31 December 2008

Big Gurl Talk

For some reason, Trinhity seemed full of one-liners today. I was feeding Tài Tài some lunch, and he gave the 'access denied' treatment to the sweet potato twice, then started fussing. I said, "So does that mean you're finished, Little Dude?" He fussed louder and clapped his hands, his sign for 'pick me up now, if you know what's good for you.'

Without looking up from her painting, Trinh said, "Daddy, I think that means "Yes."

Later, Huong asked her something. Trinh replied, "Well, Mommy, let me put it like this..."

Finally, she was making a band-aid for her dinosaur's tail out of masking tape because...well, because Daddy bit it, that's why. Don't ask. Then she started strapping her knee with masking tape, too. I asked why. She said, "I know it's not a real band-aid. I do this just to embarrass you."

One more from last Friday when Di Trang and John were here. Trinh & I had watched Kung Fu Panda a couple times; there's a funny scene in there where Poh (the panda) starts to wig out, and Shifu (the master) says "Focus...Focus...FOCUS!"

I used that on her once or twice at times when she was distracted. I explained that "focus" means "concentrate", and it means, "I need your attention...NOW." She made the connection, and it was working beautifully.

So there I was, chatting along with Di Trang while Trinh was nearby setting up an imaginary game with some of her toys. Trinh had apparently said something to me that I'd missed. She walked over, stood in front of me, took my face in both hands, and said, "Daddy...focus, Daddy...focus. I need your attention. Thank you."


27 December 2008

Tai Lung, the Dark Leprechaun

I broke down one day last week and got some fries and a Coke at McDonald's when I was on the run to somewhere. Aside from a sense of lethargy and guilt, that yielded a coupon for a one-night RedBox movie rental, which in turn led to another breakdown: Kung Fu Panda.

Trinh loved it. So did I, truth be told. She's been talking about it non-stop, and she's taken a shine to Tigress, the strong female fighter voiced by Angelina Jolie. Naturally, she's a little spooked by the villain, Tai Lung, a fearsome snow leopard "with darkness in his heart."

Separately, Trinh also got an exceptionally cool book for Christmas, the Encyclopedia Mythologica: Fairies and Magical Creatures. It's got the most sophisticated pop-ups I've ever seen, and it's quite readable. One of the creatures that took her fancy were the leprechauns, probably due in part to a recently-borrowed library book that we all fancied, Fiona's Luck.

Perhaps you've already figured out how these non-sequiters would collide, but I didn't see it coming: "Daddy, I want to see the part again where Tigress fights with Tai Lung...you know Tai Lung, the leprechaun with darkness in his heart. Can we watch that again? Pleeeease??"

25 December 2008

Mommy, where do you keep your rules?

Last week Trinhity asked Huong (in VN), "What part of your body do you keep your rules in?"

Huong was somewhat confused. She asked, "What do you mean?"

"I keep my rules in my heart," Trinh replied. "Do you?"

21 December 2008

O Holy Night

We were singing Christmas carols tonight during Trinh's bath. I was trying out a scat version of "Silver Bells" (because I can't remember most of the words), and she wanted to know if "Jingle Bells" were also "Silver Bells". A logical question, and we managed to work "Jingle Bell Rock" into the answer for kicks.

Somewhere along the way we managed some brief harmony on a final note. It rang out, thanks to the less-than-dreadful acoustics in our bathroom; we shared a spellbound moment and that special smile which always seem to accompany a particularly nice echo. If you've sung any a cappella, you know what I mean.

She wanted to do that again. I did too. So I launched into an explanation of "sounds" (ooo, ahh, eee) in contrast to "notes" with a smattering of examples from the various Christmas carols we've been singing. She doesn't seem to have perfect pitch, but her ear knows it when she hears it. This pleases me more than I can possibly articulate.

Her attention span was running short, so I wrapped up with a flourish: O Holy Night, with a nod to Mr. Tanner. Just after the minor fall (but before the major lift), she laid her head on my chest, wrapped her little arms around me and snuggled close.

