Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stuffety, stuff, stuff :)

I couldn't really think of a clever title for yet another mish-mosh post, sorry! :) Anyhow, onto the good stuff (hehe)....

Cara had a bit of a tongue-tied issue (or an ankyloglossia issue) when she was born. She was latched on ok with her mouth take in most of areola but doing it kinda funny, she took in a lot of air when she fed (she burped so loud in the beginning she would wake Kev up!) and she wasn't wetting her diapers very much. Even though I remember getting sore a lot in the beginning, it was nothing like I had experienced previously. And I remembered that there is not a whole lot of colostrum in the beginning but to have several dry diapers in a row was concerning. So, after a trip to the pediatrician and voicing my suspicion, it was confirmed that she was a bit tongue-tied. We made an appointment with a pediatric surgery for the end of the next week for an evaluation. When the day came, Cara ended up getting her frenulum clipped and it was so sad to see! But after she was able to latch on (it took her a while to latch with the local anesthesia and the ability to stick out her tongue more), she nursed happily! I do thank God that I heard about this condition from several friends, so I can be more aware of it. But if the above symptoms happen to you, definitely get it checked out! It will save you and your baby from undue pain and stress! [I would have to say that while doing my research, some articles say that some tongue-tiedness is not severe enough to warrant clipping and that the frenulum can stretch to accomodate, so definitely get an accurate evaluation.]

Our church here has been such a blessing since we've joined, esp since we've had the baby. Not only do they do a birth announcement in the bulletin but they have been cooking meals for us for a whole week and will continue to do so for another week and even sent flowers! This time around, I've really appreciate the meals so much - with taking care of 3, I'd have to admit that getting meals ready are towards the bottom of my list! LOL! These women at NC4 go above and beyond just a dish - we're getting complete meals with sides and dessert/fruit. And it's been so great getting to know some of these moms that I don't know so well before. Plus, when you're not able to go out as much, it's just nice to get visitors! :) We are definitely feeling very loved! So if your church doesn't have a meal thingy for moms of newborns, you should start one! [BTW, if anyone has any good casserole recipes or quick, easy meals, please email me! :)]

It's been getting colder here and with all this dry air and the heat blasting indoors, the kiddies' skin are really dry. Jana even developed some rough patches on her body! The lotions we've had didn't really do a thing and we were already using California Baby's Sensitive Body Wash with no fragrances or dyes in it. But ever since we discovered Mustela's Stelatopia Line, it's been so much better. We use the cream wash, the body cream and the milky bath oil for them. I've even bought some of the no-rinse cleansing water for baby Cara since I try not to bathe her everyday. I would love to not bathe the older ones daily but even now they get pretty dirty...hehe. I'd hafta admit that it's kinda pricey but if you wait for sales at Bath & Body Works, it's not too bad! [While doing my research, some people even say that when they use this line, their kiddies with eczema don't even have to use the steroid creams anymore.] I've even been stealing the cream to use on my hands since my hands are getting so dry and chapped from washing them so much and it's definitely helping. Anyhow, just a little FYI. :)

This Christmas, with Cara's arrival and out moving back to the North, we've done all of our shopping online and it's been great! We thought about going last Saturday after going to the DaVinci Center but just seeing all the cars sitting there trying to exit off of Route 22 made us change our minds. We still have to get on those Christmas cards, though....maybe we should order Happy New Year cards from Costco instead? Hehe...

Anyhow, we hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and a relaxing time getting ready! :) Cheers!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some random things since Cara's arrival...

I can't believe it's been almost 4 weeks since Cara's debut!!! Time flies when you're busy! :) I've been so blessed as to have my parents here til last Friday to take care of me and the other 2 kiddies, so it's been not as stressful. Kev then took off this past Monday and Tuesday to help me with the transition and then my mother-in-law was here from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, so tomorrow will be the first day that I have to take the other 2 kiddies with me when I drop Aidan off at Montessori! We'll see how it goes. I have a game plan ready - we'll see if the kiddies cooperate.

Today was actually the first day that I've been home with the 3 kiddies myself and it went pretty well - thank the Lord! Cara is still sleeping a lot during the day, so I just shifted things around so that they all got some attention. Hehe. Plus, Aidan is pretty good at playing on his own and taking care of his own needs (ie potty, eating) - and he's been a great help in helping Jana when she lets him. :) Jana has been on a 'do-it-myself' kick, which makes everything take extra long! I know once this 'practice' phase is over, she'll be so much more independent, but when Cara starts crying or Aidan really needs me, I really wish she would let me help her sometimes. Just a little confession. :D But at least she's getting pretty close to being able to go potty all by herself....I don't always trust her with the wiping, though. Anyone have any tips on making sure they wipe well?!

Cara is the cleanest baby I've ever had! I can count on ONE HAND the number of times she's spit-up when I'm burping her! [I still remember with Jana, I used to burp her with a burp cloth over my shoulder or draped in front of her and having to change that burp cloth many times a day. ] And because her umbilical cord fell off around day 7, I got to cloth diaper her from that day on and she's had only 1 little leak since then! And I've really enjoyed cloth diapering her - still loving my Loveybum fitteds and wool covers. I've also discovered BubuBebe fitteds, MaiMaiBB Fulled Ewe covers, and Little Boppers fitteds that have been working great. And I realize that I really prefer wool covers over PUL once since I've been able to reuse them maybe times before having to wash them. Anything to save time these days! :)

I've also been finding myself using Swaddle Designs swaddle blankets on a daily basis, along with the Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets. They truly rock!! They're really big enough to do a 'good burrito' and Cara loves being swaddled! I know I kinda sound like a commercial for them but honestly, they don't even know I have a blog. LOL! :) [Note: the remainder of this paragraph is mainly meant for female eyes - they speak of undergraments. So, feel free to skip it if you're one of my male readers. :D] As for me, I've discovered nursing bras that don't let the nursing pads show through!!! I finally found them and these are it. (I love how you can take out the lining if you don't need it.) But anyhow, this site has a great selection of nursing bras, even not-so-mommy looking ones and free shipping! And I appreciate all the personal comments on the fit of each bra - very helpful. :) Definitely check them out if you're in need of a good-fitting undergarment! :) Sorry if this is too much information! ;)

Lately, I've been thinking about my interests and realized that I haven't been fostering any of the old ones I used to have: photography, playing my flute or guitar, reading and drawing. It's kinda sad but kids are definitely more, how should I put it, urgent. So I've been re-evaluating what I should do to nurture my interests and found myself interested in different things - I guess it's a different season now, eh? I'm thinking about getting a basic sewing machine and learning how to do some simple projects. Anyone have a good, inexpnesive machine to recommend? I'm also thinking about borrowing a bread machine and making some bread from scratch. I soooo enjoy bread that's fresh out of the oven and love how I can add different things (flax meal, wheat germ, etc) to it to up the nutrition. We also recently bought a digital SLR, so I'm looking forward to relearning the basics. Then, hopefully, you will enjoy some great pics of the kids soon! :) And in the near future (once Cara is weaned), I'd love to join a community band/orchestra and get back to playing my flute. Anyhow, those are my short-term goals for now. Have you, fellow mamas, been thinking about what YOU like to do for fun recently?

Alrighty, I should get to bed before Cara wakes up again. :) You know how it goes....g'night!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cara's Birth Story

It all started around 4:30am on 11/7/08. I started getting contractions that would wake me from my sleep and really grab my attention. I was so excited because this was the first time that my baby was "late" - it was already 3 days AFTER my due date. I know that due dates are only approximations but since my other 2 were early, so we were especially excited to finally meet Cara. ;) Since I didn't want to go to the hospital too early and wait around, I decided to try to sleep. I slept a bit on and off but around 7:30am, the contractions got close enough that I wasn't able to sleep anymore. I labored at home for a few more hours and took a nice, long shower that helped soooo much. When the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, we decided to pack the hospital bag and head on over. [I know, the bag should have been packed and ready a while ago...hehe.] After arriving at the ER, they sent us to the triage room for some monitoring and I was promptly admitted. We were really excitedly and called some family members to start praying for a quick labor and delivery.

I was really blessed with excellent nurses this time around, who worked with me and encouraged me. I was also assigned a student nurse who was sooo excited because this was her first time assisting with a birth. She even stayed past her assigned time so she could see the baby being born and almost cried when the baby emerged. :) I also felt blessed because her instructor was a midwife - I had wanted to go with a midwife from the start because of my VBAC status but the closest one to me was too far - but there I was, getting one anyhow! Even though I wasn't technically her patient, she advocated for me to be able to experiment with different alternative pain-relieving techniques. It was really neat! My doctor was also really great. Even though I was a VBAC #2, he let me walk around, take a shower and try different things that I didn't get to try when I was laboring with Jana. [Back in Jersey with Jana's birth, I was strapped to the monitor from the moment I got to the hospital and had to stay in bed most of the time, so this was a welcomed change. :)] Kev also helped so much in giving me lots of massages and applied counterpressure when I needed it. He was the best coach and encouraged me so much!

