Monday, December 31, 2012

DIY Disney Autograph books that can turn into a scrapbook

For our Christmas family vacation, I made all the kids Autograph books. From our last visit in 2005, I remember seeing autograph books going for upward of $15 and they were small.

The first thing I did was search Google for Disney clip arts for the kids' favorite characters and saved several different ones if I knew more than one kid like that character. Then I used Pages to set up an 8x8 border. I have a Mac and Pages was awesome for this. You can do the same thing on other graphic apps for PC too.

I situated the 8x8 border toward the right with about half an inch margin on the 3 edges (right, top, and bottom). I then just dragged one character clip art and put it in any corner that looks good. For some, I also put the name of the character somewhere on the page. But because did this days before I trip, I ran out of time and just put the characters. For other ideas, you can also get seasonal clip arts - Christmas, valentines, etc.

Once the pages were set up, I printed them on stock paper. I grabbed several packs at the craft store. Although , I advise you pay attention to the thickness, as some are thicker than others. I fed the paper one at a time because it's thick and I didn't want to have to jam the printer.

After printing about 10 characters for each child (many are repeated), I also made 3 blank ones for each (only the 8x8 border) for any unexpected character encounters.

Once the pages were printed out, I hopped to the car and hurried to Staples. We were leaving the very next day, so you can imagine the panic I was in at this point. I told the Staple lady I wanted 4 booklets bound and she gave me a choice of the binding. I picked a spiral and a clear cover. She out a clear front cover and a thick black board on the back. I had to tell her to trim the left side as it was about 2 inches from the boarder. At this point I told her that as long as she didn't touch the black border, she could trim whatever was needed for the spiral.
For all 4 (14 pages each - I made a cover with each child's name) I paid $17. Pretty awesome, I think. :)

Each of my 4 kids had a small cinch sack with them with their own autograph books. I kept the sharpies. The corners curled in, which was not a problem because of the 1/4 - 1/2 inch margins.

While at Disney, I saw a scrap booking kit that I bought for $25. It had a lot of the mainstream characters. Once we got home I ordered 8x8 scrapbooks (with top loaded protective sheets) from Amazon. Once I got them, I cut out the autographed pages on the boarder and they fit perfectly inside. I added stickers, boarders, etc from my Disney scrapbook kit. I am actually not done making them. I want one page to have a picture of my child with the character and the page next to it, the character's autograph. I anticipate these scrapbook to be handled pretty good, especially by my twin 5-yr olds. :)

The great thing about this DIY autograph book is that the pictures you print on the page is a "conversation" starter with the characters themselves! Mickey was beside himself seeing his picture, and so was Ferb (from Phineas and Ferb). We had a great laugh at him running around and showing everyone that it was him on the page. The kids loves the antics!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Acid reflux on a 2-year old

We have been referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist by our pediatrician back in September, for Little M. He has been vomiting since July and we can't get it in control using Zantac. The problem was, there is only 2 specialist near us. The first one cannot be reached by phone. The other is Albany Medical Center, who do not accept Aetna. Albany Med's procedure is to wait for the medical records to arrive in their office and then they call the patient for an appointment. A month of waiting to be called, I finally called them to check and see if they took a month to call back. I was told that they usually call within 24 hours of receiving the medical records and when the person checked, Little M's record wasn't there.

The logical conclusion for me was the follow up with our pediatrician, who then told me that they did fax the records. So I asked that they please fax again because Albany Med never got it. After they promised, I waited. After a week, I called Albany Med again and again they said they never got the records.

I called our pediatrician and pleaded for someone to follow up with Albany Med after faxing the records, and someone there took pity on me and said she would do it. Later that day she called and said, Albany Med doesn't accept Aetna and that's why no one is being assigned to my son to handle the appointment-making. My next action was to call Aetna to tell them, because upon searching online, I couldn't find any pediatric gastroenterologist listed in their website. An Aetna rep told me that there wasn't one participating with them within 100 miles, but they would authorize a visit with Albany Med.   I was finally happy at this point because it seemed that now I could get my child treated.

I called our pediatrician once again, and asked that they fax our records to Albany Med. The lady said, they don't accept Aetna so I should checked with Albany Med first to let them know. So I did. I talked to Albany Med and explained that we are willing to pay for treatment out of our pockets and they wouldn't have to deal with Aetna. The rep reiterated several times that if this was the route we are to take, they need money in advance. I said, yes, I will pay.

To make the story short, there were several more times when our pediatrician faxed our records, but apparently Albany Medical Center kept discarding them upon seeing the insurance name. By this time, it's already November and we're not getting anywhere. I twitted about my frustrations and Aetna social media team came to my aid. I asked them for a list of pediatric gastroenterologist even if it's far from my area, and they immediately emailed me with a list. With Daddy's help, we picked Fishkill as the place to go. It's a 100-mile drive, but at this point, I would rather make the drive then rely on Albany Medical Center. Daddy did some Google searches and found that Aetna and Albany Medical Center had a riff about 2 years ago when Albany Medical center demanded a higher rate of pay (higher fee schedule) than the national average. So their contract was severed. It's a good thing at this point that we have decided not to pursue Albany Med any longer. If all they cared about was money (which we agreed to pay in advance), then who is to say they will do their best to treat my child? If at any point they fear of our ability to pay, they may skimp on any necessary test and treatments. So good riddance.

