Do you know there is a market for buying and selling ladybugs?  Even through mail orders?  I can’t believe I lived more than thirty some odd years and never know about this.

One day during my trip to Albany, my sister told me she was excited to get home because her ladybug order should be arriving that day.  I paused for a few seconds and felt slightly light headed, probably due to the intense sunlight shooting straight into my eyes.  I thought maybe I never really woke up that day, and this is part of my reoccurring wacky dream.  But we got home and there’s a small four inch cube box waiting for her.  Oh good, I was awake!  Wacky dream, I’ll experience you later.

We immediately took the box outside to the backyard.  I couldn’t wait to find out what the heck this thing really was.  Once we opened the box, we found a small cloth bag with the writing “2000” on it.  I guess it was an order of 2000 ladybugs.  Lei slowly opened it up.  Inside the bag there’s a ball of dry grass which helped maintain the volume of the bag, and around it were countless little dots moving around.  Lei gently moved the bag over to the planter and opened up bag even more to help invite the ladybugs to their new home.

I thought that was the coolest experience I had, ever!  Apparently, the vegetation in the planters have been bothered by some aphids this season.  Since ladybugs are natural enemies of the aphids, inviting some to live in the planter is the best way to maintain a healthy planter without using any chemicals.  How cool it is to use natural solutions!


Vegetable Garden

Every time I visit my sister in Albany I expect to find something new and cool.  This time is no exception.  I woke up on my first morning there and saw two gigantic planters in the backyard, full of things growing out of it.  I had to take a look immediately.

Each planter is about 5 feet by 10 feet.  The front one has radishes, basil, and lettuces, the back one has cucumbers and tomatos.  They are placed on a slope, with one leg longer than the other.  Later on I found out that these were built by my brother-in-law, who also plays the role of a carpenter every blue moon.  I guess he did a good job, as the structure is standing and functioning very well.  Appearantly, my sister has been working all summer long to get them in good shape.  Right now, there’s plenty of goodies to pick every day!

We often had salads with the goodies from the planters.  I am not a huge fan of the radish, but these tomatos were absolutely wonderful.  They look like jewels when ripen, and pop in my mouth like a candy.  I was so inspired, I even asked my sister how to go about putting these planters in place.  She then gave me all sorts of details and suggested that I go read a book on gardening.  What?  You have to read a book to figure out what space to plant what in what season and year?  I was so hoping we will follow the traditions of old farmers that just pass the knowledge down by word of mouth.  I was only planning to use my very few precious gray cells for work related activities.  Everything else in life should involve no thinking.  I guess getting planters will have to wait till I am braver and smarter.

Ravi Goes Bonk Bonk

Albany has a beautiful outdoor environment.  From spacious lawns and tree-lined backyards to expansive parks close by in the neighborhood, this place inspired us to spend more time out doors.  The great thing about my sister’s neighborhood is the large number of kids close to Ravi’s age.  Within the circular cul-de-sac, there are four other little kids under the age of four that we can play with.  Sometimes older kids like cousins Do and Jo join in as well.

Ravi is not a steady walker.  What I noticed more and more is that he lacks balance, and he slides his feet rather than lifting them while walking.  This is usually not a problem when walking on grass or street with smooth surface.  It has become a bigger problem now, because he gets very excited every time we leave my sister’s house to go play with the neighbors.  He would runs without holding anybody’s hand, and bonk, he falls down.  Most of time he would cushion his fall with his little arms and hands, but two days ago, he hit his head on the gravel.  I saw him fall, I heard the loud bonk, I knew we were in trouble, then wwaaaahhhhhh!!!

This resulted in a quarter size bruise above his right eyebrow, in addition to the bruise he scored on his left cheek a couple of days ago during his late night rampage.

I keep worrying about people thinking we abuse him at home, like beat him up with a baseball bat when he doesn’t want to eat his dinner.  Come on, we are not that kind of people.  Besides, we’ve already decided to keep him when his return policy expired a while back.  We wanted his face to look good with a brand new fall/winter wardrobe that we will debut.  At least he doesn’t remember the fall anymore.  Just in case he does, mommy can kiss kiss his booboo to make it all better.



Ravi’s Late Night Rampage

Last night I put Ravi to bed at 8:30PM thinking I’ll finally have time to write a post.  I was disappointed to find him woken up at 9PM, tossing and turning unable to go back to sleep.  By 9:45PM, I decided that I wasn’t going to waste the rest of the night pretending to be asleep in his bed, so why not let him out and play.

