Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hooray for free Chick-fil-A dinners

Thanks to my friend, Shauna, while the girls and I were at the playground yesterday afternoon, we found out that one of the Chick-fil-A's nearby were doing free meals for kids who went in with their backpacks. Not long after arriving at the playground, I rounded my kids back into the car, ran into the house to grab their backpacks, and headed to Chick-fil-A. A bunch of friends and we sat outside, in the steamy heat, having the children enjoy kids' meals.


No playing tricks on my older daughter. As we were leaving, Isabella informed me that this "cow" was really a person.


Mommy, why is that person dressed up as a cow?

Um, because they are trying to encourage us to eat more chicken (instead of beef).

Good thing I pay some attention to Chick-fil-A's advertising. Great that my first born didn't have any follow up questions (which she usually does). Over and out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saying 'goodbye' to friends

Friday, many of us spent time with the Martins and bade farewell. I'm pregnant, I'm emotional, I hate saying "goodbye." I focused on other matters instead - spending time with many friends, giving my children an opportunity to play, enjoying company and the great outdoors.

The Martins are cutting their stay in the United States short. Originally, they were planning on staying until December. But, alas, home, Australia, calls.

The Martins: Nick, Sarah, and little Evie.


Some of the many other people who came to say farewell.


Sweet Halleli. My children certainly aren't that small. A gentle reminder that two are coming soon. Very soon. Very, very soon.


Halleli with her mommy, Cassy. I like her mommy. She's got two feet firmly planted in the ground, and I congratulate her and admire her for doing a fantastic job directing and forming the characters of three quite young children with their own personalities and preferences.


Friends, you are loved this side of the globe.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

You all remember the movie, "The Sound of Music," don't you? If you haven't heard of the movie, you are really missing out. Rent it, see it, own it you must. The song, "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things," is sung in that movie. Some of the lyrics in that song go as follows:

When the dog bites,
when the bee stings,
when I'm feeling sad.
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don't feel
so bad.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

1. hand cream and body butter.

I love the stuff that moisturizes well. Hand creams and body butter are two of my favorite skin care products, and L'Occitane is one of my favorite brands of choice. I've enjoyed their hand creams. Recently, I've been using the Mom & Baby Balm on my very pregnant belly, chest, and rough patches. For a belated Mother's Day gift this year, my good friend, Lindsey, sent me The Body Shop's Satsuma Body Butter. I have used that the most throughout my pregnancy. A light, refreshing citrus scent, that one. I've enjoyed that body butter so much I am only a few (perhaps a couple) uses away from finishing the product :( .

2. coffee, utilizing Starbucks gift cards.

I've tried to make my own coffee; not very pleased with the taste results this time around in pregnancy. However, without some caffeine during the week, I'm so utterly drowsy and lethargic, carrying twins, that I'm oftentimes a driving hazard, unable to concentrate, and struggle to juggle all my various responsibilities. Not good, considering people's well being and flourishing depend on me.

Caffeine is a necessary evil this pregnancy.

Starbucks gift cards certainly help. A lot.

3. food.

I have a constant, undying love for exquisite, fine food. Unfortunately, this pregnancy has allowed few choices, even on appearance, that haven't left a distaste in my mouth.

These delicious pineapple cakes came from Taiwan. Not from some local store that carries food made in Taiwan. My parents brought these babies back home this summer.

I miss sushi. I fantasize about eating sushi in a Japanese owned restaurant. Unfortunately, realizing that sort of fantasy isn't consistent with my efforts at frugal living. Too bad.

I've been brainstorming and hatching plans for my birthday next month. This year, my birthday falls on a Friday. Today, I thought of evening plans with a group of ladies: perhaps, sushi at a restaurant, followed by Evita at Town Hall Center, and ending the night with a movie at my house.
4. accessories - necklaces, bracelets, rings, hair pins.

Accessorizing has been my way of letting my personality emerge and dressing up my ensemble for at least a year or so.

I rarely leave the house without a necklace around my neck. This is a piece I made.

Another sort I usually have on before departing the house? Some sort of bracelet. I have been inclined more towards charm bracelets. On the left is a James Avery charm bracelet that my husband had started for me, beginning with just one charm on it - little girls' shoes. I'll let you guess for what occasion that bracelet was started. I have a couple of James Avery charm bracelets that I'm working on or building.

On the right is a Pandora charm bracelet. Started by my sweet mother-in-law a couple of Christmases ago. Didn't ever think I'd own a Pandora bracelet. But that changed. Have different things to collect for this sterling silver Pandora bracelet: charms, spacers, and a clip.

Though rings, besides my wedding rings, don't end up on my fingers quite as frequently as necklaces and bracelets, I fancy them as well. This one was from my A-ma ("grandmother" in Taiwanese). What character and personality this ring has. Love it.

My most recent "splurge," from Target, was this hair pin:

And it's been fun to wear. I was a bit uneasy that my girls would end up trying to claim it. Sometimes this Mommy is such a softy when the girls give me such big hopeful, sweet eyes. But, this one's mine. See?


