Prepare for a Newborn

When I was 7 month prego, my boss walked into my office with his notepad in hand – “J, you ready? We need you in 8A to go over your deal.”  “Sure”, I grabbed my stuff and waddled out of my office, followed him into the big conference room.  “Surprise!!” As I walked in, I saw a room filled with people from the office.  My boss turned around, with a triumphant smile on his face – no wonder he was asking me (casually) the other day how I was prepared in terms of shopping for the baby!  I almost cried in joy.  There was a card and a few boxes on the big table, but TH walked over with a list – hint, she was a mother of four – and that is the list that I want to share with you mommies-to-be.  She hand picked all those items, with a picture next to each one of them, and estimated delievery date.  I could feel tears welled up my eyes…

– Ear Thermometer by Braun: I still have it now (my son is turning 7 this month).  Works greet.  The current model works the same but it a bit slow in getting a temperature compared to the old one.

– Baby Carrier by baby bjorn 

– Kolcraft Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier, you can fold it with one hand, the wheels are big, the bin is big.  Mine went through 4 babies (not all mine! it got passed back and forth between us and friends).

– Baby Monitor

– Bath tub by First Year’s Infant to Toddler Tub with Sling.

-Wipes warmer by Prince Loinheart.

– A basic set for nails (filers are more useful than nail clippers)

And I added a few to that list since here are the some stuff that I had bought before the surprise baby shower:

– Stroller:  I had the Quinny Buzz and Zapp, Buzz is the full size and Zapp is the compact one.  looking back though, I’d probably delay the stroller purchase, since the first 6 months the baby would be in the car seat most of the time anyways and it is so easy with the car seat carrier, and when they are older, they can use the compact stroller.  But for taking a long walk after they have grown out of the car seat, they are definitely more comfortable in the full size stroller than the compact one.  My second son used to nap in his Buzz a lot.   So I’m a bit torn on this.   For traveling, use car seat carrier/car seat combo when they are little and the small one as soon as they could fit.  I’ve seen too many ppl struggling with a gigantic “travel system” with an infant car seat at the airport or in and out of the car..

–  Receiving blankets (lots of them), you won’t be having too many blankets, and the small ones can be dubbed as burping cloth…

– Bottles, I used Avent.

– Pump, either Medala or Avent.  If you are not going to pump a lot, the Avent hand pump might just be enough. I wrote about this in an earlier article “What’s the right pump for me?”

– A changing pad that’s foldable and portable, sometimes it comes with the diaper bag

– A diaper bag, this one I don’t have any good recommendations.  I had the BabyBjorn one with a hard case – a “clamshell” design.  It definitely looked nice, and it was easy to organize things b/c it had a hard case with nice compartments.  But the hard case made it not really easy to carry.   It is good for car trips while it just sits there for you to find stuff.  Mine is currently sitting in a bag collection display at a friend house… I also had the Land’s End one, I found it too bulky.

– For Baby blothes, the kimono style works the best when they are little, extremly easy to put on.

And don’t need to waste your money on special detergent – Tide Ultra Free will do.

I put most of the items on our “Shop to Support” tab,  Under Kids and Babies, Prepare for a Newborn.  I also added a few books that I liked.

Have fun shopping!

Softwares priced for academic use

Getting all the software you need for your PC can easily add up. Then one day I tumbled over Academic Supestore, since my older son started K last year, I was able to buy Adobe Professional for$70 rather than $429. You can find all kinds of software here (Microsoft Office, Photoshop, etc) at the price for students/faculty members/parents.

A Great Toy for Kids

Just bought a microscope for my 7 year old daughter. It’s surprisingly overwelcomed by all the kids from 5 years old to 9 years old. It seems they all grow out of all the baby toys. This toy is adding the fun of learning scrience to their play time. Here is the link. The amazon has the better price than ebay on this item.

