Peonies and Love

Real Parenting, Uncategorized

I’m not sure why peonies are my favorite flower. Maybe it’s that I grew up with floral arrangements of roses, carnations and baby’s breath so when I first saw what I thought were roses on steroids, I was astonished. But more likely it’s because l knew my Chinese mother-in-law loved them.

I brought a bouquet of white lilies to my first mother’s day as a newly married daughter-in-law. She didn’t seem pleased when I gave them to her, yet she was still gracious. I don’t think the arrangement ever made it to a vase. Later that evening, my husband told me white lilies in the Chinese tradition were considered funeral flowers to be displayed by a casket. My husband gently suggested we bring peonies next time. He said they were her favorite flower.IMG_5913

Eighteen years later my husband died in the winter.   I wanted to bring them to his memorial service but it was February and I couldn’t find a florist that had them. That spring, I planted peonies throughout my yard. They only bloom for a short period of time. They are perhaps the most ephemeral flowers I know, but I  remember my mother-in-law saying that she looked forward to them blooming in her family’s courtyard in Shanghai every spring. And I remember my husband bringing them home every June and handing them to me with a huge smile on his face.

Maybe it’s ironic or just coincidental but my daughter’s favorite flowers are peonies. The other day she walked through the door with a beautiful smile carrying two huge bouquets of peonies. Today our house is full of peonies and the sweet remembrance of my mother-in-law and my husband and the ever-present love of my beautiful daughter in whom I see traces of my husband and her grandmother everyday. Yes, life and love are short and ephemeral like peonies, so when in bloom appreciate.IMG_5917

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.




How to Make a Fidget Spinner

How To DIY, Uncategorized

Fidget spinners are the latest fad for teenage boys. This year’s hottest toy was originally designed to help kids with ADHD, autism or anxiety stay focused in the classroom. Now they are banned in high schools across the country. Educators claim they are doing the opposite of what they were originally intended and are a distraction in class.

That said, kids love them. If you are looking for a non-screen related activity to do with your teenager, try making a fidget spinner or two together. He might actually get into it. Just make sure he doesn’t take it to school.


  • hot glue gun and several glue sticks
  • paper
  • cardboard (can be a piece from a box or cereal box)
  • stencil or template of  fidget spinner
  • scissor
  • model magic clay or modeling clay
  • one ball bearing (my son got his from his old skateboard)
  • nail polish
  • 2 small pom poms or a piece of felt
  • glue or glue stick


  1. Print out template of fidget spinner. Press here to get one. Cut it out.
  2. Glue cut-out spinner template onto a piece of cardboard.
  3. Cut out cardboard template with a pair of scissors or box knife.
  4. Get about a tennis ball size of model magic or clay and flatten clay into 1/2 inch thick piece of clay that’s bigger than the template.
  5. Press the cardboard template into the clay so it makes about a 1/2″ mold.
  6. Remove paper template and press ball bearing into center of form.


  7. Plug glue gun into an outlet and wait until it’s warmed up.  Fill the imprint with glue. It will probably take several stick. Be careful to go around ball bearing not over it otherwise the fidget spinner won’t spin. Fill to top of mold.


  8. After glue hardens in a couple of minutes gently remove spinner from clay.  You can do any touch-ups with the glue gun.


  9. Glue a small pom pom to each side of the center of the ball bearing.IMG_5457
  10. Paint spinner with nail polish and allow to dry.


  11. Now you’re ready to spin.


    Copyright 2017.  All rights reserved.