Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Conversations with four year old Nathan

Before it all fades away, I just wanted to capture these recent golden conversations I’ve had with four-year-old Nathan.

[After dinner one evening…]

Nathan: Thank you for cooking the porridge for our dinner. It’s so yummy.
Mummy: You are welcome, Nathan. I’m glad you enjoy eating it.
Nathan: Next time when I grow bigger, I will cook porridge for you, mummy.
Mummy: Really? Wow! That would be wonderful.
Nathan: Yes! We can cook it together.

[Over the Christmas holidays, I often had my nose buried in my Christmas present from hubby. I also frequently had the movie’s soundtrack playing on my phone throughout the day….]

Nathan: What book are you reading, mummy? Can I see?
Mummy: It’s the Twilight series, Nathan.
Nathan: Twilight? I know about that book!
Mummy: You do? What is it about?
Nathan: It’s about… (bursts into singing) I love you for a thoo00ouuusand years… Love you for a tho00oouuusand years*
Mummy: (Blown away with laughter)
(*I had never made any direct reference between the book and the movie to Nathan. But he was somehow clever enough to make the connection himself)

[At the shops one morning, we met an elderly lady who had a cute little spaniel in her shopping cart…]

Nathan: Next time I want to get a pet dog.
Mummy: Oh… what would you do with your pet dog?
Nathan: I will play with him. Like popo’s (grandma’s) dog.
Mummy: So you’d like a dog like popo’s dog?
Nathan: I’d like a small, furry one like the one we saw in the shopping cart today.
Mummy: Yeah, that little white dog we saw today was very cute.
Nathan: I like white dogs. And Popo’s dog is brown.
Mummy: Yes he is. What colour dog would you like?
Nathan: (Pondering for a minute) PURPLE!!!

[While I was tucking Nathan into bed one evening…]

Nathan: Mummy, there are monsters under my bed.
Mummy: Are there? Let me have a look.
(I crouch down and look under the bed)
Mummy: I can’t see any monsters at all, Nathan.
Nathan: No, you can’t see them. They are inside the ground, under the floor.
Mummy: (Thinking for a moment) I know, I will put some special medicine on the floor for the monsters!
Nathan: (Perking up, deeply intrigued) Medicine? Can I see?
Mummy: Sure, I’ll show you (I make a big show of dipping my fingers into an imaginary bottle, and make several dabs and sweeps across the floor)
Nathan: Oooooh… what does the medicine taste like?
Mummy: It’s yucky medicine for the monsters.
Nathan: Noooooo!!!
Mummy: Why? What’s the matter?
Nathan: You mustn’t put yucky medicine. You must put sweet medicine. Here let me do it.
(Nathan hops out of bed and dabs his fingers all over the floor)
Mummy: Sweet medicine? But why?
Nathan: The yucky medicine will make the monsters angry. You must put sweet medicine to make them happy!
Mummy: Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s a much better idea. Good night, Nathan. Sweet dreams.
Nathan: Good night, mummy! I love you!
Mummy: I love you more!
Nathan: I love you MORE!
Mummy: I love you the MOST.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Moving Pictures"

Sorry. It’s just been one of ‘those’ weeks.

Also, I was got caught up with this year’s Academy Awards. If you didn’t catch it, you at least HAVE to watch the opening act by Neil Patrick Harris.

[Full screen video posted here by ABC Television Network]

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Milk, cookies and some fun links

The best thing about coming home from school: Afternoon tea!

Valentines’ Day cookies Grace and I made for Nathan while he was at school. Washed down with cold milk outside in the yard with a couple of his favourite people in the world.

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*****

Valentines’ Day cookies made using my favourite gingerbread cookie recipe

25 ways to ask kids “So how was school today?
(I’ve been asking Nathan these three questions after school)

Are you the default parent or the back-up parent?

Tips on how to get rid of your anger from a seven year old.

I would get a shirt with French cuffs just to be able to wear these cufflinks.

The surprising faces behind 31 Disney Villains.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sometimes you just have to wait

So we’ve just made it through our first two weeks of big school. Nathan has settled quite nicely and looks forward to each session of school (in Australia, Kindergarten classes run only 15 hours per week). He enjoys playing with the classroom toys and the playground, and he’s already made a new best friend.

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Everything was almost absolutely perfect except for one little transgression I made as a new schoolie parent last week.

I was late. For pickup time.

It was only seven minutes. But it was probably the longest seven minutes in Nathan’s life.

Granted, my situation is not typical of most other schoolie mums. I am also managing a home-based family day care and juggling a routine with three other small children.

Last Monday was Nathan’s first full day session to three o’clock. It was definitely a bit of an adjustment for everyone with the timing cutting so close into our usual nap time. And it so happened that Monday I had all my best sleepers in care that day.

I had planned everything down to tee. I adjusted everyone’s naptimes slightly earlier so we could be up in time. I had the pram all set up and ready to go. And everyone’s hats and shoes all laid out. But that day just seemed to be one those sleepy days that was perfect for snoozing.

