Archive for February, 2017

Stay or Go?

February 28, 2017

That has been the question that plagues me for at least half my life. I feel like I’ve been living a nomadic existence for a long time, with 5 major moves since I was 13. Perhaps it is this feeling of impermanence that made me feel distant from the people around me. Like I feel like we will be gone before we know it and I’ll have to start from scratch again. Maintaining and creating new relationships takes a lot of mental energy for me.  But as my little guy entered my life, I find myself changing and trying harder to make those connections and create a social network. Next year, I’m even joining the dreaded PTA which I’ve scoffed at just two months ago. I feel the need to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn more about myself and relating with others.

For the longest time, I’ve had (and probably still do to some extent) a fixed mindset that was telling me that I’m just the way I am, I can’t change. Recently, I’ve been reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset and also Angela Duckworth’s Grit, in an effort to learn about how to instill grit and a growth mindset in little C. I feel motivated to go out and explore myself further, to take risks and in the process, learn grit myself. What better way to teach your child than to first absorb those lessons and live it.

Regardless, the fact that we are migrants makes our lives here possibly transient. It’s hard to feel satisfied with every aspect of life and I wonder if I’ll ever find a place where I say, “This is it. We are staying here for good.” Perhaps this is the dissatisfaction that has motivated me to move in the first place. When we were back in Singapore serving our bond, I was disappointed by the lack of intellectual stimulation and the non-existent work life balance and that propelled us to move away. Now that we are here in the US, I worry about the education that C will be getting – the lack of rigor and anti-intellectualism – and more importantly, racism. I’m wondering if we should move back during his secondary school years, in part to prepare him for the inevitable military service.  Or maybe instead of trying to escape, I need to work on the issues where they are and deal with them as they come.

Because all that moving makes it hard for us to set down our roots. It’s hard to decide to buy a house for example. On the other hand, I’m also happy with the flexibility of renting and not having to deal with major housing maintenance of which I know nothing of.

Reminiscence with Food

February 27, 2017

I couldn’t quite think of my next culinary adventures so I started thinking about food that I like to eat when I was back in Singapore/ Malaysia. So far, I’ve tried my hand at sardine puffs and cha siew bao. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that they turned out quite well and close to what I remember eating back at home.

I’m not sure I’m passionate about cooking but it’s definitely an enjoyable hobby. I’m rather proud that I’ve become quite a sufficient home cook.


Earliest Memory

February 23, 2017

Calvin’s earliest memory: Standing on the heater grill at Chelsea Dr and thinking about how warm it is.

My earliest memory was staring at the fluorescent light (the long one) in my living room and thinking how bright it is. Being piggy-backed down the stairs by my mum in the morning when I was feeling extra 撒娇.

Exploring New Things

February 14, 2017

I think the main reason I’m enjoying stay-at-home life so much is that I’ve begun to explore many things I’ve never tried when I was younger. Take cooking and baking for example, I barely had a chance to even watch my mum cook before. I cooked minimally in college especially since there wasn’t a dishwasher. I didn’t even use the oven once.  After cooking almost daily for more than 5 years, I’m starting to really enjoy it now that I have picked up some basic skills and I have more time to try out new things. Including mundane things like cutting hair….

And with Calvin around, I have more incentive to try out new things and explore them with him. Like when we went apple picking, I was probably more excited than he was. Somehow we didn’t think to try that out in our 4 years in upstate NY.

I was just thinking the other day about how limited my resources were when I was staying in the hostel in Singapore. I remember we had to come up with a science project in Sec 2. There weren’t many books in the library that we could easily access. I had no internet at home nor reference books about science etc and of course, no parents whom I could ask. I remember feeling rather dismayed at my lack of ideas and was wondering how others could come up with cool ideas like the pin-hole camera that someone in my class did. In the age of the internet, all these things are so much easier now. Our local is really wonderful and stock all manners of books suitable for kids, from fiction to nonfiction, academic to even manga!!! So now armed with all these resources, I feel ready to learn a whole lot more with my little kiddo. Especially since I am now his main source of enrichment, I’m all ready to go jack- of- all- trades mode.


