Christmas Tree in January?

Here’s our tree, still up in full Christmas glory at the end of January!  You might think we are a lazy bunch (which I don’t deny), but the truth is we just put this baby up in early January.   That’s a bit odd, you say.  Why are you so out of sync with the holidays, you ask.  Well,  that’s because I scored this baby and his ornament friends at a deep discount after Christmas, and oh boy, I saved a lot of money (about 50% off on the tree and over 75% off on the ornaments).  We didn’t miss having a tree during Christmas, because we visited aunt Lei and she had a beautiful tree.

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My beautiful tree arrived when we got home, I couldn’t resist putting it up to check it out.  It was a huge hit with the boys, they fight every night to turn the lights on.  It was so much fun that Mario and I even considered leaving it on the entire year.  But two weeks and four broken ornaments later, I knew it was time to pack it up.

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I love the light bulb snow man!

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We do need more ornaments to cover the entire tree, which means more shopping at the next after Christmas sale!

-Flo.

Pirate Brothers

There was a dress up day at the kids’ school last month where all the boys supposed to dress up as pirates and girls as princesses.  Upon hearing this, my first thought was why force the words pirates and princesses into the same sentence?  Second thought was, where the heck am I going to find costumes off season!?  Luckily it turned out alright and the boys loved the costumes I put together.  When we showed up at their classes the next morning, I felt like I deserve at least a B+ for my effort, which made me feel really good about myself.

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Maxie and Ravi dressed up as pirates

Maxie and Ravi dressed up as pirates

-Flo.

Our Beloved Yellow House

Some two years and nine months ago, Mario and I went to see our house for the first time.  It was the second house we ever saw.  We were extremely cautious then about buying real estate and were specifically looking for properties with the ‘hidden gem’ quality.  From the information we gathered on-line, this house was ideal: very desirable neighborhood, 2 miles from the beach, 10 minutes drive from work, and a large backyard in an area where most properties have no backyard at all.  The down side?  Broken down and needed major overhaul.

Our house when we first saw it

Our house when we first saw it

It was a sunny day.  We drove in admiring all the other houses on the block.  Then we saw it, an unkempt old house in a somber grey hue, shrinking in contrast to the vivid colors of its neighbors.  Its doors opened to reveal an uninviting interior.  Off the bat, we were baffled by this house’s reversed living layout, with living room and kitchen on the second floor and bedrooms on the first floor.  We walked in and looked hard at the bedrooms, which were not liveable in their existing condition.  The bathrooms needed to be gutted, and a thousand other things needed to be fixed.  Then we took the stairs up to the living area and the magic happened.   We were literally blinded by the light.  The sun light flooded in from all directions, huge windows hung in every direction with sky lights above us, framed with a stunning wooden cathedral ceiling in the beauty of its natural color.  We began to see the benefit of this reverse living layout.  To one side there is a large window enclosed balcony, to another side there is a large 400 sqft deck through four large panel glass doors.  The whole place felt so airy and inviting, and for several minutes we paused to enjoy the feel of lightness.  Of course the living area was far from perfect.  The kitchen need to be gutted, and the bathroom had a spooky layout.

At this moment, our feelings about this house were mixed.  Though still expensive in our book, it sure was a good value for its location and time frame.  But the task of renovating it was daunting, especially as I was already four months pregnant.  Mario and I took a moment to think it over by stepping out onto the balcony, and there we were, overlooking a large grassed backyard, big enough to build another house of the same size.  It was such a refreshing oasis of green in a desert of concrete and bricks.  We knew then that we had a rare gem in our hands.  The decision was made on that spot to make an offer right away for the asking price, and the rest was history.

It took five months to renovate this house.  We teared the interior walls down all the way to the bone and build it back up to the way we wanted.  The renovation was still going on when I gave birth to Maxie.  During my hospital stay, someone in the family (Mario, mom, dad, or sister?) had made the decision to paint the exterior of the house a bright yellow.  I was shocked by the color first, but it has grown on me.  And that’s how our beloved home is now being referred to as “our yellow house,” and it is flooded with bright sunlight and heart-felt love.

