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spikegifted.net - Archive Q1 2014

March 2014:
Home: It was coming up to the boys' birthday and it also meant it was time to head off to France. As the boys were only attending nursery, their attendance requirement was not as strictly enforced as for older kids. We therefore booked tickets to leave the UK as soon as we felt it was deemed acceptable. The nursery was actually very good and their early did not cause any issues. Anyway, it was going to be all fun and games for the boys in France. The Ruler_of_spike had lined them up to attend the local Catholic school for them to attend. So, it all promised to be totally action-packed few weeks.
Home: It was the Ruler_of_spike's birthday and I wanted to surprise her with some flowers (for the record, I do get her flowers at times outside 'special occasions'), so I went to the nearest place where they sold flowers at some unsociable time in the morning. I left via the kitchen to avoid making too much noise. The flowers were successfully acquired and I was rather pleased with myself. On my return, I had to walk pass the French windows where the boys noticed me from inside the house. As it turned out, they woke up while I was out getting the flowers and the Ruler_of_spike opened the gate and let them downstairs without realizing that I was not there. Anyhow, the surprise was partly spoilt by the boys' excitement. However, the flowers were still a surprise for her... I shall have to be more careful about these surprises in the future.
Home: However, the fun came to a grinding halt when the boys playfully messed with the latch of the gate of the tennis court. They released the latch which could only be reached from the outside and then ran off. Not only did this held up the other kids and parents, there was no way I could control them as I was stuck behind the gate. After man handling the latch and exited from the tennis court, I managed to chased them down while still in the grounds of the tennis club, but not before the boys ran excitedly and noisily past every tennis court, much to the annoyance of the players who were trying to concentrate. It was not the best advertisement for the group.
Home: The boys had been going to Playball for a number of weeks and they were generally getting into the routine of the sessions. They generally participated well on all the activities, usually with a lot of encouragement from me. Master Cheeky tended to the more proactive one and would generally participate without having holding his hand. Master Chill, on the other hand was a little more difficult - he needed a lot of encouragement to get going and would lose his concentration quicker. In the past couple of weeks, owing to the improving weather, the sessions have been held outside in one of the spare tennis courts. This, in turn, produced improved responses from the boys as the squash courts, where the sessions were held, had very strong echoes, which affected their ability to understand the coach's instructions. So here we were, out in the tennis court for the second week running and the boys were really participating. They were joining in and we're getting on with the exercises. It was a lovely to see them having a ball running around!
Home: Last November, we acquired a new second car via the manufacturer. This was something called 'approved used car'. I asked for a full service on the car prior to picking it up, but it was done. As a result, the manufacturer was going to pay for the service which was schedule 90 days later. So, after three months, I brought the car in for the service and was informed that there were a number of things wrong with the car. The servicing folks were recommending me that, for the sake of safety, I should have all of these problems fixed, which amounted to nearly three thousand pounds of parts and labour. Given that we have had the car for just over three months, it was a bitter pill to swallow. We reasoned with the servicing folks that the vehicle was actually still under warranty and given that it was an 'approved used car' under the manufacturer's reselling programme, we should not be liable to any of the costs. The servicing folks did a good job arguing our case against the sales team and managed to get most of the costs picked up by the sales team. The costs aside, we were more shocked by the state of the car. With the Ruler_of_spike and the boys, we place our trust in the cars we invest in. The fact that the vehicle was potentially unsafe, and we did not better, was the most pressing concern. This was not the first time we have had issue with this manufacturer. We have come to the conclusion that when we came to renew our car again, we would be looking at a different manufacturer. That was sometime in the future. Until then, I just hope that there will be no more surprises coming from the car...
Home: As the boys' vocabulary improved, we were hearing more and more details of the world from their perspectives. There were plenty of unexpected details which were totally logical if we switched to their world. Then came the really unexpected. One morning, after a give my family hugs and kisses, I was about to leave for work, Master Cheeky said: Papa, don't go to work. Then, a couple of days later, Master Chill said to me: Papa, why go to work? There was no satisfactory answer to that.
Home: This has been long time coming... I just had a meaningful conversation with the boys! Wow!! I have just asked Master Cheeky what he did at school the previous day, and he told me, in a very serious tone, that his brother, Master Chill, did something which was not entirely agreeable. And when I asked Master Chill about the incident, he changed his tone to try to give me an excuse for his action. The conversation may have been short, but it was illuminating!
