Monday, April 14, 2014

Something I Learned While Raising My Son

I have never imagined being a parent could be quite crazy until I have a son. It was a real test to my sanity and of course to my highly strung nature. Read more of the growing pains I've been through during Little Man's younger years, here and here.


What can I say, parenting boys vs parenting girls is so different, seriously, I need to keep calm and just be a mom!

It's no secret that most boys are active, energetic, loud and are prone to roughhouse. Let's face it, handling boys can be quite a huge handful compared to girls (generally speaking). Here are some of the very interesting things I've discovered about having a son as I brought up my little man the past 8 years!

I read with great amusement a quote and I can certainly relate to it -
Forget that old poem about snips and snails and puppy dog tails, says Sharon O'Donnell, a mom of three boys and the author of House of Testosterone. "Somehow it's been changed to boys being made of 'fights, farts, and video games,' 
Sorry I digress... so back to my discovery...


He does not stop moving!
From the moment he wakes up in the morning till he pass out at bedtime he works on only one word Go Go Go and on only 2 speeds - fast & faster! But I've learned to catch up! (*panting*)

Clothes shopping is easy & cheap
How complicated can boys' attire get? Shirts, T-shirts, pants, bermudas, jeans, shorts... and almost anything goes with everything. So I literally kept it super K.I.S.S. (keep it simple silly)!


Stains and Tears are all over his clothes!
Ripping through the knees on khakis, jeans and even pajamas! Grass stains, mud stains, pasta stains, paint stains and unidentifiable stains... Thank goodness clothes shopping for Little Man was easy & cheap!


Roughhousing is innate!
Boys are naturally physical. Jumping off furniture, climbing up 'walls', the rolling on each other, you name it... Play fighting and roughhousing is hard-wired into many boys. It's how they connect *gulp* and often leaving me nervous. But the experts say it's healthy, that's how they foster positive relationships, boost the body's feel-good chemicals and promote intelligence *raise eyebrows* and somehow after watching how my Little Man plays with his friends or even observing other boys playing together... I just had to agree with the experts!


He's one goofy boy!
Boy humour can be extra goofy and I don't get it sometimes. He tells me that my dinner tastes like poop. He calls anything and everything poopy even sing about poop *arggh* sometimes I laugh but most times I scold and because I did what I did, the poop talk was given more value. I have since decided to not give anymore attention to such talks!

Guns and swords are part of his DNA
As much as I tried to disallow toy weapons, it just make it much more exciting to the boy! He's able to pretend using a weapon out of anything he could lay his hands on. So I've since given up trying. What I've learned was, what we see as violence, the boy sees as a dream of saving the world. Pretend play involving fantasy aggression - whether it's cops and robbers or zombie apocalypse - can be a useful way for boys to understand right and wrong.

Making a trip to the A&E is expected
Boys will be boys! 8 out of 10 boys (base on my own observations) have been rushed to the A&E due to accidents they met when playing, running or during physical activities. It's no difference with Little Man! At age two he sustained a 6-7 stitches long cut on his left eye-lid.

The recent incident which almost led us sending him to the A&E was when he swallowed more than 8 cherry seeds and turning to me with his purple lips due to cyanide poisoning!!!

I try hard to stay calm and collected on the outside even when I was freaking out inside.

Listening skills doesn't come naturallyWhile girls' hearing is more sensitive, boys tend to be more tactile, less verbal and more impulsive. It takes at least 1 minute of repeatedly calling out my son's name to get his attention. This is not a disorder, it's just the way this boy is wired. So instead of yelling my instructions from afar, I am making the effort to get his attention by walking to him to get my instructions delivered by being physically in front of him.

3-2-1 and he forgets
He forgets his homework, water bottle, wallet, consent forms... and on and on! He forgets, I nag, yell, complain, threaten and punish! There's a saying, "A child who forgets has a parent who always remembers!", so it's really not his fault that he's forgetful then.

I am now going to apply these rules - stop remembering for him, I won't say "I told you so!", and will not tell him what will happen... just let the consequences do the talking for me!

When in doubt, hug!He has a harder time verbalizing his problems and most times he will burst out into tears after seemingly trivial events. The hubby has developed a strategy to help our son and that is to offer a solution that is physical and not verbal, in this case, a hug. It's since been a default cure-all, and it's so far worked wonders. A minute later he is all patched up and ready to rumble again.

It's not easy being a parent these days but I've learned to take it to my stride and have decided not to be complacent where parenting is concern. It doesn't mean that once the children outgrow the infant/toddler/preschooler age it's time for me to take a backseat in the upbringing of the children. The children never stop growing and at every stage of their growth there are different needs that I have to prepare myself for.

But I guess, the most important thing for me to do, is to enjoy the process of growing up with my children no matter how challenging or crazy life might be as a parent.

For more stories and sharing on my motherhood journey, click on the badge below 


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easy Eggs Benedict Breakfast!