5. cute little bowls.

I love this little bowl I got from smiling planet. I got one bowl using my Stonyfield rewards points. I love it for many reasons: it's made in the US, it's BPA free, no toxic inks are used, it's made with 100% recycled plastic, it's cute and beautiful. My kids (soon to be four of them) and I will be fighting over the use of this elephant and flower bowl. Prices, I believe, are always higher for products made in the US and products that are made with quality ingredients.

6. Amarige de Givenchy perfume.

The last of my favorite things I will mention at this juncture, the use of which helps me feel better when I want a good start to the day or need a little cheer is this Amarige de Givenchy perfume, a favorite for many, many years. I try my best to use this bottle of mine sparingly.


P.S. I am not be paid or given any incentive for talking about any of the aforementioned companies. These are simply some of my favorite products; that is all.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Converting to Booster

My firstborn is eager to grow up, to be seen as different from ones younger than her. So much so that she doesn't like her younger sister cheering her on after going to the potty; Isabella gets offended. Not kidding.

Anyways, I promised Isabella that by her birthday, she could graduate from her convertible car seat to a high back booster car seat. A friend from church has graciously volunteered to take Isabella to and from kindergarten, five days a week, most of the time. So, instead of having to move her car seat from this friend's car to my car, back and forth, from week to week, I decided to purchase the booster car seat ahead of schedule.


Convertible car seats are really much safer than booster seats, but, I am not totally compromising safety for convenience. It is only a matter of time before Isabella outgrows her convertible car seat. She's been begging me to install that car seat, since we purchased it at Babies R Us, yesterday. Here we are:


Me thinks she likes the new seat.


Please, Isabella, don't hurry too much to grow up.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My firstborn goes to Kindergarten

This morning, THIS morning, my firstborn, Isabella, started kindergarten.


Before I get ahead of myself, let's back up.


Two weeks ago, I was on the fence about where Isabella was going to kindergarten: the fine arts focused public school within walking distance of our home or a language immersion charter school at least half an hour drive away (one way). After much thinking of the benefits of being bilingual, weighing the pain of driving quite a bit five days a week while pregnant with twins, and talking with my husband - the decision was finally made.

Isabella was to attend this language immersion school in Denver. Pupils are chosen by lottery. This relatively new charter school offers the choice of Mandarin or Spanish. All subjects are taught in this language. For the first two or three years, English is not a part of the instruction whatsoever. Since this is a charter school, it's tuition-free, with the exception of the full day kindergarten.

I would say that a majority of the families whose children attend this charter school have very little comprehension of either of these languages. Much research and answers have been provided as to how students test in English, compared with the English instruction schools. Comparable, if not better.


Back to the topic at hand, I had less than two weeks to get some thirty detailed school supplies and purchase uniforms. Straight away, I picked up some bottoms at the Children's Place. The bottoms have to be navy or khaki. So, I picked up a couple of skirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of pants. Frugal mom here enjoyed the fact that uniforms happened to be 25% off, and I was armed with a coupon in hand. Very pleased was I.

My friend Lindsey, from church, was kind enough to volunteer to pick up some school supplies. I gave her my card, and off she went. Picking up some 15-20 of the supplies. What a hero. The supplies are so particular that much time and many places would be involved for gathering together the requisite items.

Then the girls and I went to the only uniform store in the area that carries Isabella's polo shirts with the school logo on them, where I picked up one shirt. For $19, we'll start out with one. Since the heat from the summer is not yet over and this school doesn't seem to have much in the way of cooling, I had better get more soon.

Yesterday, the girls and I attempted to pick up the remainder of Isabella's school supplies. Couldn't find some items: 7 oz. alcohol free foaming hand sanitizer with pump (sound like a mouth full? Alcohol-free sanitizer?!), Rubbermaid plastic magazine file, and 1 ct. Oxford twisted twin pocket folders in assorted colors (I have no idea what a twisted pocket folder is and neither did a number of sales associates with whom I had spoken).


Before going to bed last night, in preparation for today, I got a number of her belongings ready:
1. her snack.
2. her lunch.
3. her uniform.

We were also informed that the child's belongings - snack, lunch, water bottle, etc. - needed to have her name in it. I worked on that as well.

7:30 am is when the free lunch begins. 7:55 am is when the children must line up for school. That means that we have to be out the door of our home by no later than 6:50 am to get her to breakfast on time. Wow, that is really, really early.

Didn't help I only got two hours of sleep last night.


Fast forward to this morning.

Woke both girls up. Isabella, though sleepy eyed was more readily responsive. Got her to go to the bathroom and got her dressed.


She's sporting a brand spanking new backpack Grandma sent her. See? Hello Kitty. She has proudly declared that her backpack is larger than Daddy's backpack. She might be right on that one. A big girl carrying a big backpack.


Victoria, who spent a good bit of the ride slowly waking up, decided to make noises and utterances like a baby. Like an infant. Not sure what to make of that.