Baby Tooth and Peer Pressure

February 12, 2017

Calvin finally lost his first baby tooth today. It has been wobbling precariously for days, hanging on by a thread. His dad kept wanting to pull it off for him. I’m too squeamish to actually do it or to even see it being done and I think little C is just like me in that respect. In fact, we had been expecting his bottom front teeth for months since the dentist saw them growing 5 months ago!

He has been lamenting for the longest time that he wished his teeth would fall out soon so he can ‘catch up’. Or that he was in a class where no one had their teeth out yet. He felt left out when his friends talked about how many of their teeth dropped and he had none yet. I’m bemused that even the number of fallen tooth can be something of contention. I don’t remember caring about it that much when I was young. Maybe it’s because over here they believe in the tooth fairy and the parents would leave gifts or money for their kids. I disabused my son of the notion that there are tooth fairies or Santa for that matter. Yes, I am indeed the practical un-romantic type.

Kids really do try to fit in with their peers. Little C was saying that he started liking Star Wars (only the Lego ones) because all his friends liked it. Even though he sometimes claim that he likes being different from everyone else, it is hard to be too different from your peers. That’s a good reason to make sure he has friends that have good values and are not anti-intellectual.001

A Kale Win

February 10, 2017

So I’ve read yonks ago that kids need to at least try something 7 times before they really know if they dislike or like that particular food. I do half-heartedly let little Cal try out some vegetables if I found a new way to cook them but never did it consistently. Well part of it is because he dislikes the taste of garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce and he doesn’t like ranch dressing either. I haven’t quite found a kind of sauce or dressing that he likes on his veggies. The only exception is ketchup but you can’t jolly well put that on spinach…

Recently, I watched some video about kids who tried out kale for 30 days and many of them ended up liking it so I was inspired to try out kale again. And today, which is day 3, kale chips has been declared yummy! We tried kale chips on day 1 but I might have put too much salt on it. Day 2 was just stir fried with a bit of salt. He said it was okay but the chips were better. Well, the fact that he didn’t scrunch up his face like he usually does with green vegetables is a big win in itself 🙂 To be honest, I’ve taken a liking to cooked kale too. It’s quite heartening when my cooking experiments work out. Like how me and J loves baked eggplant even though I’d never touch the Chinese style stir-fried eggplant with a 10 foot pole.

Enrichment = Feeding on Parental Fears

February 10, 2017

I’ve talked about how I was aversed to the idea of the horrendously expensive summer camps. Or rather I was aversed to the idea of paying through the nose for those experiences. Occasionally, (like this very week) I’ll waver and start worrying that I’m not giving little C the exposure to new things or that I’m an inadequate teacher to teach him the basics of many things like chess, sports (like how you are not supposed to kick a ball with your toes), art (my drawings of animals are horrendous!)… like there are so many things that I have no expertise in! I had that mild panic that maybe I’m depriving my son by not signing him up for all kinds of enrichment activities.

Thankfully, I have a husband who can center me and reassure me that our choice to be frugal is right and there is no real need for all the excesses. Plus, he has been through many enrichment as a kid and hated some enough that he thinks it’s mostly hogwash….  Most of the time I agree, like why pay someone to teach coding when we can both code, or attend tedious 3 hour Saturday Chinese lessons when we can learn in smaller chunks every day.calvin-1605_7

Of course, then the onus is on me to actually do the teaching. My days are consumed with learning how to teach various academic and enrichment topics. The good thing is that I truly enjoy it. I enjoy the process of learning new things. I feel really alive and interested when I’m reading about how children learn languages, or what kind of programming lessons I should work on next.

It’s hard to shake off that feeling that maybe it’s better to leave the teaching to ‘experts’ and that I’m actually doing a good enough job in it. That it’s ok for me to choose not to send him to many enrichment activities. That he learns what he needs from spending time together building forts,  crafting, reading together or baking.