One of the pluses we love our subdivision is the planned market place in the middle of housing development.Â After much anticipation, the first restaurant, The Colonial Cafe, had its grand opening today!
We absolutely LOVE it:Â The owners are neighbors; the working staff are mostly neighbors; the people who eat there are mostly neighbors as well (at least tonight anyway).Â The drive (oh the lazy Chens), less than two minutes, and the food is wonderful.Â One great thing is that we can also order on-line and they deliver to Carpenter Village residents for free.Â
How I can see us clicking our dinners away before leaving for work.Â By the time we pick up Maddy and go home, dinner will be ready.Â Yepee.Â Hopefully the restaurant will do well and more will follow suit.
I can so see us swimming in the pool during summer afternoons and then just walk across the street to grab a bite afterwards.Â Too bad shaved ice or pearl tea was never part of the food during the Colonial times.
One of the silly things IÂ wanted toÂ doÂ being a mother is to be a soccer mom.Â A few of the coworkers at work are hard-core soccer dads, and their experiences always added my impatience since I didn’t think kids can play soccer until they’re maybe four or five.
We received an ad from Carolina Sportsplex two days ago.Â It’s a huge sport center located right across from Maddy’s preschool.Â I was more than surprised to find out that they have the Little Kickers programs which have kids ranged from 18 months to 9 years old.Â Maddy and I went in after our Little Gym today to check out their 10:00am class.Â I was shocked to see a sea of kids in four different age classes and a real indoor game going on.Â
It was everything I envision how we would spend our free time with Maddy: In an environment that promotes teamwork and cooperation with strong parental involvement.Â And I just had to sign her up right away for the spring quarter Thumpers class and got all the gears she needed.Â Wait no more.Â I shall be a soccer mom in a month
During Maddy’s first ski trip in Breckenridge 2004, she was 15 months old.Â She still had her paci with her and was only able to run after her four cousins because she didn’t know how to speak yet.
It’s different this year.Â Maddy absolutely loves her girl cousin Coleen and was a total copycat.Â It was the best part of the ski trip: herÂ hanging out with all four cousins.Â Not just observing as a outsider, but actually hanging out with them.
She still doesn’t like the snow very much.Â “I don’t want to get my boots dirty” the girl insisted.Â After two days of constant encouraging and watching her cousins play in the snow, she finally stepped into the deep snow for two minutes before deciding that she doesn’t want any snow on her mittens nor boots again.Â
As usual, she is a perfect traveller.Â Â She read and played when she wasn’t tired, and slept when she was… no fuss whatsoever.Â Well,Â I did have to tell her not to bother me becauseÂ I was very tired andÂ after that, she decided she might as well take a nap too.Â One of the preschoolers on the flight homeÂ wailed even before he got on the plane.Â He was crying before I fell asleep and was still crying whenÂ the flight landed.Â Poor parents of his.Â People in general have more tolerance when a baby cries, but you can see the impatience and annoyance of the passangers around them after the prolonged period of whining from a three year old.Â
We’re glad to be home though.Â Nothing beats our own beds.Â Besides, my back was starting to hurt due to Maddy girl’s constant kicking at night and her periodic ’slapping’ of my face had begun to irratate me a great deal.Â Â She was glad toÂ be back to her own bed too… slept so long I had toÂ go in to her room to check on her this morning.Â
When you throw a bucket of chaos in the faces of all moms, you can easily set apart the supermoms from the ‘norm’.Â Any woman can be a ‘perfect’ mom when everything goes as planned.Â You can read all the parenting books out there; know all the child-development theories by heart; raise more kids than the mom next to you.Â None of that matters…
Even before I had Maddy, I had always had a hunch about my sister-in-law MB.Â Something about her essence as a mother puts her in a different calibor.Â
Now I’m also in the life stage of parenting, I am constantly amazed by her capacity and grace as a mother every time we meet up in our family reunion.
