Archive for November, 2014

Too Much Going On – Birthday and Sickness

November 30, 2014

Last week, I was busy getting all ready for his birthday. We celebrated it with an apple cake I baked myself decorated with strawberries like he wanted; we brought him to have fried chicken like he wanted; Papa planned a treasure hunt for his presents. I was also making sugar cookies for his birthday co-op day and that is on top of the usual household chores and Mr Calvin’s constant requests for attention. I have to say kids are real attention hoarders. It’s like they can never get enough of it… Anyway, I hoped that Calvin enjoyed his birthday. We got him a hexbug warrior set in the hopes of satisfying his need for robots that move. The little bugs haven’t been touched ever since the initial excitement so that plan might have failed. He also got a Knex set that he randomly picked out when he saw me shopping at Sears. I had quite a few “surprise points” to spend at that time so I thought it might be nice to let him pick something out. That has also been shoved aside after two days…. but at least I know he is dextrous enough to fit pieces together. That would mean that the Knex robot I planned to get him for Christmas may be well received. Or it could be discarded after 2 days…. Initially, I did think of getting him more Lego blocks since he spends so much time on it but I would like him to try other things too. He doesn’t seem to care too much about Lego sets anyway. The sets usually end up like the other gifts – two days and then they get disassembled for parts.

And then somehow both me and Calvin got the sniffles – his has progressed to the slimy, sticky phlegm while mine has somehow turned into a terrible sore throat. Maybe it’s because he is sick that I feel he is extra clingy to me, always wanting me to accompany him and play. Or maybe I’m just too tired from my own illness and start to feel impatient. These few days has been trying especially since school is on break for Thanksgiving. At least we only fell sick after his birthday. Now I just have to hope it’s not Strep throat and I’m not spreading it to the men in my family. Especially little man….

Luray Caverns

November 30, 2014

Since we might be moving away in another year, we decided to thoroughly explore this area because if we move back to Singapore, I’m very unlikely to want to visit the USA again. Having made so many 20+ hour flights before, I’m already exhausted by the thought of flying.

One of the places we found was Luray Caverns. It’s about 1 hour and 15 minutes away, so in October we ventured there. We took much longer to get there of course because we made two stops: one for potty and one for lunch. And at both those places, there were playgrounds and naturally Calvin wanted to have a try climbing up. Driving with kids certainly takes almost twice as long as without, but he had fun so that’s probably the most important part. It was a beautiful fall day to enjoy even the journey and not just the destination.Luray - On the Way


The caverns had many visitors even though we went on a Monday. I can imagine why some people would try to arrive early (as in right as it opens) on a weekend. We had to wait about 20 minutes for our tour. I was worried that Calvin would be spooked by being inside a cave, but it was well lit. Key rock formations were clearly illuminated and I didn’t even need flash to take pretty good pictures. The tour spanned 1.25 miles and took about an hour. There were slopes and stairs but they were easy enough for Calvin to walk most of the way. I was surprised at his stamina. I guess there were enough distractions that he did not remember being tired. In fact, after the tour, he was still eager to  tour the car museum and toy museum. We let Papa go to the car for a nap since he has to drive us home. I am hoping not to have a dozing off driver on the way home because me and Calvin would be too busy napping then to keep our driver awake.

Luray - In the Cavern

Calvin’s favorite part was the stalactite organ that was at the deepest part of the caverns and he was still talking about Neptune’s ghost a few days after our visit. The first explorer’s thought it was a ghost when they first saw it by candlelight. I have to say I would be pretty spooked too if I saw that rock in dim light. The trip must have made quite an impression on Calvin because recently, more than a month later, Calvin made a cave out of Lego and declared that he has a stalactite, stalagmite, column and gems.



November 19, 2014

Calvin is a strong willed boy. I’m kinda knew it from the time he was a baby, when he wouldn’t stop crying even when I’m trying to take a time out and ignore him. He’s the type who would cry on and on and on, getting more and more worked up until I appear so the feeble attempt at the cry-it-out method was rather quickly abandoned.

Recently, his strong will is exhibiting itself more strongly. He does not like to be nagged at and would insist that I keep quiet after the first reminder. He would sulk if I tell him to do things that he needs to do. It makes mornings and bed time a whole lot more stressful but maybe I should let him make his own choices by telling him things like “Now is the time to get ready if you want to get to school early/ read two books”  so he doesn’t feel like I am trying to bend his will.

I’ve changed my approach to conflict with him and to be calm and listen to what he needs to tell me first. He feels a great need to be heard. When he gets his emotions off his chest, he is a lot more receptive to listening to me. Certainly the “Because I say so” way never ever works on him and neither do I like that way of communicating with children. Though there are times when I feel so exasperated that I wished he would just do as I say without having to yammer on and on and on….

Parenting a strong willed child is certainly tiring but I hope that as time goes by, he will learn to manage his own emotions and learn ways to cope with life’s disappointments.

Minecraft Mania

November 13, 2014

We’ve all been obsessed with Minecraft lately. For some reason, I never got started until recently even though Papa has been playing it for a while. Calvin isn’t allowed to play, mainly because he can’t use a mouse yet (do we have to train him on a left handed mouse?!?) but he does watch us play. He has his own crazy ideas like building a big swimming pool and plank to jump off from, a big tall tower, using lava to cook chickens etc. It has also inspired him to build his own Lego minecraft. Coincidentally, his Lego magazine came with a Lego Minecraft poster and boy was he overjoyed.

Sometimes I wonder if such early exposure to computer games will be harmful but we limit his screen time anyway so everything in moderation I guess. I’m probably more worried about the impact on his eyesight if anything else. Time to plan for more gross motor play!

On the other hand, I’ve been playing way too much the past week that I developed mild carpal tunnel syndrome. Definitely not the paragon of self control. Papa and I have been playing together and it’s fun to have an activity we can do together. But we could certainly also do with more sleep. Minecraft and daylight savings have made us very tired pandas.

Picture from: Lego

Calvin Finds his Voice

November 11, 2014

I was just talking to his teachers the other day about how he has trouble dealing with conflict with other children. When he meets aggressive/ assertive children who insist they are right even when they are wrong, he doesn’t know what to do. Like when one of the boys in school snatches his things or digs in his hole, he remembers to tell them that “I’m here first” or “That is mine”. Inevitably, some of them ignore him and he would be very upset and ends up running off to do something else. So he seemed to be having bad dreams about other children snatching his things and was having some very troubled sleep for a week or two. Then talked to him about how children who do wrong things need to be taught and if they won’t listen to him, he should look for a teacher who can teach them. I didn’t want him to feel like he is tattling on others but I think it is important to know when he should ask for help. He seemed to be more relaxed after that.

Last week, when we had an impromptu playdate at school (I brought lunch after school and he decided to stay so he could play with his best friend instead of going downtown for a picnic),  I heard Calvin tell his friend “Maybe you should play by yourself so you can make a road to rake. Then me and Eleanor can play together on this part”. His friend thought for a while and decided to be constructive in his contribution to the play instead – he decided to pave the road instead of rake it away. I praised Calvin for speaking up and pointed out how it helped direct his friend’s play. Hopefully that will give him confidence to voice his displeasure.

In fact at home, he has become a little champion for breaking our conflict. Yesterday, Calvin pushed a bag of orange off the chair while playing and I got upset with him and started to tell him off. He was probably feeling upset as well but he managed to tell me “I think we both need a break.”. That reminded me to watch my tone and we started over again. I asked him what happened and let him explain that he accidentally pushed it off and we resolved that in a friendly way. I am proud of how he’s learning to deal with it rather calmly. It certainly helped me to cool down and we were both happy after that.