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Archive for May, 2012

It has been a dry winter and they say allergy season will be bad this year. And, it has been. Most people and kids I know have been rubbing their red eyes or having sinus headaches. Many people say their kids never had allergies but now due.

A few weeks ago, we had a little scary moment, Sunshine couldn’t hear out of his left ear. The doctor said is was due to allergies. His congestion had clogged the canal between his nose and ear. Scary, huh? I have never heard of such a thing. She suggested we do a nasal rinse and if this did not help, we could try over the counter Claritin for Kids. We already had dust mites covers, air purifier, no animals, and hardwood floors.

I had heard of nasal rinses and neti pots but hadn’t tried. Well, I’m now a believer. It is amazing. To encourage Sunshine to do it, I decided to join him. The first time I did it, I could breathe. Seriously, I could breathe. Sunshine really liked it too. He said he could breathe.ย  We do it 2x a day, morning and night because the allergies are in full force now. To be honest, I’m shocked by had come out of Sunshine’s nose. I’m so glad that we are able to flush it out. It seems his body creates congestion and it goes into his lungs. Now, I’m thinking he doesn’t have asthma. Since, we have doing the neti pot, we have not used the inhaler and he doesn’t cough a night due to allergies.

There are a couple of tricks for the neti pots, you need sterile warm water. So, we use our hot water dispenser. It is a lifesaver when we want hot water for tea and now for our allergies. I seriously don’t know how we live without this gadget.

We love Neti Pots!

My friend Christine suggested the Nutribiotic Nasal Spray. It’s all natural made of grapefruit seed extract so I feel safe giving it to Sunshine. I use it almost every night and I have noticed a decrease in mucus generated. On the days, I don’t he does seem to have more. So, it seems to be working.

I do have to admit, the novelty for Sunshine has worn off. He says, he doesn’t like the neti pot. For a couple of days, I made it mandatory but it was not fun for the both of us. Then, I changed tactics, I explained to him that he was helping me with my allergies. If it wasn’t for him, my allergies would be really bad. He was helping me. It was all because of him. This line of reasoning seemed to work for him. He doesn’t fit me on the neti pot. It has been a week. Let’s see how long it will last ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope this inspires you to try the Neti Pot for your kids. It’s a natural and safe way to fight allergies. Do you have any suggestions for how you fight allergies? Love to hear your ideas.

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So, we need to get a new car soon and I wasn’t sure what car we should get. I have couple of requirements (can fit 3 carseats for carpool), not too big (we have a tiny tiny garage), good safety ratings, etc. I read some of the car reviews but it was hard to tell what will work for us. I like to feel and try things out especially when it is going to last me a while. Maybe some of you are like that too?

Since, Sunshine loves cars, he was so excited when I suggested we spend one afternoon testing driving the new Mini Cooper 4 door car, the CountryMan. Have you seen it? It just came out in Feb 2012 and we are starting to see more of them on the road and especially in San Francisco where parking spaces are tiny. I love the look of the Mini Cooper but it’s not too practical for me. It’s small, loud, and quite low to the ground so I don’t feel safe. So, I was excited about the new 4 door since the reviews said it was higher up from the ground and was the size of VW Jetta.

Mommy, I like this car.

We had a blast looking at the different Mini Coopers (2 door, convertibles, 4 door Country Man) as well as all the different colors and sticker patterns for the Mini Coopers.

Nice but not Kid friendly. Maybe when I’m kid-free ๐Ÿ™‚

So, am I getting the CountryMan? No, not right now. I love the size and the silver one is pretty cute but I didn’t love the inside of the car and even with the option of putting a row for three seat, the back was pretty small for 3 car seats.

I think we might have to get a smaller SUV because of space needs. With the options on the CountryMan, it is around $35K out the door. Because the car is new, the preset packages are not cheap.

