Thursday, January 31, 2013

family photo shoot.

Way back in November, when we were visiting the hubs' family for Thanksgiving, the hubs' BFF (so cute, right?) kindly took some photos for us. He does it as a hobby and volunteered to take family portraits for us, so we (I) jumped the chance, coordinating outfits and all! :) (would you expect any less from me??)

Here are some of my favorites!

And just for kicks, here's what CB looked like when we told him we were going outside for a little bit...

 ...And here's what he looked like when we told him we were outside to take pictures.


Monday, January 14, 2013

on being *that* playground mom.

Let me preface this post by sharing two things/disclaimers:

1. I am stickler for playground safety. When I was 6, I fell off the monkey bars (I was hanging upside down -- not following the rules!) and broke my collar bone. It was awfully painful, but the worst part was that I had to have inside recess for a month! I've seen waaaaay too many kids sent to the hospital with broken bones or concussions from getting hurt on the playground. Even with careful supervision, accidents happen left and right and they can be quite scary!

2. I have zero tolerance for bullying. That's probably an obvious thing to say (I mean, who stands up *for* bullying?), but I really believe that any time bullying goes unnoticed or unaddressed, the bully gains more power and it perpetuates the cycle.

Did you totally hear the teacher in me in those two points? I did
. ;)

Like most three year-olds, Choi Boy loves going to the playground. And I love going with him. We have lots of fun playing, pretending, exploring, and trying out the different playground structures and equipment. Being at the playground together is something we both enjoy and it's one of times where I love playing with CB (admittedly, playing trains doesn't excite me as much as it does CB). I will admit that there are times when I send a quick text or stop to Instagram a photo of CB playing, but for the most part, we play on the playground together -- I climb with him when I can, and when I can't, I make sure I'm right next to him to spot him or help him if he needs help. If we meet up with friends at the playground, it's no different -- the kids might play together, but the parents make sure we still follow the kids around. (In a lot of ways, this actually makes it stressful to be at the playground with friends -- we just end up chasing our own kiddos around the playground because they often don't play together!)

Things will probably change as CB grows older, but it will be quite a while until I feel that he is able to play on the playground unsupervised. This is the one area where I will admit to being a bit of helicopter parent. In other settings and during other times, I highly encourage independent play, exploration, and problem-solving, but when CB's direct safety on structures that are often more than twice his height is concerned, you can bet I'll be there hovering!

This is why it really irks me when parents don't properly supervise their children on the playground. Especially when the children are young, like 7 years-old (2nd grade) or younger. (And don't even get me started on mall playgrounds or fast food restaurant playgrounds! My parents own a quick-service restaurant and they have had to call the police more than once because parents have dropped their young children off at the playground and left the restaurant for over an hour! Crazypants. But that's for a different post...) More than a few times, I've helped a fallen child get back up while her parent was sitting on a bench unaware that her child had gotten hurt. More than a few times, I've told a child that the stunt they were about to try probably wasn't a good idea (walking on top of the play structure as if it were a tightrope, for example). And just a few weeks ago, I took my crazy playground mom self to a whole new level when I reprimanded someone else's child.

Again, I have zero tolerance for bullying. There are times when yes, I should probably stay out of it, but in a lot of ways, I feel that it is my duty as a parent, as a teacher, as a citizen to say something when I see it. Especially when it involves young children. This particular incident did involve young children, CB being one of them. While at the playground, CB found some other three(ish) year-old kids to play with and they were having a grand old time together playing "store" under one of the bigger structures. I stood just outside of their little gathering where I could still keep an eye and ear on things. Another one of the kid's parents also stood nearby and we smiled at each other when the kids said or did something that was particularly cute or funny. One of the little boys CB was playing with had come to the playground with an older boy who was maybe 6 years-old. Their moms were on the other side of the playground with a baby in a stroller, chatting.

The older boy, who was riding his bike on the playground, started throwing mulch at his little friend, taunting him about something. He probably just wanted to be included, but took to mulch throwing instead. The younger boy asked him to stop several times, but the older boy kept laughing and throwing. Soon he started to throw mulch at all of the younger kids and they all asked him to stop. When he wouldn't stop (and I made sure to wait until after the kids had asked him to stop because at that point it was clear that they didn't like it), I looked at him, made eye contact, and told him, "They have asked you to stop. It is unsafe for you to throw mulch and they don't like it. You need to stop." He looked a little startled and took off on his bike. He didn't come back, and instead hung around his mom until they left.

