Sunday, April 20, 2008

Birthday Party for Astrid #3

Astrid turned 3 on Saturday, and we celebrated 3 days in a row (Friday at preschool, Saturday just with our nuclear family, and then today's big birthday bash with lots of Astrid's friends). This year we made arrangements months ahead of time to have Astrid's birthday party at Peekaboo Playland, Astrid's favorite indoor playground in Eagle Rock. Peekaboo Playland is only open to the public during the week, and on the weekends it's reserved for private parties. It's the perfect spot to have a kid's birthday and they have staff on hand to help you set up, decorate, and clean up. When we arrived we saw that they had put out a sign on the front lawn with "Happy Birthday Astrid" written on a chalkboard, and colored balloons attached. A really nice touch. And since it's located in a craftsman-style house, and tucked behind a Chiropractic office that rents out the front of the house, the sign made it easy for everyone to find. Having fun on the slide attached to the indoor bouncy house.
Wheeeee!...the girls having fun going down the slide backwards.
Here comes the birthday girl!
Peekaboo Playland only allows up to 15 kids, and I thought that wouldn't be a problem, but as we got closer to the date and more and more kids were RSVP'ing - I found myself in a bit of a predicament - as I found out that Astrid has way more than 15 friends that wanted to come - from gymnastics class, dance class, preschool, and family friends. What I ended up doing was not inviting all her friends at school - but only her small class. The day of the party I was still getting last minute RSVP's so I ended up running out to the store that morning and buying more goodie bags - and we ended up having more than 15 kids there, but it turned out just fine. I'm happy to report that the party police didn't come and shut us down. =)
Kids can run amok around Peekaboo Playland and since there's padding all around it's safe. There's nothing dangerous there that your kids can get into. And it's one big room, so you can keep an eye on your kid from wherever you're sitting or standing. The owner has a small child a little younger than Astrid (and a newborn) so it has a toddler mom's touch.
Having fun in the ball pit.
The girls got into the costume chest and were playing dress up. These 3 girls are from Astrid's preschool (Olivia, Alicia, and Lilly - Olivia and Lilly are sisters).
Olivia was a godsend when Astrid first started preschool. Being the older sister , she was used to caring for her younger sister - and being a year older than Astrid, she acted as a mother hen to Astrid when I would drop her off at school. She would take Astrid by the hand and show her around and really made her feel welcome at school. She was Astrid's first school friend.
Normally Astrid isn't into dress up and she's definitely not into Princesses, but because she saw the other girls doing it - she had to wear a Princess dress as well.Twirling around telling everyone she was a Princess. She is our princess.The pink frilly dress didn't stop her from playing just as hard.

When I was deciding what to dress Astrid in - Astrid wanted to wear her pretty blue dress - but I opted for a more practical outfit (pants and shirt) so she could crawl and climb and it wouldn't get in her way of playing. But here she is wearing a dress over her clothes - and she's still doing all the things that she was when she had just the pants on.I love this photo of Astrid zooming down the slide - looking so happy.All the adults standing around chatting, drinking mimosas while watching the kids and cracking up at their antics.It's even more fun going down the slide with a ball, and a classmate who's going down head first. That's her classmate Atash.

Recently Astrid's preschool was closed for 1 week for Spring break, and we went to a sister preschool that was available for daycare during that week. By that time Astrid was used to going to school - but in an unfamiliar environment she reverted back to crying and latching onto me. Thank goodness she saw a familiar face - Atash who was also there for the week. As soon as she saw him all was okay and she sat down and started playing with the Duplo legos on a rug with him.More dress up fun. These 2 girls are from Astrid's dance class. Too cute. Cinderella trying on her pink slipper while downing an organic kid's milk.
Some of her friends had younger siblings like this one - here playing with balls.

