Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jingle bells, Batman smells!

I don't know how many times we sang this classic song this holiday season. Hopefully by next Christmas, he will be past this stage.

Lucas, as usual, raked in the presents this year. Yes, he got his new shoes (just like Owen's) and a myriad of other gifts.

But this was the gift that got the most play right off the bat. (Warning, this video is all about Lucas, so only watch it if you're a big fan of his.)

Lucas has dubbed himself Captain Superhero, but Kevin and I secretly call him Captain Sticky.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thanks Betty!

Today I've been running around since 6am. Around 10am, I drove by Bakesale Betty, my favorite out of the way bakery. I wanted to get something sweet, since I hadn't had anything to eat all morning.

I perused the baked goods, my eye specifically on the scrumptious banana bread. However, for a mere $1.50, you could get a huge hunk, equal to about 3 normal slices.

I asked for the smallest slice. It was still huge. So I asked if I could have 1/2 of that and I'd pay full price. She cut it in half and said, "I'm not going to charge you full price, just 75c." So I paid her the 75c and put $1.25 in the tip jar.

Crazy? Caught up in the holiday buzz? Or just thankful that someone will accommodate my request?

Happy holidays Betty!

Dear Santa

After reading in the past couple of weeks about people doing holiday video cards on DVD and video resumes, I thought we should get up to speed.

I asked Lucas to talk to the camera and tell Santa what he wants. (He can write his letters, but an entire letter to Santa detailing each thing he wants, would have taken a very, very, very long time.)

This year, Lucas wants to keep it simple. His wish list, albeit somewhat odd, covers the basics in every 3 year old boy’s life – food, clothing, shelter and trains.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On babies and lies

Sunday night we went to a Hannukah party. There were a bunch of other kids there, but they were between the newborn and 2-year old phase.

At one point, Lucas said, "Mommy come over here." I asked why. He pointed to a toddler and said, "He's stinky." His mom assured Lucas that she just checked and her son didn't have a poopy diaper. Lucas was skeptical.

On the ride home I asked Lucas if he had fun.

Lucas: I had fun. But those babies all smell alike. They all smell like pooh.
Me: Sometimes little kids smell like that if they have pooh in their diaper.
Me: When you were little sometimes you smelled like pooh so I would change your diaper.
Lucas: No that's not true.
Me: Yes, it is true.
Lucas: You're lying mommy. And you shouldn't lie like that.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Adventures in babysitting

Last night Lucas had his first "slumber party". Owen, Lucas' good friend, came over with sleeping gear, while his parents attended a Christmas party. He was just going to fall asleep here, not spend the entire night.

For the Cliffs Notes version, this is what it was like.

The evening started out innocently enough. The two were literally running around screaming from room to room like wild monkeys. Kevin was chasing/scaring them, which sometimes crossed the fine line to too scary.

Then we settled down for some dinner. Pasta with tomato sauce, meatballs and carrots. The boys tested their culinary talents by pouring water into their full pasta bowls. Owen seemed to approve as he kept eating his, but Lucas decided he didn't want watery pasta after all.

There was more general running around, then we thought it would be time to watch a movie, "A Charlie Brown Christmas", courtesy of YouTube. Since Lucas doesn't normally watch TV, he was mesmerized.

Owen was less so. After about 5 minutes they abandoned the movie in favor of...more running around.

I read the boys a couple books and tucked them in around 8:30. I fell asleep around 9, and could still hear them discussing which one was the bigger poopyhead and what-not as I drifted off to sleep.

Owen's parents came by around 10:30 and both boys were fast asleep.

The next morning Lucas woke up and the first thing he said was, "Where did you put Owen?" I'd say the slumber party was a success.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Attack of the alien potato people!!

The other day my friend Noel emailed that her daughter is drawing these "princesses", which really look like aliens. I was very curious to see what these drawings looked like.

Then Lucas surprised me last night. We had our own invasion of alien potato people!

This is his first recognizable attempt at drawing people. I think they're pretty cool looking actually.

Has anyone else had sightings of these alien potato people?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh Nurse Ratched...

I look into the room. I see people seated at small tables for two. At one table, two people are stringing beads onto pipe cleaners. Then there's the person who is using a very primitive looking utensil to cut apples, lots of them. He's not eating the apples, just cutting more and more. Seated at another table is someone who is methodically taking a sponge putting it into a cup of pink liquid, soaking up the water, then putting the sponge over another cup and squeezing the liquid out - basically transferring the pink liquid from one cup to another using a sponge. Oh and the two people who are meticulously placing beads on small different-shaped peg boards. And let's not forget the blindfolded guy, picking up and putting down different things in front of him.

