Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm a Yelling Monster no more

Yesterday morning Adora posted in facebook "Any yellers in da house? Read this! A mum has challenged herself to A YEAR to no yelling! She's not only done it, she's now at day 442! !", then she shared the Orange Rhino's Alternatives to Yelling list. The Fun Alternatives made me smile because I did some of the things when DinoBoy was not in the mood for negotiation or have no intention of backing down from an issue.

Then it strikes me that I have not yelled or raised my voice at DinoBoy for close to a month!  Wow!  Great job Me!

Well, we aren't the best parents on earth and we know that there are others who are a million times more patient, more gentle, more understanding then us.  How can one still speaks softly and patiently to a child who has her eyes set on that toy on the shelf, that she can't have it, period.  Even when the child is on the verge of having a meltdown and is starting to scream/whine/cry?  I tell you, I can almost see a halo shining so brightly above that parent's head. Angel I am definitely not and I have unleashed my devil self umpteen times till I was numb, I was only feeling tired and dejected.  Plus DinoBoy has been giving me difficult times since last year; I blogged about it here recently, I was ready to snap and yell at any given opportunity.  I wore the frown unknowingly on my face for so long that my beautician mention that there are 2 faint lines in between my brows.  That made me conscious of my facial expression and many a times I caught myself in the mirror with a frown, even though it was a good day and I was not feeling stressed up or unhappy. 

Until recently I have adopted a brand new approach, which you probably read about it in my earlier posts, when I'm dealing with DinoBoy, it has definitely paid off and the result is obvious.  Of course there are still days where he challenges us, before I lashed out on him with my tongue and anger, I take a deep breath to calm my nerves.

"How did you do it?" Irene asked me.

My temper was known to be fast and furious to some. so it  took a lot of determination and self control not to lose it.  For a start, I guess its because I have only one child to deal with, a 7 year old who understands better and follow instructions/requests faster, that makes the job easier.  I cannot imagine if I have to handle 2 or 3 kids, but keeping faith in my new parenting approach I may be able to handle it.

I read in a parenting book (forgot which one) that as a parent, we should never get pulled into an argument with a child, because you would have lost the battle the minute you stepped into that zone. How did you lose the battle?  Regardless the direction the battle ended, the results negotiated or not it is usually not the answer to the problem initially.  You either give in to the child's demands, which can sometimes be unreasonable or you barked a string of commands/threats to make the child behave.  Problem solve right?  But look at both parties, at least one party will be feeling hurt, sad and unloved; and add in guilt in the equation on the parent side.

So instead of yelling, what did I do?

I try to turn every thing funny.  I nagged funnily, I distract him by saying funny things, I warn him in a funny way, I whisper in his ears funny things.  All these got him laughing, and laughter lower the anger level.  Depends on the intensity of his anger or unhappiness, sometimes I have to try a few times before I manages to bring the level down to 3.  For a very intensive anger when he has calmed down to that level, I will asked him if he is feeling better?  Request him to take a deep breath to let out the remaining frustration, we hugged tightly, I gave him a big kiss before we continue from where we left off before the meltdown.  After he had calmed down, we negotiate or talk about the situation calmly and find the best solution together.

Having said that, I must also mention that we have taught DinoBoy the calming down method; 3 deep breathes since he was around 3-4 years old.  I always managed to catch the cue that he is feeling upset and requests him calm down.  I will tell him "You are feeling frustrated, calm down first." and he will take 3 deep breathes.  This does not work if he has already exploded though, and recently I found that by hugging him tightly I will make him calm down faster.

No anger or unhappiness means there are no needs for me to yell.  Each requests or instructions are answered quickly and rarely a need for me to repeat them to DinoBoy.  And this cheeky boy sometimes try to "defy" my instruction just to make me glare at him, then he breaks out in laughter and say "no lah Mum!  I bluff u!" and zips off to do the task.

And because I do all the funny things and say the funny stuffs, DinoBoy always exclaims "Mum!  You are sooooo FUNNY!"

Well better a Funny Mum then a Yelling Monster right?

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Screen Free Week Challenge 2013

Some of you probably saw my facebook status last week about pledging to go screen free from 29 April to 05 May 2013.

