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Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm kinda busy

Reminds me of the time when we were eating dinner at the dining table, and I told the kids to hurry up and finish up the vegetables, and a certain song was playing on the radio. My daughter looks at me, while chewing, "I'm kinda busy" in reference to the Lady Gaga song, Telephone. We all giggled.

On the weekend, my sister wore her wedding dress to Calaway Park for a family gathering and casual photo shoot opportunities.  I have to say it was really amazing and fun to see her driving bumper cars and riding the roller coaster in the wedding dress.  My kids enjoyed the rides too. I took them on the bumpy car ride and I tried taking a nice photo of AJ driving the car. He wouldn't look at the camera and only flatly replied, "Mom can you stop taking pictures because I'm busy driving."

It really struck me about how important it was to just live in the moment and put down that camera, and stop staring at life through a camera lens, and just watch things in real time.  It's one thing to capture memories but when there are just too many photographs, what do you do with all these digital files and piles of photos printed at Costco for 17 cents?

At Calaway Park alone, in the first five minutes alone, her friend a professional photographer (Pirates and Unicorns dot com) indicated that he took 40 shots. I cannot imagine how many photos among the camera crew she hired took. That's different though, but I'm also pointing out that my dad takes way too  many photos; my whole life this has been the most annoying part of any family outing or gathering; everything has to be a group picture, settings are staged and he does not believe in candids. He won't even move to capture the subject better and would even dare to ask the subject to stop the action and turn to face the sun. Seriously? Moments only happen once.

We had just attended my sister's lavish wedding in Calgary.  Despite the very glamorous decor at the church and the amazing Lincoln SUV stretch limo, there was a Carnival flare to the after-ceremony festivities. A candy buffet, mini donuts, butter popcorn, caramel popcorn, face painting, dress-up photo booth and even balloon animals. So that also explains the additional wedding photos at Calaway Park as well. The wedding reception was a very formal and traditional Chinese banquet serving the finest Chinese wedding banquet fare. The only exception to the rule was that she stood her ground and did not serve the dreaded yet much desired traditional shark fin soup, and opted for the alternate seafood soup.

Back to the original point, remember to take photos but not too many. And a note to my dad, stop checking or looking at every shot that was just taken. You'll miss photo opportunities by living in the past (seconds).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Birth Order of Personality

The Marilyn Dennis show on CTV features a special guest who talks about Birth Order (not necessarily numerical order) and how it could impact a child's personality.  My sister in law forwarded me this clip and she asked me if I observe this in my own children.

There are few generalities, facts and myths that might be engrained in culture. The #1 being more ambitious and successful, taking on a leadership role, probably because they were #1 from birth with higher expectations from mom and dad to set a good example, do things right the first time etc.

The middle child, a bit calculating and edging in for fairness and equality. Not sure if I understand everything in her summary, but I used to think the middle guy would often feel left out because he's just stuck in the middle.

The youngest, the baby of the family, getting away with everything. Strengths, really kind and caring to make establish a harmony in the family. Gets along well with others.

Other factors are age gaps and gender, and the researcher indicates it's not necessarily the numerical order but rather the order you associate with. Of course when it is family of four kids, then there is no middle child. Or depending on the age gap, there could be an established grouping of three children and the youngest is like an only child.

Maggie is our #1 and I see her to be self driven  and very independent; doesn't need to be told to finish up breakfast, pick her own outfit, brush her teeth. She'll just do it on her own. She even insists on packing her own luggage before a trip (complete!) and also the snack/ lunch first thing in the morning even though she's in the afternoon JK. If it's someone's birthday she'll make a card or drawing and write out the names on her own (asking me for spelling as needed). She knows the rules and follows them, demanding the same of others. I also gave her alot of freedom, we never used baby gates on the stairs because I felt it more appropriate and useful to teach her to safely navigate the stairs by crawling backwards from the start.  However she continued to do this until she was almost two because I didn't show her it was ok to walk down the stairs. On the other hand her baby brother was walking up and down the stairs as soon as he was walking at age 1.  I don't see her as a perfectionist but more of an artist; she is a very clear and articulate communicator. She is very kind and caring and shows alot of empathy; demanding justice and expecting citizens to follow all the rules. She has a fiesty temper though and tends to act out by throwing things, hitting, pinching, shouting or running to her room to cool off.

AJ is the #2 child (middle kid for now) and because of that I always tried harder not to forget about him, and also because he's only 15months younger than Maggie but they are the same height, I've always had higher expectations of him to the point where I expected the same behavior of him as his older sister. I expected to write, draw, read and build structures at the same level as Maggie or better. He loves doing mazes and connect the dots with a ruler to make straight lines; he likes the simple addition workbooks from the dollar store. He is very intellectual and logical but often seeks approval from Maggie and me, asking for permission to do something like turn on the TV, or asking if his drawing or writing is good; however he gets upset or sad when the answer is no.  I feel that he needs to work on handling rejection better. He prefers to work and play in solitary; the teachers observe this too. I've also noticed that he fights with his older sister and younger brother quite frequently, competing for toys or my attention. Therefore to make things easier for the nanny, I know I've isolated him by sending him away for a full day Montessori program. I enrolled him in soccer and swimming lessons, while not offering this to Maggie. They're both doing Monart art classes but I started him first.  Maybe in some ways I was treating him like the older child or there may be some hidden favoritism.  He's also the oldest boy in the family so in effect there might actually be two #1's in the family. However he is the one that tends to want things to be "fair" or he wants to be the first to get out of the bathtub though he'll ask to be second to get the treat/ ice cream. He needs to be reminded to get changed and brush his teeth though; he'll do it all by himself but it seems like he needs to be told to do it. He seems to have a fragile heart that is more easily broken and tends to cry a bit more frequently than the other two.  If Lincoln scratches or attacks him, he doesn't really block or move away or even fight back. In some ways, I'm hoping the little brother will toughen him up for the real world.