These could easily be scenes from a mental hospital, but they're from Montessori preschools.

Lucas' school is a pretty regimented Montessori school - it's good for him, he likes the structure. For instance, when they walk in groups, they walk single-file with their hands behind their backs (I hear this may just be a school thing, to discourage pushing and shoving in line). My friend's daughter goes to a different Montessori school where they ride the tricycles only in pre-determined circles in the school yard. If they do their work on the floor, they roll out these little mats to do their work on. When they're done, they roll up their mats and put them away.

Here's Lucas picking up small objects with small tongs and putting them in one side of the container then taking them out and putting them back in the other side

Then there are the comments from the teachers to the parents. They're there for everyone to see on the sheet where you sign your child out when you pick him up. They could be from a daily report from an insane asylum, but I guess they could also be from any type of preschool.

- I saw Joey poke someone in the eye. When I went over to ask him to say sorry, he said he didn't do it, it was someone else.

- Amanda had a BM (bowel movement) in her pants during circle time. She didn't want to come out of the circle to get cleaned up. (I assume they cleaned her up anyway.)

- Sally was crying over a broken cracker. She calmed down after 5-10 minutes.

Just another day at school I guess.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Deck the halls...

Lucas is so excited about Christmas this year. His excitement was contagious - we decided to up our holiday decor from last year. It wasn't too tough to do since we only had this little tree that my mom brought home from a Christmas party and lights up in the apartment we were renting.

I've been cutting out snowflakes for the last week and a half. This has been a learning process in itself. At first I was folding paper 4x into rectangles and my snowflakes turned out boxy. See the snowflake on the upper right of the window? Then I turned to my favorite resource and typed in "snowflake patterns" and found out what I was missing: the third fold should make the paper into a triangle. See the other snowflakes on the bottom half of the window? Much more like snowflakes, don't you think?

I've been using some of Lucas' artwork, with his permission of course, as well as remnant wrapping paper and colorful Christmas catalogs, which we've been receiving daily. This makes for more colorful snowflakes, since it's so hard too actually color on them after they've been cut-out.
(See the detail on this LL Bean catalog snowflake?)

This past weekend we got a tree. Even Kevin got into the Christmas spirit a little and put the lights on it (go Kevin!).

Lucas and I went to Elephant Pharmacy and bought a bunch of artisan-crafted, beautiful little ornaments, which cost an arm and a leg. I supplemented with some cheap standard silver and white balls from our local big box store. We had a great time decorating.

And we topped off our weekend with a holiday party, complete with friends and everything!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lucas gets a job

Yesterday Lucas informed me of his new role in the family.

We were in his room and I thought I saw a spider. He started to look around for it. That's when he made his big announcement:

Lucas: Don't worry mommy, I will protect you. If there's a bug or something else in our house. I will whack him with my sweatshirt(demonstration followed of extreme sweatshirt thrashing).
Me: Oh, good. But who will protect you?
Lucas: I don't need anyone to protect me. See how fast I am (more and accelerated sweatshirt thrashing). If something happens to you. I will rescue you. Look how big I am (standing up tall and straight).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Canine couture

In the car this morning I covered Lucas with my warm coat. He started talking about how we should drive to school with blankets in the morning. Then he said even Maggie (our 7-year old pitt mix) should have a blanket in the back.

This started him down a whole new tangent for Maggie.

Lucas: When Maggie grows up, she should wear more clothes.
Me: What type of clothes should she wear? Does she have a favorite color?
Lucas: Her favorite color is yellow. Maggie should have a yellow shirt, then some pink pants.
Me: Should she have a picture on her shirt?
Lucas: Maybe a picture of Kona (my sister’s dog). And then she needs some shoes.
Me: What color?
Lucas: Yellow on one foot and pink on the other foot.
Me: What about her other two feet?
Lucas: Orange and brown.

I would pay good money to have a visual of this.

My dog ate my homework, the check is in the mail, my toilet exploded...

Okay, so our toilet didn't explode, but it was filled almost to the top with water after Lucas put some unknown thing (he explains it as "some toilet paper") down the toilet.

As I was in the bathroom yesterday morning telling Lucas not to put anything except small amounts of toilet paper in the toilet, he reaches over and flushes it.

Water, and yes, shit, comes overflowing out of the toilet.

I screamed for Kevin to come down and help. After we cleaned up as best we could, I shuttled Lucas off to school, came home, cleaned the shit (literally) out of the bathroom, changed clothes, and went to work.

