A Day in the Life with two little boys

Thanks Trish for putting us up to this again! I had a great time recording last year’s A Day in the Life Of, and it was interesting to see how things have changed (or didn’t!). One big thing that changed though is that since last August, my younger son started preschool!

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A Day in the Life of a Stay-Home Mum Tuesday March 22 2016

555 – we are up. Morning things and down for breakfast. Some slices of baguette today. PG Tips and milk for me.

630 – R leaves the house for the Bart station. I start clearing the dish washer and getting the kids breakfast ready. I listen to my latest audiobook on Scribd while doing this. It’s Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance and he makes me laugh.


640 – head upstairs to use the computer for a bit. I find it rather impossible to comment on blogspot blogs on my phone (or even Safari on my Mac) so I have to use Firefox to do that. Why does blogger make things so difficult??

645 – the kids are up and making noise but I don’t go in until 7 so I work on a blog post first

7 – wakey wakey. Well they’re already up and laughing about something. Which is good. Sometimes Finnian, my older boy (five next week!) can be a bit sulky in the mornings, if he has to be woken up. Caellum, who will be three next month, is always up early and generally cheerful. He does sometimes fuss about having to use the toilet. But not today. So it was a good start.

715 – downstairs and ready for breakfast. Milk, Chex and Cheerios today is the breakfast of choice.

Train lover
725 – have to settle them down when they start giggling about something and not eating. C asks for the Polar Express song. They just watched it for the first time this year and he really loves it. He’s a train guy.

Busy inventing something

750 – finally done with breakfast. Brush their teeth. They go play while I clean up the table, wash dishes etc.
815 – time to pack up and go to school. I almost forget their water bottles today. Oops. It takes a while to get these two going, using the toilet, putting on shoes, getting into the car seats etc. The younger one makes sure to bring his train in the car, the other one yells for his cap. So I go back into the house get stuff and we are finally off at about 830!

840 – one great thing is the school is less than ten minutes drive away and the car park is huge. The parking lot at F’s old school was horrendous and the driveway on a steep slope so drop off and pick up was such a pain! So drop off their bags, water bottles, jackets in their respective classrooms and then off to the other classroom where daycare happens if you drop off kids before 9.

Usually I head home and go for a walk or run errands but today I have to pick up some forms for school. F will be going to kindergarten this August and we are hoping to get him into the Mandarin immersion program at another public school nearby. In our city you get assigned to an elementary school depending on where you live and the school in our area isn’t fantastic and anyway we would so love to be able to get him into the immersion. They start with 90% mandarin 10% English in K and then slowly raise the English % by 10 each year until it levels off at 50-50. If we were in Singapore, all instruction for subjects like science and math would be in English but there would be Mandarin classes every day. So this programme would be fantastic if we can get in! Unfortunately there will be a lottery because there is only one class of 24 and some 50-odd kids trying to get in! I have to run the forms back to Student Services at the school district office. Then back home to do some chores.

945 – Exciting times! I’m cleaning up the guest room as my in-laws will be visiting from Singapore. They arrive on Saturday. I decide that I might as well vacuum the rest of the upstairs.

The problem with having three whole hours to myself in the mornings is that sometimes I try to do too much. So I decide to sit down with a book for a while, but the thought of what to feed the children pops into my head and I am off again, to see what is for lunch.

1015 – I decided to make them mac and cheese and fish porridge for myself, as my stomach has been wonky for the past few days. Rinse the short-grain rice and put it in a small pot with a knob of ginger and some salt and plenty of water. Porridge takes a while to cook so I let it be and thaw out some tilapia. Then finally sit down and read some news and scan Instagram and Facebook. Then remind myself that I should just read a book instead of all this dilly-dallying online! Pick up my current read, Junichiro Tanizaki’s Seven Japanese Tales.


11 – The porridge is done and I add more soy sauce, sesame oil and eat. (oh I had added the fish earlier, forgot about that). Then start cooking the kids’ lunch. Yup, the Kraft kind from the box. With frozen meatballs, frozen peas and corn. You can say what you like. I try to make sure that dinner is more ‘home cooked’ than that but lunch, lunch I just throw my hands up in the air and resort to things I know for sure they will eat.

1150 – head back to school to pick up the kids. C is ready but F’s class is still in circle time so I read a book with C first while we wait.

1215 – home again. The kids change and I warm up the lunch.

