Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What DACA means to me

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act have been in the news a lot lately.  Back in the 80's, this would have applied to me, my older brother, and sister.

My parents brought us to the US from Taiwan in the 80's.  Soon after we arrived, we were enrolled in school.  Unlike the school systems in Taiwan back then, teachers in the US placed more emphasis on free-thinking than requiring 100+ math problems completed for homework in one night.  American kids had more time to develop as a whole person in academics and extracurricular activities.  Kids in Taiwan seemed to only focus on school work and getting into the best high schools, although I doubt this is the case now.

My parents did not come to the US for a better life for themselves.  They came here for us.  They sacrificed for their children.  It was a huge sacrifice because one of them stayed behind in Taiwan.  For 12 years, my mom and dad lived on opposite side of the globe; one to keep his job so he could support his family afar, the other was here with us.  My mom left behind her family, friends, and a very comfortable life to come to a land where she knew hardly anyone, speaking very little English.  She was physically separated from her husband.  They did it for their children.

If you ask any immigrant, I think many will say they did it for their children.  They will say that they sacrificed and left behind much more comfortable lives.

After 7 years of hardship, we finally received our green cards.  Six years later, we became naturalized US citizens.  In 1996, I voted for the first time.  In 2002, I earned a PhD in Immunology and dedicated my thesis to my parents.


Birthday parties

Bun Bun got invited to three birthday parties last month!  One of them was at the Chuck E Cheese restaurant where she played lots of games and met the Mascot. 

She never use to care about mascots until recently.  There's the Bobcat at her school who seem to only really excite the kindergartners and first graders.  When Chuck E Cheese made an appearance at Kayla's party, Bun Bun ran to him (or her?).  But then, it seemed like she wasn't quite sure about the meeting, hence the expressions on her face below.

Bun Bun had a wonderful time at each of the birthday parties.  Two of the three were her classmates from school, from the general education classes.  It was heartwarming for me to see how much her little friends welcomed her into their circles and interacted with her.  They cried, "Olivia is here!"  They included her in some of their games.  They looked out for her.  This is why and how inclusion works!  It is my hope that her peers will never forget about Bun Bun.  When they encounter individuals with different abilities, they will think of Olivia!

Bun Bun wasn't sure about meeting Chuck E Cheese.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Scenic route

My favorite analogy to describe what it's like being a parent of a special child like Bun Bun is that we get to our destinations by the scenic route.  Everything is accomplished at a slower pace.  The key, though, is that everything is accomplished.

Bun Bun  has very recently finally mastered drinking from an open cup.  We were able to transition from bottle to drinking from a straw when she was a little over a year old.  But, it has taken much longer for the open cup.  For any typical kid, this is a natural transition that happens very quickly and pretty early.  For Bun Bun, she had to learn not to tilt the cup all at once and to seal her bottom lip to the cup.  She is now working on tilting her head back as she sips.

Learning almost everything is at a much slower pace.  But, celebrating each accomplishment is so much sweeter.

Her speech is slowing picking up some pace recently.  This fall, we are celebrating her starting to speak sentences, like "I want chips." or "I eat."  Her babbles sound a lot more meaningful.  When she flips through books, she "reads" the words as her little finger runs through each line.  She can recognize and read about 25 high frequency words.  That's actually enough for her to read very simple books:  "This is my dad.  My dad is running.", "I see a table.", and "I like to swim". 

I like the scenic route, have always preferred them over the expressways.  Along the way, we can make frequent stops, take in the local scenery, and soak in some fun.  She still calls me "Wom" and says "Dook" (instead of Book).  These are little things I will always cherish.

"Oh!  I am just so cute!"  Bun Bun admiring her school pictures...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Daddy!

Bun Bun loves her daddy.  Her eyes light up, and she runs to greet him when he gets home from work.  She follows him around the house most of the time, like a little puppy.  She loves some of the same things he likes.  Daddy puts her to bed with their bedtime routine, ending with their time on the rocking chair.  It is really cute.

She can say "Daddy", clear as a bell for a while now.  I'm still "Wom". 

I don't mind one bit.
Bun Bun and Daddy earlier this year and ~5.5 years ago.
Bun Bun playing with Avenger Lego "action figures".

Monday, July 10, 2017

Six!