I got into work just before 10am. My excuse? "My toilet exploded..."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lessons learned, revised

A month or so back, Lucas educated me on the Golden Rule, which he learned at school.

Well he has a new version now.

Last week I asked him what he did in school and he said they talked about the Golden Rule.

Lucas: You know, "Treat others as you want them to treat you."
Me: That's a nice thing to talk about.
Lucas: It means if somebody hits you, you hit them back.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"My Left Foot" - 2006

Anyone remember the movie "My Left Foot"? The true story of Christy Brown, played by Daniel Day Lewis, who had cerebal palsy, but could write and paint with his left foot? I loved that movie!

I'm not sure what sparked this in Lucas, but when we were coloring last night, he took off his sock and put the pen between his toes and started drawing with his left foot. Lucas was truly channelling Christy Brown, without the thick Irish accent.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Prolific artist

Lucas never really showed much interest in coloring/drawing. We would get art projects from school, whichI attributed it to peer pressure, it was probably what all the kids were doing at the time. But that all changed last week.

Lucas has been coloring, drawing, and making his art projects non-stop. Literally. He doesn't want to stop, not even for meals.

Lucas' art has gone beyond coloring and drawing into what I call multi-media art forms. The most popular form being stickers and tape - scotch and packing tapes specifically. I'm sure he would love masking tape and duct tape if we had some around. He's really into taping pieces of paper together, like this.

Then we were cutting things out of catalogs and magazines and Lucas taped them on a piece of paper, into what I thought would be a single-layer collage. But he just kept taping things on top of other things, adding stickers and more and more layers. (You can't even really see all the layers in this picture.)He took his paper to my mom's house for Thanksgiving to show her. I thought it would end there and we could start on a new piece of paper, but I was wrong.

I spent probably a good hour cutting out paper letters and shapes and he would just tape them over the other ones. I would ask if he wanted a new piece of paper, but he politely declined and said he already had a piece of paper.
This paper currently weighs probably half a pound. There's so much paper and tape on this thing.

In a creative writing class at USC, my professor said that real artists have a difficult time calling something final. He said that once he edited one of his short stories more than 300 times!

I'm eager to see what this paper looks like when Lucas finally calls it final. But at this rate, I'm not sure when that will happen.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Positive reinforcement

Yesterday I went to exchange some towel bars at Restoration Hardware. I told Kevin and Lucas I would be home soon.

I was back sooner than I thought I would be, considering 4th Street was teeming with people on Saturday. When I walked in the door, I got the usual groupie welcome from Lucas, "Ahhhhhh, mommy!" Then he said, "Come with me."

I followed him into his playroom. He started rummaging through his doo-dads. He said, "Mommy, since you came home early I'll give you a penny!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Design ideas

Once again, Lucas is dabbling in design. He has lots of ideas on how to design for the holidays, and general ideas for incorporating more design elements into our home.

- We were eating at the counter at TootSweets, Lucas' favorite local cafe, when we saw one of those pimped out trucks drive by. It was white red flames painted on the side. Lucas said, "Mommy, we should paint our Volvo like that car. Wouldn't that be cool?" I replied, "Yes, that would be exciting for our Volvo."

- Lucas was looking at his Bones of Fred McFee Halloween costume. Lucas said, "Next time it's Halloween, we should hang it on the door so everyone knows it's Halloween."

- While driving in the car, "We should hang cameras from the inside of our car. Then people will know that we have cameras." Yes, just the thing to get our car broken into.

- When I showed Lucas some of the holiday decorations I bought he said, "Mommy, let's put them all on our window so people will know Christmas is coming."

Decorating for the holidays will definitely be fun this year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lucas goes off-road

My mom was very eager to see Lucas ride his bike. He rode really fast around the church parking lot by her house. Not being a bike-rider herself, she was so proud watching him ride so easily and confidently. He assumed his relatively new "speed demon" position, where he kind of crouches down and pedals as fast as he can.

Then we hit the bike trail. Aside from the short sidewalk ride from our house to the Marin school, this was the first time Lucas rode somewhere other than the playground. Rocky got a good workout as he ran alongside Lucas as he zipped expertly on the flat parts of the trail. Kevin, my mom and I were content to keep a more leisurely pace.

I had been talking up the bike trail to Lucas, letting him know that it takes more than sheer speed to ride on the bike trail - he needed to apply fine-tune steering and braking. Though Lucas is quite the speed demon he is also pretty cautious. He did a great job with the steering, but still needs some work using the brakes. There are some pretty steep hills on the trail, which Lucas chose to walk up and down.

