Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Our Thanksgiving weekend was perfectly what we needed--no travel, sunshiny weather, and time off work for Jerry (though he popped in to his office on Saturday and took Lo Lo with him--cute stories developed around that happening which maybe I'll remember to share later). "The Meal" was eaten with a family in our congregation. Since their kids are all at least a few years older than Lo, he played great with them. Jerry and I got to just eat, chat, and relax without mediating toddler battles. Seriously, it was the most enjoyable few hours I've had in a long while.
I brought to the meal: a cherry-cheese pie--my first time to bake one of these, and it turned out beautiful--; two varieties of sweet potatos--one in the crockpot, which wasn't the favorite of the two, but still worth doing for the convenience and one more traditional sweet potato dish with marshmallow topping and I got to bring home an empty dish from that one, so I felt proud; also I made a wonderful "green and white" salad which recipe my mom had forwarded recently via email--thanks Mom. And Aunt Jennifer, the original source. =)

These photos are from a park near not as near as I wish to our home. It is unbelievably awesome--huge and unique. The sandbox has a 20 foot long dinosaur skeleton embedded in it that kids can unearth; the playhouses "talk," and some of the slides...well, let's just say Jerry and I had as much fun on them as Lo. The first time we went to this park was with playgroup. Lo played for two and a half hours running almost continuously afterwhich he came home and took a three hour nap. These photos are from that day. Since the day after Thanksgiving was so gorgeous, Jerry and I took Lo to this park again. Haven't uploaded photos from this weekend yet, so that's why I'm posting these ones from our earlier visit. This park is a place we could play ALL. DAY. and not get bored. This video clip shows a few views of the park around 2.5-3 mins. which still doesn't adequately explain how amazing this place is. Clearly it is a special place.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for Faithful Hearts

A few days ago I was startled to realize a feeling of anxiety--even terror--had entered my heart about the concept of parenting. I had a feeling of being overwhelmed and worried, feeling less than adequate for the task, etc. It wasn't a very pleasant day. But in my New Testament study yesterday morning, I came across these verses in James 1:2-4 that reminded me God is there, even when it seems He is silent. I felt my faith renewed and my patience with myself and my son increased. Those verses alone may not be "magical" at all times and for every person's situation, but for me in that moment of reading them with prayerful heart, the words invited God's spirit to comfort and teach me. I am grateful for the scriptures!
Jerry and I side-by-side watched this new Mormon Message clip--sort of a different one, no? Personal interview style. We were especially touched by the parts where Elder Nelson says to have realistic expectations and to focus on improvement rather than perfection--"perfection comes in the next life." It wasn't as dramatic as Elder Nelson's flight experience, but during our flight home from visiting Hong Kong exactly one year ago, we felt extended turbulence that held everyone's attention. It was disturbing enough that I recall thinking, "Is this going to be how my life will end??" with some real contemplation. My little brother who was on the flight sitting in a different section also said he had similar thoughts. At that moment in a dipping plane ride, I probably didn't have the perfect calm of an apostle, but didn't feel what I would call real fear either. I felt my life was generally in order, because I have always tried to live according to true principles. I am thankful to have a clear knowledge of God's plan of happiness. I am thankful to have been blessed with strong faith to help me through the challenges of life. It is my greatest "possession" to know the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true!

Hope everybody else out there feels as blessed as me on this Thanksgiving day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

baptism, lies, Chinglish, and patience

1.Yesterday we attended a baptism. Before going, we reviewed with Lo Lo what baptism means, and showed him pictures of it, etc. At all the prior baptisms Lo has attended at this point, by the time of the actual submerging in water he was out in the hallway for one reason or another. But yesterday for the first time that I can remember, he got to see the ordinance performed. His eyes stared wide and unblinking from his perch at water's edge, and as I guided him back to his seat afterward he said loudly, "I do that baptize!" Then he proceeded to repeat those words to the point that I had to remove his chatty self out to the hallway. He REALLY wants to be baptized and still talks about it. Hope he still feels that way 6 years from now. :)

2.Today during sacrament meeting at church, Lo insisted several times that he needed to be taken out. "Diaper change," he kept requesting. So I took him out and was none too happy with him to find his diaper held not a single drop of wetness. It was clean, dry, and oh so sneaky of him to get out of sacrament meeting. I never knew a kid could be so conniving even this young.