Well, I was blog hopping, reading some of the wonderful & inspirational posts when I chance upon Screen Free Week Challenge and I thought "What a great idea!"  I clicked the link and soon I was lead to CCFC or Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website.  Look at the name, I am sure many of you will have the same reaction as me;  sit up immediately, eager to learn more about this.

So what is Screen Free Week Challenge?
Its a week's challenge organised by CCFC and during this week people from all works of life will come together to support this by turning off tv, smart phones or any electronic gadgets for entertainment.  Instead, they will spend time with family and friends doing stuffs with each other as entertainment

So in brief who or what is CCFC?
These are taken from their website;

"CCFC’s mission is to support parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing. In working for the rights of children to grow up—and the freedom of parents to raise them—without being undermined by corporate interests, CCFC promotes a more democratic and sustainable world."

"CCFC was founded in 2000 by Susan Linn as an activist response to the rapidly escalating problem of commercialism encroaching on the lives of children."

"From a small group of concerned parents, health professionals, and educators CCFC has grown into a powerful force, working through every legal means possible to end the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing so that children can grow up—and parents can raise them—without being undermined by greed."

Wow!  I am sure many of us feel the same too about companies using advertisements that target children and using them as a tool (if I may say) to get their sales number up up UP.

So we took the Pledge!
This campaign is in USA, I did a quick search and did not see Screen Free Week activities any where in our region; I probably have to do a more intense search later.  So I decided to sign up.  It doesn't matter if its an overseas challenge that probably would not have any impact here, it is a meaningful cause.  Incidentally we, the DinoFamily has been going screen free on weekdays since 01 April 2013 *Hurray!*, screen time on weekends are about 12 hours which is something we have to work on gradually.

So you are interested but still considering? 
We know how excessive time spent on tv or electronic gadgets are bad for our children but we are all guilty of shoving them onto our children as a last resort when we needed something to distract them from us while we finish up our work/tasks.

While electronic gadgets are quick and easy way to let our children to explore and gain some knowledge on their own, in a long run it will lead issues such as obesity, causing harm to eye sights and to a certain level, cognitive issues.  How many times have we reprimanded our children for not listening or answering to us with their eyes glued to the tv?

Time spent in front of these gadgets prevents the child from leading a healthy & meaningful life, he is cooped up in the house instead of going outdoor for some physical play, or even picking up a book (not ebooks or kindle) to read.

So how do you start?
Let's face it, we try to reduce the time our children spent in front of these electronic gadgets but its a losing battle, one that most likely ended up with wailing toddlers, angry & unhappy children and worst scenario; a meltdown, a situation where most parents would like to avoid at all costs.

To turn this your favour, why not start small?  Perhaps by gradually reducing the number hours spent in front of the screen per day and work it up from there?  Suggest to your child that you would like to start something meaning and beneficial in the family by doing some activities where every one can participate. Get them involved by asking them to think and suggest some activities.

So what can you do?
Eager to start but not sure what to do?  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

* Board games - You'll be surprise to be able to find board games in the bookstores like Popular, Kiddy Palace or Daiso and they do not cost much too.

* Books - Head down to the neighbourhood library and borrow a few books with your library card or your child's Student Concession Card.  Each card is entitled to borrow a maximum of 6 books, that's at least 6 days of reading fun!

* Playgrounds - A trip to the playground does wonders to children.  It not only gives them a chance to exercise, they can also make new friends at the same time too.

* Printable activities - There are many sites where you can download printable activities with specific themes or story.  Recently we downloaded Charlotte's Web printable worksheets as we will be watching the play next month.  A point to note though, some of the websites requires you to set up an account free before you can start downloading the free printable.

So Last but not least
Having said the above, I would like to add that there are some good and informative programs that are beneficial to our children.  We personally like Discovery Kids which show real life adventures or game shows, science, wildlife and nature programs.  We enjoy the programs a lot and some times we will look for more information about a particular topic or animal we watched earlier with books or search for more information online.

Also, regardless the reason(s) that makes you wants to join this challenge (or any meaningful challenges/causes), please do so with the aim of improving the life or relationship of your family and not because you want to join the crowd.

