Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Three-And-A-Half Year Old Serious Kiddo Update

3 years 9 months old

#SeriousKid is 3 years and 9 months old (so, 3.75 years old, if you’re a math enthusiast).

A. His Schedule – He gets up when we get him up, which is whenever his younger brother gets up. He is not a morning person. He practically never takes a nap at home. We usually try to put him to bed around 8:15 p.m. but he can easily stay up until 9 p.m. (he might be a night owl). He loves it when we let him sleep in our bed, though we don’t do it every night.

B. His Size – He seems average for his age.

C. His Personality – He is very loving, but also somewhat stubborn and kind of bossy. I think he gets his desire to lead others from my husband (and his stubbornness from both of us). He loves doing quiet activities like playing with Legos, reading a book, or watching a movie. He has very good attention span. He struggles to make friends with children his own age – I hope this improves with time, but I think making friends at any age can be intimidating and tricky, so I empathize with him.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Chocolate (e.g. Chocolate milk)
  • Candy (e.g. Pez)
  • Chocolate candy
  • Sweets (do you see a pattern?)
  • Grape soda and Sunkist
  • Art
  • All of the colors (he used to prefer red so this whole not having a favorite color thing is new to me)
  • Batman is his favorite superhero, although he likes other ones like Captain American, Iron Man, and the Hulk
  • Legos, especially if you get to “build the guy” (build Lego figures)
  • Puzzles (especially if the puzzle involves superheroes)
  • Watching YouTube
  • Lunchables
  • Hanging out on the couch
  • Our cat
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches, especially if it is served on a blue plate (he likes eating bread, so if you’re not willing to make him a grilled cheese sandwich, he’ll happily eat a piece of plain bread)

E. Things He Does Not Like
  • Plates that are not blue
  • When his younger brother destroys something he is building, or wants to play with the same toy he does
  • Baths and showers
3 years 8.5 months old

F. What He’s Thinking About
  • He is looking forward to a kids’ cooking class that he will take in the fall – this was his choice; he chose cooking class over soccer, tennis, and gymnastics
  • Even though his birthday is not until October, he is already looking forward to it, and adding things to his Amazon Wish List

G. Surprises – Sometimes I am surprised at how old he looks to me in comparison to his brother. I am also surprised at how much his personality seems to tend towards my mother’s and my own personality, and not towards my husband’s. I think this makes it difficult for my husband to understand Max and vice versa (although, Ted seems to take much more after my husband than me, so I have similar challenges with Ted).

H. The Best Things – Developing a close relationship to #SeriousKid: talking about what’s important to him and doing the things he likes to do together, even if it is as simple as watching a show we both like and talking about it together.

I. Family and Friends – I hope that he will make friends at the new daycare, but right now, it sounds like he either plays alone or gets bullied most of the time (he tells his teachers about the name-calling he receives, in case you’re wondering). I could switch him into another daycare, but I fear that it would just happen again (I think he got bullied at the old daycare too, but he had a friend who was his ally which I don’t think he’s been able to replace at the new daycare).

J. Parenting – It is challenging to balance the needs of both kids, and try to have a strong personal relationship with each kid, not just the child that more closely resembles one’s own personality, which in my case is #SeriousKid.
3 years 8 months old

Two-Year Ted Update

#BearTed just turned two!

A. His Schedule – He gets up at about 6 a.m. every day of the week, and goes to sleep at 8 p.m. He usually does not take naps these days. Sometimes, he wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to crawl into bed with us – he is a cuddly guy!

B. His Size – He seems small for his age – he is slim and not very tall, but he is very strong.

C. His Personality – He loves to make us laugh, and is fun-loving. He loves physical touch, such as being held and giving and receiving hugs. He seems to prefer my husband’s company to mine, but lets me know that I’m still one of his favorite people. He seems to be a people-person, and more extroverted than his older brother.

