MicroblogMondays: Pandemic Family Love

My kids haven’t seen my brother, my sister-in-law, and my niece and nephew ever since the shelter-in-place started.  In the beginning, I did suggest to my brother to come drop off stuff for us when the kids are awake but he feels that seeing the kids through the window is going to make the kids more upset than not.  So they come whenever the kids are down for the day already or napping.  My kids’ favorite person is my sister-in-law, who they call “Kau Mo”, which means their mother’s brother’s wife.  Pre-pandemic, they would see her and the rest of the family at least once a week if not more often.  My SIL sometimes meets up with us at the indoor gym to play with the kids.  We sometimes head over to her place to play with her toys.  The very last time the kids saw her was the Friday prior to shelter-in-place order.  She came to Golden Gate Park with us for a walk.  Kids and she were drawing pictures in the dirt, picking up leaves, playing hide-and-seek, and basically just having a grand time hanging out.  In the beginning of the stay-at-home order, the kids would FaceTime with my SIL once in a while.  A few weeks later, we had a Zoom meeting during Easter dinner with the rest of my SIL’s family.  The kids stayed on the call with Kau Mo for a bit longer.  Ever since then, Kau Mo has been on a Zoom call with the kids once a week, usually on a Saturday morning.  As an experienced teacher who is very creative, she knows how to capture the kids’ attention.  She prepares books, toys, drawings, drumming to keep the kids entertained for over an hour.  Sometimes the sessions last for an hour and 15 minutes.  During that time, I could usually do chores like folding laundry, preparing for lunch, etc.  Last weekend during the Zoom call, Bob was sitting there assisting the kids, and I dusted, vacuumed, and mopped our master bedroom, bathrooms, and the kids’ room.  Kau Mo is the best babysitter ever.  I always joke that she should make this into a business because the kids really have a lot of fun with new activities every week with her.  We are so blessed to have her as an auntie to the kids.  And my brother has been a great brother too.  He has come numerous times to drop off stuff for us.  One time I asked where he got his toilet paper.  Instead of letting me go shopping somewhere myself, he helped me order some toilet paper from Amazon Fresh (since we signed up but haven’t been allowed to shop yet).  He received the toilet paper the same day and delivered it to us (by walking 15 minutes from his house) that evening.  We didn’t even have to leave the house to get those toilet paper rolls.  Even though we haven’t been able to really spend time with them physically, we can see and feel the love from our family in so many ways.  We hope that the kids will be able to finally touch them and hug them some time soon.  When they ask to go to Kau Mo’s house one day, I hope that I can tell them yes instead of saying that it is “closed”.

MicroblogMondays: Meltdown

The meltdown that I am referring to wasn’t the kids’.  It was mine.  I had my first meltdown since the shelter-in-place started.

We have been doing well all things considered.  No one lost a job.  We are healthy.  The whole family gets to be together.  There are many things to be thankful for.  But having two toddlers at home all the time can be stressful.  I believe that the kids feel cooped up and their behaviors show it.  Okra has been acting out much more frequently than pre-shelter-in-place.  Sometimes he throws a tantrum seemingly out of the blue and starts throwing toys or jumping up and down in frustration for no reason.  There is no trigger that I could see.  Or a little something can trigger him into a hot mess.  He hits people, especially me, really easily when he is not happy.  Bunny has also started to hit me when she is upset, which is a new behavior.  Sometimes when one is acting out, the other one comes to interfere.  And then there are also the usual fights between the two of them.  Day in and day out, this has become too much for me.  I am sometimes at a loss as to how to deal with the kids’ tantrums without losing my cool.

Well, I failed miserably yesterday.  Dinner last night was pizza that I had to go pick up.  The kids were watching a toy train video on YouTube with their dad.  When we stopped the video to come have dinner, they were already a little bit upset.  They both sat down and started complaining about the dinner.  One wanted “mommy’s pizza”.  The other one wanted “big pizza”.  I tried my best to fulfill their wishes but the end results were them throwing the pizza or tasting the pizza and starting to wail because they didn’t like it.  I tried to calmly tell them that they could choose to not eat and go play, but they just wouldn’t have it.  Both of them were whining and Bunny continued wailing loudly.  After this back and forth of asking for something, me offering them what they asked, and them not wanting it, I lost my cool.  I started yelling at the kids which made them cry even more.  It was one chaotic scene.  Bunny’s crying is usually especially annoying.  And she cries for a long time usually.  Bob couldn’t stand the crying and told me to give them screen time. I am really against that because to me they are learning that they get to watch TV as a reward for not eating dinner.  However, because I was already losing it, I doubt that I could remain calm to turn the whole thing into a teaching moment.  What I needed to do was to walk away.  Screen time offered me a time to walk away without the kids killing each other.  However, I was so upset with the kids and my husband offering screen time to them, as well as the accumulated effect of one month of shelter-in-place, I turned into a crying mess.  I went inside the kids’ room and cried and cried and cried.  It was a much needed release of my emotions.  After I calmed down, I know that giving them screen time last night was not going to ruin them forever.  The kids get plenty of face-to-face time with us playing, reading, and drawing.  We are trying our best as parents under these circumstances.  I just hate myself for melting down, losing my cool, and turning into a maniac.  I am thankful that this doesn’t happen often at all.  But I do need to seek the Lord’s help in having patience and knowing strategies to handle the kids’ emotions.  I do not want my meltdown to become a regular occurrence.  Parenting is such a huge responsibility and it is at times overwhelming. I constantly feel like I am doing something wrong.  The other day Bob and I had an opportunity to join a zoom parenting session with a parenting coach and got some pointers.  It reminded me that God does not leave us to be parents without resources or help from Him or others.  Being humble to seek guidance is a good first step.

