Thursday, May 7, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week

When first we heard
No more school...
We shouted and danced
And thought it'd be cool!

But soon we discovered
This is no fun
No place to go...
Where can we run?

We miss our friends
We miss our classroom
It is not the same
Meeting up on zoom

But learn we must!
On our chrome books all day...
Oh, come on... really?
Is there no other way?

Thank you, teachers!
Thank goodness for you!
If you weren't there
What would we do?

Thank you for your time
Your devotion and care
Our appreciation and love
We want to share

We are lucky to have you
What more can we say?
Stay safe and healthy!
See you soon, we pray

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Staying Home During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Anytime you turn on the television or internet these days, I'm sure you are getting plenty if not too much information about Covid-19. Boy have things escalated and changed since my last post written in the beginning of March! Instead of re-hashing what's already out there, I figured I'd focus this post on our "new normal" and some of the blessings in disguise...

Some snapshots of our lives so far...
sibling chess matches
lots and lots of puzzles...
haircut in the garage
tae kwon do zoom class
Sunday church service
This week is Spring Break so I had a chance to step away from work and just be with my family. Since we cannot travel this break as we usually do... decided to be creative and just "pretend" we are on vacation anyway! 

Kids are sleeping outside in a tent as I type...
Personally, taking a break from going anywhere and having all outside activities cancelled has been a nice change of pace for me. Here is a list of some things I'm thankful for...
  • being able to wake up at around 8a (or later...) every morning because no need to get my middle schooler to school... before had to wake before 7a and not being a morning person... it was super painful
  • in fact, no morning "rush" at all... before had to get the 4 kids out of the door during the weekday... was always the most stressful 90 minutes of the entire day!
  • actually having time to go for a walk or run in the neighborhood... before I was either at work or in a car driving someone to sports or music lessons or something... by the time i got home and got the kids to bed I was exhausted...
  • actually having time to cook meals and having fun doing it... before I relied on my mom and my au pair to prep most of the meals because I was either at work or in a car driving someone to sports or music lessons or something...
  • even having time to bake and make desserts... yum!  ... and fun! ...before I was too tired from the day to want to do any of this even if I did have the time...
  • eating meals together... like all three meals... every single day... hm... now that I think about it, not sure this one counts as a blessing... lol. There are moments I suppose where good memories will be made along with the crazy.  Like today for instance, at dinner time we were all singing at the top of our lungs... different songs from different musicals... was a blast!
  • watching movies... lots of them... I'm a movie person because I like escaping into a different reality. What better way to not think about the negative news all day long then to disappear into another world. So we make popcorn, snuggle up with blankets on our beanbags in the basement and watch movies together. We kind of started this tradition last summer when we went through all the Harry Potter movies.  Now we have also finished all the Avenger movies in order, went through some DC Comics, even showed my kids the original Superman with Christopher Reeves, then on to the Dark Knight Trilogy... Ip Man 1 2 and 3 (looking forward to Ip Man 4!) ...and now going through X-Men series...
  • having "daddy" home... before he would travel at least two or three times a month so having him home everyday is a plus...
All in all... I'm grateful for the slower pace of life. I feel more rested. What's more, it's amazing how much gas I'm saving. Usually, I have to fill my tank about twice a week but now I think I've gone almost 4 weeks without the fuel gauge indicator moving much at all.

Next week, I'll be back to work. Right now, that means Telemedicine. We cannot risk spreading the virus to the vulnerable who can get very sick and end up hospitalized, intubated, etc. So the "stay at home" advice is truly to combat an invisible enemy... to protect those in our community most susceptible to falling severely ill... to prevent overwhelming the hospitals and medical staff in our communities. It may sound redundant and over stated... but truly... please stay home!