My 2-year old vomits everyday, sometimes several times a day. He is so used to it he runs to the trash can on his own and it breaks my heart. We travel with a little bucket so we don't have to run to the nearest (sometimes very far) restroom. So yesterday, we made the 2-hr, 100-mile drive south to see a specialist. We were seen and we headed to a new treatment plan with stronger medicine and should this course of action not stop the vomiting, we will pursue more test and perhaps find possible food allergies.

It was an exhausting day for my Little M and I yesterday. Daddy had to be available for the other 3 kids, in case of any emergency that might occur. But through the exhaustion, there is elation. I am happy that we no longer have to settle for a medicine that clearly wasn't helping my boy. The doctor said just like adults, kids can be on Prevacid and or Prilosec. So we were prescribed chewable Prevacid. The doctor advised me that the insurance might not cover this medicine, so he thought we should opt for Prilosec, which is a liquid that some company in Boston mixes up and then ships to us. It must be refrigerated, but is much cheaper than Prevacid.

We are going on a family vacation to Florida next week, so I asked the doctor to go ahead and give us a prescription for Prevacid, as it is a lot easier to carry than a liquid that must be refrigerated. So after being exhausted and barely staying awake on our drive home, I went to the pharmacy and picked up our new medicine. The medicine is a solu-tab and after the insurance paid for just a bit over half, we had to pay $100 out of pocket for a 30-day supply. Daddy and I have decided this is acceptable, especially that we are traveling next week. Considering that just a little bit over a year ago, we paid over $500/month for our family's asthma medication, that $100 is acceptable. We had BCBS last time and they barely covered asthma medication. This year we have Aetna and they cover asthma medications pretty well, so the $100/monthly copay for Little M's medicine is something we can handle.

So this morning was Little M's first dose - and this is the first morning he hasn't vomited. Usually every day when we take his older siblings to the bus stop, because of the cold and the running around they do, it triggers vomiting in him. Today it didn't, and for that I am very grateful. Hopefully this is a sign that the medicine is working, though I do know it's too early to tell after only 1 dose.

Another blessing about seeing a specialist, is that I found out that the 1st line of medicine to try that our pediatrician gave us months ago, was apparently not recommended for children. Our pediatrician told us to try metoclopramide  (Reglan) first to see if helps the vomiting and after 3 days, use Zantac. After using Metoclopramide, Daddy and I decided it didn't work so we started Zantac. The pediatric gastroenterologist said that Metoclopramide is known to cause neurological side effects so it is not the first medicine he prescribes for an otherwise happy healthy baby who is gaining weight well. Generalist doctors might know a lot about everything, but they are do not know much when issues are more in-depth.

So I am hopeful for my baby that he would eventually stop vomiting. If not, then at least we know that there is a course of action and that we don't need to be satisfied with treatment that was barely helping him out.

It is my hope that with this blog, I can share my experience with Albany Medical Center. When you are worried about your child's health, you don't want to rely on a facility who puts money ahead of their patients.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Headbands with wool or felt flowers

I have decided to sell crochet headbands and fold over elastic headbands with wool or felt flowers in my shop next year. They are adorable and my girls are enjoying them. The flowers will be in a clip so it can be worn with or without the headband.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


We had snow last week, the first if the season. There were neat-snow that produced nothing a few days before this day so when the kids woke us up excitedly, in didn't believe them.

We had about 3-4 inches, which is nothing by NY standard, but it was plenty enough fun for the kids. Yesterday the temperature went up to. 55 so I know that there will be a white christmas for us. The kids would be so excited if there is snow on the ground when we return from our Florida trip.

Monday, December 3, 2012

2nd grade writing homework

It was education week a couple of weeks ago and the parents were invited to the classrooms in order to see what the kids have been doing. I attended K's and J's class, one after the other. They did crafts, played math and spelling games. Both are excellent. They are both social and not at all shy. I have said time and again, I am very thankful for that!

Daddy attended Big M's class later in the afternoon. He filmed Big M reading his writing project. I am quite impressed by this writing. I don't remember writing like this at 2nd grade. Later that week, I attended his parent-teacher conference, and his teacher mentioned that though he helped Big M in certain areas of his writing, most was done unassisted.