Despite a congested head, dodgy throat and lack of a regular singing routine, I sorta got into it, somehow managing not to wake Tài Tài sleeping just down the hall. When I finished the last round of falling on our knees, she slowly pulled back and looked into my eyes.

"Daddy," she said, "I remember when you used to sing that song to put me to sleep. Now I'm a big girl, but it still makes me fall asleep. It makes me feel warm."

She might not remember moments like this years from now. But hallelujah, I will.

07 December 2008

Christmas Rain

Trinhity & I took a scenic route home through our neighborhood tonight at dusk to check out all the Christmas decorations. We saw inflatable Santas, inflatable snowmen, an enormous inflatable Mickey Mouse, an inflatable Pooh Bear...and, among other inflatables, an inordinate number of reindeer.

Completely unprompted by me she sighed and said, "Daddy, why is there so much rain at Christmas?"

03 December 2008


We were so proud of Trinhity during our stay in Cancun. Before the trip, we talked to her about the fact that we were going to visit Mexico. We told her that in Mexico, the people there speak Spanish. So of course, we spent a lot of time teaching her some key Spanish phrases. She was a hit with the staff at the resort. She greeted everyone... EVERYONE.. with an enthusiastic ¡Hola! complete with waves and smiles. She also mastered the usage of adios and buenos dias. By the end of the trip, she was remembering to say gracias as well.
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02 December 2008


That is the number of library books that we currently have checked out. There was a time when Trinhity would ask us to read the same book over & over again. No more. Now, she asks for a "new" book. She usually asks for a "new" book several times a day. We've found that having 15-20 library books will get us through a week. How cool is that?

What's bizarre is that the Mama, while checking out the week's supply of stories, has heard on more than one occasion, a parent scolding a child for asking to check out too many library books. Too many appears to be roughly 5. Now why in the world would you discourage your child from reading??

La Petite Penguin

Here you can see our little Happy Feet in all her penguin glory. We wish you could see her dance her Happy Feet stomping dance in this costume, it's just way too precious. Perhaps we'll have the video edited and posted sometime before she hits kindergarten, but don't hold your breath.

Mama made her a little penguin beanie and beak as well but Trinh decided that she didn't want to wear them.

This year, Mama went trick-or-treating with the princess; Daddy stayed home with the Little Dude. Unlike Trinhity, Taison keeps a schedule and is usually asleep by 7PM. No Halloween for Little Dude this year.

Trick-or-treating was not as eventful this year as it was last year since Trinhity's little neighborhood friends did not get home until later in the evening. Trinh was a bit heartbroken and kept stopping by their house. She adores her friends but has a tough time understanding that since the girls are older (6 & 8) they may have other friends and interests. She has always played well with older children and has not really bonded to any children her age. It will be interesting to see how her friendships develop as she goes through preschool.

On a side note, we've been trying to steer her away from her Happy Feet obsession. Why? Well, some aspect of the movie aren't exactly age appropriate, even if we really enjoy them. It is a bit disconcerting to hear your 3 year old belt out:
"Uh, Uh, Baby it don't work. You say your prayers but you don't care...."

"Can anybody...find me...somebody to...LOVE..."

"You don't have to be BEAUTIFUL.... OWWW... "

"WEEELLLLL, since my baby left me...."

Umm, yeah. Earth, Wind & Fire; Prince; Queen; P!nk; and Elvis. Great stuff. Not exactly geared for toddlers, though.

Cancun #2: Sad Faces

This little drama started at one of the resort's pools where Trinh was chasing away the birds who were trying to eat our tortilla chips. I think they also wanted my mojito, but I wasn't sharing.
She successfully scared off all the birds. This was as she watched them fly away.
Then she came over to Mama and said, "Mommy, all the birds are gone. I'm sad. Is this a sad face?"
"And how about this one? Is this an even sadder face??"


