Friday, November 22, 2013

Books I have recently read

My mom asked me yesterday, "Remind me again which book were you telling me about?" and I honestly couldn't remember which book I might have been sharing with her, because I have been reading quite a few good ones lately. All genres as usual. I just finished The Persian Pickle Club, by Sandra Dallas. Historical fiction, Great Depression in Kansas/women's quilting group/friendship/murder mystery with BEST twist ending ever! Also, Liam just got a cute book from his Sunbeam teacher titled, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, by Jan Thomas. Children's literature at its best. You will laugh out loud every time! Lastly, Jerry and I are reading together a parenting book titled The Whole Brain Child, by Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson. You know it's a good one when Jerry gets excited about reading it. He got it on e-book format and is listening to it audio while he multi-tasks. It has a lot of fun "comic book" inserts and other unique formatting points that appeal to multiple learning styles.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Mr. LO! And the saga of 4 Disney Cars Cakes.

Have I mentioned yet how my birthday, my son's birthday, my daughter's birthday, and Halloween all occur within a 2 wk. time frame. It is ridiculous. We have GOT to figure out a system for managing this traffic jam of celebrations. Also, it drives me crazy to do this post without photos. But as aforementioned, I cannot upload photos with our current internet situation. I do what I can. Anyway, in order to space the birthdays somewhat, we had Lo's party a whole month before his actual birthday. This was an experiment we shall not repeat. It just made him think he needed another party by the time his actual birthday rolled around. Which we sort of ended up doing, though Jerry and I refused to call it a "party." We just had a few families over for a special lunch in which we served Lo's favorite foods (orange chicken and wontons). And we gave party favors and cupcakes. And they all gave Lo gifts even though we told people they didn't need to. Okay, it was a second party. He was even going to get a THIRD party, thanks to the fact that I recently happened to find an extra Disney Cars cake in my possession. Read on. The story of The Cakes: The first cake, I was all set to try my hand at a Wilton Lightning McQueen form pan. But Lo insisted he didn't want a cake that looked like a car; he wanted a cake that had loads of TOY cars on top of it. Toys he could keep and play with forevermore. So that is what we made for his first party. It was a cute cake, three layers high with a race track and plenty of sprinkles, etc. plus a handful of microdrifter cars racing around on it. Lo helped me with pretty much every step of the cake-making process (the kid is great with a hand mixer!) and I'm happy with how it turned out. For the second party, er, non-party luncheon we just did cupcakes. Still Disney Cars themed, with racing flags topping some, and even one red-frosted cupcake with a yellow lightning bolt logo on it. Then, I signed up to make a Disney Cars cake for a charity I've gotten involved with. It is called Cake4Kids, and delivers birthday cakes to kids who otherwise wouldn't have a birthday (children in foster care mainly). I feel great getting to do some fun baking, and brightening lives in the process. Plus, I wanted a service opportunity that my kids could get involved in alongside me, and delivering a Cars cake to some little boy has Mr. Lo so excited! So a few days ago I made the Wilton Disney Cars cake. One of the ladies in my ward was a Wilton instructor, so she came over to my house for THREE hours and gave an awesome personalized lesson. I got myself the Wilton basics kit with some of my birthday money, and I'm feeling thrilled to learn this new skill. But anyway, I'm being a perfectionist about this cake for charity. The Cars cake we did a couple days ago just wasn't good enough to give away. :) So I was going to bring it to park group on Friday where my son would have yet another birthday party, eating cake with all his friends in the glorious Fall California weather. But then Mr. Lo got the stomach flu, missed park day, and we ended up throwing the cake in the trash because nobody wanted to eat it. I spent about 6 hours making that cake. It hurt a little to throw it away, but I guess the point of it was to practice and learn so the cake I deliver this week to the boy in Cake4Kids will be the best! Including the cupcakes from Lo's 2nd party, this charity cake will be my fourth attempt at a Disney Cars cake within the past month. I'd say I'm getting to be a tad expert at this category.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Birthday to ME!