As I hurried out of the house, I heard the school bell ringing in the distance. I knew all the other parents  would already be waiting outside the classroom to greet their child as they walked out the door.

Seven long minutes later I finally arrived at the door of Nathan’s classroom.

And there was my Nathan. Sobbing as if his heart would break. And mine did too right at that moment. The teacher explained the situation to me. But I could already picture it in my mind. Nathan waiting and watching each child walk out of the classroom to the waiting arms of their parent. One after another, and another, and another. But I was not there. Seven eternal minutes of waiting before he finally broke down.

I knew the feeling exactly.

Because I had been in that very same place 27 years ago. Waiting to be picked up after school. Waiting until everyone else had gone home and I was alone. Waiting until the sky grew dark and began pouring down with rain. Waiting until I was drenched wet to my skin as the rain poured down harder. Waiting as a million horrid thoughts began creeping into my head as I stood there sobbing and wondering.

Eventually I found my way home. Or it found me. In the form of a teacher who happened to be working late that day and found me waiting alone in the pouring rain. She bundled me into her car and drove me home.

I don’t remember my parent’s reactions exactly. They were probably upset with themselves. Upset with each other. Upset over the whole situation. It was the age before mobile phones and my dad had been stuck in a meeting he couldn’t get out of. And my mother was probably trying to figure out what was going on and where we were. But I didn’t care. I was just so relieved to see them. And so glad to be home.

I hugged Nathan for a good five minutes the moment I saw him until his sobs quietened down.

“Mummy, I was waiting for you so long.”

I know. I’m sorry I was late. I was walking as fast as I could.”

“I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too. I kept thinking about you all the way as I walked here.”

“I was thinking about you too. Can we go home now?”

“Yes. Let’s go home.”

Of course afterwards, Nathan and I talked through what had happened and ran through different scenarios to help him understand and process everything. Being the smart kid he is, he caught on what I was trying to get across right away. But I think the hardest thing to deal with is handling the unknown.

Nevertheless, as much as I shall strive to avoid it, I know that this might probably not be the only time this will happen. Waiting and managing the unknown is a part of life. I shall probably never know exactly why I had to go through that waiting experience in school 27 years ago. What was the point of it? I don’t know. Did I learn anything deeply profound from it? Not really.

I guess in life, sometimes you just have to wait.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Little Chomper (Part 2)

(Grace: circa 18-19 months)

I’ve mentioned a couple of times about the little chomper in our household. After all this time, it’s evident that this little ‘quirk’ of our baby girl has not changed one bit…

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I usually try to serve meals in ‘courses’. For several reasons. One is to make sure that a decent amount of vegies get consumed. And two is to avoid the situation depicted above from happening. Doesn’t always help though. The moment this girl catches sight of the next item on the menu, she will stuff everything on her plate into her mouth and hold out her hand for “Moooooh, pish!!!”. Somehow she manages to muffle the words out.

Grace 4 (taken by Jonathan Ng 28.12.14)

The aftermath of each meal is not a pretty sight. After wiping down her hands, arms, clothes, face, ears, hair and every chubby nook and cranny imaginable, we might as well have plunged her straight into the tub for a bath.

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That’s our girl. A born foodie!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Spotlight on Grace

(Grace: circa 18-19 months)

With all the big things that have been happening with Nathan lately, I think we should now switch the spotlight to our little Gracie…

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She’s turning out to be the sweetest, smiley-est, funniest little girl with a real quirky little character of her own. Here are a few fun facts about her…

Her self-created nickname: CeCe / Xi-Xi (her version of ‘Gracie’)

Favourite accessory: Handbags

Favourite song: ‘Love is an open door’ (from ‘Frozen’)

Favourite food: Pretty much anything and everything. Except eggs--not that she’s allergic to them or anything like that. She simply doesn’t like them. (Sigh. Yes. I know).

Favourite superhero: Kor-Kor (her big brother)

Favourite comedian: Kor-Kor

Favourite role model: Kor-Kor

I started to compile a list of words she can say and I realised that the list is actually quite extensive. We are now at the stage of having fairly meaningful short conversations with her. So I thought I’d share some of the typical exchanges and conversations we have with her throughout the day…

If she has a little tumble…

Mummy: You alright, Grace?
Grace: Orite!
Mummy: You sure?
Grace: Yas.

When we’re getting ready to head out…

Mummy: Okay, time to get ready to go, kids!
Grace: Kai-kai! Kai-kai! Kai-kaaaaaaaai!!!!!
Mummy: Yes, we’re going out kai-kai.
Grace: Shoo-Shoo-Shooooooo!!! At-At-Aaaaaaat!!!
Mummy: Yes, get your shoes and hat.

Saying goodnight before bedtime…

Mummy: Okay time to say goodnight.
Grace: Nite-nite kor-kor. Jeeesh?
Nathan: Goodnight, Grace (*Muaks*)
Grace: Nite-nite daddy.
Daddy: Goodnight, Gracie. Flying kiss!
Grace: (*Muaks*)
Mummy: Goodnite mummy?
Grace: Nite-nite, mummy.
Mummy: Goodnight, Gracie.
Grace: Nite-nite, CeCe.
Mummy: Alright, go get *Momo and go to sleep. (*Her little monkey lovey)
Grace: Yallow, Momo!

