Thursday, April 29, 2010
10. Drinks with artificial sweetener. Their preference for juice over anything else left me little choice but to let them drink what they call "water juice." If Crystal Light prevents R from getting diabetes (he's at risk since I had gestational diabetes), then that works for me. I know, I should be resolute and refuse them anything but milk and water, but after more tantrums than I can remember, I just can't deal with that anymore.
9. Video Games. I said I would never let my kids become video game junkies who prefer their DS over their Dickens, but it has happened. It was either let H play games on the iTouch or fight to get him to sit in his seat at restaurants.
8. McDonalds. We are there almost every week, and not just for the parfaits and apple dippers. McDonalds Playplace has saved my life more times than I can count. Sorry for the times H peed inside the climbing structure, I tried to wipe it up as best as I could before hightailing it out of there.
7. No chocolate before age 1. I made this arbitrary threshold with H, but with R, I was stirring in chocolate sauce with his milk at nine months to get him to drink it. Anything to get him above the 10th percentile for weight. And since then it's all been downhill and R's one step away from being a sugar addict.
6. Organic milk. I vowed never to give my kids anything other than organic milk. Then we went from two incomes to one, and a kid whose refusal to drink milk led to $5 half-gallons being dumped down the drain. We switched to regular (still non-rBST) milk after the first couple of cartons.
5. Wet diaper. I used to think my friend whose second child was born at the same time as H was really negligent for leaving her son (during the day) in a wet diaper for so many hours that the diaper would leak out. Luckily he never got diaper rash from it, but I still thought it was "bad." I think R's record for wearing the same diaper through multiple pees might be over six hours.
4. Swearing. I still haven't said F-U directly to them but have muttered it under my breath and thought it many times, mostly when I am cleaning up poop or puke they have deliberately smeared on the carpet. And no, there is no question about it being deliberate when it's the third time during the same afternoon nap.
3. Bribery. M&Ms for getting into their car seats, a penny for each toy picked up during clean-up time, and Chuck E. Cheese for staying dry all night long (this one hasn't happened yet) are just a few of the many ways I bribe the boys all day long.
2. Comparing them to each other. "Why can't you (the guilty one) be like your brother? Look at him, he's not __________ or ____________."
1. TV as a babysitter. H only watched half an hour of Sesame Street a day before he turned one. Then he watched an hour or two of PBS till he was two. After R was born, I let H watch whenever I had to put R down for a nap. R was soon watching as much as H outside of his naps. Recently I decided I needed to start exercising more regularly so I have been letting R watch Nick DVDs while I exercise to Jillian Michaels on Wii while H is in preschool. Some people think it's strange that H calls me "umma," the Korean word for mom while R calls me "mommy." What they don't realize is that R is actually saying "mami," because he learned the word for mom by watching Dora.
So I'm guilty as charged. I'm a BAD MOM. But I have to think a bad mom is better than no mom. And soon when they both go to school and I have some time to straighten myself out, I will start my mom rehabilitation program and become a GOOD MOM. Or maybe I will just do some things differently and become a BAD-ASS MOM. If the two toddler terrors would Just Let Me Lie Down, I could figure out which one it'll be.
This post was inspired by this month's Silicon Valley Mom's Group Book Club selection: Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom by Kristin Van Ogtrop. I was sent this book from the publisher for review purposes. I was interested in the book to get a sense of the differences in insanity between a SAHM and a mom working outside the home, and perhaps to reminisce a bit about my former life. It was pretty interesting to find that I'm facing many of the same things the author is facing--and I'm not the editor of a major magazine!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The next event was the preview of XBox 360's "Project Natal." The boys were completely ecstatic and in video game heaven. I know 1 and 3 seem pretty young to be playing video games, but because they are such television junkies, I figured playing video games would be better because at least it gets them off the couch. I don't think the reps from the company expected H to be so adept, but he figured out the concept pretty quickly and tried to play the game as much as he could. I was really impressed at his ability to wait his turn. Just a year ago, the concept of waiting was still extremely difficult for him. There were times I thought he would never get it and just be branded a "bad kid" for the rest of his life, but thankfully he did get it. He still needs reminders, but at least we don't have to leave the premises. R was so happy and relaxed just to be there, he didn't need to play the game himself. He was friendly and had smiles for everyone, including the fabulous XBox rep, Chrystina.
