Archive for April, 2014

Goals for the Mama – 4/18

April 27, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Tried to play with the other children at easter egg hunt
– Climbed up and down rocky paths by himself while his parents watch in consternation as he was close to the cliff
– Went to look at new apartment surroundings to get him used to the idea of moving.

Goal 2: Chinese
– Started talking to him in Chinese again. Have been lapsing back to English. He understands  大, 小, 热, 冷, 高, 矮
– Started putting in Chinese audio books in his quiet time playlist

Goal 3: Math
– Completed space themed patterns

Goal 4: Reading
– Unscrambled planet names by sounding it out. Used magnetic letters I picked up from the library sale.

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Built lots and lots of Lasy vehicles/ robots and knick knacks. He still needs me to take some parts off some times but some of those parts give me trouble too.

Easter Egg Hunt

April 24, 2014

J’s adviser was very kind to invite us to his place for an Easter Egg hunt again this year. He has two grandchildren – the granddaughter, A, is a day older than Calvin. Calvin still remembers being there last year. His memory of everything within 1 year is pretty vivid – he can remember the songs and plays he did in school last year.

When we arrived, Calvin quickly started following A and her ‘boy’ friend around when they run upstairs and downstairs. Later, after the egg hunt was concluded, he followed the other children around when they were chasing after a ball. He started running around with them even though he didn’t seem to know what was going on. Later when the big boys were talking amongst themselves, he went close to them and tried to talk to them even though they ignored him. I’ve never seen him so proactive in seeking out other children before, but I’m happy to see him try.  I wonder why he doesn’t do this in school though. Did he perhaps experienced rejection before and does not want to try again? At least he wasn’t wandering off by himself like a lone ranger this time. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s better for him to meet new children, maybe he’ll exhibit the same enthusiasm?

The egg hunt was great fun. It’s funny how hard it can be for kids to find things that adults can find easily because of their lack of experience. The other time at a birthday party, the kids were all looking for a hidden clue which was stuck under the slide. All of them looked around on the ground and took a while before one of them finally decided to look higher than floor level. Calvin was disappointed that he did not manage to find the special golden egg and was almost about to burst out crying. I’m not sure if I should feel glad that he got distracted by the candy in the eggs he did find and was all cheerful again afterwards. Children are so easy to bribe….189

We are now rationing out his candy to 2-3 pieces a day. I have to say we trained him well because he doesn’t ask to eat it though he will ask very indirectly “When will I get to eat candy/ popsicle/ ice cream again?” Am I depriving the poor little man? >_<



Goals for the Mama – 4/11

April 18, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Cycled to the park nearby
– Helped me make watermelon popsicles
– Had a picnic at the park
– Attended his friend’s party at the park and enjoyed himself playing
– Had to give him another time out. He was hitting me when feeling angry or frustrated and started throwing his toys too. He had been having little outbursts the whole morning which he managed to held back many times, so this is probably the final eruption since we are in the comfort of our home. Being sleepy from waking up too early in the morning didn’t help at all.

Goal 2: Chinese

Goal 3: Math
– Counted and found matching items (like clocks) in his counting book
– Compared two pictures on the book and told me what was different about them

Goal 4: Reading
– Sounded out some words while reading

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Decorated cards for his classmates.  He dictated and I wrote the message and I got him to sign his name at the end by holding his hand.
– Lots more cars being cut out

Closer to Nature

April 17, 2014

It dawned on me the other day when we were taking a walk that Calvin is much more attuned to nature than he would have been in Singapore. He loves to romp around nature trails and would always pick up flowers, sticks, rocks, pine cones, acorns and any  leaves. whether they are old, rotten, green or brown, when we go out for walks. The basket of his tricycle used to be full of rocks from our backyard, all looking the same dull grey; the back was filled with an assortment of leaves and pinecones, all of which we took the opportunity to empty out when we had to put the tricycle in the car boot.

He loved hiking around Shenandoah National Park and has been asking us to go again. Part of that might be because we always get burgers and french fries at the restaurant when we go there. He did incredibly well on one of our hikes to the waterfall. We might visit it again this weekend and I’ve been looking forward to blueberry season because they apparently have wild blueberries growing there. We’ve also enjoyed our trips to the apple orchard and strawberry farm.

In comparison to some of the other American kids, he’s still  timid when it comes to insects. He won’t touch any insects at all whereas some of them would run barefoot outdoors and put caterpillars on their arm. Part of that may be because of my own dislike for insects. I’d never put my hand on any bugs except ants and ladybugs. Up until recently, just looking at pictures of slimy creatures like slugs or caterpillars made me shiver involuntarily. It was only last year when we had a few moth caterpillars on our tomato plant and I managed to pick them off with a stick that I finally felt like “Hey, it’s not that bad as long as I don’t have to touch them”. After that I caught another hairy looking caterpillar on a tree so I could show Calvin, so I believe the exposure has finally gotten me over my phobia.

I was a total city kid growing up. I rarely if ever pay attention to plants and insects. I’ve never dug in the dirt for fun, probably because it was too dirty. I never knew what a strawberry plant looks like until we started growing them ourselves, so all the exposure to nature is a treat to me too. In fact, I think I might even enjoy our outings more than Calvin does! When we go out, I can now at least identify some of the flowers and trees and I’m always on the lookout for interesting things to point out to him. In general, I feel like I’ve become more aware and appreciative of our surroundings.

