22% chance that we might have to return one of the chicks if we got all six of them as allowed by the city.  In any case, it was certainly a lot more hassle to get a handful of chicks than one would have expected.  So when we visited a pet shop in Half Moon Bay and spotted a pair of cute and fluffy bunnies in a cage, we decided to get them instead.  No permits necessary so we could just take them home.  The chicken coop my dad built worked beautifully for the bunnies.  I think they like their new home - a lot.  They looked pretty sad and barely moved about in their cage in the pet store, but after spending a little time to get used to their new dig, they are now running about like all happy bunnies should.  Jasmine and Lila are excited beyond words to have these bunnies join our family.  Now they have even one more reason to visit the bay area!

Photo of the day: 

Jasmine was a little sad saying good-bye to the bunnies (behind her in the cage) before she left for Colorado. I was glad that her favorite stuff animal would keep her company along the way.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 136 - Steven

Thought of the day: Jasmine doesn't get to see her cousins very often.  But whenever she does, they usually get connected with each other quickly and play well together.  In fact, they enjoy each other's company so much that it's often difficult to tear them apart at the end of a short visit.  I don't know if they have an inborn feeling of kinship or if it's just an age thing.  But I do know that this kind of easy connection is more difficult to build and sustain when they get older, so it's a good thing that they get to meet more now as we visit the bay area so often.

Photo of the day:

Steven and Jasmine sharing the earphones and a few laughs together.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 135 - Running

Thought of the day: Airport is one of my favorite places to photograph.  Unfortunately I don't get to take many pictures there as I'm usually trying hard to make it to a flight, or holding the hands of a little one, or doing both at the same time.  When I do have the luxury to photograph, it's usually really fun.  The light, the architecture, the travelers of all sizes and shapes, and everything else are so different from what you encounter in your daily life that certain things, or in fact, many things are jumping out at you all at once and crying to be photographed.  Airport is indeed a strange and unusual place.  It's chaotic yet orderly, colorful yet bland, imposing yet insignificant, trivial yet vital.  When you visit an airport the first time, it seems vast and impersonal, but over time, you would have developed your list of favorite bookstores, coffee shops, sandwich places and you feel more at home.  Since I spend so much time in small, quiet cities, visiting the airport gives me a taste of big city living, express style, without actually having to set foot in a big city.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine running on the moving walkway of Denver International Airport - don't ask me at which direction she was running or how the bag got to the other end before she did...  She was very excited to fly to the bay area again to visit the grandparents, so we let her get a little wild, perhaps a little too wild!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 134 - Red Anthurium

Thought of the day: Today I was trying to figure out what to do with clothes that Lila had outgrown.  The best option is, of course, to give them away to people we know.  We have been doing that over the years but unfortunately we seem to know far more baby boys than girls and most of her clothes are not suitable for boys.  Other options are consignment stores where you humbly wait for a clerk to pick through your clothes and reject most of them because they are not brand name items, or Craigslist that is more hassle than it's worth for clothes, or yard sales where buyers expect to pay next to nothing for things - which would be ok if not for the time and energy a yard sale typically consumes.  Finally, you can always give them away to charities.  However, there is a myriad of charities to choose from - EFAA, The Parenting Place, YWCA, Casa de la Esperanza, and a bunch of not-for-profit thrift stores, each with its own charitable focus and efficiency level.  And that's just for kids clothes.  What about adult clothes, furniture, books, toys, electronics, cars, etc?  Donating used goods is more than just getting rid of them.  In the same way that you don't just give cash away to a random person on the street, you want to donate your goods to the right charity and get the most usage out of them.  What we need is a web site that connects donors to local charities with ease.  The web site would provide information on charities including their missions and ratings, the charities would indicate what they need at the moment, the donors would indicate what they want to donate, and the best matches between the donors and the charities would then be made.  I think people may be more open to the idea of donating their things if it becomes easier.

Photo of the day:

A red flower against a window frame.  Simple and beautiful - as everything should be.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 133 - My Turn!

Thought of the day: It's another beautiful sun-filled day in Boulder.  Luckily, there were no after school activities today other than a dentist appointment for Jasmine.  I got to spend some time with the girls on Pearl St. after the appointment.  It was a nice way for all of us to wind down after a day of school or activities.  After that, my husband joined us for a happy hour dinner at the Med.  A day like this is meant to last forever and never end.  Well, it probably does last forever, just like everything else that occupies a lucky spot in our collective happy memory.

Photo of the day:

Lila said "My turn!" after Jasmine was done with her dental check-up.  The dentist gladly obliged and gave her a minute of special attention on the chair.  That definitely made her day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 132 - Hope You Dance

Thought of the day: This morning I read on the paper of a recent incident on a local hiking trail.  An older gentleman was lying bleeding on the trail and his situation was clearly calling out for help.  Groups of hikers and dog-walkers just walked right past him without stopping to offer a hand.  At the end, the poor guy had to basically crawl back to his car and drove himself to urgent care.  This story made me sad.  What kind of people would just ignore an injured older man and leave him lying on a hiking trail?  How do these people feel afterwards about themselves?  I am sure these people are not representatives of the general local population, however, I am not surprised that people like that do exist.  They are self centered and protecting their personal interests above and beyond anything else.  Some of them may also have been young and entitled.  I think it's an utter failure of parents to raise young adults who would behave like that.  This incident got me to think: as parents, how do we raise children with good moral values?  Action is worth a lot more than words, so it's necessary for the parents to set good examples for their kids.  And how about peace corps?  Some people say that by the time a person is old enough to volunteer overseas, his character and values may have been too well formed to be influenced for real.   So perhaps we should get them involved in community services early to broaden their perspectives when they are still young.  Unfortunately, there're really no golden bullets here.  There are influences that parents do not realistically have control of.  At the end, we parents just have to do our best and hope that our kids will find the light and grow into people with values and integrity.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine's friend giving Lila a lift up some stairways.  When an 8-yr-old is having so much fun playing with a 2-yr-old, I take it as a good indication that the older girl will grow up into a happy, caring young person.  The complete sentence on the wall  was: "When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance." Dance they did - in the sun.