She was in a combined Kindergarten/1st grade which is a tough curriculum challenge as is, given the range of abilities at that age, but her teacher had a serious illness that went in and out of remission. The result was a lot of absenteeism. We’re talking substitutes for substitutes. It was not good!
By the time a long-term substitute was hired, May flowers were in bloom and my child was behind. Waaay behind! It took 2 1/2 years to identify the holes to catch her up and I went crazy trying to figure out the best phonics system, home school math curriculum, etc. Luckily I had a lot of mom friends who were educators and they helped me enormously.
This blog was born from these efforts. From that bad year, the lesson that I learned is that it’s my job to make sure my child learns whether her education happens at home, through a tutor or supplemental class, or at school. Yep, the buck stops here. I accept that. (Of course, getting wonderful teachers makes my job easier and I’m very lucky most years!).
Rule #1 to myself: I am responsible for my children’s education not their teachers or their school.
What is strange is that I don’t live in an inner-city. In fact, I live in the #3 best places to live in the United States according to CNN.money: “Residents rave about the top-ranked schools, and parents are excited for the new high school opening this fall… It should be: The school cost $197 million…”
So the corollary is: no matter how great your child’s school or teacher is, you still need to monitor progress and do some heavy lifting at home.
Another thing happened to me that caused this blog to be birthed.
I love Newbery award-winning books. One day after reading Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (one of my very favorite books in the world) with said oldest, I handed her another DiCamillo Newbery Honor Book, The Tiger Rising. How was I to know this book was depressingly sad akin to The Grapes of Wrath but in a slim book with large-ish font size? Oops! Sorry, kid! And yes, you don’t have to read it. This prompted another valuable lesson to me.
Rule #2 to myself: Read the book before I hand it to my child. Or get a recommendation from her peers, teacher, or librarian.
It sparked a realization that I love children’s literature more than adult fiction and now I had an excuse to indulge!
With three kids and a very helpful hands-on husband, I am able to chronicle our journey called parenting through my blog which focuses on education, parenting, and children’s literature.
And so my blog is born from lemons squeezed painfully into lemonade.
education: from my oldest child’s bad first-grade year.
parenting: from 3 kids now about to enter 7th, 4th, and 2nd grade.
children’s literature: from handing over the wrong book to my kid and rediscovering my love of KidLit.
I am a Tiger Mom Failure.
I am Asian and my kids are a crazy mash-up of Asian-y cultures: 25% Japanese (4th generation), 25% Chinese (3rd generation), 50% Korean (2nd generation). I can not and do not make them practice their instruments 3 hours a day. Heck, I’m lucky if they practice that much in a week, and the truth is painfully told, sometimes that is the combined amount they practice in a week.
But what is more exciting to me than having them play classical music on a stage is watching them self actualize. To see them discover that “I may hate math but I am actually good at it.” or “I’m great at Rhythm Gymnastics but I’d rather play soccer.” Or even “I love to read chapter book series of 1) anthropomorphic animals at war with one another AND 2) fantasy adventure books of characters with special powers and 3) realistic fiction; however, I find science-y time travel books confusing.”
Rule #3 to myself: My kids came out fully formed but not kiln-fired. I can only smooth out the rough edges that would otherwise hurt people. My job is to get them to self-actualize and find their purpose and passion in life. I provide options. I find solutions. I drive them like crazy to anything they want to do. But I don’t dictate their future.
At the end of the day, it’s their adventure and I’m just the cab driver to enable and keep them safe. It’s my job to fulfill my own hopes and dreams and not to impose that burden on my child. My husband and I remind each other of this often.
Raised by Wolves.
As for me, I was raised by wolves in Southern California (or at least my husband thinks so) and attended a very mediocre public school system. I took the 2nd plane ride of my life to land in Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend Harvard, I discovered that it took me and my S. Cal friends two years to play catch up here on the east coast amid the prep school, magnet school, and really outstanding public school kids. We vowed that our kids would go to decent schools so that they would have the pleasure of hitting the ground running when they went to college. I’m keeping you posted on how that is going!
