Summer Staycation Made Easy

While this year you may not be able to get away to any summer vacation destinations, it does not mean that fun has to be in short supply this season.  Compared to the colder months of the year, summer yields longer daylight hours and lots of sunshine.  Keeping this in mind, here are some ways to enjoy it with your family members.

Even in apartments, growing plants by the window-side can prove impossible when winter comes around and most days are full of grey skies.  The weather can get so cold sometimes, that the chill will pass right through the window, and this can prove fatal for many house plants.  Planning out a gardening or urban gardening project with your family will be the easiest during summer for this reason.  And there are many reasons to keep plants around:  they clean the air, can help to deter illness, and can boost mood and performance.  The reason for this is the process of photosynthesis; while humans breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, our plants inhale our carbon dioxide and exhale out oxygen.

But most of all, the benefits of starting on your plant goals during the summer can extend to your kids because caring for the life of greenery from a young age teaches responsibility and how to be attentive, rather than selfish.  We need to remember to monitor our plants’ health everyday and adjust temperature, sunshine levels, and watering as needed.  But the reward of team-building and vibrant, shiny leaves


Firework Safety

Today is Independence Day, and when the sun goes down your family may want to do a little bit of celebrating.  Many households across the country are going to be partaking in delicious barbecue, refreshing watermelon, and even a little bit of fireworks or sparklers.  While the most vibrant and memorable part of Independence Day, fireworks should always be handled in a responsible manner.  So here are some safety precautions you should take this holiday.

If you do not have professional firework safety training, we do not recommend using anything above commercial-grade fireworks.  After you have bought fireworks, make sure you designate an area that will be appropriate for lighting them:  the are should be clear of trees and people especially.  Do not under any circumstances, light a firework in your hand and then try to get away from it or re-light a dud.  It is not recommended that children handle fireworks and should always have adult supervision in the area.

When it comes to sparklers, most folks think they are pretty harmless because they’re cute and shoot stars.  But the truth is that these small explosive sticks burn hot enough to cause serious burns.  Be aware of what you and your loved ones are wearing when it comes time to light up the sparklers:  long hair should be tied back, clothing material should not be flammable, and more coverage is preferable.  But most of all enjoy the time you have if you can hopefully get a little more extra personal time with your children, family, and friends.


Monitoring Your Teen’s Media

When it comes to all the entertainment available at the click of a button, it is amazing that any parents can find the time to even decide if it is appropriate for their son or daughter.  But the most important thing to remember is that when they are teenagers, they should not count on us as parents to be around forever.  Eventually, our children grow up but the best thing we can do during their teenage years is make sure that when presented with difficult topics in the adult world, they will see all aspects– positive, negative, neither, etc.

Our primary form of enjoying a story used to be from reading books.  Although authors can write scenes that are more graphically violent or sexually suggestive than what is allowed on television, writers often do so to discuss what the impact these elements can have on mankind or society.  Therefore, it is not necessarily things like sex, drugs, or rock and roll that are harmful for young minds to consume through the media, but actually the lack of an unbiased and thorough perspective as it relates to the bigger picture.

At the end of the day, our job as parents is not to censor the stream of media that comes through our homes.  It is to set a good example and prepare our family to make responsible and informed choices in their lives.  And there is always a little bit of time left to catch up on some TV.


Schooling Considerations

Knowledge is power, but it seems like these days, American academic management has caused most that attend public schools here, to often fall behind when compared to students overseas.  While some argue that public school is a necessary part of a child’s life so that he or she can learn how to socialize amongst peers, being Asian American in the middle of this will more likely than not, add to the list of things for you to consider when making short-term and long-term plans and setting goals for your child.

Especially in non-diverse neighborhoods, attending a public school as an Asian American student can be, at the least, uncomfortable.  Being in an environment in which the majority of students and staff normalize having an Asian background as being the forefront of your son or daughter’s identity– with little or no room to recognize his or her individual personality.  Over time, in more severe cases, a student may not even recognize bullying or biased treatment from teachers that is on the basis of race because to everyone else (even teachers and administrators) these situations are considered to be unavoidable somehow.

The latter to public school, however, is not much.  Most private schools are expensive, and you may not want to risk paying thousands of dollars for a curriculum and system you don’t know much about.  Homeschooling resources and books are also very limited in the market– most are marketed toward those of a Christian denomination faith as well.

On the end of academic performance as well, the public school system could use improvement.  In addition to history being taught from a biased point-of-view, much of the curriculum keeps getting cut and cut until it is just there to provide standardized testing preparation.  To those at the top, more money will be made if the students test higher, so more resources are put into getting good scores rather than learning practical skills that will prepare your son or daughter for being successful in the real world.  The best choice for schooling will most likely have to come from thinking out of the box.

 

 


Kimchi Tips

Kimchi was once a beloved “banchan” (반찬)  or side dish that did not automatically put the image of a hipster in my head.  Although this fermented treat from South Korea has been around since the days of dynasties, it has only recently become popular.  Millennials and cooks are picking up on the many health benefits of kimchi as well.

Kimchi is still called “pickled napa cabbage” by many who have never tried it, but the dish is a far cry from America’s standard dill pickle.  Instead of using vinegar and salt for preserving napa cabbage, a rich concocted paste is well-mixed with radish sticks and onion (to taste), then gently brushed by hand, over and in-between all the intact cabbage leaves.

Although there are many variations to making kimchi, traditionalists will tell you that the most important ingredients are often missing from the American versions:  that is patience and brine shrimp.  In order to cut down on the time it will take for your Napa cabbage to ferment, many American recipes call for you to pre-cut it into squares and only wait a few hours before consuming.  Most supply lists are missing small brine shrimp as well.  In order to achieve an authentic flavor, you will need to include the brine shrimp to allow proper fermentation and more oxygen flow as well.  Fermenting for a couple months is also best– think about making your kimchi in the fall and letting it sit in the cooler in order to be consumed during the cold winter months.

The small details are important in a side dish that develops its unique taste and tanginess over the course of time.