Anyhow, I ended up doing lots of laps around the maternity suite to get things moving. I was making great progress, dilating and effacing well until 9cm. I got 'stuck there' for a while and got really tired, esp with no food since breakfast - and it was already 6:30pm. Finally, I opted for the breaking of my bag of waters, which only helped a bit. As the night wore on, I decided to get some pitocin to help me dilate but not before I got an epidural. [I had pitocin WITHOUT an epidural last time and I really don't think I would ever do that again!] I've heard so many people rave about epidural, so I thought I'd give it a try. :) Man, it definitely works to numb you up, esp your legs - I had what I call 'pillow legs' for a long time even after they turned it off. I was really thankful for the epidural since it gave me the chance to rest and regather myself to push. So, shortly after getting the pitocin, I reached the magic 10cm and began the hard work of pushing. I had ask my OBGYN to promise not to do the episiotomy, so he really worked with me to stretch out the perineum and I had barely any tearing this time around!!! Anyhow, after about 2 hours of pushing, I saw Cara's head emerge [I had a labor mirror] and at 11:51pm, she finally made her debut! :) [I had also asked to see the placenta again this time since I had no recollection of what it looked like last time from being so tired out - it's really interesting looking!!]

It was such a different experience from last time - I can honestly say that I had a good experience giving birth! Having a supportive husband, a supportive staff and a supportive doctor really made all the difference. Maybe next time I'll get to use the tub and skip the pitocin/epidural all together but I really can't complain. ;) The whole having a baby experience from the pregnancy to actually giving birth is truly such a miracle - I'm in awe of it everytime! :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

It really made me think....

Ever since we got satellite TV with a DVR included, I've been taping episodes of 'What Not To Wear' almost daily. I've always liked makeovers and things of that nature, so that's what initially got me watching the show. Plus, there are many moments in my life, esp after having kids, that I've felt so frumpy and sloppy (and hope that no one is taping secret footage of me for the show! LOL!) that I felt like I needed some tips. Anyhow, I've gotten into the habit of watching an episode every other day, if not everyday and something started to click in my head: there is truly a strong connection between how women dress and how they feel about themselves. It seemed like such an obvious thing but I feel like I'm now starting to get it FOR ME.

I used to think that what you wear on the outside can't really, truly affect how you feel on the inside. I mean, of course the occasional sweats and ratty tees are still totally ok but I really had no idea that wearing clothes that fit can change the way you feel about yourself - to a point where you might be motivated for real change. Sorry if this is very convoluted - maybe if I give a personal example...

After I had Aidan, I went back to my pre-preg weight in a few months without doing much. But I didn't gain much excess weight because I was so busy at work I could barely get time off to eat and I took the stairs all the time. Anyhow, fast-forward 2 years and I'm preggers with Jana. Because of my experience carrying Aidan, I thought I could eat whatever I wanted but, unfortunately, I was proved wrong. Doh! I ended up gaining more weight than I wanted to and really had to work to shed the pounds. Not easy since I barely had any time to myself from taking care of the expanded family. But I put off buying new clothes because I didn't want to waste any money buying clothes that I would only wear for a few months since I just did that buying some new pregnancy clothes. So I wore sweats all the time and if I did buy anything, I bought more stretchy clothes that were super comfy. [Now, this was hardly the way I dressed before I got pregnant. I would like to think that I had somewhat of a style or just that I wore things that fit me. ;)] I started to care less and less about what I wore...or so I thought. But looking back at my journals, I really didn't like the way I looked and was almost in denial that I had to work at getting back to my normal weight. I was waffling between giving up and sweeping it under the rug. Anyhow, then I saw an episode of 'What Not to Wear' on moms and the things that Stacy and Clinton (the hosts of that show) that said to these women I found were true of me. I realized you can't keep waiting til you lose the weight before you find clothes that fit because it might just sabatoge whatever motivation for change you had. And that finding clothes that fit make you look slimmer and can increase your motivation ...and that's exactly what happened to me. It was almost like dressing myself the size that I was reminded me that I can make myself look good and even though I might look ok now, I can look even better....it reminded me of my potential! :) Especially when Kevin gave me the ok to buy some key piece in my current size and then gave me compliments when I actually wore the style that I used to pre-preg, it really boosted my self-esteem! :)

Anyhow, it had always amazed me how much better these women felt about themselves just after a few days of getting the right clothing, getting style tips, and getting a complete makeover. It's like super intense therapy but you get a whole new wardrobe out of it! :) And so many of them have breakthroughs during the show about why they dress the way they do, whether it'd be a weight issue or self-esteem issue. It's so interesting to see how self-esteem issues can manifest in so many different ways - dressing really loudly or in muted colors only to blend in. But when they saw how good they can look, even with the problems areas that they felt they had, their thoughts about themselves changed dramatically. And I'm sure hearing experts talk about "your small waist, beautiful skin" and such doesn't hurt, either. :) And after discussing this with my hubby, I think he summarized my thoughts well: Some people dress confidently because they are confident. But some people need to see their potential with some outside help to become that more confident person.

Before I end this entry, I wanted to share about some books that I thought was great for getting to know what fits without having to go on the show:

The Science of Sexy by Bradley Bayou - hilarious title but has a formula to help you figure out your shape and how to best dress it
Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide To Finding the Style That's Right For Your Body by Clinton Kelly and Stacy London - by the host of TLC's 'What Not to Wear' and has their cheeky humor; also has a list of essentials of men and women
The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia - it wasn't as practical per se but gave me an idea of what inspired people in the fashion industry re: what they wore
The 5 Minute Face: The Quick & Easy Makeup Guide for Every Women by Carmindy - I really have no clue about makeup and rarely wear it - but for special occasions, I needed some guidance; an easy read

Welp, thanks for reading what's on my mind tonight! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

How I've changed as a mom....

The fact that I'm having another baby soon has made me more contemplative and self-reflective lately. I realized that being a mom has changed me in a lot of ways, some good, some bad, and some I have yet to digest. But I figure I would write down some of my thoughts of how I changed personally BEFORE baby #3 comes, so I can have a point of comparison for later on. :)

Being a mom of one -
1. I became more environmentally-conscious, esp as I take out a bag of diapers every other day to be disposed of in the landfills. [Note: Totally a personal conviction that I only applied to myself.] And when Aidan started chewing everything, I started to think about the chemicals I cleaned with and started researching more natural ways of cleaning, as well.
2. I was a nap-nazi! :) Almost everything revolved around whether Aidan could take a good nap or not. I got annoyed when he didn't get a good nap or when circumstances prevented him from even having one. My main thought was that if he didn't nap well, MY day didn't go well because he was grumpy or fussy. A valid point but I think in retrospect, it prevented me from doing some things that I wish I could've done. I did have days that were just for me when I got to do things when I wanted to regardless of his nap schedule but on other days, his naps took precedence. Thank goodness he had a pretty good schedule, so I did go out when he was supposed to be awake! :)
3. I made charts and list of when he hit his milestones - our calendar was covered with what Aidan did. :) I also had a mega chart of when he slept, how long he slept, when he ate, how often he poo'd/pee'd til he was about ONE - it was a masterpiece! LOL!
4. I discovered how much I could care for someone I had only known for a bit. :)
5. Because Aidan was such an easy-going and happy baby AND I did a modified version of Babywise with him, I totally believed in the Babywise method and touted it to anyone that asked. I had no idea that it doesn't work with every baby. Oops. ;)
6. I took advice from trusted sources pretty seriously and tried to do everything by the book - giving veggies first, tummy time everyday, baby sign language, blah, blah. But, thank goodness, early on, I had people in my life who were moms of many kids give me advice as well - this helped broaden my thinking a bit at the time. :)
7. I learned how important it is to still have 'couple time', even though taking care of Aidan took up a lot of time. We went out on our first date within 2 weeks of him being born. Having in-laws 7 minutes away really helped! :) Even so, sometimes we would forget and months would pass before we would go on another date...

Being a mom of two-
1. Naps are still important but now that I have 2 schedules to contend with, I realized that Jana would be ok even if the naps were interrupted sometimes. I also try to schedule their naps together, so that I would have some 'peace and quiet' time for me - and those weren't exactly the times that they were super sleepy. :P What they say is true, parenting became more relaxed for me (though I thought I was pretty relaxed before...;)). Maybe the fact that less things are in my control that made me decide to be more relaxed! :D
2. I did the modified Babywise method with Jana, as well, but she didn't sleep through the night as early as Aidan did. New conclusion: This method doesn't work the same with every baby. :)
3. Cloth diapering and being more 'natural' became more fun! Girly diapers are like girly clothes - so much more to choose from and more fun prints! :)
4. We tried to record all the milestones for Jana, as well, but started falling behind when the busyness of just taking care of the kiddies took over!
5. Jana didn't love solids, so I ended up giving her fruits first *gasp* - but she turned out to eat a bigger variety of foods than Aidan..hehe.
6. I started to understand what my priorities were and tried to manage my time better, esp with 2 vying for my attention. I also knew that I needed something other than mothering in my life as an outlet of sorts. So I joined the condo association board in my neighborhood for a start. Still trying to revive my interests and make time for those.
7. I continued to be more open-minded about how others parent and learn from the moms that I'm friends with but are so different from me. I also learned to take things less personally, esp when others make comments about my style of parenting. But that's so hard because when you stay-at-home and parenting is "all you do", it almost becomes a reflection of who you are...at least that was subconsciously how I felt. After praying about this a lot, I felt like God was saying that you can do only the best you can and leave the rest up to Him. And children are going to be children, no matter what we do - they are going to have their quirks, their bad days, but also days when they are so lovable! :) Plus, you are not just a mom but so many other things as well....that yes, being a mother is the prominent thing in this season because we have kids but that I have to keep growing as a person, too.