K's and J's parent-teacher conference were attended by Daddy and he was very happy he did. He was very impressed by their writing and reading ability. Both are quite artistic, apparently, drawing in great detail. Daddy was especially proud and emotional when J's teacher showed him her journal. There is a page about her real hero and it was a drawing of Daddy. "Why?" it says, "because he loves me." Daddy couldn't even keep a straight voice telling me about it on the phone. J's teacher took note of his reaction and sent a photocopy of that page for Daddy. :)

We are very proud of our children. It may not show based on the amount of daily frustration we deal with, but we are very very proud of all of them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bullying: to jump the gun or not

One night last week, when I was tucking Big M in for the night, he mentioned of an incident in the bus from that morning. He said a kid twisted his arm and that it hurt. The kid then started poking him around the neck while saying, "pressure point". It didn't bother me at first, but I did want to know more about it and the more I heard, the more it sounded like bullying to me. Big M said he had to put his jacked up to cover his face in hopes of shield himself from the pressure point attacks. Then another kid joined in with "meteorite" punches to his back.

Suffice it to say that tuck-in session lasted longer than it should. I also told him to never ever take being hurt without telling the person to stop. "You look the person in the eye, and with a big voice you say, 'Stop it or I will go to the bus driver and tell on you.'" As much as I want to tell him to defend himself, I don't want his first response to be to hurt the other person back, in case it's only rough play. I just don't ever want any of my kids to just hold up their hands to cover their heads and stay there and take the beating they were getting. No child of mine will ever get beaten up without putting up a fight.

As Daddy and I discussed the incident, I told him that I don't want to raise a fuss at school just in case this is just an isolated incident, but Daddy didn't feel comfortable about that course of action. I thought about it more in bed, and finally decided to go ahead and go to school the next day and talk to the principal. But before I did, I was going to write down all the details I could, so I talked to Big M again to get my fact straight. As it turned out, it sounded more and more like just a bunch of rough, high-energy kids so I decided to let it go, and that Daddy and I bought agreed with. We will keep a listen and check on Big M to see if it happens again, and if it does I will be marching to school, probably while exercising self-restraint from wanting to hop on the bus in the morning and meet the culprit eye to eye and give him the scare of his life.

I was bullied as a Kindergartener in the Philippines. A boy I ride to school with routinely dropped his bag on the ground and expected me to carry it around the school for him and the first few times that I refused, he pinched my arm just above the sleeve line. I remember having numerous pinch marks, but the boy has scared me so much I never told. Until one day, my grandmother saw my arm and asked what it was. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I do remember telling her about it. The next day, she rode with us to school and she sat in between the boy and I. I don't remember what my grandmother told the boy, but I do vividly remember my  her hand rising up and coming down to slap the boy's thigh. The boy was wearing shorts, so the smack sounded like a square slap. My grandmother's hand probably left a hand print. I don't ever recall associating with that boy after that day, until one day I saw him in the hallway in 1st grade. He was walking towards me and as soon as he saw me he turned right around and walked away. I never heard from and seen him again.

The mortal of the story? That day my grandmother taught me that she believed me no matter what. I don't want to run to the defense of my children every time they get hurt, I want them to learn to deal with different situations, but I will be there to listen and to step in whenever necessary.

I miss my Lola.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2 different hair cut

We met a woman who works at the school cafeteria while the girls were waiting to get a haircut. The woman said she has seen both of them but had no idea there were 2 of them!

K and J may be in 2 different kindy classes but others still have a hard time telling them apart, even though they have never worn the same things to school. So this decision to have one with bangs is a totally awesome idea.

A family pile up

Unfortunately for me I was in the bottom.

Serious soccer

Big M is very busy with soccer; some weeks he has practice 3x a week. He is learning so many things we can't wait to see where he will be in spring!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Christmas applique shirts

In a few weeks we are going to ride on the Polar Express to see Santa. The kids are going to wear PJs so I wanted to make them matching ones. With all the projects I have, I didn't want to sew a whole PJ outfit, so I decided to just saw them the PJ bottoms. Then, I thought, hey, what not make everyone one so that we can wear it for our family Christmas morning picture! How cool would that be? I bought a ton of the green horn fabric above, and that would be the PJ for the boys, and the blue snowman hat is going to be the PJ bottom for the girls. For the top, I bought red long sleeves for the boys, and navy blue for the girls. I had no idea what design to applique on the top until last night as I was doing them. I originally had 6 different designs and as I was doing them thought that would be way too complicated. To make things easier, it's reindeer for boys, snowman for the girls.

I still have to sew them and sew details on, but they are looking pretty good. I might get our family pictures taken wearing these. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Facebook sale on glass pendant washi paper necklace, handmade

Facebook special sale on washi paper glass pendant necklace!

I just opened up the Stubborn Monkeys Store on Etsy a couple of days ago. In order to celebrate and get exposure, I am selling my items on Facebook to avoid Etsy fees. For a short time, these glass pendant japanese paper necklaces are $5 each, instead of $6 and shipping is only $2.50 whether you buy 1 or 5. BUT YOU CANNOT BUY IT THROUGH ETSY. You must message me through Facebook page, Stubborn Monkeys Store (on facebook)

Read the descriptions on Etsy for the the dimensions and what they are. They are Japanese washi paper bonded to the glass with clear varnish. They let the light through, which gives them a very translucent, romantic look.

Remember, buy by messaging me on Facebook and I will then send you a paypal invoice.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Welcome to my etsy store for handmade things for children and adults!