I recently celebrated my 30th birthday. I didn't expect it to feel like a big deal--normally I don't care about getting older, and especially since my kids' birthdays both fall within about a 2 week time span of mine, I expected to focus most of our celebrating efforts on them. But my sweet husband and kids did a couple of cute things I want to always remember. First, they made dinner. Jerry sent me out of the house and when I came home, there was fresh-baked bread in the oven, Salmon (my favorite), creamy pasta, and a green salad for dinner. He did all that with both kids "helping" him! Then, they gave me a homemade "coupon" for a free massage. It was adorable, colored and crafted and whatnot by Lo Lo. I redeemed the coupon right away. I sat in the rocking chair with my feet on the ottoman, and Jerry massaged my neck/shoulders while the kids massaged my feet. I could not stop laughing, because Baby Ro joined the massage party all of her own volition. She likes to copy what she sees others doing. She stood there grabbing my foot, and every time I closed my eyes to "relax," I felt her sharp baby teeth chomp down on my big toe. It was a perfect birthday. A few days before my birthday, I also had thoughtful packages/cards come in the mail from family members. I feel very blessed. My birthday gift to myself was a membership to the YMCA. I've not had a good consistent exercise routine for several years (basically, not since having children) and I think the nurturing, supportive programs at the Y will help me get the habit back.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

If you love 'em, eat 'em.

Today in Sunbeams, my son was learning about animals. "How do we show love to our pets?" the teacher asked. One girl raised her hand. "We feed them." Another child raised a hand. "We can pet them." And then my child raised his hand. "We can eat them." Totally a CHINESE sort of answer. I think he was remembering the time we played with some live crabs we got from the asian market...and then we ate them later that day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ramblings of the nomad.

We cancelled our internet to save money but before you all start gasping, I'll just explain that we do have limited use through a jetpack (I just can't upload photos or watch videos or anything that takes much data transfer). Anyway, having no photos to post hasn't helped my motivation to blog. But here I am determined to simply type. Today at a music & movement class, Baby Ro started climbing on a bigger (3 yr old) girl. Mr. Lo explained with a shrug of apology, "That is just my baby sister. She doesn't even know what she is doing." We have practiced that phrase a lot lately; "She is just a baby. Babies don't even know what they are DOING! They are so SILLY/FUNNY/LOVEABLE/etc." We say all these sentences in delighted tones and laugh a lot. Lo has mostly done well adopting this happy attitude toward his sister. He is very forgiving. Our kids also just reached the stage of being able to really wrestle together, which I love because then I get less pleadings from Mr. Lo for me to roughhouse with him. We moved one month ago. Yup, could not keep our New Year's Resolution to live in one location for at least 12 months. Even though our new place is an upgrade in every way imaginable, somehow I still felt moderately depressed with all the changes. Now that I've found the new storytime we like to attend, some good parks in the area, introduced ourselves to a few neighbors, checked out all the closest grocery stores, figured out preschool/gymnastics complications, and got a church calling (the nursery leader--for the 4th time!) I am feeling better. We signed a 12 month lease on this place. Here's hoping we really do stay here for at least one full year. It feels like a blissful, unlikely dream to ever put down roots somewhere.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Random update

My brother and his wife visited us last month.  Here he is at the Mystery Spot.  We have all KINDS of cool sites to see.  We welcome visitors!  We have a futon in the living room that is semi-sleepable and a few air mattresses...seriously, come visit.  See the sites.  And see us.  :)

Babe Ro is furniture walking and getting into all kinds of mischief .

Mr. Lo has been begging for months now: "Please let my sister sleep with me!  I'll just wake you up if she needs anything in the night."  OH how we WISH it were possible--but no, they don't even share a room.  We just do pretend "sleepovers" in Lo's bed during the day at his request. 

These two get along well most of the time.  Baby adores her big brother and fixates her stare on him above all other human beings.  "Brother Bear," as he calls himself, often screeches when she comes crashing onto his carefully arranged play areas--but still seems to really like having her around. 

We had a cute thing happen a few days ago. The kids were playing in a fort/tent, and Miss Ro behaved like SUCH the grown-up, clambering all by herself through each room and tunnel we had built. Then, the two kids started laughing at each other through a mesh "window" of the tent. I cannot express enough how JOYFUL it feels to have my kids enjoying each others' company and playing together. It is a dream come true. Most of the time they need a little more supervision, but there were a good 10 minutes or so there in the tent when they were just adorable to watch, no parental interjections needed. My camera has been needing the batteries charged for a week or so, so no new photos. But anyway, figured I would give this blog a little update. Make sure to check out our Youtube channel if you haven't already. That is where we put most of our good videos.

