Tuesday, December 30, 2008

my daughter, the lobbyist

ever since g's friend, E got her ears pierced, g has started the campaign to get her own ears pierced. G seems to think the ear piercing was the beginning of all sorts of wacky body piercing. I did point out to G that despite having pierced ears for the better part of my whole life, I have never had any desire for any other body piercing. Still G is hesitant.

I have told g that there probably would be some pain like an injection. She said that she was brave during her last vaccination. Indeed she was. According to G, she didn't even cry.

I also told her that she shouldn't play with it or pull on it. That refraining from doing so might be hard for her. She promised that she wouldn't, that she will leave it alone even during bedtime.

I told her that I would think about it, hoping that maybe she would drop the topic because her father seems adamant about her not getting holes in her ears.

However it seems like it comes up at least once a day. So what is a mommy to do?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

I felt a bit nostalgic tonight, so I have decided to dig out a classic. Well, at least for me.

The song is "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" by an acapella Christian group called First Call.


Monday, December 15, 2008

My s's ghetto birthday

This is a picture of Little s on her birthday. We had bought her a cake and had intended to celebrate at home. However because of the time we ended up doing the song and cake at gmom's house. We hadn't anticipate doing this so we didn't even ask for candles. So we improvised. Her "candle" is a barbecue match. She didn't care. She sang and ate up her icing and cake.
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From Public

Thursday, December 04, 2008

g's photographic study of her bear

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g the photographer


we gave g a little camera for her birthday. She has begun to take some pictures. It's been pretty blurry mostly but occasionally she gets her subjects in frame. Maybe a photographer someday? She has even figured out how to turn on the flash. Now if only she can keep the camera still as she presses down the shutter. Well I kind of still do that now.
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s (looking insane again)


She is hilarious.
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

To Santa or not?

I have been really ambivalent about introducing Santa to my kids. I believe that he has come to symbolize a materialistic view of Christmas. Being Catholic, I would prefer my kids to come to see Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ.

However since we don't live in a bubble, Santa is all over the place and hard to miss. As a donation to the school, I gave g money to take a picture with Santa. It's one of the school's many fundraisers. As I was walking her to school, I was trying to prep her for the picture taking so that it wouldn't be a picture of Santa with a screaming, crying little girl trying to get off his lap. She told me quite confidently that she will smile and that Santa buys toys for kids. All my good intentions of keeping Santa out of the C household has been thwarted.

I am still looking for ways to deemphasize this. Maybe volunteering on Christmas Day, maybe making presents for less fortunate kids, I don't know.

In any case, I am still ambivalent about Santa.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another way to spend hours on the computer

As if any suggestion is necessary but I thought that this site was cool especially for moms (and dads) who do their book shopping online. Lookybook allows you to take a glance through the book. It is more apt for picture books because you can't really zoom into text when it is on the small side but at least it gives you a general idea.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My jumping ladybug


This is g as a little ladybug.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

g turns 4 - a reflection

I have had a lot of mixed feelings about g's 4th. It's big because it signifies her first step away from home. Though she has attended daycare in the past, this is the first time that she has entered a large public school building with a defined teacher and a clear curriculum of work. (It is a bit light on academics for my taste but g is the oldest in her class due to where her birthday fell) It feels different too because I have been assailed with school stuff (parent council meetings, multiple fundraisers and the like). Above all this, the difference I think is internal.

This being her first foray towards independence, I wonder if I have provided her with enough tools to deal with life in school. I wonder if I had given her strength to be herself and to stand up for herself. I wonder if the shy little wallflower that she is will finally come out of her shell and grow. I am still wondering. Almost 2 months after the start of school, I am still wondering. It is not in her nature to blurt information, so news of school goings-on are scant or non-existent. My line of questioning has to be specific (what was lunch? what did you and your friend E played today?) This poses a problem since I go on the little information that I have observed or gleaned from previous conversations. I am wondering if this is a glimpse of her high school years when the responses to my questions would probably be just as brief.

This is a small part of letting go, the beginning of her flight. I hope for her a long and glorious adventure though some of these will from now on remain a mystery to me.

g is my wonder girl. she is the child of my heart, so intelligent, wildly emotional.

Friday, October 17, 2008

g turns 4

we had g's big birthday bash a little early this year. It was part of a big October kids' birthday extravaganza. It was nice to see everyone again. I realized then that despite summer being the season for gatherings, I barely saw anyone this summer. Sad.

I love this shot of g because I think it truly reflected the feel of the party~ carefree and happy.

It is hard to believe that g is already 4 and going to school. I am in the middle now of reviewing all my pictures for the year to create this year's scrapbook. She began the year with a recital at dance school. She looked like such a baby then.

How time flies.
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Animaniacs Remixed

This is g's rendition of the Animaniac theme song.

For the curious, the original version is more like this.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Flash Fever

Very odd thing happened last night and I am putting the word out to figure out why.

g woke up in the middle of the night, crying. She told me she was crying because she wanted me to give her water. (That's not something she usually cries about.) I felt her forehead as I was trying to calm her down. It was hot, really hot. I gave her water and took her temp. She was 103.6. I took another and it was the same.

I gave her a dose of ibuprofen and put her back to bed. I asked if she needed anything else, she just said that she thinks she needs to go to sleep now (something she doesn't usually say.)

Before that, she was complaining about pain in her knees and not being able to walk on it. I thought that this was a reaction to all the attention that s is getting. (s has been sick the last few days). She also told me before she slept that her eyes feel like they're "sleepy." She didn't have a fever when she went to sleep though.

The fever spike took place around 1:00 am. When she woke up today, I fully expected her to be sick and have at least a little remnant of a fever. She didn't. Her temp was fine.

