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

advice and tips kids

Where to buy masks

Masks are much more widely available, and much more widely accepted now, compared to the early days of shutdown, or in February when the US was not directly impacted by COVID. I recall buying masks at Chinese grocery store, also at the (a subsidiary of Alibaba that serves customers outside of China). Also friends in China sent in some. All those are one time use “surgical type” or “dusk” masks. The quality was okay but great. Now those are more widely available in large websites or stores as well: Amazon, Costco, Walmart etc. The price came down as well.

But I am not a big fan of one time use masks. I had one cotton mask before the pandemic, and I used it a lot (I do need to wash it more often). Recently I found those Hanes masks are good or decent. They have 50 packs as well. It comes down to $2.50 per piece. I already received it, washed it, and started using it. I think one person can use one mask per day, just like undergarments. Use Code “SAFE20” for Extra 20% Off.

Also, some kids (and their families) in Ladue school, started this stl mask project: the money raised will be donated to operation food search.

I noticed some special purpose masks such as masks for running as well. Those cost a bit more than normal ones (see below), as cotton ones could easily cause sweat.

Last but not least, I think custom made or the name on mask can have some values, especially for teachers or healthcare workers. I found Etsy have some (adult personalized mask, adult custom name mask, and reusable kids mask).

(Update 07-20-2020) Found this deal on surgical masks at ebay. I ordered 300 🙂 Note I am still not big fan of one time use masks, but I plan to donate some and save some. Recently I found out I could misplace masks at home or in the car, so that’s the main use of one use masks.

advice and tips kids

Had a small scare at Creve Coeur lake

Today I had a small scare at the CC lake. I was chatting with friends while keep an eye on Sophia the 5 year old. Serenity the 10 year old went paddle boarding with friend with their moms permission. I found out after the fact, and when I asked the moms (my wife and Serenity friend’s mom), who were watching them, they said “we don’t know where they are on the lake”. This made me start to worry. Our quick response is, we rent a kayak to search on the lake. We asked around, not seeing them, increasingly worried, and even thought about calling 911. At this time I asked if we can use “find my iPhone” to find the girl, because the other girl’s mom hanged the phone on Serenity’s neck. It eventually worked, and we found them not too far from where they started, and it’s near the bank too. We were relieved, and did a bit more kayak afterwards.

My lesson here is make sure Serenity has her own iPhone, and help her learn how to use. Basically the friend’s mom called the girls twice, and the girls did not pick up the phone properly (accidentally pressed the “declined” button, thus the ensuing panic). Because this time she had friend’s mom’s iPhone on her neck while she was paddling / using the roar to push forward. And we had to call her friend’s dad to run this “find my iPhone” to pinpoint the particular device. I also want to make sure we have better network: maybe Verizon or AT&T for my whole family down the road. Right now both my wife and myself have mint mobile which uses t-mobile network, and it’s considered not as good as the VZ and T.

Serenity’s mom’s thinking is we should keep an eye on them all the time, unfortunately due to the size of this lake, it’s a bit impractical.

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 kids

Life is fragile

Last Friday evening, when I was at a gathering at Shack, for a fundraising event my daughter’s school association (usually called parent teacher organization or PTO in other schools), with auction and beer/food etc. I was talking to a dad, since his kid is same grade as my daughter. I said “I know your wife too”. Then suddenly he said his wife passed away. I did not know. That reminds me of couple other parents’ passing for the same grade kids, due to various reasons.

I had my daughter was I was 39, and she is 7 years old now. I think I am at the older side of my cohort parents (parents of kids at my daughter’s grade). And when I heard this type of news from my daughter’s mouth in last few instances, I felt very sad for the affected kids and families. Once I told my daughter: give the kid a lot of hugs. She said she won’t mention the passing parent to the kid. Yes that’s a good idea too.

Our younger one is only 3, and she could not quite understand the concept of “death” yet. She thinks she will live with us forever. I hope we can live with our kids as long as possible/practical *don’t want to be a burden to them when the day comes 🙁

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.