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Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year! That sounds a little bit like a Chinese New Year greeting. May God shower you with blessings, and cheers to your health, wealth, and happiness.

Here are the highlights of 2011 a year in review.

1) The tooth fairy visits AJ five times, coincidentally after Halloween.

2) Lincoln learns to walk for the second time.

3) Baby's first words, "AJ!" "I want it" and "I don't want it"

4) Brian updates his 20 year old first car for a Hybrid.

5) AJ and Maggie write their own name.

6) Deborah spends 10 sleepful nights in Las Vegas.

7) Maggie passes School Bus Safety and arrives for the first day of school.

8) AJ does Jedi Warrior training at a friend's birthday party.

9) Ariel and Spiderman go trick-or-treating while Tigger hands out candy.

10) Brian and Maggie are both studying French Immersion.

11) Wonderful visits from family across Canada this summer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Greeting 2011

Here’s a short little note to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Christmas came quite early; the day after Halloween the tree was up and the kids were watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. We’ve  been reading the book called “The Elf on the Shelf” about a little red elf who reports to Santa on the kids’ behaviour. (I am obligated to hide this elf in a new place for the kids to find each morning).  I have tickets for the Nutcracker Ballet with Maggie on Saturday, a story she is quite familiar with. There are so many side stories to Christmas, I hope that the kids will still remember about Jesus’ birthday, our reason to celebrate Christmas.

Maggie and AJ have their own advent chocolate calendar as a countdown to Christmas and Toronto! We'll spend a week long visit to see Grandma and my sister will visit us there as well. We hung up the stockings last night and once again they asked me if it was the "Night Before Christmas".

At 16 months he can sign a few words like “more” and “fish” and "please" (not necessarily in the same sentence) and even say “I want that” or "I want one" in that same whiny voice as the older sibs; and that's not counting all the body parts and standard words kids say like mama, dada and nye-nye (milk).  He celebrated his first birthday with a joint party for dad in the summer. He eats well with a fork and spoon, though sometimes it would be less messy to just eat with hands. He’s actually average height and weight for his age, which might make him seem big for an Asian because he can take down his older brother with a bear hug from behind.

He continues to amaze everyday with his amazing concentration with doing puzzles, mazes, writing letters and numbers, and even completing Maggie’s homework for music class. Earlier in the year, AJ did swimming lessons, nursery school, Baby Mozart class, and a toddler sports class; since September he’s in a Montessori School full day. His favorite toys are Buzz and Woody; favorite book is “Mad about Spiders“, and his favorite music is the “Batman Forever“ and "Spiderman“ movie soundtrack, the CD player he can manage all by himself. Christmas wishlist - Remote control car and Buzz.

Maggie attends a French Immersion JK class and rides a big yellow school bus. This is her second year of piano in the MYC program. She loves singing, especially in French. Actually she comes home and teaches AJ French, writing, and math.  Favorite toys, cooking in the toy kitchen and playing house with AJ. This evening`s newest culinary experiment, sliced dinosaur baked. Favorite music, "Ariel" disney movie soundtrack.  Princess Ariel also came to her 4th birthday party! Her favorite book, it`s hard to say because after such a long day at school she always falls asleep before we`re through with storytime.  Christmas wishlist - Barbie.

I returned to work in August after a full year on maternity leave; back to my Engineering post and met with new challenges.  It's always hard to return to work in the late summer.  My role changes at any given hour from Systems Engineer to Cisco Systems Network Administrator to smart shopper for small electronic components with the company credit card. I also studied Suzuki Piano Teacher Training in Las Vegas on a 10 day trip by myself! My piano studio has expanded to nearly triple the number of students from last year. I have a group class for ages 3-5, and the others are all private students ages 5 to 14.  I suppose I never sleep because I still manage to find a little bit of time to scrapbook and create greeting cards when I'm not buying or selling something on ebay.

Brian is on one year full-time French training since September. He just returned from a two week homestay program in Quebec City with a traditional French family. He continues to play soccer in three indoor/ outdoor leagues. In his spare time, reseaching for a new vehicle to buy or reading up on World War II history. Because of my busy teaching schedule, he's got a really good handle on the three kids when they have to leave the house to keep quite and go to Chapters, library, Canadian Tire, T and T, or the park. We're thinking that we may be posted in the Summer 2012 posting season but we don't know where.

Mr Jello Legs

We missed church on Sunday cuz Saturday night was a rough night for all of us. Maggie, AJ and I actually slept in. Lincoln on the other hand was awake at his usualy time of 6:45 but refused to stand or walk on his own, and would prefer to lie on his back or front on the floor anywhere watching us, than be held.