F drops a fork on the floor so I said that he would have to use that one. He suddenly bursts out crying and wailing. He tends toward the dramatic that one and is very sensitive about being told off. I tell him he won’t get lunch if he won’t calm down.
C asks for the Polar Express song. Again and again.

After mac and cheese, they get strawberries and yoghurt.

  
1 – the kids are done with lunch. Off to brush teeth. Then I have to cut their nails. They play while I clean up.

So that gets us to 130 and a diaper change for C. We talk about diapers and poop and potties, try bribery, treats, stickers, but I don’t know why he’s still doing this. (I deleted a long rambly but about potty training. Because on hindsight you don’t really need to read that. Unless you really are in the same predicament! Let me know!)


Then we head upstairs to play with Duplo (Lego for the younger kids). They have regular Lego too but Duplo is easier for the two-year-old to fix by himself. They have been working on funny cats and a garage together. Of course an argument ensues about not sharing pieces.

  
215 – it’s story time. We read four books and then I send F downstairs to play with his own Lego quietly. C gets another book, makes a lot of noise, kicks his bed, tosses and turns and finally nods off.

  

  

245 – I sit down with F to practise his writing and reading. We also do a bit of math. He makes a fuss about reading some harder words but sometimes he surprises me like reading the word ‘family’ without help. He is a reluctant reader, in the sense that he is happy to be read to, but doesn’t want to try. So we are struggling with this. He is happier to be doing math. We work on grouping numbers of things. And counting coins in fives and tens. He also wants to write a letter to Daddy

350 – we go up and wake up C who is sleeping soundly but he wakes up with a smiley face. They play some Lego and run around and because it’s drizzly today we have a dance party. Guess what? Polar Express song again. I pretend to be Sir Topham Hatt and give my trains their duties for the day. There’s some pretending to be dinosaurs and frogs and random rolling around and whatnot. Finally we settle down and look at books.


5 – we watch Sesame Street for a bit. I give them an hour of viewing time mostly so that I can cook in peace but today we have the exciting (not) leftovers to eat so I don’t have to cook. Woohoo.

615 – dinner time. It’s leftover beef chow fun and vegetable spring rolls for them. More fish porridge for me.

7 – Daddy’s home. The kids are crazy excited as always and I’m just so relieved. He eats and hangs out with them while I go upstairs and take a shower and get things ready for the kids’ shower. Thankfully the heater is ok today. The pilot light went out two nights in a row so we might have to get someone to look at it soon!

745 – bathtime for the kids. Since the dentist visit over the weekend, I’ve been trying to clean their teeth better so we floss and brush. Then shower and pjs. We read stories together, although sometimes C prefers to flip through books on his own instead of coming over to listen to the story. F and I are also reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory together. C always says “I don’t want to listen!” probably because there are few pictures to look at.

820 – goodnight hugs and kisses, we sing some songs together, and then lights out at 830.

I head into my bedroom. 

They’re still giggling and talking but not too loudly and not too long so I ignore them and turn on Netflix for a while. What am I watching? Fluff! Otherwise known as Lipstick Jungle! I have a soft spot for Kim Raver. And there’s Andrew McCarthy! Why did this not last longer? Also I try to read Arcadia by Lauren Groff. Then decide that I will read after finishing the episode. Because Groff’s writing is too good to half-read it (as I am sometimes guilty of doing). 

  
The husband is downstairs working. It’s the busy season for him. Tough times. 

1010 or so – I’m wiped out. Goodnight!

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A Day in the Life of… A Stay-Home Mum 

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A Day in the Life is hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity! Thanks Trish!

  Do you really want to hear the very exciting life of a stay-home mum to two kids under four (F will be turning 4 next week, C will be two in April)? If so, read on for what a typical Tuesday is like for me! Warning: it’s really not exciting at all! It is March 24 2015, Tuesday. 555 alarm rings and I’m off to change and get ready for the day. 