For the past couple of weeks, I've been very very busy creating things in order to open an Etsy shop and today, it's open!

Welcome to Stubborn Monkey's Store!

So what's the story? A year and a half go I started sewing dresses for my twin girls. I have never sewn before, so it was quite a challenge deciphering the patterns I picked up from the store. I persevered, and conquered! Since I had two make two everything, the first one was usually full of mistakes. Then I went on to make other things that I saw and wanted for my girls, but were too expensive.

Not all my creations for my kids, however. Some of them I did because I thought the craft would be interesting to learn. I have crocheted, knitted, cross-stitched, carved wood (this one I share with my hubby), and recently created hair bows, appliques and embroidered.

I don't know if I will ever sell anything, but they're great as gifts!

Please visit my Etsy shop, and please visit and like my Facebook page

If you have a Facebook account, please say hi and let me know how I know you! It would be super duper awesome! If I reach 50 likes, I will do a giveaway. That's a whole 50 fans! Imagine! :)

Thanks ya'll!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

handmade custom home applique with name: Big M's order

The other day Big M came up to me and he said he wanted to out an order in. He has been seeing sew so much lately and I guess he just wanted something.

He said he wanted a frog. I thought it would be more interesting on a soccer ball. The two actually represents him very well. He loves it and that makes me happy.

I've been cresting a few things lately gearing up to open an online shop. I want to open with several inventory so I am busy creating. However, between creating things for the family and things to sell, it's been busy. I am not opening shop to get rich, I just want I make enough money to fund the creations I make for the kids and keep the hobby going. I figure this way, I can help a little bit financially - I can dress the kids with something they absolutely love.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The bravest guy I know

After countless phone calls to the insurance and doctor offices, Little M finally had his x-ray this morning. He was told to fast from midnight on, which was hard in a 2-yr old. We checked in at the hospital, got dressed on a gown and then on to the x-ray. He had to drink barium. The techs asked if he could drink from a straw, but I said the real problem is whether he would keep drinking the stuff. One tech said it wasn't that bad. I say, tell that to a 2-yr old.

In comes a doctor who seemed to be more adept to dealing with a little person. He ordered chocolate flavoring and the sipping began. But who can expect a kid to keep guzzling that stuff? He sipped it like fine tea, which apparently was cutting it. The divot called out for a syringe to connect to a straw so that the tech could push the liquid quicker. It worked well, even though Little M spit some of it.

Then the platform he was standing on was tilted into a table. I talked to Little M to pretend it was a spaceship, and it worked. I even got a smile. While laying down, he was made to turn this way, that way, arms up, arms down, turn to the tummy and back again. He did everything with a peep. The doctor asked me to ask him to cough several times and he did. He did great!

When it was over the doctor showed me the pictures. He explained that there was nothing anatomically wrong with my baby. He did have reflux, but at least this was a big cross out of our list.

We walked back to the car, and as soon as we were buckled in I called Daddy. All I could utter was that there was nothing wring with Little M's anatomy before emotions spilled out and ate blocked my words. I had no idea I was even keeping these worries in until they escaped. Hallelujah, thank you God! Thank you, thank you, thank you! There were prayers answered, worries erased and things events that were forgotten. All that mattered was that my baby was ok. We still had TI figure out why he keeps vomiting but we worry about that later.

I took my small guy to McD for breakfast afterward. He ate 2 1/2 hash browns and it was perfect. He talked to everyone, smiled at everyone, and wandered the floor. It was perfect.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

You can't mess with my sistah!

I can't believe I missed noting something so important, so here it is before I completely forget it. About 2 weeks ago, we were all in the soccer field while Big M was having his team practice. The kids were playing with the other siblings, running around, rolling on the grass. It so happened that one the kids they were playing with were also a pair of twins just slightly older than the girls, and the youngest is a boy that is just months older than Little M.

They were all running around, when K stopped. One of the twin boys came and by accident pushed K and K lost her footing. Being so late in the day and being tired from school, K was a bit whiny and started crying. Daddy and I walked over to her to console her and assure the other kid that everything was fine. The boy stood a few feet away looking, probably feeling somewhat responsible. His twin noticed what was going on, and started walking over to everyone and as soon as Little M saw the boy approaching, he started pushing and making a mean face towards him. Daddy grabbed hold of Little M to prevent him from hurting the older kid. We stared at each other open-mouthed. The mother, who saw the whole thing, was pretty amused. We apologized and explained that Little M has never acted protective before.

The boy was fearless, taking on someone twice his size and twice his age to protect his big sister. Who would have thought.  Don't mess with him!

I think Daddy is a little proud in that when the girls get older and start liking boys, that he has someone else to intimidate the boys away.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

To call or not to call the fire department

On Friday hubby decided to turn in early to catch up on his sleep. I decided to stay up and watch TV until midnight. As I entered our room, the smoke alarm went off. I froze for a second. I woke up hubby because it didn't seem like he was going to wake up right away. He went around the house to check it out. While it was still going I heard Big M call out scared. I told him we were checking it out. I come out of Big m's room and I see Daddy with a hanger in hand trying to silence the alarm. He kept trying for a few more seconds and finally I jumped up on a shelf and hushed it myself.