We now have a six-year old!  For the first time, we had a birthday party and hosted 14 other children.  The party was a few weeks ago since we wanted to be sure that her friends and classmates hadn't gone off on vacation yet.  It took place at a local play gym and was really easy - no clean-ups!

This summer, Bun Bun is back in school for about 5 weeks, just four days a week.  She'll keep up with everything she learned during the school year.  We'll get in some time away still, between day trips here and there to overnight stays at a local camp site.

Inspired by the British Baking Show, this was my Victorian sponge sandwich cake with homemade whipped cream.  Yum!

Happy birthday, America!

This was taken at Tyler Arboretum in Media, just down the road from us yet our first visit ever.  It won't be our last.

Papa bear, Mama bear, and Baby bear

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bun Bun belts it out!

Play a favorite song really loud, in a room with mirrors, and give a girl a microphone, this is what you get!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Daddy

Bun Bun loves her Daddy!

Daddy loves his Snugger McSnuggums!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Tooth

A few more months until Bun Bun's sixth birthday, she has started to lose baby teeth.  The first one came out last week with another one on the way.  Two replacement teeth have already emerged.  Bun Bun wasn't quite sure how she felt at first.  I think she also thought she had done something wrong since after it was pointed out to her, she cried inconsolably for a long time.  Daddy later gave her a dollar with which she bought a hat at the Dollar Store.  It is a very cute purple hat!

After a week off from school, today is the first day back.  Lately, she hasn't really been feeling it.  Her teachers have reported that she gets really tired by the afternoon and refuses to do any more work without bribery.  She is still recovering from back-to-back lingering colds which probably has been making her feel groggy.  So, we'll see if the week-long break will push her through the next few weeks until summer vacation.  Bun Bun brings home school work every day.  I save some of the more colorful ones and take pictures of others.  Some I have taken to work to decorate my office door.  From what she brings home, I'm also sensing that she's getting bored with some of the same work they do.

We've been having a lot more "conversations" lately.  It is really cute!
First tooth in, first tooth out.
A lot of work involves cutting a pasting.  This one taught counting.

Rain-themed April


Bun Bun has been making good progress writing her name.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A conversation

Me:  Do you want to go to 婆婆's house?
Bun Bun:  No, uh-uh.
Me:  Do you want to go home?
Bun Bun:  Home.

I believe this may be the first conversation I have ever had with Bun Bun.  Speech has been and continues to be a struggle for her.  Since she started kindergarten back in September, she has been making slow and steady progress.  I think back around Christmas break, she started to watch tons of YouTube videos with children's songs.  When Bun Bun is muttering to herself and pairing hand gestures, we can clearly see that she is singing her favorite songs.  It all started with "Head and Shoulders" then she added the "Finger Family Song" and "Wheels on the Bus" to her repertoire.  Now, she sings along with gestures to many others.  It's been really encouraging to hear her use more words.  Teaching her sign language is paying off big time since she will use that to help her listeners understand what she is trying to say.

Here are some recent pictures.

We attended the Bobcat Pride Breakfast at Bun Bun's school; it was on St. Patrick's day, and we got our picture taken with the school mascot - the Bobcat.  Bun Bun wasn't quite sure what to make of the creature.  She would not have had the courage to have her picture taken with it alone.
A portrait of Daddy by Bun Bun, circa 2017
Bun Bun works really hard at school.  Here she is tracing and ordering numbers 0 through 10 all on her own, without any help!  She has learned the alphabet, capital & lower case, and numbers through at least 20, most likely more.
One perk of my job is attending fantastic scientific conferences.  The bonus is when the conference takes place in Banff, Alberta, Canada amidst the beautiful Canadian Rockies.  This was the view from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
I got to fulfill a life-long dream and ice skated on the nearby frozen and very beautiful Lake Louise.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Twinkle Stars

Bun Bun really likes music.  Through most of Christmas break, she watched YouTube videos of kids songs, compilations from Signing Time , Makin' Music, and Super Simple Songs.  Daddy and I now have all of those songs stuck in our heads and hum them throughout the day.

She's also been attending music therapy where she's exposed to all kinds of instruments.  Here's a video from last night.  She was happy as a clam, singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Mr. Jerry is the music therapist.