So we had to bring Lincoln to CHEO Sunday evening for an unexplained illness in his lower body/ legs/ bones. First I thought the more pressing issue was his fever, long cough/ cold and sleepiness and refusal to stand/ walk as laziness or just being extra cuddly. Telehealth urged me to bring him in. It was a long wait because he was not in real danger really, in fact he was very happy to just lie down on the couches in the waiting room for hours talkng and laughing, but not exploring and running around touching everything like a normal toddler.

They did some blood tests on him in the night and inserted an IV which I am glad to see that he fought ferociously, with his arms but not so much his legs and body. The bone scan was delayed till 2pm this afternoon because I didn't know he wasn't supposed to have his bottle at 8am. Just waiting results now. They think he may have an infection in the bones or it could quite simply be sore joints from the flu. Regardless Brian and I taken turns with watching him. Just very sad to see Lincoln like that.

I did tell Lincoln that Jesus is watching. Like he really knows or maybe he does.  I do feel bad bringing him to CHEO for that because it's not life threatening but at the time I really didn't know what to do!

After spending nearly 24h in the hospital, they diagnosed him with a transient form of arthritis in the hips, sometimes occuring in children. And on top of that his ear infection, unrelated and treating with antiobiotics. He can stand on one leg holding on to the crib and I can see that he is curling his toes to remove pressure on the weak leg.  He's still whiny and only lying on the floor, even a 4 month old will move and flip faster than him. But atleast I know he's kinda ok.

Diagnosis: Transient synovitis (TS) is the most common cause of acute hip pain in children aged 3-10 years. The disease causes arthralgia and arthritis secondary to a transient inflammation of the synovium of the hip.

As of yesterday, he was halfway back to his naughty self. He started to crawl sluggishly to mess up Maggie and AJ's blocks, and they were shouting daddy daddy help! He's coming to break something!

He was able to climb up on to the kitchen chairs, believe it or not and sit backwards on the chair.  He can do free standing, however if he takes a step forward his one leg crumbles under him and he falls, sometimes a fast fall, sometimes slow.

Lincoln had a followup appointment with the doctor today, but didn't have much to say about his condition. I almost felt like she was thinking, "why did you bring him in, he's getting better already. Come back when there's a real problem" But I guess it was reassuring and she checked his ears to see if the ear infection was going away. She also explained that this is viral, it went deep into the hips and should not reoccur because it is not common.

When we started talking about CHEO (Children's Hospital of Easter Ontario) and being all poked and getting a blood test etc, Lincoln started to show her the boo boos on his hands and arms from the IVs and needles. Can you believe it? I was shocked that he could understand us enough to be involved in the conservation, like wow. The doctor also pointed out that babies are more intelligent than we think.

I would have to add that babies are quite resilient too. Hopefully he'll be back to his normal self in the next few days.

DAY 10
Lincoln is walking again, though slowly and with a slight limp.  Soon though, he'll be running around again I'm sure!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Gift Mystery

The kids have been intrigued by the magic and mystery of "The Elf on the Shelf" phenomenon.  I managed to snag the highly coveted book and elf gift set after driving across town to Coles at St Laurent Mall.  The premise is that the Santa has a little helper, the elf that reports on the children's behavior, naugthy or nice. The elf doesn't speak, but he listens and watches. He flies to the North Pole everynight, and returns in the morning to a new hiding spot. It's alot of work for mom to come up with new spot every night, huh?

Elf in the news...

Image Source
The first day, actually before I bought the book, I already told them about the elf on the shelf. Gifts mysteriously appeared under the tree. All I could say was the elf helped me to wrap them. Maggie and AJ only know of one elf, Green Elf from the keyboard. So she was excited to tell her nanny, that the Green Elf jumped off the keyboard and put the presents under the tree! As well, Christmas lights mysteriously appeared on the backyard patio!

Just adding to the original entry, and Christmas is only two days away! AJ recently told me one night that he didn't want the elf in our house anymore. I asked why and he said that he was scared. Upon further questioning he answered that he didn't like how the elf moved around at night while he was sleeping. Creeper! Anyway I told him that I would tell the elf not to move around so much. On the plus side I only have to find a new hiding spot for that guy once every few days at a time.

Anywayz I wish the elf could help me to make these wonderful treats and gifts. I'd make them and hopefully wrap them before I ate them.

Links for Homemade Treats for Gifts

100 Ideas for the Mishievous Elf.
This takes a lot more work, but a mom has found many creative ideas to keep her kids interested in the tradition. Too cute!