Anyone has any ideas of what this is?

Monday, September 29, 2008


A post from dad...g has lately become somewhat of a crybaby. The slightest touch or disapproval from anyone would send her into tears. The situation is no different in response to her little sister, s. The situation between my two girls can turn ugly fast. One second they're playing and the next second g is in tears.

While i was busy preparing dinner tonight, the kids were engaged in their typical roughhousing. All of a sudden g comes running to me in the kitchen crying that her little sister just kicked her. In an effort to empower her to be more independent and less of a crybaby, F and me are trying to let g decide what she can do in response to things that upset her. I asked g to calmly stop crying and to think about what she wanted to do. She paused for just a moment and then ran back to the living room and confronted her little sister. With her index finger pointed and wagging at little s, g yelled at her and said "s, no kicking!" Ordinarily s would slink back to a corner because she knew she did something wrong or just stand there and stare coyly, but today after hearing her sister yell at her, she stuck out her little index finger, stared squarely into her older sister's eyes and said in perfect english "no crying!" That upset g even more and she yelled even louder "no kicking" to which s replied "no crying." The yelling and finger wagging went back and forth for a bit more before i broke it up. g was in tears and s evolved from yelling "no crying" to "no kicking."

Today is the first time i saw s verbally stick up for herself. I fear the tyrant brewing inside of her.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

6 Food Mistakes Parents Make - NYT Article

I thought that this was an interesting article. Link is here.

Text below:

HARRIET WOROBEY, a childhood nutrition instructor, knows firsthand that children can be picky eaters, but even she was surprised by a preschooler last year who ate a mostly chocolate diet.

“Chocolate milk, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip pancakes — it was unbelievable,” said Ms. Worobey, director of the Rutgers University Nutritional Sciences Preschool in New Brunswick, N.J. “His mother just thought, ‘That’s what he wants, so that’s what I’m going to do.’ ”

While most parents haven’t resorted to the chocolate diet, they can relate to the daily challenge of finding foods that children will eat. Although obesity dominates the national discussion on childhood health, many parents are also worried that their child’s preferred diet of nuggets and noodles could lead to a nutritional deficit.

Fussiness about food is a normal part of a child’s development. Young children are naturally neophobic — they have a distrust of the new. Even the most determined parents can be cowed by a child’s resolve to eat nothing rather than try something new. As a result, parents often give in, deciding that a bowl of Cocoa Puffs or a Pop-Tart, while not ideal, must be better than no food at all.

“I think parents feel like it’s their job to just make their children eat something,” Ms. Worobey said. “But it’s really their job to serve a variety of healthy foods and get their children exposed to foods.”

A series of simple meal-time strategies can help even the pickiest eater learn to like a more varied diet. Here’s a look at six common mistakes parents make when feeding their children.

Sending children out of the kitchen With hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives at hand, it is understandable that parents don’t want children in the kitchen when they’re making dinner. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

Researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University studied how cooking with a child affects the child’s eating habits. In one study, nearly 600 children from kindergarten to sixth grade took part in a nutrition curriculum intended to get them to eat more vegetables and whole grains. Some children, in addition to having lessons about healthful eating, took part in cooking workshops. The researchers found that children who had cooked their own foods were more likely to eat those foods in the cafeteria, and even ask for seconds, than children who had not had the cooking class.

When children are involved in meal preparation, “they come to at least try the food,” said Isobel Contento, professor of nutrition education at Teachers College and a co-author of the study. “Kids don’t usually like radishes, but we found that if kids cut up radishes and put them in the salad, they love the radishes.”

Pressuring them to take a bite Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything seems reasonable, but it’s likely to backfire.

Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward. In one study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers asked children to eat vegetables and drink milk, offering them stickers and television time if they did. Later in the study, the children expressed dislike for the foods they had been rewarded for eating.

“Parents say things like ‘eat your vegetables and you can watch TV,’ but we know that kind of thing doesn’t work either,” said Leann L. Birch, director of Penn State’s childhood obesity research center and a co-author of the study. “In the short run, you might be able to coerce a child to eat, but in the long run, they will be less likely to eat those foods.”

The better approach is to put the food on the table and encourage a child to try it. But don’t complain if she refuses, and don’t offer praise if she tastes it. Just ask her if she wants some more or take seconds yourself, but try to stay neutral.

Keeping ‘good stuff’ out of reach Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

In another Penn State study, researchers experimented to determine whether forbidden foods were more desirable. Children were seated at tables and given unlimited access to plates of apple or peach cookie bars — two foods the youngsters had rated as “just O.K.” in earlier taste tests. With another group, some bars were served on plates, while some were placed in a clear cookie jar in the middle of the table. The children were told that after 10 minutes, they could snack on cookies from the jar.

The researchers found that restricting the cookies had a profound effect: consumption more than tripled compared with when the cookies were served on plates.

Other studies show that children whose food is highly restricted at home are far more likely to binge when they have access to forbidden foods.

The lesson for parents? Don’t bring foods that you feel the need to restrict into the house. Instead, buy healthful snacks and give children free access to the food cabinets.

Dieting in front of your children Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. A Rutgers study of parent and child food preferences found that preschoolers tended to like or reject the same fruits and vegetables their parents liked or didn’t like. And other research has shown girls are more likely to be picky eaters if their mothers don’t like vegetables.

Given this powerful effect, parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating. In one study of 5-year-old girls, one child noted that dieting involved drinking chocolate milkshakes — her mother was using Slim-Fast drinks. Another child said dieting meant “you fix food but you don’t eat it.”