-Flo.

Maxie’s Birthday Celebration [Pictures]

I like to stretch out my kids’ birthday celebrations so they can get as much fun and excitement out of it as I can make it.  Normally, these celebrations break down to three parts over a course of a week: a birthday party at their school; a celebration on their actual birth-day by taking the day off and do something special; a full blown birthday party with friends and family on the weekend.  It is definitely a lot of work, but we have so much fun in the process.

This year was no exception.   We celebrated for three consecutive days for Maxie’s birthday, which fell on a Thursday.  I took the day off but Mario had to be in at work for the morning, so I took the boys to the park while waited for him to come home.  Little after lunch, Mario showed up with a birthday cake, which made the boys very happy so we forgave him.  In the afternoon, we took the kids to the Aquarium of the Pacific.  Yeah, we have been there many times before, but given Mario’s tight schedule, there weren’t too many choices.  It was a lot of fun nevertheless.

Here’s Maxie’s cake number 1.

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Please note Maxie had a candy in his mouth, and no, I didn’t beat him up ;-).

The next day we celebrated Maxie’s birthday at school with his class.  I baked some cupcakes and brought along drinks and snacks.  The little kids had a good time.  I love to watch them tackle the cupcakes.  Most of them are pretty messy and some are only interested in licking off the frosting, which includes Ravi.

Here’s the cake (eh, cupcake) number 2.

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Finally, we had our party at home on Saturday.  I have talked about the massive cooking involved to make this party a success.

Here’s Maxie’s cake number 3.

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Actually we narrowly escaped cake number 4 by pleading with A-Pa (grandpa) and Mom (grandma) that we really couldn’t deal with another cake anymore.  I must have gained like 3 lbs during these three days.

Fun, fun!  We will try again next year, to make it better and bigger!

Flo.

 

Maxie got hurt!

Maxie came home with a huge bump on his right eyebrow last night!  I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t imagining things.  It has already swollen up so much that his right eye couldn’t be opened all the way.  Of course my parents gave me a lecture on how they would never let this happen to me or my sister when we were young.  Yes, I screwed up by not being there… 🙁

This is definitely the biggest injury Maxie had ever experienced in his young life.  I had hoped that it would miraculously disappear when we woke up this morning, but no, it was still there.  To make things worst, he also vomited out his fruit shake the second we stepped into his classroom this morning.

This Valentine’s day is not starting well for me.

Max with injured right eyebrow

Max with injured right eyebrow

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Maxie with injured right eye brow

I tell myself, these are boys.  They thrive in hard conditions.  They need rough and tumble to make them tough!  That’s what boys are about.  Understanding is one thing, it hurts nonetheless.

-Flo.

Valentine’s Day, -1

The day before Valentine’s Day is dedicated to preparing Ravi and Max’s gifts to all their classmates.

I have already bought loads of heart shaped chocolates, gift bags, ribbons, and shape cutters for the label.  Most of these were purchased on line, since I didn’t have time to go find them in stores.  I also designed several gift labels and printed them out earlier this week.  For the actual gifts, I chose perishables in the form of heart shaped chocolates.  I figure all the kids will swallow them down at first sight, experience an hour of sugar high, then return back to their normal selves in time for pick up.  No evidence!

Could you believe Max and Ravi have total of 40 classmates in combine?!  I totally under estimated the amount of work required to prepare all 40 gifts.  40 ribbons need to be cut to size and tie to the bags, 80 hole punch to make the gift label, 5 different chocolates need to be distributed… So much work and I had so little time.  Good thing my mom and Mario were willing to help and we finished all the work within Max and Ravi’s bath time.  At the end, there were two large shopping bags worth of gifts ready for school the next day.