The Elf Blog

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spelling Bee

AJ's teacher at Montessori school asked me to read "Brown Bear" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. She said that he was ready to read. Well actually, he has "read" Brown Bear to me many times and we have it on video, however I don't and can't actually believe that he's reading. He's only memorizing I'm sure of it.

On many occassions he's pointed out all kinds of words and titles, and calling each letter out by name. I guess he understands that letters form words. But this is where the spelling gets tricky. Ask him to spell stop and he knows it's S-T-O-P especially from recognizing stop signs. Now here is where it gets tricky.

He's the EXIT sign for a door. He says, "E-X-I-T spells door!"


The school also provided a progress report or report card. It is so fascinating all the different tasks they are learning, in various states of readiness. P = Presented, W = Working on it, M = Mastered. I couldn't write them all down, but here is a brief summary from each of the pillars.

Image Source
* Pouring/ Tansferring Solids (includes chopsticks!)
* Pouring/ Transferring Liquids
* Polishing
* Others (Beads, Patterns, Hammering nails)
* Dressing Frames (zippers, buttons, buckles etc)
* Care of Self/ Environment (greet and introduce)
* Social Development

* Discrimination of size (Cylinders, Towers, Prisms, Rods)
* Discrimination of colours
* Discrimintation of Stereognostic (touch, weight, sound)
* Discrimination of Forms (Polygons, Geometric Solids etc)

* Pre-Writing Activities
* Build phonetic words
* Forming letter (writing letters in booklet)
* Identifying Personal Data
* Pre-Reading Activities
* Writing and Reading preparation

* Numeration 0 to 10
* Numeration 0 to 19
* Numeration 0 to 100 (building quantities by tens, hundred chain, square chain)
* Place Value
* Addition
* Subtraction

* Globe, Continent, Solar System, Time
* Botany (parts of plants, flowers)
* Zoology (parts, life cycle, vertebrate/ invertabrate)
* Science (sink float, magenetic)

Lots of ideas for Montessori teaching materials in a teacher blog

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Take My Breath Away

AJ was at CHEO (Children's Hospital)the other night because he had another bout of asthma;  coughing all day, acting sleepy, and not talking more than one word without coughing. He even made it to the kitchen sink and puked up some white goo. It seems to happen when he gets a bad ough/cold.

Earlier in the afternoon, he was laying on the couch breathing instead of fighting with Maggie, so that was out of character. He ate nothing for dinner and fell asleep at 7pm, too tired for bath.  However he woke up in a fury at 9pm from  coughing too much and freaking out, gasping and coughing and in between single words, he was crying that he couldn't breathe.

Anyway I recognized the signs and realized he had to go to emergency.  They admitted him right away. Oddly he seemed better in the car and I was tempted to just forget the whole thing and go home.  He didn't cough too much in the car, except for whenever he would try to talk to me, due to the reactive airways. He was asleep when I carried him in but woke up nice and chipper. However they measured the oxygen with the infrared "stat" machine and indicated he was in distress. The nurses talked in some kind of triage code and told me that I did the right thing to bring him in, given his history.  This is the second time he's been in the hospital for a respiratory thing. Yah it was
scary a little bit cuz he's been to CHEO for that before so I kinda knew the signs to look for.

They gave him three oxygen masks and ventilin and some steroids that made him really wired and awake. I told him he sounded like Darth Vader and he seemed pleased with that. So he watched Toy Story 2 till he was discharged at 1am. What a night. The smartest kid of the three, but probably the weakest; elbows pop out, peanut allergy emergency etc.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baby Essential Sound Kit

Product listing for electronic items we found useful for the three kids.
1) Safety 1st DIGITAL audio baby monitor
2) Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Crib Toy.
3) Tiny Love Crib Mobile with Classical Music

DIGITAL Baby Monitor with Frequency Hopping
I recently sold the unit to an expectant mother with the original box included, manuals. One baby unit for the crib, and two cordless parent units with recharging bases. Star pattern night light.

Manufacturer Description:
The Safety 1st High-Def Digital Monitor is the next leap in digital audio clarity, providing parent peace of mind that they have distinguished between a gurgle and a whimper, because it utilizes the uncrowded DECT 6.0 frequency for guaranteed clear and private connection with no interference. The transmitter is individually coded to receivers fro guaranteed privacy. The ascending, sound sensitive light bars provide visual impact of increasing sound level. The 1000 plus foot range reassures parent of long range quality.