A 2005 report in the journal Health Psychology found that mothers who were preoccupied with their weight and eating were more likely to restrict foods for their daughters or encourage them to lose weight. Daughters of dieters were also more likely to try diets as well. The problem is, restrictive diets don’t work for most people and often lead to binge eating and weight gain. By exposing young children to erratic dieting habits, parents may be putting them at risk for eating disorders or a lifetime of chronic dieting. “Most mothers don’t think their kids are soaking up this information, but they are,” Dr. Birch said. “They’re teaching it to their daughters even though it doesn’t work for them.”

Serving boring vegetables Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables. Adding a little butter, ranch dressing, cheese sauce or brown sugar to a vegetable dish can significantly improve its kid appeal. And adding a little fat to vegetables helps unlock their fat-soluble nutrients. The few extra calories you’re adding are a worthwhile tradeoff for the nutritional boost and the chance to introduce a child to a vegetable.

Giving up too soon Ms. Worobey said she has often heard parents say, “My kid would never eat that.” While it may be true right now, she noted that eating preferences often change. So parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

Sibling dynamics and friendships can also change a child’s eating habits. Dr. Birch of Penn State noted that her first child was always willing to try new foods, but that her second child was not. “Part of it was just him defining his place in the family,” she said. By the age of 10 or 11, he didn’t want to be outdone by his sister and was far more willing to try new foods.

Susan B. Roberts, a Tufts University nutritionist and co-author of the book “Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health,” suggested a “rule of 15” — putting a food on the table at least 15 times to see if a child will accept it. Once a food is accepted, parents should use “food bridges,” finding similarly colored or flavored foods to expand the variety of foods a child will eat. If a child likes pumpkin pie, for instance, try mashed sweet potatoes and then mashed carrots. If a child loves corn, try mixing in a few peas or carrots. Even if a child picks them out, the exposure to the new food is what counts.

“As parents, you’re going to make decisions as to what you want to serve,” Ms. Worobey said. “But then you just have to relax and realize children are different from day to day.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Easy Banana Bread (great kiddie activity)

I got this from another mommy. g and I have been experimenting with baking together. Well, the results seem like an experiments. I have been on the lookout recently for activities we can do together and baking or cooking seems to be a natural thing for mommies and girlies.

So now on to the recipe:

Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter Cream together
3/4 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs Add to above
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 teas. baking soda Mix together and add to above
4 tablespoons sour cream (Will start to bubble up)
1 teas. vanilla Add to above
1 1/2 cups sifted flour Add to above and mix well.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

My additions/comments on the recipe:
1. butter should be room temperature. (Every baker out there reading this is probably rolling his eyes. Sorry.)
2.the kids loved opening the bananas and mashing them up.
3. I found this cool video of how to cream butter for the newbies out there.

The results:
g gives it 2 thumbs up.

Staten Island Children's Museum

I'll be back for more details but I wanted to share the pictures.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The crazy month of August

It's been a really hectic month but I'd like to share our pictures over the last month.

This is Liberty State park during our sad attempt to fly a kite.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

boo-bah bah

Just having a little taste.
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Blueberries anyone?

g at Johnson Family farm
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mommy confession

9:22 pm - This is arguably the best part of the day. Yes, I admit it. It is quiet in the house. I am watching "The Next Food Network Star". I have poured myself a rather strong glass of plum wine. For the first time in my typical day, I breathe. Not that the day is over but that I can at least work at my own pace. There is still a lunch and/or dinner to prepare. More often there is a document or two that needs to be prepared for work. There is some cleaning that needs to be done. The list goes on and on and on.

As much as I love motherhood, I need this quiet every night.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Disease proof your child

I can't recall anymore how I found this book, Disease-Proof Your Child by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. In the book, he advocates for nutritional excellence. As defined in the book, nutritional excellence is mainly a vegan diet. Though he feels that vegan is the way to go for everyone (including and especially kids who have started solids), he makes a little compromise for some lean meat and some dairy (but only low fat).

There are some tips that are pretty useful in the book. For one, he lists ten super foods which is a great guideline to incorporate. (Excerpted from the book/website)

Avocados are a clean, healthy source of healthy fatty acids. They are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols and high in the powerful anti-oxidant glutathione. Avocados are healthy anti-cancer food. Use it in place of butter, mash it with bananas for young children, and use it in lots of avocado-based dressings and dips.

Blueberries/Blackberries are packed with tannins, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and proanthcyanidins that have been linked to prevention and reversal of age-related mental decline. They also have powerful anti-cancer effects. Use frozen organic berries in the winter when fresh ones are not available.

Cantaloupes are another vitamin powerhouse. With only 56 calories a cup, one gets a huge amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as folate, potassium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.

Carrots/Beets are colorful root crops that add beauty and flavor to dishes. Shredded raw in salads, cooked, or in soups, they are high in fiber and antioxidants compounds such as cartonoids abd betacyanin, a powerful cancer protective agent found to inhibit cell mutations.

Flax Seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Use ground flax seed in oatmeal, or add them to whipped frozen bananas, stewed apples, and cinnamon and nut balls. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.

Green Lettuce is exceptionally low in calories, but contains an abundance of phytonutrients, plant proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eat salad with lettuce every day.

Kale is a fantastic high-nutrient green vegetable to add to soups and to serve chopped.

Sesame Seeds are one of the most mineral-rich foods in the world and a potent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins, and fiber. They are also rich in anti-cancer lignans that are uniquely found in sesame seeds alone. Grind some unhulled sesame seeds into a powder to sprinkle on salads and vegetables. Toast lightly and mix with eggplant, chickpeas, scallions, and garlic for a healthy and delicious dip.

Strawberries are high in folic acid, flavonoids, iron, and vitamin C. They provide a good source of dietary fiber and potassium yet contain only 60 calories per cup. Use strawberries and frozen strawberries frequently. Try a fruit smoothie by blending together a banana, orange juice, and frozen strawberries.

