Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

J's Monologue

J decided to do a monologue when he found out that the webcam was running. Witness his funny antics.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cough, cough

J's been coughing for a week now. His asthma meds are not providing any relief, whether it's via the puffer or the nebulizer. His cough sounded wet but he claimed to have no phlegm. I cut an Asian pear in half, removed the core and put a tablespoon of honey in each piece then I steamed the fruits on medium high heat for about 45 minutes. It tasted a bit sourish sweet and the texture was between soft and hard. Not really yummy but I forced J to eat the first piece for breakfast this morning. To my surprise, his cough improved. I made him eat the other piece before we left the house for Walmart. He didn't cough much until he came home.

I made another batch just now. A pot with a piece of pork and goji berries are being boiled on the stove for dinner. I also bought some salted duck egg to be consumed with porridge tomorrow. Supposedly peas are also good for dry cough so I will try that another time.

Any wind aggravates his cough and he knows that. He tells me to turn off the fan whenever he gets 'wind' of it. hehehe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nary a Tear

Yesterday was L's first treatment at Dr. Chen's. The good doctor, nurse and I were bracing ourselves for wails (as in J's case) but were pleasantly surprised by L's silence. He endured the treatment stoically. The tears did threaten as Dr. Chen moved to his scalp but again, he bravely sat through it. We were very impressed and at that moment, my heart flooded with gratitude - thankful that L was such a brave boy. I resolved to reward L for his courage and promised to try to get him "Star Wars Clone Walkers" lego set although I had banned all future purchases due to overflooding of the current lego toys.

L sat for about 10 minutes and after which, he decided to lie down on his belly. He stayed in this position till the end of the 45 minutes. I think there were about 8 needles along his spine and 2 in his scalp. After removing the needles, the doctor massaged L's back and scalp. I saw tiny pin holes on his back. I will try a small dose of ledum before we go in the future. I hope that will not interfere with Dr. Chen's treatments.

I asked L if it hurt. He said it did in the beginning but shook his head at the end. Perhaps J will try it again in the future, when he's older and possesses a thicker skin.

PS. We went to ToysRUs and bought the lego set for him. It was about $3 more than other places but I didn't care because L deserved it. He was so happy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Crickets and Clay

J pestered me for a pet. I tried to side-step him by saying that he does have pets - his soft toys. "I want a real pet," J clarified. I pointed out to him that he didn't help out with the cleaning of the pet cage when Hammy the hamster was alive. He promised that he would this time round. Again, I tried to distract him by telling him he has a pond of fishes outside. "I want it inside."

That afternoon, we went for a walk, looking for possible pet candidates. We could only find pillbugs and snails. Snails will have to do. Four snails holed up in a small clear plastic cage along with some leaves. They left a trail of slime and after an hour or two, Jin turned his nose up at the smell. The snails happily slunk away to freedom after that.

Next day, we dropped by at Petco to purchase a small container of "gut-load" crickets. $4.99 for 8 bugs?? What a rip-off. They ought to be grateful to escape from being lizard chow and instead be pets to a happy 5 year old. Let's hope the crickets survive the next few weeks to satiate his desire to be a pet-owner.

Bought a bucket of air-dry clay today. Three of us sat at the dining table concentrating on our creations. L came up with 2 crickety cups and some "beans." J created a bunch of er ... figurines. I made a small bowl and a human figurine that sits on an edge. A few hours into the drying, J's figurines started losing their arms. There was no instructions on the bucket so I searched online and found a video about the product. Turns out one has to wet the parts prior to attaching them. I wished they had put that on their label. Good thing I still have half of the clay left. We'll try more tomorrow. At the meantime, we'll have to use our trusty old glue to adhere the pieces together.

Hands, hands, hands and Feet

A page out of my sketchbook. I wish I have a better hand model. My fingers are stubby and ugly.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Teaching Ahead of the Class

L's teacher gives homework the Friday before the week. I would look through the homework and teach him over the weekend. I learned to give him many examples but also to leave the work on the white board so he can refer to it later on.

I cannot stress the importance of examples. He learns by seeing patterns and constant revision of the work. I write the examples on the white board but also in a notebook with blank instead of lined paper. Lined paper seems is a bit distracting, even for me.

I have also since made him work harder on inferring answers from the text. It was a real struggle at the beginning but he's slowly making progress. It pains me to see him having to work so hard with meager results but that's the only way I could think to stimulate his brain. He tries to delay his tasks by giving me excuses but I would not allow it.

Let's hope he can understand and answer questions in the STAR tests.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

5 Ways Parents Can Handle Their Anger

Found this article at

It is a real helpful article on anger management for parents and I've copied the whole article here in case the link gets changed.


