Saturday, May 31, 2014

North Shore of Lake Ray Roberts

We have been to Lake Ray Roberts State Park many times. When we decided to go  there again this memorial day weekend for a two day camping trip, I proposed to go to the north shore part of the park - a.k.a. the Johnson branch for a change. Six families joined us, 4 of them with us on the first day, and two of them were there at our second day at the park.
Lake Ray Roberts

The camping site at Oak point of Johnson branch has a lot of wild flowers and bushes, few trees, and campsites are spaced out - it felt like to camp in a flower garden. This is quite a pleasant difference from most of camping sites we have been to.

Despite the low lake level, the kids really enjoyed playing in the muddy shallow water at the beach. They started with water fight which quickly evolved into mud fight between two groups. They had so much fun, and a couple kids not with the groups also joined the fun. About 1.5 hour later, they switched to fish for clams in the mud which lasted until BBQ time at 6pm, and Nick claimed that they harvested over 50 clams. They were in the water for ~ 4 hours by then.

The evidence of drought at Ray Robers

At night the boys roasted marshmallow by the camp fire and then played a hide and seek type of game around the camp site until 11:40pm


The late afternoon of the second day at the park was windy and rained for short period of time right before the sunset. We witnessed the emergence of double rainbows -  as the sun setting, we saw the rainbows growing brighter, from near ground to their apexes. It was a feast to the eyes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Butterfly Kisses

This evening I listened to the song  Butterfly Kisses through a link in a news story -  I could not hold tears during the 5 minutes of this song!

I listened to the song  at least a dozen times before on radio. The affection of a father to his daughter, the melancholy and the love expressed all touched me, however never before had I such a strong emotional reaction like today.

At this time of our life, I have conflicting emotions. I want to have the boys close to us, to share their lives with us, I also want them to be independent, to have more friends of their own, to have more activities outside the family, to pursue their dreams.

In fact Justin will march on his life journey soon. He graduated from high school on May 9th, and will start college in the fall. I encourage him to go out more with his friends during this summer break. I also wish that he would have more time with us, participating in family activities. When he told us that he would go to a friend's commencement instead of a family outing, although I did not say a word I was a little bit sad. I don't blame him. I did much worse at his age myself. My widowed mom wished me to go to a very good university at my home town, I chose one a thousand miles away! She did not say anything about it; but  I still remember the tears that kept rolling down her face when I waved goodbye!

The sentiments in the Butterfly Kisses are universal: parents encouraging their children to "try their wings in a great big world" while wishing children would still be close to them. The feeling of joy and sadness at the same time at this junction of life - That's how the song resonates with me.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts at a High School Graduation Ceremony - by Lily

Our whole family attended Justin's high school commencement at TAMS on May 9, 2014. Like any parents, we are incredibly proud of him. 

As the first child in the family, Justin is our “experiment”JHe is the first to get our full attention, to test our limit, patience, and strategy, to explore the education system. Raising him, We focused on education, on building character (honesty, kindness, justice, integrity, inner strength), on societal values (caring, contribution), and on achieving goals (driven, hard-working). I believe we have done a pretty good job together J.

It is hard being a child with strict parents, even harder with strict and highly educated parents like us. We’ve got plenty of my way or high way arguments along the way. But we always have his best interest in our hearts. We know he understands that because he has taken up pieces of advice here and there after all J.  A wise person learns not only from his own experiences but also from others. It is great to see him to make good use of that. Some education experts have said the most important thing to teach a child is resilience. So, pointing out the difficulties and his shortfalls may not be a bad thing J. He has taken some risks and challenges, and he charged on with his passion regardless of naysayers. Sometimes he succeeded while other times not, but he keeps moving forward. We truly admire his spirit and hope he will carry this spirit to explore the world when he starts the next stage of his life.

We have discussed the value of going to TAMS in light of the college admission result. Sure, result is part of it, but the experience he gained during the process matters more. Part of us wished he stayed home during the last two years, at least we would have helped him with more driving practice. At the same time, seeing him manage his work and life from a distance allowed us to appreciate him more. Justin has a big heart. Seeing the Susan G. Komen 5K run T-shirt on him and getting the phone call about blood donation made my heart swell. It was such a sweet surprise to see him volunteering at DRSEF and I told everyone I met there on that day J. He chose TAMS for better research opportunities. In addition to that, he also got opportunities to horn his organization and management skills. He has done a great job, and perhaps found his niche J. Knowing he can manage his study and balance his life is very reassuring for us.  Although he did not get accepted by his dream school, he has been accepted by top schools in his area of interest. We are glad that at the end he focused on the substance not just the so called “reputation”, and made the best choice for his college education. College is only a mile marker in one's journey of life, not the destination. Perhaps this point will be much better appreciated in a few years. 

We do feel comfortable that Justin will be able to make the right decisions and stay on course with his goals when he starts college. It takes sustained effort to reach one's goals in the course of life. Everyday effort makes a difference in the long run, so we hope that he can remember to focus the things he can do on a daily basis. At the same time, there are many ways to success, we hope that  he will carve out his own way.

Note: this post was adapted from a letter Lily wrote to Justin on the eve of the commencement

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Eating Right

I exercise regularly, eat early dinner with proper portion and my BMI is in the optimum range. However my numbers on Glucose and Triglycerides had been high, though still in normal range.

My doctor told me not to worry about the numbers because of my ethnicity and common food intake. Except intentionally reducing rice intake, I did not do anything special about my food. The non fasting glucose test result from a "fit for travel" physical exam in early April pushed me into action.

Immediate action on my part include: even less rice (starchy food), cut some of my favorite food: no more daily banana (high sugar), no more chips after work (starchy food), no more ice cream (high sugar).

From her research on diabetes diet, Lily quickly created a diet for me with healthy carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, whole grains), high fiber food (fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, peas, whole wheat flour), heart healthy fish. Fortunately for me - I love all these healthy foods.

A typical lunch she prepares for me would include:

a small portion of rice ( 1/3 ~ 1/4 of what I ate before) with a piece of tilapia fillet
a big bowl of salad (iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberry)
a small bag of nuts (walnuts, pecan or almond)
an apple

Since I started this diet, I have no problem only eat the right things; and no chips, no ice cream, no problem.

I had my 2014 annual physical a month after I started this diet: my Triglycerides is about half my 2013 number! my glucose is 20  unit lower than last year, back to normal - without any medicine!

Lily was amazed at the outcome and could not believe that  diet only can make this change.

My explanation is that 1) Not many people can follow a diet like I do, and more importantly 2) I don't have diabetes. Prevention is much easier than correction.