Tomatoes have been a hot topic in recent years because their consumption has been linked to dramatic reduction in the incidence of common cancers. One of the tomatoes' heavily investigated anti-cancer phytochemicals is lycopene, which has been shown to be protective against cancer, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancers."

The other tip that I liked is regarding nuts. He liked nuts as an alternate (read - better) form of fat. However it shouldn't still be consumed in large quantities.

There is one point though that he made regarding picky eaters that turned on the "light bulb" for me. His advice was to never coerce a child to eat. Seems like an oft repeated mantra but he follows it up with a new mantra - "I will not be concerned with the number of calories consumed by my child" It finally clicked. I really did just stop pushing s to eat. It was getting more and more frustrating. I've tried many things but often she will eat as much as she wants and as often as she wants. So now I don't push anymore. I stopped completely. I would ask the nanny how much she ate. However much it is, it is enough until she asks for more. That has been such a relief.

In summary, he makes a lot of interesting points though many of his points were made in most health magazines for years. So there is probably no reason the book should have gone to almost 230 pages.

My rating - read through the website. Everything is there and the information is indexed for quick access.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Darfur - a primer in 10 minutes

I know that this is not mommy related but I was so impressed at how clearly and succinctly this short video was able to explain the conflict that even I with my mommy (read - foggy) brain could understand.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boston, part 3 - Whale Watching

This is one of the few pictures I took. The whale watching trip really went well. I was so hesitant about the whole thing because I was afraid that we would not see whales and that we would all get seasick. This was taken with no zoom lens. The whales were really that close.

We booked a tour with Boston Harbor Cruise. I booked over the phone. It was a little annoying that I never got an email confirm of my booking. I had to call back and get a confirm number. I also like this tour operator because unlike the New England Aquarium tour that was going to charge for every person onboard (so for us. that's 2 adults, 1 senior and 2 kids). Whereas this operator will only charge for adults and seniors. Kids under 4 are free.

Though the tour turned out to be 3 1/2 hours (it was advertised at 3 hours), the time went by really quickly. We had the first whale sighting within an hour or so. It was pretty awesome to see.

Now some words of caution:
Whales don't breach very often. A breach is when the whale basically jumps out of the water. We found out that whales only breach about 10% of the time and usually as a result of trying to get to some "itch" or some irritation that has latched to its skin. It can also be a form of communication. However since it takes a lot of energy to do this move, it doesn't happen often. So adjust your expectations. Because if you came to see jumping whales, you'll be disappointed.

It's colder in the open ocean, especially when the boat is traveling at top speed. When the experts say this online, believe them. I forgot my jacket at home and thought that since it was a warm summer day, I would be fine. I don't get cold much but it was chilly on the upper deck. I should have listened. So if you are planning to be on the upper deck, plan on bringing a sweater or thick windbreaker with a hood.

If you're feeling lucky.... I chose to go with the advice of staking a spot on the upper deck for the best view. However I think everyone got that advice, so it got pretty crowded. Whereas Gmom, G and the kids remained downstairs inside the cabin so that they can stay warm. When the whale sightings began, everyone made a dash for the upper level, leaving the windows of cabin open for viewing. G got some really great video of the whales without leaving the comfort of the climate-controlled cabin. He was lucky. Later on, a bunch of kids came back from upper deck and his clear view got obstructed.

Boston, part 2

After a great time at the Children's museum, the family C retired to our hotel.
for a nice afternoon nap. Instead of the whole production of taking the kids out trying to scope for food, we left them with Gmom napping while G and I tried to find get food. We found Thai Basil Restaurant. I was very encouraged by the amount of local kids (probably university kids) who were piling into the place. Lots of small families too.

The food was acceptable Thai. Of course, I made the mistake of ordering a lo mein, thinking that the kids might like that. Instead they took to the Mango fried rice. The lo mein looked a little sickly but everything else was just ok.

After an arduous swim in the hotel pool, it was time for fireworks or more accurately, it was time to wait for the fireworks which did not happen till almost 11:00 PM. For young families who want to watch fireworks, I think this might have been the best decision. I paid more than I would normally for a smallish hotel room but the view to the fireworks were amazing.

From my research, this is one of the few hotels in the area that actually has a view to the fireworks display from the rooms. We played the broadcast on TV to listen to announcements and watched the fireworks through the window of our climate-controlled hotel room. It was fabulous.

Some tips for those wanting to book a room for the 4th of July Fireworks in Boston:
1. The hotel that we used was the Westin Copley Place. There are other Westin properties in Boston, so make sure you have the right one.
2. Request a room on a high floor. We were on the 22nd floor and we are slightly obstructed by the roof of the building next door (check picture above). 22nd floor is the lowest floor to be on for a good view (I think).
3. Request a river view.

Was it worth the extra $$$? I think so. g really wanted to see fireworks. To try to bring the kids to the waterfront in the heat and have her waits HOURS just felt excruciating to me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime expense. She has these pictures. We can check this off the list.

The hotel was clean. The pool was also clean. The staff were easy to deal with. The hotel was also convenient in the sense that it is near the subway.

RIPOFF ALERT - the hotel has valet parking ($42 for the evening) and self- parking ($32 for the evening). Both prices are highly inflated. When we inquired about other parking options in the area, we were told that there weren't much. Driving around the corner to look for the hotel self-parking entrance, I saw another parking garage sign for $9. I parked there. Not knowing that metered parking is suspended because of the holiday. I found out the day after. So I could have parked for free. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A word on sunscreen

I found this website and found it to be incredibly useful in understanding about sunscreens. It is a huge read for busy moms but well worth it when you consider that it does not recommend some of the most popular brands of sunscreens like Coppertone.