More info (from Babys R Us and Costco)
  • 1.9 GHz radio band frequency reserved for DECT, offering better clarity and privacy
  • Range of up to 304.8 m (1000 ft.)
  • Zero interference and high-quality audio
  • Link indicator
  • Transmitter (baby unit) individually coded to receiver (parental unit)
  • Light bar arch for increasing sound level
  • Visible and audible low battery indicator
  • Visible and audible out-of-range indicator
  • Pager button to help locate parental unit
  • Belt clip on parents' unit allowing mobility
  • Easy adjust, push-button volume control
  • Flush to face panel buttons
  • 3 AAA rechargeable batteries for parent unit (batteries included) and an AC adapter

Selling for $74.99 new retail. Mine must be the previous form factor but the product description remains the same.

Fisher Price Aquarium Ocean Wonders

Put your little one to sleep with this soothing aquarium. It calms Baby with softly glowing light and bubbling motion. All of my kids love this item. Maggie as a newborn would just stare at night, captivated by the shifting lights and dancing fish. I remember watching for her to close her eyes. Well momma, I'd rather watch the fish! Well I didn't really get chance to change the batteries for AJ so he only got to hear the music and see the lights change (not enough juice for the full motion). He liked to play with the attached rolling toys. That kept him well entertained. When Lincoln was born, the older ones would activate the sound for him. I guess he's outgrown it now but he was using it up to age 1, like background music for drifting off to sleep.  Some models come with a remote control which would've been useful.

Plays lullabies (Brahms, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Bach Invention in C) or bubbly water sounds, including ocean waves, Plays for approximately 7 minutes.  Attach to crib rail or set on dresser top

Tiny Love Whirly Twirly Crib Mobile
I bought this crib mobile for Lincoln because we had already given away the Winnie the Pooh wind-up for Maggie and AJ.  When Lincoln was a small baby, he liked this alot because of the colourful creatures and the spinning black and white spiral patterns. However he always fell asleep to the beautiful classical music. The playlist features Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Beethoven. In fact, the first song on the track, Mozart Sonata K. 330, I or K. 331, I is very popular with Maggie and AJ. When I play a certain classical music CD with that song on the fourth track, they call this Lincoln's baby song. Music in the environment, they hear it they absorb it. Now imagine if I told them the name of every song on the track and they could name them by K, BWV or opus numbers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Planet Earth

AJ was watching the clouds from the kitchen window as we ate lunch yesterday, deep in thought and transfixed. Finally he spoke up, "Mommy, what is outside the clouds?" What a profound question, I had to think of a good answer or another deep question to counter that.

"Well, what do you think?" I had to buy myself more time.
"Blue" That's a good answer from AJ.
"That's right, the sky is blue. Above the earth is the atmosphere, that's the air we breathe"
AJ is still staring.
"And outside the atmosphere is space, outer space" I add more information.
"Do astronauts live in space?" AJ asks.
"Yeah, perhaps on a space ship. What's your favorite planet, AJ?"
"uh... Mars!" After giving it some thought.
"And what else?" I'm trying to quiz him because he has a book about planets and at one time, Maggie and AJ could name all of them.
"Pizza Planet!" We all laugh, this is pretty clever response too. It is from his favorite movie, Toy Story.

Brian goes on to explain to AJ that his classmate from school is an astronaut. While I don't necessarily believe that AJ would choose that profession, I think it's ok to encourage him to dream big and think about science. Though I know with his peanut allergy and mild intermittent asthma, I doubt they would ever choose him either. We're talking about exploring space, and for whatever reason Maggie feels the need to jump into the conversation.

"When I grow up, I want to be a garbage girl" Say what?
AJ counters, "When I grow up I want to drive a garbage truck!"

Alright, we'll start with cleaning up planet earth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Doomsday the Last Day

AJ is quite the little Doomsday prophet. He's been on antibiotics (penicillin) for a small tooth infection for the 10 day cycle. I told him yesterday as I was feeding him the fourth dose of the day, "Tomorrow will be the last day."

His face turns dark and mysterious, "The last day of what? What will be happen? We're all going to be die?"
I have to clarify, "No AJ, the last day for your medicine"
He's still not listening, "What, the last day of Ottawa? What will be happen?"

I wanted to say earthquakes, thundershowers, global warming, economic fallout. Not sure if he remembered this morning, but fortunately he didn't ask me or tell me, Today is the last day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Natural Born Talent

Prenatal Suzuki
Although I wasn't the mom who strapped a tape player to my belly, transmitting vibrations of Mozart and Bach though the amniotic fluids, nor did I read hours of Shakespeare to my baby inside, I did play piano while practising for my daily routine.   I came across this topic for pre natal music training and here is a link for your own evaluation.

What's the first sense a baby develops?
a) Hearing
b) Smelling
c) Touching
d) Tasting

Hearing is already developed in the womb. How amazing is that?

