Archive for April, 2013

Me Time

April 28, 2013

Now that I spend more than 80% of my time together with Calvin and given the fact that Calvin demands my attention whenever he’s awake, I find myself in desperate need of some quality me time.

A typical non-school day looks like this:

  • 6 am:  Wake up, wash up, put away the dishes, prepare breakfast, water plants + a little cleaning up
  • 7 am: Calvin wakes up. Prepare and feed him breakfast. Play with him
  • 8:30 am: Papa wakes up. Continues playing while papa eats breakfast
  • 9:30 am: Clean up dishes and take a little break.
  • 10 am: Go to library or out for a walk or grocery shopping
  • 10:30/ 11 am: Snack time. Start preparing lunch.
  • 12 pm: lunch
  • 1 pm: Clean up dishes. Play with Calvin, read, get ready for nap
  • 1:30 pm: Calvin naps. Dinner preparations and chill out time
  • 2:30 pm: I lie down next to Calvin for a rest
  • 3pm/ 4 pm: Calvin wakes up. Snack time then play
  • 5 pm: Cook dinner
  • 6 pm: dinner time
  • 6:45 pm: Clean up and then out to the park or for a walk.
  • 7:30 pm: Snack time. Play time
  • 8:30 pm: Get ready for bed. Papa reads to Calvin.
  • 9:30 pm: Lights off. Chit chat with Calvin and then sleep.

While I greatly cherish the time I spend with him, I can’t help but feel that there is too little time for myself – to plan, to relax or to pursue my own interests. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert but this routine kinda wears me out especially when I stress about cooking meals for the family (and hopefully food that he would eat. Seeing him not eat a balanced meal irritates me. Actually it’s probably the lack of me-time is making me irritable…) Good thing that J can sense my desperate need for time out and took Calvin out to the park without me. Calvin was all intent on getting me there too but we managed to persuade him that I need time for myself. In fact, as I sit here typing and reading, I feel a little better already.

Sneaky Veggies

April 27, 2013

I used to say that I wouldn’t resort to sneaking veggies in meat, but that was the arrogance of a mom whose child was eating anything she puts in his/ her mouth. So mr Calvin has grown from that child to the typical one who will pick out any lump of visible greens or beans. His current favorite is tomato but will tolerate cauliflower and broccoli too. Once, he saw me gnawing on a raw carrot and decided that’s what he wanted too. Too bad he hasn’t repeated that performance since.

So here I am, trying to think of ways to try out new veggies with him. For one, his veggie choices are so limited that I was worried that he would be bored and I guess it’s my job to stimulate his taste buds with new things. And that’s why I came home with a bag of chickpeas, an eggplant, a pound of Brussels sprouts and some frozen yellow squash, all of which I have never cooked before.

We tried out the crispy baked chickpeas for lunch together with sautéed broccoli and Cajun chicken breast chunks. Mr Calvin took a bite of the chickpeas. He said he liked it but proceeded to dump the whole pile of 10 peas back to a very puzzled me. He took a few bites of everything and declared he was done. He started asking for corn flakes which I refused and finally settled for pancakes with applesauce…. I guess that’s a fail?

Then at dinner, we had baked eggplant coated with panko. They turned out too salty, probably because I left the salt on for too long but was actually really delicious. This coming from the two big kids who has never ever eaten eggplant ever since we could remember. The little kid ate about half of 4 round pieces and said they tasted like bread. I’m wondering if that’s considered a little success. He just didn’t seem very hungry yesterday.

I wonder if it’s a mother thing because I keep worrying about whether he’s getting enough nutrients especially calcium. He only drinks one 200 ml cup of milk every night and like last night, he sometimes doesn’t even touch it. He has fixed ideas about when he should drink milk so it’s tough to gt him to drink more. I try as hard as I can to sneak spinach in just about anything I can – gyoza, sloppy joes, pizza. And he’s not a big cheese fan either. Sometimes I wonder too about how he doesn’t seem to like rice or noodles when I’m such a huge fan. I guess his preferences will change order time. I’ll just keep trying. When all else fails, I can always whip out the tomatoes.

Memory of a Preschooler

April 17, 2013

Calvin never fails to surprise me with his good and precise memory. Yesterday, he suddenly mentioned that he remembered that he puked up in the bed in Singapore when we went back for vacation last year and that he was wearing his skunk shirt at that time and we brought him to the bathroom and changed the bed sheets.

Somehow I’ve always thought he wouldn’t remember most of the things we did back then when he was 2.5 years old. But I guess he would probably forget most of these when he’s much older.

Yesterday was one of those perfectly ordinary days. I was happy as a lark. Somehow this routine of sleeping early is making me happier. Maybe I was sleep deprived before and the irregular sleep times were also doing nasty things to my circadian clock. We went out after dinner to Tonsler park and while Calvin didn’t go down the big slides, he at least went down the smaller ones without much persuasion ( though he still asks us to stand in front of the slide). We sat on the seesaw and swings together and ran around lots in general. I’m proud of my little wee one.