610 I’m downstairs getting breakfast ready for the Husband and I. Toast this morning. A small slice of Brie. Tea for me. We browse the papers online – CNN for him, The Guardian and New York Times for me – as well as Facebook and emails, and tell each other interesting news
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635 – he’s off to the Bart station and I have 25 minutes of alone time before I get the kids up. Thankfully it is all quiet on the monitor at the moment.
640 – spoke too soon. C, the almost-2, is calling Mummy mummy! I’m choosing to ignore him for the moment while I figure out what to pack for preschool lunch
650 – check on my blog post that’s scheduled for later this morning. I had written part of it on my tablet last night and need to add pictures
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705 – back upstairs to get the kids going. They’re already up. It’s relatively quick today although the almost-4, F (pictured above), gets upset when I choose the ‘wrong’ sweater.
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720 – we are down and ready for breakfast. The kids have milk and share a red bean bun today for a change from their usual cereal. F also has cheese.
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800 – brush teeth and off to play with the train set in the den. They are at the age where they can play together peacefully for a bit. I clean up, wash their breakfast things and then sit down and drink some coffee and read some blogs. We are early today. Partly because it was something different for breakfast. And added bonus, C didn’t wet the bed so I didn’t have to change his sheets. He’s still in diapers and wears night diapers but pretty much every other day it leaks, I’m guessing because he’s a side sleeper.
815 – C says “come on Mummy, let’s go play!”. So I do.
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830 – we get ready to go to school. Sunblock slapped on, toilet used, grab lunch bag, put kids in car.
840 – off to school
900 – home again home again. Try to convince C to play by himself while I wrap presents for F’s birthday next week. F is going to be four! I keep the scissors and tape out of his reach but let him play with the cardboard and leftover wrapping paper.
930 – manage to wrap two presents before C gets bored wants me to play.  We go upstairs and play with his Thomas trains and Lego duplo. And run around the house playing hide and seek.
1015 – I try to let him amuse himself while I cook vegetable soup with miso. And fish porridge. I end up having him sit in the high chair and stir some spoons around some pots and tupperware.
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1115 – lunchtime
1145 – while C eats his fruits I get started on dinner prep. Tonight’s menu is slow cooker pot roast so I slice up onions, season the meat and sear it on the stove, transfer to the slow cooker, then add the onions and garlic to the pot on the stove, brown them a bit, add some chicken stock and vegetable soup, and a bit of tomato paste and spices. Then transfer everything to the crockpot
1215 – head to preschool to pick up F. I’m on time today but the kids are out early so there’s no need to wait
1245 – home again. F changes, finishes his lunch. He had carrot sticks and grapes left. Then he gets to eat some roasted chestnuts we had leftover from the weekend trip to Mitsuwa where there’s a stall selling fresh roasted chestnuts outside. The Husband can never resist!
130 – after cleaning up and putting away stuff we go upstairs to play and read books. C starts running around and we play hide and seek for a while. While the kids play together for a bit I send out some emails and sneak a peak at some comments on my latest blog post.
215 – I put C in bed, send F downstairs to play, and read his favourite Thomas books. Then we sing some songs and he tells me night night. Of course the moment the door closes he starts calling for me. This has been happening for the past week and a half. He used to be so good at naps before this and now seems to be having some separation anxiety. Having had a cold recently hasn’t helped. I decide to let him cry. I know he’s tired and if I go in there, like I did yesterday, he will just keep talking to me, even if I lie down and pretend to sleep.
225 – I head downstairs to check on F who asks me to help fix his new lego set (a Christmas present he was just allowed to open)
240 – I check the monitor and C seems to be asleep. Settle down at kitchen table with F to do his lego. I keep one eye on him and one eye on my Kindle. I’m reading Americanah at the moment. He’s working on a truck, which we had started on yesterday, and does pretty well at it but sometimes skips a step or places the piece wrongly so I get him to check each step with me
310 – Ok! Check the crockpot. Cut up some cabbage and celery and throw those in. Grab some cremini mushrooms and carrots and chop those up and throw them in. Then settle down to read a bit more while F plays with his just-fixed truck.
335 – well that was a short nap. Crying begins again. I give him about five minutes then head upstairs to get him. He’s very clingy and fussy. And has wet the bed. So much for the sheets then. He just wants me to carry him and when I leave the room he wails. Terrible twos. We play upstairs. With trains and Legos and books.
500 – Downstairs for some TV viewing aka my “leave me alone now!” time. I know what they say about under twos and TV but a stay-home mum needs a spare minute -or thirty every day. And that’s usually when I cook dinner. Today since dinner is already pretty much done in the slow cooker, the only thing I need to do is cook rice. Thanks rice cooker! While the rice is cooking and the kids occupied, I run outside and take in the rubbish bins (it’s trash day) and do some general tidying up around the house. And get things ready for dinner. Plates, utensils, cups. Then wash and cut fruits for the kids for after dinner. Finally I get to sit down for a bit, check email, Facebook, Instagram and Feedly.

600 – we run around the backyard for a while, watching airplanes and playing with pinwheels

630 – dinnertime. Pot roast with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, celery. Served with brown rice. 

