Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Perfect Day at Disneyland

This past Tuesday was probably the perfect day at Disneyland. No crowds, great weather and awesome friends, including @mintcool and her kids, Chip and Lulu. Even though I was still sick, I felt better enough to go thanks to Stewart's call to his dr friend who told me to go buy some sudafed. It didn't even occur to me because I had been pregnant/breastfeeding for the past four years and couldn't take it. I'm so glad my body is mine again so I can take drugs and booze it up. But I digress...

I had to go to use the last day of my Socal 3/$99 summer special. It was a bit sad because I said to myself this is the last time we're going to Disneyland. After five times, it does get a bit old. I didn't have very high expectations because I felt like I had done it all before. But somehow Disney worked its magic and I had a fantastic time. It was Halloween Time at Disneyland (started last Friday) but I didn't really notice any decorations other than the giant Mickey jack-o-lantern on Main Street. The fireworks were a pretty impressive display, although the images were a little creepy for toddlers. It was the first time H was close enough to fireworks that he could feel the boom, and he did get a bit scared. But all in all, a great show.
Top ten things about my last trip to Disneyland:
10. We finally got on the Dumbo ride with a 20 minute wait--every other time it had been an hour so we didn't do the wait.
9. H didn't get lost!
8. R didn't poop the whole day so I didn't have any messy diaper changes.
7. I got the Dole Whip, pineapple soft serve, that I'd been craving all summer.
6. Only had to take one dose of Advil Cold and Sinus.
5. H didn't have any accidents.
4. Did not suffer motion sickness despite riding teacups two times in a row.
3. Discovered R and Lulu made the 32 inches minimum height requirement on Autopia.
2. Got a picture of H and Chip with Mickey at his house.
1. Such a great time that I may go again on my a few weeks. Don't tell Stewart!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Swine Flu and other ailments

The lack of activity on my blog is directly related to the time I've spent this past week hacking up a lung. I keep thinking I have swine flu, my friends Ariel and @mintcool tell me that I don't have it because I'm still alive. I guess the fact that I never had a fever means that I probably don't have it, but apparently you can get a mild case of it and think it's only a regular flu. These are the symptoms and backup for my theories:


If you or a member of your family has a fever or high temperature (over 38°C/100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms, you may have swine flu:
unusual tiredness,
runny nose,
sore throat,
shortness of breath or cough,
loss of appetite,
aching muscles,
diarrhoea or vomiting.

also check out this article:


I had 5 of the symptoms so I thought maybe I had it, especially since a mom at the robot birthday party last Sunday mentioned that she probably had it but she never went to the doctor to confirm it. Which brings me to the mommy gripe of the day--why are you at a birthday party if you think you've just had swine flu? I just don't understand people who bring kids and themselves to events when they are seriously sick. Like one day in Sunday School, this kid throws up right in front of H and his dad says, oh he did that this morning at home too and I thought he was all better so we brought him. Excuse me???? I can understand if you do that for school because you have to work and you can't afford to have a temporary nanny for the day so you slip your kid an 8 hour tylenol and hope for the best. But why would you do that on Sunday when you can take care of your kid yourself and help him get better? If someone has any explanation for this that makes sense, I would love to hear it.

I was never this sick before I had kids. Especially since H started school, the germs have been a non-stop daily assault. When I was young (in my 20s!) I usually took a week to get over a cold. Now it's two if I'm lucky. And since H seems to bring a new cold home every day of the cold season (Sept thru May), I'm sick a lot more than I've ever been in my life. Strangely, I can't remember being sick this much when I was a kid. How could the world change so much in a couple of decades? Viruses and bacteria seem stronger now. How soon will it be before they mutate to the point where we can't contain them anymore?

