I take I-94 to go to work in St. Paul. Whenever I drive, especially under snowy and cold weather conditions, I always hope and pray that my car doesn't break down and that it will take me safely to the destination. This concern for safety is very real in my mind. But I take some comfort in knowing that FIRST help is on the road. For people who live in Woodbury and commute to work in St. Paul, Minneapolis or other suburbs in the metro area on a regular basis, Mn/DOT's FIRST trucks should be a familiar sight on freeways.
If you are one of those people who make New Year's resolutions, I bet exercising and getting fit are probably on your list. In our modern society, where a sedentary lifestyle dominates our daily living and so many people are obese and out of shape, this really should be on the top of everyone's list. Even though I am still in good shape, I know I should exercise more to stay fit and healthy. But sometimes due to lack of time, motivation or incentives, I don't exercise as much as I should.
It has been almost five months since the Minnesota JingLun Chinese School (MJCS), a new facility school in Woodbury, opened its door and welcomed the first five classes of students in September 2007. Kids as young as four years old to high school seniors gather at Woodbury High School on Saturdays to learn Chinese, math and drawing. MJCS, a non profit educational institution, was founded in 2007.
Scientist, author, and artist. Can one person be all three at the same time? I was happy to discover such a person right here in Woodbury. Dr. Haiyan Zhang, an engineer at 3M and a well known vocal performer in Twin Cities Chinese community, is also the author of a new book "Thousands of Miles Across North America," published in Chinese. I first met Dr. Zhang and his wife during their performance at a 3M Chinese New Year party. They are both great singers.
My daughter turned 8 on Dec. 12. Several weeks before her birthday, I started to think about what to do for her birthday. It's not that I am a good party planner and like to plan events in advance. I am not even a party person. Quite the opposite, I was just not sure what to do. The whole kids' birthday party thing was giving me some kind of blues. If you ask my daughter what she wants to do for her birthday, she would say to have a birthday party at this or that place like her friends did. Over the years, my kids have been invited to many birthday parties.
What your kids really want for ChristmasChristmas is just a few days away. So, what questions are most kids hearing lately? "What do you want for Christmas?" or "What's on your Christmas wish list?" Your children will certainly tell you what they want. Very likely it's one of the most popular gifts everyone talks about in their age group. It could be that newest Play station, Xbox, PC games or whatever the newest thing is now. Yes, it's very delightful to watch your children opening up the gifts under the Christmas tree and getting excited when they see the gift they wanted.
A few days ago I read a question someone posted in an e-zine. This family is considering beginning some new traditions as an alternative to gift giving for the holiday. They have what they need and even what they want in many cases. It's not that they are unable to afford buying gifts; they are striving to move beyond all the hype. They want to have special family time that will be meaningful to all. In our consumer-oriented, spending-driven society, this question is refreshing.
"Black Friday." The term doesn't sound so exciting, but many people are very excited about this special Friday after Thanksgiving that launches the holiday shopping season. Well, I still remember some of those Fridays in the past. I got up early in the morning around 5 a.m. to go shopping with my mother. I have never been a shopaholic, but I love bargains. In the midst of the enthusiastic shoppers with carts full of stuff, the excitement carried me away.
Last month, I went to the "Say Yes to No" presentation by Dr. David Walsh held at Woodbury Lutheran Church. It was a special community event sponsored by District 833 School Age Family Education and a few other local organizations. Walsh is the founder and president of the National Institute on Media and the Family located in Minneapolis. He is a nationally-known parenting expert, bestselling author and speaker. I heard him speak once about building healthy families through the wise use of media at a conference.
One year ago, on Nov. 8, 2006, my first column appeared in this newspaper. I consider that an important milestone in my life. It has been a wonderful year for me. When I think about and reflect on this past year, my heart is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. It has been said, and I really believe it, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." When I am ready to ask, believe and receive, opportunities will come my way. I am thankful that God gives me the gift and passion to write. Each one of us is born with a certain gift.