Life at Warp Speed

life, faith, food, parenting, homeschooling and just about anything else that is on my mind

Timer+ App – free October 12, 2011

Filed under: Apps,Mommy Tips & Tricks,Parenting — lifeatwarpspeed @ 10:12 pm
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App Store – Timer+.

Today’s shout out is Timer+ for iPhone and iPad is for an indispensable app for any busy multi-tasking person like me. Moms everywhere will agree that timers are a really helpful parenting tool. You use them for time outs, for potty training reminders, for transitional warnings for a variety of things like it is time to clean up, time to go to bed, etc., for quiet time reading for your children, for taking turns playing the iPad or any other coveted toy.

I love that you can program and save a variety of timers for yourself to use. This is really great if you have multiple children and have different set time out periods for them. I can track my laundry, dinner, time out, potty training, and piano practice all at the same time on one device instead of setting the egg timer, oven timer and my phone timer. I love that you can run multiple timers simultaneously, and the app runs in the background of your iPad even when it is on power down mode.

Love this! Highly recommended for anyone who loves organizational tools or is in desperate need of organizational tools.

L@WS

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$17 for 5 play sessions at Parents Place August 29, 2011

Filed under: Deals,Parenting,Things to Do with Kids — lifeatwarpspeed @ 12:50 am
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Parents Place Deal of the Day | Groupon San Jose.

Here is a deal for $17 for 5 drop-in play sessions at Parents Place or $35 for a two 2-hour parenting classes at either the San Mateo or Palo Alto locations.

Here is the yelp review for the Palo Alto location. http://www.yelp.com/biz/parents-place-family-resource-center-palo-alto

L@WS

 

Review: Waiting for “Superman” August 25, 2011

Filed under: Education,Homeschooling,Parenting,TV & Movies — lifeatwarpspeed @ 11:30 am
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Amazon.com: Waiting for “Superman”: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, Davis Guggenheim: Movies & TV.

I finally had a chance to watch this film yesterday. I highly recommend this film if you haven’t seen it. It will make you think a lot about the state of education in the United States and about your own family if you have children. Even if you don’t have kids, you are a stakeholder in the educational system simply being a citizen since we are all impacted by how well we educate our country’s future.

A lot of thoughts come to mind. My heart simply aches over the painful dilemma of these families who are trapped in an educational system that simply doesn’t work. For the alternative solutions via charter and vouchers, there just simply isn’t enough to go around to fulfill the immense and overwhelming need that is out there.

As a mom, I completely understand the desire to provide the best education and all the opportunities you can for your child. This is why the pretty good, better, and best school districts keep going in that direction since people mortgage themselves in order to buy homes to live in those districts. This is also why people with children are fleeing the school districts in San Francisco and Oakland for alternative schooling options.

If you know me IRL, you know that I read a lot of public policy and education books. I am very interested and passionate about education even though I am not a professional educator. I try to stay current on the state of public education. Quite honestly, it is a pretty depressing scene. I greatly appreciate the efforts of those people like Michelle Rhee who are working their hardest to change what seems to be an impossible situation. I really admire Michelle Rhee and was disappointed to see a lot of her efforts unraveling. I have very little love for teachers’ unions even though I greatly value teachers. I am not a supporter of teacher tenure which will probably make a lot of people mad that I said that. I believe seismic change must happen quickly. All the sacred cows of education need to be on the proverbial sacrificial block.

To be honest, as much as I am passionate about educational reform, I don’t believe that the current system will serve my son well. So, our family is choosing to opt out of the system and go the homeschooling route for our son. Homeschooling is a fast-growing movement with more than 2 million students in the US. It will likely always be a minority in the educational community, but it will exist and is a vibrant and diverse community.

We have been homeschooling in one form or another since my son was a baby. It has become increasingly apparent to us that public school would be a huge step backward, and his needs would be lost in a class of 25 or more K students. My not quite 3 year old son already has a reading vocabulary of over 500 words, mastered phonics over a year ago, counts to 100, understands quantity, taught himself to write his letters and numbers a few weeks ago, and is currently working on single digit addition and subtraction. Where will he be in two years from now? Who knows? I have no idea where this journey is going, but I do know he won’t be a good fit for Kindergarten.

I know now that my current calling is to educate and nurture our son on his educational journey. This is a huge sacrifice for our family since it means giving up any income that I used to generate. It means a lot of work to prepare lessons, modify curriculum for a young learner, and a lot less time for myself. I am passionately committed to continuing to nurture his gifts, his passion and love for learning and to be able to go at his pace even when it is a lot faster than I want to go. Everyday is a new experience for the two of us on this journey. Especially as I continually learn to be flexible and to release my carefully laid out plans.

