28 February 2009

No Gentleman




Josh's soccer coach teases them sometimes by greeting them with a "How are you doing, ladies?" or sometimes with "How are the babies today?" Josh and the rest of his Socatots mates would yell out, "We're not ladies/babies; we're boys!"


Well, I told Josh that the next time Coach Andy does that, he can tell him that he's not a lady, but a "gentleman." Josh looked at me, alarmed. He then declared, "I don't want to be a gentleman. I want to be a chef when I grow up."

He'd had a similar conversation with his teacher, who noted that conversation in his handbook.

Tonight, a similar conversation took place yet again.

Josh: I want to marry Zoe when I grow up. (I'm not going to go there.)

Me: Really? (I'm holding back from launching into a million reasons why he can't do that.)

Josh: But I don't really dream of marrying. (There goes my dream of grandchildren.)

Before I could say anything, Josh continued, "I don't dream of being a gentleman; I only dream of being a chef."
-------


Hmmm. I really don't know what he has against being a gentleman. Yes, I know that he doesn't really understand the concept. He thinks it's something one decides to become when one grows up.


And then, there's his very positive conviction that he is going to be a chef when he grows up. Josh was a chef at his K1 Pretend Day at school. Last Halloween, he dressed up as a chef again, despite my tempting him with this really cool black skeleton costume.

I'd suggested that he could be a gentleman chef.


A chef, a chef, Mommy! I don't want to be a gentleman, only a chef!

Okay, okay. I know when to back down.


26 February 2009

My Budding Writer




After reading the bedtime story last night, Josh asked me who the lady was that was on the inside cover of the book jacket. I told him that she's the author of the book that we just read.


Me: Remember how, before I started reading, I said, 'Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Shall we begin?' Well, this lady here is Anna Dewdney. She wrote the story that we just read.


Josh: Ahh.


Me: See, if you write a story, one day, when some mommy will read your story to their little boy and girl, she'll say, 'Story by Joshua Xxxxxx. Shall we begin?'



I looked over at Josh and could see the idea percolating inside his little head. He had this little smile on his face and then he turned to me and said, "I want to write a book tomorrow!"


So we did. This morning. First thing upon waking up at 6:30am, in fact! Josh couldn't wait and wanted to start right away.


I cut up an A4 paper in half (crosswise) and then stacked the two pieces together and folded them in half and stapled them together at the fold. His "book" all ready and just waiting to soak up his early morning creative juices.




I told Josh that he'll be the one to do the illustrations and when he's done to come to me and tell me the story so that I could write it down for him.




Minutes later he was back. He had filled all the pages with his drawings. And The Good Machine Was Trying to Fight the Bad Cat was born!




I'm no Ansel Adams, so please excuse the bad photos, but this is what his "book" looks like.





Front
Cover: The Good Machine Was Trying to Fight the Bad Cat. Words and illustrations by Joshua Xxxxxx.








Page 1: The bad machine tries to break the bad cat and then the cat died. (There, end of story. The cat died.)


Page 2: The good machine fights the bad machine and
it only has one bit to fight. (Ah, of course, the good machine. If there are bad machines, they have to be good ones, too!)



Page 3: Then the other good machine tries to help his friend.


Page 4: And then the good machine just likes helping his friend. (Awww!)





Page 5: Then, another good machine tries to help the other two good machines.


Page 6: Then the good machines can fight the bad machines so well.









Back cover: (Self-portrait - Josh). Copyright 2009.







------------

It's not going to win any Pulitzer, but it's a start. What's more, we had fun 'making' his book! :)



25 February 2009

3yo Gems



I was trying to organize some files and came across the following nuggets of wisdom by Josh (when he was 3yo):

One time when we were in the car playing the "When xxx grows up, what will it become?" game, Josh announced that --

When taxis and cars grow up, they become buses;


When Daddy grows up, he becomes an old Daddy;

When seeds grow up, they become plants. When plants grow up, they become trees. When trees grow up, they become buildings;

When Zo
ë grows up, she can talk and play with me!

You just got to love how their minds work!

24 February 2009

Kiss Better



Zoë's been having some growing pains lately (literally). She came running to me tonight clutching her knee, crying, "Owie, owie! Mommy, kiss better." I massaged her knee for a bit and then leaned down to plant kisses there. When I was done, Zoë announced, "Better" and slid off my lap and went back to play.

There is something ever so humbling about being the one your children turn to when they are hurt, sad or simply needing comfort. The trust that is somehow placed upon your shoulders when they come to you expecting you to kiss away their owies, hug away their fears or simply just hold them because they need to be held, is something that is so precious.