It breaks down each product by toxicity and by effectiveness. It is interesting that it also recommends a common drugstore brand above the leading ones in the field.

This site is not limited to sunscreen but covers all manner of cosmetics and skin care. I also like the fact that this is primarily a research group, not affiliated with any company and not trying to sell any other product of its own.

Cosmetic Database

Monday, July 07, 2008


The Family C has just returned from a wonderful trip to Boston, MA. We went there for the 4th of July fireworks. g has always liked fireworks. We set out early Saturday morning, hoping to arrive in Boston around 1:00 pm.

With Gmom in tow, we set off more or less on schedule. Almost as soon as the car started, Gmom proceeded to serve up a variety of snacks. Most surprisingly, after an hour or so of snacks, g & s fell asleep at 10:30 AM. I can't remember the last time these kids went to sleep that early but they both did.

Upon arriving in Boston at noon (a whole hour earlier than my expectation. Thanks, Tom tom), we were primed for some of that famous New England seafood. Our first stop was the Barking Crab Restaurant.

Our rating - too much for too little

We had asked about their crab bowl. It's basically 4 lbs of different types of crab "clusters" (not sure what a crab cluster is.) I think there should be snow crab, dungeness crabs and king crabs. All this for the "bargain" price of $80. Hmmm....No. So instead of the crab bowl, we got 3 appetizers, 4 sides and a kid's meal. Our total ended up being $80 anyway which is the irony. The food was ok though not worth $80. It's a shack albeit a glorified one. We had the steamed mussels, calamari and crab cakes. For sides, we had 2 orders of jasmine rice, green beans and bok choy with shitake mushrooms. The portions were really small. Flavorwise, well, it's nothing to write up. I'll leave it at that.

Next stop, Boston Children's Museum

This was not part of the original plan but since we saw a sign for it at the Barking crab, I thought, "why not?" The kids were rested and we needed something low key to do before the fireworks tonight. So we went and it turned out to be one of the best children's museum I have gone to.

It had a ton of things to do. There were the usual animal displays, bubbles, water area and oversized climbing structures. I also liked that there were cultural displays as well. They had a recreation of a traditional Japanese house. A new exhibit for the rest of the year is about Hangzhou, China. There was a recreation of a typical Chinese kitchen (funny, looks a lot like mine - complete with oyster sauce, wok and steamer). There was a video class on working an abacus. There was also a water wall where kids should be trying Chinese calligraphy (ie excuse for kids to play with water and a brush). Costumes and a small stage for a Chinese opera was also available for play. I would post a particularly incriminating photo but for the sake of the marriage, I won't.

The most fun was a "photo souvenir booth" where there was a background set and camera hooked up to the internet and pc. You take the picture, enter your email address and voila!!!

In summary, Love it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

g says the darnest things #251

The back story - The Family C finally got a new set of wheels. It was long overdue considering all the mechanical difficulties that poor civic had and about $1500 in repairs due. One major repair was air conditioning. The AC stopped working months ago. So while driving to a playdate, g and I were talking about the new car. She mentioned she wanted to show her friend, a, her new big car. She also said that a had a small car while she had a big car. Not wanting to make her feel that somehow having a big car was any better than a small car, I explained that our small car's AC had broken down and that is why we needed to get the bigger car. That some people did not want or need a bigger car.

Fast forward to actual story....

G was doing brain quest with g. In one picture, she was asked to identify what was missing from the image. The image was of a car interior with no steering wheel.

So G asked, "what's missing, g?"

g responds, "the car has no air conditioning."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pumps - info for new moms

I've been asked this a few times this week, so I thought I'd share a list taken from one of my mommy forums. This is by no means comprehensive but these are all mommy-tested and approved.

First and foremost, for information on breastfeeding - go to Kellymom

Now, info on Pumps, parts and all:

Pump Recommendations

Medela Pump In Style

Medela Pump In Style Advanced

Ameda Purely Yours

Avent Isis

Whisper Wear

Lansinoh Double Electric (same as the Ameda Purely Yours)

Milk Storage

Gerber Seal 'N Go Breastmilk Storage Bags

Medela Pump and Save Bags

Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags

Avent Via

Other Pumping Accessories

Medela Personal Fit Breast Shields

Easy Expressions Hands Free Pumping Bra (a lifesaver!!!!)

Medela Micro Steam Bags and Anti-Bacterial Wipes (never used this personally but heard good things about it)

Replacement Valves and Membranes for the PIS

Places to find pumps for less


Birth and Baby

The Baby Bungalow

Other recommended vendors for replacement parts

Self Expressions

Pumps for Less

NYC people can get their replacement parts, pump rental and all things breastfeeding related at the UpperBreastSide store.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shanghai noodles

So I bought bag of flat noodles and wondered what to do with it. Off to the internet I went to search for a recipe. I found this site.

Here's the recipe:

Stir-fried Shanghai Noodles Recipe

Ingredients :
1/2 pack thick yellow noodles, fresh ( 7 oz )
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 oz shredded green onions
5 oz sliced button mushrooms
5 oz cut chinese mustard greens ( aka Small Gai Choy )
1 egg
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp thick soy sauce
1-2 tsp tsp sweet soy sauce (ABC brand, bottleSweet Soy Sauce)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cooking oil
white pepper to taste

Notes : Sugar and molasses are already added in the thick soy sauce and the sweet soy sauce. Hence, no sugar is needed for this recipe.

