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 www.alllooksame.com 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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pumpkins galore!!

Lucas and I went to the Adobe Pumpkin Farm on Sunday with my mom's group. It was a great outing for the kids ... jumper houses, kettle corn, mega slides, hay rides, animals, and yes, there were plenty of pumpkins.

The big topics of conversation among the 3-year-old set: school and Halloween!

3 going on 7

I bought a pair of Curious George rainboots last week for Lucas. After I purchased them, I had second thoughts. I was a little hesitant to give them to him. I couldn't believe it, but I was actually nervous that he would think Curious George was too babyish.

So I decided to broach the subject with him, instead of showing him the boots and getting laughed at to my face.

Me: It's going to start raining soon.
Lucas: I know, look at those clouds mommy.
Me: You'll need rainboots soon. Would you like Curious George rainboots?

Lucas: Mommy, did you see the boots that Gianluca has, in my class? They have fire on them.
Me: Yes, I've seen those. They're pretty neat.
Lucas: Yeah, they're red with fire on them. Me: So, you want those?
Lucas: Yeah, those are the ones I want.

I didn't even bring up umbrellas, since I also got him the matching CG one too. I guess I'm making a return soon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The t-shirt says it all

"Mommy drinks because I cry"

Those of you who know me know that I don't drink alcohol much. Maybe a mixed drink once every three months. I may need to step it up a little.

Lucas is losing his naps altogether now, even at school. He's never really been a morning person like me. More like a surly teenager: "Mom, let me sleep. Leave me alone. Don't wake me up!" Now it's 10x worse. On the weekends, we let him sleep as long as he likes, which is between 9-10:30!! So waking him up at 7 on school days is like trying to pry a tick off.

I think I could take the yelling that will come when he's a teenager. Now, as a 3-year-old, it comes out in a whimpering and whiny voice, that gives me the same feeling like nails down a chalkboard.

I wish morning cocktails were okay. I think I would need a pretty stiff drink to take the edge off. The best case situation for weekdays is when I go for workout in the morning and come home and Kevin already has him up, dressed and eating breakfast.

Since drinking while taking care of your child REALLY isn't a good idea, I guess I'll go workout now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Misadventures in laundry

I was inspired to write this after I read my friend Lindsey's post about her family's dilemma with completing the laundry cycle. I posted a comment that basically said, "YOU ARE NOT ALONE!"

We have the same problem: we can collect the dirty laundry, put it in the washing machine, heck, we can even get it into the dryer. The problem is getting the clean laundry into the right places (drawers, closets and what-not).

This morning, I surveyed the laundry situation. It was pretty bleak. We have clean clothes all over the place: two laundry baskets, one chair, and a load ready to be removed from the dryer.
There are several pathetic excuses for this:
1. Even though we spent all this money on a bigger house, we still don't have lots of places to put our clothes. Our closets are still small and drawer space is limited.
2. Let's face it, fitted sheets are hard to fold.
3. Kevin and I are lazy. This probably being the biggest culprit.

I have a couple of solutions, that still don't totally help, but at least makethe thought of putting the laundry away not quite so overwhelming.
1. Don't fold the clothes. I fold Lucas' stuff because I don't want him to grow up being slobs like his parents.
2. Don't buy things that require ironing. This has saved me lots of headaches. I don't have anything that requires ironing. When Kevin's seldom-worn dress clothes need ironing, we just take them to the dry cleaners.

Stay tuned for my attempt to bleach Lucas' socks.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lucas' first wedding and his just desserts

This is a long posting, so if you don't have time, suffice it to say that we all had a good time at the wedding of Kimberley and Dan. And we stayed late enough to enjoy cupcakes and watch the first dance. Yes, even Lucas.

Our good friends Dan and Kimberley got married on Sunday. I felt like I needed a good personal challenge, so with Kevin gimping around from his recent hip surgery and an active 3-year old, we all piled into the car and headed off to participate in our friends' nuptials. As an added incentive I told Lucas there would be cupcakes at the wedding.

We settled in among the redwoods in the back of the seating area. Kevin could stand throughout the ceremony, unnoticed, and there were ample exploring opportunities for Lucas among the trees. Lucas immediately started asking about the cupcakes. I told him, "After they're done talking, we'll have snacks, dinner, and then cupcakes."

