Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cruise Last Day

This is it - the end of our vacation. As anyone who has ever been on a cruise knows, they kick you out of your room bright and early at 8 am so that you can line up to get off the ship. In my opinion, that's a little early to get a shipload of vacationers and drunkards out of bed. You can make up for it a little, though, if you find a good place to snooze while others are fighting to get off the ship and through Customs.

After we woke up and stuffed the remainder of our things in our bag, we had our last cruise meal, which consisted of -what else - omelets and smoked salmon. We could have eaten something else, but there was that nagging thought of "better eat this while we can because we won't have this again for another 7 years."

During breakfast, the baby was unusually lethargic, and lo and behold, he threw up all over himself. Of course I was foolish to pack away all his clothes in the suitcases, so all I could do was strip him and put on his jacket. Poor baby, he had caught my cold and at the worst possible time.

We finally trudged off the ship. Customs was pretty easy on us, either because of the kids (what criminal is going to drag along 4 little ones) or because of our stink. As we were riding the shuttle bus to our car, I realized that I had left the car keys onboard. Another sign of my decreased brain cells. So Kevin had to go back and get them while we sat in the parking lot trying to get my 5-year old off other people's motorcycles. Kevin came back, we piled into the car, we left, we slept, we got home.

So that's it then. You know the rest. That was two weeks ago exactly. On behalf of the whole family, thank you for travelling with FEARLESSMOM. Join us again for our next exciting adventure.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cruise Day 5

Hang in there with me now. The cruise is almost over. Only 1.5 more days to go.

On this particular day, we were docked in Ensenada. Kevin and I had visited Ensenada before on another, shorter cruise. Based on that cruise, we formed a future visiting plan for Ensenada which is this: do not get off the ship or ever go there.

This is because Ensenada is just a bunch of overpriced tourist stores selling the same useless garbage in every store, all located on one scummy street with lots of crazy drivers. Of course, if you have a hankering for some Mexican candy, beaded jewelry, Mary souvenirs, and sombreros, then Ensenada is the place for you. Beyond the one tourist street, the city is more authentic but very shabby. Good place to take your kids if you want them to learn gratitude and appreciation for life in the US. We would have done exactly that if not for the possibility of one rambunctious kid getting run over by those maniac drivers.

So we stayed onboard, which turned out to be a doubly good move, because with the ship deserted, the buffet was empty, the pool was empty, and there were no lines anywhere. We played ping-pong, went on the pool slide, splashed all over the pool and jacuzzi, and rode the glass elevators multiple times.

Since Kevin's folks had never been to Ensenada before, they took a short excursion and stopped at a restaurant to rest. While there, Kevin's dad downed some tequila. I only mention this to point out how healthy my father-in-law is. He's 80 years old and drinking tequila with no effects.

Later on in the evening, I had the wonderful task of packing. It's one thing to pack clean laundry, it's another thing entirely to fold and pack dirty laundry that is wet and/or full of sand. In my next life (after the kids are grown and gone), I could seriously become the best professional suitcase packer ever. Just one of my many talents.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cruise Day 4

I actually don't remember much about Day 4. We were at sea all day, going from activity to activity and stuffing ourselves. With each day that progressed, we were less impressed with the food. I mean, omelets and smoked salmon were super delicious the first morning, so-so delish the second morning. By Day 4, it was like,"what, this again?"

I did catch a cool show in the evening. It was the rated R hypnosis show after dinner. We had watched the PG version earlier in the week, and I was very amused and impressed, so after dinner on Day 4, I left my very loving, capable husband in charge of getting the kids to sleep while I took off with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

It was hilarious. The guy picked some audience members, hypnotized them, and made them do crazy stuff like ballet dancing (funny when the men did it), strut on a catwalk, and deal with imaginary heat (by taking off some of their clothes). This guy had some serious power. He made all the hypnotized people want him and strain to touch him. By far, his most amazing feat was putting them all in orgasms. Not only that, but he did it by making the people touch their own thumbs to their heads! Just imagine - an orgasm just by touching a thumb to your head. Now that is power.