3.We had a few Chinese friends over for dinner tonight. I was proud of Lo's proficient Chinglish communicating with our mixed lingual crowd. He used phrases like, "More Ji," for example, when he wanted the chicken passed to him. (Ji is Chinese for chicken). The one Chinese lady said Lo Lo was a Guai (good boy) (not sure if I butchered that pin yin) because he was sharing his toys. =) He does have his good moments.

4.I need to always make sure to remember the good moments. Focusing on the positive, because today was actually not my favorite overall. At one point during nursery I even told one of the other nursery leaders, "What on earth am I supposed to do?" She smiled serenely and said "learn patience." I am taking her advice to heart. Just thought I'd share my newest goal...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birthday Celebration

I know some people don't do parties for children who are very young, and I'm still not sure where I stand on the issue. I do think gifts at toddler parties aren't necessary, IMHO. Kids this age don't expect it. We didn't do more than a family get-together for Lo's first birthday. But he has so many cute friends in this area, and celebrating with them would be exciting for Lo with his social personality. Plus also, I like parties. =) As Jerry kept reminding me, the party is as much for the child in me as it is for our child Lo. I'm ok with that.

For Lo's birthday we intended to do a "Things That Go" party since he loves trains, trucks, airplanes, etc. Months in advance, I started making a helicopter pinata (with the gleeful help of Little Hands Lo of course). Cakes got baked and sat in the freezer for weeks, decorations and party favors piled up in the closet...and then as the time drew near for Lo's birthday I got intimidated. A few reasons for my hesitation: the schedule seemed FULL right around his birthday--Halloween parties and hayrides, and the beginning of November full of church events that couldn't be held later in the month because of Thanksgiving. Furthermore, location stymied me: it happens to be freezing most days in early November, so we couldn't hold the party at a park, renting locations is more expensive than we wanted to spend on a toddler's party, and our apartment is too small to have more than a handful of preschoolers running around. To top it all off, by the time his birthday hit, Lo was about a week into healing from a cough/cold. So we mulled over not doing the party at all. But Lo was kinda asking about that pinata he'd seen sitting on top of our fridge for months...and we had a mountain of Halloween candy to get rid of via said pinata...So we hijacked the weekly church playgroup for Lo's birthday celebration. He'd caught his cold at playgroup to begin with, so I rationalized the other kids wouldn't mind a little additional exposure. ahem. I had a little too much fun doing that train cake. The engine is a pound cake, made from scratch and super delicious if you ignore the gallons of food coloring in its frosting layer. The coal car is actually rather healthy, again made-from-scratch banana nut bread with whole wheat flour. Crushed oreos for the "coal." The third car in the lineup was the most popular for eating; gingerbread with homemade lemon ginger frosting. The kids at the party were jumping up and down with excitement when they saw the train cake. And I had lofty dreams of adding another car or two plus a caboose to this train cake lineup. Thank goodness Jerry convinced me to rein it in, lol.
I am yelling like a crazy woman in that pinata clip because I could envision all too clearly the possibility of some kid getting whacked in the face with the pinata stick. Yes, chaotic. Yes, lots of fun. We'll probably do a pinata for Lo's birthday every year as I cannot imagine a better way to disperse the leftover Halloween candy. At home we kept things simple, singing the Happy Birthday song to Lo myriad times throughout the day in several different languages, opened a gift. Didn't have birthday hats, which Lo kept asking about. He must have learned about birthday hats from watching Signing Time birthday episode. Something to include next year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Drawing on the Pumpkin

A tagalong post to the Halloween festivities of last month. We let Lo decorate a pumpkin (or "Puppin" as he called it) with a sharpie marker, and then I carved out the spots he had drawn. It turned out looking like some kind of deeply philosophical modern art. =)

The background talk about "plug your nose" is because Liam's friend Leigha (also 2 years old) tends to throw up when she sees pumpkin guts. Not sure why I think that is funny but there you have it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

National Adoption Month

The word "entitled" gets tossed around a lot these days. Men and women of the world seem to believe they are entitled to self-seeking lives with such lifestyles sometimes resulting in unwanted pregnancies. Now consider the word "entitled" in this context: according to God's plan, "children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity" (The Family: A Proclamation). I re-read Elder Andersen's talk this morning as part of my gospel study and felt again how important and sacred is the responsibility to raise up children. I applaud any woman who births a baby, especially those women for whom aborting the child might have seemed a tempting or viable option at some point in the pregnancy.