I imagine people might ask me whether or not I feel guilty about choosing to opt out of the system and not working from within to reform. To be honest, I don’t. I feel that we are making the best and right choice available for our family and our son’s needs which is the only thing that anyone can expect any parent to do.

L@WS

 

Diet book for school kids?!? August 24, 2011

Filed under: Children's Books,Parenting — lifeatwarpspeed @ 12:58 pm
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Diet book aimed at children causes uproar – Los Angeles Times.

To be honest, I have not read this children’s book. I’m really not sure I want to because the concept of this book makes me quite uncomfortable. I think that it is important that girls have a good self-image and live a healthy active lifestyle for the sake of themselves and not because of what other people think about them.

I just find myself at the crossroads of a cultural and societal dilemma. How did we arrive in the place that we have at the same time an epidemic of childhood obesity side-by-side with major problem of anorexia and bulimia with boys and girls even among those who are just old enough to start school?

It is a perplexing problem. I think about how much parents obsess over this issue of the trifecta of early childhood issues (eating, sleeping and pottying). Sometimes, I think we as adults project a lot of our own issues onto our children. Other times, I think that we are a very neurotic, narcissistic society. And still other times, I think that this is very much a First World problem that because our basic needs are pretty much met, we seem to create these new problems in our society to struggle with because we don’t worry for the most part about food, water, shelter and basic safety.

What do you think about this book, the LA times review, or how our society and culture relates to food?

L@WS

 

Pork and Summer Squash Potstickers

Filed under: Chinese,Cookbooks,Parenting — lifeatwarpspeed @ 11:30 am
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I saw my cousin’s comment on the Beef and Tomato Potstickers recipe (http://wp.me/p1M41l-1P) about being reminded about her mom’s marathon potstickers sessions. Now as an adult, I have very fond memories of sitting in my aunt’s kitchen with my cousins pressed into service to mass produce handmade skins for folding all sorts of dumplings. As a kid, I have to confess I would have been much happier reading instead. Isn’t that the irony about childhood experiences? Sometimes those things we resented so much as children become precious, valued, and even yearned for again with the passage of time.

It does make me think about the things I do with M which quite often are not fun at all for him. Someday, I hope that my parenting choices will be appreciated decades from now when he is able to see the long view. There are so many things that my parents and our wider family clan have taught me for which I have greater appreciation. I use “clan” in the fullest sense of the word since I am related to well over 250 people just in the Bay Area. It can be mind-boggling to contemplate the full impact of that.

Before I go too far off on this bunny trail, I will say that I will probably post more on those topics when I have time to do it justice. Let’s get back to the whole point of this which is sharing with you, my tweaking of another recipe from Stuart Chang Berman’s Potsticker Chronicles (http://tinyurl.com/3quz2f5).  His recipe calls for lamb, so I substituted ground pork. I really think the world is divided into lamb and non-lamb people; either you love it or you hate it. Obviously, I am in the latter camp.

This is a really great way to use up all that squash that seems to grow like weeds in my backyard. Homegrown squash is so good compared to supermarket squash. There is almost a sweet flavor profile to the squash, and this tastes fantastic in this recipe. It works better to use younger, more tender squash than overgrown gigantic squash the size of your arm.

L@WS

Pork and Summer Squash Potstickers

Ingredients:

1 pound summer squash, finely minced
1 pound ground pork
1 bunch green onions, finely minced
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, or mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
48 store bought or handmade potsticker skins
1 egg white, lightly beaten (optional)

Directions:

1.    Place squash in the center of a cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth to form a ball. Twist the gathered fabric and the ball in opposite directions to squeeze as much water out of the squash as possible.
2.    Place the squeezed squash in a mixing bowl. Add the pork, green onions, garlic, soy sauces, rice wine, sesame oil, and black pepper to the squash and mix well with a pair of chopsticks.
3.    To wrap dumplings, you can either use lukewarm water or egg white to moisten one side of each skin. Place about 1 tsp of filling in the center of each skin. Fold and crimp into crescent-like shapes. (Here is a youtube video on how to fold potstickers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpkcOk_i0-I) Place on a floured tray. Potstickers may be cooked immediately or frozen on the tray. Once frozen, transfer the dumplings to a freezer bags for storage.
4.    You can either boil (Northern style) or pan fry (Canto style) the dumplings to your preference. I find that pan frying works best when you freeze the pot stickers first.

Note: The potstickers turn out better if you use the fattier ground pork available at the Asian markets.