In the end, he also told them a bunch of positive things like to quit smoking, believe in themselves, blah blah blah. The point is this: if you ever get a chance to volunteer for an R-rated hypnosis show, DO IT! I know I will next time.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cruise Day 2

Tuesday we were at sea all day. Kevin woke us up at the crack of dawn just because he's used to it on workdays. Okay, it was actually 8:30, but it felt like 6:30. I promptly chewed him out for not letting me sleep in when everyone knows sleep is the best remedy for illness. Hey, I love him but after all he does have the sensitivities of a man, which is to say, not much.

He even had the nerve to ask me if I was done getting ready yet several times. Well, sure! I'll just have my fairy godmother wave her wand at me while I'm staggering around with my fever still, dressing and getting the kids ready first. I hollered at him with his mom right there. It's beautiful when your marriage reaches a place where you can yell at your husband right in front of his parents. It means we're truly family, not just in-laws anymore.

Of course we made up, by the time-tested method of pretending forgetting anything ever happened. The rest of the day was spent exploring and playing games with the baby while his siblings were at the onboard children's activities.

Tuesday was also my father-in-law's 80th birthday, which was the whole reason for our cruise. My father-in-law is the coolest, sweetest guy. He's very quiet and low-key, so we wanted to do something big for him. I'm so glad that he's in great shape. You would never know he's 80 by looking at him. Coincidentally, Tuesday was also formal night at dinner, so we got to celebrate the big 80 by dressing up and eating lobster and my favorite, souffle. It was nice just hanging out with the whole family, including Kevin's brother & wife whom the kids adore.

It was good to be at sea during the first day because we got much better acquainted with the ship and its layout. Still, we were looking forward to the next day when we would arrive in Cabo San Lucas.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cruise Day 1

That would be Monday. But first, before that, we had a long drive back home from Vegas on Sunday. This time, the kids didn't do so hot. The baby whined, the kids fussed, and we had to stop multiple times. The drive home always drags on more than the drive there - the trip is done, the anticipation is gone, all you have to look forward is the unpacking and cleaning up the mess you left during your whirlwind of last-minute packing.

We got home late Sunday, only to immediately unpack and repack for the cruise. That's because a lot of the stuff we took to Vegas we also had to use on the cruise. Please just shoot me if we ever plan on doing back to back trips again. I know I'm such a whiner, but did I mention I still had a fever? Plus 4 kids? Thank goodness for pills.

Monday morning wasn't too bad. I finished packing while Kevin was at work, then we drove down to San Diego for our 5 day cruise to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada. Of course the first thing we did upon embarking was eat. That pretty much messed up our schedule the entire week, because after eating lunch at 2:30, we weren't ready to eat at our regular dinnertime, so from thereon out, breakfast was at 10, lunch at 2, and dinner at 8:30. Everyone knows the first rule of cruising: li
fe revolves around food, and we were a fine example of that.

While Kevin took the kids exploring, I unpacked and organized everything in the closets. You know you're truly a mother when you're more interested in putting away socks than exploring or watching the ship sail away from the dock. After the kids got back, they lounged on the bed and watched the cartoon network which was featuring nothing but Scooby Doo, the new ones which are lame. So there we were, after weeks of planning and megabucks spent, watching cartoons that we could have just stayed at home for. Luckily, ca
rtoon time was interrupted by - what else - dinnertime.

We opted for dinner in the buffet, thereby exhibiting extreme wisdom in avoiding a 2 hour fo
rmal dinner with 4 little kids. At home, we're almost always stumped by what to make for our next meal. That first night on the cruise, I was stumped by the vast amount of choices. Should I eat pizza or sandwiches? Salad or pasta? Chicken or roast beef? One thing was for sure: ice cream for dessert, sore throat or not.

After dinner was bedtime. Bedtime is not bedtime as you know it. Bedtime is actually an hour long process (at least) of nagging, changing, brushing teeth, breaking up fights, more nagging, storytime, prayer time, tantrum time, and yet more nagging. Eventually we all just pass out, Kevin usually first and in a most annoying manner sprawled out sideways on top of the blankets. This is our usual conversation at bedtime.