Friday, June 28, 2013

6, er 7 months

She likes books and gets read to pretty much every day, but often she is just "read to" by virtue of sitting on my lap while I read to Mr. Lo.  I have a goal to read to her individually as well, but those sessions usually turn into book EATING rather than READING. 

Almost to the day, as soon as she turned 6 months she could magically sit up.  We did the pillow cushion for awhile, as shown in this photo.  Though of course now in month 7 she is done needing those pillows.  She can currently CRAWL, people.  Which has wrecked havoc on her relationship with her older brother.  ;)

She mostly has a lot of Blue in her life.  She plays with her brother's toys because we are too frugal to buy her proper baby toys (though I've started scanning Craigslist again and just today scored a good buy on a baby toy). She also sticks out her tongue a lot (as shown in the photo).  So cute!

Let the solids begin!  I waited until the week she turned 6 months, and ever since then have haphazardly handed her most of what I eat.  I know, risky for the allergens watch.  I need to slow down and pace myself on new food introductions.  But that requires organization and planning...And isn't it interesting about the new AAP recommendations? 

She gets about 5 baths per day, once after each time she eats, and another one at bedtime with her brother in the big tub.  Still need to get a photo of that latter charming event, but usually I'm too busy keeping her from drowning.  And did I mention I do bedtime routines by myself these days.  I basically feel like supermom most of the time, but the real story is that I have to let this baby cry sometimes while I focus on keeping her brother's bedtime on track.  I hate it.  And so I am inconsistent with the "let cry" approach.  Which is a recipe for disaster.  My son is the most well-adjusted sleeper, even waking at night to go potty and takes himself right back to bed.  I attribute his great sleeping to the fact that I was consistent; I consistently nursed him to sleep.  For years.  At age 2 he started sleeping in his own bed with a happy attitude, and at age 2.5 years he started sleeping in his own room with only minor protests, but a baby monitor camera helped reassure him we were watching over him and he adjusted fine.  I am pretty thoroughly happy with what happened with his sleep situation, though there were bumps in the road along the way.  Mainly those were confidence issues more than anything.

But I worry about this poor little Miss Ro.  Her naps are often "on the run," in her carseat or stroller while I go places for her older sibling's benefit.  She acts tired a lot.  If only I could force my personality to match my circumstances.  I don't think I was ever cut out to be any variation of a "single mom."  It has been a game-changer sometimes when I can stay home with my napping baby while Jerry takes Mr. Lo to preschool.  Those are great days.  But they don't happen often.  Anyway, here's a tribute to Ro Ro, the darling of the Tams.  She gets doted on by all the neighborhood.  They are Spanish-speaking people, and call her, "Bonita (Bonito?) and Gordita (isn't that a taco bell menu item?)...I know next-to-nothing in Spanish.  But I love that these people love my baby.  They all want to cuddle her and kiss her all day long.  The kids knock on the door asking to play with Mr. Lo, but really they just want an excuse to get to see the baby. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

JELIC Education

I always intended to do Montessori-type activities with my child at home, and every once in awhile hit gold. But I have a feeling it will take a formal school setting to get my child to achieve his highest learning potential. I have a few good friends who have loved homeschooling. But it sort of seems like I don't have the personality for it. Anyway, we have plowed forward with preschool plans for this wonderful 3-yr-old to supplement whatever good activities I can come up with for the homefront.
Uncooked Spaghetti Strands + Cheerios + playdough base = Intensely Focused, Happy Child

Last week Mr. Lo switched preschools (his other one ended for the summer, so we have him enrolled in one that continues through the summer).  The current preschool is a Mandarin/English bilingual Christian JELIC-based education system.  JELIC is sort of like Montessori I think??  I'm pretty happy with it. Lo goes just 2 half-days per week.  Anyway, I adore the head teacher, and she sent us a sweet update after Lo's first day.

Dear Jerry and Courtney:

Your son has a great start today!
He is such an independent, obedient, helpful and joyful boy!  What amazed me the most was when he poured a good-sized jar of milk into the small cup I gave to him!  he did it a few times with great confidence : )   I admire the way you train him and you really trained him well : )

He did a very good job in JELIC, too!  The box of this hands-on brain-development curriculum was a bit challenging for him at the beginning, yet he was very patient in following instructions.  In the end, he was more and more confident and finished that box really well!!  You would be very proud of him if you were here : )

It was a joy to have him in our class today and I am very much looking forward to having him again this Thursday!