How long before they grow up and won't need us to do any of those anymore?

Chris would sometimes actually say to Josh and Zo
ë, "Stay this way a little bit longer, okay?" Zoë would always reply, "Yes, Daddy" even though she probably didn't know what it was that Chris just asked of her. Sweet.

Zoë's Smiles and Goofy Faces





Zoë has taken to coming to our bed in the middle of night. While we don't really get a good night's sleep because of this, the beautiful smile that greets us when we wake up in the morning lets us start the day with a smile ourselves.


When Zoë smiles, it just lights up her whole face. Her smile is so generous, so impish, sometimes goofy, but all the time, it just makes me smile back at her and want to pick her up and hug her, no matter how tired, sleepy or cranky I am at that moment.

Here are sme of Zoë's any smiles (and goofy faces). Have a nice day!


22 February 2009

Two Workshops and a Dinner



Barely enough sleep from the night before, having to wake up every so often to check on Zoë and making sure that her temperature didn't rise.

A dull headache.

Not good. I had two Baby Signs
® workshops scheduled for the day, one in the morning at the YWCA and another one in Saikung. And then there's dinner with friends at night. Would I make it through without collapsing?

After breakfast, I hurried off to the Y. Got there at 9:40am and found that the car park was full! I had a whole suitcase of stuff with me and my computer, too and I didn't relish the thought of parking at Coda Plaza's car park and having to lug everything and walk up to the Y. So I pleaded with the attendant to let me in, if only to unload and bring my stuff up first. After I left my stuff in the classroom, I hurried back down to further beg that he just let me park there, because I didn't have much time and my class would be starting at 10am. I was prepared to grovel and ooze out a tear or two if necessary, but thankfully, I didn't have to put my acting chops to the test. The attendant just gave me my parking ticket and said that he's letting me park even though the spot has been reserved by some other person who's paying monthly parking fees. Thank you!!!

The workshop at the Y went without a hitch. Despite being tired from the night before, I found myself energized as soon as I started the workshop. I SO love doing this. I love sharing with others about the Baby Signs
® Program. I love that they enjoy the Charades game where they get to practice the signs that we'd learned during the session. I love the "ah-yes" look they get when they see how easy signing is. I love how excited they get about starting right away when they get home. I can't wait to hear back from them when their little ones start signing! I love knowing that in some little way, somehow, I am helping these families embark on a most amazing journey that would give them a much richer interaction with their babies than would otherwise be possible without the Baby Signs® Program. I love doing this. Now you know why.

Back home for a quick lunch and then I had to be out again for my workshop in
Clearwater Bay Saikung at 3pm. In my rush to get out, I dug out an email from the client, hurriedly copied down the address and off I went. The cab dropped me off and immediately I knew something was not quite right. The house seemed deserted. I finally managed to get in touch with the client and found out that I'd gone to her old address and that they'd moved. Duh! My fault totally. In my befuddled state, I'd opened up an old email from her and not her latest one where she'd listed down her new address. Half an hour later, I finally made it to the client's home. The workshop went well. Client was happy. I was happy.

I was on a high after the workshop, but I was really tired when I got back home. Thankfully, both Josh and Zoe have had dinner and their baths. All ready to be tucked in. It didn't take long for both to conk out, so Chris and I managed to sneak out earlier than planned.

We had a nice, leisurely dinner with Simone and Tom at Padang in Causeway Bay. We haven't had a night like this in a long while --i.e., relaxed, no need to hurry back to tuck the kids in, good conversation that doesn't necessarily revolve around the kids, yummy food. Hmm, should definitely do this more often.

Home by midnight. Snoring away by one. (Note: I don't snore. Really!)


20 February 2009

Buggy-Wuggy




I stayed up last night working on Josh's costume for today's "Beautiful Bug Ball" at school (while watching Vicky Christina Barcelona, I might add, so please don't feel that I was slaving away).


I didn't want to buy a costume that would just lie at the back of the closet after one use. I wanted something simple that we could just make ourselves and decided that a caterpillar would be easy. Off to the Web to scour for ideas and saw a cool one on Better Homes & Gardens, of all places. I didn't follow exactly their pattern, but got some great ideas from them.

Here's what we used:

8 small work gloves (for the caterpillar's legs)

2 pipe cleaners (for antennae)
Crumpled newspapers (for filling up the gloves to plump them up)
A hooded jacket / matching pants (You can also use a track suit)

1) The antennae. We used 2 pipe cleaners of different colors and twisted them together for a more interesting effect. I then sewed them onto the sides of the hood of the jacket. If you don't have a hooded jacket, you can also use a baseball cap.

