MicroblogMondays: Mama, What is Jealous?

My 3-year-old daughter asks me many questions.  The other day she was listening to When You Feel Jealous by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in the car and asked me what jealous means.  I tried my best to explain it to her, saying that it is when you feel sad or unhappy when someone has what you don’t have.  She asked me several more times the following week.  Fast forward to this past weekend.  After learning about this ranch about 30 minutes away that offered Halloween activities and a pumpkin patch, we decided to take the kids there trusting that we would be safe enough with the COVID measures that were implemented.  There were quite a few activities there.  When we were waiting in line for the petting zoo, the lady behind me was pregnant with a kid that looked about three years old.  She was probably 7 or 8 months pregnant.  I started noticing her and telling Bob that there was a pregnant lady behind us.  He said, “Yeah I saw a few of them, and was trying to tell you that there was one in front of us at the entrance but you didn’t pay attention to me.”  I was too busy with what I was doing and didn’t even pay attention.  Even when I do pay attention, I find that I don’t feel anything about the pregnant ladies.  In the past, I would have noticed how many kids they already have, how far along they might have been, and felt a little sorry for myself that they were working on their number two or three or four and I was still trying to have the first baby.  It is no longer the case. I make a mental note of pregnant ladies just like how I make mental note of everything else around me.  I don’t pay particular attention to them anymore.  Just like that, they have what I also have, and that feeing of jealous, or the negative feeling that you have when someone possesses something that you don’t have, is not there anymore even when I know that I didn’t get to carry my kids.  I know that some of my friends who have been trying for a baby for a long time definitely feel jealous of people around them who are pregnant or have kids.  It is hard to watch them go through a difficult time after trying for so long.  Sometimes I just hope for a resolution for them so they don’t have to feel jealous anymore.  I am sure that my 3-year-old will feel jealous about many things in her life in the future, but I sincerely hope that she (and her brother) will never experience the kind of jealousy one has when everyone else around him/her can make a baby easily except for her.

Here are my kids at the petting zoo:

MicroblogMondays: 10/10/10

It has been ten years since the day Bob and I got engaged.

Bob proposed on October 10, 2010.  It was a Sunday.  We had gone to Angel Island to watch the Blue Angels.  He didn’t propose there when the Blue Angels were making hearts with their smoke trails.  He proposed later that evening in his apartment which was surprising to me.  So much happened in the last ten years.  From our beautiful wedding to the disapproval of Bob’s parents for our marriage.  From preventing pregnancy to requiring a uterine surgery.  From high FSH to IVF.  From multiple IVF cycles with my own eggs (talking about eight of them) to a few different donors.  From frozen DE cycles to fresh DE cycles.  From my own uterus to our gestational carrier’s selfless sacrifice.  All that long history of ups and downs resulted in the birth of our beautiful twins three years ago.  If you asked me ten years ago on the day of our engagement how I would imagine my life would be ten years from then, I would probably say I would have a kid or two that are about 7 and 5 years old and I would be working part-time as a speech language pathologist.  My life is nothing like what I thought it would turn out to be.  I would laugh at you if you told me that I would have twins that I take care of full time at home.  Me?  Twins?  Stay at home mom?  Whether I expected it or not, this is my life, which is at times chaotic, but it is also full and beautiful despite being in the middle of a pandemic.  Even when this is nothing like I imagined, it is what God has given me and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  It is just funny (to me) that nowadays I know way more about calorie-rich food than I do speech and language therapy techniques.  Ultimately, it is about what is the most important at that particular stage of your life.  