MicroblogMondays: Baking

I bought a used learning tower about eight months ago so that the kids could cook and bake with me.  We had used it a couple of times for pizza making but not much else.  I think the infrequent use is mainly due to my lack of confidence in controlling the mess.  With one child, I might feel a bit more comfortable with preventing the little sticky hands from flinging ingredients all over the place.  With two kids the same age, the chances of chaos were too great for me to make the experience worthwhile.  Plus we had activities every morning even on rainy days so it made it hard for me to plan for baking with them.  Now that the kids are 2 1/2 years old and we are home all day long, I have been looking for ways to kill time with the both of them.  I feel that they are mature enough for me to trust them with dumping ingredients in a bowl for baking.  So the other day I invited them over to climb on the learning tower to make some muffins.  They were so excited!  They first put silicone liners in the muffin tin.  I let them take turns pouring both wet ingredients and dry ingredients in the bowl.  They got to learn the names of all the things we put in the muffins.  I am quite pleased with how well they followed directions.  They took turns pouring each ingredient and didn’t fight over it.  They also helped me mix the batter together.  Mess was totally minimal.  They watched me patiently as I portioned the batter in the muffin cups.

They drew and colored while waiting for the muffins to be done.  At one point they were impatiently sitting in front of the oven to wait for the muffins to finish cooking.

I gave them each a freshly baked muffin for snack that morning.

They both looked so proud of themselves.  Since then, Bunny has been telling me “I am a chef!” and was pretending to cook with baking powder in her toy kitchen.  She even threw a tantrum the next day when I gave her a muffin for snack because she thought we were going to bake muffins instead.  I hope that this has planted a seed for them for their love of cooking and baking in their lives.  And now that I know they have enough self-control, we will experiment baking different things in the future.

MicroblogMondays: Backyard

A year and a half after we got married, we remodeled the house to add more space.  We weren’t going to fix the backyard at the same time.  However, because the backyard area is lower than street level, the building division in our city insisted on us finding a solution to ensure rain water did not accumulate in the back.  We were forced to make a concrete slab there with a drain in the middle for rain water to be pumped out of the backyard.  The concrete slab takes up the majority of the space leaving about three feet of space along the fences.  Later on a landscaper planted various trees, shrubs, and plants that have thankfully been thriving.  The garden window in the kitchen overlooks the backyard.  Back then we had already been trying to conceive for a whole year.  I often wondered if we would ever have a chance to stand in the kitchen and watch our children play in the backyard.  Fast forward to 5 years later, our dream of having children came true.  When the twins were babies, we never went outside to the backyard.  When they became older, we started going out to library story time, walking on trails, the zoo, bible study, or indoor play gym every morning and did not need to use our backyard.  In fact, the kids never stepped foot in the backyard until… two weeks ago.  I finally cleaned up the backyard and washed the two hand-me-down Cozy Coupe cars that were gathering dirt and dust there for the last year.  I have been very hesitant in taking the kids out on walks because I really don’t want them to contract the virus.  So I had to find a way for them to get some sun and air.  The kids have been loving it.  They ride their Cozy Coupes, draw with sidewalk chalk, collect rocks and leaves, and doodle on dirt.  I particularly love to watch them pretend play.  There are no other toys in the backyard but it doesn’t stop the kids from their imagination.  They pretend to buy groceries, get gas, and drive to walk.  They are basically creating something from thin air.  They pretend that leaves are animals and line them up on the planter.  Although I have to break up their fights periodically, I am glad they have each other to play with so I can sometimes just sit in the shade and watch them.  Their hands and clothes are all so dirty from playing in the backyard but like I said before, my tolerance for dirt has increased exponentially as a parent.  I do not mind the dirt as long as they get cleaned up afterwards.  They love going outside.  Every morning they ask to go to the backyard.  Although the size of the backyard is small, they not only have a place to get some fresh air but also get to be creative and exercise their brain in different ways.  I feel very blessed to have this little space for them during this unusual time.