Part of the bike trail has a little off-roading path. Kevin and Rocky took Lucas on this section. He was a natural!

Weekend at grammy's

This weekend we went to grammy's house. My mom was in Korea for two months, which seemed like a long time.

After the initial welcome, everyone settled into their regular patterns at my mom's. My mom cooked a much-awaited Korean meal and played with Lucas and Milan, Wonny and Joe watched the USC-Cal football game, Lucas played with his toys and his baby cousin, Milan sat in her little Bumbo seat and enjoyed looking at everyone, Kevin went off "the program" and ate a ton of yummy Korean food (and brie and ice cream) and I just kind of puttered around the house. And Rocky came late, as he usually does.

Lucas was very sweet and gentle with Milan. I was reading books to her and if the book fell down (which frequently happens when trying to read to a 6-month-old) Lucas would pick it up and give it back to me. Lucas cleaned out his big wagon so he and Milan could ride around in it. And even though she was about to go to sleep, Milan got to enjoy the wagon as I pulled them around the house a little. Both kids had a great time! See Milan's smile?

Is there a doctor in the house?

Yesterday, Lucas said, "Let's play doctor. I'm the doctor and you're the patient."

First he put on his dentist mask and told me exactly where to sit.

Lucas: Do you have any bad feelings?
Me: What do you mean "bad feelings"?
Lucas: Where does it hurt?
Me: Oh. On my knee.
Lucas: First, let me wipe off the blood on your elbow.
Me: Okay doctor, but my knee is what really hurts.
Me: Okay. Thanks for wiping the blood off my elbow.
Lucas: Now, here's a bandaid. It's all better now, isn't it?
Me: Yes, my elbow is all better. Thanks. But what about my knee?
Lucas: Let's play tennis now.

I guess I didn't have the right health plan.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mystery of Happy Yoyo

A couple months back Lucas began asking me to tell him stories about Happy Yoyo. The only thing I knew was that he was a giant.

I scoured the Internet to find out more about Happy Yoyo. I found some board books on about a dog named Yoyo. I thought this was it for sure. But when I asked Lucas about this, he was very adamant that Happy Yoyo was a giant, not a dog. And that sometimes Happy Yoyo was a little scary. So I was pretty sure that I could eliminate this Yoyo.

On one of my mom's group dinners, I talked about my search for Happy Yoyo and Eowyn said, "Oh, he means Abiyoyo! I love that book. It's based on a South African folk story."

So this weekend we went to the bookstore and we bought Abiyoyo. It came with an audio CD which I played on the way home. Lucas was entranced and laughed out loud listening to the CD. When the giant, Abiyoyo, is introduced as having smelly feet, Lucas says, "Mommy I can smell his feet from here." When I ask what they smell like, he says "Rotten bananas".

So since we got the book he wants to hear it in the car, he wants to read it at night before bed, and he wants me to sing the Abiyoyo lullaby while he goes to sleep. At first he told me that I wasn't singing it right, but I think he's figured out that I'm just not a good singer and hasn't corrected me much since then.

But I'm still searching for Cuddle Mavel, one of the train friends of Thomas. If anyone has a clue, let me know.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Little white lies

The other day Lucas and I were in his playroom. I made a funny little clicking noise with my tongue.

Lucas: What was that noise?
Me: I don’t know. [I continued to click away]
Lucas: Mommy are you making that noise?
Me: No, it’s not me. [Continuing to click]
Lucas: Mommy, you’re lying to me. You shouldn’t lie, that’s terrible.
Me: I was just playing a joke.
Lucas: You didn’t tell me the truth, so that’s a lie and that’s bad.

He was very serious and although I was just joking I felt like I was sending him mixed messages. I need to watch myself. Then I thought of other little white lies I tell him on a somewhat regular basis.

When we’re out running errands and Lucas asks me to buy him a cookie.
The lie: Lucas, I don’t have money for a cookie.
The truths: Lucas, You’re being a butt-head and I’m not in the mood to do something nice for you right now; You’ve already had a [fill-in the sugary food] today; I don’t want to take you in and out of the car because that will take a lot of time.

When we’re in the car and Lucas asks for a bar (I keep a stash of Z bars in the car for emergencies)
The lie: I can’t open it, see it’s locked. (If we’re parked, I take my key and lock it in case he wants to try it for himself.) See, I can’t even open it with my key.
The truth: You can’t eat a bar every time you’re in the car, these are for emergencies only. (When I’ve used this excuse, his usual reply is “This is an emergency, I’m hungry.”)