Obviously, I am delirious because I am still sick. Going into week 2 today...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Safely Ever After

A few days ago I was fortunate enough to go to a talk by Pattie Fitzgerald, founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. One interesting thing I learned right off the bat is that 90% of child abuse is not done by a stranger, so teaching your kids stranger danger doesn't really insure anything. One of the things Pattie advises is to teach your kids early so that these things will be ingrained in them from the beginning. Her Super Ten Play-it-Safe Rules are a good place to start. I tried to teach H the first rule, "I am the boss of my body!" He turned it into, "I am the boss of my mommy!" Needless to say, we're going to be working on that one.

I also learned something about Megan's Law. The sex offender is supposed to register their whereabouts on the website. Well, Pattie said while the website is a good start (print out the list in your neighborhood and make sure you don't knock on those houses on Halloween), basically it would be a mistake to rely on that because a lot of offenders move after their first registration or they register at an address they don't frequent (like their parents'). I wanted to see how true this was and checked out the California Megan's Law website. In my zipcode, every single offender listed had this on the bottom of the page, "THE REGISTRANT MAY HAVE SUBSEQUENTLY RELOCATED." So the best way to protect your kids is to educate them and take safety precautions. I really need to be better about safety.

I know there has been a lot out there about that woman who dragged her kid on a leash across the floor of the Verizon store. Maybe that kid did suffer rug burns because of it, but somehow I understand how it could have happened. Your kid doesn't cooperate and runs away in public places. You don't want him to run away into the arms of some pervert but you have to get errands done so having him on a leash appears to be the only solution. So your kid goes limp and refuses to move, and you're getting the run-around by the customer service people (and believe me, I have done my fair share of getting angry at the Verizon store). She lost it and dragged him across the floor. Parenting is so hard; you never know if what you're doing is right. You do the best you can and then you are put in jail for it. What will happen to that kid now? Will he think he can get away with bad behavior and remain undisciplined b/c society has said what his mother did was wrong?

This world is so depressing sometimes. I can only pray that God will protect my boys and help me to be a better mom.

Goodbye cable box

You know you have a problem when your 16 month old turns on the TV and brings you the remote. You know you have a serious problem when said toddler, whose vocabulary approximates 25 words, says Yo Gabba Gabba before going to sleep. R has become a couch potato, well at least a fingerling!

H didn't have this issue because I was more the TV police with him. No TV till 1 year, then 30 minutes of Sesame Street, which became the full hour at 18 months. Limiting viewing was just not possible with R. Probably from 7 months onward, when he could crawl towards the TV, he was watching whenever H was watching, which was more frequently because it was the only reward he cared about to get through potty training. R became a TV junkie, becoming even picky with his choice of shows by turning off the TV if he didn't like a certain Noggin program. So Stewart and I decided to pull the plug.

When I disconnected the cable box today, H had a meltdown. He would not stop crying and I was forced to take him to his room for a nap. The cable guy was coming to pick up the box and I made the mistake of letting H watch too much because I felt bad that it would soon be taken away. I really hope that this will help them to develop their imaginations, but more presently, not want to watch TV so much. I was sad for myself, but, thankfully, Monk is available on Hulu. And less TV = more time to blog. As for Stewart, he'll have to make friends with people whose TVs are available for USC games in HD.

This all raises the question, is TV bad? My MIL tells me all the time of some new study that proves that watching TV makes you retarded (her word not mine, I know it's not PC). But then my good friend--Yale undergrad, Columbia law school, University of Chicago business school-- counters with how she used to watch TV all the time as a kid. My mom tells me I started watching TV as a toddler in Korea during the hours while she would make dinner. I actually remember watching a regency movie with Korean subtitles while I lived in Korea. After watching it, I decided to become a princess when I grew up. I found out in time that the only real remaining monarchy was the House of Windsor. My love of all things British led me to college in New England and then Oxford for a study year abroad. I majored in history in college, concentrating on the British Empire. A single television program became an integral thread in the fabric of my life. Will I be depriving my kids of something that could impact them to the same degree by shutting off the boob tube? Will I relegate them to the fate of being the uncool kids with no concept of popular culture?