Anyhow, all this to say that mothering showed me who I really am as a person (all the good and bad) and stretched me in ways that I didn't know I could be stretched. I definitely do enjoy it and am looking forward to see what other ways I am refined as I become a mom of three. I've been told that this transition is a real doozy, so please pray for us as we embark on that journey in a little over a month! :) Feel free to share your thoughts, too!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A bunch of fun sites for deal-lovers!

Hi all: I know a lot of you like deals and I wanted to share 2 different types of shopping sites with ya. The 1st type is the A-Deal-A-Day sites. I haven't heard of these websites til this year and I think they're getting popular really fast. Now I know why! ;) The premise is that they offer one deal a day at a great price and stay 'open' until the deal is over or the item gets sold out. Pretty interesting concept, eh? I've only made one purchase at the first site today so I'll be back to report on how it all went. But after doing some online sleuthing, they seem to both get good marks for follow-through and customer service (with the first site being touted with even better cs then the second). And, yes, they both have RSS feeds so you can be notified when they have a new deal! :)

Anyhow, without further ado, here are 2 sites:

MamaBargains (sometimes has more than 1 deal a day)

Baby Steals

Another type of a shopping site I've discovered are these invitation, member-only sale ventures. These sites offer special pricing on usually quite expensive designer clothing for a set amount of time and sometimes, it becomes very reasonable. :) Some of them offer kiddie clothing, too. Anyhow, I haven't purchased anything from these sites but have been simply observing and doing some research. :)

Here are some of the ones I found:
Gilt Groupe
Rue La La
The Mini Social (I think it's just for kiddie stuff)

If anyone has any experience with either of these sites or have another site to recommend, please let me know! :) Happy browsing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Has anyone read this book?

I've been reading "Positive Discipline" by Jane Nelson these days and it's been a great read so far. The funny thing is that I didn't even know about it to look for it - I just happened to pass by it at our local library when the title caught my eye. Some background: I've been having discipline issues with my kiddies and my current methods have worked but seemingly only for the short-term and has almost made me not enjoy my kiddies as much. :( So, I've been looking for something else and praying to God for wisdom. So when I read the description of the book at the library and it says it's "the classic guide to helping children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem-solving skills", I figured, what's not to like, right? So i checked it out :) Plus, those qualities are truly some of the things that Kev and I want for our kids - we want them to grow up to be responsible, conscientious adults who love God, love others and love themselves. [We've been talking about some goals we want for our kids lately, anyways - what a coincidence!]

Though I've only read 2 chapters, I've already learned so much and gotten many insights - it's very encouraging! I've also implemented some new discipline strategies and it's really resonated with the kiddies, too - how exciting! :) Anyhow, I'm curious if anyone else had read this before and, if so, had any feedback for me. I will do my best to update you guys on what I've learned when I have more time to digest it. But looking forward to hearing from you! :)

What this preggo mama really loves....

....is my new handvac. :) Yes, my hubby loves me and he ordered me the Bissell Featherweight Lightweight Vacuum a few weeks ago. Hehe! Not having to bend down very much but still have a clean, crumbless floor for a few hours everyday is such a wonderful thing. Even the kids have really taken to it and are fighting for the chance to use it - and of course, I let them! :) Anyhow, just wanted to put in my plug for it.

I'm also really loving the Belli line of skincare for preggo and nursing mamas (though I like it so much that I want to use it afterwards as well!). I found it while I was searching for something that has a refreshingly light scent that will also quell my itchy preggo belly. With every pregnancy, as soon as I hit the 3rd trimester, my belly starts to itch. [Sorry if this is too much info!] But anyhow, in the past, cocoa butter made me a bit nauseous and my DHC Virgin Olive Oil was a bit too pricey to rub all over my belly. So, I went online and happened upon this line. It's supposed to be super safe for baby and mommy and the belly oil and lotion really did the trick! It is a bit pricey but they were having a major sale a while back that I thankfully caught. :) [I think it's on sale at drugstore.com right now.] I'm also taking my flaxseed oil and dandelion root capsules to hopefully quell the itchiness from within and reduce any swelling - we'll see what happens! So far so good, though!

And lastly, these 2 sites have been a godsend: Safe Mama and ZRecommends. The mamas behind these sites do lots of reviews and investigation on what's safe and what's not for families with young children. For example, they were way ahead on the whole BPA issue and Safe Mama came out with a 'cheat sheet' of which bottles and sippies were BPA-free, which was so helpful. And they are not alarmists but do good research on what they report, which is refreshing. :) Anyhow, check them out!

Alrighty, happy reading (and surfing)!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yes, we moved to PA!

Yuppers, we are finally here and almost all settled! Our journey began way back in the beginning of July after we had gotten back from being abroad. We had a week between being back in the States and the mover's arrival, so thank goodness we had started before we went on our vacation. We had some problems with communication (I'll spare you the details here but if you're curious, email me) with the moving company's local office, which resulted in some stressful moments but it turned out all right in the end - praise the Lord! But since we had almost a week and a half before we could see our stuff again, we decided to embark on a road trip to visit friends and family! You can see some pics here.

First stop, my parents in Cary, NC. The only other time we had gotten to visit them was a quick overnight stop when we were driving down from NJ to FL, so it was really nice to be able to spend a few days with them. The kids absolutely loved it and so did we. :) We got to meet some of my parents' friends, eat some Goodberry's frozen custard (it was so absolutely delicious!!!), meet up with some of Kev's cousins and eat some homecooking and just take it easy. BTW, if you're ever in the Research Triangle area, we highly recommend the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh - not only was admission FREE (they take donations), there was a Discovery Room where kids could touch everything, from fossils to polliwogs! It was a great trip. :) Thanks, parents!

Next stop, Ray and Christine Liu's place in MD. They had just settled into their new place not too long ago, so we were their first guests - we felt so honored!!! They did a great job hosting us and the kiddies had a blast. Uncle Ray served as a human jungle gym and the kids got to play with Sydney - Ray & Christine's niece. I even got to catch up with some UIUC grads that happened to go to their church that Sunday - fun stuff! Anyhow, we ended the trip with some amazingly good peruvian fried chicken and yucca fries at Crisp & Juicy. Yum!

Then, we drove up to DE to visit our old friends, Michelle and Jomy Mathew. :) As always, it was great chatting with them and having our kiddies play together. And they always make us feel right at home - thanks, guys!

Finally, we ended up at Kev's parents' place in NJ where we were several days, waiting for our stuff and car to be delivered, hunting for furniture (can you say IKEA?) and hanging with old friends. It was a really great time and the kids did really well considering how much we travelled this summer. :) Their schedules got a bit mixed up but we are now back on schedule. Phew! I never knew how much I loved schedules...hehe.

What else? We spent the first week or so, unpacking, doing car stuff and getting oriented to our area. Our neighborhood is really quiet and our neighbors have all been very nice. There is a tot lot in our nieghborhood, so the kids have been making friends. :) Kev started his job last week and is catching on to how things work pretty quickly and his hours have been very nice - yay! I've been finding stuff to do for me and the kids and trying to make friends. :) We've joined the local YMCA and have been making it to storytimes at the nearest Barnes & Noble and local library. Still looking for a church, though. We hope to find one soon!

But anyhow, we are now ready for guests!! If anyone is ever in the area, please let us know - we'd love to see you!

Warning: Hodge Podge Post :)

Welp, I have a quiet night, so I thought I would do some decluttering of our online photos...NOT! My eyes are getting blurry, so I decided to procrastinate further and write a blog entry or two. :) Hehe! I will write about our move in another post but here are some updates on things I had written about previously:

-I've gotten a lot of comments on the post re: Aidan's ptosis. I've come to realize that there's barely any laypeople's info on this topic. If would be nice to have a site where people can discuss what procedures they've tried, the results, which doctor they've seen, etc.. Maybe something to tackle later....after baby #3. :) But, I do want to say that it's been 6 months after Aidan had his surgery and the results have been great! The eyelid remains raised to the point where his field of view is not obstructed and no more comments from strangers about what happened to his eye! :) We are now searching for a new pediatric ophthalmologist since we just moved to the new area - but once we find a good one, we will also know how his vision is doing in the affected eye. [If anyone knows of one, please email me!] Although his eyelid is open a bit while he's sleeping, it hasn't caused him any discomfort, which was one of our concerns. So, praise the Lord for such a great result!

