will travel on water

We're going on a cruise soon.  We're excited.  Why we are excited to be on a floating dish with thousand of others for weeks ???  we don't want to fly as our noisy kids can't sit still and don't like restaurant.  Cruising sounds like the least stress option as other parents highly recommended it to us, and both the parents and kids love it.  I like that we can eat anytime on the ship and that we get to stop off at different ports to explore for a day or two.  I don't know how baby Love will do but I know for sure there's plenty of room on the cruise's deck for her to screams to her heart's content and will disrupt no one :)  Of course I booked this trip with our kids in mind.  Picky eater and screamer, we got it cover baby !  I plan to relax, eat hot food, get a massage or two, then eat again.  If you're a parent you know what I mean when it comes to meal time !  Cold meal ?  yeah, won't happen here :)  I hope anyways.

Since this is our first cruise, I've done extensive research and thought I share my pre-cruise findings (will report back after trip):

- book early !  A LOT of people cruise !!!  price doesn't get cheaper closer to departure date.
- pick low mid ship (less movement if sailing through rough sea) and not near elevator, not underneath a common area (dining room, shops, clubs, pool, etc) for less noise disturbance !
- be prepare to pay even for baby !!!  unlike plane, where baby is free under 2, on a cruise, it's still the 3rd/4th person rate, there's no discount !  and you have to pay for her gratuity too ($12 a day per person).
- read reviews on different ships, the destinations (itineraries), best time to cruise, the food, service, etc.
- make your own itineraries for each docking port
- pack for sun and rain, light and warm clothes, even if travelling to warm places (many travelers suggested this)

Bee is super excited so I created a calendar for her to X out each day.  I can see her being in the pool everyday.  The travel agent I spoke with suggested I bring a kiddie pool so when I'm on top of the deck relaxing, the attendant can fill up the pool for the kids to play in next to me.  I will take her advice on that.

Why we decided to take a cruise instead of flying ?  Besides the fact the hubby and I dislike flying, it is because we have a very active toddler.  My eldest is an excellent traveler so I know she would do well, while my youngest, my fearless wild child, was a bit of a concern.  You see, she loves to run around and talk to strangers, dogs, poles, tables, chairs, anything and climb on to everything.  A little explorer she is.  She isn't fit for plan ride or restaurant.  And my eldest is feeding on her energy and gets really hyper too.  Trust me, a mother knows what her kids are capable of.  We wanted a family vacation and decided that taking a cruise is the best for all us. 

Cruise has a bit of everything for everyone and if everyone is having a bad day we can stay in our room and order room service !  Cruising seems to check off a lot of items for us.  Stuff like food availability (eat at your own schedule), comfort of our own room (within short distance), kids friendly menu (many choices of food to choose from (within arm's reach :), swimming pools, and kids play room.  We also like that on the ship, everything is close by for the kids (we have one willing walker and one who doesn't like to walk more than 5 min., doesn't like to be strap on a stroller, and doesn't like to be carried).  If we were to be at a hotel the restaurant might a block or two away, there's no kids playing area, or there might be no pool available.  Cruise was our ultimate vacation plan.

*** while we did book for a cruise, I still prefer road trip :)  prefer a drive down the coast.  I like travelling in car, making impromptu stops, exploring roads off the beaten path, checking out small towns along the way.  But Lovebug can't sit too long on long drive yet so we will have to wait until next year for a road trip.  Yeah, flying would be fast but you see, we don't like flying :) 

If you didn't know already, I have a fear of height !  no make that 2 of us :)  both hubby and I.  This contributed (I'm sure) to our deep dislike for flying.  Most people equal our dislike of flying = to fear of dying but for us it's more about being up in the air, miles and miles off the earth.  It's an unsettling feeling.  Sure there's also the "I don't like putting my life in the hand of the pilot" part parked at the back end of our head but majority of the time, when we really have to fly, thoughts cities diminishes behind the clouds frightened us. 