We'll see what happens over the next few months. Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

D23 and California Adventure

Weekends tend to be jam-packed once your kids become toddlers. For one thing, your kids start making friends, whether through preschool or church or the playground, and you're lucky if you don't have more than one birthday party a week. Secondly, if you're a working parent, you try to fill the weekend with all sorts of fun and educational things you didn't get to do with your kids while you were at work, or, in my case, all those things you won't be able to do once you go back to work. Last, but not least, if you live in Southern California, you get sucked into the theme park circuit. (But this might just be me.)

Over the past 12 months, I've been to Disneyland five times, Legoland four times, and Knotts Berry Farm once. This mostly has to do with being a new transplant to So Cal. Prior to moving here, I never had this kind of access to theme parks. My mind is still a bit awestruck when someone mentions a visit to "DISNEYLAND" vs thinking of it as just another local option for fun. Growing up in the Midwest, our family got on the plane to Orlando exactly once and we hit the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Daytona Beach in three days. The sheer exhaustion of this was enough to convince my parents that they had fulfilled their responsibility of giving their kids a complete childhood so we never returned. So whenever anyone presented the opportunity to go to Disneyland this past year, I would immediately say "Yes!" without really thinking about it. I even gave in to getting the 3 days for $99 offer for So Cal residents this past summer.

Which brings me to yesterday. My friend Elizabeth asked if H and I wanted to go with her and her son Chip to the D23 Expo. We would go to the expo for a couple of hours and then head over to Disneyland to use another day on our pass. I figured H deserved some fun after being denied outdoor activity for most of the week due to R's illness.

When we got to the Anaheim Convention Center, it immediately felt unlike anything I'd previously attended (unsurprising since one of the last conferences I'd attended was one for corporate attorneys). You could sense the excitement and near giddiness of people who were fans of the happiest place on earth. If you could bottle the feeling and spray it over all the war zones in the world, you would have spontaneous renditions of "It's a Small World" instead of outbreaks of gunfire. So you can imagine the people watching was pretty interesting, from drag-queens in character costume to Storm Troopers to tough guys tattooed not with gang symbols but all Seven Dwarves.

There were a number of stations that were engrossing for Chip and H: the Disney test toys, the Cars giveaway at Mattel, and hulahooping at Radio Disney. But their two favorite play areas were definitely Mickey's Diner and Snow White's Cottage. Mickey's Diner is reminiscent of the typical old time soda shop. Chip and H served me pretend milkshakes and sundaes for over half an hour. I mistakenly thought this would be their only chance to play in a Lilliput playhouse so I indulged them, but then we moved on to the Disney Consumer Products section which had the Snow White's Cottage in the "backyard." I didn't think they would be as interested because this one was set up for girl play, but Chip and H had a grand time pouring me cups of "juice" tea at their tea party. A really cool feature of this house is the loft, which you wouldn't even suspect was there from the outside. The other rooms of the Disney dream house were pretty and tasteful, not at all what you would expect (well, because I expected it to look like a Disney store and it doesn't). I was so impressed with the playhouses that I looked up Lilliput playhomes when I got home. If I had a backyard and $5-$8 grand to burn on a playhouse, this company would be on the top of my list.

So if you are thinking that this was a lot to have covered in two hours, you're right. We got to the expo at 10 and were ready to leave at 3:30. I was all for packing it in and going home but of course the boys wanted to go to Disneyland--after all that's what I promised H we were going to be doing that day notwithstanding the fabulous time he had at the expo. Parking at the convention center and taking the Disney tram to the park entrance was definitely better than any other parking experience at Disneyland (definitely something to keep in mind for the future). I read online that California Adventure was less crowded of the two on Saturdays so we decided to head there first.