So what to do during this time?  Many creative ideas out there on the internet on how to not be bored... but keep in mind these main things to stay healthy:
  • Eat well - with all the extra time and easy access to the kitchen, may be challenging to avoid binge eating, snacking, grazing... may be tempted to fill up on sugars, chips, carbs... so don't forget your fruit and vegetables
  • Exercise - try to get outside for fresh air and exercise daily... make it part of your routine
  • Relax- important to find your own space and have some "alone" time... if necessary may need to do this outdoors but it is important to have a moment in your day to evoke the relaxation response
  • Sleep - perhaps this is the most important of them all... but get your sleep! sleep will boost your immune system, improve your mood and energy, sharpen your mind and focus... cannot emphasize enough the importance of sleep... below are some tips I posted a while back on some tips to improve sleep:
  • routine routine routine... 
    • develop a bedtime routine about 1 hour before bedtime to wind down
  • induce physical relaxation
    • take a hot shower or soak in a warm bath to relax the muscles
    • give yourself a body rub with a moisturizer that has a pleasing but not super strong scent
    • can try lavendar scented candle, room spray or essential oil
  • avoid increasing stress right before bed
    • avoid the news right before bed
    • avoid hard conversations
    • write down your worries and put it in a box if need be to address in the morning
    • shut down all electronics at least 30min but the longer the better before bedtime
  • minimize sound
    • use white noise if needed
    • try ear plugs
    • go to bed and fall asleep before the person snores next to you
  • exposure to light
    • flood yourself with natural sunlight during the day
    • avoid blue light at night (computers, cell phones, ipads etc)
    • if need to use night light, use red light
  • exercise
    • don't do it too close to bedtime
    • but regular exercise during the day helps
  • watch what you eat
    • certain foods actually may help (like cherries, milk, bananas, turkey, and even not too sugary carbs)
    • avoid foods that cause heartburn (like burgers and tomato based foods or spicy foods)
    • avoid foods that are high in sugar
    • watch what you drink
    • avoid caffeine of any type past 4pm
    • avoid alcohol too close to bedtime (less than 2-3 hrs prior) as this may initiate sleep but disrupts the maintenance of sleep
    • avoid too many drinks of any type past dinner as this may cause the need to go to the bathroom during the night
    • in small quantities certain herbal teas may help
  • minimize disruptions
    • avoid sleeping with a pet
    • sleeping with small children can also be disruptive
    • so what to do if you just can't get the worries out of your head? 
      • try thinking of a story or play a movie in your head that would not evoke a strong emotional response, that way while you are thinking of that, other thoughts have a harder time creeping in and it is much easier to fall asleep when imagining things that have no emotional tug than dwelling on worries, things that happened during the day, or things that you plan to do in the future... 
    • what NOT to do if you wake up in the middle of the night...
      • look at the clock (cause then you're doing math and that wakes up a part of the brain that otherwise would not be activated at this time...)
      • get up and go to the bathroom (I know this one can be hard and may not be possible for everyone, but truly if you get up you are now using muscles and again that wakes up another part of the brain that normally is not active at this time
Well, stay healthy and well, everyone. If you start to feel sick, develop a fever and cough, or just need to get checked, do reach out to your physician. Despite everything, lots of encouraging stories out there as well. We can get through this!
...rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer - Romans 12:12 (NASB)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Corona Virus Update

So here is my update to my previous post about the new corona virus that started in China...


