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: 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: 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.

MicroblogMondays: Gastrointestinal Issues

It all started when my parenting coach and I discussed about Okra’s behaviors.  You can reason with him most of the time, but there are some days when he just doesn’t seem to be able to control his emotions with even a slight trigger (or no trigger at all).  He would suddenly throw a tantrum out of nowhere, repeatedly all day long.  My parenting coach talked about how the body, mind, and soul all affect a person’s wellbeing, so the body is an equally important part.  Okra has had mushy, diarrhea-like, or watery stool ever since he was a baby.  I can probably count the number of times he had well formed stool with all of my fingers.  I asked our pediatrician a while back and he said that this kind of stool formation was still considered normal for Okra’s age.  Now that he is almost three years old, I am a bit more concerned.  The parenting coach mentioned about some kids having food sensitivity, such as for wheat, sugar, dairy, or corn.  I was determined to look into all of that.  Our pediatrician referred us to a gastrointestinal specialist.  Surprisingly, she was available for a video visit within a week.  Apparently prior to COVID, it could take up to three months to see a GI specialist in person.  During the visit, she asked many questions.  She said that it seems like Okra’s daily fluid intake is insufficient.  His weight is borderline for his age, being 13th percentile which is down from his usual 20 to 25th percentile.  In fact, he was historically always about two pounds heavier than his sister Bunny but this week her weight has exceeded his by half a pound.  It has to do with him being a picky eater and with her eating more variety and larger quantity of food every single meal.  The GI specialist suggested a few things:

1) An abdominal X-ray to see what is going on with his intestine

2) Blood work to rule out various things including a Celiac screening panel

3) Stool samples to rule out various things

4) Increasing Okra’s liquid intake dramatically. For his age and weight, about 40oz of fluids per day

5) Increasing the fats in his diet, so putting butter or ghee in his rice or on his toast, and letting him eat ice cream occasionally as well as having him eat things with good fats such as avocado, eggs, etc.

Okra sounded apprehensive when I mentioned about getting an X-ray and blood work done at the clinic the next day.  He said he didn’t want to go.  I texted my friend who gave me some tips on how to pretrain Okra on responding to potential pain during the blood draw.  I prayed about it that night and the next morning, then I wrote down in my journal the exact details about both the X-ray and the blood draw that I wanted to talk to him about that morning prior to leaving for the clinic visit.  After Okra brushed his teeth that morning, I sat him down on my bed and the two of us had a heart-to-heart talk.  I told him about his digestive issues and what exactly would go down during his clinic visit.  I told him what would happen during an X-ray, and I would be there with him every single moment.  And I told him what a blood draw would be like.  He might feel a pinch when a technician puts a tiny needle in his arm.  We practiced him pinching me slightly on my arm and me reacting by saying Ow and taking deep breaths.  Then we practiced that on him.  He said Ow and took a deep breath.  I also told him that he would need to wear his mask and stay in the stroller for the whole duration of the visit except for the two procedures.  He looked at me, nodded his head, and seemed to understand what it all meant.  I was a tiny bit worried because he is usually the one that couldn’t tolerate needles and would throw tantrums easily.  However, I was also trusting this pretraining process that has been so instrumental in preparing the kids for many things we have been doing in our lives.

I am so pleasantly surprised by what actually went down.  First of all, despite pretraining with Bunny, she became sad when Okra and I were about to leave for the appointment.  She stood behind the living room gate with a sad face.  The first surprise was that Okra walked over to her, kissed her on her forehead, and stroked her hair!  How I love seeing tender loving moments between the two of them and particularly for Okra to show his caring side to his twin sister.  Okra sat in the stroller once we got off the car and had his mask on the whole time. He sat quietly to watch Little Mermaid that was shown on the clinic TV.  During the X-ray, he lay on the table without moving and let the technician take a picture of the inside of his tummy.  After we waited for a few more minutes, we were called to go into the lab.  I gave him his beloved Thomas and Nia trains.  He held onto them in his left hand and sat on me.  Without the technician even asking him, he extended his right arm to her.  I reminded Okra that if he felt any pinching or pain, he could say Ow and take a deep breath.  I am so impressed with my boy!  He watched the technician put a butterfly needle in his arm and start filling the 6 tubes with his blood.  He did not even flinch.  He sat there as still as a stone.  The blood draw was completed in no time.  No yelling.  No Ow.  No deep breaths.  No crying.  He was as cool as a cucumber.  I was just so amazed at how mature Okra handled the whole situation at the age of two years ten months.  Pretraining for the win as he knew exactly what to expect.