I love Eggs Benedict and I've always dream of making it from scratch at home. I procrastinated because I was intimidated by having to make my own poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. Have heard too many scary stories of failed attempts to make me hold off the attempt to make it myself.

I was craving for something savoury, something saucy and something runny *smile*... and the thought of combining Waffles with Eggs Benedict came to mind. Took me 3 whole days to finally gather all the ingredients I need and to squeeze time to make me-self the decadent breakfast!

As usual, I'd go around hunting for recipes on Youtube and on the internet on waffles and eggs ben. After snooping here, checking that, here's finally the version of Waffles with Eggs Benedict I've come up with.

And the catch is, I did not make the Hollandaise sauce in the traditional way. It turned out just as fantastic nonetheless and way faster and easier than double boiling while whisking the sauce up!

Check out this video on how the poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce can be done in quite a jiffy!

Video by: CHOW

Here're the recipes -
(A) Waffles
1 cup flour
2 eggs
80ml milk
75ml melted butter (or vegetable oil)
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Process
1) Combine all dry ingredients together well
2) Pour in the liquid ingredients and mix well with a spatula
3) Heat up waffle iron or waffle pan
4) Make the waffles accordingly
5) Set it aside

(B) Hollandaise Sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk
4 tbsp butter (melted under very gentle heat)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Process
Note: Boil a pot of water, set it aside this is for keeping the Hollandaise sauce warm later.
1) Add egg yolk and lemon juice into a blender
2) Blend for 30 secs or until the mixture is light yellow in colour
3) Stop the blender and then slowly drizzle in the butter
4) Blend till the mixture thickens (this should take less than a min)
5) Add salt & pepper to taste
6) Pour the sauce into a heat proof container and let it sit in the pot of hot water you've boiled earlier to keep the Hollandaise sauce warm.

(C) Poached Eggs
2 whole eggs
2-3 tbsp distilled vinegar
Pot of simmering hot water (on stove)

You may watch the video posted above on how to make the poached eggs.

Serve it with Honey Baked ham or any other types of ham of your choice. You can also serve your version of Eggs Benedict with English Muffins or plain toasted buns.


This meal can be made as Brunch as well. It does take a bit of time but it's definitely well worth the effort! Imagine, serving cafe style food to your family! :)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In My Grocery Bag : Grocery Haul March Week 4

I am the main person in my household who does the grocery shopping weekly. I'd usually try to complete my 5-day week of grocery shopping in the beginning of the week. I've shared some time ago some tips on meal planning (click on the link) and so my grocery shopping always begin with a meal plan.

To begin with you can either get a calendar or grab a template such as this, this or this, to work on.

This week I have in my meal plan a variant of one pot meals (well, almost). I love to keep meal prep simple so I would almost always (unless I've been inspired to try something new) resolve to just one pot meals daily.

So here's my 90% worth of groceries for this week -
I love a variety of colours in our daily meals. As much as I could, I'd purchase fresh fruits/vegetables with different colours, just so that we consumed sufficient nutrients for our bodies' needs.

Eggs are a must-have in our household, I'd usually ensure we have up to 20 eggs at the beginning of each week. The rest of the items were purchased for our dinner on Monday (see meal plan above).

For the meat/poultry/fish/seafood, we don't really have any restrictions in our diet though I try to keep our pork intake to a minimal and replace it with beef more often. Seafood such as prawns or squids, we only consume them once in a long while, they are after all scavengers of the seas so for health reasons we try not to eat them as often.

Our first dinner meal of the week was Cold Soba with Tempura. The joy of home cooking and the satisfaction of a hearty meal that's enjoyed by my family, with loads of - "That's yummy mommy!", from the kids just made all the hard work of planning, purchasing, preparing and serving all worthwhile!

Join me in my next sharing of what's In My Grocery Bag again!



Friday, March 07, 2014

Home Learning - Chinese Language


Did I hear/sense fear of this language in most parents when it comes to coaching their children who are in primary school? You are not alone, my friends.

Little Man who is now in Primary 2 and boy have I noticed the big difference in the amount of work and struggle he's going through just learning the language. It doesn't help much that he is in an  English speaking environment most of the time (90% of everyday). 听写now has progressed into 3-4 sentences at least with up to 6-8 short phrases or individual chinese characters every week. Needless to say, the boy, is not the least bit enthusiastic about it every week when it comes to practicing.

In order to make the language more "interesting" and less intimidating, here's what we have adopted at home. It's definitely not fool-proof, but somehow it works to make Little Man resent less of the subject.

Reading & Rewards

To encourage his interest in the language, we read books with HYPY (hanyu pinyin), even though I REALLY REALLY REALLY detest the use of HYPY to teach reading. But it helps to a certain degree in encouraging the reluctant child to get in touch with chinese.