Home: Being in an organized education environment, it was on natural that the boys were going to learn new things. One of the easiest things to learn was the game hide & seek. They have been playing that in the house for a while. As the weather has not really allowed them in back garden, they have not really the opportunity to really stretch their legs. When the weather eventually improved, the boys were all over the back garden. Of course they were playing hide & seek. However, given the simple layout of the back garden, there was nowhere to hide! Nevertheless, they were doing all the things that you would normally expect in a game of hide & seek: counting, running, hiding... It was a joy to watch and to listen to their laughter.
Home: After we got home, as the boys had already rested in the car on our way home, they went straight to the next thing they could think of - Play Dough. Most kids had Play Dough, but it was very with the two of them as they spent much of their time fighting each other for the same few pieces of kit. Not that there was not enough kit for the two of them, just that they were quite attached to the same few pieces of kit. But then, there was no fighting. There was no raised voices; no need for us to intervene. Although they each had their opinion on what they should have, they did not fight over them. It was such a different experience to the normal fighting which typified their way of 'sharing'. It was such a pleasure... We were just watching them in wonder.
Home: As any parents will confirm, weekends are often occupied by activities with their kids. To a large extent, we were no different. One of these Sunday, which happened to be one of the first nice Sunday since all the winter storms started back in October last year, we had a really great time. After the Playball session, we went to a children play area in a park nearby and spend a good hour playing in there. There were all kinds of goodies in there, including a zip-line which Master Chill loved, but only marginally tolerated by Master Cheeky. Instead of heading home, went to our local Swedish furniture superstore and had lunch there had a quick glance at the storage solutions available as the boys' toys were getting out of control in the limited space we had in the house... It was non-stop action for nearly six hours and we finally went home exhausted.
February 2014:
Home: Every since the wall-mounted shelves in the spare room collapsed last year, the boys have been very keen for me to fix them. 'Papa fixie GG shelf' was constantly at the tips of their tongues. Needless to say, little progress was made in the past few months other than filling up of the holes left by the old wall plugs with fillers. I was first being reminded every weekend to fix the shelves. Lately, however, it was daily! Of course, fixing the shelves was a tangible thing, much more so than doing this rather nebulous thing call 'work' which seemed like a lot of fun as I had to take a big train to do it. Master Chill really summed up his feelings when he asked one day: 'Papa, why do to work?' The confusion written on his face when I replied that 'I need to go to work so that he could have his toys' was a story in itself. He and Master Cheeky clearly had not grasped the connecting between 'work' and 'money' and toys.
Home: It was spring time and with the horrible weather which we suffered during the winter coming to an end, we could feel the changes in the air. The most obvious signs was the length of the days. Sunrise was getting earlier and I prepared my day in the morning with faint light rather than total darkness. Earlier sunrise also meant that the boys were getting up earlier. I was thankful of this as it gave me an opportunity to interact with them. They knew that every morning, 'Papa go to work, take biggie chuchu'. Then one morning, Master Chill gave me 'Blanket' (one of his security blankets) as I was picking my bag for the day, and he was very insistent that I took it with me. For him, 'Blanket' and his other security blankets were items that provided comfort and security. I guessed he felt that I needed something like that at work so he gave me 'Blanket' for protection. How very thoughtful!
Home: The boys have shown real talent in collecting things during Playball. They clearly needed a lot of encouragement to get going in each session. Moreover, colors were very important to them. They insisted on standing color shapes where were their favorite colors and they were quite insistent in handing things which were likewise their favorite colors. Thankfully, they have 'alternative favorites' which allow a little room for maneuver. One thing they were very enthusiastic was collecting things. So much so that it was a constant battle to stop them from collecting things which were supposed to be left alone, like cones, balls, hoops, etc, which were part of the exercise. However, given the opportunity to really collect things, they shined! In the particular week, there were only four girls and the boys in the session. So it was boys vs. girls in the collecting game. Without talking to each other, Master Cheeky collected as many tennis balls as he could, and it was only tennis balls that he was interested in. At the same time, Master Chill collected mini cones only and nothing else. Thanks to being super-efficient, between, they collected more items than the four girls who collected everything and anything they could and ended up picking up less. It was a shock and a revelation to observe that first hand.
Home: I could not quite believe it when the Ruler_of_spike and I were talking about the boys. We have waited a long time for this, but it has finally arrived - it was half-term. As the boys, and the Ruler_of_spike, continued to suffer under the illogical schedule imposed on them by the afternoon nursery session, the opportunity to allow the boys having their naps regularly did not come early enough. Every week, the boys were showing signs of being very tired towards the middle of the week. And by the end of the week, they were very irritable and very irritating. Thankfully, they could have their afternoon nap during the half-term. The changes were obvious and immediate. They were more pleasant with each other and with us. They were easier to deal with and they were not so tired that they would be struggling towards the end of the day. Was the nursery really that good for them?