You can see the cubby holes in the background to hold everyone's shoes - it's a shoe-free environment - and they keep the playground very clean. There's also a puppet theater. This little girl is from Astrid's dance class.
You can see the big banner hanging on the wall that says "Happy Birthday Astrid!"Peekaboo Playland also has an outdoor play area, with swings and play houses, slides, and a maze. In the summer they have pools and water fun. Now that I'm working, this is the first time we've been back, since they have private parties on the weekends - so it's not open to the public. Another working mom at the party lives in Eagle Rock and she was delighted to be here to check it out for the first time. For those same reasons, it was also U.'s first time here.In the kid swing it looks like Astrid is wearing a pink tutu.She loves the swings and will shout, "Higher!...Higher!"Papa and the birthday girl.Trying to ride the big bike.More swinging fun.
Our happy birthday girl.
Kids kids everywhere!
Moms having a chat. This is the first time I've seen some of the moms that I used to see on a weekly basis when I was a stay at home mom with Astrid.
As I was taking the cake out of the box it slipped and fell - first onto my leg and then on the ground. Just as U. was asking me a question - I said, "I dropped the cake" - he saw it lying upside down splat on the kitchen floor - and immediately said, "I'll go to the store and get another one!" Luckily the bakery we used is just down the street so he got another cake - had them write "Happy Birthday Astrid" on it - and I rinsed off the circus cake topping from the original cake - and we were good to go. Astrid wearing her special birthday hat.It was so cute to see all the kids wearing party hats. I even wore one for a bit. One kid asked me why Astrid got to wear a special hat and I told him because she's the birthday girl. He thought about it and said, "I never get to wear a special hat on my birthday." Sorry dude.
Mama and birthday girl.
I can't believe my daughter is already 3 years old! That old saying is really true - when you have a kid you have the longest days and the shortest years. They turned out the lights and we all sang happy birthday to Astrid. She's fascinated by the big 3 candle lit on top of her birthday cake.
Papa saved the day by getting this replacement cake. It was delicious by the way with really light whipped cream frosting and strawberries. Other than the flower, you couldn't tell it wasn't the original cake.
Astrid licking the frosting off a strawberry.
All the kids wanted to touch the cake and so shortly afterwards the staff whisked the cake away to cut it in the kitchen, and then brought out individually sliced pieces of cake on plates for us.
The girls looking at the boys going "Bad boys. You're not supposed to touch the birthday cake." Astrid looks aghast here that the boys were ruining her cake. I just thought it was funny - kids being kids. One kid pulled out one of the balloon cake toppers - but here you can see the circus themed cake with the multi-colored choo choo train (that one of the boys pushed deeper into the frosting as he tried to make it move across the cake), balloons, and a clown.

Since this was only the 2nd time we've allowed Astrid to have any cake I thought she'd be all over it, but interestingly enough she just ate the strawberries and just a couple small bites of cake and she was done. She was more interested in playing with the animal puppet and pretending that it was biting mommy's arm.
Us adults having some fun in the bouncy house. That's Jill (Astrid's Godmother - who took all these beautiful photos) and I. Jill's husband Bill took this photo. Aside from being fun it's always great exercise.
The perfect ratio of 3 adults and 3 kids inside the bouncy house.
Jill tickling Astrid.
After our 2 hours were up the staff let everyone know it was time to go home - and Astrid handed out goodie bags to all her friends as I tried to coach her to say thank you to everyone. Astrid had such a great time (and U. even admitted that he could have stayed for another 2 hours) that she started crying at the end because she didn't want her birthday party to end.
Thank you to everyone who came and made Astrid's 3rd birthday so memorable. And a great big hug and thank you to Jill who took all these beautiful photos.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Birthday wishes from Astrid's Godmother


Happy Birthday #3 Astrid!

Astrid was born 3 years ago today at 5:21 PM.
It's hard to believe our little bundle of joy is now 3 years old.

