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

Is that an ‘SUV,’ a ‘Jeep’ or a ‘Hatchback?’

Monday, December 24th, 2012 12:23 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Vehicles on the Road

Ever since B and M could sit up in the stroller by themselves, our daily walks would include identifying everything we see on the streets. It started with stationary things, like “mailbox,” “street lights” and “STOP sign.” Pretty soon, we got into vehicles.

Instead of ‘car,’ I’ll distinguish for them whether a vehicle is an SUV, jeep, hatchback, sports car, convertible, truck, commercial truck, 18-wheeler, school bus or bus. Before they could walk, I didn’t want people overhearing me enunciating “com-mer-cial tr-uuuuck” to 10–month olds, so I always got down to their level and  kept my voice low. When they were 20 months, whenever I emphasized to them that something is a ‘Jeep’ and not an ‘SUV’ (for a time, they called every vehicle an SUV) , I would look around and hope no one overhears me and thinks I’m a crazy mom. But now, when they walk down the streets and name the vehicles correctly, I know my hard work has paid off. When they say things like, “That’s a hatchback. That’s not an SUV,” I find myself clapping – for them and for myself!

Between 0-3, children are at the height of their Sensitive Period for language. I can just hear my Montessori Trainer, Judi Orion, say over and over, “You keep giving them the language and one day, it will come out.”

A Mother’s Reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 9:04 pm | By Stephanie Woo

My heart is broken for the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. I’ve spent the weekend crying for those young children, but it’s their families I cannot stop thinking about. No parent should ever have to bury a child. At the same time, my heart is fearful for the rest of us, including my children and my family. As a mother, I keep looking for something out there in the news that will give me the courage to stay in this country and feel safe enough to send my children to school again tomorrow morning. I think about the mall 10 minutes from our house that has 400+ guns on display for sale right next to the line of little children waiting to see Santa. How those two things can stand side by side is beyond me.

We don’t have a TV. So we don’t expose our children to news of any kind. But when they are asleep, I find myself searching constantly on the internet for something that will give me hope. In case you’re looking to make sense of the whole thing, like I’ve been, I wanted to share some of these articles with you.

This article reminded me of the significance of Obama’s 2-term victory. I remember waking up on the morning of Nov 7 and heaving a huge sigh of relief. The kind of change he talks about here happens with elections like these. Be sure to read the articles he refers to as well. 

This article from The Guardian was enlightening about gun ownership. Most interesting to me are these facts: “Between 1985 and 2010 the prevalence of gun ownership has declined from roughly a third of Americans owning a gun to barely 20%. … those who do own guns now tend to have multiple weapons.” And “…gun ownership, in political terms, has for long been a minority issue in the US, with those who do own firearms — by and large being white, older and male — monopolising a national debate.” From this election, it is clear these old white men, who voted Republican more than 6 to 10, are proportionally declining in the US. This 20% no longer represent the majority of Americans and they’ve just lost the last election.

This is the time to remind ourselves that as mothers, we are doing THE important job in the world. We are educating the children who are going to be shaping the future of our world. And it is through that education and the political actions we engage in and model for our children that lead to change – real and lasting change. I find hope in making my voice heard, in voting for the politicians who represent my choices and in teaching (when the time comes) my children to think about the issues that confront us. I refuse to stay terrorized. I refuse to feel paralyzed. I’ve come out on the other side of anger and deep utter sadness: the things that don’t represent the majority of us simply cannot and will not last. Change is coming.

If you want to take action immediately, join me and sign this open petition from WhiteHouse.gov.

Bedtime and Toddler

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 11:51 am | By Stephanie Woo
Toddler and Bedtime

Toddler and Bedtime

For the past two months, it’s been really hard to put B and M (23 months) down at bedtime. They take turns crying when I try to leave their room after lights-out. Anyone else experiencing this? I’ve had to try A LOT of different things to keep them in their bed and me in mine night after night.

Here are things I’ve tried that I don’t like: 1. stay till they fall asleep (exhausting, habit-forming and my least favorite of options), 2. cry it out (second least favorite option which I resort to when I’m absolutely exasperated, but it has worked on occasion) 3. let them stay up and play outside of their room.

Well, I also started compiling a list of things that HAS worked for us. Things have gotten better in the last two weeks. I can usually leave the room 5 minutes after lights out and they will stay in their room and fall asleep by themselves till the next morning at 7am. I’m also looking for more ideas in case these run out of steam! Please post yours in the comment area.

  1. Involve both Mom and Dad with bedtime. I cannot count the number of nights I just cannot extricate myself from a child’s hug and the only thing that would keep them from a meltdown when I try to leave is to say, “Daddy’s gonna come in to say good-night to you. Do you want to see Daddy?” That usually results in a yes. And somehow, Daddy only needs a 5-minute appearance to put them to sleep. Maybe not all Dads can do it in that time, but I’m completely convinced (and use it with my husband all the time) that Dads are better at bedtime than Moms. He believes it now, too.
  2. Give your child a “Toddler Massage.” I came up with this after observing Brooke, who has recently been asking to be held A LOT. So this what you do: after you turn off the lights, hold your child against your belly tightly. Using your whole palm, rub your child’s back, legs, arms and feet firmly, gently and slowly. Hold her as close to you as you can. It’s like an infant massage, except it’s for your toddler. I do it first to one child, then to the other. When I’m massaging one child, I’ll say to the other, “I’m holding your sister now, Please don’t interrupt us.” Both Brooke and Mackenzie love this. Mackenzie will say to me in Chinese, “Mackenzie wants tightly.”  After 5-10 minutes of this intense intimacy and skin contact, they’ll crawl back to their little pillows and say good-night to me. This has been the most successful thing I’ve tried in recent weeks, especially during the week my husband was on a business trip.  Not only do babies need a lot of skin contact, toddlers (and adults) need it, too.
  3. Never ever change the bedtime routine. We eat dinner, take bath, drink milk and do storytime. Then it’s lights out somewhere between 815-830. No exceptions. Daytime schedule may change (though I make every effort to honor the 1pm nap schedule as well), but this bedtime routine never ever changes. If my husband and I need to go out, we ask our nanny to follow this schedule. Many families will make an exception here and there (holidays, birthdays, special events, weekends), but a toddler’s need for order and routine is so intense that expecting him to accommodate to your schedule will just mess with his ability to fall asleep at bedtime on his own.
  4. Talk them through the bedtime routine an hour before bedtime. When we’re bathing, I’ll give them a rundown of what’s going to happen: “After we bathe, we’re going to have milk, then I’m going to read you a story in bed, and then we’ll turn out the lights. And then Mommy is going to go out and you will fall sleep by yourself.” And then I repeat the rundown again 15 minutes before lights out. Everyone benefits from a little mental preparation.
  5. Giving them freedom within limits around sleeping. When they say, “I don’t want to sleep,” I say, “You don’t have to sleep. You have to stay in your room during bedtime, but you don’t have to sleep.” And I mean it when I say this to them. The floor beds they sleep in give them the freedom to move around till they feel tired enough to fall asleep.

I’ve read many blog postings that tell parents to cherish this time, that after they grow older, they won’t want you the way they do now. I can imagine that being true, but for my sanity and happiness NOW, I also need time to myself. And that happens after they go to bed. If you have a toddler right now, I’m sure you can relate. When I can have a good few hours to myself at night and then a good night’s sleep, we are all much happier when we see each other the next morning!