Normally we don’t celebrate our engagement anniversary.  However, ten years seems like a good milestone for an excuse to eat good food and we hadn’t done much in the last six months. Every chance we get we would like to make our ordinary life a little bit special.  The previous time we had sashimi was on the day of Bob’s birthday in February sitting at the sushi bar at a crowded Japanese restaurant.  Sitting inside a restaurant with many many patrons in a close quarter seems like a lifetime away.  We found a new sushi restaurant in our neighborhood with great ratings.  We phoned in the order and Bob picked up.  I made the kids and my mom pizza for dinner.  After we fed the kids and put them down for the night, the two of us got to thoroughly enjoy our anniversary dinner together without one single interruption.  The sashimi did not disappoint.  The fish was the kind that melted in your mouth.  It hit all the spots that it was supposed to hit.  Tasty wine and lovely conversation.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a little milestone during this pandemic.

MicroblogMondays: Such Great News

I have these former coworkers that I have been friends with for 23 plus years.  From my 20s to my 30s, these ladies were an integral part of my life.  They were the ones that celebrated my birthday year after year after year when I was single.  We had so many great memories together.  There were also some fallouts between a few of us.  We drifted apart in our late 30s when life circumstances changed, but they continue to be near and dear to my heart.  One of them moved away to another state the year we got married.  Every time she is in town we’d get together.  Otherwise we would very occasionally talk to one another or get together.  When COVID hit, this group of friends started to video chat once a week.  The pandemic is a horrible thing but its existence has helped to bring this group of friends together closer than any other time in the past ten years.  We now know how everybody is doing. We commiserate about the state of our country and share about our lives.  When one of them lost her mother, we were able to be there for her for emotional support.  Four of us are married with kids, and one of them is single.  She is my age and has been dating on and off but has not found a life partner yet.  She happens to also be quiet and often sits back to listen to others and rarely volunteers information.  I wasn’t the closest to her throughout the years but I have grown very fond of her in the last few years.  Ever since COVID hits, I have made sure that I spend some time to talk to her since she lives alone.  A couple of weeks ago, everybody appeared to be quite busy so the video chat was short.  I made sure I stayed behind to chat with my single friend.  I asked her how she was doing and what was new.  To my surprise, instead of talking about her work or her dad, she paused a little and then told me that she was in love!  OH MY!  I was so surprised!  Of course I tried to get as many details as possible.  She met this guy online.  After dating for a couple of months, she decided to welcome him into her pod and they have been dating in person for a couple of months.  She really really really likes him, which makes me so happy for her!  I couldn’t believe that she had kept it a secret from all of us for so long, and chose not to disclose to others during our group chat.  I am so proud of her for putting herself out there during a pandemic and met someone and was brave enough to embark on a new dating relationship.  It takes so much courage to do that.  And she is happy and in love!  I can go on and on about it as I have been so excited for her.  I couldn’t wait for her to tell the others the following week.  Then the next week came, and I got on the call a little late.  At the end of the call, I asked if single friend had given others an update.  I gave her a smile and a knowing look.  She started laughing saying that Isabelle was trying to give me a hint to tell you all what has been going on.  So she again told our other friends that she was in love.  Everybody was so so so psyched for her!  In these dark times, the news of a dear friend falling in love just brings so much joy in my life.  You cannot underestimate the power of positive news.  There is hope that this relationship will come to fruition and my dear friend gets to spend the rest of her life with someone that she loves.  Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing that comes out of a horrible pandemic?