MicroblogMondays: 2 1/2 Years Old

The twins turned 2 1/2 yesterday.  Time just keeps on moving.

We are practicing social distancing as of this moment.  That means no going out with friends.  No hanging out with family members who don’t live in the same house.  No taking the kids to the mall, restaurants, or grocery stores.  Bob has been working from home since last week in our little office space so he doesn’t get distracted by the kids.  I have been taking the kids out on different hiking trails when the weather is good.

Yesterday started with pouring rain.  I was a little bummed that we didn’t get to go out with the kids on their 2.5 birthday because of the rain.  The rain stopped but the sky was still gray at 9:30.  Bob and I took our chance with the weather and took the kids out on a trail facing the Pacific Ocean.

I am so glad we decided to take them out.  They had such a blast.  There were water and mud puddles around and the kids enjoyed themselves so much jumping in these puddles.  I’ve got to say that as a parent I have relaxed so much more in regards to dirt.  I myself would not have jumped in those puddles even if I were wearing protective gear.  But kids are kids.  They do not care about dirt.  I figure we could always take off their rain boots and rain coats and let them go pantless on the ride home.  That was exactly what we did.  Bob was a bit squeamish when it came to the muddy dirt on the kids’ boots and pants.  But when he saw how relaxed I was, he was okay with it.  The smiles on the kids’ faces and their laughter were so worth the hassle to clean them and the rain gear up.

Here we are.  In six months, we will have three year olds.  I hope by then everything will be back to normal and that social distancing is a thing in the past so we will be able to have a birthday party for them with all of our loved ones.

MicroblogMondays: Activities

Concerns of coronavirus are getting more serious in my area.  Many companies enact a temporary policy for workers to work from home.  My husband was told he could choose to work from home last Friday but he was already at the bus stop, so he just went to work.  Our church service was canceled because the city issued an advisory to cancel non-essential large community events for the next two weeks.  Of course it makes me think about what to do with the kids.  We usually go out every single morning to classes, library story time, dim sum restaurant with my mom, bible study, and indoor gym.  The situation with the virus is so fluid that everyday I evaluate where to go with the kids.  We still went to the library last week.  Prior to the coronavirus scare, I used to clean their hands after the library by hand sanitizer and wipes.  Last week after they played, read books, and touched stuff, I herded them both to the bathroom to wash their hands.  Let me just tell you that washing two toddlers’ hands and keeping them from touching things AFTER hand washing was such a monumental task.  It required a lot of yelling on my part because honestly the kids do not listen to me when I gently tell them not to touch something.  And I had to do it after we borrowed the books so I had a big backpack, my crossbody purse, and a bag of books ON me while holding one kid up to the sink and keeping my eyes on the other kid’s hands.  The end result was everyone’s clothes getting wet.  But we accomplished hand washing without any excessive touching of surfaces in the bathroom.  I was quite proud of myself.  I took them to bible study and the dentist’s office but skipped the indoor gym.  I don’t trust this city-run gym would sanitize their equipments and want to err on the side of caution.  Fortunately, my kids are flexible enough and don’t fuss if we don’t go to the indoor play gym.  Instead of going indoor, we ventured outdoors.  There is a trail that my dad and I took the kids on when he was here last time.  They were about two years old and I felt at that time they were not listening as well and weren’t walking as well.  We had to push a stroller because the kids wanted the freedom to walk around but got tired quite easily.  They also would run off to two different directions and it would be hard for me to watch them both all by myself.  Fast forward six months. The kids are so much better with their physical strength, stamina, and the ability to listen.  I mean, they do not listen to 100% of the time, but I can trust that I can get them to go in the same direction if I try.  I also feel better for them to touch dirt and trees and grass than indoor surfaces.  So I have been taking them on a walk on the trail.  I mean, it’s a joke to call it a walk for myself because honestly I get no benefit of an exercise when I go with them.  We don’t push a stroller anymore.  They love to walk and run and stop and move backwards and even sit on the ground.  They jump in the grass and talk and joke with each other.  Often times after “walking” down the trail for 15 minutes, I would have to turn them back because somehow the way back takes even longer.  But I have to say that the kids have taught me to be more relax.  There is no agenda in nature.  We are not rushing to go anywhere.  If they want to watch the birds, talk about the airplanes over our heads, look at berries and flowers, touch the trees, and comment on runners and walkers, I just stand back and watch.  We breathe in fresh air and have a great bonding time.  It is quite funny that on this trail there are so many Cantonese speaking people walking or running.  They often stop to marvel at the twins being able to speak Cantonese and ask me and the kids questions.  We get stopped at least 4 to 5 times each time we go.  I am thankful for the easy access to parks and trails so we are not trapped at home during this critical public health time.  I need to explore new trails that I feel safe taking them myself so the kids don’t get too bored.

