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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.