Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Halloween 2011

This year, Big M is a SWAT officer, K is Jessie, J is Cleopatra, Little M is Superman and Daddy is a grumpy old man. We only had trouble getting J's costume because she had one criteria that had to be met - the costume cannot be scratchy. We tried many many costumes before we landed on Cleopatra.

This year, Daddy stayed home with Little M. Little M goes to bed at 6 so we decided he should stay home and hand out candy instead.

This is Daddy fetching Superman from the neighbor's yard. The neighbor had balloons and that was just too much for the little superhero to resist.

I told Big M to pose near the head. :)

Scary house.

This is our neighbor identical twins. They are not quite 3 years old and both K & J have fallen in love with them and vice versa.

the mini superman

I know it's way past Halloween but I haven't posted anything about it yet. :( And seeing as blogging is the only way I'm going to remember this many many years from now, it's better late than never. My mommy group had a Halloween bash for the kids, and it was on the day that all the other kids were in school so Little M was the only who made it. He was superman. We bought this costume 3 weeks ago. This was the only time we bought the costumes way in advance. In the past years, we've always shopped the weekend before Halloween. And as it turned out, this was not such a good idea. Little M had a growth spurt. The sleeves and legs were a good 2 inches too short and kept rolling up.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sick kids and the dutiful littlest brother

Last week Big M came home sick and missed 2 days of school. Little M kepy him company. Today K came home sick, and Little M is keeping her company too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Ice Castle

We visited the ice castle ast week to see santa and the ice princess. The line was so long though. Thankfully, there were craft setup in sections of the line. It was a fun experience, though typical off young toddlers, Little M cried when he was placed on Santa's lap.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

my little BIG man

I've said it over and over, my youngest (now 19 months old) is so independent that he practically raises himself.

When we get home, he takes his shoes off and puts them on the rack by the door.

He feeds himself. Sometimes he disappears into the kitchen to look for snacks.

And of course, he barely asks for help if he can do something himself. He's trying to reach a juice box from the top of the counter. By the way, I know you're asking why a boy would have a bow on his head. What can I do? He tells me to put it on his head, and so I do.

This one is from 2 months ago when I decided to pick up my guitar after a long time of  neglect. I suck, but at least my kids are having fun.

2011-10-14 Carnival Imagination Cruise

Click here to view these pictures larger

Saturday, November 5, 2011

my first ever cruise

It's worth noting that not only did I experience my first cruise ever on Oct. 14 - 17th, but it was the first time I was away for that long from my kids, the first time I didn't have any voice contact for that long, and the first time I left the kids with the hubby. Phew, that's a lot of first. It was a very fun trip in so many ways. I have forgotten what it was like to do what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it, and for a 15-minute task to only take 15 minutes. I went with 2 of my long time friends from high-school, whom I haven't seen in 5 years! But it's amazing how we just got together without any sort of warm-up time.

It was a cruise to the Bahamas, though we only spent a day off shore in the Bahamas. We went to trivia games/shows, enjoyed a couple of stand up comic shows, enjoyed other entertainments, and enjoyed all the food we could eat! It was also fun to act like there was not a care in the world, and certainly no responsibilities. We gave people who made a fool of themselves nicknames, and enjoyed making fun of them. Although I've never met the "thong guy". The "thong guy" was a man who went to the hot tub in his thong with no shame in shaking his glutes to everyone who cared to look. There was "vanilla ice" who was the first to volunteer in the karaoke. Only it turned out he was overly confident in his ability to sing. And then there was the stand-up comic who kept looking at us, at me, specifically, and repeatedly pointed to me when he said "hispanic ladies". But the most fun had to be the game show we tried to participate in, only it was only Jenny who got called into the stage. She was made to perform the most amusing task for 60 seconds where I just about died laughing. I have a video, but Kim and I promised her not to post it. Perhaps one day when we're old and toothless. I had a lot of fun laughing thanks to Jenny for being such a great sport. This sort of thing can easily turn south when the person is a kill-joy. That, Jenny was not.

Jenny also managed to win us a trophy for a "name-that-tune" game. Though I knew most of the songs, I was pretty useless because I couldn't name the title. But as it turned out, we had amongst us a trivia goddess. Jenny, I would be honored to be on your team always!

