Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Making Crayons

We have many broken crayons that kids don't want to use any more.
I think they are such a waste not being used. But, I have to agree that they are no longer fun to use.
So, I thought there might be some way to change the shape. As I searched the web, I found many people posting ways to recreate crayons.

The easiest way was this one.

1. remove the wraps around the crayons.

2. Reshape the rinsed off cans so that they would have spouts.

3. Put the crayons in the can. The can will go in electric frying pan with water set just above "warm". Water will create small bubbles, but not boiling!
*This is the chocolate molds I purchased in Japan. I bought this and two others. Silicons ones are super easy! This one has star shape, heart shape, and shell shape.

4. Crayons start to melt. Stir frequently.
I let my daughters pick what crayons to go in. Well... They will all turn green... This was an experiment for her!
5. Using the oven mitt, pour the melted crayons into the molds.
6. Ta Da!! New crayons are made!

Well, this was fun. But, I think we will stick with one color at a time from next time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When Potty Training Becomes More Challenging...

I had potty trained one child.

She was relatively easy to potty train, and just took a little longer to be trained for poop. She went completely diaper free when she was 3 years and 1 month.

Now, I am training my youngest, and it is CHALLENGING.
She is extremely stubborn. And, a little speech delay is not helping to communicate.

I have tried:
- cute potty with her favorite character
- bribe (she loves sweets, so M&Ms have been her treat for successful peeing in toilet)
- cute training pants (I like Japanese training pants with more absorbency and they come in kids favorite characters)
- posters on bathroom wall to explain potty procedure (they are illustrations I pulled off from internet)

I learned that kids personalities and characters have A LOT to do with potty training.
While my oldest was motivated to go pee in toilet by giving her stickers on her "good job, you did pee/poop in toilet" chart, my youngest has no interest in such an activity. She looks at me like, "so what?".
That is why I used food to motivate. The oldest asked me, "did I get sweets for reward, too?" When I answered honestly, she was quite unhappy saying "that is not fair!"

Also in her case, motivating with "you can go to school if potty trained" or "you can wear pretty underwear if potty trained" is out of options because she can care less about these or she has no comprehension when I explain those things.

But, we as parents have to do what works for each child.

However, food attraction has not overcome her stubbornness. Now, we are at the place where she does not care if she gets her treat or not, she does not mind being uncomfortable in wet training pants, and I am running out of option. It is almost as if she realizes that I am trying to potty train her when things start to go well. That is when her stubbornness kicks in and tells her brain saying, "hey, your mom is trying to change something that you are totally fine as is."

I really like her to be potty trained so that she can start school in the fall. It will help her speech and social skill big time if she can start.

Still, my friends are giving me some ideas to try. I am willing to try anything after carrying around two to three extra sets of clothes and training pants, having "accidents" in the bookstore, even poop.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Travel Diary 5 - Getting Sick

Sickness does not take vacation even if you are on vacation.

We have had our share of sickness on vacation stories, and this trip was no exception so far.
I must admit though what we have experienced so far on this trip is not the worse so far.

The girls and I flew thinking we had mild allergy symptoms. And, I think we really did.
But, that somehow turned to cold and I was having a terrible cold symptoms. Thanks to Benadryl at night and Sudafed and Ibuprofen, I got through the first week of our stay in Japan and got over the cold relatively quickly.

However, I got something else...

Pink Eye.


I had not had pink eye for many many years. Probably since I was a child. It was so bad that my eye did not open one morning (probably around 4th day here) that I had to go to an eye doctor. Good thing that my parents purchased health insurance for us during our stay.

As I went in to the eye doctor, I was immediately separated from the other patients because it could be very contagious.
After waiting for an hour, the nurse swabbed inside of my eye lid (more like scrubbing!) to test if that was viral. It turned out it was not, so I was prescribed antibiotic eye drop and oral medication.

All of the bill from doctor's office and Rx costed only 9700 yen which should be about $100. That is without insurance! I love how affordable Japanese health care is. I must add that the nurses/doctor was sympathetic that I had to pay that much out of pocket since my insurance will reimburse later. You kidding?? This is inexpensive comparing to what we would have to pay in US for not having insurance.