Project Natal is the code name for a "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform that will be released in time for Holiday 2010. Based on an add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller through a natural user interface using gestures, spoken commands, or presented objects and images. It's really neat because you don't have to worry about getting the receiver to register the controller movement and of course it leaves your hands unfettered. I immediately thought of how this would definitely make workout games a lot easier to do. If you and your family are as into video games as we are, you can follow the development of Project Natal on the following social networks:
Twitter: updates from @experienceMSFT and conversations using #Natal and #Sneakpeek hashtags
The boys and I had a fabulous time at both events. I'm looking forward to learning more about them at another event tomorrow. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it to drive all around SoCal for these parties (it can get tiring!), but when I see how much fun they have I'm so grateful that I have these opportunities to share good times with them while they're young. Thanks Nick and Xbox!
I did not receive any compensation for this post. I did receive a copy of an episode of The Fresh Beat Band for review purposes.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Besides our tree planting, I have been trying to take steps to be green so I can set a good example for the boys. We have cut down on our bottled water usage by 90%, drink only rBST-free milk, take reusable bags to the supermarket, and use rags instead of paper towels most of the time. After reading National Geographic's Green Guide Families as part of the SV Moms Blog Book Club (my book club post here), I've realized that there are so many other things that I can do. This Earth Day, I have resolved to do five of the suggestions from the book:
- Buy a radon testing kit and check our home for radon gas (p108, 283). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking!
- Ask our pharmacist if they have a "take back" program for unused or expired medications (p119). Drugs put down the drain or toilet may make it into the groundwater and then into our food supply.
- Cut down on red meat in our diet (p87). Apparently greenhouse emissions from livestock make up 18% of all man-made emissions globally, surpassing that from cars, trucks and all transportation methods combined.
- Say no to cheap toys that will end up in the landfill (p249-250). I recently bought H a plastic shovel that broke the first time he played with it. Granted, he was pretending to be the Shoveler (Mystery Men, what a great movie!) and bashing everything in sight, but I won't be indulging that kind of purchase again.
- Stop buying flowers unless they are certified eco-friendly (p323-324). Many flowers available in the US market were grown in South America where the use of pesticides on flower fields is not sufficiently regulated. The miscarriage rate is higher in women working in flower fields than in the general population. I would hate to think my buying flowers contributed to a woman losing her baby.
The tree planting program is part of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's parent company News Corp's global energy initiative, a commitment to reducing the company's impact on the climate and the environment, transforming the way it uses energy, and engages the global audience with its issues. The tree adoption is also part of "The Avatar Program," an interactive consumer experience that offers an online hub for exclusive access to first-look bonus materials, special content, money saving offers and much more. The Avatar Program will bridge the April release and an ultimate release with immersive bonus materials slated for November. I'm looking forward to reviewing these features when I receive a review copy of the movie from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. So excited! Happy Earth Day everyone!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Then we poured baby powder around the edges of all the rooms because ants will suffocate if they cross that line. This worked to some degree but there was always some point in the baby powder line that the ants could pass. It was also inconvenient to have to explain to guests that the white substance all over our house was baby powder. It would migrate over to the floors, get on my kids' hands and feet, and then tracked everywhere. Next was Orange Guard, which also worked at some level but we just couldn't spray it in every crevice from which the ants were coming. Then we bought baits for inside and outside the house and put them in places where our kids couldn't reach. Apparently the ants couldn't reach them either because they didn't work. By this point, the daily fight against the ants had turned my mouth into that of the meanest of the mean stereotypical foul-mouthed truckers. (I have to admit this was a turning point in my life from which I haven't been able to retreat.) Every time the song The Ants Go Marching One by One was on Elmo's World, I had to restrain myself from throwing the remote at the TV.
