Making Kombucha is surprisingly minimalist

Someone in my neighborhood posts regular SCOBY giveaways, and so one day I decided to pick one up out of curiosity. Never did this before, and I'm not even a big fan of kombucha (they give cans of them away at street festivals and events, but I don't recall being impressed). But hey, with kids there are always projects you can add to the curriculum. So the little girl and I went to pick it up and the gal handed it over in a plastic container with barely any liquid. Scoby is short for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, by the way. It's the living home for bacteria and yeast, which turns sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha. The scoby grows to cover the liquid's surface area, sealing the fermenting kombucha from the air. Kitchn.com … [Read more...]

Technology fun

I love technology, and wish I had more of it in my background. Check out how this guy makes iridescent tempered chocolates with a 3D printer, in the first tweet below. He provided all instructions free on his twitter feed. And imagine how much less painful organic chemistry is, if learned this way, second tweet below. The learning possibilities are endless for homeschooling curriculums. I’m finally getting some decent results producing 100%-edible iridescent tempered chocolate. The colors are from the chocolate (not any ingredient or coating) diffracting light after being forcefully molded onto a diffraction grating in vacuum. pic.twitter.com/6wpbsIKh5C — Samy Kamkar (@samykamkar) May 9, 2020 🔬Learn chemistry with AR!#AI … [Read more...]

Mourning in the time of Covid

The kids had a sweet Grandma. She pushed her comfort zone to hang with us - she got on that 30-hour trip to Bangkok for our first kid and tried everything (durian, street foods, even a tuk-tuk ride straight out of the movie Ong Bak!). She always had a thoughtful gesture - I'd forget my own birthday and anniversary if it weren't for her cards. And she loved our friends. She was always there. … [Read more...]

Working with the upsides of this crisis

When we transitioned back to the US five years ago I thought turbulence was the new normal, given all the changes in healthcare (mergers, acquisitions, hospital closings and new value-based arrangements that lead to all sorts of complex partnerships). There was a lot of restructuring in the sector and especially in the public hospital system where I worked. But that pace of change pales compared to this 2020 pandemic. It's now eight weeks into "New York on Pause" (our lockdown). We're patiently waiting, yet aware that nothing will be "normal" again soon, if ever. It's easy to descend into existential despondency at the state of the US (abysmal levels of incompetence and obstruction from the White House, anti-Asian discrimination … [Read more...]

Mrenh Gongveal, Elves of the Khmer

Whether on city streets or deep in the Cardamom Mountains, in a poor village or inside a gated Phnom Penh villa, you'll invariably come across small makeshift houses hanging from prominent locations in businesses and homes. They are so universally present where Khmer people are, that they collectively fade into obscurity, mirroring its relative decline in recently documented Khmer history. Chasing the Elves of the Khmer delves into this Cambodian tradition; it's a photo essay that captures the creativity that goes into these omnipresent “spirit houses” and celebrates the popular practice of erecting shrines dedicated to the Mrenh Gongveal (ម្រេញគង្វាល), or Elves of the Khmer. Photos in this post are from "Mrenh Gongveal: Chasing the … [Read more...]

Kids are running!

Finisher for his first scored race (1.5 mile)! Kid races are just too cute. She got to race the next weekend. He raced too. These youth races are organized by the New York Road Runners. … [Read more...]

One More Mile and the Cookie’s History!

Establishing healthy habits in kids is no easy task. But it’s more important than ever, considering the gamut of health problems caused by inactivity – from poor mental and emotional resilience to disabling and fatal diseases. Like other families, we’re constantly challenged to stay active. How do we encourage kids to make a habit of integrating movement into daily life, a basic skill that affects so many aspects of mental, emotional and physical well-being? It’s an exercise in creativity to make physical activity routine, while at the same time creating memories and strengthening our relationship with them. And how do you make that habit stick? While we love organized sports, it's a significant commitment. The kids are … [Read more...]

KidLit Review: When the Clock Strikes on Halloween

I was eight when I experienced Halloween for the first time. It was our first year in the US, and my Aunt took me trick-or-treating with my cousins. Remember those costumes in a box, plastic mask on top of the neatly folded outfit underneath? I was Supergirl. When that first door opened and candy dropped into my orange pumpkin basket, the entire scope of my being focused completely on the singular goal of getting and devouring more sugar. As a mom, the thing of wonder Halloween became for me that day is something I enjoy sharing with my kids. Lisa Ferland’s bedtime picture book, When the Clock Strikes on Halloween, brings back those memories. It is Halloween. Mummies and goblins and witches all know it’s a big day, and we follow … [Read more...]