I started a company in college with two friends that morphed into an international talent agency placing marketing and creative professionals. Did you catch that? It’s a fancy name for a staffing company. Realizing that I couldn’t read my own company’s financial statements, I did a pit stop at The Anderson School at U.C.L.A. to earn my M.B.A. in Entrepreneurial Marketing.
A few start-ups later, I stayed home for 7 1/2 years as a SAHM (stay-at-home mom). When my youngest went to preschool, I became a WHAM (work-at-home mom). Then I discovered blogging which is where SAHM hits WAHM — you work all the time and you barely get paid. What is the definition of addiction again? I think I need someone to remind me…
My 3 Kids Could Not Be More Different
Grasshopper and Sensei is my oldest and is now in high school. She’s the one juggling the soccer ball on the top left corner. Her special gift is her ability to get along well with others and her vast innate creativity. She’s a kind and generous person who makes friends quickly and keeps them forever. She also gifted in her ability to forgive. When she turned 10, she realized that she wants to attend the Rhode Island School of Design after visiting the museum. She actually uses up dozens of markers and a case of paper a month because she draws every single day.
PickyKidPix is my middle child and what a middle child she is (and in middle school as well)! She has expressed two goals: play soccer for Stanford and become a billionaire. She is best described as (hmmm… diplomacy required here): driven, fearless, and a force of nature. At 10-years-old, she gets hired out as a mother’s helper, an organization assistant, a dog walker. She is also her sister’s art agent. Not surprisingly, she sold nearly all the art on her sister’s blog, making a 20% commission. You can ask her about simple versus compound interest and what a franchise business is. She an expert on both topics after realizing she only was making 1 cent per quarter from her savings account, and that she can’t own a Staples Superstore, dashing an early dream of hers.
My youngest is pictured here outdoors. Normally, you would find him in front of a screen. He would like to develop video games and has vast experience as a gamer. He finished all levels of Angry Birds when he was barely in Kindergarten. Now he’s in elementary school watches YouTube videos to master making different types of cannons on Minecraft. As the youngest, he’s independent and low maintenance. If he becomes a successful game developer one day, I won’t have to feel guilty for all the screen time he seems to inveigle. Here’s hoping!
Our year in 2014 via video and photos!
They keep me and my husband busy because these are some of the extracurricular activities they do during the year (thankfully most are seasonal): soccer, tennis, lacrosse, volleyball, hip hop, swimming, surfing, fishing, horseback riding, golf, flute, guitar, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, basketball, skiing, karate, kickboxing, snowboarding, art, and cooking. I am tired just thinking about it. Thank goodness for carpools!
My Kids Are All Grown Up Now
It’s shocking to look around at my children and realize that they are all grown up now. The thing about parenting is that you get very little feedback on how you are doing as you parent your children for two decades. It’s a leap of faith that you are doing all the right things to raise good people.
I’ve always focused on two things for my kids: raise confident children and encourage them to take risks. It’s funny how food has played a large part in this. My husband and I have raised foodie children but in that, they take risks by trying new food from around the world. It wasn’t always this way. Their first solid food was pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). They went through phases of tolerating, then hating, then loving various kinds of Asian food.
So how did my kids turn out?
The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short
My oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, is an Industrial Design student at Rhode Island School of Design (2024). If you want to see her photography or industrial design, follow her Instagram or visit her website. For anyone interested in art college, I’ve posted all our art college visits here.
My middle daughter, PickyKidPix, continues to live up to her blog name. We did official visits at 33 colleges with her but she only liked one of them. Luckily, she will be attending this college in the fall, Northwestern University (2025). She and her sister started a clothing company in high school, indigo clothing co., and sold over $100,000 worth of merchandise over four years. She will be studying mathematical modeling applied to social sciences.
Let’s Get To Know Each Other
I’m known for my book lists here which I create myself and have guests create for me.
In addition to a Board of Director position for Aquent, I am a co-founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day which celebrates diversity in children’s books and lands on the last Thursday of January, except when it falls on January 27th which is Holocaust Remembrance Day. In that case, we celebrate on the last Wednesday of January.
Thank you for coming to my blog. I hope you will come back and that we will get to interact. I’m easy to find on social media and I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. I will follow back!
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.