Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I want a "do-over"

A do-over is not as much fun as a make-over. Remember when you were little and you could claim a "do-over" for games where you wanted to wipe the slate clean and start again, like if you did a crappy serve in tennis, or something.

Well, I'd like a do-over for today please.

1) I woke up late, at 7:30 and I had to be at a marketing offsite by 8:45 (geography was on my side at least as the meeting was only in Emeryville)
2) Lucas is still sick. The antibiotics haven't kicked in as soon as I hoped.
3) My mom came out from Moraga to watch Lucas. She said Maggie was not in the yard when she went out to feed her this morning. Ten minutes after my mom arrived, we got a call that Maggie was out and about in Moraga. Evidently she was looking for scones at the local cafe. My mom went back to Moraga to fetch her. So now she's an indoor dog, who will need to be walked frequently. And for those of you who have been following this blog for a while, she didn't do so well containing her bodily fluids when we tried her as an indoor dog in the apartment.
4) With all the chaos this morning, I didn't have time to take a shower or stop off for my morning hot chocolate before my meeting.
5) Kevin's debit card has been missing after I borrowed it the other day. I was sure it was somewhere inside our messy house. But during the offiste, I was checking our online banking and saw a bunch of charges at places we don't shop (Food Maxx, Albertsons, etc.), almost $700. So I called to cancel the missing card.

I think all that, plus a sick kid at home, gives me license for a do-over.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Midnight run to ER

Lucas had been sick with the stomach flu since last week. But Saturday it started morphing into something else because he developed this horrible cough. And early this morning around 2, Lucas woke up and was having a difficult time breathing and was shaking all over. It was very scary so we called 9-1-1.

The ambulance ride over to Children's Hospital was definitely the highlight of the experience. Lucas perked up, stopped shaking, and started chatting up a storm with the EMT. There was a cranefly in there with us, which was a big topic of conversation for Lucas. We were seated backward, looking out the back of the ambulance and seeing the lights of the other cars behind us on the road was cause for lots of excitement.

During the 3-hour wait in the waiting room Lucas was pretty much back to his normal self, aside from the hacking cough and a 105 fever. In fact, he was really enjoying himself, most likely because:
1) It was in the middle of the night.
2) The TV was on (episode after episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
3) He got to eat junk food from the vending machine and mowed through a whole bag of chips.

The fun stopped suddenly around 5am when we were admitted to a room and they took blood and inserted an IV. He really worked himself up into a frenzy as the bloodwork was performed. It got worse when we went upstairs to have his chest x-rayed. They basically had to strap him down to this piece of plexiglass and I had to leave the room during the x-ray. They also put a catheter on him so they could take a urine sample. But I think he was so freaked out about the whole experience, he didn't pee the entire time we were there.

The doctors were checking for pneumonia or a blood infection. Not words you want to hear about your kid.

After the x-ray, Lucas napped off and on until about 9am. The emergency room is not the most restful place, even in your own room with the lights off. We could hear a lot of crying and screaming, and general banging around.

Fortunately, the tests came back negative, though they said he has mild pneumonia, which cannot be detected on an x-ray, and an ear infection. The ear infection sounded odd to me. He never once has complained about his ear hurting and I've never seen him even tug at his ear. Regardless, the antibiotics will hopefully kill both in one fell swoop.

This evening, Lucas definitely started getting his appetite back. For dinner he ate a small cheeseburger with lots of ketchup and then a small bowl of cereal and milk.

Hopefully we're on the road to recovery.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

How far away is my birthday?

With my recent birthday, Lucas has been talking a lot about his birthday. Sometimes he asks about who will be there, and we run down the list of usual suspects. Sometimes he asks about cupcakes and I assure him that we will have cupcakes.

Today we had a different discussion about birthdays. It gave me insight into how Lucas thinks about time - dates, months, etc. We were sitting in the living room looking out the window at the school across the street.

Lucas: Mommy, is my birthday coming soon?
Me: Yes, it's coming up in less than two months.
Lucas: It's July 16, right? Is it far away?
Me: Yes, it's July 16th. It's not far away at all.
Lucas: I see it over there.
Me: Where?
Lucas: Over there, at the big kid's school. That white thing.
Me: What white thing?
Lucas: See (pointing to something in the schoolyard)? That's my birthday over there.
Me: Oh, I see it now. See, it's not that far away.