When I catch Lucas picking his nose.
The lie: Lucas, don’t pick your nose. Remember the sharp-toothed snail. [Referencing a poem in “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, warning kids not to pick their nose or else the sharp-toothed snail will eat their finger.] Sometimes I may even recount an episode when the snail bit my nail off, for added effect.
The truth: It’s gross. (When I tell him this, he just continues to do it. He thinks gross things are funny.)

When Lucas asks to watch the Incredible Machine video on YouTube.
The lie: The computer is closed for the night; The computer battery is charging.
The truth: I don’t want to sit there for the full 9 minutes to watch the darn video.

When Lucas asks for the nth story of the day about the Island of Sodor.
The lie: The Island is closed for the day. How about a different story?
The truth: If I have to make up one more story about Sir Topham Hatt and the enigmatic Cuddle Mavel, I may throw up.

And the list goes on...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A good joke

Like all good Korean households, we try to go shoeless inside. We make it a habit of stashing our shoes under the sideboard that’s just inside the front door.

The other day, Lucas found these shoes for the Mr. Potato Head pumpkin decorating kit. We didn’t use them because they were too hard to get on.

Lucas said, “Mommy, I know a good joke. I’ll put these shoes by the other shoes. Then someone will try to put them on.”
So Lucas set up the shoes with the other shoes. He might have forgotten about them by now. But if you come over, pretend to put on the Mr. Potato Head shoes. You may get a big laugh out of him.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sleep on an empty stomach

Last week, Heather told me how guilty she felt because one night her son fell asleep without eating dinner. I told her not to feel bad, especially since he survived till the next morning.

Last night, the same thing happened. I felt a little more guilty than Heather probably did, given the following circumstances.

We were out at the playground and Lucas was running and slipped in some dirt. He cried and cried about his boo-boo. It was a mild scrape, there wasn’t any blood oozing out of his knee. I held him in my lap for a little bit and tried to comfort him, then we headed home anyway, him crying the whole way.

I cleaned his wound and put some Neosporin on it. He cried and whimpered throughout the treatment. He kept crying, “I don’t want to take a bath tonight, I don’t want to get my knee wet.” I told him to sit in his room until he stopped crying. He cried for about 10 minutes, then silence. It was only a little after 5pm. The last thing Lucas ate was a big bowl of oatmeal around 3:30 in the afternoon.

I asked Kevin to go into his room. Lucas was asleep so Kevin deftly slipped a diaper on him and covered him up.

Kevin and I ate our dinner, just the two of us. We watched a full episode of “Lost”. Then halfway through the subsequent episode, around 8pm, Lucas woke up. He wasn’t upset at all, he was just awake. He had soaked through his diaper and there was a big wet spot on the bed. The first thing he said was, “I don’t want to take a bath.” I assured him he would not get a bath tonight. Then he asked for a band-aid. I gave it to him and he put it on by himself while I changed his sheets and got some clean pajamas for him.

Lucas didn't ask for dinner and I didn't offer it tohim. I read him some books and told him a couple stories, and after a while he fell asleep again.

Lucas woke up this morning around 7:30am. He, like Heather’s son, survived just fine on an empty stomach.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Coincidence or karma?

Maggie and I went for a walk this morning. As we were walking under a huge tree something fell from the tree and hit Maggie on the head. She let out a little scream. Believe it or not, she has kind of a high-pitched scream, like a little girl. (I would have paid good money to have captured this moment on video).

It was an apple. I looked up to see if we were walking under an apple tree, but no. What I saw was a squirrel looking down at us. Maggie didn’t see the squirrel, or she would have freaked, she loves to chase squirrels.

Was it just a coincidence that this squirrel happened to drop an apple on Maggie’s head, or was it karma? Payback for all the squirrels Maggie has chased in her life, and the time when Kevin caught her gnawing on a squirrel.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Geography lesson

The other day I thought I picked up Lucas from school. But after he got into the car, I realized I picked up the geography teacher instead.

Teacher: What country do you live in?
Me: The United States. What country do you live in?
Teacher: California.
Me: Actually, that's a state! It's inside the United States.
Teacher: Oh. Let's play a game. Clap if you've been to this place. Japan!
[I clapped]
Teacher: California!
[I clapped]
He continued to list other places. Then he tried to trick me.
Teacher: August! September!
Me: Wait, those are months, not places.
Teacher: I'm just pretending! Okay, October, November...

Trick or treat!

Our Halloween festivities began on Sunday night when Kevin and Lucas carved pumpkins. Lucas didn't actually carve, but he directed and approved the designs. His main job was to get the pumpkin seeds and stuff out of the pumpkins.

