Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A friend for all seasons

Both Alex and Sophie have little friends their own age.

Louise is Sophie's friend in school. Louise is 3 years old, and Sophie thinks this is something she wants to aspire towards.

Alex goes for Mama-Baby yoga class where she usually sleeps through most of it. There she is snoozing away in her bear suit.

Actually I probably need the yoga more than she does. Alex is the embodiment of Zen for most of yoga class. I think none of my class-mates have ever heard her crying, and you can't tell when she is awake or asleep because even when she's awake she is looking around and just chilling out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Overheard ...

"Hi Sophie, how was school? What did you do?"

"Told teacher Becky I hurt"

"You told teacher Becky that you were hurt? Where?"

"My nose hurts"

"Your nose was hurt? How? Did you fall?"

"No, I told Teacher Becky that Mummy hurts my nose. (!!)"

Sophie has been having a slight runny nose that has been driving me nuts because it looks like an allergy, but we can't figure out what she is allergic to. She is absolutely fine each time we get out of the house, and then each time she comes home, she starts sniffing again. What the heck it is I cannot figure out. We have cleaned our heating vents, changed the filters on our air filters, and we have no new pets or toys (unless you consider Baby Alex Sophie's new toy!) so I cannot figure out what the heck has caused it.

Anyway, the upshot of it is that I have been spraying her nose with a saline spray to clear it. Sophie hates that and complains that it "hurts my nose", but submits willingly to it ever since I started a reward chart where she gets a sticker for each spraying !!

I wonder whether I will have to defend myself from child abuse allegations at the next parent teacher conference?! Hahahhaa

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Parent Teacher Conference

"Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned." - John Holt

My own thoughts on school are entirely practical. It is an excuse to get the kid out of the house, and out of their care-giver's hair. But we can assuage our consciences by telling ourselves that there is some educational merit in this all.

I just started reading about "unschooling/deschooling" and I agree with many of the principles. I haven't finished reading yet to form a real opinion, but the gut feeling so far is that one can still achieve these objectives in the right environment, and this can be a very small school (like Ivy Academy). Ivy actually follows the Multiple Intelligences method (insofar as you can call it one) and it's the only school where Howard Gardner (the guy that coined this term) sits on the board, so it's pretty much the real deal as far as I am concerned !

Fab and I attended our first Parent Teacher Conference last Friday. In the era of the modern child, both parents attend these events. So we were there to discuss Sophie's weaknesses (diplomatically called "challenges") and strengths in school.

In terms of challenges, Sophie has regressed on the toilet-training. Apparently this may be linked to the arrival of Alexandra, but it could also be that she enjoys what she is doing so much that she postpones (unwisely!) the trip to the toilet, despite being asked by the teachers. As a corollary to this, she hates having to clean up an activity which she is still playing with.

My perfectionist daughter will do something (a painting or puzzle) for as long as it takes to get it "right". However in the real world, where everyone works on "clock-time", my feeling is that it's actually good for her to know that not everyone will hang around and wait for her to get things done perfectly (like her long-suffering parents). Apart from this, the teachers say that Sophie is a generally happy child who is a good fit in school. Temperament-wise she is quiet and observant in larger groups but will participate if she has a contribution to make (she loves singing by herself in front of the whole class).

According to the teachers, Sophie seems linguistically inclined. She talks more clearly than most 2 or 3 year olds. It's getting fun speaking with her because (assuming she feels like it) she will carry out a conversation with description/narrative. This is something that appears to surprise the teachers alot, because apparently even 3 year olds don't really do this, and talking about something (as opposed to merely conveying desires) is something which happens later.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Memories are made of this

One gift (or curse!) I think I will leave Alex and Sophie is this blog, where they can see their own lives and changes contemporaneously recorded. Maybe it's nice for them to look back on this (when they can actually read!) to see what their mom was thinking on various dates which have no significance to anyone but ourselves.

I spoke to my parents yesterday on the phone, and it seemed that my grand-father's funeral went well, and it was a good send-off. They spent time remembering him, and for the record my contribution was this - that I used to chase him around the house to read me a story. The carpet on the staircase was red and it was the same shade as my red potty (weird how you remember these details!) and the ground floor was marble cut in large square pieces. Ah Kong was usually wearing a white singlet and blue striped pajama pants. He sometimes used a typewriter on balcony on the second floor of the house.

On the ground floor were the 2 large fish tanks where Ah Kong kept his arowana fish. They were scary and ate live prey (usually tadpoles and baby frogs). There was one time I saw a baby frog in the tank swimming for its life, so I scooped it up in my hand and released it in the garden. Where it was promptly eaten by a bird. I think I was quite traumatized.

