Author: Ly Nguyen

Ly is a creative writer based in Oakland, CA who is inspired by immigrant journeys and urban culture. Visit https://mama-lounge.blogspot.com/ to read about magic cures and must-haves.

flying kites into the blue

Point Reyes

Point Reyes

Even though summer is winding down, there is always time to fly a kite.  When I was young, my first kite was a replica of Snoopy.   This was  one of my favorite gifts from my father.  Snoopy lasted for about two weeks until he was caught in a tree.

Last week, I relived my childhood and bought Kai his first kite.   When we passed through Point Reyes Station, I picked out a tie dye octopus kite for our flying adventure at the awesome Into the Blue toy store.

Kids and adults have been enamored by kites for centuries all over the world.  Believed to have originated in China almost 2,000 years ago, every country has unique kites.  In Viet Nam where money is scarce for many families, children make kites out of plastic bags and thin strings.   In India, travelers can find Hindu inspired kites at the festival of Gujarat.  Here in Berkeley, there is a magnificent  festival that welcomes some of the world’s largest kites.  There is nothing like looking into the sky and seeing hundreds of kites flying so freely.

Kite_festival_ahmedabad_india

Whether you’re big or small, make some time for kite flying in a meadow or beach nearby.

Before flying a kite, you can review the  Beaufort Scale to determine wind speed:

From Kiteworks.com

From Kiteworks.com

Summer in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has more to offer than the beach boardwalk. Even if you can’t do an overnight, it’s possible to do a bunch of fun stuff on a day trip. When we visited last weekend, I noticed lots of families hanging out everywhere. Definitely a kid-friendly beach town!

Here’s a quick itinerary:

-A must see is Natural Bridges Beaches. It’s not as widely known as the Boardwalk beach or even Seabright Beach.  NB is small and sweet. There are literally rock formations that create bridges in the water. Even better, there is a visitor center and a trail that is home to monarch butterflies in the winter.

For the gardener in you, visit the arboretum at UC Santa Cruz. Their land has a world class living collection and their garden store always has plants for purchase at excellent prices.

Marianne’s ice cream is a locally owned parlor with original and homemade flavors like lavender and ginger. In a big group, try the giant sundae that comes with over 10 scoops!

Skip the Borders and head over to Bookshop Santa Cruz on Pacific Ave. has something for the whole family. It’s one of the best independent books stores around and still thriving. They have an extensive children’s book collection with books from many cultures. There’s a cute play area for the young ones too.

-Ride the Giant Dipper. You can still stop by the boardwalk for an hour to get in line to ride the big dipper. Just buy tickets and enjoy!

Snack on fish tacos! Local fish make tasty tacos and they’re real easy to find. I recommend snapper and salmon tacos at Taqueria Santa Cruz

-The kids will love Pizza My Heart. They have plenty of veggie and vegan options for the super health conscious!

Let us know if you have any favorite Santa Cruz spots to share.

next stop: japan

In two weeks, we’ll be taking off to Japan to explore Osaka and Kyoto. I’ve been to Japan before but without a baby boy. Even then, the hustle and bustle of a big Japanese city can be intimating. I’m most excited to explore the hot springs culture, eat a bunch of ramen and sushi, and buy things from vending machines. Japan should be a load of fun for baby Kai who will be 11 months when we arrive. I’ll keep you posted on my adventures when I arrive, but in the meantime here are some things that are on the itinerary:

Some of the travel ideas, I found in this cute and insightful book Japan for Kids: The ultimate Guide for Parents and Children

SpaWorld Osaka Japan, I have high expectations for this place. It will be fun for the whole family with three floors of onsens from around the world. On the third level, there is a full water park amusement pool for the kids.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan It’s known to be the world’s largest aquarium complete with exhibitions of Japanese rain forests, California Coastline marine life , a giant Ferris wheel, and IMAX theater.

Ryoan-Ji Temple Kyoto-Here we’ll find one of the most beautiful Zen gardens which will be perfect after a day of sightseeing.