Valentine's Day gifts for school, 2013

Valentine’s Day gifts for school, 2013

I had so much fun researching and putting together the gifts.  It required me to be more crafty than I ever had to be before.  Good thing too, I was able to add a few new tools into my “mommy craft” bin.  With practice, I will get much better at it.

I sure hope Max and Ravi will have a fun Valentine’s Day party at school.

-Flo.

 

Dreaming of Warmer Days

Though I tried to deny it, the winter has finally claimed our days.  In south bay area temperature dipped down to high of mid 50’s (Fahrenheit).  Just this morning I spotted frost on our neighbor’s roof and realized it is a big mistake going outside without a jacket.  Our family now mostly stay in doors and the plants in the backyard look moanful being ignored.

I miss the spring and summer.  Specially last year’s spring and summer, that was my first year of planting fruits and vegetables in the garden.  How wonderful it was to be able to eat blueberries, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes right off the vine!

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These cold winter days give me time to plot, to dream of what next spring and summer will be.  A yard full of jewels to eat, I hope.

-Flo.

Weekend Adventures of October 27th, 2012

We put weekend adventures on pause while Maxie had his swimming lessons.  Even though these lessons were only a hour each, the awkward timing interrupted our normal schedules for naps, lunches, and outdoor explorations.  As weather finally cool down, we were relieved to cancelled our lessons for this year.  Of course we will resume the lessons next spring. 

We wanted to do something fun last weekend.  First thing on our agenda was to eat something really good for a change.  I know there are good food in Redondo Beach area, but we were looking for something better, something exceptional.  Lunasia delivered.  I can’t believe we haven’t been there for that long!  Next stop, the Zoo!  We received their monthly activity letter about the pumpkin patch and can’t wait to take the kids there for the first time.

 

 

 I am sure you are thinking: ahhhh, that last picture of the boys hugging is so cute!  Well, let me tell you what REALLY happened.  That was Ravi’s attempt to pick up Maxie and lift him off the bench.  Of course even though the intention was good, but Ravi had either enough strength nor physical control to carry his little brother.  It ended with Maxie’s head hitting the ground and crying.  But Maxie was okay after 2 minutes and we didn’t scold Ravi.  They continued to play with each other after that.

We had another great weekend.  Next weekend is already shaping up to be a fun one.  Can’t wait to share with you soon. 

-Flo.

The Brothers, October 27th 2012

Before I realized it, the boys have began to play really well together.  Honestly, this so surpassed my expectation.  I was told by other experienced moms that doesn’t happen till both are able to communicate well.  But here they are, taking a juicy break together after a whole morning of playing together.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this moment, because them being the best of friends is so important to me.  It doesn’t hurt that the are absolutely gorgeous! 🙂 I was lucky enough to snap some good photos of them.

 

Max and Ravi, 1.5 and 3.5 years old.

Max and Ravi, 1.5 and 3.5 years old.

 

-Flo.

How to Get Ride of Fruit Flies

Several weeks ago we were hit by a cloud of fruit flies.  I must have left the door open and didn’t know there was a spoiled fruit somewhere.  These unwanted visitors came and wanted to stay, and I hated watching them buzzing around MY SPACE.  After couple of days of procrastination, I decided to try a little trap. 

My first generation of fruit fly trap involves drilling a small hole on the cap of a plastic drink bottle.  Then I left it out in the kitchen with several pieces of very ripped fruit.  The trick worked and attracked fruit flies in.  However, the flies were able to escape by crawl out of the hole.  Back to the drawing board.

My second generation of fruit fly trap is simply a plastic drink bottle without the cap and ripped fruits on the bottom.  I set it up at night and left it out till the morning when I capped it and found at least three dozen of fruit flies inside.  I then set up another bottle the second night and caught about two dozen, then another bottle and another bottle.  By the fifth trap there were barely any fruit flies left.

My fruit fly trap full of fruit flies.

Nothing can be easier.  Leave the bottle out with fruits, then cap it and toss it away.  Done, no more fruit flies.  Now I can afford to leave the door open.

-Flo.