David turned forward

Finally David's legs are gotten too long that we have to turn his car seat to the forward facing setup. He is very excited about this, being able to see Ann and I in the front and can also enjoy the view.


Spider magnet

I don't know why, but Vivian is just like a spider magnet. She can find spiders wherever we go, doesn't matter if it is in her room, in our house, on our car, in the park. She is really amazing, must be able to make good friend with the spider man.


Rich kids, poor dad

Yes, this post is about financial education but it is more about two kids (both rich) instead of two dads (there's only a poor one here).

As a part of our financial education Alyssa and Vivian are starting to have their monthly allowance. Trying to set the amount of money they should have is a difficult task. We once read about a rule that the kids' allowance should be

(Dad's income / 1000) * kid's age

This looks like a good and reasonable formula to us but it also creates a big problem of Alyssa will always has more than Vivian and David at any given time for all their childhood. From what I know about Vivian's personality I guess she probably won't protest about this but I just don't have the heart to tell her that she is getting less just because she is two years younger. I understand that older kids probably should develop the ability to manage more money but I just don't want to hurt the younger ones' feeling.

I grow up as the second-born and the fact that my brother always seemed to have more than I do gave me a extremely unhappy childhood experience and I really don't want any of my children to have that experience. My grandpa from my dad's side is very old-fashioned and believes that the first grandson is the most important kid in our huge family. My brother always have twice as many (or twice as good) for anything we get from grandpa, and that sends a clear message that we are just not worthy of his love simply because we are a couple years younger.

Anyway we decided that Alyssa is getting $10 per month and Vivian will have the same amount for now until we can work out a better solution to this dilemma. So my kids are really wealthy now (at least in my standard). I only started to have my allowance when I was 12 and I was getting less than $10 at that time, so they are REALLY rich in my book even after adjusted for inflation and everything.

Having made these decisions, Ann have them hold off spending any money for a couple weeks and think throughly about what they really want to do with their allowance. In the end Alyssa decided to buy a 400-page coloring book from Michaels and Vivian decided to get a bald eagle finger puppet from the library store. With some money left after getting the things they wanted the most, they each got a box of cookies from Earthfare to share with the whole family. Ann and I are happy with the decisions they made and are very curious about they will do next month.


Farewell Vanessa

Vanessa is leaving for Arizona tomorrow to start her post-doc and the whole lab went out for lunch with her to say goodbye. Having known her for more than 4 years now and been through the struggles with graduate school together, I feel really happy for her about the graduation and the great post-doc that she got. But I also feel kind of sad about losing the closest grad buddy in the whole department.

On the way back we chat a bit about Harry Potter (of course!), mostly about how many copies that have been sold already. We joked that Daniel should change the title of his new book to something like "Harry Potter and Landing a Job in Academic Biology" to boost the sale.


Bed for babes

Now that I'm done with most of the furniture at home, I found myself building furniture for Alyssa and Vivian's baby dolls. They have been very interested in helping my woodworking projects for a while now and were very excited when they know that they can help with the sandpapers. When we are done they arranged their baby doll next to their bed.

The unexpected (and very funny thing) is that David likes the toy beds a lot too. Maybe he thinks the beds are actually benches and always trying to sit on them. This picture is a proof that you can't over-built kids' toys.


Dinosaurs and pirates

We had a busy Saturday today running around for birthday parties.

Gregory (one of Alyssa’s best friends at school) turned 5 and had his birthday party at the Sandy Creek Nature Center. The theme of the party is dinosaurs and kids are very excited to see all the fossils, particularly when they got to dig the planted fossils out themselves.

Omar (our Pakistanian friend) also turned 5. Rabia organized a pirate-themed party at their house. It was funny to see all kids dressed up like little pirates and running around hunting for treasure. We all enjoyed the special treats prepared by Rabia.


David's 1-year old checkup

David had his 1-year old checkup today. He is very healthy and big (height: 32" @95%, weight: 24lb @75%, head: 48cm @99%). I really wonder how all our kids are so big even when comparing to American kids. It definitely is NOT genetics.


Genetica paper is out

Finally my second paper with Dr. John Avise is published in Genetica. Couldn't believe we had some much trouble with getting this published. The first version was submitted back in July 2005 so it took about two years in total. Although we had a lot of difficulties in dealing with editors/reviewers, it was really a great experience to work with Dr. Avise. I have great respect for him both professionally and personally.

Anyway, I'm very happy that this is over now and feel proud in what we have achieved.


Genomics conference and 11 magical chocolate balls

Just got back from a conference on the mechanism of genome evolution at Indiana University last night. This is my first time to be away from home after David was born. The last time I was away from the kids was back in Nov 2005.

Now Alyssa and Vivian are old enough to know what is going on, they were very sad knowing that I'll be away for a couple days. So before I go, I gave each of them 11 chocolate balls and told them that they can have one after each meal. This way they can count the remaining chocolate balls and know when I'll be back.

As I've guessed, Vivian asked Ann whether I'll be home immediately if she ate all the chocolate balls at once. She is just so silly and cute and makes my life full of fun.


Back to (wood)work again!

Today I made a rack for the kids to hang their toys/gardening tools in our screened porch. The materials were recycled from Nina's dog house. She never stayed in the dog house (NOT EVEN ONCE YOU STUPID DOG!!!) since I made that for her and I just torn down the dog house a while ago.

Alyssa and Vivian are very happy to see all their gardening tools are beautifully organized (and Ann is pleased too).