So with a clear direction, lets join in the challenge and have some fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Foodie Fridays - One Pot Dish of Veal & Mushroom Stew

I am sharing another one pot dish that DinoPapa cooked; Veal & Mushroom Stew, this recipe is taken from the same cookbook as the Spicy Chicken and Chilli Soup which I shared last week.

* 750g stewing veal, sliced about 5mm thick
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup plain flour
* 1/3 cup of olive oil
* 8 small onions (optional)
* 400g mushrooms, quartered
* 1/3 cup dry sherry
* 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
* 2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
* 250g broad egg noodles
* 300g frozen green peas. thawed and drained
* 1/2 cup cream
* 2 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Sprinkle the veal with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, dredge it in the flour and shake off any excess.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large flameproof casserole over moderately high heat for 1 minute.
3. Brown the veal in batches - about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Add the onions (if desired) and mushrooms to the casserole (add more oil if needed).
5. Reduce the heat to low and saute, shaking the pan occasionally until the onions and mushrooms are slightly softened - about 5 minutes.
6. Add the sherry and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of pan.
7. Pour in the chicken stock, then add the tarragon and veal.  Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, transfer to the oven and bake until the veal is tender - about 30 mins.
8. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.
9. Transfer the casserole to the top of the stove and stir in the peas, cream, lemon juice and remaining salt.
10. Cook, uncovered over moderate heat until the peas are heated through and the sauce slightly thickened - about 5 mins.
11. Serve over the noodles.

Again, DinoPapa modified the recipe, the dish still taste great even without the dry sherry, peas and onion.  He did not put noodles in it too since we are having this with rice.  

The kids love it too, the veal is chewy but not too tough and the sauce adds flavour to the plain white rice which probably is the reason they finishes off their meal faster the usual that night.

Note : In case you are wondering (like me) according to wiki veal is the meat of young cattle (calves).

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Starting Primary One #17 - Preparing for Mathematics Modular Test 1

As usual, DinoBoy had the test and this mummy did nothing to prep him, leaving him to strive for himself and for student care to drill them on the chapters.  I know, I know, I'm not a good Mum but Maths is not my strong subject and I'm bad at coaching schoolwork, plus its bad for my health since it will make my blood pressure to shoot up (can you hear the weakness in those excuses?).  

Anyway, the Student Care is doing a wonderful job in preparing the students for the test, I am grateful for their level of involvement in the student's school work.  Besides not having to worry too much about DinoBoy's academic results, it also means that I am able to do other interesting, fun educational stuffs with him at home.  Frankly I'd rather not put too much pressure on my 7 year old lest he starts to detest or get stressed due to examinations.

Revision Paper #1

Revision Paper #2

I have no idea how he fared in Modular Test 1, I MAY have put my beautiful name on it without knowing that its the test paper (ok epic failure by me on this part), too late now as the test paper is with the teacher, I can only hope that he did well.  Anyway Mathematics Modular Test 2 will be in next month, I will take note of every worksheets or paper I will be signing so that I will not miss it out again.

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I am sharing DinoBoy's Primary One experiences in this series.  I hope it will serve as a useful guide to parents when its their time to get their child ready for the new journey and have an idea how Parent Volunteer works.

Click the button below and you will be able to see all my posts on this topic or grab the badge if you are sharing your thoughts about this topic.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Life Cycle of a Frog

DinoBoy drew this in student care centre; lift cycle of a Frog, not sure if the teachers taught them about life cycle (I doubt so since its not in the syllabus or the text books) but I do know that he learn a little bit about this when we read the book Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni where he touches a little bit on this.

Cool right!  

And the fighting fish?  Its a project for his art lessons in heART Studio.  Too bad I can't make him color this drawing, it would have been a beautiful master piece~

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth Day 2013

To me Earth Day, Earth Hour or whatever significant causes, is just another normal day, just another way for some companies to earn some quick bucks.  For me, every day can be a day for good causes; if I want to that is.  It should be a habit not to waste resources and definitely not something I only observes on a particular day or period of the year.  We have always try to teach DinoBoy the correct attitude and mindset about life, we have also instilled eco-friendly habits on him such as nagging at reminding him to switch off the lights/fan when not in use.