650 – the younger one is done with dinner. The older one is struggling. He keeps talking instead of eating and is staring into space now. But I think he’s pretending as he “wakes up” at the mention of cake. No there’s no cake.
655 – now C wants cake. He’s in the screamy stage so he screams for no reason I can understand. He refuses his grapes. Then wants them again. Then refuses. Then wants them again. F eats one grape then asks for a clementine. C throws his bib on the floor. I play the Thomas theme song and calm returns again.
710 – the kids drink milk, wash up and go play. I put dishes in the dishwasher, hand wash some other things like the kids’ plates. The dish out the food onto a plate for the husband and place the leftovers in Pyrex dishes for the fridge.
720 – hooray! The husband is back!  The kids play in the living room with some construction toys I’ve pulled out of the closet to occupy them.
745 – we all head upstairs to shower, story time and bed. C always wants his Thomas storybooks. F decides he wants a Cars (as in Pixar Cars) book and I also read an Eric Carle book about a hermit crab to both of them.
820 – we leave the room after singing some songs and saying goodnight. I go downstairs and clear the rubbish and make sure things are clean, doors are locked. The Husband heads back to the study to work more. It’s his busy season and he’s been working late even after he gets home, often till 10 or so. I’m off to shower, brush my teeth and all that. But first I check the monitor. F is quiet but C keeps calling, “wake up gege”. Gege means older brother in Mandarin
845 – I feel so much refreshed after the shower. And the kids are asleep. It’s finally peaceful in the house. Hooray! I settle down with House MD on the tablet and Attica Locke’s Pleasantville. And to write this post.
1030 – Goodnight!
 

Newport Beach roadtrip

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/70a/10455688/files/2014/12/img_4219.jpgI never thought of making Newport Beach a destination, but I’m glad we did! It was a delightful, relaxing four nights away from home, at a sprawling hotel/timeshare resort – so big it has a shuttle service, three big pools, tennis courts, playground, basketball court and more.

Holidaying with young kids is never easy – getting them to sleep at the usual time never happens, and with the younger one sleeping in our bed (the grandparents got the three-year-old), I got jabbed and kicked and edged out of bed. And because he’s 19-months-old, sleeping in means 645am – even after sleeping an hour later than usual! And of course as they always do, they fought over the same few toys and books that we brought with us, ate far more snacks than usual, and had themselves a ball of a time running around the hotel. But I managed to finish a book, get halfway through another, and even browse some magazines. So that was a great holiday!

 

 

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There was all kinds of Christmassy things to set the mood. A walk in the lovely Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar found us among a garden of poinsettia and the rest of the gardens were decorated for Christmas! A cute little gem in this elite town. The kids also sat the reindeer carousel at South Coast Plaza and we managed to finally catch the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which was in its 106th year. We had tried – and failed – to find a place to park on Balboa Island the night before. And it was getting late and we were all hungry and tired after a long day so we skipped it. The next day, Sunday, parking was still tough but we persevered, parked so very far and walked and walked and walked to get to a viewing spot and got to see some wonderfully decorated boats, including a fire-breathing dragon! Wee Reader was so thrilled.
 

 

 

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And of course plenty of eating! A one and a half hour wait for Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza! Was it worth it? Well, it’s Din Tai Fung, and they make good xiaolongbao. And there isn’t a branch in the Bay Area! 😦

 

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And I must say that I had some rather delightful salads. From top left, the husband’s bison burger with sweet potato hash and kale at True Foods Kitchen, lemon tart and spinach and prosciutto salad at The Sliding Door Cafe at Balboa Peninsula. Some fun drinks – pomegranate limeade and a cranberry-tea-pomegranate soda at True Foods.

 

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One of the best things was taking in the beauty of sunset from the hotel.

#AMonthofFaves – Favourite TV series for repeated viewing

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A Month of Favorites is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T, and Andi at Estella’s Revenge

So today it’s all about five favorite digital lifehacks OR five favorite non-bookish things.

Most of my spare time is spent reading. And with two littles aged 1.5 and 3.5, there isn’t very much time to spare! This probably sounds a bit crazy but I like to re-watch TV shows. You’re probably thinking, but there are so many other new series to watch! For me it’s kind of a background viewing while reading a book. Yeah you’re right that does sound crazy!