Calvin’s Fears

April 15, 2013

Recently, we gave Calvin a tough time at the playground because he just wouldn’t slide down without being in our lap. On hind sight, maybe we should have been more sensitive to his fears and I feel terrible for not being more emphatic at that time. We were trying to coax him to go down the slide in Washington park. He has actually gone down taller slides before like the one in school and Piedmont playground all by himself. But this time, he refused to even try even when we said we would catch him or hold his hands. In fact, he stood up there for 45 mins because we were all too stubborn about getting him to try.

In the car, when my mind has calmed down and I reflected on it, I realized I should have accepted his fears and gotten him to try a smaller slide or even go down with him to ease his fears.

And finally yesterday, when we were at a new park and he refused to go down a really small slide, we realized something wasn’t right. We noticed that he was frightened when we actually hold his hands because he fears that we would pull him down. That’s when everything clicked. Last week, at another playground, he was playing with a kid on a slide and when he hesitated, the boy clambered up and pushed him from behind. He slid down in a funny way, flipping to his side as he came down the tall slide. We didn’t notice it because Calvin was always cautious about slides so we thought it was just a relapse to his old self even though he was gaining so much self-confidence recently. N wonder he hasn’t been keen to go to the playground recently. ={

Knowing that now, I feel crappy for not noticing and trying to push him into doing things that scare him. Yesterday, we finally made him go down the slide by having me reach up really high up from below so that when he starts sliding down, I’ll help him slowly get down. Hopefully with practice, we will get over his fears. The other thing I hope we can help with is to verbalize his fears. His coping mechanism for something he is afraid of is to run away and keep quiet. I wish he would run to us instead and ask for a cuddle and be easier to talk to when we try to find out why he feels that way? Sometimes when I’m trying to help him verbalized his emotions, I wonder if he’s just accepting whatever I suggest to him. Is that really what he feels or is he just picking up the ideas from what I say and making it up?

Early start for a Sunday

April 14, 2013

After switching to sleeping at kids time, it seems like my sleep debt has been paid. Today, when Calvin woke me up at 4:45 am, I decided to sneak out after settling him in. It was a surprisingly productive morning for me – preparing the things I need for dinner and lunch, tasting and adjusting the slow cooker marinara I had cooking overnight, boiling water, making lemon tea, zesting the lemon for baking later, washing up last night’s rice pot and pans, doing the laundry, inspecting and watering my plants. And then like clockwork, Mr Calvin woke up at 7ish. I couldn’t hear him over the loud dryer sound so his dad had to bring him down before creeping back into bed again.

Then I made sausage and spinach frittata which was pretty good. Better than quiche I must say because of the crispy edges of the egg. Other than feeling more hungry than ever because I woke up earlier, I’m actually surprisingly perky and energetic 6 hrs after I woke up. It’s a pretty good feeling I must say.

I’m a…. Gardener? … Probably Not

April 13, 2013

Recently I’ve been obsessing about my new garden which now has 5 strawberry plants, 1 tomato, some lettuce that I’m trying to sprout and a bunch of baby onions I just planted. It all started when I had a sprouted garlic and on a whim decided to find a nice sunny spot outside our house to plant it just for the sake of education/entertainment for Calvin. Some pesky neighbor kept digging it up but it’s surprisingly hardy and is growing some new leaves.

Then his parents came and decided to buy us some strawberry plants and onion sets and a bag of potting mix. That’s when I got all worked up about finding out all about gardening in containers – what pots I need, how to water them, what kind of fertilizer etc. (After all that reading, I did conclude not to fertilize at all because of all the chemicals use in commercial fertilizers) I also found that no matter how good composting is for the garden, I will never ever try doing it myself. Especially not the worm composting which has to sit inside the house. Talk about ick. I’m still super squeamish about anything slimy even if they are actually clean and totally benign like earthworms or frogs? So I guess that concludes that I’m never going to be a super gardener if at all.

We’ll see how these plants fare this year. Maybe next year we will try again with some different crops 🙂

Tiring New Routine

April 9, 2013

So we switched our own routine recently. Instead of putting him to sleep and sneaking out, one of us would fall asleep with him from 9+ pm. Actually, I thought I would be able to wake up early and get some things done but I only managed to wake up at 7am and shortly after I get up, Mr Calvin would wake up too. Guess he inherited my light sleeper genes….