That old saying is really true: "When you have a child you have the longest days but the shortest years."
Tonight we went to La Grande Orange, a new restaurant that just opened in Pasadena (in the old train depot) for dinner, to celebrate Astrid's birthday. U. and I sang happy birthday to Astrid as she stared into the lit candle in her slice of cake and then blew out her candle.

Tomorrow is the big day - her birthday party with a bunch of her friends at Peekaboo Playground, her favorite indoor playground.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I hope I didn't traumatize my daughter & cause her to have a fear of roaches

So tonight Astrid and I spot a cockroach in the bathroom. A great, big, scary one. So I'm in there, trying to kill it with a broomstick handle. I'm standing on the toilet, trying to get at it as it's climbing along the windowsill, as my daughter is standing near the doorway watching. All of a sudden the sucker flies off the windowsill. I had no idea cockroaches had wings!

At this point I'm looking for where it landed, but I can't see it. Until I look down and notice it's on me. Eeeek! I jump down off the toilet and then all of a sudden my daughter is screaming and crying saying it's on her leg.

It was the most terrifying and yet comical thing that has happened to us yet. My 3 year old daughter is terrified of this huge cockroach. I'm 34 and just as freaked out by it, but I'm just better at hiding it.

I ask Astrid where the bug went and she's so freaked out all she can do is cry. So I hold her for a bit and ask her if it crawled under the fridge. She nods and finally says yes in fact it went under the fridge. I moved the fridge this way and that way and the bug was no where to be found.

Astrid said, "Maybe it went home. To bug home."

And later after she calmed down (after lots of hugs and kisses and reassurances from mommy that it's not going to hurt her) she told me, "It have ears."

I was holding her and I just had to put down my head and laugh.

"Why you laugh in my belly mom?" asked Astrid.

"Because you're just so cute sometimes," I said.

Now let's just hope she's not traumatized by this whole episode with the cockroach.

When I find spiders I catch them and put them outside, but cockroaches are different story.

A similar thing happened with my mom:
Once a mouse got into my parents' house while my mom was at home with a friend of hers. She was terrified, and both women screamed. They soon collected themselves, and after climbing down from their chairs, her friend and her cornered the mouse in the pantry and kept spraying Raid into it's face. After going through an entire can of Raid, the mouse just stared back. Later they realized the mouse had died with its eyes open. I'm telling ya that stuff is toxic!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Countdown to Astrid's 3rd birthday

Astrid's third birthday is next week. Last year for her 2nd birthday it was just a family affair. For her 1st birthday we had a traditional Korean affair with friends and family. For this year's birthday - #3 - it's important to invite Astrid's friends (from gymnastics, preschool, dance class) and family to come celebrate.

We attended a 3 year old birthday for one of Astrid's friends not too long ago and Astrid is excited to have a birthday party of her own. If she's not behaving or she's in a grumpy mood, all you have to do is remind her about her birthday and her ears will perk up..."Birthday party? My birthday party?" And then she will get really animated and give you a run down of everyone who's coming to her party.

The place - Peekaboo Playground - Astrid's favorite indoor playground in Eagle Rock. It has an indoor bouncy house with a slide that kids (and adults love), a ball pit, trains, costumes for dressing up, puppets and a puppet theater, puzzles, an electronic kid's piano with a kid sized piano bench, and even an outdoor area with two swings and a maze and slides and play houses. Fun fun fun all around and it's much less hassle to do it there (staff helps with the setup and cleanup) and we'll leave with a "come back again for free" pass for the birthday girl.

I was surprised by all the marketing garbage out there for kid's birthday parties. I mean can't you have a kid's birthday anymore without having the theme be a TV cartoon character? A kid's birthday party should be about imagination, fun and whimsy right? So I chose a cake with a multi-colored choo-choo train and clowns on it.

In going with the circus theme I got balloons in primary colors - yellow, red, and blue, with matching table cloths, plates, napkins, cups and utensils in those same colors. I also found a really cute clown pinata that's Astrid's size. She loved it and wanted to hold it and kiss it. She kept saying, "It's so cute."

