Weekend Adventures of August 25th, 2012

We began this year with limited family activities, which is to say we didn’t go anywhere or do do anything fun on the weekends.  Why not, you may ask.  Well, the kids were too much for us to handle.  At times, it felt like our noses were barely above water.  Between nap times, meal times, crying times, request to be carried times, … there weren’t much time.  Thank heaven’s we have finally out grown those days.  Half a year later, we have two pairs of capable hands on deck (Mario graduated from school), Max only requires one nap a day, and Ravi no longer needed to be carried.  So we have cautiously experimented with various activities.  For the past few months, our family has been going out to restaurants and doing more activities out doors, like to the beach or local parks, and these trips became easier with each passing week.  The successes of these weekends must have boosted Mario’s confidence too much.  When I asked him last Friday what he wanted to do on the weekend, out of blue he said: “let’s go to the zoo!” 

So off we went last Saturday morning.  We left home at 10:45 AM thinking we would have an early lunch before heading out to the zoo.  When we got there, Max has already fallen asleep.  So we got take out and couple of drinks instead.  By the time we got to the zoo, Max woke up in good mood and we were ready to take on the world.  We had a fantastic day.  We were out for five hours and half of it were spent inside the zoo.  The kids didn’t die, or even cry.  We saw interesting animals, though the most fasinating object was the mist fan.  Mario and I had a great work out by pushing the stroller and keeping up with the kids.  Instead of the expensive and crappy food at the zoo, we had delicious dim sum which was finger licking good. 

Arriving at the zoo. Max and Ravi are slowly warming up to the place.

Max enjoyed walking with daddy.

Max still wants to be carried, but much less than earlier this year.

The brothers enjoyed the “lair” exhibition.

Some lizards inside the “lair” exhibition.

Brothers walking hand in hand. This moment made all my hard work worth it!

What wonderful weekend we had!  This certainly up the bar for future weekends.  But what do you know, the challenger is already at the corner.  Next up, the four day Labor Day weekend!

-Flo.

 

Hair Cuts for the Boys

I used to give the boys (Mario included) haircuts, but I realized I sucked, so now we go out and get haircuts at grandpa’s (A Pa) usual spot.  This is definitely a win-win solution for me.  I no longer have to suffering through wiggling, crying, and post cut blaming.  Better yet, the lady we normally use is great with Mario and the kids, and only charges $8 per person for a fantastic cut.  She is so wonderful that we have been going to her long before the kids, on and off for over 10 years, and she treats us like family.

Even though we unconcisiously stretch out the time between haircuts, last weekend we decided we couldn’t wait any longer.  So we packed up the kids and headed to Monterey Park, where Mario refers to as “China Town.”  After a delicious meal of Peking Duck and dim sum, we arrived to the salon.  We got a system down for these haircut events.  Mario gets a haircut first, then he holds down the kids as they get hair cuts in turn. 

Max was the first kid to get a cut.  He was particularly brave this time, not a single tear.  Ravi enjoyed a cool marshmallow ice cream cone while waiting.

 

 

 

Unfortunately Ravi wasn’t as brave this time, a couple of tears came down as Mario wrestle him down into the chair.  The good thing is it didn’t take long to cheer him up again.  Ravi is a happy baby.

Another great weekend with the kids.  Life is good.

-Flo.

Max, You Are 16 Months Old Today!

Max,

You are 16 months old now!  I can hardly believe its been this long since I brought you home, a tiny baby not even seven pounds.  The nostalgic mom in me wants you to be my baby boy forever.  I often look into your eyes and hope to still find that little boy, but now when you stare back with such a determined and uncompromised look, I know that the little boy has vanished.  In his place, you are a confident and curious boy, ready to take on the world.