Good night and God bless,

Yes, We are proud parents. What a great little boy God has given us. And I think Jerry and I have parenting styles and philosophies that complement each other well--we are a good mix. We have imperfect moments every day, but overall we Tams are a happy family. And I am thankful to God for making us this way.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Different colors of water mixed with oil--Lo had fun dripping the food coloring in and shaking it all up.  It makes visible waves between the oil/water separation. Note: Jerry's bike stays in our living room since his last one got stolen from our apartment's bike rack. 
Making a fake lemonade stand with a few other neighbor kids.  They used yellow sidewalk chalk to mix up yellow water.  This project had them SO enthused for what seemed like hours. 
Making REAL lemonade this time; we have had ample supply of lemons since there are lemon trees everywhere here.  A neighbor lets us pick lemons from his tree, so we've done that a few times and brought home bagfuls.  Note Lo's special Blue Pei Pei in the background (his comfort object giant blanket). 
Oh, and just so our other child doesn't get forgotten: Baby Ro eating her hands as usual.  :)  Only these days she isn't content to just eat her fingers.  She wants everything in her mouth.  Also noteworthy that she still fits easily in her infant carseat.  (Mr. Lo had outgrown his by this time). 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cultural Observations

Have I mentioned we live at the crossroads of Latino Land and Vietnam Town. I have very little prior exposure to either of these cultural backgrounds, so often find myself surprised by what my neighbors and friends do here. One thing that is common here that I have not experienced elsewhere is door-to-door peddling. We've had frequent knocks on our door in the evening. Peddled wares include homemade cheese, toys, paintings, cooking utensils, tupperware, and other items I was unsure about because the seller did not speak English. So fascinating.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sleep and the Rest of our Day

Figured I would expound a tad on my reference to Lo's naps in that last post. First of all, I should explain that my relationship with Sleep has been a complex, tempestuous insomniac affair for much of my life. So I have determined it shall be a simpler act for my children. Step one: find a regular bedtime. Jerry's work schedule fluctuates. To add to that variability, when Mr. Lo was napping half the days out of each week he had bedtime sometimes at 6:30pm and sometimes as late as 8:30pm; it made him see his dad some evenings at bedtime, but other nights not see him. Which confused and saddened the poor child. So it was a tough decision to make, but we decided to have Mr. Lo quit napping (which he was basically ready for anyway) in order to make his bedtime a perfectly regular, set time: 7pm. It varies by about a 30 min. window, but stays pretty firm regardless of weekends, dinner appointments, neighbor children knocking on the door at bedtime or neighbors throwing pinata parties at bedtime, etc. We stand strong! We eat dinner at 5pm sharp, have Lo hit the bath at 6pm, then clean up toys, brush teeth, I massage his feet with essential oils (Lavender and Lemon), a 2 min. nursing session and I hug and kiss him goodnight. He listens to soft church hymns as he falls asleep. He has been thriving on this routine and we are happy with it. It is my goal for Baby Ro to be in bed by 7pm as well, but her evenings have more variability because of her daytime napping getting switched around quite a bit. Also, because of being distracted by directing Lo's bedtime routine I often end up missing Baby Ro's ideal sleep window (when a baby is drowsy but awake) so she cries and fusses most nights or sometimes I have time to soothe her to sleep but I sense this inconsistency will cause problems for us in the future. This is the imperfect part of my life: 2 kids, 1 me. Jerry leaves for work at about 8am and returns around 8pm. This is his NON-busy season schedule. Intense, right? He has a 2-3 hour commute for many of his assigned clients. To get to and from work, he rides his bike, takes the train or light-rail and sometimes drives our personal car which believe it or not is a comparable commute time to taking public transportation. The commute here is officially the worst in the nation.  Anyway, it means that with our family's schedule, Jerry sees the kids for about an hour each morning during the weekday grind.  But the consistency of the routine has felt comforting.