Believing in the power of early listening, I have to admit that I get this question wrong on the quiz at a friend's baby shower, I didn't realize the correct answer was C because honestly, I thought hearing development was that strong. The image of Will Ferrell on SNL bursting out a momma's womb speaking in rap...

A baby is born with all the following prior knowledge EXCEPT
a) Grasping a finger
b) Sucking
c) Understanding a foreign language
d) The ability to swim

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gobble Gobble Gobble!

Lincoln's favorite new word must be "Gobble, gobble, gobble..." as in the same sound that babbling turkeys'  make. He could have a long conversation with me, pointing and laughing at this and that and I would only pretend that I actually knew what he was saying.

Well that word took on a whole new meaning on Wednesday morning. He gobbled up something that babies should not be playing with. I'll start off with saying, thankfully he's fine and I'd have to credit Maggie for saving his life. 

I'm calm but still creeped out a little bit. Like the other day ("last morning" as AJ would say), Lincoln was happily playing with Russian nesting dolls with Maggie in her room while I was rushing to eat breakfast with AJ and get out the door. All of a sudden I hear Maggie screeching and crying, I thought she was getting her haired pulled or something; I ran upstairs, suddenly quicker cuz it was getting extremely hysterical. I saw Lincoln foaming/ barfing at the mouth and I soon figured out he was choking on the smallest russian doll! OMG!

Fortunately I was able to just grab it out of his mouth with my fingers and I didn't end up jabbing it in any deeper. OMG after that he was fine. I was still shaking all morning. Anywayz needless to say
I put all the small stuff away so I wont' choke my child. SCARY!

I'm just glad that Maggie alerted me to Lincoln being in danger because choking is silent! Afterward she said we should pray for Lincoln tonight because he almost died (sic). I don't actually think that would be the case cuz there's alot of CPR and even calling 911 and things like people would've done before it would come to that, but I feel bad that she was thinking that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Mobile Command Center

Well at one time I had tried every kind of double stroller you could buy in the market, even bike strollers, wagons, tandem (super heavy hard to steer) but not side by side though.  These are all the options we've tried.  Regardless, we seem to move faster if they are all strapped into the convoy. In any case you need the stroller to carry the gear and jackets.

Whereever we go, whether kids are strapped in or someone is holding on to the stroller on the side, I feel like an army tank commander.

I bought a Graco double stroller, tan coloured listed for $120 on craigslist. When the women delivered it and I made a face like I wasn't sure if I wanted it, she sold it to me for $80. I used it during the fall 2008/ winter 2009 to get Maggie and AJ to church.  It was very heavy to lift up and down from the trunk, heavy to push and very hard to steer. I eventually sold it to someone at work for $80, grandparents for taking the grandkids to the park. They didn't seem to have a problem with it.

It was pink and purple. I drove out to Gatineau in the Fall 2009, $50 from usedottawa.  However, we used it more like a double stroller that you push forward like a jogging stroller or chariot.  It was in fair condition, a little dusty but it worked well for bringing Maggie and AJ, like an all weather all terrain vehicle. Even in the Fall 2010 their babysitter prefered this model for bringing them to the playgroup at the community center.  I eventually sold this for $80 on usedottawa. Funny because one lady bought it from for $50; she didn't like it so she returned it the next day. I cleaned it real good, and wiped away any visible rust, oiled the moving metal pieces. I even learned how to smoothly transform the unit from a jogging stroller to the bike hitch function so I could demo this. The next day, the new buyer came and gave me the full asking price.
What I found the most useful for going to the park was having Lincoln in my ergo carrier and the two kids in the wagon (to pull) or bike stroller (push).  Purchased from Zellers using gift cards from Jon and Alicia. The wagon has a detachable canopy; the handle can fold under to make it smaller for transporting in a trunk. However when Lincoln was about 11 months old and I let him ride in the wagon to Owl Park for a swim, he was leaning forward too much and he pulled the restraints right out of the fasteners. Anywayz it's easy to fix but we haven't used it since.

This summer I found a Sit and Stand and so it fits all three: Lincoln in the front with the five point harness because he was the only monkey who ever tried to escape from a stroller. AJ and Maggie both sit on the toddler seat in the back; occassionally one will agree to stand on the rolling platform while the other one is seated. Ideally this unit is only for two kids not three, but it works.  If the seating arrangment in the back cannot be resolved, I end up carrying Lincoln in the carrier. Basically a carrier and a double is ideal.

We have a single stroller that came with a hand me down Travel System.  A carrier and a single stroller works well too if the third person agrees to walk. Sometimes I end up placing Maggie and AJ in a single-stroller seat. They would rather be squished than give up their seat to walk.

