Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Measles Coming Back

I just read an article about how the cases of measles reported last year was higher than any other year since 1996.  There were a total of 222 measles cases and 17 measles outbreak from 31 states that were reported to the CDC in 2011.  They seem to think this is due to both an increase in import from other countries as well as an increase number of people who are not immunized and susceptible.  We actually had an outbreak in our community here and schools had to send students home!  I did blog about it here.  The take away point is the importance and privilege of vaccination since diseases that are rare in the States are still prevalent in other parts of the world only a plane ride away.

On another note, I attended my church's women's retreat this past weekend and was greatly encouraged!  It is so easy for me to get caught up in life's busy hustle and lose sight of the big picture.  Kim Worrell was the keynote speaker and her testimony reminded me of the power and (using her words) "the laser sharp accuracy" of how God's Word applies to our lives everyday.  I just have to pause and read...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Being a Host Family

Our year is almost coming to an end with our current au pair who is from China.  She recently blogged about her experience with our family.  You can read about it here.

It has definitely been helpful having her around especially with three very young kids.  Reasons why we decided to try the au pair program:
  • Wanted to expose our kids to speaking Mandarin at a young age so they can be bilingual (actually trilingual with the Taiwanese dialect or eventually quadrilingual with Korean)
  • Wanted to share our family and culture with someone from a different background  (even though we are all Asian, growing up and living in two different countries really does bring out differences)
  • Having someone live-in helps us not worry about a babysitter or nanny not being able to get to our house if there is heavy snow (though we had a super mild winter this year!)
  • Flexible schedule to accommodate my husband's travel schedule (we've basically moved hours around so that we can get help when we need it the most... sometimes that is on weekends)
  • Affordable! (definitely one of the more affordable ways to get child care compared to daycare or nanny agencies etc)
What have we accomplished this year?
  • Kids definitely picked up Mandarin.  My oldest is pretty fluent.  It did take her about 1 week to adjust.  My second child understands but responds back in English.  We'll see...  maybe we will need another year of this...  Third kid is not yet speaking so we'll see next year...
  • It's been fun sharing our life with our au pair.. I don't get to spend a ton of time with her but it has been really neat to get to know her as a person.  Plus, she told me she has been exposed to Christianity in more ways than just through our family... this is something that may not have happened if she never came to the States to live with us
  • Less craziness for my mom, myself, and my husband when there is another pair of hand... sometimes it just means my youngest can get a 2 hr nap in his crib at home while I run errands because otherwise he sleeps for 30 min in the carseat...
So we're trying to figure out what to do next year...  options include:
  • continue the au pair program another year
  • go back to local nannies or babysitters
  • try a more traditional live-in housekeeper/nanny (older maybe more experienced)
I was just talking to another host family the other day and we both agreed it would be helpful to have some sort of host family forum.  We would be able to share ideas and experiences to strive towards improved au pair experience.

Overall our experience has been pretty positive.  So we'll see what happens next year...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is it a Cold or Allergies?

Allergy season came early this year!  We've already got a number of folks coming in for runny nose, congestion, cough, etc.  So is it allergies or is it a cold?

It is sometimes hard to tell because a lot of the symptoms may overlap.   Here is a great chart from webMD that summarizes the difference:

three-14 days
Days to months -- as long as you are exposed to the allergen
Time of Year
Most often in the winter, but possible at any time
Any time of the year -- although the appearance of some allergens are seasonal
Onset of symptoms
Symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus.
Symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen
Itchy, watery eyes
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Often; usually yellow mucus
Often; usually clear mucus

Last year, I did a Q&A with my cousin, Dr Joann Lin, who is an allergist in Dallas, TX.  If you have further questions you want to ask, you can email them to me at ellenkimmd@gmail.com and I'll compile another Q&A post with her.

Day Off? Not!

So I traded my afternoon today to be off because my boss is going on vacation in a few weeks and is taking two extra days off. I picked today because my au pair is actually on vacation and will not be back for another two days. So how was my day with my three little ones? Tiring!