And it’s not easy being in the typical Chen reunion - ski trips.Â It’s not like packing kids to go to the park or grocery store or swimming lessons.Â We’re talking about heavy duty winter sports.Â Just making sure all kids are bundled up from helmets, goggles, snow suits, to boots is quite a chore.Â Before leaving for Colorado, I had commented in joking to Joe that I would really like to start a new family tradition that requires less stress on my part when we have two kids.Â
The very last day of our ski trip was particularly bad.Â In fact, the weather was horrible the whole weekend (in the 10’s as the highpoint)Â It was windy as anything, which didn’t help to the situation.Â In the short two hours we were at the ski resort, it was issue after issue.
One was eager to go home from the beginning of the day; one was determined to go snowboard; one realized that it’s freezing and uncomfortable after he got up to the hill, etc… Four little souls with different wounds that can only be consoled by their mommy.Â I am pretty sure it didn’t help that although there were actually more adults than the kids numberwise, MB was the only person capable of mending any broken heart.
I’ve seen so many other ‘good’ mothers break down in the face of chaos: some yelled at the kids; some took out on the spouses (although rightfully so in many cases); some simply had to walk out for a while.Â Heck, I was overwhlemed taking Maddy through the busy cafe line at the lodge getting her hot cocoa and french fries while she insisted that she had to be carried.
It’s so amazingly sureal watching MaryBeth.Â While I felt helpless for her, she was somehow able to comfort every kid and met their needs.Â Not in the spoiling way where she did ‘everything’ for them (the kids were responsible to carry their own ski/snowboard equipment, which is not a easy task.. I know, because I use all excuses to make Joe carry mine).Â She was calm, loving, intellgent in the words she used.Â I was almost in tears observing her… all that emotional work after all the physical work of hosting the ski trip, packing/unpacking the condo they rented out for everyone..
A supermom never had to say a word to other mothers.Â Their peace and actions speak for themselves.Â MB is not superhuman.Â There are struggles in her life she deals with constantly.Â As we shared in confidence, I was given the hope and inspiration that I will be ok with merely two kids even when things go wrong.
All the girls in the house had a great Valentine’s Day.Â Daddy surprised us with a oversized card, which is very typical of him, as well as a oversized monkey George that we call it ‘daddy monkey’.
Cole and Maddy were very helpful to his parents and us by introducing us to half of the kids in the classroom during the class party.Â (Since we got moved up to preschool last month, we haven’t had a chance to meet everyone and frankly, I still can’t pronouce some of their names)Â
We also met up with Maddy’s old buddies who are still in the EPSII class in the bathroom, the common area between EPSII and her current classroom.Â I still love them dearly: Jacob, Matthew, Owen, and of course Abraham.Â There is a different synergy about that group of kids, those four plus Cole and Maddy.Â When they’re together, you feel extra sparks and you smile a little more.Â Somehow they just feed off each other like there is no tomorrow.Â When they hug each other, it’s not the ‘my-mom-just-asked-me-to-hug-you’ hug, it’s always the affactionate, squeezy, accompanied with giggles from the rest of the group who are eagerly waiting for their turns.Â How I wish they can group up together!
Maddy got a very special gift from best friend Abraham, and a funny hot potato card which made her laughed so loud after I read the wordings to her (although I don’t think she understands fully what it says, but it didn’t matter.Â It’s from Abraham)Â Maddy declared that she likes Abraham monkey better than daddy monkey, and eagerly took Abraham monkey to bed with her.
We had a nice dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.Â Well, Maddy and mommy enjoyed our ShangHi noodles but daddy’s Califonia Club Pizza look way too much like a tossed salad on pizza bread.Â Livy will be with us on the next V-day.Â Daddy will have so many girls who love him!
Maddy is really into Hide-and-seek lately (except she always wants to hide in mommy-daddy bed).Â She insists on playing it after bath everyday.Â I thought about turning the game into something ‘educational’, and had started counting in Chinese as my half-hearted attempt to increase her Chinese vocabulary.Â First it was “What are you talking, mommy?”.Â A few days later, it was “Mommy, you count Chi-Ba, ok?” But for the past two days, she was able to count 1 to 10 in Chinese by herself.