This is the only stroller that now fits into the MDX trunk with the new car seat setup. It folds up very small almost like a big umbrella stroller. However there is not much storage space.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Whatz Yo' Mamma's Name?

In most cultures, you're not supposed to call your mother by her name. Obviously as a kid, you're still supposed to know what it is.  AJ and I had a little conversation before bedtime.

He calls me momma but it sounds like Grandma in Chinese so we both laugh. I correct him, and he says ah-MA-ah. Then he asks what's my name (I know he wants me to say, Deborah) but I answer -mother. He asks what it is in French, I answer "ma mere".

And it's not quite the answer he's looking for, so he clarifies. "What's your name like, TANG DO WA (that's his Chinese name which translates to, Tang Generation Jehovah).
Now I understand he wants to know my Chinese name, so I tell him it's NG KAY WING (translates to Ng Family Smart). He just has a big grin on his face when he asks, "Ng Kay Wing like chicken wing" I had to laugh along, even though it was already late and I don't want to laugh at my own name. More significantly, this shows he can make a multi-lingual joke

Anywayz I am very glad that my parents did not put that Chinese name into my official legal name. It's funny enough when I have to give my middle name for something official, and  I have to spell Kay as K-A-Y.  I probably wouldn't want to endure being called Chicken Wing.
On the topic of nicknames, here's a collection of one's I've been called from time to time. Growing up, I used  to go by Debbie and no one ever poked fun at me... Oddly, but in a good natured way, it was my close friends in my church youth group who came up with these.  In Chinese Debbie sounds an awful like "DI BAI" which means very large thighs.  Army-Barbie is not too bad, because I used to be in the army and I liked playing with Barbie dolls. In my bible tour trip to Egypt, Israel and Jordan.  I was the lone anglophone on a bus full of native Cantonese speakers from Canada and Netherlands; I do like the name they gave me which was Miss Canada.  That's a compliment.

Well I told my husband about the Chicken Wing conversation and he had a good laugh, and warned me he might starting calling me that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How do I hire a nanny?

I'm writing this as an FAQ because I get this question alot and I figure it will be a good rapid response for someone.  Please note that this is the procedure for Canada only, for hiring in the "Foreign Live-in Caregiver Program".

Even if she is someone already in Ottawa and already holding a work permit with another employer family, she will still require a work permit with you. In order for her to apply for a work permit, you need a positive LMO.

0) Go the CRA website and apply for a Business Number. You need this item first before you can apply for the LMO.

1) Go to the site and search caregiver, there you will find the first link for the application of the LMO (Labour Market Opinion). You will need a "positive" LMO document in your hand in order for your  nanny to apply for the work permit.

2) There is document checklist and the complete procedure on how to do it. There were big
changes since I've done it three years ago, as of April 2011.  You will need the Long Form Birth Certificate for all your children. This was not a requirement previously, so I totally had to scramble and get these for my kids this time around.

3) You must advertise this job on Job at the hourly rate of $10.25 per hour. There are already templates and job descriptions.  This part is easy. Just be prepared to receive applicants from Hong Kong, Peru, Columbia, Africa and pretty much everywhere but Canada LOL. You will get a few from Ottawa but I have a mixed opinion about them (like the Mr. Manager from McDonald's who wanted a nanny job with my kids??  He did have CPR and First Aid and some experience working at kids camp)

4) Previously, I had to prepare a Recruitment Report to accompany the LMO application, but I don't remember seeing that in the checklist this time around, but I wrote one anyway.

5) Later when this is all sorted out, you can use the CRA online payroll calculater to figure out how to deduct taxes biweekly or semi-monthly and how to remit these to CRA.

Apply by mail. DO NOT apply online. I did that before and it was hard for them to merge all the documents that you would send in my mail anyway, together with the file. The agent I dealt with was very nice and she told me to redo the application, print it out and fax it to her. I eventually did the scan/ email thing to send it to her, but she did say it was more complicated than just mailing everything in one go.  So I stress, apply by mail.

Verify the checklist. DO NOT forget anything. If you forget anything your application will be rejected because there is absolutely no way for them to add a document to your file (not impossible but it's not

Keep a signed copie of everything for yourself. The contract, the attestation of identity etc.

I'm a little bit confused if it is possible to get an LMO with or without the nanny's name. I've always had a nanny's name identified.  Previously you could get a blanket LMO and go through your search after the fact.  Presently it appears you have to identify the nanny before you get an  LMO. It's a little bit tricky to meet your nanny, then pick her name and gaurantee her to start at a far future date.... maybe if you go through an  agency? Or if you identified a family in Ottawa and you knew that their nanny would be finished with them for sure in April?

