The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

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My sister knows how hard it is for me to get my daughter to fall asleep so she told me about this #1 bestseller by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin when she heard a review of it on the radio.  She couldn’t remembered the name of the book but said the sentences and choices of words were constructed with psychological purpose to help children fall asleep more easily and to sleep well, and that sometimes the adults reading it might fall asleep unintentionally as a result of the carefully selected words.

Interesting, so I Googled, and the search lead me quickly to The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep.  After reading a lot of the promising reviews, I crossed my fingers and ordered it from Amazon.

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There were a number of negative reviews too, but what is one more book on sleep?

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I didn’t even realize we had that many books on sleep until one night my daughter picked out five books for me to read to her and four of the five were specifically on sleep and the fifth, a rhyming book on robots, ended with “good night”.

It had been my sole decision to co-sleep and to allow my daughter to nurse on demand so I don’t blame anyone, but I had little hope of ever sleeping decently again. The years of sleep deprivation had made me cynical and skeptical of everything but I still wanted to try anything that might help her fall asleep without crying.

The book begins with the following instructions to the reader:  Warning! Use this book with caution.  It may cause drowsiness or an unintended catnap.  And never read this book out loud close to someone driving any type of vehicle or engaged in any other activity that requires wakefulness!

I thought very funny! But oh boy, oh boy, was that warning true – I had to bite hard on my lower lip to keep from falling asleep and wipe away tears from yawning as I read. And the Mister, well he was snoring well before the story was finished.  The little one, however, stayed wide-eyed to the very end.

Night 1:  She couldn’t stop asking questions about the drawings.  There are about 10 drawings, and she couldn’t tear her eyes away from them.  In particular, she is concerned that the kind Sleepy Snail might fall off his leaf if he falls asleep.  I tried explaining how snail secretion can act like glue but she wasn’t convinced.  The Mister, along with at least several other reviewers on Amazon, think the drawings are kind of scary. I’ve never been high but I wonder if the drawings are anything like drug induced hallucinations?

The instructions in the book recommend that the child is lying down while listening instead of looking at the pictures to help the child relax.  My daughter was lying down next to me, but I couldn’t get her to stop looking over at the pictures.  It might have been more successful if I was reading from a chair at the foot of the bed like I see in movies or something.

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Night 2 & 3:  Instead of lying still as she does for other books, she kept trying to get up and run around the room.  My guess is that she isn’t used to such a long book.  The Mister however, fell asleep again before I finished the book.

Night 4:  My daughter requested The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep.  I thought success tonight? But no, at the end of the story, she was still awake and she explained she chose this book because it was the longest book we had so she could stay up longer.

Night 5:  The drawings no longer intrigue her as much so we finally get through the book at a more normal pace.  She mentioned that she is sleepy but wants to know what happens next.  I replied that she knows what happens and tell her to just fall asleep if she is tired and she says “Okay”.  In fact, several times in the story, there are reminders to your child that it’s okay to fall asleep even before the story ends, because it has a happy ending.

When I read this book, several phrases and words jump out at me as they are repeated very, very, very frequently in the story: now, (so) tired, down, sleepy, fall asleep, slowly, heavy, yawning and relax.  My daughter is suddenly using these words, especially ‘now’ and ‘tired’ more in her daily play and conversations, so maybe the sleep messages are slowly sinking in?

Some sentences do read almost like what I imagine a hypnotist would say: “Fall down, down, down.  Just like a leaf that falls down slowly down, down, down, slowly down from a tree, follows the wind, and just let it make you fall down, slowly down to the ground.  Slowly down, down, down.  Now.  Your eyelids are so heavy.

The story is about Roger, the rabbit who is having trouble falling asleep. He interacts with Mommy Rabbit, the kind Sleepy Snail, the beautiful and wise Heavy-eyed Owl and finally the world’s kindest Wizard, Uncle Yawn.  Each character helps Roger (and your child) to fall asleep easier and better in a different way:

  1. Clear mind. Mommy Rabbit tells Roger to clear his mind by putting all the thoughts and questions in a box by the bed. She also accompanies Roger as he goes down to visit Uncle Yawn who will certainly help him sleep.
  2. Calm down and slow breathing.  The kind Sleepy Snail suggests calming down and doing everything more slowly.
  3. Relax. The beautiful and wise Heavy-eyed Owl tells Roger to relax.
  4. Fall Asleep. The kind wizard, Uncle Yawn, uses a magical sleeping powder along with a powerful sleeping spell that always works on children and rabbits.

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Night 6:  Oh no…she asks me NOT to read it please.  We came to a compromise: she gets to pick a bedtime story of her choosing and then we end with The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep if she is still awake.  I told her it will help her fall asleep faster and sleep better so she agreed.

Night 7:  She falls asleep before I finish the book!  What happened between the previous night and tonight?  I do not know.  But…perhaps…fingers crossed…this book will work?