Due to popular demand: Before surgery pic and after surgery pic (his affected eye is closer to the camera). Feel free to poke around our online albums 1 & 2 for more. :)

-We had written about the dilemma with our car since we will be having #3 this winter - should we get a bigger car or get narrower caresats?! So, this is what ended up happening. We were going to keep our '01 Camry for now since Kev might be needing a newer car soon and try to fit 3 in the back. So we purchased 2 Sunshine Kids Radian 65s from Target. We thought we were set. But after moving to PA, we realized that we had to deal with my 'check engine' light problem AGAIN (for the 5th or 6th time) or else we won't pass inspection. Long story short, we had a friend working at a Honda dealership who could get us a great deal on a CR-V or a Odyssey. (Kev had narrowed it down to those 2 for now - we wanted decent gas mileage and stability control for all our hilly roads. And we wanted to take a break from Toyotas after all we had been thru with the Camry.) Anyhow, after much discussion, we ended up with a new CR-V because it is a 4WD with all-season tires (meaning no need to change to snow tires and get charged extra for recalibration of some system - didn't quite catch the explanation from the car guys) and with all the snow the neighbors say we get and all the hills we have, we felt it was the safest option. Plus, it gets great mileage for an SUV - something like 26 MPG! :) And, yes, I can stow my double stroller (Joovy Caboose Ultralight) in the back with room to spare for groceries and such. It even comes with a shelf for double the storage space, if needed. Anyhow, we'll see what happens. With more room in the back, I'm hoping that the 3 in a row will not be too much of a problem. ;) Updates to come...

-We have a new favorite toothpaste and mouthwash! I know I had raved about Tom's of Maine but now I have a better tasting option with no SLS! It's Jason's Sea Fresh Toothpaste and Mouthwash! I really feels like it cleans my teeth well and leaves my mouth feeling very fresh. And the fact the the mouthwash is concentrated and needs to be diluted by equal parts water makes it a great value! There's no burning sensation like Listerine but a super minty feeling. So, yep, I really like it! Even Kev likes it (he didn't love my Tom's stuff - hehe)! :)

-Aidan got a train table for his 4th birthday that we absolutely loves! We researched for a while and picked a barebones one that can withstand lots of play, takes a minimal amount of time to set up and matches the kiddies' play kitchen. :) We highly recommend the Kidkraft Train Table. We ended up ordering it from Walmart and got free shipping with the Site to Store option, which made it a great bargain because it's really heavy and might be costly to ship! [And because we got it from Walmart, we could return it to the store, as well.] Anyhow, the assembly took all of maybe 10 minutes - it took more time to break down the box for recycling and put the rest of the trash in the garbage! Hehe! Anyways, Aidan can also play his Melissa & Doug puzzles (love those super sturdy puzzles for preschoolers) on it, which is really key...that way, I can reclaim my kitchen floor! :)

Anyhow, I'll end the post here, so I can talk more about our move. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Page 111

Hey guys: Sorry for not writing for a while - we are finally ALMOST settled in our PA home! More on that later...the move itself is definitely something to write about since we did a road trip up Route 95 and visited lots of friends and family!

Anyhow, I have an announcement: Aidan recently contributed to a book that was actually published! It's call Dinosaur Soup (and other dubious recipes written by children). It features recipes from kids of various ages that are not corrected but written down verbatim. Really hilarious stuff. :) His recipe for Purple Jello is on p. 111. You should ask Aidan about it when you see him; he's so proud that "he was in a real book". Hehe! :)

Alrighty, more later. I promise. Check out pics here in the meanwhile. :)


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We made it: Taiwan/CA Edition!

The City of Taipei
Welp, we did it - made it to Taiwan/CA and back with our toddler, preschooler and bun. :) Overall it was a great trip, we got to see grandparents, friends, and other relatives that we haven't seen in a long time, ate great food, and saw some awesome sights of Taiwan that people normally don't get to see. I wish I had written down the names of those places in English - but we were in the mountain regions where they grew tea and various veggies and a sheep farm! The weather up there was beautiful - a breezy mid-70s most of the time. Anyhow, the grandparents were so happy and that made us so glad we went. More on CA later...

The kids did relatively well, though the 12 hour time change really did a number on all of us. We also took turns getting strange fevers, which didn't help. The multiple layovers also made getting there and back a bit tedious. But thank God for some super helpful relatives that took care of the kids when we were too exhausted to!! A big thanks, also, to all the moms that gave great advice for traveling!! Anyhow, here's what we learned with pics to come soon. :)

-We brought a single stroller and the Ergo baby carrier. Man, those were lifesavers! If the kids wanted to walk, our lugagge went in the stroller. Plus, since the stroller was gate-checked, so it made the long walks from gate to gate a breeze. Aidan also fell asleep in it a lot, which helped so much. Now that we think back, a double would have been fine, as well, since we didn't end up schlepping it too much, though we did use the stroller some in Taiwan and those narrow streets and throngs of people wouldn't have been as forgiving as in airports. But having a single is definitely good enough. The Ergo was also a lifesaver and allow little Jana to take naps whenever we went. I just felt bad for Kev who had to carry her in the front, his backpack in the back and pull the luggage along with him at the airport. I tried carrying her in the back but it wasn't very comfortable anymore at this stage of the pregnancy.
-Babylegs were great in helping Jana transition from really hot and humid (FL, Taiwan) to cold and dry (plane, San Fran) - we love them!
-We also brought them their jackets and favorite blankets to help them sleep wherever we were at the moment.
-Klipiis bib clips were a lifesaver - they converted any napkin into a bib, so I didn't have to carry around wet, foody bibs. :)
-Avon's bug repellant was another lifesaver. Those mosquitoes in Taiwan were persistent, everywhere and huge! Just thinking about them makes me itchy! Since I have been known to be the moquito magnet, I found Avon's sunscreen and repellant in one lotion (DEET free) and their unscented Expedition repellant and suncreen spray which can be sprayed upside down (also DEET free) and they worked wonders to keep the bites to a minimum. So I only came back with about 15 bites. ;)

Boredom Busters
We had a lot of traveling to do - on the plane and on the tour bus - so it was imperative that we had a lot of boredom busters for the kiddies. The kids liked:
-sticker books and new paperbacks we got from Sort Floor Books (an online outlet with free shipping over $14.99)
-DVD player with some new DVDs (Taiwan has the same voltage)
-pipe cleaners to make things
-Dinosaur play scene from Mudpuppy
-little tubs of playdoh
-lots and lots of snacks!! I bought some 100 calorie snack packs so it would be easy to pack and that worked out pretty well. On the way back, we bought some fun snacks at I-Mei and they loved those!! Taiwan definitely reigns in terms of snack assortment. Hehe.
-Aidan and Jana also took to a lot of the aunties and uncles, so they helped a lot in keeping the kiddies occupied. :)
-We even resorted to buying a Leapster on sale for Aidan but that never even got used. Can we say birthday gift? ;)

For next time
There were some things that we wish we would have done but didn't get to do.
-Show the kids pictures of all their relatives, distant and close, even if we weren't going to go on the trip. We feel that seeing those picture often and maybe knowing some of their names would be key in helping them feel more comfortable in meeting these people they haven't seen in a while. A friend of mine (Hi Leah!) has a deck of pictures in a ring for her kiddies. Will definitely have to make one soon!!
-Pack in less activities. Because we were in Taiwan and CA for such a short amount of time, we were busy visiting people. We also embarked on a tour of Taiwan for 5 days in hopes of spending time with Kev's grandparents, which was great but a bit hectic. If possible, we would have loved to have more time to do all this leisurely.
-Less layovers. We had 2 layovers because of the ticket we could afford but the kids kept falling asleep toward the end of the flight and had to wake up again to catch the next. And all that going up and down also woke them up a bit. We tried dum dums to help alleviate the ear discomfort but it was such a mess, I ended up getting gummies as a substitute for the way back.
-Nix the kids' backpacks. I think having them carry some of their toys, snacks and blanket would help lighten the load and give them some responsibility but since they kept falling asleep everywhere or was being really cranky from being woken up all the time, I ended up carrying them or putting them on the stroller. I would have rather have it all in one place, esp for security checks and for sanity of mind as I strove to keep track of all of our bags everywhere we went. 2 bags is easier to keep track of than 4. :)

I'm sure there is more but that's all my brain can unpack right now. Pun intended. :)

The Berkeley part of our trip was very refreshing and enjoyable. Our lovely hosts: Stephen, Hanna and Mayah did a great job helping us readjust back to life in the States. :) We got to visit Berkeley University, see some of our hosts favorite spots, and enjoy many delicious home-cooked meals (thanks, Hanna!). We even got to see a bunch of people from our old Youth Group - what a treat! Anyhow, we all must get together again!

Anyhow, I'm sure you're mostly here for the pictures. ;) However, we haven't had time to put them up just yet but when they're up, they'll be on this new site here since we ran out of room on our old site.