After Jerry returns home from work around 8pm, the two of us eat dinner together, do dishes, plan for the next day, have companionship scripture study, and go to bed around 10:30pm.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


This week our Mr. Lo turned three and a half years old. I have not been very consistent doing age reports for awhile but figured I might as well give him a little spotlight. He seems like such a grown up kid most of the time, but then has moments when I remember he has only been on this earth a short little while. Things he does: Shares (willingly and happily much of the time but sometimes needs reminding to wait until other kids are done before he tries to take a turn); Bikes (he got a balance bike last summer and rides it almost every day. Our longest route is 4 miles round trip and he gets tired but is a trooper!); Sings (his favorite part of church is singing time in Primary and I hear his sweet melodies around the house as he rehearses either songs he has just learned in school/church or songs he makes up on the spot); Potties (deserves a post of its own, but the short story is that he insisted on potty training himself last year right after we moved back from Texas--ditched diapers cold-turkey daytime/nighttime included and it went pretty well overall); Pretends (he makes up stories, likes to role play, hide and jump out at me as if he is a monster, etc.; Eats (only consumes about one good meal every 2-3 days but isn't picky overall) Still nurses each evening as part of his bedtime routine; Sleeps -for about a year now has slept in his own room all night long, even getting up to potty at night without needing help most of the time.  He goes to bed between 7-7:30 and wakes around 6:30-7am.  About a month ago, I weaned him off of napping entirely because he was only napping a few days per week anyway and it bothered me to have inconsistency.  And it messed with his bedtime when he sometimes napped/sometimes didn't.  So anyway, I'm relieved he's done napping.  It makes scheduling our days simpler.   "Reads;" okay, not really, but he does the pre-reading pretending sort of reading, like telling me, "I'll read it," and turns the pages, telling the story as he has memorized it or making it up based on the illustrations, etc. He also LOVES to be read to still and will sit still for whole stacks of books. He seems to like any genre and a whole host of subjects. One of his recent favorite topics to read about is bats. He often says, "I can read this book because it is a Chinese book, but you can't read it Mommy because you aren't Chinese." And then he'll pretend to read to me in Chinese. I love it. Helps (he enjoys mopping up his own spills, like when he overflows/floods the bathroom every night during his bath or pours his own milk from the jug. He also enjoys entertaining his younger sister and frequently requests, "Mom please can I hold my sister?" Cooks/Bakes (with a lot of assistance of course he commonly makes pancakes, play dough, pizza, cookies, bread, and without assistance is able to get himself simple snacks). Usually I ask him, "What should we have for dinner?" and he gives me great ideas. He likes measuring and stirring dry ingredients most and sometimes protests when I say it is time to add the wet ingredients. He doesn't like getting messing. I need to rearrange the kitchen to put more items within his reach but then am not sure how to simultaneously baby-proof it soon for Baby Ro). I wish I had time to write more about him because he is such a complex, amazingly developed little person and I am sure I've missed important categories. But I'm running out of time and need to get to bed so that's it for now...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Walmart & Me: the story of my fickle heart

I remember feeling neutral about Walmart as I was growing up.  Then, in a college writing class one day I recall vividly a classmate saying, "There is something evil about Walmart.  I feel shivery when I see that yellow smiley face."  Soon enough I agreed with her--learning the "true cost behind everyday low prices."  When my husband sought out supply chain internships partway through our time at BYU, I talked him out of applying for one with Walmart--even though the company is a supply chain guru.  Fast forward a few years and we'd moved a dozen times.  I found myself feeling oddly comforted by the consistency of Walmart stores no matter where we went.  Utah, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, Idaho, California...Walmart is everywhere and 99% the same everywhere.  I have loved not having to re-learn which aisles hold my groceries every time we move.  Since moving to California, we have shopped at Walmart a lot because we have a supercenter just a 5 min. walk away from our apartment.  It was a big reason why we chose this apartment. And lately I have been singing songs of adoration to Walmart.  Why?  Somebody at Walmart is a GENIUS I tell you: the store now delivers groceries.  For free (with a small minimum purchase amount which the average household would have no trouble reaching) groceries can be bought online and show up in a matter of hours at the doorstep.  Three nights ago, Jerry and I enjoyed ourselves browsing online and got our grocery shopping done in a fraction of the time it would have taken to walk all around the store with two kids in tow.  At 9:55pm, we signed off our computer and went to bed.  Then, magically in the morning right before Jerry headed off to work, a delivery man brought to our apartment all the goods we'd bought the night before.  We had cold milk, frozen veggies, batteries,  dental floss, etc. SO WONDERFUL.  Don't you all wish you lived where we live.  Does Walmart deliver in your area? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Miracle