Granted, her Chinese is so “ABC”, so with English accent, and so ‘daddy’, we got such a kick out of her screaming her numbers in Chinese.
I had always told people straight in the face (when they made annoying comments to me) that it is rather quite un-important for me to force Maddy to learn Chinese.Â Heck, I married Joe who couldn’t even say Ni-How-Ma correctly when I first met him.Â It was never on my list of ‘valuing a person’.Â Not that I would deny Maddy the opportunity to learn Chinese.Â If she does, I think it’s great, just as if she learns Japanese or any other language.Â But I wonder, if there are conflicts between her Chinese school and say soccor games or piano lessons, which one will I choose.Â I guess we will find out next year.
So I found out this morning that not only Maddy is supposed to have V-day packages for her good friends, she’s supposed to have packages for ALL the kids in her class.
To ease my panic attack, I dropped by Target during lunch hour to pick up little V-day packages for kids.Â Surely they sell already bagged up goodies for school children.Â Surely they know not all moms are crafty, or care to be crafty for that matter.
Sold out!Â No more little hearts; no more little cards that come in tens and twenties (the one time I am ready to buy things in ‘bulk’ and there are none to be found).Â A few moms nearly freaked out pacing back and forth between the nearly empty V-day goody isles and asking the workers “These are all you have?”Â I imagined their kids are much older and their last minute disaster will actually traumatize their kids.
I rolled my eyes… This is just great!Â There are better things to do than making little V-day gifts for a whole bunch 2 1/2 olds whom I have no idea who they are.Â But, I shall abide to the ‘rule’… so plain note cards, Starburst candy, and carebears with hearts on them were purphased for the big V-day tomorrow.
Lucky for Maddy, daddy found some real V-day cards (the little ones kids use) during his errands and we were able to make packages that look somewhat decent: eveyone will get one princess V-day note, one carebear sticker, and one Starburst in their envelope.Â
And it was tonight’s project for Maddy.Â She was responsible for picking out the sticker and candy and put it in the envelope… then stamp it with a little heart sticker.Â She was actually pretty good at it after fumbling and tore two cards, claimed one candy for herself, and put a sticker on herself.
Lesson for mommy:
1) I shall not ignore the classÂ list with everyone’s name on it the next time I get it nor assuming something is optional
2) I shall prepare early next year
3) I shallÂ spend some timeÂ tomorrowÂ at their V-day party and find out the few ‘unknown children’.Â
It just happened that Maddy only took one hour nap instead of her usual two, and I wanted to do something fun just for her since we were having people over for dinner (no kids).Â And it just happened that the time worked out perfectly.Â We asked Maddy if she would like to go out and watch a movie about a monkey.
To our surprise, our little homebody got excited right away.Â “I am all changed?”Â She went downstairs to put on her socks/shoes while mommy and daddy got ourselves ready.Â
It was perfect.Â We actually got there ten mins late so we missed all the previews for other movies.Â The movie theater is not the newest or the biggest with the loudest sounds, which works out wonderfully for Maddy who doesn’t like things blasting in her ears.Â
Like doing anything for the first time, she had such a seriousness on her face.Â She sat up straight, staring at the screen the entire time, and sometimes studied her surroundings and turned around and asked “What are you laughing about?”
Curious George is a wonderful movie.Â The plots are simple even Maddy gets it.Â Â There are no scaryÂ thingsÂ or moments too sad for little kids toÂ take.Â We hadÂ one of theÂ best family time together.Â Who thoughtÂ we could get such a blast out of a kiddy movie..Â
What Maddy told me on the way home:
Maddy:Â Mommy, there is a baby in Cole mommy’s tummy.Â Ms Grey has a baby in her tummy.Â Ms Grey didn’t go to school because her baby needs rest (Ms Grey is on bed rest since last Monday).Â My mommy also has a baby in her tummy.Â There is only ONE baby Livia (Maddy can’t say Olivia).Â Krishna’s mommy also has a baby in her tummy.Â Lots of people of baby in the tummy
Mommy:Â Yea.. Lots of mommies have babies in their tummies, and Ms Leslie also has a baby girl in her tummy.