Earth Day is on 22 April and this year we are pitching in to help to raise awareness of recycling in DinoBoy's school.  To commemorate Earth Day, the school's Science Club is holding a Recycling Project for this week. 

Sounds FUN!  Especially this is the first time DinoBoy is taking part in it.  I have not teach or discuss anything about Earth Day or the 3Rs to DinoBoy but I'm sure the school will be doing that, it will do for now, till I think of something later.

Alright, back to the project, the part about bringing unwanted newspaper and magazines seems a little tough for us. Not that we are hoarders and refuse to part with them but we do not have any!.  We do not buy or subscribe to newspapers or magazines, who needs them when you can get info online?  No print out, No wastage, No killing of trees.  Lucky for us, every morning a free copy of Today's newspapers was delivered to us, we managed to gather 4 copies (Friday till today), put them nicely in a plastic bag and off to school with them this morning.

Though it was only 4 copies of the newspaper, DinoBoy was very excited, insisted on carrying them while on our way to school.  He was walking into the school with little skips and swinging the plastic bag, clearly happy about it.

A small pile of newspapers contributed by the students

So are your kids' school doing anything this Earth Day to educate the students on Saving our Earth, Recycling, conserving the environment etc?  Do share with us if their school is doing something on it.

PS : In case you like to visit Nature Society (Singapore) website mentioned in the school's letter about with a click, here is the link.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A really Saturday Morning Snapshots

Mum's coming to stay over the weekend and DinoBoy says he wants to stay home to accompany her. So we are taking every thing slow while waiting for her. I was "messing around" on my phone and decided to try out the new apps I have just downloaded.

So I asked DinoBoy to "give me a smile!" and he came out with a series of poses.  Here are 4 of his poses.

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Wee Stories

Friday, April 19, 2013

Foodie Fridays - One Pot Dish Spicy Chicken and Chilli Soup

DinoPapa was in the mood to cook and he saw my One Pot dish cookbooks laying on the dinning table and decided to get some inspirations from it.  After a while he set his mind to try his hands on the Spicy Chicken and Chilli soup.

* 1 kg skinned and boned chick breasts
* 5 cups chicken stock
* 1 large onion, finely chopped
* 2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 4 cloves garlic, 3 finally chopped, 1 sliced
* salt to taste
* 60g bottled mild green chillies (in brine, not vinegar), drained
* 1 can (420g) creamed corn
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

Optional garnishes
* 2 cups crumbled corn chips
* 1 avocado, diced
* 2 spring onions, including tops, thinly sliced

1. Place the chicken breasts, stock, onions, cumin, bay leaf, thyme, chopped garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large heavy saucepan.
2. Set over moderately high heat; when the stock comes to a boil, adjust the heat so that it bubbles gently, cover and simmer for 10mins or until the chicken is cooked.
3. Remove the chick breasts from the saucepan and, when they are cool enough to handle, cute them into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.
4. In a food processor or blender, puree the green chilies and the sliced garlic.
5. Add the corn and the chilli mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 15mins.
6. Return the chicken to the saucepan and adjust the salt to taste.  Simmer, uncovered for 3 to 5mins or until the chick is heated through.
7. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the coriander.
8. Ladle the soup into bowl and if desired, top it with corn chips, avocado and spring onions.

DinoPapa took the above recipe and made his own version.  He followed the cooking method but excluded the green chillies and replaced the canned cream corn with corn kernel.  Well, we have 3 kids to feed so no chillies allowed.  No additional garnishes too.

Incidentally this is our first time cooking avocado, we wasn't quite sure how the soup will turn out.  Whether it will taste funny and every one hates it or otherwise.  However, it should not be too bad since avocado does not have a strong taste. And the verdict is - We love this soup!  DinoBoy went "ummmm~~ this soup is so tasty!"  Its sweet and appetizing, the chicken soft and tender but the avocado tastes bitter.  Puzzled, I googled and found out the reason; the avocado was not ripe hence the bitter taste.