What is COVID-19?
That is the new name given to the new strain of corona virus that was first discovered in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
  • most common symptoms
    • fever
    • fatigue
    • dry cough
  • other symptoms
    • aches and pains
    • nasal congestion
    • runny nose
    • sore throat
    • diarrhea
Is it serious?
  • usually starts with mild symptoms and 80% of folks who are infected will recover like getting the flu or bad cold
  • 1 out of 6 folks may get very sick and develop difficulty breathing (usually folks who already have chronic conditions and weakened immune systems)
  • 2% of those infected have died so far
How widespread is it?  click here for latest map and update from NY Times
  • at least 71 countries are affected so far
  • 116 cases in the US with 9 deaths so far
How do I catch it?
  • from droplets of someone who is infected expelled on cough or exhale
    • if you touch a surface that has the droplets on it
    • if you breathe in the droplets after someone coughs or exhales
  • no studies yet suggest that you can catch it just from the air
  • very low risk of catching it from someone who is not sick
    • however symptoms are mild in the beginning and person may not know they are infected until their symptoms are more severe
  • symptoms may not show up until up to 14 days after exposure
How can I prevent getting it?
  • regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water
  • maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth
  • make sure you and the people around you follow good respiratory hygiene
    • cover your cough/sneeze with bent elbow
    • throw away used tissues immediately
  • stay home if you feel unwell
  • call your doctor if you have fever, cough, difficulty breathing
  • follow instructions from local health authority
** these are great guidelines everyday anyway and should be practiced ALL the time to prevent the common cold, flu, pneumonia, sinusitis, and GI bugs, etc!

Who benefits from wearing a face mask?
  • those who have symptoms have COVID-19
  • those caring for folks who have symptoms of COVID-19
  • health care workers caring for individuals with fever and cough
**if you do not have symptoms or caring for anyone with symptoms, it is not recommended to wear a mask

For more detailed explanations and Q&A's on this topic you can read it here on the WHO website.

So what is the bottom line?
  • do not panic
  • stay up to date on the latest recommendations from reputable sources
  • use common sense
  • there is a growing list of countries that have travel restrictions... but stay up to date and consider whether non-essential travel is worth the risk, click here to check the cdc website for travel advice for your destination (remember - this may change in a day)
  • if you get sick and are not sure what to do, call your doctor

Saturday, January 25, 2020

New Corona Virus Affecting Chinese New Year Celebrations

Today is Chinese New Year! It is the year of the Rat. In many parts of Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations (also known as Spring Festival) is observed for about two weeks. For more interesting facts about this holiday, you can read it here.

Some of you may know that large-scale festivities have been cancelled in China due to trying to contain the outbreak of a new coronavirus. In addition, the country is restricting travel during this busiest travel time of year. So this is a pretty big deal.  So far, there have been 41 deaths and about 1,300 confirmed cases in China. There are only 2 confirmed cases in the US.

I feel for the overwhelmed healthcare workers trying to contain and treat. Many are unable to go home to their families to celebrate this holiday. Here is a photo from an Insider article showing medical staff in a Wuhan hospital holding up Chinese New Year signs.
doctors signs wuhan hospitals

So what is it?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses like the common cold. Usually the symptoms are mild or moderate but can spread to cause pneumonia and bronchitis. MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV were two types of coronaviruses that caused more severe symptoms. Now we have this 2019-nCoV that is also causing more severe symptoms.

How do you get it?
  • from the air (infected person coughs or sneezes)
  • from personal contact (touching or shaking hands with infected person)
  • from objects or surfaces (then touching your eyes, nose, mouth before washing your hands
What are the symptoms?
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • no runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, diarrhea (specifically in this 2019-nCoV)
  • symptoms may not appear until up to 14 days after exposure
How do you treat it?
  • rest (sleep is your best weapon)
  • fluids
  • humidified air
  • medicines to control symptoms (tylenol, motrin, cough medicine, inhalers if needed etc.)
  • there is no specific anti-viral treatment
  • call your doctor if not improving or if worried
How to prevent it?
  • wash hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick
  • cover cough or sneeze with tissue then throw out tissue
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surface
Many of these treatments and preventions apply to all viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses. However, if you have recently travelled to China within two weeks of symptoms,  you must let your doctor know.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Happy Birthday, Joe!

2020 didn’t start off so smoothly for me. My youngest stepped on my iphone which resulted in me not having access to my phone for a while. Nothing like experiencing what it is like to be without to realize how much I depend on this little device. Sad to say, I truly felt lost and disoriented. When a trip to the nearest Apple store that night could not fix the problem... (because it turns out it is not just the screen that cracked but whatever it is underneath)… my very capable husband ordered a part from Amazon and decided to attempt the fix himself.  Glad to say it worked. This here was his crazy work station!