When you mention Disneyland to H, the first thing he says is that he wants to go on the "airplane ride," aka Soaring over California. So first on the agenda was getting a fastpass for the ride. Then we headed over to Toy Story Mania. We had wanted to go on it the last time but the hour wait had convinced us otherwise. This time it was 30 minutes but still no picnic. H does not do well in lines, especially if he's been active all day with no nap. After making me leave the line several times to bring him back and then resting his head on a strange man's leg, he left me no choice but to bring out my secret weapon. M&Ms. Finally, he settled down and waited somewhat patiently. Oh the magic of chocolate. We got on the ride and it turned out to be one of the most fun rides I've ever experienced. And then H wanted to do it again. Having run out of M&Ms, I told him next time, ha!

Then it was on to the airplane ride. The first time we tried to go on the ride (on a previous visit to the park), they said he was too short. The ride has a minimum height of 40 inches and H is really 39 inches. So we went outside, took off his crocs and put on his socks and sneakers, anything to give him extra height. We measured again and got on the ride. I really don't understand the height requirement on this ride because you don't actually move that much (it's just an illusion) so I had no qualms about letting him squeak by. The ride is awesome, you feel like you're flying even though you know you're not. It is exhilarating and refreshing, you actually smell the redwood forests and feel the ocean breeze. This is definitely the best ride at California Adventure.

After this ride and a brief pass through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, it was already 7 and there was no way I was going to make it to Disneyland. We came home after a long day of fun. And there is still one day left on my pass. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

I don't even have any energy to blog about teaching Sunday School today or the pizza party character birthday party with Ariel this afternoon. So much fun, so little time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today's big excursion was to the supermarket. As anyone with toddlers knows (at least if your kids aren't lactose intolerant), life pretty much comes to a stop when you've run out of milk. The date on the carton said Sept 11, but one whiff told me that I needed to pour it down the sink. And with going out of town and visiting our friendly local emergency room, I hadn't had time to restock.

Going to the market (or anywhere) with toddlers is a challenge. The supermarket mostly because there are so many things they can grab and destroy. If your toddler is sitting in the cart, you have to make sure he's sitting at least a foot away from the produce display because otherwise you will have to pay for that tomato that he just crushed in his hand. Costco is awesome because it has those huge carts with the double seat. I used to think that was stupid, but that was before I had two kids. I wish all supermarkets had the double seater. I count it as a successful trip if I've only had to buy one item that wasn't on the list due to their nuttiness. Today's bonus item was whole wheat baguette. H grabbed it and dragged the bag around the floor, asking me to give him some. I thought it was better I give him that than risk him putting his hands into the bulk food bins again. (Sorry Sprouts shoppers, although this would have been averted if the store had double seater carts!) Stewart will be eating sandwiches for lunch the rest of the week.

So we came home and I was all ready to cook dinner with the ingredients from the market, when the Dinner Angel called. My friend Heather read my blog and could tell I needed some help. She completely made my day. She brought us a veritable feast from Sansai, plus Isabella cookies and juice. R looked so excited and happy when I put the food on the table. I think he was glad he didn't have to eat my cooking. H was thrilled to have his favorite--plain rice. Thanks Heather! I'm so blessed to have such supportive and caring friends.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


After last fall/winter/spring cold and flu season I think I became too lackadaisical in my response to sickness in my kids. I'd stopped changing schedules around and it had gotten to the point that I more frequently forget than remembered to forewarn playdate friends. In an effort to help H become social, I enrolled him in preschool last Sept. Little did I know that preschool=cesspool of germs and bacteria. H was well for 1 week from Sept to March, catching everything from stomach viruses to hand foot and mouth. R caught everything from him and had repeated ear infections, chugging antibiotics like milk shots, culminating in ear tubes surgery. I'd gotten so used to them being sick, it didn't faze me anymore.

This past week has restored my respect for the seriousness of illness. At the playdate last Saturday, not only did H and R share toys with L, they were also sharing the flu virus that L's grandparents had brought back with them from their recent trip to Europe. The next day Jenny emailed me that L had come down with a fever of 101 degrees. I thought the boys had escaped it until H started coughing after the swim party. Then came the fever. For two days I battled the fever and coughing with tylenol and motrin, but the third day I couldn't bear to hear him cough up another lung. I broke down and gave him--GASP--cough medicine. I'm sure there are other parents out there that give their kids under 4 cold medicine. My reasoning-H weighs as much and is as tall as any 4 year old.

