Maxie you are 4 years old today!

My dear Maxie,

You have turned 4 years old. As much as mommy likes to think of you as a baby, let’s face it, you are getting way too heavy to carry. Mommy still tries though, because we all know you won’t want to be carried for much longer.

You are an Ironman super fan. Since last Christmas, you have been asking for various different versions of Ironman toys. You particularly like the little pose-able one that you tape up like a mummy and carry around in a little pouch, and the larger one that can make sound and light up so it can keep you company after we turn off the lights at night time. Mommy and daddy also rented the entire Ironman movie series for you, but you didn’t show as much interest. In a sense, we are very glad. You love animated super hero shows, such as Avengers, Agents of Smash, and Ironman. Mommy and daddy are so happy that you like them just like we do, and they are much less violent and more fun to watch together.

You are still mommy’s baby. It begins every morning, you want mommy to carry you upstairs when you open your eyes, then you want to sit on mommy while you watch your shows to wake up, then you want mommy to make you cold/hot (aka warm) chocolate milk. During the day, you want mommy to fix your toys, change your shows, help you go to bathroom, make your favorite food or drinks, fetch your toys, and help you stop Ravi from chasing you. At night, you want mommy to take you out of the bath early, put on your pajamas, put on your socks, and squeeze you before you fall asleep. Sometimes you would get angry if mommy tries to get daddy to fill in. Mommy secretly guesses that you ignore daddy to show how important mommy is to you. But we all know that you are changing. During the next phase in your life, your daddy will play a much more important role in your life, so mommy is going to enjoy being glued to you for as long as you let me.

You love sword fighting with daddy. Though you are still at an age where the only person that matters to you is mommy (daddy can call your name for 10 minutes without you taking any notice), there are a few thing you love daddy for. The most fun one is sword fighting and it is on every night before bed time, with foam swords and shields on soft beds. Both you and your brother would charge toward daddy and daddy would defend himself against the wall. Often times one of you would go way overboard, then daddy would “punish” you by taking you to “Tickle Town” while the other attacks relentlessly. One of Maxie’s favorite attacks on daddy is canon ball. It worked well when you were 20 lbs, but now you are much heavier and does really hurt daddy, so unfortunately canon ball attacks will have to end. Mommy is very happy about being left out of this boys fest, so she can have a few minutes “alone” to catch up on other things.

You are still an early riser. Mommy can only guess that most mornings you wake up earlier than mommy. But you would raise your head and look around. If mommy is still sleeping next you, you would put your head down and sleep a little more. If you mommy is longer around, you would grab your blankets and look for mommy upstairs where you always finds her. There are still some mornings when you would choose to wake up mommy and ask her to carry you upstairs. Mommy is very thankful that those mornings are much fewer and most of time you are very good at trying to sleep a little longer.

You still have a very narrow taste pallet. Even though you are a better eater in quantity than your brother, you are less willing to try new food. From information mommy and daddy gathered, it may be due to your sensitivity to smell and taste. We understand this phase will pass and we promise that once you are ready, mommy is willing to make you all kinds of yummy food to make you fatter. In the meantime, you seem to choose foods that are not so good for you, such as store bought chicken nuggets (not interested in the organic homemade chicken nuggets mommy makes), hot dog, and Kraft’s Mac and Cheese. For a while you would only eat plain white rice. You show no interest in eating fruits or vegetable or meat in most cases. Once upon a time you used to eat apple sauce and fresh fruit shake, but you refuse them now. It is struggles for mommy to make you something to eat every day, but mommy will keep trying.

Your latest doctor visit had confirmed that you are still a skinny boy. Little less skinny than last year since your your Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile has climbed from 1% from a year ago to 5% currently. To that, mommy and daddy believe is only temporary, as we have noticed that you have not shown any growth in height recently, and it is only a matter of time for your next growth spurt at which you will level down to 1%, and that’s the baby we know!

In recent months, you have learned to ride your scooter and became proficient. We must have had them for years and Ravi had mastered his long ago, but you chose to ignore your scooter’s existence. Only until recently did you show any interest at all. Could it be you are finally tired of Ravi going way faster than you in the yard chase? While you are mastering riding your scooter, your brother had graduated to the next level, a shiny blue bike! You so wanted one, and regularly hopped onto to Ravi’s to try it out even though it is too big for you. Thankfully, your daddy, our Larger Expense Approver (no kidding, that’s his title!), has a weak spot for you in his heart and reluctantly approved this purchase. Your shiny red bike arrived and you are so happy! Now that you and Ravi are both starting to learn, let’s see who can master it sooner.