Method :
1) In a pot of boiling water, cook the yellow noodles until the required texture is achieved. I like it springier, so I cook the yellow noodles for just about 5-8 minutes. Remove, rinse in cold water, drain and set aside to cool.
2) Add sesame oil and cooking oil to the cooked noodles. Mix well and set aside.
3) Heat the wok until it's smoking hot and turn the heat down to low. Quickly stir-fry the green onions and garlic until fragrant.
4) Stir in an egg, mix the cut mustard greens, sliced button mushrooms, turn the heat back high, and continue stir-fry for 1 minute.
5) Add the noodles, splash in the fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, thick soy sauce, white pepper to taste, and continue to stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minute or until evenly mixed.

Changes that I made:
- I had flat noodles instead of the egg noodles.
- I didn't have mustard greens. I used american broccoli instead and I pre-boiled it.

Verdict - stay tuned for lunch time tomorrow but at initial taste, it seems flavorful but dry.

Updated verdict - it is really dry. Flavor is there definitely. I really like the preboiling technique. Wouldn't be bad with a bowl of soup.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home Remedies

I read these in Parent's Magazine and thought it seems really interesting.

Honey and lemon juice for sore throat
Mix together a tablespoon of each microwave for 20 seconds until warm (not hot) and have your child swallow the mixture a teaspoon at a time.

Chamomile tea for colic
Steep tea for four to five minutes, let it cool to room temperature and then put one to two ounces in bottle.

Baking soda for bug bites

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with just enough water to make a thick paste, smear it on the bites, and let it try.

cayenne pepper for nosebleeds

Keep your child's head upright and pinch his nostrils together for several minutes. Then sprinkle a pinch of ground cayenne pepper on a moistened cotton swab and dab inside the nose on the area of the bleeding.

Duct tape for warts

Place a small piece on the skin over your child's wart, but not so tightly that it hurts. Change the tape whenever it starts to get icky: in about a month, the wart should be gone.

A bubble wand for anxiety

Have our child blow long, slow steams of bubbles from the soapy wand.

Fresh Ginger tea for car sickness

add a teaspoon of shredded fresh ginger to four ounces of boiling water and let it steep for four to five minutes. You can add a bit of honey to make it taste better.

A credit card for a bee ting

Use he flat edge of a credit to gently scrape across the area until the stinger comes out.

Stick of gum for indigestion
chew some gym when she complains of a full stomach after a big meal

Don't try these

Whiskey for teething
Rubbing even a small amount of whiskey on a baby's gum can cause alcohol poisoning. Instead, gently massage the area with your finger.

Butter for burns

Petroleum jelly, oil and butter trap heat which can worsen a burn. It's best to soak your child's skin in cool water and cover with a sterile gauze pad. If it's oozing, call your doctor or head to the ER.

Bicorbonate for colic.

Some babies have died or suffered long term cognitive delay from swallowing this.

rubbing alcohol for fever.

It's true that it cools down your child's skin as it evaporates but she can also absorb and inhale the alcohol which could poison her.

Cigarette for tick removal.

The heat from a lit cigarette ca cause a tick to burrow deeper into the skin. Instead, use blunt tweezers to pull the tick out.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A family that wiis together

The family C is definitely WII-ing together. The purchase initially was for me. I wanted to find a way to get healthy within my specific time constraints (READ - no time). I think the WII Fit fever has spread.

- I like the variety in the offering. However I am at day 18 ad I have unlocked almost all the games, so I am afraid I am running out of "variety" soon.
- The exercises are fun. The aerobics are the most fun. The yoga is good too. I am horrible at the balance games.
- There is something for the kids to do. The running game is good for both g and s. g can even follow along a step class.
- Hula Hoops - need I say more?

- I would wish that there would be a workout routine like a whole workout rather than pieces. Most exercises (especially the yoga stuff) has a bit of an introduction and commentary from your "trainer" afterwards. Since I am doing this because of time constraints, this is even more annoying. In the first week, a 30 minute workout would take me almost 45 minutes to get through. I do understand that most newcomers to exercise need the instructions/demo, but why can't I just skip it when I've seen all of this?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why can't we all just get along?

I am fresh from a big vaccine discussion on one of my mommy groups and I am spent. After that blood bath, I got another email from another mommy "friend" telling me how I was so "wrong" about my thoughts on this zoo (she loved and I hated). It has taught me one thing that when it comes to kids, parenting and things we do with our kids, there doesn't ever seem to be one right answer. However, I would like to submit that opinions (as in like and hate) has very little to do with "right", right?

Like all opinions, I don't think that mine weighs any heavier than the "paper" that this is being written on but like all opinionated people, I chose to write them anyway and share. I also believe in contributing to the "system". I read other people's reviews and get a lot of insight from them, so I think it is only fair that I contribute as well so that people may avoid my pitfalls.

I am wondering now if I should ever share my thoughts. Most people, once a parent, begin to adopt ideas and viewpoints based on their experiences of parenthood. Some then feel that because it had worked splendidly on Junior, then it must be as sacred as gospel. What saved me from that narrow point of view is little s, who firmly rejects being a copy of her older sister. s is fierce in her independence and refuses to follow any of her sister's footsteps. It almost seems like she takes great pains to avoid them.

I find that I have "encounters" with those parents often. However the "reality" is as diverse as the personalities of each little child. "What works" runs the gamut.

In the end, I bowed out of the vaccine discussion with this thought - all parents really have the same goal in mind, "the best for our kids." So as I continue posting my thoughts and opinion on the web, know that I will only be expressing one of the many viewpoints that make this parenting thing an adventure, a struggle and a joy.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Children's Place 20% off coupon - exp 6/30

Just thought I'd share this printable Children's Place coupon for 20% off entire purchase.

It's also valid for use online.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The family C hits DC & Baltimore

Over the Memorial Day weekend, the family c decided to take to the road (with the M family). We went to DC and Maryland. It was fabulous. The weather was warm and sunny. The only bad thing was the crowds. I guess it's inevitable for the unofficial start of summer.

