Monday, June 16, 2014

Decipher the Ancient Myth

While playing with my App, Nutrition Tracker, I gradually understand some old Chinese sayings, like "the more fish one has, the bigger one's brain is". Omega 3 is the required nutrition to have a healthy brain. The critical part in Omega 3 is DHA that is hard to be synthesized by human body. The natural food that contains high DHA is mostly fish. Although Salmon has been more popular than cod. According to the USAD food nutirion database and the calculation from Nutrition Tracker, for an adult, if one has 8 ounces of cooked salmon weekly, one doesn't need to take any supplement for Omega 3 at all. In another words, if one has two or three big meals with fish weekly, one will have enough Omega 3 to have a healthy brain. This amazingly explains the old Chinese myth I didn't understand before. This is a great book about how to cook fish: Fish: Fish: Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Release for Nutrition Tracker

Features in 0.7 release uploaded on Jun 15, 2014:
1. Export data. The diary can be exported to an comma separated values (csv) file for a physician/dietitian to review or analyze. The file is easily opened with Excel or other spreadsheet.
2. Log caloric intake and match to your activity level. This enables you to set goals for weight change.

3. Easy input of food. Foods that you’ve already entered are now on the top of search results. Saves time entering data.

Features in 0.6 release:
1. Add the lookup feature. You can now lookup nutrition facts for a specific food.
2. Missing nutrients are listed at the top of the nutrition report in order of decreasing priority. It’s now easy to figure out which nutrients you’re missing.
3. At the report output, click on the nutrition name, you can see the list of food with high value for that particular nutrient.
4. Add DHA/EPA information in the report.

Check it out at:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Alternative for Vitamin C Supplement.

Vitamin C is a critical nutrition to our health. Few people know that a medium size of orange has enough Vitamin C as one daily vitamin C supplement pill has. Vitamin C can be used to alleviate the cold syndromes and shortens the cold period though it can not prevent to get cold. Vitamin C also can help recover the damaged skins by Sun exposure.

One day, one orange is enough for daily intake of Vitamin C calculated by Nutrition Tracker according the data provided by USDA.

If one gets cold, one can have two or more oranges to ease the cold syndromes.

To get more information about the Vitamin C, one can read the long article here:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pick points from Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing.

When I started to read the book, Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing   I could not stop. Thanks for my friend, Xi's recommendation. Every chapter shows a new aspect that we should watch over for our health and the current medical field have totally ignored. It not only tells the experiments and theories from farms or labs, but also gives us advice how to apply the principles into our daily life. 

The most valuable and intriguing point I got from this book is the new way of analyzing our health issues. Current medical field is using an isolation model to cure the diseases. But our body is a very complex system. Is the isolation method really sound? For people having the same disease, like diabetes, they get there due to different reasons, such as less exercises, poor diet, or poor gene. They should be treated differently. Being healthy is quite an individual thing and is highly correlated to how people live, the life style. This is fascinating to me. As I haven't seen any model to simulate human's living environment or life style with AI to diagnose the root cause of the diseases. Is it possible to build a model to cure some disease or all diseases with an AI model? It is an open problem for me. 

The book also gives some practical advice that are very helpful to apply in our daily life. In chapter 3, it gives toolbox for the stress reduction: 
1. Join the flock that could be a club that shares your passions, a sports team, a spiritual group, volunteering. 
2. Enhance your behavioral freedom and increase your sense of purpose. Take time to care for and pamper yourself, and exercise daily. 
3. Play a tag and dust-bathes often. Doing exercises in a voluntary and enjoyable way. 
4. Get a good night's roost. 
5. Put the right foods in your gizzard. Having cage freed chickens and eggs, more leafy greens, spices and herbs. This agrees with my experiments with my Nutrition Tracker project. As the more I play with it, I realizes that we can get most nutrition from natural food and leafy greens is the best.  

To the end of the book, it talks about aging and cosmetics. Most of time we are not aware that the cream we apply to our face or body contains chemicals leading to cancers. So examine your skin care products and stay away from hydroquinone, mercury, steroid, retinoid, alpha-hydroxy acids, mineral oils, parabens, phthalates, sls (sodium lauryl sulfate), vitamin E, and artificial fragrances. Try to use hydrosols, like roman chamomile (anthemis nobilis), neroli (citrus aurantium), rock rose (cistus ladaniferus), lavender (lavandula angustifolia), rose (rosa damascena), rose geranium ( pelargonium graveolens).

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Select After School Programs?