Budding green thumb?

Today we planted Lucas' lobelia in a small pot. It was a very collaborative and successful effort.

Lately he has been somewhat reluctant to take my advice or guidance on how to do something new, but today was different. He was very attentive and agreeable while we worked together to plant his flowers.

Today's result, one happy kid and his first potted plant. Tomorrow we will plant the rest of the lobelia in another pot. The real question is whether or not Lucas has inherited my black thumb, or if he will be more successful than me at keeping plants alive.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Mommy

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After a packed day back at work for me and a full day for Kevin and Lucas of general lounging about, we decided it would be best to have a small birthday celebration at home, consisting of tiny little cupcakes and a good old fashioned round of "Happy Birthday".

Stomach flu and other bugs

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This has been a long week. Someone at work summed it up today. "Sunny, you look really tired."

Kevin returned from a 9-day business trip to Houston on Monday night. And Lucas came down with the stomach flu on Tuesday. We all took shifts to watch the little prince suffer through his illness, which the doctor confirmed is just the stomach flu. To make things more complicated, Kevin woke up today thinking he had vertigo, but surmised later that it's probably just the stomach flu.

Despite a lagging appetite, a slight fever, and restless nights for Lucas (and me), he was in pretty good spirits these past few days.

On Thursday when I was home with Lucas, he was super helpful, helping me unload the dishwasher and sort the laundry. We went on a trip to the local nursery. It was a relaxing place for me and him to have some quiet outdoor time. Although he was fascinated by the Venus flytraps, he ultimately chose an African violet for inside and some lobelia which we will plant this weekend.

We also got to enjoy our new deck, which is almost complete. Lucas also explains the rationale for "crane" in the word cranefly.

Luckily we have a long weekend to recuperate from the week.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

LeapFroggers...where are they now?

Well, last night, I went to Luna Park in SF. What was the occasion? Deb Kelson had a business trip out here with the Frog, so we all got together for a LeapFrog alumni marketing dinner (Although Whitney is still at the Frog and Deb works with the Frog.)

It was fun, a) to be out with friends, and b) to be out with friends without a child in tow.

Aside from Whitney, who now has a nice work arrangement at LeapFrog to spend more time with her son Julian, the rest of us have moved onto "greener" pastures.

In such a crazy work environment as LeapFrog, it's nice for us to see us all having a good time in new marketing roles, post-LeapFrog.

From left to right: Sunny is at Kodak Gallery, Deb is at Brandgeunity in New York, Whitney is still at the Frog working 3/4 time, Darci is consulting, Matt is at Symantec, Kimberley is with a PR agency, and Steve is at an investment banking firm, with an office on the bay in the Ferry Building.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Q&A on the McKays

Here are some FAQs on the McKay family. I'm sure there are many more, but here are just a few of the questions answered below.

For the other top FAQ about the McKays, see this earlier post.

If you have more questions, post them here, we'd love to hear them.

What do we do since we don't watch TV?

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We made the most of a rainy Sunday by doing some fun indoor activities at my mom's house.

Here is a game that I can get a little obsessed about. And as you'll see, Lucas has his own thoughts about how to play.

People wonder what we do since we don't let Lucas watch TV. Well, this is one of those things.

Why doesn't Lucas have a regular frame bed?

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I know this is a no-no at some of our friends' houses, but allowing Lucas to jump up and down on his bed provides lots of entertainment for participant and spectator alike. Plus, it's a good way to use up boundless amounts of energy.

On Sunday he jumped up and down just like this for a good 30 minutes straight. People wonder why he doesn't have a bed frame, well, this is good enough reason as any.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Role reversal

For some unknown reason, I was very tired this morning. With my mom at church and Kevin still in Houston, I was on my own with Mr. Energy-to-Spare.

At first Lucas was not okay with me laying in bed. I closed my eyes a couple of times, only to be startled awake by Lucas coming over, prodding at my eyes, and saying in a loud voice, "Mommy! Open your eyes!"

Soon, Lucas began to relish in the role of caretaker. Basically I was the baby, and he took care of me as he saw fit. He wore this blanket like this for much of the time that he was caring for me. Throughout our role-reversal, I heard bits of things I usually say to him, get repeated back to me.

