Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pre-school daze

I'm becoming increasingly anxious about the upcoming school year, and it's more than six months away. It's now the season for registration for school, and I feel like I have to make a decision soon about Eliz. The local school, or the charter school, or a private school, or homeschool? Kindergarten or first grade? Now for most normal parents of most normal kids, I'd imagine that it's a pretty straightforward answer. But I have a hunch that Eliz just isn't a normal kid. She missed the cutoff for kindergarten last year, and it breaks my heart. How I wish her birthday was just two months earlier.

A partial list of the things she can do with ease:

Read fluently in English, and not-so-fluently in Korean.
Add and subtract to about 20. Count by twos, fives, and tens, to a few hundred.
Write neatly and legibly, using proper punctuation.
Tell time on a non-digital clock.
She's figuring out very quickly the concepts of north, south, east, and west. She's got a very good sense of direction, and also has a firm grasp of left and right.
She has a very rudimentary knowledge of piano, music theory, and appreciation. (This is mostly because I haven't really put in the time to teach her, not because she doesn't get it.)

Now I *KNOW* that this is more than the typical preschooler can do, and I'm pretty sure that many kindergartners struggle with some of these things. And just so you know, I haven't been sitting her down and drilling her for hours on end -- this is just stuff that she found interesting and picked up, mostly from her asking questions. We do have workbooks, but we do them when she feels like it, not according to any specific schedule. Sometimes it's five pages a day, sometimes two weeks can go by without her cracking open a workbook.

So why won't any school take her for kindergarten? Why am I having such a hard time getting her evaluated sometime soon so that we can know one way or another what grade to put her in in the fall? The past few months I have called our local elementary school, the local charter school, a few private schools, and even a few homeschooling ISPs to see if they will either take her a year early or even just evaluate her, and they have all told me that because her birthday is in late January, she's simply too young for either one, and that I'll have to wait until she enters kindergarten in the fall.

I'm so afraid that if she goes into kindergarten in the fall (instead of first grade), she will learn to associate "school" with "zoning out." She needs mental stimulation to remain engaged and interested in school. The last thing I want is for her to develop bad habits in the early years and then struggle later on because she never learned how to learn in a classroom setting.

It irks me to no end because there's a little girl in the next school district over who is in kindergarten, and she's a full month younger than Eliz. *They* were able to get her evaluated and into kindergarten because *their* school district will do that. Our school district, therefore, stinks.

Another thing that irks me is the fact that I don't have the same apparent luxury as those parents of kids whose birthdays fall later in the year. They are able to choose whether or not to enroll their kids or keep them back a year so that their kids will be a year older than their classmates.

Now the more I think about this, the madder I get, and the more I feel like Eliz is getting a disservice from the school district. But then a small, annoying, part of me makes me wonder, how much of this is tied to my own pride? Am I wanting this because it makes me proud to say that I've got an academically gifted daughter? Or am I wanting this because this really is the best for Eliz?

Anyways, I will let this issue rest once she's evaluated and a definitive answer is given one way or another. Hopefully sooner than later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"What's $ 3 x?"

So Eliz, my 5-year-old, woke up from her nap and was eating a post-nap snack while I'm chilling here on the computer. I'm half-paying attention to her when she suddenly asks something that sounds like "What's $ 3 x?" (Just in case some perverts trawl around looking for pages on the internet with that three-letter-word I'm changing some of the letters. I hope it keeps the pervs out. Anyways...) I'm shocked that she's even heard the word because I'd like to think that I've done a fairly decent job of sheltering her from anything that's more complicated than what I'd like to explain. So I asked her to say it again, and there it was, "What's $ 3 x?" I'm still confused so I ask her where she learned it, and she says it's in her book. Now I'm thoroughly baffled because I am *pretty sure* that she doesn't have any books with $ 3 x u @ 1 content. Finally after lots of asking, she tells me she got it in her "Sweet Success" book. So I go and dig it out of her room and ask her to find the word. I'm hoping I'll find some context, INNOCENT context, with which I can explain this word.

So there it was... "The sacks were half empty."