Then, when it was time to leave Isabella to her teachers, Isabella was fine. I was too busy to be too sad; Victoria was very upset that she didn't get to stay with her sister in the Chinese school.


But, she (Victoria) did make a pit stop in the grown ups' bathroom, even though the little girls' bathroom was just next door. She's growing up, too!


Alright Isabella, Mommy's dying to hear how your first day in kindergarten went. In the meantime, I had better join Victoria in dreamland. Time to sleep.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The man I married


Nine years ago today, Troy and I recited our wedding vows. In honor of our 9-year anniversary, I shall share 9 tidbits with you:

1. Today, I wore a Tahitian black pearl pendant we purchased on the last day of our
honeymoon, in Kauai, Hawaii.

2. My husband taught me how to properly lift weights, and I can think of at least three benefits
resulting from lifting weights for six continuous years, three days a week, each week, with him:

a. At a Show-Me-State-Games Powerlifting Competition, in 2001, weighing in at 119 lbs, I
dead-lifted 220 pounds with no grips in hand.

b. Related to the former, I have decent lower back muscles.

c. When not pregnant, I feel confident about carrying placing my own filled suitcases in the
trunk of a car.

3. I was 23 years old and Troy was 25 years old when we first met.

4. Back in the day, before we had children, we performed classical music together, him on the
guitar and me on the piano, at a locally owned coffee shop.

5. My husband and I were married by Tullian Tchividjian, in the church where I accepted
Christ as Lord and Savior, at nine years of age.

6. A beloved cat I had had since 11 yrs of age, Niao Mi, came to love Troy so much he would
park himself on Troy's lap. I believe the feelings were mutual. Troy might allege otherwise,
but I have pictures that show the love.

7. We share a common favorite fruit: strawberries.

8. Neither one of us are an only child. (Is that grammatically correct?) That is where our
commonality ends in our respective family of origin. He's the oldest sibling in his family; I am
the younger sibling in mine.

9. Physical / athletic activity seemed to be an important part of our dating life. We lifted
weights together three days a week. For awhile, Troy humored me and would jog alongside
me. I was and am in horrible cardiovascular shape, while he could run miles around me. As a
former cheerleader himself, we tried tossed hands for awhile together. When we were
dating, we would play wrestle - was that too much information?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

When a prick takes a blinding turn

Today has been an utterly exhausting day. But, then again, I knew that this would be pretty draining given the appointments and the timing (scheduling a meeting during nap time most always is sketchy) of events today.

On the upshot, I survived. I have lived to tell. Even if I'm hanging by a thread.

To make a long story short, the girls and I each had to get our fingers pricked and our iron levels checked. I did my best to set a good example - going first to get weight, to get my height measured, and to get my finger poked. I also explained why these things were being done.

Just so you know, I am still not a fan of any sort of blood letting - whether this involves drawing blood or taking a little prick. Even though I have gone through a natural child birth. Like no pain medication whatsoever. Much more pain involved, right? Putting on a good face wasn't exactly the easiest.

Since Isabella was extremely reluctant, her sister volunteered to go next. Volunteered. Willingly volunteered to get her finger pricked. On my lap Victoria went. Prick, a bit of blood on a slide, and a machine checked the iron level in the blood.


After much cajoling, I got Isabella to sit on my lap, get a finger cleaned off, and receive a prick. The stupid machine seemed to take forever in giving a reading for her iron level. So far, Isabella seemed to be holding her head high.

She did grow extremely quiet when the woman allowed and showed Isabella that some blood was coming up from the finger and slipping into the slide for testing. But Isabella was able to make her way down from my lap and towards the woman's desk area.

Then, Isabella held on to the table with both hands and was extremely quiet. I was sitting not even a yard from her. Something didn't look right on her face and in her body language. When I spoke with her, she wouldn't respond at all.

So quiet. So unresponsive.

Talk to me, Isabella. Use your words.

What seemed like an eternity later (in reality, several minutes had passed), she said, "Mommy, I can't see."

She really couldn't see. Wasn't making eye contact with anything or anyone. Wasn't looking around. Wasn't responding to any visual cues. When i asked her to find certain things, she said she couldn't see.

Isabella looked ghostly white.

Not long after I picked her up and sat her on my lap, deeply concerned she literally couldn't see, she threw up.


People quickly came around us, including a nurse. People wanted her to drink some fluids and to lay down. She didn't want to go anywhere; she didn't want to move.

She still wasn't engaging with much around her.

But, she did speak. She didn't want to go to another room to lie down.

The nurse was trying to prevent her from passing out. For the first time in a long time, since I've been pregnant, I picked her up and carried her. Even though someone else volunteered to carry her. My poor dear was still struggling and was so scared.


The nurse concluded that this was some sort of fear or anxiety or scared response. Either to the prick or the sight of her own blood.

As her mother, I was so scared, so worried for her. . . I'm here, my love. I'm taking care of you, and I'll take care of you. I am not leaving your side. Poor, poor dear.