Daddy did more checking when the carbon monoxide came on. The first alarm was fire, this time the alarm was saying "carbon monoxide". Finally Daddy silenced it again and this time I was truly worried. After more checking, Daddy said it was a malfunction. It probably was but I could not help bit worry. What if wasn't a malfunction and the kids never wake up. I would never be able to live with myself.

I opened a window and I did some Googling. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I told Daddy we needed to call the Fire department. Thankfully, the awesome man that he is, Daddy never ever dismiss my fear and worry. Never. So I call the fire department and they sent someone in. First it was a van with 1 fire fight who toon a reading. Then he called for another reading and a fire truck with 5 fire fighters came. They ended up saying there was no carbon monoxide and we were cleared to come back inside at 130am.

Getting all the kids outside to the car was quite an undertaking. We wre not at all speedy, though we knew it wasn't an emergency. We hurried though. My long ago agreed upon job was to look after the boys, and Daddy got the girls. I wrapped Little M up in the blanket and hurried Big M to grab his jacket. Then the girls had to look for their jackets which was taking too long so we grabbed whatever we could on the end and stayed in van. It was a on the chilly side that night.

We took way too long to get out of the house. I know that if it had been an emergency, would run out naked of we had to.

Friday, September 28, 2012

what makes me happy

When I was in high-school I bought name brand clothing. I remember thinking to myself that I will never buy clothes from Wal-Mart. I used cosmetics that were from department stores, not the pharmacy. I wasn't over the top, but what I liked weren't the cheapest. I remember owning Calvin Klein jeans.

When I got married, we combined debt, we're on our own and taste had to down grade. It wasn't a big deal. We didn't even notice it, it just happened. Then kids came and one day, I realized my clothes were from Wal-Mart, cosmetics (if I used them at all) came from the pharmacy, and what I bought for myself came with guilt. What a change it was. I remember asking hubby for to give me money as a birthday gift and that I would just shop for myself. That shopping trip was not fun at all. I argued with myself. I felt like I was wasting money.

Now, after 4 kids, I am ever cheaper with my taste. If that were even possible. I don't grumble about it though, because again it just happens. I just started realizing it when I go with some mom friends, and some of my old friends and they still have the name brand stuff. I looked at my stuff and felt slightly ashamed. Very slightly. Teeny tiny bit.

When I think about what I have, I actually have more than any other person in the world. I have the greatest husband in the world, I have 4 awesome kids, I have a home, my husband provides for more than we could ever need, and we are all healthy. How can I be jealous of the name brand stuff? That is not to say that I don't have my vices. I like purses. But the coach purse I got for Christmas last year didn't make me any happier than my $30 purse from Kohls. The thing about having a  lot of purses is that I don't get to use them that much. It also doesn't make me feel guilty to give them to salvation army when I have to purge. Let it bless others, I enjoyed them, and I felt good passing them on to others.

Today I am brought to happiness by non-material things. I am happy when I see my kids play together without fighting. It makes me happy when I stop doing and just be with my family sitting on the couch watching a movie that the kids enjoy. Lately, I am most happy when I see the excitement of my kids after I make them a shirt and all they want to do is wear it for a couple of days. It brings a big smile on my face. I am happy when my husband comes home earlier than expected. :) I am happy when at the end of the day, I realize no one has had a tantrum and I didn't blow up on anyone.


We love to read!

The Library had a "get a card" event this weekend so we came and got everyone a card. There were crafts, Ice cream, goodies and raffles.

An hour or so after coming home, I get a call that Big M won a prize pack. He got a lot of books, crafts and the thing he was most excited about was the Star Wars wallet. What a lucky booger.

One on one time with little m

With the kids at school, sometimes Little M and and I get to do fun thing together. Last week I took him to the park with a soccer ball. He enjoyed running around, kicking the ball, and inspecting bugs in between.

This week we went to a play place with tons of toys and things to climb on. However, getting Little M to leave was not so fun. It reminded me of the eact same things when it was only Big M.

Time flies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

school picnic

Last week we attended our school's fall family picnic. There were hotdogs and hamburgers, and families were assigned to bring either a dessert or side dish to share. This was our first school picnic with 3 students. We had no idea what to expect. Big M was the first to ask to go with his friends, and I tried desperately to hold on to K and J so that we could be in line for the food. Daddy had to go back to the car with Little M to grab our picnic blanket. It was chaotic for me to keep track of everyone. 

Finally Daddy came, we made them eat really quick and then the 3 disappeared. Daddy said it was fine, we were in school grounds and it's normal for them to want to be with their friends. For the most part it was great. Kids running around, there was a DJ trying to get the moms and dads to join the hoolahoop contest (Daddy and I were terrible) and just kids being kids. We had fun. 

The key to watching 4 kids to to be in a location where you're close to one, but can see where the others are that you're not closed to. There was a moment when K came to me crying saying she couldn't find me anywhere, though she did go to where we had our blanket (good girl!).