We arrived in Cancun midday on Friday. By the time we got our bags, found the bus, got to the resort, checked in, met up with everyone, got settled in our room...it was already dark.

So the next morning, we went exploring and discovered that we were mere steps from a gorgeous beach. AHHH....

But wait a minute...what's wrong with this picture?

No, it's not the pelicans.

It's the palm trees. And her hair.

It was extremely windy that first day. Poor princess found herself caught in a sandstorm!

Well, OK, so we didn't hit the beach much those first few days. But we had the pools, right?

Technically, yes. There were three gorgeous pools within a minute of our suite. Unfortunately, the water was FREEZING! It didn't bother the kids much, but as a parent it's hard to watch your child's lips turn blue after only 10 minutes in the water. Not so good.

To make matters worse, Trinh had a terrible breakout of eczema on her face & neck. She's a tough little girl, though; as Mama was putting on suncreen, Trinh said very matter of factly, "Mama, that stings. Owie."

That's all. No tears, no drama. The eczema patches had developed minor lacerations, so we couldn't really put suncreen on the princess. Ouch!

Instead, we did lots of coloring and hanging out by the pool. In the shade.

Believe it or not, we had a few days that we had to drag Trinh out into the sunshine. Why??

Well, our hotel room had a TV. See, our house does not have a TV. Ong Bà's house has a TV, but no cable. Princess was glued to the TV when we were in our room. It was the first time she'd ever seen Dora the Explorer. First time for us, too.

Ah, the wonders of cable television for the (self-)deprived. [sigh]

This is Princess having lunch. What is she eating? Seaweed, of course. We brought a week's supply of seaweed -- along with three bags of diapers, of course. Those two necessities took up half of a suitcase!

For those of you who have read the Cancun entry on Taison's blog, you know that we had a really rough week. Taison was teething and up screaming half of the night. Both kids were completely off of their normal schedules. Trinhity still naps, normally around 1PM; during our vacation, she was taking her naps as late as 3-4PM. That meant she was waking up about the time that Taison needed to be fed, bathed, and put to bed.

We spent a lot of time in our hotel room. Good thing our hotel room was spacious. Well, that was our opinion.

One morning Mama called Ong, and Trinh wanted to talk with him. She told him that our "beach house" in Cancun was really, really small. Hmmm.

Trinh has always associated beaches with the beach house rentals we've gotten in Galveston. They were never so nice as the Moon Palace Grand Resort. I mean, our room had a jacuzzi for two and an in-room booze bar. Nice, eh? Yeah, the kiddos liked it.

The jacuzzi, I mean. None of us really touched the booze.

Anyway, apparently the nice resort, white sand, and that crystal blue water all were lost on our child. She just thought the room was small. Hah.

So it wasn't exactly the most relaxing week. Frankly, it's a ton of work to vacation with two munchkins. We knew that going in, but it didn't make things easier. But Mama did get to sneak away for a few hours and spend two days at the spa. There was no cooking, cleaning, or laundry to do, and Daddy didn't have to wear a tie.

This was our view every morning as we breakfasted at the nearby restaurant.
As with all vacations, the weather was perfect on the last two days. The kids napped on schedule, and we were able to spend some time playing on the beach in the early evening.

Our family on Thanksgiving day 2008 in Cancun, Mexico:

Despite the exhaustion associated with parenting, we have much, much for which to be thankful...

For instance, Daddy has always secretly wanted to be a pirate. Now he is!

We did catch a spectacular sunset on our last night in Cancun, a perfect end to a not-entirely-ideal vacation.
And who are these pretty people with the big smiles and sun-kissed skin?
[L-R] Cousin Trevor, Brittany, Uncle Scott, Aunt Tina, Cousin Rachel, Sammy, Amy & Cousin Jeff
[front center] Gloria, the penguin

Thank you Uncle Scott & Aunt Tina for sharing your vacation with us!!