Category Archives: Birthday

How a boy celebrates turning five

Turning five - birthday cakeToday my eldest is turning five. This little man graduated preschool a few weeks ago and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. Don’t ask me what happened during the past five years, I’m not sure I remember it all. Overall I find motherhood a very humble job. After you’ve been peed on, pooped on and barfed on so many times, somehow you can still look at your child and think he’s the most precious gift in the world. I guess it’s why they call it unconditional love.

At the age of five, my son thinks he doesn’t need to go to school anymore because he already “knows it all”. Wow, I thought such cocky statement only came out of a teenager’s mouth. A five-year-old proved me wrong. Clearly, I don’t know it all. When he grows up, he wants to be a police officer. He’d also like to be an astronaut, a diver and a painter. And a writer too. At least he won’t have time to get bored. And I tell him he can be anything he wants to be. Because he can.

We were going to throw the usual birthday party with the required set of playmates, their parents, the expected entertainment and party favors for them all. Then I thought, what will my son remember from this two-hour-long birthday party several years from now? Probably not much. So I suggested something different. Something more “adventurous” we could do as a family. Something that will create lifelong memories.

So we’re scratching the idea of a typical birthday party and instead are taking a train ride on Amtrack from San Diego to Anaheim, two hours each way, to Downtown Disney. We’re not going to Disneyland (too crowded and too expensive in the summer) but instead will enjoy the shops and the entertainment of the Disney village for a few hours. The kids will even have the opportunity to pick a few goodies at the gift shops. I hope we’ll have lunch in the jungle of the Rainforest Cafe, so the kids can witness a thunderstorm every 10 minutes. Hey, we live in San Diego, we don’t get thunderstorms so this is sure to have a novelty effect. The kids can’t wait to first ride the train, then take a taxi from the station to Disneyland. Kids this age are so easy to entertain, I wish they didn’t turn into blasé teenagers later on.

Of course, no birthday would be complete without a birthday cake. As part of my 101 in 1001 challenge, I’m making my son’s birthday cake from scratch. He asked for a Spider-Man cake and the decoration is all I have left to do. Gosh, I hope a five-year old can be forgiving… You’ll get to see embarassing pictures when I post an update about my 101 in 1001 in early August. In the meantime, my son is taking chocolate madeleines to school today to share with his classmates. These are so good, I wish they stayed home for us to eat.

Can’t have madeleines? Let us eat cake!

Chocolate madeleines

Chocolate madeleines

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www Wednesdays – June 29, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

Today is my birthday (if you’re curious to know how old I am, I suggest you read last year’s post on Turning 40 and do the quick math) and I’m planning to bake my own birthday cake as part of my 101 in 1001 challenge, so I’ll make this post quick. Sorry but a chocolate cake should always take priority!

The Remains of the Day by Kasuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kasuo Ishiguro

My bookshelf

– What I’m currently reading
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (a Japanese British writer). I’ve never seen the movie inspired by this book and I’m struggling with main character’s spoken style and tone (the book uses the first-person narrative). But I know it’s meant to be that way. A “perfect” English butler, oblivious to the life going on around him, emotionless, uptight, borderline asocial. I keep wondering, how does someone grow up to become this type of person? Will he ever turn around and see the light, smell the roses? And that’s why I keep reading the book, because I’m a hopeful person.

– What I recently finished reading
Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. This is the diary of a mother for her new baby, with a tragic twist, intertwined with another story about a woman and her lover. I hate to admit the story is predictible, but you can’t help but feel the same joy and pain as the characters as they go through life. As a mother, I found some parts quite heartbreaking, making me think of what I really want my children to remember from me, and making sure I tell my kids every night that I love them.

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (a Japanese American writer). I’m so glad I stumbled upon this book at the library – this is a great story! In the early 1950s, a Japanese family is forced to move from Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, with only 32 Japanese out of 4000 residents – the ultimate minority. Younger sister Katie narrates this story about her mother, father and older sister Lynn. Unfortunately Lynn gets sick and the whole family is hurt emotionally, physically and financially. Even though this book is considered “youth literature”, I recommend it to anyone looking to read a lovely, touching story about growing up.

– What I think I’ll read next
Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom. I feel everybody else in the world has read this book except me, so it’s now waiting for me on my bookshelf.

My kids’ bookshelf

Can I play, too? by Mo Willems - Elephant and Piggie series

Can I play, too? by Mo Willems - Elephant and Piggie series

– What they’re currently reading
Lots and lots of Mo Willems!!! We’re big fans of Mo Willems and got the opportunity to see him in person almost a year ago. We haven’t read Mo for a while so I got a whole bunch of his books at the library, since they are so entertaining, often hilarious and great for early readers. Our favorites of the Elephant & Piggie book series are:
I Will Surprise My Friend (this has to be one of the funniest children’s books ever!)
Can I Play, Too? (this one is a close second – BOINK!)
There Is a Bird on Your Head
I Am Invited to a Party!