The final straw came the day when an ant was crawling on R's face. We called the exterminator. By this time R was seven months old. There must be something magical about the six month birthday, right? After all, this is the point when doctors say you can start using sunblock on your baby, so their bodies must be able to withstand topical chemical contact. Whether this was mere rationalization on my part, I couldn't risk the chance of a queen ant crawling inside R's nose or ear and laying a colony in his brain (yes, I know highly unlikely, but I looked it up on the internet and it has happened!). The exterminator came. He had to come for one followup visit a week later but we haven't had any ants since the week after Thanksgiving 2008.
Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents. I was happy to read that I had followed all the tips on how to ward off pests before turning to pesticides as a last resort, which provided some comfort. I'm excited to learn about other ways to become more eco-friendly so I can be a good role model to my kids. But I have to think that if being green is going to drive you insane and make you miserable, then you can't function as a good role model. Some people can live with ants all over their house. I cannot. I'm appreciative that the Green Guide recognizes this and didn't call for an absolute ban on pesticides. I will be sharing some more tips from the book in my Earth Day post. Stay tuned.
This post was inspired by this month's Silicon Valley Mom's Group Book Club selection: National Geographic's Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents by Catherine Zandonella. I was sent this book from the publisher for review purposes.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tina Fey's message to mothers:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViH6apQcNs0
Sunday, April 11, 2010
My son H and I have itchy skin. I know that stress is a trigger, but there must also be something in nature that triggers it because H recently had a very bad breakout after going to a park. There was a large overgrown hedge where he and three friends were have fun going in and out, pretending it was a fort. The attackers they were fighting off were ducks that waddled over from the nearby pond. That night, H started scratching and by the next day his whole body was covered with hives.
All this happened shortly before I found out about the new interactive, online tool from Curél, the Skin Advisor that offers skin analysis and provides advice on common skincare issues. Dr. Sapna Westley, who currently serves as Assistant Attending Physician in the Department of Dermatology at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in New York City, partnered with Curél to create the Skin Advisor to help users identify and address skincare concerns like dryness, itching, allergies and eczema, to name a few. I learned from Dr. Westley that 10-20% of children have eczema, and many continue to suffer in adulthood. People don’t know what regimen is right for their skin and many times parents are also confused what they should be using for their children’s skin.
Using the Skin Advisor is very straightforward. After you answer the questions, the Skin Advisor generates a customized analysis of their skin concerns as well as lifestyle tips and Curél product recommendations to treat those concerns. The advisor is very detailed, asking questions about skin type and very specific questions about symptoms people experience, just like Dr. Westley asks her own patients. The analysis generated is also very detailed and gives very useful tips and recommendations for people to start treating their skin. There is also a helpful allergen guide that people can navigate that can help target a specific ingredient that they can look for on product labels.
For me, the Skin Advisor recommended Curél's new Itch Defense skin balancing lotion. I learned about habits that would help me stop itching, like hydrating twice a day. After you go through the Skin Advisor, the website also provides a coupon for $1 off so you can try the lotion recommended.
WIN IT! One of my readers will win the lotion recommended by the Skin Advisor or another Curél lotion of your choice. Contest period runs from Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 10:00 PM (Pacific) until Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 11:59 PM (Pacific). Enter by leaving the name of the Curél lotion recommended by the Skin Advisor or another Curél lotion of your choice, and leave your e-mail address OR sign in to comments using your Blogger ID, make sure your Blogger profile is public and includes your e-mail address. If you don't leave a comment that includes the type of lotion and your e-mail address or public Blogger profile, your entry will be disqualified. One entry per person. I reserve the right to extend the contest period. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize Random.org to randomly choose the winner. The winner will be contacted by e-mail and has 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, the lotion will go to the next place winner as decided by Random.org. This contest is open for US Residents only. Good luck!
I did not receive compensation for this post. I found the information useful and wanted to give my readers the opportunity to try the product.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Ebates is an online shopping mall that has over 1,100 stores, including all of your favorites, like Macys, Nordstrom, Target, Priceline, Ebay, Diapers.com, drugstore.com, Victoria’s Secret, Apple, and many more. But what makes Ebates unique, is that Ebates will pay you cash back every time you start your online shopping at Ebates.com and go to any of the stores and make a purchase. The stores are competing for your business and pay the company a commission which it in turn splits with you. Then it pays you in cash each quarter with a Big Fat Check, there are no rebate forms you have to fill out, no points or miles to redeem – it really is simple. And because of this, the company now have over 10 million members who've received over $60,000,000 in cash back. Once people try Ebates and see how simple it is, and find the cash back, coupons and deals on the site, they tend to stay loyal forever. After all, who doesn’t like free money!