I would put two key values on any after school programs. In fact not just after school, any school:
1. The kid is much happier while attending the after school program. The kid wants to come back again and enjoys it a lot. 
2. The kid is very motivated after attending the program. They love to talk about what they have learned or share their stories. Then It is a good sign of the valuable program. 
It is hard to know things first hand. As parents, we should talk to the kids and know their feelings. If we observe anything wrong, we need to go down and figure out the reasons. One can drop by the class to see what really happens in the class. Or one can talk to the teachers to see if they really care individual needs. 

Tech Innvators Who Went to Montessori School

Thomas Edison - "I like the Montessori method," Edison has been quoted saying, according to historians at the Thomas Edison National Historic Park. "It teaches through play. It makes learning a pleasure. It follows the natural instincts of the human being. The present system casts the brain into a mold. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning."

Famous Montessori graduates:

Related books:
Montessori from Start:The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three

A New SAT Aims to Realign With Schoolwork

This Infographic Reveals How to Raise Happy and Healthy Kids

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Parenting Skills: Respecting Children, Being Consistent, and Being Patient

I used to doubt the effect of consistency with kids. After I have been practicing for a while, it really works like a miracle. I have been using the consistency with sleep training, goodbye hug/kiss, and dining time.

Sleep training is really hard for everyone. We started sleep training when our kid  was 10 months old. He definitely cried. But we have been consistent with the routine, picking up him, comforting him, and putting him back into bed again. It took two weeks for him to understand the routine. Nowadays, he still cries sometime when it is bedtime. While I turn off all the lights, he walks into his room pretending to cry.  He will ask for mom to pat him and stop crying in less than 1 minutes.

I used to sneak out to avoid to see my son crying. After I read some books, I started to say goodbye to him when I leave him. He cried for sure, but I kept doing it and also explained to him why I was leaving and when I would come back. One day, when I was leaving, he smiled and said "bye bye mommy, have fun!". It is really sweet.

Keeping consistent and respecting the children are the keys for successful and easy parenting. The little kids are very smart and more capable than what we have imagined. Just being patient. Sometime it takes a few days for you to see the effects. Sometime it may take months.  Treat your kids with respects and consistency, you will get back the same thing.

Books recommended:
Parenting Your Smart Underachiever With Consistency and Love:
Marva Collin's Way:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to select school

We have visited a few elementary schools to decide which one to pick. I summarize the two thump rules:
1. Must visit! Don't be fooled by the API scores. You must be there, see how the school is, how the teacher passes the knowledge, what is the teaching philosophy. There are three schools in our minds before visiting, Millikin Basics, Harker, and Argonaut. While visiting the schools' website, Millikin Basics looks really appealing, it has the highest API, has strong academic emphasis, and strict disciplines. My husband almost makes up him mind to send our kid to there. After visiting it, we feel a little disappointed, as I don't feel they care the creativity that much. They treat all kids the same. Then we had a visit of Harker. Definitely it has more rich curriculum and better environment. It pays more attention to individual needs. Argonaut environment is nice too. By watching a few classes there, I observer that the teacher not only teaches the basics, but also cares about the kids' interest. They let students write in Chinese in math class. I saw some homework is written in Norwegian. I would like that my kid has the opportunities to learn other languages and cultures. Argonaut does great job on that. After visiting these schools, Millikin is totally crossed out.

2. Select the school that matches the kid's personality and parents teaching philosophy. Some schools have fixed curriculum for all the kids. All kids are marching together at the same speed on all subjects.  Some schools have flexibility to fit individual's needs and let kid learn at her/his own speed mostly.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cubbie Bench: the nice replacement for bookself

When the kid starts reading, we have a lot of books. We have been searching for a bookshelf. Most of the bookshelves are high that is quite difficult for the kid to pick up the books. Also the kid likes to shake the bookshelf. It is quite dangerous. If the bookshelf crushes, it may hurt the kid. We saw this sample, cubbie bench, at target. It is easier for the kid to access. It occupies less space. It is quite sturdy as it is low. It nicely transform the little space into a cozy reading area. We really love this cubbie bench:

Friday, February 28, 2014

What to do when the kid catchs cold or fever.