We're back! (What we've been up to...)

Hi all: We made it back from our Taiwan trip in one piece!!!! Hallelujah! We'll definitely post about that later - we learned a lot about international travel and wanted to share with you guys how it all went, what worked, what didn't, etc. :) Anyhow, we've been back home getting over jetlag, decluttering, packing furiously and enjoying our last few days here. Also, we just got back from Bonefish Grill (thanks to Kev's generous bosses!!) and had a super delish dish [I know, that rhymes, eh?!] that we wanted to share with you guys. It's their 'Dynamic Icelandic Duo' with Wolf Fish and Icelandish Charr. Super super yummy I tell ya! Aidan simply ate it up and asked for more - haha! I suspect it's because the Charr looks very much like a salmon but was somehow more tender and flaky. Anyhow, needless to say, there were no leftovers. :)

Yesterday, we hit the movie theatres with the kids for the second time for a matinee showing of Wall-E (thanks to the generous Chi parents!) and it was really great! I like the not-so-subtle environmenal message mixed in with some really funny bits that kept the kids (and adults) entertained. This movie really makes you think about the implications of the things we buy, the trash we produce and the impact our decisions have on the environment. Yay for Pixar! Anyhow, on the way home, before the kids fell asleep, they were yelling back and forth "Wall-E!" "Evaaa". Really cute. :) What more can we say? Go see it! :D

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beautiful books!

Ever since we've started reading to the kids, we've come across some children's books that are a feast for the eyes! We can't imagine the amount of work it took to create such great illustrations - what a feat! Anyhow, Aidan and I call them 'beautiful books' and here are some of them:

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme by Marianne Berkes

One Night in the Coral Sea by Sneed B. Collard

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

One Lonely Seahorse by Joost Elffers [Yes, our kids love sea creatures! LOL!]

Fast Food by Joost Elffers

Oh, and here's a really funny one... I Am Invited to a Party by Mo Willems - really, read it with gusto and have your kid(s) participate and it'll be a blast! The cool thing is that at anytime, I can start chanting 'party, party, party..." and one of the kids will inevitably say "Wait!" Haha! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Random tibdits for today

1) If you have a little one who has a small tushie or who is pottytraining early, Fruit of the Loom makes the smallest undies (their 2-3T size) to fit that petite frame. Carter's, it seems, is cut for wider babies. [Jana update: She's doing really well at pottytraining with some accident-free days, even as we've phased out the raisinettes. Shhh...she usually forgets to ask. Ahem. But still being in a crib has its drawbacks in that she can't come out at night or during naps to go pee unless she hollers for me, which she seldom does. So, she's in her trainers for naps (love those Imse Vimse and Little Beetles!) and diapers at night. She even did well at Sea World!]

2) We're finding out that shipping a car cross-country is not cheap! And finding a reputable company is not easy, either. We're getting some quotes via recommendations from movingscam.com (love them!) and will report back. :)

3) If you have a Publix Supermarket by you - definitely try their cakes for special occasions. They are reasonably priced and have so many options for decorations and the cake itself. For Jana's 2nd birthday, we got her a Pooh bear one with marbled cake and fresh strawberries on the inside and freshly whipped topping on the outside. Yummers! I cannot wait! Anyhow, I had a taste of one of their cakes at A & J's friends' bday party this weekend, which gave me the idea. I was going to get another Costco one but decided to try this instead. Yay!

How's that for random? ;)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Carseat dilemma update...

Thanks to all those that replied to my last post about whether there is a fuel-efficient minivan out there and what my other options are with 3 kiddies in car seats. After doing LOTs of research these past few nights (though I don't mind, I kinda like that stuff), we've decided to keep my Camry for now (though the check engine light is STILL on...sigh....don't get me started on that! ;)), and continue to explore having 3 carseats in the back of it. I didn't see it as much of a problem but some mom did remind me that kids like to explore other kids' faces a lot, esp when in such a close proximity. Then I was imagining the new baby sleeping peacefully and then *zing* Jana pokes an eye or Aidan squeezes a cheek. Doh! But I guess I'll see how it goes, eh? :)

Kev and I have been spending way to much time on this website and realized that there is really a forum for EVERYTHING!! But we learned a lot as we explored the whole 3 carseats in a row situation. Check out this post! [Some woman even managed to squeeze 3 in the back of her 2 door Honda Civic! I really had no idea this could be done! ]Anyhow, there's lots to read on there re: installation, purchase, etc. Fun stuff! Eventually, we figured out that there is no way to do it with the car seats we have: Evenflo Triumph, Graco Snugride, and a Graco booster. The Triumph is way too wide and would likely hit the Snugride, which we wanted to put in the middle for safety reasons but also because since it will be rear-facing, will need lots of room. If we do put the Snugride on the side, Kev would be super cramped if ever in the passenger side. Plus, then we have to deal with how hard it is to buckle Aidan in with the Snugride riding up next to the buckle stem. Aiyah!
So, anyhow, we decided to get a new convertible carseat for Aidan and settled on the Sunshine Kids Radian 65, because it is one of the narrowest carseats out there (you can squeeze 3 of those babies forward-facing in most cars!) and can accomodate kids up to 65 pounds. They also sell the Radian 80 but with my beanpole kiddies, I doubt they will reach past 65 lbs before exceeding the height limit. The Radian is one of the narrowest carseat available but looks like a big kid seat. Plus, since it's still a convertible, the buckles are in the front, so I wouldn't have to worry about trying to buckle him in on the side. And after reading so many different posts, we were reminded that is a good idea to keep them in a 5-point harness for as long as possible. But Aidan's had the freedom of a booster for a bit now, so we'll see what he thinks. We'll just have to play it up, I suppose. :) The Radian is a darn heavy car seat, which can be annoying, but the seat can fold up to about 6 inches for easy travel, so that's a plus. We'll just have to see when we get it. We found it on Target with free shipping and free returns to the store, so at least we can play with it to see if it'll work out without being out any money. Hehe! If it's a-go with Aidan, we'll buy one for Jana once it gets closer to the due date and see how it goes from there. It poking becomes a problem, maybe I'll put Aidan in the middle since he listens better? Haha!
Anyhow, I wish we had thought about this before we bought all those car seats so we could have saved ourselves some money. Alas. But if anyone is in the market for car seats, take a look at the Radian, too, in case you might come across a similar problem a few kiddies later. :) The Mazda 5 is still in contention, however, but we figure the longer we can hold out on buying a new car for me (and Kev's car is not doing so hot, either), the more options we'll have. :) What do you all think? Any thought?

Friday, May 30, 2008

A minivan that's NOT a gas guzzler?

So, with the impending arrival of #3, we need to think about a bigger car. Doh! I've been dreading this because I really disliked driving (and parking, esp) big cars. [My dream car is the Prius with a bigger rear window!] But we need a car that can accomodate a family of five and can afford us some type of trunk space. So, we're thinking the minivans are it because most of the SUVs that we've looked at have barely any trunk space and I'll definitely need some room to tote my double stroller around. Anyhow, after doing some research on the matter, it seems like the minivans are gas guzzlers for the most part. And with gas prices creeping (or rapid climbing, really) towards the $4 mark this summer here in FL, this is disheartening. Filling up my Camry already makes me sad, so we're looking for a fuel efficient model. Kev is investigating the Mazda 5 right now because it seems to be a bit more wallet-friendly at the pump. But does anyone have any suggestions for a minivan (or even an SUV) that is NOT a gas guzzler? Maybe we overlooked some? (A vehicle that also has great safety ratings would be great!)
[We are also reading up on if we can get 3 carseats in a row in the back of my Camry, so stay tuned!]

Our Orlando vacation

It's funny to think that we've been in Florida over almost a year now and have just now ventured east to Orlando for a mini-vacation over the Memorial Day weekend. Alas, it was when we've just about run out of weekends here that we think of this...but oh well. :) Anyhow, we're back to report that it was a really fun, relaxing vacation!

We took off Friday afternoon, right after the kids woke up from their naps. The traffic was not horrible and we make it to our Residence Inn (the one closest to Sea World) at around 7pm. Thank goodness we had lots of snacks to tide ourselves over because we decided not to make a stop til we got to our hotel. We had gotten a reasonable rate on Travelocity and was just glad we got a room at Residence Inn. [I'm going to digress a bit and say we LOVE LOVE LOVE Residence Inns. We love that they offer 1 bedroom suites at a reasonable rate so that after the kids go down, we can still watch TV, play games, read, and enjoy ourselves. We love that they offer free HOT breakfast - read: eggs, freshly made pancakes & waffles, sausages, ham, and the regular cold stuff - cereal, fruit, yadda yadda. We basically made it our breakfast plus snack and didn't have to buy too much for lunch. Haha! We're so Chinese, I know. ;) They also have a kitchenette with all the utensils and cookware for those that want to cook themselves. And it's always super clean and neat. Yay!] Anyhow, after a quick dinner at McDs, we just played at the hotel (they had a playarea in the back) and checked out all the amenities they offered. It was nice to get settled in a bit earlier and get some downtime to read and relax before bed. The kids did take a while to get settled since they normally sleep in separate rooms but after chatting for a while (we were trying to figure out what they were talking about but to no avail), they finally dozed off. Phew!