My dear Maxie, you are such a super cool kid, and mommy and daddy loves you so much. I hope you feel it every day in our kisses and hugs, or sword swings and tickles. Every time we look into your eyes, we are so proud to be yours.

Love,

Mommy and Daddy

Ravi you are 6 years old today!

Ravi turned 6 years old in March. Oh boy has he grown.

He still loves his homemade chocolate milk first thing in the morning, and then some more when he gets home at night. Ravi gave me the vote of confidence the other day when he tasted some packaged chocolate milk, and instantly went “yuck!” Ravi is so attached to his chocolate milk that I often worry he would freak out during our vacations since they don’t make chocolate milk the same way I do. Though he complains, he still drinks it.

Ever since I introduced Nutella on toasted bread to Ravi when he was 2, it has been his meal staple. Ravi has had a very narrow taste pallet for many years and just in the last year were we able to introduce apple, carrots, broccoli into his diet. So when everything else fails, I will serve him Nutella on bread. Even to this day, I pack a Nutella sandwich for him every day as back up just in case the lunch they serve at school isn’t to his fancy.

He still loves his blanket. It is his must have companion to bed every evening. It is now so small compared to his size and frayed at the edges, with the bunnies barely visible to naked eyes. Ravi cherishes it so much. He often wraps it into a ball and gently cuddles or rubs it against his face. I often show him his new born picture with the same blanket wrapped around his little body and watch him giggle.

One item that has gained importance to Ravi’s life is his ipad. He lovingly calls it his ipaddy! I can’t keep track of how many times he has dropped it onto the floor; even the strongest shock resistant Otter Defender ipad case has been broken by him twice! Ever since last Christmas when Ravi watched his cousins play games on their devices, he has become addicted to ipad gaming. Initially he needed much help; soon he began to surpass master gamer, daddy, on games like Minion Rush. He is now able to be fully functional on his ipad. He looks up games in the Apps store (I don’t know how he does this since he is just learning words right now) and then requests us to down load them so he can play it. Before you know it, he has dozens of games to bounce around. More amazingly, he has learned to play multiple games without being able to understand most words and minimum guidance from us.

Ravi still has an affinity for Transformers. In fact, he has over half a dozen different Transformers games on his ipad to choose from. His favorite, Angry Birds Transformers, is one he opens up on a regular basis. Recently, he has gotten both Mommy and Daddy hooked on a game called monster legends. We now all play it and have fun together. He has also gotten old enough to play Gauntlet with his Daddy on the computer. It has been so much fun that even Maxie is into it these days.

Ravi still loves his scooter and is very adept at turning and going fast. We’ve gone to the playground and he has fun just zipping around on his scooter. He also likes to go for walks with his Daddy at the play area. Ravi and Daddy go around the park, holding hands and just talking. He seems to remember it from earlier and it is still a lot of fun for him. It is also wonderful to see Ravi walk everywhere now without having to sit in the stroller all the time. On our recent cruise, we had three land trips that involved about a mile of walking and he was able to handle it.

Ravi still likes to sleep in like his Dad. While Mommy and Maxie are early birds, with Max waking up as the Sun comes up, Ravi and his Dad are known for sleeping in really late. Just this last weekend they didn’t stir until noon! It seems you are shaping up to be a night owl just like your Dad.

 

Ravi,

Over the last year you have grown and developed an interest in games and gaming. It’s been fun playing computer games and ipad games with you. As you’ve gotten older, your ability to interact and have deep conversations and activities has also grown. We can see in the not too distant future that hanging out with you will be a lot of creative fun; mostly because you are a creative wild little boy that shares a lot of interests with your parents. Never stop learning and creating!

Love,

Mommy and Daddy.

One month in Ravi’s Shoes…

Ravi is a little boy. As a little boy he has a very active life and does a lot of fun things. Recently we had to buy him a spare pair of shoes while on vacation. They were average shoes and not one of his regular Stride Rite light up shoes he was used to getting. Nevertheless, Ravi liked the shoes and wore them fairly regularly for about a month.