I feel a little silly posting it a month after the fact, but we had a memorable St. Patrick's Day this year. We invited some friends to dinner; however at the last minute they were unable to show up. Jerry and I stared blankly around at our lavish feast (Corned Beef of course) and wondered how to break the news to our little boy. He'd anticipated having friends over and would feel beyond disappointed that they were not coming.
Jerry blew bubbles for the kids.  Lots of laughter! And check out their festive green outfits.  :)
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Right at the time we realized our other guests were not coming, we heard a knock on the door. Our neighbors were there delivering "Leprechaun cookies." Cute tradition, btw. Green sugar cookies rolled in rainbow sprinkles. We told them of our plight--a holiday meal with nobody to share it with--and they obliged our request for their company. Mr. Lo had a blast playing with their 4-year-old girl and we enjoyed getting to know our neighbors better. Jerry and I regarded it as a blessing from God. A tender mercy that Lo was given a friend that night. I have no doubt God's hand touches our lives for good every day--"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs” (Spencer W. Kimball)

Sunday, April 14, 2013


One of my FAVORITE parts of living here in the Bay Area is having more Chinese resources than we know what to do with. For example, a few months ago when we started the hunt for a Perfect Preschool we ended up finding several that were Chinese and it has been tough narrowing it down to where we want to send our precious Mr. Lo. The first preschool we toured shall be termed "Classic Chinese." It was a bit heavy-handed in their academic expectations for 3 yr olds IMHO. The next preschool we toured was Christian-Chinese and I adore the head teacher/director because she is skillful, experienced, and radiates love for everybody. A great combo. Her preschool had no openings, but we managed to squeeze ourselves into two sessions of their summer camp after being on a wait-list. Yes did I mention preschool is competitive here. And expensive. Relatively. Anyway, the preschool we ended up going with after touring a total of 4 and looking into countless others is *drumroll* a Mandarin Chinese immersion play-based.  
Walking out the door on his first day of school!  As his mother, I can completely see the nervous/excited mixture of emotions in his face and body language.  Oh my precious little guy, looking at this photo I just want to give him a big hug!

Since we moved here after the semester had started, we didn't get into this preschool right away. But an opening came up and we were offered a spot. The tricky part is, Lo's classmates had been in the Chinese environment since last September, so we wondered how well he could keep up in class. We've spoken very little Mandarin to him at home, and the class is 90% Mandarin immersion. A few days ago I asked Ma Laoshi how our son is adjusting. She laughed as she told me, "Even if he does not know what is going on, he still is always opening his mouth!" Which these teachers see as a positive trait. :) "The kids we have trouble with are the quiet ones," she explained. "We need them to be participating, talking, and actively involved so we know what they are understanding and how to guide their language learning." Lo has always been a loud and enthusiastic learner so his learning style fits how this classroom is set up. Also, the teacher praised, "he has a good personality. If he is feeling bad about something, it is gone quickly and his big smile comes right back." 
Ma Laoshi is the head teacher.  She is fantastic, full of energy (note the athletic shoes) and so cute how she interacts with the kids.  Last night as Mr. Lo was talking himself to sleep, I overheard on the monitor him saying "Ma Laoshi..."
Resilience is Mr. Lo's hallmark trait. I am so proud of my sweet little boy! He is eager to interact with others and generally a delight to be around. When he came home from school after his first day, we were having lunch and talking about his school papers. "Let me show you how, Mom," he admonished. "You don't know how, but I know how." He showed me how he had learned to count in Chinese.  He is so pleased with himself for speaking a language his mother does not know. I'm thrilled to see the positive effect preschool has had on him. I know from personal experience how painful it can be trying to learn Chinese as an adult.  There's a reason the missionary training center gives twice as much time to Chinese learners as compared to Spanish-learners.  So our family has made it a big priority to raise our kids multilingual.  It is also worth mentioning that this school is strictly drop-off style to encourage teacher/student interaction. I feared this aspect of preschool a bit because Mr. Lo never went to church nursery alone (cried if we tried to leave), and I still attend the current church class Sunbeams with him, we rarely leave him with any type of babysitter and if we do it is usually a close friend or family member he knows well, etc. However, on that first day of school, though I could tell he was nervous, he had no trouble saying goodbye to me. Oh the power of a well-prepped environment and skillful teacher. Also, I think it helped that we read a handful of books from the library on the subject of starting school. I censored the books even, knowing from my hypnosis training how much better it is to give 100% positive material to kids than even a little bit of negative that gets resolved (the brain tends to hang onto the negative and give it more weight). One more idea I had that probably helped was that I emailed all the other parents of students in this preschool and let them know Lo was starting the following week.  I requested a playdate to help Lo make friends before his first day of class, and got many friendly responses.  We ended up having four other classmates of Lo meet us at a park a few days before he started school.  It really helped him get to know the other students and feel more comfortable on his first day.