To get a photo where they're both looking at the camera, I quickly said, "Look at that ghost behind me!" Lucas looked, as did Kevin, and I got the same look from both of them.

Kevin caught onto my trick, but Lucas was still looking for the ghost.

Here we are, a couple of trick or treaters, ready to take to the streets in hopes of hitting it big! Lucas was so excited at the prospect of the candy he would collect, he didn't even protest when I put on his hat. Of course, it helped that I positioned it as a "skull cap", which of course, all scary skeletons wear.

We met up with the Hendricksons. Lucas and Owen had a great time running from house to house and checking out their goods.

We saw lots of kids (and adults) in some pretty cool costumes. But this kid was my favorite, you can see him on the left, Captain Underpants!! And check out that big eye in the window, that was one of my favorite Halloween decorations.

After more than an hour and circling the block we were done. He must have been pretty exhausted because he readily agreed to go home. Lucas had a good time handing out candy to the kids who came by. When there were lulls in the trick or treaters, he would stand at the window and look for them.

Lucas woke up the next morning and asked if we could go trick or treating again.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Small suggestion

I have a suggestion for folks who own or operate restaurants. First of all, when a customer asks for something, especially if it's something that will save money for the restuarant, do it.

Lucas and I went for Thai food the other night. He wanted pad thai and chicken satay. The regular portion of the pad thai is too large for one kid to finish, and I didn't want to eat it while it was sitting there, like I usually do. So I asked the waitress to just bring me a 1/2 portion. Anticipating her next question I told her she could charge me the full price for the 1/2 portion.

Waitress: I can't do a 1/2 portion.
Me: Please it's just for him (pointing to Lucas). He's not going to eat the whole thing.
Waitress: Then just take it home.
Me: I don't want to take it home. Please, just a small portion for him. Like I said, you can charge me the full amount.
Waitress: I'll bring you the full portion. With a box.
Me: This is very wasteful. I'm asking you to bring me less food. Can you do that, please?

Evidently not. I was presented with what was probably an extra-large portion, with a to-go box. I tried to imagine what went through her mind, "Poor little boy, his mother is crazy. I'll give him the extra food. Maybe she doesn't feed him at home." I figured she must be an extremely stubborn person who was not going to give in to the customer even if it was in her best interest.

At work, the cafeteria style lunch business out in the lobby are the same way. When I get the tofu teriyaki, I always say, "Only a 1/2 scoop of rice." And then I still have to say, "That's too much."

It can be infuriating, but mostly it's just sad. People are accustomed to customers asking for "extra" or "more" that they dont' quite know what to make of someone like me. Not that I always do it, just ask the folks at Semifreddis who know just how much "extra" chocolate I take in my hot chocolate.

It's just a small request, for small, non-supersized food.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Two-wheeling weekend

I thought that Lucas riding a two-wheel bike was attributed mostly to the special bike they have at school: ultra low to the ground and pedals attached to the front wheel. I scoured the Internet trying to find this bike, then I went over to the school and looked at the name of the bike manufacturer: Winther Viking bikes from Denmark.

I told Kevin we should get him one of these so he could practice more on a bike he felt comfortable riding. But I was wrong.

We went out yesterday to this great bike store, Wheels of Justice*, in Montclair (more on them later). Lucas picked out a cool-looking green Specialized bike.

He tried it out in the store and kept saying, "Take off these little wheels." The salesman chuckled a little, thinking here's this little tiny kid being really cocky about not wanting training wheels. Kevin deliberated too, thinking that maybe he should get used to the new bike first. He was wrong, we all were wrong.

We took the bike home, Kevin took off the training wheels, and we went over to the playground. Lucas got used to the bike in a minute and he never slowed down.

* Word to all parents: Buy your kid's first bike from Wheels of Justice. When you buy a beginning bike with training wheels, you can return in when your kid is ready to upgrade. They'll give you full-price credit toward your kid's next bike! Plus, they donate these used bikes to local charities. Pretty awesome!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"It's not a bead"

Last Friday I took the day off to chaperone Lucas' school field trip to a pumpkin patch (yes, another day at the pumpkin patch).
The field trip itself was fun, but the main story is not so cute.

We drove to my work because I needed to wrap up a couple of things before the weekend. As we were approaching the office, the following conversation ensued:

Lucas: Mommy, I have something in my nose and I can't get it out.
Me: Is it a dried-up booger?
Lucas: I don't know.
Me: Does it hurt.
Lucas: No.
Me: Okay, after I find a parking spot I'll take a look.

We got out of the car and stood right in front of my office building. I took a peek up his nose.

