Archive for January, 2014

Mama, would you play *** with me?

January 28, 2014

*** recently seems to be more like trains – i.e. making us drive a particular train on his tracks while he drives something else; or playing Christmas present wrapping i.e. he wrapped up his random toys with scrap paper or put them in boxes/watering can and ‘gave’ them to us (now that I think about it, the idea might have been from the book ‘Benjamin’s 365 Birthdays’ where the boy wrapped up something in his house everyday so he can receive it as a present and he ended up wrapping up his house)

The past two days he has been pestering us endlessly to play these games with him. Yesterday alone, I must have driven his trains around at least 10 times. He calls for me when I’m preparing his snack, while I’m cooking lunch, the moment I stand up after dinner etc etc etc.  I feel guilty just for taking some much needed breaks to check my email or fiddle on the iPad. To be honest though, there’s a limit to how many times I can drive those trains around regardless of how idle I am.

My theory is that it’s because we’ve been more engaged in playing  mobile games on the iPad and Galaxy Tab and not paying as much attention to him. And ever since I caught a cold last week and started taking naps in the afternoon, he suddenly reverted to taking naps together with me. I’m not sure if he’s getting any more sleep though. He still wakes up too early, sleeps two hours later and then takes 2 hour naps… In fact, if anything he looks more tired and cranky than before, so that might have contributed to his extreme ‘stickiness’. Today was extraordinarily bad since he started having bouts of temper tantrums the whole morning until he managed to get a nap and he was back to his normal chirpy self.


I Love America

January 24, 2014

Calvin declared that he loves America and he loves our house. More than once. Over a few days. And he insisted that we shouldn’t ever move away. I interpret that as he is very happy right now and does not want anything to change.

Today, he was asking me if we would bring our table if we move. I said we might if we are not moving far. He said we shouldn’t move too far. Then he said “Mama, let’s not move too far”. “How about Washington?” “Washington is good. I like the museums. I like the dinosaur museum the most” London and San Francisco were also part of Calvin’s approved list. When I asked him about Japan, he said he needs to see how it’s like first. That’s a pretty good answer

Goals for the Mama – 1/17

January 24, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence Building
– Played around in the snow outside


Say ‘Cheese’

– Played with a tub of snow we brought inside, painting and digging, making snow cones, playing with his trucks in it.

– Learned to put in batteries, lock up his suitcase

Goal 2: Chinese
– Read 小年兽的好爸爸, 巴巴爸爸的学校,巴巴爸爸去火星旅行 x4, 巴巴爸爸的马戏团x2, 巴巴爸爸搬大树, 巴巴爸爸的诞生x2, 巴巴爸爸的圣诞礼物 x2, 巴巴爸爸找巴巴妈妈,巴巴爸爸回地球
After ordering these Babarpapa books from China, they finally arrived after 3 months. I think I was more excited to see them than Calvin since he has no idea that they were even coming.
– Watched 巧虎x4

Goal 3: Math
– Learned and used patterns to decorate paper

Goal 4: Reading
– Practiced spelling with spellyfish

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Punched holes with the hole punch. Lousy hole puncher broke after about 20 holes…
– Cut a strip of paper to make his snake. I wanted to make a paper chain snake with him but he had his own ideas and made his own version instead. Definitely a free spirit >.< Surprisingly, he can cut a straight line pretty well. His lefty scissors really help. When I try to use that scissors with my right hand, I keep cutting slightly off the line. That must be how lefties feel using the normal scissors.


Snake that he said he wanted to keep forever!

– Made snow flake paper cuts064

Sensitive Boy

January 23, 2014


Yesterday, while on a call with J’s parents who are still at his sister’s place, His 爷爷 (grandpa) was cooking some bacon and eggs for breakfast. Calvin was all drool-y looking them. Then when 爷爷started to eat it in front of him, Calvin started to cry. I guess he’s a sensitive little boy who really loves his food and was frustrated that he couldn’t have it.Faces of Calvin

Goals for the Mama – 1/10

January 17, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence Building
– He is keen to ride the carousel and can even go on a horse all by himself after trying it out on a carousel inside a little spinning cup together with me. I was all dizzy after that…
– Sliding down a slide really fast including the school one which he was hesitant to slide a few months back
– He can build simple models using Lasy (a race car) or Tinkertoy (plane, ‘bug’ with 4 legs) just from looking at the picture of the final product
– The younger kids in school seem to like him. I’m glad to see that he seems to be enjiying himself in school.