Japanese Supermarkets—I’m excited to find fresh bento boxes and cool baby food at the supermarket. He’s especially fond of rice crackers, and there’s no doubt we’ll find tons to choose from.

Stay tuned for photos and reviews of the places mentioned above.

a worldly bedtime story

Kai’s favorite book right now is a wonderful story written by Karen Katz, Can You Say Peace? Even at 9 months, the colorful characters in the book resonate with him. Kai’s face lights up when I pull this book off the shelf and he laughs with excitement. Without leaving Kai’s room, we travel to 11 different countries and catch a glimpse of each child’s life with their own families. His favorite children in the book are Sadiki from Ghana who says “goom jigi” and Kenji from Japan who says “heiwa”. We have such a good time reading and learning to say peace in multiple languages. It’s never to early to teach our children to wish for non-violence around the world.

Of course, Katz isn’t able to cover evey single country. Here are some other ways to say peace:

Shalom-Hebrew

Salam-Arabic

Amani-Swahili

Hoa Binh- Vietnamese

Kapayapaan- Tagalog

Pyong’hwa- Korean

Shite- Tibetan

How do you say peace in your language?

medicine mama: homemade cures

Our world is shifting and more modern moms are looking back to homemade remedies. Forget reaching for Tylenol or Vicks which seem to have mysterious side effects. I wondered why I couldn’t take these medicines while pregnant. Maybe the side effects of modern medicine are no longer worth it.

In countries where Western meds are expensive and inaccessible, women always relied on natural cures. Why not give traditional remedies a try?

 

Here are simple cures from your kitchen cabinet or garden that can help everyone in your family no matter what age.

 

– A bit of olive oil will cure baby’s cradle cap. Apply directly on the scalp and let it soak overnight.

 

Turmeric mixed with warm milk can soothe a cough.

 

-Steam kumquats with a bit of rock sugar will relieve congestion and excess mucus in the throat.

 

Ginger tea made simply by boiling water and fresh ginger can rid a cold or tummy ache.

 

-For insect bites or small scrapes, fresh aloe vera comes to the rescue.

 

-Drizzle cornstarch on a skin rash and it will go away.

 

-Place a bundle of fresh lavender on the bedside to relax and sleep tight.

 

-Black sesame seeds are known to help children who may wet the bed. Roast the seeds and sprinkle them over dinner.

For further reading on holistic cures, I recommend reading The Book of Herbal Wisdom.

 


Please share your family remedies with us too!

 

 

bento box: a new way to bring lunch

Courtesy of Happy Home Baking

Ditch the bags and go for a box. I’m not talking about your regular American lunch box. The bento box is an option that kids will love for its unique style and cool factor. Your kid doesn’t have to be Asian to carry one either. I know you’re use to eating sushi and teriyaki out of restaurant bento boxes, but sandwiches and veggies work in them too. Each compartment will keep sandwiches, fruit, and cookie in their spot without the use of Ziploc bags. What an easy way to go green!

Bento boxes are a common way to eat lunch around Japan whether in school, on transit, or on a family picnic. Most boxes are beautifully lacquered while others are printed with popular Anime characters.

You can also wrap a furoshiki (pretty small cloth) around the box that can act as a place mat or napkin too.

Where to get a box:

Lunchboxes.com

Cooking for Monkeys.com

Any Sanrio Store

how do you say “mother”?

Parvati (Hindu Mother Goddess)

At 4 months, Kai started to call me “Uma”, his version of the word. This sparked my interested in the linguistic origins of the word “mother”. It derives from the root “mater” which means measure. Other words with this common root are: matriarchy, maternal, and matron. Did you know that the word mama means “breast” in Latin? Go figure.

Check out the word “mother” in other languages:

– Mata (Hindi)

– Ma (Mandarin)

– Madre (Spanish, Italian)

– Imi (Hebrew)

– Okasan (Japanese)

– Makuahine (Hawaiian)

– Me (Vietnamese)

– Mamma (Swedish)

– Ina (Tagalog)

No matter what, the word “mother” in any language is powerful. Ask any child, I’m sure the word conjures up comfort, nourishment, and authority.

How do you say it in your household?