advice and tips fun kids

Holmdel BOE election



betterholmdeleducation (Platform)

data, media (social media, year sign, email etc)

Linda Zhang

Irfan Lateef



Ladue School Board Candidate Q&A With Sheri Glantz ” If funding allows, adding the option of Chinese to our foreign language department would be a priority.” (do I hear any volunteer here? Kidding. I mean a part time Chinese instructor to be serious)


5 Candidates State Their Positions on Ladue School District Issues

Jeff Kopolow, Dan Regelean Elected to the Ladue School Board (data)



BOE results: Glantz, Goldstein won (out of 5 candidates)


BOE results: Johnson, Kopolow won (out of 3 candidates)


FB: Kisha Lee: The Key to a Stronger Ladue (2017 Meet the Candidates Night; won again in 2020 run #unopposed). From my recent memory Kisha is the first African American woman to be elected to Ladue BOE. As you may have read from above, she started in 2013.


Glantz and Goldstein Re-Elected to Ladue Schools Board of Education

for more detailed information on election, refer to County Board of Election (citizen can request)


results (county board of election): Johnson, Kopolow won out of 3 canidates

2020: there was no election on this year and the incumbent ran #unopposed (there was no new comer). The bylaw says that if there is no bond issue, and there is no new comer, there is no need for election.


Marissa Rosen 4 Ladue April 6, 2021

Procedure to file for BOE

Board Briefs (blog)

Official web site


DNC Convention, MUNY

There is no relations between those two. It’s just last night I was watching MUNY the online show for a bit, then switched to the DNC online convention: the big ones are Bernie and Michelle’s speeches. The DNC speeches were available via Apple News (ABC), as well as Twitter (PBS, CBS etc).

I used to be political junkie. But over the years especially since 2008, I became more realistic on politicians and US politics. That is until the pandemic hits, and the hell broke loose. I don’t think much of the orange guy in the WH before this, and now it suddenly the incompetency of federal government suddenly made our kids back to school seems impossible. I know many politicians have shortcomings, for example, John Edwards. His “two America” words still resonated with me, but his action during his marriage (extra marital affair when his then wife was having recurring cancer) was callous. Now the 45 is worse, obviously. With 170k people died of Covid in the US and counting, he was still playing golf. Even after his brother died over the weekend. So there is that. I do think Dems will do better. At the same time check and balance is still very important.

Back to MUNY, Serenity asked my phone back when I was watching Bernie last night, on the minivan home from church parking lot (we were playing outdoors in the evenings when possible). She was more interested in the music. Although she watched Michelle’s speech when we got home too. I haven’t asked how she feels about it. She knows my political views. I hope one day she will vote. She did ask me about voting the other day.

fun kids

Family photos

Family photos of my grandma, my father, me, and my 2 older brothers. This was taken by my father’s friend in middle 1970s (1976?). It appears both my 2nd brother and myself did not start school yet, as we did not have the red collars on our necks: a bit like boy scouts and girl scouts here. It was in the courtyard of our family home in Xiaomeng, Ningbo, Zhejiang province. I stayed and studied in the village elementary school until the very beginning of grade 5. My grandma passed away when I was in the senior year of high school (late 1988). My mom was not in the picture because she was working. Photography was a luxury at the time as China was an impoverished nation at that time. Bicycle, sewing machine and watch were the 3 luxury items young couple like to have when they getting married at that time. Now it’s the house (apartment, which is unaffordable in Shanghai, Beijing and other major cities). I am guessing I was 5 at that time, my brothers were 7 and 9 years old. Now I am probably more than 15 years older than my father on the picture.

I think the first picture is 1976 (they are one picture, I snapped the original picture using my iPhone a few years ago when I visited my childhood home). I added another picture which is June 1961: I saw my uncle there (mom’s big brother, he passed away 2 years ago, he was 87 years old). I found that picture online ( when I searched for my uncle’s name and the school he was the head (Baifeng middle schoo. He was 30 years old in that picture).

My uncle / my mom’s big brother, Hu Jinyu 胡金雨, is shown in the second row (counting from left, the fourth person, I can see some resemblance with my mom / maternal grandma). He is the first head of Baifeng Middle School.

fun kids

GregTang Math

A brain teaser kind of question at GregTang math (I just heard bout GregTang and the problem recently at a school event): use 6, 7, 8 and 9, plus any addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to make the result of calculation as 10 (only use each number once, can use any kind of parenthesis as needed).