Afterwards Alyssa asked me to make a crayon holder for them and I was very happy to do so. The crayon holder was really easy (and cheap) to make. I took some scrap pieces from 2x4s and drill some holes with a 3/8" bit, as shown below

It has been a long time since my last completion of a woodworking project. About a year ago when David was born (and Ann's parents were here to help us) I made a sand table for the kids to play sand in our screened porch.

Since then I've been very busy with work and put most of my free time on my motorcycle. It feels really good to be able to make something useful for my family (and seeing them enjoy what I can make).

Bike ride with Nina

We went to Sandy Creek Nature Center for biking this morning and took Nina with us for the first time. She was very happy about going out with us.

Hula round and round

The "nothing" dance by the silly sisters


Lee Parks is a funny guy

I was reading Total Control by Lee Parks this evening when David was playing next to me. Lee Parks put a photo of himself making funny faces in the beginning of each chapter. When David saw the photos he recognizes that something is not quite right so he keeps pointing his finger at the photos and looks at me while making some noises, as saying "hey daddy, that guy is kind of funny!"


My buddy David

Aunt Hui-Ling's comment "David looks just like you, with a cute big head like that!"


15T front sprocket

I replaced the front sprocket on my Ninja 250 with a 15T one from JT last night. At 65mph in 6th gear, this modification drops the rpm from 8k to 7.5k. It is not much but the reduction in vibration and noise is quite noticeable. Also the 1st gear is more useful now. I probably will want to replace the rear sprocket to further reduce the engine speed.

David's mysterious ring fingers

There is something really mysterious about David's ring fingers. When I trim his finger nails the ones on his ring fingers always grow much faster than the others (almost two times longer). I vaguely recall that it was the same with Alyssa and Vivian when they were a baby, but the difference wasn't so dramatic. Don't know if it's just David (or our family).

[update] I dig around on the web and apparently there are some research about fingernail growth rate out there. The general rule is that the rate is correlated with the length of the finger. I'll have to check their finger length to find out about this


David turned one

David turned one today! We no longer have any "baby" baby in the house now.

He can crawl very well, likes to stand up by himself and climb the chair/bench/bed/whatever things that can take him higher. He can say quite a few words now (mommy/daddy/sisters/Nina/various foods and toys). The toys he liked the most are balls and cars. I guess it is really true that boys and girls are inherently different. We didn't encourage him to play some toys more than others. Most of the toys he had are what Alyssa and Vivian had before and yet he clearly has different preferences from his sisters.

Ann took the kids to the beach at Sandy Creek Park this morning and they had a lot of fun. This is the first time for David to play at the beach and he is thrilled. We have a sand table in the screened porch at home but that was a bit too high for David. He can stand next to the table and keep throwing the sand out onto the ground but didn't quite understand how to have fun with sand. Now that he had a taste of how fun it is to play at the beach we probably should go there more often.

We got a toy ATV made by Playmobil from Homeplace yesterday as his birthday present. He seems to like it a lot.

toy ATV

Organizing ideas

Spend a bit of time reading about how people organize their ideas.

Wiki sounds like a good solution to mine current work log if I need something more complex. (see this post)

I still want to keep a note book for writing things down. Several ideas about how to modify a regular notebook all looks good (if not too complicated).

GTD Moleskine hack

Need to keep in mind that organization should NOT become a major task itself. See this post.

Motorcycle safety

Ann and I were talking about KawiDavis' motorcycle accident over the lunch. Alyssa and Vivian are very concerned about the topic and asked a whole lot of question. Not sure about Vivian but Alyssa seemed to understand a lot of things.

Then when I was ready to go back to office, Alyssa suddenly stopped working on her craft and came the door to told me be careful on my motorcycle. It was very moving.


Ann's birthday

It's Ann's birthday today. Before I sent the girls to bed last night, I told them that tomorrow is mommy's birthday. Vivian remembered this and sang a happy birthday song the first thing when Ann woke her up. They are VERY excited about the whole birthday thing and I heard the happy birthday song for maybe 50+ times before I went to office.

I had to work on my poster for the conference in Indiana next week and Ann took the kids to WOW playground in the morning.

We met at Mean Bean for lunch and went to Homeplace afterward to find something for David (he'll be one tomorrow!!!).


7th Anniversary!

Hard to believe that Ann and I have been married for seven years now. During this time, our family grows from two people to five people plus a dog. My life becomes so interesting and so joyful that I often have the feeling that I'm just dreaming.

When we just got married the life didn't really change that much other than we moved from Taiwan to the US. The life we have is simple and pretty much just like when we were still dating (works hard in lab/studio for the most part). Then Alyssa was born and we began an unimaginable journey until now. The arrival of Vivian and David makes life much more complex and fun. It'll be interesting to see what happens next!


Plumbing fun

I replaced the faucet in kids' bathroom today. Alyssa and Vivian are very helpful to get me tools and hold the flashlight for me. David had a lot of fun digging through my tool box. They all like the new one a lot, I picked a single handle faucet with a long handle so it is much easier for them to use. Ann took the chance to clean the sink out throughly so it is all new and shiny now. We all feel very good about this.

I am pretty amazed by how much I've changed over the years since we moved to the US and then owned a house. Back when we are back in Taiwan (and I was still a young kid), doing house repair was something that unimaginable in our family. I still remember when we bought the house a couple years ago I've this feeling of being a little boy and got an over-sized toy that I don't now how to deal with. Yet now I are comfortable with most of the repairs in the house (even having some fun with doing all these). Guess my parents will be surprised if they know about this.