If you sign up through my unique URL and make a purchase that gets you cash back, I’ll get a referral bonus which will be directly donated to Just One. Just One's OneVoiceToEndSlavery™ raises awareness of the global sex and labor slave trade. Through creative campaigns, one day learning events and intentional networking, the organization mobilizes everyday people to join a new movement of abolitionists. OneVoice has developed partnerships with shelters around the world, financing their efforts to rehabilitate victims of sexual trafficking through these fundraising campaigns and events. Your shopping dollars could help support this very worthy cause!
If you would like to sign up for Ebates, please use my referral URL and you will also get a $5 signup bonus:
After you sign up, you can choose to get cash back or donate to a charity of your choice. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Happy Shopping!
I did not receive compensation for this post. I am grateful to share this opportunity to raise funds for a charity I support.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Fresh & Easy event jumpstarted my journey back to health and fitness. At the event we did a tasting of its new brand of healthier ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh, prepared foods called EatWell. The 17 varieties of ready-to-eat and heat prepared meals and sides in the new EatWell line includes salads and ethnic dishes, such as the Singapore Style Noodles and the Latin Arroz Con Pollo meal. Most of the EatWell items will retail for about $3.99 and slightly below, accept for a couple of higher-end fresh salmon ready-meals - a 12 ounce Honey Dijon Salmon entree and a 12 ounce Teriyaki Salmon meal - which will sell for about $4.99 each. I really liked that the EatWell brand ready-meals and side-dishes contain less than 25% of the average daily requirement in fat, sodium, and calorie contents, based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. A lot of prepared foods definitely go over that in the sodium content to make it palatable. My favorite at the tasting was the spicy tuna sushi square--who knew that brown rice, roasted edamame, gingered carrots and spicy tuna would be so good!
Fresh & Easy has stores in Arizona, California and Nevada. It is a subsidiary of the U.K.'s Tesco stores. I used to shop at Tesco all the time during my junior-year abroad, so when I heard it was coming to California, I knew I had to check it out. It really is a neighborhood market, a bit bigger than the independent mom-and-pop bodegas you have in NYC but a lot smaller than Vons (Safeway) or Ralphs (Kroger). Smaller means they won't have 12 different kinds of anything, mostly one or two, but it definitely means those one or two will consistently cost less than in the big supermarkets. I always get orange juice there because Tropicana is $2.99 (regular price!) or sometimes on special for 2/$5. The big stores rarely have that kind of deal these days, what with the problems Florida has been having with its orange crops. Fresh & Easy is also the only place I can get Stewart's favorite potato chips--Corazones, cholesterol lowering chips. He could eat that all day and night, touting its health benefits.
I really enjoyed the blogger event also because I was able to connect with other mom bloggers and people who work at Fresh & Easy. Some of the mom bloggers live so far away (I finally know where the Valley is!) that I don't get to see them that much. So getting together to eat healthy food was even more gratifying. I was also very impressed with the people representing Fresh & Easy. I've rarely met a group of people so enthusiastic about where they work (and most of them were not in the PR department) and the products they sell (99% of F&E products are free of high fructose corn syrup and they're working to get it to 100%). I tried to capture their spirit with a photo of the team. If you have a store near you, check out the weekly specials on the website, and don’t forget to sign up for coupons to take with you. They usually email $5 off $25 and $10 off $50 purchase every couple weeks. See you in the grocery aisle!
I did not receive compensation for this post. I attended an event and received a gift bag.