My health problem did not end there for this trip. While I was staying in Tokyo for the weekend, I had food poisoning.
I spent a good hour in the hotel bathroom...

However, I must say the worst medical experience we have had during the trip was my youngest daughter's stomach flu.
It was when she was about 18 months old.
She started throwing up and having diarrhea non stop. She would not take anything and got dehydrated.
Her temperature was close to 40 degree (is it about 105??), and she was limp.
We took her to a pediatrician here in Japan, and she got an IV one day and another one the next day to be hydrated. She did not even fight to get the needle in which was very abnormal for her.
Thanks to the hydration and good rest, she bounced back quickly and in 4 days she was almost back to normal with high energy.
The pediatrician bill with two visits with two IV and anti nausea Rx..... less than 17000 yen (= less than $200) without insurance!

Even with sickness, we always manage to get things done and enjoy the stay in Japan.
We spend a lot of money for flying here. So, sickness won't stop us!

This is the photo from Shinkansen between my pink eye and food poisoning...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Travel Diary 4 - Always full of surprises

The latest adventure has been the trip from Portland to Japan a few days ago.

Initially scheduled to fly out on June 23rd, we arrived at Portland International Airport with 3 check-in suitcases and three bags of carry-ons. Fortunately, since we have been flying a lot for the last two years, we are silver and gold members with the airline and we get to line up at the priority section!!

Soon we find out that out flight was delayed for 3 hours. Grandma who gave us a ride to the airport had to leave right away for work, so three of us killed the 2 hours + 3 hours (delayed) at the airport. It is not a good thing to spend so much time at the airport with two little bored kids. We ended up buying ridiculous toys that we would normally purchase. Good for airport economy and bad for my wallet. Still they created a couple of happy kids.

At near 5 pm when we were scheduled to finally fly out, we boarded the plane and waited and waited. Finally announcement came explaining that the delay was caused by a mechanical problem and them trying to fix it. She kept on explaining that they thought they fix that with a new part, but the part turned out to be faulty; thus, the flight was canceled and no one was flying out today.

We deplaned, went to check-in counter to rebook. They created another flight to carry all of the passengers to Tokyo the following morning, since there was no way they could rebook all the full flight passengers to an existing flight. We were told to come back no later than 7 am next day with the original boarding passes. Those who don't have places to stay got hotels overnight.

We went home for another night. Slept and got up early to make it to the airport by 7 am. Thanks to grandma who gave us a ride to the airport again, we made it in time to only find out that the new flight was delayed again to 10:30 am...

We killed more time at the airport, this time mostly at the play structure. I was not about to spend more money on ridiculous toys at concourse. We boarded the plane and finally around 11:10 am we took off to Narita!

We, some of the passengers, got to know each other well since we saw each other two days straight. When we landed at Narita, cheering and clapping could be heard. We were happy to be finally arriving in Tokyo.

Then another road bump for me; 7 hour layover at Narita. We normally have 2 hour layover which is perfect with bathroom visit with two kids and getting to the next gate. Since our new flight from Portland arrived way too early and only flight to my home town is in the evening, we had to spend so much time at Narita.

We were in good spirits, checking out stores in the concourse, eating at Japanese McDonald, and play at the kids' area.
My oldest befriended with young couple who thought she was cute. When they walked away saying bye to her to catch their flight, she told me, "mommy, I think they are boyfriend and girlfriend..." So, I asked her, "Do you want to go on a trip with M (her favorite boy from her class) when you are older?" She answered, "Yes."

But, they only had so much energy to last. When we had only minutes to wait there, they fell asleep on the chairs.
Well, I want to give them A+ for being such good travelers.

So, about 24 hours later than originally planned, we made it to my parents' house. Totally exhausted, but the kids were happy to see grandpa and grandma.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Travel Diary 3 - Night Terror on Board

My youngest has had night terrors several times. Not frequent enough to bother us on daily basis or even weekly basis, but when it occurs, it seems to happen in the most inconvenient places.

Two of the times were on the plane.

The first time was on the plane coming back from Japan. Though most of the recent long distance travels have been just three of us (the girls and I), the first time of her night terror on board was when we were flying with my husband. She was 18 months old.