Me: Kevin...Kevin...Kevin...Kevin...KEVIN!
Him (finally): Why are you yelling at me?
Me: Can you please straighten out and get off the blanket?
Him: hmph
Him: Why are you always yelling at me?

So as you can see, we all had a very exciting first day on our cruise trip. The kids got to run around and skip their naps, we all had ice cream & cheesecake & mousse, and most importantly, everyone had their own neat drawers of clothing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What happens in Vegas

So here's a rundown of our trips. This is the journal I should've kept but was too sick/lazy/tired to.

We started off Saturday morning driving to Vegas, which wasn't too bad because I always sleep on road trips. Not very well, though - I wake up periodically thinking that we're about to crash. It used to drive Kevin crazy when I would jerk awake and ask him if everything was okay. This time I just woke up with a very dry throat from sleeping with my mouth wide open and wooziness from my fever. The kids did remarkably well, although towards the end, every time we passed by a building, they would ask if we were there yet.

Once we arrived, I just wanted to rest. But knowing that we didn't have much time in Vegas and that we probably wouldn't be coming back for a long time, I wanted the kids to see as much of the sights as possible, so I popped a couple more pills and off we went. Turns out it would've been better if we had stayed in. We walked past a stripper's club, giant billboards for Chippendale's, barely clad people (it is in the desert after all) smoking and drinking. I had to answer my daughter's questions and explain what strippers are and why they do it. Up till now, I don't think she realized that being naked was a big deal. Nothing like a stroll down Sin City to get your kids acquainted with various sins that they were never even aware of.

Vegas has recently prided itself on being more family friendly, but it's still very much an adult world. Not just an adult place but a place where people go to purposely let go. It's like they decide beforehand to "have fun" which means gambling, drinking, hooking up, and going strip clubbing. Even the strip, with all of its "classier" hotels, still have giant screen ads of their many provocative shows.

Nevertheless, we did manage to check out the lions at MGM and the water show outside the Bellagio, which were both very cool.

Of course, the best part of the trip was watching my sister get married. The whole thing was very sweet and intimate. It was great to see her dream come true with a great guy.

All in all, it was worth it just for my sister's wedding. By ourselves, though, we wouldn't go back. The traffic on the Strip is worse than any LA freeway, the air is set in with nicotine by the hot sun, food is expensive, and most importantly, there are too many addicts walking around. Definitely not where one would take 4 little kids for a vacation.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Back to Life

It feels like we just returned from our back to back vacation, even though we've been home since Saturday. We, as in I, are still recovering from the trip. I didn't know how exhausting the trip was until we came home whereupon I took two straight naps, went to sleep early, then fell asleep during church the following morning even though our pastor was on fire. It took me awhile to get over the sensation that I was still on a rocking boat, too. I finally quit staggering around like a drunk today.

Meanwhile, my girls are recovering from the cold they caught from me, and the baby now has a fever. Yup, we're definitely back. I will update about our trip in detail later, but for now, I have to go to sleep again.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cruise Prep

I've been trying to work out like a fiend this week. That's because next week we're going on a cruise for my father-in-law's 80th birthday. I know that despite my best efforts, I will end up gorging at the dinners and buffet. Hey, how often do I get a chance to eat lobster, filet mignon, fancy schmancy duck, souffles, and fruit tarts...all for FREE (it feels free even if it's not).

My plan was to build up my muscles this week so that maybe, wishfully, miraculously the calories will be burned off without any effort. This time, the kids are coming, so we'll have to be extra careful in setting an example for them and not eat as unhealthily or stuff ourselves as much we would if we were by ourselves. That's the funny thing about kids - you think you're doing them good, but it turns out they're doing you good.

Thanks to a funny twist of events I don't have to worry about eating too much anymore. I'm now sick with a sore throat and a fever. Nothing like a golf ball in your throat everytime you swallow to curb your appetite.