After that month we had to get him new shoes because they looked like this-

One month in Ravi's Shoes...

One month in Ravi’s Shoes…

…Sigh…

I don’t know what he had been doing to them, but they obviously were falling apart due to him kicking stuff. The funny thing is we never really saw him excessively kicking walls or fences or anything. I even asked his teachers and they didn’t see him continuously  or repeatedly kicking things. My other kid has a habit of repeatably kicking the garage door in the morning when we’re getting ready to go, but not Ravi.

Oh well, it probably doesn’t matter much as we have to replace his shoes every three to four months at this age, but it was annoying. I’m sure I’ll get over it. Especially when Ravi gets older and I make him have to buy his shoes with his own allowance money!

Hehehe!

(Though I think he’ll get around this the same way one of my high school friends did; they duct-taped the front of the shoe to  avoid having to buy a new one until their parents relented. Parents are always so much more uptight about things like that than kids ever are.)

 

Love,

Dad.

 

Legoland

Our family has been searching for great weekend family activities for a while. We have had a couple of staple choices such as the Aquarium, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Natural History Museum, but none of these really truly capture our boys’ hearts. Flo would complain that when we went to the Aquarium the boys would spend more time running around and playing in the outdoor water area than actually looking at the fish.

Not that this is a big issue, but we needed to have a change of venue/change of activity so that we were engaging the boys in what they wanted to do as opposed to something we thought they’d be ready for. Unfortunately when we thought of theme parks we ran into two issues. Firstly, admission is expensive to theme parks. Even if you do an annual pass so that you can go multiple times, it still ends up being fairly expensive when compared to other attractions. Due to the cost we decided that we’d only really consider one theme park per year and get an annual pass for the one we liked. Secondly, most theme parks are actually geared to older kids. I think the perfect age for theme parks is the 6-13 year range. At this age kids have the durability to hang out for more than a couple of hours, they can probably walk a mile or two within the day, and they can actually start to go on rides by themselves. Unfortunately for us, Ravi and Max are still only 4 and 2 years old. That means we still have to deal with diapers and naps and the kids aren’t really interested in walking long distances. It also means that we really wanted an activity that was geared for about a half day (5 – 7 hours) at the most. And whatever we chose should not have an incredibly long drive as that tends to upset Max and he can end up crying on the trip. He’s good for about an hour if he’s well rested, but nearly every trip past two hours he has cried.

We did some research on theme parks and thought about giving Legoland a try. It’s a fairly inexpensive theme park compared to others and it’s geared to younger kids. They have a very handy height restriction map that helps you decide if your kids will enjoy the park. Ravi is about 37 inches and Max is barely 34 inches.

Map of Legoland Park with Height Restrictions for Rides included.

Map of Legoland Park with Height Restrictions for Rides included.

As you can see on the map above by 40 inches or taller you can do nearly the whole theme park and by 34 inches you can do at least half of the park. This means that both Ravi and Max can participate.

We went to Legoland for the first time about 2 months ago and the boys have been having a blast. They love a number of the rides (especially Captain Cranky’s Challenge and the Coastersaurus) and Ravi loves getting a Lego toy at the end of the day. Since we have annual passes, it has become one of the ‘de facto’ top weekend choices for our family. In fact, we’ve had so much fun going to Legoland as a family that we’ve invited some of our close friends (and their young boys) to go with us this weekend. We’ll see how well we do when there are 5 young boys running around all at once!

 

 

Mario.

 

Posing with the Lego X-wing Fighter and Maxie doing his 'action' pose

Posing with the Lego X-wing Pilot and Maxie doing his ‘action’ pose

 

While Mommy and Daddy wait in line little kids can play with Legos at multiple Lego stands. Win-win for everyone.

While Mommy and Daddy wait in line the little ones can play with legos at multiple Lego stands. Win-win for everyone.

 

 

Daddy and Ravi on 'Sky Patrol!' Having fun and making the world a safer place for everyone.

Daddy and Ravi on ‘Sky Patrol!’ Having fun and making the world a safer place for everyone.