You’ve got teeth!  How incredible it is to suddenly find that you have a molar in all four corners of your mouth!  That brings your total teeth count to 12.  You are becoming an adventurous eater.  You are willing to try anything and definitely not shy about showing how you feel about it.  There’s often sounds of “splat” as your rejected food items get banished to the floor, accompanied by your humored laugh as you sensed mommy getting angry.  Sometimes you even pretend to not have done it on purpose, you say “ooh” and looking around for it before you getting back to other victims on your tray.  But you are fair.  You are always willing to try the same thing again, and also drop them to the floor again.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that you would be a bully.  You are a small kid, even compared to kids of your same age.  You must not have taken your size into consideration, as you bully some of your older classmates and sometimes even your brother.  A toy that you want to play with is always yours, no matter who is playing with it.  So you have no problem taking it from a bigger kid.  When you don’t get your way, you cry with real big tears, like the world owes you everything.

One of the most important changes in the last month was that you have finally transitioned to sleeping with daddy.  By doing so, mommy can finally wean you off of breast feeding.  The first two weeks was very tough for daddy, as you woke up every hour and cried, so daddy would get up and rock and sing you back to sleep each time.  Now that you are more used to daddy sleeping with you, you two have bonded.  You guys play games and laugh before you go to bed, and daddy even got a system down to get you back to sleep each night.

Words from daddy:

It has been an adventure sleeping with you and you are so much more capable than a month ago. I rarely have to sing you to sleep these days. These days you will wholeheartedly try to fall asleep all by yourself. You’ll toss and turn all over the beds and slowly gradually fall of to sleep.  I am also impressed by your bravery. If you don’t see daddy, you’ll get up and try the door first (and follow me to the bathroom) instead of just simply crying. At 5 am, you used to wake me up much to early, but you’re getting better. These days you’ll sleep till 6am. I am impressed with the range of emotions and games you’re willing to play. You like to hide things and then search for them. First you’ll pretend you don’t know anything and give us that those upturned hands with a quizzical expression, but then you’ll ‘find’ the thing real quickly and smile.

You and I are starting to ‘hang out’ together. We spent an hour a couple of nights ago shooting basketball in the backyard by ourselves and you don’t mind for going out for walks with Daddy. We have read a couple of books together and I see that occurring on a more regular basis.

You are popular in school. The other kids like to hang out with you and the other parents know Max by name. It’s kind of surprising for Mom and Dad because we know some of the other kids can say more words than you and are taller than you and whatever else. You still seem to have become popular despite these setbacks.

You are fiercely independent and brave. When we go to the daycare, you’ll walk hand in hand with Daddy holding your own lunchbox. Once we arrive it’s off to color, eat a snack, or whatever else without a single look back! And my how you love to color. You immediately go to the coloring paper at school and you’ve been playing with markers and crayons at home almost daily. We think you’ve finally stopped eating them, but Mommy and Daddy still pay attention in the off chance that you might.

As Mom has stated earlier, you are a fighter. You’ve fought with Mom and Dad about riding in cars, about sleeping with Daddy, and over toys with your brother. While you do cry if you lose, losing hasn’t stopped or diminished your fighting spirit. Both Mommy and Daddy find this side of you so at odds with your nature. You are the most laid back self assured little boy we know. You don’t have wild mood swings or wake up in a bad moods or anything else. But you will fight!  And once the fight is over the crying complete you’re back to smiling and laughing. All in the blink of an eye. Daddy suspects that the only reason you cry when fighting is because it’s such an effective tactic when dealing with Mommy and Daddy. Daddy just wants you know that I’m on to you and your wily tricks!! 

 You are a late speaker, maybe in this aspect you are very much your daddy’s baby. The legend has it that your daddy only began to talk at the age of two.  At 15 months you are following your daddy’s foot step.  All you could say are are “ma” and ‘ball”, for your to most favorite thing/person (;-)) in the world.  But in the last week or so you have added “more” to your vocal vocabulary.  Yesterday was your grandma’s birthday.  When we sang her happy birthday, your eyes light up.  For the rest of the night, you kept saying “more”, signaling that you want us to sing it to you again.  We must have repeated that song like 30 times, but it was so worth it.  Each time we sang it to you, you giggled and clapped your hands with such excitement.  You bring so much love and happiness to our family.