Monday, April 5, 2010
H is a picky eater. I don't know why, but the kid who would eat everything in sight (even kimchee!) did an abrupt 180 when he turned two. Other than breakfast foods, he would only eat plain rice and tofu, spaghetti, pizza and macaroni and cheese. Shortly before his third birthday, he discovered chicken nuggets at his friend Chip's house and that was added to his repertoire. Sometime during the year he's eaten turkey sandwiches and cheeseburgers on occasion, but everything has to be plain, absolutely no sauce of any kind. After yet another meal where he took a bite of the food, immediately gagged and spit everything out, I yelled out loud, "I give up! Only chicken nuggets and macaroni for you!" At that moment, the doorbell rang. It was a package delivery. I opened the box and inside were the two Annabel Karmel books for this month's Silicon Valley Moms Book Club. I thought, "Wow, God has a sense of humor." I posted about the Top 100 Baby Purees here, but I definitely wanted to post about the Top 100 Finger Foods as well.
I flipped through and found the Checklist for First Finger Foods on page 7. One of the suggestions was to flatten bread when making sandwiches so it's easier for the child to eat it. Umm...hello? Why didn't I ever think of this? It seems so obvious after you read it, but I'd never done it. Some bread loaves are cut really wide, with pieces that are definitely too fat for a toddler to fit two plus filling in his mouth. The next time I made the boys sandwiches, I followed this suggestion, and, voila, H ate his entire sandwich. R still managed to take it apart and only eat the turkey inside, but at least it worked for one kid.
I loved the tortilla pizza recipe on page 28 and decided to tackle that next. Success! I think I never thought about making this version of pizza because H has previously rejected quesadillas and this seems like an open face quesadilla with sauce, but H ate it up like it was going out of style. R loved it and so did Stewart! There are so many other ideas and recipes that the boys might like that actually seem doable for a not kitchen-gifted person like me. I loved Annabel Karmel's First Meals, but I think the Top 100 Finger Foods book is my new favorite. I did not receive compensation for this post. I received a copy of the book to facilitate my review.
A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to pick an item for review at the CSN Stores and its myriad of web stores. These websites offer the convenience of aggregating anything you need for your house so you don't have to go to 10 different stores or websites to find choices. I wanted to do a search for toy storage because that's something we've been having issues with in our house. A staggering 345 different choices came up when I clicked on the toy boxes link, everything from wood to plastic to chenille. I could arrange them according to popularity and price point. The toy chests ranged from a high-end model at $1,800 to the basic toy caddy at $25. I picked this plastic model because I thought it could withstand the abuse of my toddlers and I liked the fact that it was safety tested and assembled in the USA. Most things on the site seem to come with free shipping and so did the toy organizer I chose. When we received it, I tried to put it together, but it required more arm strength than I had, so we waited for Stewart to get home. After he showed off his big man guns to screw in the pieces, I put it to use. You can see from the before and after pictures that the organizer was a big improvement. Pretty good for $33.99. I will be reporting the value of this product according to FCC guidelines.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel review
The boys and I finally got a chance to watch The Squealquel together. It was a cute movie with enough plot to keep adults interested. I think the Chipmunks and the Chipettes and their singing and dancing were the aspects that appealed to the boys. My favorite part was the talent competition at the end (spoiler alert). I think the entire condo complex heard me screaming. First when the all-Asian male dance troupe Quest Crew - the winners of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew season 3 - appeared on the screen. Then when Charice (she's also featured on the soundtrack) appeared as a contestant in the talent competition. I'm sorry, but if it were "real life" I don't think the Chipmunks and Chipettes would have won against these two acts. Mad props to the producers for featuring two Asian performer/groups in the movie. I've never seen that in any other non-martial arts or Asian movie.
I'm so glad we got to see the movie together as a family so I could share in H's first movie experience. I wish we would have been able to attend the fun event this past Saturday at a pre-season exhibition game at Dodgers Stadium, where Alvin, Simon and Theodore took over to celebrate the recent 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Blu-ray Disc and DVD release with pre-game activities. Alas, H and R were denied their opportunity to shake their groove thing with the Chipmunks due to a prior commitment that I ended up having to cancel anyway due to my inability to move a muscle without coughing up a lung (going into week 3 of upper respiratory infection!). I did get these fun photos of the Chipmunks with Manager Joe Torre (who I followed to LA when he left the Yankees!) and Pitcher Ramon Troncoso. Looks like Theodore has the most Dodgers spirit!
I did not receive compensation for this post. I received a review copy of the DVD to facilitate my review.