Because of Winn-Dixie — Reading with 6 year old

Dudu and I went to the Teacher’s College of Columbia University for a reading seminar in Oct. We met the author of Because of Winn-Dixie and read a few chapters guided by the staff:

We were asked to prepare for the seminar by reading the book together. Dudu is only a first grader and this is a rather difficult chapter book. So I borrowed the DVD from the library and we watched the movie together. Then I read to a chapter to her every night. From time to time, I do let her read a few paragraphs.
The senimar began with some introduction of some research results for reading. There are three levels of skills in reading:
Critical Thinking/Abstract Reasoning

I realized that I focused too much on decoding, maybe some comprehension and ignored critical thinking previously for Dudu’s reading. I would be happy that she can sound difficult words out, making some sense of the content.
After we came back I continue to read this book with Dudu every night. We tried to apply the mechanics we learned from the senimar. I prepared Dudu a big notebook so she can write her thoughts about the book.
In the beginning of the book, Opal met Winn-Dixie, her dog in the grocery store.
Dudu:” How did Winn-Dixie came to the grocery store?”
Me:”Do you think Winn-Dixie had a home at that time?”
Dudu:”No. Because he is dirty. If he had a home, his owner would have washed him.”
Me:”Do you think he ever had a home?”
Me:”Can a puppy survive without a home?”
Dudu:”Oh. He had a home and a Mama when he was born.”
Me:”Can you guess how he get lost?”
Dudu:”He didn’t listen to his Mama. That is how he get lost.”
Me:”Winn-Dixie get lost again later in the book. How he got lost that time?”
Dudu:”Oh, he must have got lost in the thunderstorm. He is afraid of thunderstorm.”
Later on, she wrote this on her notebook(with spelling errors):
“He had a home that he was born and then thar was a thandstowm Winn-Dixie run awawy from home.”

And there is a book Dudu brought home to school, which is very simple but fully of details that you can discover something new everytime you read it:

Ma Li Ping Chinese text book

For the Chinese parents who want to teach Chinese to their children at home, Ma Li Ping is definitely the textbook to go-go. I have recommended the text book to several friends, and they all appreciate it a lot.
The set includes the textbook, a CD of interactive program, three homework books(two regular and one for summer) and character cards. The set is self-sufficient so the parents can follow the curriculum with ease.
I have been trying to find a weekend Chinese school that uses this text book but no luck. My 6 year old daughter now is learning Chinese at home by following Ma Li Ping textbook for second Grade. It is so much fun learning that when She sits in front of the computer doing Ma Li Ping homework, my 3 year old son fights with her so he can get the seat. As a matter of fact, my son can read “小蝌蚪找妈妈” “白菜的故事” etc very fluently. And I swear he does recognize the characters!
Here is the link to purchase the text book.
(We don’t earn referral fee for this link)

Looking for a Digital SLR but not bulky?

I was back in Beijing this summer and met up with my old college friends. At the dinner table, one guy brought out this camera and totally caught my eyes. I did more research, this would be a perfect replacement for my NIKON D70, which is too bulky to carry around. And, did I mention that you can switch lens?

What it is good for: Quick snaps on urban, cultural scenes, family gathering, activities, events (in China they call it a city street sweeping camera. haha)

May need different lens for: portraits, or anything that you want long lens since this is a fixed one.

It has a really classic design. Reminds me of the old days when I had the Minolta X-700, which is still sitting in my closet.

From the manufacturer:
The GF1 adopts the Micro Four Thirds System standard, which was developed as an extended version of the Four Thirds System standard for digital camera systems. By using this standard and developing a camera body that eliminates the mirror box and optical viewfinder unit, LUMIX was able to achieve a dramatic reduction in both size and weight compared with conventional digital SLR cameras, to create a new-generation system camera that features Full-time Live View, high-speed, high-precision Contrast AF, HD movie recording, and more. The GF1 is small enough to take anywhere yet sophisticated enough to take you as far into photography and movies as you want to go.

More information can be found on Amazon’s page.

Monopoly Junior — Highly Recommended kid’s game

This game was recommended to me by my American colleague who has 5 children. It is perfect for kids 5- 8 years old.
I remember I played the computer version of it back in China when I was in college. It was fairly fancy. What is recommended here is the junior version that can finish in two 2 years and rules/language more suitable for children.
I bought it and the whole family can have fun! My 6 year daughter, 3 and half year old son played together with daddy and grandpa. My kids are getting better sense of numbers and money. I am glad they spend less time watching TV and playing computer games. Playing the game is a great family time.