I saw a few kids come up with answers (but it seems to me some answers are from the parents 🙂 I tried but could not come up with answer as 10 at the spot. Note we, my wife and I, when we were kids in China did similar exercise / games using the poker (draw 4 kids, instead of 10, we need to make 24). On my way home, or at home (this is how things work for me, just like how I come up with the solutions to coding at work), I have this: (7+8)x6/9=10

Note: there should be many ways / combinations to this, the one I heard at the gathering is 8x(9-7)-6=10

After that I followed GregTang on twitter, and I worked on some of the puzzles there from time to time: those are not “too hard” problems, but nonetheless interesting / educational for the kids (I think).

advice and tips finance fun

A few small app or card offers

Amex: Amex Offers has a Quiktrip in store (order via QT app) off $5 offer, can be used twice. And the Amex offer appears only available via the Amex app too. So basically you should install the Amex app, check if there are offers, add them if yes. Then install the QT app. The food items in QT actually are the best in gas stations (they actually have a kitchen 🙂 Tried today: the philly cheese stake and chicken flat bread. Total $7 (tax included, minus $5 makes it $2). Plus a large drink which is about $1.50 separately.

Chase Pay order ahead $5 off (first use): similar to the QT app, except in the case of Chase, they have a lot more restaurants, subway seems is the most popular (most stores), but I tried chick fil a, which I have not eaten for a while. You will also need to install Chase Pay app. Note I includes the links to iTunes app store here.

Last but not least, the Panera is offering $10 bonus card if one purchases $50 gift/egift card. I already got one, and plan to get another one (I am not too greedy since sometimes it takes time and effort to track down e-gift cards). 🙂

advice and tips finance fun

Earning and burning points

Recently I started to realize buring (use) rewards points efficiently is as important as earning, if not more.

Chase Ultimate Rewards, Hyatt
I made a small mistake about a month ago when I transferred some Chase UR points to Hyatt. The impetus for doing that was I needed to book 3 nights of hotel at Hyatt Regency in Chicago (magnificent miles). And I found booking via Chase UR website costs about 45,000 points. But in split of a second, I mistook Hyatt charges 40,000 points for 3 nights (it’s actually only 2 nights, but my mind short circuited). And I did the 40,000 points transfer (1:1). After that I no longer have 45,000 UR points, and had to use some 6,000 points plus $430 for those 3 nights.

So there was the cost of my small mistake. But the story did not end here, as I heard from one of my friend Hyatt points was a big saver in his family Florida trip. So I looked for Hyatt Place or Hyatt House for the summer trip we are taking in the east. I was able to book the free night (yearly) at Boston Harbor, also booked 5 nights either at Hyatt Place or Hyatt House in Owings Mills (Baltimore), Amherst (Buffalo), Morristown (NJ), and Boston Braintree (south Boston). Note both Hyatt Place and House have free breakfast.

Starwood Preferred Guest SPG
I know SPG points are valuable, and I have used them in various places including Shanghai, and this one with more pictures. Recently Marriott and SPG joined forces, and I have some points in MR and SPG but could not make a booking from either. So I transferred 5,000 points from MR to SPG (worth 1,666 SPG points), combined with 1,400 points I already have, I was able to make a booking at Aloft BWI (baltimore airport). I stayed at Aloft ORD before and have some ideas how it feels.

advice and tips fun kids

Lego deals

I buy Lego mostly for my daughter and her friends’ birthday gifts. There are 5 stores I usually go (both online and offline): Lego official website, Amazon (probably bought the most), Walmart (both online and store pickup), Target (online, free shipping with red card), and Toys R Us (both online and store pickup). Note in the online cases, I usually got the free shipping.

A ballpark for deal or not is see if the per piece price is 10 cents or not. For example, for an 100 piece lego set, a fair price is $10. If it sells below $10, then it maybe a deal.