Whatever the rationalization, the cough medicine seemed to do the trick. H seemed to be on the road to recovery so we didn't change our plans to go visit San Francisco over the weekend. We gallivanted all over town, stopping by Ike's for the killer dirty sauce on the [Name of the Girl I'm Dating] sandwich and La Cumbre for the original Mission burrito. We even made it to the Slanted Door for its famous shaking beef. We walked along the Embarcadero, rode the cable car, and hiked back twice to our hotel in the Financial District from Fisherman's Wharf. All the while, in the back of my head, I couldn't help but remember the saying, "The coldest winter I ever spent is a summer in San Francisco." It was cold. All the locals were wearing long sleeves and jackets. We were walking around in shorts. I had brought light jackets for us, but H didn't want to wear his, probably because it was getting too small. I ignored my mom voice that said H was sick and should not be out and about. I refused to bow to the virus and took the gamble that it would not ruin our vacation.

The virus didn't stop us from eating ourselves across the bay, but it wreaked even greater havoc on our family. R suddenly spiked a fever. We drove back to LA immediately. The next day he started barking like one of the seals we'd seen on Pier 39. And that day being Labor Day, the pediatrician's office was closed. The inescapable trip to the ER. After being poked and prodded for several hours, the ER doctor decided to transfer R to a children's hospital where they specialized in respiratory illnesses. So we went, via ambulance.

Diagnosis: croup. After an entire day spent inhaling oxygen and racemic epinephrine, R was well enough to come home. I knew he had croup before going to the hospital but felt guilty enough for not taking the illness seriously that I made the trip to the ER. I didn't think the hospital could do anything (and usually it can't), but R fell into the 5% of cases that merited hospitalization. And why am I blogging about this now? Shouldn't I be sleeping since I've been up for 36 hours straight? Because I don't want to forget what I've been through these past few days.

Next time, I will take it easy when my kids are sick. It might ruin well laid plans, but will save all of us pain and anguish in the long run. Next time I will ask the mom before a playdate whether her child has been around sick people lately. Next time I will be better. Because it's not their fault they got sick. I'm the mom, I should be looking out for them. Next time I will.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer End Swim Party

Our condo complex has a pool, which is situated right in front of our unit. When we have swim parties, it's really convenient. When we're trying to sleep and punks are sneaking in at 2 am, not so much. Today was one of those good times; we had a party to mark the end of the summer (not officially the end, I know, but Labor Day always seems to be the metaphorical end).

We invited mostly Moms Club friends, some closer friends than others. I hadn't seen the first guest for a couple of months. As she and her son strolled up to the pool gate she said, "You've put on a lot of weight. What have you been eating? You really put on a lot of weight." She is a foreigner and comes from a country where people don't really care about being fat or thin (she is a vegan so you can imagine the category in which she falls). But really, she's been in the country for three years now and she doesn't know that American women obsess about their weight? Now I regret explaining that I've gained weight since cutting off R from BF. I should have told her that in America it's considered extremely rude to tell a woman she is fat. My husband knows. And anyone who's watched that episode of Friends knows. Later she says she wants to go back to her country because she doesn't have a lot of friends here. I wonder why.

H and R made great progress in the pool this summer. At first H wouldn't go into the water, but would just sit on the steps and play. But a more experienced fellow 3-yr old came and showed him how to go into the water wearing "floaties" (is this LA terminology because I always knew them as armbands or water wings) and using a noodle. And now he's comfortable swimming with the floaties alone. R would not even go into the pool the first half of the summer. But one day he stuck his foot in and now he's hooked. As for me, I learned that you need to have multiple sets of swimwear because swimming and water play can be everyday events for the typical LA summer.

Next week I'm going to start training for a 5K. The nerve of some people.