So this post is dedicated as a “shout out” to my handyman husband! It is his birthday today. All last week, he was on a business trip. Whenever Joe is away (which unfortunately is a fair amount) …often the words out of my mouth are “wait for daddy to fix it”!

Now whether it is replacing an entire kitchen faucet because the old one was leaking and dripping… or helping our oldest fix her digital radio clock because the time was wrong (…and I didn’t have the skill or patience to figure it out) …my husband gets to use his mechanical engineering degree from MIT for these practical daily issues.

On top of it all...  aside from "fixing things" around the house, Joe uses his tinkering skills to transform broken lightsaber toys into wall lamps. Can you tell that he is an avid Star Wars fan?

So happy 2020, everyone!  Hope your year has started off better than mine.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This past summer, our kids were reading the Harry Potter books and watching the movies. They even took the test online and each fit a different house. Oldest got Ravenclaw (she's the brainy one)... our sneaky second child was Slytherin of course... then the third in Gryffindor and the youngest in Hufflepuff. We had a point system going on where points were taken away for arguing or whining... and points awarded for doing chores. Then they can redeem the points for either $ or some sort of treat like going on a one on one date with mom or dad and picking the game, movie, or restaurant for the family.

Here they are dressed up in their "house" robes for Halloween...
So we thought it'd be fun to surprise them with a trip to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal! We were planning to go right before school started at the end of August. However, Hurricane Dorian was due to hit Florida... thus we ended up postponing the trip... 

The morning of our flight, I left this pack of letters on the table for my oldest to find and hand out.
Basically... owl'd them each a letter from Hogwarts inviting them to visit...
It also happened to be our second child's birthday... making the day even more special...
Universal Studios did not disappoint... amazing the attention to details...

First we visited Diagon Alley...

The minute you walk in... it is as if you have been transported into the book. On top of Gringotts Wizarding Bank is a dragon that breathes out real fire! Scared my youngest to death... but the older kids loved it.
Ollivander's Wand Shop was as I imagined... S got chosen to be part of the demonstration. She went through the whole wand choosing ceremony and ended up with a wand made of vine...
and interestingly, the characterization portrayed actually depicts her quite well...
Actually we let all our kids select a wand and funny enough all the descriptions of the particular type of wood selected seemed to match their personalities. 

So after that, my kids pretty much walked around Potter world wielding their wand magic and posing for my pictures.
Now to get to Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) from Diagon Alley (Universal Studios), we took the Hogwarts Express of course!
This was amazing... probably my favorite part of the whole Harry Potter thing... they truly thought of everything... the whole experience was super entertaining and most impressive... check this out...

So when you are on the train, you look out a "fake" window but it really looks and feels as though you are in Potter world travelling from one destination to another. Theme music is playing throughout the ride. They even simulated Ron, Harry, and Hermione passing by our cabin and pausing only to move on because... "this one is already occupied". The scenery going and coming back is different so it is definitely worth riding the train both ways.

Now once at Hogsmeade... another adventure awaits... but more on rides in a different post. Here are some snapshots...

 Hogsmeade at night...
Will only mention a few other highlights here so the post doesn't get too long...

Calling the Ministry of Magic... you actually hear a recording from them.
(LOL kids had no idea how to dial a telephone and it took literally 5 minutes to explain how. I think they had to start over like ten times. "ok put your finger on the number... now turn it turn it... no don't let go yet... start over... now go all the way till you can't go anymore... then let go... ok what's the next number...")

Talking to Dre Head on the Knight Bus... truly interactive and talks to you. "creepy" my kids thought.... 

And finally... of course have to mention the delicious butterbeer!
 So... more on all this later... but for Harry Potter fans... Universal has created a magnificient fantasy world!
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