Chinese Lantern Craft – Using Hong Pao Paper

Chinese New Year is just around the corner! *excited* =D We did a simple craft last week to decorate the house with small Chinese lanterns. And in the process of making it, I then realized that I don’t do as many stuff as my mother does in preparing for Chinese New Year. I don’t buy new clothes for the kids, I don’t do spring cleaning, and I don’t even bake a single cookie.

Mmm…We shall see if we can come up with a quick and easy cookie recipe this week then =P

DSC07109OK. Back to the Chinese lantern craft, we used Hong Pao papers to make them. I cut off the cover, and drew lines on the paper (see the image on the left).

Alex then cut the Hong Pao paper according to the lines. The top stripe will be used for the lantern’s handle later.

DSC07097This is a good exercise for Alex to encourage his cutting skill. The task looks so simple for me, but apparently not for him. He put all his attention, concentration, and effort to cut those lines, and he did a good job, I must say.

After finish cutting all the lines, unfold the paper and form the paper into a tube shape to transform it into a lantern. Glue the top and bottom corners. Then attach the handle with glue or tape on the lantern.

We made some and used them to decorate our living room. At least they bring a little bit of Chinese New Year’s spirit in the house =D

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Colour Recognition – Pom Pom Balls and Tissue Rolls

DSC07023I thought of doing this simple activity with Ella because I have quite a few paper rolls in the store room which have been waiting for me for quite some time =)

I covered the paper rolls with colourful construction papers and paste magnetic tape on one side. You can use blue tack or normal tape, too.

DSC07038I then took out our colourful pom pom balls, which normally played together with their kitchen toys and let Ella had some fun with them =)

It is a fun way to learn about colours, I must say. Especially if you have a lot of toilet rolls at home and do not know what to do with them.

Oh yes, you need to place few bowls below the tubes to catch the balls.

We’ve planned do another simple activity for colour recognition in the next few days. Stay tuned =)

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Shapes Recognition – Cut and Paste

DSC07004Ella is not well for the past few days. She caught a cold and have a phlegmy cough, so we have to stay indoor and do something to entertain ourselves at home.

This shape recognition activity is so simple to prepare and do. It is so simple till I thought that I won’t share it here. But when I saw how she enjoyed doing it, I thought that I’ll just write a very short post about it =P

I cut many small squares for her to paste on a big square. That’s all! =D And every time she pasted one, I asked her to say, “SQUARE!”

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DIY Collapsible Cardboard Playhouse

DSC01282I always get excited whenever I spot a big, sturdy and clean cardboard. My hands immediately become ticklish and my brain runs wild =D

And today I’ll share a creative idea on how to make a collapsible cardboard house that I found online.  It is collapsible, and so it is a perfect playhouse for us who has a limited space and lives in an apartment.

I made it two years back and the kids loved it.DSC01280They used it to play hide and seek, they brought their toys in the house, and they played with it for two weeks before it collapsed =D

There are so many creative ideas online. You might want to ‘google’ it and see if there is any other DIY cardboard projects that your kids will love =)

PS. I made a playhouse for Alex on his 2nd birthday too. You can see it here.

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Boys Do Cry – How to Help Them Manage Their Emotions

We all know that all children, regardless of gender, do cry to express their sadness, fear, anger, or just to get attention from their parents. However, I noticed that boys are more frequently reprimanded for crying and showing sadness compared to girls. Boys are expected to be stronger and tougher physically and emotionally. And if they cry, it means that they are weak. That’s maybe the reason why I often hear phrases like “Stop crying. Boys do not cry.” or “Shame on you. You cry like a baby.”

But my question is this, “Are the boys really get stronger and healthier emotionally as they grow by not crying and express how they feel inside?” I really doubt so. We all know that emotions don’t evaporate, they have to be expressed somehow. And as a parent, we need to help the boys to understand their feelings and teach them how to manage their emotions effectively, not to repress them.

Helping children manage their emotions is important for children’s developing self-regulation skills, resilience, and sense of self, nurturing their mental health and well being. Recent studies actually indicating that boys who are emotionally more in touch with their feelings are better in handling depression and anger later on in their adulthood.

“Young children, especially boys, may need their parents’ help working through angry or fearful emotions. If you punish toddlers for their anger and frustration or act as if their fears are silly or shameful, they may internalize those negative emotions, and that may lead to behaviour problems as they get older,” said Nancy McElwain, a U of I associate professor of human development.

Alex, who is now 4 years old, is a very sensitive and emotional boy. The good thing about it is that he is sympathetic, not aggressive, and softhearted. But on the other side, he gets affected quite deeply whenever someone make him sad, angry, or fearful. He cries when someone snatches his toys, he cries when Ella destroys his priceless creation, and there was one day, he burst out in tears in the middle of his class because he couldn’t understand what his mandarin teacher was teaching.

Honestly, sometimes I am very tempted to say “Alex, be strong! You are a boy. Stop crying!” It is much easier for me  to ask him to just repress his sadness, hide it and stop crying. But I know that I am not helping him by saying that.

As I am learning to respond to Alex’s emotional cries, I’ll share some strategies that works for him with hope that it’ll help other kids, regardless of gender, too. In this whole process, I want him to know that it is perfectly fine to feel sad or angry, but it is not OK if he lingers in it for too long, becomes self pity, and hurts other people.