So I googled some more and found out more info about avocado, here is a great site where you can find almost all the info about avocado.

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Ways to fight the whirling wind and raging rain

It was a good day this morning with some cool breeze, it made me stay in the bed for 10 mins more before dragging myself out of the bed. Within half an hour, the sky changed; first the lightning then the thunder and just before we head out of the house it poured.  We were all prepared to fight the whirling wind and raging rain to go for our eggs and toast breakfast; or so we thought...  We end up wet from hips to toes, not too happy about it can't help it.

So this morning's "adventure" sparks me to write this post.  If you drives, good for you coz you stay dry most of the way, if not here are 5 tips for those who have to walk to school. 

1. Pack school uniform, socks and shoes in a bag with zip.  Even though DinoBoy had his wind breaker on and a pink umbrella (opps! That's mine) his pants still got wet, he wasn't too comfortable with that.  I put DinoBoy's socks and shoes in a plastic bag and it got wet because the rain were crazy!  Lucky its not too wet for him to wear.  Next time I am making him wear house clothes and then change into the uniform when we reach school.

2. Wear proper covered toes shoes if the pathways from the house to the school are flooded or full of puddles of water, like my neighbourhood's.  Both of us wore slippers and ended up with wet and dirty feet *YUCKS*  Those rain boots that I find ridiculous and waste of money seems like a good investment now.  Perhaps I should get myself a pair of Phua Chu Kang's yellow boots.

Photo Credits

3. Slippers or shoes must be anti slipped.  Mine did not... and I slipped on the wet pathway and fell.  It was not a bad fall but it shock DinoBoy who helped me up and hold on to my hand so tightly for fear of me falling again, at the same time saying "Mum, maybe you should hold on to me, then you won't fall again.".  So heart warming!  My boy, half my height and size trying his best to hold on tight to me and giving me comfort.

4. Don't forget a towel!  I missed that out and only have a small handkerchief with me, I have to use that to clean DinoBoy's wet and dirty feet before putting on the socks and shoes for him.  YUCKS! This hanky is going into the washing machine now!

5. Stash away a big plastic bag or use a trash bag for rainy day, literally.  This is to put the school bag in it and keep it away from the rain.  DinoBoy's bag was soaked by the time we made it to school, lucky its waterproof so the books are safe but he does have to carry a wet bag into the school.  

Besides that, be safe and stay safe!  Be more mindful about the traffic since your sight are blocked by the umbrellas.  It was kind of stressful for me as the wind was so strong that I have to hold on to DinoBoy's umbrella in case it get blown away, worst if it drags DinoBoy with it (ok I'm thinking too much).  

The school open up the side gates to allow parents and students to enter into the school sports hall/canteen so that they can get ready in the sheltered area comfortably and off to the classrooms.  DinoBoy was off to classroom in no time while I walk back cautiously home while slipped a few times on the way gggrrrrrrr!!!!

Today is the first time we have such an "adventure", I shall learn from my mistakes and be better prepared for our next "adventure" with Wind & Rain.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Defiant Child No More!

When DinoBoy's child care centre prep them for P1 last year, he was very excited about it, but at the same time he was unsure about leaving his teachers and friends of 6 years.  He wasn't sure how to handle his emotions and thus he acted out the only way he knows, he became the defiant child.  He became touchy, sensitive, rude, loud and will scream or cry at the tiniest thing, even when the teachers were just asking him calmly and nicely what just happened.  It became so bad that he was kicking chair or pushing table just to show his angry.  It was a difficult year for every one and they were starting to dislike this defiant child.  I've tried every thing to make him stop this undesired behavior but this only last the most a week and things went back to the same again.  

It only became better during November & December 2012.  He put on his best behavior because I asked him, "How do you want your teachers and friends to remember you?  Do you want them to think about you and frown because of your bad behavior or smile and show thumbs up that you are a well behaved child?"  That knocked some sense into him and he reasoned it out with himself that its better to be on the well behaved side.