Since that night, she has been falling asleep fairly consistently at the part where Uncle Yawn sprinkles his magical powder and casts his powerful sleeping spell, which is just about halfway through the book.  I continue to read all the way to the end of the story as the instructions tells me to and wonder if she can subconsciously hear me say ‘good night baby’ and ‘I love you’ as I close the book.

 

 

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A Single Dish Celebration Dinner: Pun Choy 盆菜

Pun Choy (or Poon Choi)

Pun Choy (or Poon Choi)

This was my first attempt at making Pun Choy (or poon choi), translated literally as ‘basin vegetables’, and now it might become a family tradition.

Poon Choy was something on my cooking bucket list that I was leaving for when I had the luxury of more time, maybe even weeks, to plan, research recipes and shop. Instead, this was thrown together a la reality tv show challenge style.

Premise: you got limited ingredients and only 3 hours to plan and put together a celebration dinner. What will you present before the hard to impress judges aka picky toddlers? Cue dramatic music.

Pun Choy (Poon Choi)

Sure, sure, the key layers were purchased ready-to-eat, but this Pun Choy turned out surprisingly easy to make and tasty for an unplanned last-minute feast!

Layers:
1. Garlicky Romain Lettuce Stir Fry
2. Fried Gluten Balls (that’s right, you read it correctly, GLUTEN, not gluten-free balls!)
3. Oyster Sauce Shiitake Mushroom
4. Pork meatballs
5. Fuzhou style fish balls
6. Soy sauce chicken*
7. BBQ pork (char-siu)*
8. Roast duck*
9. Broccoli
10. Ketchup Shrimp
* purchased from a Chinese BBQ restaurant

Soy Sauce Chicken

Soy Sauce Chicken

Roast Duck

Roast Duck

BBQ Pork "Char-siu"

BBQ Pork “Char-siu”

There are probably as many ways to make one as there are families, with simple easy to make and inexpensive layers like mine, to exotic and complicated layers I incorrectly thought it would require.

The potential ease to make, combined with the large variety of foods to accommodate many, makes this a wonderful potluck dish.

Holiday celebrations in this household are usually ad hoc affairs because of the Mister’s stance on non-commitment with going to my in-laws. It is just like pulling love me daisy leaves, except it’s ‘we might be going / we aren’t going’ instead. This year we landed on we’re going, but at 4 PM, the Mister texted from work that we aren’t leaving anymore until the following day. I texted my sister the news and she asked us to join them for dinner at 8 PM. What could I bring?

At 5 PM, my daughter woke from her nap so we went to the kitchen and I took stock of the nearly empty fridge; except for eggs and a bag of Romaine lettuce heads, I had successfully cleared it out in preparation of being out-of-town for 4 days.

I peeked in the freezer- frozen waffles, broccoli, fish sticks, fish and meat balls and eggplant parmesan. The pantry held dried beans, dehydrated Shiitake mushrooms, fried gluten balls and chicken stock. I can scrap together a quick dinner but what is Lunar New Year if dinner is not a feast?

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I started ruminating on the feasts my mom would put together for us each year. It was disappointing that I wasn’t doing the same for my daughter so I thought I should at least attempt just one of the more festive dishes. Just one dish, just one dish, just one dish…

And poof, just like that, the one dish train of thought lead to an ambitious attempt at making Pun Choy for dinner in 3 hours.

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I started on the shiitake mushrooms first because of the amount of time required to get them really soft the way I like them. Normally I soak them for hours or even over night so with just hours until dinner, I washed them and soaked for just an hour and stuck them in the pressure cooker for another hour with some water and cane sugar. Then I drained and cooked them with some garlic and savory Oyster Sauce.

While the mushrooms were in the pressure cooker I made a pot of soup to cook the meat and fish balls. Then I used the same soup to cook the gluten balls next. Finally, I used the same soup to steam and season the frozen broccoli.

Broccoli & Fried Gluten Balls

Broccoli & Fried Gluten Balls

While the meatballs were cooking, I stir fried the Romaine lettuce with some garlic.

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The time was now 7 PM and I was pretty much done but I was disappointed- the dish was hardly festive. If only I had some seafood or meats to give the dish more substance. Just then the Mister texted to say he was on his way home. So I asked him to pick up some BBQ pork (“Char-siu”), soy sauce chicken and roast duck and a pound of shrimp.

I gave my daughter a bath and got ready for dinner while I waited for the key ingredients. The Mister arrived at 7:30 PM, we should be leaving for my sisters but I still have to cook the shrimp so the next half hour was a whirlwind. This is where some people start cracking on reality shows, and the cameras pan frequently on the clock.

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We made it to my sister’s on time and had a wonderful night after all.

The judges? I have no idea if they were impressed or not but they ate and in my book, that’s a win 🙂image

Happy Lunar New Year everyone!!