It feels momentous for our son to start this chapter of his life.  I see it as the beginning of him accepting significant influence from people outside our close inner social circle.   We have taken the leap, embarked on the path, and look forward to all the joys, challenges and progression of the future.  Education is a wonderful gift.

Note: living next-door to a homeless encampment has changed my prayers.  I now sincerely thank God every day that I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, food to eat and family to love.  I also recently discovered I live next door in our apartment complex to a mother who cannot read or write in any language because she never had an opportunity for education in the country where she grew up.  And so my prayers have grown more tender still, thanking God that I can raise my children in this land of opportunity.  I am so glad to send my son to preschool!  Chinese preschool!  It is wonderful. 

Oh what do you do with a bald baby

Put purple things on her head of course. Jerry calls the first hat "purple pineapple."

She's in a chewy phase.  Her favorite foods are: clothing, paper, plastic bags (there's a reason they have warnings printed on them to keep out of reach of children), and hands (hers and any other person's that get in her reach).  But in a pinch, the side of a bathtub will do for a snack. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

She's not a rabbit afterall

We had General Conference this weekend.  I'd  feel obligated to post on it, except that I have three backlogged posts already that are all just half done.  So I want to start working on getting things posted.  Here's one down, two to go...

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Mr. Lo has been using an old laptop to watch DVDs since we don't have a television. Today we couldn't get a DVD to play--the laptop kept making odd clicking noises--so I figured the computer was finally on its last leg. After trying for a few minutes, then leaving to take care of the baby, then coming back awhile later, I found Mr. Lo there fiddling with the disc drive portion of the laptop. "I think the reason it won't play is because of this bread I put in there." He poked around in the disc drive inner portion and sure enough, I saw a huge crusty crumb. A second later with tweezers in hand, I had the crumb removed and the DVD (Barney) playing. "We are superheros actually," my son hollered gleefully. "We saved the computer and we saved Baby Ro!" Not sure where he got the "saved the baby" part, except that I'd gone to help her halfway through the computer project, but yes. I feel like a superhero most days even just doing the basics: dishes washed, dinner made, toys picked up, family happy. Saving the world. Speaking of which, the reason I started that DVD is so I could finish making dinner. So off I go.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lincoln Logs

$2.99 at Goodwill. Lo's new favorite toy.
update: I threw the Lincoln Log set in the trash about a day after blogging this post because the pieces were driving me bonkers getting left all over the house.  Later after Lo went to bed I fished it out of the trash and hid it in my closet.  And then a week later (today) I tentatively brought it back out again only to yet again find myself picking up a billion pieces of miniature logs and stepping on sharp log house roofs and so forth.  So back into the closet it goes.  Not sure why this particular toy is so hard to get cleaned up--Mega Bloks don't give us any trouble. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Baby Blessing