1. Heal your angry past
Parenting can be therapeutic. It can show you where your problems are and motivate you to fix them. If your past is loaded with unresolved anger, take steps to heal yourself before you wind up harming your child. Studies have shown that children whose mothers often express anger are more likely to be difficult to discipline. Identify problems in your past that could contribute to present anger. Were you abused or harshly punished as a child? Do you have difficulty controlling your temper? Do you sense a lack of inner peace? Identify present situations that are making you angry, such as dissatisfaction with job, spouse, self, child. Remember, you mirror your emotions. If your child sees a chronically angry face and hears an angry voice, that's the person he is more likely to become.
2. Keep your perspective
Every person has an anger button. Some parents are so anger prone that when they explode the family dog hides. Try this exercise. First, divide your children's "misbehaviors" into smallies (nuisances and annoyances) which are not worth the wear and tear of getting angry about, and biggies (hurting self, others, and property) which demand a response, for your own sake and your child's.

Next, condition yourself so that you don't let the smallies bother you. Here are some "tapes" to play in your mind the next time you or your child spills something:

  • "I'm angry, but I can control myself."
  • "Accidents happen."
  • "I'm the adult here."
  • "I'm mad at the mess, not the child."
  • "I'll keep calm, and we'll all learn something."

    Rehearse this exercise over and over by play acting. Add in some lines for you to deliver:

  • "oops! I made a mess."
  • "I'll grab a towel."
  • "It's ok! I'll help you clean it up." You may notice a big contrast between this and what you heard as a child. You may also notice it won't be as easy as it sounds.

    When a real-life smallie occurs, you're more conditioned to control yourself. You can take a deep breath, walk away, keep cool, plan your strategy and return to the scene. For example, a child smears paint on the wall. You have conditioned yourself not to explode You're naturally angry and it's helpful for your child to see your displeasure. You go through your brief "no" lecture firmly, but without yelling. Then you call for a time-out. Once you have calmed down, insist the child (if old enough) help you clean up the mess. Being in control of your anger gives your child the message, "Mommy's angry, and she has a right to be this way. She doesn't like what I did, but she still likes me and thinks I'm capable enough to help clean up after myself."

    We find going into a rage is often harder on us than the child. It leaves us feeling drained. Oftentimes, it's our after-anger feeling that bothers us more than the shoe thrown into the toilet. Once we realized that we could control our feelings more easily than our children can control their behavior, we were able to endure these annoying stages of childhood, and life with our kids became much easier. And when we do get mad at a child, we don't let the anger escalate until we become furious at ourselves for losing control.

    • Mad at child
    • Mad at self
    • More mad at child for causing you to get mad at yourself
    • Mad at being mad

    You can break this cycle at any point to protect yourself and your child.

    3. Make anger your ally
    Emotions serve a purpose. Healthy anger compels you to fix the problem, first because you're not going to let your child's behavior go uncorrected, and second because you don't like how the child's misbehavior bothers you. This is helpful anger. I have always had a low tolerance for babies' screams. At around age fifteen months our eighth child, Lauren, developed an ear-piercing shriek that sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Either my tolerance was decreasing or my ears were getting more tender with age, but Lauren's cry pushed my anger button. I didn't like her for it. I didn't like myself for not liking her. It might have been easier to deal with the problem if I had not been feeling angry. But because I was angry and realized it affected my attitude toward Lauren, I was impelled to do something about her cry, which I believed was an unbecoming behavior that didn't fit into this otherwise delightful little person. So instead of focusing on how much I hated those sounds, I focused on what situations triggered the shrieks. I tried to anticipate those triggers. I discovered that when Lauren was bored, tired, hungry, or ignored, she shrieked. She is a little person who needs a quick response and the shriek got it for her. My anger motivated me to learn creative shriek-stoppers. I've become a wiser parent. Lauren has become nicer to be around. That's helpful anger.

    Anger becomes harmful when you don't regard it as a signal to fix the cause. You let it fester until you dislike your feelings, yourself, and the person who caused you to feel this way. You spend your life in a tiff over smallies that you could have ignored or biggies that you could have fixed. That's harmful anger.

    4. Quit beating yourself up
    Often anger flares inwardly, as well as outwardly, over something that you don't like; but upon reflection, after a lot of energy is spent emoting, you actually realize that the situation as it stands now is actually better for everyone concerned. This "hindsight" keeps us humble and helps us diffuse future flare-ups. Our motto concerning irritating mistakes has become: "Nobody's perfect. Human nature strikes again."