I have to admit, I doubted my child even though he has shown good behavior, but knowing him like the back of my hand I know he does not takes well to new environment, people and routine.  Despite my efforts in preempting the teachers to know what to expect and how to handle him, he proves to be challenging and difficult. I was fighting a losing battle when I received a call from DinoBoy's form teacher Ms N telling me that after a discussion with other subjects teachers, they feel that DinoBoy has a "problem" (she was afraid to mention the words "anger management" lest I blow my top at her) and will be referring him to the school's counselor.  I was happy to hear that as I would very much like to hear the views from a professional, but alas, it was short lived.  2 weeks later I was told that after observing him on a couple of occasions she feels that he is ok and thus will not take his case. 

In the meantime DinoBoy continue his defiant acts in student care.  And the funny thing is, most of his outbursts seems to be happening in student care centre only.  Ms J; centre principal, Ms L; centre teacher and I were puzzled, we concluded that either its because he was tired after the long hours in school and he needed rest OR the school is not letting me know about any more outbursts he had during class. 

Just to give you an idea how intense he is, here are some of the things he did in his fits of frustration both in class and in student care centre;
  - threw his pencil case on the floor which the form teacher confiscated it promptly as a punishment, only to return back to him the next day.
- sent his bag flying over 3 friends' head, almost hitting one of them on the head, from the front of the class room to the back.
- banged his hand on his classmate's table coz he had wrongly accused him of some thing.
- scrunched up his face and growled at his friends, breathing heavily and angrily.

I am very grateful for Ms J  & Ms L who are ever so patient and understanding, they are willing to work with me to try to control DinoBoy and make him a better person instead of turning their backs on him, on us.  They were more mindful of his actions, quick to pick up cues that shows that he is going to blow up and firm to make him obey them despite the anger.  For his every outburst, Ms J will relate to me the incident, we will discuss about it and try to find out and identify the trigger point then work on the ways to tackle it should it happen again or to prevent it from happening. 

However things took a turn in early March.  This time it is a serious incident... in his fit of anger he pushed his table with such a hard force that it hit the wall with a loud bang.  It would have been a bad accident if there were some one standing in front of him!  We were told by Ms J that his anger is escalating and is starting to be a threat to every one, he MUST not to do such dangerous acts again otherwise he will be asked to leave the centre immediately.

My world came crashing down... At this point I was really feeling very tired, lost and helpless, it felt that everything and every one is out against me, things that I have done and put in so far has turned in vain.  Plus the issues I had with my mum after she moved in with us is adding to it and taking a toil on me.  I had a long talk with DinoBoy in serious tone and manner, telling him the worst consequences IF he were to be kicked out of student care; I have to quit my job to look after him then we will not have money to buy toys/clothes/books for him or go to his favourite restaurants to eat etc etc.  A bit extreme but I really do not know how to put it across in a better way at that time.

I also told him that we will work with him and help him to control his temper and anger but most importantly he must help himself because no one can do anything if he do not take the first step to do so.  I also shared with him that I am having a difficult time with Grandma and I need him to help me by not creating problems in school.  He agreed solemnly, promising me that he will be good, though I want to believe him, deep in my heart I know there is a chance he will not be able to do it, at least not alone.  I will have to work extra hard with the teachers to ensure he does not lose it again.

What I learned from the School Counselor

Even though the school counselor only deals with the students who acted out in the school, DinoBoy was an exceptional case.  I have asked Ms J to help me approach and request her to help us, I was very relieve to know that she has agreed to do so.

Last week I had a fruitful 30mins talk with the school counselor Ms D over the phone after she's seen DinoBoy for 2 sessions.  We were very honest with each other as this is the only way that we can help DinoBoy overcome his problem.  She shared with me the things she and DinoBoy talked about, I was shocked to hear that DinoBoy said that he feel stressed up!  He is stressed up because he is afraid to fail, to make us; the parents, feels and be disappointed with him.  He is mad with himself for failing to control himself and did something naughty or misbehaved which we do not approve of. 

It seems that we have set too high of a standard for him, we expects too much from him and in the course forgets that he is just a child, a 6 year old child.  A child who is suppose to enjoy his childhood and have fun, not feel bonded by the many rules and expectations we have for him.  We have also unknowningly raised a child who thinks he has to be perfect in order to make us love him more.