2) The legs. I got the work gloves from a hardware store. They cost HK$2 a pair.

  • Stuff six of the gloves. We used crumpled up newspapers as filling, although I'm sure that if you have cotton or fiberfill, these would make for a better effect.
  • After we filled the six gloves, I sewed them four onto the pant legs (two on each side) and two on the jacket.
  • Wear the other pair of gloves on the hands and ta da! You have your "legs"!

Easy-peasy!

I think I have calluses on my forefinger and thumb now from stitching the mitts on last night. It's worth the effort, though, I'd say! Josh was proud of his caterpillar costume :)

18 February 2009

Her Royal Feistiness



Sugar and spice and everything nice
That's what little girls are made of.

When I found out that I was having a girl, I dreamed of cute little outfits, pretty accessories that she'd be wearing. I dreamed of Her Pretty Pinkness, of a docile, sweet little princess who would love playing with dolls, be very ladylike, and oh-so-adorable.


I got my Zoë.
So not into cute little outfits or pretty accessories (she would pull the clips out of her hair whenever we'd try to put them on).


Her Pretty Pinkness? She looks better in Dora-esque outfits --shorts and shirts and sneakers, --than in frilly dresses.

Docile? Not a chance. She cries out, "Zoë first!" when Josh tries to take something away from her. We call her Her Royal Feistiness.



Sweet? VERY! Hugs and kisses galore. She calls out, "Mommy?" and then gives me the sweetest of crinkly-eyes smiles ever. She rushes over to the tissue box when Josh sneezes, grabs a tissue, AND tries to wipe Josh's nose. She gives Josh hugs and pats him when he cries. She always squeals "Daddy!" as soon as Chris comes home and pumps those short little legs as she runs to hug him.


Playing with dolls. Yes, she loves to play with dolls and plush toys. She hugs and kisses them, feeds them, and carts them around in her little baby stroller.


Ladylike --not. But I kinda like prefer this way, I think. Time enough later for lipstick and such.
Oh-so-adorable --oh yes! Zoë is quite a character. She lights up my world with her bright gummy grins, with her squeals of delight, with her shouts of "Again, Mommy, again!" She makes us all laugh with her silly antics and she laughs along with us, saying, "Funny!"

Zoë is not what I dreamed of. She is so, so, so much more. :)

16 February 2009

Okay, Mommy



Okay, Mommy.

Next to "I love you," these have got to be the sweetest words I hear from my two tikesters.

I want you to tidy up after you are done, okay? Okay, Mommy.

Please stop when I tell you to stop, okay? Okay, Mommy.

You're going to sleep through the night tonight and stay in your bed until morning time, okay? Okay, Mommy.

Yes, I know that they will forget and that I will have to say the same thing over and over again before they actually internalize the message, but when they look at me with their innocent eyes and say those two words, I always feel the hope well up within me that they might just, this time, actually do what it is that they agreed to do.

13 February 2009

His Sensitive Side



Josh, once he likes something, would be dipping into it over and over and over. Whether they be books or DVDs. For weeks and even months, he would keep asking to read/watch whatever is the current favorite. He must have watched The Little Einsteins 18,611 times; his My Little Sister Ate One Hare book, 19,378 times; the Chip and Dale DVD, 15,049 times; Sharing a Shell, 10,236 times... you get the picture. It's interesting how no matter how many times he'd read/watched something funny, he'd still laugh and giggle as if he saw it only for the first time.

Okay, I digress. That wasn't what I meant to focus on... but definitely a lead-in to what I want to talk about.

Josh's current favorite is The Tigger Movie. He has seen it before, but it's only the last couple of weeks that he has started to watch it over and over and over again. It's basically about how Tigger was looking for his family, when all along his family was just right there --his friends (Pooh, Piglet, Roo, Eeyore, etc).

The other day, while watching, Josh got teary-eyed. When we asked him what was the matter, he broke down and really cried. When he was finally able to speak, he told us that it was sad that Tigger didn't have any family. Awww...

I've noticed now that Josh has become more sensitive. He seems to be able to empathize more. Whereas he's always been a more serious child, now it doesn't take much for him to break out in gurgling laughter. At the same time, he's also less thick-skinned and his feelings are more easily hurt. Josh has never been a crybaby, but of late, I've seen a few occasions where he'd get that I-don't-want-to-cry-but-I-know-I-will look over something that, in the past, he couldn't have cared less about.

