Friday, December 30, 2011

I got nothing done today

Not exactly today mil's here, so it's very different when i'm home alone with the girls and having to get things accomplished.

this is inspired from here. She has more kids than i do and i can't imagine. I have only two and it does get insane..somehow.

Still, a thought came to me as i was praying with Emily while she was having her bedtime milk: we have come this far. Many things had happened, and it took as a while to get used to be on our own (after my mil went back to sg after 1.5months with us). Actually it took me a while...i had Eliza's bedtimes to be settled so that she learns to sleep in her own room, i had a baby who barely slept unless she's carried, i had meals to be done etc. There were the stressors, especially when Emily took hours to settle at bedtime and i couldn't prepare food for the next day, or when Eliza started to act out cos of the lack of attention or not wanting to be told off. Mostly it was Emily's sleep, day and night. While Emily's sleep didn't get dramatically better before my in-laws came again, we did settle into something that we ALL enjoyed. I worked around the sleepless baby's schedule, Eliza played happily independently and enjoyed my undivided attention when Emily's awake (cos that's when Emily's not screaming! ha!)

I don't quite get much done in the in planning stuff or stuff done on the computer. But there were pocket of times that i enjoyed, that i did nothing much with the girls but just hung around in the room and be immersed in Eliza's imaginative play. I don't homeschool like the mum does so there isn't a lot of activities that i need to do with Eliza other than reading and yup...eventually her writing and devotion time in the morning.(which is over in less than half hour...really it's so fast..sometimes 10mins)

Still trying to get the hang of things so come 2011, we'll be starting some form of 'homeschooling' following Hubbard's Cupboard curriculum, I have planned only for the first week and still am trying to remember all the little parts and get used to it cos there're soo many parts! I'm not teacher though i have soooo many teacher friends (ok and Ww is a teacher too). I remember a mum friend (who was a teacher before she had 3 kids!) was enjoying doing her toddler lesson plans. I can't quite imagine what all the lesson planning is about. More on how our week went soon...:)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

what should a 4 year old know?

I love this post from Magical Childhood about what a 4 year old should know. Italics mine. Discovered it as i was searching for ideas for what 'homeschooling' stuff to do with Eliza. We haven't been doing any writing practices lately and i have started it again today. Thought i gotta do do something more structured to do in the day but then again... ;)

  1. "She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.  Eliza asks me now and then, "Do you love me?" to which i always answer "I will always love you, even when i am upset with you"
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up. Time to learn these...socializing, especially who to talk to and who not to cos people are quite friendly here. 
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs. Eliza definitely does, she's the cheeky one, always trying to be funny. Though i think nursery school and people around do make her conform to how she should colour things. 
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud. a 4 year old play is so spontaneous, she'll play and burst into song, hear a song and dance... we taught her numbers while she climbs up the steps at home and at the overhead bridge. 
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy. She sure does have lots of time to do so! Not too much shopping and she wont be so dull. ;) Else she'll be making jumping parties for her stuffed friends, Lego cities, play house, cooking, playdoh food, sand food, water play. For one, she isn't the most outdoorsy-get-into-the-mud kinda kid. 

But more important, here's what parents need to know.