Hint:If you hire directly from the Philipines like I tried, the process takes 18 months+ from the first interview at the Canadian Embassy in Philipines, and that is a long time for someone, they are young they could get married/ have a baby/ change their mind. It's much faster to hire her from Hong Kong; the paperwork would normally take only 4 months!  Other items that the employer must pay for: one way airfare from overseas, three months of health coverage before OHIP kicks in and workers comp (insurance).

I have an update because the worker visa for my prospective nanny is about to be issued. There was a tremendous amount of paperwork I recently completed in the last two months after many months of silence.

Begin February 2011 - LMO and Job Bank Posting

Late Spring 2011 - LMO approved, deadline for her to apply for the work permit by Fall 2011.

September 2012 - She completes forms at the Canadian Embassy in Manilla.

Begin February 2012 - I receive a letter from the Canadian Embassy in Manila that my application for a foreign live-in caregiver nanny is being considered but they need supporting documentation to prove the following:
  • My children's live birth (long form birth certificate. Wow, they didn't even need this to get their own passports)
  • Additional proof that I still have kids (ya know what I mean?) I provided an annual statement for the Universal Child Care benefit that lists their names.
  • Ownership of my house, certificate of title, MPLS property tax assessment, builder floor plan or MLS listing (proves I can provide private accomodations)
  • T4 or CRA Assessment for previous two years of myself and/or spouse (proves I can pay the wages)
  • Description of my work and business hours (proves that I have a job, that I have normal hours so I probably would not make my nanny work too much overtime)
  • Description of children's school schedule and routine
  • Contract with Nanny
  • Description of arrangement with present or previous nanny(s)
  • Copy of one CRA Monthly Remittance Record
Overseas, my prospective employee Vicky had to complete an English proficiency test, a medical fitness test, proof of education (I asked for a nursing graduate) and proof of the certified training in childcare-babysitting, first aid etc.

March 2012 - I was asked to send a final letter to reaffirm that all the conditions remain current

Summer 2012 - perhaps in the next few weeks the visa will be issued and my new nanny will arrive! Time to look for some deals on international air fares.

Fall 2012 - we are a military family, so we accept posting to an air base far from the capital city. We are also expecting a fourth baby! These are both changes in the family situation that I am required to inform the Visa office. However I decide to not change anything to impede the application further for these reasons

1) Vicky is the sister of my first nanny Rose. She has agreed to move with me wherever we go
2) We are moving to a bigger house with more bedrooms, how could the Visa office refuse it?
3) We are having another baby, an even bigger reason to have a nanny.
4) We still own the original property and my mail gets forwarded to me anyway. What's the big deal to anyone anyway?

January 2013 - I send a web form request to the Canadian Embassy in the Philipines for an update, but I get the stock reply, please keep waiting.

Spring 2013 - I am in touch with Vicky weekly, but there is still no indication to either of us when the work permit will be issued if ever...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dr Suess paints the Room

AJ started writing his name "AJ" sometime just before Canada Day (not yet age 3). He announced at the park that he was writing the "A" sound .The letter A looked a bit like a triangle, and I showed him how to write the J sound like a hook. He put the two together side by side and he's been very good at autographing birthday cards, Sunday School homework etc.

Maggie took a little bit more encouragement to begin writing, in August! Through tears and madness, Brian showed her to write M, A, G and E. She already knew I, X and O obviously but she had no desire or interest to write whatsoever. I never forced the issue because the teacher at the JK orientation said it was not an expectation for the start of Kindergarten. However, Brian was persistent. Sometime during the week that I was away in Las Vegas, Maggie learned to write her name! What an triumph. The only thing is, the letters though always in sequrence are rarely in a straight line. She's signed an envelope where M A G G I E end up in a counterclockwise spiral. All the letters are complete but not in a left to right sequence.

I decided to award their success in writing with posters of the alphabet by Dr Suess. I secretly pasted these on the wall in their room, while everyone was playing outside just to surprise them.  Lincoln gave me a hand though, by staying out of the way. But he was pointing and reaching at the letters, and once again trying to tell me all kinds of things about them.  Later Maggie went upstairs to retrieve a toy from the room, and she announced "What did Dr Suess paint on the wall?" AJ ran upstairs to look and they were both so happy. "Why are there Dr Suess pictures on the wall, mommy?" Anyway, I hope that it helps them to see the capital and lowercase letters side by side and with the objects from the story, they can learn the letter sounds too.