Ravi was so excited to leave his room.  He giggled and danced as he made his way down to the basement where fans were watching Mario play video game.  Upon seeing all these people in one place, Ravi’s energy suddenly went up couple notches.  He then proceeded to spend the next hour climbing up and down the stairs and being chased by cousins Do and Jo all over the basement.  All the while he giggled and danced. Ravi was very excited and full of energy. He would keep running back and forth the whole time with boundless energy. Even his cousins started to complain they were out of energy running back and forth with him. He seemed unable to sit still.  He even ended up banging his head (quite hard) on the sofa and creating a big bruise on his cheek. After a couple of minutes of crying, he was back to running around the basement again. Even Mario remarked that the kid seemed a little too energetic, and it might be due to something we fed him, like chocolate. I don’t think so, because we feed him chocolate all of the time and he seems not to get such a sugar high. I think he was just really sad to have to go to bed when he wasn’t tired and incredibly happy when he was allowed to stay up. After seeing him last night, it’s true what they say about kids though; they have boundless energy and can burn off countless amounts of candy.

Mario and I are pretty much indoor cats. Once home from work we tend to sit and relax before we have to get up and tackle the next day. I’m seeing that end very quickly. Hopefully, we’ll just be able to take you to a park and let you run by yourself. I don’t think dad and I can chase you down if you are like this on a regular basis.



Ravi’s New Obsessions

Weather is getting a little hotter now, so we let our lives slow down a bit by staying at home most of day where we can enjoy the comfort of air conditioning.  This means Mario gets to take on playing Final Fantasy XII, while loyal fans such as myself, my sister and nieces cheer him on.  Ravi has taken on discovery of treasures in this gigantic house, where he can always finds something new to play with behind every closet door or drawer.

Ravi has also become obsessed with couple of new activities.  One of them being going up and down stairs.  Prior to coming to my sister’s place we didn’t play with stairs much.  Suddenly Ravi discovers tons to stairs everywhere, which he instantly gravitated to.  Within two days of time, he has mastered the skills of stair climbing and descending.  While everyone else is watching Mario playing video game in the basement, he would quietly climb up the stairs to the living room, sits down on his favorite little stool, and watches cartoons all by himself.  He made sure his disappearance was unnoticed, by returning to the group a few minutes later.  When daddy faces the next big monster, he ventures out again.

Another one of Ravi’s new obsession is piano playing.  Ravi loves pressing anything that would makes sound.  So once he heard his cousins practicing piano, he wanted to join in and bang a few keys.  Even though he plays nothing but a jumble of notes, I think he really enjoys it.  Someday we will have to take piano lessons.  Here’s cousain Jo in grey hat, cousin Do in white hat.  The girls were nice enough to play along with Ravi.

Coupled with Ravi’s climbing skills, he was able to banging a few keys without help or permission from anybody.  What do you think?  Future concert pianist?


Our First Day in Albany

We arrived in Albany Saturday night at 10:30PM.  The excitement of meeting his cousins, uncle, and aunt kept Ravi up till local time of 1AM on Sunday, so we slept in till 10AM.

For those of you never been to Albany before, it is a really nice and safe place, except the mosquitoes in the summertime.  There’s lots of distance between the houses, with occasional creeks running through the backyards.  The front door need not be locked at night, purses need not be removed from the car, and wherever you go people say hi and help your kid up if he ever falls down.  A stark difference from LA, where we worry about a sneeze can get you dirty looks from your neighbors and kids walking down the street can get mobbed by gangs.  Okay, LA is not that bad, but you get the idea here.  Albany is a different sort of place than where we are from.

Right after lunch, we headed to the mall to do some cloth shopping for Ravi and his cousins.  The stores here look way better than those of the same chain in LA, and you can’t beat 30% off sale at babygap with only 4% sales tax!  Needless to say we got away with quite a fall and winter stash.  Afterwards, we all headed to a local park named The Crossings.  We visited The Crossings before during our previous trips and this is the first time we introduced Ravi to a real park, Albany style.  The place is just gigantic.  We drove through a drive way nestled in acres of grass area, and passed a small lake and some small buildings before we reached the parking area for the play ground.  After we hung out there for a while, we walked over to the lake where Ravi had fun looking at the ducks and fishes.  It was such a wonderful afternoon, Mario and I both agreed that this first day along was worth the trip.