Thanks to Kim for knowing the ins and outs of the cruise. If not for her, Jenny and I would not have known that you could order pretty much everything on the menu during our sit-down dinner. I mean, 2 entrees? Come on! We also went snorkeling on the fly by not booking in advance. We got off the ship and just told someone we wanted to do it, and there it was. She said it was cheaper that way. Though I must add that Jenny and I didn't really snorkel. We were both afraid of the open water so we only planned on staying in the boat and take a lot of pictures. But when it started raining on us, the captain urged us to get in the water to warm up. The rain pelting on our skin was way too cold. And so into the water Jenny and I went. Of course we held on to the boat the entire time.

Sea sickness was only mildly a problem. Anywhere but the Lido deck and other top decks, I was fine. But in the top decks, I felt the movement too much. The problem was that dining was on the top decks. I thought I was going to have to avoid eating the entire trip, but it didn't come to that.

And another yet memorable part of the trip was when we were pulled aside by customs when we returned to port in Miami. Who would have thought that 3 asian women could look so suspicious. Perhaps it was the sea shells I smuggled in with me. I just wanted to show the kids something from the Bahamas!

All in all, the trip was great. I only contacted hubby via email whenever there was wi-fi. I was afraid that I would not be able to enjoy myself in the trip worrying about hubby and the kids, but I did. Thanks to hubby for letting me go and enjoy myself at his sanity's expense. I love you, babe!

Friday, October 21, 2011

1st grade, first teacher conference

I went to my first cruise ever (to the Bahamas) without the hubby AND without the kids. There is much to say about that but that'll have to wait. Today I want to brag about my oldest. I attended our first parent-teacher conference today while Daddy watched the kids. First of all, the computerized testing everyone takes to measure their improvement (taken 3x per grade) in reading and math was astounding. He is reading at the 4th grade level! His teacher said it is obvious that he is a bright child, but even with that his reading score is off the roof. We don't do anything special with him, except to encourage his interest in whatever it may be, but I guess that makes a difference. And then there's his Daddy who buys tons of books during pretty much every book fairs. Mrs. Dent is now encouraging him to do research-type reading. She mentioned that with Big M's group (she breaks down down into different groups of the same ability) she will start teaching them Power Point. Wow!

For the math assessment, Big M didn't measure quite as high, but still above average. According to the graph on the school website, his math ability is at 2nd grade. Mrs. Dent is especially impressed by his understanding of abstract things, like money. She said that most everyone has a hard time understanding that 5 pennies is the same as a nickel. I'm not surprised by this though. We started working on this last year. Just recently, Big M marked our family calender of how much money he would earn by a certain number of days and how long it'll take him to earn $20. At the time he was trying to earn money to buy an expensive Lego. I told him that when he does good things at home and earns tickets, I would allow an exchange rate of 25 cents per 5 tickets. 

Big M's teacher said he is a delight to have in her class, as he LOVES to participate. When he doesn't finish a certain task, and finishes early on others he asks for time to go back to the previous one in order to finish. In fact, when he leaves the class 2x a week (2 hours total) to go to the Gifted program, he always asks what he missed and what needs to do to catch up upon his return.   His enthusiasm in class is also why she was completely caught by surprise with the "dying" incident weeks ago. She saw no signs at all that he may be anxious and worried about anything. I told her that it seems to be a completely sleeping issue and it is getting better with the use of a sleep aid.

I also told the teacher of a possible move in the near future. She asked that I keep her informed so that she can make sure he is not getting stressed at school. What a great teacher! What a great school district we have! If and when we move away, I will lament the loss. 

Daddy and I are very proud of Big M! I don't know what his future will be, but whatever he chooses to do as he grows up, we will always be there to encourage him. We will always be there all our kids, whatever they choose to do. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Murphy Maize Days

We took the kids to a community festival, Murphy Maize Days, mainly because I LOVE corn and so we just HAVE to be there. I had a grand plan of eating anything and everything corn. Thankfully they also had a lot of fun stuff for the kids.

This was a fun shot with all the scarecrows. At the end of the shot, J and K went to inspect the old lady scarecrow (the one Big M is standing next to) and inspected it. J then started squeezing what would have been the boobies. I had no idea what she was doing and why. 