MicroblogMondays: One Pound

Almost two months ago, I wrote about my son Okra’s gastrointestinal issues.  This is the latest.  He and I had an in-person follow up visit with his GI specialist almost three weeks ago.  His weight gain was stagnant.  Upon palpation, he still had a lot of gas, which meant that his constipation issues were still there.  She didn’t think that he had any wheat or lactose sensitivities.  His lab work showed that he is a healthy toddler on the skinnier side who is maintaining a good gain on height.  Since there is a weight gain issue with constipation issues, she reintroduced Mirala.x to help with his bowel movement and a medication to increase his appetite.  She said to start the appetite meds first for two weeks, initially with it 30 minutes prior to dinner for one week, and then adding a dose 30 minutes prior to breakfast.  Then after two weeks of that, start Miralax.  The kids’ three year check up was the week after the GI visit.  Our pediatrician read Okra’s x-report and recommended us to start Mirala.x right away instead of waiting for another week.  He said that the moderate severity of his constipation could really cause Okra to feel unwell and be moody, which was what we had been experiencing.  At that visit, Bunny’s weight exceeded Okra’s weight by 11oz.  Historically, she was often two pounds lighter.  He hadn’t had a weight gain in six months, and she gained over 4 pounds in the past year.  Okra is not exactly diagnosed with “failure to thrive” but he is closer to the low end of normal for his age.  So this has been the situation with Okra medication-wise, water-intake wise, and food-wise.  In the morning, he takes a dose of the appetite medication upon wake up time.  I try to delay his breakfast so he has about 20 to 30 minutes before he eats.  After food, I give him Miralax.  Thirty minutes prior to dinner, he has another dose of the appetite medication.  Good news is, he somehow likes the appetite meds because of its taste?  But he fights drinking water with it as water intake has become a power struggle.  Mirala.x is a powder that has to be mixed with 4 to 8 oz of water.  He fought that with all his might in the beginning.  I have tried my best to tempt him to drink water.  I tried different cups and different straws.  I even bought another Funtainer bottle that has Thomas on it.  Eventually I discovered that the best method to encourage water intake is to put frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mangos, or pineapple, or a combination of any of them) in the water.  This has been a saving grace.  He (and actually Bunny too) somehow loves frozen fruit and is willing to drink the water so that he can eat the frozen fruit at the end.  Because of the frozen fruit lure, Okra has been drinking the required amount of water each day to help with hydration hence his constipation issues.  In terms of food, I have been adding high calorie food and healthy fats whenever I can.  I add butter to his toast, muffin, and rice.  I make smoothies with coconut milk, flax seed, avocado, and full fat yogurt.  I use the same for making popsicles which he loves.  I add half and half to his milk.  He does not eat eggs, avocado (by itself), yogurt, or cheese.  Recently I made cream cheese with peanut butter and a little bit of honey into frozen balls.  I call them ice cream balls.  Okra totally bought into it and ate a ton.  I add a lot of stuff in these “cookies” and he likes them.  I have introduced adding cocoa powder, crushed peanuts, and a little bit of honey to oat meal and now he eats it.  I have even gotten chocolate sprinkles for whole milk yogurt with apple sauce but Okra refuses to touch it.   His appetite seems to wax and wane but I can see that he has been eating and drinking more than before.  I decided to weigh the both of them a couple of days ago.  I weighed myself first and then weighed myself while carrying the kids.  I subtract my weight from the total weight.  To my huge surprise, Okra seems to have gained one pound.  ONE WHOLE POUND.  He and Bunny actually weighed the same, which means he gained more than Bunny in the past week. I can’t begin to tell you how huge it is.  He had been stuck at this one weight for months.  Sometimes his weight even went down.  So for him to gain a pound in a bit over a week of adding higher calorie foods and fat, I am so encouraged that the diligence will be paid off.   Maybe my scale is off.  Maybe he didn’t gain one whole pound, but he definitely has gained some weight as I can feel it when I lift him.  I really hope that we are off to a good start with his weight gain and he will gain more consistently from now on.  Who would have known that my own child’s weight gain would be a source of stress and concern?

MicroblogMondays: Three!

Bunny and Okra are now three years old.  I can hardly believe it.

The last three years seemed to have gone by very fast.  People say that the days are long but the years are short.  I look back and find that to be true.  Sometimes old photos or old posts pop up on my phone or on FB.  I see how tiny the kids were back then and how big they already are and often wonder how they are already three years old.  The last six months were especially a blur.  The days all blended in because of sheltering in place.  That doesn’t stop the kids from growing.  You blink and they are little human beings with a lot of opinions.

We couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have a real party but I still wanted to make that day special for the kids.  I picked up the kids’ favorite buns from a bakery two days prior for their birthday breakfast and picked up food from the kids’ favorite taqueria the day before for their birthday lunch.  Way ahead of time, Bunny selected a birthday shirt that has excavator on it.  Okra chose one with Thomas.  Because of their different preferences, I decided to buy decorations that had construction and Thomas themes.  The day before their birthday, a chain party supply store delivered Thomas balloons, a huge number 3 balloon, letter balloons, and some wrapping papers to us.  I ordered a construction birthday photo backdrop online.  After the kids went to bed the night before their birthday, I couldn’t get started with decorations until after 9:30 because of a prior Zo.om meeting.  Bob was already at work putting the kids’ new balance bikes together.  I put the construction backdrop on the living room wall above the couch, placed the giant number 3 next to the picture, and placed the Thomas balloons on the other side.  I blew up the letter balloons and spelled out Bunny’s name on one side of the wall and Okra’s name on the other side of the wall.  I wrapped all the presents and put bows on the bikes.  After all that was done, it was already 11pm, way past my bed time.  It was worth it for the kids though and I couldn’t wait to see their faces the next morning.

The air quality in the 7 days prior to the kids’ birthday was at the Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy level.  I said to my friends the day before that it would take a miracle for the AQI to get down to an acceptable level for us to take the kids to the zoo and for cake cutting in the backyard with my brother’s family to take place.  I opened my eyes on the kids’ birthday and the first thing I checked was AQI.  It was down to the unhealthy for sensitive group level (instead of very unhealthy).  I wasn’t sure if it would go further down but there was a glimmer of hope that a zoo visit could be possible.  The kids woke up and were very excited about putting their birthday T-shirts on.  Where they sat for breakfast they couldn’t see the decorations and the presents in the living room.  After their teeth were brushed, we opened the gate and led them into the living room. Their facial expressions were priceless!  They looked so genuinely surprised and happy about the decorations.  It was worth all the time and energy.  I checked and rechecked the AQI.  It was down to the low end of the Unhealthy for Sensitive Group level.  I was confident that it would get down to the Moderate level.  So it was truly a miracle that we got to pack up the kids and go to the zoo.  We all had a blast!  It had been a long time since Bob made it back to the zoo.  He especially took a day off, and it was a delight to have him around to celebrate the kids’ birthday on a weekday (as their first two birthdays were on the weekend).  The air quality was getting progressively better.  By the time it was the kids’ nap time, I was certain that we could have a birthday cake cutting time in the backyard with family.

I had gotten a local mom from one of my mom clubs to make a cake for us.  It was an awesome cake with Thomas on top and a track that ran under him, and an excavator and traffic cones on the side of the cake.  This just matched my kids’ strong individual preferences.  I was pleased with the final product.

The kids didn’t know that their uncle, auntie, and cousins were going to show up.  Although Okra woke up being cranky and threw a tantrum, he recovered fast and was very excited about the cake and our family showing up.  The sky was bright and the air was good.  We had a wonderful time celebrating with family.  The kids are so grown that they actually could blow the candles all by themselves this year and nobody ate the candle (unlike last year when Bunny took a bite out of her number 2 candle).

The day finished with dinner from the kids’ favorite restaurant.  But even with their favorite food, Okra was done with dinner after a couple of bites because he couldn’t wait to go play with his new toys.  Bunny followed him.  We ended up having plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

We were supposed to have a picnic to celebrate the kids’ birthday the previous Saturday. It didn’t happen because of the air quality. This past Saturday we finally made it as the air was/is good.  We had dim sum at a park!

It was wonderful to see the kids interact with their aunt, uncle, and cousins.  Life is so much better when you can spend time with family.  This year the kids really understand the meaning behind a birthday and it was a bummer that they couldn’t celebrate it the way we normally could.  And I am really missing my dad. He was here the last two years for the kids’ birthdays and I really feel the void of not having him here this year.  The pandemic has made it so hard for many to make in person connections.  One can only hope that next year we will be all back to normal and the kids can spend quality time with everyone on their 4th birthday.