Me: Can you read me a book?
Lucas: I can't read, but we can talk about the pictures.

Me: Lucas, can you grab my water for me? It's in the kitchen.
Lucas: Sure I can, but can you say 'please'?
Me: Lucas, can you please get me my water?
Lucas: Okay, thanks for saying 'please'. I like it when you ask like a big kid.

Me: Lucas, can you please put those books away in the bookcase?
Lucas: No, these are your books, you need to put them away yourself. If you don't take care of them, then we'll have to take some away.

I lounged around in bed for close to an hour, being cared for by Lucas. I guess this is what it might be like when I'm in the old folks home.

Me: Lucas, you take really good care of me.
Lucas: I sure do, mommy. I sure do.

Then he decided he wanted to go to the Lindsey Wildlife Museum, so we switched back to our normal roles.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pictures of the house...finally

With Kevin in Houston and Lucas at my mom's I was finally able to take some pictures of the house without toys or dirty socks getting in the way.

Here's the office upstairs. On a good day, and with a better camera, you could see the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm just starting to get used to having a desk, I still bring my laptop into the kitchen a lot so I can email and cook at the same time.

In the upstairs bathroom we did white tile with glass accents. My favorite feature is something you can't see, but you can feel...radiant heat in the floors. Ahhh!

The staircase has lots of windows, which brings in more light to the first floor too. It's a good landing place for Lucas and I to read books together or just hang out.

Here is Lucas' bedroom. Many people are surprised at how sparse his room is. He has a mattress on the floor and a small nightstand. We'll get him a real bed at some point, but jumping up and down on the bed provides lots of entertainment, especially on rainy days. He keeps his toys and train table in the playroom/guest room, which is the yellow room on the right.

At the last minute, we opted to redo the tile in the first floor bathroom. It was a very plain and creepy gray color before. Now, we have white tile with black accent tiles. Maybe we will also paint it a different color, not sure right now. The existing downstairs got a general make over. Paint on the walls and refinished hardwood floors. Here's the living room.

We got a new light in the dining room. The old one was pretty crappy. The walls were white before so we painted them. We didn't like this new color at first, it was a little acidic. But they toned the color down and we really love it now.

This is probably what I'm most excited about......the kitchen. If you remember our kitchen before, there were no cabinets or drawers along the wall where the fridge and stove were. Now, not only do we have lots of storage, we have a new farmhouse sink, a quiet dishwasher, concrete counters, and tile backsplash. And new linoleum floors.

Soon to come...our bedroom and the new deck, which is in progress.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pajama Day!

Today was Pajama Day at Lucas' school. In my opinion, PJ day should be once a week. It makes getting ready in the morning much easier, though Lucas wanted to wear different PJs than the ones he went to bed in. I guess he often wears his PJ tops to school, so it's really not so different for us.

Here is Lucas greeting one of his classmates, "Good morning Poopyhead!"
Actually, I think Pajama Day should be instituted at the adult level too. Imagine walking into a meeting to see the usually stern head of finance in Scooby-Doo PJs.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

This morning we went to the Kensington Bistro for a Mom's Day breakfast. Aside from a couple of time-outs, Lucas did quite well.

Here he is feeding Kevin. Note that when Kevin opens his mouth, Lucas, for some reason, opens his too.

We took Kevin to the BART station for his 9-day business trip to Houston, which today had 94% humidity (yikes!). It was plenty hot here for us. We spent the rest of the morning at the playground across the street.

Later in the afternoon we headed out for a Mother's Day dinner with my mom and my brother Rocky at Venus in Berkeley. Again, Lucas was exploring lots of new tastes. He really liked the shrimp salad with mango salsa and the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes. He got a little antsy after a while, but I applaud him for doing great at two restaurants in one day. Luckily I thought ahead and brought a coloring book and some markers.

After a wonderful dinner, we headed down Shattuck for some gelato. Lucas had a great time running down the streets to the sound of street musicians and panhandlers.