What happened? Is it just part of growing up? I should embrace this new sensitive side of him, right? I should.

Welcome to a big-boy world, Josh.

Bed and Boobs



Pitter patter. Pause. Pitter patter.

I kept still, eyes closed, pretending to be in deep sleep. Through half-closed eyes, I could make out the little pixie shape that is Zoë, standing next to our bed. She was just there. Standing. Not making a peep. Waiting.

The sight melted my mommy heart... seeing my little baby standing there in the dark, looking lost. I had to call to her and let her climb onto our bed and sleep with us.

For about a couple of weeks now (since she had a bout of gastroenteritis), Zo
ë has taken to walking to our room in the middle of the night and getting into bed with us.

How it all started:

Initially, she would just whimper in her bed (in her room) and either Chris or I would run in to see what's wrong (Buzzer sound!). First mistake. We'd then pick her up and bring her to bed with us. (Bang a gong!) Second mistake. She had since then started to come into our room and we'd scoot to make room for her and she'd climb up and snuggle in.


Yesterday, I had a get-together with some good mommy friends. They all suggested that I should be tough, because the problem won't solve itself. I agreed (kinda half-heartedly --she might well be my last baby, you know!). So last night, I decided to tough it out a bit and experiment a little and see what would happen if we'd just ignore her.

Zo
ë came in and again just stood by our bed. We didn't stir. She sidled over to the foot of the bed. We still did not acknowledge her presence. I must have dozed off a bit. When I opened my eyes to check on her, I saw this little heap lying on the floor. My poor little tikester got tired of waiting for us to call to her that she just decided to camp out on the floor next to our bed! Chris scooped her up off the floor and settled her in her usual spot between us.

I am of two minds about this, as I am about weaning her off the breast. On the one hand, I want my B&B and my R&R back, but then when I think about how she just might be our last baby, I just want to hang on to these moments a bit longer. She'll be 22 months old this Saturday.

What do you think?


*In case you were wondering: B&B = bed & boobs!)

11 February 2009

Pottinger Peak Country Trail




Having lived right next to the Pottinger Peak Country Trail for almost six years, this week is the first time that I've ventured to hike all the way to Big Wave Bay. I did my first hike on this trail on Monday and today, I did it again with my mom --woo hoo!



This is the perfect hike for me at this stage (where I haven't
had much any exercise for almost 4 years!) It offers enough uphill trekking so that it's not a ninny hike and but it's short enough that you don't feel utterly exhausted afterward. A most pleasant bonus is the picturesque view. Even the steps, especially the ones after the Pottinger Peak View Compass, are "pretty." My photos don't do 
justice to the actual view, --it's a rather hazy day today, --but let me assure you, I found myself stopping quite a bit. No, not because I had to catch my breath (well okay, that, too, if you have to insist on honesty!), but because you can't help but stop and take in the view and dream of what it might be like to live in that mansion with the big lawn and tennis court.



The first part of the hike is a bit of a treacherous climb, although for seasoned hikers, it might not be as agonizing. We started from Siu Sai Wan, next to the soccer pitch an
d went up the Leaping Dragon Walk. It is a wide paved road that leads all the way up to Leaping Dragon Paradise. It takes around 15 minutes to get there from the start of the walk. At that point, you can take in the view of the harbor while you catch your breath. From there, you proceed to the start of the Pottinger Peak Country Trail which takes you to either Tai Long Wan (Big Wav
e Bay) or to Ma Tong Au.



Five hundred huffing-and-puffing steps up, we arrived at the Pottinger Peak View Compass --another place where you can stop and rest. From thi
s point onwards, it gets easier. It's mainly downhill on those lovely steps that I mentioned earlier. The water is to your left and the further down you go, you start seeing more of Big Wave Bay. On good days, you can probably even see surfers riding the waves. When the beach comes into view, it's like a "reward" at the end of the hike.



The whole hike took less than two hours from start to finish. We ended up right at the beach. There is a refreshment stand by the beach... or you can walk a little bit up the road there is another store where you can actually sit down and have lunch.

To get back to civilization, you have the following options:
1) Wait at the bus stop up the road for the public bus that takes you to Shaukeiwan.
2) Try your luck at getting a cab.
3) At around 12:00-12:15pm, there is a small white school bus 
that drops off some kids at Big Wave Bay/Shek O. You can actually get on that bus, pay HK$8 per person, and they take you all the way to Shaukeiwan. (This was what we took today. I don't reckon it's a "legal" operation, but the lady who was waiting at the bus stop with us told us that we could take it together with her. There were other "passengers" on the bus, who got off at various points en route to Shaukeiwan.)