This is all so wrong!  Our efforts of ensuring we nurture DinoBoy to be a responsible, sensible & independent boy turned out to be a not so good choice after all.  Things definitely have to change for the better of him and the family unless we want to have a depressed 6 year old.

What we did to help DinoBoy

After thinking it through, I seek Ms J's opinion whether it will be a good idea to make small flash cards of the class room rules or any other special instructions she has for DinoBoy so that I can go through with him or she can make him read it when he is in the centre.  The rationale behind this is since DinoBoy seems to shut off his ears when he is feeling excited or frustrated, the teacher can just flash the card with the specific instruction at him.  This visual instruction may help him snap out of his negative or undesired emotions or actions immediately.  We both agree to give it a try, she even gave me a few sites to print the necessary class room rules cards. 

The flashcards worked well, on a few occasions Ms J was able to bring down his anger level before he explodes by showing him the "Take 3 deep breathes" and "Count from 1 to 10" card.  I made a special card showing a green 3 eyes monster and the words "I Need Help!!", this is for him to show the teachers that he is unable to control his temper or emotions and he needs them to help him calm down.

In case you are interested, I get the cute illustrations from MyCuteGraphics and Inspired In Seconds.

The Behavior Rules Flashcards

We started our Project Happy Face on 01 April 2013 which its based on his behavior in school; that means listening to the teachers, do not create trouble and most importantly no more outbursts etc, in another words, no complains from teachers.  At the same time, we removed all privileges from him; no ipad, tv, laptop, mobile phones games, trips to fancy restaurnats, he understands that he last act in the student care was unacceptable and he accepted this "punishment" gracefully.  We agreed that he can have access to those electronic gadgets if he is well behaved during the week.  So far he has been good and he gets excited when its Friday morning, he will tell me "Mummy, if I am good for one more day I get to play the ipad right?", we went to Swenson on both Saturdays as a reward for his hard work.

Happy Face record

I had a chance to chat with Ms L yesterday and she said DinoBoy has been good apart from the usual mischief expected from a 6 year old. See the smiley face with a star on 9th April?  DinoBoy was praised by Ms L for showing forgiveness to his friend. This friend dropped his water bottle onto his toes (shoes & socks are not allowed in student care centre) and instead of screaming and crying out loud then scolding or throwing his anger on the friend which he usually does, he told his friend that it's ok as it was an accident. We were so proud of him that he was allowed to watch tv for that evening.

What we gained from our new routines

During this 2 weeks, we made some changes in our routines too.  Since taxi rides in the morning to school is also considerate a privilege, it was removed too.  So what if I have to wake DinoBoy up 15 - 20mins earlier just to make up for the 10mins walk to school?  He gets to enjoy his breakfast instead of rushing it through, we even went out to the nearby coffee shop on a few mornings for our eggs & toast breakfast!  We enjoy the morning slow walk where we have a relaxed and enjoyable crazy funny conversations.

We also disconnect to connect at night.  The laptop and tv were left alone, instead we read books together or DinoBoy will have a board game of Ducks In a Row or Otello (the only 2 board games we have currently) with DinoPapa or his uncle.  Good bonding moments for every one.

And with the morning train rides to work, I picked up this book which I have been neglecting for the passed months; The 5 Love Languages of Children and finished reading it yesterday.  I have also caught up on reading Mary Sheedy Kucikta, author of Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic, posts on Emotion Coaching.  Both have opened up my eyes to see things differently and to take note of the little cues DinoBoy has been showing it to us. They also made me be sensitive about DinoBoy's needs and showing him that I love him in many ways instead of just telling him.

No more urging him to get out of the bed NOW, brush your teeth NOW, rushing through breakfast, short good-byes, NO MORE MAD MORNING RUSH!  Instead both of us are calmed and relaxed, If DinoBoy finishes his breakfast fast he is able to catch some shut eye while waiting for me to get ready.  I will always remember to give him hugs & kisses, filling his emotions and love tanks plus saying "Have fun in school!" before sending him off into the school.  Best of all, NO MORE DEFIANT CHILD!

For the first time since last year, I am finally relieved and happy.  Of course there are still some areas that I still have to work with DinoBoy but with the biggest issue resolved, he is more receptive on the things we want him to change. 