Dinner was a fest!  My sister has always been a great cook and she regularly tests out new recipes.  This night she grilled up a storm for our first dinner in Albany.  There were tones of grilled Korean style BBQ short ribs, salmon, portabella mushroom caps, and eggplants.  She also made her chili from scratch!  I was so mad that I didn’t take any pictures, as I was too busy putting food into my mounth non-stop.  It was so tasty and we ended up eating too much.

One mistake I made this day is not bringing my camera with me.  I promise I will do better tomorrow.


We’ve Arrived!

So we are finally here in Albany NY!  I won’t lie, it was hard, not as hard as I thought it would be but hard nevertheless.

So let me tell you how we survived the day.  I started the day really early, at 5:30AM.  I was so nervous I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I got up and started cleaning and doing some last minute packing.  By this time, I had already played over and over in my head how we were going to execute every single step of the trip, and I was fairly confident that we were able to handle it.  We had one luggage to check in, four carry on bags, a car seat, and a stroller.

Our flight was 12:30PM.  By 10:30AM, my parents have dropped us off at LAX.  It took us about 45 minutes to check in our luggage and get our tickets.  Our luggage was over the check in weight limit by 12 lbs.  I immediately took out a spare bag and a bunch of heavier items. Once we handed off our luggage, we started running for the security gate.  Our plan was to mount every single carry on item onto the stroller.  By this time we had five carry on bags.  We loaded both lap tops bags (Mario insisted on his own for the trip) into the basket underneath the stroller.  The diaper bag was mounted onto the stroller’s handle bar.  The car seat was loaded right onto the stroller, on top of it we placed our two other carry on bags.  So far we were executing according to plan, and I was feeling good about myself.  I wanted to take a picture of the stroller but we needed to hurry.

That good feeling about myself ended in just a few minutes.  I made the mistake of taking out a box of Korean rasberry wine out of the luggage when it was over weight, and forgetting that there is restriction on items containing liquid greater than 4 oz.  It was not till we loaded all our items onto the x-ray conveyer bell did we realized.  At this point, we had no choice but to give up the box of wine.

TSA, 1; Flo and Mario, 0.

Shortly after that we realized we never considered how we were going to get all our things from the gate to our seats.  The furthest we could take our stroller is right outside of the plane.  It was not far from our seats, but we certainly under estimated how hard it would be to get there with five bags, a car seat, and a baby.  Finally, with some help from the flight attendant, we sat down as the flight took off.  Ravi must have sensed mommy and daddy’s frustration,  and took a nap for part of the flight.

Three and a half hours later, we touched down in Minneapolis.  We had less then an hour to get to our next terminal.  We picked up some fast food on the way, since we have not eaten since breakfast.  The walk to our next terminal seemed to take forever, and my arms were getting tired from carrying Ravi.  This is certainly not as cool as I pictured myself earlier.  Once we arrived at the terminal, we wolfed down our food.  At this time, the flight is already being boarded.  We then ran to the gate and checked in our stroller and headed down the jet way.  Unfortunately Mario and I were not able to seat together on this flight. He got us settled in and went back to his seat.  I tried unsucessfully to feed the baby, read to him, pulled out his toys, and played his favorite videos; he was not too happy and complained loudly.  I resisted the temptation to take him out of his carseat, because I knew once I do, I’ll be carrying him for the duration of the flight.  Finally he was getting tired and quitely watched Curious George video.  I must have checked my watch every five minutes and was so relieved when the pilot announced we were arriving soon.

We waited until everybody else on the plane got off and then made our way out of the plane.  Once we were off, we were told our stroller was already sent to luggage claim, so we had no choice but to carry everything on our backs.  I had the baby in my arms and a bag on my shoulder.  Mario carried the rest of the four bags and the car seat.  I don’t think I could have survived that walk if we weren’t nearing the end.

Finally we made our way out of the terminals!  I couldn’t express how happy I was to see the familiar faces of my sister and two nieces smiling at me.  We are here at last!

It was a long long day.  If I was to do it over again, I would have checked in an additional luggage with all the extra stuff we don’t need on the flight, and made sure the luggages weren’t over weight.  I would also considered buying a small video player for Ravi so I didn’t have to bring a laptop to the flight at all.  That way we could have eliminated our carry on bags to two small ones, and the trip would have been so much easier.  We’ll see how that would work out on the way home.