If you are interested, this is a super cute commercial. Also, you can check out this video of the CountryMan off roading

We liked this one ๐Ÿ™‚

The good news is Sunshine loves testing driving the cars so I can see us visiting a few more dealers in the coming months. All you need is child that loves cars and can fit in a booster seat and ๐Ÿ™‚

Try it out next time, it is a pretty fun way to spend the afternoon. The best part is it is free.

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Growing up, I had fond memories of things my family did together. Those memories often were things we did often i.e. camping during the summers and having pancakes on Sundays.

Traditions are fun for the family especially the kids. Traditions allow you to spend time with your child and thus wonderful memories are created. They create and provide stability, something that is familiar and has routine. It is nice to start traditions when children are young because they are so eager and interested in spending time with you. When they are teenagers, they start having their own lives and sometimes this time can be a very confusing time for them. If you have traditions of talking at dinner or before bedtime, you may have an easier time getting them to talk to you about their problems because they have a habit of already sharing with you.

Some of the things we already do can be considered a tradition. For example, at our house, we eat dinner together and read books and say gratitude (what we are thankful) before going to bed. For fun, every year, we spend time together planning his birthday party. We talk about the theme, what activities we will have, what will the goody bags will have inside, and how we might decorate. It is something that we both enjoy and it is fun to talk about together. Last year, we had a Lego theme.

A new tradition, we started is having upside day. Have you done this? We have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. We invited Sunshine’s school friends over for dinner and they loved it. It was so American, they said! If you are interested, this pancake is delicious. We took it one step further so he started having breakfast for lunch. Fun, right??

Breakfast for lunch! Yummy.

If you are interested in creating your own traditions, read what DocJennifer has to say about traditions. Feel Connected’s recommends the book Got Traditions. And, Enough Time Moms gives lots of good advice on how to create traditions.

What traditions do you have with your kids? Love to hear what you do.

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Have you hadย  Hot Pot? It is really popular in Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore…) Growing up in US, my family loved Chinese hot pot as it reminded my parents of their home. We had it at home and restaurants. It is quite healthy as there is no frying only boiling.ย  Hot pot is literally a large pot where you boil veggies, meat, tofu, etc. The pots are a little different because they have a plug so you can cook while you eat. You find the pots online.

The prep work is not too bad but you do need lots of ingredients. You can cook any veggies you like.ย  Meat is best if thinly sliced. In many of the Asian supermarkets (i.e. Marina Foods or Ranch 99), you can find premade hot pot packages.

I recently inherited a hot pot pan from my parents and we started having it at our house . Sunshine loves it and I’m so glad to share with him this part of Chinese culture. It is fun to pick what you like to eat,ย  watch it boil, scoop it out, then dip and eat. It is particularly good on a cold and rainy day. On this particular night, we had spinach, Chinese cabbage, tofu, lots of different fish cakes (from the premade packages), fish balls, and Enokitake mushrooms.ย  The key to a good hot pot is to always have broth in the pot so the goodies can cook quickly. And, once it boils and you aren’t ready to add anything else, turn down the heat. When you do add new goodies, turn the heat up.

Ready for Hot Pot.

We use a chicken soup base for our hot pot but you can use salt or plain water for your base.

My family makes a Taiwanese style dipping sauce. Raw egg, soy sauce, and green onions and a little garlic. The raw egg is key but make sure it is fresh. It may sound a little weird but when the hot pot item is dipped, the sauce is so yummy. My friends loves to make a spicy version with chilli sauce! HOT.

We end the hot pot meal by cooking vermicelli noodles in the broth. The noodles taste the best because of the veggies and meat flavors have simmered into the broth.

See how they eat hot pot in Beijing at Red Hibiscus or how Japanese and Chinese hot pot are different at the Pixel Diaries.

Hope you have a chance to try it someday and maybe it will allow you to experience of little bit of Asia. Food does that for me.

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Our friend Jenny took us to Tilden Park for an afternoon train ride. I remember going there as a kid and it was fun to relive the memories with Sunshine.ย  We had a great time with our friends and recommend going if you have a chance. The park is beautiful and there are numerous trails to explore. On the ride to and from Tilden Park, we saw the most beautiful clouds hovering the Berkeley mountains.