Saturday, the kiddies woke up a bit early around 8am and we head off downstairs to our nice, big breakfast. Yummers! Then it was off to Sea World! We had gotten the FL resident special tickets online when we were home, so it was nice to skip the lines. While Kev headed for the Kraken, the kiddies and I went to Shamu's Playland. It was nice not to wait in any lines for the kiddie rides and to be able to take pics with the cool Orca statues without anyone rushing you. Haha! Anyhow, the double stroller came in super handy here - Aidan can hop on and off at will and it was streamlined enough to get through the crowds no problem. The canopy was also pretty good at covering both kids if Aidan leaned back a bit. And I guess it was pretty comfy since Jana fell asleep in it - LOL! We had slather ourselves and the kiddies with sunscreen, so no one got burnt - yay! The new snacks I bought helped to fill in the gaps, so we didn't have to spend a ton of money at each meal. But I would have to say that the food at Sea World (and Busch Gardens, for that matter) is way better than the food at other amusement parks, in my opinion. The meat was usually juicy, the fruit sweet, and the bread moist. :) The cool thing that happened to us that day was this: it started to pour right when we were about to look for some lunch. So every place that offered lunch with some sort of covering was totally packed. We ended up going to this grill place and was wondering how we were going to get seats since people were already standing around eating their food and others are patrolling the place like hawks to get seats. But Kev and I decided not to worry about it until we paid. And just right before we finished paying, some couple finished up and "psstt'ed" me, telling me that they were getting ready to leave and wondered if I was ready to jump into the seat to save it. God totally provided! Thank you, Lord! :) Anyhow, after lunch we headed home for a nap break but Jana was too excited to sleep and got a bit cranky. Oh well. We ended up meeting Kev's high school friend (that he found via facebook) for dinner at the City Walk at Universal and had Bubba Gump for the first time. It was nice - never knew they could do shrimp that many ways! Haha!

Sunday, we started a day a bit later and ended up at Sea World again. There is truly so much to see and do, that a 2nd day was definitely warranted. Thank God for SW's current special where anyone can come back for free a 2nd day. :) Aidan really wanted to feed the dolphins today but the line was super long. :( Maybe next time? We spent most of our time around the Shamu area where they had a good sized spray park - the kids can spend hours there! We also decided to go back after dinner since they have different shows at night and we are so glad that we did! We went to the Shamu Rocks show and it was so fun! It's definitely more rock-n-roll than 'Believe" and the kids loves clapping to the music and seeing the crowds. The kiddies learned to do the wave that night. :) There were other shows that we caught parts of, including their fireworks - it was really neat and the kids didn't want to leave! :) The only bad thing was while we were exiting the Shamu Show that night, Jana's shoe was squeezed off, leaving her with only one shoe for the remainder of the night - doh! Here's a pic from the Shamu Rocks Show:

Monday, we really took it easy and slowly packed and got ready for the day. Then it was breakfast time again - yay! :) After checking out, we headed off to the outlets to buy Jana new shoes because she actually only has one pair of shoes for warm weather, which means she really needed new shoes. The sales person looked at us a bit funny when we declined a bag or even a box for our shoe purchase - I had to explain that my daughter lost a shoe at SW last night. Then he just laughed and said that he actually hears that a lot. [Note to self: make sure the kiddies' shoes cannot be easily pulled off, esp when going to amusement parks.] Then we headed off to Downtown Disney. It's funny because we had been to all these places when we came to vacation in Orlando back in 2005 but it was still fun! We had also gone to Downtown Disney on a date (since my in-laws were with us last time and could babysit) so this time was very different with kids. We were in awe of the lego sculptures back in '05 but to see the kids ooh and aah at it was really neat! Plus, Kev and I only spent a few minutes making things out of legos at the lego station but spent almost 30 minutes there with the kiddies. ;) It was also a nice walk around the place since the weather was beautiful that day. Then after lunch, we finally headed home. What a great trip!
Aidan's Lego creation

And we leave you with Jana and her new shoes. :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quick updates

Kiddies on our trip back up north - nice PJs dontcha think? :)

1) We went up to PA to find housing 2 weekends ago and we're currently working on a lease! This is a nice townhome in Nazareth, near Bath. Hehe - all these funny names over there!

2)We are taking a trip to Taiwan from mid-June to the end of June with a quick stop in San Fran right before we head back to FL. Yes, and that's with our 2 kiddies in tow. The main impetus is to visit the grandparents and for them to see their great-grandkiddies. :) We've been reading up on tips to travel internationally with 2 little ones but if anyone has any experience or tips, we'll take it! Email me!!

3) We are pleased to announce that we have some Novemberish news! ;) If you remember, please pray for us!

4) We are still moving early to mid-July so I'm currently working on getting estimates from movers (again). Therefore, we hope to get most of our packing done before we head abroad. This will definitely be a whirlwind summer!

5) Last but not least, Kev is taking his oral boards this weekend - please pray for him!

Alrighty, hope all is well with you and yours!

Potty thoughts...the clean kind...

So, it's been quite a few weeks that Aidan has been dry all through the night without having to wake us up to take him potty in hte middle of the night. Hallelujah! With this new milestone under his belt, Aidan has been so different. And, I mean, different. This is how it happened: So after a few nights of dry diapers, we decided that we would put him in underwear overnite as a test run. Then he continue to keep his underwear dry, for the most part. And since then, he's been saying things like "Yes, I will" [to requests like it's time to take a bath - normally there will be pleas and bargaining], "Ok, I will do it" [let's stop playing and go have lunch - usually there will be hiding or bargaining], and "That's ok, I can do it by myself" [where he has been stubbornly wanting us to do things for him that he can clearly do himself]. Kev and I could scarely believe our ears. Everytime we heard that we kept staring at each other as if to say "Did I just hear that correctly" or "Did that just come out of his mouth?". I mean, Aidan is a very pleasant and generally obedient boy...but he really is just 3 and a half and has a tendency to want his own way and do his own thing on his timeline. But who knew that keeping dry at night would empower him in such a way?! Maybe someone has already written about this observation in a book or something but I thought I would share our experience in case no one had. ;)

And now, Jana. I had already written in the past about how Jana wants to go and can go #2 on the potty for a while now because of her great desire to emulate Aidan in everyway. So, I thought, let's see if she's ready to potty-train totally. So this morning, I decided to give it ago. Wowzers. Let's just say - only 1 tiny accident all day today and she was in underwear almost the entire day [just not naps and bedtime]!! AND, she told me she had to go without prompting! She is getting raisinettes for each deposit into the potty and for keeping her underwear dry - maybe she really likes raisinettes?! :) And here's hoping that this is not just a fluke but that I'll really be diaper-free for a while!! Will keep y'all posted!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kumon Love?!

Yep, it's true. We love Kumon at this house. Nah, not the classes (at least not yet) but the workbooks they've put out for little ones. I had no idea they had them but saw them when I was browsing around for gifts at Target a few months back. Then I saw them at Barnes & Noble. Then I read great reviews on Amazon. So, I thought, let's give 'em a try. And the results are great! Here's a few pics of Aidan after some sessions of "school":

As you can see, there's a bunch of crafty things for them to do to develop some basic skills like cutting, gluing, stickering, drawing straight lines, etc. We really like the "First Steps" workbooks for that reason. And because they use the same Kumon philosophy of the projects getting slightly harder with each page, it makes learning something new almost effortless as each page builds on the skill learned in the previous pages. Another thing that is great about them is the quality - not only is each page printed on high-quality paper, the colors are vibrant, the pictures are cute and well-drawn and the projects are creative! My only complaints are that it can get a bit pricey (hard to reuse) and the books are bound in a way that it's a bit hard to hold it open and write at the same time (I end up holding it open while Aidan works on each page). I know I'm sounding like an ad for them right now but no, I'm not being paid by them for this post. [I wish I were, though! ;)]

We have these workbooks for Aidan (he's about 3.5 y.o. currently):
Let's Color
Let's Cut Paper
Let's Sticker & Paste
My First Book of Tracing
My Book of Numbers 1-30
My Book of Easy Mazes

Combined with some great workbooks from Costco and the dollar store, he's been learning lots! It just makes me feel good that I can actually teach him something, you know? Thanks for reading!!

Monday, March 31, 2008

My experience with cloth diapering a newborn

So, with sooo many of my friends being preggers, I thought I'd get down in cyberspace how my experience with cloth diapering a newborn went. :)

The 2 main reasons I wanted to cloth diaper (CD) Jana from birth were because I heard CDs really cut down on the number of blow-outs and that it's super cute. :) Now, with Aidan, I was a pocket diaper mama, meaning I had used pocket diapers almost exclusively on him. I had some fitteds for potty training purposes but that's about it. I was in love with the versatility of the pocket system. However, after poking around online, I found that most moms prefered fitteds and covers with their newborns. Not totally understanding why, I decided to start buying newborn and small pocket diapers. And when they arrived, oh wow, those tiny diapers melted my heart. Haha! Anyhow, I had bought a whole bunch since I only wanted to wash every other day at most (I figured that I would have enough to do in the beginning) and thought I was set. But, the fact that most moms still favored fitteds was still in the back of my mind. So, I borrowed a few from my sister and then bought a few just in case.