  • Introduce many kinds of emotions and facial expression.
    We read children books about feelings and we discussed with him about the situations/scenarios that usually make him feels happy, sad or angry.
    There are also many feeling charts available online that you can print out and go through with the child.

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  • Take a break and drink.
    It helps Alex to calm down when I bring him out from the room, and let him have a sip of water.
  • Acknowledge his/her feeling and ask him/her to tell you what’s wrong.
    Usually I’ll hold him (without saying any words) until he is calmer, then say something like, “Alex, what makes you so sad? Tell mommy.” But in Ella’s case, who is only 2 years old, I’ll prompt her by saying “Ella, talk. Say, ‘Mommy, I want…”
  • Use the moment to teach him/her on how to develop skill to manage emotions.
    We always remind him that hurting others and being rude is not acceptable no matter how angry he is. And sometimes we suggest something that he can do to help him cool down, eg. drawing, reading, or play with his toys.
  • Encourage problem solving.
    In our case, we realized that Alex tend to feel really sad whenever someone snatches his toy. So we take this opportunity to discuss with him on how to prevent this thing to happen again, and how he can protect his toy, eg, hide the toys behind him when someone tries to snatch and say “No. Don’t snatch.” He is still struggling for the moment, but we can see some improvement.

Having said all that, if you know that the child’s crying is manipulative (for example, you said no more ice cream and your child is crying or whining), simply ignore it.

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Letter to Alex on His 4th Birthday

My dear child,

As I ponder and reflect on my life for the past four years, I am thankful. I thank God for He has created you and entrusted you in our family. And I praise Him for His faithfulness and love that He never fails to show us, especially during the tough moments when we need to make a choice and decide on important matters. 

In this letter, I’ll share with you one of the toughest decision that your dad and I had to make about four years ago. It was the decision whether I needed to continue working, or stay at home to take care of you. Deep inside, I knew that God wanted me to be full-time mom but we knew that this is going to be challenging financially. When I was pregnant with you, I got a job offer at an Oncologist clinic which I’d been dreaming for, and letting go was even more costly.

After much praying and thinking, we decided that I will be a stay-at-home mom. Though doubts surfaces time and again, this path gave us tremendous peace. I felt God’s guidance and encouragement to be so real in my daily life and chores. Little things like advice and messages from friends asking whether I needed this or that felt like angels strengthening me again and again. 

It was not an easy path, I must say. I needed many months to adapt and get used to the routines, and I needed to let go a lot of my personal interests and wants. But to tell you the truth, it was the best decision we’d made so far. 

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I thought that I’ll lose out, but in fact I gained so much blessing, happiness, and a solid bond with you, which I treasure the most.  To be able to spend time and get to know you well, to hold you tight whenever you are sad and afraid, and to share my joy and laughter with you every single day is just priceless. 

On this special day, I pray that you enjoy your childhood to the fullest, learn and explore all the things around you, and most of all receive the love that our Father in heaven have in store for you.

Love you,

Mommy

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Letter to My Children – Things That Daddy Did For You

My dear children, 

In this letter, I’ll share with you few things that your father had done for you when you were small. You might be too young to remember them, so I write them down for your future read and I hope that you’ll cherish your moments with him, and be thankful of what he had done for you. 

As your mother, I know very well how your father actually wished to have a break and sit in front of his computer every night after he got back from work. However, no matter how tempting for him to do so, he always chose to sit with you on the play mat and entertain all your demands. He built a nice church with one hanging bell using your blocks as per your request, he read as many books as you wanted to, and most of all, he tried really hard not to look bored when he played with your mini cars, shapes sorter and rattles.  

And not only that, my dear, I also know how much he enjoys his bath time and how he loves to take a long shower after a tiring day.  But every time before he entered the bath room, he always asked aloud “Anyone haven’t bath yet?”, and two of you will giggle and join him in the mini water play, and ‘spoil’ his peaceful moment, of course. But he did not mind that. He loved to give you shower every night. And the laughter and noise that I could hear from outside telling me how much fun you guys had in the ‘water playground’. 

He is a person who appreciates cleanliness and gets disgusted easily with dirty stuff. But do you know that he had changed your diapers countless times? And when you were ill and vomited, do you know that he was the first person who always grabbed the pail and mop the floor? To tell you the truth, he had clear your mess countless time and he did all that without complaining. I guess, it is because he loves you…so much. 

Everybody knows that he is a gentle and soft spoken man. But there were occasions where I heard him shouted so loud at you. Do you wanna know what makes him so angry? It was not because you were being disobedient or rude, but it was because you were approaching dangers and he was warning you. You are just too precious for him to loose, and it hurts him the most if you are injured. 

There are many more things that he’d done for you, and many other things that he’d sacrificed for you. It is impossible for me to write it all down in this letter. But one thing for sure, he loves you so much. Not only that he gave you his time, money, and affection, but he gave you all. He gave ‘himself’ to you. 

DSC02768.JPG1aMy dear, let me end this letter with short prayers for both of you.

For you, Alex, I pray that you’ll witness your father’s life testimony, follow his footstep, and grow into a gentleman who loves the Lord, family, and the people around you.

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And as for you, Ella, I pray that you’ll find someone like him, a man who fears the Lord and dedicates himself to love his family. And may you’ll grow beautifully inside out and support him till the end, for the Lord’s glory. 

In Jesus’ name I pray. 

Amen. 

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