It’s not to say you can’t learn to really enjoy nature in a city but it takes a lot more effort from the parents to encourage the kids to just explore. If most parents are like mine, digging in the dirt will certainly not be on the list of allowable things to do. Generally, you’ll have to travel to a park or nature center to get significant greenery and when you travel so far, parents tend to have a specific goal: climb up the hill or see some special landmark of some sort rather than allow the kids to freely immerse themselves. I think it will take a very patient and understanding parent to be able to travel half an hour to a destination and then allow their children to just sit at the entrance digging in the dirt for common bugs if that’s what they choose to do.

Running at the P.  playground

Running at the P. playground


Goals for the Mama – 4/4

April 11, 2014

I missed last week’s update but most of it was what we did in spring break so I’ll put whatever I still remember in here too.

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building

– Rode on his tricycle down many ramps at the park and at a ramp near our house. Ended up falling down both times but was brave  and managed to endure it. He has a cute tiny clawmark like scab on his nose now, which looks like a little kitten scratched his nose.

– Had quite a few tantrums last week when he didn’t get his way and tried to hit us or deliberately defy us. E.g. throwing things on the floor after I told him not to. So he got a time-out for both of those occasions. Doesn’t quite understand the concept of timeout yet so he was mainly sitting in my lap so I could restrain him while I try not to speak to him or look at him until he calms down.

– Learned to tie a knot


Goal 2: Chinese

– Asked me why it was so dark one day and I told him “因为外面下雨 (because it’s raining outside)” He understood though he replied in English. I guess understanding comes before communicating >_<

– Listened to chinese music during quiet time. Added some new songs for variety because he seems to pick up words from songs much easier probably due to repetition.

– Watched 巧虎 x4

– Unfortunately, I haven’t found more interesting books to read to him recently. Probably need to work harder on that.

– He corrected his dad when he got 粉红 and 彩虹 confused.


Goal 3: Math


Goal 4: Reading

– Not really related to his literacy skill, but he enjoyed the story time at the library immensely. He was like the typical kid, always wanting to answer all the questions. The next week when we went for story time, he quickly ran off because he was ‘tired of the story’. So it was either the novelty effect or he only likes it for certain books.


Goal 5: Fine motor skills

– Cutting confidently with his scissors. He loves that pair of ‘fire-body’ scissors as he calls it. That’s the only one he looks for now. The others right handed scissors are now ‘mama’s’ scissors. I remembered how apprehensive we were when he started using that new sharp scissors. I was practically hovering over him, warning him not to point the scissors at his own finger when he cuts.

Spring Break

April 8, 2014

Last week was spring break and school was closed. The weather had been great so we spent quite a bit of time outdoors.

We played with water guns outside and Calvin has been having fun with his camera taking lots of pictures. It’s a kids digital camera but it’s encased in tough plastic so it won’t break when it drops. I bought it on a whim off craigslist quite a while back and it’s finally seen good use recently. Calvin is quite the artist. He’ll take pictures of anything and he even talks about the composition e.g. how there’s a car here and papa is next to it… And he sprayed water on the glass door before he took a picture of it.

Calvin's Pictures

Pictures that Calvin took


Serious Photographer

We had a picnic lunch outside our house. Calvin helped me cut up strawberries and cucumber for our fruit salad and vegetable. Of course it would have been much faster doing it myself but it was fun to have him help out in the kitchen. We had a good meal of quesadilla, cucumber with carrots and strawberries with watermelon. We normally don’t have fruit with our meals but it just seemed right to have a bigger spread for a picnic. At any rate, we polished off most of the food and it was great sitting out there enjoying the wonderful weather.

Spring also meant that my plants have rejuvenated themselves. Surprisingly, the strawberry plants are still thriving in their little pots. I might need to give them fertilizer though if I want them to bear any fruit but we are going on vacation this summer so they’ll probably die out while we are gone. Now I know why people always ask their neighbors to water their plants. Hopefully we’ll see some strawberries grow out again >_< Calvin and I made our own bubble solution to play out on the balcony with this recipe.

1 cup water
2 Tablespoon dish washing detergent
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS glycerin (I think people normally use sugar or glycerin and not both but I decided to toss in both)

Then we made our own bubble blower – a straw!

Then J brought him to the park with his tricycle and he had a grand time cycling down the ramps.

We had many walks and picked up flowers and other random things as ‘souvenirs’

I planned some special indoor activities for him too when I was trying to distract him so we could catch a breather 😛 I almost felt guilty except I planned lots of fun activities to occupy his time so it’s a win-win for all of us.

One of the activities was playing with waterbeads. The fun thing about these beads is that when they are in the water, they look fuzzy and the transparent one almost disappears. See in the picture, one was when it was just the beads and the other when I filled it with water. It’s also all sparkly and bounces really well. Calvin had a grand time that day. He played with it before when he mostly squashed the whole tub I have him. This time, he was scooping them out, getting himself all wet, using the sieve and repeatedly doing the magic with ‘disappearing’ transparent beads when he immersed them in the water. He said to me “Mama, pretend that you don’t know the transparent beads are there.” So I had to pretend to be surprised like over 10 times when more beads than I thought appeared in his container.


And then after that, we got him to take a bath together with …… water balloons and bubbles. He was busily pretending that the balloons were puffer fish and making them disappear in the misty water.

We also played with a perennial favorite, making fizzy ‘volcanoes’ with baking soda and vinegar.

Oh and not to mention he now thinks spring break means he can have ice cream. I try to plan these treats for special occasions just so he doesn’t expect them all the time but maybe that just means we have started a new kind of expectation I guess we can also call it tradition 😛

All in all it was a busy week,  and I’m glad we’re seeing much warmer weather!