My dear Max, you are becoming more independent each day.  It is hard to accept that mommy isn’t the only thing in your world anymore.  But no matter what happens, please remember your mommy and daddy are here for you (except when you’re picking on your bigger brother)!

 

 

Love

 

Mommy and Daddy

Weekend Adventure of August 11th, 2012

Could you believe we have never taken the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese?  To mitigate this oversight, we did just that last Saturday night.  Without counting the pizza dinner, which was a huge mistake, we spent $12 for all the coins we used that night.  Next time, we will go there and eat at home.  Both kids had fun.  We will definitely go back, but probably not too often. 

Max playing with the coins and cups

 

I also purchased a Gazillion Bubble Cannon for $19.  It is a really cool toy.  It can generate gazillion small bubbles (as stated in the product name), but also generate giantic bubbles, or the combination of two.  The kids absolutely loved it.  Unfortunately Ravi soon took monopoly which made Max cry.  The bubble solution that came with the package went very quickly.  I would definitely need to find out how to make my own bubble solutions if we are going to play with it more often. 

Max running after bubbles

 

 

Ravi running after the bubbles

 

We had a fun weekend. 

Flo.

Weekend Adventures of August 4th, 2012

The last three years have been very difficult for our family, as Mario worked and went to school part time, and I held a full time job while raised two babies.  We were in survival mode with our noses to the grind stone.  Everyday was a new challenge and we our only goal was to keep our noses above water.  Now that Max has turned 15 months old and Mario graduated, our lives are becoming easier and can finally take a deep breath.  One thing I have been wanting to do was to enrich our kids’ lives with new activities and experiences.  My goal is to introduce something new every weekend, with maximum fun at minimum costs.  I will attempt to capture all these experiences in the Weekend Adventures series of posts.

Ravi and Max love to play with water.  I used to fill up a big plastic storage box full of water and they would be occupied for at least half an hour.  So I thought maybe it is time to buy a kiddie pool.  A bigger body of water may lead to more fun.  So with $16, I was able to purchase a 6 feet wide plastic pool.

And the next day we went to the beach, and it was free.

See you next weekend,

-Flo.

My New Camera

If you’ve got kids, you got to have a camera.  There’s something about the insatiable need to capture every moment of your children’s lives. If it’s not captured on film, it is gone forever.

My desire for a better camera grew once I became a mom.  I was content with my old compact point and shoot back in days of BC (Before Children).  Sure it has a slow shutter speed and inadequate image stabilization; I didn’t need them much.  I barely used the device and when I did I mostly shot scenes.  Three months into Ravi’s life, I was finally fed up.  It was time to take on something with a little more fire power.

I knew I was going to need a higher resolution and a faster lens, but I also knew that I needed something simple enough for an amateur to handle.  After comparing dozens of cameras, we selected the Canon PowerShot SX200IS.  One thing that set it above the rest is the lens.  It has a bigger lens compared to the traditional point and shoot.  This resulted in a 12x optical zoom, which was rare three years ago, and a faster shutter speed, since the larger lens allowed more light to pass through. It also operates much like  more expensive SLR cameras, which allows a user to set shutter speed and configure settings such as ISO.  Most of the pictures on this blog were shot using this camera.  The PowerShot served us for three years and we were very happy with it.

Several weeks ago, there was an incident in our household.  Our PowerShot fell into the toilet.  I don’t know how or why that happened, but I wasn’t all that surprised given all the chaos going on in our household.  I wasn’t home at the time, but when I got there I found a PowerShot with water trapped between lenses.  Needless to say, we were once again in the market for a new camera.  This time around I wanted even more fire power.