First we went to the Baltimore Aquarium. It was a nice aquarium. It was also rather small, deceptively so. The best part was the Atlantic Coral Reef (a 4 level tank, maybe even 5). They also had a huge tank that you encircle as you slowly make your way up to the Coral Reef tank where there were huge turtles and sting rays. They also had people in scuba gear feeding the fishes. It was great. g got to see them feed the stingray up close. We happened to be at the lower deck viewing area. The keepers brought the food right up to the window. We saw that little mouth just gobble the fish up. This area was really the main attraction for me.

The aquarium touts the Dolphin Show. I was less than impressed, having been to Shedd and SeaWorld. It was more focused on education (which is good, I guess) but I could get the same education watching Discovery Channel. The kids were glued to the Dolphins though. So it was a little below par for the been-there-done-that crowd but for little ones, the wonder was still there.

Some tips for those thinking of heading to the Aquarium:
- Parking - Get there early. There's a lot of street parking to be had for the early bird. The prime spots are the 4 hour spaces. You still have to shell out $1/hour but that beats parking at a lot. In a pinch, there are also 2 hour space and 1 hour spaces. We ended up parking in a lot. For those who would go that route, park a block or two further from the Aquarium for better prices. The parking garage in front of the aquarium was about $25. The one the next block over was $12 for the whole day.
- Timed Entry. On quiet regular days, this wouldn't matter much but on summer weekends and certain holidays (look here for best times to visit), entry time could be hours after your arrival. Unfortunately we were there on the Saturday of Memorial Day. So when we arrived at 11:00 AM, the next entry time was not until 3:00 PM. The next available Dolphin Show was not until 6:00 PM. So plan accordingly.
- NO STROLLERS!!! They rent backpacks but it's probably best to bring your own. To get to some exhibits, you would have to go through several levels of narrow escalators. Some viewing exhibits and tanks are also very small so stroller would have been hellish anyway.

In Summary - I don't think I fully appreciated this aquarium because of the crowds. However because of the cost, I don't know if I would go back. Maybe if we were in the area and there was nothing else to do.

Port Discovery Children's Museum

If we were in the area with nothing to do, I would most likely go here. This place was a lot of fun for g. She took to the multi-level play structure (although she was too chicken to go down the enclosed slide) I wish there were more pictures of her around the structure but I was too busy trying to keep up with her to take any. They had cool exhibits as well. My favorite (g's as well) is the Wonder of water where kids use water to play instruments, move a wheel, squeegee a window, float ducks and more. We attempted the Bubble Hoop together and actually got a hula hoop sized bubble to form for almost 2 feet before it popped. I loved that they provided rain ponchos and crocs for this area. There was no way I was going to keep g from being sopping wet without these.

We also did some art, a Japanese marbling technique called suminagashi.

I don't think we got through all the different play areas because the kids were so happy with the first few that they got to and that's a really good thing.

BTW, they had corporate program of which GS was on the list. So we got in for FREE. YES!!!!

In Summary
- we'll definitely be back.

Next Stop - The National Zoo

First off, I love the fact that it is free. We went there last year and found it just okay. We were done in a few hours. This year saw the unveiling of the Asia Trail and I was impressed. Last time we went, the panda viewing area was a foot bridge overlooking the panda enclosure. It looked really great. The pandas are always awesome to see. Both kids liked it.

I liked the National Zoo for the way the enclosures seem to be configured. Though there is a good safe distance between the animals and the humans, there seems to be a sense of immediacy. I get blown away by the scale of the animal especially the elephants and the hippos.

Again since it was memorial day, it was pandemonium. We could have covered the zoo in about 3 hours including lunch but the crowds really make it pretty impossible. So we spent pretty much the whole day there. No regrets. Well, except that g was having a "moment" all day. Eventually we found out that she was just really hungry. She devoured her over-priced chicken nugget meal in 2 minutes.

The only annoyance of the National Zoo is its layout. It is shaped like a banana rather than a circle. So after you have done the zoo, you would have to walk through everything to get to where you started. This might be alleviated by the launch of the Elephant Walk in 2011. Who knows?

In Summary - Love it, but try not to go on a holiday weekend.

Now for the hotel...The Donovan House We got a great deal on this "hip luxury" hotel. "Hip luxury" might be code for "not so kid friendly." It is especially bad for little s. Ok, it is actually bad for us, good for s actually. s loved being able to explore everything and since "hip" seems to mean lots of furniture low to the ground, everything was within reach. She climbed onto the coffee table, knocked over the lamp and hid behind thick blackout curtains. Yes, bad for us, good for her.

The room was small. Thankfully we ordered a double room since gmom was going to be with us. It was just enough space for the beds, the well-appointed furnishings and the little walkway between these.

The "coolness" factor of the room must refer to a circular shower stall which, I admit, was cool until someone had to shower in it. gmom fell, g fell, s fell. They weren't playing either. They just fell because "coolness" doesn't involved putting treads or grooves on the shower floor. When wet, the floor becomes really slippery. Once inside though, the shower felt like a prefab shower (which it was.) For all the hip-ness, it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny.

The breakfast. It was a continental breakfast at its worst. They run out of things fairly quickly. They don't really have staff to manage this but use the front desk staff to refill napkins, muffins and water. No juice. No dining tables. They had coffee tables which is fine except when you are trying to wrangle a toddler (s).

In Summary - I would probably stay there again if there is another good deal. I will get my breakfast elsewhere and tread carefully while in the shower.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

peekaboo frog

pic from van saun park visit.
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anyone in there?

s at Van saun zoo
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a little mental


Here's little s looking a little deranged.
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Kai Lan

After weeks of checking, I finally decided to bite the bullet. It's been months since little g became a fan. I had wanted to get her a shirt, hair clip...something. Nothing.