Sometimes after putting her down to sleep…

Grace: Maaaahmeee!!! Maaaaaaahmeeeeee!!! (*with pathetic wails*)
Mummy: What is it Grace? What happened?
Grace: (*In a teary voice*) Momoooooo…
Mummy: Oh, I see you dropped your Momo. (picking up her lovey from the floor)
Grace: Ten-too… (*sniff sniff*)

In the reading corner with her big brother…

Nathan: Gracie, do you want me to read you a book?
Grace: Yas! (*bouncing up and down on the cushion excitedly*)
Nathan: Okay, let’s read this one. One Elephant.
Grace: Feeeen, feeeen!!!
Nathan: Two pandas.
Grace: Tah-dee, ta-dee!!!
Nathan: This is not a teddy, Grace. This is a panda.
Grace: Mm!
Nathan: Three pigs.
Grace: Peeeeek, peeeeek!!!
Nathan: Four giraffes.
Grace: Nay, naaaaaay!!!
Nathan: This is not a horse. This is a giraffe. Can you say giraffe?
Grace: Mm!
Nathan: Five monkeys.
Grace: Momooooooo!!!!!!

Meal time exchanges…

Grace: Moh! Moh! Moooooooooh!!!!!!
Daddy: What do you say?
Grace: Pish!
Daddy: Here you go.
Grace: Ten-too!

When she wants something frantically…

Grace: Ter-ter! Ter-ter! Ter-teeeeeeeeeer!!!!!!!
Nathan: Mummy, I think Grace wants some water.
Mummy: Okay, okay… just ask nicely. I’m right here.
Grace: Pish!
Mummy: Here you go.
Grace: Ten-too.

When she needs help with something…

Grace: Ap! Ap! Aaaaaaaap!!!!!!
Mummy: You need help with opening that, Grace?
Grace: Yas.
Mummy: What do you say?
Grace: Pish!
Mummy: Okay, here you go.
Grace: Ten-too.

You’ll probably notice a pattern happening there. She has a bit of a flair for drama. Paired with her older brother’s super-active imagination, you can bet that a lot of weird stunts and funny business get pulled around here. But of course, plenty of incredibly sweet moments as well.

So this is our life now. Living with Grace!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

An idea to extend independent play for your older child

This morning we were having a sort of photo party snapping pictures of one of my ‘adopted’ boys who we will be saying farewell to soon when his family moves away (*sniff sniff*). I wanted to get a picture of me and him together, so I decided to ask Nathan being the oldest person in the house next to me to help take the picture.

I handed him my precious Sony NEX-5N and instructed him how to hold it up and click the shutter to snap the picture. He ended up doing a pretty decent job. He became very trigger happy and began snapping away at other random objects nearby. So he was very reluctant to let go of the camera afterwards and he begged me to let him take just a few more pictures.

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Then I had a light bulb moment.

I remembered my old Casio digital camera from ages ago before upgrading to my current Sony one. We had considered selling or giving it away. But everyone seems to own a digital camera these days or most people can live without one if they have a good camera on their phone. So it has been sitting idle all these time collecting dust.

So I dug it out from our storage cupboard. It was still working perfectly. I showed Nathan how to turn it on and where to find the button to click the shutter. He was absolutely delighted with it and immediately set off hunting for objects and willing subjects to photograph.

It kept him completely occupied almost all day. He busied himself setting up blocks and toys in various arrangements to photograph them. He explored every corner of the house looking for interesting things to snap. And he came up with all sorts of tricks and devices to get the other little children to smile or at least look at the camera.

It’s not the top notch best camera in the market. And a lot of the pictures turned out rather dark, blurry or out of focus. But I think it’s a great initial introduction to the whole idea of photography and it’s an interesting way to get kids focusing on different objects and details in their environment.

Here are a few of the snapshots I found in his camera afterwards…

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If you are after ideas to further extend your older child’s independent play, I’m telling you, this is an amazing idea to try out.

>> Read my full series on encouraging and supporting children’s independent play

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Three Questions

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And so Nathan’s very first day of kindergarten is over. It was a mixture of good, bad, sweet and sour. I think that so much happens throughout the day, it can be challenging for a little person to filter through it all. So inspired by this post, I decided I’d ask Nathan these three questions every day after school…

What is something that made you smile today?
“I had fun playing with the cooking toys in the classroom. And I liked looking at the picture of our family that you packed in my snack box.”

What is something that made you cry today?
“A boy poked my eye at the playground. That made me feel very angry and sad.”

What is something that you learned today?
“I learnt how to find my name on my drawer. And the teacher read a book to us about ‘Spot Goes to School’.”

But the best part of the day for him was seeing us all waiting for him at home time and going home.

Nathan summarises it best in his own words…

"Sometimes I felt sad,
Sometimes I felt lonely, and
Sometimes I felt happy."

…Which pretty much sums up life in general actually.