Then Jana arrived. :) After I brought her home from the hospital and after her umbilical cord fell off, I excitedly started cloth diapering her. However, instead of washing less clothes from less blow-outs, I found myself washing more because it seemed as if the poo just rolled off the diapers, with none of it getting absorbed! Doh! After a few more days of this, I figured out what happened. 1)Her chicken legs were so tiny that the smallest diaper could not fully wrap around them to create a seal because of the inserts inside. 2)She was peeing/pooing so frequently and with such force that it was not given any time to absorb into the insert past the fleece part. The pee was just rolling off the fleece, esp since she liked to sleep on her tummy and side. Then the Ah-ha moment came. Those mamas all liked fitteds because the absorbent layer was right next to the skin and caught the pee right away. There was also no gaping at the legs b/c there was no insert to kinda bulk it up. And since we change newborns so frequently anyways, it didn't matter that there was no stay-dry inner. So, I tried the few fitteds that I had and voila, no more leaks!!! Yay!

[Cleaning the CDs was a bit of a pain but the runny yellow stuff of breastfed babies really washes right off, esp with a good rinse cycle. :)]

Anyhow, so I ended up buying more fitteds and covers and I can honestly say I can count the number of blow-outs that Jana had on one hand. It's great! So, what did Jana have in her stash? Loveybum fitteds, Loveybums covers interlock & crepe, Little Beetle hemp/OCV fitteds (they no longer make these but have great hemp ones), Little Beetle shorties and wrap covers, Imse Vimse covers, and Swaddlebees fitteds.

We did end up going with pockets after she grew out of the newborn phase, which worked out well. So Jana ended up using some of the CDs that Aidan outgrew and we finally ended up saving money. ;) Hmm...I wonder how they'll feel knowing that they shared diapers?! Ahem.

Anyhow, I'll try to post pics of baby Jana in her cutey cloth diapers soon - they're on the other computer. But feel free to ask any questions, in case I was vague or confusing on something. :)

Disclaimer: This is just MY experience with cloth diapering a newborn - I'm sure other moms prefer different things and even made pockets work! Just thought I'd add this in. :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

This Just In - Aidan & Jana go to their first movie!

Yeppers, we did it - we took our 2 kiddies for their first movie theatre experience. We had been talking about it for a while and we know a bunch of people that even took their infants to the theatres, so we finally decided to do it. And it was really a spur-of-the-moment thing. Last Saturday we were all just lounging around, playing with Aidan's trains, when all of a sudden, Kev asked me if we still have those free movie ticket certificates from my lovely parents. I replied in the affirmative and then Kev mentioned something about "Horton Hears a Who!" and how it was in the theatres. [Funny I had just read the book to the kids sometime last week when we were at the bookstore.] Anyhow, we check the ratings and several trailers and then decided just to go for it.

Well, it was a great movie and a great experience for the kiddies. We were worried that they would be scared by the loudness of the surround sound or be unable to sit still (more Jana than Aidan) but none of that happened. Instead, they happily sat there for about 2 hours and enjoyed the whole thing. They even clapped for Horton at the end. :D Aidan left the theatre yelling "We are here" to everyone he saw. Haha! Anyhow, it was great for us adults, too, and the message that "People are people, no matter how small" was such a thought-provoking one. All in all, we give it eight thumbs up. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I love RSS feeds...

A few months ago, I had no idea what RSS feeds were and why I needed them in my life. But now that I know about them and use them, it's great!

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. For a more formal definition, see here. But to me, it basically tells me when something that has new content frequently (blogs and such) has something new for me to read. You can read the new stuff in a reader, via email or via a side bar thing if you have IE. Before this, I would have all my blogs in a folder and click through each link daily, wasting a lot of time. But now, I just click over to feeds and see which ones are highlighted (meaning has new stuff to read) and read those. Great stuff!! Anyhow, just thought I'd share this with you, though I'm sure a lot of you know about this already. :) Cheers!


Some personal updates:
-We've had some more visitors come through and it's been so fun! Really, who would've thought so many people would be able to visit. We feel blessed. :) But, we're only here for another few months or so, so book your vacation now. ;) The kids are so used to visitors (they love them, really) that they sometimes ask if anyone is coming. Haha!
-We are finally over our colds. Blech. I thought I had escaped cold season unscathed since it's already the end of March but nope, I caught something really awful just about 2 weeks ago. You know, fevers, aches, chills and general malaise. Thank goodness Kev got it later than me, so we were able to switch off. Praise God the kids got minor sniffles (though they both had some allergies symptoms already). Anyhow, we should be done, right?
-Jana has been going #2 on the potty consistently!!!! I still can't believe it, even as I'm typing. But her willingness to emulate Aidan in every aspect has paid off! :) So, I'm hoping to potty train her soon since she can pee when placed on the potty. How exciting would that be?!?! Sorry if it's TMI! :)
-In other potty training news, Aidan has had a few nights of dry diapers! That is a huge thing b/c he was wet almost every night for a while and would wake us up to change him into underwear. Yeah, it was a bit tiring. But we're hoping this dryness is not a fluke but a sign of a more mature bladder. [That just sounded really weird, eh?]
-We've been watching American Idol almost every Tuesday and I dunno, it's alright. We had liked David A. but it almost seems like he's too young for this competition. We'll see what happens...but, oh, Kimberley Locke was on last night - I really miss her season! When it was down to Reuben, Clay and her, I really couldn't pick. Ah, the memories.
-One of our friends had his cancer return recently and it was just so sad for us. His wife has been updating their blog with his progress, so please pray if you get the chance. Just reading the blog brings me so much encouragement because of how much faith they have in Him during this time. They also have 2 little ones and I don't know how I would be doing if I were her. May God be glorified!!
-We're closer and closer to moving and have started to look for housing online more regularly. Some of our friends have also given us contact info of friends they have in the area. Thanks so much! Please keep that coming - it would be so nice to already have some people to hang with when we move. :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Floridian boba drink?!

If you're anything like me, you have those moments when you crave some boba drink - aahh, that delicious, chewy drink with the giant straw! [Ok, chewy drink sounded really weird - but you know what I mean. ;)] However, living in the Tampa Bay area, you come to find that places that serve boba are few and far between. So what to do? Welp, where there's a will, there's a way. With visitors from NJ coming every month or so, we've kindly asked them to bring some instant tapioca pearls [think: ready in 5 minutes!!] and concocted our own super easy recipe.

Floridian Boba Drink

1 cup sweetened iced tea [found almost everywhere in the South]
1/2 cup tapioca pearls, prepared according to the pkg
agave nectar or honey, to taste
half-n-half, to taste
giant straw (optional)

After the tapioca pearls have finished cooking, drain and add agave nectar (our fave sweetner of choice lately) or honey and mix well. Set aside. In a fun cup, pour in sweetened ice tea and half-n-half, to taste, and stir til mixed. Add the tapioca pearls and then insert giant straw. Slurp away!

Apple Hack ;)

Nope, it has nothing to do with Macs, sorry! :) But we just wanted to share a new way we discovered to cut apples for the kiddies with little effort and less mess. Basically, you slice around the core, making four large pieces, leaving the core a square-ish log. Then you proceed to cut the four pieces into little strips. We prefer to leave the peel on because our kids have enough molars to chew through them and not gag. But for young kids, feel free to peel the apple first. Alrighty, here's a picture of the final product:

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Our kids' recommendations

There are some books, DVDs and CDs that the kiddies have been loving lately, so I thought I would make a list here in case someone was looking for something new to read/listen/watch with their kiddies. And other ppl's recs are always welcome!!