Lincoln is the #3. He is a bit chubbier and chunkier than the other two. He drinks liters more milk and eats a ton more than Maggie and AJ. He is always getting in trouble or having a mischievous look in his eye. His head is made of steel for all the times he's fallen or bumped it without even crying about it. He seems to be the instigator of trouble; dancing on the table, running aroung with food or a fork. His brother and sister sit calmly at the table but he is running around trying to entice us to chase him. We never had a problem with kids opening the kitchen drawer with sharp knives or tearing out the patio screen door or climbing on chairs to the tipping point. He also reached his physical milestones sooner than the older two, simply because he had an example to follow - crawling, walking, eating with a fork and spoon, drinking from an open cup, ditching the bottle, doing shape sorters and toddler puzzles etc.  He talks alot but he also uses his sharp nails and grabby hands to get what he wants. He can take down AJ to the ground from behind with a bear hug. It's not nice but he doesn't seem to mind if we call him the fat one, or chum chum, or point to his really fat belly and laugh about it. Lincoln is very kind and nurturing as well. He has a favorite blankie and baby doll for the night time; he also likes to set up toy food and feed Buzz or the toy baby.  Just like Maggie, if someone is crying, he will report about it and offer to comfort them in some way.

It will be interesting what the future is like for them, though a baby #4 is arriving soon so the ordering thing will shift again, though Maggie will always be #1.

I have to look at my own birth order and personality. I am a #1 firstborn in a family of four kids. However I do not consider myself super ambitious or highly successful in my career. I am a working level Engineer but am by no means on my way to becoming a CEO or even a boss anytime soon. I might have taken my creative energies into other hobbies and engagements like crafts and music. I am very organized with my time, though my desk at work is quite messy. I am quite independent and I often expect other people to know the facts without me telling them, because things are just so obvious to me.

Watch the two 10 minute clips back to back and the presenter is very verbose and animated. Wow they talk fast on this show! I really like the photos they show of famous firstborns, middle kids etc.  She also gives some tips on how to deal with the children and not fall into the "bad" stereoytpes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Shrinky Dink Canada Day Craft

Shrinky Dink pre-bake status

Canada celebrates 145 years of history as a soveriegn nation. There is even a cool bible verse that is inscribed on the Parliament Hill somewhere but it describes Canada very well to a T.

Psalm 72:8 "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." It just sounds so awesome in King James. Though the PM would actually describe Canada, sea to sea to sea. but here the "ends of the earth" would encompass the North Pole!

The Sunday School teacher in Lincoln's class today told us about that Bible verse today and he sang a rendition of the kids song, God Made Me.

"God made Canada, and God made the seas.
God made the beavers, and God made the trees.
God made moose that roam, and God made the geese.
But the best of it all; the best thing of all: God made me!"

The Sunday School teacher`s lovely wife set up a special Canada Day craft for the kids. She traced a copy of the Maple Leaf on a small section of the Shrinky Dink plastic and gave the kids pencil crayons to colour as best they could.

It was a take home craft to be completed at home (baking time and directions to be shared below) but I think Lincoln enjoyed scribbling. I coloured half the leaf red myself and used white to retain his work. Maggie and AJ opted to try something different with silver or proper leaf colours.

"In summer leaves are green. But the Canada Day leaves are red, mommy" OK

Tomorrow after breakfast we will bake the Shrinky Dink for 1-3 minutes and then they'll get to see why it is called a shrinky dink.

Happy Canada Day everyone. How did you celebrate today?

#1 Colour the rough side of the material with pencil crayons or markers (wax crayons will just melt away)
#2 Cut only a smooth round outline around your design. Avoid sharp pointy edges as these become very very pointy. Observe the round outline around the maple leaf in the first image.
#3 It shrinks fast, in a blink of an eye so keep watching safely!
#4 Use a glue gun to attach a small magnet to the back. Or punch a hole before the shrinking to achieve a threadable hole for a necklace.

Shrinky Dink Baking Instructions
By Sheree N.
Do not microwave. Toaster oven is ideal or the conventional oven will work as well.

1. Preheat oven to 325 F
2. Place Shrinky Dink on cookie tray, coloured side up and place into pre-heated oven.
3. Watch as your Shrinky Dink shrinks. Bake approximately 1-3 minutes. After pieces lay flat, allow an additional 30 seconds of baking time to complete the process.
4, Remove Shrinky Dink and lightly press flat with folded paper until cooled, about 15 seconds.

Note: During the baking procss, there might be a time when the center is indented but the shrinking has stopped. Be patient; in time, the center will flatten out as well.