One thing - and just about the only thing - I'm not packing is the computer, so it'll be adieu till next week.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not a cold

It is the worst possible time to come down with a cold. My sister is getting married this weekend in Vegas, and we're going on a trip next week. The whole week, I've been doing nothing but making lists, sorting through clothes, packing, and making more lists. It is hard enough packing for 6 people, but I have to pack for two separate trips! So when I woke up with a sore throat yesterday, I downed a bunch of vitamin C's, some bee propolis, and glasses of water. Then my fever struck, and I was forced to lie down.

While I was lying down, I realized a few things. First of all, I was finally getting enough rest. I went to sleep early, woke up late, and napped. I feel so refreshed and yet woozy. Secondly, I don't spend enough time relaxing with the kids. Normally, I'm going from one task to another or grabbing my alone time. Today I was forced to lie there and watch them run around and play. I got to enjoy them. I have to do it more often. Lastly, despite the lousy timing, a cold is really the worst thing I have to suffer through. The world is full of tragedies, terrible ones. The fact that my worst tragedy is an ill-timed cold makes me one super-blessed woman. And I would be a fool not be thankful.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Quick tip

Here's a suggestion for any kid who is bored. Read a short story or fable to her, then have her draw or paint a picture, illustrating the story. These stories can be found in any anthology, eg. Aesop's fables, Stories from China, etc. Or do the opposite: give her a picture and have her make up and write a story around it. My homeschooling daughter loves doing this!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Picky picky

I was amazed today to find out that each kid has his/her favorite crayons. Each time one draws, he/she picks out the preferred ones. Which is amazing when they all look like this.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sometimes Fight Club

Yesterday we were hanging out in our neighborhood park with a bunch of neighbors when our oldest started fighting with a third-grade girl. They had been playing a game on their bikes, and someone cheated. Someone called names and stuck a tongue out, someone started hitting, and the other person hit back. Pretty soon, it became two girls doing the windmill at each other. Kevin had to break up the fight.

After we got home, Kevin expressed his disappointment with her. But get this: it wasn't because she fought with someone, it was over how she fought. He talked to her about how ineffective the windmill strikes were and proceeded her to instruct her which blows and blocks she should have used. Basically, he was preparing her for her next fight. Then he scolded my 5 year old son for just standing there and not helping. He wanted my son to help my daughter beat up on the other girl! It's ironic, because he happened to be chatting with the girl's father when this happened.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about how we're supposed to teach our children to turn the other cheek and how to be gentle and peace-loving. It's one thing to protect yourself from an attacker, but it's another to fight with a kid because you don't agree with her.

At the same time, though, I'm proud she stood up for herself. We hear a lot about Christian kids being constantly taught to "be nice," and then they grow up to be pushovers. I want our kids to be assertive but not aggressive, tolerant but not submissive. Finding the right balance - that's the tricky part.

P.S. Does anyone know which method would be better for kids: tae kwon do, karate, aikido, jujitsu, etc?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Perks of Having Four

What perks? Just kidding!

1. It is officially acceptable refer to them by their numbers, eg. #1, #2, etc., just like on that cartoon Kids Next Door. This one is extra handy so that I don't have to say one wrong name after another till I hit the right one.
2. It is officially acceptable to make them line up before they do anything. For example, mine line up and march to the bathroom for teethbrushing, all the while chanting "hut two three" or "hucklebee" as they say it.
3. No one is ever the odd man out at amusement parks (this one was pointed out to me while I was pregnant).
4. Every toy and clothing gets its money's worth.
5. We can have our own family band. Watch out World!
6. No leftovers go to waste because someone is always hungry.
7. More of them to mooch off of in my old age.
8. Polite people clear the way and open the door for us.
9. Scared people clear the way and open the door for us (to leave, that is).
10. We can make a human pyramid.

Well, I hope that inspires you all to have four!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oldies but Goodies

I don't know if you noticed, but I just uploaded some posts from my old blog, which I had quit some time ago. I can't remember why I stopped (heck I can't remember anything anymore), but I suspect it had to do with my hormones and pending birth of my baby who is now 1.5 years old. I saved all my posts, as they did take up a good amount of my time. I'm amazed that back then I had time to post every day. Here they are again, then, at least the ones that are suitable for public viewing.