Anyway, here’s what I love to re-watch:

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Joss Whedon’s Firefly

The Husband first introduced me to the show when we were dating. I thought he was insane. Space outlaws! Why would I watch that? But it is a show with such heart and humour, fun and moving stories, great characters. Plus they curse in Chinese or their version of Mandarin Chinese – it’s my second language and I have no idea what they say most of the time. It’s a fun show! Don’t let that ‘space’ ‘sci-fi’ ‘western’ thing put you off.

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House MD 

I’m currently re-watching season four and am marveling at how they wrote the two-part season finale. I knew what was going to happen (very dramatic and shocking the first time I saw it), yet it still stunned and moved me throughout. You probably don’t immediately reach for a medical drama when it comes to re-watching, but I love this series. And it’s Hugh Laurie!

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Sex and the City 

The series. Just not the movie. Not ever again. The clothes, the city life, the shopping, the nights out, and their friendship.

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Band of Brothers

Another series that was introduced by the Husband, with whom I’ve re-watched this twice so far. We attempted to watch The Pacific, the companion series which focused on the Pacific Theatre of Operations (Band of Brothers’ focus is the European Theatre), but didn’t get past two episodes. So very moving. The comradeship, their bravery and all the hardship and tragedy of war. A wonderful tribute to these amazing people.

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Gilmore Girls

I saved the best – and most-re-watched – for last. How I love this show. I loved it so much I bought the DVD box sets and re-watched them over and over. And now it’s on Netflix so I can see it anytime! The quirky residents of Stars Hollow, the relationship with Richard and Emily, bossy Paris, rebellious Lane! And the Gilmore Girls themselves, although I can’t take too much of Lorelei at one go! Best show ever.

Links for a foggy Wednesday morning

It has been ages since I’ve done one of these!

Edan Lepucki writes at The Millions about likeability in fiction. She mentions her novel, California, which I really ought to try to read soon! And this year is ending! Gah… Have you read it yet? Or are you intending to?

If you’ve not checked out the series that Morning News is doing on writers in restaurants, you really ought to! Here’s their brief: “In our series, we send novelists out into the field to eat in restaurants and report back, as long as they file something that fits two criteria: It is a restaurant review; it is not a restaurant review. From there, they’re free to go wherever inspiration takes them.”. And here is Charles Yu on Buffalo Wild Wings

So many great topics on Nonfiction November’s second week: Be/Become/Ask the expert. SOOOO many books to add to my TBR list!

The Mouse Mansion – what a cute book!

A fun post on Scratch and Sniff Books for Grownups on BookRiot!

Non-bookish things:

This Gruyere and Emmentaler Mac and Cheese with Ham and Cubed Sourdough at Vanilla Garlic is going on my mental list of recipes to try!

I usually have udon in my fridge, and often stir it into a quickly made chicken and vegetable soup or tom yum soup (made from one of those pastes). But this recipe for a meat sauce at Teczcape sounds quick and easy too!

Usually I’m not a cheesecake person but this Coconut and Mango Yogurt Cheesecake at Dessert First sounds divine!

Offline for a bit

I’ve been meaning to post some mini reviews of books I’ve read. Plus links to bookish and non-bookish things. And posts about two children’s books that my friends in Singapore have written.

But all that will have to wait a bit. The littler reader has been sick, fever on and off, and now a sore throat. I didn’t know under-twos got sore throats and not sure where it came from as everyone at home is fine (he doesn’t go to daycare). It’s been tricky as he doesn’t want to eat, finds it hard to nap, isn’t interested in playing much and always wants to be held.

So I’m going to be doing that right now and will leave the blogging and blog-reading for another time.

See you all in a bit!

Things I’m loving this Thursday

20140731-084030-31230703.jpgThese two. Always and forever. (That’s his favourite book)

The nice and cool morning we’re having. A bit of an overcast sky is a nice change from the full blast of the sun!

Jenny Lewis is back with Voyager. I’m so glad.

This three ingredient salsa from Smitten Kitchen makes me want to go out and get me some tomatoes!

This blueberry lemon cake with lemon glaze from Averie Cooks

Celery Bread sounds like a good way to use up celery next time.

I’m going to see whether my library has any of these books by Rose Tremain for Savidge Reads’ Trespassing with Tremain

I’ve added books to my TBR list thanks to these links:

Mr Gwyn – Alessandro Baricco (B&N Review)

This one’s for the kids: What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (BookDragon)

JoV at Bibliojunkie is back on her blog and making me want to read Apple Tree Yard by Louis Doughty!

Aarti’s #Diversiverse genre spotlights, like this one on non-fiction, this one on historical fiction. And here’s her main post explaining what it’s all about.