They also had fun inspecting the fire truck. (J is wearing a flower shirt).

Not too long ago, Big M was obsessed with fire trucks. While he still enjoys them, he couldn't answer me when I asked what kind of fire truck this was. I guess fire trucks are a thing of the past for him.

J heads up the trek all the way up this Gorilla bounce slide.

K screaming all the way down.

This is Little M attempting to climb this wall. He never really made it up but a few feet because he couldn't coordinate both his arms and legs to climb up. He was using his arms mainly which tired him out within minutes. K and J were in line at first too because they really wanted to climb. But after seeing a small girl being stuck because she couldn't climb up anymore and yet she was too light for the rope to get her down, I decided the girls shouldn't try this one at all.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

confidence on an 18-month old

Daddy and I have a very proud moment in regards to Little M. He has been doing to a Mother's Day Out program on Mondays for a month now. On the first day when he didn't know what was going on, he didn't even cry when I left. After that, he cries for about 2 minutes or so and he is very excited clingy when I pick him up. This week he was a changed little boy. 

When we walked from the car and he looked around, he put his arms around my neck. I thought it was a sign that it was going to be a bad drop-off, but instead it was surprisingly easy. He walked in, played, and that was it. I kissed him goodbye on the head and left. When I picked him up, I saw that he and another boy was watching moms and dads walk by their door picking up their children. They were just watching everyone happily. Even when Little M made eye contact with me, he didn't become anxious. In fact, when I was signing him out, he even walked in the room and played with a ball. He didn't motion to leave. 

This is a very proud moment. It shows that he is now confident that I will come back for him when I leave him in the morning. Some moms may be saddened by that. But not me. :)

fall soccer

The fall soccer season has been in full swing for a few weeks now, and it really makes for a busy time in our house. Daddy has also volunteered as an assistant coach, which makes it more fun for Little M, I think. Right now there are 2 assistant coaches, and the other dads are helping out too. This is from one of the practice where the dads played against the kids in order to demonstrate to them the importance of their position.

sewing for my girls

The girls are in a ballet/tap dance combination class and they love it. They need to take both shoes with them to class so they needed a little bag. I looked into some cheap bags but then I saw a pattern for a cinch bag that was so easy to make. So instead of buying them bags, I made one for them.  I also had to make one for Big M, but not too girly of course. For Big M I used a Navy military pattern fabric. That was a big hit.

J is on the left with the flower bag, and K is on the right.

Weeks later, I found a very simple skirt pattern online so I used the remaining fabric. So cute!

But then I had to make them a pair of shorts from a very thin liner fabric so that they didn't show their souls to everyone while wearing the skirts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Big M's Golf picture

This is a picture of Big M when he played golf for a charity event. I forgot to post it. Here was his team, he's the youngest at 6 years old. The rest were 8 years old. :)

church time

I took Big M and K to church one Saturday afternoon while Daddy, J and Little M stayed home when Daddy wasn't feeling well. I could've taken both girls and Big M, but I was afraid that would be too rowdy. These 2, sitting on either of side of me behaved perfectly. Of course they did have an activity book to occupy them. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

using melatonin on a sleep-deprived 6-yr old

Since the school year started, Big M has been exhausted everyday. He can never seem to catch up on sleep, even though we've had a consistent bedtime for him. He goes down between 8 and 8:30 and wakes up at 6:45 on school days, 7 on weekdays. It seems plenty enough time for sleep, but the problem is he doesn't fall asleep right away. Sometimes it takes him more than 1 hour to fall asleep. Even with soccer and other activities that would normally knock him out for a good sleep, he couldn't. He has been challenging in his behavior because he doesn't listen. Actually, it's not that he doesn't listen as much as he can't focus. We tell him something and in 2 minutes, he has forgotten it already. And about 3 weeks ago, he started talking about "dying himself" out of shear frustration.