Astrid helped me make goodie bags for her friends today. "Presents for my friends?" she would ask.

The party is reserved for 2 hours (that's the allowable time) from 10 AM to 12 Noon. Since it's too early for lunch, but we still need to have some food to munch on, I'm thinking more along the lines of brunch. I'm also planning on having mimosas for the adults.

It should make for a fun Sunday morning, which I'm sure will go by so fast! It'll be the first time Astrid really understands what a birthday party is and to have her friends and family sing happy birthday to her is something special (Kodak moment). Yes, U. and I will be there with our cameras (photo and video), and Astrid's Godmother Jill who is a photographer will also be snapping photos galore. I'm looking forward to it.

Two days before I'll be bringing cupcakes to Astrid's preschool for her class to sing happy birthday to her and have a little party for her. I requested these cupcakes that are low in sugar with just a touch of frosting (the size of a Hershey's kiss), just enough to stick a smiley faced ring into. Me bringing cupcakes to my kid's school for her birthday? Now I feel like a bona fide mom.

Allergies?

Last month (March) Astrid's nose was running constantly. I remember this because she just started preschool and I was worried that the school faculty would think she was sick and send her home and she'd need someone there to constantly wipe her nose. At first I thought the runny nose was caused by her teething, but it's now mid April and her nose still constantly runs.

I mentioned this to U. and he noted that he thinks Astrid has allergies. It's definitely allergy season, so it's a definite possibility. Plus U. has severe allergies this time of year where he can barely breathe with his sinuses all plugged up, and his eyes get really red and swollen. He has to take daily prescription allergy medication just to function. I on the other hand have no allergies to speak of. (Thank goodness!) As in all aspects involving our child, we hope that Astrid got the better of our two gene pools. (For example - U.'s great eyesight - whereas my vision is so bad I can't read the clock on the nightstand without squinting.)

So now that I've pinpointed the possible link between Astrid's constant runny nose and allergy season - it's something we need to ask our Pediatrician about at our next check up and see what we can do about it.

When I pick Astrid up from school most times her nose is crusted over. I place a tissue in her pocket every morning and there's a box of tissues with her name on it in her classroom, because I can't expect the teachers to constantly wipe her nose every 10 minutes. But there's gotta be a better solution. I can give her some children's Benadryl, but it's medication - and I don't want to keep her drugged everyday. Does anyone have any suggestions for maybe homeopathic remedies that I can give my 3 year old daughter?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Made in the USA

Astrid and I went shopping for a new pair of Crocs for her, as she's outgrown her old ones, and they're just really great versatile shoes. Especially if there's a lot of back and forth going from the house to the backyard, swimming, etc. For kids it makes it so much easier to slip them on and off. I turned them over and was shocked...yes shocked...to see they are made in the USA. I rarely see that and never with shoes. I know there's a huge mark up on these shoes...because for kid shoes...these are pretty expensive ($27), but they're worth it because they last and they're easy to wash. Good to see there's an industry here for them and they're profitable. Go USA!

(Btw she picked out purple Crocs this time around. Her last pair were aqua.)

From the mouths of babes

Astrid was fascinated by all the people in the MAC store applying cosmetics. I didn't think much of it as I saw her staring. I was just happy I had some time to pick out a new lipstick while the little one was entertained by her surroundings. Until we left the store and Astrid starting talking, and showing me how people were applying makeup.

Astrid: "Why they put on their eye?"
Me: "Oh you mean mascara? They put that on their eyelashes."
Astrid: "Yeah on their eye."
(I'm thinking it must look strange from her point of view like they're putting something on their eye. This morning she quizzed me thoroughly about my eyelash curler and if it hurt. Which I assured her it didn't. Us women know it only hurts when we accidentally pinch ourselves.)
Astrid: "Why they do that?"
Me: "You mean why do they wear makeup?"
Astrid: "Yeah. Why???"
Me: "Oh I guess it's because they think it makes them look better."
Astrid pointed her little finger at me and said...
Astrid: "You too!"
I had to chuckle at that. Every morning she's watches me apply makeup in the bathroom before leaving the house. I'm guilty as charged.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

4 weeks of school/work

To date it's been 4 weeks of school for Astrid and 4 weeks at my new job.