Furthermore, Elder Andersen's talk reminded me how vital for children to be raised in loving, 2-parent homes whenever possible. I am pro-child, pro-adoption. As November is National Adoption month, I want to take the opportunity to again declare that adoption is inherently part of God's plan for happy individuals and families. An individual birthmother may at times receive inspiration to single-parent her child, but in the majority of cases I believe the best interest of the child is to be placed in a loving 2-parent family. I know these thoughts might be offensive to some--but my convictions come from careful study of the scriptures, inspiration from the Lord, and even the latest in child development research, which shows children are much more likely to thrive in homes where they have both a mother and father actively involved in the rearing process.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birthday Boy

Interspersed with darling birthday photos from his 2-year session a couple weeks ago, we present with pride our very own 2-year-old Lo! 
Contemplative, content.  And cold.  :) 
Talking: Lo frequently uses 4-5 word sentences in English (a few recent examples: "Daddy, take more photos;" or "Mommy, I have that spider bee."  His grammar is a little off most of the time, but pronunciation is more and more clear.  We LOVE his talking.  Another cute talking he does is to say "um" when he is thinking.  Like if I ask him a question that requires choice, he'll say "UM," and pause for a second before answering.  My little grown-up Lo. 
Jerry claims this was the first time he ever had Lo Lo do the "shoulder ride" on him. 
Kindness: Lo often gives spontaneous, appropriate "thank you's," crowing "Thank You Mommy!!" When I hand him a block for example, or give him a snack.  And while eating, he often says, "Mommy's turn," and hands me his floaty-filled drink to share.  :)  We are working on using soft hands with playmates.  He is a huggy, loving child, but on occasion intersperses those hugs with hitting for no apparent reason.  The pediatrician said it is normal for kids this age to be inappropriately physical, and to just keep lovingly reminding "soft hands."  She suggested Lo needs more opportunities to practice playing with other kids his age, maybe adding another play date or two each week.  Said maybe the hitting comes from being over-excited at the social opportunity.  I'm doing some reading on the subject...oh, how parenting humbles me. 
That foot turned to one edge is EXACTLY what Jerry does in photos!  Our wedding photographers commented on it.  Appears to have some genetic propensity...
Singing: Songs of a toddler melt my heart.  Sometimes we have the treat to overhear the soft, happy notes of Lo's made-up songs while he plays by himself.  He often imitates our singing/sings along.  He sings clearly the words "Happy Birthday" and "Do Re Mi." 
Bare feet in the sand feel great!
Counting: A few times I have heard Lo count correctly "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" but more often he just says "One, Two, One, Two..." etc. We trained him to say "Two" when people ask "How old are you," because we didn't want to have to untrain him from saying "One," but now that he is finally REALLY "Two" he only says he is "One."  What the heck??  Who taught him to say he is one year old? 
Where'd those feet go??
Games: He LOVES hide and seek, using the Chinese term "Lay(4) My(2)" (I am guessing on the pin yin because it is Cantonese). He pronounces it "Yay My" and says it with such glee and delight I cannot help but play the game with him a million times a day. 
Is that not the cutest face. 
 Shapes and Colors: He knows all his colors in Chinese and English, pointing accurately to a request given in English, Mandarin or Chinese.  Verbally stating mostly English but sometimes says them in Chinese.  Shapes he loves in the shape sorter and seems to recognize the different edges readily, but verbally only says correctly "heart," "star," and calls an octogon "Stop," and a circle "ball" or "O." 
We have loved having the beach just minutes away from us...will miss it when we move to Idaho in a couple months.
 Another game: Jerry taught Lo to sort his play-plastic foods into "Healthy" and "Bad" piles.  Lo is correct most of the time, but sometimes emphatically tries to tell me lettuce is "UNhealthy," for example.  He seems to care a little too much about my approval of him getting the answer right or wrong.  Tries hard to guess if he isn't sure. 
Center of our lives
 Feelings: Lo feels at varying times obvious embarrassment, pride, shame, elation, love, anger, confidence, probably so much more emotions than even what I've just thought of off the top of my head.  He is such a complex, amazing creation.  I guess all kids are.  But really, my own seems so much more intense than what I notice in other kids.  Lo has a definite dominance to his personality, a sort of aggression that will someday come in handy in life if he can channel it appropriately.  :) He is outgoing, social to the max, and never seems to fear new situations.  He's the type of kid who will jump into the pool first, follow bigger kids onto paths he is too small to handle, and so forth.  Daring, exciting, energetic and yet contemplative with a love of reading, drawing, and gluing noodles to paper.  I have great hopes for this combination of talents. 
This just might be my favorite pic of Jerry and me to date. 
Jerry and I think Lo is a good combination of both our strengths, and we even notice our son showing aptitudes perhaps beyond what he got from his parents.  It is a miracle to watch his personality unfold with each passing day.  We are so happy to have this great little boy in our family.  Happy Birthday Mr. Terrific Two-Year-Old Lo Lo!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The 12 Days of Halloween

