Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A typical evening at our house

After dinner, we hang out at Castle Ryan.

Drumming along to songs on the CD player.

Getting the groove on, boogie on down!

Learning about a spider that wandered into the room, watching it spout a silken thread and walk upside down on a piece of paper. We freed it into our planter after serenading it with a rendition of Incy Wincy Spider.

Pretend play and dress up, lots of costumes to choose from.

Plus colouring/art work, crafts, singing, jigsaw puzzles, reading (English and Chinese), sorting, reinforcing colours/shapes/numbers/letters, making up new games, opening presents (still lots of unopened birthday presents!), Shichida work, climbing up and down the stairs, hugs for Elmo and Super Grover, and kisses for Daddy and Mommy.

Sweet dreams, my son.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nice to see you again, Elmo!

Another reason for our awesome weekend - Ryan was reunited with Elmo! After Shichida class yesterday, we headed over to City Square Mall, where there was a Sesame Street roadshow! There was a meet and greet session as well and Ryan got another chance to get up close and personal with his beloved Elmo! We got there just as they were wrapping up the meet and greet session for the previous performance and the staff was so nice, they let us get on stage to take our photo with the monsters, even though we didn't have a meet and greet pass.

Although Ryan was happy to see the Sesame Street characters, he wasn't surprised at all. I guess after spending the whole day with them at Sesame Place in USA, he accepts that they exist, so it's normal to see them walking about in real life.

We decided to stay for the next performance, which was at 4 pm. In the meantime, we wandered down to Basement 2 where there was a Sesame Street colouring contest. We signed up and Ryan was very engrossed in the task but we didn't submit his entry. We decided it was too precious, so it came home with us.

After some wandering around the mall, we were bored and decided to just wait in front of the stage for the show to start. That was about 20 mins before 4 pm and nobody was there. We got a spot right front and centre! The space filled up super quick though, maybe everyone was just waiting for someone to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, while waiting for the show to start, Ryan fell asleep and he slept through the entire routine! He woke up just as the meet and greet was starting again. Anyway, we didn't stay on for much longer, Ryan was quite content to wave bye to Elmo, so we went off.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cardboard Box Challenge Part 1

We had a fabulous Sunday, so fabulous that I will break it up into parts for the blog. The first event that I will mention is our Cardboard Box Challenge!

We moved into our new digs about 6 months ago and we had so many boxes that we didn't know what to do with them. I didn't want to just put them in the recycling bin, I thought that there was so much more we could do with them.

Ryan enjoying the boxes when we were unpacking!
We kept them on our terrace upstairs and basically forgot about them for a while. Last week however, I decided that it was high time we did something about them. So I issued a challenge to Richard. Each one of us (Richard and I) will do a small project for Ryan and our raw materials must include one cardboard box! It's the Cardboard Box Challenge!

Richard duly accepted the challenge and I told him that, since I had just finished the quiet book, he should go first. He graciously agreed.

So, on Sunday evening, he set upon the challenge. Here's what he came up with!

A castle! Ryan absolutely flipped! He was ecstatic!

Here's how it came together. Richard cut the slats in the sides and the drawbridge, then the two of them worked on painting it in Ryan's favourite colour - green!

Some glitter to spruce things up!

Naming ceremony!

After some stickers for decoration, the flags went up on the four corners.

Richard wanted to put some more touches on it, but Ryan couldn't wait any longer. Ryan jumped right in and, of course, his little friends were not left behind.

Here comes King Kong too! Not to worry, there's lots of room inside and everything is kept neat and tidy.

Looking good!

Some interior decorating (with stickers) to make it feel like home.

But it still needs something... oh yes, every castle needs its own bat!

The wind in the flags was homemade, of course.

Welcome one, welcome all! Let's see, a busload of people, some dinosaurs, a cow, a duck, a little lamb, King Kong, a bus stop sign, a traffic light, a traffic controller, a few cars - admission (and parking) is free!

Simply fabulous!

Richard says he wants to make some improvements to it, so I will update you when that's done. Don't you think it's fantastic already? Ryan is completely in love with it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Leaving PlayClub with a Pow!

Ryan had his last PlayClub session today. It has been a wonderful year (4 terms), filled with fun and good cheer. I did mention in a previous post that I'm not convinced that PlayClub adds much to Ryan's development but it's all good because he had so much fun and there's no doubt that he received tons of love from the teachers. We definitely have nothing but fond memories of good times.

As usual, we were told to dress up for the class, according to the theme, which was The Great Outdoors. The teachers said that we could choose things from the garden, like a butterfly, a tree, ants, etc. or any animal, but we were uninspired by those choices.

Here's what we came up with.

I made the tunic and the breechcloth/loincloth and Richard made his weapon, the tomahawk. We actually wanted to make the headpiece - we bought the one you see in the pictures with the intention of cannibalising it to make our own (it's supposed to be for a genie, I think). As it turned out, Ryan was all right with this one, so we just rolled with it. We finished off the look with some face paint and he was ready to rumble!