Goal 2: Chinese
– Read 蔬菜的化装舞会,100层的房子, 彩虹色的花, 小布丁爱偷听, 年兽的好爸爸, 我爸爸,鳄鱼怕怕牙医怕怕,包姆和凯罗的天空之旅, 月亮的味道, 石头小猪,小房子
– Watched 巧虎 x2
– More conversational Chinese. I’ve been trying to speak to him in Chinese (with translations if he shows me a blank look). Over the holidays, I lapsed back into English so I’m getting myself started again. Surprisingly, he seems to understand quite a few sentences now like if I ask him to 帮我开灯 or 现在几点钟? or when I said 爸爸睡着了

Goal 3: Math
– Getting him to count out the parts needed to build his Lasy or Tinkertoy creations from a picture
– Exploring patterns. He likes to make patterns with his building blocks and really enjoyed the book ‘Pattern Fish’ that we borrowed from the library.

Goal 4: Reading
– Reading titles of books
– Sounding out words that we point out in books

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– He seems to really enjoy snipping with his lefty scissors. He snipped up a storm with random pieces of paper. He can follow a straight line and cut through all the way. I only helped him hold the other side of the paper so it won’t flop over.

Yes Mum

January 17, 2014

Our post-Christmas Christmas decoration

It is funny how I’ve never noticed that I have a character trait that J does not have. I’m not sure what to call it. Take for example, a couple of days ago, Calvin noticed my clothesline going across the dining room with some clothes hanging on it. I took it down so it wouldn’t be in the way, but Calvin suggested we put it up so we can hang some Christmas decorations. This is despite Christmas being long over. Me being me, I said yes and started hunting for things we could hang up, getting yarn to tie them up etc. As we finished decorating the clothesline, it occurred to me that J might just tell him that’s not what the clothesline is for and that mama needs it or something like that. Maybe partly because I know J doesn’t like crafty stuff and also because he’s a stickler for what I call visual tidiness or a propensity to pick out things that look like it doesn’t belong.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing except we have a sensitive child who doesn’t take well to rejection and gets rather discouraged. So it’s good that I’m usually around to take care of Calvin and we can work on any wild or silly ideas that daddy might not want to do. I think it all started as one of my mum survival tools when he was a toddler. I try to say yes to most of his requests as long as it’s not dangerous or off limits (too far away, too expensive etc). It does mean that sometimes we take walks when I should be cooking. It does give Calvin a lot more autonomy to decide on what to do and that made him a lot happier in his toddler years.

But it does mean that most of our play is unstructured, except when I organize some craft for him as part of our lapbook project. We did try some things like board games or games with rules but they usually end up being done in his own way….. I call him my free-spirited boy…

Where do you learn to talk like that? TV

January 16, 2014

Calvin has been picking up lots of silly actions and a smattering of American slang from the cartoon Paw Patrol. He’s been calling his dad and me ‘dude’; pretending to slam into a wall and then slide down with sound effects; pretending to fall then wagging his tongue left and right quickly and say ‘lelelele’, followed by ‘Made it’. And he started doing a lot of pretend play where he’s in the robot patrol and like the main character, Ryder, getting calls for emergencies and then he’ll have a variation of the show he watched.


I’m slightly disturbed by how much he picks up from TV. I can’t imagine what a kid who watches much more TV than he does would be like. As it is, I’ve been careful not to let him have too much screen time. Every day for an hour, he sits down for video time on the ipad. He’s been doing this since 18mths. Nowadays, I also show him an extra hour per week of 巧虎.