 

Preventing the Viral Merry-Go-Round. August 23, 2011

Filed under: Mommy Tips & Tricks,Parenting,Staying Healthy — lifeatwarpspeed @ 4:45 pm
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Prevent the Top Back-to-School Infections.

This is one of my favorite soaps from Trader Joe’s:

Just saw this timely article as the new school year is kicking off. There are a few caveats that I would add to these suggestions.

  1. Be mindful of over-use especially with young children who have a tendency to put their hands in their mouth. These gels are mostly alcohol; there are cases of young children in preschool and daycare settings getting alcohol poisoning or drunk off this stuff. I really only use this in the rare occasions where soap and water are just not available.
  2. The under 5 set gets sick a lot. I saw the stat that the average Kindergartener gets sick 12 times a year. That’s once a month! Pretty hard to control babies, toddlers and preschoolers from touching things, each other and then their mouth, nose or eyes. You don’t even need kids to mouth toys, it is so easy for it to happen when you see kids snacking and then running off to play. Instant germ factory on those hands. You only get viruses if they get into your system, and that’s usually through an orifice.
  3. Stay away from anti-bacterial products.There are alternative gels, wipes, and soaps (like TJ’s lavender hand soap) out there. The proliferation of use of anti-bacterial products is not good for our world. It is creating the environment where super-bugs aka drug resistant bacteria and viruses are becoming more common, and that is a truly dangerous situation.

I suppose that in the end that we all do our best to maintain good hygiene, but eventually kids do get sick. When it seems to happen every two or three weeks, I try to stay patient by telling myself that M is building his immune system. Cold comfort, I know, when you are dealing with a cranked out kid or trying to juggle who is going to take a sick day.

L@WS

 

Suze Orman’s Money Class August 19, 2011

Filed under: Finance & Stewardship,Parenting — lifeatwarpspeed @ 12:45 am
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The minute I start talking about money or finances, most people start running for the hills. It seems to cause a visceral reaction in most people. It touches nearly every aspect of our daily lives in some way or another, yet most people hate talking about it abstractly, much less dealing the specifics of their own personal finances. Weirdly enough, one of my most favorite topics to teach about is money, finances and stewardship. It is really rewarding to me to help de-mystify things for people and to help empower them in the area of their finances and becoming good stewards of their resources.

We do an incredibly poor job as a culture and society in teaching people to be in control of their money and not allowing money to control them. People often wonder what the differences are between the haves and the have-nots are. One of the MAJOR key differences is how the haves deal with their finances within their families. It is a integral part of their life; they start educating their children about it very early. They talk about it frequently at the dinner table. It is part of their normal everyday life and conversation. Their children learn about business, investing, and finances by osmosis. They understand how the world works financially speaking and how to take advantage and leverage that knowledge for their own benefit and their children.

Growing up and even now, my own family talks about money, finances, investments, stocks, real estate, etc. You name it, we talked about it. Same thing with P & I at home. Our son, M, hears us talk about these things openly and sometimes daily. When you compartmentalize it or treat money and finances like a boogeyman that you keep locked up in a closet, it communicates unhealthy attitudes to your children that it is scary, confusing, secret, difficult, overwhelming, or whatever negative connotative you can ascribe to it.

I just noticed today that PBS (in the Bay Area) is re-airing Suze Orman’s latest offering, The Money Class, which was broadcast originally in the Spring of 2011. Although Suze can be a bit more new age-y and touchy-feely for my tastes, the gist of what she has to say is right on target. I know that the majority of people feel that the rug was pulled out from under them financially speaking these last few years. Most people are operating out of fear, despair, frustration and hopelessness. You might feel overwhelmed by debt, underwater in a mortgage, wondering if you can ever retire, concerned about how in the world you will pay for college for your kids, and wondering what kind of world it is that we live in now.

It doesn’t have to be that way for you. There are answers and help if you would just take some time to take control of things and, yes, educate yourself a little. Check out what Suze has to say about this new economy and how you can take back control of this area of your life. I love how she cuts to the chase, tells you the truth and makes things simple so that anyone can understand. Suze Orman’s Money Class | Expert Financial Advice : PBS.

I will say that I do not believe that the American Dream is dead, but I do think it isn’t the same as what a lot of us assumed it was. I think that American Dream was really a house of cards built on easy credit, very little reality, and a lot of trying to keep up with the Jones, Wongs, Gonzales, Washingtons, Guptas, etc. Don’t pay attention to what other people are doing, pay attention to what YOU are doing. No one is looking out for you except you. You are the only one that can take control and be your best advocate. You can either be your own best friend or your own worst enemy with respect to your money and your finances. I believe that you can do this!

L@WS

 

 
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