MicroblogMondays: Air Quality

We have been home for many days straight now.  The kids haven’t been going out at all because of the air quality.  Although it has been hard to not have anywhere for the kids to go, we really can’t complain.  My friend who lives up in Oregon has been living in air quality that is rated Hazardous.  Two days ago it was in the 500s.  She said that her eyes and throat have been burning 24/7, and it feels like the apocalypse.  Although our air quality has been “very unhealthy”, our air purifiers at home give us some respite from the polluted air outside.  Even if our sky was orange all day last Wednesday and I couldn’t even see my son in the rear mirror in broad daylight when I took him to the doctor, we are not near any fires.  We can stay indoors without having anywhere we are required to go to and without having to worry about fires coming close to us or being evacuated.  Last Saturday we were supposed to have a picnic to celebrate my kids’ 3rd birthday with my brother’s family at a park.  It had to be canceled.  Tomorrow is my kids’ birthday and we don’t know if we can still take them to the zoo.  Even though cancelation of these events is disappointing, it is merely inconveniences.  We are not losing our home.  We didn’t lose our lives.  In light of so many people losing so much, we are the fortunate ones.  I don’t lose sight of that and I pray that these fires end soon and people can start picking up the pieces of their lives and start all over again.  What a year this has been.

MicroblogMondays: Back to the Zoo

The zoo reopened some time in July.  At first I was hesitant to return there with the kids.  Pre-COVID, the zoo was our stomping ground as it is only 7 minutes away.  We went almost once a week.  It was closed for a few months.  Finally they got the OKAY to reopen with COVID precautions in place.  I wanted to learn about first hand experiences from people I know before I even considered going back.  Plus I needed time to drill in the kids’ mind that their masks and the stroller are a must when we go to the zoo.  Everybody who went said that their experience was good and they felt safe.  Indoor exhibits, playgrounds, and family farm are all closed.  The train and carousels are not running. There are red lines and orange circles for visitors to stand behind or inside to maintain social distance.  It sounded doable to me.  My twins’ third birthday is coming up.  As I started to plan their birthday, and knowing that a birthday party with friends and family is not going to happen, a trip to the zoo seems special enough.  Okra was the one who resisted wearing a mask, but has since converted to a mask wearer as we started going to the park.  With the confidence that he’d keep the mask on, I booked tickets for last week to the zoo as a trial run for their birthday zoo visit.  Oh yes.  You now cannot just show up at the zoo with your membership card.  To control the flow of visitors, both members and nonmembers have to book tickets ahead of time.  You are allowed to enter into the zoo within the half hour of your reservation time.  The tickets are open two weeks prior to the reservation dates.  The morning times are popular for members and you will need to make a reservation two weeks ahead of time.  The day prior to our visit last week, I spoke with the kids about the rules (i.e. staying in the stroller until I let them out and masks on at all times) and told them what we would get to see and what we wouldn’t.  It had been almost six months since our last zoo visit.  We went on March 10th, just a week before the shut down.  We had so much fun then.  I am looking at the pictures right now as I am writing this post.  I didn’t always ride the Little Puffer Train with them since we had made it a special thing to do when daddy comes with us.  But on that day, somehow, I wanted to ride the train with them and decided to do so.  The kids weren’t even 2.5 yet back then.  Looking at the videos and photos, they were looking much smaller and babylike.  They had so much fun riding the train.  I am so glad we did on that day as it is not an option anymore until COVID is under control.  Fast forward to the day of the visit, it felt kind of funny to get ready the night before as I hadn’t had to get ready for anything in a long time.  I was also worried about the smoke in the air because of the wild fires and the air quality hadn’t been good.  The day of the visit, I decided to still go because if air quality got worse, we could always come home.  Because the zoo is by the coast, the air on that day wasn’t bad at all.  With a mask on, I didn’t quite smell the smoke.  The kids and I had a blast! Since we got there at the first time slot, many animals were still inside.  We waited for a long time for the gorillas and had to return later to see them when they were out.  It was the male lion’s birthday that day so many people were there at that exhibit.  The kids were really good at staying in the orange circles and behind the red line.  They hardly touched any hard surfaces.  They asked about the sloth, the spider, the goats, or other indoor animals.  I had to tell them sadly that these were temporarily not available.  Okra of course asked about the train and I told him that it wasn’t running.  He asked, Can I see it? innocently.  I felt bad that I had to say no to him.  But it didn’t dampen the fun he had.