We helped clean out the dessert table. :)

We were in the dessert detail so I made my oh-so-yummy chocolate chip banana bread (individually wrapped). I only gave the kids a tiny piece to share so they raided it at the picnic and got their fill.

Fun with daddy

Little M loves goofing around with Daddy. Sometimes he wants To be just like him.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Awesome work

K has to do a page about her family that she enjoyed doing. If course it wasn't complete until it had sparkles. The problem is not 5 minutes into it, Little M started ripping it. After tears and a promise of getting it fixed , K finally stopped the screaming.

Big M had to write a poem about fall. I had to help him but the the very awesome adjectives are all his.

The row houses were K's work before school. I didn't find it until after the kids had left school. She is so creative!

Friday, September 21, 2012

I cannot believe I had to pull out the "I carried you for 9 months!" card so early.

Friday afternoons are crazy (actually so are all the afternoons) because I have to pick up the kids from school in order to have time to snack and rest a bit before heading to Drama Kids. All the 3 older kids are there, but it isn't held at school.  The problem is that J doesn't seem to be adjusting to the demands of school because by 4pm, she is tired and whiny. Today was such a day. At first it was just her, by the time we get loaded in the car to head home, the others where in on it. Today, all the whining made me feel like my head was going to explode.

When I dropped them off to Drama Kids, Big M wanted to show one of the teachers that his baby brother was wearing a spiderman costume. The teacher was talking to another parent, so she ignored Big M. That didn't stop Big M from saying, "LOOK AT MY BROTHER! LOOK AT MY BROTHER!" Then as if that wasn't enough, K came to the teacher and started tugging on her arm. "Look! Look! LOOK!!!" she said. Finally the teacher was irritated, paused to address them and said, "You cannot talk to me while I am talking to someone else."

This all happened a few feet away from me, while I was busy trying to prevent Big M from choking his little brother to drag him to the teacher and show him off. I was so embarrassed. I tried to get K's attention to address her and tell her what she had done is not polite, but she was already off and running. I tried to tell Big M the same thing, and he started saying, "YOU LIE!" At this point, I took Little M and left. I figured if the teachers wanted to talk to them about the rules, I better had off and let them handle it. Besides, my kids weren't going to listen to me, and I was too busy trying to prevent Little M from joining in and running away from me.

Daddy picked them up on the way home from work, and when they got home, I immediately talked to Big M about his behavior. Instantly it set him off and started screaming and shouting that he wasn't bad and that I usually give him 3 chances before he gets in trouble. It was a whole lot of mess and a lot of screaming from him and then he went to his room. 

After a while, Daddy came in and talked to him. Then I was summoned in there so he could apologize. While apologizing, I told him that though he is doing the right thing by apologizing, my feelings were hurt and talking to me the way he did was not acceptable. That's when I pulled the "I carried you in my body for 9 months" spiel. He teared up and was truly apologetic and said he was just to mad and said things that he didn't mean.

We have made amends, punishment has been dealt and we're all good. I just can't believe that I had to do this with a 7.5 yr old. Right behind his heels are twin 5 yr old girls. ARGH! 

Sometimes I'd like to pretend my kids aren't mine and that I'm just a babysitter who doesn't speak English. For reals.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Crazy mornings

Our time in the bus stop is usually filled with crazy energy with backpack-tugging, shoe-stepping and running around kids. I have instituted a hands-to-yourselves rule but no one listens. I td them they had to stay in one square of the side-walk and still no one listens. I have to reserve most of my attention to the 2-yr old so he doesn't run into the street, which he seems to understand is very dangerous. Thank God.

There are 2 other boys (3rd graders) in our bus stop and we amuse their parents. The girls and Little M takes to the dad. Sometimes Little M asks, "where's mah dad?" when we arrive at the stop first. One would think he doesn't have a dad at home he liked to tackle on a daily basis. The girl are also touchy with this man (holding his hand and tugging on it). I had to give them a talking to about not touching strangers. But I guess I need to change that term as we are seeing him everyday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I'm a soccer mom, ballet mom, busy mom

Little M pretty much attacks his sisters and brother when they come home from school. He misses them a lot and now starts to demand that I sit with him during the day.

Big M lost a tooth this weekend via the twist and pull method. He was watching TV in our room when he absent-midedly pulled his tooth off. He was happy about the tooth fairy visiting again, until he saw blood and started freaking out. I was out on an errand at the time, and I get an upset phone call from him saying his Daddy just smacked him and knocked a tooth out. Silly kid. He was very convincing too.

Also last week, fall soccer season began. Big M (red shirt black socks) is in a different team that last season because we signed him up at the last minute.  I wanted him to focus on Junior Academy and not both that and the recreational soccer. Apparently, the two do not coincide so here he is. Junior Academy (more competitive soccer) doesn't start until late fall.

Today, J and K are back in dance class (K is in the foreground, J is the last one). Miss J impressed me when the teacher called out ballet terms and tap terms and she knew what they were. Here I thought that she never paid attention in class last year back in Texas. She is proving me wrong. 

