Posted in photo challenge, Postaday photo challenge

Cee’s Photo Challenge: Circles and Curves in Black &White

Something fun about buckets and pails. When my kids find an empty, round vessel around, they can’t resist: they have to at least try to sit in it, stand in it, squeeze into it, or put it on their heads.

The other day my kids helped me wash vegetables; when they were done, the rinsing bowl went missing. As you can see in the picture below, Ellis said she was a robot and started chasing her brother. Both took turns.

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While I was washing something, Ellis decided to stand inside the pail.
Heavy duty rubber bucket at grandpa’s farm. These buckets are so versatile to use but too clunky for storage.
Posted in Container Gardening, Raising kids, Uncategorized

Taking gardening troubles into our own hands

We’re taking gardening to a new level this time around!

First of all, none of our plants have died since we planted them this summer. Second, we’ve pruned, remedied some overcrowding issues in our tomato pot, added crushed egg shells for extra nutrition, and added support sticks to help long stems. Third, we studied our plants by checking their leaves, researched online about how to make our plants thrive, and generally invested more time and interest in caring for our green friends.

And drum roll please…

We hand pollinated our pumpkin plant!! I didn’t even know this was possible. Our babysitter who has gardened extensively looked at our plants and told me our pumpkin plant only had males. She didn’t see any bulbs on the stems, which would be the female flower. Facts learned: first blooming flower is a male; a little bulb on a stem that will sprout a flower on top is a female; if no fruit has grown that means it hasn’t been pollinated by bees; and placing the plant in a shaded area could stymie bees (that mainly like sunny spots) from pollinating.

I found this amazing and helpful website that explained how to remedy the lack of fruit: Pumpkin Plant Not Producing: Why A Pumpkin Plant Flowers But No Fruit (https://www.gardeningknowhow.com)

Hand pollinate. Ellis rubbed her finger on the pollen of the male flower to get the pollen and rubbed it around the green emerging bulb on a stem (not sure if it was a bulb but it felt harder than a budding flower). As you can tell, we improvise a lot.

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Circled areas show where pollen was rubbed on green bulbs 

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

— Janet Kilburn Phillips

When Elliot learned the yellow stuff was pollen, he worried about his allergies flaring up again. Ellis came to the rescue and offered to do it instead.

Kids problem solving together with no tears = happy mommy.

Update:  No fruit has emerged so far. However, we feel very proud to have been proactive in doing something useful to help our plant grow fruits. Also, kids learned the important roles of bees in helping flowers to reproduce and continue the life cycle of nature. This is just a thought, but I think this hands-on lesson would be good for explaining to older kids in learning about the reproductive cycle.

Posted in Faith journey, Hospital visits, Uncategorized

Thankful for a great year since Ellis’ heart surgery on Sept. 25, 17

One year ago today, Ellis underwent her third heart surgery. Even before her birth, doctors warned us of the various medical and lifestyle challenges we would face in the first few years of her life. They weren’t lying.

It. Was. Tough.

We operated on survival mode and were content with just “getting by.”

Getting to the third surgery wracked our nerves with everything put on hold. So when her cardiologist informed us that surgery was in the horizon for 2017, we were relieved. Our hermetic life continued to make sure she could have the surgery: she had to maintain a constant weight of 30 pounds and keep her healthy to undergo the surgery. The latter was stressful trying to keep all four of us healthy: if one person got sick, it was inevitable that it would pass to another member.

I had to be creative to pass the time; many days I was tired even before the day started. Passing the time meant taking frequent nature walks around our neighborhood, spending many, way too many, hours making crafts with random items laying around the house, and experimenting with making our own YouTube toy review videos (none posted by the way).

Kids knew no difference with this kind of life but it bothered me. I used to joke that my life revolved around a 5 mile radius of our house; I never left San Jose nor rarely left Ellis’ side. I pressured myself to do more from fear that my kids would turn out weird from this unusual life situation. Also, will I have no friends after this? I had to get accustomed to this life circumstance and embrace its unusual nature. Yes, I will…I will as Thoreau wrote, “March to the beat of your [my] own drummer.”

God had big life lessons to teach me in this season of life. First of all, He reassured my heart that we would survive and that we were not alone. We experienced extraordinary kindness from family, friends, and strangers, and experienced God’s reminders that we were loved. I learned that this was a necessary yet scary phase we had to overcome before our circumstance could change for the better.

What a hard lesson in learning about setting my priorities and trusting God. On the outside, you couldn’t tell I was buckling inside from fear, depression, and exhaustion. Alone at night, I felt close to falling apart and not wanting to open my eyes in the morning.

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes: 3: 1-8

1  For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

 

We’ve come a long way since last September 25. There’s been some emergency room visits but nothing in comparison to the past. Ellis knows her heart is fragile and that her condition requires special care, frequent check-ups, and daily medications. Elliot is well aware too of our unique situation and he is familiar with the protocol when Ellis needs to go to the hospital. His resilience and understanding that he needs to let us do our thing makes me proud: he has many questions about his sister’s heart, fears about death and sickness, dealing with feelings of why his sister gets so much attention, and yet he still sees himself as her protector.

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Elliot demonstrating his dinosaur roar to the lab technician for poking Ellis with a needle.

What a difference a year makes. Thank God for his grace and for leading me through those difficult times. I felt closer to God in those moments than in happier times. He reminded me that I can rest my fears in Him, even the fears too painful to acknowledge.

 

Posted in Homeschool Adventures, Uncategorized

Do all kids read by the beginning of second grade??

This is hard for me to admit, much less put it into writing. It makes me feel vulnerable, but here I go.

My second grader is struggling with reading. When we do phonics or attempt to read together, he immediately gets uptight and starts to fidget. It’s like he convinced himself that reading is too hard. Reading is not his thing; he is more drawn to science and math (like his daddy, not mommy).

It’s frustrating. I feel responsible for his lack of reading skills, because I’m his primary teacher. With homeschooling it’s so easy to blame yourself when things don’t go well; and easy to take for granted when things do go right.

When I wrote this post yesterday, I asked Elliot to write something (about his favorite season) for a new spelling book we started this school year. He asked why the following page was blank unlike the previous pages. When I told him (in a very uplifting tone…or so I thought) he could write whatever he wanted any way he wanted, he burst into tears.

I almost cried with him; my heart hurt. I could sense his frustration and fear. After a long talk reassuring him that learning is hard, no matter your age or subject, and praying together that God would give him courage to try and to learn from his mistakes, he decided to give it a try.

With the time set for 10 minutes as advised by the Instructor’s Manual he started to write some words down. He used inventive spelling. When I looked over his work later, I so wanted to correct the errors and ask him to write in complete sentences.

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I had to look at the bigger picture and think long-term. I overlooked the errors and instead praised him for working on this challenge. This was not an auspicious time for that discussion. He softly asked me if all his words were wrong. I said it was okay. There’s always the next lesson and plenty of opportunities to improve.

Second grade started less than a month ago, and here I am freaking out that he’s not a fluent reader. Being a teacher is not only about teaching but building up my student (my kid) to become a confident, persevering, and thoughtful learner. There’s a lot of learning for me too: learning to teach according to his interests, pacing ourselves, and respecting his learning style.