If you're wondering about the tomahawk - isn't it great?! - the handle is a twig that Ryan picked up on one of our walks (more than half a year ago!). The blade is bone. Just kidding - the blade is styrofoam!

The costume was a huge hit, with everyone snapping photos and even teachers from other classes popping in for a look and to take photos. I didn't get many clear shots - most of them are blurry shots of Ryan bouncing about, he was so happy in class. It was so funny because, as he bounced about, his feathers bounced about as well so, with his tomahawk in hand, he really looked like he was doing a rain dance or a war dance.

So, this is goodbye PlayClub! We had a blast, thank you so very much! We love you!
Ryan receiving his graduation certificate and acting the part by showing a fierce scowl.  

As promised, I will pen down some notes on our blog on the Shichida method. I can't possibly fit everything in one post, so take this as a start. I hope that my notes will be both a record for our family as well as a resource for other families who are interested in the method.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Shichida method and it is not easy to explain, quickly, what the method is about. I'll tackle the question of the fundamentals slowly, over several posts. In this first post, I will address the most fundamental misunderstanding - that it is an "enrichment programme".

The Shichida method is a parenting philosophy. It is a method of child rearing, and it is directed at the parents. If your child is sick and unable to make it to class, the parent is allowed to attend the class without the child. The key to the Shichida method is not the sensei; it is not the school; it is not even the child. It is the parent. The parent is the one who learns the method and the parent is the one who executes it.

The Shichida method is not an "enrichment programme". There is no syllabus which is taught to the children; there is no knowledge or information that the children must acquire in order to progress. The method, if executed well by the parent, will cultivate virtue in a child, which is to inculcate kindness, care for others, a spirit of cooperation, and sincerity.

Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, let's look at the first and most important lesson for the parents - convey love to your child.

Sounds easy?

Most parents think that they love their children enough. It may surprise you therefore that when Professor Shichida put a group of children in a separate room from their parents, he found out from them that most of them thought that their parents didn't love them enough. The problem? Parents don't convey their love to their children sufficiently.

Examine how you interact with your child. Try to listen to your own voice when you speak to your child. Do you say things like, "I told you that you would spill the water from the cup. See, now how?" or "Hurry up, you are always so slow!" Those are times when your child does something which displeases you, and he/she may not have meant to. Now, think about those times when your child was deliberately being difficult, when you had to deal with tantrums, rebelliousness, lack of motivation, rudeness, etc. Those were the times when your patience was tested, when your child was screaming for attention. Did you complain, scold, criticise? Did you simply ignore the behaviour? Did you burden your child with your negative emotions?

Shichida believes that when a mother communicates her love to her child skilfully, the child immediately changes into a good child.

Also, it is important to convey your love to your child in order to open up a child's mind. Professor Shichida says that, "Normally, children are not able to use their innate abilities due to the negative image they see of themselves. They have an unconscious thought that they make their parents suffer because of their poor grades, illness or disabilities. If you get rid of such negative thoughts and let them be aware of their own innate powerful capabilities, the children will start using their abilities. Soon, they will transform themselves in an amazing manner. When a parent can fully convey his or her love and heal the scar on the child's mind, the child will start changing rapidly."

There are, of course, many ways to convey love. Use as many of them as you can. The Shichida method presents three.

First - Hugging. This is not just a little hug. This is a strong eight-second HUG. For example, give your child a household task and when your child has finished the task, give your child a big hug and whisper to your child, "Thank you for helping Mommy. You were really a big help. I love you a lot, you're so kind, and willing and cheerful." Continue to hold your child close for eight seconds. Shichida believes that, this way, the mother's love will be communicated to the child's heart. The child will be happy to be thanked by the mother and will be motivated to do more things to make the mother happy.

In this way, the parent puts a lot of consideration into satisfying the child's heart.

Of course, good results will not be obtained with this if it is done as a matter of duty, or if the mother continues to complain, scold and project her negative emotional reactions upon the child. More than anything else, the mother must deeply love her children, respect them, and believe in their ability.

I do the eight-second hug with Ryan a lot. A lot. Even when he hasn't actually done anything.

The second way to communicate your love to your children is through listening carefully to the child's conversation. Shichida tells us that it is impossible to capture the heart of the child through a child rearing process in which the parent does all the talking unilaterally.

When the parent talks to the child one-sidedly during his growing years, the child's heart is not satisfied nor does the child feel that he is fully loved. On the other hand, it is when the child is listened to frequently and wholeheartedly and the feelings deep in his heart are understood that he senses that he is understood, accepted and loved.

When one rears a child chiefly through the method of scolding, it is not possible to sufficiently hear the child's point of view. A child will close up his heart when scolded. A child will open his heart and begin to communicate with his mother when she stops scolding, accepts him and learns to praise him.

If your child has difficulty expressing himself, Shichida suggests using the "echo" method to draw your child out. I'm sure some of you know this method (which was not developed by Shichida). When your child tells you, "My friend is bad", echo your child's words, "Oh, your friend is bad", then ask, "What did she do?" Don't just give instructions: "do this" or "do that". Take a passive role and give your child his time in the spotlight. The "echo" method does not slam the door shut by saying, "What's the big deal? Why are you like that?" or by saying, "Just do this". It tries to understand the child's feelings by standing in the child's shoes.