I almost had a heart attack for nothing!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

can't sing its praises enough

can i tell you how much i love multigrain cheerios? i really don't know why any other cereal exists now that multigrain cheerios has been invented and is now available at costco. according to the box, it's "lightly sweetened." according to my (and my kids') tastebuds, it's sweeter than the yellow-box original cheerios, but not as sugary as honey nut cheerios. the ingredients list is surprisingly short, but out of the first six ingredients, five of them are whole grains. unfortunately the third item in the ingredients list is sugar, but i'll choose to ignore that for now since it's surrounded by whole grains. and not that there's anything wrong with it (according to the corn people on tv), but there's no high fructose corn syrup either. and the nutrition facts is what really seals the deal for me:

per 1-cup serving:

1g fat
0g saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated fats
0mg cholesterol
200mg sodium
85mg potassium
23g carbs
3g fiber
6g sugars
14g other carbs
2g protein

and let me show you this:

100% iron, vitamin e, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin b6, folic acid, vitamin b12, pantothenic acid, and zinc.

i challenge you to find me a cereal that's nut-free (eliz is allergic to nuts), not too sweet but still tastes good, doesn't taste or feel like gravel, and has this kind of nutritional pedigree.

otherwise i might just have to buy a lifetime supply for me and my kids just in case they ever stop making it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

valentine's day

since valentine's day happens to be my daughter's birthday, i think it's safe to assume that for the foreseeable future, we won't be going out on dates and leaving the kids with a sitter anymore on february 14.

this year for v-day we spent most of it either preparing for my parents and sister's family to come over for dinner to celebrate abi's birthday. the day before, however, we had our own v-day date. that morning my husband took the kids(!!) and went to costco to go grocery shopping for me, since my cold (cold? flu? who knows) pretty much had my butt kicked and my head in pieces. while he was there, he got the milk, eggs, and bread, and also came home with a dozen red roses. i was shocked because i can't remember the last time he got roses on a routine grocery run, much less on a grocery run with the kids.

anyways, since the price of red roses mysteriously goes up at this time of year, i just had to know how much they were. $15! i was elated! because they're totally overpriced, i never expected a dozen for valentine's day (last year i asked him for ONE red rose, and my man delivered!) anymore, but i think i'm going to have to start expecting them now every v-day for as long as we have costco membership and they keep their rose prices down in february.

so that was part one of the v-day gift.

part two: my mom came to spend the night (she comes over a couple times a week after work so she doesn't have to drive an hour home late at night) so we left the kids with her and went to get a chinese foot massage. an hour long. for $25. they soak your feet for 20 minutes while they massage your head, neck, and shoulders. then they work 10 minutes on your left foot, then 10 minutes on your right foot, and then flip you over and spend the last 20 minutes working on your back. so we got a massage-for-two for a pretty good bargain, considering that you can easily spend $75 (or even more!) on a massage at a day spa. i'm aching to go back already.

part three: we went to our new favorite frozen yogurt place. it's like pinkberry, and i wouldn't be surprised if it's modeled after pinkberry, but we don't care, because there's no pinkberry in our area. (can you tell we like pinkberry?) anyways, this place has the same tart frozen yogurt, the same fresh fruit toppings (my favorite is the blueberry), and the same bingsu dduk (mochi balls). yum! we split a medium, original flavor, with bingsu dduk, blueberries, and mini-m&m's since we didn't have to hide them from the kids. (we usually just get the bingsu dduk and fruit and not chocolate with them.) and bonus: since it was raining, we got a double-stamp on our frequent-buyers card!

part four: we went to see gran torino. it was a pretty good movie. i won't give any spoilers, but i'll tell you this. going in, i knew nothing about the movie other than that it's got something to do with a car and clint eastwood. for some reason i thought it was some kind of lots-of-special-effects racecar type of movie, and really went to see it just to spend time with my husband, not because i really wanted to see the movie. but when it was over, i was so glad that i went to see it. and just so you know, the movie's got nothing to do with racing.

so it was a good day. better than i expected. no ooey gooey greeting cards, no candlelit dinner, no house-all-to-ourselves-since-the-kids-are-with-the-grandparents, but it was all good. my husband loves me, i love my husband, and all is right with the world. it also helps that we got groceries in the fridge, a dozen red roses in the living room, a side-by-side massage for cheap, frozen yogurt that we don't have to share with the kids, and two hours in a movie theater while the kids are safely sleeping at home with grandma in the next room.

who says valentine's day needs to be celebrated on the 14th?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

three years ago today

happy birthday to my baby girl. here's the story, beginning a few days earlier:


Saturday, February 11, 2006, 9:39pm

For the last few days I felt like my abs are about to rip open down the middle above my belly button. Is there anything I can do about the pain? It hurts to laugh, it hurts to cough or sneeze, it hurts to wear pants, it hurts to walk, it hurts to touch! Anyone? Please, somebody, tell me that you had this too and I'm not the only freak with hurting abs!