Everybody had fun and no one threw one single tantrum during that visit.  On the way back to the car, Bunny said, “The zoo is so much fun! Let’s come back again.”  Even though it was weird that they had to wear a mask and many of the things they wanted to do and see were not available, kids adapt fast and they still think it was cool and fun.  I felt safe.  All the adults wore masks.  It was easily to social distance as the zoo keeps it at 50% capacity.  So that’s the plan. On their 3rd birthday in 1.5 weeks, Bob and I will be taking the kids to the zoo and do a cake in the back yard with my brother’s family after the kids’ nap.  That will still be a memorable birthday I am sure.

MicroblogMondays: Dosa and Daal

Last week, I borrowed a couple of books from the library with representation of characters that look like my kids.  One of them is called Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas and the other is called Bilal Cooks Daal.  They are such fun books to read.  A bonus is that they talk about things that my kids are familiar with.  The first one talks about dosas, which is a thin crepe like pancake that is a staple in South Indian cuisine often eaten with sambar, a lentil stew.  Since Bob is South Indian, the kids are familiar with dosa.  It is definitely fun for them to see a food item they are familiar with as the central theme of the book.  In Bilal Cooks Daal, the main character cooks daal with his dad and his friends.  When we got to the part when the book’s characters chose which lentils to use and what spices to add, both my kids exclaimed in delight.  The book mentioned about turmeric, cumin, chili.  These are all spices that we frequently use in our dishes.  Since the kids help me cook every single day, and get to add these spices and other seasoning such as salt, pepper, and garlic powder to our dishes, they were so pleased to see all these things they have hands on experience with get mentioned in a book they read.  Both books include recipes at the end of the book for making the dishes that are mentioned in the book.  My daughter has been asking me daily to try these recipes. One weekend we are going to do that!  I feel so grateful that these books exist so that my kids get to see someone that looks like them being represented in books they read.  Diversity and representation in children’s literature are so important.  I highly recommend these books!

MicroblogMondays: More Freedom

I used to go on walks daily with the kids separately, one kid at a time.  Recently I just feel a bit more icky about the area surrounding our house because of litter and irresponsible dog owners not cleaning up after their pets.  I dislike having always to remind the kids where not to walk on or touch.  A little while ago, one of our neighbors mentioned about a park in the next city that might be suitable for the kids to run around.  I finally drove the kids there a couple fo weeks ago. And I am so grateful we did.  This park is about 13 minutes away.  There are two parts.  One part has a big green field with beautiful and lush looking grass.  The other part has another green field with picnic areas and trees.  The two parts are separated by a little creek and are connected with two bridges.  Oh my goodness.  This is practically a toddler heaven.  The first time the kids arrived at the park, their eyes widened and their facial expressions told me what a right decision it was to go play there.  They freely ran across the grass field and arrived at the fence along the creek.  They watched ducks swim in the creek. They picked up all sorts of nuts and grass and leaves from the ground and put them through the fence to the creek.  They picked long and short sticks and pretended to fly airplanes, sword fight, or build a tent.  Bunny ran across the bridge while Okra carefully tiptoed his way across thinking that he was going to fall through the (tiny) gaps on the bridge.  They dug holes in the dirt and buried pinecones.  Basically, they were absolutely having a blast having all sorts of freedom to roam and explore a big open space.  The best of all: this place barely have more than a few people each time we go.  We have been returning quite a few times ever since. I let the kids decide what they want to do.  Every time they think of something different to do or explore.