 

Legoland is partnered with Star Wars and includes a bunch of Star Wars themed Lego dioramas. Here's one of the arena on Geonosis from Episode 2.

Legoland is partnered with Star Wars and includes a bunch of Star Wars themed Lego dioramas. Here’s one of the arena on Geonosis from Episode 2.

 

Ravi, You Are 52 Months Old Today!

My Dear Ravi,

You have turned 52 months old today!

You have officially started pre-school.  You are excited to go to your new class in the morning, which is filled with fun big boy toys and games.  It is even better when you made the transition with all your old friends you grew up with you, plus a few new ones.  Watching you being so engaged in playing has made mommy happy with the decision of keeping you in the same school.

You are eating so much better than before.  Before you were three years old, you used to refuse to eat for days at a time.  You made mommy worry all the time.  That’s why mommy is so happy with the new you.  You now eat large meals, though there were some meals you would skip.  Mommy used to be sad to see you bring back your entire lunch from school untouched, but now you have begun to eat.  There were even times when you would come home and proudly proclaim that you had eaten your entire lunch!  You still don’t eat vegetables and very few fruits, but mommy is very proud of your improvements.

You keep getting beat up by your little brother.  We thought being two years older you would defend yourself pretty well against any attack from your little brother, but no, you still keep getting beat up.  Half of the time you would yell out loud or complain, the other half you would pinch your brother back or hit him on his head.  Though mommy and daddy are against any fighting between brothers, we do want you to tactfully engage with your brother and at least stand-up to the pint-sized bully (who is a head shorter than you).

You have finally visited Legoland.  Ever since your daddy told you that such a place existed, you have been begging us to take you there.  But we had being so busy that we didn’t get a chance till the last few weekends.  During our trip there you were so excited.  But suddenly you wanted to go home after the first 2 hours, which really surprised us.  We thought you didn’t like Legoland, but you kept asking to go back there the very next day, so we took you there once more a week later.  This time you were able to get on more rides and had so much more fun.  Daddy even got you some really cool lego toys for the way back.  Those were such fun trips for the whole family that we plan to go back there often.

You have taken your first swimming lesson.  Mommy and daddy have begged you to take swimming classes for two years now, but you always refused.  You are not a huge fan of water, sometimes you don’t even want to play in the kiddie pool at school.  We kept trying and one day you relented for a brief moment.  We took this opportunity and booked you an evaluation section at the local aquatic school and off we went!  You were crying and scared at first but warmed up to your instructor and even took steps into the pool to play for 15 minutes!  We were so proud of you.  We put you onto the wait list and hope that someday very soon you will be able to regularly take swimming lessons.

My dear Ravi, you have gotten so big that it is becoming very hard for mommy to carry you, but mommy still loves to carry you because I know that one day very soon I would loose this privilege.  One day very soon you won’t want to play with mommy anymore.  I hope that day would never come, but if it does, please remember all these moments mommy held and loved you.

Love,

Mommy.

Ravi, You Are 42 Months Old Today!

My dear Ravi,

You turn three and a half today!  You have grown so much since you were three, mommy and daddy are so proud of you.  You have grown so tall and big and no one will mistake you for a toddler any more.  You are a full fledged pre-schooler, so capable and on your way to becoming self sufficient.  There have been so many changes in you, some are good and some are still hard for mommy and daddy to handle.

We love you, but to be honest, we much rather carry your brother Max around than you.  One of the top reasons is because he is still in the pudgy baby stage.  Even at low 25 percentile weight category, he’s got a soft and cuddly body to hold and cute little cheeks to kiss.  Most importantly, he stays still when we carry him.  You on the other hand, have grown these long skinny limbs that just won’t rest.  You wave them around all day long like they’ve got an energy source of their own.  You kick and throw things around to make a mess and you kick and push when we change your clothes.  You don’t tolerate being held when you are not hurt or just woken up from sleep.  Whenever we call you baby, you always correct us that you are now a big boy.   I am sad to say, yes you are, and I miss that little boy in you.