I hope our cruise will be a good experience for all of us.  I look forward to spending a lot of time with the kids and make memories.  They're growing so fast.  I'm going to go and kiss them now.

outburst of emotion

Lately, we're been seeing a lot of frequent outburst from Bee, unpleasant ones I'm afraid.  She would cross her arms, pout and push me away.  I thought she was just not sure how to express her "feeling" so I do what I know best, ask her what's wrong, encourage her to tell me her feeling, and well, she did just that.  "I don't like you telling me what to do". 

I tried to reason with Bee.  Explained to her I need to tell her what she can and can't do because I care, because I love her and don't want her to hurt herself or others.  She's like "I'm still mad at you".  The more I explained myself, I realized her little tantrum also lengthen (taking longer to calm down).  I'm doing something wrong !!! Feeling the need to cure this before it gets out of hand, I seek for advices from her school moms.

As it turned out, other kids at the school were doing it too.  OK, so this is where she might have learned it (or she could be the one started it !).  I spoke to 5 moms and all said their kids have been behaving like that in the past while.  It's a phrase they said, but still need to be dealt with.  One mom shared that she encourages her son to talk to her BUT she doesn't give him any attention when he gives her attitude or has a melt down.  She would wait until he calms down then she would have a talk with him.  She would explain to him the consequences of bad behavior and take away his privilege for a block of time.  She said it doesn't stop in a day or two but by keep on doing it, she noticed he doesn't act up as often.  I'm going to take up on her advice.

Surely enough, on the way home Bee got angry at me !!  We were having a walking race, in the same time I was loading a picture of a squirrel I took to show her !  She stopped but I kept going a few steps of her, like 3 !  Thats all, and she's mad and her bottom lip stuck out as far as she can will it !!!!!  She sat down in the middle of the road.  I decided to ignore her behavior, and carry on as if it's no big deal, talking about the squirrel, showed her the pic. and even snapped a picture of her.  I stood there next to her for a few minutes, let her be "mad", when I sensed it's "cool', I told her I'm going to keep walking home, if she wants to join me she will need to get up and walk with me.  She got up slowly but up she did and we walked home.  I started to ask her about her day and she was excited to share with me about her new friend Robin.  On our way home we played silly games, she ran circles around me, and we raced to the front door.  It was as if nothing happened.

I don't know if the next flare-up can be diffused this easy but I learned something today.  Kids don't hold on to their anger for long.  At least in Bee's case.  Look back, I see her pattern.  She gets mad then she gets over it.  It's still new water for me anyways so I'm treading it carefully while observing her behaviors.

I asked Bee why she was mad earlier and she said she doesn't know = she doesn't remember (which makes it hard for me to give her a timed out !!!  I need to figure this out as I don't want bad attitude to to unnoticed/unattended).  I noticed though, that at this age, it seems its all about discovering for them.  What can I do, how far can I push, what is the outcomes, etc.   They expressed their displease, anger, etc. and then wait to see our reactions and then either repeat or move on.  By taking my attention away from Bee (and the tantrum itself) when she's throwing a tantrum, I'm showing her that it is the wrong way to get my attention or get what she wants.  I now see that even if my goal was to understand why she's angry and what is it that she wants, by responding every time to her tantrum, I'm encouraging this behavior.  I will gain better insight from her when she's not angry and she can absorb what I'm saying to her when she's calm.  Now that I think about it, aren't we adults the same ?  :)  Let's see what the next few days will be like !  Wish me luck !

Baby Love, my baby love

Lovebug grew so much this past summer.  Which also means taking care of her is becoming easier too (but on come new challenges :)   She no longer cry when we strap her into her car seat, can sit for a good distance, she can feed herself (with spoon/fork), drink from a cup, and she tells us when to change her (she points at us to get our attention then points at her diaper).  We can point and sign to each other.  Things are definitely looking up !  Although she's still not ready for formal restaurant yet !  Bubble tea joints are still our frequent hangout  :)

Her current vocab:
- mam, mammy
- dad ddy
- yaya (can't pronounce her sister's name yet)
- molk (milk)
- jus (juice)
- no
- jeet (cheese)
- bubba (bubble)