Home: At last, the Ruler_of_spike had a chance to give the boys the chicken korma ready meal... Curious as ever, they could tell there was something different with the smell. It would have been something quite alien to them - they have never had anything quite like it. They must be congratulated - even though they smell was usual, they gave the korma a try. Unfortunately the taste was a little out of the palette... one after the other, they spat out the food. I guessed the boys were not quite ready for the wonders of Indian food (or least the British interpretation of Indian food which was suitable for toddlers).
Home: In general, the Ruler_of_spike was so dedicated that the boys' food was almost always fresh. However, we typically purchased a couple of children ready meals a week, just so that there would be food no matter how busy we were. Both we and the boys knew what they liked. The fish pie was a definite hit, as was the meatball pasta. All in all, the boys pretty much like everything in the range. The one thing which we had to look out for was the used by date - we had to make sure that the meals would last for the whole week, which meant we were often limited by the freshness of the batches sitting on the shelves. Then there was one week when the only thing that was fresh was a chicken korma. Now the boys have been consuming some strongly favored foods, but not spicy ones. It was going to be an interesting experiment...
Home: We noticed it when we were driving north, and we noticed it more on our way back to London - there were a lot places being flooded. Seeing the conditions of those who have been affected on news bulletins made me thankful that there was no flooding where we lived!‎
Home: A weekend visit was just too short. Before we knew it, it was Sunday lunch time. We were taken to a pub which served a mean roast and we were all eating away. I chose the 'house special', the '3 roast', which allowed me to sample roast beef, roast lamb and roast pork. Of course, there was horseradish for the beef, mint sauce for the lamb and mustard for the pork. Master Chill was sitting next to me and yellow was favorite color. Of course, he eyes lit up when he saw the mustard. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up. So I put a small drop on my little finger and gave it to him. You could imagine the reaction... I acknowledged that it was naughty of me to do what I did. At the same time, I hoped he would learn from this lesson and be more cautious in the future.‎
Home: We finally managed to get visit our friends of family in Cheshire. We have been talking about this since before Christmas. However, owing to the hectic schedules of us with boys and our friends, we were unable to get this trip arranged until now. We ‎left soon after breakfast on Saturday and got there around lunch time. It was good progress given that we were stuck in traffic on the motorway for a while. Owing to the bad weather, there was little we could do out and about. On the other hand, we were still thoroughly entertained, especially on the food department. 
January 2014:
Home: Happy Chinese New Year!!!!‎
Home: The boys were coming up with new things all the time now, a reflection of the continuous learning progress they have been making since started attending the nursery. The latest development was playing hide & seek. ‎It was natural for us assume that the boys play hide & seek at the nursery. That was what kids played. However, they have brought the game home and was using places around the ground floor of the house as hiding places. It was very humorous to watch them play like this.
Home: This was something that was new... To start off with, you would hardly notice it as it was not obvious. The boys were beginning to play together. By that I did not mean playing next to each and doing their own stuff or fighting, I really mean playing together - talking to each other, suggesting things, discussing things. It was important that they were not fighting or arguing with each other. They were interacting with each other, feeding back on each other's response. It was a sight to behold as we have only experience their infighting. Long may this cooperative spirit continue!
Home: We came back from France and I was keen to find something to stretch the boys' legs. A friend of the Ruler_of_spike mentioned to her something called Playball which was built specifically for little kids to gain confidence in movement and balance. We decided to let the boys to have another stab at ball play. The whole idea was to give kid opportunities to developed their hand-eye coordination, balance, hands-legs coordination and have fun. Given how badly the session went the last time we tried something like this, I was not expecting much. The session was well organized and certainly managed well, given that there was one adult 'coach' and a dozen little kids being 'coached'. ‎
Home: Wind, rain… More wind and more rain. It seemed like that there was no end to the bad weather. It was just simply a succession of storm fronts hitting the UK. There was no respite. As soon as one weather system passed, another came along. That was particularly difficult for the Ruler_of_spike as she had to deal with the boys while they were stuck in the house. It was no different at the weekend. It was impossible to go out without getting wet. In the end, we opted for a drive in the car. It was not exactly fresh air, but it was at least a change from being stuck in the house...
Home: Happy New Year!‎