The X-ray shows that Okra’s intestine is full of stool.  Apparently he is quite constipated, and it presents itself as watery stool as water was probably leaking from the side of the stool.  The GI specialist put him on either Miralax or Calm Magnesium.  I opted for Calm Magnesium gummies for him.  All of his blood work came out normal except for low Vitamin D.  She put him on 400 IU of Vitamin D.  We also bought him gummies.  So everyday now he thoroughly enjoys chewing his gummies in the morning and in the evening.  Surprisingly Bunny hasn’t whined about not having gummies to chew as she understands that she doesn’t need them.  As for fats, I have been putting butter on toast and rice for him.  He and his sister both do not like the taste of ghee and refuse to touch food with ghee on it, so I have opted to put butter because the taste is milder.  I have been trying to figure out how to tempt him to eat cheese, eggs, yogurt, avocado, or drink milk.  These are all things that Okra doesn’t touch.  And you can’t force him to eat.  So I have to use some more thinking as to how to present food to him that is attractive.

Oh and for his water intake?  I took out a bunch of water bottles from the drawer so he has something new to drink from.  Whenever the kids drink from a cup that is different from their usual cup, they drink more.  I even let them choose a new cup on Amazon.  I think it is so awesome that Okra chose the unicorn one and Bunny chose the monster soccer one:

Who says that boys can’t use a pink cup and girls can’t choose monster and soccer?

They have been drinking so much more water!  I am hopeful that the increase in water intake is going to help Okra alleviate some of his digestive issues.  Hopefully he feels better in general and his behaviors will also improve.

MicroblogMondays: Chores

I used to have difficulty finding time in the kids’ waking moments to do some of the chores, such as laundry or changing bedsheets.  I had to wait until the kids’ nap time or bed time to do them, but often times I would feel tired myself and did not have enough energy to tackle these chores.  And for cooking I’d always have to have my mom watch the kids when I cooked.  On the days when she was sick, I would have to turn on the TV for them in order to make dinner.  I have been on Zoom session with a Christian parenting coach for the last almost two months.  One thing I learned was to involve the kids in chores including meal preparation and setting the table and cleaning up for meals.  It has been eye opening to see how much a two year old can do and is interested in doing.  Bunny in particular loves cooking.  She calls herself “Chef Bunny” and proudly tells everyone that she has made muffins or dinner.  Okra also likes it when I really like him do stuff.  They do basic things such as putting cut-up vegetables in a bowl, putting seasoning in the vegetables before baking, or pouring ingredients in bowls for making muffin dough.  I would hold the can openers for them to open cans with me.  Nowadays I don’t quite need my mom to watch them as they stand in their learning tower to watch or help out in the kitchen.  The kids now set their own table with their utensils and set the utensils for the adults as well.  When they are done with dinner, they put their utensils and plastic bowls in the sink.  It does take longer to make dinner with them “helping” but I really cherish that time I have with them.  Same thing with other chores.  A couple of weeks ago I had been dying to change bed sheets but I hadn’t because I didn’t have time when the kids were awake.  One day it dawned on me that I could use them to help me change the sheets.  We did just that!  I had them help me remove pillow cases, undo the bedsheets, and pull the pillow cases back on the pillows.  They helped me unzip the duvet cover and stuff everything in the laundry basket.  They looked so so proud of themselves!  On laundry day, they help put stuff in the washing machine and close the door.  We would pull the knob together.  Having them do these things doesn’t take up too much extra time, but the sense of accomplishment that shows on their face is priceless.  I am hopeful one day the kids will start to learn how to do these chores independently and doing chores will become second nature to them.  Start them early and they will become useful adults.

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: 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.