Walking Tall

Lincoln officially started walking on August 1 at 11.5 months. I had arrived home from Las Vegas just the day before so I'm pleased that I didn't miss a thing. Within a week he had mastered walking across the room without too much stumbling; unless he's moving too quickly with a bit too much momentum and he can't stop. He ends up falling forward on his hands.

I know he can clearly say dada and mama, A-J! , wow and oo-oo-ooh, this this this. Lots of random babbling with furrowed eyebrows and other facial expressions, while pointing and describing images in a book. He knows exactly what he's saying; Maggie and AJ try their best to be translators.

Lincoln is 74 cm tall and 23 pounds. We have switched him to the forward facing Sunshine Radian seat, while Maggie and AJ ride in the back row.

Dragon Eye Seedlings

My kids have been attending a morning playgroup at church and they've learned about seeds and how things grow. Here is theme poem (actions):

I plant a little seed in the cold cold ground.
Up comes the sun, warm and round.
Down comes the rain, soft and slow.
Up comes the seedling, grow, Grow, GROW!

Previously, Maggie also invented other verses and words, speaking in prose... something about snow on the ground, and the sun, and ice. I should really write these down. It doesn't make sense to me, but it must make perfect sense to her. Much like Lincoln when he goes on with his seemingly random chatter, and he's happy when we appear to understand.

But I do have a wonderful story about AJ and his knowledge of seeds, or rather, his knowledge of what happens to seeds when eaten.

Dragon Eyes
The kids were eating a giant bowl of the peeled dragon eye fruits; a translucent white flesh with single dark, chocolate brown stone-seed.  Resembles very much like a slippery, wet eyeball. Grandma kept warning them, don't eat the stone. AJ pipes up, "Mommy, what will happen to me if I eat the seed?" I warned him that if he swallowe the seed, a dragon-eye tree would sprout from his tummy.  He calmly corrected me right away, "No, mommy. I'm gonna be eat it and I will poo it out". What comes in, must go out. There's no fooling this guy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The World According to Preschoolers

Brian asks Maggie, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
Maggie: "Egg"
Where does the egg come from
Maggie: "Hatch"
From what?
Maggie: "A hen"
Where does the hen come from?
Maggie: "A farm"

AJ and Maggie are often concerned about which animal eats what, as in a food chain sequence.
Who eats bugs? Spiders
Who eats spiders? Other spiders
WHo eats other spiders? Birds
Who eats birds? Cats
Who eats cats? No one. (really?)

Do sharks eat humans? Sometimes.
Who eats sharks? Humans.

Who eats squid-Ursula? Daddy
Who eats jellyfish? Daddy

What do gophers eat? Carrots, tomatoes, leaves
Who eats gophers? Fox, wolves
Who eats fox, wolves? Coyotes
Who eats coyotes? No one, but hunters shoot them.

Later we talk about vultures.
What do vultures eat? Dead animals on the street.
Do vultures eat humans? Well if they're dead in the street
Do vultures eat humans in a grave? No they can't; there's a box.

AJ: Do dinosaurs eat humans?
Mom: No, humans were not there at the same time as dinosaurs.
Maggie: Humans live far far away.
AJ: Who eats dinosaurs?
Maggie/ Mom:Other dinosaurs.
AJ:What do other dinosaurs eat?
Mom: Leaves, ferns.
Maggie: Yah dinosaurs hate kid-meat. Kids are yuck.

Maggie: When I was a baby I busted out of your tummy right?
(Background: I used to affectionately refer to Lincoln as a belly-buster because of his excessive burps and belly busting spit up. She didn't quite understand that meant, so I said it was because he busted out of my tummy).
Another time, Maggie: When I was a small baby, I was at your wedding right?
Mom: No, you were just a small dot. Actually you were an egg.
(Background: She asks me this everytime we drive by the church on the army base where we got married)
Another time, Maggie: So I was a small egg at your wedding?
Mom: Well, just an egg part, but not like a real egg. Also part of you was in Daddy's pouch.
(Background: I hope that she won't ask where is Daddy's pouch, I guess I could say his pants, those would be still correct answers. I believe in telling the whole truth but in age appropriate language).

The kids watch a show called Making Stuff on TVO kids, so they get a sense of what things are created by God, what is built by Bob the Builder, and what is made by robots.
They ask me all the time, who made this, who made that. Here are some model answers they know and now quiz each other.

Made by God - Rocks, bugs, spiders, animals, humans, skeletons, dinosaurs
Made by Bob the Builder - house, Vanessa's house, bridges, roads
Robots - Hot Wheels, cars, cups, plates, pianos, tools, glass

I try my best to offer the whole truth, but sometimes I have to simplify the lingo