Do you remember the nights when mommy slept with you and you always gave mommy kisses before you fell asleep?  Those were our own precious moments and when we were both the happiest.  It was still like that maybe five months ago, but you don’t kiss mommy anymore.  I guess time exists completely different for each of us.  For you time travels at lightning speed.  You practically turned into a new boy in a few months, whereas mommy stayed the same, including her desire to kiss you every night before you fall asleep.  In these past few months, you have become a big boy and those sweet little moments of a little boy are now far behind you, forgotten.  Mommy even tried harassing and threatening you (I know, bad mommy), but still no kisses.  So mommies out there beware: kiss your little boys as much as you can before those intimate moments fade away.

You don’t like the idea of going to sleep, though you love sleeping!  We would have confused ourselves too if we didn’t have to deal with your sleeping habits daily.  Whenever we ask you to go to sleep, you always refuse like it is the worst punishment of all.  This is particularly bad during nap time, when we physically drag you down to your bed against your will, you would stay awake and wistfully play in your bed for hours.  So eventually we gave up on napping, but found you falling asleep during afternoon car rides or early evening TV shows.  So now we are going back to napping.  It will be a testament of will, but believe me, mommy and daddy will  triumph over yours!  The funny thing is, once we get past the initial resistance, you are a great napper.  You could nap for three hours straight, and if we don’t wake you up, you could probably sleep till sun down.  At school, you are always the one to fall asleep first and the last to wake up.  No one would ever guess that you were a very bad sleeper as an infant!  Oh the sleepless nights your mommy and daddy went through that left permanent lines on our faces.

You first came to this school a week after you turned two.  You had some really good teachers who loved you wholeheartedly and you love in return.  Nevertheless, you weren’t happy and felt self conscious.  You’ve cried when we drop you off and eager to go home at the end of the day.  When you had a choice, you never wanted to go to school.  A couple of months later, you stopped crying but still didn’t quite fit in.  I asked your teachers and they told me you didn’t have any close friends and played alone most of time.  I read up on books and understood that’s what toddlers do before they are able to communicate, yet still my heart ached when I couldn’t help you. This continued for over a year.  You have finally transitioned into the three’s class this July and I am happy to say you have made some good friends.  More importantly, you’ve got a buddy (best friend)!  A shock to me was that your buddy is a girl, and the cutest girl in the world too!  These days you enjoy your time at shcool and no longer watch out for mommy to pick you up anymore.  So often mommy comes in and watch you play for a few minutes before you realize that she was there.

All of mommy’s and daddy’s talk of dieting and saying no to food must have subconsciously filtered into your tiny brain and lodged itself there, because neither one of us can get you to eat. We ask if you want dinner, lunch, or breakfast and we always get be the exact same response; “No way!” It doesn’t matter what is being offered for the meal, you know it is anathema to your existence and a despicable act you have to tolerate so that mommy and daddy will let you watch TV.

In addition to TV being off limits without a meal, you are also not allowed cookies or ice cream or snacks until you have a couple of bites. And that is something new we’ve had to deal with.  We now have to negotiate with you over how many bites you ‘need’ to eat before you get “rewards”. When we first started you’d hold up your fingers and say ‘only three’ bites to us, which we found terribly funny since we started by only offering you to have to eat two bites! It seems in six months though you’ve started to understand the raw deal you’ve been giving yourself (or learned to count down, one of the two) since now you are a much more masterful negotiator starting at one and working your way upwards while daddy counts down. See! Learning how to do new things will help you in life. You can now eat less at meal times and save more room for desserts now that you know how to negotiate.

You have a new favorite show- the Transformers Rescue Bots. We originally started with the original Transformers show, but you quickly found the later seasons to be too scary (after Optimus Prime dies and Rodimus Prime leads them back to Cybertron). In watching the shows with you, I have to agree the series did ‘grow up’ after the movie and it really is aimed at an older audience. The new Rescue Bot show though is just right for your age. There are no guns and very rarely are there even bad guys and action. The series is a lot of fun; we just wish you would stop watching it 24/7 on the weekends. I mean really, must we watch the same 5 or 7 episodes every day and multiple times on the weekends? You love the show so much (and Optimus Prime) that we’ve bought you an Optimus Prime transformer and an Optimus Prime T-shirt which you love wearing.