Me: I can't see anything. Did you put something in there?
Lucas: No.
Me: I wonder what it is.
Lucas: Well, it's not a bead.
Me: Lucas, did you put a bead in your nose?
Lucas: Yeah.

We rushed into the office and I called the pediatrician. As these words came out of my mouth, "We need to come in, Lucas stuck a bead up his nose," I heard giggling and laughing coming from my co-workers.

Luckily, someone came over and asked if I tried to get him to blow it out. I felt pretty dumb at that point, since the thought never even crossed my mind. So I got a tissue and had him blow his nose. After the third time, I felt something, like a little bullet rush into my hand.

I looked and there it was, a black bead, from his treasure chest.

I told him how dangerous it is to put something up your nose. I told him he was lucky this time, most times, you would have to go to the hospital and it would really hurt. I told him that if he ever put something in his nose again, I would have to put away the beads and other small things that he likes to play with. I told him I was going to throw it away.

Lucas said, "Wait mommy. Can I see it again?" So I showed it to him. He said, "You mean I can't keep it?"

Later that day, I recounted the story to Kevin and he talked to Lucas about it. He started out by saying, "You know, when I was little, I put a Battleship up my nose..." His story ended with a trip to the hospital and "lots of shots". I think it made an impression.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Guess what I can do!!

I picked up Lucas from school on Wednesday and his teacher said, "Have you seen Lucas' new trick?" She encouraged me to take him to the playground and watch. This is what I saw.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Trust me

The other day Lucas was being very goofy. He opened his mouth wide and went in straight for my nose. I pulled back just in time.

Lucas: Mommy, I want to put my mouth on your nose.
Me: No Lucas, you have those sharp little pirahna teeth! I don't want to get hurt.
Lucas: I'm not going to bite you.
Me: Ummm, no thanks Lucas, why don't we play trains instead?
Lucas: Don't worry. I'm not going to break your nose off or anything.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I gave myself a time-out. No, I didn't throw a tantrum or dump my egg strips on the table. I decided to go to Chicago for a 2-day buisness trip, to learn but also to give myself a time-out from the rush-rush-rush of my daily duties.

I had a lot of time to think and do things for myself. Things that I wouldn't be able to do, say, if I had a 3-year-old in tow.

1. Food - At SFO, I went straight for the sushi bar. I picked up a pack of Raisinets before I boarded and ate the whole pack myself.

2. Literature - Instead of being immersed in stories about the Island of Sodor, I bought several trashy magazines (People, InStyle, etc.) to catch up on the latest gossip and celebrity fads.

3. Entertainment - I watched Devil Wears Prada on the plane. And in the hotel room, I watched a horrible Sunday night movie, "Murder in a College Town". Now I know what ex-Charlie's Angel, Kate Jackson, is up to - not much. Unfortunately, once I started watching I couldn't turn it off until I found out what happened at the end.

The business trip was for a Marketing to Moms conference. One of the presentations talked about how a lot of moms know what they do, but don't know who they are. I discussed this over lunch with a few other marketers, who also happened to be moms. We surmised that this maybe was a segment of moms of a different age and lifestlye, those who got married right out of school and had kids right away, never having a chance to do things just for themselves.

It's not that I love being a working mom all the time. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. For me, I need to work to be happy and feel well-rounded, but maybe not full-time. Most of the other working moms I know feel the same way.

I met all sorts of amazing people, mostly women, at the conference.
- Head of the "Mom Squad" at a large global ad agency. Basically, she managed a team of talented copywriters and ad directors who were moms, but wanted to work part-time. She was the face to the client that represented all these women and the work they did.
- Ellen Diamant, founder and designer for Skip Hop diaper bags. She quit her high-powered design career to design and sell these cool new diaper bags.
- Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of "Mommy Wars: Stay at Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families". She's a Harvard grad and Wharton MBA, writer for the Washington Post, touring author, and mother of three. She said that though there is tension between the working moms and full-time moms, she said that the inner-war and need for balance, the guilt of whether you're doing the right thing, is more pervasive. I would agree.

All of these women I met seemed to know exactly who they are and where they're headed. I know there are moms out there, who don't know who they are, but I guess I don't know any of them.