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do not baptize or christen babies but men who have the priesthood can give what is known as a blessing. Jerry blessed our sweet little girl about a month ago and even though we waited to do the blessing after our move to California, we were able to have lots of family members present. It was an exciting day!
My cousin Jeff, his wife Gena, and two of their girls (Gwen and Mimi...Emma was home sick).  Not pictured is my cousin Lillie and her family who also came. 
My Aunt Gaylene gave our baby this cap.  She wore it during the blessing, and looked a perfect angel with her bright black eyes gazing up at her daddy as he spoke the words of the blessing.  She was awake for the blessing, but quietly alert (yes she is a perfect baby). 
Here she is examining the lace texture.  She is absolutely in the "explore with her hands" phase of babyhood, even grabbing toys and bringing them to her mouth these days. 
I had a coupon for a free print at Sears portraits so we took her there for some more formal shots in her blessing attire.  And for these ones we used a bow on her head instead of the cap.  Her dress was a comfy spandex type of material with lace overlay--we borrowed the dress from my sister.  Thanks Boo! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Have we mentioned that Mr. Lo could dress himself entirely over the past summer (shortly before he turned three years old) but then seemed to lose that skill around the time his baby sister came along. He's recently regained his desire to dress himself. Hallelujah. Here he is wearing a backwards tee because he put it on himself. We thought it was cute. :)
Sorry, not sure why that iphone pic won't stay rotated the correct direction. We had to photograph Mr. Lo wearing sweatpants a few nights ago because he has not willingly put on a pair of pants for nearly a whole year now. Last Spring in Boise, Lo accidentally ran into a patch of cheat grass (sp?) and his pant legs got covered in "poky stickers." Ever since then, he is claims that wearing pants pricks his legs, so he prefers shorts. Plus also, "shorts make people run faster." So anyway, Yes. Momentous occasion for him to don those green sweatpants.  He took them off a few minutes later.   I noticed that dressing Baby Ro in Valentine's apparel last month was easy--girl clothes are all about hearts, pink, loves this and loves that, etc. So this is our girl the night we went to our ward Valentine's party.  I thought she looked sweet, but take note of her patchy hair and realize why I gave in to the temptation to shave it all off.  (sorry still have not uploaded photos of the new baldy). 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Things that made me smile today

1. We went on a walk and stopped at a construction site.  Watching my son watch big trucks is true entertainment. 
2. On said walk, we saw an emerald green hummingbird flitting to and fro among the leaves of a stately eucalyptus tree.  Beautiful.
3. This photo (on nights when Jerry works late and the kids go to bed early, I sit here perusing old photo files to keep from feeling too lonely):
4. At the zoo today (yes, we spent a lot of time out of the house today, hooray), my son shared his snacks/lunch generously with a little friend he met there.  I remember reading in the nursery manual awhile back that "kids under the age of 3 yrs. don't have the emotional maturity to understand sharing," or something like that.  And now that Mr. Lo is three years old, I am actually seeing the "sharing capability" unfold.   Effortlessly.  Almost. 
5. "Bruce Willis," Jerry's new nickname for baby girl Ro.  We shaved her head a couple days ago and I'm appalled how much less cute she became instantly.  *sigh* I'd been so bugged by her bald spots prior to the hair cut...but anyway, I love my sweet Husby's take on it. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lest anyone wonder how we can afford to live in such a great location...

After that last post--replete with my bragging about the awesomeness of our location--I should add a few details just to give a balanced viewpoint. Our apartment complex is next door to what must be the largest homeless encampment in the Western US (we're talking dozens of tents, teepees, etc with a parking lot and that is just from what I can observe as I drive past). Why don't we save a couple thousand a month on rent/utilities and put up a luxury yurt there I ask you.  We could probably arm it with a guard dog/laser alarm system for less than our monthly rent. Jerry's bike, double-locked (our personal lock plus inside our locked apartment complex bike rack) got stolen less than a week after we bought it.  I recently tried to invite over a woman from church so she could drop off some stuff for my new calling, and when she found out about my neighborhood and that she'd have to park on the street she said, "We can just meet at the church."  And most of my neighbors don't speak English (despite the fact that we asked the apartment manager beforehand and he said they were all "second-generation") so I am having an interesting time making friends within our complex. But seriously, the zoo/amusement park/playscape across the street is a huge plus. :)

random photo of baby Ro just because everybody always wants to see more of her. These are some of Mr. Lo's favorite stuffed animals right now.  They all have good stories behind them. 

We invited our son's sunbeam teacher over for dinner and she lives just two blocks away so she didn't mind our neighborhood :) and she brought this gorgeous arrangement as a housewarming gift.  She is really a sweetheart.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Wish we had more recent photos of Ro ready to go. In the meantime...
first bath

skinny newborn legs - a couple months ago

We live across the street from a zoo.

And we live across the street from an amusement park.  All the rides cater to Lo's age range, even this fun roller coaster!

 And we live across the street from the best playscape imaginable.