The weather’s been great recently and Johnny’s parents came to visit so we ended up going out lots every day. On Saturday, we went to Riverview Park and had a long hike together. Calvin really surprised me with his stamina. He didn’t even asked to be carried. Later in the evening, we visited the dogwood festival carnival and watched the fireworks. The loud sounds were a little scary for Calvin so next time, I should probably get him ear plugs if we are going to see fireworks again. On Sunday, we went to Pen Park to fly a kite and play at the playground. Then walked out to the Piedmont playground and walking trail after dinner. Today,we went to Forest Hill Park after dinner too. After a long day of cooking today, my feet were totally pooped and in need of some tender loving care. I have to say going out all the time really tires me out. The hectic days really gets to me and today I was getting rather grumpy and cross because I haven’t had much chance to get down time to just relax and recharge on my own.


Sleeping Alone

April 7, 2013

This marks the 4th day that Calvin went to nap by himself. It started quite accidentally on the first day when he was putting his feet on top of me and up to all kinds of antics like messing with my hair because he didn’t want to sleep. So I told him if he wants to do that, I’ll leave the room and he’ll have quiet time by himself and this time, I won’t come back. Then he said ‘Ok, mama. You can go and don’t come back’. So I complied. Surprisingly, this time he never called for me so I let him be and within 5 mins(?) I saw that he had fallen asleep. Jackpot!!!

Then the next day, I was thinking to myself, “How will I make it seem like the norm for me to go away?” And while I laid next to him, he started playing a game about being closer and close and then further and further until I became a tiny little dot. And so I was dismissed. Again, there was a sleeping Calvin within minutes.

Then came the third day. Now, this was the challenge – will we able to continue on this streak? I tried to speak as if it was a done deal that he will go up and I will stay him for a while. It never hurts to prime him. Also, I read that we should have high expectations because our children will meet them. Well certainly, if you have low expectations, there isn’t the impetus for the child to go the extra mile if he has already met his target. This time, he asked me pointedly to stay with him. I decided to be upfront with him and said ‘Calvin, mama has some work to do. If I stay with you, I won’t be able to spend so much time playing with you later. Could you sleep by yourself? You did such a great job yesterday and the day before.” For the clincher, I also told him I’d go check on him every few minutes. So off I went. I decided to fold my laundry and appear regularly in front of his door. He called for me a few times to ‘check on’ him and I promptly appeared. After a few times, he managed to fall asleep.

Today was a bit harder. Maybe the novelty of the experience had worn off or maybe he was genuinely not tired and was a bit restless. I ended up sitting on a little stool outside the door playing freecell for 40 mins? intermittently popping in to give him a smile (no talking though) whenever he called. Hopefully this will build up to him being able to nap by himself and eventually work our way through the night time sleep too though we’ve also recently changed our routine and have one of us (generally me) sleep early with him until morning. I thought I could wake up earlier and have some time to get things done this way, but I ended up getting lots of beauty sleep and an early waking Calvin to keep me company at 7am every morning…

I’m not sure if it helped but I thought it reassured him that I set an alarm cuckoo sound on the iPad and I told him when the alarm sounds it will tell him it’s time to wake up. So maybe he feels that way he won’t be left out of any activity just because he was sleeping.


April 6, 2013

Calvin has been learning how to sound out the letters recently. Maybe watching all those word world episodes helped. Today he sounded out ‘w’ and ‘t’ correctly.

The Piggie and Elephant books were also pretty good to help him start learning words by sight. The very first word he recognize was ‘Wait’ in the piggie and elephant goes for a drive book.

I wonder how long it will take before he learns how to read.


April 4, 2013

I mentioned that Calvin had an imaginary friend called ‘Peppely’ and we thought this must be a sign from him that he wants to make friends. In fact, I saw him make overtures at random boys he sees at the library or at the easter egg hunt last week. Except those kids didn’t respond to him and there weren’t opportunities for them to play together. So we planned a playdate with one of his school mates instead. Calvin has mentioned ‘playing’ with Aditya in school before though it’s most likely parallel play. Initially, we invited them to come to our place but they said why not go to their place since there is a playground outside. It turned out the day was chilly and we were playing in their house instead.

Having their favorite strawberries

Apr 2: Two boys eating their favorite strawberries

Aditya is a friendly boy who likes vehicles just like Calvin. He’s 1 year plus older though he will be attending kindergarten next year while little Calvin will still be 2 years behind, based on

the Sep 30 cutoff for schools here. Aditya was excited to show Calvin around. At first, Calvin wasn’t sure how to play together and he was playing with A’s big car transporter in the living room while A was building a boat. Calvin wanted us to play with him but we said why not play with A? Then they went to A’s ‘room’ and we heard lots of squealing, giggling, music, etc. Somehow out of sight of the adults, the two kids were having a grand time. We were glad they hit it off so well.

His teachers were asking us to set up playdates with the other kids in his ‘bug’ class instead – which comprises of children who would not be entering kindergarten next year. But somehow I felt that heir temperaments and interests don’t mesh well with Calvin. So I’m glad we arranged for this playdate.  I hope they will have many more fun times together. Now I can start planning exciting activities that they can both have fun with. Like tubs of bubbles, or a bigger sensory bin for two? 😀