But Lucas' mood turned quickly at the gelato place. The rest of us got gelato too and when Lucas quickly sized up his "bambino" sized ice cream against the rest of ours, he got pretty upset. He was standing on his chair, screaming and crying, "NOOOO, I want a big one!" Although people probably see this all the time at ice cream places and the like, it's not very fun when it's your own kid crying for more ice cream.After some back and forth, he settled into his Nutella ice cream and made the most of it.

I heard Rocky tell Lucas a couple times when he was upset about something, "Every day is Lucas' day. But today, just this one day, is mom's day." All in all, it was a great Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I did it!

This morning, I woke up and told Kevin I wasn't going to do the Bolinas Ridge Wild Boar 10K that I had signed up for way back at the end of last year. I was supposed to run it with Kimberley, but she forgot it was the same day as her friend's wedding. I started going for a walk instead. I walked about a block then changed my mind.

Why did I decide to do it after all? Well, it was one of my New Year's resolutions, I already paid for it, and I figured, why not?

I'm glad I did it. It was a gorgeous course, overlooking Stinson Beach and through Mt. Tam. I walked most of it, but ran a little too. Had I been running, the terrain would have been pretty challenging in most parts. I guess I not only should have trained to run, but probably done some trail running since I realized it's a different beast altogether.

I saw one guy running pretty fast, trip, do a somersault, and then get back up and running, without even missing a beat. It was amazing.

Personally, I would have taken that opportunity to get the sympathy vote, have a support van/person come and rescue me, and drive me over the finish line like some kind of martyr. But I guess if you're really into trail running, it's part of the adventure.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Last night we went out for sushi. Usually to ensure that he will eat something, we would get him noodles. But last night, Lucas was up for anything. Aside from that, this older couple eating next to us commented on his excellent table manners. I thanked them and said that this was one of his better days, they laughed, probably remembering taking their own kids out to eat.

Lucas ate a smorgasboard of Japanese delicacies. We started off with edamame, which he always has loved. He also had the "gomae", which is blanched spinach in a sesame miso dressing. His main dish was the miso-glazed salmon with rice. He had some of my rock 'n roll (eel and avocado roll), salmon sashimi, amaebi, and the deep-fried shrimp heads that come with it.

The only thing he didn't like was the mackerel sashimi. I can't say I blame him on that one.

Who knows, the next time we go out, he may demand noodles or just rice. But last night it was fun to see him enjoy eating sushi as much as me and Kevin.

Monday, May 08, 2006

More on the bribery system

If you are wondering how are bribery system is coming along, Lucas earned his first surprise Sunday morning. I thought the anticipation of the surprise would outweigh the surprise itself. Kevin and I gathered around Lucas as he closed his eyes and pulled out...a toy lizard.

At first Lucas was just looking at it. I couldn't tell if he was disappointed or not. I think he just had no idea what to expect and was really very surprised. He spent the rest of the day carrying around "Lizard", as Lucas so aptly named it.

I was originally skeptical over this whole reward system. But, it has really helped us all focus on more of the positive things that Lucas does. I was concerned that Lucas wouldn't do anything unless he knew he would get a smiley face, but that hasn't been the case at all.

Tonight I was unloading the dishwasher and he asked if he could help. He handed me the clean bowls and dishes. Then when I went to tend to the laundry, again, he asked if he could help. After he helped, I told him he would get two stars, one for the dishes and one for laundry. He was quite pleased with himself.

A day at the park

Here are a couple pictures from our Sunday outing at Tilden Park - specifically Little Farm and Jewel Lake with Samuel, Sydney, Will and their moms. We had a great time, aside from Lucas' frustration that the animals did not seem the least bit interested in his celery. For some reason, they were really into lettuce that day.

But the walk to Jewel Lake and a picnic lunch with friends was just the thing to cheer him up.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

We're everywhere

Saturday night we went out for dinner at the Tofu House on Telegraph with another family. Lori is Japanese and Craig is caucasian, so Owen, their son, is a mix, like Lucas. After dinner we went to Sketch for ice cream. The proprietors who run the place, are also a mixed couple (Ruthie is Asian and Eric is caucasian). Then some friends of Craig and Lori's came down to hang out with us. Patty is Japanese, Brian is caucasian, and their 2-year old Aiko, another mix.

Those of you who know me know that I'm what some would call a banana - yellow on the outside, white on the inside. But it's comforting to know that in this area, Lucas will not have a hard time because of his mixed heritage.

