2019: A Year in Review - Part III: The Kids

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If you haven't read Part I and Part II, please do!

How can a 2019 review be complete without talking about the kids?!

Mommy/Daddy and Kid Dates
We have been asked whether with so many kids, the younger ones get less of our attention.  Answer is definitely a yes.  How could it not be so?  Am I worried about it?  Not really!  Think about it this way.  Sure, they get less attention from their parents, but they have so much more interaction with their siblings that I think their social skills are greatly improved as a result.  Imagine that you have 4 other siblings living with you...would your negotiation and communication skills not be much better? Would you not be much better in navigating through conflict?  I think that's a yes.

With the coronavirus lockdown, the benefit of having many siblings is obvious.  Our kids did not once complain that they were bored in the past 4 weeks of staying at home.  In fact, it's pretty much business as usual for them.  With 7 people in the house, there's never a quiet moment!

Now, having said that, we do recognize the need for attention from us parents.  So, last year, we started a new tradition of 1-on-1 Mommy/Daddy and kid dates.  Renee or I would take one kid out on a date and just spend some 1-on-1 time with them.  We use this time to let them know that they're unique, special and are deserving of our undivided attention.  Both of us actually really enjoy it because it's rare that we get to spend some quiet time with each of them.

We don't do anything too fancy.  Sometimes we got out to the mall.  At other times, we go and grab some food or spend an hour or so at Chuck E Cheese.  Some outings are more extravagant, like one time I got a couple of Leafs tickets from work and went with Athan.  The point is that we spend some quality time together.  Before the lockdown, we tried to do a date once every week or two.  It means each kid gets to go on a date with either of us every month or two.  I would recommend that you parents try something like this with your kids!


Adele


Adele turned 10 last year.  She continues to do well in all her endeavours and plays the role of big sister perfectly!  She requires very little attention from us and in fact, helps out with her little brother and sisters.  We're so grateful to have Adele's help as always.

Last year, I started to introduce some programming to Adele beyond what she got at school.  I first got her to take some online HTML/CSS courses, which she had completed, but I felt it was still a bit too advanced for a beginner at her level.  Eventually, in 2020, I found a really good program created by MIT called Scratch, which is very age appropriate and teaches programming fundamentals.  I recommend this to kids 8 or older.

Adele competed in her first triathlon in the summer.  She did very well and I'm so proud of her.  I hope one day, the two of us can run in a race together!  I'm too weak a swimmer so it'll have to be a run or a bike ride!  Sorry, Adele!  Lol!

Adele Running Past the Finish Line in Her First Triathlon

Daddy and Adele Date - Enjoying a Cold Drink at Starbucks


Athan

Athan had a great year last year!  He turned 8 and also had his First Communion this year.  He reminds me so much of myself when I was young.  I was a very playful kid and by that, I mean all I wanted to do was play!  I would moan and whine at the thought of doing homework or studying.  This certainly drove my parents insane, especially during my earlier years in Hong Kong where grades were everything.  I certainly didn't ask for this attribute and now know that's just part of how kids learn, through play.  As a result, I give Athan some leniency in this area.  I encourage play but try to direct him to productive playing (that's a term I just invented).  Instead of letting him just stare at the TV or play video games, I try to switch things up and encourage creativity in the things that he deems fun.

He has matured quite a bit in the past few years.  We no longer need to ask him if his homework is done; he just knows to complete it himself.  He is doing well in school and loves to play soccer.  He's been taking Karate lessons since he was 4, but his interest doesn't seem to be there 100%.  We will be re-evaluating whether to redirect his time and energy elsewhere once he completes his red belt (about half way to black belt).

He's also good help with his little sisters.  Although he loves to taunt them and make them scream, he is more than willing to read to them before going to bed.  He's a fun brother to have around and without Athan, things would just be a bit on the dull side.



Audrey 

Audrey entered Grade 1 this year and turned 6 years old.  Both Adele and Athan started reading fairly proficiently in SK, but Audrey had struggled a bit in SK.  Since she's an October baby, we weren't too concerned.  In September, I asked Adele to help Audrey with her reading.  I'm glad to report that at the moment, Audrey is reading at a Grade 2 level (thank you Adele)!  Her penmanship is also superb.  I look at her handwriting and am a bit ashamed that it looks much better than my own! In fact, she has the best penmanship out of all her siblings!

She took a year of ballet and had her first recital in June.  As you can see below, she was adorable in her little costume!  When September came around to re-enroll, she actually asked not to re-enroll in dance because she wanted to take up visual arts, which is where her real strength lies.  I think she gets it from mommy!  You can see a sample of her work below in Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church's calendar.  Thanks to Grandma for enrolling Adele and Audrey in the competition.  Adele's drawing also made it on the calendar!


Audrey's Drawing Featured on Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church Calendar

Anne
Anne turned 3 in 2019 and this will be her last year at home before she starts JK.  It turns out that the more fair-skinned kids in the family are more rascally than the others! Lol!  She has quite the character and is at the same time lovable and deserving of reprimand!  She's definitely the life of the party!


She started ballet lessons in September and is absolutely enjoying it.  Whenever we have some music playing at home, she would start dancing to the music.  It is really by nature and not nurture that she has this interest and talent.  Since we have more data points in the number of kids (lol), we can confidently say that their interests and talents are usually not due to what we want them to be, but rather, are gifted by God.

Anne also really knows how to tearjerk with her words.  There was one occasion where she was over tired during dinner and was not being cooperative.  I reprimanded her and after dinner when I was changing her into her PJs, she said, "Daddy, I miss you all day (when you are) at work!"  Upon hearing it, I suddenly choked up and was full of regret about how I had reprimanded her earlier.  She's a smart cookie, maybe a bit too smart with her words!



Amelia
Amelia turned 1 last year (2 years old now) and is growing really quickly!  She's running around and talking in full sentences.  Of all five kids, I think she looks like me the most!  She is always smiley and loves to participate in all family activities.  It is really easy to make her cry - just tell her it's nap time or bedtime and she will immediately start whining or be on the verge of crying, because she doesn't want to be left alone in her room; she wants to be part of whatever is happening.

Being the youngest, she's definitely the loudest with her screams and cries; she needs to get the attention!  She's not to be bullied and she uses her voice to ensure that.




We are so blessed to have our wonderful kids!  Is it tough to parent 5 kids at the same time?  You bet!  But boy, do we feel privileged to be their parents!  We hope we're doing an ok job!


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