Archives for posts with tag: learning

A Friday ritual.

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember – {this moment}IMG_7162

Ever since Dai Bee is making extra spending money (by teaching piano), we’ve been talking about what he can do with that money. Mr. Piggy got him a book about investing (for dummies). Nowadays, our dinner conversations revolve around ways to invest, rate of return, risks and rewards, how money can make money, etc. I was surprised that both the boys were so engaged in these conversations. They asked questions about types of stocks and how the risks that involve it. I’m sure when they have a better understanding of how the stock market works, they will have more questions. So far, nothing has been set, but just to spark their interest. This will be a good summer project for them to work on.


Just updated our trip to the backcountry.


Ok, adding another title to Dai Bee’s role. He’s not only a big brother, a friend, a mentor, a piano teacher, a parnter in crime, and a math tutor to Ah Lo. IMG_7041

After an exciting game this morning, we detoured to the Locke Historic District near Sacramento before heading home. This is an unincorporated area built by Chinese immigrants during the early 1900’s. We stopped by the visitor center (also known as the boarding house) and found out the town is named Locke, after George Locke, who owned the land. He leased to the Chinese, at a time when Chinese people were not allowed to own land. All the museums are free and let us roam around. The attractions include besides the visitor’s center: a Chinese language school, a museum, a memorial garden, a gambling hall, a theatre, and a meeting place (even had a round of Chinese chess), all within walking distance.  There was a calligraphy lesson in the Chinese school, so we sat down and practiced.

The whole district consisted of 2 main blocks, so it was a nice stroll. Locke is certainly unique with rustic charm and surrounded with “lost in time” feel. Happy we decided the detour for this opportunity to learn about the rich history of Chinese immigrants. It’s definitely worth the visit.

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From the website: Locke is the only remaining authentic Chinese village in the United States of America. Although many cities in America have a Chinatown, Locke is the only separate Chinese community that was built by, and exclusively for, Chinese immigrants. Locke was virtually unknown outside of California until a book entitled “Bitter Melon” by Jeff Gillenkirk with photographs by James Motlow was published.  At one time, 600 residents, all of whom were Chinese, lived in this three square block community. Now the permanent population of the town is less than 100, and less than a dozen of the residents are Chinese. The origin of the Chinese town of Locke dates back to 1915 when a fire in the neighboring town of Walnut Grove destroyed the city’s Chinatown. Locke was established by Lee Bing, on land owned by George Locke in 1915. There were two sections in the Walnut Grove Chinatown, one of which was populated by Chinese immigrants from Chungshan (中山) and the other by immigrants from Sze Yap in China. The Chungshan group decided to rebuild their community a half mile south of Walnut Grove where there were already three buildings in a tiny hamlet called Lockeport.

Ah Lo is taking lessons from his brother lately. Apparently the last few years, Ah Lo’s teacher didn’t touch any of the musicianship skills. Therefore, on Monday nights, Ah Lo would have a lesson with Dai Bee, training the ears, learning “notation” and tonal skills sight reading and how to execute the song. There are much to learn and at times, Dai Bee can be pretty tough on his brother. He will constantly test Ah Lo to see if he really understand what was taught. I enjoyed sitting in their lessons, might even learn a thing or two myself.


A Friday ritual.

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember – {this moment}


Last night our Chinese lesson revolves around CNY theme – writing calligraphy. It is tradition families decorate with red banners inside and out of the house during this time of year. Greetings and phrases related Chinese new year are written on these banners. I had the boys wrote their 4-word greetings on a piece of red sheet. They practiced their Chinese calligraphy as well as learning the words and meanings of the phrases.


It all started out with a Groupon that introduced the boys fencing back in July. After the introductory class, they loved it and wanted to continue. So they are now going regularly (2 hours a week). Luckily, it’s nearby so they walked there. It’s definitely a great workout for both of them.


Yay! Today is the deadline for all the high schools Dai Bee is applying to. Sometimes this process is more demanding than applying for college. Anyhow, glad it’s over and now we’ll just sit back, relax and wait. It’s out of our control at this point. We should know by mid March.


Here are a few tips I can share:

  1. Start early – last year when Dai Bee was 7th, I’ve researched about schools through talking to parents, and/or read reviews online. By end of 7th, I have a short list 8-10 of schools I wanted to see. Because as soon as 8th grade starts, schools are ready to offer dates for tours, test dates, student interviews, parent meetings, etc. I need to jump on it right away.
  2. After touring the schools on my list with Dai Bee, we (he and I) discussed about each and every one and narrow down to 4-5. TIP: When I tour the schools, I took notes (recorded on my phone) for every school to remember what I liked/disliked about the school. This is helpful especially when I (parent) fill out one of the most common questions on the application – “why do you think our school is a good fit for your child?” 
  3. The application process, as you can see, entails more than just filling out an application. It requires parent and student applications, testing, collecting documents from school, etc. Luckily now, many independent private schools share the same hub, so the child doesn’t have to fill out the general questions however many times.
  4. Some of the applications have pages and pages. It can be an overload for the child, especially some require extensive writing. So we would take 30 mins every weekend to work on it, bits and pieces. That way,  it doesn’t seem too overwhelming to do everything at once. Again, start early, because he/she may need time to edit as he/she go.
  5. Schools won’t allow to set up student interviews if the parent application is not submitted/paid. So again, start early in order to save a seat for the interview (which in some schools is mandatory).
  6. Once he knows for sure the schools he wants to apply, I suggest send transcript request forms from your child’s schools and math/english teacher recommendation request forms. This gives the teachers and counselors ample time to complete. At Dai Bee’s school, it’s hard to get a recommendation letter from his school counselor since they don’t interact much. Hence, his school counselor gives him a questionnaire to tell her more about him. This may take time going back and forth. Again, start early.
  7. In parochial schools, the child takes the HSPT and for independent schools, he/she takes the SSAT. Dai didn’t study for SSAT. I signed up a time slot and he just took the test (cold turkey). The child can take the SSAT as many times as the child wishes, just pay $127 each time. He/she might want to take it early fall, so he/she can retake if scores are not as satisfactory. However, it’s 4-hour test, so a bit draining if he/she has to take it too many times.
  8. The final step is the student interview (which should have set up by now). Basically the school wants to know the kid a bit more. It’s very casual meeting one on one with questions like how do you like the middle school, his/her interests, etc. The tip I got from the admissions director is have the child be him/herself.