We were there for almost two hours, just hanging out in front of Sketch. With four Asian/caucasian couples, passerbys must have thought we were having a meeting or something.

Friday, May 05, 2006

"Don't wait up for me"

I have these thoughts sometime about waiting up at night, for Lucas to come home, when he's a teenager. I'm sure he'll echo what I said to my parents, "Don't worry, you don't have to wait up for me."

Lucas turned the tables on me last night. Before he went to bed I left to do some grocery shopping. I came home close to 9pm and this is what I saw when I opened the door.
I went upstairs and Kevin told me that he tucked him in just fine. He must have ventured back out and settled on the couch.

I went back downstairs and carried him back to his room. He woke up a little bit and said, "I was waiting for you to come home." It was very very sweet.

Bribery at its best

Those of you close to me, and even not so close, have probably heard me go on about our struggles with a stubborn, independent little kid. Historically, transition times have been the most difficult.

Morning times are tough, especially getting out of the house in a timely fashion. Also picking him up from school in the afternoon is difficult, sometimes it's hard to pry him away, especially if his friends are still there or if he's engrossed in some fun activity. More times than not, I was wrestling him into the carseat and he would be flailing and curisng at me, "Poopy guy, caca head!"

My mom watches Lucas on Wednesdays. This past week, she came up with a solution. It's something that I've been meaning to try, but was not sure how to implement. She said she saw it on one of those nanny shows. So far, it's worked like a charm. And when Lucas fills up the side of the smiley faces (he draws in his own faces now), he will put his hand into the "surprise sack" and pull out a surprise. Surprises include a mini flashlight, keychains (which I found around the house), notepads, little chocolates, a mini kaleidoscope, plastic lizards and the like. According to my estimates, he will probably get a surprise about once a week.

Lucas has been supermotivated to put in the smiley faces. So getting him dressed in the morning, into his carseat, or curbing his whining, has been so much easier. An "X" in the "Bad" column is equivalent to a time-out, and even the mention of an upcoming X will usually make him come around.

Stay tuned to see if it continues to work.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A small, yet refreshing win

As a follow-up to my earlier posting "Chew on This", this news story posted yesterday:

"The beverage industry's agreement to remove sugary soft drinks from public and private U.S. schools over the next three years — a plan engineered with the help of former president Bill Clinton — is drawing mixed reactions from kids and critics."

Here's the full story:

To me, this is a step in the right direction. And this is coming from someone who lived on Diet Coke in high school. So I'm not a hypocrite, I guess I'll have to find a substitute for my occasional Jack & Coke.

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Chew on This"

Tonight I went to MLK Jr. High to hear Eric Schlosser talk about his new book, "Chew on This". Alice Waters introduced him. The book sounds like a "Fast Food Nation" for the tween set, to make them aware of the health, political, and environmental ramifications of processed food.

Alice, Eric, and Charles did a great job talking about the myriad of issues. The talk was geared to kids and it stirred up strong feelings for me and made me angry.

One thing that really hit home was the fact that fast food, packaged food, and soft drink companies are trying to go around parents to get to kids through their schools. I know how hard companies try to get into schools because, at some of the educational companies I worked at, we also thought the same thing. "Let's get the little people to do the marketing for us."

As a parent who tries, for the most part, to keep Lucas away from junk food, I find this particularly evil and reprehensible. You think you're sending your kid to school for good reasons, and they end up getting preached to by Ronald McDonald or some other "spokesperson".

During the Q&A someone brought up the fact that in some areas, mostly low-income, minority neighborhoods, people only have access to unhealthy food. If you live in West Oakland, there are so many fast food places, liquor cornerstones, but the only grocery store with a produce section is more than 2 miles away. And I can guarantee that they probably don't offer the organic variety, since the organic selection at my local Safeway is pretty pathetic.

I was already aware of this, since I heard a story about it on the radio a few months ago. West Oakland needs a grocery store, but no one really wanted to go into this neighborhood that's plagued with crime.

Although it was nice for Alice and Eric to talk with the folks at MLK Jr. High, home of the Edible Schoolyard and only blocks away from the Gourmet Ghetto, they were already preaching to the choir. I hope they also plan on going to West Oakland and other like neighborhoods to spread their message.