Deals usually got sold out fairly quickly. I recall once in holiday season I had it in the cart, but I was a bit greedy in terms of using shopping portal (Discover Deal) and also tried to find a nearby Walmart store, during the process the lego was sold out. Today I learned my lesson, as soon as I saw the deal from dealsea, I click on it and ordered from Toys R Us. I actually bought two because a friend asked. This afternoon when I go to the store to pick up (btw, I feel the physical stores are in big trouble, as the parking lot was pretty empty at Mid-river Mall). The store clerk said they were a bit puzzled about two orders in the morning, I said they are both mine 🙂

I think Lego is good for kids toy because they encourage creativity, and in the case of I don’t know a kid’s hobby (for birthday present), a Lego set is a safe bet as it’s pretty liquid (they can give away easily).

advice and tips fun iPhone app kids

Kids Rewards System

Recently my wife and I are having some trouble find out a way to manage our old daughter’s at home behaviors, esp. around good working habit (wait until last minute to do homework or play piano), clean up the mess after playing, be nice to her younger sister, and last but not least, playdate with friends went over the time we set initially.

Since I work in the reward space for my day job, and I thought there may be something we can do in an app. We did tried stickers, and charts, but nothing really stuck for a while. I think with the popularity of smartphones, a smartphone app may stick. Looked around I am seeing two; iRewardChart and Choremonster.

Last but not least, I came across two articles on this topic, Reward system: Goodbye to the sticker chart and How Experts Discipline Their Children.

(Update 03-20-2017) This is partially inspired at the teacher/JA volunteer (my coworker) rewards kids with chocolate/candy for good behaviors in classroom (see this post about my JA experience).

advice and tips fun kids

Summer camp recommendations

There are many good summer day camps in St. Louis area. STLToday recently has a good piece on this topic.

Personally my old daughter has been to the JCC Day Camp, and Andrews Academy. We like both, with a bit preference over Andrews: for its after care, and overall quality. Note cost-wise, Andrews is a bit more expensive than the J (about $1,300 per month vs $220 a week for the J). We also thought about the Arts Camp at COCA too but the pickup and dropoff is a bit challenge (due to half day schedule). Note they do have 2 locations: the U city campus and the Whitefield school at Ladue/Mason. My daughter was very much interested in the arts, that’s why we signed up the art camp at the J when she was 5 (incoming kindergartener). This summer we are thinking again sign her up at Andrews (4 weeks Science camp and 4 weeks Outdoor camp). Both the J and Andrews do swimming once a day.

For the little ones, the summer camp at Hope Montessori (Mason road, Creve Coeur) is very good. We are thinking about signing up younger daughter this summer.

Other camps I heard about: the mad science summer camp, and the Lego (Robotics) camp at Maryville U. Both are half day, so it’s a bit challenge if both parents work full time and in office.

Btw, I wrote about the summer camp about 3 years ago.

Last but not least, found a summer camp search website here.

advice and tips fun kids

Fund raising at non-for-profit orgnizations

(Update 28-Feb-2017) Just got back from the book fair in Spoede school, camp read a lot. It’s a lot of efforts from the volunteers and the teachers. At the same time a lot fun for the little kids and the families. Part of the profit goes to the SSA (the parent association of the school).

(Original) I have some experience on this topic, when I was a new graduate student at Rolla, I worked on the phone asking the alumni for donation during phonathon. That’s from the asking end.

When I started to working, I listened to local NPR station (KWMU) for news and english learning, I know from time to time they also have the fundraising campaign. During that time they pause the program, and ask people to call in and give money. After a few years, finally I pulled the plug and called them.

Nowadays as my daughters started attending schools and they usually have parents association that support the schools. The St. Louis Children’s Choirs my old daughter participated is a non-for-profit organization too. There are a few common ways to raise the money: silent auction (or not-so-silent-auction), trivial/bingo games, the affiliation programs such as scripts program at Schnucks, Amazon shopping, and box-on-top. There are also some events like eating out night (restaurant donate a part of revenue/profit to school). So really it’s whatever it works: bring money from multiple revenue streams. For the trivia night/silent auction or live auction, usually people bring own drink (alcohols), unless it’s a family friendly event in which alcohol is not allowed. It seems to me sometimes the bidding become more intense with all the alcohols 🙂

This year my daughter’s school did something different, they did a raffle. I think raffle (sweepstakes) is not uncommon, except in this case I think the each entry is a bit too costly ($100). I think $100 is not small money in many families, also keep in mind in some culture or religion sweepstakes (gamble) is not a good idea 🙂

So here is my 2 cents. I think small non-for-profit organization fundraising is a bit like a small business trying to survive, again I feel this is one reason the multiple revenue streams. Some passive (affiliation); some active (trivial/auction/eat out). Coming from China which does not have this sort of thing, I feel this is interesting.