  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra. This is really not easy especially when I compare the things some other kids Eliza's age can do. Ignorance is bliss eh? But i also know that she'll find her ways to do these things in her pace...mummy must encourage and yet let her find her pace. 
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books. I gave up on flash cards...too tedious and boring. But i want to read more to Eliza, more than i do now. We read every night and i want to read more books in the daytime too. I want to talk to her more, listen to her more. 
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood. Somehow if Eliza was still in SG, she'll be learning in leaps and bounds with the other kids, stuff i won't be teaching her at home. I don't find that she's stressed by it in a way but she's a lot more carefree at home now though. Storytelling time at the library is an exciting time even though it's such a simple activity. 
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important-- building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too-- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit. I don't really like getting toys for Eliza unless it has 'expandable use' like the Lego. My in-laws buys lots more and particularly those electronic ones with sounds and music. I do find that it gets played a while and then no more...while some toys get 'transformed' by her into something else to play with. Oh..Eliza's craft? it's just too exciting and profound...i need her to explain it to me to understand what she's making! haha. She loves helping me pour flour/sugar etc, kneading bread (when i do make any dough!). But i can't stand the mess...she did have a phase of tearing papers into tiny pieces and throwing them happily like confetti or using them as pretend food or presents etc. Books are never enough! And different books have different seasons, she'll choose the same book for many nights till another better one comes along. 
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They do. I've always read that it's the quantity time and not the quality time that matters. Of course with two kids and a house to manage without help, it's not like you can spend 12hours with your 4yr old all the time. And Eliza will always welcome my participation in her imaginative play any day, cos i'll listen to her stories, and put new ideas about how her play can go. I love my bedtimes with her and i'm trying not to rush it; cos i'm afraid Emily will wake and i have to go settle her and leave Eliza or that she really needs to sleep cos she's tired, just a little more to chat is always nice. Today her stuffed tiger said its teeth hurt cos it bit me and i don't taste good. hahaa....

    They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they're a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them. "

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Talking about death

How do you talk about death with a 4 year old?

One of the night chit chats with Eliza, we talked about my maternal grandfather who took care of me till i was 10yrs old. I think we were talking about who took care of me when i was young. I don't have a photo of my grandfather with me as then, it was all printed photos not digital! And at some point i started to feel sad and cried (not bawl but tear), cos i thought about how my grandfather loved me so much and that he is no longer around anymore. He died of lung cancer and he was quite old also, about 80+. After that chit chat, Eliza kept asking me to talk about my grandfather...EVERY night she will ask "Where's your ah-gong?" and Ww's one too. so here goes the lengthy explaining about which grandprarent is which. And i dunno how but Ww talked about dying and that one day we will die etc etc. It came to some point that she started crying cos dying means no more mummy & daddy. Oops..had to stop Ww cos i didn't feel she was ready to understand the concept of death...somehow.

Nowadays, it's still ok, i guess she does understand a bit better to the extent that it gets a little too explicit cos she'll comment, "My ah-gong haven't die yet" -_-

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another change

5 weeks that my FIL has been here. Time flies! My first week has been crazy and then we got used to the changes. Thankfully I managed to pass the driving test! phews! It helps a lot that i can drive.

5 more weeks to Ww returning. I really wonder what will we do in this 5 weeks! It's also time to get back to 'school' for Eliza as I've been slacking on that part. Maybe it's also cos we have been doing the Advent ornaments till Christmas and going out at unscheduled times. The only thing that makes weekend a weekend is that we go to church on Sunday. Else, we can go out anytime, to shopping, to do groceries. Feels a little too free eh?

To some extent, i like the differentiation of the weekday and weekend. Gee...seems like ever since i have kids, i like routines. After all, i watch Emily's routine and think about it all day (ok i'm exaggerating but it's always at the back of my mind). I've gotta make sure she's not overtired, especially since she can't sleep more than 20minutes, and plan our day around it. I know 20 mins is REALLY not enough for her, and unless i hold her to sleep she won't sleep more than that. She did a 1hr in the car seat that day (super wow) and one hour in my arms yesterday (actually the other 40mins in my arms cos she was just too cranky to wake up). I haven't got to the stage of getting her to learn to do a sleep hour, but i should soon, really.

And 5 weeks of a little slacking on the proper habits's more difficult to get Eliza to sit still and finish her meals while my in-laws are here. She'll be popping here and there, my mil will be spoon-feeding her (something which i got her to stop doing cos Eliza can very well feed herself), and she'll be playing toys and eating (which i gotta discourage that cos my in-laws will bring toys so she can entertain herself and eat). Argh..  and other small things which start to nag me. It's the simple things that i'm glad Eliza is learning to do like putting her bowl at the sink after she finishes her food, putting her clothes in the laundry, not leaving her scissors around and always put it back in the box after using it etc. Little things. To keep doing until it becomes a habit.