Next scheduled hike - Wednesday, the 18th. Join me?

10 February 2009

Homework




I want to know: Does homework that is enjoyable count as home"work" or only those that you dread doing?

Josh has the occasional Big Book/Little Readers assignment from school, which we really enjoy doing together. What it is is that the school sends him home with a plastic envelope with the following inside:

  • A Big Book (Oversize book)
  • A sketch book
  • A list of suggested family activities relating to the theme in the Big Book
We have two days to finish at least one of the suggested activities on the list. Usually, it entails Josh making a drawing (related to what we had just read) and then I become his secretary and write as he dictates a "story" about what he just drew.


We always look forward to getting that plastic envelope from school and it's always fun to see what drawings Josh comes up with.

The latest Big Book we got was Down by the Station and one of the suggested activities is to get him to draw his favorite vehicle from among the ones that we saw in the book, then he has to tell a story about it. Initially, he wanted to tell a story about Fanteener-tooner, the Double-Decker Bus (huh?), but he changed his mind and wanted to make a drawing of his school bus instead. (His favorite color is "rainbow," hence the many different colors on his bus.)

08 February 2009

Reviews



After doing that review about Zingo!, I've decided to start another blog (Kiddie Treasures) solely for reviews of things that we like... games, books, music, activities, etc. These will be mostly about kiddie products and services --some are educational products, but mostly these are stuff that I and kids find to be lots of fun. If I can reach deep into the recesses of my parenthood-dulled brain, I might even include some reviews of "baby" products that we've used and found indispensable.

Growing up, I went through a phase when I would write reviews of every book (trashy or otherwise) and movie that I'd read and watched. Then, it was partly practice for writing serious book reports for our Comm Arts class in high school and also partly to satisfy the "critic" urge in me. Now, it's mainly for sharing with other mommy friends our "great finds." It's hopefully also a way to help Josh and Zoe remember, years and years from now, when they have their own kids, what stuff helped keep Mommy sane. :)

07 February 2009

Zingo!



This is a really fun game for families with small kids. It's like a kiddie version of Bingo. What I like about it is that it is very, very simple, but its "simplicity" does not take away the fun factor for us old fogeys. It is so simple that even Zoë, who's only 21 months, can actually join in and play (and win!). On the box, it says 4-8yrs old, but really, as long as your toddler understands simple concepts and can match pictures, she can take part and have a ball, too.

Both Josh and Zoë like being the dealer. They get to slide the tile dispenser and call out the tiles. When they're not being the dealer, it's really cute to see them try to "out-grab" the other players for the tiles that match the pictures on their cards. Zoë likes to grab the tiles and then she hands them out to whomever needs them (after she's sure she doesn't need them herself). Josh's technique is to grab the tiles first and then with both on hand, he checks his cards. We've had to implement a penalty for tiles grabbed which do not match any picture on the cards. :)

"Teaches image and vocabulary recognition, matching, memory, concentration, and social interaction." Above all, it's really great fun!


05 February 2009

Wii... or Wii Not?




Chris and I got ourselves a Wii over Christmas. Chris said that it will help with Josh's hand-eye coordination. *Rolls eyes!* I didn't put up much resistance because I wanted the Wii Fit.

I was initially concerned that we, including Josh, might get too addicted to playing, but I'm glad to report that that has not been the case. Josh is still too young to skillfully maneuver and he doesn't want to play. Good news, right? Yeah, one would think so.

But... he wants us to play, while he watches, directs our moves, and does a running commentary throughout each game!

What I find disturbing (in a cute kind of way --but disturbing, nonetheless!) is that in two of his "documentations of learning" at school, he made references to the Wii:

1) Yesterday: I played Mario Kart. / Tomorrow: I will play Mario Kart again.
2) This is how I go to bed: Play a TV game. Read a book. Say a prayer. (Hopefully, a bit of redemption with the "Read a book" and "Say a prayer" bit.)

We do not play the Wii every day and it is NOT part of his bedtime routine, although I'm pretty sure he wishes otherwise.

04 February 2009

Uh oh...




I need to more closely watch what I say.

While working in the next room, I overheard the following:

Josh: Follow me, Zoë.
(pitter patter)
Josh: Sit in the Quiet Corner. I need you to think about what you did. You need to calm down.
Zoë: Okay.

Josh was giving Zoë a time out, using words that I use with him when I give him one.

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