I think we may have to change days, as this is just too early for Daddy to be home. He needed to be home today because Little M is sick and I just can't drag him with me. Poor thing. Though I don't know how a class later in the day would work out. Both K and J just about had a melt down towards the end of class because they were tired and getting sleepy. Hopefully in a couple of weeks they will be well adjusted to the activities and Kindergarten.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

our big but wonderful family

Like previously done before, we are took a family picture because of one of the kids' school needs. We really must take pictures regularly to see how everyone has grown up.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

the rest of the first day of school

After waiting over 30 minutes at the bus stop, the kids finally arrived.

From Big M:
He said the principal went in their bus to collect the Kindergarten children in order to walk to their teachers awaiting them in the front lawn of the school. However, both K and J said they were older kids and didn't go with the principal.

He also said that he was so mad at J because when he came in the school bus as the end of the day, he didn't her right away but saw K. So he was beside himself with worry that J was not in the bus. He then saw J later on the ride home (I guess maybe she was slouching and couldn't be seen above the seats).  I told him that though Daddy and I were both proud of him for worrying about his sister, he shouldn't have worried by himself and should have told the bus driver about his worry.

Big me also said, "K has a boyfriend! .... well, not a boyfriend, just a friend who is a boy." This tattle-tailing earned him a glare from K.

From K:
She said she had fun, and answered that she didn't miss J when I asked if she did.

From J:
She didn't come with her lunch box, nor her water bottle because she placed them in the wrong bin. She also said she was put in time-out at recess. I asked her what for, and she said it was because she made a face to boy repeatedly when she saw the boy being mean to another girl.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Look out, world. The Collins brook is taking over!

I can hardly believe that 3 of my children are off to school. My girls in kindergarten, who would have thought. I remember the assembly-line process of changing and feeding them as infants, and now they are in school. I can't even remember the in-between.
K, Big M, J looking like rock stars! They were all excited.

We were outside waiting for the bus about 10 minutes before our scheduled pick-up. Of course we knew that buses would be late with parents trying to figure things out and taking pictures. Little M had to have a backpack too. What he didn't know was that he wasn't going in the bus, so it was a big tantrum. He "wand machu, dodo and tatie!" Then he cried and cried after Daddy left for work. After that he started asking for everyone, like his Nana!

Little M and I headed to school for the parent coffee, but we arrived there much earlier than the kids. I got to see K find her class. She saw me and waved with a big smile in her face.

Then I saw J. She is all smiles here but as they marched to their classroom, she wanted to make sure that I could pick her up from school. I had to remind her that she is riding the bus but that I would be waiting at the bus stop. She had the saddest look in her face after waiving goodbye but she marched on. She is wearing a picture necklace of her and me, and Daddy and her. I told her she could look at the pictures when she felt sad.

After running some errands, Little M and I had lunch together at a local restaurant. We had Bacon, scallion, spinach quiche and sweet potato soup. He loved the food. He was a handful, and it took a while for him to stop asking for everyone but we did enjoy our meal together.

Monday, September 3, 2012

bedtime toddler chat

What is it about the time before settling for bed that gets young kids chatting?

Little M was telling me all about this Beyblade night lite just minutes before. Of course, he stops chatting when I get my phone to take videos, so here I am trying to urge him to talk.

Of course, outside Daddy and me, no one really understands what he is saying.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

2nd Grade DIY stenciled shirt

The first day of school is upon us and I just decided to make the kids shirts. I bought a plain t-shirt r Walmart and made my own stencil using freezer paper. I got a picture off the Internet and modified it, used an x-acto knife and voila. I used a fabric paint and got working. I would have used appliqué but that would have taken too long and having to make 3, time is not on my side.

Per Big M's request, he is getting a ninja shirt. Watch out, 2nd grade! Here he comes!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kindergarten, here they come!

We attended the Kindergarten orientation today and the word excited is a big understatement. Both K and J wanted school to start today. Now! They got mad at me for not taking their backpacks, even though I have repeatedly told them that today is only for looking around and meeting their teachers.

As we were touring the school, I did hear J ask "where is my sister?" when she couldn't see her because she walked too far ahead. J is showing more anxiety though, and it's obvious when the principal gave a rundown of the school bus procedure. She raised her hand and asked what happens when she can't find her classroom? I will have to remember and reassure her that there will be many teachers to show her around and that her and K's classroom is right next to each other.

This will be the only pictures I will have, I think, as parents are not allowed in in order to get the kids adjusted ASAP. The fall picnic is already in the schedule later in September so I will be anxious to see the friends they've made.

The only other thing I have to get used to is being late to one event since they are in a different class. Daddy will will probably be able to split with me so one can go to one and I can go to the other, unless of course the event is school wide and we will have to go to 3 different classes.

Oh my. I just can't believe the time has come. Five years has come and gone. I remember the assembly line process of feeding and changing them, but what happened to the time in between?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NYC, panhandling, and a 7-year-old

Here is a lesson that kids learn from being in New York City; I almost forgot to post about it.