Although Ryan is not talking much yet, we do still ask him lots of questions to show him that we are interested in what he thinks and feels. We "echo" what he shows us, even if he doesn't say it out loud. For example, if he shows us his drawing, we'll say, "Oh you drew a lovely circle, what colour did you use?" If he's fussing or crying, we never ignore him. We always try to understand what's he feeling, what's he going through, what he is fighting to say. If something's wrong, we solve it if we can, and tell him we love him and that he's a good boy. He always stops, and usually he stops almost straightaway.

The third way by which Shichida says you can convey love to your child is the five-minute suggestion method. I think many parents who are not familiar with Shichida may find this a little kooky. Nevertheless, I shall explain it here. Try it if you think you can be genuine about it.

In his book, "The Shichida Method", the five-minute suggestion method is explained as follows.

"During the first five minutes after a child has fallen asleep, the conscious mind goes to sleep but the subconscious is still awake and functioning. Thus, it is very effective to make use of this time and work on the subconscious mind.

For example, let's say a mother wishes her child to be more compliant, to take an afternoon nap, and to go to sleep easily at night. ... She should express her wishes during this five-minute suggestion period and ... should softly whisper in her child's ear,

"Sarah, are you fast asleep? You can sleep soundly with a fluffy, soft, good feeling. See, sleeping feels so good. The deeper you sleep, the better you'll feel. You can sleep soundly. Sarah is such an obedient, good girl. You can understand everything Mommy says. Mommy loves you because you're such a happy, good girl. Everybody says they love Sarah because she's such a good girl. Because you're so obedient and kind, Daddy and Mommy, and everybody love you. Sarah is an obedient, good girl, isn't she?

You're a good girl who can listen to what Mommy says. Sarah is going to get sleepy a little while after lunch. When that happens, get into bed right away and go to sleep. If you go to bed, you can sleep so well.

It's a fluffy, good feeling. You'll get so you like your nap a lot. It's so much fun to sleep. You'll go right to sleep, right away the fluffy, pleasant sleep is waiting for you. At night when Mommy reads you picture books, you'll get sleepy and be able to go to sleep with such a good feeling. You're going to go into a fluffy, nice sleep. When Mommy starts to read a picture book to you, your eyelids will get heavy, and you'll close your eyes right away and go to sleep. And you'll sleep deeply.

Now sleep deeply. You feel really good. Sleep soundly until tomorrow morning, wake up in a good mood; tomorrow's going to be a good day. See, you can sleep deeply and well, you can sleep with such a good feeling. Mommy's good girl, Sarah, now sleep deeply until tomorrow morning.""

Professor Shichida has recommended this to mothers who came to him needing help in getting a child to stop thumb sucking, or wanting a child to get over his dislike of kindergarten, or needing help in getting a child to stop hitting others. There are reports that it works. It does not happen with one session, it usually takes a while, but do it continuously and do not doubt its effect or complain about the child in the daytime. Parents are told that, when you are talking to your child, give your love by saying, "Daddy and Mummy love you", enforce emotional bonding by saying "Mummy's heart and your heart is always together" and visualise your child doing what you are suggesting.

Yes, it sounds like hypnotism. But don't be put off by that. Hypnotism works, and has been used to great benefit in medicine. When we are talking about using our right-brain, we cannot avoid talking about consciousness and unconsciousness and when we do that, we cannot avoid the topic of hypnotism and suggestions. Also, the Shichida method is very focused on imaging ability, and hypnotism is a powerful imaging tool.

I myself have not used the five-minute suggestion method, but only because I haven't come across any issues or problems with Ryan. I do, nevertheless, think that it works.

Ok, so that's the first post on Shichida. Hope you find it interesting. More to come.

[This post also appears in our Learning at Home section]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A different point of view

I stole some photos off Richard's phone to share with you today. Richard and I have very different approaches to photography - he loves how things can look so different in a photograph while I try to preserve the memory of how I saw things with my eyes. Of course, that's a general statement - sometimes I go the other way and vice versa.

Another factor which influences our approaches is that I take on the job of documenting our life and this  leaves Richard free to take "fun" shots.

I do wish that he would take more shots of Ryan and me together - I don't have many photos of the two of us! Take note my dear hubby!

There are lots more so watch out for more instalments!

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's like camping

Popping in to post a quickie! Things are fast and furious at work, hopefully it will stabilise by mid-week.

Here are some instances of Ryan entertaining himself with everyday items. All these occurred about a month ago.

Here's Ryan in his tent (a blanket over our chairs) in the living room.

This next game, he thought up all on his own, I was actually quite amazed. He just opened the cabinet, took out the placemats, arranged them on the floor and started hopping from one to another, counting as he hopped. Richard was pulled in to join in the fun.

This next game was another one that he invented himself - arranging coins to form numbers, while we were waiting for our food at a coffee shop.

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