As he grew older and his hearing started becoming bad, I didn't speak to him as much anymore. I didn't call him on the phone as often as I wanted and it's something I sort of regret. I've resolved to call my parents and grandma more regularly. Actually the person whom I almost never phone is my brother, but then we tend to use facebook and email more often. He's pretty lousy at more traditional forms of communication - I've never received a letter from him, but partly also the time-difference makes phone calls harder. Maybe we'll visit him next year in the US, with the currency depreciation, it makes sense to travel.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chasing our own tails

So this week has been slightly over-stretched for me, with my first parent-teacher conference to prepare for, a barbecue I am hosting, and then appartment hunting, ayi logistics planning, going back to work for a meeting, arranging my gym timetable... I felt like I was running like a little hamster on a wheel.

Then my dad phones to tell me that my grand dad has died, and the frenzy stopped.

There is nothing like death to put a little perspective on our lives.

It's a little hard to say how I feel. Of course I am sad, but also oddly relieved. I think I miss him. I was 2 years old and chasing after him all the time to read me stories. I think the grandfather I love is somehow always alive as a part of my memory.

He had been ill for some time, and the last weeks were hard on him, so at that time, I think you don't fear death any longer. And his descendants I think celebrate his life.

** Sorry if this post is slightly disjointed, I might write more when my thoughts are a little clearer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will I never be able to go out again?

I express milk for Alex when I go to the gym/meet my friends/ generally have my own life apart from being a walking food source. This means that the nanny has to figure out how to feed Alex from a bottle.

Which is proving to be remarkably difficult.

Alex does NOT like being bottle fed at all. She goes on a hunger strike and issues heartrending wails until I come home and she can have milk in her preferred feeding form.

Of course it stresses me out immensely when I come home to see this drama. My logical brain tells me that she will eat from a bottle if she is hungry enough, my emotional self is horrified that she went without eating for a few hours before I came home.

Between Alex having her hunger strike and Sophie having sleeping issues I think my nanny deserves a bonus this year to go on a long holiday somewhere.

I sometimes feel completely guilty for dumping someone else into this domestic madness. But my husband says I shouldn't feel too bad. No matter how bad a day the nanny has had with the kids, she knows that she can GO HOME and return them back to the parents.

Observations between my daughters

Of course every child is different and should not be compared. But you just CANNOT help it when you are a parent of 2 kids.

If you are a parent, I am sure you must have read baby books that all start with "around this week your child should be [fill in blank]". Well, Sophie was Little Miss Average. Everything that she needed to do developmentally, and for weight/height she was generally at the 50% line. Except for her language development which was amazingly ahead of the bell curve, she did all the things that a "normal" baby (is there ever such a thing?!) should.

On the other hand, Alex seems set to be Baby Kinder-surprise. She could hold her head erect for a couple of seconds when she was born, and even when tiny, she could turn her head and track moving persons across the room. Unless you are in constant contact with newborns, that doesn't seem particularly surprising, but according to the received wisdom, "average" babies aren't supposed to do that until a little later. She wears clothes for 3 month olds (i.e. the labels read 3 to 6 months).

Also utterly normal (but truly annoying) is Sophie's attention seeking behaviour right now. This is firstly, a function of being an almost 2 and a half year old, secondly, we have some new ayi changes in the house and thirdly, a reaction to being displaced from being the center of the known universe to having to (gasp!) share the parental attention. So she alternates between testing the limits and being a whiny pain. It drives me completely nuts sometimes.

One of the things which is understandable but really annoying is her insistence that she (Sophie) is a BABY also, and wants only the good part of being a baby. This includes, but is not limited to (1) being carried around instead of walking, (2) un-toilet training herself and (3) not speaking and saying "wah wah wah" in imitation of Alex. I know she's doing it to get a reaction, so I just play along and refuse to fuss about it.

The only blessing I think is that Sophie adores Alex and she has never taken out any of her frustrations, or shown any aggression towards Alex (YET!) Her "wanting to be a baby" phase seems to be part of her sisterhood bonding experience - sort of...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good Losers

He lost, but he's a good loser. This was actually quite gracious.

Something my own government seems to find very difficult.

As strange as it sounds, I want my kids to learn to fail. How you fall and what you do afterwards is probably a lot more important than achieving continual success.

Fab and I were speaking about what kind of formal education our kids would have, and I think that most Asian systems over-emphasize the goal (taking exams) at the expense of the process (i.e. learning something). It's a question we have to figure out later as Sophie and Alex grow older, but it gives us something to talk about on our date nights.

I have a guilty confession - on our last date we went to sureno and had a wagyu steak.

For health and ethical reasons, we are trying to reduce our meat consumption. One way to do it is to have grass-fed, humanely killed meat (if you want to know more about this, google Michael Pollan's book - the Ominvore's dillemma).

Monday, November 03, 2008

before and after

This is Before and After Food (I'm not uploading photos of the intervening process).