Monday, February 13, 2006, 2:09pm

I feel so cheated!

Yesterday I got to play in my concert without any incident. Whee! I was joking to the other people in the orchestra that I'm in the clear to go into labor or for my water to break at 6:15pm, when the concert ends. Well, I got home, hung out with my daughter and husband for a little while, and then went to bed early. My husband and I normally don't go to bed until like 1, so it is kind of a treat for me to go to bed early. (Yeah, I know, I'm weird like that.) Anyways, around 12:30am I woke up from my evening nap (hah!) and my husband was still awake, so we just got to talking. We had a really good talk. Talking about our plans for the future, his job, a pending promotion, a different pending job offer... it was a really really good talk. Haven't had one of those in a long time.

Well, finally around 1:30am or so we got tired so we turned out the lights and rolled over to go to sleep. I started feeling contractions here and there (a bit stronger than Braxton-Hicks contractions -- they'd start with a general tightening, then finish off with a big surge of pain near the cervix), and I decided to stay up and start timing them. They were pretty regular, about 5-8 minutes apart. I woke up my husband around 3:30 and told him to not plan to go to work today. We did a frantic packing of the hospital bags, woke up our 2-year-old and loaded her up the car, called the doctor, and headed out to the hospital at around 4:45am. I joked to my husband that the baby must have waited for me to play in the concert and then decided to come right after that.

Once we're in the hospital, I got hooked up to a monitor, had an internal exam, and was found to be 3cm. (I had an appointment just a day and a half earlier, and was 2cm at that point.) We decided to walk the halls, and get checked again in an hour. Around 7am I'm determined still to be a good 3cm and my contractions have slowed down to almost nothing!!! The doctor comes to check me at 8am, I'm still 3cm, and we decide to have me walk some more. Again at 11:30 I'm still 3cm, and after talking with the doctor, we decide to send me home. Waaaaahhhhh!!!

Not that I want to have the baby today or anything (we're so far from ready it's not even funny), but I can't help but feel cheated. Cheated of my good night's sleep, cheated of my husband's sleep, cheated of my 2-year-old daughter's sleep. Cheated of getting my hopes up. Cheated of the precious gas that was spent driving 30 mins each way to and from the hospital. *sigh*

And I'm still getting contractions. Still just as strong. But only about once every hour or so.


Monday night, February 13, 2006, around 9pm.

We went to the mall tonight to pick out the pictures we'd like to have from my pregnancy photo shoot the Saturday before. While we're there, looking at pictures, I suddenly got really quiet. The guy at the photo studio asked me what I was thinking, since I was just kinda' staring at the pictures and not having much of a facial expression at all. (Normally I'm quite gregarious and my husband's always looking for my "off" switch.) My response? "Oh, nothing... I'm just having a contraction."

You should've seen the look on his face!


Tuesday morning, February 14, 2006.

Around 5am I woke up again with contractions. They're probably false labor again, so I ignored it as best as I could, but they still came every 5-6 minutes. Around 6am my husband asked if I'm okay (I guess my stirring woke him up). I said that I'm having contractions again, so he asked if we should call the doctor. I was afraid of calling the doctor again at such an unholy hour, so we decided to wait until at least 7. I was still convinced that this is just false labor, so he took a shower, and then I decided I'd take a shower. The nerd in me was fascinated with the fact that I knew exactly what time it was just from my contractions. After my shower, still in denial, we decided to have breakfast (two years earlier when I was in the hospital to give birth to my firstborn, they wouldn't let me eat anything, so I made sure I got myself something to eat this time).

Finally around 7 we decided to call the doctor, and the first question she had for me, of course, was "are these contractions different from those you had yesterday morning?" I wasn't completely sure, but thought they *might* be a little harder, so she recommended that we get to the hospital.