Gee..when will i be organized enough to start reading the CM principles again? This is the age when i can finally use the many things mentioned in the book, and i have forgotten much of them. I don't want to be so caught up in getting things done in the house or getting Emily to sleep/eat/changed that I neglect this part of Eliza's growth. Habits of attention and obedience, this is difficult because I do find myself very distracted. If i am so, how can i expect the attention from her?

Anyway, i've been settling my problem tooth, (and the rest of the teeth to do deep cleaning) and hopefully after spending a bomb (cos of the many different appointments, which really won't be any different if it did it in SG), this issue will be settled and i will guai guai go for cleaning every 6 months. argh. it's in the genes. cos Ww doesn't ever ever floss and how come he has no problems with his teeth? i have to floss every nook, brush accurately and if i lag in anyway (like i'm lazy to floss or miss a brushing) something will happen to my teeth.

Oh well...a wonderful time to enjoy my mil's food and time for more baking with my mil around though! Yumsss!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2 weeks

2 weeks with in-laws and without Ww. We have kinda gotten the hang of things. Just that I take a long time to adjust eh? Then i need to get back on spending 'academic' time with Eliza...actually writing and reading.

We have been doing our Advent activities (which last about 5-10minutes only...u know these activities look 'grand' but we actually do them really fast, not that we wanted to do fast but it is done in like 10minutes!) We took these ideas from a ebook i bought at $2.99 on BlackFriday offer from Truth in the Tinsel. It takes the hassle of the preparation which i don't have the brain and time to do. I love it that the ornaments help us (and Eliza) remember the important parts of the birth of Jesus and it has a thinking point, which we don't go into too much depth cos Eliza's not too interested. One of the problems is that after moving here..I didn't bring all my 'rubbish' and craft materials so i've gotta get them from scratch. Although some things can be improvised...really, getting ribbons or gold strings beats having to use thread...and i realize i don't have much strings at home!

On Eliza and dresses
This girl getting to be more aware of her looks, wanting to wear dresses & skirts EVERYDAY! I wonder if it has got to do with all the girls at sunday school wearing dresses all the time! we have been getting some new skirts and dresses for her to add on to her current miserable collection. she has outgrown many and we don't usually dress her up in dresses unless it's a sunday or for special occasions. It's also cos in SG, after school it's lunch and nap and probably go out to the playground to play...not the right occasion for dresses! Still hope to get her to wear her shorts needs some sun! :P

On Emily and her Eczema
Yeap..that dreadful eczema is still with Emily since mid-october. Not much i can do, but keep washing her face, keep applying the intense moisturizer, bathe her in bath oil, put the cream (which helps loads and on days when i have to give it a break, her face gets worse again!), turn on the humidifier at night (and not use so much water the room drips water!). If i'm sane enough in the middle of the night i'll try to apply the moisturizer too. The nights are worse cos we sleep, she sleeps and now that she rolls all over, she'll 'scrub' her face on the bed without me knowing so that i can stop her. As long as she doesn't cry, i continue sleeping right?

On what we do usually
Go out shopping! Yeap, my mil likes the grocery shopping and anywhere air-con. The UV here is too strong for her so going out for walks isn't quite something she wants to do. To some extent there isn't quite a routine here cos any day is a weekend feeling. :P Well in a way it's not too good cos things gets a bit haphazard and I have messed up Emily's nap training cos i haven't been consistent.
Else we'll be baking! I made 2 batches of food (peanut butter muffins & pizza muffins) for church event last week, my mil has been making her favourite rasin cake from the cake mix (& modify), and today she made cheesecake (not fluffy as she used to make though but delicious nonetheless. Gonna try a hand at cookies n cream cheesecake and some jelly stuff for saturday's sunday school party.
My fil has been a great help and is kept busy chopping and cutting food (cos he's so fast and good at it), hanging clothes at the clothes hanging area, playing with Eliza, carrying Emily when she cries (cos i'm bathing), driving, vacuuming. We're gonna miss him when he's not around! My mil has been cooking...and i do none! It is definately a relief to take a break from meal planning! And i won't get near the kitchen to cook much till she returns to SG..heheh.