Snack time was a "new food" food fest for Lucas. He gobbled down the "pizza", which was bruschetta with shiitake mushroom sun-dried tomato tapenade, endives with sweet pea mousse, and the shrimp cocktail. He got the hang of it so that when he was done, he tracked down one of the servers to put the shrimp tail in their empty cup. If he couldn't find the server, he just tugged on someone's coat and to give away his uneaten shrimp tail.
After filling up on the snacks, Lucas didn't touch the main course that was specially prepared for him and the other guests under age 5: mac 'n cheese and veggies with ranch dressing to dip them in. So Lucas cajoled the under 5 club to join him outside to play soccer: the flowergirl, Lindsey (Kimberley's niece), the ringbearer, Ben (Kimberley's nephew), and Anna.Whenever a ball went under the bushes, Lucas was the first to scramble under the bushes and retrieve the ball. Here are Lindsey and Anna looking to make sure Lucas didn't fall into the 4th dimension. Except one time when Lindsey got there first. Lucas first tried to helpfully pull her out by her feet. But then he gave up trying to get her out as she was determined to get the ball, flowergirl dress and all. I guess he figured the best he could do was hold up her dress for her as she wiggled under the bushes to get the ball.

After about 1/2 hour of running around, a couple of nasty spills (Lucas) and torn tights (Lindsey), we were all hauled back in to hear the family speeches.

Throughout the entire night, Lucas had been stalking the beautiful cupcake tower. He took the disposable camera I gave him and was even taking pictures of the cupcakes. So, finally, after the speeches were finished, Lucas finally got his cupcake.

We left shortly after the first couple dances. With a gimpy husband and a tired 3-year-old in tow, we headed home before 9 and Lucas fell asleep right away.

The next morning, I asked Lucas if he had fun at the wedding. His response, "Yea, it was fun, I liked eating those little shrimpies."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Better than TV

Inspired by several YouTube videos of very cool Rube Goldberg type productions, Kevin purchased a new toy "for Lucas".

Unlike other toys that Kevin has purchased for Lucas (the large metal dumptruck that we ended up giving away because we always feared he would run into us and damage our achilles tendons when we weren't looking, or the praying mantis eggs that after 4 weeks, have yet to hatch) this marble tracking set is very cool.

We are in the small minority of American families who don't watch TV. In fact, we don't even own a TV anymore. This toy gives us all a new fun family activity to participate in. We all take part in setting up the darn thing, setting it in motion, watching, and modifying different parts. Lucas is the self-proclaimed demolition crew, knocking it down, so we can start all over again.

This is our first real production that involved more than just the marble moving along.
Enjoy...more to come. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cost of living in the Bay Area

Kevin and I were having a chat about moving to a more affordable area. We have this discussion every time we talk to someone who lives somewhere outside of the Bay Area, or we see something in the news about the new "best city to live in". A couple years ago, it was Cary, North Carolina. Yesterday, we were talking about moving after meeting Kimberley's brother's family from Maine.

I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we both didn't have to work?" Kevin agreed.

Then Lucas chimed in and said, "It would be nice if you didn't have to work again and again and again and again and again."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Inside the treasure chest

We all got a good peek inside Lucas' treasure chest, aka his money box, this weekend. Not that he ever kept the contents a secret, but he was especially interested in its contents - taking stuff out, organizing and counting his treasures, and putting it all back in. Lucas' treasure chest includes a lot of coins, plus some other artifacts of more mysterious value.

Chicken plate - We're not sure why he calls it this, but it's a black battery cover to some kind of electronic advice, donated by Kevin.
Bug cards - Mini trading cards from the chocolate Bug Bites from Berkeley Natural Grocery.
Business card - Business card from one of my co-workers, Lori, which I gave to Lucas among other cards from when I interviewed at Kodak Gallery. For some reason, he kept this one.
"Keys" - Pieces of paper that he drew on, folded up, then taped shut. Not sure why these are keys, but that's what he calls them.

Lucas was also into acquiring new coins. When he asked me for some new ones, I told him he had to do some kind of job to get a coin.

Bringing folded laundry upstairs, putting away the clean silverware, putting wet clothes in the dryer - these are some of the things he did for a penny. Talk about cheap labor!