Who knows what his mom would have said or done if she had seen me talk sternly to her child... and perhaps the kid even told his mom about the crazy lady that yelled at him. But you know what? I don't feel any remorse for doing what I did. And I hope if he did tell his mom, she would have said to him, "Well, you shouldn't have been throwing mulch! You know better than that!" Because that's what I would have said. Because if I wasn't keeping tabs on Choi Boy at the playground (or in any other setting, for that matter), and he did something that was unsafe or mean or unkind, I would want someone to say something to him. Because I want CB to know that even I don't hear it or see it, he is still accountable for his actions. If I'm honest, I know there probably will come a day when I won't be watching and CB will do something that is less than desirable or he will get hurt. And when that happens, I do hope there is another crazy playground mom around who will say something to help correct his behavior or help him up.

How about you? How would you have responded to that situation? Are you a crazy playground parent?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Style vs. Practicality: Skinny Jeans and Little Boys

A few weeks ago, I had a pretty big mommy fail. Choi Boy, who has been fully potty-trained for almost 9 months, had an accident -- only the 3rd pee accident he's ever had since those first 3 days. And it was TOTALLY my fault.

You see, my little boy, who is eager to grow in his independence, headed to the bathroom by himself while we were at a Christmas party. He does this all the time at home and knew where the bathroom was at his friend's house, so it didn't seem like it would be an issue. In fact, I didn't even realize CB had headed to the bathroom until I heard him frantically shouting, "Mommy! Mommy! Come fast!!!" I rushed into the bathroom and found CB in tears saying, "I had an accident, Mommy! I peed in my pants..." He was so sad...and *I* was so sad when I realized that the reason he peed in his pants was because he couldn't get his skinny jeans off by himself.



Back when we initially potty trained, I relented and kept Choi Boy in elastic-waist pants and shorts to help the process go more smoothly. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of little boys in sweatpants and basketball shorts all day, every day. And I know there's probably only a small window of time before that's all CB wants to wear! So, once the cooler autumn weather rolled in, we were back to skinny jeans and cords for CB...

He has been really great about getting his pants off and back on by himself and asks for help if/when he needs it. And never once has he complained about the clothes I put him in (secretly, I think he likes them ;)...despite how miserable he might look in that picture!).

I guess this time he had just held out for too long and the jeans were just too skinny. And after seeing his face last week, I'll most likely retire that pair.

We won't be abandoning button and zipper pants altogether, but we'll be leaning a little more heavily on elastic-waist pants. And while little girls definitely have a leg up (haha) in this department with all the variations of adorable leggings that are available to them, take heart, moms of boys, because we aren't just limited to sweatpants -- hurrah!

We have this pair of cargo pants from the Gap that we bought early in the Fall and we also have these elastic-waist skinny cargos from Korea that are a pretty close second to CB's now-retired skinny jeans.
(Not sure why he's standing on his tippy toes!)

I don't plan on buying any more pants until Choi Boy is ready for the next size up (his old skinnies are actually 18-24 months...and yes, I do still feel terrible about the whole incident!), so we will have throw sweatpants into the mix more frequently. But, when CB isready for new, bigger pants, you can bet we'll be looking into these very cute, non-sweatpants elastic-waist pants!

1) Gap; 2) Zara; 3) Zara; 4) H&M;

And when we do get to the point where all CB wants to wear are sweatpants, I might be okay with it if they're as cute as these:

I said *might*. ;)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

picture perfect.

In the two years that Choi Boy has been home, we've taken lots of pictures of him. Like, LOTS. I'm thinking we have close to 10,000 (!!) photos of our child. With digital cameras and good quality cameras on our phones, it's easy to just snap snap snap away! Of course, this means that not all of the photos we have are super high quality, but we've probably captured nearly every day (if not every hour of every day) of CB's life with us!