Big M said he wants to save $63 for when we go back to NYC to buy something I wouldn't let him get. He asked repeatedly at different times while we were there, to give him the opportunity to earn it. I told him I would think about it. 

Later that day he said, "Mommy. I know what to do to earn some money. I'm going to play my Beyblades (spinning top game) and put a bucket in the front so people can put money in it."

The meaning of panhandling, brought to you by NYC.

Upcycling outgrown knit dress into bike shorts/leggings

I have been on a sewing kick lately, sewing dresses, skirts, pants, etc for my kids. Pinterest has proven a great resource for many things, but one thing I couldn't find was ideas on what to do with old knit dresses. My girls have outgrown many dresses that were barely worn, and so I hesitate to give them away.

Then it hits me, I can make bike shorts/leggings with them. Since I couldn't find an exact tutorial for it, I decided to just do it myself and share the process.

1 - I took a legging that fits just right and traced it on parchment paper. The dress is too small to make a full length leggings so I folded it to make bike shorts. I traced it half an inch larger on the side for seam allowance. The waist has about 1 - 1 1/2 inch seem allowance to allow for elastic casing.

2 - I cut out the parchment paper and pinned it on the dress. While doing this, I realized that I can use the side seam on the dress for bike shorts, so pinned the pattern slightly outward to remove the seam allowance on the side.

3 - After cutting one leg, I turned the pattern over and pinned it on the other side of the dress and cut another leg.

4 - 2 legs ready for sewing. 

5 - I used zigzag stitch on the inner pant leg. Once both inner pant leg were done, I placed one inside of the other (right sides together) and then sewed the crotch. Since I used the hem of the dress, I didn't need to hem the pants!

6 - Fold the waist over 1/4 and then again at whatever width your elastic is. Make sure to leave an opening to fish the elastic in. Use a safety pin to fish the elastic in, overlap 1 inch. Then sew the opening close.

7 - Bike shorts!

NOTE: At first I decided not to put an elastic in and used elastic thread instead. It didn't work quite right because it still prevented good stretch while putting the pants on. After ripping that up, I decided to not put any elastic. That almost worked, but since I fitted the pants right below the belly button, it just flared up too big on the waist and the pants eventually started slipping off. For the 3rd try, I decided to just go ahead and put elastic in. That worked much better.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dinner at the park

We decided to buy dinner and eat at the park last week. The kids have been cooped up at home due my sheer laziness and fear I taking them all out in public.

They enjoyed the playground and the running around. I can't wait to buy a house with a backyard!


These 3 have been playing together a lot lately. Little M has become the girls' boyfriend, baby, and whatever else they need him be. Little M will miss them terribly, and miss his big brother a lot when school starts next week.

Incidentally, this picture was right after K's pinky (she's on the left) was pinched in the door when Big M closed it. Yup, the door was fully closed. Half of the last segment of her pinky was black after I scrambled to open the door. After a few minutes, it turned dark red. I was doing good, panicking by myself and the kids for a while until the red wouldn't go away. I finally called Daddy and he drove home. He was thankfully not busy or had just finished what he was doing so he decided to come home in case I needed to take K to the urgent care.

It's not obvious but K is holding a bag of peas to the side.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Big M and I took a trip to NYC for the weekend to meet up with 2 of my friends (one flew from Chicago and the other from LA) to go sightseeing. We took the train for a very comfortable 2.5 hr ride. We stayed at a hotel in Time Square and walked and used the subway to get around. It was a great short weekend to take some of NYC in.

We took the ferry to liberty island and Ellis Island. Big M took all information in that the ranger recited. I took him away to take a picture and it elicited a tantrum and a half when the group started walking without him.

We planned on seeing the 9/11 memorial but only made it to the preview memorial across the street as all the passes for the day have been sold out. The preview was full of giant posters of the timeline and pictures of that day. I tried to explain to Big M the events but couldn't help my voice from breaking. I think it was for the best that I couldn't get through it because he started feeling depressed. It is too much for a 7yr old who has an enormous capacity for empathy.

We walked through Chinatown to buy some gifts for the girls and ate lung there. We had Gelato and cannoli at Little Italy.

It was an awesome experience. We can't wait to bring everyone there for a family experience.

Mod podge wooden crate

Mod podge seem to be a big thing with crafters so I thought I would share my own. I made this over 10 years ago before I even knew what wonderful things mod podge could do.

I bought the wooden crate at Michael's and thought I would make something for my bookworm husband. I photo copied some of the books (cover) I thought were his favorites. I printed them in regular paper which turned out awesome. As I was applying mod podge, some colors started bleeding which gave it an old antiqued look. I slathered a lot mod podge into sections. I didn't need to finish the entire thing at once. When the whole thing was finished and dry I brushed (using foam brush) more on the entire thing for good measure.

To this day, this is my hubby's favorite. I bought one more crate for my son who loves Lego. I went online to print out Lego pictures and did the same thing. Unfortunately haven't finished it years later because now I have 4 kids. Life happens. :)