Three years of playing around with PowerShot gave me a good idea as to what I wanted from a camera.  I have played with my dad’s Canon 40D; I loved the image quality and flexibility, but hated the size.  There’s no way I could handle this camera and the kids at the same time.  One day, I stumbled onto a website that introduced me to the Panasonic DMC-GF3.  It opened my eyes to a new class of cameras, the compact SLR.  It felt like a new world opened up to me.  I loved its price, size, capability, and flexibility.  The cool thing about this camera is that it can be used with the Panasonic Lumix Vario X HD lens (14-42mm), which is an ultra compact lens with lots of zoom.  This combination is so compact that it is not much bigger than my old PowerShot.  But after much research, I found out about the “double imaging” issue potentially due to its stabilization mechanism.  I was heart broken… but not for long.  The search for another compact SLR led me to my true love, the Sony NEX C3 with 18-55mm zoom lens bundle.  Sony of course is an electronic power house and makes fantastic CMOS image sensors.  At some point they acquired Minolta, which was a  fantastic optical company (lens maker).  This marriage ensured that my new camera was going to be top notch.

Once my new camera arrived, I immediately took some test shots.  Oh boy is it sexy!  The feel of it is wonderful.  It is just heavy enough to feel significant, big enough to fit comfortably in my small hands, and the whole thing fits into such a small bag.  HD video, tiltable 3 inch LCD screen, nice zoom and shutter speed with the 18-55mm lens…  The pictures look fantastic even under low lights conditions.  I am in love and this is my soul mate… for the next three years anyway.  Here’s a picture of my darling.  Doesn’t it look sexy?!  Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

Sony NEX C3 with 18-55mm lens

This is certainly a new beginning for me.  This camera has reinvigorated my desire to learn more about photography and to begin other projects that I have been thinking about doing.  The sky is the limit, and you are going to help me get there.

-Flo.

Mattress Land

For those who know our family well you know that Mario and I co-sleep with our kids.  Mario with Ravi and I with Max, each with a mattress on the floor in each of the kid’s bedrooms.  This arrangement ensured that each parent gets his/her “fair share” of work and each kid gets the proper attention he needs to thrive.  However, the down side of this arrangement is that I don’t get to spend much time with Ravi and Mario doesn’t get to spend much time with Max.  

A while back we purchased a brand new mattress for Ravi.  While we let it air out in the living room, the kids jumped and rolled on it, went up and down, giggled and screamed in ecstasy, like it was a better ride than any possible amusement park or theme park attraction.  Their happiness was so infectious that we couldn’t stop laughing ourselves.  We thought how wonderful it would be if we could play like this every night!  A light bulb went off in our heads; why not have all of us sleep in the same room!  Let’s put two mattresses together to create a gigantic bed so we can always be together, see each other the last moments before we fall asleep and at the first blink of the eye when we wake up!  It was such a fantastic idea to us that we took actions right away, and dubbed that room as our “BEDroom.” 😉

So it has been a month since we began to sleep in the same room and we couldn’t be happier.  Of course the arrangement is not perfect, since Max wakes up and cries often through out the night.  Ravi’s relentless talking and rolling around tends to wake up Max as well.  But as long as the adults are in the room, we can generally keep the situation under control.  Just like we imagined, the kids love this arrangement because it is so much fun to be able to claim any spot, horizontal or vertical, to sleep on; Mario and I love it because only one of us has to stay behind to keep the kids in line while the other escapes to do something else.  Our dream is that someday when the boys are old enough they will sleep in this room by themselves perhaps in bunk beds, so both Mario and I will be free to pursue other activities… what’s freedom like again?

In the mystical land of high pillow mountains and sweeping blanket valleys, my beautiful princes sleep.  Though their eyes are close, their minds still wander.  Through their kingdom they travel, battling the fiercest of monsters and the evilest of villains, and race home after each victory to the open arms of their loving parents.  May you rest, my little darlings.  May you be triumphant!  Our love will be with you, always.

-Flo.