We don’t even have a TV at home since we rarely watch TV ourselves. Plus the temptation of the TV might be too great for both me and him. When we were at the hotel in Washington, he could probably watch TV the whole day if we allowed him. Except that he doesn’t like the older kids cartoons and gets a little scared when there are villains in the show, so we have to sit next to him and help him pick the ‘safe’ shows. He did like Tom and Jerry though. I guess the slapstick style of animated creatures doing mischief is still a big hit with kids.

Another Annoyance at School

January 12, 2014

It’s been raining hard the past two days. Yesterday, Calvin was at school. At his preschool, the kids go out to the playground, in rain or shine or even snow. They do have spare boots and raincoats in case the kids didn’t come with them. After school ended, J went to pick him up while I finish cooking up lunch.

When he came home, he was saying that he still has mud on his face. That’s when I heard from J that an older kid threw mud at him and hit his face. Well the same kid was throwing ice two days ago (not at Calvin I think) and was reprimanded by the teacher too, so he obviously didn’t learn his lesson. I was super outraged for a long time but maybe it’s just a case of a very cheeky boy and not yet another bully out to annoy my little man.

Goals for the Mama – 1/3

January 9, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence Building
– Doing craft with buttons and cotton balls.
– Making and decorating his robot and accordion dragon
– Making a chinese lantern
– He’s now very adept at completing the 54 pc puzzles. I guess the hours of practice during quiet time really helps.
– He can also use the Lego tool to separate the pieces of Lego that he used to need our help with.
– Easily climb up his playground through the window

Robot Suit

Calvin the robot – aka Calbot

Goal 2: Chinese

– Chinese songs during quiet time
– Watched 巧虎
– Read 月亮的味道,巴巴爸爸找巴巴妈妈,巴巴爸爸回去地球, 克利克塔, 古力和古拉, 子儿吐吐, 嘿站住,快跑云梯消防车, 地下100 层的房子, 爷爷一定有办法,要是你给老鼠吃饼干, 地上100层的房子 x2, 我爸爸
– Flash cards of chinese characters. He’s not very interested in this anymore, maybe because the words are starting to not be in interesting new shapes. I’ll probably stop this and just read more books to him.

Goal 3: Math
– More counting practice. Somehow when he counts he misses number 16?

Goal 4: Reading

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Making paper cuttings
– Popping bubble wrap
– Left handed scissors seemed to be much easier for him to use. Maybe because they are sharper and the handles fit him better. In fact when I tried to use those scissors, I felt like it was difficult to cut the way I want to. I wonder if that’s how lefties feel when they use a right handed tool.

Parenting Sweet Spot – 4 years old

January 6, 2014

I think I’ve admitted before on the blog that I’ve only truly started enjoying being with Calvin a couple of months before he turned 4. Maybe that speaks of a lack of mothering instincts in me. Or maybe we were just going through so many changes before that I was too stressed to enjoy myself.

When we were at J’s sister’s place, I rehashed the same thing with his sister. She was asking me when I felt like it hit a sweet spot when it comes to enjoying our kids. I said “Right now.” I’m not sure if those were my exact words because in retrospect, it sounds almost like a philosophical enjoy the moment kind of answer when I truly mean that it is when they are 4 years old. Too young to be rebellious and have to worry about academics and old enough to be reasoned with and have a real conversation.

Sure, there are still things I worry about, but they are just minor stuff we want to work on. If there weren’t any worries, I would probably worry about the lack of worrying since it might mean I’m not vigilant enough. However, everyday I feel like I’m basking in a warm, quiet kind of happiness. I’m happy with myself, I’m happy with my son, I’m happy with my husband and I’m happy that we are family. Certainly, when I’m happy, I feel better able to take care of my two little rascals and to take their antics in stride.

Calvin is certainly growing up to be a sweet boy and I can see that his social skills are advancing. Today when I expressed frustration that the room is messy and I couldn’t find understands when I feel frustrated and is able to work on helping me out to make me feel better. He helped me clean up the play room today when I was upset that it was a mess and I couldn’t find anything. He’s also a lot more independent in taking care of himself, playing by himself during quiet time and falling asleep by himself which leaves more time for me to prepare fun things to do with him.
Whatever the reason, I guess I should just savor it while it lasts 🙂