What I've also discovered was for Little Man, he gets more confident after reading the chinese characters with HYPY and when we go over the words he's previously read (while I block the HYPY in the book) he's able to recognize it better.

We try to read at least 2 books per week using the series of chinese readers by Marshal Cavendesh. This was a recommended pack for P1 & P2 children. I figured since the kids' chinese textbook is printed by the same publisher, this series of chinese readers would comprise of all the words the children need to learn for their level.

Here's another set of books which I've bought, which Little Man loves, as he could relate to the encounters that the main character, 歪歪, in the books experienced and he often giggled at the silliness of 歪歪.

So here's what we do with reading, after each book is read, I'll make records of it and once the boy completed 10 books he'll get a reward.

Playing Online Games
The boy loves computer games and it's a saving grace that there are games that Little Man could play that helps him practice the language in a non-threatening way, yet, enjoyable.


One of Little Man's favourite has got to be 学乐 (click this link to check them out).  This program helps the child revise what has been taught from the textbook. Besides word recognition, there are other activities in which the child has an opportunity to re-visit all the words they have learned in the classroom, in a lively and enjoyable way.

One of which is the game that comes along each learning unit, that's the part that Little Man loves most and would not reject.

The other note worthy website would be 知识网教学平台 (Ezhishi.net), this is however on a paid subscription basis. This is currently used by Little Missy's school and her teacher uses this program to supplement her teaching in class as well. So far, it's been useful for Little Missy as she's still unable to grasp HYPY quite well currently. This program helps her revise all that she needs to on HYPY.

Watching TV Programs

Apart from computer games, the other non-threatening way of introducing the language is to watch chinese TV programs. Of course, it's got to be kids appropriate programs. We would also sit next to the kids and watch the program together.

On Saturday & Sunday mornings from 8am-12pm, is the segment carved out specially for children. This segment comprises of cartoons, drama, game-shows that are purely in mandarin. We don't sit in front of the telly throughout the 4 hours but when we could we'd usually watch the cartoons.

Speak the Language
We try to encourage the use of the language at home with me speaking the language more often to the kids. We've tried the 4 days speak mandarin days and the other 3 we speak English, it worked for a while but old habits kicked in and we reverted back to speaking English everyday. Till recently, I've decided to be the main person to speak mandarin with the children on a day-to-day basis. 

Little Man's problem with the language stems from the lack of confidence in speaking. He has limited vocab on the language which makes it hard for him to express his thoughts in the spoken language, therefore the resistance. So as much as possible, he needs the opportunity to hear and speak it in order to overcome the fear.

Joining Lucky Draw Contests
Yes, you've read correctly! Both my children have subscribed to these materials through their school. And I've found a way to make Little Man read up those articles/stories in these periodicals by exciting him with these lucky draws at the end of each publication. Hah! Don't judge me, anything that interests and excites my son to learning Chinese works for me!

Above which, the teachers in school would also make the kids complete some of the worksheets from these periodicals as and when they received it.

Assessment Books
Like it or not, these still work for us. On a daily basis we would sit the kids down to do a few pages of workbooks, just to revise the day's work. Revision is an important part of being proficient in the language. We do this on a consistent basis so that it wouldn't be too daunting before any tests/exams. A little each day goes a long way for us. 

We however, do not overwhelm them with a pile load of assessment books, just one to two books each subject that helps in revision.

Although Little Man isn't very enthusiastic in the subject, he's not doing that badly. Of course that comes with a lot of supervision, encouragement and cajoling from the hubs and me on a day-to-day basis. It's still a struggle, I've to admit but when he came back with full marks in his recent Chinese test, I could see and feel the excitement in him! Oh well, I just need to be more hardworking in guiding and encouraging him in the subject, I guess!

Linking up with my friend, Rachel at -


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Healthy Beverage : Osmanthus Aloe in Honey

Have you noticed? It's been weeks since we last had rain pouring down our land. All the grass, plants and even trees are withering and parched. The weather has been freakishly dry and hot lately that it was unbearable!

I've decided to just give ourselves something to cool down, nourish and replenish all the fluid in our bodies. Made a dessert with just 4 simple ingredients.

Aloe vera (I bought the canned aloe, you may get fresh aloe from the supermarket or if you have an aloe plant at home), 2 teaspoons of Osmanthus flower (I got a bottle from the chinese medical shop), 2 teaspoons of Wolfberries and some honey.

Here's how the process goes in preparation for the wonderfully refreshing dessert:
1) Simply boil 1 cup water, after the water is boiled just turn off the heat and add the Osmanthus, let it steep for 3-5mins. Let it cool down substantially.
2) Soak wolfberries in hot water till soften.
3) Add Aloe Vera into a large bowl (or container), Osmanthus tea, wolfberries and drizzle in honey (to your preferred sweetness), mix well.
4) Serve it chilled or with ice cubes! Enjoy!