I searched online about sleep deprivation and found numerous articles listing the symptoms of sleep deprivation and Big M has shown all of it. The articles show that a sleep study may be in order. It just so happen that Big M is a little under the weather and with strep-throat going around at school, I took him to see the pediatrician. I discussed his sleep issues and he suggested trying Benadryl just so he could get some sleep. Unfortunately, Benadryl makes the kid hyper so the doctor suggested Melatonin instead. He said to try 1mg about 1 hour before bedtime.  The doctor suggested to keep an eye on the behavioral issues to see if they go away. If not, we will discuss other course of action.

That afternoon, I bought the lowest dose Melatonin I could find. Unfortunately I couldn't find a 1 mg, so I bought a 3 mg bottle. Before administering, Daddy did his own web research and found some articles to beware not to exceed 3mg of Melatonin for a child. He found another article that suggested an even lower dose. So we decided to break 1 pill in 6, and instead gave Big M an equivalent of .5 mg of Melatonin. On the first night, at exactly 1/2 hour, he started nodding off sitting up. And off he went to sleepy land without any issues. I was at first worried that he may wake up groggy, but he wasn't. He woke up bright and early at 6:30 refreshed. That first morning while getting ready for bed, his behavior was a complete 180. I didn't have to tell him to do something over and over. He was very pleasant. I was excited! Daddy only interacted with Big M for about 10 minutes before he had to leave for work and even he noticed a big change. The positive change continued on until after school. I was beyond happy! I couldn't stop smiling and praising him how excellent he has been behaving that way. 

It's not that he obeyed everything he was told, but he was engaged. If he didn't agree, he talked instead of having a tantrum. We compromised, we had a conversation, we laughed. It was the most wonderful thing. It has been a long time since he had been this way. 

That was on a Thursday, and so we decided to give him the same dose on Friday and Saturday. And again, the change was remarkable. Given enough sleep, he was quite a changed boy. There were times when we could see in his face that he was practicing self-restraint when we had to tell him no a few times. On a Saturday afternoon after playing soccer, he was very tired and a tantrum surfaced. But this tantrum was nowhere near as bad as the exhausted tantrums he had been having. 

We are very excited to have the option of using Melatonin to help him rest. I have used it myself on the rare occasion that I suffer from insomnia so I know how it works. It is not habit forming. Daddy and I have agreed that we are not giving it to him all the time. We will give it to him when he can't seem to catch up on rest, which is usually 2-3 days after he can't get enough sleep. 

I will continue to blog about this as I see changes, as I know that we're not the only family experiencing this. The school counselor mentioned to me that a couple of years ago, a student had the same problem seeming always tired. The parents had a sleep study done and found that their child was not reaching REM sleep. 

I am willing to pursue a sleep study to get to the root of things, but we may not have to go that far.

Toddler antics

My youngest is 18 months old today. It seems strange especially that he acts a lot older than his age. When we get home he sits down and immediately takes his shoes off and puts them on the rack. He gets his own snacks when he is hungry, looks for his own sippy when I ask him, doesn't take crap from his older siblings and he loves to talk!

Belting out a tune on his sisters' pink microphone.

Mommy's knight in shining armor.

Little Monkey - surprisingly his halloween costume from last year still fit. Though he does have a new one this year. :)

Yeah, that's a princes brush and a pink heart sandal. I worry about him.

Sometimes it's easier getting in than getting out

Several weeks ago migraine hit me right after I drove the older kids to school. I decided to confine Little M to our room so I could just lie down. When I heard grunting from a corner I found Little M had climbed in the bouncy that had been parked in our room since it was no longer in use. But he couldn't get out. Perfect timing. I was able to lay in peace without wondering what he was up to.

At the park

While it usually doesn't make a lot of sense to take more than two kids out at once by myself, sometimes the stars align so well that I attempt it. Foolishness? Sometimes more so than others. Today it was fun and everyone had fun.

Friday, September 23, 2011

morning walk with Little M

The lakes and ponds are dried up, the grass are brown, the trees and little plants are dead because of the severe drought. We suffered through more than 30 days of consecutive 3-digit temperatures so a couple of weeks ago when we finally got a break and it only read in the 80's at 7:30 in the morning, Little M and I took a walk around our street. I was surprised that he could walk the length of our street without being tired. In fact, he kept walking ahead of me. Then he had to stop at every mailboxes, and utility things to touch them all. Then he started lying down on the ground. I have no idea why. :)