There is one good thing that is coming out of your incessant obsession with Transformers; mom and dad now have a very strong incentive to plan our weekends these days! Since we don’t want to spend the day watching the same epidsos of Rescue Bots, we now have season tickets to the zoo and the aquarium and over the past Labor Day weekend we took you to both and to the sculpture garden at UCLA. This means that mommy and daddy will be spending a lot of the weekends doing something just to avoid watching TV. Since you’re working so hard to help mommy and daddy get their lazy butts off the sofa, we think it’s only natural to say Thank You! You’re really helping us exercise and diet!

 Love,

 Mommy and Daddy.

To milk or not to milk…

To milk or not to milk, that is the question:

We have an interesting dynamic playing out in our house right now. Baby Max has just transitioned to a daycare facility, where he’s having trouble drinking milk. He only likes to be breastfed and refuses to drink milk from the bottle. It’s not that he’s against food; it’s far from that. He loves to eat solids at least twice to three times a day. These include a number of mashed fruits and rice cereal. He loves to be breastfed. He just doesn’t like the bottle. He’ll also gobble up his solid meals. These days he gets more nutrition from solids than from breast milk. In fact, he’s drinking a lot less breast milk than Mommy is producing.  So much less, that the nannies at the daycare facility spoon feed him breast milk. Otherwise the milk will start piling up in the freezer.

On the other hand, our older boy loves his bottle of milk. Whenever he’s hungry, he’ll ask for a bottle of milk. ‘Daddy I want milk. Daddy I want milk. Daddy I want milk…’ and on and on. If I don’t give it he’ll try plying a bottle from Mommy or Apa (grand-pa). If he’s really hungry and desperate he’ll even go to Mom (grand-ma), which is saying something since she’s the last one to break in and give him milk. He’ll refuse dinner, lunch, breakfast, you name it, in pursuit of milk. The only things better than milk are chocolate milk and chocolate. (Notice the theme- chocolate or milk or both). This has become so much of an issue that he’s suffered constipation a couple of times and we’ve had to give him a suppository to help his bowel movements. We keep telling him he needs other things in his diet or he’ll have pooping issues, but that only lasts for a day or two before he goes back to his all milk diet.

Which bring me back to the interesting moment in our lives. Somewhere, somehow we have a two year old who should be eating up a storm of different foods only wanting milk. And we have a six month old who should be mainly drinking milk eating everything else under the sun! Somebody should have told them that they’re not behaving their age. My wife tells me that it’s my responsibility to help them understand what they should and should not do at their age. I told her, ‘but honey, when have you ever seen me act my age?’

 

Mario.

Ravi, You Are 29 Months Old Today!

Dear Ravi,

You are 29 months old today!  Seems like you are so capable already, sometimes it is hard to put a finger on new things you’ve learned each month.  Me and your dad considered for a moment to change writing this monthly post series to every other month, but so far I am still able to find so many things to write about.

You make angry faces.  In order to show your dismay when we deny your requests, you used to throw yourself onto the floor and cry.  If that didn’t work, you would call out to your grandpa (A-Pa) and grandma (Mom) to rescue you.  But in the last couple of weeks, your new strategy is to make angry faces by pouting your lips, half shutting your eyes, and looking at us from sideways.  When we finally relent and you get your way, you would be so happy but still tries your hardest to hide the smile on your face.

You frequently request to sit on potty.  Your teachers at school told us that you go to potty there at least three times a day and we should try to put you on potty at home as well.  We were surprised that you regularly request to be put onto the potty yourself!  Sometimes you make the wrong judgement call and nothing comes out, but you are always proud to sit on the potty.  You even wanted to assist us in the clean up process, which makes mommy very nervous. 

You know the words in the book that we read to you regularly.  When mommy reads to you your favorite books before bedtime, you now “help out” by prompting mommy the first couple of words on some pages!  Even though you can only do this in handful of books, mommy is still surprised that you are able to memorize those words.  Mommy questions if you actually understand those words, most likely you only remember their sounding and not their meaning.  Either way, mommy is so proud of you.

You now love the swing.  Everytime we take you to the park, the first thing you want to try is the swing!  Even though sometimes you fall down and get scared midway, you always wanted to try and try again, and go higher and higher.  We now spend bulk our time at park on the swing.  Mommy loves your “never give up” spirit and hope that someday soon you will be able to swing yourself.

Ravi, mommy loves you so much.  You never cease to amaze me.  I am always looking forward to see what new things you can do every and everyday.

Love,

Mommy.