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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Live & Love

When Kids Fight

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 8:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo

When Kids Fight

B and M are currently obsessed with Thomas the Train. During our move, we lost all but one red train. You know where this is going. One day, M has it, but B wants it.

I did my usual. I said, “Brooke, ask Mackenzie if you can have it after she is done.” She started repeating after me, but, well, B wanted it NOW. So it escalates into a snatching contest. B grabs it. M takes it back. Then B takes it again. M starts crying. I’m tempted to grab it out of B’s hands and say, “M had it first.” But I try not to forcefully take things out of anyone’s hands because that just invites copycat behavior from the children. 

So I pick up Brooke, put her in my lap and say, “Brooke, you need to sit here with me until you’re ready to give it back.” 

I say to both of them, “Mama doesn’t know what to do. Brooke wants it. Mackenzie wants it. But we only have one train. What should we do?”

M sort of stops crying for a second. They both look at me. B says, “Mama buy another one.” 

“Great idea!” I immediately add it to my mental checklist. Then I say, “Okay, but we only have one right now.  What else can we do?”

They’re both thinking – and quiet. I say, “What if we go make a Thomas out of clay?” 

Apparently that was a brilliant idea. M immediately goes to get the Playdoh. And then I say, “We can also draw a Thomas!” B goes to the chalkboard and starts drawing a round circular thing. My multi-talented friend Candice who was visiting us that evening – bless her heart – draws several Thomas the trains on the chalkboard and keep the kids entertained the rest of the evening.  

I could have played the judge and decided who gets Thomas and who will just have to learn to deal with it. I could have taken it away from both of them. But not only would I have to endure more crying, they’d always look to me to figure things out for them. Instead, I discovered a new principle: when children are thinking, they are not fighting. Instead of figuring it out for them, let them do the problem-solving. 

We Started Gardening! Part II

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 7:09 pm | By Stephanie Woo

M and Dad are back from the mountains. First they have to mix the dirt they dug up from the mountains with store-bought organic soil to create the optimal soil mixture. M helps Dad cut open the package of store-bought soil with her Muji scissors.

M scoops in soil from the bag, while Dad dumps in dirt from the mountain. 

M crawls into the bucket to help mix the dirt and soil.

Dad dumps the soil mixture into the trough. M helps to smooth it out.

We’ve been collecting vegetable scraps for two days. They add it to the soil as worm food. It’s raining and M looks pooped in this picture, but trust me, in real life, she’s still going!

Dad adds the worms to the soil. Apparently, these red wrigglers help produce the best planting soil. We think we might even start a worm farm! Dad covers up the worms and food with another layer of soil. The worms need one week to do their magic before we start planting. 

The next day, we add more worms. Even B can’t resist getting involved – once you get past the ‘ewww’ factor, they are really fun. Even I’m hooked!

If you’re looking for a reason to plant with your children, consider these benefits:

  1. Sensorial exploration (wet, cold soil and wriggly worms)
  2. Gross motor skill development (treading wet mountainous soil while carrying a pail and shovel)
  3. Fine motor skill development (cutting, scooping, mixing, spreading vegetable scraps, picking up small worms)
  4. Appreciation for nature/cycle of life (composting, preparing the soil, planting)
  5. Language development (‘gardening trough,’ ‘composting,’ ‘prepping the garden bed,’ ‘red wrigglers,’ ‘starter plants,’ ‘clay soil’ vs ‘sandy soil’ – even I had to learn these!)

But my favorite part of this whole process is watching how much effort M puts into it. She uses her whole body to dig, transfer, mix and pat. There’s nothing better than watching young children use maximum effort to engage in tasks they’re interested in. And after a few hours of work like this, M (who usually hates napping) is out like a light-bulb at nap time and stays asleep for THREE straight hours! 

More gardening posts to come!

We Started Gardening! Part I

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 11:59 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I’m a city girl. As a child, I grew up in a condo building in Taipei. As an adult, for 20 years, I lived in New York City. So if you ever tried to talk to me about gardening, worms, dirt and nature in general, I would’ve tried to change the subject on you. 

Well, now that I live in Portland, I’ve decided to do “as the Romans.” Almost everyone here has a garden. If you are not composting, raising a worm farm and eating dinner out of your garden, then seriously, don’t you care about the environment?? 

So, after much research, discussion with seasoned locals and Youtube videos, we decided to give this ‘grow your own food’ a shot. 

First, we went to the famous Portland Nursery and bought a whole bunch of ‘starters,’ or baby plants. You just have to transplant them into your garden and they’ll grow into fruits and vegetables! I sat there envisioning a garden full of food I’d want to eat. We ended up settling on some strawberries, bok choy, spinach, carrots, scallions and napa cabbage. I really would have preferred some watermelons, figs, kiwi and chocolate cake, but apparently Mark thinks we should start with the basics. He’s soo conservative sometimes. 

Of course we decided to involve B and M (now 2 years, 4 months) in the process. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean my husband, Mark. I followed everyone around and took pictures. 

So before you plant, you need something to plant in. Mark decides to build our own gardening troughs. After a trip to Home Depot, he showed up with all these cedar planks and got to work. Whenever he builds things, he thinks of ways for the children to help. Here he is screwing in castor wheels and the girls are helping fetch the screw and lining them up in the hole.

B lines up the screw

 

B holds the screw in place

 

Dad uses an electric drill to screw in the screws

 

The finished gardening trough!

Next, we put on our rain boots, grab our pail and shovel, then go for a short 30-second hike into the mountains (right behind our house). Oh, by the way, we tried to buy dirt at the nursery, but they didn’t have any to sell! I’m not used to that. I’m used to New Yorkers who will selling you anything you ask for. Oh well. We decide we’ll go digging for our own.

B, M and Dad digging for dirt in the mountains

 

B had enough. She said, “Dirty. Brooke wants to go home.” Just like that, she picks up her pail and goes home.

 

Dad and M keep going. M is using the smallest shovel you’ll ever find in the stores. Small yet mighty effective!

To be continued…