  • 5. Beware of high-risk situations that trigger anger
    Are you in a life situation that makes you angry? If so, you are at risk for venting your anger on your child. Losing a job or experiencing a similar self-esteem-breaking event can make you justifiably angry. But realize that this makes it easier for otherwise tolerable childish behaviors (smallies) to push you over the edge. When you're already angry, smallies easily become biggies. If you are suddenly the victim of an anger-producing situation, it helps to prepare your family: "I want you all to understand that daddy may be upset from to time during the next couple of months. I've just lost my job and I feel very anxious about it. I will find another job, and we'll all be okay, but if I have a short fuse and get angry at you sometimes, it's not because I don't love you, it's because I'm having trouble liking myself..." If you do blow your top, it's wise to apologize to your children (and expect similar apologies from them when they lose their tempers): "Pardon me, but I'm angry, and if I don't appear rational or appreciative, it's because I'm struggling—it's not your fault. I'm not mad at you." It also helps to be honest with yourself, recognize your vulnerability and keep your guard up until the anger-causing problem is resolved. There will always be problems in your life that you cannot control. As you become a more experienced parent—and person—you will come to realize that the only thing in your life that you can control are your own actions. How you handle anger can work for you or against you—and your child.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Video of the boys

    Halloween '08 around the corner. Instead of buying plastic masks, I made batman masks for both the boys. Topped it off with a black cape I made awhile back, you get a pretty good batman outfit.

    J loves Mr. Freeze character from Batman. We cut up some cardboard boxes, hot-glued some paper rings (from paper towels) and sprayed the whole thing silver. V made a cool freeze ray gun.

    Here is a video of L being cartoonish:

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    "I don't have any friends"

    "I don't have any friends." He said it this time but with tears. My heart just dropped. Poor L. It came after a fight with J. J knew that L had been sad in the past about not having friends and yet he brought it up. I could smack J then.

    I reminded myself that L might be hyperlexic. This might be a forecast of L's social life. How do I deal with it?

    I sat L down next to me on the bed and hugged him. With our arms linked, I explained to him that sometimes it's hard to find a friend. If not this year, maybe next. At the meantime, he has friends in his family - Dad, J and me.

    Poor L. I wish I could protect him but I know I can't. He has to go through the pains of not having any friend so that he'll appreciate it when he gets a friend. He'll make a loyal friend, I believe. I look forward to seeing him grow.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Anatomically correct drawing by Lil' J

    J drew a pic of mommy today. I was shocked to see it. I asked him where my eyes were and he pointed to the head ... which leaves the other two er... circles to be other parts of the body. Oh dear ... and he's only 5.

    This afternoon, I was intensely following origami instructions when J suddenly stuck his fingers under my nose. Something funky wafted into my nostrils and I jerked away. Apparently lil' J decided to scratch his other end and share his 'booty' with me. I made him wash his hands with soap and banned all bottom nudity no matter how itchy or hot he is in the nether regions.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Highlighters are a good thing

    L always missed some part of the instructions in his exercises / tests. This has been going on for a few years. There were times that it drove me up the wall because points were deducted for incomplete work.

    I decided to highlight the instructions and keywords in his books a few weeks ago. Boy, what a difference. Right now, I only hope that he'll get it in his head to consciously look for instructions in his tests.

    Sunday, January 18, 2009


    For the first few weeks of school, L struggled with his schoolwork. I found him asking basic questions like, "What is sum?" Or, not knowing how to answer "When" and "How" questions ... questions that require abstract thinking. I tried to teach him like any other normal kid but he was not grasping it. Something was not right. I read a book, "Overcoming dyslexia: a new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level" by Shaywitz, Sally E. L's symptoms did not fully match a dyslexic. However, a paragraph on hyperlexics caught my attention. provided more information.

    Hyperlexia is the opposite of dyslexia. Hyperlexics can read but have difficulty understanding the passages. L fits most of the symptoms. He has poor auditory memory (can't remember long instructions) and difficulty understanding abstract concepts. Difficulty answering "wh" questions esp. the "why" and "how". I find L echoing sentences without understanding the words. Eg. "You are not the boss of me!" He doesn't know "boss" can also mean "leader."

    I started modifying my teaching method drastically. I no longer assume that he comprehends anything he reads. The book: Reading Too Soon: How to Understand and Help the Hyperlexic Child by Susan M. Miller (Paperback - Sep 1, 1993) really helped. Every reading material for L has to be pared down to simple explanations. I will write about the different methods in future blogs.

    His teacher is also very very helpful. I can't say how grateful I am that she gives me the reading material early in the week so that I can work with L. The next few weeks, we saw L's marks improve. He is now averaging in the 90% in his LA tests. He is also getting better at word math problems.

    I had an IEP meeting with his speech therapist and regular classroom teacher before Christmas. I requested L to be evaluated for "Resource Support." That means, he gets pulled out to a resource room where a teacher will help him with his homework. These classes are for children who are struggling with their schoolwork, usually children with learning disorders. I also requested his ST to include social skills lessons into her curriculum with L which she complied easily.

    Early January, the ST requested an extended IEP mtg with the school psychiatrist and resource teacher. Because of L's good progress, they felt that he didn't need to be evaluated for disorders but did suggest that our pediatrician look for the possibility of ADHD. He also didn't qualify for the resource support. I had a feeling that this was going to happen. I wasn't that bummed out about their decision. I am just glad that I found something that worked at home with L and I can tailor the lessons to fit him.