Because it's so easy to take photos now, things like school portraits don't seem as special. Which is kinda sad because I have such nostalgia about exchanging wallet-sized school pictures with my friends and writing little personalized messages on the back of each photo. But, in this day and age of Facebook and Instagram and texting and Twitter, etc, etc, etc, do older students even exchange pictures anymore? And if they do, they're probably super flattering, super edited, hazy-filter-added, best-of-multiple-takes kinda pictures. Which makes sense because in a lot of ways, school pictures are a gamble -- it's usually just one image on a stale background, taken in less than a minute. Not to mention how overpriced they are! I think the cheapest package is $18. For 2 5x7s. Of one image.

I've noticed that less that half of the parents of my students end up purchasing school portrait packages. I think most parents feel the same way I do! The nice thing is that all students' photos are taken and for students who do not buy packages, proofs are sent home and parents can order portraits online after Picture Day.

When Picture Day rolled around at my school, we opted not to pre-purchase a photo package of CB's school portrait. We had just taken family portraits and gotten some great individual snaps of CB, and we didn't want to shell out money to buy pictures that we might not like. We decided to wait for the proof and then if we liked the proof enough, we'd order them. Part of me got all, "Awww...but it's his first school picture!" but then another part of me was all, "But he's 3. And he'll take school pictures for the next 13 years!" So, I was okay with waiting for the proof.

Secretly, I hoped Choi Boy's photo would stand out and be super goofy or funny, which would really make me want to buy it. For the purpose of showing his future wife and including it in the wedding slideshow posterity's sake.


I got my wish:
His goofy expression kills me! He told me he was making a "confused face"... ;)

I promptly ordered the digital file only and eagerly awaited its arrival in my inbox. And I've done nothing with the image except for posting it on Facebook and Instagram. And who knows if I'll ever end up doing anything more with it...

But for the sake of nostalgia (and future slideshows), I'm going to say it was $30 (for the digital file only!) well spent.

Besides, CB's preschool school portrait can now join the ranks of these gems:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

family day festivities!

A few weeks ago, we celebrated our second Family Day! While I sometimes wish that I had had the foresight (like some of my friends did) to purchase years worth of Family Day gifts while we were in Korea to pick up Choi Boy, we decided last year that instead of doing presents on Family Day, we would celebrate CB's special anniversary with a fun, family event or activity. Also, with CB's Family Day being so close to Christmas, it seemed better to not overwhelm CB with even MORE presents! ;)

Now, being that CB's Family Day is in the middle of December, we're somewhat limited on family activities because there's not much to do outdoors, and we pretty much exhaust every possible indoor activity throughout the winter. So, when CB mentioned wanting to go ice skating, we decided to go with it! 

Thankfully, the ice rink's smallest skate size fit our tiny guy's feet and were double blades. CB thought it was awesome to walk around on them on the rubber mats and was super! excited! to ice skate!
Unfortunately for Lil' CB, reality hit hard when he actually got on the ice! He kept saying, "Whoa! It's so slippery! This is hard!" 

We took itty bitty steps together on the ice, moving about a centimeter at a time.

But CB wanted to go fast, so this is what the hubs ended up doing:
Gotta love him. :)

We lasted about 30 minutes -- with several breaks in between ;), but we were happy to have a new adventure together! And that's kinda what Family Day is all about it...being together and celebrating our adventures!
Love our little boy and our little family!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

boys at the botanical gardens!

Happy New Year, friends! Hope your 2013 is off to a great start! :) As usual, I'm playing catch up...and yes, one of my goals this year is to be a little more on top of and in life in general. No, not a big, lofty goal at all...;)

Remember these little boys? They are not as little anymore. But they sure do still have lots of fun together! We love getting together with our little gang and love seeing the boys play together no matter the time, season or place. Just before Christmas, we all headed over to the Botanical Gardens to check out the children's garden and train display.
They had little replicas of all the major buildings and monuments all constructed out of sticks and leaves and flowers -- amazing!

The trains ran all around these tiny little fairy houses and villages...
It's pretty safe to say the 3 year-olds were totally mesmerized.
Just a little. :)

(the blurry one would be my kiddo)
We even saw some familiar faces!
(i can't stand that little blue train.)
My favorite thing to watch, though, was the interaction between the little guys! They are so fun together now!
Love these little rascals! (And did you notice the sweet little addition? :) )