We took turns to console her toward the back of the aircraft where it seemed less bothersome to have a crying baby. A lot of people threw us sympathetic look as if it must be a typical thing to fly with a baby. It was unusual for her to have a night terror since she only had maybe 10 total in her short life time so far. This was about the time when we began to see the tendency of her night terror: it happens when she is extremely tired.

The second time was more difficult yet shorter. I was flying with the girls from Atlanta to Portland, and when the plane started to decent and prepare for landing, she started having a night terror. We had figured by then that her favorite tune/dvd sound seemed to break her free from night terror, however, all the electronics had to be put away for landing. We all had to be strapped in our seat, no electronics allowed, and a screaming 3-year-old. One young guy sitting in front of me kept turning as if he was checking to see if I was torturing her!!

So, she kept screaming and crying with her eyes shut for the rest of the flight about 20 minutes, and then as soon as the lights were turned back on after landing, she was broken free from the spell like nothing happened. The passengers looked pretty relieved to arrive the destination safely, but more relieved to have relief from the screaming child.

When I went through this, I felt like I can get through any incident on board. Once, I was vomited on by my oldest daughter when she was a little over a year old. Well, traveling with kids can be very eventful, but later in life, we can always tell those stories as a fond memory.

(Positive thinking in effect!!!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Avid Reader

I was not much of a book reader in high school though I remember I went to library weekly with my mom and borrowed a few books at a time.

When I finished college here in US and I no longer had to read textbooks which took a lot longer than most native speakers would, I started reading books mostly on my commute in the bus. I love fiction mostly, but also tried biography, history etc.

Another break from reading after having babies. Just too tired to read something long enough to remember story and characters. Now the youngest is 3, I started reading again about a year ago when I realized that I had more time to myself.

My Japanese friends who come and visit our place are surprised to see my books because those are in English. Most of my Japanese friends still read books in Japanese though they live here in US. For some reasons, I feel more comfortable reading in English though I still pick some books and read them in Japanese occasionally. I would say 95% of my books are in English.
I even read English books translated in English. One of my favorite authors is Haruki Murakami, but I have not yet read his book in Japanese!

So, I realized this is something I should try: Read my favorite Japanese authors in Japanese and see how I feel different about them.

The first to try is a book called "Out" by Natsuo Kirino. I recently got hooked on another book of hers called "Grotesque", wanted to read another one, and bought "Out" in English at Powell's. Then, my friend who saw "Grotesque" in English at my place lend me "Out" in Japanese thinking I might be interested.

Now I have two "Out", US version and Japanese version. I will be curious to see what I feel about the books when I read them.
Soon, I will try Murakami, too.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Traveling Diary 2 - missing daughter on board

Missing 22 months old at 35,000 feet?!

My daughters have always been good sleeper. I have heard some of my friends' kids never sleeping on the plane, but that was never been the case for my girls.
When my youngest was 22 months old and the oldest was 4, we went to Japan.
The oldest was already potty trained, and the youngest was still in diaper. So, whenever the oldest has to go to bathroom on the plane, we all went. When I had to change the youngest daughter's diaper or I had to go to the bathroom, I either left the oldest at her seat occupied with something or took with us to bathroom.

There was a time both of them were asleep and I had to go to the bathroom. I held it for a while which I am used to now a days after having kids, but could not wait any more. Noticed the both of the girls were asleep and the lavatory was vacant, I decided to leave them where they were and and just to to the lavatory 10 feet away without asking flight attendants for assistance. I thought, "It will be only a minute. They are good sleeper, so it should be fine."

One minute later when I came back refreshed, the youngest daughter who was asleep flat on two seat were GONE. The oldest was still asleep leaning against the back and arm rest, and had not move a bit. I began to panic a little, and moved a little forward on aisle to get closer to our seat in the dark.

Then, I found the youngest still asleep on the floor right in front of our seats. She must have fallen from the seats and still remained asleep. I knew there was no way she would be able to go missing in the plane.

Since then, even if they are both asleep, I decide to ask flight attendant to watch them while I go to lavatory. Even when I know I will be back in a minute.