Lo and his favorite friend Claire at the ward Halloween party
For Halloween this year we borrowed 2 tiger costumes from a wonderful woman at church. She said Lo would want one to wear indoors (thinner material) and another one to wear outside (a cozy warm version). Our cute little guy had a great time practicing his tiger roar, one of which is on a video I will have to post later (taking too long to upload right now).  We ended up keeping Lo home from trick-or-treating on Monday because he came down with a cold over the weekend and still seemed to be feeling unwell. Thank goodness we'd already had plenty of Halloween fun. After reviewing our calendar, I realized we had done about a dozen Halloween activities throughout the month of October. From a special event at the Children's Museum to Halloween themed storytime at the library and so forth, we partied all month long!

I dressed as Pippi Longstocking for our ward party.  Yes, that's my pet monkey hanging on the end of one braid.  =)  And the dress: made by yours truly, about one hour before the party started.  The whole costume was free, just made from things around the house except for a pair of striped leggings ($4). Hilarious.  Also note my white witch pumpkin on the table.  It won 1st prize in the pumpkin carving contest (it was the only entry). 

At the children's museum we opted to dress Lo as an army guy instead of the tiger, since we knew he'd want full mobility to enjoy the activities there.  The museum did some special spooky science experiments.  For example, Lo got to catch a bubble full of misty stuff.  He got to submerge his hands in slime.  And he made a skeleton out of glued noodles on paper.  We did another version of that craft at home--note to self, great project for this age range!
Lo getting weighed on the pumpkin scale...I think he was around 35lbs, which has been his constant weight for about the past year.  Also in the photo is Uncle Mike and my cousins Spencer, Emily, and Audrey.  It was so fun to have them visit during the second week of October. 
 We had a few pumpkins and gourds hanging around our house over the past month.  Lo had fun rolling them around, saying "roll, roll."  He talks with such clarity these days.  
Playing on a pirate ship at the company's Halloween party. 

We decorated Halloween cookies to give to the ladies I visit-teach.  Lo Lo was so pleased with himself, he kept telling everyone who saw the cookies, "I make that." 

Another fun Halloween treat we made is this candy sushi.  I figured it was like even the treats were in costume!  We brought a couple plates full to the ward party and it was gone within minutes. More fun to look at than to eat, in my opinion. 

Lots of fall colors out at the church farm in Hiram.  We visited there this month with Uncle Mike and Aunt Jennifer. 
Not so much Halloween-y to have beautiful trees, but definitely still a part of why we love the month of October.  Good-bye October.  Hello November!  Did everybody notice today's date is awesome: 11-1-11.