Category Archives: kids

New problem with new baby

We had a new baby girl about 2 months ago. One problem we anticipated did not show up as I feared: the feeling of being neglected for my older daughter, as new baby usually gets more attention. That’s good. When I think about it, I heard so many warnings from my friends and tried to spend some quality time with serenity.

But another unexpected problem arose. The financial one. Between the medical bills related to new baby, the home helper to help out my wife, and rising child care cost from Serenity’s school, and at the same time my stagnant take home pay, I suddenly found out I am not on a sound financial footing. I am doing some maneuvers, such as consolidating checking accts., refinance mortgage, etc.

I hope to get through this school year, because in next fall my elder daughter will start kindergarten at local public school. No more child are cost for her, if any :-)

Baby car seat and travel system, more about indoor playground

We got this Graco travel system from Wal-Mart long before our second baby was born. Btw, there is a promotion ($25 rebate) going on for this product. I recall we bought the same car seat for our elder daughter when she was new born, we still have the base which we are using again, but I forgot how we install the car seat at that time (note I also wrote a blog post on this topic 4 years ago).

We also went to the St. Louis Outlet Mall (formerly the Mills), and Serenity got to play in the big indoor playground. Sometimes she just runs around.

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This is the best indoor playground in St. Louis, in my opinion.

Stock up some diapers from Target.com

Target is offering $20 gift cards for 2 giant packs of Pamper or Huggies diapers. With the expiring $10 off $40 store pick up offer from target.com, that makes 2 giant packs from about $70 to $40. With Target red cards, there is 5% discount as well. Personally I picked up Huggies little snuggler size 2 (12 to $18 lbs).

This is better deal than a similar deal I got from target recently, in which they offer $10 GC for 2 super packs Pampers new born diaper, which costs $50 before tax.

Sam’s Club: I bought a “super giant” Huggies’ size 1 snug and dry pack from them, which has 192 pieces, and they offered $6 off about $40 original price. From this article at babycenter it appears “little snugglers” is better than “snug and dry”.

Of course, the risk of stocking up diapers is overstock :-) From personal experience, size 2 is a safe bet, because infant usually slows weight growth after couple months. That’s why I don’t want to stock a lot new born and size 1.

Last but not least, when placing order at Target.com, make sure entering a valid email address to receive the free Gift Card, it appears their web page does not check that. I had to call their customer service to get the $10 GC as I forgot to put it my own email there.

PS, I picked up the huggies size 2 order this morning at 8 am. Because this is the last day of tax free holiday this year, there is quite a crowd and the Guest Service lady complained about this “flexible fulfillment” promotion (pick up in store), and the tax holiday thing. I waited for about 10 minutes before they got the items from their warehouse. Anyway, it appears Target is getting some disgruntled workers. And a related question, if a store is full of deal seekers, and not many people willing to spend, that also signals trouble, right?

Stacy Park vs. Beirne Park

We go to Berine Park a lot, we meant mostly Serentity and myself, sometimes my wife will also go. The main reason is it’s so close to our home, across the street from Olive blvd, and 2 to 3 minutes driving. It’s across the street from the Spoede Elementary School, if everything works out as we expected, that’s where Serenity will go for Kindergarden next year. Beirne Park has some nice feature, as explained by playstlouis blog here. I don’t have any complaints. The only thing is sometimes, it has very few people, probably due to its location (not exactly next to Spoede, tucked in a bit). It could be an advantage too, as sometimes we joked that’s a private park.

But as Serenity gets older, and more social, she really wants to play with other kids, because she is the only one (so far), she can play with kids mostly in parks besides in her pre-school. That’s Stacy Park comes into play. It’s a much bigger park, and has some nice feature too (playstlouis; yelp). And in addition to that, it has the “social feature”, both for Serenity and my wife, as it got more people. Interestingly enough, the Creve Coeur park website says Berine Park is one of the busy park in Creve Coeur, that is probably compared to other Creve Coeur parks. Stacy park got to another level. A few days ago, I think was July 3 evening, I saw bunch of many kids playing soccer, and play ground.

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Kindermusik and Team Central Gymnastics

This is the end of school year, it is also the busiest time for parents and kids. I just realized it this year. As this past week we had two activities for Serenity: besides the Spring musical, we had Spring Performance at Team Central Gymnastics. Yoyo has done this for a year now, I knew she might not be talented in this, and we sometimes skipped classes (especially in the cold winter), but we got to finish it with a strong note.

spring_performance_team_centralIt’s also a bit emotional to say goodbye to our Kindermusik teacher and friends. We have done this for last 2 years, since Yoyo was 2.5 years old. I recall at one time when she was transitioning from toddler class to pre-school at Hope, the only class she likes to go is Kindermusik.

    Mall playground, park playground

    (Update 08-30-2014) We went to St. Louis Outlet Mall (the mills) again today. The playground is busier today as this is labor day long weekend. But still fun. We also explored the mall a bit more this time.

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    (Update 07-20-2014) We went to St. Louis Mills today, as I felt it’s might be a better fit for my older daughter as she is 4 years and 4 months old. I vaguely recall they have a playground, last time we visited there (a year or two ago), Serenity was not quite there yet. Today it’s no question she is ready for that. The plus side of this playground is it’s both big, have a fence around it, and it’s indoor (good for summer and winter). The two new outlet malls in Chesterfield don’t have big playground like the one in Mills.

    (Update 05-10-2014) We went to Chesterfield mall today, specifically the playground, as our little guest has allergy, we try to play inside. Personally I prefer Chesterfield mall over West County mall for the playground, it has more room.