It really beats going on our neighborhood walk with me shouting loudly from behind them “Watch out for dog poop!”  I honestly only saw dog poop twice in this new park.  It is so clean.  Last week in light of the wild fires in our state following lightning events, the air quality has been horrible.  Kids and I did not venture out to the new park, and we all miss it.  They have asked about it a few times and learned about things like wild fires and air quality.  I hope and pray for all the wild fires to be contained very soon, for the air quality to go back to normal, for all the evacuees to return safely to their homes, and for my kids to be able to return to freely roam around our new favorite park soon.  During this COVID time, a little outdoor time does our soul a lot of good.

MicroblogMondays: Sensory Play

In the last two months or so, Okra has developed some quirks.  He started disliking long sleeve shirts.  He would fight wearing a long sleeve shirt and if he did put one on, he would pull the sleeves up.  Since it has been warm, I let him be and let him wear his short sleeve shirts.  On colder days, I put two short sleeve shirts on him.  For pants, he often pulls his pant legs up to a point it is almost like he’s wearing shorts.  The town we live in is notorious for being foggy and cold in the summer.  He does need to wear a jacket when he goes out.  Of course he fights the jacket but knows that he has to put one on in order to step outside.  He fusses a bit by pulling down the collar part and pulling up the sleeves right away.  It was hard for me to determine if whatever he was showing was behavioral or sensory related.  Fortunately, a friend of mine is a trusted occupational therapist.  I described to her my observations.  She saw some photos of him and watched a few videos.  She thinks that it is more likely behavioral instead of sensory based.  However, she said that it really doesn’t hurt to introduce sensory or tactile play to him and Bunny as it is regulating and calming for any children.  She suggested a few tactile plays.  One is to just let the kids play in the dirt, which I do already.  The other is to let them play with shaving cream.  I was a little hesitant because of the potential mess that the kids could make.  However, I felt that this could be overcome by a little pretraining.  I went over with the kids what they are allowed and not allowed to do during this activity.  They agreed, and started playing.  Initially the kids looked apprehensive.  After I encouraged them, they started to move the shaving cream around the tray and seemed to have a lot of fun searching for plastic animals hidden in the shaving cream.  Clean up wasn’t bad at all as I just removed the plastic toys from the trays and wrapped up all the shaving cream with the tin foil that was placed on the tray.  The kids smelled the rest of the day like my husband after he has shaven, haha.

I follow someone on Instagram and learned about various sensory bins.  I had always wanted to try a sensory bin of rice with the kids.  Prior to learning about pretraining the kids on things, I was weary of the mess that it could cause.  But now that I know how to pretrain the kids, and they are a bit older with better self-control, I decided to brave it.  I bought a five pound bag of rice and a big plastic tub.  I dumped a few big and small spoons in there with various containers.  I went over the rules with them (no throwing and no dumping).  They went to town.  I have to say I am very proud of the kids.  They do so well with this activity.  They scoop and pour the rice in and out of containers in the confine of the tub.  I set a timer for about 30 to 35 minutes.  I know they can go on for a lot longer if I allow them.  They look so calm and seem to have so much fun just scooping and pouring repeatedly.  

A few grains of rice come out of the tub occasionally and the kids know to stop their activity to pick them up.  All in all they have shown very good self control with this activity.  Now that I know they can do it, I plan on getting some beans so that they can feel other textures.  I feel fortunate that these sensory play activities are a hit with them.  I know friends with twins who do not care for sensory bins.  Okra may or may not have sensory issues at all, but these activities could still be beneficial to both him and his sister.  They allow the kids to sit and play quietly for a long time.  Quiet time is so welcome in this household on days when two kids playing together could sound like five kids running around. Haha.