Sunshine loved ringing the bell on the steam train.

Beautiful day for a train ride. They kids had the best seat in the house.

The kids look so cute covering their ears when the steam train let out steam.

Quick. Quick. Cover your ears!!

If you have a chance, check out A Nature’s Mom post about the Botanic Garden at Tilden Park. And, at Natural History Wanderings, you can see what flowers are in bloom. I think next time, we are going to the hike Trail Hiker took.

Can’t wait to go back again.

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Sunshine loves building things. Legos, Magnatiles, Magformers and now Fort Magic. We borrowed this from our neighbor for Spring Break and we still have it. Shh. Hopefully, we can keep it for a few more weeks. Fort Magic is now number 1 on Sunshine’s Christmas wish list. It is now on sale on Fort Magic’s webite for $199 or onย Amazon for $219. I’m so tempted!! Check out the reviews from other parents and grandparents. Here is a video of where you can see kids building amazing creations.

The kit Sunshine is playing with is pretty cool and has 348 pieces. The kit is well made and easy for kids to handle. The parts are smooth so you don’t need to worry about the kids hurting themselves on sharp edges. They have these clips which allow you to use your own fabric on the kit creations.ย  I just check Fort Magic’s website and the kit is now 373 pieces (additional 2 dozen 24″ stick) which is awesome because I noticed that after Sunshine built the tent, he needed more sticks to build other things. He had plenty of the other pieces.

Sunshine and his friend playing in his new tent. His friend didn’t want to go home. “Mommy, can I please stay??? Can we build this in my room too?”

Sunshine built a garage for his toys.

Sunshine’s bus. He drove me around the neighborhood. It cost $1 per ride.

At first, Sunshine’s bus was a tall tall city tower.

Sunshine and his school buddy were building a trap for mommys.

Look Look. See my hula hoop!

Inside Sunshine’s tent. Isn’t it cozy. Kids love spending time is hiding places and this tent was the perfect place for him and his stuff animals. He even hung a string on the right hand side of the tent for the animals to climb up and swing.

Sunshine slept in his tent for 2 weeks. He loved his cozy tent and had fun laying there with his stuff animals. What fun memories!

He has made endless creations and it is something that he has been able to play with his friends and by himself. We love to entertain and at our last two parties, after dinner, I brought out Fort Magic. And, like magic, kids played and built all sort of things. The kids were so self-occupied that the adults had a chance to talk. Can you imagine that actually happening?? It did ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have a child that loves to build, then Fort Magic is something definitely to consider getting. The box is not too large and it is one of the toys I keep out in our family room because Sunshine can play by himself or with his friends. If you are thinking of getting the fort, I heard the sale is through June. So hurry ๐Ÿ™‚

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We have a huge bag of crayons that were calling to be used and somewhere I had seen these amazing melted crayon projects. Sunshine was interested and spent several mornings and afternoons cutting crayons into tiny pieces. It was amazing to me how much time he was and is willing to work on these little hearts. He wants to give them away for his birthday goody bags and is determined to make a lot. After making two batches, he is still interested in making them and is quite proud of them. We now have a permanent tray with crayons, pan, scissors, and goggles so he can do the project when ever he has a free moment.

Bake the crayons at 250 degree for 5 minutes. Then, let them cool for 15 minutes. With the silicon pan, it is easy to pop the crayons out. If using, a metal pan, spray with nonstick spray. One thing I did notice is that the pan is small so it is hard to cut the crayons into such small shapes. Next time, I’m going to look for pans with larger openings so it isn’t too hard for Sunshine. I loved to find some fun shapes.

Sunshine ingenious thought of using his goggles to protect his eyes from flying crayons. It is a little dangerous ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunshine worked hard to cut the crayons into little pieces and place them into the heart shaped pan.

The melted crayons are so beautiful.

Sunshine's final masterpiece.

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