We finished up breakfast, got Eliz, and began our drive to the hospital. It was around 8am (we took our time, figuring that it's just false labor again) so we just moseyed along with the rush-hour traffic. It took us a good 35-40 minutes to get there, and by the time I was there, contractions were coming a little faster and much harder. About 25 minutes into the drive I felt it was getting unbearable -- two years earlier when I was in labor with my first one, this is about the point of pain when I asked for my epidural. I decided this was enough pain, and that I'll ask for the epidural as soon as we get to the hospital. This was so different from the day before, when I sauntered into the hospital, practically singing "I think I'm in labor." This time I staggered in, between contractions, and I guess the expression on my face said everything to the nurses. I wanted to get under some hot water again, to ease the pain, but they said that they had to monitor me and check my dilation first. I reluctantly agreed, figuring that once they get the formalities out of the way I can hop into the shower and get that hot water on my back.

So they checked me and it turned out that I was already 8cm dilated. Too late for an epidural, the doctor said. And not only that, but I'll be ready to push in about an hour or two. What!??? I was expecting to hang out and chill with my epidural for a few hours first, and then maybe sometime in the afternoon have the baby. And my poor husband, I think he wanted the pain relief more than I did. He asked the doctor a few times if there's anything that can be done about the pain. She assured him that there was nothing to do but to just go through it since it's too late.

So here I was, hanging out and trying to chill with my contractions, and some lady walked in asking if it's okay for some student nurses to come and observe the birth, since it'll be an unmedicated one. Uhhh, okay, I guess. I'm in labor and can't really think clearly, so whatever.

A few contractions later I realize hey, waitaminnit, this is a bunch of strangers coming in to see me push a baby out of my hoohaa, and the least they can do is babysit my two-year-old in a different room so she doesn't have to witness all of this! So I guess it worked out -- we have a babysitter!

Anyways, around 10am I was determined to be fully dilated, so they instructed me to push. No epidural, just a bunch of ladies that I don't know, one counting to ten every time I push (one of my personal pet peeves), and another telling me "how wonderful it is to be bringing a baby into the world" (that particular wording, I discovered, is another one of my personal pet peeves).

Finally at 10:29am, Abi (she prefers Iga) came out, looking just like her daddy, just like her big sister did when she was born. I was a little disappointed, not because looking like daddy is a bad thing, but because I was hoping that at least one of my two kids would look anything like me. Oh well, she's a beautiful baby, and still is a beautiful three-year-old girl today.

The crazy thing was, the first time around I gained 31 pounds, and Eliz came out 7 pounds, 7 ounces. This time I gained 11 pounds, and Abi came out 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Okay, I guess it doesn't always mean that bigger weight gain means bigger babies!


As a baby she was even easier than Eliz. Even in the hospital she was sleeping 5 hours at night, and she hardly cried either. Just like her big sister, she nursed like a champ and was never picky with clothes or food. To have gotten lucky twice, I would love to say it was my superb parenting skills that made my children this way, but you and I both know, it was all God's grace.

I nursed my firstborn for 13 months, so I figured I'd nurse my secondborn until she starts walking. Little did I know that she'd wait until weaning (at 16 months) to start walking (a few days shy of 18 months)! For the longest time she'd communicate with a two-syllable "Ah-ah?" It really meant anything between "I'm sitting here and having a good time" to "Let's play!" Soon after that was her "Weng-oh-weng-oh-weng-oh-weng." It took us a few weeks to realize that that was her way asking "What is this?" Nowadays she loves to sing and dance, she loves to jump around and play with her big sister. She is very good about waiting her turn for things, and even her Terrible Two wasn't really that terrible. I guess now that she's three, I can't say she's a baby anymore, especially since she's now fully potty-trained, sleeps in a big-girl bed, and is beginning to learn the alphabet and the sounds of each letter too. Oh well, she'll always be my baby.

Happy birthday, my baby. I love you. You're truly your parents' joy. May God bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand. May he love you and call you his own, and may you grow into a woman who fears the Lord and therefore is greatly to be praised.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

one thing that i am passionate about

one thing that i'm passionate about is car seat safety. almost anybody who's shown me their kids in their cars/car seats has probably gotten a once-over from me. first off, here's my disclaimer: i'm not a car seat technician or an expert on this subject by any means -- it's just something that i feel so strongly about, that i don't keep to myself about this very often.

so from what i've seen, many people rear-face (i'll call it "RF") their kids until their first birthday, when they graduate to their forward facing ("FF") "big kid" car seat. the law requires that they stay RF until they are no longer less than a year old AND 20 pounds.