Syndrome with cold and fever: for the first two days, the kid starts to have running nose. It may comes with a fever or not depending on the kid’s immune systems. After two days or so, the fever goes away, but the kid may still have stuffy nose or starts coughing. In a week, it becomes better. After two weeks, the kid gets back normal. Most of the time the fever comes at the night time. It depends on the situation, I try to avoid Ibuprofen if it is not over 103( for little babies, 100).
Things I usually do:
1.  Give the kid a steam, warm bath. it helps reduce the syndrome of stuffy nose and sore throat. It is a great way for the kid to relax too.  
2. The kid doesn't have good appetite for sure. Don’t try to feed him so much solid food if he doesn't want. Let him have more milk.
3. Fruits and juice are better choices. I let my kid have apple juice and pear juice. They are good source of Vitamin C. Also pear juice can easy inflammation of throat. We all love this one:
4. Being hydrated. Drink more water and pediatric electrolyte. My son likes the purple one a lot:
5. Have enough sleep and relax.

6. If you worry a lot, go to see the doctor.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Keep away from dry skin and rashes.

I see a lot of kids with dry skin and reddish on the face. We have been following the instructions our pediatrician gave us. Our kid has perfect and adorable skin most of time. I would love to share the instructions and hope it helpful:
1. Do bathing everyday for the kid over 10 minutes. Bathing not shower. Let him immerse in the water 10 minutes or so. This way the skin gets hydrated naturally.
2. Apply aquaphor on daily basis both on face and body for dry area:
Some people don’t like aquaphor as it feels very oily and heavy. I didn’t like it either at the beginning. After our pediatrician explains that aquaphor has less ingredients comparing others and may have less side effect, I started to use it. It works perfectly.
3. When there are rashes,  use 1 percent Hydrocortisone cream three times a day. Apply aquaphor on top of hydrocortisone as it can protect the medicine and make it work better:
4. We use Pampers for both diaper and wipes. Our little one has never got rashes:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Love Nordstrom

I started shopping online for clothing after I got to know that Nordstrom's forever return policy. It is better that you have a receipt to the full price you have paid. It still does the return and refund without a receipt, but the price is the current sale price that may be lower than you have paid. Another nice thing about Nordstrom is that it does price match too.

Today I did a return without a receipt. Not to say that the sale person is always polite and helpful. He located my purchase by the credit card I used to pay.

Using credit card in stores or online these days is really a DANGEROUS thing. The recent breach at Target and Neiman Marcus is scary. Nordstrom is not in that list. Thump up!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Visiting Millikin Basics and Laurelwood

Millikin is one of the best elementary schools in States. It is a public school in Santa Clara county. But due to the high enrollment, it is run by lottery. The chance of winning a lottery is 1:4.

We had a visit during the open house on Tuesday. We dropped in a few classes and attended the meeting hosted by the principle. In general it is a great school with high disciplines. All kids are seated well, behaving well in the classroom, and participating discussions in the class. I like the message they are passing that kids' job is going to school and study. They have strict dress code to avoid the distractions. They are very strict about what to teach too. Teachers only teach the requirements at the grade level. Even if the whole class are advanced and ready for the next level, the teacher will still stick to the curriculum. This may make some students feel bored.

While glancing the homework hung on the wall, I spotted a few spelling errors. I am a little disappointed by that. It seems that the teacher doesn't go through the homework and do any corrections at all. Though I didn't think the education system in China is great, I remember clearly how hard our teachers graded our homework. Sometime it made kids feel shame on it. Such a big difference.

I asked my friends about the public schools in Cupertino. It seems that the elementary schools are not as good as boasted. The teacher doesn't grade students' homework much. Most of the parents send their kids to after schools where they learn the discipline and learn something really serious. I haven't visited them. One may visit and correct this.

I just dropped by Laurelwood elementary for some basic information. The staff there is very helpful and com potent. She explained to us the rule for registration. According to the federal law, the minimum age for admittance to kindergarten in California in public schools is five by September 1. Private schools don't have these requirements. At Laurelwood the teacher will observe the kids behavior for two months or so in the kindergarten. If the kid is ready for the first grade, they will move them from kindergarten to the first grade. The staff also explains to us the differences between Washiongton Open, Milikin, and public schools like Laurelwood. At Washington Open, parents need to involves a lot both in classroom and after schools. For Milikin, only teachers teach. It doesn't allow parents to teach anything in classroom or at home. It doesn't let students do group projects either. At Laurelwood, there are some parents involvements, but not as much as in Washington Open. It also allows students to do group projects and teach each other.

After observations in these schools, I started to like montessori method more and Marva Collins' book. One may buy the book at amazon: Marva Collins' Way.

To deeply understand the public schools, the flat world and education is a good reference.