I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and its not the MRT headlights!

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Foodie Fridays - One Pot Dish of Chicken Fricassée

Since the DinoParents starts to cook meals for the DinoFamily a year plus ago we try to serve delicious healthy food.  We are constantly crawling the net or going through our collection of cookbooks (which is still growing by the way) to try our hands on different types of food from different culture.  We are proud to say that we have been serving nutritional, healthy, tasty food most of the times.  However whipping up a 3+1 meal is hard work, some times I wish I have a magic wand and with a wave of it VIO-LA~ dinner's on the table!

Ok wishful thinking I know but there is really a simpler way to feed the family, I'm not talking about takeouts or fast food, I'm talking about one pot dish, the convenience of serving a complete meal in a single dish in the form of hearty soups, quick stir-fries, succulent stews or pop in the oven casseroles.  You can find a good variety of one pot dish in every culture and which ever you choose you are sure that the dish are packed with nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in one dish.

What's more they require the bare minimum of equipment and hardly any cooking.  This means while you let the dish simmer over the hob or baking in the oven, you can relax and enjoy a cuppa or watch tv or catch up with some reading.  And after the hearty meals, there are less washing up to do too! Woohoo!  One Pot Rocks!

I've been cooking one pot dish using my thermal cooking pot but its always base on Chinese recipe.  I decided to look beyond this and try my hands on other type of one pot recipes.  I picked out today's recipe from one of my cookbook; Chicken Fricassée, a classic one pot French dish.

Looking at the name, it's so french, so foreign!  So I googled and found that fricassee or fricassée means "a method of cooking meat in which the meat is cut up, sautéed, and braised, and served with its sauce, traditionally a white sauce".  O-kay... I left out the white wine coz I didn't want to make DinoBoy drunk and become hysterical after dinner.  Alright, alright!!  The truth is, I do not know how to uncork the unopened white wine that has been sitting in our fridge for so long, thus no white wine for the dish.

So here's how to cook this delicious dish~

* 4 chicken legs, divided into thigh and drumstick, skin removed
* 115g button mushrooms
* 4 shallots
* 2 garlic cloves
* 4 waxy potatoes
* 2 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary leaves
* 1 bay leaf

* 2 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 tablespoon plain flour
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 150ml dry white wine
* 300ml chicken stock

1. Slice the shallots, crush the garlic cloves, peel and cut the waxy potatoes into small pieces.
2. Heat the oil in a large deep casserole, season the flour with salt and pepper.  Dust the chicken pieces with flour and fry over medium high heat until golden brown, turning often.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Slice the mushrooms.  Add the shallots to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and rosemary, and fry for 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil.  Allow to bubble and reduce for 1 minute, the pour in the stock, and bring to the boil.  Return the chicken to the pan, add the bay leaf and cover tightly.  Reduce the heat and cook gently for 45 minutes or until the chicken is very tender.
5. Discard the bay leaf and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Serve hot.

Stir-frying the ingredients

Chicken pieces and stock added

The day before I was in the supermarket, standing in front of the potatoes section, frowning.  Why didn't they put the word "waxy" on the small piece of cardbox thingy??!!  Lucky for me that I have my trusted phone, so I did a quick surf on the net and stepped into the World of Potatoes, after that I happily grabbed a packet of "waxy" new potatoes.

I woke up at 4.30am to prepare this dish *gasped* and while trying to remove the skin and fats off the chicken thighs I regret not preparing it the night before.  It takes so much effort and time just to remove them.

Though the recipe says to "cook gently for 45mins", I do not have 45mins to spare so I threw them into my thermal pot and let it do its "magic".  When we have the Chicken Fricassée later that night, the meat was not as tender and soft, perhaps I should have cook them over the fire for 15mins instead of 5mins.  Nevertheless, it taste wonderfully delicious on the next day!

I love this dish and the smell of rosemary filling my kitchen, the stew tastes so different from the usual ones I cook.  I'm sure I will be trying out different more one pot dishes in future and we shall have home cook meals on weekdays, no more "only a weekend cook" for us.

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