MicroblogMondays: Bronchiolitis

A week and a half ago, Bunny started coughing and having a runny nose.  The next day I noticed that her breathing was much faster than usual, about 52 breaths per minute.  Luckily I had her twin brother as a guide for what normal breathing pattern should be for a two-year-old.  His breath count was half of hers.  She didn’t look uncomfortable, but I wanted to be cautious and called the nurse line just in case she should be seen on that day.  I got a call back within the next hour and was told by the nurse to bring Bunny in for a visit due to her shortness of breath.  Our regular doctor and his clinic’s other pediatricians were all booked up.  She found an appointment in about an hour at a different clinic location 25 minutes drive from our house.  Of course I took it.  Thanks to my mom who could stay home with Okra, I quickly packed things up and loaded Bunny in the minivan for her appointment.  Due to COVID-19, clinics are super cautious with patients who show respiratory symptoms.  Bunny was given a little Mickey Mouse mask to wear because of her cough, which she refused to put on initially.  I held her in my lap in the waiting room and wouldn’t let her touch anything else.  Germs in a clinic are the exact reason why I didn’t want Okra to come with.  We were quickly called back to an exam room.  The doctor was so wonderful.  He was so good with Bunny and put her at ease.  He checked her oxygen level and listened to her breathing.  Her oxygen level was tiny bit low at 95 to 96.  He could hear wheezing.  The nurse set up Albuterol on the nebulizer for her.  I held the mouth piece for Bunny while she watched a video on my phone.  After the 15 minute treatment, the doctor listened to her and said she sounded much better.  It was amazing how the medicine opened up the airway so quickly.  Bunny was sent across the street to the hospital building for a chest x-ray because the doctor wanted to rule out pneumonia.  I was actually surprised at the recommendation because I didn’t even think that it could be this serious?  On the other hand, I was just glad that I followed my instinct to call the clinic for help.  I was also very glad that we got sent to this clinic which was just right next to the radiology department vs. our usual clinic location which was no where close to an x-ray machine.  Off we went to the other building.  I again tried my best to keep Bunny’s hands away from any surfaces by keeping her on me.  I was also impressed with how calm she was.  If it was Okra, he would have fussed maybe five times already.  She was totally chill and just read a book and had her snack despite it being her usual lunch time.  After waiting for 30 minutes, we were finally in the room.  There was a little chest x-ray machine low toward the ground.  The technician put a lead apron on me and a tiny one around her waist.  Again, I have to praise Bunny because at 2 years 5 months, she just followed directions and did whatever the tech told her without fussing.  Two images were taken.  We returned to the clinic and waited for further directions.  We received a nebulizer for home use.  The X-Ray results showed that Bunny had bronchiolitis and not a full blown pneumonia.  The doctor said that sometimes the virus just infected the lower part of the chest which caused the wheezing.  We were to give her treatment every four hours and have a follow-up visit at her usual clinic close to home the next day.  I could still tell that she was breathing fast but the doctor said the wheezing was much better.  The doctor visit next day was with someone that we hadn’t seen before as well.  She was in and out, no nonsense, and told me to keep Bunny on the Albuterol treatment for a whole week at least three times a day to keep the airway open.  Since we let her and her brother watch nursery rhymes on TV during her nebulizer treatment, Bunny loved to do it.  She is so funny.  Sometimes when it wasn’t time for her treatment yet, she would pretend to cough and say “Mama, I am not feeling well” because she wanted her TV time.  Since when did she become so big and expressive, and know how to pretend to get what she wants?  After one week of treatment, I am happy to report that her regular pediatrician didn’t hear any wheezing at all at our follow up visit.  In fact he said that he wouldn’t have guessed that she was sick if we didn’t tell him.  He said that sometimes wheezing could take two to three weeks to clear, so he was glad that she was well so quickly.  Before he left the exam room, he advised me to wash her hands before she left so she wouldn’t be sick from visiting him.  Interestingly, and fortunately, Okra who usually would be sick 2.5 days after Bunny was not sick at all this time.  With the COVID-19 scare and Bunny being sick, I haven’t taken the kids to the indoor play gym that they’d go to on a weekly basis.  I think I will still take them since we had already gone back to Bible Study class and Sunday school.  I will just be more vigilant with washing their hands even though herding them to the bathroom is a monumental task at times.  Hopefully we won’t be sick again before the winter season ends.