– What they recently finished reading
Mr Putter & Tabby Spill the Beans, Mr Putter & Tabby Spin the Yarn, and Mr Putter & Tabby See the Stars, by Cynthia Rylant. Wonderful, funny, touching books both preschoolers and their parents will enjoy reading. And if you’ve ever wondered how many bean recipes you can come up with, Mr Putter & Tabby Spill the Beans has the answer for you.

– What I think they’ll read next
I’ve got lots of books requested at the library but they don’t seem to be moving very fast, so I’m not sure which books I’ll replenish our stock with yet.

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share? Feel free to share below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a birthday cake to bake.

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I’m not a baby, I’m a boy!

Third birthday cake - dinosaur birthday cakeI’m not a baby, I’m a boy! That’s what our little guy often tells us, whenever we try to cuddle with him, and express our love and affection by calling him our “baby”. Today he turns three, so technically he’s right. He’s not a baby anymore. Not a toddler anymore either. But he’s also realistic and describes himself as a “little boy”, in comparison to his older brother (by only 19 months) who’s a “big boy”.

A few days ago, I read an online article from a new mom, who gets irritated by the unsolicited advice she receives from other parents. One piece of advice they often give her is, “Enjoy your kids while they’re little. They grow up fast.” Her reaction? Duh, of course they grow up, the clock never goes backwards. I can only guess this mom is still very new at her role. For those of us who have been parents for a while, we know that time goes by way faster than we could ever have imagined. The kids’ birthdays come and go, and then come again, taking us by surprise every time.

Three years ago, I held my youngest in my arms in a hospital room for the first time. Boy, he looked so mellow and happy. Compared to his brother who had to train me as a first-time breastfeeding mom, only took 45-minute naps, and suffered from GERD for many months, our second baby was so easy to take care of. He ate well, slept well, walked at nine months – his infant days were a breeze.

The only concern I had for him was that he barely spoke any words until he was almost two years old. Thank god for sign language! But then it happened. About one month before his second birthday, he started talking, in full sentences. His vocabulary widened and his sentences lengthened over the next year. Today he lectures me when I use the simpler term “T Rex” instead of the more accurate “Tyrannosaurus Rex.” Actually, I can’t complain. His fascination for dinosaurs has given me the opportunity to learn more dinosaur names and recognize more dinosaur pictures than I’ve ever thought I would.

This little chatterbox now competes with his babbling brother to see who will run out of breath first. I love to watch my two boys discuss imaginary play scenarios together, and then carry them out. Sometimes I stand outside of their bedroom after I turn off their light at night, just to listen to them chatting about everything and anything until they fall asleep.

So yes, our baby has turned into quite a grown-up, and it will be so much fun to watch him grow over the years. But in the end, he’ll always be my baby, no matter what.

Happy 3rd birthday, my boy! Enjoy your dinosaur birthday party tomorrow.

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Happy birthday, little man!

Buzz Lightyear birthday cupcake

I need to thank Food4Less for making huge cupcakes with Toy Story decorations! You’re going to make a birthday boy very happy until his official birthday party next Saturday.

My son is turning four tomorrow, and I honestly have no idea where the past four years have gone. Everything has happened so quickly that it could easily look like a blur. And yet, in the middle of it all, some events are so clearly imprinted in my mind, they could have happened just yesterday…

The first sonogram and heartbeat sound, the first kick, hearing my son catch his first breath and seeing him out of my womb for the first time, the first time holding him and helping him latch, the day we took him home, the first weeks bonding as a new family, his first smile, the first day I left him at daycare to go back to work full of guilt, his first laugh, his first taste of rice cereal, his cute army crawl, the first time he called me (and his dad) “mama”, his first real hug and kiss, his first hand sign (“more”), his ever-expanding hand signs and spoken vocabulary, his first step (run, baby, run!), his first pretend-play with a phone, his first jet airplane ride, the day he met his little brother in the hospital, his first day at preschool, his first friends, his first jokes, his first dip in the pool, his first time on local TV, his first big boy bike ride, and even today, his first day at a new preschool… And there’s so much more to come in the years ahead of us!

Gosh, time flies when you’re having fun, so it’s important to notice and enjoy those special moments as they are kind enough to appear in time. As Mr/Ms Anonymous said it so well years ago, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Carpe diem and happy birthday, little man!

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