however, it's so much safer to keep the kids RF for as long as possible -- to the RF limits of the car seat, which in many cases go up to 33 or 35 pounds. in most cases it means for at least another year or two. ideally we'd have car seats that have RF limits of 55 pounds, as they do in sweden (they actually recommend they RF until age 4!), but we gotta go with what's available here in the states.

so why is it safer? this is how i visualize it: you're in a car crash; more than likely the front of your car has been hit. passengers are held in their seats with their seat belts. objects in the car, however, get thrown forward. if they're heavy enough and not secured, they'll go flying through the windshield. we adults walk away with whiplash because our head accounts for only 6% of our total weight. however, a young child's head accounts for up to 25% of his/her total weight! add to that the fact that a child's muscles are not as developed as ours, and we've got a potentially dangerous situation on our hands. now if the child is RF, that means the head will pretty much stay on the surface of the car seat, and the neck will remain in a more-or-less neutral position. however, if the child is FF, the head will not stay upright; it'll go flinging forward toward the front of the car. the only thing keeping the child from flying through the windshield will be the car seat's harness. now, we've got 25% of the child's total weight being flung forward, and 75% of the child's weight held back by the straps. that makes for a huge amount of strain on the child's neck, which, let me remind you, doesn't have very well-developed muscles. at best, the child has a sore neck, possibly whiplash. at worst, the neck could break, the spinal cord could break, stretch, or become damaged, and the child could end up handicapped, paralyzed, or worse.

unfortunately this happened to a little boy named joel, just a few months ago. here's his story.

so, Number One: extended rear-facing. do it. it's good for the child.

now, here's a less-obvious one: buckling the child into the car seat while the child is wearing a warm puffy winter coat. a few years ago, i happened upon this page, and the story will forever haunt me. read on:

"When I took my tech class we were shown a picture of an infant seat with a snowsuit under the harness. The seat was pulled out of a car that had just been in a crash. The infant was ejected from the seat and the car and was found some feet away from the car, but the snowsuit was left in the seat just as the baby was wearing it."

so now i make sure that the kids will wear their jackets to the car, but once we're in, the door closes, the jackets come off, and the kids go into their car seats. once they're buckled in, they can have their jackets on their laps. (for some reason they like to hold it on their laps!)

similarly, i always make sure their harnesses are pulled tight and the chest clip is at armpit level, not down by the belly button. if the harness is too loose, they can come flying out of the car seat. and the chest clip helps the straps to stay on their shoulders.

so, Number Two: straps are tight against the body, not against a jacket, and chest clip is up high.

and now that my firstborn is five years old, i've come to the topic of extended harnessing. i just measured/weighed her, and she's just a touch over 43 inches tall, and a touch over 40 pounds, so she's still got a good 6 inches in height and 25 pounds in weight left to grow until i have to think about taking her out of her car seat. and believe you me, it will be with great fear and trepidation when i transition her into a booster. i'm even thinking of getting her into a Britax Regent or Frontier, if finances and hubby will allow.

heck, if i could, i'd still have her rear facing.

read on.

so, Number Three: delay putting the child into a booster for as long as possible. having the child in a harness is so much more secure.

i'm sure there are other points that i wanted to make, but at 1:14am, i'm starting to no longer make any sense, so i'll leave it at these three points for now: delay FF, don't have the straps too loose, and delay the booster.

good night, and safe travels.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lose It!

Over the weekend I just downloaded this new application to my iPod Touch. I think I love it, but I think I also hate it. I knew I eat reasonably healthy, and I knew I try to watch my sugar and fiber intake, but sheesh! I hate portion control! Anyways, I am able to input the food I eat and the exercise I do (vacuuming counts!), and it tells me how many calories I have left in my daily budget. The best part is that I can add my own "recipes" -- I now have a reasonable guesstimate that kimchi has about 20 calories per 1/4 cup serving. Maybe this is my golden ticket?

I'm looking at it right now, and I'm a bit surprised at the caloric breakdown I have for kimchi:

1/4 cup cabbage, 4 calories.
1 dash salt, 0 calories.
2 cloves garlic, 9 calories.
1 teaspoon ground ginger, 2 calories.
1 teaspoon spicy red pepper powder, 6 calories.

9 calories for 2 measly cloves of garlic, but 6 calories for a quarter cup of cabbage?!