D. His Favorite Things
  • He loves his moose blankies – he has a few copies of the same blanket, and he loves sucking on the feet of the moose – he prefers having two blankies at a time to just one
  • He likes almost all foods – he even likes spicy foods (unlike his older brother)
  • He loves the outdoors, whether it’s going for a walk, playing with bubbles, riding on our toy motorcycle, or splashing in his new kiddie pool
  • Music – he has a CD player that he likes to carry around; he can also sing his ABC’s now!
  • He enjoys some quiet activities like play with Play-Doh, painting, and playing with stickers, but he also loves being active – I think he’ll enjoy getting into sports someday (like this fall, when he takes a toddlers’ soccer class!)
  • He likes Spiderman and Power Rangers
  • Colors – I think he likes blue and yellow, but I’m not sure
  • Water, e.g. taking a bath or shower
  • Our pets

E. Things He Does Not Like
  • Surprisingly, he does not like chocolate (he prefers white milk to chocolate milk, and prefers white cake to chocolate cake)
  • Being left by us (such as when we leave him at daycare)
  • When he suggests that we go get a "Happy Meal!" and we drive past the McDonald's anyway

F. What He’s Thinking About
  • #BearTed has a lot of words now to try to tell us what he wants, such as “Go up,” “Go out,” “Get up,” and “Bubbles!”
  • He is a risk-taker – for example, he does not seem to be afraid of heights or falling
  • He is learning to go potty but sees it as optional; he goes on the potty because he likes doing it, not because he thinks that’s what he’s supposed to do

G. Surprises – I cannot think of anything truly surprising about him at this age, other than just how much energy and stamina he has!

H. The Best Things – I love it when he will sit near me (or on me) and drink he bottle when he’s sleepy – it reminds me of the past when he was younger and even more cuddly. It's also very endearing when he recognizes someone (like my father) and stops everything he's doing to run over to the person, yell out their name, and hug them!

I. Family and Friends – I wish that some of my cousins lived closer to us, or some of my spouse’s, for that matter. That being said, the friends we do have in our area are pretty great.

J. What I’m Doing Differently This Time Around – At this age / stage, the only significant difference between how I’m parenting #BearTed now and how I parented #SeriousKiddo is that #BearTed does not have a younger sibling. When #SeriousKiddo was two years old, #BearTed was already here!

I was gone...

I am not sure how common this problem is in the blogosphere, but things happened, I got busy, I stopped posting, and then more things happened. So many things happened which I wanted to talk about, so updating the blog got to be a longer and longer task, and I still didn’t have any more time to do it than before. In the past, I have started other blogs and this same thing has happened to me. And then, after one guilty post (like this one) where I try to explain why I was gone, and try to suggest that I’ll do a better job of updating things in the future, I go silent.

There are a lot of reasons why I haven’t updated this blog in a while, but here are some of them:
  1. My day job started taking more of my time and energy.
  2. Perfectionism – I wanted to do a really good job of writing, but did not have the time to write / edit to my satisfaction – the list of posts I wanted to write got very long, but things weren’t getting crossed off.
  3. Limited time – Every one of us has limited amounts of time, but I had even more limited amounts than usual due to some new endeavors for me, such as: a) selling our house and moving; b) focusing on our finances (which also involved me doing a fair amount of time-consuming research on personal finance to educate myself); c) having a very mobile and active toddler (as #SeriousKid became a preschooler, #BearTed became a toddler, but he has way more energy and engages in riskier behavior than his older brother); d) my spouse wanting switch jobs (which took a lot of mental energy and emotional labor on my part); e) our kids switching daycares; and f) me having out-patient surgery (the recovery period was two weeks!).
  4. I had some organizational challenges with regard to my hobbies – this blog is a hobby, as is cross stitch, and I suppose writing outside of my regular job too. It was hard to keep these things in order when I had other things to focus on, like figuring out what box contained my socks after the move.
  5. I am not able to easily add photos from my phone to this blog. Right now, I wind up emailing myself the photos, downloading them onto a PC or laptop, and then uploading them. I find this very tedious, and yet, I can’t deny that I prefer blog posts with photos to those without photos.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Multi-Colored Rainbow Room

Image 1: Moodboard
Image 2: Inspiration Room

One of my favorite things to do with my three-year-old is to look through design magazines and pick the rooms we'd like to live in. My son picked out a room he particularly liked (Image 2), and I created a moodboard for it (Image 1).