The women I met and talked with over lunch and dinner were all working moms. We all enjoyed the time-out we gave ourselves by coming to this conference, meeting new people, eating, talking, etc. But we also missed our families and looked forward to going home.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lost in translation

Lucas has been taking Spanish at school. And somewhere along the line he has picked up some French too. His class has several kids who speak another language at home: Russian, French, and I believe Vietnamese. So between Spanish class and maybe the other languages he hears between some of the kids and the parents, Lucas is very interested in languages.

hutch hutch scrutch - This is what Lucas will say before he throws himself onto the bed. I asked him what it means, but he says it in a way that's like, "ready, set, go!". The other day, he said, "I'm speaking French when I say that." I said, "Nice, I like that you're learning other languages."
Toyota - According to Lucas, this is Spanish for the word car. Yesterday, he asked how you say Toyota in French. I said, "Toyota". He said, "NOOO, in French!" So I said "la voiture".

Friday, October 20, 2006

Treasure chest - the expansion set

A few weeks ago, I introduced Lucas' treasure chest. Well, the number of treasures has increased dramatically and the treasure chest has really taken on a life of its own.

The treasure chest used to be just a metal watch case and all the treasures fit neatly inside.

The metal case has transformed from a place to keep the treasures into just another of the many treasures. The treasure chest is now actually our coffee table which has a lid that lifts up, in fact it is an actual chest. And the treasures sit on top of it.

And there are now lots of expanded activities we do with the treasure chest and the treasures. Though some of these activities I find a little on the odd side, I recognize that they all have some real-world benefit.

- Get more treasures - Lucas finds little things all over that for some reason make it a treasure. I can understand some of the things, like coins and beads. But when the receipt from 5 Star Video makes the cut, or the random piece of thread on the ground, one really has to wonder. And of course, the coins, which are his favorites, probably because he knows they are of some value outside of his treasure chest world. (I let him insert coins when we're at parking meters and stuff like that.)
Benefit: Lucas knows the value of a buck, or a bean, or a dried-up flower.

- Pirate's Booty Game - This was a game Kevin invented. Basically, you take all the treasures and put them in the middle of the two "pirates". Before each player takes a turn rolling the dice, he has to say a pirate phrase, like "Ahoy Matey!" or "Yo ho ho and a bucket of prawns!". Then whatever number you roll, you are allowed to choose that many treasures to add to your own pirate's booty. And at the end, the pirate with the most treasures wins.
Benefit: Counting and number-object relationships. Plus he'll learn (sadly) a true fact of life in today's world, "Those with the most toys wins."

- Quid Pro Quo (aka Trading Treasures) - Basically we put the treasures in the middle, then we each take turns choosing something. At some points in the game, Lucas will whisper, "Mommy, say 'But I want that button.'" So I'll say it and then he'll say "Okay, I'll trade it for the chicken plate." Sometimes if I pick something, he'll say, "But I never get the eraser," which is a cue for me to say "Okay I'll trade it for the...". The goal is sometimes to see who has the most treasures, but mostly there is no goal since this game could go on forever (and sometimes does).
Benefit: Debate, compromise, barter

In the photo below, Lucas deliberated for about 30 seconds about what he would give me for the coveted plastic coffee cup lid. Turned out the fair trade was the somewhat coveted, but not quite as valuable, plastic coffee cup lid insert.- Organize the treasures - After breakfast every morning, he goes and organizes his treasures in some special way, only known to him. I know this because sometimes he'll ask me to help him organize. I'll try and stack up coins together, or group things by color or type. He'll always tell me that I'm not organizing them right and will show me his random organized pile of treasures and say, "See, do it like this mommy."

Lucas has already said that the coffee table is too small for all his treasures. I need to think of a good way to reduce the number of treasures so they don't completely take over.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The same, but different

When I went to pick up Lucas the other day, one of the kindergarten boys, who is caucasian, came up to me and started this conversation

Kinder Kid: I have a girlfriend. Her name is Sumi.
Me: That's nice, does she go to this school?
Kinder Kid: No, she goes to a different school. But she's my girlfriend.
Me: That's great that you have a girlfriend.
Kinder Kid: She's the same as you and Lucas, but she's Japanese.

Me: Some people think that Korean and Japanese people look alike.
Kinder Kid: Yeah, she looks the same as you, but different.

As I was talking with this kid, Lucas was looking at me like, "What the heck are you two talking about?" (I decided not to tell this kid that when my mom first came to the States, she thought all white people looked alike.)

How well can you differentiate between us Asians? Go to to the Exam Room and click on Faces. It's a multiple choice test where you just see random people's faces and you choose between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. (Out of 18, I got 6 right. The average is 7. Pathetic!)

BTW, the above collage, from top left going clockwise: The chick from Lost is Korean, Devon Aoki model-turned-actress is Japanese, The Karate Kid's yoda Pat Morita is Japanese and Lucy Liu is Chinese.