Maddy:Â xxxx just has a big tummy.
Mommy: Yea.Â Daddy has a big tummy.
Maddy: No.Â Ms xxxx has a big tummy.
Mommy: Oh… you mean Ms xxxx.. Well… you see… well… Oh, Maddy, look at the horses…
Maddy had a bag of pretzels during lunch at church, and two other girls asked her if they can have some.Â Maddy is a food lover, sharing her ’snacks’ is not something she likes to do.Â Besides, she hardly knew one of the girls.Â
I asked her to share the pretzels, which she did.Â Then the girls asked again and again.Â I decided that she’s old enough to make her own decision, so I watched them interact with each other.
Maddy thought about it, then shared again and again.Â Grantly she did ‘look in the bag’ and made sure that there were still some in there, I was quite proud to say the least.
Report from church toddler teachers:
There was a new kid in class, and the kid was crying and whining.Â As the teachers try to calmÂ him(actually,Â not sure if it’s a girl or a boyÂ sinceÂ the story was told in Chinese)Â down, Maddy went over and gave the little kid a hug and a kiss.
Maddy was in the tattletale stage a while back “So and so is like a baby because he/she cried cried cried in class”, and we had discussed and come up with different ’solutions’ to help crying kids feel better in class.Â It looks like Maddy actually tried it out.
My daughter is really growing up to be a big girl.Â
Mommy: Maddy, can you help me with this puzzle?
Maddy: Mommy, you’re a big girl.Â You can do it by yourself, ok?
Maddy: “Gon-shi Gon-shi” is for Chinese New Year celebration.Â You don’t say Gon-shi gon-shi for Xmas.Â You say “We wish you a Merry Xmas; we wish you a Merry Xmas”, ok?Â But Xmas is over now.
Mommy: You’re so fast with your new puzzle, Maddy.
Maddy: I can’t help it.Â I can’t help that I’m fast.
Maddy: Excuse me.
Mommy: (sniff sniff).Â Maddy, did you..
Maddy: I ALREADY said excuse me.
Things Maddy does that makes Abraham her very very best friend:
- Eyes lit up when she saw A at L’s birthday party last weekend, and then the two of them totally ignored the rest of the kids and absorted in each other’s company
- Talked about A. this whole week after finding out that he is coming over on Friday to hang out with her.Â A few things she said throughout the week- “I will share all my toys; I take a bath with A. and we can sleep together in Maddy’s big girl bed” (which I had to explain that the playnight will not include the bath and sleeping together)
- Actually went back to bed for another half hour on Friday morning because mommy said she won’t have enough energy to play with A. if she doesn’t get enough rest
- When she went to A’s class and remind him about the playdate on Friday, she got very upset and annoyed after other kids said to her “we’re coming to Maddy’s house too”.Â
- She insisted on sitting on the porch and waited for A’s family to come, and was extremely disappointed the first guy who came over was only the pizza dude
- Jumped up and down and up and down when A. arrived
- She ate her entire pizza piece only because A. loves pizza.
- They roamed around the house holding hands the entire nights.Â No parental supervision was required.Â
- A. calls her “Maddy patty” like how Ms Rogers calls her.Â He is the only kid who calls her with that sweet nickname
- Maddy still talks about the playdate and talks about how she’s going to go to A’s house next time and have him over again.
The parents:Â We joked about how they put up such a high expectation throughout the week and it can go nowhere but down; how they might have a ‘fallen out’ later.Â For now, we’re absolutely tickled by the two of them who talk to each other in such grownup conversations.Â
Best friends, one of the best gifts in life.Â You don’t always get them, and they aren’t always with you.Â But when you have your best friend with you, life is just about as sweet as it can be.
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