Image 1 (Moodboard): Pink bed, navy and white duvet, green rug, nightstand, abstract art, panel curtains, cute planter, white table lamp, multi-colored fleece throw blanket, lumbar pillow, blue square pillows, yellow square pillow, multi-colored chair, euro shams, typography "wonderful" print, typography "stay wild" print
Image 2 (Inspiration Room): Anne Seike for Pinecone Hill Palm Springs Look

The trick with a "rainbow" room is to have areas where the eye can rest, like the white duvet. In the inspiration image, the white rug also does this, but white rugs are impractical, so I replicated the greenery outside the inspiration room's window with a rug solid rug in the moodboard. The white prints in the moodboard also serve to create some visually quiet spaces.

I will say that the moodboard was not meant to replicate the inspiration room precisely because I wanted to stay true to my own personal style. For example, I don't really like the chair in the inspiration room. And I inserted my own bedside table in my moodboard (if you were doing this for your room, you'd probably want to choose a white bedside table).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

My Lil' Pony Rainbow Dash Cross Stitch

One of my friends' daughters is having a My Little Pony themed birthday party, so I thought this would make a fun gift for her!

Colors used:

  • Extra-Light Blue
  • Medium-Light Blue
  • Bold dark blue
  • Bright Red
  • Bright Orange
  • Yellow
  • Lime Green
  • White
  • Black
  • Fuschia

Fabric used:

  • 14-count Almond-colored Aida

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Advice for Guest Bedrooms and Hosting Guests

After commenting myself on this WaPo Live Chat, I decided to better organize my thoughts and write this post based on my recent experience staying with family out-of-state. This advice is particularly applicable if some of your houseguests will be children.
  1. Air Mattresses - If you have one, make sure they it does not have a slow leak by testing it over the course of 3+ days before your guests arrive. No one wants to wake up on top of a deflated air mattress.
  2. Wardrobes and Dressers - If you have one in your guests' quarters, make sure it is completely empty. If it's full, it just takes up space where your guests are going to want to put their luggage.
  3. Infants and Sleep - Have your guests bring their pack-and-play from home, or have one on hand yourself. They are relatively inexpensive and easily fold up for travel or when not in use.
  4. Kids and Sleep - Consider investing in a cot that can be folded up when not in use. Alternatively, if the child is age five or under, you could use an inexpensive crib mattress that can be placed on the floor, and stowed under a bed when not in use. As a third option, consider a twin bed or a twin air mattress. A fourth option would be pull-out chair or sofa, though that would be the most expensive of these options.
  5. Fans - Especially if you do not have a ceiling fan, consider placing a fan in the room. Guests like being able to control the temperature of their room, and some also enjoy the white noise and / or air flow that a fan can provide.
  6. Hooks - Consider installing hooks that your guests can hang their bath towels (or wet swimsuits) on. Install the hooks in either in the bedroom or in the guests' bedroom, depending on where you have space. These hooks could also be useful for winter coats and sweaters when the weather changes.
  7. Simple, Layered Bedding - Opinions will vary widely on this, but personally I prefer doing only a fitted sheet (no top sheet), one to two bed pillows per guest (no throw pillows and no bed skirt), a freshly laundered duvet (as opposed to a comforter or quilt), and a folded blanket at the foot of the bed (or stowed nearby). The absence of a top sheet and throw pillows will make it easier for your guests to easily make their bed in the morning (cramped spaces always look better with a freshly made bed). The absence of a bed skirt will make it easier to spot guests’ items that have inadvertently rolled under the bed. Further, both throw pillows and a bed skirt can collect dust which may irritate some guests' allergies. A duvet is easily machine-washable (unlike a comforter or quilt which may be too large or heavy to launder at home, and bulky to store when not in use). The addition of a blanket will help guests if using a duvet is too warm or not warm enough (depending on if the blanket is used instead of, or in addition to, the duvet).
  8. Room-Darkening Curtains - Consider installing light-blocking curtains or blinds - some guests may not care, but others cannot sleep with mere sheers on the windows.
  9. Waste Basket - Provide a small, freshly-emptied waste basket.
  10. Limit Occasional-Use Furniture - Unless you have a lot of space in your guest bedroom, do not provide a large-scale reading chair because guests can always read elsewhere (e.g.: in bed, in your living room, or in a smaller chair). Also, try to choose smaller-scale furniture for your guest bedroom which will allow for maximum flexibility in terms of how guests use your space. For example, if you are going to include a reading chair, consider choosing one without arms. Note that all too often, a guest bedroom can become a dumping ground for furniture that should be discarded (or placed in storage), rather than merely relocated / relegated to the guest bedroom. Personally, I’d prefer a small bench (to sit on when putting on my shoes) or a folding luggage stand (to place my suitcase upon) over having a chair in a guest bedroom.
  11. Toiletries - Consider providing travel-sized toiletries for your guests. Just the basics will do, and just one of each product is sufficient (shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, and a sealed travel-sized pack of Kleenex). Also, you may want to provide a couple of other new items too in case your guests forget to pack theirs (a fresh toothbrush and razor are sufficient).
  12. Electronics - Consider providing a power strip (and / or a USB outlet) near the bed, and a sign with the Wi-Fi network name and password information (blank templates are available online for free, or you could make your own).
  13. Water - Leave some bottled water (two bottles is sufficient) on the nightstand - it’s much hard to inadvertently knock over than a carafe.
  14. A Small Refrigerator - If an only if you have sufficient money and space to purchase and keep one, consider having a small fridge in the room that can be plugged in whenever you plan to have guests. It’s great to have for storing anything your guests need to keep cold: milk (for kids or babies), orange juice for the morning, or leftovers.
In addition to the items above, I wanted to add a note regarding communicating your feelings to your guests. If you have a problem with something your guests are doing (lifestyle, etiquette, habits, or anything else), consider bringing it up as soon as possible - waiting until the end of the trip gives your guests no time to adjust their behavior, nor does it provide them any time to make alternative lodging arrangements for the duration of their trip if the behavior cannot be helped. Any group of people living together is going to eventually hit bumps in the road, and stewing about it helps no one. Keep your tone constructive rather than adversarial, and keep your comments as focused to the specific issue(s) at hand.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Two-and-Half Years Old Kiddo Update