I thought that this cartoon-merchandising tie-in was a little more swift than it really is considering the proliferation of all things Dora/Barney/Elmo. I have been looking into iron-on transfers for inkjet printers. The reviews online thus far has been fairly dismal. So I have been really hesitant.

It's not cheap (about $7.00 for a 5 sheet set), but in a moment of weakness (which always seem to strike when I am at Walmart), I bought it.

It sat unopened for a couple of days until I finally decided to go for it. Here's the result.

Not too bad.

I'll report back after a few washes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It was an amazing sight this morning. g used chopsticks today. She had been trying for the last few days to varying degree of success. Mostly she ends up eating with her hands because her technique requires her to put the food onto chopsticks she had clutched tightly.

This morning she requested dumplings for breakfast. I had used chopsticks to serve it and had gone to look for her fork. By the time I returned, she had already started. So I just let her try, thinking that she would give up or use her hands. She didn't. Now granted these were pretty even sized, non-spherical shapes that would cling pretty easily to chopsticks, but she had polished off her entire plate without really using her hands. Not bad for a three year old.

So now I was considering getting her some chopstick trainers but since she has done so well, maybe she doesn't need it anymore. What do you think?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Site that we love

but I am warning ya! It's going to be a little scary walking down the baby aisle afterwards.

The site is called Safemama. (Thanks for the tip, Y!) Great stuff all around about the safety of baby products. The most informative post I have found is the one about safe plastics in sippies. It actually lists down all the safe sippies which is a whole lot better than trying to figure these things out. Most sippies and bottles don't have the telltale recycle number at the bottom that will tell me whether or not it's safe. BTW, 1, 2, 4 and 5 are the safe ones.

I have only begun to read but it talks about the plastic in toothbrushes (didn't think about that one) and teethers (thankfully past that stage now) and a whole host of other things to be panicked about.

So enjoy!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's "just" another recall - Munchkin food warmer

This is getting too annoying. There have just been too many of these now.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I love you forever

I had just given her a shower. g and I were going through our normal bedtime routine of shower, toothbrushing, story and song. We had just finished brushing her teeth. I had a nice layer of aveeno cream on her face (to ward off the eczema monsters) when she reached out for a hug. We held and hugged for a few seconds when she said, "I love you forever." This was completely unprompted. My heart melted into a sloppy pool that would have difficult to remove from the tile floor. Thankfully, she was too young to realized that at that very moment, she could have had whatever she wanted. (g: mama, can I have a tattoo? me: sure._)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clueless in America

An op-ed piece in the New York Times shines a light on one of worst fears since becoming a mom. Education is failing in America.

The Op-ed piece by Bob Herbert:
We don’t hear a great deal about education in the presidential campaign. It’s much too serious a topic to compete with such fun stuff as Hillary tossing back a shot of whiskey, or Barack rolling a gutter ball.

The nation’s future may depend on how well we educate the current and future generations, but (like the renovation of the nation’s infrastructure, or a serious search for better sources of energy) that can wait. At the moment, no one seems to have the will to engage any of the most serious challenges facing the U.S.

An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. That’s more than a million every year, a sign of big trouble for these largely clueless youngsters in an era in which a college education is crucial to maintaining a middle-class quality of life — and for the country as a whole in a world that is becoming more hotly competitive every day.

Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.

“We have one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world,” said Allan Golston, the president of U.S. programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In a discussion over lunch recently he described the situation as “actually pretty scary, alarming.”

Roughly a third of all American high school students drop out. Another third graduate but are not prepared for the next stage of life — either productive work or some form of post-secondary education.

When two-thirds of all teenagers old enough to graduate from high school are incapable of mastering college-level work, the nation is doing something awfully wrong.

Mr. Golston noted that the performance of American students, when compared with their peers in other countries, tends to grow increasingly dismal as they move through the higher grades:

“In math and science, for example, our fourth graders are among the top students globally. By roughly eighth grade, they’re in the middle of the pack. And by the 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring generally near the bottom of all industrialized countries.”

Many students get a first-rate education in the public schools, but they represent too small a fraction of the whole.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, offered a brutal critique of the nation’s high schools a few years ago, describing them as “obsolete” and saying, “When I compare our high schools with what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow.”

Said Mr. Gates: “By obsolete, I don’t just mean that they are broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools — even when they’re working as designed — cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.”

The Educational Testing Service, in a report titled “America’s Perfect Storm,” cited three powerful forces that are affecting the quality of life for millions of Americans and already shaping the nation’s future. They are:

• The wide disparity in the literacy and math skills of both the school-age and adult populations. These skills, which play such a tremendous role in the lives of individuals and families, vary widely across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

• The “seismic changes” in the U.S. economy that have resulted from globalization, technological advances, shifts in the relationship of labor and capital, and other developments.

• Sweeping demographic changes. By 2030, the U.S. population is expected to reach 360 million. That population will be older and substantially more diverse, with immigration having a big impact on both the population as a whole and the work force.

These and so many other issues of crucial national importance require an educated populace if they are to be dealt with effectively. At the moment we are not even coming close to equipping the population with the intellectual tools that are needed.

While we’re effectively standing in place, other nations are catching up and passing us when it comes to educational achievement. You have to be pretty dopey not to see the implications of that.

But, then, some of us are pretty dopey. In the Common Core survey, nearly 20 percent of respondents did not know who the U.S. fought in World War II. Eleven percent thought that Dwight Eisenhower was the president forced from office by the Watergate scandal. Another 11 percent thought it was Harry Truman.

We’ve got work to do.

Sunday, April 20, 2008