Morning Routine
We've become a well oiled machine in the mornings. We have a small window of time to get everything done (bath, breakfast, change of clothes, lunch packed, hair, and then mommy gets ready), and for the most part Astrid is great when we stick to our routine.

Astrid has what I call her "rain man" tendencies when it comes to wanting to do things in a certain order and sticking to the routine. Probably normal for most kids. For example, she has to have her hair done while she is watching a cartoon (it turns into a major catastrophe if I try to do her hair in the bathroom or with the TV off), and she will not brush her teeth until right before we leave. Silly stuff like that.

But on the flip side, she also knows what to expect and what comes next. So after our bath she knows we're going downstairs to have breakfast. And she knows that after she gets dressed we do her hair, etc. And when we leave the house she'll ask to make sure we have her lunch and her clean bedding (on Mondays). She knows what's expected of her and she understands when we're on time or late.

It's a big help that she's so cooperative. For example, I ask her to put on her shoes (which she does by herself now) and this gives me a couple minutes to shut off the heater, gather up our belongings, put on my shoes, etc., and since she's putting on her shoes next to the front door, we're ready to leave the house.

Food
I try to switch it up and give Astrid an assortment of things to eat for lunch, so she doesn't get bored, and I'm starting to see preferences. She will tell me in the morning what NOT to put in her lunch. For example, she'll say "Mommy no yogurt today". So I'll ask her if she wants a cheese instead for her morning snack at school. A week later she might ask me if I can put a yogurt in her lunch.

I recently found out that she does not like lunch meat. I tried turkey and then chicken, and always it comes back uneaten in her lunch bag. (Which is probably a good thing with their high sodium content.) Prior to school she never ate lunch meat because she had hot lunches with mommy everyday. So with trial and error I'm finding out her likes and dislikes for a sack lunch.

At dinner, we're still trying to have a sit down dinner with all 3 of us when it's possible (Mama, Papa, Astrid - as Astrid is fond of saying.) But some nights when Astrid is fussy, I question whether it's worth it. U. and I don't have an enjoyable meal and it seems more stressful than anything. But last night we had a very nice dinner together. So that's still a work in progress.

Friends
Astrid has a lot of friends at school. When I drop her off at preschool in the mornings I've seen kids shout her name, "Astrid!" and get all excited and wave hi to her. One little boy, Mio even ran up to her saying her name, and then stood next to her like he was her boyfriend. And then there are the older kids that Astrid likes to play with. One day one of the girls, Olivia (who was a life saver in the beginning - who would take Astrid by hand and show her around and introduce her to the other kids) was downtrodden and was looking down at the floor - Astrid saw her and said, "Mommy what's wrong with Olivia. Why she so sad?"

School has definitely been a positive in Astrid's social development. After giving me a hug and a kiss goodbye she will run over to her friends and play, without needing any encouragement.

I also hear about her day on the drive home. About one girl crying, or another being a bad girl, or a couple boys who she plays with at recess, and all the kids in her class. I can't wait to get the school photo with names under each kid's pic so I can identify each child.

Challenges
It's still a challenge with U. and I both working. We've agreed that I get 1 designated evening a week to myself for social and networking events, or to stay late at work. On the home front it seems we're always doing laundry. You never imagine how much laundry piles up when you're working. We may need to get her housekeeper to come every week (rather than once every 2 weeks).

Today we both went to the grocery store separately (neither of us knew the other one was going) so now we have 5 half gallons of milk. Oh well it'll get used somehow.