Eating a chocolate-chip cookie

A. His Schedule – He is not a morning person, and is frequently very drowsy and cranky when we wake him. If he’s good about getting ready in the morning, then he gets to watch one TV show on Amazon Prime before “school” (daycare). He only takes one nap per day. His bedtime is around 8:30 p.m.

B. His Size – Although he used to be a larger kid for his age, currently he’s smaller than average. His height is 35.25” (37th percentile) and his weight is 29 lbs. 1 oz. (42nd percentile). He’s currently wearing size “3T” – shirts in that size fit him but pants in that same size are a little bit long.

C. His Personality – He’s bossy, stubborn, opinionated, and he thinks he’s funny. Sometimes he’s quite the tiny tyrant. However, he also has a sweet side. I can’t tell you how thoughtfully he asked me the other day “Mom, [are] you happy?”

D. His Favorite Things
Activities – He likes coloring, playing with Play-Doh, reading (either being read to, or pretending to read himself), and running. He also loves sticks and trying to use them like swords.
Animal – He still loves cats (domestic, cheetahs, tigers, etc.).
Book – I don't think he has a favorite book right now. He was very into “Green Eggs and Ham” for a while.
Food – He likes chocolate milk and cookies best (when we let him have those things). Other things he likes (which unfortunately are also sweet) are Pop Tarts, muffins, and candy.
Security Item – He still loves his green, fuzzy blanket.
Toy – He loves a set of gel pens that we got him, although I know that is not a toy per se. He also likes building with blocks (wood ones or MegaBloks) and coloring on his Doodle Pad (magnetic drawing board, similar).
TV Show – Thundercats is his current favorite, but he still likes Daniel Tiger’sNeighborhood.

E. His Development
Speaking – He can speak quite a lot now. His teachers are concerned that sometimes the words he says are hard to hear, but so far I haven’t been concerned myself. He’s using four- and five-word sentences, so I think he’s doing just fine.
Drawing – He recently learned how to draw a circle – his circles look more like ovals, but it’s a big step forward from just drawing lines.
Music – He’s starting to be able to sing the ABCs song – he makes a lot of mistakes of course.
Potty Training – Although we’ve been trying to train him for about a year, he is finally starting to really get it, and to choose wearing underwear and using the toilet regularly over wearing Pull-Ups or diapers.


F. Surprises – It’s still amazing to me how fond he is of his younger brother. You’d think he’d be jealous of the attention that Ted gets, but he’s not.

G. The Best Things – Sometimes the best thing is just the way he smiles. Other times, it’s seeing him get interested in something that I’m interested in (like drawing).