    (Original 05-04-2014) I have not been to the mall much recently, but the past Friday evening we went to mall to pick up something, and let our daughter playing in the playground for a while. Two things made me uncomfortable: one little boy, who is still in diapers, was a bit aggressive, he pushes my daughter and other kids, while his parent does not care much until I complains. Also, there is a “Asian child fund” charity, presumably they see me as asian, asked me for donation, which is fine by itself. I am not comfortable though, is when they showed me the list of money other people gave (don’t know if this is true or not). It’s just not the right way to ask for money, in my opinion.

    Yesterday evening (Saturday), after dinner we went to Beirne Park, and we enjoyed it as usual. Personally I think the atmosphere at park and at mall playgrounds are different. Obviously it’s not a fair comparison too, as the park playground is much bigger. But at least the parent can watch out the kids and teacher them if needed.

    Water outage
    This past Wednesday we had an water outage; this is the first time I experienced this in the condo/maybe in the US. Personally I am not too upset by this, because back in China we had those kinds of things more often when I grew up (power/water outage). I joked we need to go to hotel if we don’t have water. But everyone in the neighborhood was asking each other about what happened. Water was restored after we came back from dinning outside. Yesterday (Saturday) we received a letter from the condo management co. explaining about what happened: it was essentially a clerical/communication mistake, the water company thought we did not pay the water bill, and we have already paid actually. This made me to think: this water company monopoly thing does not help, say if we are not happy with the water company, we can not switch, because they are the only provider.

    Farmers market
    Creve Coeur opened its own farmers market. I saw an interesting comment written a while ago.

    My apps free for a week
    myNestEgg

    ToMarket

    collegeFund
    The last app (collegeFund) has a problem I know of, and I already submit the fix/update. It will take some time for App store to review and make it to the store.

    Birthday party places for little kids in St. Louis

    We went to the Chick-fil-a Chesterfield valley today for lunch, actually we spent quite some time today. The reason being we have a birthday party at 3 pm at Chesterfield mall, and it takes 40 to 50 minutes going back and forth from the Chesterfield to our home in Creve Coeur. Talking about the birthday party places in St. Louis, since Serenity turns to 3 and went to pre-school, there are a lot more birthday party invitations, and I typically obligated. Here are the place we went so far, and I added my comments there (purely my personal view as a dad):

    1) St. Louis Zoo (3 times): good for little kids. Kids got to see the insects and the birds and small animals (such as guinea pig). Their Owl cup cake is big (maybe I will do a cup cake series next time :-)

    2) Bounce-U (3 times): the first time was quite amazing, kids just bounce bounce bounce. I think Serenity still enjoyed the 2nd/3rd time, except me as a parent got a bit tired in the 3rd time as 2nd/3rd time was fairly close.

    3) Magic House (2): one is for big kid (grade school, 7 years old), the other is for Serenity’s classmate (4 years old). So the content is slightly different. The first one is science focused, the second is more art focused. Both has cup cake decoration.

    4) Des Peres “The Lodge” wave swimming pool (1): unique place, one of a kind in St. Louis (the other one being Carousal below, both places the parents need to prepare own food, other places pretty much they offer pizza, or cakes).

    5) St. Louis Carousal/Foust Park (1): one of a kind, it’s interesting Serenity does not like the carousal at the Chesterfield Mall (she got scared once when she was much younger), but she like the original Carousal.

    6) Hi Energy Gymnastics Chesterfield Mall (1): a lot of gymnastics exercise, from pure gymnastics point of view, Team Central at Dorset is probably better, but this place is good for party and the location is also good. Note Chesterfield mall also has a carousal.

    7) Last but not least, the art/drawing place in Chesterfield mall (1). I forgot the name now, but it’s by the Sears store in the mall (near mall entrance).

    Quick summary: work-wise, probably less work for parents at Bounce-U, St. Louis zoo, and magic house. Fun/unique factor: Des Peres “the lodge”, the Carousal at Faust Park are probably the winner. But more work for parents.

    I will refine this post as time goes.

    (Update 05-10-2014) Last month we went to Butterfly House at Faust Park, which is also very nice and unique. The kids got to tour the butterfly house with parents, the staff played a butterfly themed game/Q and A with kids, art project, decorating cookies, etc. Overall I think this is very good. This is a bit similar to Magic House (the art part), as kindly reminded by one of the parents.

    (June, 2014) That paint spot: this is a unique spot near Manson and Olive, we went there for birthday. Kids like painting, the unique thing they do is they paint on ceramics, then they will put it on fire and make the color stick. I guess from business point of view, customization (think T-shirt, mugs) is very interesting.

    The most important thing in parenting

    is the “not give up” attitude. I learned a few things from Dave’s yearly breakfast seminar, last year was Dave talking about the Montessori “explore” approach, this year was about digital media by Dr. Sucre (a parent of Hope Montessori student). The topic is related to the “no TV watching” as shown in the Hope Infant Toddler web page (written by my daughter’s teacher). To be honest I have not read all the materials and have not followed all these good advice strictly, but I was trying my best for the most part :-)

    This reminds me of couple things: I remember Woody Allen once said 80% of the work is to show up. I also recall the CIO of the company I work for recently said: show the customers you care (IT is very customer focused in my company).

    Yesterday in the parenting work day, our daughter started crying for some reason, which is a big embarrassment for my wife, she has a thin skin by the way. They wanted to go home. So we started driving while I was hoping they can change their mind. On a red light we saw a friend’s car, I know they are coming to the event as their son is in the same class as my daughter. So I tried to drive back. Things turn out ok eventually.