Aidan's list lately:
-Joseph Had Little Overcoat by Simms Taback - A very cool book about a guy named Joseph and what happens to his overcoat. I used it to teach about recycling, too. :) The pictures are so neat and I love the cut-outs.
-And to Name Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue by Laurie Rosenwald - We love the modern mix-media illustrations and the kids like that there's lots to look at. [FYI: There is a purple monster on the purple page but our kids didn't seemed to be phased by it.] This book really reinforces color names and mixing colors. Fun stuff!
-Patrick Paints a Picture by Saviour Pirotta - Another book about colors and mixing colors but has a guess the color componenet to it. Also takes the color palette from Nature, which is different. Aidan likes to guess the name of the colors and I've started to reinforce the Chinese words for different colors with him using this book.
-Eric Carle's A House for Hermit Crab, Walter the Baker, and Rooster's Off to See the World are some of Aidan's top pics from Mr. Carle. :)
Jana's list lately:
-Curious George and the Bunny by H.A. Rey - Jana is in love with George right and has finally develop the interest to sit through entire books! :) She likes this one because she likes to copy George and role-play what happens. It's really cute.
-Curious George's Opposites by H.A. Rey - She likes books with action so there is some in here that you can do together - even some facial expressions!
-Curious George's ABC by H.A. Rey - great intro of ABCs for Jana since she likes to find George on every page or so! :)
-Curious George: Are You Curious? by H.A. Rey - Jana likes this one because she readily identifies with people and like to explore different facial expressions. Plus, she kinda likes that he gets in trouble sometimes..hehe. ;)
-From Head to Toe by Eric Carle - Maybe's she's really into the copying thing but she loves to do all the actions in the book. :)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Stories - They did a great job animating this one!
Mister Rogers' Neighorhood: What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel - I'll hafta admit the trolley part didn't hold their attention too well but they loved the other parts. Really great for Aidan to help him brainstorm what to do when he's mad.
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: A Day at the Circus - Another great one! And yes, I know, I'm so a child of the 80s! :)

(Don't worry - nothing too annoying for adults to like...at least for a while ;))
Putumayo Kids World Playground - I've been trying to expose the kids to international music and this is a great one to start with. Aidan tries to sing along sometimes and it's so cute to hear his interpretation of these non-English and Non-Chinese lyrics! I should really tape him!!
Putumayo Kids Dreamland - This is for the moments when I want to calm them down a bit but still play some music. I have some more Putumayo Kids CDs on hold at our local library - can't wait to check them out. They have music from so many different cultures, it's great!
Under the Shady Tree by Laurie Berkner - Some fun songs that you can't get out of your head sometimes! Don't say I didn't warn ya! :)
Family Tree by Tom Chapin - Really fun songs - kinda folksy and really clever. :)
Veggie Tales: Silly Songs with Larry - Nothing new or profound but we just love it. Aidan is working on memorizing Larry's Lines about his lips in the I Love My Lips Song. :) Haha!

There's more but, phew, that was a whole lot to type out and I'm gonna take a break. :) If you really want more, feel free to check out my older post, here. Enjoy! And I'd love to hear what your kiddies like! :)

Quick update

Looking back on my posts, it's been a while since we've updated on what's happening here. So, wanted to play a bit of catch up. :)

We're thoroughly enjoying our year here in Florida. We've had a bunch of visitors come through and it's even more fun to share some of our favorite spots with them! We're so thankful for the great weather lately, esp for some of the chilly days that remind me of spring. LOL!

On the job front, Kev found a position in the Lehigh Valley area (PA), so we'll be moving there in late June or early July, depending on when we can get everything together. If anyone knows anything about this area or have friends living up there that you would like to introduce to us, send us an email! :) We hope to make a trip up to the Northeast sometime in May to check out housing to rent. Kev is also due to take his oral boards in May (please pray!) so it'll be a busy month for us!

The kids are doing great: Aidan has been doing more and more by himself and getting better at putting on his clothes and even helping Jana out with some things. :) He has still been reading lots and doing some arts and crafts and learning cutting and pasting skills. Jana has been growing lots lately and communicating more with her Chinglish skills. ;)She's also been copying Aidan more and more, even with things like going on the potty. If this keeps up, I might be diaper duty-free for a while. Cool!! Anyhow, they're mostly getting along, aside for those, what I call, "sibling moments". Feel free to check out our online album here.

I have a feeling time will just fly by and before we know it, we'll be back up North. But what a time it's been! It has been truly a "honeymoon" period for us!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's your story?

Just finished watching the movie "Nine Lives" - I didn't love it but it made me think. Made me think a lot. Made me realize that everyone has a story. Even the person that just cut you off in traffic has a story. Maybe their mom used to criticize their driving, so they drive a bit agressive. [Maybe they're really late for some super important. Thinking about it this way doesn't make it any better that they're driving poorly but it helps me react to them a bit differently - with more compassion, perhaps.]

Whatever those stories are, they shape you, drive you, hold you back, make you laugh, make you cry. I also got thinking that my story affects so much of who I am today, esp those negative issues that I have not yet dealt with. I guess people call that baggage, huh? And, nope, I do not want to be carrying all that around for the rest of my life. And it's so true that hurt people hurt people - I want to stop the cycle with me. Thank God that I have found Him - the one who has brought healing to my innermost being. And the good stories? Those are the ones that I relive sometimes, that I draw encouragement from, that make me stronger. Thank God for those! :)So, what's your story?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The blog entry that really made me think..

...is posted right here. Sometimes Kev and I will have this one discussion over and over, usually after midnight after we have both gone to bed: (and it goes something like this)

Me: "Honey, how did we end up going to bed after MIDNIGHT again?"
Hubby: "I'm not even sure. Time sure flies when you're on the web."
Me: "We should really cut back more on our web-surfing time, huh?"
Hubby: "Yeah, we say that a lot, huh?"
Me: "Yeah, we do, a bit too often..."

Anyhow, there's just so much on the internet these days. You wanna buy something? There' the forums to find out what is the best fit. Then there are the coupons to find to make it cheaper. But then you end up finding another great coupon and wonder if that store carries something similar. And on it goes. Then there are all these ways you can get in touch with old friends and keep in touch with them. [Plus, who doesn't like looking at pictures!! :)] There's really just so much information, that sometimes I feel like it drowns me. I find out about things I should be doing with the kiddies. Places I should visit. Things I should be doing to better my person, home management skills or to be even more "green" (AKA environmentally-conscious), etc. It really just never ends. Anyhow, all this to say, I really need to take a break and pray about what I really should be doing with my time. Because time is so precious and I can never get it back, esp. my time with the kids.

Our journey with congenital ptosis...

Aidan was born with congenital ptosis, which caused us to seek medical advice, prayers and more informal information as soon as we found out it would be a problem. But as we researched, we couldn't find much information, even on the web, so we thought we would blog a bit about our experience with it - in hopes of helping someone else. :)

Congenital ptosis simply means a droopy eyelid, usually present at birth. The pediatrician thought it might have been due to the way he was positioned in the womb and that the droopiness would correct itself. But unforunately, it did not. So, we started consulting with a pediatric ophthalmologist, who recommended that we start patching his good eye at 3 months to prevent lazy eye and to help his brain develop connections to his "little eye". So, this poor kid was patched several hours a day almost every day started at 3 month til about a week ago. The patching was helpful and there was normal development of the "little eye" but his vision wasn't 20/20. The ophthalmologist started to be concerned about his vision and recommended surgery as soon as possible.

We then searched for a pediatric ophthalmologist who still performed ptosis surgery (ours didn't) and found one that came highly recommended and was in our insurance network. This surgeon recommended a levator resection, which basically means to shorten the eyelid muscle (the levator) by removing a section of the muscle so the lid would open higher. This surgery was completed shortly before Aidan turned one. Unfortunately, this did not raise the lid high enough and we had to continue with the patching and close monitoring by the other ophthalmologist.

After Aidan turned 2, the ophthalmologist was more concerned about Aidan's eyesight after diagnosing him with astigmatism, which she feels was caused by the increased pressure of the lid on the eye. She then recommended a 2nd operation. We had wanted to put off any further surgery because after a certain age, this type of operation can be done using local anesthesia vs. general anesthesia. But as we continued to watch Aidan have more difficulty seeing things (having to lift his chin to help him see or look to the side for more clarity), we decided to go ahead with another surgery, sooner rather than later.

By the time we decided on another surgery, we had already moved down to FL and we really questioned if we would be able to find a great surgeon, since we heard most of the eye specialists were concentrated in the Northeast. However, we finally found a surgeon who did fellowships in Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, and Plastics - making him the perfect candidate to be the surgeon for our son - Dr. Steven Gross in Palm Harbor, FL! Praise the Lord!! AND, he was also in-network. We felt so relieved! Anyhow, last Wednesday was the date of the 2nd surgery and it went really well. This time around, Aidan had the frontalis transposition done. This procedure basically takes the eyelid muscle and attaches it to his eye brow muscle so that he can lift the eyelid with his brow more effectively, while still allowing him to close his eyes when he wants to. [Another resection might have lifted his lid more but might have prevented him from closing his eyes, thereby causing dry eye issues.] He recovered quickly the day of the surgery - yay! [Getting a new train from the Thomas the Tank brand also helped.] The hardest part was preventing him from his usual antics (playing with this head on the ground, rolling around, etc) and not taking him to the playground (so he wouldn't get dirt in his incision). We've also had to patch his eye during naps and nighttime sleep to prevent him from touch the incision area. But Aidan was a real trooper - I'm so proud of him! :) We didn't take any pics the day of but took some Post-op Day #3 when we finally took him out of the house - you can see pic here. We're now praying for a quick and complete healing!

And as you can see, there aren't a whole lot of articles for parents of kids with ptosis that we could find. A lot of articles were comparing procedures or describing them but most of them were written using medical jargon. We hope reading our experience was helpful for someone else. If you need more info, feel free to email me - mama4jc@gmail.com! :)