It was one thing after the next... here is one scene from today that stood out:

Frustrating Moments with a "Mostly Potty Trained Kid"
Setting: In preschool bathroom with child #2 about 1 minute before child #1 is let out of school and with child #3 strapped in stroller screaming his head off because he's hungry and I was in the middle of feeding him...

Child#2: I need to go potty...
Me: Ok. Go ahead.
(child sitting on potty with me squatting in front of her.. trying to ignore the screams from child #1)
Me: You still need to go? Want to go now or later?
Child #2: Now...
Me: Ok. Go ahead. Mommy's waiting...
(I peer between her legs to see if I can see anything dripping down.. nothing...maybe if I stare hard enough I can will her to pee... nothing...)
Me: You sure you want to go now? Now or later?
(trying not to rush the child because usually when I rush her she takes longer... but child #3 is still screaming and I'm pretty sure all the parents have picked up their kids by now...)
Child#2: Now...
Me: Ok...
(staring.. nothing... oh I don't know maybe I asked her a few more times "now or later" and she kept saying "now")
Me: Ok... this is taking too long... we'll just have to go later...

Argh.. and after all that... she didn't pee! Preschool teacher then pokes her head in to try to calm down #3 while I'm struggling to get child #2 dressed. Child #1 wonders why we took so long in getting her. Sad thing is we were actually there early!

Other "argh!" moments include:
  • Blow out diaper up the back requiring a second bath for child #3! Of course it happens right after I bathe him and change him into new clothes...
  • Roll of toilet paper completely unraveled because child #2 was bored while sitting on the potty at home

(my attempt to re-roll the unrolled toilet paper and keep it out of reach...)

Child #1 was actually pretty good today... she even tried to help me fold laundry... However, she didn't nap so pretty much crashed by 7pm. In fact.. all three kids were asleep by 7pm today... why am I still up???!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pumping on the Go

This is my beat up Medela Pump In Style bag that I've had since S was born in 2007!  It is totally starting to fall apart but I just need it to last a few more months.  Once E turns one in June, I'll be happy to be rid of this.

Few weekends ago, I had to attend this three day conference down in Philly.  Conference was all day from 8-5, so everyday I had to squeeze in two pump sessions to keep up with E's eating schedule and to keep up supply.  Talk about inconvenient!  It is hard enough to find a long enough break that fits right when the 3-4 hour mark is up.  Then I have to endure the distinct "oompah oompah..."  Even behind closed bathroom stalls, the sound is unmistakable and in a conference full of women learning obstetric ultrasounds, I got plenty of comments.  Kind of funny actually...  "Hey, that sounds familiar!  Are you pumping in there?"  What else could I be doing?  "Yep!"  I'd answer.

So this also reminds me of a time when hubby and I went on a weekend getaway for our anniversary two years ago.  That was stressful because I forgot my battery pack during that trip and had a really difficult time finding a bathroom that had outlets!  When I did find them, the outlets were always outside the stalls... so not only do folks have to deal with the sound but I had to just pump right out in the open.  It is not a big deal to me but I'm sure some people were uncomfortable.  What made that trip challenging was not just the pumping but also the storing of the milk!  Not all hotels had refrigerators with freezers and after 2-3 days, I had quite a load of pumped milk that I had to lug back on the 3 hour flight.  Unfortunately, I probably ended up dumping most of the milk.

So yeah... with this many years of practice, I've become expert now at whipping out my "pump on the go" bag wherever need be... (even inside a car) and skillfully attaching all pieces (with one hand sometimes) quickly and without contamination (tricky when inside public bathroom stalls!)... then storing it all without spilling and again without contaminating!

Why all this trouble?  Well, I believe that breast milk is great for baby.  However, if due to health or other personal reasons one simply cannot breastfeed, one should not stress too much.  There was actually a recent study that claims no difference in children's health whether they were breastfed or formula fed.  Here is a good summary by Dr Ramon Resa:  Is Breastfeeding Better Than Formula Feeding?  What You Should Choose.