- ba
- cho
- om
- noc
- thit ga
- me

I feel like she can understand more than she speak.  She's learning to sound out what we said and reading our expressions.  She can point out her eyes, mouth, tongue, nose, ears, head, hair, tummy, bum bum and can show how old she is, with her finger, when being asked "how old are you?".  I can ask her to go to her dresser and get me a new shirt or pants, to put her toys away, to get her own bowl and cup.  When she's thirsty or hungry she would grab hold of my hand and lead me to the kitchen and sign to open the fridge.  Once opened, she would point at the milk, or water if she wants a drink.  She would point at the fruits, cheese or whatever in the fridge that she wants to eat.  It sure makes life a lot easier now that she knows what she wants and at the least, point us where to get it for her :)

She's maturing a lot faster than what I remembered of Bee.  She's no longer a baby :(  Seeing her running around in a PLAYGROUND, climbing up stairs and going down the slide all on her own, makes me realized she's like a toddler now !!!  It still feel strange for me some day, seeing her running around, running towards me and yell "mammy !"  17 months ago I didn't even know what she looks like and now here she is, running, screaming, talking, attempting things.....Aish, don't grow too fast love !

let there be cake

We celebrated C over the weekend !  He doesn't want us to fuss but his family and I like to fuss over him.  3 days of excellent tasty food really put me in a food coma though.  We had ice cream for brunch on Sat.  The kids had 2 each !!!!!!!  sugar high !!!!  Then we had dinner at his parents with amazing dishes made by his mom and 2 sisters.  His dad did all the bbqing and deep frying.  It was a total family affair.  After our meal together, we sang the birthday song with Jules dancing to the tune, Bee blowing out the candles too early and C cutting and serving us cake !  It was delicioso !

Sunday was dinner with just our little family of 4 at C's favorite Greek restaurant.  Baby Love fell asleep on the ride there, leaving us 3 with a peaceful and enjoyable dinner !  We're not complaining :)  We did have a few  interruptions from Bee, who wants C to help decorate her Fluttershy's (My Little Pony) long hair during our meal but it was fine.  His patience and attentiveness with the girls are admirable.  I have very little patience for kiddies stuff like that, feed the dolls, comb their hair, decorate them, pretend they talk to each other, etc.  I'm better at craft, physical activities/games with the girls.  At least between us two we got the kids covered :D

After dinner we sat in our backyard and enjoy the last glow of the sun.  We really like being in our back yard.  Our garden is very fruitful this year, plenty of tomatoes, herbs, and cucumbers.  The carrots and beets are growing bigger by the day.  The highlight for me must be the figs !  The tree yield about 30 this year with about 50 that didn't get ripened.  Next summer is going to be a promising one !!!

the girls love playing with this slimy creature !

Monday came, C's actual birth date.  My mom suggested a dinner for him and my side of family.  She bought some huge prawns and let me do what I wish with them.  I lightly seasoned them with seasoning salt then brushed them with olive oil, garlic and rosemary then throw them on the bbq. They were heavenly delicious.  Baby love devoured 3 skewers on top of other fixings !  A record !

This weekend, we discovered C has a slight lactose intolerance.  It just happened.  In past couple of months, he noticed that after eating anything dairy they don't sit well in his tummy.  Poor thing because he loves cheese.

So for C's special day, I wanted to get him a cake, a dairy free cake.  I hope it's just the dairy and nothing else...we might have to go vegan !!!  Oh man.  I so don't want to.  Any who, since I work near Whole Food I thought I ask them if they have any dairy free cake and lo and behold, they have 1 chocolate one available.  I quickly napped it up and carried it home.

After dinner we sang the happy song to C !  Our girls and I were very excited to eat cake.  I want to know what dairy free chocolate cake tastes like.  They helped him blow out the candles and we proceed to cake cutting and eating.  It was chocolatey yummy tasty !  Very rich creamy chocolate taste and it doesn't taste like it lacks anything at all, like milk or butter.  I wonder what they substituted them with because the icing was heavenly.  Bee ate all her icing and asked to have mine !

I made a card for C and Bee made him a card and a box of gifts (little paper stuff she cut up and folded).  I wanted to get him shoes but all my searches have left me empty handed.  There's none I found that I think he would like (he's a picky one, that man).  I will have to delay my gift.

Another day, another cake, another year older.  We celebrate and cherish C.  My prayer for him this year is for the Lord to guide him and bless the work of his hands. Amen.