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”.
My son Okra has long curly hair. My husband and I agreed to get him his first haircut when he turned two. After his second birthday, my husband had second thoughts about it and asked to extend the haircut to when Okra turned 2 years 3 months. When that time rolled around in December, he again couldn’t bring himself to saying yes to cutting Okra’s hair. Once again, we talked about cutting Okra’s hair when he turns 2 1/2. Well, little did we know that the world suddenly changed and going out for a haircut is no longer an easy thing. Okra’s hair remains long and he continues to be called a girl when we are out or even when we get on Zoom calls. People on the street (when we take our walks) or strangers on Zoom (story time put on by some mom’s group) would say “Hi girls!” to my twins. I actually do not mind people calling Okra a girl. I have stopped a little while ago to correct people about that. However, tying his hair up for a man bun is a chore every single morning. The struggle is real. This would be the biggest reason why I would want to get him a hair cut. You may ask, why don’t YOU cut his hair? I dare not touch anyone’s hair in my house. I mean, I can braid and tie a man bun or ponytail. But cutting hair? It’s way out of my league. Even Bob asked me to cut his hair as it is getting long as well, and my answer is No. Look at Okra’s hair:
This was his hair after a bath with the front part of his hair pulled back. I know curly hair is extremely hard to cut. So I am not going to tempt fate and take things into my own hands. Even when shelter in place is lifted in the future, I don’t think I’d want to take him anywhere unnecessary, haircut included. A friend of mine is fascinated with his hair. She keeps on telling me that I am never going to cut that hair because I will deprive him of becoming a teenage heartthrob one day. She said that he is going to get all the girls (or maybe boys) with those curls. Hahaha. I guess I will have to continue my battle with him (and sometimes Bunny) each morning until the world is a safe place for a haircut one day.
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.
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.
I have joined a local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group this year. For those who are not familiar with it, it is a group with biweekly meetings for mothers of infant, toddlers, and preschoolers, and those who are expecting. It meets from September to May, and you are assigned a table of 8 to 10 people. There is a theme every year and you sit at that table with the same people throughout the year to discuss topics related to motherhood surrounding the chosen theme. In the beginning of the meeting a scrumptious breakfast spread is provided. And did I mention that there is childcare? The kids get to learn something new with their friends in a safe environment and I get adult time for 2 hours. Before my friend invited me to join, I was hesitant because I feared that given how I became a mother, which I am quite sure is very different from how the majority of women there became a mom, I might not fit into the group. But I was yearning for some face-to-face connection with others who may understand my struggles on a daily basis, I put on my brave face and walked into the hall expecting to be overwhelmed. The end result was a pleasant surprise. I loved my first time there. Even though I didn’t know the mothers at the table, we openly shared our joy and struggles of motherhood. After that meeting, I signed up and happily paid my dues for the whole year (which covers food and childcare). I have been very open about my journey of motherhood and how the twins became my children. The ladies in my group have been very supportive and genuine in getting to know me and my story. I love going. And then COVID-19 happened. We don’t get to meet up anymore. Like the rest of the world, we have resorted to a virtual meeting on Zoom. Our table leader is a lovely lady with two little girls. She looked extremely tired that evening. After 45 minutes of the meeting, I asked her if she was doing okay because she just sounded low energy. Then she said, for those who didn’t know, she is expecting and has been extremely tired. This totally caught me by surprise because I didn’t expect her to be expecting? Then I came to think about it, she is the fourth person in this group who has gotten pregnant in the past year. Three ladies have given birth already. Two of them to their 3rd child and one to her second child. The pregnancy rate is so high given we only have 8 people in the group. It shouldn’t be surprising though, right? This is a group for mothers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Of course the participants are at a childbearing age. Having two kids doesn’t stop them from having another child. Infertility rate is one in eight. I am the one in the group of eight. The rest gets pregnant easily. The good news for me is, I am genuinely happy for them and I am not sad at all for myself. I am done done done and don’t want another child. Period. I was holding one of the ladies’ newborn the other day. The baby smell was intoxicating. It is one of the things I love most about babies. However, it doesn’t make me want to have another baby. No wonder I am no longer jealous about pregnant ladies, pregnancies, or newborn babies. The baby boom is merely an observation. But this observation also shows that I am still infertile. If I were fertile, this baby boom probably wouldn’t even be on my radar.
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.
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.