Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stuff CBCs Like

I've been checking out the intriguing and controversial blog, Stuff White People Like, after reading this Globe and Mail article. My initial reaction was, "Hey, that sounds just like me!" That feeling lasted until I remembered that I'm not actually white. Doh!

So perhaps it's time to start my own list on Stuff Canadian-Born Chinese (CBC) Like.
  1. Petite-sized clothing. Yes, I know there are tall Chinese people in Canada, but most CBCs I've met don't have any overlap in their ancestry with Yao Ming's. I had to shorten every pair of pants I bought until I resigned myself to ordering petite-sized clothing from the US. Occasionally, I can find some nice items in Canada too.
  2. Bilingualism. In Ontario, everyone tells me I speak French very well. In Quebec, they don't think I speak French at all. Nevertheless, my ability to communicate in French makes up for my deficiencies in Chinese. Actually, I can communicate reasonably well in Taishanese, as long as the conversation is limited to low-brow topics like, "What's for supper tonight?" On the other hand, I've also been told that I write my name (about the only characters I know how to write) like a six-year-old. In French, I can write at least as well as a preteen.
  3. A white spouse. This makes me almost white, or at the very least, it gives me a direct connection to Starbucks, red wine, yoga and the other Stuff White People Like.
  4. Amy Tan. Some of my CBC friends don't think much of Amy Tan, but when I read Joy Luck Club, all I could think was, "I've had that conversation with my Mom!"
  5. Good Chinese restaurants with English menus. Love to take my friends and co-workers to these places. I get to show off my knowledge of "authentic" Chinese food (let's have that congee with preserved egg and we'll pass on the chicken balls, please) without having to admit that I can't read a word of the Chinese menu.

Friday, March 28, 2008


It's a few days late, but I'm finally getting around to the Jamaica post. We had planned to go skiing over the long Easter weekend, but with memories of the last snowstorm still lingering, we decided to head for a warmer destination. Todd was the only one eager to see more snow, but he declared Jamaica to be an acceptable substitute.

So on a cold, rainy, miserable morning, we flew from Toronto to a small family-oriented resort in beautiful Runaway Bay. Instead of giving you the play-by-play, I'll simply list some of the highlights:
  • The weather, the water, the beach. Just what we needed after this long, long winter.
  • The geckos. Cute little critters. Made Kate screech when she found one on her bed.
  • The food. Ackee and salt fish for breakfast ... yum!! Also loved the fried plantains, jerk chicken, and rice-and-peas. Couldn't bring myself to try the boiled bananas with potatoes first thing in the morning, though.
  • The vacation nanny. Yes, we had our very own nanny to get us drinks and towels and take care of the kids. Julia preferred hanging out with the teens, who had their own agenda of activities, but Kate enjoyed building sand castles and playing dominoes with her.
  • The four days of doing "nothing". At Todd's request, we limited iPod and computer time. He even left his Blackberry at home. (I had to purchase my Leonard Cohen tickets online though. Just managed to get tickets before they sold out.) I spent the days walking, swimming, reading War and Peace, drinking Yellow Birds and knitting leg warmers for Julia.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kate Turns Nine Today

We just got back from a short holiday in Jamaica. Kate had to spend most of her ninth birthday in transit. However, the resort threw a lovely birthday party for her. Here she is in her new birthday dress in sunny and warm Runaway Bay. Happy Birthday, Kate! You get more fun, interesting and affectionate with every year, and we love you.

Jill also posted a nice birthday message for Kate on her blog, as well as one for her mom, Sandra, who celebrated her birthday the day before.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rangers Game

On Friday, we attended the Kitchener Rangers' final home game of the season. The Youth Orchestra had recorded O Canada last month, and the orchestra members were invited to stand on the ice and sing, with Paul Pulford, the conductor of the senior orchestra division, leading the group. Unfortunately, this being March Break, only a fraction of the members showed up, but they didn't lack enthusiasm! There was no lack of enthusiasm among the 6500+ fans either, as the Rangers went on to attain a franchise record of 53 wins for the season.

This was the first Rangers game that we'd ever attended. Indeed, it was the first hockey game I'd ever attended, which might seem surprising, as I grew up watching "Hockey Night in Canada" with my father every Saturday for years. I can still recite the names and numbers of half the Montreal Canadiens members that played in the 70's. That was in the old days, when a player could spend his entire career with one franchise. I've lost interest in watching professional hockey in the past decade but had a terrific time at the Rangers game ... and it was pretty cool to see my kid at centre ice!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Craft Update - March 16

I'm still working on that sweater for Todd. Got both sleeves and half the body finished. However, another request has come in. Julia wants another pair of leg warmers. Unbelievably, these are still in fashion. After the Flashdance-inspired craze of the 80's (yes, I owned a pair myself, in a gross burgundy colour, and proudly wore them over my Sergio Valente jeans), they came back into fashion a couple of years ago. At that time, I made a pair for Julia, expecting the trend to die a quick merciful death, under the assumption that we women are wiser in the 2000's (noughties?) than we were in the 80's. However, they are still making their appearance, though possibly only in knitting magazines. Knitters loved the re-emergence of leg-warmers, as these were easy to knit, almost impossible to mess up, and could be created with any fibre, colour or pattern. So here I go again, with another set ....

I created a few more digital layouts the past couple of weeks, including more on the 2006 China trip. Todd took so many photos that it's going to take some time to get through all of them. Rather than post one of the recent ones, I've included here one of my favourites that I'd created a few months ago.

Layout credits: Papers from "The New Black" paper pack by Katie Pertiet and "Little Black Dress" paper pack by Kellie Mize. Title from "Wild Flowers Alpha" by Jesse Edwards. Accents from "Epoxy Extravaganza" by Pattie Knox. Materials from

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Visit from the Parents

I've been shamefully neglecting my blog but it's time to get back on track. I'm taking a short break from work while the kids are on March Break so I have no more excuses for procrastinating.

Todd was away on a business trip for a few days last week, and my parents kindly offered to visit and help out. The girls were happy to see them, and I enjoyed a week-long feast of Chinese food. (I'm admittedly biased, but I think they're the best Cantonese chefs this side of Vancouver.)

Mom and Dad cooked tons of food, most of which is packed away in our freezer now. This is just a small sampling in the photo above. There is a plate of Buddha's Delight, which is a vegetarian dish containing daylily buds, bean curd, bean thread noodles, snow peas, and a variety of fungi that I can't name in English. There is a plate of green beans with spicy preserved bean curd, which both Julia and I love. And yes, that really is a pile of chicken's feet, which the girls refused to touch. Guess you have to be 100% Chinese to enjoy these.

I just had to take a photo of the crabs. So beautiful ... and they taste as good as they look!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The First Month

Julia has been at her new school for a month now and it has been successful so far. Here's a photo of our lovely lady looking very prim and proper in her uniform.

Switching to a private school has been an adjustment for all of us. A life-long supporter of public education and health-care, I've had to put my principles aside, as Julia's former school was just not a good fit for her.

There are lots of things that Julia tells me she likes about her school: the smaller class size, the great facilities, the excellent teachers, and the fact that she can use her iPod while working on her art projects in class. (What??!!) She is not so keen on the earlier start to the day and the longer commute but has gotten used to it.

I love the fact that the teachers communicate with me on a regular basis. All the assignment and test schedules and outlines are available on-line and they e-mail me any important announcements. Now that's progress! The only thing I dislike is the large number of "snow days". As it's situated in a rural area, the school closes every time bad weather strikes. If any of you know how to keep a teen occupied all day with minimal reliance on electronics, please leave a comment.