Trips to the Apple Store

loscerritos_hero_2xThis Christmas we got my mom an iMac and an iPhone 5.  She may be the most equipped grandma on the block.  Yesterday, we spent an hour waiting and configuring her newly purchased iPhone 5.  It was crowded but kids were in their own zone.

I always find trips to Apple Store is like going to a theme park.  It’s just as fun as going to the Legoland.  They love sitting on those foamed spherical chairs, exploring new apps, and periodically poking their heads up, like squirrels looking for nuts, to see what other kids are playing.

If you ever need a place to take kids on a rainy day, head to the local Apple Store.  Now if only they have childcare!

Toy grandma wins hearts and minds

Every child seems to have a toy grandma and a clothing grandma.  That’s always been the case in our children’s life.  My mom always keeps my kids looking sharp and my mother-in-law makes sure they are entertained with new toys and books. The tide turned this year.  My mom bought beautiful sweaters for our children this Christmas. But when she showed up with two big boxes of PlayMobil, kids shouted with joy.  Of course she got big appreciation hugs in return!

plane

Last night, my kindergartner didn’t sleep until 11pm because he stayed up late to construct his plane with his father.

All morning, I spent sorting through 400+ parts of another kit – Playmobil Forest Lodge.  It must have taken me an hour to organize all the parts and follow 6 pages of instructions.  The result (just the first step) – a beautiful cabin with an adjacent barn.  It was my first time playing with a PlayMobil kit.  With my son looking for pieces, it was an incredibly fun activity over Christmas break.

cabin

Overall, I am very impressed with German engineering applied to toys.  All the pieces snapped together like a precision instrument.  Even my 2yo enjoyed using the small handy toolto snap nuts and bolts in place.

I would recommend both kits to children over 5.  They can follow instructions and would enjoy collaborating with you.

Car seats from 0 to 6

My sons are 2 and 5 so my research for safe car seats ends around age 6.

Infant Car Seat – Graco Snugride (age 0-1)
I still remember vividly when we brought our first child home.  We were both overwhelmed. My husband said, “They actually let us take him home?  We have no idea what to do with a baby!”   Then again, the only requirements to bring our baby home were to sign our baby’s birth certificate and  have a properly installed car seat.

gracoBefore I was discharged, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital car seat fitting station helped install Graco Snugride in our brand new Toyota Highlander.  It  was one of the best rated infant car seats on the market.  Today Consumer Reports gives it a “Best Buy” rating, which means it offers the best combination of performance and price.

The convenient bucket style allows you to carry a sleeping baby without unbuckling at each stop.  Because babies sleep 20+ hours in the early days,  it’s best not to disturb them.  Although the Snugride can hold up to 30-35 pounds, our children eventually outgrew their it because of their height, not weight.  We knew it was time to upgrade when their feet dangling outside of the bucket seat. Continue reading

Decorating kids’ rooms

Eric-Carles-Brown-Bear-Wall-Art_NI2617

Kids love bright colors, so we opted for a Spice Butternut (orange) and a Handsome Hue (blue) for our boys.

One thing we try not to do is to have frames with sharp edges and glass.  Instead,  we got wall decals and canvas prints.

Here are some of my favorite items to liven up my boys’ rooms:

  • Brown Bear Wall Appliques – Eric Carle is one of our favorite children’s authors.  His distinct illustrations are highly recognizable. Often when I get my toddler dressed, I would point to the wall and ask him what “Brown Bear” or “Goldfish” sees.  You can see the co-author Bill Martin Jr. reading from this book.
  • Cici Factory canvas prints – we have a number of whimsical prints with robots and rockets.  They have internal wood frames and are ready to hang.  What I like about them is that there are no sharp edges.
  • Green Leaf Art – These safari animals are really adorable.  For my little toddler who was born the Year of Tiger, I thought it was quite appropriate.

In my spare time, I really like browsing decorated rooms using Houzz’s iPad app.  It’s an awesome source for inspiration.

Newborn essentials

From the moment we brought our oldest son home 5 years ago, we experimented with nearly every basic:

In a newborn’s life, it’s all about “Eat/Drink”, “Pee/Poo”, and “Sleep”.  Let’s get right to it.

Eat/Drink
Two of the best bottle lines are Dr. Brown and Born Free. My lactation consultant suggested using Dr. Brown and the slow flow nipples.  Because I had to heat up stored milk, I was really happy when the glass bottles were introduced a few years ago.  My sisters love Born Free for their children.

Pee/Poo
I fell in love with Huggies Pure & Natural diapers, which came onto the market when my second son was born. He’s now 2 and half and had only gotten rashes a couple of times using this diaper.

PRIMO EuroBathBabies don’t get dirty from sleeping 20+ hours a day.  It’s okay to bathe them a few times a week, according to Mayo Clinic.  When you do, use PRI EuroBath tub. We started out with a “First Year Sure Comfort Newborn-to-Toddler Tub”.  It was too narrow to accommodate average sized babies beyond the first 2-3 months with spare room to maneuver.  After research, I found a plain Primo Baby.  It was perfect.  For babies who can’t yet sit, the incline side is wide and comfortable.  Once a baby can sit, he or she has plenty of room to play with rubber ducks and other inflatable toys.

Sleep
swaddling_blanketAs for sleep, keep in mind not to use loose blankets or leave any stuffed animals in the crib.  In the first month, we swaddled our boys using SwaddleDesigns’ receiving blankets. At some point, your baby won’t like being constrained, switch to organic sleepsacks from HALO. Get the micro-fleece ones for winter, cotton for summer.

My husband always says that taking care of a baby is like following a flowchart. Perhaps we’ll actually create one at some point.

Learning to write as a kindergartner

LetterSchool

I sent my 5yo son to a play-based preschool.  I chose a loving and nurturing environment over one with academic rigor.  While it was a conscious decision, it was still disconcerting when we were told by his kindergarten teacher that he only knew 27-28 letters (out of 56, including upper/lowercase letters and variants of a/g and others).

True to their tiger mom nature, my sister and brother-in-law introduced us to LetterSchool, an iPad app that teaches kids to write in a unique and fun fashion.

My favorite children’s books

I am often asked what some of my favorite children’s books are.

At any one time, we can have up to 30 books from the children’s library.  Through the help of librarians, I was introduced to some incredibly writers.  The key to reading to your kids comes down to finding books that you also enjoy.  Just like the Sesame Street makes it worth watching as a parent by inviting celebrity guests, many authors sneak in humor or puns that give me the chuckles.

my favorite books

What Dads Can’t Do
Every time I read the book, I would tear up. It reminds me of my father’s selflessness and my husband’s dedication to our boys.

You Be You
It is about having the confidence to be different.  My 2yo toddler loves looking for the little fish named Adri swimming among other fish.

The Pout-Pout Fish
This is a cleverly written and vocally engaging story with a twist. Blub, Bluuub, Bluuuub!

I Love You Through And Through
One of the few books I could recite by heart. When my boys were babies, I would lay them on the bed and make them giggle by pointing to their heads and bottoms.

Kids love these books. I love them even more because these books bring back so many memories whenever we read them aloud together.